Sirius Black surveyed the bathroom with an odd glint in his eyes that frightened the rubber duck. It found himself sincerely hoping that Severus Snape had not been lying earlier when he had said no one dared break the sanctity of the washroom for some mindless prank. If anyone would, it would probably be Sirius Black.
Luckily, it seemed Severus had been telling the truth, for when Sirius looked over and spotted the duck, all he did was smirk. "I thought I took Wormtail's rubber ducky," he said out loud. He shrugged. "Maybe he has two. It doesn't matter. I'll figure out whose I have tomorrow morning. Whoever turns red, that's who it'll be." The rubber duck felt sorry for its forsaken companion.
Chuckling to himself, Sirius asked, "Wormtail was rather nervous, wasn't he? One would almost think this was his first time breaking the rules. I wonder if that means he hasn't been in the prefects' washroom before? Shame if it was - the prefects' washroom is a hundred times better than regular ones. I should know, I've been using it since fourth year."
He smiled disarmingly at the rubber duck, which found itself understanding why so many of the teachers found him charming, even if his fellow classmates had called him a prankster, a bully, a maniac, a killer, a thief, a sociopath, reckless and deranged. The boy had charisma in spades and depite itself, the rubber ducky found it starting to like Sirius.
Unlike his friend, Sirius did not opt for a bubble bath but rather filled the tub with plain lukewarm tap water. "So how are you doing tonight?" he asked the duck, striking up a conversation.
It didn't answer. "Shy, are you?" he asked. "Maybe you are Wormtail's after all. He's a little on the shy side, too. Anyway, enough about him. I've plenty better things to talk about." The rubber duck seemed to doubt him, so he said, "Like what? For example, the Slytherins.
"I know, I know," Sirius said, rolling his eyes, "the Slytherins aren't important. Trust me, no one knows that fact more than I do. No, what's important isn't the snake-loving bastards themselves, but rather the stunts we can pull on them."
He burst out laughing, deep hearty chuckles. "Last week, oh last week. Sometimes I'm so clever I astonish myself." Unfortunately for Sirius' rapidly inflating ego, neither James nor Remus were around to bring him back down to earth with a sharp barb, as they often had reason to do.
"Of course, I'd never have thought of it if my mother hadn't been such an opera buff." He actually paused for a second and the duck wondered why he had used past tense when referring to his mother.
"Lil was going on about some Muggle play she'd seen over the summer, and it reminded me of the plot of one of my mum's favourite operas," he continued. "Anyway, to make a long story short, we witnessed the Slytherins being tarred and feathered last week. Almost everyone got hit, and those who weren't, got caught by the next curse.
"Those would be the few Slytherins, namely that slimy git Snape and his friends, who have been subject to our pranks enough to recognize the warning signs. Of course, we knew they would, and we were ready for that."
He stopped for a minute, tilting his head to the side, as if listening closely to something no one else could hear. "Whaddaya think, rubber ducky?" he asked. "Quack, quack! My thoughts exactly. The performance of The Magic Flute would have been better had Papageno been feathered. Too bad Snape avoided that part of the prank."
It was amazing, the rubber duck marvelled, how Sirius could carry on a conversation with himself, yet make it seem like there was another participant. At least the others who had talked to the duck that night had an idea of what the rubber duck was conveying to them. Sirius, on the other hand, was utterly clueless. Either that, or he was just being obstinate, refusing to pay the duck any real attention.
"Too bad McGonagall doesn't enjoy music as much as the Headmaster does. Can you believe Dumbledore actually watched part of the performance with stopping it? And he applauded Snape and the others when McGonagall came in and stopped it. Boy, was she angry. Pinned the whole thing on us. Imagine! Didn't even listen to our side before blaming us. That wouldn't have been too bad, but she somehow figured out that the girls had assisted us in this one.
"They were so mad. Really, I don't know why. We got off pretty lightly, only one night's detention in the Forbidden Forest. I suppose it's because Dumbledore likes opera so much.
