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You Want To Make A Memory? by Moonylupin

Format: Novel
Chapters: 96
Word Count: 412,333

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Angst
Characters: Dumbledore, Lupin, McGonagall, Slughorn, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, Pettigrew, Voldemort
Pairings: James/Lily

First Published: 04/15/2007
Last Chapter: 06/10/2014
Last Updated: 06/10/2014


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This is the story of four boys. This is the story of how these four boys came to know each other, of how they became friends. This is the story of their unbreakable bond, of a bond that could survive any test, any trial. This is a story that will ultimately end in tragedy.

Chapter 1: A Compartment For Four
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Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or settings that you recognize. They are the property of JK Rowling. The title is also property of Bon Jovi, I'm simply using it.

You Want To Make A Memory?

This is the story of four boys. This is the story of a boy from a family he wants to escape from. This is the story of a boy who is from a family he loves deeply, but lacks the gift of a best friend. This is the story of a boy who has been living with a curse his entire life, fighting to overcome it. This is the story of a boy who wishes to show people what he can do. This is the story of how these four boys came to know each other, of how they became friends. This is the story of their unbreakable bond, of a bond that could survive any test, any trial. This is a story that will ultimately end in tragedy.

Chapter One
A Compartment for Four

A sandy-haired, green-eyed boy of eleven sleepily pushed his trolley through the crowd of travelers at King’s Cross Train Station. His parents walked along in his wake, talking in hushed voices. They knew their son was excited, but they needed him on his guard. He knew what accepting his spot meant, the precautions that had to be taken. Their son knew, of course, everything that came along with his invitation, the chance he thought he had been denied. He knew he had to be careful, but that still didn’t stop his parents from worrying.

They stopped outside the barrier between platforms nine and ten and waited patiently, looking for the perfect chance the race through the barrier and onto Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

“Listen, Remus,” the man said, looking down at his son. “You know Dumbledore went through a lot of trouble for you.”

“I know, Dad,” Remus replied, looking longingly at the barrier, eager to find a compartment on the train and catch up on his sleep.

“You’re not going to slip up, are you?”

“Of course not.”

“Good,” Remus’s father said, patting his son on the shoulder. “You know we’re proud of you, don’t you?”

Remus nodded. He knew that his parents were prouder of him now more than they had ever been. It had been decided a long time ago that the idea of Remus attending school was out of the question. How could a boy like him possibly be admitted? Not that Remus was a bad person; he was just unfortunate enough to have been bitten by a werewolf at a young age.

“The Lupins are a smart lot, you know,” Mr. Lupin went on, putting his arm around his son’s shoulder and leading him closer to the barrier, Mrs. Lupin following. “A whole line of Ravenclaws on my side of the family.”

“My side wasn’t exactly dumb, Harry,” Mrs. Lupin said reprovingly.

“I know, Anna, but we’re talking about Wizard knowledge right now,” Harry responded in a lower voice, grinning at his wife’s frown.

Anna Lupin rolled her eyes at her husband and walked forward, pulling her son into a hug. “You be good, you hear? I don’t want to get a letter saying that you blew anything up.”

“Unless, of course, it’s the Slytherin common room,” Harry added, earning a disapproving look from his wife. He cleared his throat and regained an authoritative manner. “Yes, well, listen to your mother, Remus.” He gripped his son’s shoulder and shook it.

“See you at Christmas,” Remus said, hugging his mother once more before turning around with his father, preparing to go through the barrier.

The crowd seemed heavy enough that no one would notice two people disappear through a solid brick wall, so they took this chance. They reappeared on the other side, and were met with a fairly empty platform. This made sense, of course, as they were a half hour early. The rush never really started until twenty to the hour. This was how Mr. Lupin had wanted it; he didn’t want any attention drawn to his son, whose face bore painful looking scars.

They found a compartment at the back of the train and Mr. Lupin helped his son stow away his trunk before he climbed on board. Remus stepped onto the platform once more to say a proper goodbye to his father. Mr. Lupin gave his son one last hug before he got on the train and he went back into the Muggle world to his wife.

Remus settled himself on the unusually comfortable seat and leaned his head against the window. He could see his father take the trolley and push it through the barrier, offering one last look at him before he disappeared. He grinned at the thought of blowing up the Slytherin common room; it had been a mission of his father’s when he went to Hogwarts – a mission he never achieved. His mother, a Muggle, sometimes failed to understand the significance of that statement. His father absolutely hated the Slytherin house; he would never dare step foot into that house and neither would Remus. Honestly, Remus would be happy in any house that wasn’t Slytherin. With that thought in mind, he allowed himself to be lulled away to sleep.

A boy with long black hair and grey eyes walked silently beside a rather forbidding woman. He listened, uninterested, as she babbled on about nonsense he had heard at least a million times in his life. He couldn’t be exact about how many times he had listened to it; he had lost count at two hundred and fifty two, but he knew he had heard the story many times over. When he was younger he used to protest, saying that he didn’t want to listen. Now he knew better. He would simply smile and nod, knowing that he would never actually follow the orders his mother bestowed upon him.

They inconspicuously walked through a solid brick barrier and reappeared on the other side, lost amongst the crowds of people scurrying about, saying rushed goodbyes to each other. The boy’s mother spun him around by his shoulders so that he was facing her. She studied him noiselessly, taking in every wrinkle on his shirt, every lose strand of hair on his head. She clicked her tongue irritably, straightening a crease on the boy’s sleeve.

The boy grimaced and shrunk away from her. “Will you stop it, Mother?” he asked, annoyed.

“Sirius, you have to look presentable at least once in your life,” the woman said.

Sirius rolled his eyes. He really couldn’t care less if he looked presentable or not. Who was he trying to impress anyway? Certainly not the kinds of people his mother wished him to become acquainted with. He knew it was his mother and his father’s wish for him to lead on the Black Family name. He was the heir, after all. He was only grateful his father was home with his younger brother, Regulus. His father was just as strict about these absurd family notions as his mother was.

Sirius gripped the handle on his trunk and slowly pulled it off the trolley. He wanted to get away from his mother as quickly as possible. He looked over his shoulder at the scarlet steam engine behind him – the Hogwarts Express. It was a sight. The train stood proudly, puffing mammoth clouds of smoke into the air as it awaited the departure to Sirius’s ticket away from his family – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He checked his watch and saw he did not have much time to get on the train and find a suitable compartment – preferably far away from the so-called appropriate companions.

“Mother,” Sirius said slowly, inching backwards ever so slightly. “I really should get on the train now.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Mrs. Walburga Black said, checking her own watch. “Well, remember all that I’ve told you,” she added, pointing a finger at her oldest son.

“Of course, Mother,” Sirius agreed, cracking the fakest smile he could. He picked up his trunk. “See you at Christmas.” With that, he was off to school, away from the one thing he had so longed to escape.

Sirius walked up and down the corridor, looking through the windows of the compartments in hope of finding a vacant one he could have for himself. As he neared the back, he discovered that this was not likely to happen. Every compartment was either full or else had some nasty looking occupants. In the very last compartment, however, was a sandy-haired boy fast asleep against the window. He won’t mind, Sirius thought, sliding the door open as quietly as he could.

He entered the compartment and stowed his trunk in the overhead and took a seat. He observed the slumbering boy, who did not seem as if he would be waking up any time soon. This is going to be a long ride.

A boy with untidy, jet-black hair and glasses that framed his hazel eyes hurried through the crowd of witches and wizards on Platform Nine and Three Quarters. He had ten minutes to find a good compartment, or else he would be left sitting with people he knew he would not like. The train left at eleven and, according to his father’s watch, it was now ten to. The boy couldn’t wait to get on the train and speed away to his new life at school, the opportunity he had been waiting for for a long time. He loved his parents, yes, but there just wasn’t anyone his age around. He was an only child, the youngest cousin by many years… he needed to be near people his own age.

He peered through the windows of the train, hoping he could discover a decent compartment from outside. He didn’t much fancy running into some nasty Slytherins, not that he was afraid of them. He was very confident that, if the need arose, he could defend himself. He merely wasn’t in the mood to fight. He acquitted his search, however, and focused his attention on his parents. It caused them a great deal of distress to let him go. They were considerably old and, having a child so late in life, they spoiled him a little more than they should.

“You’ll do great, James,” James’s father said, smiling fondly at his son.

“Thanks, Dad,” James replied, grinning broadly.

“Write as much as you can,” his mother said, wearing a grin similar to her husband’s.

“I will.”

“All the Potters have been in Gryffindor, I have no doubt you’ll be there as well.” Mrs. Potter beamed at the thought of James being in her and her husband’s alma mater. “Right, Charles?” she said to her husband.

“Actually, Hannah, I think there was a Hufflepuff somewhere along the line in my family. Hufflepuff’s a great house too; it wouldn’t be terrible if you got in there.”

James nodded. He knew Hufflepuff was a good house; people just made it seem as if it was for dodders. He took another glance at his father’s watch. “I think I should be heading on the train now,” he said pointedly, the Hogwarts Express was nearly ready to leave.

“Oh, of course!” Mrs. Potter said, pulling her son into a hug. “You write every week, you hear?”

“Yes, Mum,” James replied, his voice muffled by his mother’s shoulder.

“Do well, James,” Mr. Potter said, clapping James on the shoulder.

With one last look at his parents, James pulled his trunk forward and began his search for a compartment. As he trailed the train’s corridor he discovered that being late put him in something of a dilemma. Almost all of the compartments were completely full, or else held some rather mean looking dwellers. He dragged his trunk, his arm getting tired, to the back of the train where he prayed he would at last have success. He peered into one of the windows and found a compartment with only two people in it. One was a sandy-haired boy, who was currently sleeping. The other was a black-haired boy who was leafing lazily through a book. Clearly he was in need of some company that was actually awake.

He slid the door open and the boy looked up.

“Mind if I sit here?” James asked. The boy shook his head and James gratefully took the seat across from him, next to the still sleeping boy. “I’m James Potter.”

“Sirius Black,” the boy replied, placing his book into his pocket.

“Black? I think I’ve heard of that name before.”

“No… no, you probably haven’t.”

James looked at Sirius curiously, but said nothing. Obviously Sirius wasn’t at all comfortable with speaking of his family. He vaguely remembered his father saying how the Blacks were too pureblood obsessed, how they couldn’t care less about the Muggle-borns. James shrugged this thought off; Sirius didn’t give off that air of arrogance. He decided the best thing to do would be to hit it off with him.

A boy with mousy blonde hair and watery blue eyes trudged along behind his parents as they led the way to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. He knew he should be excited; every eleven year old witch or wizard was, but he couldn’t be. For so long he had believed himself to be a Squib, that he had no magical powers, despite his bloodline. Then his letter came, the letter that proved his notions wrong. This letter invited him to the best school in the country where he could learn magic.

He and his parents strolled unnoticeably through the seemingly solid barrier between platforms nine and ten and reappeared on the other side to see the students frantically running across the ground to the train. The boy glanced down at his watch; he hadn’t realised he’d arrived so late. He should have listened to his mother when she told him to wake up, but he had chosen to sleep and now he was paying for it. He turned to his parents, not wanting to say a rushed goodbye, but having no alternative.

“The train’s about to leave,” he said unnecessarily. His parents had clearly noticed this by simply watching the students dashing about.

“You’ll do fine, Peter,” his mother said, ruffling his hair fondly. “All of the Pettigrews have done well; you just have to believe you can.”

Peter did his best to smile. His mother obviously had no idea what he was thinking at the moment – that he would be at the bottom of his class. What if he didn’t even make it into a house? What if he was deemed unworthy of any of the four houses because of his lack of capability? He didn’t want to even imagine the looks on his parents’ faces when they found him on their doorstep the day after he left for school. He couldn’t disappoint them in such a way; they had done too much for him.

“I know you’re nervous, Peter, but your mother is right,” Mr. Pettigrew said encouragingly. “Come on, Maggie,” he added to his wife. “Peter has to go.”

“Right, John,” Mrs. Pettigrew said.

Peter hugged his mother and father before hurrying on the train, which was about to hurry away. He grabbed the handle of his trunk, hopped on board and set out for a place to sit. Peter had always found it a little difficult coming upon strangers, especially when there were so many of them, which was why he searched for a compartment with fewer people inside, three at the most. He ended up at the back of the Hogwarts Express, at a loss for where to sit. He had encountered far too many overly occupied compartments.

As he was looking about he heard the distinct sound of two voices laughing. The voices seemed to be coming from his right; he turned and peered through the window of the door. There was a boy with untidy black hair laughing with another boy who had long black hair. They seemed to be friendly enough, he would chance it. He pushed the door open and cleared his throat, attracting the attention of the two boys.

“Erm… hi,” Peter said awkwardly. “Mind?”

“Not at all,” the boy with the untidy hair said, gesturing to the seat across from him. “I’m James Potter.”

Peter grinned and sat down. “I’m Peter Pettigrew,” he said.

“Sirius Black,” the boy beside him said.

Peter smiled at the boy and then something caught something in the corner of his eye. It seemed that these two boys weren’t the only people in the compartment. There was a boy fast asleep in the corner. “Who’s he?” he asked them.

“We don’t know,” James said. “Sirius said he’s been asleep since he got here. Makes sense, the kid looks exhausted.”

This was true. Peter saw dark circles underneath the boy’s eyes and his face was quite pale. He, James and Sirius did their best not to be too loud and wake him. As the ride progressed, Peter found that he liked these boys; they were both funny, but seemed to have a mischievous streak. This was well demonstrated when James announced that the first thing he’d like to do would be to set off Dungbombs in the Slytherin common room, if he could find it. Sirius gladly seconded this idea.

The lunch trolley rolled by after some time and James immediately got up, Sirius at his heels. Peter looked over at the still sleeping boy; he looked as if he could use some food. Peter slowly edged towards him and gently shook the boy in the shoulder. The boy must have been close to waking up, as his head jerked up immediately upon Peter’s touch. Peter jumped back slightly, but managed a small, apologetic smile for him.

“Hullo,” Peter said, in the most pleasant voice he could muster.

“Um… hullo,” the boy said, rubbing his eyes and looking around tiredly.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” he said hurriedly.

“No, no that’s fine. I was about to wake up anyway.”

“I’m Peter Pettigrew, by the way,” he said, beginning to fish through his pockets for some money.

“Remus Lupin,” the boy responded, standing up to stretch.

Sirius and James reentered the compartment, their arms laden with every sweet imaginable. They dumped them together on one of the seats and looked over to Peter.

“Hey,” James said, his eyes moving to Remus. “Sleepy finally woke up.”

“I just woke him to see if he was hungry,” Peter explained. He turned to Remus. “The lunch trolley is still out there, if you’re hungry.”

“No, I’m not much hungry,” Remus replied, sitting down once more.

Peter shrugged and went out into the hallway, coming back in moments later with some Cauldron Cakes.

“Well if you become hungry, we got plenty,” Sirius was saying, gesturing down to the enormous pile of candy on his seat. “I’m Sirius Black,” he added to Remus. He picked up a Chocolate Frog and ripped the pack open, instantly checking the card. “Morgana,” he muttered. “I’ve got three of her; either of you three want it?” James and Peter shook their heads, saying they had her card already. “What about you, Mr. Sleepy?”

“Err… sure,” Remus said, gratefully taking the card and pocketing it. “And my name’s Remus,” he added.

“I’m James,” James said as he picked up a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. He tore the top open and pulled out a murky green coloured bean. He was about to put it in his mouth when Remus stopped him.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Remus said warningly. “That’s booger flavoured. I got one like that once.”

James looked curiously at the bean, as if he was deciding if Remus was telling the truth, and then threw it back in the box. Instead he grabbed a Pumpkin Pasty.

“So,” he said slowly. “How long do you think before we get there?”

“Maybe a few more hours,” Sirius suggested. “I can’t wait.”

“Do you know how we get put into houses?” Remus asked.

Sirius, James and Peter stared at him. He must have been Muggle-born, but then he couldn’t be if he knew what Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans were.

“You don’t know?” Peter said, slightly incredulously. “Your parents never told you?”

Remus was visibly uncomfortable. He shifted in his seat and said, “well, my mum’s a Muggle, so she couldn’t tell me and my dad never really… err… thought it was important I know.”

“What, did your dad think you were going to be a Squib?” James asked.

“No, he knew I wasn’t a Squib. Just forget about that, how do you get Sorted?”

“With the Sorting Hat. My dad told me that it looks in your brain and decides from that where you belong.”

Peter observed Remus and saw that he did not appear to be happy about this. He couldn’t understand why, it wasn’t at all painful and didn’t require a vast knowledge of magic. He glanced at Sirius and saw that he did not look too excited about this process either, but he had at least had a forewarning. He shrugged his shoulders, he would find out eventually. For now he concentrated on having fun with his newfound companions. Questions could wait.

Chapter 2: Gryffindors
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Chapter Two

The Hogwarts Express pulled into Hogsmeade Station and a voice sounded above, instructing the students to exit the train and leave their belongings behind. The four boys joined the throng of students filing into the corridor. They jumped out onto the platform and immediately heard a booming voice shouting over the crowd.

“Firs’ years! Firs’ years, this way!”

Sirius looked around to find the source of the voice, and did not have to wait long to discover it. Remus tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to a large man with a bushy beard and beetle black eyes. He was holding a lantern above his head, illuminating a pathway for the first years to take. The boys looked at each other excitedly; it seemed as if they were headed in a different direction from the older students. James, Sirius and Peter knew several things about Hogwarts, but one thing each of their parents had refused to tell them was how they got to the castle.

The large man led the way up a path and they soon found themselves standing in front of a number of boats docked at the shore of a lake. It looked as if they would be sailing to Hogwarts.

The man turned to them and smiled. “No mor’n four to a boat,” he instructed, stepping into a boat of his own.

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter hopped into the boat closest to them. Once the boats were full, the man raised a pink umbrella in the air and pointed it forward. Instantly the boats set sail into the moonlit water. The students were whispering eagerly, heads turning and craning in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the castle. One student shrieked when a tentacle surfaced in the water right near her boat. A few of the boys sniggered rudely.

“That’s just the Giant Squid,” Peter said, thinking that this was no reason for a girl to be laughed at.

The Giant Squid did not reappear for the remainder of the boat ride. As they were rounding a bend the large man raised his pink umbrella in the air once more and the students saw he was pointing to the Hogwarts Castle. The sight was more than anyone could have imagined. The castle stood tall with its cavernous passageways and high towers. Flickering lights could be seen through some of the windows, no doubt lit by torches. From all that the boys had heard about the castle from their parents, they saw that nothing could compare to the actual sight.

The boats docked on the shore and the students disembarked with a new feeling in their stomachs. The moment they stepped foot on the shore they became as nervous as they had ever been. What magic did they know? Very little, and certainly not enough to get by. Then again, that was precisely the reason they were there – to learn. This fact still did not empty their stomachs of butterflies. They trailed behind the large man and soon enough they found themselves standing in an entry way made of marble. There was a grand staircase and at the very top was a strict looking woman wearing emerald green robes.

“Professor McGonagall,” the man said when they reached the top landing. “I have the firs’ years for yeh.” He swept an arm across the first years, causing the students directly behind him to duck.

Professor McGonagall looked around the man and surveyed the first years through her square spectacles. “Thank you, Hagrid,” she said to the large man. “I will take them now.”

“O’ course, Professor,” Hagrid said, smiling and making his way down the staircase (the students parting to make room).

Once Hagrid had disappeared, Professor McGonagall returned her gaze to the new students before them. “Welcome to Hogwarts,” she said. “In a few moments you will head into the Great Hall where you will join your classmates for the Sorting Ceremony. You will be Sorted into one of the four houses – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin. While you are at Hogwarts your house will be your family. Your achievements will gain you points, while any rule breaking will lose you points. I will return when they are ready for you, I suggest you prepare yourselves before I get back.” Professor McGonagall swept by and disappeared in the same direction Hagrid had gone in.

“All we do is try on a hat, right?” Remus asked apprehensively as he looked about and discovered several students muttering spells under their breath and otherwise appearing quite frightened.

“That’s what my dad told me,” James said, suddenly sounding unsure if the information had been correct.

“Well, my parents told me the same thing,” Peter said, Sirius nodding in agreement.

“I hope I don’t end up in Slytherin,” James said. “I would jump back onto the train and go home.”

Sirius grimaced. “I’d be treated like a king if that happened.”

“What d’you mean?” Peter asked curiously.

“My whole family is Slytherins, except for my cousin Andromeda. She was a Ravenclaw.”

“But you don’t want to be in that house, do you?”

“No! Merlin, no!

“My dad’s side has always been in Ravenclaw,” Remus said, trying to divert the attention off Sirius, who looked slightly uncomfortable. “So it wouldn’t be bad being in that house.”

“Ravenclaw’s a great house,” James agreed, nodding.

“Follow me,” said the sharp voice of Professor McGonagall as she reappeared behind the first years. “They are ready for you now.”

An eerie quiet settled over the first years. They trailed behind Professor McGonagall, a feeling of dreading falling upon them. Professor McGonagall led them through enormous double doors and into the dining hall where the rest of the school had assembled. The ceiling above did not appear to be a ceiling at all; it looked as if the room simply opened up to the skies. The clear, starry night was reflected in the ceiling which, as a girl behind the boys mentioned, was enchanted to look like the sky.

At the head of the hall was the Staff Table. Sitting at the very centre of the table was a man with a long silver bead and silver half-moon spectacles. He was wearing a set of purple robes and was busy surveying the hall, his eyes falling on the first years. Situated in front of the Staff Table was a three-legged stool with a patched and frayed old hat.

Professor McGonagall led them to the hat and she pulled out a long scroll and unfurled it.

“When I call your name, you will come and try on the Sorting Hat,” she explained. “Once you have been Sorted you will take your seat with your new house mates.” She looked at the scroll. “Abbot, Allison!”

A girl with blonde plaited hair jumped in her spot and scurried up to the stool. Hat on head, she waited rather impatiently and nervously for it to shout out her new house.

“HUFFLEPUFF!” the Sorting Hat proclaimed. The table at the far right of the room began cheering loudly and Allison joined them, grinning broadly.

“Black, Sirius!” Professor McGonagall called.

Sirius groaned in his place, muttering that he hated having a surname that started with a B. Nevertheless, he walked confidently to the stool and sat down. Once the Sorting Hat was placed on his head, he was shocked to hear a voice speaking in his ear.

“Hmm,” the Hat was saying curiously. “You’re not like the many other Blacks that I’ve Sorted. Don’t you want to join them in Slytherin?”

No,” Sirius thought furiously. “Anywhere but there.”

“Well, you are different, aren’t you? If you don’t want to be in Slytherin then surely you want to be somewhere your family won’t approve of. If that’s how you want it, I know the only house for you. GRYFFINDOR!”

Sirius sighed in relief. He almost considered thanking the Sorting Hat out loud, but thought better of it. He turned and hurried to the middle table that was cheering for him, though it was a stunned cheer. Obviously several of them had heard that Blacks almost always ended up in Slytherin. Sirius was determined to prove that theory wrong. Seated comfortably amongst the Gryffindors, Sirius returned his gaze to the Sorting Ceremony. There were several Ravenclaws; maybe Remus would end up there like his father had. There were also a number of Hufflepuffs, but very few Slytherins. He had been lucky not to end up there.

“Evans, Lily!” Professor McGonagall called.

A girl with auburn hair and bright green eyes walked timidly up to the Sorting Hat and sat down. She was sitting for a few minutes before she was declared a Gryffindor. She appeared to be very pleased about this and chose a seat a few places down from Sirius. He caught her eye and smiled. They were the only two Gryffindor first years at the moment.

Some time later, after Professor McGonagall consulted the list, she called out, “Lupin, Remus!” Unless Sirius’s eyes were cheating him, Professor Dumbledore seemed to sit up straighter in his chair.

Remus swallowed hard and walked forward, trying to ignore the fact that some of the staff members were eyeing him as if he was something they had never seen before. They all knew the nature of his condition; it had been part of the agreement his parents had made with Professor Dumbledore when he had admitted Remus into Hogwarts. Did this fact mean that they had to stare at him like he was a time bomb about to explode? Remus was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he barely registered the small voice in his ear.

“Well, well, well,” the Sorting Hat was saying in a mildly impressed voice. “They always said Dumbledore was the living example of genius being one step away from insanity.” Remus raised his eyebrow, even the Sorting Hat thought this idea was pure ludicrous. “I’m not suggesting that. I was simply saying that I have never had to Sort one of your kind before.”

Remus gritted his teeth, the Hat really should have quit while it was ahead. “Can you please just Sort me?” he thought, trying to remain patient.

“Very well. I see you wouldn’t mind being in Ravenclaw, your father would be extremely proud of you. But I also see that you want friends, and one of the boys you hope to become friends with is in Gryffindor. Certainly you would want to go there? This is indeed difficult. Well, the one place I’m sure you’ll be happy in is GRYFFINDOR!”

Remus hadn’t realised how long he had been sitting in that stool; the students seemed surprised when the Sorting Hat finally placed him. He took the seat beside Sirius, who clapped him on the back and said that that was probably record timing for a Sorting. Remus didn’t know whether to be pleased or scared by this statement, so he just smiled and nodded.

“Pettigrew, Peter!” Professor McGonagall said.

Peter squeaked from his spot in the line, and dashed up to the stool. The Sorting Hat fell over his eyes, obscuring his view of the rest of the hall. The voice appeared in his mind as the Sorting Hat began making its decision.

“You’re also an interesting candidate,” the Hat mused. “Too many of you today. I like many easy placers. Well, you have a will to prove yourself to others, that’s some Slytherin in you.” Peter’s insides froze; he did not want to be in Slytherin. “But you don’t want to be in Slytherin, I see. That narrows down the choices, doesn’t it? You do have a strong sense of loyalty. You must be in GRYFFINDOR!”

Peter grinned, relieved that he had not ended up in the house he most dreaded. He took the seat across from Remus and Sirius, who both congratulated him. They turned their attention back to the Sorting, as right after Peter came,

“Potter, James!”

James walked up to the Sorting Hat with a bit of a swagger; he knew where he wanted to be.

“Ah!” the Sorting Hat exclaimed. “You’re just what I’ve been waiting for, someone easy to Sort. GRYFFINDOR!”

Once again the Gryffindor table erupted into applause as James took the seat beside Peter. The Sorting Ceremony began to round off as the remainders of the students were Sorted. They noticed in particular a boy with greasy shoulder length hair, his name was Severus Snape and he became a Slytherin.

The Sorting ended with “Zabini, Abrac,” becoming a Slytherin. Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat and the stool away. The students fixed their attention now upon Headmaster Dumbledore, who had stood in his place.

“To all those new, welcome!” he said, his eyes falling on some of the first years. “To all those old, welcome back! I ask you now to please enjoy the feast!”

The golden platters on the tables suddenly filled with food and the students, ravenous from the long train ride, began eating.

“Remus, I thought you were never going to be Sorted,” Sirius said as he piled roast potatoes onto his place.

Remus grinned nervously, and kept his eyes on his plate. “Well… I dunno, I guess I was just a hard person to place.”

“Same thing happened to me,” Peter said sympathetically, choosing to not divulge the bit of information that included him being a good Slytherin.

“Professor Dumbledore seemed a bit interested in it too,” Sirius added unthinkingly.

“Interested in what?” Remus asked, guarded.

“Your Sorting.”

“Oh… well… isn’t he interested in everybody’s?”

“He looked particularly interested in yours.”

Remus said nothing. Instead he continued to eat his food, not enjoying it but needing something to do that would make Sirius realise the subject was closed. Sirius did seem to notice that Remus had become uneasy and therefore changed the subject to Quidditch. He and James agreed that Quidditch was the best invention out there (besides the Dungbomb) and they couldn’t wait to see the first match of the season. James really wanted to play on the Gryffindor team, but Sirius made a point to mention that first years never made the team, no matter how good they were.

“Then next year,” James said confidently.

“Why! First years!” came an unexpected voice from below. James, Remus and Sirius turned to see that Peter had frozen over his plate. A pearly, translucent head was coming out of it. The figure came fully out of the table and surveyed the students around him. Some of the older students waved merrily at the ghost, while others continued eating, as if this was an every day happening, which, in their case, it probably was. “Welcome to Gryffindor!” the ghost said cheerfully, holding out a hand to Remus, presumably for him to shake.

“Um…” Remus said slowly, did the ghost expect him to shake his hand?

“Oh, I’m sorry!” the ghost said apologetically.

“Hullo, Sir Nicholas!” said an older student.

“Wait,” James muttered, realisation dawning. “You’re Nearly Headless Nick?”

Sir Nicholas scoffed irritably and pulled at the scruff of his collar.

“Nearly headless?” Lily Evans asked curiously.

“I don’t pride myself on being nearly headless, thank you very much,” he told her tetchily. “My full name is Sir Nicholas De Mimsy Porpington and that is how I wish to be addressed.”

“That’s a long name, isn’t it?” Sirius said, a grin playing at his lips.

Sir Nicholas rolled his eyes and floated away, muttering something that sound distinctly liked “blunt ax.” Remus looked around and saw several other ghosts floating around the hall. There was one he noticed in particular, the ghost was seated at the Slytherin table and appeared to be covered in silver blood. He turned to Peter and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hmm?” Peter asked, looking up from his dish of chicken.

“Who’s that ghost over there?” Remus asked, pointing a finger over his shoulder.

Peter twisted around in his chair to get a better look and spotted what Remus was referring to.

“Oh, I’ve heard of him. That’s the Bloody Barron,” Peter said. “He’s the Slytherin ghost.”

“Why’s he covered in blood?”

Peter shrugged. “I don’t think anyone knows except him.”

The dinner cleared and was soon replaced by a large round of pudding. James and Sirius, who had eaten nearly everything in reach, still managed to find room for seconds on pudding. Peter and Remus shook their heads in wonder; there was no possible way that they could handle more food than they already had. Still, they managed to scrape down a few biscuits. Once the food had cleared away and Professor Dumbledore stood up, the hall fell silent.

“Now that we have all been befuddled in this delicious feast, I have some start of the term notices to hand out,” Dumbledore said pleasantly, his silver beard glittering. “As many of you may or may not have noticed, a new plant has been planted on the grounds. It is a Whomping Willow and I must warn you that it is an ill-tempered tree. It will not hesitate in the slightest to harm any who go too near.” There was a wave of curious whispers from the older students, who couldn’t imagine why such a tree had been planted on the school grounds. But Dumbledore, however, did not elaborate on this. “Please be reminded that the Forbidden Forest is forbidden to all students, hence the appropriate title.

“Any student wishing to play on their house’s Quidditch team may speak with Madam Sparks about tryouts. We are also in dire need of a commentator, so anyone wanting to commentate may also speak with her. Our caretaker, Mr. Filch, wants me to remind you all that magic in the corridors is forbidden. I think that is all you will need to know for now. Prefects, please escort your house to their common room. Good night.”

The benches scrapped against the floor as the students stood up to follow their prefects. Remus, Sirius, James and Peter looked around and saw a girl with blonde hair calling for the first years to follow her. She led them through the Entrance Hall and up the flight of stairs they had gone up with Hagrid. They were led to the staircases, which moved from floor to floor, quickly changing their paths when they saw fit. The people in the portraits moved from frame to frame, watching in fascination at the new first years.

“Please mind the staircases,” the prefect said bossily. “They change from time to time, so you want to watch them.” She led them down a corridor once they got off the stairs and at the very end was a life-size portrait of a fat woman in a pink dress.

“Here is the portrait of the Fat Lady,” the prefect explained, gesturing to the woman in the painting. “This is the entrance to Gryffindor Tower and the common room. The password to get in is Fairy Lights.” The portrait swung aside, revealing an opening that they climbed through. When they came to the other side, the first years discovered they were in a warm room lit by a crackling fire. The room was furnished with scarlet, squashy armchairs and tables for them to do their work on. “First years, your dormitories are up these stairs, boys on the left and girls on the right. Good night, then.”

The first years broke up, the girls going to their room and the boys going to theirs. The boys approached a door labeled “First Years” and when James pushed the door open they found a circular room complete with five four-poster beds. Their trunks were already next to their designated beds, waiting to be unpacked.

“There’s my bed, I think,” James said, pointing to the one closest to the door. He knelt down beside the trunk and pushed it on its back. “Yeah, this is my trunk,” he confirmed upon seeing the gold inscription of “J.P.” on the top.

“There’s mine,” Remus said, moving over and sitting down on the bed next to James’s. He unclasped his trunk and pushed it open. On the very top of his robes and other clothing he saw the lunar chart his parents had gotten him. He turned to the month of September and saw, with shock, that the full moon was on the fifth, he hadn’t realised it was so soon. He groaned inwardly, that tree Professor Dumbledore had been talking about, the Whomping Willow, was there for his use. When the time came for the full moons he would be smuggled out of the castle and through the Whomping Willow. So many precautions had to be taken; a building and a tunnel had been built in Hogsmeade just for his use. He didn’t like the idea of it, but if he wanted to go to school, he had to deal with it.

“You okay there, Remus?” Sirius asked from his bed on Remus’s right.

Remus’s head jerked up and he saw that Sirius was watching him. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “I’m fine. So, who do you reckon the fifth bed is for?”

At the precise moment that these words came out of Remus’s mouth the dormitory door burst open and a fifth boy came in. He had a mass of black hair on his head and a pair of gold framed glasses. He smiled at his new roommates and immediately located his four-poster bed.

He sat down on it and turned his attention to the four boys. “Hi,” he said cheerfully. “I’m Frank Longbottom.”

“Sirius Black,” Sirius said. Then, gesturing to the others in the room, he introduced them before they could even try. “That there’s James Potter. That’s Peter Pettigrew, and he’s Remus Lupin.”

Frank smiled at each of his roommates and began to pull the hangings around his bed, announcing that he was going to sleep early, as he would need a lot of time to discover where all of his classes were the next morning. James, Remus, Sirius and Peter thought this was a good idea, they were guaranteed to get lost at least once; they needed all the time they could get. So, each boy pulling the curtains around their beds, they got ready for bed and their first day at Hogwarts.

Chapter 3: Cruel Cranes and Potions
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Chapter Three
Cruel Cranes and Potions

“Do you remember which way the prefect led us last night?”

“I think it was down this hall.”

“No, we came the opposite way.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t, I’m just guessing.”

“Face it, guys,” James said, stopping and turning to face his roommates. “We’re lost.”

“Well, we can find someone to follow,” Remus suggested, and then he looked around at the vacant corridor they were standing in.

“Brilliant suggestion,” Sirius remarked sarcastically. He walked up to a portrait of a shifty-looking hag and gestured to it. “I’ll just walk up to this portrait of an old hag and say ‘which way to the Great Hall?’”

“That way,” the hag said, pointing in the direction Peter had suggested – the hallway to the left, once they came out of the hallway they were in.

Sirius, evidently shocked, thanked the hag and hurried off with the others down the corridor. The old hag, as it turned out, had been just as shifty as she had looked. They were now farther away from the Great Hall as they had originally been. James checked his watch and saw that they had no time to get breakfast; as early as they had risen, it had not been much help.

“We haven’t even gotten our schedules yet,” Frank moaned, looking around as if he was hoping that the Great Hall would materialize out of thin air.

“Hey, there’s something floating over there,” Peter said, pointing to a pearly white figure in the distance. “Maybe it’s a ghost that can help.”

There was no better choice than this at the moment, so the boys dashed down to the pearly white figure and saw, with immense relief, that it was Nearly Headless Nick. He would be certain to lead them in the right direction.

“Sir Nicholas!” Peter called breathlessly, skilfully avoiding the use of Nick’s nickname.

Nick turned his head so fast that it toppled sideways, revealing the single piece of sinew that held it on his neck. Scowling in embarrassment, Nick righted his head and said to the boys, “How may I help you?”

“We’re lost,” Remus explained. “How do we get to the Great Hall from here?”

“Follow me, you’re far from it. How did you end up down here?” Nick began leading the four down another corridor.

“An old hag told us,” Sirius muttered.

“Oh, you do not want to trust her. She loves tricking first years.”

Nick finally brought the boys to the entrance of the Great Hall, which was currently emptying out as students got ready for class. They thanked the ghost and ran to find Professor McGonagall, the Gryffindor Head of House. She would have their schedules. They found her a little way up the Gryffindor table. She searched through the remainder of the course schedules in her hands and pulled out five, handing them to each boy respectively. Then, without even bothering to eat breakfast, they set off for their first class.

“What do we have first?” Remus asked, adjusting the strap on his book bag.

“Defence Against the Dark Arts,” Frank replied, pointing to the top of his schedule. “It’s on the third floor.”

“Do you think we can make it there on time?” James questioned. “Or will another hag get us lost again?”

“I say we get revenge,” Sirius proclaimed.

“On a painting?”

“Why not?”

James shook his head and instead concentrated on following the correct path to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. They had managed to locate the staircase when they were heading to the Great Hall; they only hoped they would be able to relocate it. They were luckier now than they had been earlier; they had a number of students to track. They had gotten up so early before that there had not been many students up that they could tail.

With very much success, the boys reached the third floor. They soon came upon the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and peered inside. It appeared that they were the first to arrive. At the head of the room, sitting at his desk, was a middle-aged man with a very mean sneer. Instantly they knew they would not enjoy this man at all. The man looked up from his desk and spotted the boys.

“Are you going to stand out there all day?” he barked.

Without hesitation, the boys walked inside and took the seats at the very back. The teacher, upon spotting this, shook his head. He stood from his chair and advanced on them. He folded his arms across his chest and studied them through narrowed eyes. “In my past experience, students who sit in the back love causing trouble.” The boys exchanged looks; the teacher didn’t like them already. “You,” he went on, point a finger directly in front of Remus’s nose. “What’s your name?”

“Remus Lupin,” Remus replied quietly, his eyes never leaving the man’s finger, which was still forced in front of his face.

A strange look flittered across the man’s face, but it quickly vanished before anyone other than Remus could notice. “Well, Mr. Lupin, come and join me in the front.”

Remus grudgingly got up from his seat and went to the front of his room. He shot a pleading look at the others from over his shoulder and James said, “Professor? Can I sit up there too? I can’t see very well from back here,” he added, indicating his glasses.

The professor eyed James suspiciously, but heeded his request anyway. James took the seat next to Remus and they waited, rather impatiently, for the professor to move Sirius, Peter and Frank to various parts of the classroom, none of them next to each other. While the rest of the class filed in, James turned to Remus.

“I have a feeling he won’t be one of my favourite teachers,” he said.

Remus nodded in agreement.

The professor cleared his throat loudly, bringing the attention to himself. He had pulled out a scroll and began reading off the names. “Black. Evans. Gordon. Longbottom. Lupin. Pettigrew. Potter. All here? Good.” He placed the scroll on his desk. “I am Professor Crane. Before we begin our lesson I would like to bring to your attention some notices about the rules and regulations in my class. I do not tolerate talking out of turn. All homework assignments must be completed on time and in proper form, no smudges or cross outs or tears on the parchment. If I find this I will hand it back to you, not graded. You will speak respectfully to me; I do not appreciate any snide remarks about me while my back is turned. You will work quietly for the entire period, copy all the notes I give and read whatever I tell you to.”

The class stared at Professor Crane with wide eyes. This was a pleasant welcome? He might as well have told them to hop back on the train and never come back. He had not even bothered to welcome them to school or tell them what he had planned for the year; he just started barking out orders.

“Now that we have that out of the way,” Crane continued, “we will begin the lesson with a little quiz.” He waved his wand and seven pieces of parchment appeared on seven desks. “You have five minutes.” The students scrambled for their quills and inkbottles and began.

There was one problem, however. They had not heard of anything that appeared on the quiz. They knew for sure that the material was not to be covered until at least their third year.

“James, what’s a Hinkypunk?” Remus whispered out of the corner of his mouth. James shook his head slowly, he had heard of it before but he didn’t know what it was. Having no clear idea of the answer, Remus scribbled down absolute nonsense, which James copied.

When Professor Crane called time he had no hesitation in collecting the papers and grading them on the spot.

“Black,” he announced. “I would have thought any wizard would know that Red Caps inhabit deserted battlefields, same goes for you, Gordon.” Sirius looked back at Alice Gordon and shrugged apologetically; he had not been able to supply her with a sufficient answer. “Evans, Grindylows have very brittle fingers, you must break their grip.” Lily Evans shrunk in her chair, her face almost as red as her hair. “Pettigrew, boggarts are shape shifters, not water demons.” Peter shook his head, how was he supposed to know that? He hadn’t learned anything yet. “Lupin, Potter, in the future I would not appreciate you copying off of each other, especially when you’re copying the wrong answers. Detention for you both.” James and Remus stared open mouthed at their teacher. What else were they supposed to do when they hadn’t the faintest idea of what the answers to the test might be? “These marks are atrocious! What have you been doing for your entire lives?”

“Being kids?” Sirius suggested under his breath.

“Detention, Mr. Black!” Crane snarled. “I do not tolerate back sass. Obviously you all have a long way to go before you could even be considered wizards and witches.”

The remainder of the lesson did not go well. After the disastrous quiz, Crane took no mercy on them. He had them copying every trait of every creature that they had been quizzed on. The notes went into such detail that each creature took up three pages of parchment. No one dared to speak another word after Sirius had been given a detention, not even when Crane asked a question did anyone dare issue an answer. It came as a relief when the bell gonged.

“Black, Lupin, Potter, up here, now,” Crane barked. The three boys groaned and went up to the man’s desk. “I need to discuss your detentions with you,” Crane said slowly, taking as much time as he could. “They will take place on the fifth.”

James and Sirius nodded reluctantly. Remus, on the other hand, spoke.

“Err… Professor, I can’t make it on the fifth.”

James and Sirius gaped at their roommate. Was he out of his mind? If Crane had given them a detention on the first day of school, he was likely to get violent now.

“Excuse me, Mr. Lupin?” Crane said, feigning a look of surprise. “I don’t believe you have the authority on deciding when you will fulfil a detention. You will be at my office at six o’ clock on the fifth with Black and Potter and you will do your detention.”

“Professor,” Remus said, trying desperately to keep his voice in check. “I can’t.”

“You can, Mr. Lupin. Do not contradict me again.”

“Remus,” James said quietly. “Just forget it.” It was clear that Remus was fighting a losing battle.

“No,” Remus snapped, his voice sounding a little panicked. “I can’t make a detention on the fifth!”

“Five points from Gryffindor!” Crane proclaimed. “Any more complaints and I will take away more points. Now get to class!”

The three boys left the room quietly. Only when they had checked their schedules and started out for their next class did any of them chance speaking.

“What was that about, Remus?” Sirius asked, looking at the boy in shock.

Remus shrugged and muttered some nonsense under his breath.

“Come again?” James said.

“Nothing,” Remus replied, quickening his pace, getting ahead of the two boys.

“Remus, you looked like you were about to start panicking.”

“It was nothing!” Remus insisted, not slowing down.

“Then why did you put up a fight?” Sirius asked, now jogging to keep up.

“No reason! I’ll do my detention, just forget it!”

The boys skidded to a halt outside of the Transfiguration classroom and saw that they were late and Professor McGonagall had already begun speaking to the class. Her eyes darted up to the doorway when she heard them enter.

“Late, boys,” she said.

“Professor Crane was giving us detention,” Sirius replied, taking the seat to the right of Peter. They could see Professor McGonagall’s nostrils flare; it was clear he was not her favourite colleague.

“Well, you three are not the first Professor Crane has assigned detention to on the first day of school,” she said briskly. “He tends to get… overenthusiastic… about assignments.” She took a breath and continued. “Now, as I was saying, Transfiguration is a difficult branch of magic and I will not tolerate foolish behaviour in my classroom. You will perform to the best of your abilities.” With a swift flick of the wrist, Professor McGonagall had transfigured Lily Evans’s desk into an overgrown rabbit and quickly changed it back to normal.

Clearly they would not be starting with anything nearly as advanced as what had just been displayed before them. Professor McGonagall distributed straws of hay to each of the Gryffindors and instructed them to transfigure them into needles. They then spent a painstaking class trying, with little result, to transfigure the hay. The only person to have any success whatsoever was James, who seemed to have a knack for the subject. His needle had turned a light silvery colour and was pointier than it had been.

After a rather simple period of note taking in Charms, the Gryffindor first years trouped down to the Great Hall for lunch, this time finding it with time to actually eat. Professor Flitwick, the tiny Charms professor, had not given them any practical work, which they were grateful for. They didn’t think they could handle another period of failure. Lily Evans, however, seemed slightly disappointed by this news; she appeared to have been looking forward to that particular class.

They had Potions following lunch and they were free for the day. The teacher of Potions was Professor Slughorn, a round man who greatly enjoyed the pleasures in his life. It was also a well known fact that he favoured certain students over others. But anything was better than a downright mean teacher; at least Slughorn was supposed to be nice, if not a tad overdramatic.

“So,” Peter said, trying to make conversation, “when did Crane assign your detention?”

“It’s on Sunday,” James replied, holding a fork over a plate of roast potatoes, looking for one to eat. Having picked one, he shoved it into his mouth and said, “’razy olf mab.”

“Well put,” Sirius said sarcastically.

James swallowed his mouthful. “He’s crazy! What kind of teacher gives that kind of test on the first day of school?”

“Him?” Sirius suggested. James rolled his eyes. “He was a right git to Remus,” Sirius added, turning to Remus, who had focused his energy on his lunch.

“What’d he do?” Peter asked inquisitively to Remus.

“Remus said he couldn’t do detention that day,” James explained when he saw that Remus wasn’t going to. “And Crane said he had to, what if Remus had a really good reason? Crane’s a git.”

“Git is one word for him,” Frank Longbottom said, coming over after searching for something at the other end of the table. “I heard some older students who had him after we did; they say he’s the worst Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher they’ve had.”

“They’ve had more than one?” Remus asked, speaking for the first time since they got there.

Frank nodded. “The seventh years have had at least three, one of them got sick, the other retired, and the third ran off with a banshee.” He shrugged at the bewildered looks of his roommates. “Anyway, they also think he’s mad. He gave them quizzes too and destroyed them all when he saw how badly they did. Set them on fire on one of the desks.” Frank collected his books and began to leave, saying he wanted to get an early start to Potions.

“Of all the years they hire someone who’s insane…” Sirius muttered.

“You think we should get a head start too?” Peter asked, also beginning to gather his belongings.

“You guys go on ahead,” Remus said, standing up and picking up his bag. “I have to go find Professor McGonagall.”

“You said you were going to do your detention,” James pointed out.

“I know. I’m going to do it. I just needed to talk to her about something else.”

James, Sirius and Peter said nothing; they simply shrugged and headed to the dungeons, while Remus went on his search for the Transfiguration teacher.

Remus appeared in the dungeons classroom ten minutes after Potions had started. The moment he entered the room he saw that the Gryffindors did not have Potions alone, they were with the Slytherins. Every student simultaneously lifted his or her head when Remus clambered in, breathless from running from the third floor to the dungeons, and some of the Slytherins snickered at the sight of him. The rotund man at the head of the room, Professor Slughorn, chuckled good-naturedly and motioned for Remus to take the seat beside a rather greasy haired boy.

“You must be Remus Lupin,” he said as Remus sat down. Remus nodded and pulled out a notebook of parchment. “We were just going over the basics of Potion brewing.” He pointed to a cauldron on the vacant desk at the front, which was steadily emitting steam. “This is the potion we will be brewing today. It’s a simply boil curing potion, should you be unlucky enough to grow a boil.” He chortled once more and rubbed his bushy moustache. “You will find all the ingredients you need in the storeroom, and the instructions are on the board. You will work with the person sitting beside you. You have one hour. Also, I thought it might be fun to turn this into a bit of a competition, for the spirit of the first day of school.” Slughorn picked up a slab of chocolate on his desk. “To the two winners! I will check your potions at the end of class.”

The students immediately set to work. Sirius and James had paired off, while Peter worked with Frank. Remus found that he was working with a boy named Severus Snape, and it was clear from the start that this boy had a knack for potion brewing. Without saying a word to Remus, Snape set off for the storeroom to get the ingredients. Remus looked at the cauldron, unsure if he should light it or not. He didn’t have to wait very long to find out his answer.

“Why didn’t you light it?” Snape snapped impatiently.

