You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com


Once Defied by pennyardelle

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 161,202
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, Pettigrew, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/Lily, Other Pairing

First Published: 06/01/2009
Last Chapter: 04/28/2010
Last Updated: 06/10/2014

Summary:
banner by Alora at The Dark Arts

At the beginning of their seventh and final year at Hogwarts, Lily Evans and James Potter find themselves closer to one another than ever before. With darkness taking over the world around them, they discover that love—the mix of fluttering heartbeats, stolen glances, shared smiles, and squirming stomachs—is the most powerful magic of all.

:: 2012 Dobby Awards Winner for Best Canon ::


Chapter 13: Out in the Cold


Chapter Thirteen

Out in the Cold




James was sick of his parents’ insistence on sheltering him, so Apparating to another part of the country in order to illegally transform and run around with a werewolf was very satisfying. His enthusiasm could not even be marred by the fact that he and Sirius Apparated straight into a waist-high snowdrift and had to spend ten minutes trying to get out. They waited for Peter, who was clad in so many layers of jackets and scarves that he looked even more lump-like than usual, and followed Remus’ directions into the forest near his home. James had only been there a few times before, and it all sort of looked the same inside the thick trees. They couldn’t get lost, though; the directions had been very straightforward.

“Is this really a good idea?” Peter asked, his voice muffled.

“You sound like Moony,” Sirius said. His voice echoed through the trees. “It’s new Marauder territory, Wormtail.”

“These trees are going to be pretty difficult to run through,” James remarked.

“Only for one of us,” Sirius joked.

They walked further into the forest, and they could hear howls getting louder and louder.

“Reckon we should do it now?” Sirius asked.

“Let’s wait,” James replied. “Wormtail has to get rid of the chain while we keep Moony under control, remember?”

They kept going until they could see the clearing, bright-white under the moon. A four-legged form was sunken into the snow.

“Okay, Wormy,” Sirius said. “We’ll go in, and you go around the back of the tree.”

As soon as Remus saw other animals approaching, he leapt to his feet and lunged at them, pulling at the chain that held him to the tree. It was only when the stag and dog came closer that his ferocity lessened. The chain fell from Remus’ neck, but he did not bolt off into the trees, preferring to stay with those he knew were his friends. It was only when they started to move that he followed.

They had only ever spent full moons at Hogwarts, and it was strange to be somewhere so unfamiliar. The trees were difficult for James to navigate, as he had predicted, and he had to think ten steps ahead to avoid running into one of them. His concentration was not fully on Remus, but that often happened on these nights.

James had barely noticed that the trees were thinning when they burst out of the woods. He could see a group of lights off in the distance, and Remus stopped, sniffing the air. This was always a sign of danger, but Sirius was on it, playfully tackling their friend from behind, distracting him. Remus followed Sirius as he ran away from the lights and back into the forest.

They ran for hours, never stopping in order to always keep Remus distracted from the desperate hunger he must feel. They had to go until dawn, now that he had been unleashed. It was wonderfully liberating and distracting to run like this, if you could ignore how exhausting it was. Being away from Hogwarts offered less diversion. Here, there was little to explore, only ground to cover. The forest seemed never-ending, and James thought they must be a hundred miles from any form of civilization—the farther, the better, when you were trying to keep a werewolf under control.

Their footfalls broke the deafening silence like beats on a gong. It was the deepest hour of night when the trees started thinning and they emerged from the opposite edge of the forest. James felt a moment of fear when he saw a small village sprawled out in front of them, but he soon realized that it was entirely deserted. No lights shone from inside the cottages, each of which was a heap of broken windows and sunken roofs. James relaxed and thundered down the remains of the High Street, following Sirius and Remus.

A small church and graveyard marked the end of the High Street, and James slowed down. There was something eerie about this place, now that he looked at it properly. Where had all the people who had once lived here gone to? It did not look like there were many shops, so they could not be too far from a larger town. An odd smell was tingeing the air, as well.

Thunk. James turned toward the nearest cottage, where the noise had come from. He hoped it was just another ceiling rafter falling down, and not a person moving within. Perhaps they had been wrong to assume that the village was deserted, despite its appearance.

