The rest of the week saw rumors flying around about Umbridge now, especially as she had started to interrupt Black while he was teaching his classes. Edward had taken his mother's talk to heart, keeping a lid on his mouth even though he would flush a deep red every time Umbridge would take a hit on him, something that had surprised Shyamal. The boys' dorms at night reigned silent when Edward appeared, any conversation dying quickly or continuing on awkwardly. Shyamal continued to talk with Ron, talking with the other boys now and then even though trying to keep Neville talking was proving to be hard. The only person he could really carry on a conversation with was his parents.
During the four days, Shyamal could only think of one thing.
Saturday night was a full moon.
Shyamal had talked with McGonagall on Friday after Transfiguration class, learning that Umbridge would be followed by various portraits and ghosts who would tail her so they would alert Dumbledore if she was heading for the Great Doors. If she was, a professor would be dispatched to the Shack to keep an eye on them if she made it outside and if need be to lead them into the tunnel and them into the room they had built underneath the Whomping Willow.
During the whole talk, Shyamal kept the fact that they were Animagus a secret.
As he ate breakfast, Shyamal could barely keep himself in check. He just couldn't wait for tonight.
Cosmas waved his brother forward while he kept an eye out for any student who was in their dorms. The seventh year students were down in the Great Hall, learning how to Disapparate and Apparate for their license once they came of age. That meant they could set up their prank for the Weasley twins.
Creeping along silently, they entered the large bathroom that served the Seventh Year dorms. The floor tiles were a pristine white with grey mortar, lion features carved into the red marble sinks. Gold trimmings adorned the windows while the white walls gleamed brightly.
"Do that side first while I work on this side." Damian whispered, afraid to speak any louder in case a Seventh Year came up on them. "A small wave with a flick at the end." He reminded his brother.
Cosmas winked at him. "I know. I've been practicing." He headed off to the last stall, rolling up his sleeves. The two started to chant the spell they were using, watching as each shower stall glowed a bright pink-orange. They moved slowly as they weaved the spell over the area, trying not to laugh at the vision of the twins falling into their prank. With a last flick, the boys turned to the three baths.
"Can't overlook every single possibility, can we?" Damian muttered to Cosmas. Within five minutes, the last of the pink-orange glow disappeared.
With one last look, the Suha twins disappeared down the stairwell, laughing quietly to themselves, looking forward to that night.
Ron moved his bishop, gleefully watching as he decimated Shyamal's little army. "Check."
"King to C3." Shyamal's king moved over the board, taking his sword and slicing Ron's bishop in half. "I'm taking you down with me."
The red-haired boy gave him a grin. "That would be hard for you. Queen to C3." Shyamal watched in dismay as Ron's queen took her chair and shattered his king. "Checkmate."
"Gah! How many does that make now?"
"5-0." Shyamal's shattered pieces started to reassemble themselves, his pieces grumbling up at him and sending him disgusted looks.
"One of these days I'm going to beat you. Once I've totally Confounded you and I've taken Felix Felicis."
"In your dreams." Ron stated cheerfully.
They had just started their sixth game when a crash echoed through the door from the stairwell, followed almost instantly by loud yells and whistles.
"What in Merlin's name?" Ron said, jumping to his feet and heading up the stairs with Shyamal right behind him. Coming out on the landing for the Seventh Years, Shyamal saw the Seventh Year boys crowding around the door to the bathroom."Oy, coming through; prefect here." Ron muttered as he forced his way through.
Shyamal broke free from the crowd. He had to take deep breaths to keep himself from laughing.
In the middle of the bathroom, still dripping water from their showers stood the Weasley twins, covered in soapsuds with a hastily thrown towel around their waists. They were explaining quite loudly of what had happened in the bathroom while they had been taking a shower.
"We had just gone in and started the shower after a hard day studying, you know-" George started.
"When we felt these warm hands touch us quite provocatively-" Fred continued.