Remus jumped in his spot and hurried to light the cauldron, but accidentally knocking over the box of porcupine quills in the process. Remus stooped down to pick them up.

“Ow!” he hissed, pricking his finger on a quill. Sucking the finger he had pricked, which was now bleeding, he carefully picked up the remainder of the quills and placed them down on the table. When he straightened up, he saw that Snape had already begun concocting the potion, an annoyed expression etched on his face. Remus didn’t need to ask what was bothering the Slytherin; it was clear that he did not like the idea of being paired with Remus, who had no potion making capabilities.

He did the best he could to help, which basically meant that he handed Snape ingredients when he was told to. Remus took to observing his classmates at work; the other pairs seemed to be getting along fine. James and Sirius were having a fun time, pretending that they were in charge of a very delicate project that could be destroyed with one wrong move. Peter and Frank were not acting quite like James and Sirius, but they were working so that they could actually brew a passable potion.

The hour took too long to end, but when it did Slughorn instructed them all to step away from their cauldrons while he walked around to inspect them. He peered over the rims, nodding mutely, giving the occasional smile to a successful pair. He did not seem, however, to find one that he greatly approved of. He then came upon the cauldrons belonging to James and Sirius, Lily Evans and Alice Gordon, and Remus and Snape. He seemed stumped on which to pick as the winner.

“I have never been in such a dilemma!” he exclaimed dramatically. “All three potions are expertly concocted! I don’t think there can be just two winners.” He pointed his wand at the slab of chocolate and it divided itself up into six pieces. “Misses Evans and Gordon, and Misters Potter, Black, Snape and Lupin, you are our winners.” He cheerfully handed out the pieces to the winners and dismissed the class.

“That was interesting,” James commented as they came out of the dungeons and into the Entrance Hall.

“He seems nice,” Peter said, coming up behind James.

“Anyone is nice compared to Crane,” Sirius added. “At least we don’t have that class until Monday.”

That was the one bright side to the week, as it was already Thursday, they would not have to venture into that classroom again until the following week. This still did not help to settle the uncomfortable pit that had settled itself inside Remus’s stomach. He couldn’t do that detention, he really couldn’t. But he knew it was useless to bring this to Professor McGonagall, Crane seemed like the person who would lie it away, saying that he had no idea as to what Remus was talking about. Instead he had just gone to ask when he would have to leave to go to the building where he would transform. He needed to leave at half past six; he would only be able to fulfil a half hour of detention, if any at all. He was always ill the day of a full moon… he didn’t know if he would last.

Still, there was nothing he could do about it now. For the moment, he would just enjoy the time he had with his roommates.

Chapter 4: Shrieking Moons
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Chapter Four
Shrieking Moons

The first two days of school passed by fairly quickly. After the hideous first day, in which they had to endure the grueling quiz and manners of Professor Crane, the lessons improved and became somewhat enjoyable. They had continued practising to transfigure the hay into needles in Transfiguration, and the entire class had finally managed it on Friday. They found out all too easily that the most boring class was History of Magic, taught by the ghost Professor Binns. They learned from the older students that Professor Binns had died of old age; he fell asleep in front of the fire in the staff room and when he awoke to teach class he simply floated out of his body. This did not seem, however, to have any affect on his teaching; he was the dullest teacher they had ever had to endure. The one good thing about the class was that it was good for catching up on lost sleep.

The Gryffindor first years got a bit of a surprise on Friday when they returned to the common room after finishing up their last lesson of the day – Charms. They saw on the notice board that they would be starting their flying lessons that Tuesday. James, in particular, looked excited about this. He couldn’t wait to fly. The one downside to this was that it would be another lesson with the Slytherins. No Gryffindor could stand to have Potions with them; how were they to survive a second lesson with them? Still, they shook this thought out of their minds and enjoyed time while they still could.

Sunday dawned unnaturally early. The five boys had been sleeping in the dormitory when four of them were woken by a thud, which consequently woke the fifth. Sirius sleepily sat up and rubbed his eyes, looking around bewilderedly to see what had happened. He saw Remus sitting on the floor, massaging the back of his head. Apparently he had been sleeping too close to the edge of his bed and had toppled off it. Biting back a laugh, Sirius got up to help the boy up. James, Peter and Frank also seemed to have noticed this, as James asked if Remus was alright. Remus nodded irritably.

“Mate, sleep in the middle of your bed,” Sirius advised, pulling Remus to his feet. It was then that he noticed that Remus looked sick. His face, which was always a shade or two paler than was normal, was now completely white. He also had a nauseous expression etched on his face and looked as if he could fall asleep once more. “Are you okay?” Sirius asked.

Remus nodded again in the same annoyed fashion. “I’m fine,” he said, walking around to the other side of his bed and stooping down. He pulled his trunk out from under his bed, unlatched it, and began shifting through his belongings. He pulled his calendar out and looked at the date… September fifth, the first full moon of his Hogwarts career. He had to make up some excuse for his absence.

“Listen,” he said slowly, still looking down at the calendar. “I have to go visit my mum later.”

“Is that why you can’t do detention?” James asked, sitting down on his bed. Remus nodded. “Didn’t Crane know that?”

Remus shook his head. “No… it was stupid, I should have just told him.”

“Why didn’t you?” Peter asked, pulling his socks on.

“It’s dumb… my mum… she gets sick all the time and I… I dunno, I just don’t like talking about it. I get embarrassed.”

Peter frowned. “That’s no reason to be embarrassed.”

“I know it’s not.”

“Hope she gets better, then,” James said, sliding down to the floor, opening his trunk and grabbing some clothes out of it.

“Thanks, I’m sure my mum’ll appreciate that,” Remus said with a small smile.

The now awake boys decided there was nothing else to do but get dressed; there was no point in trying to go back to sleep now that they were awake. Sirius hesitated for a moment, asking again if Remus felt alright, and then went to get dressed when Remus assured him he was. Remus sat down on his bed and pulled the curtains around it. He did want to go back to sleep, but he could never do so, no matter how tired he was. At home on the days of full moons, he was able to sleep in his room for a long time, his parents staying clear of it until Remus emerged. But he couldn’t hide in his room all day at school. True he didn’t have classes; it would still look odd if he slept all day. He wasn’t the sick one, his mother was. He had to maintain that stance; he could let his cover slip. He had lost too many friends to risk it again.

He waited silently while his roommates bustled about the room, fighting for the bathroom. James wanted to go first, as he was keen on going down to the Quidditch Pitch to watch the Gryffindor team practise. Sirius, however, wanted to hurry down to the Great Hall so he could get his favourite seat at the Gryffindor table. Peter and Frank, they just wanted to get into the bathroom first to spite James and Sirius. Remus was glad they were arguing about this, it kept the spotlight off him. As he watched James trying to pull himself out of Sirius’s grip, a thought occurred to him. He could just sneak into the bathroom, change and find some place in the castle to hide out. He furtively retrieved some clothes out of his trunk and tiptoed to the bathroom.

“Hey,” James said suddenly, looking around and noticing that they were one person short. “Where’d Remus go?”

“James,” Peter said, jerking his thumb towards the bathroom door.


The fight for the bathroom ceased once Remus reappeared. He discovered that his roommates had settled themselves on the floor of the dormitory, fully dressed, and were trading Chocolate Frog cards, acting as if they had not just been vying for the bathroom moments before. He shook his head, only his roommates were capable of forgetting something in the span of ten minutes. He waited quietly for them to realise that the lavatory was free, and once Peter noticed, he dashed for it before James, Sirius or Frank could do anything.

The boys separated after breakfast. James and Sirius went down to the Quidditch Pitch to watch the Gryffindor team practise, Peter wanted to go down to the greenhouses and ask Professor Grines about the essay he assigned and Frank went to the library to look for a book on hexes. Remus was left to wander about aimlessly. He didn’t mind, however, he liked keeping to himself on the days of full moons; it allowed him some peace and quiet before the turmoil of the night. He thought about going to the Hospital Wing, as he was developing a terrible headache, but when he looked inside the infirmary he saw that the nurse was far too occupied with the ten patients already in there. She couldn’t drop them all for him, it would look suspicious.

He found himself out on the sunlit grounds, making his way towards the lake. He could see a comfortable area in front of a beech tree that overlooked the lake. He could settle himself there and rest his eyes for a while, maybe that would ease the pain in his head. He sat down on the springy grass, leaned his head against the tree trunk and shut his eyes. He really didn’t want to do his detention; Professor Crane should have known there was no way possible that he could get enough energy to do whatever task he had up his sleeve. What didn’t that man understand about it? Actually, Remus knew that Crane understood the situation perfectly; he was just a bigot who took out his prejudices on those unfortunate to have them.

He winced as his head took a painful throb. Rubbing a spot in the centre of his forehead, he thought of what his friends would say when he wasn’t in school the next day. He laughed lightly, he hadn’t used that word in a long time – friends. He had only known his roommates for a few days, but he could honestly call them friends. The last people he called friends ended up turning on him the moment they caught wind of his lycanthropy. They said horrible things to him, things that should be said to no one, especially a ten year old boy. After that he never got close enough to anyone so he could avoid the disappointment after they left him.

His roommates - especially James, Sirius and Peter – were different. He couldn’t help but get close to them, and he couldn’t even try to when they shared a room. They were just the kind of people that were fun to be with. James was always eager for one adventure or another. Sirius always had a witty remark ready; the remark may occasionally have been offensive, but nothing dramatically so. Even Peter - who did not have the same outgoing personality than the other two, who was more reserved – was still one of the nicer people Remus had met in his life; he was considerate of others. Frank, who Remus had not gotten as close to but still liked, never seemed to get mad. The only person who could really set him off was Professor Crane, and he could make the happiest person alive become enraged. Remus couldn’t risk losing them, the first true friends he had had in years. He didn’t know if he could handle it.

He must have fallen asleep at some point, because he soon heard very loud and cheerful voices calling out his name.

“Oh, Remus Lupin!” called one of the voices in a singsong fashion. Remus sleepily opened his eyes and saw through a blurry haze the outlines of James and Sirius approaching him.

“You know,” Sirius said, stopping and folding his arms across his chest, “you sleep a lot.”

Remus rolled his eyes; he slept no more than the average person - the train and the present moment were exceptions. “Yeah, well… I probably won’t sleep much tonight,” he said irritably, standing up and putting his hands in his pockets.

James nodded understandingly. “That’s tough, you’re mother being sick and all. Has she been sick long?”

“No… it was kind of sudden.”

“Wow,” Peter said quietly. “Well, hopefully she won’t be sick too long.”

Remus managed a small smile for his friend. “Yeah, hopefully she won’t be.”

They had an entire day to kill before James, Remus and Sirius had to depart for detention. It was already time for lunch, but Remus wasn’t hungry, and James, Sirius and Peter had stuffed themselves with Chocolate Frogs when they went back into the castle. So the four boys skipped lunch and milled about the castle. They ran into a group of Ravenclaw first years who were talking excitedly about how one of them had won ten points for brewing an exceptional potion in Slughorn’s class.

“I doubt that really happened,” Sirius muttered under his breath. “Slughorn was fawning over our potions and all we got was chocolate.”

They passed the hours by playing several grueling matches of chess and Exploding Snap. They played more rounds of chess rather than cards, as Remus, even in his weakened state, was an obvious master at the game. He didn’t lose a single match and his friends were tired of having ashes all over their faces. Wizards Chess was a game he was less proficient at. James and Sirius, however, were considerably good at it. Peter, who was rather skilled at Gobstones, watched on the sidelines, as they had no Gobstones set to spare.

When six in the evening rolled around, James, Sirius and Remus bid goodbye to Peter and grudgingly made their way to Crane’s office.

“Remus,” James said as they trudged up the flight of stairs leading to the third floor, “go to Madam Pomfrey, you look like you’re going to be sick.”

It was partially true; Remus was not going to be sick. He felt his stomach lurch violently and he ran up the stairs ahead of his friends, presumably to the bathroom. James looked at Sirius and shrugged. Wasn’t it Remus’s mother who was sick? They continued the walk to Crane’s office, knowing better than to wait for Remus, as he would probably be a while. They wanted to purposely take their time, out of pure spite for their professor, but knew that this was not the best option. Maybe they would linger if and when they had to serve another detention, for now they figured they would do what the man wanted of them.

They entered the classroom to see that Professor Crane had several tanks out on the desks. Curious, the boys peered inside and saw that they were none other than Flobberworms. James could only imagine what Crane wanted them to do with them; his family’s garden had always been plagued with them, and so he knew all about them. He didn’t fancy having to work with them though. He and Sirius looked around and saw that Crane was nowhere in sight, this would be good for Remus at least. If the teacher was late and Remus arrived before then, Crane would never know that one of his detainees had been late.

Unfortunately, Crane strolled out of his office a minute after James and Sirius had entered. He swept his eyes across the classroom and a faint frown appeared on his face. To the untrained eye he came off as concerned to Remus’s whereabouts, but Sirius could tell that the professor was enjoying himself. Clearly he was glad that he was able to get Remus in trouble for lateness. He placed his briefcase down on his desk and heaved a long, suffering sigh.

“Well, Mr. Lupin will have to serve extra detention for his lateness then,” he said to himself, purposely loud enough for James and Sirius to hear.

“That’s not fair, he got sick,” Sirius snapped.

“And would you like to join Mr. Lupin in his extra detention, Mr. Black?” Crane questioned viciously.

Sirius stared at Crane and didn’t blink once. “I will join him.”

“Fine, we’ll work out another detention for tomorrow evening.”

“What?” said a new voice from the doorway.

They spun around to see Remus, looking very green, standing in the doorway, holding his hand on the frame and a befuddled expression on his face.

“You have detention tomorrow evening for being late,” Crane explained, as if it was the most simply explanation in the entire world.

Remus’s eyes bulged; he looked as if he could be sick again. “Professor,” he said, his voice strained. “I can’t do detention tomorrow!

“Do you have a problem, Mr. Lupin?”

“Yes, I have a problem! I can’t do it! You know I can’t!”

Crane’s smile seemed to get slightly longer. “Would you care to express your concerns with me now?”

Remus shook his head and reluctantly walked further into the room. Crane grinned and gestured to the crates on the tables. “Flobberworm mucus is needed for the Potions class. I have kindly consented to Professor Slughorn to provide him with it.” Sirius had to restrain himself from snorting in disgust; Crane wasn’t going to be the one providing Slughorn with his potion ingredients. “You three have the job of extracting the mucus from the Flobberworm.”

“And how do we do that?” Sirius asked, keeping his voice as polite as he could, though it was near impossible.

“The nostrils are quite visible on the Flobberworms; you will simply squeeze them and collect the mucus in the buckets I have provided for you.” He sat down at his desk and took out some papers to grade. “Oh, yes, I forgot,” Crane said suddenly, his smile widening. “There will be no need for gloves.”

Resentfully, the boys sat down at the desks and got to work. The task turned out to be just as disgusting as it sounded. If the boys weren’t careful when they were squeezing the Flobberworms’ nostrils, they would get an eyeful of mucus. That, unfortunately, happened to James, who swore up a storm as he searched blindly for something to wipe it off. Sirius and Remus couldn’t help but notice that Crane seemed unperturbed by James’s swearing and didn’t even look up when James needed help.

They worked for a half hour before Remus, looking, if possible, more sick than before, got up and went towards Crane’s desk.

Crane looked up when he saw Remus approaching. “Yes, Mr. Lupin?”

Remus was quiet, James and Sirius could see him glance down at his watch and his face paled another shade. “I have to go,” he murmured.

“Excuse me, Mr. Lupin?” Crane said, feigning sudden deafness and leaning forward over his desk.

“I have to go,” Remus repeated loudly.

Crane looked outraged, as if this was the worst possible thing a person could say to him. “No, you will stay here and complete your detention.”


“Do you mind repeating that?”

“No! Merlin, I have to go! Now!”

Without waiting for her another snide remark from his professor, Remus turned around, weaved his way through the rows of desks, and dashed down the hallway. James and Sirius looked up at Professor Crane, expecting him to be seething but, to their utter surprise, he was smiling. It was a rather twisted smile, like he knew something that they didn’t. He probably did; he was acting like he had predicted every one of Remus’s reactions and had manipulated them to get the boy panicked. The boys knew the man was slightly off his rocker, but they didn’t think he was that horrible, to scare an eleven year old boy like that. Remus looked terrified; they couldn’t imagine a teacher milking that for all it was worth. It wasn’t as if Remus had a bad excuse either, his mother was sick. Actually, Remus was sick as well, how could a teacher disrespect that?

Remus appeared at the door to the Hospital Wing ten minutes later and found a rather harassed looking Madam Pomfrey waiting for him. When he arrived she began muttering about how tardiness was not acceptable in this case. Remus tried to argue that it had not been his fault, he had detention. Madam Pomfrey, however, did not seem to hear him and instead she just led him down the corridors as stealthily as she could. Discretion was essential in this case; Professor Dumbledore stressed that Remus could not be seen leaving the castle with the nurse, it would raise questions. Remus had no objections to this.

The nurse hovered over Remus as they walked down onto the grounds, into the cool September air. The sky cast a pinkish glow over the grounds, brilliantly illuminating them. They could see the Whomping Willow in the distance, flailing its boxing glove branches in the air, eager to take out any who dared come too close. Remus and Madam Pomfrey walked cautiously forward, ready to dodge any wayward branches that came their way. Madam Pomfrey stooped down and picked up a peculiarly long branch. Dumbledore had gone to any measure necessary for Remus, including using something as inconspicuous as a branch to get into the secret passageway.

This would be the first and only time Madam Pomfrey would venture past the Whomping Willow before Remus’s transformation, and she was not eager on doing so, as they were cutting it close. The full moon would be rising within twenty minutes, they had to hurry. The tree froze as the nurse prodded a small knot in its trunk. Motionless, and therefore harmless, the Whomping Willow looked as if it had never moved at all. She pointed to an opening at the bottom of the tree trunk and motioned for Remus to slide through, she would prefer taking up the rear.

The tunnel was dark and damp, with a musty smell filling the air. Even if someone had accidentally stumbled upon this passage, they would not want to continue with its eerie feel. Remus found himself wishing that he was out of the tunnel, either back on the grounds or in the building, he didn’t care. Madam Pomfrey nudged him forward and he suddenly noticed how slowly he had been walking. He quickened his pace and, in what seemed like no time at all, they found themselves facing a stone staircase. This was it, the entrance to the house.

There was a door at the end of the stairs and it opened to what appeared to be a living room. It was well-furnished, giving off the impression that the building had been constructed for living purposes, not a werewolf transformation. Remus knew that this room would not stay as neat as it was at the moment, his werewolf side was always violent, and now it had more room to roam, instead of the confines of a shed. Madam Pomfrey again prodded Remus, directing him towards another flight of stairs. This set of stairs stopped off in a bedroom, complete with a four-poster bed. Madam Pomfrey nodded for Remus to sit down on the bed.

“I will be back for you in the morning,” she said, trying to keep her voice as businesslike as she could. She edged towards the door, knowing that it would happen at any minute, and that this innocent boy before her would soon be replaced with a monster. She pulled the door open and stepped outside, stopping only long enough to wish Remus good luck.

Remus watched the nurse go and suddenly felt very alone. When he transformed at home his parents were always close by. He knew they couldn’t sit next to him while it happened, but they always stood by, sometimes even sleeping on the porch until the sun rose and Remus was human once more. He bit his lip and fell back on the bed, curling up in a ball. It was going to happen soon, he could feel his bones aching at an unnatural level. They were getting ready to change shape, to accommodate his wolfish form. He took a deep breath and shut his eyes; maybe that would lessen the pain.

Steadily, the full moon’s light filled the dark room of the building and the pain fully hit. Remus clutched his stomach and groaned loudly. His bones snapped and cracked, his back arched. His eyes turned from their greenish colour to yellow. His teeth sharpened and lengthened into fangs, fangs eager for flesh to bite. Grey fur sprouted over his skin, releasing an unpleasant tingling sensation. His cries of pain echoed around the room, seeping through the walls and into the streets of Hogsmeade for all the villagers to hear.

Where a boy of eleven had once sat was now a werewolf, hunched forward, jaws snapping. It sniffed around, bemused. There was nothing there for him to eat. That wasn’t right. He needed meat, blood, and there was none there for him. What could he do? The werewolf stretched its jaw and resorted to the only solution – he would bite and scratch himself. The wolf howled as its fangs broke through its fur and skin, drawing blood. The werewolf’s shrieks of pain rang loudly, bouncing off the walls.

And thus, the Shrieking Shack was named.

Chapter 5: Revenge, Strange Behaviors and Detentions
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Chapter Five
Revenge, Strange Behaviours and Detentions

“No, that’s too obvious; it has to be more… I dunno… less obvious.”

“What do you suggest, then?”

“I suggest we hang him up by his knickers for everyone to see.”

“Of course, because he wouldn’t notice us lifting him up in the air by his underpants. Brilliant suggestion, Sirius.”

“At least I’m trying.”

“There’s trying and then there’s being stupid.”

Sirius groaned and shoved James off his bed onto the floor. Sirius, James and Peter had been sitting on Sirius’s bed, furiously trying to come up with a plan to get revenge on Crane. It was well after midnight, but they were not tired at all. James and Sirius were still far too disgusted with their detention task and Crane’s treatment of their friend to even think about sleep. When they told Peter what had happened, any thoughts he might have had of sleeping were quickly put on hold. They were not having much success, however, as they had not thought up a good idea. Peter then suggested putting a Dungbomb in his office.

“We can’t just do a Dungbomb in his office,” James said, lying back on the floor. “That’s too played out, it’s been done before.”

“Yeah, but not to him,” Peter said, resting his head against the bedpost.

“If he’s been a teacher at other schools, it has definitely happened to him.”

Sirius fell backwards onto his pillow and stared up. He didn’t think that he could have ever despised someone so much that wasn’t in his family, but Crane was the limit. There was no other way to describe him except as a git. He was so heartless to Remus when he had an honest reason as to why he couldn’t attend that detention. But Crane didn’t care; he didn’t care if Remus’s mother was sick, that Remus himself was ill. He seemed to find it funny, actually. Sirius shook his head.

“I hope Remus’s mother is alright,” he said, sitting up and resting back on his elbows.

“Hopefully she won’t be sick too long,” James agreed, finally coming up off the floor and dropping down on Remus’s empty bed.

“Didn’t you two say that he was sick too?” Peter asked curiously.

“Yeah, he was,” Sirius confirmed, nodding his head. “He got sick right before our detention.”

Peter cringed, but said nothing more.

“Come on,” James said, looking at his watch. “We should get to bed, classes tomorrow.”

Revenge would have to wait.

When the boys awoke the next morning it was to discover that Remus’s bed was still empty; this did not surprise them, though. He probably would not be returning until the evening, wanting to spend as much time possible with his mother. There was just one problem: He had another detention with Crane, as did Sirius. This detention paid off in one way; when they finally thought up their scheme, Sirius would be able to put it into action while he was in Crane’s classroom. They would not give any part of it to Remus, who would most likely not be up to it and not all that eager to get further on Crane’s bad side.

They dressed and headed down to breakfast. As they entered the Great Hall they immediately noticed the absence of Professor McGonagall from the Staff Table. She was always there, usually conversing with Professor Slughorn. The boys found it odd that she should not be there that morning. Still, they decided not to think on it and continued their discussion from the night before – how were they going to get Crane back? What were they going to do to make him absolutely miserable as retribution for making them absolutely miserable?

“I still like the knickers idea,” Sirius insisted, loading bacon onto his plate.

“And how do you suggest we do that without him knowing it’s us?” Peter questioned, searching for the goblet of pumpkin juice.

“We have magic, don’t we?”

“Yeah, but we’ve only been in school a few days; we haven’t learned anything that would help us,” James said pointedly.

“Of course we haven’t.”

“What are you getting at?”

“Why don’t we ask some of the older students?”

“And why would they help a bunch of first years?” Peter asked incredulously.

“Because hatred of Crane is universal!” Sirius exclaimed, a strange glint in his eyes. “Who couldn’t hate a git like that? Even the Slytherins can’t stand him!”

James and Peter looked at each other, both thinking the same thing – Sirius had lost his mind. But, despite his lack of brain power at the moment, he did have a very good point. Every student they had come upon had the same dislike of the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. They would all want to see him suffer certain well-deserved humiliation. Maybe they would enlist the help of some of the older students; Sirius’s knickers in the air idea did have a nice ring to it. If only they could pull it off.

Peter opened up his copy of the Daily Prophet and flattened it out on the table so he could read it. Sipping his pumpkin juice, he read a story on the front page about a building in Hogsmeade that some were speculating held violent spirits.

“This is interesting,” he murmured, catching the attention of James and Sirius.

“What is?” they asked simultaneously.

Peter pointed to the story and the boys read. It explained how the night before in a building that had been recently built, and never used, was now producing loud cries. Banging noises filled the air and the howls continued through the entire night. The villagers of Hogsmeade suspected that poltergeists were behind it. They had labeled the building the Shrieking Shack.

“Hmm, I wonder if there really are poltergeists in there,” James wondered, biting off a piece of his bacon.

“Could be,” Sirius surmised. “Wouldn’t be too surprising.”

They set off for their first class, which was unfortunately Defence Against the Dark Arts. They walked in and took their usual seats, waiting leisurely for Crane to appear. They honestly didn’t care how long it took for him to come into the classroom. Frank, Alice and Lily all filed in a minute after the boys and also took the same stance as the boys did. Crane could have been sick in bed, for all they cared. Crane was not sick in bed, to their intense dismay, and came into the classroom only three minutes after his students had. He took out the class roster and read off the names.

“Black, Evans, Gordon, Longbottom… hmm and where is Mr. Lupin?”

“He went to visit his mother,” Sirius said.

“Was he authorized to do this?” Crane wondered, looking up thoughtfully at the ceiling.

James had to work hard to keep from saying the nasty comment he was so bursting to say. “If Professor Dumbledore has no problem with it, then he must have been authorized.”

“I don’t recall the Headmaster saying anything of the sort.”

“Professor McGonagall didn’t have a problem with it either,” Peter added, knowing very well that if the Head of House didn’t saying anything otherwise, Remus was certainly allowed to go see his sick mother.

“I’ll have to check on this,” Crane went on, as if he had not heard a word Peter said. He looked up when he saw Lily Evans’s hand in the air.

“Miss Evans?” he asked.

“Why don’t you believe them when they say Remus went to see his mother?” she asked. She had not asked this in a rude manner; she sounded like she was simply interested.

Crane looked like he was going to get violent. Luckily for Lily, he calmed himself down enough to say, “Why is that any of your business?” And, luckily, Lily was smart enough to not answer that question. “Now that we have that out of the way….”

The lesson was surprisingly bearable. Crane seemed to be in an oddly good mood, which could only be attributed to the fact that his least favourite student was absent. He spent the period, yet again, teaching them about the Dark creatures that they had been quizzed on the first day of school. This time, fortunately, he did not go so deep into detail that his students were struggling to keep up, and they also only used one sheet of parchment for notes.

During break the boys headed up to Gryffindor Tower to deposit the books from their morning classes and collect their History of Magic textbooks. As they were approaching the portrait of the Fat Lady, they saw an all too familiar back of the head. Remus was pleading with the Fat Lady to let him in. The Fat Lady usually kept the same password for long periods of time, but she had had too much wine with her friend Violet and had changed the password early as a result.

“Please, I don’t know what the new password is!” he begged.

“No password, no entrance,” the Fat Lady said tipsily, though somehow managing to keep the entrance firmly in place.

“I wasn’t here last night,” Remus explained. “I didn’t know you changed it!”

“Mulled mead,” James said, coming up on the right of Remus. The Fat Lady swung her portrait open and the four boys climbed inside. James led the way to the dormitory, and it was only until they were all assembled in the room did they get a good look at Remus.

“Remus,” James said, turning to face his friend. “How’s your mum – what happened to you?”

Remus did not look as bad as he did when Madam Pomfrey picked him up at the building, but he still looked beaten up. He had a dark bruise under his left eye, which stood out twice as much on his pale face. He had three presently healing scratches along his right cheek and his lip was swollen. Madam Pomfrey had spent the majority of her time healing his more critical wounds; she had gone to heal the rest, but Remus, eager to escape, said he could tell people his dog got too rough with him. He did have a particularly restless dog that tended to jump on him a lot; it wasn’t so far from the truth.

“Nothing,” he said quickly, whirling around and heading for his bed. He sat down and picked up his book bag, placing it in his lap. He began shifting through its contents, needing something to do with his hands. His friends walked over to him and bent forward slightly, trying to get a better look at his face, which was staring determinedly at the floor.

“Remus, have you looked in a mirror lately?” Sirius questioned, folding his arms across his chest. Remus shook his head fiercely, ignoring the throbbing sensation he received in return. “Maybe you should. What beat you up last night?”

Remus bit his lip, wincing in pain when his teeth pierced the swollen portion. “Nothing did… My dog… he likes to jump on people.” He chanced looking up at his roommates to see if they believed him and he saw that they didn’t buy his story for a second.

“A dog couldn’t bruise your eye like that,” James said, pointing to Remus’s blackened eye.

“I walked into something!” Remus snapped, his patience wearing thin. “I’m klutzy! What else do you want from me?”

James stepped back in shock; in the few days that he had known Remus he had never pictured him having an outburst. He assumed this came from Remus having to visit his sick mother; it was enough to put anyone on edge. “Sorry,” he apologised.

“It’s fine,” Remus said, his voice calming down somewhat. He got up from his bed and swung his schoolbag over his shoulder. “What class have we got next?” he asked.

“Err… History of Magic,” Sirius replied, pulling his folded up schedule out of his pocket and consulting it.

Remus frowned and sat back down. “Teachers aren’t expecting me in class anyway.”

“We’ll see you after class, then,” Peter said, nodding at this friend and collecting his History of Magic textbook.

Remus watched silently as James, Sirius and Peter left for their next class. Once they were gone he laid down and looked blankly up at the ceiling. He could hardly remember anything from the night before, aside from the usual excruciating pain of transforming. Though he couldn’t remember any specific details, he felt that it had been much worse than usual. He could only connect this with the fact that it was his first transformation away from home, and he had not been in the best of moods. His parents had explained that this might happen, but he had not thought to take them seriously.

This thought reminded him that he had promised his parents he would write after his first transformation; they would not rest until they heard from him. They had always been at his side when everything was over, ready to help him in any way he needed. Now he had to take care of himself. Even with Madam Pomfrey there, it was his own responsibility. He sat up once more and looked around for any spare parchment and quills he could use. Sirius usually left some scattered on the floor. Sure enough, when he glanced in the direction of the boy’s bed, he saw some quills, parchment and an ink bottle half shoved under his bed.

He picked the items up and rested his stomach on the floor, propping himself on his elbows. He scratched his chin with the tip of the quill while he thought of what to write. He couldn’t tell his parents that he was fine, because he wasn’t. But he didn’t want to upset them by telling them that he was feeling much more ill than he ever did. That detention the night before didn’t help matters either; extracting the Flobberworm mucus made him, if possible, even sicker. He groaned suddenly, remembering that he had another detention to fulfil with Sirius that night. He hated Crane.

He sucked on his swollen lip and put the quill to paper.

Mum and Dad,
I got back from my transformation okay; Madam Pomfrey brought me to the Hospital Wing while I was still sleeping, so I woke up there. Madam Pomfrey took good care of me, all I have are some bruises and cuts. There’s not much else to say about last night. I’ve been better, but nothing else. I’ve made some friends, my roommates – James Potter, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and Frank Longbottom. They’re interesting people to live with, especially when Sirius is plotting revenge on portraits of old hags.

Remus paused and scratched his chin once more, receiving inky blots splattered on his skin. He considered writing about how Crane was treating him, but thought against it. He didn’t want to upset his parents about it when he could handle the situation.

I’ll write again soon.
- Remus.

“I’m serious, this isn’t a stupid idea.”

“Yes it is.”

“It is not; don’t you want to humiliate this guy?”

“Of course I do, but your idea is just dumb.”

Sirius stepped backwards, looking highly affronted. He, James and Peter had been scouting the castle since they had left History of Magic, looking for some older students who would be likely to help them in their quest to serve justice. Every student that they had caught sounded interested at first, until Sirius pitched his idea of hanging Crane up by his knickers; they didn’t want to get too far on his bad side. They had just approached Jacob Finley, a seventh year Gryffindor. He, like all the others, sounded intrigued when they initially spoke to him, but was turned off when he thought their idea was stupid.

They watched dismally as Finley made his way through the crowds of students, trying to get away from the boys.

“I think we need a new plan,” Peter said.

James nodded. “I told you in the first place that your idea wouldn’t work.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “At least I had an idea.”

“A dumb one.”

Shrugging in defeat, Sirius checked his watch and saw that he had to leave for his detention with Crane in a half hour. He left the Great Hall and headed up to Gryffindor Tower, intending to find Remus so they could go and face their doom together. After delivering the password to the Fat Lady, he made a beeline towards the spiral staircase leading up to the first year boys’ dormitory. When he entered the room, he saw that the curtains were drawn around Remus’s bed. He pulled them back around and saw an exhausted Remus sleeping. Sirius didn’t want to wake him, knowing the he must have stayed awake for a good portion of the night with his mother, but Remus would be worse off if he missed another detention with Crane.

He lightly shook Remus’s shoulder in an attempt to wake him. Remus mumbled some nonsense and waved his hand toward Sirius’s arm, trying to swat it away. Sirius shook a little harder and slowly Remus’s eyes opened. He blinked against the light and looked up at Sirius, wondering why on Earth he had to wake him.

“We have detention,” Sirius said.

Remus groaned, annoyed. He had completely forgotten. He really didn’t want to go, but had no choice unless he wanted to have a third detention in three days. He sleepily sat up and rubbed his eyes. “I’ll meet you there,” he said to Sirius. “I have to change.”

“I’ll wait,” Sirius said, sitting down on his own bed.

“You’ll be late for it, then.”

“Nope, we’ve still got a half hour to get there.”

Remus nodded mutely and knelt down beside his bed to get some clothes out of his trunk. Once he had a clean set of clothes and robes, he sat back on his bed and yanked the curtains around. When he reemerged, he and Sirius made their way down the familiar path to Professor Crane’s classroom. As they walked, Sirius relayed the idea of getting revenge on Crane to Remus. He seemed to find it somewhat funny, but wasn’t too keen on having any actual part it in. The man already hated him; it wouldn’t be a smart idea to encourage that any further. So he was relieved when Sirius said that they had already planned on not giving him a direct part in it, he could play the part of a spectator.

The door to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom was open when they came upon it, but they did not see Crane inside. Sirius would have taken advantage of this and choose to linger outside, but Remus still looked worn out and it would be better for him to sit down, even if it was in that man’s room. Resigned to the worst, Sirius and Remus entered the room and took two seats at the front of the room, as it would only infuriate Crane more if they sat in the back, a thought that was tempting but best avoided. They waited for five minutes in silence, and still the professor didn’t appear.

“This is great,” Sirius muttered. “He gives you detention for being late and he doesn’t even show up on time.”

Remus nodded, his forehead in his hand. He could be catching up on lost sleep right now, instead of sitting in a classroom.

Sirius frowned slightly. “If he doesn’t show up in ten minutes, want to leave?” Remus made some noise in his throat that Sirius took for a “yes.”

The ten minutes passed by slowly, but Professor Crane seemed to have forgotten about his detainees, which he would most likely regret the next day. Sirius glanced down at his watch and saw that time was up. He tapped Remus on the shoulder, as Remus had fallen asleep where he sat, and motioned for his friend to follow him. Just as they reached the door, a voice from behind stopped them.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

They wheeled around to see Professor Crane standing at his desk, looking as though he had been standing there the entire time and had anticipated their escape. He raised an eyebrow, waiting for a response.

“We didn’t think you were coming,” Sirius explained. It wasn’t a very farfetched assumption, as Crane had taken his time getting to the classroom.

“So you just decided to leave?”

“We’ve been waiting fifteen minutes.”

“That still does not give you permission to leave without my consent. Did you think that I’d forgotten about you?”

“That’s what it looked like.”

“In that case, maybe you should go. You need your sleep for classes tomorrow, it’s a shame I don’t have you tomorrow. You could have taken a specially prepared test or perhaps stayed after class to discuss a third detention.”

Sirius felt Remus tense beside him; this man was taking this too far. “Professor,” Sirius said, trying with difficulty to keep the anger out of his voice, “what did we do wrong?”

“That really is a ridiculous question, Mr. Black,” Crane chuckled.

You’re really a ridiculous person,” Remus hissed under his breath. Sirius side-glanced at his roommate, was he asking to be killed?

“What was that, Mr. Lupin?”

“I said you’re ridiculous!” Remus repeated, his voice reaching a volume that he didn’t think he would be able to reach in his current state. “Why do you keep giving us a hard time? We didn’t do anything!”

“Remus…” Sirius said warningly, but Remus didn’t hear him, or chose to ignore him.

“I said I couldn’t do detention yesterday and you know why I couldn’t! You’re taking advantage of what’s going on!”

“I am your teacher, I have the right to tell you when you can and cannot fulfil your detention.”

“Not with this, you can’t.”

Sirius looked between confusedly Crane and Remus and then back to the professor. For a moment, he could have sworn he saw Crane’s hand grip his wand, but the next he was sure he had imagined it. Instead, Crane’s shoulders relaxed and he forced a smile on his face, though it came out something like a grimace.

“You’re absolutely right, Mr. Lupin,” he said in his most pleasant voice. “I have not been fair to you.”

Remus was shocked into muteness.

“You two may go; you do not have to do detention.” Sirius and Remus were still too shocked to move. It only took the threat of fifty points from Gryffindor to make them leave. Once in the hallway, Sirius noticed Remus’s face had gone pale once more.

“You’re going to be sick again, aren’t you?”

Without a nod or word, Remus dashed past Sirius in the direction of the bathroom. Sirius folded his arms across his chest; there was something strange about that kid.

Chapter 6: Dangerous Games and Christmas Plans
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Chapter Six
Dangerous Games and Christmas Plans

September slowly faded into October and the boys had still not come up with a satisfactory revenge plan for Crane. Being that they had only one month of magical knowledge under their belts, they did not know enough to perform something overly extravagant. They had started their flying lessons with Madam Sparks and the Slytherins the day after Remus returned from his first full moon, and it could have gone off slightly better. The Slytherins had a particularly fun time goading Remus and Peter, who were not proficient fliers at all. Madam Sparks did not put a stop to this, as she was deaf in her left ear, and that was the side the Slytherins were standing on. The boys wondered if this was the true reason, or just a convenient excuse.

James proved to be quite the flier. The first piece of instruction they had been given was to place their right hands above their broomsticks and say, in a very clear voice, “up.” James’s broom jumped right into his hand, while other brooms merely flopped over, or raised a few inches in the air before losing interest and dropping down again. Sirius’s broom was a bit more obedient than Remus’s and Peter’s, who had both received sharp knocks in the face by their brooms. Sirius’s was in his hand on his third attempt. One of the Slytherins, whom they recognised as Severus Snape, had himself a good laugh at Remus’s and Peter’s expense. Remus and Peter either did not notice this, or chose to pretend they hadn’t, but not Sirius and James.

Despite the fact that they had not learned magic advanced enough to humiliate a teacher, they had learned some useful hexes in their spare time. James and Sirius had been looking for the opportune moment to test them out, and what better reason to? At first, they decided they might let Snape slide, if he backed off in good time. But he continued to mock Remus and Peter, who still refused to say anything. After ten minutes James and Sirius had had enough. They whipped out their wands and shouted, very loudly, “Densaugeo!” With the combination of both of their spells, Snape’s teeth immediately grew to the ground.

Madam Sparks, who had been unresponsive to the verbal taunting, suddenly looked outraged. She assigned both James and Sirius three days worth of detention, where they would clip and polish the tails of every school broomstick. This, to the misfortune of Madam Sparks, did not qualify as punishment for the two boys; they actually enjoyed doing it. What they did not enjoy was the reproachful comments issued to them by Lily Evans, who was absolutely disgusted by their behaviour. Even Remus and Peter thought that they had overreacted, the taunting wasn’t bothering them. Professor McGonagall was also against them on this matter.

Still, the anger towards James and Sirius faded with the month of September and was instead replaced with a feeling of sympathy for Remus when he reported that he had to leave once more to visit his sick mother. If it was possible, Remus looked worse about it the second time than he did the first. His pale forehead was always coated with a light layer of sweat, even though the air was quite cool. His demeanour, which was always a little reserved, now withdrew completely. Whenever Sirius, James and Peter joined him in the library, where he had taken refuge, he always made some excuse to pack up his books and leave.

Remus’s behaviour came and went and within the next week he was back to normal. The only time he ever reverted back to his mannerisms before leaving to see his mother was when he was questioned by his friends. They related this to the fact that he was stressed out over his mother, and they couldn’t hold it against him. So, to avoid another outburst from him, they stopped asking him about it and resolved to only question him about her if he had to visit.

Halloween dawned on a stormy morning. The skies were blackened and the wind was blowing ferociously, swaying the treetops of the trees in the Forbidden Forest dangerously. A fifth year Hufflepuff swore that she saw a tree become uprooted when she was looking out the window at the forest. The Whomping Willow even appeared to be frightened by the violent weather; it had stopped flailing its branches. Despite the horrid weather, the spirits of the students could not be dimmed with the prospect of the Halloween Feast in the evening. James, Sirius, Peter and Remus, in particular, were looking forward to the evening.

“I heard Dumbledore’s got a troupe of dancing skeletons coming,” Sirius said as they walked up the stairs in the Entrance Hall. He bent forward on the banister and peered through the crack between the doors to the Great Hall.

“I heard that too,” Peter agreed, joining Sirius at the banister. “Did you hear it, Remus?”

Remus, who was looking quite pale again and was flipping through his Transfiguration book, was not taking in a word of their conversation. “Hear what?”

“The dancing skeletons.”

“For what?”

“Remus, where have you been lately?” James asked disbelievingly. How could anybody living within the walls of the Hogwarts castle not know that it was Halloween?


You may have been, but not your brain.”

“Sorry, I’ve just been a bit tired.”

“Visiting your mother again soon?” Sirius questioned, trying to make it seem offhand. The truth was that Remus’s visits looked as if they were going to be very frequent, monthly at the most. They usually occurred when Remus grew tired.

“Yeah, few days.”

They did not further this topic; it was obvious that Remus was, once again, becoming uneasy. Instead they focused on enjoying as much of the Halloween Feast as possible. It was just as everyone had told them – absolutely amazing. The rumor the boys had been discussing turned out to be very true; Dumbledore had indeed booked a troupe of dancing skeletons for their entertainment. The skeletons were decked out in navy blue top hats and blood red ties. The students cheered loudly as they performed tap dances and ballet. The only unfortunate event of the night was when one skeleton tossed the other in the air and failed to catch him. The skeleton’s bones broke apart and scattered about the Great Hall, landing in several plates of food.

October faded quietly into November, and slowly sheets of snow began blanketing the grounds. The students took advantage of this winter weather, having snowball fights and ice skating on the lake. The trees of the Forbidden Forest greatly resembled snow-covered Christmas trees, and the Whomping Willow looked perfectly harmless in the serene calm of the first snow of the season. The Willow, however, did not remain so harmless when the stupidity of several students provoked it. It was one week after the November full moon, and Remus, Peter, Sirius, James and Frank were enjoying a snowball fight on the grounds, prolonging the assignments they knew they would have to do later.

“You can’t keep ducking, Pettigrew!” James shouted playfully, quickly packing together the snow and getting ready to hurl it at Remus.

Remus, who was stooped down in the snow and working on his pile, was not exactly surprised when he felt a snowball hit his head. He should have known better than to keep his head down when James had snow in his possession. Brushing the snow out of his hair, Remus straightened up and caught Sirius off guard, sending a snowball straight into his face when he wasn’t looking.

“Nice one, Lupin!” he shouted, sending a snowball in his friend’s direction. Remus moved out of the way and Frank stumbled into the spot, getting a face full of snow.

The five boys were soon distracted by a commotion coming from behind them. They wheeled around and saw a group of third years crowded around the Whomping Willow. They couldn’t see what was going on from where they were standing, so they hurried forward to get a better look. The third years seemed to be cheering two boys on as they tried to see who could get the closest to the Whomping Willow without sustaining any major injuries.

“Are they mad?” Remus wondered, gaping at the students. “They’ll get killed.”

“Probably,” Sirius replied unthinkingly. He then thought about what he said and muttered, “sorry.”

It was only a matter of time before a short boy with red hair went reeling backwards and then was sprawled out in the snow. There was a collective intake of sharp breaths from the group. One student, a girl with blonde hair, bolted forward and knelt down in the snow beside the unconscious boy. Peering through a space between two boys, James could see that one side of the boy’s face was bloody and cut up. It looked as if he had almost lost his eye.

“Someone, get Madam Pomfrey,” she instructed in a firm, though evidently frightened, voice.

A third year Ravenclaw spun around and dashed as quickly as his legs would allow. There were frightened and shock whispers amongst the students, they hadn’t thought the situation would get that serious. They had just been having a bit of fun. It was a game, to see who could get the closest to the Whomping Willow without getting hurt. They hadn’t expected someone to actually get hurt.

Within moments Madam Pomfrey and the Ravenclaw who had gone to retrieve her came dashing down the snowy slope. The nurse dispersed the crowd with a wave of her hand and began to tend to the boy. The students cautiously backed away, some still craning their heads to get a look at the third year. James, Sirius, Peter, Remus and Frank heard the Ravenclaw say that his name was Davey Gundgeon and he was somewhat notorious for doing stupid things.

“What were they thinking, anyway?” James said as they trekked back to the castle. He thought that everyone would have heeded Dumbledore’s order to stay away from the tree.

Sirius shrugged, shaking his head. Then, grinning a bit, he said, “maybe that could be our prank against Crane – get him close enough to the Whomping Willow so he can get his head knocked off.”

He had only been joking, but the situation was not one that warranted such jokes. “That’s not funny, Sirius,” Remus snapped suddenly.

Sirius looked shocked. “Remus, you hate Crane.”

“Not enough for something like that to happen to him.”

Sirius leaned his head back and raised his eyebrows at James, who was standing on the other side of Remus. James shrugged and looked at Sirius in a way that clearly told him to drop the subject; clearly it was a touchy one. The five Gryffindor boys walked up to the castle in silence. When they entered the giant double doors into the Entrance Hall, they veered off to their right and into the Great Hall.

The chatter inside the Great Hall was loud and lively, the boys assumed that word about Davey Gundgeon had spread. The boys took the empty seats beside Lily Evans and Alice Gordon, who seemed to be wondering what all of the commotion was about. Frank leaned forward and began explaining what happened out on the grounds. Though just as Frank began, Professor Dumbledore had stepped up to the Staff Table and was calling for the students’ attention. Silence fell almost immediately all every student fixed their gaze upon the headmaster.

“I’m sure many of you are aware of the event that has just occurred on the grounds approximately fifteen minutes ago?” Dumbledore said, his gaze falling upon the faces of the third years who had been playing around the Whomping Willow. “For those of you who do not know, a third year Ravenclaw had the unfortunate experience of discovering why the Whomping Willow is named so. I did not believe that I would have to reiterate to you the important of staying away from the tree, but the events of today prove that I must. I am asking you only once more to stay away from it; if you do not listen to my request then your Heads of House will have to take the actions they see fit.” He cast his gaze around once more, making sure that the students were listening to him. “You may enjoy the rest of your dinner.”

After that day no student dared go near the Whomping Willow again. They all knew quite well that when Professor Dumbledore put his foot down, there was no chance that he would be lifting it up. As the middle of December neared, and Christmas, Professor McGonagall began making her way up and down the Gryffindor table during breakfast, taking down the names of the students who would be staying at the castle over the holidays. All of the Gryffindor first years would be going home, some more reluctantly than others. Sirius, had he been allowed to make his own decision, would have gladly stayed at the castle. Unfortunately, his parents expected him home and he was not about to defy them. There was always next year, anyway.

“Going home then?” James said as Professor McGonagall passed them by.

Sirius nodded grudgingly. “Mum and Dad expect the Black family heir to be present.”