Remus and Sirius had been distracted until now, but they suddenly froze, their ears pricked and alert. James watched the nearest house carefully, and he was pretty sure he could see something moving inside of it. They needed to get out, now. It was hard enough to pull Remus away when there were people protected by a thick castle wall.

He started to nudge Remus firmly in the direction of the forest, but he stopped in horror. Whatever had been moving had finally emerged, and it wasn’t alone. There were dozens of them, all walking out from the decrepit houses. From a distance, they could have been mistaken for humans, but they had greying skin stretched taut over bone and stringy hair. They staggered out into the High Street; none of them seemed to be heading anywhere in particular. James had only seen them in illustrations before, but he was quite sure that these were Inferi.

He could not think straight enough to run, and he, Remus, and Sirius stood still as statues as the grey bodies swarmed around them. They moved like sick marionettes: slowly, haltingly, animated but lifeless. James tried to at least think of a plan to defend himself, but even as a stag, he was outnumbered and would be easily overpowered. Inferi, he remembered, were strong, despite their frail appearance.

Only, why weren’t they attacking James, Remus, or Sirius? Wasn’t that what Inferi were supposed to do? They were just walking past them as if they didn’t exist; one even bumped off James’ hindquarters. It was as if they were searching for something but could not find it; they wandered aimlessly around the three of them. Remus, who had his teeth bared in a low growl, was showing more signs of aggression than they were. James was about to try and get Sirius’ help in directing their friend back into the forest when Remus let out a snarl and lunged at one of the Inferi, attacking with vigour that James had never seen before.

James expected them to attack now, once provoked, but they were unperturbed. Remus, on the other hand, recoiled, shuddering and retching. The Inferius he had attacked reached its hand forward like a lightning flash and closed it around Remus’ neck. Remus looked completely disoriented and did not fight back, and Sirius was barking at James. He hardly wanted to have the Inferius come after him, but there was nothing else to be done; with some swift kicks he was able to free Remus from the Inferius. The rest of the Inferi seemed to have noticed nothing, and were still roaming around them like a swarm of insects. James was in horror and could hardly move, but the only solution was to get back to the cover of the trees. He looked at Sirius and threw his head in the direction of the forest, hoping he would understand.

They managed to guide Remus part of the way to the trees before he collapsed. James was now so worried that he almost transformed, but they were not yet far enough away from the village. They would never be far enough, but they needed to be further, at least, before James would feel comfortable resuming human form. With Sirius’ help, he was able to push Remus over the snow and back into the forest before finally transforming.

Sirius was the first to speak, swearing in between laboured breaths. James leaned up against a tree, doubled over. He didn’t think he had ever felt his heart beating this frantically before.

“Where’s Peter?” he asked, realizing for the first time that he was not among them.

“Probably did the smart thing and ran away,” Sirius replied. “I’m sure he’s fine; he always is.”

Sirius was right, and in any case, James was more worried about whether Remus was going to be fine or not. He still seemed to be either unconscious or sleeping.

“Think he’s all right?” James asked, jerking his head at the motionless Remus.

“Obviously not,” Sirius said.

“I mean—he’s not—he’s alive, right?”

“Why wouldn’t he be? It’s not like he got attacked. He attacked.”

James pushed himself upright and walked over to Remus. He was suddenly very aware that this was the first time he had ever been around his friend as a human during the full moon. It was with a great deal of trepidation that the knelt down and rested his hand on Remus’ side, trying to feel for signs of breathing or a heartbeat. When he felt his chest rise and fall underneath his hand, he jumped up quickly.

“He’s breathing.”

“Yeah, well, thank Merlin we all are,” Sirius said.

“How could there be an entire village of those things without anyone knowing about it?” James asked.

“Oh, I’m sure people knew. Until they were brutally murdered by the undead horde, of course.”

James exhaled heavily, trying to sort his thoughts into coherent form. They needed to find Peter. They also needed to figure out what was wrong with Remus and fix it, without getting bitten while they did so. They needed to be human to cure him, but avoid getting bitten when he was cured. None of these tasks seemed possible.