"We turned around to see who snuck into our stall-"
"The woman was quite beautiful-"
"Exquisite and well formed-" George agreed.
"When she started to engage in activities-"
"We were not quite uncomfortable with."
"That's when she turned into Umbridge with rather revealing clothes." Everyone listening shuddered in disgust at the image produced from the twins' narrative.
The Seventh Year Prefect looked at them. "You mean to tell me that you guys were showering when a girl goes into each of your stalls and starts to engage in passionate embraces of which are not allowed on school and then suddenly turns into two Umbridges?" The twins nodded.
Lee Jordan laughed. "I think you've been standing over some rather intoxicating fumes, mate."
"Even I would have to agree that the twins daydreaming of Umbridge is rather horrifying." Ron stated, a small chuckle escaping him, exchanging looks with Jordan.
"We swear! They were real!" George argued, ears turning red in embarrassment.
"No woman came up the stairs." A Seventh year student pointed out. "We would have known if they snuck into the First Years' bathroom much less the Seventh Years'."
Shyamal walked into the bathroom, heading over to the stall. He got in, hearing the twins cry out in alarm. Nothing happened.
"Maybe they have an Invisibility Cloak." Someone called out.
"Then it wouldn't matter. They would have snuck out."
"I don't think so." Shyamal stepped out, drawing his wand. Whispering a Prior Incantatum, all of the stalls glowed a pink-orange color, the ghostly apparition of a different woman forming in each of them, wearing absolutely nothing except for the soapsuds covering strategic bits. "It's just a charm."
The Seventh Year Prefect moved over to the baths and did the same thing, this time the woman was laying wantonly across the marble baths. "Who would do this?"
Shyamal sighed. "I know who." He walked over to the staircases, leaning over to look down three floors. Cosmas and Damian had their heads out, looking back at him with grins. "Yup." The twins and Ron walked next to Shyamal to peak over the banister.
George and Fred both flushed a deep red. "YOU did this?"
Cosmas whooped in laughter as Damian yelled back up. "Until the other side gives in and if by the end of the year, neither have, the school votes on who's the best. No pranking during Quidditch but everything is up for grabs."
"Deal!" Fred yelled back down.
"Let the Prank War begin!" Cosmas and Damian disappeared back into their dorms. As Shyamal walked down the staircase, chatting with Ron about the new war, Shyamal started planning how to escape the Gryffindor tower without being seen.
The full silvery face of the moon shone brightly in the dark vault of the sky, the silvery fingers grooming the vast landscape of the Hogwarts grounds below. Ghostly howls echoed through the once silent air, a chilling symphony of the wilderness that only lived in nature, untamed and untouched by human hands. A shadow glided through the undergrowth, the jet black body moving stealthily, black feline paws barely disturbing the leaf fall. Green eyes glowed in the shadows, eyes picking any slight movement, rounded ears not missing a sound.
Behind the jaguar, a young tiger cub followed, its shorter legs pumping to keep up. The bright orange of her coat and the brilliant white of her underbelly clashed with the darker surroundings, Shyamal marking her easily against the foliage. The reason for her short stature was the fact that she was young in regards to age. Shyamal suspected as she neared 17, her Animagus form would start to mature into that of a fully formed tigress.
Flanking on either side of the tiger cub were the two werewolves, brown and easily loping in long gaits. Out of the four of them, Cosmas and Damian fitted in most easily with the Forest as wolves were quite common around these parts. The only differences were the markings of the werewolves and rather large stature. Shyamal was lucky his jaguar form was even bigger than theirs.
The small pack threaded their way deeper into the forest, free from the dark gloomy cloud settling over the aged castle. Centaurs watched from various knolls, bows armed and ready for the slightest hint or threat of bodily harm. Like transparent ghosts, unicorns fled, their heads bobbing nervously of the new wanderers of the Forbidden forest.