James bit his bottom lip. “Bad luck, mate.” He turned to Remus, who was scrawling the last of his Charms homework down. “You’re going too?”

“Yeah, my mum and dad asked me to come home,” Remus replied scratching the tip of his chin with his quill. “What’s the incantation for the Levitating Spell, again?”

Wingardium Leviosa.”

“Thanks. But, yeah, I’m going home.” He marked the last question and placed the sheet of parchment in his bag. “So, what do you guys do at Christmas?”

“My Christmas is just me and my parents,” Peter replied, pouring himself a goblet of pumpkin juice. “We open presents Christmas morning and have a nice dinner, pretty boring really.”

“Sounds a lot better than my parents’ big Christmas Eve party,” Sirius replied, screwing up his face in disgust. “Every year, seeing the same annoying people, makes you want to cry.”

“And I bet you do,” James said jokingly.

“Funny, Potter. Close though… I hide out in my room; trick my little brother into getting me food.”

“Wish I had a little brother to trick,” Remus said, grinning.

“And what do you do, Mr. Lupin? Extract Flobberworm mucus?”

“That’s the highlight of my Christmas; my parents always get me a nice Flobberworm.” Remus rolled his eyes. “My mum cooks, my grandparents come over, pretty much like what Peter does.” He took a bite of bacon. “But its fun, it’s the only time my grandparents come to visit.”

“They live far away?” James asked.

Remus shook his head. “No, they live pretty close; they just don’t get the chance to visit very often.” This was partially true; they had plenty of opportunities to visit. They just didn’t take many of these chances because Remus made them nervous. His grandmother and grandfather loved him very much, but what happened to him once a month always scared them. They were afraid they’d say something offensive or hurt him when they hugged him. Remus didn’t understand it, but he accepted it. Remus cleared his throat and turned to James. “What do you do for Christmas?”

“Same this as you and Peter, really,” James replied, shrugging his shoulders. “My parents are old, so my grandparents aren’t alive anymore, and both my parents were only children. So it’s just me, my mum and dad, and our house elf.”

“You have a house elf too?” Sirius asked, resting his head in his hand. He had been thinking of his family’s house elf, Kreacher. Kreacher was the house elf version of his parents. He had been brainwashed into believing all of their pureblood nonsense and often took to muttering foul phrases about half bloods and Muggleborns. Sirius did not consider Kreacher ideal company, particularly on a holiday. Kreacher could suck the holiday spirit out with one breath.

“Yeah, an elf named Willie; she’s been in the family since I was born.” He took a gulp of pumpkin juice. “My parents are old; my mum needed help around the house when I was a baby.”

“Our house elf has been around since before I was born, I think. Bloody menace, Kreacher is. Loves my mum though, he’d probably marry her if it was legal.”

Remus and Peter snorted.

“I don’t think he loves her that much, Sirius,” Peter said, his voice filled with laughter.

“Come spend a night at my house one day, and you’ll see I’m not joking.”

“I don’t know. Would I be welcome there?”

“You’re pureblood, aren’t you?” Peter nodded. “Then, yeah, you’d be welcome.”

“Guess I can never come round to your house, then,” Remus said in a false disappointed voice. “I’m a lowly half blood.”

“You’re not missing much, trust me.”

The boys finished off their breakfast, collected their books, made their way out of the Great Hall and up to Professor Flitwick’s classroom. They approached the classroom and saw the first years crowded around the classroom door, which appeared to be locked. From what they could see, none of their fellow first years knew what to do; the classroom had never been closed off to them before. Just as they were about to send Lily to find Professor McGonagall, the Transfiguration professor came walking up the corridor, looking very grim.

“Professor Flitwick will not be coming to classes until after the new year,” she explained, her mouth visibly twitching. There was a chorus of curious “whys?” from the first years. Professor McGonagall had to quiet them before continuing. “Professor Flitwick has been called to his home, he has received word that…” She broke off and looked thoughtful, as though she was seriously considering whether she should tell them what had happened. “Professor Dumbledore believes you should know… Professor Flitwick has been called home because his sister has been killed.”

Chapter 7: Confrontation on the Platform
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Chapter Seven
Confrontation on the Platform

When Professor Dumbledore made the announcement of what had happened, the atmosphere in the school changed rapidly. Students who normally used their mornings at breakfast to enjoy themselves before classes now looked fearfully through the Daily Prophet, desperate to find any news relating to what had happened to Professor Flitwick’s sister, or any cases like it. Dumbledore had told them that the death had been a mysterious one, marked only by a sign in the sky over her residence – a luminous green skull with a snake wrapped around it. Sirius, who usually enjoyed doing the crossword puzzles in the Prophet, now looked through the news sections, just as the older students did.

The professors did their best to encourage their students to move on, to not be so worried. Even the professors seemed afraid to admit that something had happened. They continued to conduct their lessons in the same manner; they went on as if one of their colleagues had not gone home. Crane continued in his teachings, still giving them difficult assignments. The only way his methods had changed was that he was vaguely nicer to Remus, who was noticeably grateful about this. Initially, they thought that this could be because of Remus’s outburst during their detention at the beginning of the year. But it couldn’t have been because he had not been any nicer to Remus within the past few months.

They soon discovered the real reason when they went to their first Charms lesson after Professor Flitwick’s departure. The boys knew that Dumbledore had gotten a temporary replacement, but the students had yet to see him or her. When they entered the Charms classroom on Friday they saw a sandy haired man sitting at the desk, writing on a scroll of parchment. James, Sirius and Peter shrugged and made their way to their desks at the back of the room; they didn’t think anything was strange about having a new teacher. Remus, on the other hand, stood in the doorway, his mouth slightly opened.

“Remus?” James said slowly, raising an eyebrow at his friend. “Sit down.”

The new teacher looked up when he heard James speak. His eyes traveled from James to Remus and a grin broke onto the man’s face. “Don’t look so happy to see me, Remus,” he said, his grin growing larger.

“W-what are you doing here?” Remus sputtered out.

“I’m taking over until Professor Flitwick comes back.”

“You don’t teach.”

“I used to, before you were born. Then I went to writing.”

“Remus, this is your dad?” Sirius asked, realisation dawning.

Remus nodded, finally coming to himself, and taking his seat beside Peter. No one said anything until the remainder of the class filed in. Once all the students were settled in, Mr. Lupin stood up and surveyed them.

“Well,” he said briskly, clapping his hands together. “In light of what has happened with Professor Flitwick’s family, I will be taking over your classes until he returns. My name is Harry Lupin. You may, of course, address me as Professor Lupin.” As soon as those words came out of the professor’s mouth, every head turned in Remus’s direction. Professor Lupin noticed this, and cleared his throat. “Well, I’ll take role call then, shall I?” He pulled out a scroll of parchment from a desk drawer and read the names. “Sirius Black, Lily Evans, Alice Gordon, Frank Longbottom, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew and James Potter. All here, then? Excellent.”

The lesson commenced smoothly. Professor Lupin picked up where Flitwick had left off, which was teaching them how to make a pineapple dance. The class had a good time as they raced around the desks, trying to stop the pineapples before they tap danced off the table. Unfortunately for James, however, his pineapple danced right onto his shoes and splattered all over them. Luckily, Professor Lupin cleaned them up for him. Lily Evans mastered this task particularly well; she was able to make her pineapple do several difficult dance steps and earned fifteen points for Gryffindor.

When the bell gonged, signaling the end of the class, the students made their way to the door, all talking excitedly about what they had just done.

“Remus,” said the professor’s voice from behind them. “Can you come here for a moment?”

Remus looked over his shoulder at his friends and nodded them on, muttering that he would catch up later. Remus wound his way through the desks and waited patiently for his father to speak with him.

“I know I should have told you I was coming,” Professor Lupin began, looking guiltily at his son. “But, you see, Dumbledore needed someone fast and I was the first person he could think of.”

Remus said nothing; he merely stared at his father.

“It’s only for another week; I was told Professor Flitwick will be coming back after the holidays.” He sighed and stood up. “Are you embarrassed that I’m your teacher now?”

“What? No,” Remus said quickly. He really wasn’t embarrassed at all; he had been thinking the entire period that he now knew why was being treated nicely by his Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

“You looked more than shocked when you saw me.”

“I was just surprised. That’s all.”

“You’re not unhappy? Because, if you are, then I can tell Dumbledore he has to get another replacement.”

“No, I don’t want you to leave. Don’t make Dumbledore get someone else.”

Professor Lupin smiled. “What class do you have next?”

Remus thought for a moment, then realised, with dread, that it was Defence Against the Dark Arts. “Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

“How do you like that? You always were interested in it.”

“It’s… fine… I like it.”

“That’s good. Oh, yes, your mother told me to tell you that you’d better be behaving. I haven’t gotten any letters about you destroying the Slytherin common room. I have to say… I’m disappointed.”

Professor Lupin departed for home the day before Christmas break started and many students were sad to see him go. Remus, though he did not admit it, was not sad to see his father go. He had been receiving what could, at best, be called hell from his fellow students. He had been followed by the jeers of the older students, mostly Slytherins, laughing at the fact that his father was the teacher. He didn’t understand why they found it so amusing; his father hadn’t done anything particularly embarrassing to him. Remus had feared that his father would resort to calling him some pet name he had for him when Remus was a baby.

The only benefit of Professor Lupin staying at the school was that Crane had refrained from his usual taunts, he had especially steered clear of his allusions to Remus being a half breed. Crane had begun conducting his lessons as if Remus wasn’t even in the room, perhaps because it was easier than acknowledging his existence civilly. Remus did not complain, any way that Crane was nice to him was better than nothing. Still, the taunting compensated for Crane’s lack of rudeness. Remus tried to remain passive, but couldn’t when Severus Snape said something especially nasty about Remus’s father, causing Remus, Peter, Sirius and James to hex him until he somewhat resembled a slug, resulting in a week long detention with Professor Grines, repotting her batch of Imp Bells.

On the day the students would be returning home for the holidays, the four Gryffindors found themselves sitting in a compartment on the train, playing a heated match of Exploding Snap. Sirius, James and Peter were trying with all of their mental power to finally defeat Remus’s winning streak, and they were having some luck. Remus, who was still in a sour mood, was not giving the game his best effort and claimed that that was the only reason they were winning. Sirius shook his head at this and slammed a card down in front of him. When Remus’s next turn came, his cards exploding in his face, earning him his first lose in his entire life.

“And so the great Remus Lupin LOSES!” James cheered, Sirius and Peter laughing madly beside him. “VICTORY!” the three boys shouted, causing a prefect patrolling the corridors to look in and see if everything was all right.

When the train pulled up at Platform Nine and Three Quarters, Sirius held his friends up and pulled three brightly wrapped gifts out of his trunk. He shoved them in his friends hand and hastily explained that he wouldn’t be able to owl them during the holidays so he thought it best to just give the gifts to them on the train. He did, however, instruct them to open them on Christmas.

The boys disembarked and scanned through the crowds of students and parents. They saw Remus’s father standing by the barrier, conversing with a man with black, untidy hair.

“Hey, there’s my dad,” James said, leading his friends forward.

“Hi, James,” Mr. Potter said, clapping his son on the shoulder. “I was just talking to Harry, here. I was his mentor in Healer training.”

“Here’s my son, Charles,” Mr. Lupin said, gripping Remus’s shoulder. “Remus, this is Charles Potter.”

Remus smiled and shook Mr. Potter’s hand. Then he turned to his father. “I thought you were a teacher before I was born?”

“I was training to be a Healer, but then decided that it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Mr. Lupin explained.

“So, you and James are mates, then?” Mr. Potter asked conversationally. Remus and James nodded. “I see… Harry was one of my best students; it was a shame when he decided not to continue with his training.”

“Sirius, we have to hurry,” said an unexpected voice. The group spun around and saw a forbidding woman standing behind them – Mrs. Black. She looked over her son’s company and could not contain the grimace on her face.

“Hullo, Mother,” Sirius said coldly.

“Come along, Sirius,” Mrs. Black continued, pretending that she did not notice her son’s company. Mr. Potter and Mr. Lupin, however, stepped forward and attempted to introduce themselves.

“Hullo,” Mr. Lupin said pleasantly, holding out his hand. “I’m Harry Lupin. My son, Remus, is friends with –”

“Come on, Sirius,” Mrs. Black said forcefully, now pulling Sirius forward.

Mr. Potter headed the woman off. “I’m Charles Potter. My son, James, is friends with –”

Mrs. Black groaned, annoyed. “May I help you, gentlemen?”

“We’re just trying to introduce ourselves,” Mr. Potter said in a tone that clearly showed he was offended. “Our sons are friends; I assume we’ll be seeing more of each other.”

“I doubt that,” Mrs. Black said coolly. “My husband and I do not… associate... with folks like yourselves.”

“Like us?” Mr. Lupin said bemusedly. “And what do you mean by that?”

“I mean that the Potters are the biggest bunch of blood traitors there are, and the last I remembered, the Lupins were never the most pureblood family.” She glared grimly at James and Remus. “I assume that this would make James a blood traitor as well, and Remus a half blood.”

“What does that matter?” said another new voice. They looked around to see a man and a woman approaching – Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew.

“Pardon me?” Mrs. Black said, though in a voice that showed that she disliked these newcomers just as much as Mr. Lupin and Potter.

“What does bloodline matter?” asked Mr. Pettigrew politely.

“It matters because our country is going to the dogs with all these –” She looked around, her glancing resting on Mr. Lupin and his son for the quickest of seconds. “These Mudbloods.”

Within an instant, three wands were out. Mr. Potter, Mr. Lupin and Mr. Pettigrew held their wands eye level with the woman before them. The crowd of people on the platform had now turned to gawk at the situation. Mudblood was an offensive term generally saved for those who were Muggleborn. Still, it touched a dangerous nerve within Mr. Lupin.

“Don’t you dare call my son a Mudblood,” Mr. Lupin snarled furiously.

Sirius, sensing disaster, stepped aside and joined his friends beside Mrs. Pettigrew, who was rendered speechless.

“Lower your wand, Lupin,” Mrs. Black said composedly.

“You foul woman,” he went on, his wand not dropping an inch. “What has my son done to you?”

Mrs. Black looked as though she had a very good retort, but bit it back and instead turned her attention to Sirius. “We are leaving, Sirius. NOW!”

Sirius broke away from his friends and looked apologetically over his shoulder as he trailed behind her, dragging his trunk along.

“Dad, don’t be mad at Sirius,” Remus said at once. “He’s not like that.”

He may not be, but his mother sure is,” Mr. Lupin replied, pocketing his wand, his eyes still fixed in the direction the Blacks had left in.

“Remus is right, Harry,” Mr. Potter said. “From the letters James has sent me about his friends, Sirius is not like that.”

Mr. Lupin nodded distractedly. Needing something to take his mind off what had just happened; he spoke to the Pettigrew’s. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“Don’t be,” Mr. Pettigrew said, doing his best to smile. “My wand was up as well. If it had been Peter she said that to, I don’t think she would have been walking away.” Mr. Lupin smiled weakly, nodding at Peter. “I’m John Pettigrew, by the way,” Mr. Pettigrew said, holding out his hand to Mr. Potter and Mr. Lupin. “This is my wife, Maggie.” The men smiled politely at Mrs. Pettigrew.

“What mother could ever dream of calling someone that?” Mrs. Pettigrew wondered aloud. She shook her head dismally. “I assume that was your friend Sirius, Peter?”

Peter nodded. “And these are James and Remus.” He gestured to each boy respectively.

“Well, we’ve got to be going, Remus. Your grandparents are arriving today,” Mr. Lupin said, bending down and grasping the handle of his son’s trunk. “It was nice meeting you,” he added to Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew. “Nice seeing you again, Charles, James, Peter.” Remus adjusted the package Sirius had given under his right arm, wished his friends a Happy Christmas and followed his father through the barrier into the Muggle world.

“We should be going too, James,” Mr. Potter said. “Pleasure meeting you,” he added to the Pettigrew’s.

The kitchen in the Potter household smelled of turkey when Mr. Potter and James entered. Mrs. Potter was standing over the countertop with a small elf at her side. Mrs. Potter gave her wand a complicated wave and a stream of mashed potatoes fell neatly into a pink bowl. Mr. Potter nodded his head at James, signaling for him to bring his trunk and package upstairs; he wanted to speak privately with his wife. Mr. Potter knocked on the door friend, breaking Mrs. Potter and the elf out of their cooking.

“Master Potter!” the elf said in a high pitched voice. “How is you?”

“I’m fine, Willie,” Mr. Potter replied, smiling. “Why don’t you take a break?”

Willie the house elf bowed her head and walked out of the kitchen to tend to the rest of the house. Mrs. Potter cleaned the tip of her wand with her apron and set it down on the counter.

“James is upstairs?” she asked her husband as he sat down on one of the kitchen stools. Mr. Potter nodded mutely. “Did you meet his friends that he’s been writing to us about?”

“I met them, and then some,” Mr. Potter replied edgily.

Mrs. Potter stared at him curiously. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I ran into an old student of mine – Harry Lupin. His son goes to school with James, they’re friends.”

“That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

“Oh, you’re right, it is. They’re both very nice; I always enjoyed having Harry as a student. His son, Remus, however, looks a little sickly.”

“How do you mean?”

“Just something about how pale he is, he’s small for his age. But James never said anything about it.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you look upset, unless you’re mad about that?

“No, of course not. Like I said, they’re both very nice people. I met James’s friend Peter, and his parents. Good people, they are.”

“Charles, will you stop beating around the bush, please?”

“Sorry… You know James mentioned his friend Sirius a lot of times in his letters, don’t you?” Mrs. Potter nodded. “I’m sure he’s a nice boy, but the family he comes from…”

“Pureblood extremists?”

“Hannah, they must be. You should have heard his mother. She called James a blood traitor because he doesn’t believe in those methods and she called Harry’s son a Mudblood.”

Mrs. Potter’s eyes widened. “Did she?”

“Believe me, Mr. Pettigrew, Harry and I did not take that lying down – no, we didn’t hex her – but Harry sure had a go at her.” He sighed and rubbed his temples. “I don’t understand people these days. Were things this bad when we were growing up?”

“People were always prejudiced, but I don’t think they were as bad as now.” She looked over towards the stairs and saw part of James’s head sticking through the doorway. “James, how are you?”

James, startled, jumped and hurried down the remaining steps. “Fine, Mum,” he replied. He bit his lip and said the same thing Remus had told his father after the confrontation on the platform. “Sirius isn’t like his parents.”

“I know he isn’t, James. If he was then I know you wouldn’t be friends with him.”

James nodded and excused himself up to his room. As he walked up the stairs and down the long hallway, he thought about what his parents were saying before they noticed him. For an eleven year old, he wasn’t naïve, but he had never expected that so much prejudice existed in the world. He could never imagine his mother calling him or someone else what Mrs. Black had called Remus. He now understood fully why Sirius hardly ever talked about his family, he was embarrassed by them. James felt sorry for his friend; he must have hated being home so much. His values didn’t match that of his family’s and that obviously put a strain on their relationship.

James entered his room and flopped down on his bed. He stared up at the ceiling above his bed, which sported a poster of his favourite Quidditch team – Puddlemere United. He couldn’t take his mind off the conversations both in his kitchen and on the platform. Mr. Pettigrew had said it right, blood and parentage didn’t make some superior or inferior. Half blood, pureblood or Muggleborn – it didn’t make a difference. What mattered was who the person was. James would never allow the type of blood that ran in his friends’ veins to dictate their friendship.

Chapter 8: Christmas Eve Night
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Chapter Eight
Christmas Eve Night

The Lupin household was comfortably warm, heated by the crackling fire blazing in the fireplace. The mantle was decked with three stockings, hand knit by Mrs. Lupin when her son was nothing more than an infant. Each stocking bore a design for their owner. Mrs. Lupin’s stocking was embellished with reindeer flying through the air, their antlers tall and proud, and their hooves a shimmering black. Mr. Lupin’s held a scene of a wintry forest, the tree tops were glazed with soft snow, the stars glowing in the dark sky. Remus’s stocking shared the theme of the wintry forest, but, unlike his father’s, it also bore several animals. There were deer, owls, and in the very distance was a tiny, almost indistinguishable, wolf howling at the full moon. After Remus was attacked by a werewolf, Mrs. Lupin considered pulling out the stitches of that animal, but decided against it, and Remus never noticed it anyway.

The front door of the cabin opened and the winter wind brought in flakes of snow, as well as two bone chilled men and one freezing boy. Mr. Lupin and his father, John, burst through the door, back first, dragging one end of a freshly fallen tree while Remus brought up the rear, holding the prickly branches steady in his gloved hands. Once Remus was fully inside and had kicked the door shut, the three wheeled around on the spot, trying to find the perfect location for the Christmas tree. There were many places, as the living room was not at all cluttered. The only problem was that the tree was big, they were lucky to have gotten it through the front door.

“Over there,” Mr. Lupin said, nodding his head towards the spacious corner next to the fireplace. They heaved the tree over and carefully balanced it on its trunk and stepped back slowly, ready to catch the tree should it fall. When they were certain that the tree was not about to topple, Mr. Lupin called his wife and mother into the room. Mrs. Lupin and her mother in law, Gabriella, entered the room, each holding towels in their hands.

“Well, that took long enough,” Mrs. Lupin said, smiling.

“Blame Dad,” Remus said, coming out from behind the tree and joining his mother and grandmother. He stooped down and scratched his dog, Dommie, who was resting at Mrs. Lupin’s feet, behind the ear. “Not one tree was perfect enough.”

“We got one down while he wasn’t looking,” John Lupin said, pulling out his wand and whirling it in between his fingers.

“I still say that was unfair, I was going to find one,” Harry complained playfully. “So,” he went on, turning to his wife and mother. “What have you ladies been up to?”

“Cooking for tomorrow,” Mrs. Lupin replied. “What do you say to a Chocolate Frog cake, Remus?”

“I say that sounds good,” Remus said happily. His mother, who was not a witch, had developed a love of wizard sweets and began putting them in anything she could. On Easter she would give Remus an egg filled with Muggle jelly beans and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, making it even more difficult to tell which beans were the disgusting ones. On Christmas she usually made her speciality - Chocolate Frog cake. It was a simple chocolate cake, made with twice the usual amount of chocolate, and top off with Chocolate Frogs. There were very few people who had a chocolate capacity that large, and Remus was one of them.

“Anna, do you really think that’s good for him?” Gabriella Lupin asked.

“He only eats it twice a year,” Mrs. Lupin replied patiently. Her mother in law was constantly questioning her about how she raised her son. “His birthday and Christmas. And he won’t even get it on his birthday, he’ll be at school.”

Gabriella said nothing; she merely shrugged her shoulders and spoke to her son. “Will we be decorating the tree tonight?” Harry nodded. “Maybe I should go and get some eggnog from the store, later?”

“Eggnog? What about the butterbeer?” Harry asked. His mother, like his wife, was a Muggle. Unlike his wife, Anna, Gabriella was still more partial to doing things the Muggle way, and that included having eggnog over butterbeer.

“I’ll Apparate to Hogsmeade and get some,” John volunteered.

“Can I come?” Remus asked eagerly. He had been to Hogsmeade a rare few times in his life and he loved it at Christmastime. The village reminded him of a Christmas card he had seen when he was at a Muggle card shop with his mother. He had already gone the week before, but he wouldn’t mind going again. He knew that it was possible for one person to Apparate with another, but he couldn’t recall the name for it.

“No, Remus,” John replied hesitantly. “It won’t take very long, anyway.”

“Oh,” Remus said, looking put out. “Okay.”

“Remus, why don’t you come and help me in the kitchen?” Anna offered hurriedly.

Remus shook his head. “No… I think I’ll just go and finish wrapping those presents for my friends.” He stepped away from his mother and disappeared up the stairs that led to his loft bedroom.

“Dad,” Harry said, rounding on his father, “was that necessary?”

“Was what necessary?”

“You couldn’t have just let him go with you?”

“It’s cold out, he’ll get a fever.”

“If you were really worried about him getting sick you wouldn’t have let him come with us, looking for a tree for three hours in knee deep snow.”

“Harry, I don’t see what you’re getting upset about.”

Harry said nothing at first. He opened his mouth quite a few times, as if he had something he was bursting to say. “Sometimes I wonder about you and Mum.”

“And what do you wonder about us, Harry?” Gabriella asked, walking forward, wringing the towel in her hands.

“Why you never bothered getting to know your grandson. He’s not stupid, he can see he makes you nervous and that’s not his fault.”

“You know we don’t do it on purpose,” John said quietly. It was partially true. Gabriella was a Muggle and naturally she would be frightened of a werewolf, even if it was her own grandson. John had grown up with wizards and the prejudices against them were something that he had seen all the time. It wasn’t easy to just forget them. That still didn’t excuse them from knowing as little as possible about Remus.

“You can’t keep saying that, Dad. He’s your grandson and I would like for you to actually get to know him. That’s not so much to ask.”

Sirius sat in his room, bored out of his skull. He could hear the faint voices of his relatives and his parents’ friends coming from the floors below, but he paid no mind to them. They were talking about all of their favourite subjects – purebloods, werewolf desegregation, purebloods, “those retched Mudbloods,” and, of course, purebloods. He instead listened to the incessant grumbling of his stomach. It wasn’t easy this year to trick Regulus into getting him food, but Sirius had given it his best shot. He had first asked nicely, attempting politeness, but that proved fruitless. He had then threatened to hex his little brother until he had tentacles rather than eyes. Regulus was not in a generous mood, nor was he going to be frightened into submission.

So Sirius resigned himself to the fact that he would be sitting up in his room, alone, on Christmas Eve, as he usually did. This time, however, he would not have the private feast he usually had, unless he wanted to subject himself to the hideous guests that were his relatives and acquaintances. He had been forced into greeting them, a ritual he always detested. He thought that there was nothing more gruesome than kissing the cheek of his aunts and cousins. He had been spared any actual conversation, and had gone straight to the bathroom to give his mouth a good scrub. He knew he was being childish, but he didn’t think he could eat any food after having placed his lips on his relatives.

First there was his cousin Bellatrix. She was a good nine years older than him and as unpleasant as they come. She was a diehard pureblood, believing that any witch or wizard with even a drop of Muggle blood in them were unfit to learn any form of magic. She was set to be married the following year to a man name Rodolphus Lestrange. He was just as bad as she was. The perfect match, Sirius thought bitterly. The only benefit of their marriage was that Bellatrix would be moving out of London into Hogsmeade. He would not be in close proximity to her over the holidays; he almost burst out cheering when he heard this bit of news. Bellatrix was the best example of what living in the Black Family could do to someone, the influences it could have. Despite how much he hated his cousin, he did believe that if she had been born into any other family, she would not hold the beliefs she held.

Then there was Narcissa, she was only five years older than he was. She was a sixth year at Hogwarts, in Slytherin, but he hardly ever spoke to her. He made sure of this. Whenever he saw her in the hallway, which was few and far between, he would casually lead his friends in another direction, claiming that it was a shortcut. He had to admit that she wasn’t as bad as her sister was, but she still held firm to Bellatrix’s ideals. She was more than likely to follow in the family footsteps, or she would at least marry someone who would. Sirius had very limited knowledge on the subject, but he did know that Narcissa was seeing a boy by the name of Lucius Malfoy. He was in Slytherin’s sixth year class as well. Another perfect match. Sirius had yet to encounter this boy, and he very much intended to keep it that way.

Bellatrix and Narcissa had another sister, Andromeda, Sirius’s favourite cousin. She was seven years older than he was and a year out of Hogwarts. Sirius liked Andromeda because she didn’t buy into the idea that being a Black made her royalty. In fact, she loved anything to do with Muggles, which was a key factor into her marrying Muggleborn, Ted Tonks. As it went with anyone who seriously violated the family code, she was blasted off the family tree in the drawing room. Where her name should have been, linked with her sister, was a charred black spot. Sirius thought that this was something to be admired; he would love to get blasted off. Because of this, Andromeda was not present at the party.

Even if Andromeda had been at the party, Sirius would not have risked going down. He had been skilfully avoiding his mother ever since the confrontation on the platform. If it wasn’t enough that her own son had been Sorted into Gryffindor (a fact, according to Regulus, had sent her into cardiac arrest), he actually consorted with those filthy blood traitors. He winced when he thought of what had taken place that day. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Remus during that whole arguement; he could only imagine what his friend thought of him now. He wouldn’t blame Remus if he hated him. And James too, he had been labeled a blood traitor when he wasn’t anything of the sort. James was not a traitor for not indulging himself in the values of the pureblood extremists.

The door to his bedroom opened and a black haired boy of ten walked in. Regulus Black shut the door behind him and looked at his brother.

“Mother says you have to come downstairs,” he said quietly.

“No, I don’t feel like it,” Sirius replied defiantly, still sitting in his spot.

“Father says so too.”

“Oh, well, if Father says so, maybe I should.”

“Sirius, I don’t want to hear them yelling at you again, so why don’t you just come down?”

“You just don’t want your precious ears hurting again.”

“Mother made your favourite –”

“Not intentionally.”

“-and she wants you downstairs.”

“I wouldn’t go down there for all the treacle tart in the world.”

“Mother said if you don’t come down she’ll come up.”

Sirius heaved a sigh and, for the first time, actually looked at his brother. “What are they talking about downstairs?”

“The usual, except now they’re on about what happened to Professor Flitwick’s sister.”

Sirius’s interest peaked instantly. “Do they know what happened?”

“They have an idea. Some group of people – I don’t know what their names are – and their… leader, I think… they did it. Used the Killing Curse on her.”

“Do you know why they picked her?”

“Bellatrix says she heard that Flitwick’s sister was working… against them or something. I can’t remember.”

“So that’s why she died, then?” Regulus nodded. Sirius sat silently, thoughtful, looking up at a knot in the ceiling. “What do our parents think about that?”

“I think they think it’s for the best that she’s gone. Look, I just came up here to get you, so can you come down now?”

Sirius, unsure of why he was actually listening to the request of his brother, got up and absentmindedly followed Regulus out of his bedroom. So Professor Flitwick’s sister had died because she disagreed with a group of people and their overlord. He didn’t know exactly who these people were, or what their beliefs might be, but he knew that that was no reason to die. As he walked down the two flights of stairs and into the kitchen, he could only hope that his Charms professor was okay.

The smell of fresh turkey, vegetables, bread, and potatoes filled the Potter mansion, drifting up to James’s bedroom, where he was busy putting the finishing touches on the gifts for Peter, Sirius and Remus. His mother would be calling him down soon to help her and Willie set the table and he wanted to send the gifts off that night, as it was Christmas Eve. He was glad that the family owl, Brownie, was a swift and reliable flier, she could get anywhere in a heartbeat. He gripped a strip of Spellotape with his teeth and ripped it out off the roll. He was in the process of wrapping Sirius’s gift – a Puddlemere United t-shirt. He was sure Sirius would like it, they were his favourite team.

When he had finished wrapping Sirius’s present he set it on his bureau, next to Brownie’s cage. Earlier in the morning he had gone up to his parents’ room and retrieved the owl and her cage so he could use her when he needed to. He pulled out a leather-bound photo album from under his bed and placed it in his lap. It was a spare one his parents had bought ages ago and had never used, which was typical of them. When James showed it to them, they let him have it. He knew that Remus had tons of photos. Remus was skilled with a camera, but he never had anywhere to keep them. James had seen a stack of them topple out of Remus’s trunk one morning in November. He could use the album more than his parents, and it was charmed to expand whenever the pages ran out. James grinned to himself and began wrapping it.

He placed Remus’s gift on top of Sirius’s and went for the third one under his bed. Peter was a difficult person to buy for; James had never really noticed any specific interests of Peter, because he was interested in everything. In school, Peter loved every subject, even the ones he wasn’t good in. He didn’t have a single Quidditch team that he favoured; he liked them all because he just loved watching the game. He didn’t have one favourite sweet, he had numerous. James had spent almost an hour and a half thinking of a present for Peter. In the end, he had come up with a portrait of the Quidditch Pitch they used whenever the World Cup was hosted in England. It was a realistic painting, capturing every aspect of the field, from its high stands to every blade of grass on the ground.

James placed Peter’s gift on top of Remus’s just as his mother called him downstairs. He latched the gifts to Brownie and brought her over to the window. He wished her good luck and sent her flying off into the winter night. He hurried down the stairs and saw his mother standing in the kitchen, Willie at her side. Mrs. Potter was holding a tray with a fat, golden turkey resting on top of it, garnished with green leaves. Willie was carrying a basket filled to the brim with warm rolls. The trays of vegetables and potatoes floated alongside Mrs. Potter. She jerked her head at the counter and James saw the pile of dishes and silverware that needed to be brought into the dining room. He retrieved them and followed his mother and Willie into the dining room, which was decked out in its Christmas best. A green table cloth coated the normally bare wooden table, there was holly draped over the chandelier, casting a greenish sparkle whenever the crystals on the chandelier caught both the light and the holly. The Christmas tree stood a little way behind the table, decorated with shiny baubles and fairy lights.

Mr. Potter was standing at the table, making his favourite drink. Ever since James could remember, on Christmas Eve his father always made a drink mixed with eggnog and butterbeer. James and his mother found it revolting, but Mr. Potter always insisted that it was delicious. Mr. Potter looked up and smiled when he saw the three enter the room. He cleared a spot in the centre of the table for the turkey, the vegetables, potatoes, and bread basket, and moved into the next room to see if anything else had to be brought in. James placed the dishes in their respective places, resting the silverware next to them.

“Did you finish wrapping your friends’ presents, James?” Mrs. Potter asked conversationally. James nodded. “What did you get them?”

“I got Sirius a Quidditch shirt, Remus a photo album, and Peter a painting of the World Cup Quidditch Pitch.”

“I’m sure they’ll like them.”

“Yeah, I know Sirius and Peter love Quidditch and Remus loves taking pictures.”

“Did you send Brownie off with them yet?”

“Yeah.” He stooped down as he dropped a knife with a clatter. When he reappeared from under the table, he asked, “will they get them by tomorrow?”

“Brownie hasn’t yet failed delivering a package on time.”

James nodded mutely. Once the table was set and the food placed, the three Potters took their seats. Willie scurried over and took her seat besides James. Mr. Potter was quiet, mulling over what he wanted to say. It was tradition in the Potter family for the “man of the house” to say something important.

“Charles?” Mrs. Potter said, looking questioningly at her husband.

“I’m thinking, Hannah,” he replied, staring down at his hands. After another moment’s silence, Mr. Potter blew some air out of his mouth and looked up at his family. “To another year almost gone,” he said. “A year of change, and next year will bring more change, some good and some bad. But tonight is not a night to think about such things. Tonight is a night to focus on happiness, new beginnings in our lives that will bring good. We should all be grateful for whatever good has and will come our way.”

Mr. Potter raised his glass towards his wife, his son, and to Willie. “May we all find happiness next year, no matter what might happen.”

Later that night James found himself thinking about what his father had said; it wasn’t very different than what he usually said. This year, though, James detected something he had never heard before – a twinge of fear in his father’s voice. Whenever his father delivered his traditional Christmas Eve speech he would sound optimistic, smiling, his eyes twinkling with the lights on the Christmas tree. This year his father had only managed a small tired smile, and his eyes lacked the light of the tree. His father feared what was coming their way, but James didn’t know what it was. What he did know was that whatever it was, it was bad.

The Pettigrew household was quiet, the only sounds alive were the nightly creaks of the house that made it seem like an invisible person was moving about. The family had gotten to sleep fairly late, having stayed up to have a nice dinner and then sit by the fire, the only source of light beside the Christmas tree. Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew were just falling asleep, having snuck back into the living room to put Peter’s gifts under the tree. They were considerably surprised to see a beautiful barn owl hovering outside the window, a package tied to its leg. When Mr. Pettigrew unlatched the window they saw that the owl was delivering a present to Peter from his friend James.

Once John and Maggie Pettigrew were sound asleep again Peter awoke from his dull dreams. He always had a difficult time sleeping on Christmas Eve, the thoughts of the next day always kept him tossing and turning, unable to be lulled away to sleep for a good hour and a half. When he was finally asleep he didn’t even have the luxury of good dreams to keep him sleeping. Peter’s eyes fluttered open and darted around his darkened room. He sighed in annoyance, glancing at the luminous alarm clock on his nightstand, it read, to his dismay, two in the morning. That was another thing, whenever he woke up he usually had three hours until daybreak and he hated lying awake in the dark.

Resigning himself to the fact that he would not be able to fall back asleep, Peter swung his legs over the side of his bed, pulling off his blankets as he did so. His bare feet touched the cold wooden floor, causing him to shiver. He yanked on a pair of socks that were balled up in the corner and silently crept out of his room and down the stairs. The living room was almost pitch-black, the fire having gone out a long time ago. The only source of light came from the single lamppost outside the house; it cast a luminous orange glow against the walls. Needing more light, Peter lit the Christmas tree, blinking against the bright and colourful bulbs.

He sat down in front of the Christmas tree and picked up the various packages. He was old enough now to realise that there was no such thing as Father Christmas, but he always appreciated that his parents still kept up the act of sneaking downstairs to put his presents out. It still allowed him to feel pleasantly surprised the next morning when he saw the faint outlines of packages resting at the trunk of the tree. As he shook a small, square box his eyes fell on the gift Sirius had given him on the train. Sirius had instructed him not to open it until Christmas and, technically, it was Christmas. It was a medium sized box, and the wrapping paper was decorated with snitches on a red background.

Peter moved over, into the orange light so he could read whatever message his friend had left for him. He silently tore the paper apart, unfolding the ends and breaking the tape. When the paper was fully removed he was met with a solid black box. There were golden hinges on it and Peter saw that the lid was inscribed with his own name in fancy, curvy letters. He grinned and opened the box. Inside he found a figurine of a lion and, unless his eyes were cheating him, it was eating a snake. Peter had to bite back a laugh, typical Sirius. He removed the lion and a small, folded piece of parchment toppled out along with it. Curious, Peter picked it up and unfolded it.

Happy Christmas, Peter!
And don’t worry; the Sorting Hat tried the same thing with me.
Your friend,

Peter raised his eyebrows at the letter; the Sorting Hat had tried putting Sirius in Slytherin as well? More importantly, how had Sirius know that had happened to Peter? Maybe he just assumed by the look on his face as he sat on the stool at the Sorting Ceremony. It made Peter feel better, though, to know that someone else had been in the same dilemma as he was. There was just one nagging thought at the back of his mind, almost everyone in Sirius’s family had been in Slytherin, it was only natural for the Sorting Hat to assume that he wanted the same. Peter, on the other hand, no one in his family had ever been in that house before. What if he did belong there?

No, don’t think about that now. It’s Christmas, you’re supposed to be happy. Peter set Sirius’s gift aside and saw another one that was clearly not from his parents. It was a fairly flat, rectangular gift; he couldn’t imagine what could possibly be inside. He saw on the labeled tacked onto the red and gold wrapping paper that it was from James. His interest increasing, Peter tore the paper off as quietly as he could, so as to not wake his parents. He set the torn paper on the floor behind him and picked up the present. It was an extremely detailed portrait of England’s Quidditch World Cup pitch.

Peter smiled, admiring the workmanship of it. He could see every blade of grass, every number on the backs of every player in the air. He wondered where James had gotten it and hoped that it didn’t cost very much. He hadn’t had a very big supply of money and wasn’t able to buy the presents he had wanted to buy for his friends. Then he remembered that James’s parents were very wealthy, money probably wasn’t a problem. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a lot of money at his dispense. He turned the portrait over and saw that James had taped a message onto the back of the frame. He ripped the message off and scanned it.

Merry Christmas, Peter!
You were impossible to think of a present for, so I got you this painting when I saw it in some shop in Diagon Alley. I know you love Quidditch, so hopefully you like it.
Your friend,

He set the portrait next to the lion figurine and then he eyes spotted the package he had seen his father bring in earlier when he went out to retrieve the post from the snow, where the owl had dropped it. It didn’t have the fancy wrapping that the others had, but was simply covered with coarse brown paper. He saw in the upper left hand corner of the package Remus’s neat handwriting - a present from Remus. He unwrapped it and a note fell into his hands. Unlike the first two times he had opened his gifts, he read the message first.

Happy Christmas, Peter!
I’m really bad at thinking of presents for people, so if you don’t like it I don’t blame you at all. I went to Hogsmeade with my mum last week and saw it in Dervish and Banges. Maybe you’ll find it useful.
Your friend,

He saw that Remus had gotten him a Sneakoscope. He couldn’t understand why Remus thought he needed one; he didn’t know anyone untrustworthy and that was what these devices were used for. Then again, Remus had admitted that he was bad at picking out gifts. Peter shrugged; maybe he would find some use for it. He set it next to James’s present and lay back on the cold wooden floor. He couldn’t help but be happy at this moment; he had never gotten any Christmas presents from anyone outside his immediate family. He had also never given any gifts to anyone outside his immediate family. But now he had three friends who he felt he liked enough to spend painstaking hours thinking over what to get for them and fretting over if they would like it or not.

And that, to Peter, was the best present he could have – friends he cared so much about.

Chapter 9: Ill Health and Feelings
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Chapter Nine
Ill Health and Feelings

“Come on, Remus,” whispered a weary Harry Lupin on New Year’s Day morning. “It’s alright.”

Harry was kneeling down in the knee deep snow in his backyard, trying to bring a passed out Remus back to reality. He had conjured a small patch of blue flames contained in a jar to keep his son warm. He gently tapped Remus’s uninjured cheek and he groaned quietly, his head shifting ever so slightly, but, otherwise, he remained still. Mr. Lupin frowned, an anxious look in his eyes. Ever since Remus found out he was going to Hogwarts his transformations had been getting better, as if he had a small piece of hope to grasp onto. He couldn’t understand why his transformation had been so violent the night before. His son’s screams had pierced the night.

“Remus?” he said again, his voice quiet. He put his hand on his son’s forehead, the heel of his hand coated with blood as it grazed a gash above Remus’s right eye. He felt the heat coming from his son and frowned, he was going to have a fever. Harry looked over his son’s tattered clothes and performed a number of mending spells. “Come on, Remus, it’s your dad.” When Remus didn’t respond, Harry stood up and called for his wife.

Anna Lupin hurried through the open doorway and joined her husband. “What is it, Harry?” she asked concernedly.

“He won’t wake up,” Harry explained hopelessly.

“Can’t you wake him magically?”

“You know I can’t. The Healers always told me it’s best if he wakes on his own.”

“Maybe he’s just tired?”

“I don’t know… it’s never taken him this long before.”

“Give him some time, Harry. He’ll wake.”

Harry nodded solemnly at his wife. He knew she was right. Remus had a hard time the night before; he had to take his time. He watched as Anna went inside, readying Remus’s bed for him when he needed it. Despite what his wife had said, he did not leave his son’s side until Remus tiredly opened his eyes. Remus gazed dazedly at his surroundings, seemingly unable to figure out where he was. Harry turned when he felt movement and smiled at the sight of his son’s open eyes. Remus’s eyes were glazed over, not really staring at anything, but moving about nonetheless.

“Good morning,” Harry said, keeping his voice light.

Remus’s eyes stopped darting around and fell on his father’s tired face. He tried to say something, but his vocal chords argued against it. Harry nodded understandingly, and moved to help his son up. Remus flinched; his eyes squeezed shut in pain, as his father’s hand moved towards his back. Harry quickly withdrew his hand.

“What is it?” he asked, stooping down again. Remus said nothing, his eyes still closed in pain. “Remus, you have to talk to me.” He had said it louder than he had intended to, and Remus seemed to shrink back. Harry had nearly forgotten how timid Remus came off after a full moon. Harry closed his eyes for a moment, sighed, and looked back at his son. “What hurts, Remus?”

“My back,” Remus replied, almost in a whimper.

“You know I can’t fix it. The Healers said they’re the only ones who could.”

“I’ll help you, Harry,” said an unexpected voice. Harry glanced up and was shocked to see his father standing above him, his wand in hand. John Lupin had been a Healer in his day and still was adept at the skills he had obtained.

“Dad,” Harry said, evidently surprised.

“Here you go, Remus,” John said, bending forward and giving his wand a complicated wave. Remus’s eyes scrunched up more, as though the spell had done nothing but increase the pain. Then, slowly, his face relaxed and he let out a small breath of relief. “Do you feel better?” Remus nodded. “Good…” John straightened up and turned to Harry. “Will he be okay?”

“Yes… yes,” Harry said, still coming to terms with the fact that his father was there. “By the end of the day, he’ll be feeling better.” He blew air out of the corner of his mouth and looked around, wringing his hands together. “Where’s Mum?”

“Oh, she had to go into town and pick up a new table for the living room. I thought I’d come and see how Remus was doing.”

“Would you like to stay with him for a few hours? Anna and I have to speak with someone at St. Mungo’s about… a matter.” Harry did not want to actually voice what he and his wife were going to St. Mungo’s for. The Healers were forever bringing up possible cures for Lycanthropy, none of them ever having any effect. Despite this, they always tried something in the vain hope that something would relieve Remus of the suffering he had to endure.

“Wouldn’t you bring Remus there?” John wondered.

“We were going to, and we will if you can’t stay.” He glanced over his shoulder at Remus, who was not taking in a word of the conversation. “Besides, the Healers say it won’t be ready until the summer anyway. We’ll bring him, if you really can’t stay.”

“No… no, I’ll stay with him. You and Anna go on ahead.” John bent down and carefully slid his arm under Remus’s, fully aware of the other wounds his grandson may have. He gently lifted his grandson to his feet and began leading him towards the house where he could fix his other injuries.

“Dad?” Harry said, a smile growing on his lips.

“Yes, Harry?”

“Thank you.”

“That is brilliant, bloody brilliant!

“I told you I wasn’t full of just stupid ideas.”

“But how did you even think of this?”

“It wasn’t hard.”

Operation Get Crane Back was to be put into action soon. James, Sirius and Peter had been sitting up for hours, feverishly discussing their plans for revenge on Crane. Their plans had been put on hold with the death of Professor Flitwick’s sister weighing on their minds and then the Christmas holidays. They had been keeping their voices low, as Remus was passed out on his bed and Frank was sleeping, but they could not keep their voices down when Sirius had announced his new idea. He finally realised that showing Crane’s knickers in broad daylight was easier said than done.

Sirius claimed that he had spent the better part of his break thinking up prank after prank, making it so that nothing could be linked back to them. He also had to ensure that it was something the older students would be willing to help them with. He had come up with the perfect scheme – they would get the older students to buy a large box of fireworks when they went on the next trip to Hogsmeade and they would set them up in strategic points in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. Midway through class the fireworks would have to be ignited, a job Sirius would only entrust to an older student.

“What else would we do besides the fireworks?” James asked, lying back on his bed and tossing the model Golden Snitch Sirius had given him in the air.

“I was thinking about hexing everything in the room,” Sirius explained, his eyes twinkling with mischief as he bit into one of the Chocolate Frogs he had received from Peter. “Make the chairs spin around on their own, the chalkboard erase itself, make everything just go crazy!”

“How would we do that?” Peter questioned.

“It’s not that hard, just look up the hexes and learn them.”

“We’re only first years.”

“Which is why we get other people to help us.” Sirius grinned. “Trust me; it’ll be so bad that Crane will be crying by the time we’re through with him. Besides, the older students might have ideas that we can use.”

“I hope it works, I can’t stand another year with Crane,” James said, standing up and moving towards the bathroom. “It’ll be murder.” He shook his head and disappeared inside.

“We have to get Frank in on this too,” Peter reminded Sirius. “He wants Crane out just as much as we do.”

“Frank will have his part, have you seen how good he is with that Levitation Spell? And I was thinking we use those Biting Teacups I got from James too or maybe the Frog Spawn from Remus.”

“Yeah that sounds good and if we’re going to use charms then maybe we should get Evans to help us.”

“Oh she wouldn’t want to get in trouble.”

“But she hates Crane.”

“So does Remus, and he’s not helping.”

“He can’t risk getting Crane madder at him.” Peter folded his arms across his chest and looked at the curtains drawn around Remus’s bed. “Is he okay? I haven’t seen him since we got back.”

“I saw him, he was looking pretty sick.”

“You don’t think it has to do with his mother again, do you?”