“Maybe we should go get Remus’ mum,” James suggested. Sirius barked with derisive laughter.

“Are you kidding? Yeah, let’s go tell his mummy that we’re illegal Animagi, and we let her son run around every time there’s a full moon. That’ll go over well.”

“He could be really hurt! We have to do something!”

“You know we can’t tell anyone,” Sirius said. James knew he was right. Going for help was risking a great deal—but not going for help might be risking even more. Was there anyone they could trust? His parents might know what to do, but they would also probably take him out of Hogwarts if they found out what he’d been doing. Sirius’ parents were out of the question, of course, and Peter’s mum was a Muggle. It didn’t matter, anyway. Beyond the fact that they would all be in serious trouble if they brought in outside help, it would only be putting one more person at risk.

“We should go get that chain,” James said.

“You go,” Sirius offered, glancing sideways at the village. “I’ll stay here with Moony.”

“No, you should go,” James said. He wouldn’t feel like much of a friend, leaving Sirius alone with not only the Inferi but also a werewolf. “You’ve always had better aim at Apparating.”

“My nerves are shot; I won’t do any better than you. It’s fine.”

“Padfoot, just get out of here, will you?”

Sirius’s jaw twitched, but there was a crack that reverberated in the trees, and he was gone. James forced himself not to look in the direction of the houses, in case he happened to spot a wandering Inferius. Incendio, he told himself, taking his wand out. Incendio. That was what they’d learned in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and he wanted it fresh in his mind, just in case.

Even though he had been expecting it, the crack that signalled Sirius’ return made him jump. Sirius was not alone: Peter, still wrapped in a mountain of scarves and hats, was at his side.

“He was back in the clearing,” Sirius explained.

“I lost you in that spot where the trees thickened,” Peter said. “I was waiting for you.”

“You should feel fortunate,” Sirius grumbled, using his wand to wrap the chain tightly around a nearby tree.

“What do you mean?” Peter asked. His watery eyes were wide and nervous.

“That village over there is full of Inferi,” James said, taking on the task of shutting the manacle around Remus’ neck. Saying it—Inferi—felt strange, almost as if he were discussing the most preposterous thing that had happened in a dream. “Remus attacked one of them; that’s why he’s sick. I think.”

“We shouldn’t stay here,” Peter said.

“We can’t abandon Moony,” James replied.

“But—those things could find us! We’re not even that far away from them!”

“Calm down, Wormtail,” Sirius said. “It’s not like you can’t defend yourself. You’ve got a wand.”

There was some argument about how they should proceed. Peter tried to suggest that they should leave and come back in the morning, but James adamantly refused. It had always been understood that they would never leave someone behind when they were out on a full moon, and James could only imagine how Remus would feel when he realized his friends had abandoned him. Sirius did not exactly seem keen on spending the rest of the night there either, but in the end, he and Peter agreed that they should at least wait until Remus woke up.

Sirius conjured cushions for all of them, and they arranged them around a small fire. Peter had voiced a great deal of anxiety about starting a fire, arguing that they might as well conjure up an Inferi magnet. James hoped that it would not attract their attention, but weren’t they repelled by fire? And it was as Sirius had said: they had their wands in case it did draw any unwanted visitors.

James could not have fallen asleep if he’d taken the Draught of Living Death. He was exhausted, but every time he started to drift off into a hazy sort of consciousness, he imagined sickly, dead bodies grabbing onto his ankles. It felt real each time, so much so that he would jerk his leg away, only to open his eyes and see nothing there.

This was a nightmare. It was not the first time they’d run into problems during the full moon, but it had never happened on a scale like this. Meeting dozens of Inferi did not even seem possible—they were only seventeen years old. This sort of thing was supposed to happen to fully-trained Aurors, not teenagers, even if they were teenagers that often went looking for trouble.

There was only one reason—one person, though he hardly deserved to be called that—who could ever make something so horrible possible. James felt a surge of bitter loathing rush through his body, and he indulged it, pushing it to grow even stronger. Anger was easier than fear or sadness.