It had been twenty years since the last pack. Then, it had been one werewolf, a stag, a great Newfoundland, and a small rat. Unlike the werewolf before, however, these two werewolves were more in control, thanks to the treatment and research of the East.
Severus Snape's Wolfsbane potion had been a medical breakthrough. With the appropriate treatment coupled with meditation techniques, an infected individual could learn to control the mind of the werewolf and in time, learn to control the transformation to the point they could shift at any time they want, including the nights of the full moons. But due to the treatment being recent, many Healers considered it an unproven theory that still needed more research and study.
Damian and Cosmas had taken a chance and had asked the Blood Elves to help them through the steps In only the past two years, they had been able to exert any control over their werewolf sides and in the past year alone, had been able to control their transformations and in the few months had lessened the amount of times they would accidentally do a partial transformation.
While Cosmas and Damian were learning how to control their werewolf sides, Hala and Shyamal had gone with another Elven master to find their animal spirits. Wizards discovered their Animagus form through the taking of the Animagus potion that revealed their form, however, when they tried to transform into it, success was very rare. In fact, in the past 100 years, only seven had successfully completed it. The process overall was extremely painful during the first transformation, bordering on torturous. The Elven way was much more spiritual and more successful as the student took the time to connect with himself but it took longer. The first time Shyamal had connected with his magical core was five months after they had started. It had taken another seven months to even call upon his fur. By the end of the second year, he was able to shift into his jaguar form. Hala had finished her tigress formby the third year.
Shyamal chuckled in his mind at how cute she had looked when she finished her transformation. The round cheeks and innocent look in her feline eyes. The picture Akane's brother had taken without her knowledge was safely tucked away in Shyamal's trunk.
The group came to a stop at a small river, a herd of unicorns frolicking on the other bank. Cosmas and Damien started a wrestling match, playfully snapping and nipping at each others' hind legs and shoulders. Shyamal padded up to Hala, making sure to keep an eye on the twins. With his great tongue, Shyamal started licking Hala's face. She gave a growl of annoyance, gently batting him in the leg with her small paw. He huffed.
Shyamal yelped in pain as Cosmas bit down on his tail. With a deep growl, he swiped at his brother's head, the younger werewolf rolling onto his back in a sign of submission, tail thumping on the floor. He growled softly, raking Cosmas' playfully with his large paw. Hala jumped on his back, her teeth nibbling along his spine. Shaking himself he turned to her as Cosmas got up.
They continued to play, wrestling each other and running around in circles.
Until Shyamal heard the unmistakable crack of a twig.
Freezing, Shyamal's ears flicked forward, his sensitive hearing picking up the crackling of branches and dried forest leaves. He growled in warning at the others, Damian immediately leading his brother and sister into a densely leaved brush, the three disappearing in the darkness. Shyamal stood in the middle of the clearing, trying to pick up on the approaching intruder.
The bush right in front of him rustled, an extremely large Newfoundland stepping out into the clearing.
Growling and snarling, Shyamal took a defensive stance, green eyes fixed on the black dog. The dog took a step toward him. Shyamal lowered his head, increasing his snarling, muscles coiling in preparation. Another step closer and Shyamal attacked.
The dog yelped, dodging away in the direction where his siblings had gone. Shyamal bounded after it. As soon as he could, he bit down on the tail, jerking the dog roughly to a stop. The dog turned around, yelping in pain and shock. Shyamal took the chance to leap on the canine's back. The dog retaliated by biting him in the hind leg, teeth digging in painfully as the dog shook its large head.
The two animals continued to fight, snarling and biting, snapping at anything they could reach. Shyamal had the advantage with the extra claws on his feet that were longer and sharper than the ones on the dog's paws.
Finally, Shyamal tipped the dog on its back, paw crushing the dog's throat.
It was then, the dog shifted into Sirius Black.
Shocked, Shyamal removed his paw as if burned, shifting into his human form. "Professor Black?"