“No, I think he’s got a bug or something.” Sirius neglected to mention the ugly looking bruises that were fading on Remus’s face, or the difficulty with which he walked. He knew Remus didn’t want his pain being advertised. And when Sirius had asked Remus if he was okay, he got very defensive, saying that it was none of Sirius’s business. “He’ll be fine.”

Just as the words came out of Sirius’s mouth they heard a small yelp of pain from behind the curtains. Peter raised his eyebrows at Sirius. Sirius shrugged and began edging slowly towards his roommate’s bed. Sirius looked at Peter, wondering if he should bother Remus, as Remus had not been in the best of moods earlier. Peter nodded his head. Sirius tugged on the curtains.

“Remus, are you okay?”

They heard nothing for a moment. Then, very quietly, they heard a whimper of pain.

“Are you alright, Remus?” Peter asked anxiously.

“Fine,” said Remus’s almost inaudible voice.

“Are you sure?”


Peter shrugged and announced that he was going down to the common room to find his Transfiguration essay. Sirius declined the offer of going down with him to help, saying that he was tired and wanted to get ready for bed. Once the door shut behind Peter, Sirius wheeled around and yanked the curtains back around Remus’s bed. He saw Remus curled up, his face stuffed into his pillow, and he was furiously rubbing at his wrist. Through the creases between Remus’s fingers, Sirius could see a nasty looking bruise. He must have rolled over onto it when he was sleeping and the shock had woken him up.

“What happened?” he asked.

Remus turned his head so that one eye was looking up at Sirius and the other was still forced into his pillow. He shook his head; he didn’t feel like talking about it. His grandfather had managed to heal most of his injuries, the major ones at least, especially his back. His back had felt like a thousand fiery knives were piercing through his skin; the pain was so unbearable he could barely form two words. His grandfather had left the minor injuries, allowing them to heal on their own.

“Remus, what’d you do to your wrist?”

“Nothing,” Remus muttered into his pillow. “Hey, thanks for framing that picture of my dog for me,” he added in hopes of deterring Sirius from the problem.

Sirius, however, was not going to be deterred so easily. “You must’ve done something.”


“Was it your dog again?”

“I fell.”

Sirius didn’t believe this for a second. “Come on, Remus. What-?”

“What do you want from me?” Remus asked angrily, visibly cringing from the shooting pain he received in his head.

Sirius looked taken aback. What was wrong with him? Sirius was doing nothing except being a good friend; a good friend would want to know why one of his mates was sick. “I want to know what keeps happening to you that you’re always sick! But if you don’t want me to know, fine! Suffer on your own!”

James, Sirius and Peter sat in the courtyard during break the following day, observing possible candidates for their plot against Crane. Once the holidays had ended and Professor Flitwick returned, Crane had taken on his usual methods of tormenting Remus. It seemed like he was making up for lost taunting, as he hardly ever left Remus alone. They had to admit that Remus was taking it quite well; he had begun a process of simply ignoring the professor, letting the comments bounce off him. He sat quietly at his desk, writing patiently in the leather notebook Peter had sent him. The only problem with his method was that Crane gave him detention, which he was now discussing with the professor.

“How about him?” James asked, pointing at the Gryffindor seventh year they had originally asked, back when Sirius had his knickers scheme.

“Finley?” Sirius said. “He told me my idea was stupid.”

“Your first idea,” Peter corrected. “This one actually isn’t stupid.”

Sirius huffed and grudgingly conceded. “Hey! Finley!”

The seventh year stopped in his path and looked over his shoulder. A confused expression fell upon him as he wondered why these first years could possibly want to bother him again. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to see what they wanted, maybe they had revised their revenge plan and it was no longer stupid. “What is it?” he asked as he approached them.

“We have a new idea,” James said proudly.

“Actually, I have a new idea,” Sirius said quickly.

“What is it?” Finley asked interestedly.

“Want to make Crane think his room is haunted?”

Finley said nothing as he mulled over Sirius’s idea. It was not nearly as bad as his original one; it actually had some good charm to it. It would be easy to execute if they had a little more help. In fact, they could make it so bad it would drive Crane out of the school. He grinned mischievously.

“How do you want to do it?”

And so it began. Finley enlisted the help of two of his fellow Gryffindor seventh years – Julie Kramer and Andy Green – while James, Sirius and Peter got Frank in on the plot. They worked relentlessly after class that day, holed up in the library under the suspicious glare of the librarian, Madam Pince. They pored through book after book, searching for every spell that could wreak absolute havoc in Crane’s classroom. Finley found a particularly helpful spell that timed all the rest. They had to decide on a time when pandemonium would commence. It was difficult, they weren’t sure if they wanted it to happen when they had classes with Crane. It would be too easy for him to pin down the culprits if they did it during their lessons.

In the end they decided it would be best if they did it during a Slytherin class; if they didn’t mind anyone getting in trouble, it was the Slytherins. They weren’t sure when they would do it; everything had to be carefully planned. In the meantime they would look up what they needed and figure out how they would use the spells. It was long work, but the thought of the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor’s misery sustained them. Lily Evans and Alice Gordon, who openly detested Crane, even chose to help them, a shock to James and Sirius, who had both been convinced that the girls wouldn’t want to risk the numerous detentions awaiting them. In fact, the only person who was not joining in was Remus.

True, they had suggested that Remus not take any part in it, they had at least expected him to show some amount of interest. He never said anything about it, when they discussed it he was either staring into space or reading. They couldn’t figure out what had caused him to become so detached, maybe he thought Sirius was still mad with him. But that couldn’t have been the reason because Sirius was being friendly to him. James assumed it must have had something to do with his mother. Maybe she was getting worse?

“Hey, Remus,” he said one night when it was just him and Remus in the dormitory. He had gone to the dormitory to deposit the new chess pieces Peter had given him with his chess board and saw the curtains were, for the first time in a while, not drawn around Remus’s bed. Sirius and Peter were busy serving detention for accidentally dropping a few Dungbombs outside Filch’s office.

Remus rolled over onto his side and looked at James. “Hi.”

James sat down on his bed and observed his friend. They had been in school for a week and a half and he could not help but notice how pale Remus was when he had gotten back, and that had not changed. “Are you okay? You’ve been really quiet lately and you don’t look too good.”

“I’m fine,” Remus answered, biting back a yawn.

“Are you sure? Because if you’re not, then you really should go to Madam Pomfrey.”

“I’m okay, James.” Remus rolled onto his back and gazed sleepily at the ceiling above his bed. In truth, he wasn’t sure what was wrong with him. It never took him this long to recover from a full moon, unless he was coming down with something completely unrelated. He didn’t feel like going to Madam Pomfrey, though, she would make too much of a fuss over him.

James sighed and looked around, searching for another topic. “How’s your mum?”

“Err… fine… she’s fine.”

“So, about the Crane thing…”

“Sirius has a good idea.”

“You don’t want to help at all?”

“I dunno… I really don’t want Crane to find out I was involved with it.” He grimaced as a sharp sensation filled his head. “He’ll never leave me alone.”

“It’s alright, you don’t have to. I was just wondering if you maybe wanted to. You’ve been so… I dunno… quiet, you don’t ever say anything about anything.”

“It’s nothing, James.”

“Okay, then,” James said, standing up and heading to his trunk to grab some homework. “G’night.”

As it turned out, Remus had been steadily developing a stomach virus. James, Sirius, Peter and Frank were rudely awakened to the sounds of retching coming from the bathroom the following morning. Remus was in there for a good fifteen minutes before emerging, green and sweaty. Sirius frowned and offered to help his friend to the Hospital Wing before he got dressed and went to class. Remus shook his head, muttering that he didn’t want to get any of them sick. He trudged out of the dormitory, not noticing that he was barefoot. Peter saw this, grabbed a pair of his friend’s socks that were sticking out from under the bed, and hurried after him.

When Peter returned, announcing that Remus would be spending the next few days in the Hospital Wing, they set off for first period Transfiguration. They entered the Transfiguration classroom to see Professor McGonagall flipping furiously through several sheets of parchment on her desk. She clicked her tongue irritably and looked up when she saw the boys entered. She surveyed them through her square spectacles and saw that someone was missing from their ranks.

“Where is Mr. Lupin?”

“He’s sick in the Hospital Wing,” James responded promptly.

Professor McGonagall nodded and made no further mention of the subject. The boys took their usual seats in the back of the room and waited patiently for Lily and Alice to get there and the lesson to begin. They needed to discuss the part of the plan that Lily and Alice would play. They were to locate the necessary hexes for the windows in Crane’s room. They wanted them to bang open and closed repeatedly. They had come across the correct hex while looking up something else and needed to tell the girls that they just had to learn how to perform it.

However, when the girls finally came in they did not have the opportunity to speak, as Professor McGonagall was calling them to attention. They were to be learning how to transfigure small dishes into small cups, a dull but manageable task. James successfully completed the task on his first try, earning five points for Gryffindor. While everyone else was trying to figure it out, James sat back in his chair, leafing through the book of jinxes he had gotten from Remus and thinking of what else they could do to Crane. He didn’t think what they had at the moment was enough to drive Crane out of the school, though it would annoy him greatly. They needed something else, he just couldn’t think of what.

The class ended soon enough and the Gryffindor first years began making their way out onto the grounds for Herbology. They trooped down the grassy slope towards the greenhouses, discussing the homework that Professor Grines had assigned them. It was a long and lengthy essay about the plant of their choice. They had all spent three grueling hours working on them, not quite sure what would be sufficient. In the end they all ended up with two sheets of parchment, a feat that they never thought they could accomplish. As they were nearing the greenhouses they saw a group of Slytherins standing a few feet away, talking and laughing rudely.

“What do you think they’re doing?” James muttered out of the corner of his mouth to Sirius, who shrugged in response. As they neared Sirius saw, with dread, that one of the students was none other than his cousin, Narcissa. Instinctively he fell behind James, hoping that his friend would shield him from view.

“What’s up?” Peter asked when he saw this. Sirius had not gotten around to mentioning to his friends that he had a cousin in the school. He had spent the majority of his time trying to forget that very fact.

“That’s my cousin,” he replied, jerking his head towards the tall girl with blonde hair. She was standing next to a boy of equal height with similar hair; Sirius had no doubt that he was her boyfriend Lucius.

“Well, why don’t you say hullo?” Lily wondered, unaware of how much Sirius wanted to avoid saying anything to them.

“I don’t exactly like my family.”

Lily said nothing, but nodded and pressed the subject no further. As they approached, Narcissa turned and grinned in a slightly malevolent way. She was nothing compared to Bellatrix, but she held her own quite well. She casually walked over to Sirius, pausing for the briefest of moments to cast another grin over her shoulder.

“Hullo, Sirius,” she said in a voice dripping with false cheer.

“Cissy,” Sirius replied, using an old nickname the family had given her a long time. She hated it only when Sirius used it, but chose to overlook that for the time being.

Narcissa was silent as she gazed over her cousin’s companions. “Interesting… group… you’ve assembled here. I take it Aunt Walburga was right when she said you’re busy with Mudbloods and blood traitors.”

“Take that back,” Sirius hissed, his wand out and raised. Narcissa smirked and did not take back what she said, nor did she draw her own wand. “I said ‘take it back’.” Sirius realised how pointless this was, his cousin would never take back what she said. She would eat dung before heeding his demand.

“What’s going on here?” asked a mildly interested voice. The group turned and saw that Lucius Malfoy and his cronies were making their way over. Sirius groaned; the last thing he needed was for this to blow up in his face, which it undoubtedly would.

“Oh, Lucius,” Narcissa said, her tone changing dramatically, “this is my cousin, Sirius.”

Malfoy looked thoughtful, as if he was trying to recall something from long ago. “Sirius?” he repeated. “Isn’t he your disappointment of a cousin?”

“In so many words, yes,” Narcissa replied cheerfully.

Sirius glanced over at his friends with his eyebrows raised, what were they doing? James shook his head, signaling that Sirius should not rise with their taunts. He loosened the grip on his wand and let his arm drop limply to his side. “Let’s go to Herbology, guys?” he said instead, focusing on his friends rather than the several hexes he had just thought up. His friends hastened to the greenhouses, Sirius hurrying along in their wake. He could not shake what Narcissa had said out of his mind. He had never been a particular fan of his parents, but he had always known that they loved him; he had never been referred to as a disappointment before that year.

As Sirius settled himself in his spot between James and the one that usually held Remus, he still could not drag his mind away and force it to listen to Professor Grines. He didn’t understand why his family couldn’t see that people like James and Remus and Peter and Lily were not bad people just because of their bloodline or their upbringing. He couldn’t fathom why he had turned out different, why he seemed to be one of the few Blacks who could look past such a trivial matter. He knew it was for the best though, if he was not the way he was then he would not be surrounded by the people he was. He wouldn’t have the friends he did, and he probably wouldn’t be happy.

Chapter 10: Birthdays, Preparations and Banshees
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Chapter Ten
Birthdays, Preparations and Banshees

Remus returned from the Hospital Wing after three days, looking far skinnier than they remembered, but otherwise healthy. He was greeted rather cautiously by his roommates, who seemed afraid that he may still be ill and, therefore, irritable. When he assured them numerous times that he was fine, they eased up and told him what he had missed. Though he had been restored to what was perfect health for him, he still did not partake in any of his friends’ schemes. Unlike the first time, however, they were not perturbed by this and let Remus live with his decision. He knew what was best for him. Who were they to make him change his mind?

The moment was drawing ever nearer with the passing of each month. They had chosen the month of June to execute their long awaited prank, figuring that the opportune time would be before the exams began. Jacob Finley, Julie Kramer and Andy Green had their N.E.W.T examinations to worry about, so the first years would take over as May turned to June. They spent so much time in the library that the teachers even began to think that they were up to no good, though they made no effort to stop them. The first years had a suspicion that the professors, apart from Crane that is, knew what they were doing and did not object in the slightest.

As for their classes, the workload increased tenfold with the passing months. Their homework, which had never been light, was now reaching such levels that the students were close to having nervous breakdowns. Peter, who had never before expressed any feelings about his work and did it without complaint, was now found furiously scribbling away at his work, a worried, panicked expression on his face. The same could be said for Remus, who was not suffering as much as Peter, but could still not get by an exam without a good amount of studying. It was no surprise when Remus and Peter began getting fed up with James and Sirius, who did not study a bit and yet passed their examinations with flying colours. In fact, the subject of their first real arguement was because James and Sirius were being particularly loud in the dormitory while Remus and Peter were attempting to study.

“Can you two keep it down?” Remus asked politely, at first. He had his index fingers plugged in his ears in a desperate attempt to rid his mind of any excess noise.

James and Sirius, who were busy playing a rowdy match of Exploding Snap, did not seem to hear him.

“Yeah, seriously,” Peter added, looking up from his History of Magic homework. Their request went unnoticed as James swore noisily when his cards exploded in his face. The room was now filled with Sirius’s raucous laughter and James’s groans of annoyance.

“Guys, can you please keep it down?” Remus repeated, more forcefully this time.

Still they did not seem to hear him and, if anything, their volume increased.

“Merlin, shut up already!”

James and Sirius finally seemed to have heard him and rounded on him, wearing bemused looks.

“Well,” Sirius said huffily, “someone’s got a broomstick stuck up their bum.” James choked on his laugh and sputtered out a few coughs.

“I have not, you’re just being obnoxious,” Remus snarled angrily. Peter, who very much agreed with Remus, nodded furiously.

“‘Obnoxious’ he says,” James said in a voice that sounded like he was observing a creature in a zoo. “Well, if we’re being so obnoxious why don’t you just study downstairs?”

“You think it’s better down there?” Peter asked incredulously. The common room was just as bad as the dormitory.

“This is our room, we can be just as loud as we want,” Sirius proclaimed, purposely raising his voice.

“This is our room too and we have the right to study up here,” Remus proclaimed in a voice harshly mimicking Sirius’s.

“Yeah, why don’t you study for a change?” Peter questioned fiercely.

“We don’t have to!” Sirius and James said together. “We know all that rubbish,” Sirius furthered.

“Well if you’re so smart you’d let those of us with lesser intelligence study,” Peter huffed sardonically.

“Maybe we will,” James snapped. “Then maybe the two of you will actually pass a test.” Before either Remus or Peter could respond, James and Sirius slammed the dormitory shut and went down into the common room.

But they got over the fight within a week and chose to pretend that it never happened. As January turned quietly into February Remus vanished once more to visit his sick mother. When he returned he looked very much like he did when he had his stomach virus. His roommates, however, made no mention of this; they were keen on avoiding any more rows. James and Sirius now knew better than to being rudely loud when their roommates were studying. While Peter, Remus and Frank (who was also easily distracted by noise when studying) were poring over their notes, Sirius and James would sit in the background and do some more research for their prank.

They received the necessary fireworks after the February Hogsmeade trip. Jacob, Julie and Andy arrived in the common room with two crates of Dr. Filibuster’s fireworks. They stowed them away under Frank’s bed, as Frank was the least likely person to be harbouring any contraband. They just had to be careful to not let the conditions in the room get warm enough to ignite them and, in result, blow up Frank’s bed, especially if he was in it. James, Sirius, Peter and Frank spent a good amount of time, when they had no homework, looking up more spells, trying to find something that James described as “the clincher.” They didn’t find anything overly helpful, but that didn’t stop them from looking.

The snow that February brought melted into slush as March arrived, bringing large amounts of rain. March dawned quietly enough. On the first, James, Sirius and Peter were taking advantage of Remus’s absence to discuss what they were going to do on their friend’s birthday, which fell on the tenth. They talked about it in Charms class while Professor Flitwick, who had still not recovered his normally cheerful disposition, walked about the classroom, assisting his students.

“What should we get him?” Sirius asked, poking his wand hopelessly at the frog he was supposed to be levitating.

“You’re doing it wrong, Sirius,” Peter said.

Sirius chose to ignore this and voiced his question again.

James shrugged. “What does he want?

“I dunno. You already got him that photo album. He’s been filling it up with all his old pictures.”

“Those weird pictures that don’t move?” Peter said, levitating his frog in the air.

“They’re not weird. They’re the pictures that Muggles take,” James corrected. “He doesn’t know how to make the potion that makes them move, and I guess his dad doesn’t either.”

“There’s an idea.”

“What, Sirius?”

“We can probably ask Slughorn to teach us how to make it. Slughorn loves us; he’d do anything we asked him to.”

And so they did. The boys snuck down to the dungeons that day and asked Professor Slughorn if he could teach them. There was a price, of course. James and Sirius, who had been successfully avoiding going to any of Slughorn’s gatherings, had to promise to attend the next one. James and Sirius would rather drink poison than attend a party with Professor Slughorn’s favourite students (a group that included Severus Snape), but they knew that it would be worth it in the end. Or they at least hoped that Remus would realise the pains they had gone through when it came time for their birthdays.

Remus loved his present and instantly took out his camera so he would have pictures to develop in the potion. He was up late into the night (as he had managed to somehow use the entire roll of film that day) developing the pictures and watching as they moved about in their frames. He grinned to himself as he thought about the “horrors” his friends had gone through in order to get him this present, James and Sirius, at least. Peter was dubbed to be the lucky one as he managed to avoid going to a Slug Club party. They would be attending it the next night and there were rumors that Professor Slughorn had gotten a Chaser from the Chudley Cannons to go. That thought made his friends think the party may be a little bearable; even though neither of them were the biggest Chudley Cannons fans.

The wet weather in March grew to be so bad that all outside classes and activities (which miraculously included Quidditch) were cancelled. A week after Remus’s birthday the Gryffindor first years were sitting in a secluded portion of an empty classroom during break, talking in hushed voices. They had sent Remus off to find Jacob and his two friends.

“I don’t think June is a good idea for the prank,” Peter was saying when Remus appeared with Jacob, Julie and Andy.

“Why not?” Julie asked, folding her arms across her chest and looking rather disconcerted. Everything they had planned was set for June.

“Because it’ll be easier for you guys, you won’t have your N.E.W.Ts to worry about.”

“Yes we will.”

“No, listen, Andy,” Peter continued, looking at Green. “Yeah, you’ll have them coming up but it’s a lot easier than just us first years trying to pull it off without you.”

The seventh years were silent before Jacob said slowly, “He’s right, you know. We can make it a lot better probably if we pull it off earlier.”

“When are we going to do it?” Alice Gordon asked, looking up from the library book she was poring over.

“Well, April’s too early,” Sirius surmised thoughtfully. “March is already half over.”

“That leaves May then, doesn’t it?” James said, looking over at his friend. “We’ll have to get moving faster.”

“Yeah, we thought we had at least a month more,” Lily said, circling a helpful looking spell in her Charms textbook.

“Well, we have to study either way. Right, Jake, Julie?” Andy reminded them.

“Which means we’ll need more help,” Frank said, cracking his knuckles loudly. “I mean, if you guys are going to be studying, we can’t stop you from doing it.”

They all nodded in agreement. Now they faced another problem, true there were six Gryffindor first years who were going to be working on the project; Jacob, Julie and Andy held the bulk of the work because they were the oldest. They easily had more knowledge about how to go about everything. They were going to be the ones to initiate the spell that set off all the others, they were going to be the ones who set off the fireworks, and they alone knew how to perform the majority of the spells. They were going to sneak into Crane’s classroom in the middle of the night before and plant everything.

“I’ll help,” said a hesitant, and completely unexpected, voice.

“What?” James said, shaking his head, clear that he had heard wrong. “I thought you wanted to stay out of it, Remus?”

Remus looked rather startled himself. The truth was that he felt left out of everything, even if it had been his own decision. He was always curious about the inner workings of Operation Get Crane Back and he had no better opportunity than the one that was presenting itself at that moment. He shrugged at James and sat down on the floor, leaning against the couch.

“I dunno,” he said quietly. “I want to help.” He looked up at the group, as if expecting them to shoot down his offer and say that it was far too late. Instead, they smiled and welcomed him into the plan.

Now that they had another member they seventh years began teaching him the spells they were going to do. Remus, though he did not get them as quickly as James or Sirius, was working hard to master them in order to make up for the times when he had just sat there, uninvolved. Within a few days he had mastered the spell that would start all the others. It was a difficult one and took nearly five hours one day for him to even get part of it. They had tested it by performing a simple Leg Locker Curse on James. Remus had to say the incantation for the spell that timed the others and then say the incantation for the jinx. It sounded simple enough, but he had to have the time down to the exact second. So, at exactly the fiftieth second of the thirteen minute of the eighteenth hour of the twentieth day of March of the year 1972, James’s legs became locked together, he overbalanced, and toppled backwards onto his bed.

March twenty seventh marked James’s twelfth birthday. He had gone noticeably out of his way to remind his friends, repeatedly and nonstop, of this particular event. They knew what he was really angling at; he wanted them to buy him a gift. Sirius and Remus had fun with this, mocking James and telling him that they couldn’t possibly afford to buy him a nice present. He would have to settle for a pair of old socks. James, though he knew they were joking, did not take kindly to their mockery and increased his amount of pestering. Sirius, Remus and Peter therefore spent a good amount of time, when James was not around, thinking of what they could get him. Remus mentioned that his mother was an excellent at sewing and would be happy to sew something for James. They decided on having Mrs. Lupin knitting him a red jumper lined with gold and embellished with the Gryffindor lion. They presented James with the gift on the morning of the twenty seventh and James was more than thrilled.

March faded decidedly into April and three of the five Gryffindor first year boys were once again thinking of a birthday present. Sirius’s birthday fell on April tenth and, for once in his life, he was actually looking forward to it. When his birthday was celebrated at home it always turned into a stuffy and formal affair. Sirius was always inclined to hide out in his room like he did on Christmas Eve. However, on his birthday it was expected, or more accurately demanded, that he be there with his parents’ guests. His friends couldn’t actually throw a party; the funds were not easily accessible. But they could make it fun for him, give him a nice gift and maybe willingly let him steal their homework.

It was not at all difficult for them to think up a gift for Sirius. He had been mercilessly hinting at them since the beginning of the month that he would like a box of every prank item imaginable. James knew that they sold a deluxe package of pranks at Zonko’s Joke Shop in Hogsmeade. The problem was that the seventh years, whom they would have gone to, did not have another Hogsmeade trip until after Sirius’s birthday. Peter, whose father worked in the Post Office, offered to get it for them when Peter asked.

On the morning of the tenth Sirius was violently jerked out of sleep by the obnoxiously loud singing of James, Remus, and Peter. Sirius sleepily sat up, rubbing his eyes, and gazed at his friends, knowing that they had officially lost their minds. But when Peter threw down the brightly wrapped birthday present Sirius lost all thoughts of telling them off. He tore the wrapping paper and let out a cheer of delight when he saw the contents. He eagerly sorted through them and his eyes fell upon the box of Dungbombs. He grinned maliciously and looked up at his friends.

“Uh oh,” Peter said, knowing that look all too well.

“You know how you were saying we needed something else for our prank, James?” Sirius asked, the grin still plastered across his face. James nodded, unsure of what Sirius was getting at. “Why don’t we slip a few of these into Crane’s morning coffee?” He shook the bag of Dungbombs. Recently Crane had taken to drinking coffee in front of them while he taught; it always smelled rather disgusting, so Crane probably wouldn’t notice the difference.

“That’s disgusting, Sirius,” Remus said, his face scrunched up in revulsion.

“So is Crane.”

“Yeah… well, you’re going to be the one doing that.”


Sirius’s idea of the Dungbomb in Crane’s coffee was still not what James was thinking. It would no doubt be effective, and disgusting as Remus so appropriately pointed out, but it would not be enough to drive Crane out of the school. If anything, it would drive him to give anyone he saw detention. True it would only be a class of Slytherins, but it would be unfair to them. He vaguely remembered Frank telling them that he had heard that the job of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor was cursed. Crane, naturally, would be too proud to admit that he may be afraid of this. But if they played it up… made it convincing…

“So what exactly are we going to do?” Jacob asked the next morning at breakfast. The group was sitting at the end of the Gryffindor table, farthest away from the teachers. James had just revealed his idea, which was accepted wholeheartedly. They now had the task of thinking up a good story.

“Why did the other professors leave again?” James asked impatiently. They were getting somewhere at last; surely this would drive Crane away if they pulled it off.

“One got sick,” Jacob said.

“Another retired,” Julie replied.

“And the other one ran off with a banshee,” Andy said, a smile playing on his lips.

“How’d that happen, anyway?” Lily asked interestedly.

Jacob smiled reminiscently. “We all knew something was going on. He’d been acting really oddly, more than usual.”

“I’ll say,” Julie continued. “He always had this really dopey smile on his face. We thought he’d found a really beautiful woman or something.”

“I don’t think we expected him to find a banshee,” Andy said, grimacing at the thought.

“Anyway,” Jacob went on. “Dumbledore wasn’t very happy about it, and he hardly gets mad about anything.”

“I think it was the only time anyone ever saw him confused,” Julia chortled.

“The whole Entrance Hall just watched him try to figure out what to do,” Andy said, his shoulders shaking as he chuckled.

“We actually got a glimpse of the banshee.”

“Didn’t she scream?” Alice asked, leaning forward intently.

“The professor had the decency to put a Silencing Charm on her,” Jacob said. “She wanted to scream badly.”

“How’d they even meet?” James asked.

“Hog’s Head,” the three seventh years replied simply. The Hog’s Head answered James’s question very accurately; the gamekeeper, Hagrid, always said that you would meet a lot of strange folks there.

“Anyway,” Julie went on. “First Dumbledore tried explaining that Unter, that was his name, was taking things way too far. Dumbledore’s not prejudice, but he was worried about Unter’s safety, dunno why, but he was. Then he got mad and actually yelled that it wasn’t natural, what they were doing.”

“Unter wasn’t exactly natural,” Jacob muttered into his porridge. The professor was infamous for his strange behaviours, which often included chirping loudly and unexpectedly. It was only a matter of time before he did something really crazy. “So, everyone was crowded into the Entrance Hall, watching Dumbledore and Unter. They looked like they were going to start dueling. Or at least Unter did.”

“That would’ve been interesting,” Andy said, stabbing at a piece of bacon. “The two of them started yelling at each other. We couldn’t even understand what they were saying, sounded like a big mess. It was so strange; none of us had ever seen Dumbledore yell.”

“I think Unter did pull out his wand,” Julie said, rubbing her chin.

Jacob said, “Anyway, Unter and the banshee made this big exit. He waved his wand really complicated like and two big birds came swooping down on him and the banshee and they disappeared out through the front doors. He was crazy, but he wasn’t stupid.”

The first years said nothing; they simply stared at the older students, their mouths hanging open. Why couldn’t Crane have been delusional like this man and left the school like that? James was the first person to recover from his silence; he stood up just as the bell rang.

“Well, we’ll get back to this later, then?”

Chapter 11: Operation Get Crane Back
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Chapter Eleven
Operation Get Crane Back

It was so close… they could envision it right before their eyes. If everything went perfectly… They hoped everything would go perfectly. If that happened, they may never dread going into the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom again. Their plan wasn’t foolproof, they were all aware of this. There was a certain amount of caution they had to maintain while executing it. For instance, their idea of creating a chilling tale to narrate while Crane was around had to be done vigilantly; if Crane caught them being too specific he would know what was going on. They had to be evasive. They weren’t sure how to do this exactly. They had thought it would be best to use Lily and Alice, as their faces carried much innocence. Then they thought that they could use Remus and Peter, who were both exceedingly good at acting blameless. In the end, they decided that it would be best to use Jacob, Julie and Andy. They had been at the school the longest and could make their story sound most convincing.

It would be done casually, during a time when Crane could be seen leaving his classroom to go to the Staff Room. They usually saw Crane emerging right before third period on Tuesdays; always wearing a smug expression on his face (he had a class of Ravenclaw first years on that day and he enjoyed frightening them). Jacob, Julie and Andy would wander by, going considerably out of the way of their normal path to Herbology, and they would stage the conversation in voices that weren’t overly loud, but loud enough for Crane to hear them. It wouldn’t be suspicious for three seventh years to be talking about something such as the Defence Against the Dark Arts position being cursed. They had been at school long enough to know if it was. The first years, who had History of Magic after passing, would hang back and watch. Professor Binns wouldn’t notice if they were late.

The Gryffindor first years stood off in the shadows, watching the backs of Jacob, Julie and Andy as they weaved in and out of the oncoming students. They couldn’t fully hear what they were saying from the distance they were at, but they caught bits and pieces.

“Did you hear about…?” Jacob said seriously to his friends.

“The Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers?” they could hear Julie reply in a politely interested voice.

“The curse?” Andy said, carelessly glancing toward Crane’s classroom.

As the three seventh years advanced further up the corridor, the first years could no longer hear much of what they were saying. They wanted to inch a bit more along the hallway, but their chances of being spotted by Crane would be increased. So, trusting that the seventh years had performed their task admirably, they continued on to History of Magic. As they continued on their way, however, they did manage to catch a glimpse of Crane, who looked very much like he was about to start panicking. Maybe this was going to work.

“Knight to E5,” Sirius instructed his knight as he challenged Peter to Wizards’ Chess. James, Sirius, Peter and Remus were sitting in the common room that night, waiting patiently to see their counterparts in Operation Get Crane Back. They had not seen Jacob, Julie and Andy since they went off down the corridor outside of Crane’s room, and they were eager to find out exactly how Crane reacted. James and Remus turned to watch Sirius’s knight crush Peter’s pawn, grinning slightly at the squeals of terror coming from the piece.

“Do you think they’ll be up here soon?” James asked, glimpsing towards the common room entrance. His friends shrugged. They knew the three must still be in the Great Hall. They would come up whenever they finished eating dinner.

“I think they did a good job,” Remus said, scratching out a bad sentence in his Potions essay. “You saw Crane’s face, didn’t you?”

“Looked like he could’ve been sick,” Sirius laughed, scooping up the broken pieces of one of his rooks and dropping them in the box.

“When are we destroying his room?” Peter asked, directing one of his pawns across the board.

“Not destroying,” James said in a mock hurt voice. “We’re… changing it a bit.”

“So we’re destroying it, then?”

“We don’t want to say that out loud. But we’re doing it on Friday.”

“No, we’re not,” Remus said, looking up from his homework. “That’s when it’s happening; we’re doing the actual work on Thursday night.”

“Which would technically be Friday, since we’re doing it past midnight.”

“Yeah, yeah. So has everyone gotten their spells down?”

“I do,” the three boys replied at once.

“What about Lily, Alice and Frank?”

“Lily’s known hers since the day we showed it to her,” James said admiringly.

“Frank’s almost got his. He just needs to fix it up a bit,” Sirius said, frowning as Peter declared checkmate.

“Alice told me she knows hers,” Peter said, smiling in triumph as he won the match of chess.

“We’re doing this in shifts, right?” Remus asked, placing his sheet of parchment in his Potions notebook.

“Yeah, except you,” James answered. “You’re staying there the whole time, so you can figure out when everything is going to happen.”

“Lucky me.”

As the boys were getting ready to go upstairs and put their belongings away the entrance to the common room opened and the seventh years strode in, all looking rather pleased with themselves. They spotted the boys and gestured for them to follow them. They led the boys over to a secluded section of the room and told them, in hushed voices, that they had successfully managed to convince Crane that soon all hell would ensue in his classroom.

“He’ll be handing in his resignation by Friday evening,” Andy reported gleefully.

Remus sat in the pitch-black Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom at one in the morning, safely hidden under a desk. He had just assisted Lily, Frank and Alice in setting up their hexes and jinxes and he was now waiting patiently for Jacob, Julie and Andy to arrive under James’s Invisibility Cloak. They had all been surprised when James produced a silver, liquid-like cloak that evening when they had been discussing how they would get from Gryffindor Tower to the classroom. They had originally decided on going one by one, so it would be easier to get away if they were caught. Luckily, James’s father had given James his old cloak for Christmas.

Remus was not at all comfortable, nor was he feeling very brave. They had to stop five times because they could have sworn they heard someone approaching the room. It only turned out to be the wind and the castle making noises, but it was unnerving nonetheless. He peered out from under the desk and squinted through the darkness before remembering that it was useless. He wouldn’t be able to see them coming because of the cloak. He had to wait for the signal – a low whistle, then a high one, then a low one. He crawled back into his hiding place and waited once more. Two shifts left, he thought, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He was tired; he just wanted to go to bed.

Faintly he could hear the signal issued - the seventh years had arrived. They had to walk carefully, as they were bringing the crate of fireworks. The door to the classroom clicked and opened as quietly as the seventh years could manage. One of the most important instructions Remus had been given was to lock the door every time a shift left. It would look too suspicious if the door was kept unlocked. Remus could barely see the three pairs of feet walk by the desk, but he now knew they had taken the Invisibility Cloak off. He backed out from under the desk and stood up, causing Julie to gasp in surprise.

“Sorry,” he whispered, straightening out his robes.

“Its fine,” she said quickly, pulling her wand out and looking around. “Where do we begin?”

“Well, Frank put a Levitation Charm on the stuff on Crane’s desk, so that’s done with,” Remus said, looking around and recalling what had already been jinxed. “That happens first. Lily and Alice hexed the windows so they open and close by themselves, that happens after what Frank did.”

“I’m supposed to set up the fireworks,” Jacob said, lifting up a particularly heavy looking crate. “Where should they go?”

Remus shrugged. “Anywhere except that desk,” he said, jerking his head towards his hiding place. “And you probably don’t want to put them under any desks; we don’t want to actually hurt the class.”

Jacob nodded and began walking around, looking for the opportune spots. Julie was supposed to do something similar to what Lily and Alice did, except the spell was to be placed on the doors. Remus followed her over to the doors in the room, performing the timing spell for her. Once she was finished, she pocketed her wand and waited for Andy to do his job, which was to make the blackboard spin around uncontrollably. By the time Andy and Remus finished with the board, Jacob had finished placing the fireworks and all Remus had to do was set them a time to go off.

The seventh years bid Remus goodnight, took the Invisibility Cloak and set off for Gryffindor Tower. Remus disappeared back under the desk, rubbing his tired eyes as he did so. It was almost over, that was his only consolation. He just had to wait for James, Sirius and Peter to do their job and he could go back to the dormitory with them. They had planned this to take as little time as possible. It would look a little odd if ten students were extremely tired on the same day. He gazed around the room, trying to see if anyone was coming, or if Crane had suddenly decided to do an inspection of his room in the early morning hours. Luckily, Crane didn’t seem to be that crazy and Remus was very much alone.

After what seemed like an hour, but was probably only fifteen minutes, Remus heard the signal and knew his friends had arrived. He slid out from under the desk and unlatched the door for them. He warily stuck his head through the doorway and looked down both ends of the corridor. Even in the darkness he would be able to see the outline of a forthcoming figure, but he saw nothing. They were under the cloak. Very faintly he could hear Sirius call his name. Remus responded with the signal and, once the boys entered the room, they set to work.

At the thirtieth second of the fifteen minute of the tenth hour of the nineteenth day of May of 1972 the objects on Professor Crane’s desk began moving up and down and no one knew exactly why. Crane’s quills did back flips, the inkbottles did a number of cartwheels, and the parchment did a jig. The class of Slytherin first years watched, transfixed at the site. They knew that they weren’t doing it, and the professor seemed far too bewildered to be behind it.

Approximately two minutes later, the windows began opening and closing on their own accord, making such a racket that Crane could not make his voice heard. The class jumped when they first heard the noise. What was going on? An invisible force continued to bang the windows around, and once again Crane seemed too shocked to know what was happening. The objects on the desk were still floating in midair, continuing to perform their manoeuvers. The windows kept hammering in such a way that no one could tell if it would stop.

Another two minutes passed before the doors began the same course as the windows. Another minute went by before the blackboard that Crane was attempting to write on began whirling around like a top. Crane fell backwards in shock and scrambled up to his feet, mouthing wordlessly. He went to sit down at his desk, needing a way to steady himself, but the chair promptly moved out of reach of his bottom.

Cursing quite loudly, Crane picked himself up and decided the best thing to do was to seek a haven in his office. There was just one hitch. The entrance to his office (which had moments before been opening and closing uncontrollably) had sealed itself off and would not budge. He needed something… he went to his coffee goblet (which had mercifully not been filled with Dungbombs). When he went to drink it the coffee promptly shot out at his face. Crane’s only luck was that it was not burning hot. He yelled out in frustration and chucked the goblet to the floor.

Another minute passed before the fireworks exploded, filling the room with clouds of colourful smoke and sparks. The explosion was so loud that no one could hear the foul words that issued from Crane’s mouth. No one could hear him screaming that it was true. No one could see him fall prey to the cunning minds of the Gryffindor students. They did hear one thing, however, once he could make his voice heard.

At the sixteenth second of the twenty fifth minute of the tenth hour of the nineteenth day of May of 1972, Professor Crane was announcing his resignation.

The class of Slytherin first years were fortunately kept out of detention and the true culprits were never caught. They made sure to leave no trace of themselves in the room that could give the slightest hint to who they were. They simply sat in gleeful silence as Professor Dumbledore announced that Defence Against the Dark Arts classes would cease for the remainder of the year. Professor Crane had gone running out of the castle the moment he told Dumbledore he quit. The students, despite the fact they knew it was inappropriate, could not contain their cheers. The professors, it seemed, could also not contain their grins of satisfaction. Professor Dumbledore halfheartedly tried to calm his students’ cheers, but in the end he let them stop on their own.

It became common knowledge throughout the Gryffindors, and eventually the rest of the school, who the culprits were. For the remainder of the school year, the first years, Jacob, Julie and Andy were received with pats on the back and congratulations. James and Sirius were taking this in stride; they beamed at the unending accolades. Remus and Peter found it amusing, or at least Peter did. Remus found it somewhat exasperating, but pretended that he didn’t find it annoying. Some people, Lily Evans in particular, found his behaviour grating and, in fact, stopped speaking to James.

Still, the shock of Crane’s departure dissipated slowly, and the cheers and accolades went with it. Now the students had their exams to worry about. The seventh and fifth years were rarely seen outside of their common rooms or the library as they desperately prepared for their N.E.W.T. and O.W.L. examinations. Severe warnings were being given out to anyone who disturbed the peace of the common rooms. The fifth year prefects were not about to let their grades suffer because of noise. The younger students studied restlessly for their end-of-the-year exams. They could be found sitting in the library at unusual hours, even the students who never studied at all (such as James and Sirius) could now be seen cracking open a book or two. Remus and Peter, who had been waiting for this moment all year, could not even spare a moment to gloat about this.

The exams came and went, much to the relief of the students. All that was left was the End-of-the-Year feast and the announcement of which house had won the House Cup. Judging from the amount of stones in the hourglasses, Ravenclaw appeared to be the winner, with Slytherin trailing second. The Great Hall was decked out in blue and bronze banners, embellished with eagles. The students talked loudly and cheerfully as they ate their dinners on the final day of school, discussing what they would be doing over the summer. Professor Dumbledore stood up and silence fell straight away.

“The end of another year,” he said, his eyes gleaming at the happy faces of his students. “An, ah, eventful year at best.” The students sniggered, all knowing what he meant. “I believe that now is the appropriate time to announce the winner of the House Cup this year. In fourth place is Hufflepuff with two hundred and ninety six points. In third place is Gryffindor with three hundred points. Coming in second is Slytherin with four hundred and thirty three points. And the winner of the House Cup for this year is Ravenclaw with four hundred and thirty seven points!”

The Ravenclaw table erupted into raucous applause, celebrating their victory.

The Hogwarts Express chugged through the murky grey countryside; rain was pattering on the windows of the compartments. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter sat in their lantern lit compartment, swapping Chocolate Frog cards and talking about what they planned to do while on holiday.

“My parents are going to take me to France. They love France and always wanted to take me there. We leave on Monday, actually,” James said, taking the Merlin card that Remus was handing him.

“Bloody French,” Sirius muttered, ripping open a package of Drooble’s gum with his teeth.

“What do you have against the French?”

“They have stinky cheese.”

James rolled his eyes. “Anyway, my parents said we’ll only be gone for two weeks and when we get back you guys can spend a week at my house, if you want.” He looked up at his friends expectantly.

“I’ll try,” Sirius said, shrugging. “My parents might not be thrilled about me going to your house, but they might like that it gets rid of me faster.”

James nodded and turned his attention to Remus.

“What week is that?” he asked, looking fairly nervous.

James thought for a moment, recalling the dates his parents had given him. “The week of the 23rd.”

Remus frowned; there was a full moon right in the middle of that week. He shook his head sadly. “I don’t think I can.”


“I can’t come that week.”

“Why not?”

“I dunno. My dad said it’s just not going to be a good week for me to go anywhere.”

James looked annoyed, but said nothing else. Instead he said to Peter, “please tell me you can come. I don’t want to be stuck with Sirius all week.”

“I think I can,” Peter replied, grinning. “I just have to check with my parents. I’ll send you an owl when I have an answer.”

They spent the remainder of the ride playing Exploding Snap, which was basically pointless. James, Sirius and Peter knew that their one victory of Remus was not going to be repeated, but they tried anyway. By the time they were finished, Sirius was ready to fling the deck of cards out the window. Remus managed to stop Sirius, as they were his only deck and he was not letting them float about the countryside for all eternity.

The Hogwarts Express pulled up at Platform Nine and Three Quarters and the students began filing into the corridors and out into the overcast day. The four boys dragged their trunks around the platform and Sirius instantly spotted his mother and father standing with a boy who looked very much like a younger Sirius. Sirius led his friends behind a large group of seventh years who were saying goodbye to each other, so as to avoid catching his parents’ eyes.

“Write me, okay?” he said, looking over his shoulder to make sure his family had not seen him. The three boys nodded. “I’ll see you and Peter in two weeks, then,” he said to James. “Maybe we can all meet in Diagon Alley?”

“Yeah, when the booklists come,” Remus said.

“See you, then.” Sirius grasped the handle of his trunk and reluctantly dragged it to his parents and brother.

“Come on,” James said, jerking his thumb towards the platform barrier. “Our parents are out there.” Sure enough, when they emerged on the other side, their parents were standing together, awaiting the arrival of their sons. Once the boys were finished greeting their parents, they turned to each other.

“I’ll see you in two weeks, James,” Peter said.

“Yeah, Pete,” James said, smiling. “Try and come, Remus?”

“I don’t know…” Remus replied, looking at the ground.

“At least write.”

“Of course, I can still do that.”

“Well, see you guys soon then.”

The boys grabbed their trunks and followed their families in separate directions, ready to begin their summer holidays.

Chapter 12: Summer Moons
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Chapter Twelve
Summer Moons

Remus sat in a squashy armchair in an office at St. Mungo’s, waiting for his father to finish speaking with Healer Smethwyk. They had been talking for almost an hour and his father had said it would take no more than twenty minutes. Remus rolled his eyes at the thought, he should have known better. His parents always told him something wouldn’t take long and then they ended up doing that thing much longer than he had anticipated. He glanced over his shoulder at his father and the Healer, struggling to repress the groan of annoyance that was threatening to come out. They had only come to pick up a new potion that was supposed to cure his lycanthropy. How long could that take? Then again, he wasn’t even eager to get it; it wasn’t as if it would actually work. Nothing they ever tried did, so why should this?

“It hasn’t been tested yet, Harry,” Healer Smethwyk was saying. He had been the Healer who had helped Remus right after he was bitten by the werewolf, and that had been nine years ago. He had helped Remus ever since, so his parents and the Healer were on a first name basis. “But I don’t think anything harmful should come out of it. Remus has never had any positive or negative effects from anything we’ve tried on him.”

Remus threw them an exasperated look. Smethwyk always talked about him as if he were an experiment when it came to the numerous “cures” they had come up with. Remus has never had any positive or negative reactions. He was a boy, not a lab rat. He settled himself back in the chair again and continued staring at the wall, which was, in his opinion, the most interesting thing in the entire office. He drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair, listening impatiently as his father spoke.

“No, he hasn’t,” Harry agreed. “But are you sure it’s safe?”

“There isn’t anything in there that can do particular harm,” Smethwyk replied confidently. “That much we know.”

Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “What do you think, Remus?”

“I don’t care,” Remus replied indifferently. He knew not to get his hopes up.

“Remus,” Harry said warningly. He needed a definite answer.

“Yes, fine, whatever! Can we please just go home?”

Harry turned back to Healer Smethwyk and shrugged. “I guess we’ll be taking this then.” He scooped up the package off the desk and pocketed it.

“Remember, he has to take that one hour before the full moon rises,” Smethwyk instructed.

Harry nodded. “Thank you, Hippocrates. Come on, Remus.”

James sat in the sitting room of his home, staring into the flames of the crackling fireplace. At any moment Sirius would be toppling through emerald green flares, ready to start the week. The next day they would be sitting in the same position, waiting for Peter to join them. Peter was just coming back from a camping trip with his father and wanted to spend one day at home before leaving again. James and his parents had only gotten back from France the day before and he could not be happier. Not that he didn’t like France; he just couldn’t stand it when his parents had to eat the snails that Muggles found so delicious. They had managed to make him try one and he had yet to find something that tasted worse. He couldn’t wait to get home and eat foods he was used to eating. Other than the food, James enjoyed seeing the sites, especially the Muggle monument – the Eiffel Tower.

James stood up to stretch and walk around a bit; he had been sitting down for at least an hour. Sirius had not been specific with the time; he had just said he would be arriving in the afternoon. He couldn’t wait for Sirius to get there. He had gotten so used to always having someone his age around at school that he had completely forgotten what it was like at home where there was no one. Yes, he had his parents, but they weren’t the type of people he could hang out with, especially since they were old. He would talk to his father, sometimes play a round of Gobstones, or he would help his mother in the kitchen with Willie, but that was as entertaining as it got. At school there was always someone his age around.

James picked up the copy of the Daily Prophet that was lying on the end table and looked at the headline: New Cure Found for Werewolves. James sometimes heard his father talking about those cures that never worked. His father felt bad for the werewolves who depended on these cures and who were constantly disappointed when they didn’t work. James couldn’t imagine what it must be like, to have to endure those dreadful transformations every month and then, when a miracle was so close, to find out it was nothing but an invented false hope. His father didn’t often work with werewolves at St. Mungo’s, but he had often gone inside the wards where they were after they were first bitten and saw how sickly they looked. James placed the paper back on the table and looked towards the fire once more.

Suddenly green flames erupted under the mantle and a figure began spinning around and promptly toppled face first out of the grate and onto the carpet. Sirius Black slowly got to his feet and dusted his robes off.