“Prongs?”

Sirius was fast asleep, but apparently Peter was having as much trouble as James. He sat up and took off a couple of his scarves, freeing the lower half of his face.

“What time do you think it is?” Peter asked, his words turning to fog in the air. James had to look at the slivers of sky visible through the trees.

“Maybe five in the morning?” he guessed. “We’ve still got a couple hours until the sun’s up.”

Peter yawned. “Have you checked on Moony?”

Even though Remus had barely moved since they had sat down, James was still nervous about drawing closer. There was no way of telling how much he had recovered.

“Not yet,” James admitted. Peter got up and ambled over to Remus, stumbling slightly in some deep snow. James watched as he reached a hand down, much as he himself had done before. Peter then took out his wand and conjured a moth-eaten blanket, which he threw over Remus. James could not help but smile slightly; he was reminded of his great fortune in finding three unendingly loyal friends.

Peter returned to his cushion.

“Pretty ratty blanket,” he said. “I was going for something a bit more substantial.”

“It’ll do,” James replied. They sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Do you think—is Moony dating Lily’s friend?”

James thought this was a rather bizarre conversation topic, but at least it was a distraction from less pleasant thoughts.

“Mary? I don’t think so,” James replied.

“Are you sure?” Peter pressed.

“Pretty sure. Why?”

“Well...I mean, I probably shouldn’t say anything, because it was kind of by accident that I even saw it,” Peter mumbled. James contracted his brows in confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

“I just—the night before holidays, I was walking back from McGonagall’s office—”

“Why were you in McGonagall’s office?”

“Er—well, my Potions mark isn’t very good,” Peter said quickly. “But anyway, I was walking back, and when I got up to the fourth floor, I saw Remus and her outside the library, so I was about to go say hi, but then...well, they were...erm...snogging.”

James had to take a moment to let this story sink in. He considered pinching himself; maybe he had accidentally fallen asleep, and this was all a dream.

“Are you sure it was them?” James asked.

“Yeah,” Peter replied.

“Did you ask him about it?”

“No. I felt weird, because they didn’t think anyone could see them, right? But I thought he told her that he wasn’t interested in her at Halloween.”

“He did,” James said. Remus had not mentioned anything more about Mary since then, but obviously his feelings about her had changed.

“You don’t think he likes her, do you?”

“I guess he does,” James replied.

“Yeah. He must, if he was snogging her, right?”

“Makes sense.”

“It’s weird though. She seems kind of clingy, don’t you think? And she’s not really much to look at, either.”

James shrugged. Mary wasn’t exactly a supermodel, but he didn’t think “not really much to look at” was an accurate descriptor for her. Some people would probably think she was better-looking than Lily, although James couldn’t count himself among them.

“Are you going to ask him about it?” Peter said.

“Er—maybe,” James said. It felt like there was some weird “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in effect when it came to Mary and Remus. Maybe he could ask Lily, now that they were back to being friends.

Peter soon tried to go back to sleep; whether he was successful or not, he didn’t speak again. Without anyone to talk to, the feeling of oppressive terror returned to James. The image of Inferi surrounding him seemed to be burned into his mind so that nothing could drive them out. He tried thinking about something, anything else...he soon became so tired that he felt like he might be going mad.

At some point the forest went from inky black to palest white; the sun had come up. He must have fallen asleep as well, although it felt like he had been awake the whole time. He rubbed his eyes behind his glasses and looked around. Sirius and Peter were both asleep, and Remus was back to being himself. James got up and walked over to him.

“Moony?” he said, shaking his friend’s shoulder. James was very glad that Peter had conjured that blanket. He had never really thought about it before, but he supposed it made sense that Remus would wake up unclothed.

Remus did not immediately stir. James hoped that he was just sleeping very deeply, and not on the verge of death.

“Moony, wake up,” he said, using more force. Remus was probably freezing, laying there with nothing to protect him from the snow. James took out his wand and tried to remember how to do a Warming Charm—was it Fervento or Ferventus? He hesitated: the last thing he wanted was to set his friend on fire.