The man coughed, hand going to his bruised throat. "Dumbledore never told me you were an Animagus." Blood trickled from the various cuts on his face from the fight. "I was out here to check on your brothers. I was shocked to see the Shrieking Shack empty and the scent of two animals following them into the forest. Poppy had told me she had made sure the doors were locked as she left."
"I'm sorry for attacking you. I thought you were a Death Eater or something." Shyamal helped Black to his feet. "I tend to keep our Animagus abilities a secret. Perhaps we should have told Dum-" Any further talk was interrupted by the loud howl of a large animal. "That's Cosmas!"
Shyamal shifted, his body changing into the graceful feline form of his jaguar. The large paws of Black thudded behind him as they two ran toward the spot where the howls and roars were coming from. As they got closer, they could hear the snarling and whistling of another beast over the painful yelps of one of his brothers.
Bursting through the last grove of trees, the two Animagus came out on a frightening scene. A large Acromantula had found his siblings while he had been fighting Black. Damian was held in the tight grip of the giant spider, covered in what looked like fine spider silk. Cosmas was trying to desperately to injure the underside of the spider while Hala distracted it. She screeched again, her small form striking here and there before the giant spider's head. Cosmas darted in, paws scratching against the underbelly. Shyamal didn't even think; he shifted back to his human form as he ran, withdrawing his wand from its holster. A blaze of fire came roaring out as he yelled "Incendio!". The Acromantula dropped Damian who tried to scramble to safety but couldn't because of his injured leg while the spider clicked its pincers in distress as the fire continued to burn away at its body. A hairy leg flew out, catching Shyamal in the chest, hurtling the teen against a tree.
Black shifted, casting the same spell on the spider Shyamal had used but with more control. The spider gave another screech of pain before retreating, smoke rising from where the fires had burned.
"Is everyone okay?" He asked, heading toward Shyamal who was gingerly getting to his feet. The two werewolves nodded, the older twin trying to remove the spider silk while the other licked Hala comfortingly. "Perhaps we should head back to the Shack. You guys had enough excitement for tonight." Black winked at Shyamal as they started moving off again.
Monday evening saw the Quidditch pitch almost the full house of Gryffindor waiting in the stands for the team try outs. Edward Potter was standing near the sidelines, Nimbus 2000 in hand. Angelina Johnson, George and Fred Weasley were standing there with Katie Bell talking quietly about who was probably going to give a good show. With a nod, Angelina broke free from the group and turned to look at the hopefuls.
"Oy, listen up! This year, we'll be holding open tryouts for all positions. Just because you made the team last year does not guarantee you a spot this year. You will have to earn it back." At this point, a few Gryffindors were sending glances toward Edward Potter who ignored them and continued to focus on Johnson. "We will also be having a reserve team unlike last year so in case anything happens; a replacement will be on hand. Is that clear?" She received nods. "Good, The first up will be the Beaters. Pick a partner and grab yourself a bat."
The practice continued, the Beaters giving everything they had in slamming the Bludgers home. Seeing the Weasley twins play, Shyamal had to agree that the five years of experience of playing on the Gryffindor team had them easily dominating over every pair and giving them an edge of Cosmas and Damian.
The Keepers were up next. Shyamal cheered as Ron successfully blocked all of his shots, doing an amazing feat of doing a barrel roll to block the last one.
At the blast of the whistle, the Chasers went into the sky. Though he had only talked to her on a friendly person basis, Shyamal was captivated by Ginny Weasley. She streaked through the air, her red hair flying behind her as she raced toward the hoops, face contorted in fierce determination.
"Oh, Shyamal's got his eye on Ron's younger sister." Cosmas nudged Damian chuckling at the look Shyamal threw him.
"I do not."
"Right, you're just checking out her form up in the air." Cosmas suggestively said.
"It doesn't matter. I heard she's going out with someone." Damian distractedly replied, eyes still on the moving Chasers.
For some odd reason, hearing that, Shyamal's good mood decidedly plummeted.