“Where’s your stuff?” James asked, noticing that only Sirius had fallen out. Sirius held out a finger and turned back to the fireplace. Only a moment later a suitcase came falling out after him.

“I think my parents were hoping it would land on me,” Sirius surmised. “So,” he went on, picking up his suitcase, “How was France?”

“You were right about the cheese,” James replied. “I don’t think I’ve ever smelled anything that disgusting.”

“Did you eat it?”

“It didn’t taste as bad as it smelled.”

Sirius laughed. “Peter’s coming tomorrow?”

“Yeah, around one he said.” James began leading the way out of the sitting room and towards the staircase. “Come on, I’ll show you my room and where you’ll be sleeping.”

Sirius followed James out of the room and up a flight of stairs. As they walked, he observed the walls and saw numerous pictures of a smiling James. There seemed to be at least two for every year of his life. Sometimes he was alone, sometimes with his parents; Sirius even saw one of James with the family house elf. Sirius tried remembering the last time he had taken a picture with his parents where he actually smiled like James did. Smiling was almost illegal when it came to taking photos in the Black Family. He and his brother had to look as regal as possible.

They entered James’s room and Sirius had only a moment’s glance around before James veered off through another door. This led into a guest room that was complete with a bed, a bureau, a closet, a bookshelf filled with books, and a bathroom. Sirius set his trunk down on the bed and sat down beside it. It was clear that the Potters loved having company; they went through a lot of trouble to make this room comfortable. He wondered if Peter was going to stay in the room too, there was only one bed. Then again, if the Potters loved company they would have more than one guest room.

“Peter’s going to be staying in the guest room down the hall,” James said, as though reading Sirius’s mind. “So, my parents will be back in an hour. They went up to Hogsmeade. My mum said dinner will be ready around seven, so we have a lot of time.” He folded his arms across his chest. “Want to play Quidditch?”

Sirius jumped up. “Yeah!”

“Come on, we’ve got the broom shed in the yard. We live far enough away from any Muggles that we can actually use the real game balls.” Sirius pulled his robe off, leaving him in his Muggle clothes, like James, and the two dashed down to the backyard.

The sun was beginning to sink, casting a blood red glow in the sky. It was exactly one hour until the full moon would rise, and Remus was nowhere to be found. He had gone out for a walk, though his mother strongly advised against it. He was not looking at all well, but he completely disregarded her warning and had been gone for at least two hours. Normally she would not have been worried; Remus knew the area like he knew his own house. Today, however, was not a normal day and he needed to be home. He had to take the potion the Healer had given them. She peered anxiously out the window, but did she not see him. All she saw was Harry sitting on the porch, waiting for his son to come home.

She stepped outside with her husband. “Still no sign of him,” she said apprehensively.

Harry shook his head. “He’ll be back soon,” he said, in what he hoped was a confident voice.

“He was looking mad when he left.”

“He’s not exactly thrilled about this cure, Anna.”

“He’s never thrilled about any of them.”

“I think it’s that he knows not to get too eager; he thinks that it won’t work.”

They fell silent. Another five minutes passed before they saw a figure emerging from around the corner. Remus was approaching, his hands in his pockets, and a pained, sickly expression on his face. He climbed the steps of the porch and looked at his parents expectantly. Harry fished for something in his pants pocket and pulled out a small bottle filled with a seaweed green liquid. He uncorked it and wordlessly handed it to his son. Remus looked at it and, deciding it would be best to get it over with, downed it in one gulp, coughing at the peppery taste.

“Where did you go?” Anna asked once Remus’s coughing had subsided.

“Just for a walk,” Remus replied vaguely, grimacing at the taste the potion left in his mouth. His parents said nothing else; they merely waited for the full moon to rise. About ten minutes before, Harry led his son to the shed at the very end of their backyard. It had been charmed so, no matter how Remus bad was during his transformation, he could not get out. They still had to lock Remus in there for safety precautions, in case the potion didn’t work. Harry secured Remus inside and slowly backed away. The moon would be coming out in just moments. He didn’t want to listen. If it worked… If it worked, then he would hear nothing. Remus wouldn’t transform.

Anna joined her husband ten feet away from the shed. “It will work, won’t it?” she asked hopefully. She couldn’t stand listening to her son’s cries of agony every month.

Harry sighed and gazed at the silent shed. “I hope it does.”

They looked up at the purple sky and saw the glow of the full moon coming out from behind the trees. They listened with bated breath for the usual sounds of Remus’s transformation, praying that they wouldn’t come. The shed was silent. Harry and Anna chanced grinning at each other; the potion appeared to have worked. They moved forward and just as Anna went to peer through the window on the shed, Remus’s pain-filled scream pierced through the shed walls, startling her. There was something different this time. It lasted longer than it usually did, and it sounded worse than normal. She threw Harry a terrified look over her shoulder. The potion hadn’t worked, it made it worse.

James, Sirius and Peter sat at the dining room table, eating their breakfast and discussing their plans for the day ahead. Sirius and Peter would be leaving that Saturday, and it was Thursday. They had to make the best of their limited time. They had spent the better part of the week playing Quidditch, an activity that Peter was not very fond of. They had visited Hogsmeade with Mrs. Potter and stocked up on sweets from Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop. They would be going with Mr. Potter to St. Mungo’s the next day. Mrs. Potter and Willie the house elf would be going to get groceries and other items for the house, and the boys were not trusted to stay at the house by themselves. Mr. and Mrs. Potter were not keen on arriving home to discover that their house had been blown up. So, to avoid this, the boys would be going to work with Mr. Potter.

“We could play Quidditch again,” Sirius suggested, spearing a sausage onto his fork.

“No,” Peter responded at once. He couldn’t bear another humiliating game of defeat. “We can go into town?”

“I live too far away to walk,” James said, swirling around the egg yolks he was supposed to be eating. “My mum’s too busy to go with us, and my dad’s at work. Besides, they’d never let us go alone.”

“There’s a lake around here, isn’t there?” Sirius asked, vaguely remembering James mentioning it.

James nodded. “Through the woods, behind my house.”

“Want to go swimming then?”

Both James and Peter readily agreed to this thought. After they finished breakfast, James called to his mother, who was busy working on some of her paintings, telling her that they were going to go swimming down at the lake. It was a fifteen minute walk in the blistering heat. Luckily they were walking through the woods, which were shady and fairly cooler than if they had been walking in direct sunlight. The trees began to thin out and they saw a secluded lake, surrounded by tall green trees and round bushes. They approached the shore of the lake and James stuck his foot in the water, shivering and quickly withdrawing it.

“It’s really cold,” he said.

“Well, it’s really hot,” Sirius said, not hesitating before jumping in. When he was in the water long enough to register the temperature, he shouted, “Merlin! It’s freezing!”

“That’s what I said.”

No, you said it was just really cold.” He swam a few laps, adjusting to the water, before saying, “Take this,” and he flung his sopping wet t-shirt in James’s face.

“Git,” James muttered, pulling the shirt off his face and dropping it unceremoniously in the dirt. He and Peter joined Sirius in the freezing water, which was much more preferable to standing in the humidity. They raced each other a few times, and played a Muggle game that Peter taught them. It involved one of them shutting their eyes and searching for the others just from the sounds of their voices and movements. Sirius didn’t take too kindly to this game and cheated by opening his eyes whenever he went underwater. He couldn’t quite understand the point of the activity.

An hour and a half later the boys found themselves trooping back to James’s house, laughing and talking animatedly. Sirius and Peter were having a good laugh over James, who had started shrieking like a girl when a piece of seaweed locked itself around his leg and refused to let go. James had been convinced that it was a deadly sea creature of some sort, and Sirius had to swim down to see what it really was. As they neared the house, they began to wonder when their booklists would arrive, so they could meet in Diagon Alley. It couldn’t be very long. It was almost August.

“When we get them, we have to meet up there,” Sirius was saying as they walked through the front door.

“Yeah, and one of us has got to send Remus an owl, telling him to come,” James said, leading the way into the kitchen.

“I’m afraid your friend won’t be able to join you,” came the voice of James’s father. He was home early. They spun around to see Mr. Potter standing behind them, looking grim.

“What?” James asked, confused.

Mr. Potter heaved a sigh and gestured for the boys to sit down. “I was at work today and I saw Harry Lupin there. Remus is… a bit sick right now.”

Charles Potter was walking down the first floor corridor of St. Mungo’s. He had not been assigned to this floor, but he was on his break and needed a word with Healer Smethwyk about whether or not they were going to continue distributing the potion that was supposed to cure lycanthropy. He knew the night before had been a full moon and was curious to see if it had worked. Personally, he was hopeful that it had. It would solve so many problems for the Wizarding community, erase so many prejudices. He knew Smethwyk was working at the moment and could probably find him in one of the wards, tending to a patient.

He was shocked to find, not Healer Smethwyk, but Harry Lupin standing in the corridor, his face deathly pale, staring fixedly at the floor. At first Charles thought something was wrong with Harry, but then realised that this notion was ridiculous. If he had been the injured one then he would not be standing in the corridor when there were many Healers capable of assisting him. Charles checked his watch. He was hardly well into his break; he didn’t need to worry about getting to work. And if it was something serious… He cleared his throat and move toward Harry.

“Hullo, Harry,” he greeted, his hands folded behind his back and observing the man closely.

Harry jumped, startled, and wheeled around to face his greeter. He tried to smile, but it came out as strained and unnatural. “Hullo, Charles.”

“What brings you to St. Mungo’s?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all.”

“You just fancy standing in a hospital corridor?”

“It’s better than standing outside in that heat.”

“Harry, please, what happened?”

Before Harry could answer, the door beside him opened and Healer Smethwyk appeared, carrying a clipboard of notes. He took no notice of Charles’s presence and spoke to Harry in quiet tones as he consulted his clipboard.

“We figured out what happened,” he said. Harry nodded, allowing the Healer to go on. “The potion was made with Sopophorous Beans; did you know your son is violently allergic to them?” Harry shook his head, his eyes wide. He couldn’t recall a time when Remus had ever encountered that substance. How was he to know that his son was allergic? “Well, they caused him to have a particular aggressive transformation, as you already know.” He sighed and looked through his notes. “He has sustained numerous lacerations and bruises, which can be fixed easily enough. He injured a number of his ribs, which can be mended, though they will be sore. We have a potion that can relieve some of the soreness. His jaw was fractured, but we can also patch that up in no time.” He crossed something out on the parchment he was reading and placed the clipboard under his armpit. “It’s his leg we have a problem with.”

As Healer Smethwyk spoke, Charles could not help but realise what this meant. James had never before mentioned that his friend was a werewolf and now he was certain that James probably had no idea. If he had, he certainly would have told him and his mother. This was why Harry’s son had appeared so sickly when he had first met him at Platform Nine and Three Quarters. This was also probably why Remus had declined James’s invitation to spend the week. He couldn’t possibly come when there was a full moon in the middle of the week. He had seen many children who had been bitten by werewolves, and hardly any of them deserved it.

“– can mend the bones, but it will be difficult for him to walk for a few weeks,” Healer Smethwyk was saying. “We recommend he uses these wooden sticks Muggles use, they’re called crutches. They’re not the best method, but they will help him get around until his leg fully heals.”

“Can I see him?” Harry asked urgently.

“He’s sleeping right now, best he’s not disturbed. You can still sit with him if you like.” He removed the clipboard from under his arm and clasped it in his hands. “Excuse me, Harry; I have to bring this to my office. Morning, Charles,” he added when he saw Charles standing behind them.

Harry seemed surprised that Charles was still there, and he seemed horrified. “You know, then?” he said, almost in a whisper.

“That your son is a werewolf? I do now,” Charles replied, keeping his voice quiet, as Healer Smethwyk had neglected to close the ward door.

“Please, don’t tell James.”

“James isn’t prejudice, he wouldn’t turn against-”

“I know he wouldn’t, but Remus doesn’t want anyone to know, now more than ever.”

“James and his friends are supposed to be coming with me tomorrow, they might wander up here.”

“Tell them he’s sick then, and he can’t have any visitors. Please.”

“Of course, I understand. I’ll do just that. I have to get back to work. I hope Remus gets better. See you, then, Harry.” Charles walked past the open doorway into the ward and glance inside. He could see Harry’s son sleeping on a bed in the very back. He wished he could tell James what was wrong with his friend; he had expressed concerns about it so many times. He could never understand why his friend was always sick; he only hoped that one day he would find out.

Chapter 13: Diagon Alley
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Chapter Thirteen
Diagon Alley

John Lupin sat in the living room of his son’s house, reading a copy of the Evening Prophet and absentmindedly scratching Dommie behind the ear. He glanced up occasionally, wondering where his grandson had gotten too, and then returned back to his reading. The house was quiet. His son and daughter-in-law had gone out for the evening and they had asked him to keep an eye on Remus. John couldn’t refuse; Harry and Anna had not been out alone for quite some time since Remus returned from school. He had to say, his grandson was in an exceptionally bad mood. He had expected this, naturally, but not to the extent he had seen it. Remus hadn’t said as much as a “hullo” since John entered the house. Remus always made it a point to greet him. He simply hobbled away into the next room and had yet to come out. John folded up the paper and decided to look for his grandson.

When he arrived Harry and Anna had told him that it was best if Remus was left alone, as he was in no mood to talk. John honestly couldn’t blame him; he had seen Remus while he was at St. Mungo’s and he hadn’t looked well at all and he did not say a word the entire time. John hadn’t expected his grandson’s temper to change in only a few days. He poked his head into the kitchen and saw that Remus was not in there. The only sign that he had been in there at all was the half eaten plate of dinner his mother had left for him. Assuming that the rest was not going to be eaten, John took the plate, dumped the remainders out, and placed it in the sink to clean up later.

Walking across the kitchen, he peered down the hallway and saw that the door to Harry’s study was ajar. His grandson must have been hiding out in there. Harry spent a lot of his time writing his articles for the paper, and working on his novel that was likely to never be published, or finished, in his study. It was filled with old, slightly battered books that had been read uncountable times. There was a long, comfortable couch that Harry used whenever he had to think about what he wanted to write. A desk sat in the back and was often full with crumpled pieces of parchment and spare or broken quills. It was a peaceful, yet messy, room and John could understand why someone in a bad mood would seek a haven in there.

Sure enough, when he entered the darkened room he found his grandson sprawled out on the couch, gazing out the skylight at the star strewn sky. John cleared his throat, catching Remus’s attention.

“Thought I’d find you in here,” John said, crossing the room and sitting down at the desk. Remus said nothing; he simply looked back out the skylight. “Hungry? Your grandmother baked some biscuits and gave me some to bring here.” It was a stupid question really, as he had seen that Remus was not hungry. Remus shook his head. John lit the lamp on the desk and the room was illuminated in warm light. In the light he could see the fading scars on his grandson’s face. He frowned; he couldn’t understand why it had to be Remus, of all people, who had to suffer such a fate.

“Why don’t you come and sit inside?” John offered. Remus shrugged and muttered some nonsense. “Come on, Remus. You can’t just sit in here by yourself.”

“I was until you came in,” he mumbled.

John grinned slightly, but quickly hid it and cleared his throat once more. “Aren’t you bored in here?” Remus shook his head. “Well it doesn’t look like much fun sitting in here alone.”

“It beats having to walk anywhere.”

“You had to walk to get here.”

Remus looked at his grandfather, but said nothing. He shifted in his seat, wincing as his leg throbbed painfully.

“Do you want something for that, Remus?”


“It must hurt a lot.”

“It does.”

“What’s the matter, Remus?”

“Nothing! I’m just… sick of everything.” John leaned back in his chair, now they were getting somewhere. “I just hate this. These people keep making up cure after cure and they all say that it’s going to work and that I won’t have to be a werewolf anymore and they never work. I don’t understand why they even give them out to the public before testing them on a willing werewolf, just so they don’t have to get our hopes up that we can be normal.”

“You are normal, Remus.”

Remus laughed harshly. “Normal, right, because normal people turn into big hairy monsters once a month.”

“Don’t call yourself a monster,” John said firmly. “You’re letting what other people think of werewolves get the better of you.”

“What if they’re right, though?” Remus questioned fiercely. “Look what I did to myself! If I could do this to myself, can you imagine what I could do to someone else?”

“You’re not going to hurt anyone else; your parents have taken all the necessary precautions and Dumbledore’s done the same at school.”

“But what if I get out? What if I get out of that stupid building or I don’t make it on time and get out through the tunnel?”

“They’ve made sure that won’t happen.”

“They can’t guarantee that.”

John sighed and looked down at the cluttered desktop. What could he possibly say to Remus to make him believe that he wasn’t a monster? He wasn’t even the best person to be having this conversation with, as he had never, until very recently, treated Remus as a normal person. He had not for one moment believed his grandson to be a monster, but he had still never treated Remus as he should have. And his grandson knew this too. “You would never hurt someone and Dumbledore knows this, that’s why he let you in school.”

“But I’m not myself when I’m a werewolf.”

“I know you’re not, and I can’t say that when you are one you wouldn’t hurt someone, but as yourself, you wouldn’t.” He stood up and picked up Remus’s crutches, which were lying uselessly on the floor. “Now, could you please come into the living room with me? I don’t like sitting by myself.”

Remus eyed the crutches for a moment, deciding if he felt like getting up. He glanced up at his grandfather’s hopeful face and nodded, grasping the crutches and carefully getting to his feet.

Sirius and Peter left the Potters’ on the last Saturday of July, but they both promised that they would send James a letter the moment their booklists arrived so they could arrange a trip to Diagon Alley together. For the time being, James walked restlessly about his home, trying to find something to occupy his time. He had not, until the moment Sirius and Peter left, realised how dull his house could be. His father was almost always at work and his mother was almost always off doing some chore or errand with Willie. He sometimes felt that she spent more time with the house elf than she did with him. He knew that he was being fairly immature, thinking like that, but he sometimes hoped his mother would call upon him to go and help her. But when Sirius and Peter came he had people who were his age around. He could go swimming with them or play Quidditch with them. There were so many things for him to do while they were there. Now he was helplessly bored.

Not that his parents didn’t care at all. His father had taken them to St. Mungo’s so James could see his father at work. The plans didn’t go as well as Mr. Potter would have liked, as the boys were far too distracted by their friend’s illness to care what he did. Though, to the boys’ disappointment, they were not allowed to go and search their friend out, as Mr. Potter had forbidden it. In fact, he had not let them on the entire first floor. They only stayed a few hours and were once again indulged in a few rounds of Quidditch, much to the discouragement of Peter. James wished he had someone to play Quidditch with at that moment. He almost considered asking Willie, but she was dreadfully afraid of heights and, therefore, did not know how to fly. He searched his father out, hoping they could get in a match of chess, but when he found his father he saw that he was busy at work. It came as a relief when the booklists arrived during the first week of August.

He received three owls the day the lists arrived. One was, of course, an owl from Hogwarts, bringing the usual start-of-the-term notice and the booklists. The other two owls both contained letters from Sirius and Peter, demanding that they go to Diagon Alley that Saturday and no later. The following day he was met with a barn owl bearing a letter hastily attached to its leg. He saw it was from Remus who, after an extensive amount of begging on his part, said he could meet them that Saturday. James grinned excitedly; he finally had something to do after a week of painful boredom. So on the first Saturday of August he found himself standing in the grate of the sitting room fireplace, ready to follow his father, who had Flooed ahead. He grabbed a handful of Floo Power and shouted his destination in a clear voice; he didn’t want to end up down Knockturn Alley by mistake.

He stumbled out of the mantle in the Leaky Cauldron and was met with a considerably empty barroom. This struck him as odd. Every time he had been there before, business had been booming, now there were only five or six wizards sitting at a table in the back. Shrugging, he joined his father at the table while they waited for his mother to join them. James had told Sirius, Peter and Remus to meet him in the Leaky Cauldron, so they could set out and do their shopping together. Sirius had to do a little manoeuvering on his part. His brother was starting Hogwarts that year and his parents would more than likely be going to help Regulus find everything he needed. Sirius had to work hard to get out of their sight. He figured he would tell them he’d catch up with them after getting a drink from Tom the innkeeper.

“James!” said a voice from right behind him. He spun around, nearly toppling his seat over, and saw Peter standing behind him, his parents hurrying along in his wake.

“Hey, Pete!” James replied, as Peter’s parents greeted his parents. “Second one here.”

“Weird, Remus is usually annoying early,” Peter said thoughtfully, pulling up a chair and sitting down.

“I am not,” said an affronted voice to the right. Remus had just appeared with his parents, who were currently saying hullo to the Pettigrews and the Potters.

“Hey, Remus,” the boys said, before gaping at the strange apparatus their friend was using to walk.

“What’re those?” James asked.

“They’re these Muggle things to help me walk; they’re called crutches,” he explained, sitting down in the chair beside Peter and grasping his crutches before they fell onto the back of Mr. Potter’s head.

“I thought you were just sick, not that you hurt yourself,” Peter said, utterly bewildered.

“I was sick,” Remus said quickly. He had his story all planned out. “But I tripped over my dog, who was standing by the stairs, and so I tripped down the stairs too.”

“Your dog always gets you into accidents, does he?” James asked suspiciously, recalling that many of Remus’s reasons for being hurt involved his dog. He was beginning to get the feeling that this wasn’t completely true.

Before Remus could answer, he caught sight of a familiar head of long, black hair. Sirius was sitting at the bar, clutching a butterbeer in his hand and looking covertly around, trying to find the opportune moment to meet up with them. Mrs. Black appeared at his side, with his brother standing beside her, and muttered something to him. Sirius nodded and she left him alone. He watched her disappear into the back alley and leapt off his stool.

“Thank Merlin, I thought she’d never leave!” he said, relieved. He took the chair on the left of James. “So, have you missed me, Jamesey?” he asked in a baby-like voice.

“I don’t miss seeing your ugly face every morning,” James shot back, grinning.

“Oh, you know you loved it.”

“Are you boys going to go do your shopping?” Hannah Potter asked.

The boys nodded and got ready to leave. Sirius wanted to hang back for a few more minutes, giving his family a decent head start, but James and Peter pushed him towards the entrance to the alley. It wasn’t until the solid brick wall had successfully parted that Sirius turned to greet Remus, whom he hadn’t seen in weeks.

“Remus, how’ve – what the bloody hell are those things?”

“Oh, these?” Remus said, as though he had just noticed his crutches were there. “They’re these useful sticks for whacking stupid boys named Sirius over the head with.”

James and Peter sniggered as Sirius continued to look bemused. “Seriously, Remus?”

“I hurt my leg, and the Healers fixed it, but it was really bad so I can’t walk too well. They help me get around.”

“They look annoying.”

“They are.”

They walked up the fairly empty cobblestone streets, consulting their lists every so often, trying to decide where they would go first. They had all been given their money beforehand, making a trip to Gringotts unneeded. As they made their way to Flourish and Blotts to get their new course books, they spotted their fellow Gryffindor, Frank Longbottom walking in the opposite direction, chatting animatedly with another Gryffindor, Alice Gordon. He was far too immersed in conversation to notice the elaborate waves issued by his four roommates. The boys smirked at each other and continued on their way.

They entered the nearly vacant bookstore and made their way to the table containing copies of The Standard Book of Spells: Grade 2. There were hardly any left. They must have been the last students to get their books. Shrugging the thought off, they snatched up their books and went to find their other belongings. They discovered their new Defence Against the Dark Arts books near the middle of the shop, and collected those as well.

“Need help with those?” James asked upon seeing Remus struggling with his textbooks. Remus nodded gratefully and handed them over.

“Aww, Potter’s carrying Lupin’s books,” said a voice feigning sentimentality from behind one of the shelves. Through the spaces between the books, they could see a pale face lined with greasy, black hair – Severus Snape, a second year Slytherin. He was wearing a dangerously wide smirk as he came onto their side of the shelves and the boys knew immediately that this meeting would not be pleasant. “How sweet,” he said when he reached them.

“You know, I think I was just reminded why I hate Snape so much,” James said to Sirius, pretending that he didn’t see the Slytherin.

“Is it because he’s dense?”

“That’s one of the reasons, especially since he says such stupid things.”

Snape glared at the two, waiting for them to acknowledge him.

“Like making a dumb remark about you carrying Remus’s stuff because he obviously can’t.” Sirius finally rounded on Snape, who did not falter in his position. “What’s your problem, Snape?”

“I don’t have a problem,” Snape said defensively, raising his eyes. “I was just saying how sweet it is that-”

“Don’t act so bloody innocent,” Sirius snarled. He had his wand out and was pointing it between Snape’s eyes. “Were we bothering you?”

“No,” Snape replied, completely unfazed by Sirius’s wand. “But that never stopped you from attacking me, so I thought I’d-”

“Just get out of here!”

“I’m allowed to go wherever I want, you can’t tell me.”

Something seemed to have snapped within Sirius and he threw his wand arm back, ready to send a hex flying at his adversary. Peter, however, sensed this and gripped Sirius’s wand arm.

“You’re not allowed to use magic out of school,” he hissed in his friend’s ear.

Snape laughed harshly. “Afraid of breaking the rules, are you, Pettigrew?”

The colour rose in Peter’s cheeks as he loosened his grip on Sirius’s wand arm. “I don’t see you throwing any hexes, Snape.”

Before Snape could say anything, a woman with the same pallid face called him over to the counter. Snape glared once more at the boys and reluctantly went to his mother. Once they were sure the pair had left the shop, the boys went to pay for their books. Back out on the cobblestone street, James and Sirius spoke viciously about how they would make Snape’s life hell at school the coming year. Sirius suggested Dungbombs in Snape’s morning pumpkin juice, as he had missed the opportunity to do so with Professor Crane.

“I still think that’s disgusting,” Remus said, stopping to adjust his crutches under his arms.

“So is Snape,” Sirius said.

They continued on to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, as Peter’s robes were getting a bit too short on the arms. They emerged ten minutes later, Peter clutching the parcel with his new robes, and headed to the Apothecary to stock up on potion supplies. Once out of the Apothecary, James insisted that they visit Quality Quidditch Supplies, as he intended to get a new broom. He would be trying out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, which had two Chaser vacancies. He needed a decent broom. After what seemed like three hours, but was really only a half hour, James finally settled on a Silver Arrow and they were free to leave.

They reentered the Leaky Cauldron at four in the afternoon and found that the Potters, Lupins, and Pettigrews were sitting where they had been, talking merrily, chewing on biscuits and sipping their drinks. Sirius was pleased to see that his parents had not returned yet. He would be spared any awkward questions about why he had entered the pub with those wretched boys. They resumed their seats and waited for their parents to notice them.

“So, then my editor tells me that the article – oh, you’re back.” Harry Lupin had been entertaining the group with some story about a problem down at the Daily Prophet when he noticed the boys sitting at the table. “Got everything you needed?” The boys nodded, gesturing to the various parcels they had piled up on the tabletop. Harry and Anna stood up.

“How’s your leg, Remus?” Anna asked concernedly.

“Hurts a bit,” Remus replied honestly. He hadn’t said anything while he and his friends were shopping, but it was acting up and he felt like going home to rest it up.

“We’ll go, then. It was good to see you all again,” he added to the adults. Anna and Remus waved and said their goodbyes before exiting the pub and entering the Muggle street.

When he was sure the Lupins had really gone, James turned to Sirius and Peter. “He’s lying.”

“Who is?” Sirius asked blankly, picking up a biscuit from the plate left on the table.


“Lying about what?” Peter asked, also taking a biscuit and breaking off a piece.

“He didn’t trip over his dog.”

“How do you know he didn’t?”

“Because that’s just so unlikely. He’s had his dog for ages, he would know not to trip over it by now.”

“What do you think is wrong with him, then?” Sirius asked through a mouthful of biscuit pieces.

James shrugged. “I don’t know, but I think there’s more to his monthly disappearances than he’s letting on. His mother can’t be sick all the time. You saw her just now, she doesn’t look sick.”

“Maybe it comes and goes,” Peter suggested.

“No, there’s nothing wrong with her. There’s something wrong with Remus. Something happens to him and he won’t tell us what it is.”

“What are we going to do about it?”

James thought for a moment. It was clear that Remus did not want them to know what happened to him. If he did he would have told him about it the first time he ever left school. He couldn’t think of what it might be, but he knew one thing. Whatever it was, it hurt him badly and he didn’t like seeing his friends hurt. They would have to watch him closely when he got ready to leave to visit his allegedly sick mother. They would have to track his symptoms, make any connections they could that would help them discover the true reason to Remus’s disappearances. Most importantly, they would have to do it secretly; he knew that Remus would not want them researching him.

“We’re going to keep tabs on him,” James said resolutely. “We’re going to mark down every day he leaves and his behaviour on that day and the day he gets back because he always looks beat up. It is not his dog that’s hurting him like that. It has to be something bigger, something more dangerous.”

“He can’t know about it,” Sirius pointed out unnecessarily. “He’d go mental, probably.”

“We won’t let him find out. We’ll do it secretly.”

“Just like he does,” Peter said. “He’s keeping a secret from us, so we’ll keep one from him. Maybe when we figure this out, we won’t have to keep anything from each other anymore.”

James hoped Peter was right. He hoped that whatever they found out was not as bad as he was imagining. More than anything, he hoped that they could help their friend, possibly make whatever his secret was bearable. He hoped they could change it so it wouldn’t hurt him anymore. They were friends; they had to look out for each other. If they didn’t, could they really call themselves friends?

Chapter 14: Back to School
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Chapter Fourteen
Back to School

James sat alone in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express, waiting rather impatiently for his friends to appear. He had been brought early, so as to avoid the last minute goodbyes of the previous year. He assumed his friends must have been in the process of their rushed departing words to their parents, as it was ten to eleven. He slumped down in his seat, propping his feet up on the seat across from him. He had his trunk stowed away on the rack above him and he did not feel like getting it down to find something to occupy himself with. Besides, his friends must have been on their way if they didn’t want to miss the train.

James’s thoughts seemed to float out of his mind and through to the platform, as a moment later the compartment door slid open and a harassed looking Remus appeared in the doorway. James was pleased to see that his friend was walking on his own again, though his leg still seemed to be quite stiff and the scars on his face were still noticeable. He reminded himself that he had to get Sirius and Peter alone so they could discuss how they were going to go about their research. He already had one date – August twenty fourth. It was Peter’s birthday and they had all been invited to his house, but Remus could not come. He claimed he had to stay home, yet again, with his sick mother. James strongly doubted that this was the true reason. Nevertheless, he cracked a smile and removed his feet from the other seat, nodding his head for Remus to take it. Remus dragged his trunk inside and placed it on the luggage rack above before sitting down.

“What happened to you?” James asked, eyeing Remus’s appearance.

“Had to run,” he explained, taking a moment to catch his breath and straighten his shirt. “So, how was the rest of your summer?”

“It was alright,” James replied. “Nothing special. Got rid of those things, have you?”

Remus instantly knew what James meant. “Yeah, my dad took them back to the hospital last week. I wanted to burn them, but he wouldn’t let me.”

James chuckled. He couldn’t exactly picture Remus trying to burn those strange Muggle contraptions, but it was a funny thought. He was silent, thinking about their plan. Maybe, if he just asked Remus, maybe he would get a straight answer. It was worth a try at the very least.

“Listen, Remus-” But before James could ask the compartment door slid open and Sirius walked inside with someone they had not expected. Regulus Black seemed to be a smaller version of Sirius. They both had the same long black hair, grey eyes, and facial structure. They were both bearing the same disgruntled expressions. Neither of them looked very happy at the moment, and James and Remus knew why. Sirius obviously did not want to be in charge of his brother and Regulus did not want to be his brother’s charge. Of course, there was no arguing with Walburga Black; the boys had no choice but to obey.

“Hullo,” Sirius said, his voice lacking its usual cheerfulness. He sat down on the right of James, while Regulus took the opposite seat, moving as far away as possible from Remus, as though he was contaminated. He jerked his thumb at Regulus. “This is my brother, Regulus.”

“Hullo,” James and Remus said. Regulus said nothing; he didn’t even look at them. James and Remus glanced at Sirius, who shook his head in an irritated fashion.

“Where’s Peter?” Sirius asked, noticing that they were one person short and the train had just started to chug away.

“I’m here,” said Peter’s breathless voice at the entryway. He sat down on the vacant seat beside Sirius, catching his breath as he did so. “The train just started to leave,” he panted. “Had to run.”

“Peter, this is my brother, Regulus.”

“Oh,” Peter said, just having spotted the other Black. “Hullo.” Once again, Regulus did not acknowledge the greeting.

“Anyway,” Remus said, getting the attention off Sirius’s brother, as he clearly didn’t want any. “How was your birthday, Peter?”

“It was fun, but I wish you’d have come.”

Remus frowned apologetically. “I’m sorry, but my mum-”

“We know, Remus,” James intervened, though with a hard edge to his voice, like he was annoyed. Remus stared at James, confused, but said nothing else. He contented himself with looking out the window as the train approached the rolling, green hills of the countryside. Sirius and Peter gave James looks that said he was being a little harsh, but James simply shrugged. An awkward silence settled in the compartment, which was broken by Sirius pulling out a deck of cards and offering a game of Exploding Snap. To their mild shock, Remus did not join in, but Regulus readily held out his hand for some cards.

“We may stand a chance of winning now,” Peter said, grinning good-naturedly at Remus, who returned with a halfhearted smile.

The game certainly got competitive. James, Sirius and Peter usually knew the game was a lost cause when they were competing against Remus, but now that he wasn’t playing the four boys were even more vicious, fighting for victory. Regulus didn’t seem to want his brother to win, but didn’t mind if James or Peter did, so his participation did not benefit Sirius. Sirius, who foresaw his brother’s motive, tried his hardest to thwart Regulus’s victory. The winner turned out to be James, who laughed victoriously, and rudely, at the others’ ash covered faces. Sirius snatched his cards back and stowed them away in his pocket, muttering that he was going to find a game he could definitely beat them all at.

The lunch trolley rolled around midday and the boys stocked up on their favourite sweets. James, who was not being too careful with the Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, discovered a vomit flavoured one and accidentally spat it onto Regulus’s shoes. Regulus shot James a disgusted look and stood up. He marched over to the compartment door and hissed at Sirius that he was going to go find Narcissa. Sirius shrugged indifferently; in fact, he looked grateful that his brother was leaving.

Once Regulus was gone, James turned to his friend. “Not very chatty, your brother,” he observed.

“He’s bitter,” Sirius replied through a mouthful of Chocolate Frog. “Mum made him come around with me, but warned me that I couldn’t come sit with you lot. I lied, of course. But Mummy’s little prince, Regulus, will probably send her an owl telling her the first chance he gets.” He ripped the top of a Chocolate Frog box and checked the card inside. “Bertie Botts,” he mumbled. “Got him already. Want him Remus?”

Remus broke his gaze away from the window. “Hmm? Oh, yeah, sure.” He took the card and pocketed it.

James jumped up suddenly. “Can I talk to you, Remus? Outside?”

Remus stood up, resignedly, and followed his friend into the empty corridor. James slid the door shut behind them and faced his friend. “Look, I’m sorry I snapped at you like that.”

“I know you are,” Remus said. He didn’t sound mad at all, and James had expected him to.

“Oh… well, you’re not mad at me, are you?”

“No, I wasn’t mad.”

James sighed in relief. “Okay, then. Let’s go back inside.”

“You go on; I have to just go to the bathroom for a minute.”

Remus spun around and took off for the back of the train where the lavatories were located. Remus had not been lying when he told James that he wasn’t mad at him. James’s harshness had set him thinking, actually. Would it be so bad if he told his friends he was a werewolf? They had already proven themselves to be loyal beyond all measures, perhaps they weren’t prejudice. Then again, every time someone found out they didn’t exactly understand. He had long abandoned counting how many friends he had lost because they had been taught to hate werewolves. The only solution his parents could find for the problem was to move away to the country, where they were less likely to run into any wizards.

He remembered what his grandfather had told him – he had said Remus wasn’t a monster. Sometimes he found he could agree, but other times – many times – he couldn’t. Werewolves were classified by the Ministry of Magic as dangerous, who was he to argue against that? His father always said the people at the Ministry didn’t know what they were talking about, that they could be just as bad as pureblood enthusiasts sometimes. Remus, however, oftentimes felt inclined to concede with their views. What he did to himself was bad enough; he couldn’t stand to think of what he might do to an innocent bystander.

He emerged from the lavatory five minutes later and was met with a head of fiery red hair. Lily Evans was one of his fellow Gryffindor second years. She had helped them greatly in their plight against Professor Crane, as she was probably one of the most eager to see him go. He hadn’t spoken to her, nor written her a letter, the entire summer and he wondered how she was doing.

“Lily,” he called, catching her attention.

She whirled around and her face split into a warm smile when she saw who it was. “Hullo, Remus!” She moved forward down the corridor. “How are you?” she asked when she reached him.

“Fine,” he said. “How was your summer?”

“Oh, it was alright. My mum and dad took my sister, Petunia, and I to Switzerland for a few weeks.”

“Really? How was it there?”

“It was beautiful, and it would have been better if my sister hadn’t been there.”

Remus had heard Lily discussing her sister with Alice Gordon. From the little he had heard it was plain that she and her sister did not get along. Petunia Evans thought her sister was a freak for being a witch. Hearing about his friends’ problems with their siblings sometimes made him grateful he was an only child.

Lily seemed to read his mind. “You’re lucky you’re an only child.”

Remus chuckled lightly. “I seem like more than one sometimes.”

“I doubt you’d ever be as bad as Petunia, not even Potter could be.” At the very end of their first year Lily had taken to calling James “Potter.” His ill-hidden love of the accolades after their prank had gotten so irritating to her that she severed all forms of communication with him. Lily began fishing for something in the pocket of her skirt. When she found it, she pulled it out and handed it to Remus. It was a colourfully wrapped piece of chocolate. “They have the best chocolate in Switzerland,” she explained, pulling out a piece for herself.

“Thanks,” Remus said appreciatively.

“No problem. Well, I’d better get back to my compartment. See you at the feast.”

“Yeah, see you there.”

Remus trailed along the corridor until he found his compartment. When he reentered he heard James and Sirius in a heated discussion about why Dumbledore had planted the Whomping Willow on the grounds. He pretended to be uninterested in the conversation, though red tinged his cheeks. Instead, he loudly opened the chocolate Lily had given him, trying to block out what his friends were saying.

“Maybe there’s something really dangerous under it,” James was construing.

“Like what?” Sirius asked doubtfully.

“I dunno… some really dangerous creature of Hagrid’s.”

“Why would Dumbledore let Hagrid keep it then, if he knew it was dangerous?” Peter wondered.

“That’s why they have the Whomping Willow there, of course!” James said, making it sound as if it were the most obvious answer in the world.

“Dumbledore’s always been a bit mental, maybe he just liked the tree,” Sirius said, scuffing his shoe on the bottom of the chair across him.

“What about-” James began but he was abruptly cut off.

“What about just dropping it?” Remus asked, exasperated. “What does it matter why it’s there?”

James raised his eyebrows at Sirius and Peter, signaling that they could take this as another bit of their research. They dropped the subject, knowing it would do nothing more than further infuriate Remus and they did not feel like getting on his bad side so early in the year. James reminded himself to make note of this one fact – Remus did not like talking about the Whomping Willow. It may have meant nothing to others, but to them it meant figuring out where their friend went every month, and why he always came back hurt.

“Now that everyone is Sorted, I have nothing to say except ‘tuck in.’” The students cheered enthusiastically as the golden platters before them filled with food at Headmaster Dumbledore’s words. The Sorting Ceremony had just concluded and Sirius was in the process of sulking because Regulus had become a Slytherin. James made it a point to mention that this wasn’t an unusual occurrence in the Black Family, but Sirius had thought there may have been a tiny glint of hope for his brother. He was at least a little more tolerable than the others, though Sirius had to admit that Regulus’s opinions were easily swayed. James was right; it shouldn’t have come as a shock.

Instead of brooding on it, Sirius settled himself with eating as much of his favourite foods as possible. By the time he was finished loading up his plate it was stacked about two feet high and looked mildly repulsive.

“We all know how Sirius drowns his sorrows, now,” James said to Remus and Peter, who were watching Sirius eat with revolted expressions. “He eats like a pig.”

“Do nob,” Sirius argued through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

“Yes, you do.”

Sirius swallowed with great difficulty and huffed at his friend. He looked over Peter’s shoulder at the Slytherin table and saw, with some disappointment, that Regulus was already making Slytherin friends. He was talking to a first year boy with sleek brown hair and, to Sirius’s horror, Severus Snape. He thought he might have been able to get over the fact that his brother had been Sorted into the house that turned out the most Dark witches and wizards, but now he knew that he couldn’t, especially since Regulus was consorting with slime like Snape.

“Just forget it, Sirius,” Remus said, looking over his own shoulder to see what his friend was gaping at.

“What would you do if your brother was about to become friends with that?”

“Not stare at him? Sirius, you’re always saying you don’t like your family, so why is this bothering you so much?”

“I thought there was hope for him!”

“Clearly there isn’t,” Peter said into his dish of chicken.

“Can it, Pettigrew.”

They passed most of their dinner in silence, breaking the lull once in a while to ask someone to pass a dish of food. Other than that, they didn’t speak at all. James, Remus, and Peter did not want to get Sirius more upset about his brother’s new home more than he already was. James couldn’t help but see things Remus’s way, though he understood where Sirius was coming. Sirius had never cared at all about the goings-on in his family, so why did this bother him so much? Maybe it was because he thought he had set some sort of standard when he became a Gryffindor and hoped for Regulus to follow it? That didn’t seem to be the case; he must have just wanted Regulus to be in a house where he wasn’t almost guaranteed to become a Dark wizard.

As the platters of pudding were emptied and the scraps vanished, Professor Dumbledore stood up to make his traditional announcements. “Now that we are all happily full I should like to make some announcements. All students are reminded that the forest on the edge of the grounds is strictly off limits, as is approaching the Whomping Willow.” Some of the meaner students snickered at this, remembering the incident the previous year in which a student was knocked unconscious by the tree. Dumbledore waved his hand for silence once more. “Any student wishing to play for their house’s Quidditch team should contact Madam Sparks, tryouts will be in due time. Mr. Filch would also like to remind students that dueling is forbidden in corridors between classes.” He gestured to his right at a man with bushy black hair and a kind smile. “I would like to welcome our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher – Professor Jones.” There was a scattered round of unenthusiastic applause. The students knew not to get their hopes about any of the teachers in that subject, especially after the horrific year with Professor Crane. “Now I think it is time you went to your dormitories. Good night, everyone.”

The benches scraped against the floor as the students poured into the aisles between the tables and followed their respective prefects to the common rooms. The boys hung back, letting the first years get directly behind the prefect who was currently shouting for them to follow him. They kept their pace slow for Sirius’s sake, Regulus was not very far ahead of them and they knew Sirius did not want to encounter his brother so closely after his Sorting. After a group of Gryffindor fourth years fell in front of them, the four boys began their trek to Gryffindor Tower.

It was a relief to be back in the castle. They had all missed the constantly moving portraits and the staircases that could never decide on which landing to stay. They almost missed Peeves the Poltergeist, but soon realised they didn’t after he dropped a trash bin over Peter’s head. Just as Peeves was floating away, cackling madly, the new teacher, Professor Jones, appeared and vanished the garbage off his student’s head. Peter thanked the man, who nodded politely and went off to find his quarters. The boys continued on their way until they were met with the portrait of the Fat Lady.

“Canis Lupus,” they heard the prefect say. The portrait swung open, revealing the entrance into the common room. Being that the following day was a Saturday, some of the older students hung around in the common room, catching up with their friends. The boys saw Frank, Lily and Alice sitting by the fire, chatting excitedly about their summers. They waved to the group and the boys went up to the dormitory to put their belongings away. The dormitory they had shared the previous year was now adorned with a sign on the door that read: SECOND YEARS. Once inside, they saw that it looked exactly the same as it had and that their trunks were waiting patiently for them on their beds.

When they had everything put away and, in the case of James’s and Sirius’s, hung up numerous posters, the boys settled themselves to discuss what they had done for the remainder of the summer. As Peter was telling them about his trip to the Ministry of Magic with his father, who worked in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, Remus excused himself to the bathroom. When the door was fully shut, James leaned forward conspiratorially.

“So, what are we going to do?” he whispered, glancing over at the bathroom door.

“About what?” Sirius asked blankly, picking at a loose thread on his bedspread.

“About Remus. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten already.”

“Of course I haven’t. But, mate, we just got back to school, we can’t have that much to go by.”

“We have two things, actually,” James said, getting up and stooping down beside his trunk. He pulled out a blank notebook and his writing utensils. He began writing in the book. “We have the fact that he really has something against the Whomping Willow-”

“Which isn’t that strange,” Sirius interjected.

“-and that he couldn’t come to Peter’s birthday party on August 24th,” James finished, as though he hadn’t been interrupted.


So, that may not be much, but it’s something.”

“What’s something?”

The three boys looked up and saw Remus’s head poking out from the bathroom, he was watching them curiously.

“Nothing, Remus,” James said unconvincingly, hastily sitting on his notebook. He, Sirius and Peter all smiled at their friend, trying poorly to mask their guilt.

Remus was quiet, observing them and thinking of all the possible reasons that they could be whispering and then stop the moment he came in. He shrugged and went back into the bathroom.

James pulled the notebook out again once he was sure Remus wouldn’t be emerging for another few minutes. “Anyway, that’s better than having nothing to go by.”

“Yeah but, James, there’s nothing special about this information,” Peter said, taking the book out of James’s hands and looking at what he had written. “I mean, a lot of people hate the Whomping Willow, especially that Ravenclaw from last year. And maybe his mother really was sick on my birthday.”

“I’ve said it before, you’ve seen his mother! She can’t be sick all the time.”

“And I’ve said it before, maybe it comes and goes. Maybe you’re making more out of this than you should be.”

“You know, you seemed all for this back at the Leaky Cauldron.”

“Then I got to thinking that maybe Remus wouldn’t want us researching him like this. Maybe his mother is sick and maybe he just doesn’t like talking about it.”

“We’re supposed to be his friends,” Sirius said, speaking for the first time in a while. “If his mother really was sick, he’d at least tell us what was wrong with her. He knows we wouldn’t badger him about it or anything. James is right, Pete. You’re right about Remus not wanting us to research him, but I think we have to.” He took the book from Peter and the quill from James and began writing. “He always looks sick. When he comes back from visiting his mother he looks like he fell off a cliff. His parents wouldn’t do that to him, they love him too much. And if his mother could do that while she was sick, they wouldn’t be bringing him home every month. James is right. There’s something else going on and we have to find out what it is. We’re all friends, remember? If something’s hurting one of us, the rest of us have to figure out what it is.”

Chapter 15: Research, Bad Potions and Tryouts
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Chapter Fifteen
Research, Bad Potions, and Tryouts

School didn’t officially start for two days, as they returned to the castle on a Friday. The boys spent a good majority of the weekend lazing out on the grounds, enjoying the sunlight before they were confined to the walls of the castle doing their schoolwork. The weather seemed to also be enjoying the free time; the skies had never been a clearer blue. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter lounged around under a beech tree by the lake, skipping stones, watching the Giant Squid as it propelled itself around the water, and talking about their plans for the coming year. They were joined occasionally by Frank Longbottom, who could not help but tell them every detail about his summer in Amsterdam with his parents.

However, when the topic veered too closely to their research of Remus, the three boys would grow silent and pretend that they did not see the curious looks Remus was giving them. James would laugh awkwardly and change the subject to something as random as the grass growing or how fast they could skip stones in the lake. Sirius and Peter would grasp the subject with a strange fondness, an action that only increased Remus’s interest. On Sunday, in particular, James, Sirius and Peter disappeared for the entire day. They weren’t in any of their usual spots – the common room, the dormitory, or out on the grounds. Remus strongly doubted that they would be in the library (which was actually where they were) – they did their best to avoid that room. He tried occupying his time with his camera, taking pictures out on the grounds. It was only around dinner when his friends reappeared and they pointblank refused to tell him where they had been.