Remus suddenly made a muffled groaning noise.

“Hey, Moony, you all right?”

Remus cracked one eye open and looked at James.

“What’re you doing here?” he mumbled, sounding as if every word was causing him immense pain.

“We—erm—there was some trouble last night,” James said. The details could wait for later. “Are you feeling okay?”

Remus rolled onto his back; his chest looked raw and red from the snow.

“What kind of bloody question is that?” he asked. “What do you think?”

“Right. Sorry, mate,” James said. “What I mean to say is—you’re not on the verge of death, are you?”

“James, do me a favour and bugger off for a few minutes.”

Deciding that this meant that his friend was not in mortal peril, James went to wake up Sirius and Peter.

“Moony okay?” Peter asked.

“Yeah,” James said, glancing at Remus, who had progressed to sitting up. “Let’s just wait for him here.”

They Vanished the cushions and swapped stories with Peter about Christmas, trying to make it seem like they were not waiting for Remus at all. James was to the point of asking Peter about the ingredients that his mother used in her Christmas pudding when Remus finally spoke.

“Prongs?”

James walked over, trying to look very casual, not at all like Remus had just awoken from a night as a werewolf.

“Does anyone have my wand?” Remus asked, still seated against a tree. He was staring at the ground.

“I don’t think so,” James said. “Is it at your house? One of us could Apparate back and get it for you.”

“It’s in the clearing. And there’s robes there,” Remus replied.

“Sure. I’ll go get them,” James said.

“Could you—I can’t, without my wand,” Remus muttered, grabbing onto the manacle that was still chaining him to the tree.

“Of course,” James said quickly. He took out his wand and thought, Alohomora, pointing it at the manacle. If there was ever a time for a non-verbal spell, this was it. Freed of the chain, Remus leaned his head back against the tree, looking up into the branches above. James could see dark bruises on his friend’s neck in the shape of fingerprints. He looked positively miserable.

James could think of nothing to say that would ease his friend’s unhappiness. They had never had to go through this part: the part where Remus woke up and had to deal with the immense pain that remained from the previous night. James wondered whether it was always like this, and then felt like a terrible friend for never having asked.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” James said to Sirius and Peter. He Apparated back to the clearing, where he saw folded robes near the base of a tree. Remus’ wand was placed on top of them. It brought James a moment of frustration that neither Sirius nor Peter had thought to bring these with them last night; this had probably been the tree that the chain was originally attached to, after all.

He returned and brought the pile to Remus, placing it beside him as if it were some sort of peace offering. James, Sirius, and Peter played the waiting game again while Remus got his robes on. Peter was in the middle of pointing out a former bird’s nest when they heard the unmistakeable sounds of Remus vomiting.

“Inferius does not go down smooth,” Sirius muttered.

“I wonder what it tasted like,” Peter whispered. “Do you think it was like really ancient cheese, or something?”

When the sounds subsided, the three of them decided to finally approach their friend.

“All right there, Moony?” Sirius asked. “That was quite an adventure last night. One for the history books.”

Remus massaged his forehead with the palm of his heel, but did not speak. He wasn’t even looking at any of them.

“James said you attacked an Inferius,” Peter said enthusiastically. Remus gagged and turned away to throw up again.

“He didn’t need to know, mate,” Sirius said with a hand on Peter’s shoulder.

“You shouldn’t have stayed,” Remus said when he had recovered.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” James said. “We’d never leave you behind.”

“You should have.”

“We had to make sure you didn’t die overnight, didn’t we?” Sirius said jovially.

“I’m going home,” Remus said. “See you later.”

James, Sirius, and Peter stood in shocked silence as they watched their friend turn and disappear.

“Is he mad at us?” Peter asked.

“I think he’s just embarrassed,” James said. “He didn’t really look well enough to Apparate, though.”

“Serves him right if he Splinched himself,” said Sirius.




Author’s Note: I always really appreciate feedback on this chapter, because I was very nervous about posting it, and I still wonder from time to time whether it's out of place or just preposterous. So if you have thoughts, please leave them in a review! :)

http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com