Finally the Chasers were called back to the stands after Angelina took her shot. The three Seeker hopeful went out onto the field; Shyamal, Edward and some third year that Shyamal hadn't been introduced to.
Hearing Angelina blow her whistle, Shyamal mounted the school broom, kicking off into the air to the catcalls of his siblings and friends. Almost immediately a long forgotten feeling came over him, his low mood lifting. It had been so long, five years wroth, that he had indulged himself in this.
He rolled over instinctively, the sky spinning around until he was facing the green earth and colored stands of the Quidditch pitch. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Edward steering his broom back around for another flyby.
So he was willing to fight for his position and play dirty too if need be.
Shyamal grinned. It wasn't going to be a slaughter then.
"I'm releasing the Snitches now!" Boomed Angelina's voice but Shyamal didn't hear her. The ten Snitches zoomed from the case she had opened. Despite being upside down, Shyamal pointed the broom down shooting toward the cluster of three flying close to the ground, heading to the far-side of the pitch. As he neared the ground, he rolled back on top, completing the barrel roll and flattening himself against the handle to pick up even more speed. The cluster came into range. Shyamal reached out to grab the last fluttering ball of the group. It turned silver immediately and with a loud pop that was lost in the whistling of the wind, the captured Snitch disappeared. His attention turned back to the other two Snitches. They were spiraling up around the middle post, little arcs of golden light.
Rocketing up, Shyamal missed slamming into the wall, arcing into the first circle of the Snitches as they shot past. He grabbed both as they flew straight into his outstretched and open hand, their small sizes fitting easily between his fingers. They turned silver and disappeared.
Shyamal spun around to the middle of the pitch, just in time to see Edward catch a fourth Snitch hovering near the stands. It flashed red and disappeared. A glimpse of black had him turning to catch the third year student.
The boy was tailing him, hoping to swoop in to catch a Snitch before Shyamal did.
Lazy little bugger. Shyamal thought. Only one thing to do then if he wants to play 'Follow the Leader'.
Angling the broom toward the center, Shyamal acted like he had seen another Snitch. The boy followed, moving in closer behind Shyamal. Just as they evened out with the Staff Seating, Shyamal dived, gaining speed, hair whipping around his face. At the last second, Shyamal pulled up, evening out so his toes grazed the dirt. The boy was not as lucky as Shyamal heard a hard thump and the oohing of the crowds. He didn't turn behind him as he had caught sight of a fifth Snitch. It flew toward the stands, dodging left and right as it sped over the shocked heads of the Gryffindors.
Shyamal sped after it, trying to close the distance but as the golden ball swooped up following a viewing tower, Edward dropped down from the top and caught the Snitch as it sped right by him. Edward sent him a smirk, opening his hand to taunt Shyamal with the fifth disappearing Snitch.
Hmm, so he's a competent Seeker. Shyamal didn't brood on the lost Snitch. Instead, he sped off to where he had seen a sixth Snitch. This one didn't move, turning silver as his fingers closed around it and disappearing. Edward's smirk disappeared as well.
So far, Edward had two that Shyamal knew and he had four. He needed two to clench his spot. Shyamal flew up over the pitch, eyes scanning the pitch and stands for any sign of the golden balls. There should be at the most four more in play if the third student hadn't caught any.
Shyamal spotted one and quickly went after it, the seventh Snitch disappearing. Suddenly the broom under him bucked, Shyamal grabbing the handle with both hands, legs tightening.
Someone was jinxing the broom.
Edward wouldn't be that selfish to jinx his broom right in front of the Gryffindor House.
The broom gave a harder buck, almost unseating Shyamal who couldn't reach his wand without fear of being bucked off.
A golden fluttering ball zoomed past him, hovering below him.
Shyamal focused on it.
Am I really that crazy?
He was only 30 feet in the air, the stands below him underneath the Snitch.
He looked back down, the Golden Snitch tauntingly lazing around the air beneath him.
Was he really that reckless?