Monday dawned and the boys found themselves sitting, once again, in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom during first period. They had all defiantly sat in the back, as they had been denied this the previous year, and waited with slight apprehension for the teacher. They couldn’t help but wonder if Professor Jones was anything like Professor Crane. They knew that he didn’t share the mean sneer that Crane constantly wore. This was an upside. Unlike last year, they were joined by the Ravenclaws, who were also looking nervous about their new professor.

Professor Jones entered the room and smiled at his class. They knew at that moment they were not dealing with the same type of man. Jones had the decency to at least smile at his charges; they had never seen the corners of Professor Crane’s mouth turn up. They believed him incapable of doing so. He laid his briefcase on the desk and unhinged it. He shifted through his papers and came out with a scroll.

“Role call, then, shall we?” he asked in a light, airy voice, his eyes surveying the students. “Anderson, Susan. Black, Sirius. Chang, Simon. Evans, Lily. Fort, Emily. Gordon, Alice. James, Sally. Longbottom, Frank. Lovegood, Xenophilius. Lupin, Remus. Patil, Jensen. Pettigrew, Peter. Porter, Mary. Potter, James.” Jones rolled up the scroll when he saw that the entire class was present and stuffed it back into his case. He stowed his briefcase under his desk and turned to the class. “I am Professor Jones; I will be your new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.” He sat down on his desk and cracked his knuckles loudly. “I was told that you did not have a pleasant experience with your previous teacher.” The class nodded vehemently. “I hope to change that.”

They spent an enjoyable period learning about creatures known as Cornish Pixies. They could be described as blue, loud, and squeaky. The boys found them amusing, though rather pointless, while the girls found them adorable. Professor Jones saw this and readily agreed with the boys, claiming that they were only doing this since it was the first day back. They would advance to something more difficult in the coming lessons. The boys did have fun prodding the pixies with their wands, only to have them squeak angrily at them. When the bell rang, the class left talking gleefully about their new teacher and how they wouldn’t have to drive him away.

“Remus Lupin, come here for a moment, please,” Professor Jones said as the four boys got prepared to head on to Charms. “Tell Professor Flitwick he will be late, please, boys?” he added to James, Sirius and Peter. They nodded, sending Remus questioning glances, and exited the room.

“Yes, Professor?” Remus asked when he approached the desk. He didn’t have the slightest idea as to why the professor needed to speak to him.

“I have it from Professor Dumbledore that Professor Crane was rather prejudiced against you,” Jones said, peering into Remus’s anxious and pale face.

“Just a little,” Remus lied, shifting from one foot to the other.

“I heard that he had you doing a detention on the day of a full moon.”

“I left in time.”

“That doesn’t excuse the man’s behaviour. I just wanted to let you know that you do not have to worry about such actions from me. I will not hold what you are against you.”

Just from the way Professor Jones said it, Remus knew that he meant it. Jones wasn’t going to take advantage of what Remus was and use it to his misfortune the way Crane had. He didn’t know much about this teacher, but just hearing this claim made him think that Professor Jones would be one of their better teachers. “Thank you, Professor.”

“Everyone step back from your cauldrons.”

The Gryffindor second years were currently in their final class of the day – Potions with the Slytherins. They had been busy for the past hour concocting a Swelling Solution for Professor Slughorn. Just as he had done the year before, he offered a prize for the creator of the best potion – a box of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum. This time around, though, he did not have them working in pairs, which put some students at a disadvantage. Alice Gordon was not the best potions maker, unless she had Lily at her side. Her potion had turned a murky grey colour and was issuing nauseating fumes that were causing the students right next to her, and herself, to gag. Abrac Zabini’s potion had turned completely solid and he was furiously trying to crack the surface with his wand.

Professor Slughorn was peering into Lily’s cauldron; he gave her a beaming smile and whispered something that was probably an overwhelming accolade. He did the same after passing James and Sirius. He gave Peter’s potion an approving nod as he looked it over. When he reached Remus’s potion, disaster struck. The moment his nose came fully over the cauldron top, the potion exploded. Remus gaped in horror as his potion did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do. Slughorn’s nose did not swell to an unnatural size; rather it began to shrink until it was the size of a button. James and Sirius had ducked out of the way in time, sensing the danger. Remus was by far the worst potion brewer in the class; his potions never had the desired effects unless he was working with someone else.

Peter and Remus were not as lucky and were splashed with the defective potion. Peter’s arm suddenly barely reached past his chest, and Remus’s fingers were only a centimetre long. Several of the Slytherins, even the ones who had produced less than standard potions, were laughing cruelly.

“Quiet,” Slughorn snapped. He rubbed his large hand over the space where his nose had once been full grown and sighed. He flourished his wand and the area where the potion had splashed was cleared. “Come here, boys.” He led Remus and Peter to the head of the classroom and began fishing through the shelves of potions.

“What an idiot,” Snape laughed. Snape was one of Slughorn’s favourite student and more than often he made the potions using methods different from those that the book instructed. Of course he would laugh at anyone whose potion blew up.

“Shut up, Snape,” James snarled.

Snape turned around, sneering at James, but otherwise he said nothing. Once the bell rang James and Sirius hung around at the back of the room for Remus and Peter, who were still up at the front of the room. Slughorn appeared to be having a conversation with Remus, and it was one that Remus clearly disliked. He was fervently shaking his head and, from reading his lips, James and Sirius could see that he was telling Slughorn “no” many times. When Slughorn realised his plight was worthless, he released the two boys.

“I’m so sorry, Peter,” Remus said as they joined James and Sirius. Remus was rubbing the palm of his hands over his fingers, making sure they were still there.

“Its fine,” Peter said, rubbing his previously shrunken arm.

“What was Slughorn talking to you about, Remus?” Sirius asked, readjusting the strap on his bag.

Remus grimaced. “He wanted Snape to tutor me.”

James and Sirius gasped in horror. “Bloody hell no,” they blurted out.

“I know,” Remus agreed, shuddering at the thought. “I think I managed to talk him out of it.” He glanced over his shoulder back at the classroom. “If I needed anyone to tutor me, I’d ask one of you three. You’re just as good as Snape is. Or maybe even Lily would help me.”

“I doubt Evans would,” James muttered.

“She doesn’t hate me, James.”

“I don’t even understand why she hates me in the first place.”

The others thought it best not to answer that question. Lily’s true thoughts about James were rather cruel, and they didn’t want to expose him to them. They headed up to Gryffindor Tower to deposit their belongings in the dormitory before heading down to the Great Hall for dinner. As they were walking through the Entrance Hall after coming back downstairs, Sirius brought up Professor Jones.

“He seems pretty cool.”

“Better than Crane,” Peter said.

“That’s not exactly hard to do.”

They entered the Great Hall and took their usual seats at the Gryffindor table. The golden platters were filled with dinner and the boys, terribly hungry, loaded up their dishes.

“When do Quidditch tryouts start?” James asked as he stabbed a potato onto his fork.

Sirius shrugged. “How should I know?”

“Check the notice board in the common room,” Remus suggested, taking a swig of pumpkin juice.

“Yeah, I’ll do that later.”

James was eager to get onto the Gryffindor team. The team had not won a championship in three years, an occurrence that was often called pathetic by every house in the school, including the Gryffindors. It wasn’t as though the team was bad; it was just that there were one or two weak links. The good news was that the weak links had graduated and two Chaser positions had opened up. James always played Chaser whenever he scrimmaged at home, though he was often found to be playing with the Golden Snitch. He loved goal scoring more than he did Seeking.

When dinner concluded the boys trooped up to Gryffindor Tower. The moment they stepped through the portrait hole James made a beeline for the notice board. He saw, with immense satisfaction, that the tryouts were to be held that Friday. He therefore decided to skive off his homework and head down to the Quidditch Pitch and practise. Sirius, Remus and Peter did not object to his decision, as they had been given a very small amount of work. James dashed up to the dormitory to retrieve his Silver Arrow and left for the pitch, not returning until late that night. He wanted that place and he was determined get it.

Friday rolled around all too quickly for James’s liking. He was confident that he might make the team, but he had spent the majority of his free time observing the competition and he knew that some were better than him. Then again, there were a fair number who were dreadful. He had gone out every night to practise on his own, using the Quaffle with the permission of Madam Sparks. Of course he didn’t have a Chaser up there with him. He thought once or twice about asking his friends to help him. Sirius came with him once, mumbling about how he disliked playing Quidditch when he had better things to do. Peter and Remus, who tried numerous times to skive off their flying lessons in first year, pointblank refused to play Keeper for James. They didn’t fancy falling off their brooms.

All through their lessons on Friday James could be found staring distractedly out the window, even in the rooms that did not face the Quidditch Pitch. In Transfiguration, his favourite class, Professor McGonagall began to reprimand him for not completing the task at hand – transfiguring an animal into a water goblet – before Sirius pointed out that he was nervous about the tryouts. Professor McGonagall was probably the only faculty member who could compete with the students for the title of Most Obsessed Over Quidditch. She therefore did not deduct any points from Gryffindor and actually gave James a few helpful tips.

The weather was perfect: The sky was a clear blue, there were little to no clouds, and the wind was minimal, which was nowhere near enough to cause any disruptions in anyone’s flying. James skipped dinner, fearing that food would not remain in his stomach, and headed down to the pitch to get one more practise session in. When he arrived he saw that he was not the only one who had this idea. The sky was filled with at least a dozen students, whipping about in the air. He was pleased to see that four of the twelve were first years and had no prayer whatsoever. The other eight competitors seemed to have more than a decent handle on flying and could handle a Quaffle quite well. Deciding that the air was too full for him to practise, he took a seat in the stands.

After a half hour the Gryffindor team appeared, wearing their scarlet robes and grasping their broomsticks. The captain, sixth year Cory Hamilton, was standing in the lead, clipboard in one hand and whistle in the other. He blew the whistle and waved his arm wildly for the students to land. James dashed over to join them, dragging his Silver Arrow along with him. Hamilton placed them into two groups – one of the lowerclassmen and one of the upperclassmen. The upperclassmen group, which consisted of six students, went first and James concluded that the only real competition was Jamie Kirkland. Compared to her, the others looked absolutely frightful.

Hamilton sent the first group to the stands to wait for the final decision, while he sent out the second group. The moment James saw who he was up against he knew he had the spot. The lowerclassmen group consisted of seven students from first to fourth years. Four of the seven students were first years and barely knew how to fly, let alone hold their brooms the correct way. The remaining three included himself, third year Becky Frasier, and fourth year John Hollander. Frasier was a good player, though she unintentionally sent the Quaffle whizzing at Chaser Lawrence Biggs’s head. Biggs didn’t duck in time and, as a result, was carted off to the Hospital wing by the two Beaters, Gina Reynolds and Anthony Mitchell. James could see Hamilton clicking his tongue and shaking his head as he scribbled on his clipboard. Hollander was also a skilled player and could have possibly beaten James out, but he was more committed to his other activities. He would rather go to a meeting of the Gobstones Club than play Quidditch. This announcement did not bode well with Hamilton.

Because Biggs had been sent to the Hospital Wing, Hamilton, who really played Seeker, announced Jamie Kirkland as one of the new Chasers, and she joined him so James could have his tryout. Hamilton tossed him the Quaffle and James weaved his way around the pitch until he reached the goalposts and feigned throwing the ball through the left goalpost, causing the Keeper, Oliver Pulliman, to dive that way so the middle hoop was clear for James to score. James worked well with the two and Hamilton noticed this. As James was returning to the ground after his tryout, Hamilton flew past him, winked and nodded his approval.

The older students who knew that they had been denied the second Chaser position left the pitch in a mutinous huff, while the rest gathered around Hamilton. Hamilton consulted his clipboard only briefly before tucking it under his arm and looking at the group.

“Well, you all already know that Jamie has gotten the first spot,” he said, gesturing to a beaming Jamie. The crowd clapped, somewhat unenthusiastically. “Now, listen, if you didn’t make it this time, try out again next time there’s an opening. Maybe Chasing isn’t your thing. The second spot goes to James Potter.”

The first years left in the same angry way as the first group, while Hollander and Frasier stuck around long enough to clap James on the back and congratulate him. They had to stay at the pitch a little while longer so Hamilton could give them the practise schedules he had drawn up and to try on their robes. When the team dispensed back to the castle, James was joined by Remus.

“Brilliant, James,” he said cheerfully.

“Thanks mate,” James said, grinning broadly. “Hey, where are Sirius and Peter?” He had just noticed they were two people short.

“Discussing detention with McGonagall.”

“What happened?”

“Sirius hexed Snape for no reason.”

“So why did Peter get detention too?”

“I think Snape thought Peter was going to get him too… I dunno, really, I wasn’t there.”

“Where were you?”

“Hospital Wing. Stepped on my bad leg kind of funny and had to get something to get it to stop hurting.”

James said nothing to this. He had wondered if his friend’s leg had really fully healed. It didn’t seem to be bothering him at the present, he was walking fine. He searched around for something else to talk about. “Did you see all the tryouts?”

Remus shook his head. “I got down here after that kid said he couldn’t miss Gobstones or something.”

“Oh, Hollander. Yeah, he wouldn’t miss that for Quidditch.”

They walked back up to the castle talking excitedly about James making the team and how the team actually stood a chance of winning this time. They entered the giant double doors into the Entrance Hall only to see several professors standing in a crowd. At first, the boys thought something bad had happened, but it ended up just being Peeves letting down a chandelier. They could see the tip of Filch’s broomstick sticking out amongst the sea of hats belonging to the teachers. James and Remus smirked at each other – Filch had a vendetta against Peeves the Poltergeist.

The common room was full and very rowdy, owing to the selection of the new Quidditch team members. James received several congratulations; Lily Evans even made her way over to tell him he deserved it. Remus side glanced at James and saw a strange, dreamy look had spread across his face. Remus laughed to himself and pushed James in the direction of Sirius and Peter, who were both sitting, highly disgruntled, by the window. When they sat down, Sirius and Peter sat up straight and tried to smile genuinely for their friend.

“You got a detention while I was gone?” James asked in a voice suggesting that he was their father.

“It’s all Sirius’s fault,” Peter muttered, jabbing a finger into Sirius’s shoulder.

“I didn’t do anything!” Sirius snapped defensively.

“Snape grew those tentacles on his own, did he?”

“I think it was an improvement.” Sirius dug under his seat and pulled out a photo. “I even got a picture.”

“You stole my camera,” Remus said at once.

“Well, it was just lying there on your bed.”


James ripped the photo from Sirius’s hand and observed it. There were tentacles swarming out of Snape’s ear holes and nostrils. For a photo that Sirius must have taken very quickly, he certainly captured his handiwork. He was right, it was an improvement. He handed the photo to Remus, who could barely contain the laugh that was threatening to come out. He gave the picture back to Sirius.

“I forgive you for stealing my camera,” he said. “But I’m locking it up from now on.”

“I’ll just unlock it.”

“I won’t tell you where it is.” He stood up and ran off to the dormitory to do just that.

“Anyway,” Sirius went on, tucking the photo back in his pocket. “Nice one, mate. I knew you’d make it.”

“Yeah, good work, James,” Peter said, nodding fervently.

“Thanks guys.” He pulled distractedly on the sleeve of his Quidditch robes. “So, how’d you catch Snape?”

“We were walking by McGonagall’s classroom, which probably wasn’t the best place to do it. But we were on our way back from helping Remus to the Hospital Wing, and Snape was there and… well, you saw the result,” Sirius explained.

“How’d he hurt his leg?”

“Blame Sirius,” Peter said, throwing Sirius a reproachful look. “Remus was walking too slowly for Sirius and he shoved him to move faster. He stepped on his bad leg too hard and hurt it.”

“Remus didn’t say that.”

“Good man, covered up for me,” Sirius said smugly.

“You know, I just thought of another time he had to go visit his mother,” James said unexpectedly. “Remember last year when Crane gave us our first detention? It was on September fifth. Remus was panicking the second Crane said the date.”

“I didn’t think of that,” Sirius said, taking in the information. “You can go add it to that book of yours.”

“He left sometime around Halloween too,” Peter piped up. “A day or two after it, I think.”

“And he couldn’t come to my house the week of the twenty third. He said it was a bad week for him.”

“Well, it was.”

“But how could he have known that was going to happen?”

“What are you talking about?”

James, Sirius and Peter jumped in their spots and saw that Remus had returned. He was regarding them with a suspicious look, like he knew they were talking about him. Remus knew that every time people abruptly stopped talking when he walked into the room meant that they were talking about him. His friends had been doing this quite a lot recently and he didn’t like it.

“Nothing,” they said feebly.

“You always seem to be talking about something important and stop the second I come in.”

“It’s nothing, Remus,” James said in what he hoped was a believable voice. “Honestly.”

Remus didn’t question them any further; he only sat down and listened as James described the tryouts in full detail to Sirius and Peter. They were up to something and they weren’t letting him in on it. Their hasty endings to conversations and their strange absence over the weekend were making him feel uncomfortable. And he didn’t like it.

Chapter 16: Discoveries
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Chapter Sixteen

Remus knew not to believe James when he said that they weren’t talking about anything significant. He also knew that it concerned him, and he had a suspicion as to what it might be. As September began to round off and the full moon drew nearer he spent a good amount of his time in the dormitory, resting his head. The previous year his friends would have come upstairs and try to persuade him to come and join them in whatever they were doing. This year, however, they came up only once and when he said he wasn’t feeling well they pressed the matter no further. In fact, he could see their interest peak when he said this, but they never asked why he wasn’t feeling well. This behaviour was so unlike them. He knew they were bound to wonder where he went every month, but just because he knew that, didn’t mean he would be ready when the time came.

Saturday, September twenty third, dawned late and groggily. The four boys had worked late into the night for their detention with Professor Grines. They had been caught hexing Snape and one of his fellow Slytherins while their backs were turned and, as Grines was the professor who caught them, she was the one handling their detention. They had been refilling the Mandrake pots with the appropriate fertilizers, and these fertilizers just happened to be the ones that smelled the worse. They had thought the task wouldn’t be too difficult; the Mandrakes would be sleeping. They thought wrong. The Mandrakes didn’t take well to the movement of their pots as the boys refilled them and put up a strong fight. One Mandrake almost succeeded in lifting itself out of its pot and latching itself onto Peter’s nose. It took the combined efforts of James, Sirius and Remus to calm the Mandrake down, while Peter stayed as far away as possible from the plant.

Three of the four boys awoke at eleven, infinitely grateful that it was a Saturday and they had no classes to slug through. James had Quidditch practise to look forward to and his friends were supposed to come and watch. The first Quidditch match of the season wasn’t until November, but Cory Hamilton wanted to get in all the practise time they could, as they would be playing Slytherin. The practise didn’t start until one, so they had time to get lunch and laze around before James had to head off to the pitch.

“I can’t believe that detention last night,” Sirius muttered miserably as he tucked his blankets under his mattress.

“At least your Mandrake didn’t try to kill you,” Peter said sleepily, searching for clothes in his trunk.

“It didn’t try to kill you, it just wanted your nose,” James pointed out, sitting on his bed and running his hand fondly along the handle of his broomstick. “Hey, Sirius, wake him up, will you?” James nodded towards Remus’s bed, where Remus was still fast asleep. This didn’t surprise them in the least; Remus had been dropping with exhaustion the night before and hadn’t even bothered to change when he reached his bed.

Sirius moved over to his friend’s bed and shook him gently on the shoulder. “Wake up, mate.” Remus did not wake up; he only turned on his stomach and slept on. “Remus, get up.” Once again, Sirius’s efforts proved fruitless. “I found your bloody camera.”

“Shut up, Sirius,” Remus mumbled, his eyes flickering open.

Sirius grinned mischievously. “You’re too predictable.” With his task complete, Sirius went back to making his bed.

Remus sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. “What time is it?”

“Little after eleven,” James replied, setting his broom down on his bed and looking around for his trainers. “Do you feel alright?” Upon closer inspection, James could see that his friend’s face was deadly pale and it was causing him great effort to stay awake.

“Fine,” Remus said in a false cheerful voice. “Just tired.” He shakily stood up and walked around, stretching his limbs. Then he said just what James predicted he would. “Err… I have to go visit my mum again later.”

“Do you?” James said in the most interested voice he could muster. He had slid down to the floor beside his bed and was rummaging through his trunk, trying to locate his notebook.

“Yeah… my dad wrote me yesterday.”

“Is she sick again?” Peter asked, using the same voice as James. He hadn’t thought much of James’s plan at first, but now he thought his friend was right. Why would Remus, who looked as though he needed a trip to the Hospital Wing himself, be going home?

“That’s what my dad said,” Remus responded, sitting down at the foot of his bed and running a hand over his tired face.

“That’s too bad,” James said, finally seeing his notebook under three pairs of his robes. He inconspicuously took it out and began writing the date and Remus’s symptoms down. “Well, I should get dressed, Quidditch practise in a bit.” He grabbed his clothes out of his trunk and yanked the hangings around his bed.

“Are you going to come down with us?” Sirius asked Remus as he straightened out his pillow.

“Yeah, of course.”

“Well then get up and get dressed. You know James is going to drag us down there an hour early.”

“I heard that,” came James’s voice from behind the curtains.

Once the boys were fully clothed and had their lunch, they headed out to the Quidditch Pitch. Jamie Kirkland apparently had the same idea as James: To head down to the pitch early. He and his fellow Chaser immediately took off to the changing rooms to get into their robes and were soon off into the air and practising their flying. Sirius, Remus and Peter didn’t really see why James had to work on his flying; there was nothing to improve. He had the perfect handle of his broomstick; he could swerve and duck as easily as he could walk. The rest of the team appeared a little while later, brooms in hands and ready to begin their training session.

After fifteen minutes of training it became clear that Gryffindor had the best team it had seen in years. Now that they had two Chasers who weren’t Quaffle hogs, the Chasers were able to work as a unit, duping the Keeper in order to score. The Beaters never missed an opportunity to whack a Bludger out of the way of their Chasers and Seeker. When the Keeper wasn’t tricked by his own teammates (which was a rare chance), he was making spectacular saves. The Seeker never missed the Snitch. They played three scrimmage matches, using Biggs as an opposing Seeker, and Hamilton caught the Snitch two out of the three times. The only reason his missed the third time was because he sneezed at the wrong moment.

As the practise session was concluding, Remus stood up abruptly. He had been fine for the entire hour and a half that the team was training, but now he felt like something very large was pressing itself against his forehead and an iron hand was clamping itself around his insides. He had to get up to the Hospital Wing, or to a bathroom, anywhere that was not where he currently was. Sirius and Peter whipped their heads around, shocked by their friend’s sudden movement.

“What happened?” Sirius asked, bewildered.

“Nothing,” Remus said in an unconvincing voice. He didn’t know why he felt that he had to lie; both Sirius and Peter knew something was wrong.

“You’re going to be sick, aren’t you?” Peter said knowingly. Without answering Peter’s query, Remus sped out of the stands and towards the castle. Looking in the direction that Remus had taken off in, Peter said to Sirius, “I guess we can add this to the list, then?”

Sirius nodded mutely. He wished they had more information to go by, but they hardly remembered any of the exact times that Remus disappeared home. It had become a part of their lives, something they thought they could easily look over. But they couldn’t do that anymore. He hadn’t thought much of James’s idea initially, like Peter, but he was beginning to see the cause for it. He had said it before; if they were really friends they would have to know what horrible things were happening to each other. Even if it was an uncomfortable subject, it would have to be known.

Sirius and Peter met up with James as he was coming out of the changing rooms, talking to his fellow Chaser, Lawrence Biggs, about a move the Hamilton had been going over with them. When he caught sight of his friends, James bid Biggs farewell and joined up with them.

“We have some more information for you, James,” Sirius said the moment James was in step with them. He didn’t feel like beating about the bush any longer.

James didn’t even have to ask what Sirius was talking about. “Yeah?”

“Well, Remus just took off before and he looked like he was about to get sick. Add that to the list of symptoms.”

“We still don’t have that much,” Peter reminded them. “What if it takes all year to figure this out?”

“We just have to think back to last year,” James said. “Can we remember any other times he left?”

“New Year’s,” Sirius said.

“But he didn’t actually leave, we weren’t in school.”

“Don’t you remember? He came back all beat up and angry.”

“Didn’t he have a stomach virus, though?” Peter asked, trying to think back to that time.

“He did, yeah,” James confirmed. “But before he was sick he had all these bruises and cuts on him. Viruses don’t do that to people.” He shifted the weight of his broomstick on his shoulder and whistled lowly. “So we have sometime around New Year’s, we have September fifth; we have around Halloween, that week during July. And we have today.”

“My birthday,” Peter added.

“Those are really random dates, James,” Sirius said.

“There has to be something they all have in common,” Peter said desperately.

“Maybe if we go to the library and look up his symptoms? There has to be something in one of those books.”

“Yeah, sure,” James said. “Let’s wait a little though, when we’re sure Remus is gone. I think he’s on to us.”

The full moon glowed exceptionally bright that night, and it didn’t help that Remus already had so many things weighing on his mind. Bright full moons meant pain worse than usual, and when his mind was heavy on thoughts, that only added to the agony. Remus lay on the four-poster bed at the top of the Shrieking Shack, mulling over the events of the past month. What were his friends up to? Were they really, as he feared, researching him? They had always been concerned about his wellbeing, what friend wouldn’t? Recently, though, they seemed to only care about it because they were trying to figure out the cause of it. He knew it sounded selfish to think like that, either way they were proving that they cared about him. He just didn’t like the uneasy feeling he received from it.

The moon would be rising soon, at any moment. He could tell by the unending shooting pains he received in his head, the cramps in his joints and the sweat pouring onto his forehead. He curled up into a ball on the bed and stared fixedly at the wall opposite him, as though if he stared hard enough the pain would go away. The pain did not lessen; it seemed to increase with his concentration. A nail hammered itself into his skull and the clouds outside, invisible to him, began to shift. The moonlight gleamed through the dusty window. The moon’s glare hit Remus’s pale and sweaty face and his transformation began.

The nail that was making its way through his skull jammed itself into his brain as Remus screamed out in agony that could not be stopped. His trembling limbs stretched and cracked, making way for their wolfish counterparts. His once clean face slowly became covered in grey fur. His green eyes flashed yellow. He fell sideways off the bed, onto the cold wooden floor, groaning in protest as his human mind slipped away into unconsciousness, only to be replaced by the wolf’s mind. In his new mind he had just one thought – food. But food was far out of reach, he had himself and only himself.

For the wolf, his own body would suffice.

“You have that written down?”

“Yeah, right here.”

“What about that?”

“Yes, James, I have it all written down.”

James, Sirius and Peter were taking advantage of the empty common room to continue with their research. They were sitting on Remus’s empty bed, Sirius and Peter leaning over James’s notebook as he scribbled away furiously. This was the perfect opportunity for them to continue their work – Frank was tutoring a Ravenclaw in History of Magic and Remus was away. They had the entire dormitory to themselves. Their information was still rather empty – they didn’t have many leads, but, as was becoming their motto, it was better than nothing.

“I still feel kind of guilty about this,” Peter admitted.

“Remus has no idea,” Sirius said, thinking that this was all the reassurance he needed.

“That’s exactly it. What if he thinks we’re plotting against him or something?”

“Where would he get that idea?” James asked incredulously.

“We’re being pretty obvious about it. Whenever he walks into the room and we’re talking about it we change the subject to something completely stupid.”

“What do you suggest we do?” Sirius questioned edgily. “Continue talking about it so he knows we’re snooping on him?”

“We’re not snooping on him,” James said fiercely. They were making it sound like they were trying to hurt Remus, not help him.

“It’s as good as,” Peter said. “I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my friends researching me.”

“It’s for his own good.”

“Listen, if we’re going to fight about this then we shouldn’t even be doing it,” Sirius snapped. “Can we just stop arguing?”

James and Peter nodded grudgingly. James stood up, clutching his notebook to his chest, and went to put it back in his trunk. As he stood up, he bumped Remus’s nightstand and a piece of parchment that had been perched on the edge fluttered to the floor. Had it not been for the fact that it flipped onto the side with writing, James would not have given the note a second thought. He stooped down, under the pretenses of replacing it back on the nightstand, and hastily read it. What he saw was something that did not ease his nerves about the situation at all.

“James?” Sirius said peering over the edge of the bed. “What’s up?”

“Look at this.” James straightened up and shoved the note in Sirius’s hands. “He didn’t go home.”

“What?” Peter said, looking over Sirius’s shoulder at the parchment. “Dear Remus, owl us and tell us how you’re feeling. Love Mum and Dad.” He raised his eyebrows at his friends. “Tell them how he’s feeling; his mother is the one who’s supposed to be sick.”

“This letter’s dated from yesterday,” Sirius said, pointing to the date scrawled at the top. “Remus did say that his father sent him a letter.”

“Yes, but it was supposed to be his father telling him to come home,” James said, staring at the back of the letter with a peculiar expression. “I don’t understand, could it really be so bad that he has to lie to us like this?”

“Maybe it is,” Peter said, looking down at the floor.

James sighed and bit his bottom lip. Maybe Peter was right in thinking that they shouldn’t be researching their friend. If it was so bad that he openly lied about it every month… Maybe the truth was too hard to handle? Maybe whatever he had was terminal, without a cure. “I think Peter may have been right.”

“About what?”

“About us researching Remus. Maybe it’s best that we don’t know what happens to him every month.”

“Wait,” Sirius said sharply, jumping up from his seat and glaring at James. “You’re the one who pushes us to do this in this first place and now you’re going to tell us that we should stop when we’re actually getting somewhere?”

“Where are we getting, Sirius?”

“It happens to him every month. That was something we didn’t notice before. Only a few things happen every month, it narrows down the choices a lot.”

“But we don’t know what happens.”

“Isn’t that what we’re trying to find out? He’s our friend, James, and we have to figure this out. Maybe it’s something we can help him with.”

“What if there’s nothing that can be done?”

“Then we make it bearable for him. We help him deal with it.”

And, so with Sirius’s final statement, they continued their research until Frank Longbottom walked in and asked why they were doing homework on a Saturday night. They would have to wait until the following day to go on.

The library was unusually empty for a Sunday, which was when the students got the bulk of their homework done. James, Sirius and Peter procured a table in the back, far away from the prying eyes of the librarian, Madam Jules. James was busy looking up any library book that could help them in their project, while Sirius was tackling a Transfiguration essay and Peter was working on his lunar charts for Astronomy. James was stumped in his work; he didn’t have the foggiest idea of where to start. He had pulled out books on magical ailments, curses, magical creatures… He couldn’t even begin to fathom what was happening to his friend.

“Any luck?” Sirius asked as he completed the final sentence in his third paragraph.

James shook his head irritably. He was poring over a book about magical illnesses and he had so far come up with nothing that resembled Remus’s case. He flipped the page over and began reading once more.

“Full moon was last night…” Peter murmured as he did his homework. They had been assigned the task of charting the lunar phases for September and it was due the following day. Peter only had the beginning of the month done, not the end.

James’s ears almost perked when he heard this innocent statement. “Repeat that, Peter.”

“Full moon was last night?” Peter repeated, highly confused.

James’s eyes widened at an alarming rate. He thrust the book he was reading aside and grabbed the book about magical creatures. “No,” he said, his voice full with dread. “No, it can’t be.”

“What are you talking about?” Sirius asked, his face looking much the same as Peter’s – utterly bemused.

James seemed to be in a state of shock. He kept turning the pages in the book over and over until he found what he was looking for. “No… Merlin, no.”

“James!” Peter said loudly, earning nothing except a reprimand from the librarian.

“Merlin… oh, Merlin…”

James seemed to have completely forgotten that his friends were there. He turned almost to the back of the book and ran his index finger along the page until it came to rest of the creature he was looking for. He picked the book up so the cover was facing Sirius and Peter, disenabling them from seeing what James was. They could only continue to hear him mutter in denial, they could only see the top of his head shaking slowly back and forth. He jumped up, taking the book with him, and ran to another section of the library. When he returned, Peter and Sirius saw that he was carrying the lunar charts from the past two years.

James looked through them, consulting his notebook. The look of terror deepened with every phase he checked. September fifth… around Halloween… the week of New Year’s… the week of July 23rd… August 24th… and the night before. When he could no longer deny it, he whispered the one word that voiced the cause of everything Remus had gone through. “Werewolf.”

“What?” Sirius and Peter said. Unless their ears were mistaken, James had just said “werewolf.”

“He’s a werewolf,” James repeated, his voice a little louder.

“Remus?” This was impossible; all the work must have been causing James to crack. There was no way that Remus, the quietest boy in their year, could turn into a bloodthirsty monster every month. It was impossible, unthinkable. James had to be cracking up.

“Are you mad?” Sirius hissed. He was in denial… there was no way.

“I wish I was.”

“How can you be sure?” Peter whispered anxiously.

“What else can it be? Look at the dates, they all fit.”

James pushed the notebook he had been recording over to his friends and gestured for them to check the dates and the lunar phases. The weeks that they were unsure of the exact date held a full moon, and the days they were sure of were full moons. Remus’s symptoms fit the description in the library book. No matter how much they wanted to think different, they couldn’t. Their friend was indeed a werewolf.

“What are we going to do?” Sirius asked, his eyes full of shock.

“I don’t know… maybe we aren’t even right,” James said, hoping he sounded optimistic. “These could just be coincidences.”

“How do we find out if it’s true, then?”

“I don’t know… If he is a werewolf then it’s not safe to follow him. He could kill us without meaning to. We don’t know where he goes to transform – if he transforms.”

“Hold on!” Peter said suddenly. He jumped out of his seat and ran off to the section of the library that contained old copies of the Daily Prophet. When he returned they saw he was holding an old copy that bore a headline about the Shrieking Shack. “This is dated September sixth from last year, that’s the day after the full moon. The Shrieking Shack was named that night because of loud shouts and howls and noises. Werewolves howl and if Remus was transforming it would have to hurt. That would make him yell.”

“You’re not saying – you can’t mean –” James couldn’t believe his ears. He had been hoping that he was mad, just as Sirius had suggested.

“He goes to the Shrieking Shack.”

Chapter 17: Abandonment
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Chapter Seventeen

James, Sirius and Peter could not fully grasp the gravity of the situation; it still seemed utterly impossible. They didn’t know what part of it was worst – that they didn’t realise it sooner, that they couldn’t do anything about it, or that it had to be Remus who suffered such a fate. He had never done anything to anybody to deserve the hand he had been dealt. James had heard his father speak numerous times about the werewolves he had seen in St. Mungo’s and the stories were nothing short of heartbreaking, especially his tales about the small children who had been bitten. Remus was only twelve; he must have been bitten young. If that was the case, he had never even gotten the chance to be a kid; he had been denied his childhood. James almost wished he had not found out the truth.

There was only one small glimmer of hope that they may be wrong, but they didn’t dare follow Remus to the Shrieking Shack to find out. If Peter was right, that was where he went for his monthly transformations. It was far too dangerous to follow him the night of his transformations – or the nights when he supposedly transformed. They couldn’t put their own lives on the line like that, for their sake and for Remus’s. Besides, they weren’t even sure how to get there without going through Hogsmeade. The boys shuddered every time they thought of his transformations. They had read several descriptions in the libraries books and they were described to contain the most gruesome pain imaginable. Small children often died in the process. Everything they read in those books did nothing but make them fear the truth further.

Though, with their discovery, they found that many things about their friend made sense. When he began panicking about their detention in first year, saying repeatedly that he could not do it, they had thought it strange, but they hadn’t thought much on it. Now they knew what had caused him to lose his composure in such a way. They remembered right before Christmas break started, they had been discussing what they planned on doing for the holidays. Remus had said that his grandparents never got the opportunity to visit, though they lived close by. He had said it strangely, not quite meeting their eyes; they knew the truth now. They may not have been fully afraid of him, but he scared them enough. Whatever accident he had had over the summer was not caused by his dog, it had happened while he was a werewolf.

They had not done it intentionally, but they were beginning to avoid Remus. They sat with him at mealtimes, kept their usual seats beside him during lessons, but they hardly spoke. They did their homework together, but they inadvertently kept Remus detached from the group. It wasn’t as though they were frightened of him, though they sometimes felt as though they were. It was a hard concept to take in. They thought they knew their friend, and then they discovered that there was something alarmingly important about him that he had been hiding. They had always suspected it, but they never expected the overall scale of his secret. They weren’t prejudiced by any means, but they couldn’t help avoiding their friend until they figured out what to do. How could they break it to him that they knew?

Remus had not said anything about their new behaviour; he was actually taking it quite well. This only increased the guilt of James, Sirius and Peter. They knew that Remus must have experienced the loss of his friends more than he needed to, whenever they found out what he was. James, Sirius and Peter did not want to do that to him, but they needed to come to terms with the fact first. Once they did this, they could figure out how to go about confronting him. Still, it did not make the avoidance any easier. They needed time, that was all. Time to digest the information and wrap their minds around it.

“Hey,” Remus said one evening when he spotted the three sitting by the fire in the common room. James, Sirius and Peter had been fitfully working on a difficult Charms essay and were finally making some progress. They jumped at his voice and looked up.

“Hi, Remus,” they said in the same fake, automatic voice.

Remus sat down beside Peter and looked to see what they were doing. “Do you need help with that? I finished mine already.”

“No,” they said hurriedly. “We’ve got it,” James added.

Remus was silent for a moment before standing up. “Okay… I’ll be upstairs, if you do want help.”

“I feel like a git,” Sirius said when Remus had gone.

“Me too,” Peter agreed, throwing his quill down on the table. “How much longer are we going to keep avoiding him?” he asked James.

“You ask that like I meant for this to happen,” James snapped, his eyes focused on his essay. “We just need to figure something out.”

“We can just ask him,” Peter offered sensibly.

“He doesn’t want us to know, and we’re not even sure that we do know. We have to think of a way to go about it, a way that he won’t get mad at us.”

“I think he’s mad at us now,” Sirius said. “Abandoned, more like.”

“Give it time, guys. We’ll tell him we know, we just need to know how.”

On the Saturday after James, Sirius and Peter had begun their avoidance, Remus was sitting out on the grounds, camera in hand, staring out at the lake. He had taken their avoidance well at first, but not anymore. He wanted to be mad at them, but he couldn’t. He wanted to be mad because they had done just as everyone else had – they found out and they abandoned him. He could only be grateful that they hadn’t announced it to the entire school, or told anyone. But he couldn’t be mad because that emotion felt so inadequate compared to the others he was feeling. He was feeling abandoned, confused; anger just didn’t matter. He would rather be angry; he would get some satisfaction out of being angry. Of course, when had he ever gotten what he wanted?

He stood up and walked around in a circle, desperately needing something to keep his mind off of the self pity he was experiencing. His father had always told him that the worst thing he could do when he was upset was to pity himself. It didn’t solve anything. It only made the situation worse. He looked over the lake and saw the Giant Squid breaking through the surface of the water. He walked over to the shore of the lake and bent down on one knee, holding his camera up to his face. It was too good of a shot to miss – the lighting was perfect, the squid would only be in the position it was in for so long, gently propelling itself across the rippling water. The camera snapped the shot and the photo came sliding out of the slot in the front.

Remus slung the strap attached to his camera over his shoulder as he shook the picture, waiting for it to clear.

“That’ll be a nice photo,” said a voice from behind him.

Remus looked over his shoulder and saw Lily Evans standing a little way behind him, smiling at him. “Thanks,” he said awkwardly. He glanced at the photo and saw it had a bit more developing.

Lily was looking at him, her smile faltering, as if she had something to say, but wasn’t sure how to phrase it. Finally, she folded her arms across her chest and sighed. “Are you fighting with your friends?”

“No…” Remus said slowly, gazing distractedly over the lake. “Why?”

“Remus, don’t lie. You’re never with them anymore. Now tell the truth, are you fighting with them?”

“I don’t know,” Remus answered honestly, dropping his gaze to the grass. “I don’t know what happened.” This was not entirely true. He had a very good idea, but he wasn’t about to share it with Lily. Nice as she may be, he wasn’t ready to tell her.

“You four are always together, it’s strange when you’re not,” Lily continued, watching him concernedly. “You really don’t know what happened?”

Remus sat down where he was standing, his right cheek in his right hand and shrugged his left shoulder. “I think I know.”

“What is it?” Lily asked, sitting down beside him. She knew he might not tell her, but she felt the need to ask. He had never done anything to warrant his friends abandoning him. But Remus said just as she thought he would.

“I don’t really want to say. It’s nothing against you, Lily,” he added hastily.

“I know it’s not.”

“It’s just that I can’t help what it is.”

“Is it the reason why you leave school?”

Remus knew it couldn’t hurt very much to let Lily know that much. She had always proven herself to be a good friend; she deserved to know a little. Why hadn’t he thought of that when it came to James, Sirius and Peter? He could have evaded this whole mess if he had let them have that much. He nodded slowly, still staring at the ground. “It’s something that’s been happening since I was three. I can’t help it.”

“Your mother really isn’t sick all the time, is she?”

“No… she’s not the one who gets sick.”

You’re the one who gets sick?” There was no point in asking; it was painfully obvious whenever she saw him when he returned. He always looked pale and had bruises and scars over his face and hands.

“Well… yes. I’ve been… getting sick… ever since I was little and it’s just something I don’t like people knowing. If they knew exactly what it was… people never understood.”

“Yes, but they’re your friends.”

“So were all the other people who claimed to be my friends and, the moment they found out, it was as if they’d never even met me. That was the better reaction.”

Lily didn’t even want to think of what else may have happened. “You know… being sick is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“You don’t understand. In the Wizarding World, kids are taught to hate this… particular illness. And the people who have it are ashamed because of that.”

“But your friends… they know you enough not to-”

“That doesn’t matter, Lily.” There was a noticeable strain in Remus’s voice. “People don’t care if they know you or not. It’s the same thing with Muggle-borns. No one cares what kind of person you are, but if you’re a Muggle-born they might hate you just because of that.”

“I’m sorry, Remus,” Lily said quietly. She had never realised that his situation could be completely the same as being a Muggle-born. She had yet to really experience any prejudice because of her bloodline, but it was only a matter of time before it happened.

“You don’t have to be sorry, Lily. Look, I really don’t feel like talking about this anymore.”

Lily nodded understandingly. She didn’t want to press him on a subject that did nothing but distress him. She stood up, ready to go back to the castle, but she felt she had to say something before she left. “Listen, Remus, even if that’s what people think of whatever might be wrong with you, it’s nothing to get upset over. Your friends will come around, just give it time. Don’t listen to what other people say; you’re not a bad person and no one can tell you any different.” She lingered a moment longer before heading up the grassy slope to the castle.

Remus watched her go, mulling over what she had said. He sometimes envied her for not being born around all the prejudices that witches and wizards had to experience. It had given her time to build her own solid beliefs. She was going to have to face intolerance eventually, because she was a Muggle-born, but she would be able to overcome it. He wished he could have that kind of skill, to not be so affected by what everyone thought of him. He had been looked down upon too many times, shunned everywhere except his home. One day he would tell Lily what he was, one day when he was ready. She was his friend and he never had to doubt it.

The Gryffindor second years sat in their last class of the day – History of Magic – drowning in a stupor of absolute boredom. Professor Binns was droning on about some nonsense in which they only caught one or two words and, even then, they weren’t sure what he was talking about. James was idly doodling on the parchment he was supposed to be taking notes on. Sirius had planted his head in his folded arms and was staring at the wall, which was infinitely more interesting. Peter was folding up blank sheets of parchment into elaborate paper airplanes and Remus was leaning backwards in his seat, tilting on the back legs. Had this been any other day, they may have been playing a competitive match of hangman while Binns talked on, but each boy was far too preoccupied in his own thoughts.

“When does this murder end?” Sirius whined. He had neglected to wear his watch that day and was relying on Peter’s timepiece.

“Ten minutes,” Peter said, glimpsing at his watch. Sirius let out a strangled moan of despair and his face dropped back into his arms.

The next ten minutes passed so slowly that Sirius almost swore Peter had read his watch wrong. When the bell rang, breaking every student out of their daze, they packed up their books and filed out into the corridor. Outside the classroom, Remus turned to join James, Sirius and Peter, but saw at once that they had somehow moved so quickly they were already out of sight. Lily’s words kept ringing in his ears as he searched needlessly around for the three – “they’re your friends.” He was struggling to believe her; he wanted to so badly. He gripped the strap on his book bag and walked swiftly, head down, through the crowd of oncoming students.

Why are they being so bloody stupid? he thought angrily as he narrowly avoided trampling on a first year. He hadn’t done anything to them, anything except keep a secret that would alter their whole opinion of him. Honestly, who could blame him? He had too many experiences with people he thought were his friends and then, the moment they discovered the truth, they said horrible things to him. He remembered one time when he was seven. He was at a friend’s house and it was the day of a full moon. He had let it slip why he had to leave before nightfall and his friend’s mother had been lurking just outside the door. The moment she heard she burst into the room and literally threw him out of the house. That was the last time he had ever said anything of his affliction.

He had hoped to catch up with them in the dormitory where they always went to deposit their belongings before heading to dinner. When he pushed the door open, he saw that only Peter remained. Peter was sitting on his bed, trying to undo a particularly tight knot on his shoelace. Remus sat down on his bed and watched for a while as Peter struggled with his shoelace.

“Bloody piece of string!” Peter swore loudly, throwing the shoe across the room and narrowly missing Remus’s ear. “Oh, sorry about that,” he said when he saw what he’d almost done.

“Its fine,” Remus said dismissively, standing up and going to retrieve Peter’s shoe. He had always had a knack for undoing stubborn knots. His father attributed this to the fact that when Remus was younger he would sit in front of the foyer closet and tie knots into all of the shoes. When he was caught he was forced to undo them. He resumed his seat and dug his nails into the tiny creases between the laces.

“You don’t have to,” Peter said when he saw what Remus was doing.

“I don’t mind, I’m good at this.”

Peter bit his bottom lip, his brow furrowed. They had been absolutely rotten to Remus. They had exchanged no foul words, but that seemed a better alternative to avoiding him. He wanted to say something, anything, but he didn’t know what. “How have you been?” The question seemed lame as it came out of his mouth, but the silence was driving him mad.

“Fine,” Remus answered shortly, slowly pulled out one of the knots.

“Oh, well… that’s good.”

“I suppose it is.”

“That cut on your cheek, cleared up?”


“How did you get it?”

Remus seemed thrown by the question, but recovered himself. “Broke a glass, piece hit my face.”

“Sounds painful.”

“Not really.” Remus undid the last knot and handed the shoes to Peter. “Here.”

Peter took them, though he did not feel relieved that his shoe dilemma was solved. “Thanks,” he muttered feebly.

“No problem.”

“Well… I guess I’ll go down to dinner.” Peter shoved his shoes on his feet and, without tying them, hurried towards the door. Once on the other side, he placed his forehead in his hand. He had the perfect opportunity to tell Remus everything they knew. He had been sitting there, talking, and he had not said anything important. His brain went numb and all he could think of were stupid small talk lines. He knew Remus was upset with them, but he would never say anything about it. The least he, Peter, could have done was waited for Remus to go down to the Great Hall. He had blown another chance to talk to him about their discovery. Groaning in frustration, Peter went miserably down the spiral staircase leading into the common room.

“We’re the worst friends imaginable,” he said when he sat down beside Sirius at the Gryffindor table.

“Are we?” Sirius asked vaguely as he completed the crossword puzzle in the Daily Prophet.

“Yes. What kind of friends abandon their friend when they find out something that hurts him?”

“I dunno, Peter… What kind of friend doesn’t tell his friends what happens to him?” James questioned harshly.

“He was scared, James. You can’t blame him for that.”

“So what? We’re his friends and friends tell each other these things. I don’t bloody care what he is. I just wanted to know why he gets hurt. I have my answer now, and it didn’t come the way I wanted it to.”

“You’re the one who kept saying that Remus couldn’t know, and now you’re mad because you didn’t find it out from him? That makes no sense. If you had asked him, he may have told you.”

“I doubt that.”

“Okay, if he didn’t tell you everything, he might’ve given you something. That’s not a very easy thing to admit, James.”

“I’m not prejudiced, Peter.”

“He doesn’t know that.”

“He should, he’s known me long enough.”

“But he’s also probably had other people find out and he probably got some bad reactions.”

“Will you two shut up?” Sirius snapped, slamming his quill on the table.

“Why don’t you tell us what you think about this, Sirius?” Peter asked, hoping he could find an ally.