"Of course, Mercedes is always mad at me, so that didn't make much of a difference. And Marie has that huge crush on Peter, so she quickly made up with us to try to get onto his good side. But Lil stayed mad at James all week.
"Actually," Sirius clarified, "that's a lie. I caught them in the halls before I came here. They've made up. Believe me, they've more than made up." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
The rubber duck ignored him. It had decided earlier on that that was the best course of action with this particular student. If he wasn't going to pay attention to it, why should it pay attention to him? It was, however, glad to hear Lily and James had made up.
"Did you know Lil actually thought James was cheating on her?" Sirius shook his head. "James. Can you believe it?" He obviously couldn't. "Even if he didn't think the sun rose and set on Lily, there's no way he would cheat on her. He's too loyal. Cheating's just not something that he does."
Forgetting that it had stopped trying to communicate with Sirius, the rubber duck looked at him to say, 'Unlike you.' It would have continued on to remind Sirius that loyalty wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it finally remembered the futility in talking to that particular boy. Sirius, of course, either missed it or ignored it once again. But then, what else could be expected from a boy who was willing to humiliate a poor, defenceless rubber duck?
"Speaking of Slytherins," Sirius said, although he had not been, "I think they're going to try to pull something on us tomorrow morning. They've got that smug, satisfied look on their faces. It won't work, of course. It never does. We Gryffindors are too clever for that."
Too conceited was more like it.
"Anyway," Sirius said. "I've got to get going. It's getting late." Quickly he dried himself off and got dressed. He was just about to leave when he ran into Dumbledore in the hallway just outside the bathroom.
"Professor Dumbledore," he said, considerably more cheerful than any other student would be if they had just been caught in the prefects' washroom after curfew when they weren't a prefect.
"Sirius Black." Far from sounding angry, the headmaster only smiled his trademark smile and, his eyes twinkling, asked, "Isn't it a bit late to be wandering the halls?"
"Yes sir." Although the words suggested humbleness, he himself didn't sound contrite.
"And did I miss your promotion to prefect?"
"No sir. Not unless I've missed it as well," he added cheekily.
"Then I suggest you keep from wandering around at night, going to the prefects' bathroom."
"Yes sir," Sirius said. He started to leave, but Dumbledore stopped him.
"Oh, and Sirius?" Sirius turned around and waited. "Go straight back to Gryffindor Tower. I don't want to hear that you've been caught roaming about by one of the teachers again."
Grinning, Sirius said, "You won't, Professor Dumbledore. I promise."
Neither the headmaster nor the rubber duck missed that Sirius only promised not to get caught, not that he would go back to his room.
End of Sirius' Part
Sunday, June 17, 2001
It's later than expected, I know. I'm sorry. I got a little stumped during this part. You'll also notice I haven't resolved anything with the duck. Don't worry, I will get to that in the next and (real) final part. Unfortunately, I don't know when that will be since I have exams all next week, and if I had any brains, I'd be studying for them right now, not writing. Since that doesn't seem to be the case, I'll probably be doing a lot of last minute cramming and won't have as much time for writing. Either way, I'll be free on Friday, so give me to next Sunday, tops. I promise I'll have it out by then.
On the plus side of things, while I was stuck on this one, I had the chance to pretty much finish up another MWPP fic I've been working on. That ones much longer and has an *gasp* actual plot! I know, isn't that a scary thought? Anyway, I'll have it finished up in a few days, then sent off to be beta'ed. Keep your eye out for it if you're so inclined.
Also, if you haven't already done so, I'd love for you to check out Flying Lessons, my latest fic (not including this one, obviously). Of course, I'd also love for you to check out my other fics.
Thanks as always to those wonderful people who reviewed. You guys are the greatest. And to all of you who are trying to convince me to make the duck evil, you'll just have to wait and see. In other words, I have no idea yet. We'll all find out in the next part.
Well, that was an exceptionally long author's note (which is why I didn't thank each person who reviewed individually, by the way). I'll be shutting up now.