“I think that he’ll tell us when he’s ready. Until then, I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. Peter said it, James. Admitting that is a hard thing. You should hear my father talk about… them… It’s awful to hear.”

“He doesn’t have to worry about that from us,” James insisted forcefully.

“He doesn’t know that! We’re probably the first friends he’s had in years and he doesn’t want to risk losing us. But let’s face it, we are losing each other. We’re not speaking to him and he doesn’t deserve that.”

“Well, we don’t deserve him not telling us.”

“James, you’ve lived in a house with parents who don’t care about things like people being what Remus is. It’s not the same everywhere else, come round to my house and you’ll see. My parents say terrible things about them, things that would make anyone in his position afraid to tell people.”

“We’re his friends.”

“And, as his friends, we shouldn’t be abandoning him the way we are.”

James opened his mouth, ready to burst out with another retort, but he couldn’t. Sirius was right; they were Remus’s only friends and he was scared to lose them. They had not gone about this situation the right way. They should have just gone up to Remus and asked him what happened to him and that, whatever the reason, they would understand. But they hadn’t done that, and it was his, James’s, fault that they hadn’t. He wanted to be secretive; he wanted to make sure that Remus did not have the faintest idea as to what they were doing. He had thought that by doing this they would be able to save their friendship, once they found out the truth. He had been wrong. Their secret research had given them the truth, but it had cost them one of their best friends.

Chapter 18: Remus's Tale
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Chapter Eighteen
Remus’s Tale

He didn’t care if he was being childish; he didn’t care that his parents would not appreciate his decision. He just didn’t care. He wanted to go home. How could he have let this happen? How could he have fooled himself to think that this would actually work? James, Sirius and Peter were different from all the others he had once called friends. They wouldn’t have shunned him; they wouldn’t have called him names. He had done this to himself; he had failed to see that his friends had proven themselves to be different, accepting. He had brought the abandonment upon himself and he was paying the price. He didn’t care that he was running away from his problems. He just had to get as far away from the castle as he could. If that meant going home, he was okay with that. Anything to get away.

Remus was sitting in the empty dormitory, carelessly tossing his possessions into his trunk, listening as they thudded uselessly against the bottom. His head pounded painfully as he gazed into the mess that was his trunk. It had been two weeks, two of the worst weeks he had ever experienced. He had given up trying to talk to them, it was a fruitless attempt. There was no point. They had stopped talking to him, even Peter, who had always tried striking up an awkward conversation. The gnawing sensation in his head increased as he thought of this. He had brought it upon himself, there was no other explanation. He had lost his friends because he could not find it in himself to trust them, even when he knew he could.

He knew they weren’t prejudiced, they had shown it countless times. Sirius had turned away from the traditional Black Family beliefs; he had proven that he did not care about the purity of blood. If he didn’t believe in that, why would he care if his friend was a werewolf? Peter had never done anything to suggest that he would be a bigot; Remus had no right to suggest he was. James had come from a family that bore no superiority complex; James would certainly follow in their footsteps. He had ruined everything by not telling them; he could have avoided this whole situation if he had been honest. He winced as his head took another painful throb, and slammed his Charms textbook into his trunk.

He didn’t know how he would get home; his house was quite far from the school. He supposed he could find a shop in Hogsmeade and use a fireplace to Floo home. But if he left at that moment, he would be seen. He shook his tired head; this whole plan was ridiculous. He couldn’t leave school; his parents had wanted him to go for so long. How could he possibly dash their dreams in such a way? And Dumbledore… Dumbledore had done so much to ensure that Remus would be able to get a proper education, despite his Lycanthropy. He couldn’t do this to the Headmaster. Remus sighed and rubbed his head. He was being stupid, selfish. If he left school he would be letting down everyone who had helped him get there in the first place.

He fell down to his knees and began unpacking his trunk, dropping the contents unceremoniously onto his bed. He glanced towards the door every so often, wondering if his roommates would walk through, but they didn’t. He was glad about this; the last thing he needed was for them to see him in the process of emptying his trunk after he had tried running away from his problems. He was supposed to be a Gryffindor – brave, courageous, noble. Someone with any amount of courage would not run away from their troubles, no matter how difficult and frightening they were.

The door to the dormitory opened just as Remus finished putting away his last possessions. Sirius walked quietly inside, seemingly preoccupied in his thoughts and not noticing Remus. He went over to his bed and knelt down beside it. Sirius stuck his head under the bed and reappeared holding a sheet of parchment and a quill. Remus didn’t know why Sirius had to look under his bed for such items; they should have been with his books. Then again, this was Sirius and he never kept anything where it was supposed to be.

“Have to write to my parents,” Sirius explained when he saw Remus watching him.

“Oh,” Remus said simply, suddenly becoming extremely interesting in his entwined fingers.

“They need to know if I’m alive at least,” Sirius went on, sounding as if he needed something to take up the empty space.

“Well, you are.”

“They won’t be pleased to hear that.”

Remus allowed himself a small smile. As long as Regulus was alive, Mr. and Mrs. Black were happy. Sirius scrawled a quick message onto the parchment, folded it up into a tight square, and stood up. This was the longest he had been in a room, alone, with Remus in a long time and he hadn’t the slightest idea as to what to say. The only thing he could think to say was what Peter had said, “How are you?”

And Remus gave Sirius the same answer he had given Peter. “Fine.”

“Feeling alright?”


“Good… that’s good.” He glanced around the room, thinking of something, anything, that could break the tension engulfing the room. But something had blocked his flow of thinking. He could figure out nothing meaningful to say, nothing to let his friend know that they weren’t mad at him for keeping a secret. Before running through the open doorway, Sirius blurted out, “I’m sorry.”

October passed dreadfully slow. The first two weeks were, naturally, filled with those awkward and tense meetings between the boys, all of which had resulted in nothing that could solve their problems. The only person who had not come in any private contact with Remus was James. It was not because James was afraid to be near him, that was hardly the truth. He just couldn’t bring himself to. He felt betrayed that someone he had called his best friend couldn’t tell him anything. Sirius and Peter often told him that he was being stubborn, but James didn’t think he was. He thought Remus was the stubborn one.

They had checked the lunar charts to see when the next full moon would rise and saw that it fell on the twenty second of the month. They didn’t know what to do about this, if they were going to do anything. They certainly couldn’t follow him to the Shrieking Shack, if that was, indeed, where he went. If they followed him and he caught wind of them, he could unwittingly attack them. They knew all too well that if a werewolf killed an innocent bystander they would be sent off to Azkaban with no chance of ever coming out. Besides, they didn’t even know how to get to the Shrieking Shack without going through Hogsmeade, and they strongly doubted that was the way Remus took. They could do nothing except observe Remus the day of the full moon. They noticed that, unlike before, he seemed to be sicker than usual.

On any other day that Remus said he had to go home he usually looked pale; he got sick once or twice, but he was always able to get out of bed and spend the day with them. On this particular day, his face was whiter than the bed sheets, he got sick more than once or twice, and that was the only time he left his bed. Frank, who had no idea what was happening, suggested that he go to Madam Pomfrey. He even offered to walk with him in case he got sick again. Remus declined this offer, saying he felt better in his own bed, and those were the last words he said to anybody that day. He kept the curtains closed around his bed and slept when he could.

James, Sirius and Peter spent the day in the common room, close at hand in case Remus needed them, though they doubted that he would ask him. Even if they were not speaking, they still felt that they had to be there if he needed them. They passed the time playing Exploding Snap, Gobstones, and completing the homework they had neglected. It was only when sunset was arriving that they saw Remus emerge from the dormitory. He seemed fairly confused, gazing around the common room as though he wasn’t quite sure where he was standing. He began to make his way through the common room, which was, thankfully, considerably empty, and stumbled forward slightly. James, Sirius and Peter saw Lily stand up and help him out of the portrait hole.

“You don’t think she knows, do you?” James asked, eyeing the spot where the two had left.

“I don’t think so,” Sirius said, shaking his head. “She just wants to help him.”

Sirius was right, of course. Lily did not know of Remus’s affliction; she only knew that he was ill and needed help. When Lily returned she said nothing to anyone about Remus and continued working on her Defence Against the Dark Arts homework. The boys also made no mention of it and tried their best to pretend that nothing was happening at that moment. Their friend was not transforming into a werewolf. They had gone from a month of thinking nonstop about it to denial. They went to bed that evening, each of their minds filled with horrifying images of werewolf transformations and pain-filled cries.

Sirius’s eyes opened at daybreak. He crept stealthily out of his bed and to James’s trunk, where the Invisibility Cloak was kept. He had made his decision the previous night as he was getting into bed. He knew that there was no chance he could follow Remus at night, but he could in the morning, when Remus was human once more. He found the Invisibility Cloak stuffed under James’s broken potions scales and, as noiselessly as he could, yanked it out. He hid himself under the Cloak and tiptoed through the dormitory door and out of the common room.

The castle was quiet; all the students were still in bed before they had to awaken for classes. The ghosts seemed to have left the premise. Not even Peeves, who enjoyed this time to set up traps for unsuspecting students, could not be found. He walked past Mrs. Norris, who was prowling about, searching for out of bounds students for Mr. Filch. He resisted the urge to kick her and crept on, knowing that he had little time to reach the Shrieking Shack and see Remus before someone went to retrieve him. Unless he walked back to the castle by himself? No… that didn’t seem likely.

The grounds were coated in morning dew and the grass squished beneath Sirius’s feet as he made his way to the Whomping Willow. He didn’t know why he was headed that way, but his instincts were telling him that this tree held some of the answers he was looking for. He could remember Remus becoming unusually upset whenever the Whomping Willow was mentioned. Could this tree possibly be part of the mystery? The branches were whipping about in the breeze, ready to take out any student that dared come within reach. Sirius stood by it, peering at its trunk and wondering what part it could play. He was running short on time; he had to find this out.

A branch came out of nowhere and Sirius jumped forward to avoid getting hit. He rolled forward on the grass, the Invisibility Cloak falling off, and found himself face to face with the trunk of the tree and an unexpected surprise. There was a passageway just large enough for a single person to slide through. Now he understood why Professor Dumbledore was so strict about people staying away from the tree and why he had it planted in the first place. There was something beyond this tree that nobody else was supposed to see. Before the Willow could have another go at him, Sirius dove headfirst through the hole, clutching the Invisibility Cloak to his chest.

He landed in a pile of dirt and shakily stood up. When he gained his bearings, he saw he was at the head of a long and dark tunnel. He suddenly wished he had not forgotten his wand back in the dormitory. He carefully walked the distance of the tunnel; occasionally cracking his head on the lower parts of the roof. He thought the tunnel would never end; he must have been walking for an hour at the least. He could not even spot his watch in the darkness to see if he was exaggerating. At long last he came upon a doorway. He pushed it open and was soon standing in what appeared to be a living room. The wallpaper was ripped, bits of the furniture seemed to have been bitten off, and other items were overturned and smashed in bits. What could have done this?

He spotted a stairwell and decided that the best course of action would be to go up it. The stairway led off to another door that was closed. Somehow he knew that his answers were behind that door, Remus was behind there. First putting the cloak back on, Sirius then grasped the cold doorknob, slowly turned it and pushed the door open. Sunlight was streaming through the dusty windows and fell upon a crumpled figure in the corner. Sirius’s breath caught in his throat as he recognised the figure to be Remus. Sirius flung the Invisibility Cloak off and shoved it in his pocket as he dashed over to his friend’s side.

Every feeling of betrayal left him as he gazed at his friend’s beaten form. Remus’s robes were torn and shredded, revealing nasty lacerations that were steadily seeping with blood. His right eye was completely blackened, his green iris almost indiscernible. Remus’s lip was swollen, his nose bleeding and bruised. Sirius could see his friend’s wrist was at a funny angle, no doubt broken. Through the rips and tears in Remus’s jumper he could see purple discolouration on his ribcage. Sirius felt sick and he saw that Remus must have felt the same way the previous night when he spotted a pile of vomit across the room.

He heard footsteps coming from behind him and instantly tossed the Invisibility Cloak back on and hurried to the opposite wall, farthest away from Remus. The door had been left open and Madam Pomfrey noticed this when she came in. She shrugged it off and looked pityingly at Remus, lying unconscious on the cold wooden floor. She knelt down beside him, placed a new pair of robes on the floor, and her wand was out. Sirius could since Remus’s face scrunch up in pain; he was coming to. He made to move, but Madam Pomfrey placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and held him down.

Sirius’s feeling of sickness increased as Remus groaned in indescribable agony.

“It's okay, Remus,” Madam Pomfrey whispered as she tapped her wand on a gash across his lower abdomen.

Sirius couldn’t take it; he had to get out of there. Grateful that Madam Pomfrey had left the door open, he slipped into the hallway and ran blindly out of the shack. He had no clear idea of how he managed to get out of the tunnel and away from the Whomping Willow without becoming injured. All he could think of was what he had seen. Remus… unconscious and bloody. Remus… almost crying in pain. In the time that he had known him, Sirius had never seen Remus Lupin cry. How could they have abandoned him? Remus did that to himself, he hurt himself! He caused himself that kind of pain and he could do nothing to stop it.

Sirius burst into the dormitory twenty minutes later and saw that it was only a little past six. James and Peter were still slumbering peacefully, not a care in their minds. He ran to each of the boys and shook them violently on the shoulder, trying to wake them up without also waking Frank. James slapped Sirius’s hand away, and Peter muttered some nonsense under his breath. They were refusing to wake.

“Bloody hell, wake up!” Sirius hissed angrily.

“What?” James whined, rubbing his eyes.

“Come with me.”

James and Peter looked confusedly at each other, but followed Sirius down to the common room. They sat down on the couch in front of the fireplace and waited for him to stop his pacing and say something. Sirius was having difficulty coming to terms with what he had just seen; the scene was so vivid in front of his mind’s eye. He wanted to scream. It wasn’t fair. Remus didn’t do anything to deserve what he had gone through. It wasn’t fair. In his frustration, Sirius kicked at the table leg in front of him.

“What happened?” James asked concernedly. He had rarely seen Sirius so upset.

“He is a werewolf,” Sirius muttered miserably, his voice breaking. The words felt like a ton of bricks crashing on top of his head.

“You followed him?” Peter whispered, horrified.

“Not at night, no. This morning, I found him in the Shrieking Shack. He hurts himself… bad.” He clenched his fists until his knuckles were white. It wasn’t fair. “You had to see him… He hurts himself so badly.”

“How?” Peter asked in a small voice.

“I don’t know… he just does. He doesn’t deserve this. We shouldn’t have abandoned him the way we did! We’re horrible! What happens to him is horrible!”

“Sirius, keep your voice down,” James warned.

“And you!” Sirius raged, turning on James. “You were the one who kept saying that he should have told us. If you saw what I saw you would know why he didn’t tell us!” He wanted to scream; he wanted to do something that would relieve him of the agony he felt. “We have to do something about it; we can’t let him suffer like that.”

“What do you expect us to do?” James asked, his voice still with shock. “Werewolves are dangerous to humans; we wouldn’t be able to help him while he’s in his transformation.”

“I know... I just want to do something to help him.”

“We can’t do anything about that right now. We need to wait and talk to Remus. I don’t think he’ll be ready today, or at least not until tonight.” He stood up and began leading Sirius towards the steps to the dormitory. “Get some sleep while you still can, mate.”

Sirius did not resist. But, as they walked up the stairs with Peter trailing behind, he turned to James. “It’s not fair, James.”

“I know it’s not.”

James, Sirius and Peter knew Remus had returned from the Hospital Wing before dinner and that he was resting in the dormitory at the moment. They had been struggling for the past half hour to burst in there and tell him that they knew everything, but they feared what they would see when they came upon him. Sirius was the only one prepared; he had seen it already, but James and Peter were dreading it. They could not come to grips with the fact that their best friend was capable of inflicting such harm upon himself. The thought sickened them, made them ill.

“We have to do this,” Sirius murmured determinedly, pushing the door open and stepping inside. James and Peter followed and their eyes instantly fell on the bed that belonged to Remus. The curtains were, miraculously, not drawn around it. Remus was lying on his back, staring blankly through his uninjured eye into space, rubbing the bandage on his wrist. He didn’t seem to hear them walk in and it was only when they stood around his bed that he had no choice but to look at them.

“How are you, Remus?” James asked.

Remus was getting tired of answering this question. “Fine.”

“Look, we have to talk to you.” James sat down at the foot of Remus’s bed, folded his arms across his chest, and looked his friend straight in the eye. “You don’t have to hide anything from us.”

“We know what happens to you,” Sirius admitted, sitting down beside James.

“I can’t help it,” Remus said, looking down at his sheets.

“We know you can’t,” Peter said, sitting opposite James and Sirius. “And we’re not holding that against you.”

“We just wish you had told us,” Sirius said, reaching out a hand and placing it on Remus’s shoulder. Remus winced slightly; Sirius saw this and withdrew his hand.

“I… I wanted to… so many times… But I couldn’t.” Remus placed his forehead in his hand and stared down into his lap. “People… they don’t understand… I was… I dunno.”

“You were scared,” James deduced, his eyes never leaving Remus’s face.

“I don’t like being scared, but I can’t stop feeling that way.”

“You don’t have to be.” Sirius stood up and walked around to the other side of his friend’s bed. “You don’t have to be scared of us.”

“I’m not scared of you… Well, I was… I’m more scared of what I could do to you if you ever found me as what I am.”

“But Dumbledore’s done everything he can to stop that,” Peter said encouragingly. “He won’t let that happen.”

“You can’t guarantee that, Peter… The things I do… I get violent and I have no one around to take it out on, so-”

“So you take it out on yourself,” Sirius finished, nodding. Remus finally tore his eyes away from his lap and looked up at Sirius. Sirius was staring down at him as though he had never seen him before, but it was not in a way of anger. It was in a manner that showed he was truly hurt that his friend had to suffer in such a way. “I saw you this morning, before Madam Pomfrey came to get you.”

“How did you know where I was?”

“Peter figured out that you went to the Shrieking Shack, and I just knew that Whomping Willow had something to do with it. I saw you and… I don’t know what to say about it.”

“Then you see why I’m afraid of anyone finding out, what I can do to them.”

“No, I see more that you’re my friend and I never want to see you like that again. I want to help you. We all do.”

“But there’s nothing that can be done. My parents have tried everything the Healers come up with… every bloody cure they can think of. They never work.”

“That’s what happened to you, isn’t it?” James piped up. “My dad saw your father at St. Mungo’s, but he wouldn’t say why you were there. He just said you were sick.”

“The cure they came up with didn’t work and it was made with something I was allergic to. My dad and mum didn’t know that; they didn’t know what would happen if I took it.”

“Your dog has never hurt you, he has? You’ve been doing it all to yourself.”

Remus nodded shamefully. “And my mother has never been sick. I’m the one who gets sick, I’m the one who hurts me; I’m the one who does everything.”

“But you’re not the one who turned yourself into a werewolf,” Peter said bracingly.

Remus’s hands convulsively gripped his bed sheets and shook his head furiously.

“Who did it to you?”

“Fenrir Greyback,” Remus spat, the name sounding like a disease when he spoke it. “He bites children because he wants to raise them away from their parents. He wants to teach them to hate wizards because they don’t accept us. He wants to make as many werewolves as he can so we can overtake wizards. But he can’t have me; his plan didn’t work with me.” A muscle in his jaw tightened as he thought about the monster that had caused him to lose his childhood. “My parents wouldn’t let that happen. They kept me and tried to help me.”

“How did it happen?” Peter asked in a low voice.

The muscle in Remus’s jaw tightened further as he thought about that fateful night nine years ago. “My father… he got into an arguement with Greyback. He never told me what it was about, but I know it had something to do with what Greyback does. Greyback didn’t like that and before the full moon he found out where we lived. He positions himself close to the people he wants to bite when the full moon comes. He figured that the best way to make my dad regret what he said was to turn his only child into a monster. I was only three when it happened, I didn’t know better. I didn’t know that I shouldn’t leave the house at night without my parents. But I always liked dogs and I thought Greyback was one.”

James exchanged a glance with Peter and Sirius. Maybe this was the reason Remus always blamed everything on his dog. His love of them had driven him to become a Dark creature.

Remus seemed to have read James’s mind. “Maybe that’s why I say my dog does everything, but I don’t blame him. I didn’t even have him at the time. Anyway, I was sleeping and I heard something scratching against the house, so I got up to see what it was. My parents were already sleeping, it was late, and I just walked out the front door. I could hear something, but I didn’t really know what it was, so I kept following the sound. By the time I found Greyback I was so far away from my house I could barely see it. When I saw him I thought he was a dog and I went to try and pet him, but he snapped at me and I think that was when I knew I’d done something wrong. I shouldn’t have left my house. Greyback backed me up into a tree so I couldn’t run away and the last thing I remember about that night was just feeling pain in my arm.”

He rolled up the sleeve on his right arm to his elbow and turned his arm so the underside was facing up and held it out for his friends to see. There was a pink scar that looked as if it had not faded since the day he had gotten it. It was the mark that had cursed Remus since he was only three years old. “It never fades, you can always see it. When I woke up I was in St. Mungo’s and I just remember the Healers saying that the best thing my parents could do for me was to put me down before it got worse.” He laughed harshly as he thought about it. “Like I was some kind of animal, like I didn’t matter enough to save. But my parents wouldn’t do it; they weren’t going to kill me if they didn’t have to. My mum - she’s a Muggle - she had no idea what she getting herself into. My dad felt so guilty he didn’t look at me for days. When the first full moon came, he never left my side. He still blames himself.”

“But you don’t blame him?” Sirius asked. He could never picture Remus holding a grudge against his father.

Remus shook his head. “He didn’t know what would happen. It took him years before he could tell me the whole story, of why it had to be me. I used to feel sorry for whoever had done it because I knew how it felt. I knew what it was like to not have any control over what I did. After my dad told me, I began to hate Greyback, and that hasn’t changed. Greyback took my childhood from me, he stole any friends I could have had, and he almost took away my chance to go to school. If it wasn’t for Dumbledore, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Dumbledore’s a good man,” James said quietly.

“Dumbledore didn’t see why I shouldn’t come to school. He said that as long as we made sure I couldn’t find anyone to hurt, I could come. He was kind of right. I can’t hurt anyone else except myself. Werewolves need blood and meat, or else they go mad. I’m the only person in the Shrieking Shack, so I bite and scratch myself. Now you know why I look the way I do when I come back.” He flinched as a pain shot across his wrist. Peter moved forward, but Remus shook his head. “It just hurts a little.” He sighed and looked up at his friends, who were all staring at him as if they’d never seen him before. “I’m sorry I never told you. I’m sorry I had to lie to you for so long and tell you things that I knew you wouldn’t believe. I wasn’t doing it to hurt you; I wasn’t ready for anyone to know. You three are my best friends and I was afraid of losing you like I’d lost everyone else I called a friend. I just don’t want you to be mad at me for it. I really am sorry.”

James, who had for so long claimed that Remus had no right to not tell them, stepped forward. “You have nothing to be sorry about.”

Chapter 19: Dinner Parties and Bad News
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Chapter Nineteen
Dinner Parties and Bad News

“What’s the answer to number five?”

“How should I know?”

“You’re on question eight, Remus.”

“I skipped five.”

“You’re no help to me. James, what’d you get?”

“Hmm… what’d you say, mate?”

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter were sitting in the common room Tuesday night, working on their Transfiguration homework. It was the first night they had done their work together, all four of them, since James, Sirius and Peter found out about Remus’s secret. As they sat around the table in front of the fireplace, it felt like they had never been separated. They talked and laughed just as they always had. The only change was that that they talked a bit more, laughed louder. Professor McGonagall had given them a particularly difficult assignment in which they had to answer questions about the origins of modern day Transfiguration.

James, who was the furthest behind in his work due to Quidditch practises, was currently staring across the common room, an odd expression on his face.

“What are you looking at?” Sirius asked, whipping his head around to where James was gazing. Sirius rolled his eyes when he caught sight of the object of James’s stare. It was Lily Evans. She was sitting with Frank and Alice, chatting lively about something they could not hear. “Does someone fancy Lily Evans?”

“What?” James said, snapping out of his reverie. “What are you talking about?”

“You’ve been looking at her for at least fifteen minutes.”

“I have not. I’ve been thinking of an answer to the homework.”

“And what have you come up with?”

“That I don’t know the answer.”

Sirius shook his head and muttered something under his breath that sounded oddly like “pathetic.”

“Wait,” Remus said suddenly. “I got the answer!”

“For number five?”


“Well, what is it?”

“There is no bloody answer!”


“She’s asking us about something in the year 1991. That year hasn’t happened yet!”

“Are you serious?” Sirius snatched up his question sheet and his eyes raced across the page until they located question five. He saw that Remus was right; Professor McGonagall had distinctly written 1991. “What date does she mean?”

“I have no idea.”

“You know she’s going to expect us to know what date she actually meant,” Peter said as he wrote down his answer to number six.

“But she wrote the date down wrong,” Sirius argued stubbornly. It was one less question that he had to do and he wanted to keep it that way. “It’s her fault if we don’t put something down.” He crossed out question five completely and moved on to his next unanswered question. “How much homework do you have left, Remus?”

Remus, who had done none of his homework over the weekend due to the full moon, was up to his ears in assignments. He had only managed to complete his Charms essay for Professor Flitwick. He had to make up his Defence Against the Dark Arts essay for Professor Jones, but he had until Thursday to do that. He had to finish the Transfiguration assignment, and write an essay on the properties of two ingredients in a Swelling Solution. Aside from the essay Professor Flitwick had given them, he also instructed them to practise the Locomotion Charm.

“Too much,” he muttered, scanning his Transfiguration work, hoping he had hit every point he needed to before going on to his Potions essay.

“You can copy some of ours,” Peter offered, pushing his Potions essay across the table.

“Thanks, but I’ve got it.”

It had only been one day since they found out the entire story behind Remus’s Lycanthropy and they were trying to go on as though it didn’t change their friendship. As it had only been one day, no change, or lack thereof, was evident. The only sign that whatever rift had occurred between the four boys had ended was that they were, once again, inseparable. Where they had once sat next to each other in class, they now sat together, talking happily while they did their assignments. They ate their meals together again. They were a unit once more.

The Potions classroom was silent except for the bubbling of the potions as they stewed. The Gryffindor and Slytherin second years had stepped away to wash their hands and put away their ingredients. They had been working on a potion that would change the smell of anything you placed into it. Professor Slughorn explained that the reason this potion was so popular was because you could make something that initially smelled rotten smell as nice as a rose. This remark received a number of snickers from James and Sirius, who were both looking pointedly at the back of Severus Snape. Lily Evans glared at them, but, surprisingly, did not tell them off.

The boys were conversing cheerfully, though there was a mischievous streak that went undetected. There was a strange glint in each of their eyes, but there was nothing around to suggest that they were plotting anything. James was showing Sirius a piece of parchment he had written on, the both of them laughing quietly. Remus was waving his wand idly, listening as Peter rattled off the ingredients in the potion they were concocting, trying to remember if he had used them all. As Peter finished his list (stating, very clearly, that he had used daisy roots) a sizzling sound started issuing from one of the cauldrons. Unfortunately, it was not coming from the correct cauldron.

Abrac Zabini’s potion was the intended target. It was supposed to crackle until lavender flames came out and spelled the phrase “I love you, Severus Snape” in a set of red and pink roses. Instead, Zabini’s potion remained the useless pile of liquid that it was, and it was Remus’s potion that was sizzling. James and Sirius saw this instantly and, wanting to spare Remus from the humiliation, tossed the parchment James had been holding inside the cauldron. Professor Slughorn had his back turned, searching the first row of cauldrons, and did not notice James’s action. Remus’s potion began bubbling madly and everyone knew what was to follow.

“Get back,” James warned, stepping as far away as he could from the cauldron. The class followed his lead and ducked just as Remus’s potion blew sky high. Fortunately, the potion had been so poorly made that it had no affect whatsoever on anything. Professor Slughorn clicked his tongue, shaking his head sadly, and gestured for Remus to follow him. Remus frowned apologetically to his friends and trailed slowly behind the Potions Master.

“We hexed the wrong cauldron?” Sirius hissed in James’s ear. “How did we manage that?”

“I sneezed when I was pointing my wand,” James confessed, a smile creeping on his lips. If Remus wasn’t in trouble, they would be able to find some humour in this. The bell gonged above and the boys filed into the hallway with the rest of the class and waited just outside the doorway.

Remus exited the classroom moments later, staring determinedly at the ground.

“What happened, mate?” Sirius asked.

“First, Slughorn told me to tell you two,” he pointed at James and Sirius, “that he expects to see you at his office tonight for one of his little dinners. And he knows you don’t have Quidditch, James.” Sirius and James groaned angrily; they loathed Slughorn’s parties. “Second… Slughorn is making me get a tutor. I managed to talk him out of getting Snape (“Like he’d actually do it,” James muttered) so he’s going to ask Lily for me.”

“Really?” James asked in what he hoped was a casual voice.

“Yes, since I wouldn’t let Snape anywhere near me.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared down the corridor. “How did we mess that up, anyway? It was supposed to be easy.”

“Blame James,” Peter said, jerking a thumb at the untidy haired boy.

“Thank you, Peter. I didn’t mean to ruin it.”

“Forget it,” Remus said, cutting quickly across Peter’s ready retort. “We fixed it before we did any real damage. I feel bad for you two though.” He turned to Sirius and James. “Locked up in a room, having dinner with Snape tonight.”

James and Sirius groaned, their faces falling into grimaces. In their opinion there was no worse a fate than having to witness Severus Snape eat.

“I’d say Remus and I are the lucky ones,” Peter laughed, grinning at the pitiable expressions his friends were wearing.

“Shut up,” Sirius moaned. “Do you know anyone else who’s going?” Sirius asked Remus.

“Probably Lily. Slughorn loves her.”

“Brilliant,” James said, his voice rising. “Another person who hates me. Hey!” He turned wildly around, facing each of his friends in turn. “Can one of you hex me so I don’t have to go?”

“As much as I would love to hex you, no. Who’s going to get me out of going, then?”

“Sorry, James, no.”

“Remus, hex Sirius and me!”

“I’m not getting detention.”

“You won’t get detention. Come on, be a man!”

“Why don’t you be a man, Sirius, and suffer through it.”

They fell into silence and trekked on to Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Jones was waiting at his desk for his students to arrive, and smiled cheerfully when they entered. He slid off the desktop and waved his wand in the air so that all of their essays flew into the air and into his hands.

“I will have these back to you by your next lessons,” he said as he placed the stack in his briefcase. He grouped the class into several groups and assigned them a magical creature to research and answer questions on before the bell rang. James, who was working with Xenophilius Lovegood and Mary Porter, hissed in Remus’s ear as he passed “too bad you’re not doing werewolves.” Remus laughed nervously, glancing at his group mates – Lily and Jensen Patil. Luckily, they seemed to have not heard a word James had said.

Later that night James and Sirius bid Remus and Peter a very dramatic farewell as they made their way to the dungeons for Slughorn’s dinner party. Their efforts to skive off the whole affair had been proven fruitless (largely due to Remus and Peter refusing to hex them). They were going to use the excuse that they had far too much homework and couldn’t afford to waste a second. Unfortunately they had been given very little homework, and they were almost positive that Slughorn knew this. Their final option had been to just run, but they knew the Snape would never let them forget it. So, in grudging resignation, they found themselves stomping down the stone steps leading into the dungeons.

They could hear voices talking cheerfully from somewhere up the corridor and glanced at each other: It was their last chance to run. Remus and Peter were probably already in the Great Hall having their dinner; they could use some more company. Everyone in Slughorn’s room probably wouldn’t notice their absence. Except Slughorn, that is. But when did they ever care about what their professors wanted? They spun around on their heels and made to run, when a voice stopped them.

“Ah, boys!” Slughorn had stuck his head out the doorway, clearly hearing their approaching footsteps. “I thought I heard someone out here. Come in, come in! We’re all just enjoying some pheasant.”

James and Sirius both gagged at the thought; they had so far avoided having to eat Slughorn’s food. This time, however, they were exceedingly hungry. Reluctantly they followed Slughorn into his office, which was full of a select group of students. They instantly spotted Lily Evans’s red hair seated next to Snape’s greasy black hair. They were in conversation about something the boys couldn’t hear. Sirius’s eyes fell on Regulus, who was eyeing a bit of pheasant distastefully. Regulus felt someone’s eyes on him and looked up, but quickly dropped his gaze when he saw that it was his brother. Amongst the group were a Ravenclaw they did not know, two Hufflepuffs they recognised only by face, and themselves.

“Eat, boys, you must be famished!”

Bracing themselves for whatever pheasant tasted like, Sirius and James took a piece and hastily shoved it into their mouths. James almost gagged on his, but Sirius appeared quite thoughtful, chewing slowly and looking up at a spot on the ceiling.

“Not too bad,” he mused, taking another piece.

James rolled his eyes and searched around for somewhere to sit. The only two vacant seats sat beside Lily and Snape. They didn’t really mind sitting next to Lily; it was just her dinner companion they had a problem with. However, they knew better than to cause a disruption in a teacher’s office, especially since they were only there at invitation.

“It wasn’t that difficult,” Lily was saying, poking her fork at a potato.

“You’re the best at Charms, of course you wouldn’t find it hard,” Snape countered thoughtfully.

James rolled his eyes at Sirius, relaying the thought: Is he flirting with her? Sirius shrugged and cut up more pheasant.

“The homework said – oh, hullo Potter, Sirius,” Lily said when she noticed the newcomers.

“Hullo,” the boys said. “Snape,” they acknowledged, nodding at the Slytherin.

“Potter, Black.”

“Remus and Peter didn’t get an invitation?” Lily questioned.

“Remus has blown up too many potions,” James said, shaking his head.

“’N I don’ fink Slugern ‘ikes Pete,” Sirius added through a mouthful of pheasant.

Lily looked revolted at Sirius, so turned her attention away from him. “You’re all speaking again?”

“Yeah, Remus told us everything,” James said, though he did not say much more because he saw Snape’s interest increase.

“That’s good. Is he feeling better?” James nodded.

Lily smiled and she turned back to Snape. James, bored already and not exactly willing to eat any of Slughorn’s food, got up and wandered around the office. Slughorn was conversing cheerfully with the Ravenclaw, who looked rather unnerved. James frowned sympathetically at the boy; Slughorn forced his presence on unwilling students far too often. The Hufflepuffs were talking quietly, laughing at their private jokes. The only other person, besides himself and Sirius, who was sitting alone was Regulus. James found this strange; the last time they had checked, Regulus was friendly with Snape. He must not have been enjoying the company his friend was keeping.

James was tempted to sit down beside the youngest Black, but the thought of Sirius’s horrified face prevented him from doing so. In fact, Sirius was at his side almost the moment after James thought of sitting. Sirius was looking rather green around the gills and was clutching his stomach.

“I don’t think that pheasant agreed with me,” he moaned.

“Hey, there’s our excuse for never coming back. You get sick from his food.”

“You mean that’s my excuse for never coming back. You’re not the one about to barf his brains out.”

“If you’re going to be sick, do it over there.”

Sirius gazed at the direction of James’s pointing finger and was almost persuaded to take him up on that, but the storm in his stomach had somewhat subsided. Instead, his eyes scoured the room and came to rest on Regulus.

“Hullo, little brother,” he said, dropping into the chair beside him.

Regulus jerked his head up and stared at Sirius in annoyance. “What do you want?”

“Just wanted to see how my brother’s doing.”

“I’m doing fine.”

“Just fine?”


“Not brilliant?”


“Not spectacular?”


“Not so amazingly, wonderfully, spectacularly-”

“Shut up, Sirius!” Regulus jumped up from his seat and stormed across the room to sit with Snape.

Sirius leapt up from the chair and grinned at James. “I feel better now.”

“You’re mental.” James glanced at his watch and saw, with dread, that they had only been in the room for ten minutes. They were certain that Slughorn would not let them escape for another fifty at the very least. They didn’t understand why the Potions Master insisted on putting them through this agony, though he probably found it quite enjoyable. It was not long before they were hailed by Professor Slughorn himself and forced to listen to him talk about his various connections in all aspects in the Wizarding World. They honestly did not care about who Slughorn knew in the Ministry, or who sent him the finest crystallized pineapple.

James and Sirius did the best they could to not look too pained and bored. They resorted to the old standby of smiling and nodding. Their only stroke of luck was that Professor Slughorn did not seem to notice that they were tuning his every word out, only catching the key phrases. He talked for such a long time that James and Sirius almost did not hear when the questions were turned on them. So, rubbing their necks, which ached from their excessive nodding, they gave the man some halfhearted answers and prayed that he would leave them alone. After fifteen minutes Professor Slughorn became caught up in a conversation with Lily Evans and Snape, leaving the boys to their own business.

“Oh, you witty girl,” Slughorn chuckled, patting his rotund stomach. “You would have done well in my house.”

James and Sirius looked at each other in shock; they could not imagine Lily ever going into Slytherin. She was rather skilled at holding grudges, but she was not the slime they saw in that house. She would never become a Dark witch. They saw Lily’s face turn a shade of light red and smile pleasantly at him.

“That’s what I said,” Snape muttered just loud enough for the boys to hear.

“Of course that’s what you said,” James snarled.

Slughorn looked over his shoulder at James. “Did you say something, m’boy?”

“No, sir.” James peered at his watch once more and saw that they had only been there a half hour. It wasn’t as good as fifty minutes, but it was better than nothing. They wouldn’t be missed. He gestured for Sirius to follow him. They slipped out the door and, when they were sure Slughorn was not about to follow them out, did a mad dash for the exit out of the dungeons.

“Merlin! Why didn’t we make Remus hex us so we didn’t have to sit through that?” James shouted when they emerged into the Entrance Hall.

“I don’t know,” Sirius said, panting. “That was murder. That was almost worse than sitting through one of my parents’ stupid parties.”

“Come on, Remus and Peter are probably back in the common room.”

They began making their way up to Gryffindor Tower, devising numerous ways in which they could avoid going to anymore of Slughorn’s little gatherings. Their top contender was having a baby Mandrake cry in their ears and knock them out for a few hours. Unconsciousness was preferable to sitting in that office. As they were rounding the corner into the hallway of the portrait of the Fat Lady, they saw Professor McGonagall walking by with a student at her heels. On closer inspection, they saw that it was Alice Gordon. Curiosity gripped them instantly and they listened carefully to the conversation the two were having.

“… will be heading home for a few days, until you’re ready to come back,” McGonagall was saying in a voice very unlike the one she usually had. This voice was soft and gentle, as opposed to her brisk voice. They couldn’t hear Alice, so they assumed she hadn’t responded, or maybe she had just nodded. What had happened? “Come with me to the Headmaster’s office. I am so sorry, Alice.”

James and Sirius backed up into the shadows as the Transfiguration professor and fellow Gryffindor passed by. When they were sure the path was clear, they headed to the common room, hoping someone inside would have some answers for them. When they gave the Fat Lady the password (“Flobberworm!”) they were met with a sullen and miserable common room. No one looked up when James and Sirius entered; they were too immersed in their own thoughts. The boys spotted Remus and Peter sitting by the window with Frank Longbottom. They were not talking, simply staring out at the darkened sky. Remus was paler than usual, his fading bruised eye standing out on his whitened skin. Peter’s eyes were full of disbelief as his stare alternated between the window and the floor. Frank was gazing miserably out at the starry night.

“What happened?” James whispered, sitting down beside Remus.

Remus, Peter and Frank said nothing; they were still trying to figure out what had happened.

“Guys?” Sirius said slowly. “What’s going on?”

“Alice’s dad was found dead tonight,” Remus replied quietly, not looking up at Sirius.

“What?” James and Sirius’s mouths had dropped open.

“Her mother had gone out for the day and when she came home she found him dead in the living room,” Frank explained listlessly, not breaking his watch into the night.

“Poor Alice,” James murmured in disbelief.

“She’s going home to be with her mum,” Peter said. “We don’t know if she’s going to come back until after Christmas.”

Remus was fishing for something in his robe pocket and, when he pulled it out, they saw it was a copy of the Evening Prophet. On the front page was a picture of the mark in the sky they had seen when Professor Flitwick’s sister was killed. “There was a struggle… and this mark was in the air.”

Chapter 20: A Lupine Christmas
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Chapter Twenty
A Lupine Christmas

Alice did not return to school until after the Christmas break, just as Peter had predicted. The morning following her departure the students were, once again, frantically scouring the pages of the Daily Prophet for any hint as to whom Mr. Gordon’s murderer may have been. Speculations arose, but only the teachers knew the identity of the killer and refused to share this information with the students. The Gryffindor students, in particular, were anxious to discover the identity of the attacker, yet their efforts bore no results and they were just as lost as the other houses. Lily kept up a constant correspondence with Alice over her absence, as did Frank, and reported to the remaining Gryffindor second years how Alice was doing. Each report, unfortunately, was the same – she was getting on well enough.

The Halloween Feast did not hold the same cheer it usually did, though Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the staff tried his best to make it pleasurable. He had lined up a ghoul to sing. Peeves put on an unannounced (and unexpected) spectacle involving eight students having pumpkins smashed over their heads, and Nearly Headless Nick played an instrument that sounded like nails scraping against a chalkboard. The food was delicious as always, but many of the students, mostly Gryffindors, were not interested in eating it. The professors saw the students’ lack of interest in the feast and called an early ending, which turned out well enough as Peeves was about to bring down a few suits of armor. The students trudged to their common rooms, talking mundanely about whatever they happened to be thinking.

Shortly after Halloween, Remus began his tutoring sessions with Lily. She was more than happy to help him and had an incredible amount of patience, which only benefited her charge. It took Remus an enormous amount of time to grasp the simplest concept, no matter how easily Lily explained it. Professor Slughorn allowed them access to the classroom and the storeroom so Remus could practise concocting the potions Lily was teaching him about. Lily proved to be an exceedingly gifted teacher. She had managed within the first week to teach Remus how to create a successful Swelling Solution. It was the first potion he had ever brewed that did not explode or fall into uselessness.

The first Quidditch match of the season took place in the middle of November and it was between the age old rivals - Gryffindor verses Slytherin. The tensions between the two teams were high; there were daily duels in the hallways, most of them resulting in one or two students ending up in the Hospital Wing with something sprouting out of their noses or ears. James, being one of the new and more skilled teammates, was the target of many of these attacks. He had been forced to hex a number of students in return, much to the infuriation of his professors. Professor McGonagall promised that after the match he would be receiving a painfully difficult detention. James didn’t care, though. His hexing was purely self-defence, and if he happened to get a Slytherin good, that was all for the better.

The day of the match dawned bright, sunny and windless – the perfect Quidditch conditions. James headed to the changing rooms after being wished good luck by his friends. The whole team was assembled in the room, already wearing their scarlet robes, and listening to Cory Hamilton’s pre-game pep talk. James listened intently as he pulled on his scarlet robes. Hamilton knew everything that could be known about how the Slytherin team played. He knew the name and execution of every one of their moves, the faults and triumphs of each member. He seemed so caught up in his speech that he had not noticed it was time to play. His voice caught in his throat and he could do no more except jerk his head towards the door.

The match proved to be a short one, a shock to many. Usually the matches between Gryffindor and Slytherin were so competitive the game would last an hour at the least, this one lasted only a little over a half an hour. But Gryffindor knew their opponents better than Slytherin did and, with Hamilton as their Seeker, the Golden Snitch was caught extremely quickly. To add to the massacre, the three Chasers had already scored a hundred points. The Slytherins left the pitch angrily, speaking mutinously about the next time they would face the Gryffindors. The Gryffindor team laughed at this, shouting that they looked forward to beating them a second time. As a result of the match, James was immediately hailed as one of the best Chasers Hogwarts had seen in years, a title he willingly took to.

December brought a fresh batch of snow and the prospect of Christmas holiday. A few days before Professor McGonagall would take down the names of those remaining at the castle, Remus raised a proposition to his friends. They were sitting at the Gryffindor table, having dinner, when he brought it up.

“You know, my parents wrote to me and said I could invite you three over for Christmas this year… if your folks don’t mind, I mean.”

Sirius’s face split into a grin. “My parents will be glad to see me gone.”

“I’ll take that as a yes?”


“What about you two?” Remus looked at James and Peter.

“Sorry, mate,” James said, shaking his head. “But my parents have already decided that we’re going out of town for Christmas, and they want me there.”

“That’s alright. Where are you going?”

“Probably France again, they’re not sure yet.”

“Cool. What about you, Peter?”

“Can’t. We’re going to visit some cousins in Belgium.”

“Sounds fun.”

“Wait,” Sirius said, looking up from his stew, “is Christmas a good… time… for you?”

Ever since they had found out Remus’s secret they were never sure how to refer to it in public. Often James referred to it as a bad time of the month for Remus, who quickly became annoyed with it, saying that it made him sound like a girl. Now they just lowered their voices and asked if it was a good time.

“No… it’s a few days before.” He stabbed a roast potato with his fork. “It won’t be a problem.”

“It’s not very big, probably a lot smaller than your house, but-”

“It’s wicked, Remus.”

They had just arrived at the Lupin house and Sirius and Remus were standing in the middle of the living room, leaning on their trunks. Other than the Potter mansion, Sirius had rarely seen a house so welcoming. The fire Mrs. Lupin had lit was crackling pleasantly in the grate and there was the smell of fish coming from the kitchen where she was cooking. The house was not yet decorated for the holidays, but it held a Christmas air about it, the snow outside adding immensely to the effect. Sirius didn’t understand why Remus was trying to make an excuse about the size of his house; anything was nicer than his own house. This house looked as though actual people owned it, not certified psychopaths.

“Well, I guess I’ll show you where you’re sleeping.”

The boys picked up their trunks and Sirius followed Remus up the stairs to his bedroom. Remus’s bedroom hung over the downstairs, which was visible through the railings at the head of his room. The walls were, like the downstairs, wooden paneled, as was the floor, and were covered with photos Remus had taken and a red and gold scarf Remus had nailed above the window over his bed. There was a bookshelf to the left of Remus’s bed and it was filled with a number of different coloured covers and different sized spines. There was a desk perpendicular to the shelf and perched on top of the desk, in the midst of a clutter of balled up parchment, was a contraption Sirius had never seen before. It was a large square box with a sort of curved tube coming out of the top.

“What the bloody hell is that?” Sirius asked, pointing at it as though it might jump up and eat him.

“It’s a phonograph,” Remus replied, sitting down at his desk and picking up what looked like a needle.

“A phono-what?”

“A phonograph. It plays music.”


Remus stood up and went over to his bed. He stooped down to his knees and pulled out a thin, square box. He turned it over on its side and a round disc fell into his hands. He placed it on the top of the phonograph and placed the needle on it. After a moment or so, he began to hear music coming from the large tube.

“Wow,” Sirius said in awe.

“My mum got it for me for my eleventh birthday.”

“After you got your letter?”

“Yeah, she was so proud she wanted me to have something I’d really like.”

Sirius grinned. Remus’s parents must have been thrilled when their son received his Hogwarts letter. They had probably convinced themselves long ago that Remus would never have to opportunity to gain an education because of what he was. He could see why Mrs. Lupin would want to get him something special.

“What’s the name of these people?” Sirius asked, sitting down on his cot, which was set up at the end of Remus’s bed.

“The Rolling Stones.”

“Never heard of them.”

“Well, you wouldn’t. They’re Muggles.”

After the song faded away, Remus removed the needle from the disc and replaced it back under his bed. They returned downstairs and Sirius sat down at the piano bench. He had somehow not noticed the large instrument when he first came in. The piano stood against the wall across from the couch and looked as though it had just been cleaned. Sirius pushed the cover over the keys back and ran his fingers down the board.

“Very good, Sirius,” Remus laughed as he sat down on the couch.

“And you can do better?”

“Actually… yes.”

Sirius slid over to make room for his friend and gestured for him to show off. Remus hesitated before taking a seat beside Sirius. He raised his fingers over the keys but did not begin to play until Sirius pressed his hands onto the piano, resulting in a loud, obnoxious jumble of noise. Sirius grinned playfully at Remus and nudged him in the shoulder. Knowing that Sirius was not going to give up, Remus forced himself to play a song that often reduced his mother to tears, as he mentioned to Sirius. He chanced looking up at his friend as his fingers raced across the keys. Sirius’s mouth was slightly open and he looked like he had never heard anything quite like the song before.

“Merlin,” Sirius said when the last notes faded away as Remus released the peddle. “That was good.”

“Thanks,” Remus said, lazily playing a scale.

“I didn’t know you could play the piano.”

“My mum taught me when I was younger.” When he had turned six his mother and father had gone out for the day, leaving him with his grandmother. When they returned Remus’s father and a few other men were pushing the large object through the front door. His mother came in behind them and, when she saw her bewildered son, explained that she wanted him to learn to play the piano. She later called it a good way to vent his anger when he needed to.

“Can I learn that, whatever it is?” Sirius asked keenly.

Remus laughed. “It’s called Canon in D and that took me two and a half months to learn. I can’t teach it to you in three weeks.” Sirius frowned and looked at his friend with the most pathetic expression he could muster. “Maybe I have something easier. Get up.” When Sirius was standing, Remus pushed up the top of the bench and rummaged through the scattered sheets of music. He drew up a single sheet and placed it on the piano. “This should be simple enough.”

“What is it?”

“A minuet, it’s one of the first songs I learned.” He studied the notes, trying to recall how it sounded, before playing the piece.

“Remus, I haven’t heard you play in ages.” Mrs. Lupin had come into the room and was watching her son happily.

“Haven’t had time,” Remus mumbled, producing a pencil from the top of the piano and writing on the paper.

“Did you play my favourite song for Sirius?”

“Yes he did, Mrs. Lupin,” Sirius said. He wondered why Remus suddenly looked embarrassed. It wasn’t long before he discovered the answer.

“You should pick a song with lyrics, that way you could sing it.”


“You sing, mate?”

“Not well.”

“Nonsense, Remus. You have a wonderful voice.”

“Sing for me, Remus,” Sirius jibbed, elbowing his friend in the ribs.

“What is this? Embarrass Remus Day?”

His mother laughed good-naturedly. “Oh, Remus, we’re not laughing at you.”

Sirius coughed in a rather obvious way, earning nothing except a shove in the shoulder from Remus, which almost knocked him off the bench. “So violent,” Sirius said in disbelief.

“Dinner will be ready in an hour, boys.” Mrs. Lupin disappeared into the kitchen, smiling and humming to herself as she left.

“I like your mother,” Sirius said as he watched Remus write numbers under the musical notes.

“That’s good.”

“Especially since she gave me blackmail!”


“Why are you so embarrassed that you can sing and play the piano?”

“I’m not embarrassed.”

“Yes, you are. Listen, mate, girls are suckers for guys who can sing.”

Remus grinned in spite of himself. “I’m sure they’ll really go for a singing werewolf then.” He replaced the sheet music on the stand and pointed to the numbers. “Count that for me, will you?”

Sirius looked at him, confused. “Why?”

“Just do it.”

Still bemused, Sirius counted the numbers Remus had written, wondering the entire time why Remus was playing as he counted; it was distracting. An hour later Remus had only accomplished teaching Sirius how to read the notes, both in the bass and treble cleft. Though he had managed that, he could hardly teach Sirius to play a measure. Sirius was enthusiastic, but too much so. Remus didn’t have the patience that Lily had when she was tutoring him. After a while, however, he suspected that Sirius was messing up on purpose just to get a rise out of him.

“Like this, Sirius,” Remus said in a carefully calm voice. He played the measure and made Sirius repeat him. “No…” He played it again and Sirius tried once more. “You’re just doing this to bug me.” Sirius nodded pleasantly and tried to play it again. “Play-the-measure-like-this-you-stupid-git.”

Sirius let out a barking laugh and almost toppled backwards off the bench. “I got you to sing!”


“Right there!”

“I didn’t.”

“Yes you did…”

“Merlin!” Remus jumped off his seat and walked around the room very fast, trying to block out Sirius singing “I got Remus to sing” in a horribly loud voice. When Remus was calm enough to sit down, he pushed Sirius down, shoved his hands on the keys and played the song hand over hand.

When they finished, Sirius was looking rather pleased with himself. “Told you I could play it.”

It was early in the evening on the twenty first. The sky was a deep purple, almost black, and it was only five. The winter solstice brought the shortest day of the year and also one of the worst recoveries Remus ever had to endure after a full moon. Sirius had listened in shock the previous night as his friend’s scream ripped the still winter air to shreds. He had to admit, he greatly admired Mr. and Mrs. Lupin. They managed to keep themselves together long enough to help their son. The nine years of experience must have hardened them, though not to the point of indifference. Sirius doubted they would ever reach that point; they loved Remus far too much.

Remus had slept most of the day, using his dog as a pillow. The only time he ever woke up was to use the bathroom, and that was only twice. Sirius heard Mr. Lupin saying to his wife that this was the worst they had seen since July when he had the allergic reaction to the potion. Remus had sustained three broken ribs, dangerously deep lacerations, his ankle was swollen to the size of a Bludger, and his eyes were bruised. Sirius couldn’t even think of the remaining injuries that he had not heard. He spent the majority of the day sitting on his bed and leafing through the books on Remus’s shelf. He read bits and pieces, not really taking in the words, but needing something to do with his time.

Remus stirred a little after five. He seemed surprised to find the house so dark, though the lights were lit, giving off a calm glow. “What time is it?” he asked tiredly.

“A little after five,” Sirius replied, setting the book he was reading down. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I listened to you play the piano.”

“That bad, huh?”

Remus began to laugh, only to stop when his sides could not handle the movement. “Can you do me a favour?”

“Sure, Remus.”

“Help me sit up for a minute? I think Dommie wants to get out.” His dog’s side must have been numb from where his head had lain on all day. Sirius lightly gripped Remus’s arm and held him up long enough for Dommie to scurry off the bed and down into the darkened living room. Remus fell back into the position he was originally laying in, which looked rather uncomfortable to Sirius.

“Are you comfortable like that?”

“Not really, but I’m kind of stuck like this.”

“Here, I’ll help you-”

“No, I’m fine like this.”

Sirius retreated back to his seat at Remus’s desk. He picked up his book again and flipped through the pages. Then, deciding that he was in no mood to read, he looked up at Remus. “Listen, I’m sorry about giving you a hard time the other day. If you were embarrassed, I shouldn’t have made fun of you like I did.” He had never properly apologised for making fun of Remus and probably driving him up several tall walls at once.

Remus shifted slightly so he could see Sirius. “It’s okay.”

“But if you were embarrassed about-”

“I wasn’t, it’s just… it’s probably a talent I won’t have much longer.”

“What do you mean?”

“You heard me last night; my transformations aren’t going to get better as I get older. They’ll get worse and my screaming will get louder and I’ll probably have a tough time even talking.”

Sirius said nothing. Despite the fact that they had discovered the story behind Remus’s Lycanthropy, he had never heard Remus speak much about it. It was a topic they successfully tried avoiding. He hated the idea that his friend could have a talent when he was young but then, because of his condition, have it taken away. It didn’t seem fair, though Sirius was quickly learning that many things in life were unfair. Sirius turned away and began fiddling with the needle on the phonograph.

“You can put something on, if you want,” Remus said when he saw what Sirius was doing.

“It won’t bother you?” It looked as though Remus was going to fall asleep at any moment and he didn’t want the music to disturb him.

“I sleep with music on all the time.” He yawned widely. “Helps me fall asleep.”

Sirius shrugged and began searching under Remus’s bed for one of those strange discs. He sifted through the various covers, chuckling to himself at the strange titles. Muggles… He came upon a disc with the strangest title across it. It was by something called The Beatles, but he saw no bugs, just people.

“Beatles?” he said, bemused. “Like bugs?”

“Beatles like Ringo… George… John,” Remus replied sleepily.

Sirius considered the disc for a moment before getting up to play it. The needle scratched the rotating black disc and faintly the music began. Sirius sat down and listened quietly to it. He could understand why Remus liked it; it was a nice song. It wasn’t hard on the ears and he could easily see his friend trying eagerly to learn it on the piano. He wouldn’t have been surprised if Remus had already tried. Let it be… let it be… He stared out the window above Remus’s bed, which revealed a darkened starry sky. The sky looked different here in the country than it did in London, it looked more inviting. Sirius knew this was probably because his family was far away and he was in a place where he was wanted. Mr. and Mrs. Lupin had been so kind to him. They treated him as one of their own sons.

Sirius peered at Remus and saw that he seemed to be sleeping once more. He stood up and headed for the stairs. Mr. Lupin had offered him a round of Exploding Snap, saying that they both had a fair chance of winning. Sirius thought it may be fun and he knew that Mr. Lupin also needed something to keep his mind off his recovering son. What better way to do that then with a game? Before descending the stairs he glimpsed over the railing and saw Mr. Lupin sitting on the couch, holding a book in one hand and scratching Dommie behind the ear with his other. The music was still playing, the same song coming slowly to an end. As the last line played, Sirius could have sworn he heard another melodic voice along with it.

“Whisper words of wisdom, let it be…”

Christmas morning dawned very early with Sirius jumping on Remus’s bed and singing “God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs.” Startled, Remus fell sideways off his bed and onto the cold wooden floor. Getting over the initial shock, Remus knew there was nothing else to do except join in. Remus’s parents and grandparents were less than thrilled with the early wakeup call, but got over it quickly. Despite that they had gotten over their abrupt awakening, they did make Remus and Sirius wait an hour before they could open whatever gifts they may have gotten. They passed the time poking at the piano as Sirius made a truly honest attempt to learn the song Remus had begun teaching him.

It was eight in the morning when Remus’s parents and grandparents appeared in the living room, fully dressed. Mrs. Lupin lit the Christmas tree and began passing out the presents to their owners. Presents from James and Peter had managed to brave the snowfall and were resting comfortably under the branches of the trees, waiting for Remus and Sirius to unwrap them. Sirius was surprised to find two gifts from James for him. One was a small cylindrical container that bore no title whatsoever. Curious, Sirius pulled the top off and a bunch of compressed tubes released themselves into his face. Remus stifled a laugh at Sirius’s shocked face and then occupied himself with the copy of Hogwarts: A History James had sent him. James’s second present for Sirius was far more pleasing than the first. It was a personalized copy of Quidditch through the Ages.

“James got carried away with the books, eh Remus?” Sirius said, flipping causally through the pages.

“They’re not bad ones,” Remus said, glancing through the table of contents of his book.

Mrs. Lupin picked up a box decorated with red and gold wrapping paper. She read the label and passed it to Sirius. “‘From Remus to Sirius.’” Sirius took the package and glanced at Remus, who was absorbed in the cover of a record his parents had given him. He didn’t even seem to have heard his mother. The gift was fairly light, the weight staying mainly around the middle. Sirius flipped it over to the side Remus had put together with Spellotape and broke the seal. Sirius crumpled up the paper, placed it in his lap and turned the gift over.

“I’m getting better at thinking up gifts for people,” Remus said, finally looking up from his record.

It was a picture Remus had taken at the end of first year. He, Remus, James and Peter were lying on James’s bed, talking about some nonsense or other and Remus had whipped out his camera. He pressed a button on it and in an instant had his wand out and was levitating it in the air, while they made the most ridiculous faces they could. Sirius grinned at his photo image; he was trying to look as cool and stud-like as possible, though it was impossible because Remus was in the process of giving him a noogie with his free hand. James was ruffling his hair, chuckling happily at the floating camera. Peter, who was sandwiched in between Sirius and Remus, was sticking his tongue out. What was more was that Remus had framed it with a silver frame decorated with a lion, a serpent, a badger and a raven on each corner.

“Remus, this is great,” Sirius said, not removing his gaze from the photo.

“And I used the potion you guys gave me for my birthday last year.” Remus prodded his photographic self, who quickly retaliated by trying to slap his finger away.

“It’s brilliant.” Sirius carefully set it aside and clapped Remus on the shoulder.

“Here’s the last one,” Remus’s grandmother, Gabriella, said. She was holding a small box wrapped in navy blue paper. “‘From Sirius to Remus.’ Here you are, Remus.”

Remus quickly unwrapped it and pulled open the flaps on the box. Inside he could see something round catching the light. He turned the box over and a snow globe fell into his hand. Remus peered inside it and saw it was a forest scene. A crescent moon was suspended in the air while the snow fell as Remus shook the globe lightly. He then saw a wolf running through the miniature trees and pausing to bay at the moon above. Remus glanced up at Sirius, who was suddenly looking apprehensive, as if that wasn’t the best of presents. Remus could also see his parents and grandparents looked them same. They had nothing to worry about, absolutely nothing.

He cracked a smile and laughed. “Brilliant.”

Chapter 21: Animagi
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Chapter Twenty One

The inhabitants of Gryffindor Tower had been sitting in the same positions for the past hour and a half. It was now half past eight at night and they all had some homework assignment they should have been working on, but what was going on at the present was far more interesting than Transfiguration or Potions. The day had been going smoothly, nothing unusual occurring. Then, halfway during dinner, Severus Snape’s ears turned violently bright shades of purple and pink. Loud snorts of laughter came from all corners of the hall, but mostly four boys sitting at the Gryffindor table. It was painfully obvious who those four boys were. However, it was only one of those four boys who was currently being chewed out by an irate Lily Evans. It was James Potter. He had jumped up to take the blame, though not all of the credit, for the prank against Snape and Lily was not happy about this.

The Gryffindors were sitting on the couch, the armchairs, the floor, all watching in silent hilarity as Lily and James shouted back and forth at each other in front of the fireplace. Some of the sixth years were placing bets on how much longer the arguement would ensue. Three fourth years sitting at one of the tables were watching avidly, munching lazily on Chocolate Frogs. Some of the fifth years were debating in hushed voices about how much longer Lily was going to yell. Sirius, Remus and Peter had taken front row seats and were now discussing whether or not they should tell Lily it hadn’t been all James’s fault. They wanted their work to be noticed, after all. Yet Lily and James remained oblivious to all of this. Their shouting overshadowed many of the bets and debates going on.

“Do you think we should tell Lily?” Remus was saying, watching the red head and the mass of untidy black hair go back and forth.

Sirius laughed. “Why? James willingly took the blame.”

“I feel kind of bad watching her yell at him.”

“You would rather have her yell at you?” Peter asked him doubtfully.

“Well… no… but James didn’t do it all by himself, did he?”

“Yeah, but we’ll take our credit silently,” Sirius said, shifting in his seat.

“He didn’t even do anything to you, Potter!” Lily shouted for about the thirty seventh time in the past hour and a half.

James was stumped for a moment, unsure that he actually had a retort that would suffice. “You know, it’s more that he was just there.”

“What kind of excuse is that?”

“Hey, chuck me that pack of Drooble’s, Remus?” Sirius asked, holding out his hand.

“You’re enjoying this too much,” Remus said as he tossed Sirius their last pack of gum. Sirius grinned impishly and nodded. Remus’s eyes followed Lily as she moved to the other side of James. “You know, I think Lily was supposed to be tutoring me an hour ago.”

“And you didn’t point this out?” Peter asked in amazement as he ripped open a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans.


“She seemed busy.”

The fight continued for another fifteen minutes, and resulted in a loud bang and a puff of smoke engulfing the two bickerers. When the smoke cleared away, the Gryffindors could see Lily’s wand raised and James’s face planted on the carpet. A few students stood up to get a better look, but they didn’t have to once James raised his head. It looked as though Lily had given him a makeover in the split second that they were invisible. James’s face had been coated with the most ostentatious colours of rouge, lipstick, anything imaginable. James should have known better than to cross one of the best Charms students Hogwarts had ever seen.

The room was quiet, the occupants staring in wonder at James, and then the silence was broken by three howls of violent laughter. Sirius, Remus and Peter were cackling uncontrollably at their friend’s face.

“You’re so pretty, James!” Sirius managed through his bouts of laughter. “Those are really your colours.”

James glared at Sirius, as if being hexed by a girl in front of the entire house wasn’t bad enough… Lily, satisfied with her work, stalked off to join Alice and Frank on the dormitory steps. James, who appeared to want to vanish into thin air, hurried past the group of sixth years that had been betting (two of them miserably handing over a few sickles to the winner) and out of the common room. The three boys glanced at each other; James clearly wasn’t in his right mind if he just went out into the main castle, especially when curfew was about to fall. Abandoning their positions on the couch, they followed James.

“I can’t believe Lily did that,” Peter said, amazed.

“I can,” Sirius said, picking up his pace.

“We should’ve taken the Invisibility Cloak,” Remus panted. “Filch has been dying to catch us for something ever since we left those Dungbombs in his mopping bucket.”

“Forgot about that… We’ll just be quiet, then.”

They couldn’t imagine where James was headed. Where would a boy go if he had just been hexed into makeup? Their first instinct was that he had gone to the Hospital Wing to have Madam Pomfrey take care of it, but they thought against it. James didn’t want the nurse to see him like that. He must have been headed for the nearest bathroom. However, when they came upon the lavatory, it was empty. They couldn’t think of where else he would have gone. There were only so many boys’ bathrooms in the school, unless he went into a girls’ bathroom.

“I remember hearing Mary Porter saying something about there being a girls’ bathroom that’s always out of order on the second floor,” Peter said as they came out of the last bathroom for boys. “Nobody ever goes in there.”

“You don’t think James went in there, do you?” Remus said. They were already on the second floor; it couldn’t hurt to travel down it a bit further. When they approached the unused bathroom, they hesitated for a long time before Sirius got the guts to push the door open and march determinedly inside. They were instantly met with the high-pitched laughter of someone that was clearly not James. It was the pearly white figure of a girl with horn-rimmed glasses and pigtails. She was hovering over one of the sinks, above James, whose head was bent forward over the taps.

“Will you shut up?” James snapped at the ghost.

The ghost did nothing of the sort. If anything, her laughter increased. James’s face was sopping wet as he furiously tried scrubbing off the makeup Lily had forced onto him. So far, he had only succeeded in removing the minimum amount and had a long way to go before he looked like a proper boy again.

“You know, James, you look so pretty I reckon Snape would ask you out,” Sirius snickered.

“Sod off,” James muttered, cupping his hands under the river of water in the sink and splashing it onto his face.

Sirius continued laughing, only to stop when he noticed that the ghost was staring at him with a rather dreamy expression. “Um… hullo,” he greeted uncertainly. “Who are you?”

“Myrtle,” the ghost answered, her voice much resembling her expression. Sirius took a step backwards and turned away from the ghost.

“Moaning Myrtle?” Remus said without thinking. He had heard Lily mention how difficult it was to go to the bathroom in this particular lavatory because the ghost that haunted it was always wailing about something. He did not realise he was about to start another of her tantrums.

The dreamy look she had been wearing moments before vanished as she shrieked, “Tactless!”

Remus stepped back, sensing danger. “Excuse me?”

“You should know I don’t like being called Moaning Myrtle! How would you like it?” In a cry of anger, she swept up into the air and came down through one of the toilets. The boys jumped back as water came spilling out.

“She has a point, Remus,” Peter pointed out.

“I’m not the one who came up with the name!”

Myrtle’s wailing reached an unbearable pitch and, rather than wait for James (who seemed to be oddly immune to the noise) to finish cleaning himself up, Sirius, Remus and Peter dashed out of the bathroom, deciding to wait in the hallway. Even out in the corridor, they could still hear the ghost and apparently Filch did as well. They could hear the distinct disgruntled growl of the caretaker as he prowled closer and closer. The three boys could see a faint light coming from further down the path and ran back inside the bathroom.

“Back for another go at me?” Myrtle cried.

“Filch is coming,” Sirius said to James, ignoring Myrtle.

James looked up, his face free of makeup, and his eyes darted to the door. “Didn’t you bring the cloak?”

“No… We came to look for you!”

“Well you should’ve gotten the cloak!”

“Will you two shut up?” Remus and Peter snapped. They were pointing to the door. The light from Filch’s lantern was spilled through the crack at the bottom as he crooned to Mrs. Norris.

“That’s right, my sweet, we’ll catch those troublemakers.”

The door was open before the boys had a chance to hide and, before they knew it, they were cleaning the floors of the dungeons with toothbrushes.

February brought with it a few more feet of snow, and bouts of the flu infecting many students throughout the castle. Madam Pomfrey was spending almost all of her time handing out Pepperup Potions to the students who came in, coughing with runny noses and aching stomachs. Among these students were Remus and Peter, who had managed to catch a fever when they were ambushed by a group of Slytherin fourth years out on the grounds. They had been down at Hagrid’s hut, helping him tend to some Nifflers and, as they were walking back to the castle, they felt cold streams of water falling on top of their heads and soaking them to the skin.

The fact that the full moon was approaching did not make matters much better, but Remus made it through his transformation no worse than he normally did. The only setback was a slightly longer recovery than he would have liked. Madam Pomfrey refused to let him leave the Hospital Wing and also refused to let the boys in to see him. He was let out two days later on Tuesday and had some news to share with his friends. Remus found them at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, trying to figure out two words that were synonymous with the worst Quidditch team ever.

“Chudley Cannons,” Remus supplied when he sat down beside James.

“Thanks mate,” Sirius said, scribbling it in the empty spaces. He folded up the Daily Prophet and tucked it in his robes pocket. “How’re you feeling?”

“Better. You know who I saw in the Hospital Wing?”

“Who?” Peter asked as he searched the plate of potatoes for a suitable one.

“Professor Jones.”

“He was ill?” James asked interestedly. They had had Defence Against the Dark Arts that day and the professor appeared to be well. Granted, he was more distracted than usual, but he seemed in good health.

“He looked like he was.”

“He probably just has the flu,” Sirius said, shrugging.

“I dunno… The way Madam Pomfrey was talking, it sounded worse than the flu.

James looked intrigued. “Did she say exactly what was the matter with him?”

“No… but she sounded mad that he hadn’t gone to her sooner.”

“I hope it’s nothing serious,” Peter said anxiously. Jones was one of their favourite teachers; they didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. “Did he look really bad?”

“He didn’t look good. Madam Pomfrey shooed me out before I could get a better look.”

The condition of Professor Jones was left at that – a mystery to all students except for the boys, and they didn’t even know much. They resolved to watch the man closely and see if his illness, whatever it was, grew worse. They noticed that his pallor was almost as bad as Remus’s and for the quickest of moments James, Sirius and Peter suspected that he may have been bitten by a werewolf. Remus put an end to that theory at once, stating how when a person has just been bitten, they are more green than white. Jones appeared to be losing weight and he seemed weary. Still, they could not figure out what was plaguing him and decided it was best if they just ignored it for the time being.

February turned to March and James, Sirius and Peter could be found sitting in the common room on the first, conversing quietly while Remus was at a tutoring session with Lily. Remus was showing quite an improvement in his potion-making abilities, he had not made a potion explode for weeks. They were talking about the upcoming full moon, on the seventeenth, and how they wished they could do something to help their friend. Sirius had told James and Peter a long time ago what it had been like to listen to him transform. This strengthened their desire to aid Remus. As they were sitting in front of the fire, two third years came into the common room, talking loudly about how Professor McGonagall was an Animagus.

“There’re only a few,” one third year was saying.

“Her name was on the register and she showed us it,” the other added.

“It’d be great to be one, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah, but it’s hard. A lot of things can go wrong.”

The two continued up to the third year boys’ dormitory and disappeared out of sight. They had all known the Professor McGonagall was an Animagus; she had the ability to transform into a tabby cat. They hadn’t thought much of it initially; it didn’t matter to them if she could turn into an animal. If anything, it just made her all the more intimidating. Now, something about this fact struck them as oddly helpful.

Sirius, his eyes alight with mischief, turned to the others. “That’s it.”

“What is?” Peter asked, bemused.


James got it before Peter did and he grinned widely. “That’s brilliant, Sirius.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Why didn’t we think of it before?”

“Think of what?

“I dunno, but now that we have it, what are we going to do?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Becoming Animagi, Peter!”

“And why would we do that?”

“Listen.” Sirius leaned forward on the table and dropped his voice carefully, making sure that they had no unwelcome listeners. “Werewolves are only dangerous to humans.”

“Yeah?” Peter still had no idea where Sirius was going with this.

“Then we become animals. Remus won’t be able to turn us into werewolves if he bites us then.”

“I don’t fancy being bitten by a werewolf, animal or not.”

“Come on, Peter. It’s the perfect idea; maybe it’ll even help Remus keep his attention off himself.”

“Because it’ll be on biting us.”

“You wanted to help him, Pete,” James said reproachfully. “Sirius has a good idea. Animals relate to other animals. Maybe we would be able to keep Remus calm, so he doesn’t hurt himself.”

Peter still looked hesitant but, upon seeing the determined looks on his friends’ faces, he resignedly nodded. They weren’t sure how to bring up the subject to Remus; they were not at all certain he would go for it. Remus would instantly see the dangers of the attempt going wrong. If Remus was conscious of anything, it was safety and oftentimes he placed others’ above his own. It was only natural that he would fear everything would go horribly wrong. They had to try. It was too good of an idea to let go by.

James resolved to write to his mother, asking her to use the money he enclosed in the envelope and go to Flourish and Blotts. He had to be very evasive. He had looked it up, asked around, and discovered the Flourish and Blotts had the best selection of books about Animagi in all of Diagon Alley. He, Sirius and Peter decided that they would give whatever book Mrs. Potter picked out to Remus for his birthday. This was the very excuse that James used when he wrote home. He explained that Remus was extremely interested in the subject and wanted to research it. What better way to do so than by getting a present about it for his thirteenth birthday?

When March tenth dawned, James, Sirius and Peter decided that the best way to wake Remus up was to push him sideways off his bed. Frank thought this was a cruel idea, but pointing this out did nothing to deter the boys. At eight o’ clock James and Sirius were on one side, and Peter on the other, and when the two pushed, Peter pulled and Remus fell sideways off his bed. For a split second they thought that Remus managed to sleep through the fall, but he moaned angrily and kicked the nearest person, which happened to be Peter. To avoid the outburst that would inevitably follow, James threw the colourful package into Remus’s chest.

When he tore open the paper, he was shocked to find a book entitledAnimagi for Beginners. At first he couldn’t quite figure out why his friends would give him this. Then, as he flipped through the pages, realisation dawned and he stared up at the three disbelievingly. Frank was still in the room, so he could not ask them about it at the moment. Instead, he thanked them as wholeheartedly as he could and waited patiently for Frank to vanish down into the common room. Luckily, it only took Frank ten minutes to leave. When the door shut, Remus jumped to his feet and rounded on his friends.

“Are you three mental?” he hissed.

“He took it just like we thought he would!” Sirius observed cheerfully.

“You can get killed.”

“Not if we don’t do it wrong,” James contradicted airily, like it was the easiest thing in the world to explain.

“Do you know how hard it is to do this? That’s why they keep tabs on all of the Animagi! You’d have to register at the Ministry and everything.”

“Who says we do?” Sirius looked completely unfazed by what Remus had said.

“The law says so, Sirius.”


“Stop being stupid, James. You know you’d get in trouble. I can’t let you do this. I’m not worth you getting chucked into Azkaban.”

“Yes you are,” the three said automatically.

Even though Remus wanted to get them off this track more than anything, he could not help but feel glad at the thought that they were willing to get thrown in the wizard prison for him. “No one can know you’re doing this.”

James, Sirius and Peter looked triumphantly at each other. They had done it.

“In that case,” Sirius said, stepping forward, “Happy birthday, Remus.”

Remus was returning from watching the Gryffindor team’s Quidditch practise. James was still sitting through Hamilton’s tactics speech, while Sirius and Peter had been roped into helping Hagrid round up his escaped Kneazles. The castle was fairly quiet, even though there was quite some time before curfew. He had a Potions essay to get to, so he had to hurry to the common room. Remus was inclined to admit, his grades in that class had skyrocketed once Lily began tutoring him. It was true that he was still one of the worst potion brewers in the class, but it was impossible to beat the best. His potions didn’t explode anymore, that he was grateful for.

As he rounded the corner leading to the portrait of the Fat Lady, he heard an angry conversation taking place between the Fat Lady and Alice Gordon. Curious, Remus came slowly around and saw that the Fat Lady was refusing Alice entry into the common room because she didn’t know the password. The Fat Lady had become notorious, lately, for switching the password two or three times a week. It was no surprise that Alice could not remember the new word.

“Tree bark,” Remus said. The Fat Lady swung open and allowed the two inside. Alice smiled gratefully at Remus and it was then that he realised he had not really spoken to the girl since before her father died.

“Thank you,” she said. “I didn’t think she was ever going to let me in.”

“No problem.” Remus glanced uneasily around the considerably full common room. “So… err… how are you?”

Alice knew at once what he was referring to. “It’s still hard… you know, to realise I’m never going to see my dad again. But it’s getting better.” She offered him a small smile. “Really, it is.”

Remus was quiet for a moment. He could not imagine what Alice was going through. He didn’t know what he would do if his own father died. For the longest time, his father had been his best friend. Not knowing exactly what else to say, he said the first question that appeared in his mind. “Your mum? She’s doing okay as well?”

“Oh yeah. I was surprised at how well she was taking it. But it was probably just a show for me. She doesn’t want me to get upset.”

“That’s nice of her… I suppose.”

“I guess it is, I’d rather she just cry about it in front of me.”

Remus bit his lip. “Really?”

Before Alice could say anything else, the door to the common room open and Sirius’s voice came, reverberating off the walls. “Oi, Remus!”

Remus and Alice spun around to see Sirius and Peter standing by the entryway, waving furiously at him. Remus bid goodbye to Alice, who looked happy to have had someone to talk to, though only briefly, about her father.

They weren’t sure when or how to begin training. Becoming an Animagus was no easy task, but the thought of Remus never having to hurt himself the way he did was their incentive. They would need to find a place to practise in secret, but their knowledge of the castle was still only limited to that of a second year. They did not know about the many secret rooms and passageway that could be used as their hideout. Sirius had suggested using the Shrieking Shack, but Remus refused, saying that it was too far away. Of course, Sirius knew that his friend really didn’t want to spend more time there than he had to.

They couldn’t invest their time into worrying about a place to train at the time. One day during breakfast Professor McGonagall came around and passed out sheets of parchment to the Gryffindor second years. They were a list of the possible courses they could study the following year. The boys knew at once that they wanted to study Care of Magical Creatures with Professor Kettleburn. It didn’t seem like a difficult class and they needed one where they were guaranteed a pass. Their remaining options – Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Divination and Muggle Studies – were giving them trouble. Neither boy could agree on their second course. Sirius wanted to take Muggle Studies (another opportune way to peeve his parents). James was leaning towards Ancient Runes, Remus wanted to take Arithmancy, and Peter was keen on Divination. They had always intended on taking all the same classes, but they would have to draw the line here.

In the end, Sirius wound up taking Muggle Studies, Peter took Divination, while James and Remus requested Ancient Runes and Arithmancy respectively. When they handed in their selections to the Transfiguration professor, James, Sirius and Peter could hear Remus mumble that he wished he could drop Potions. Sirius cheerfully reminded him that they were not allowed to drop classes until they were sixth years. Remus had a few more glorious years of his potions boiling over to look forward to. At these words, Remus sped off to remind Lily that he would not be joining her for Potions tutoring – it was a full moon. When Remus went with Madam Pomfrey to the Whomping Willow, the boys sat in the dormitory, crowded on Remus’s bed, poring over the Animagi book.

“This is going to take years for us to do,” James muttered, running a finger along the sentence he was reading.

“It’ll be worth it,” Sirius said bracingly, drawing his feet up onto Remus’s bed. He still was not able to forget what he had seen in the Shrieking Shack so many months ago. It was a sight he was not sure he would ever be able to repress. He wanted to do something to prevent that from ever happening again. They had their solution. He had said a long time ago in the Leaky Cauldron, when they had first resolved to discover the nature behind Remus’s monthly disappearances, that when something was hurting one of them, it was up to the rest to find out what it was. Now that they knew the answer, it was up to them to help the other, no matter what it cost them.

Chapter 22: Another Year Ends
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Chapter Twenty Two
Another Year Ends

James’s thirteenth birthday dawned on Tuesday, the twenty seventh of March. It was a cold, stormy morning. Rain lashed against the windows and the torches were lit early in the corridors. The wind swirled, noticeable by its incessant whistling and the branches of every tree in the Forbidden Forest being whipped about. Even the Whomping Willow had recoiled under the furious gale. The second year boys’ dormitory was freezing, as Sirius had been on a sugar high the night before, having digested more than the suggested amount of chocolate, and had accidentally, or so he said, thrown James’s container of daisy roots for Potions out the window. As retaliation for being treated so cruelly, the window refused to mend when Sirius had tried to fix it. Remus had made a makeshift cover for the window with his pillowcase, though it proved a futile effort. The case was drenched within seconds of the first drops of rain.

“I – hate – you - Sirius,” Remus snarled through chattering teeth. Remus’s bed was closest to the broken window and he was currently being sprayed with water.

“Get off your bed, then,” Sirius said, his own teeth clenched together as he feverishly rubbed his arms.

“I’d - love – to - but - I – think - I’m - frozen – like - this.” He pulled his blanket over his shoulders and pulled his knees up to his chest. He cast his gaze over to James’s bed. The curtains were drawn around it and they had yet to hear James stir. He must have been able to sleep through the cold and raging wind. “Birthday Boy can sleep at least.”

“That reminds me.” Sirius hopped off his bed and dug for something under his mattress. He withdrew a package and tossed it to Remus. “Sign the card. Peter and I did last night.”

Remus crouched forward to shield the card from the rain, sticking his hands out from the folds of his blanket, and opened the card. It contained a rather crude joke of Sirius’s, involving a Banshee, a Hippogriff and a Flobberworm. He quickly scrawled his name and threw it back at Sirius. They had been stumped on what to get James. He hadn’t hinted on anything in particular. However, one night when they were flipping through Peter’s catalogue of Quidditch memorabilia they spotted the uniform of Puddlemere United. It wasn’t one that actually belonged to a player, but they could get it personalized for James. They sent away for it and it had been delivered only the morning before.

Peter came out of the bathroom, stepping aside to let Frank in. He threw an angry glare at the broken window, and sat down on his bed. “We should really wake him up.”

“You know he’s going to complain about going to class on his birthday, like he did last year,” Remus pointed out, pulling on a pair of socks. Bending forward, his entire back got sprayed with another gust of rain. “I really hate you, Sirius.”

“I love you too, Remus,” Sirius laughed, jumping off his bed and trying, once more, to repair the window.

The window still refused to budge, unless Sirius apologised for breaking it. Sirius gave the window a strange look, but apologised. However, when he tried to mend it, it still stayed as it was, claiming that Sirius didn’t really mean it.

“Bloody hell!” Remus shouted, waking James up in the process. He was soaked to the skin with rain and wanted it fixed. “He’s sorry! He’s mental; he can’t help the stupid things he does. Please let him fix you, otherwise I’m killing him and breaking you more!” He put a hand to his forehead. “I’m yelling at a window… You!” He pointed an angry finger at Sirius. “If I ever go to therapy, you’re the reason.”

Sirius, who had no idea what therapy was, looked imploringly at the window. Grudgingly, the window allowed Sirius to fix it. Sirius pocketed his wand and looked in awe at Remus. “You would kill me over a bit of rain?”

“When I get pneumonia, you better watch yourself after I get better.”

“What went on while I was sleeping?”

“Quiet, Birthday Boy,” Sirius said, tossing James’s present across Remus’s bed and onto James’s. Shrugging off his curiosity, James ripped the packaging open and let out a shout of delight when he saw the shirt inside. “This is awesome, thanks!”

“Sure,” Remus said, grinning. “You know, I was thinking of getting one for Sirius so when I kill him, he’ll have something nice to wear when they bury him.”

“What were you all arguing about?”

“Broken window.”

“Enough said.”

They did not have much time to celebrate at the moment, as they were running late for class. They had already been late for Transfiguration twice in the past week and McGonagall was hinting detention if they did it a third time. The boys dressed at top speed and made it to the classroom just as Professor McGonagall was calling the class to attention. They spent a rather enjoyable period transfiguring a rat into a drinking glass. James managed to get it on his first try, earning five points for Gryffindor, and spent the rest of the class watching his friends try and achieve their goal. Sirius got it after three tries, Remus succeeded only after poking his rat in the eye with his wand, and Peter ended up sending his rat flying across the room.

Once classes let out for the day and they had had dinner, the boys took to wandering around the corridors in the basement. James had begged them to do something interesting on his birthday, but they did not know what they could do. As they walked down an empty corridor, they noticed the paintings on the walls had become more food-orientated. Intrigued, they continued in their current direction. Surely all the portraits of food meant that the kitchens must be somewhere nearby, but they couldn’t see any doorways leading to them. Stumped, the boys stopped and looked around.

“I was so sure,” Sirius said disappointedly.

“It has to be around here somewhere,” Peter said confidently, leaning against the portrait of a fruit bowl. Suddenly, they heard a high-pitched giggle. “What was that?”

Remus gaped at the portrait. “The pear laughed.”

“Excuse me?”

Before Remus could repeat himself, the portrait swung forward, almost taking Peter out in the process. The boys were shocked to find themselves standing in the entranceway to the kitchens. All around, they could see the House Elves bustling about, cleaning up after that evening’s dinner. They elves didn’t appear to notice the boys at first, so they walked about, taking in the thrill of finding the kitchens. There were four tables that must have been directly under the house tables and were filled with the leftovers. The air was scented with that evening’s roast and they could smell, very faintly, something made of chocolate.

“How may Twinky help you sirs?” A House Elf had appeared behind the boys and was looking expectantly at them.

“Oh,” the boys said, startled.

“Is you boys hungry?”

“I could definitely go for something,” James said happily, casting a glance around to see what food was at their disposal.

“James, you just ate half of everyone’s dinner and your own,” Remus said.

“It’s my birthday, I deserve something else.”

“Would Master James like a piece of chocolate cake?” the elf offered.

“Sure, thanks!” Twinky buzzed off across the room with another elf and came back moments later with a tray bearing a large piece of chocolate cake.

“That looks bigger than my head,” Sirius observed disbelievingly.

“If your head ever turns into chocolate, watch out,” James said after a large swallow. The boys spent another fifteen minutes in the kitchens, stocking up on sweets for the coming week. By the time they left the cheerful House Elves, their arms were laden with doughnuts, cakes, and éclairs. Entering the second year dormitory, and tossing Frank a few éclairs in the process, they continued to celebrate James’s birthday in as loud a manner as possible.

As the exams loomed ever nearer, the teachers began piling on the homework. The second years knew to expect this, and at a worse rate as the previous year, but the overall scale of the work caught them by surprise. Professor McGonagall now gave them an essay, a set of questions, and a spell to practise after every Transfiguration lesson. Professor Flitwick was doing much the same, except that he had only one question for them to answer, whereas McGonagall had five to ten. Professor Slughorn had them analysing every ingredient they used in each potion they concocted. Even Professor Binns managed to acknowledge his students long enough to assign them an essay after every lesson. It was madness. In fact, the only teacher who had taken pity on them was Professor Jones.

They were not entirely sure whether this was pity or because of his health. Remus, who had contracted a fever the day after James’s birthday, saw the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor in the Hospital Wing, looking worse for wear. Remus did not get an opportunity to inquire about it, as the professor was in and out the door after receiving a potion from the nurse. Madam Pomfrey had kept Remus for a few days and he saw that Jones returned every day to take a new potion. When he reported this to James, Sirius and Peter, they could think of no plausible reason for this other than he must be dreadfully ill. All Jones managed to give them as homework was a chapter to read in their textbooks. He didn’t even give them a follow-up essay.

April brought sunny and warmer weather. The boys had taken to studying and lazing about under a beech tree beside the lake. One particular day they had sent Sirius off to find the Golden Snitch that James had lost around Hagrid’s hut, or at least that was what he claimed. James had pocketed the Snitch in order to get Sirius away so they could discuss what his birthday present would be.

“He was pretty impressed with my phonograph,” Remus mentioned, rubbing his eyes. “But they’re expensive.”

James, who was not entirely sure what a phonograph was, nodded.

“They play music, James.”

“Whatever you say.”

“We can save up for that… and give him some records until then.”

“What’s the point of having them if he can’t play them?” Peter asked, looking up from the blade of grass he was tearing.

“It’ll get him excited for Christmas.”

So on the tenth of April they presented Sirius with a few of Remus’s old records that he did not listen to anymore. Sirius took the same stance as Peter, but was grateful nonetheless. He stored them at the bottom of his trunk, certain that his parents would never stumble upon them if they were there. Remus mentioned that his father would be able to put a spell on the phonograph that would disguise it as a particularly large book of Sirius’s choosing, and when he wanted to listen to it only he could hear the sound. As they had done on James’s birthday, they paid a visit to the kitchens and the House Elves were more than happy to whip something up for Sirius.

As far as training to become Animagi went, James decided that it would be best if they did not do it in school until they found a suitable practising room. They thought about doing it sometime during the summer, possibly at James’s house. The Potter mansion was filled with rooms that were rarely used and it was not likely that Mr. or Mrs. Potter would stumble upon them. And so they decided on meeting at James’s during the week after the full moon, when Remus was well enough to join them. They had thumbed through the book and found that their Patronuses, whatever they were, would show them what animal they were most linked with, though it was not always entirely accurate.

With their summer plans set, the boys were now engulfed in studying for their end-of-the-year exams. James and Sirius, who had spent the previous year being obnoxiously loud while their fellow Gryffindors studied, could now be seen poring over their textbooks. The Gryffindor second years could be seen holed up in the common room, practising spells and muttering theories under their breath, their fingers plugged in their ears to block out disruptive noise. Their first exam, which happened to be Potions, was shaping up to be the easiest, as it was only on a Swelling Solution. All of the second years, even Remus, felt that they could successfully brew it.

The students found out only one thing about their exams before they were set to take them. On the morning on May twentieth, Remus returned from his recovery in the Hospital Wing after a particularly nasty full moon, with some deterring news for his friends. He found them sitting in their usual seats at the Gryffindor table and noticed they were in a heated discussion about the properties of Cornish Pixies. Folding his arms across his chest, Remus went over and sat down beside Peter.

“I don’t think that’s going to matter very much,” he said, pushing away the plate of sausages Sirius had placed in front of him. He could still not stomach anything.

“What are you talking about?” James asked, looking up from his History of Magic notes.

“They’ve sent Jones to St. Mungo’s.”

Peter dropped his fork with a loud clattering on his plate. “What? Are you serious?”

“I heard Madam Pomfrey telling McGonagall.”

“Did they say what was the matter with him?” James asked concernedly.

Remus shook his head. “They just said he’s not coming back.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I guess we’re getting a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.”

The departure of Professor Jones was officially announced that night by Professor Dumbledore, who only said that it would be better for the man’s health if he left the school. This news was met with many said reactions; they had all loved Professor Jones. Unlike the previous year, when the school went into an uproarious cheer at the thought of Crane resigning, now went into a melancholic gloom. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter were starting to wonder if what the seventh years who had helped them in last year’s prank had told them was correct – the Defence Against the Dark Arts position was really jinxed.

With one less exam to worry about, the students studying load lessened only somewhat. When time finally came for them to sit their exams, they found that they were not nearly as bad as the professors were making them out to be. Potions proved to be just what Slughorn had prepared them for – a session of brewing a Swelling Solution. The Charms they were tested on turned out to be fairly simple. All Professor McGonagall requested of them was to transfigure their animals into a set of matching water goblets. The students were beginning to suspect that the overall simplicity of them exams was due to Professor Jones’s hospitalization and the way it had affected everyone. Whatever the reason, no one could pretend they were ungrateful for this.

Of course there was the Quidditch Final between the age-old rivals, Gryffindor and Slytherin. Both sides had devised a strong, almost impenetrable defence and neither side was willing to back down and let the other achieve victory. Hamilton had been running his team ragged, practising day and night, whenever the Quidditch Pitch was unoccupied. The Slytherin captain, Francis Flint, had the same idea. Both captains wanted the pitch so badly that it erupted into a duel that had to be broken up by the twelve players watching. Professor McGonagall and Professor Slughorn had to remedy this problem and did so by equally dividing the pitch for both teams. The only hitch was that it had to start after the set of three detentions each captain had been assigned.

When the day of the match arrived, the stands were decorated with red and green rosettes. Cheers and boos followed each team member as they were announced. It was clear, however, from the moment that the teams took flight, they were out to kill each other. The referee, Madam Sparks, later commented that she had never seen such a violent match. Hamilton suffered a broken nose, no doubt an intention to impair his vision so he could not see the Snitch. James was almost thrown from his broom, though managed to hold on and only twisting his wrist in the process. The Gryffindor Keeper, Oliver Pulliman, winded a Slytherin Chaser when he missed his intended target with the Quaffle.

Hamilton’s broken nose did not prevent him from seeing the shimmering Golden Snitch as it hovered around the commentator’s box. Before the Slytherin Seeker, Flint, could even register what was going on, the Snitch was beating its wings against the inside of Hamilton’s hand. The game was over; Gryffindor was victorious with a score of two hundred and fifty to one hundred.

With their victory in the Quidditch Final, Gryffindor also won the House Cup, beating out the other houses with a total of four hundred and thirty one points.

“Pass me a Cauldron Cake, would you, Sirius?”

“How can you eat those? They give me stomachaches.”

“I have an iron stomach, Sirius.”

“Iron skull, more like, James.”

The four boys were sitting in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express, going through the snacks they had bought off the lunch trolley. Sirius threw James three Cauldron Cakes, one of them hitting James on the bridge of his nose.

“Git, you could’ve broken my glasses.”

“Because pudding can do that.”

James shoved Sirius in the shoulder and ripped open the wrapper of the cake with his teeth. “So you’re all coming to my house?” Sirius and Peter nodded. “No furry little problems?” he added to Remus.

Remus gave James a strange look. “Yeah… no furry little problems. You make it sound like I’ve got a rabbit that likes to beat me up.”

“Well, you did always blame your dog.”

Remus ignored that comment. He had already written to his parents and told them that he would be at James’s that week. They had not written him back, but he was sure they would let him. “I’ll be there, don’t worry.”

“Good, because practising to become Animagi wouldn’t be as fun.”

“I don’t know how much help I’ll be. I’m not the one doing it.”

“Can werewolves become Animagi?” Peter asked, breaking the tip off his Licorice Wand.

Remus thought for a moment. He wasn’t entirely sure. “I don’t think so. We’re already forced to become an animal, why would we want to become another? I don’t think it’s possible.”

Peter nodded, chewing on the end of his candy. They passed the remainder of the ride trading Chocolate Frog cards, playing Exploding Snap, and discussing any potential mayhem they could cause in their third year. Sirius and James felt that they had been too quiet that year and were not living up to the title they had earned themselves in their first year after they had driven Professor Crane from the school. True they had pulled of some pranks; they had been far too wrapped up in the mystery of Remus’s secret and then learning to deal with it. They could not possibly think of pranks while they were helping their friend.

“We can do more stuff next year,” James said, leaning back in his seat and folding his arms across his chest. “Unless anyone else has some dark secret they’re not telling us?”

“Oh, wait, I forgot,” Sirius said, sitting up suddenly and grinning. “I’m a pixie, didn’t think it was important.”

“Now that we have that out in the open,” Remus said, laughing. “Who wants another match of Exploding Snap?”


The Hogwarts Express pulled up to Platform Nine and Three Quarters in the late afternoon. When the boys exited the train, Sirius immediately bid them farewell. Regulus was not too far away and he knew his parents must be close by. They watched as Sirius disappeared through the throng of students and set out to find their own parents. The Potters, the Lupins and the Pettigrews were waiting by the platform entrance and waved their sons over when they spotted them.

“Come on, Remus,” Harry Lupin said at once. “We’ve got to be visiting your grandparents.”

“Okay,” Remus said, startled. His father was giving him no time to say goodbye to his friends. “See you in a few weeks,” he added to James and Peter. Harry led his wife and son through the barrier.

“Just Floo to my house, Pete,” James said once the Lupins had gone. “Send me an owl with whatever time you’re coming.”

The Pettigrews and the Potters went their separate ways once on the other side of the platform barrier and in the Muggle World.

Chapter 23: Alley Wanderings and Ghost Stories
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Chapter Twenty Three
Alley Wanderings and Ghost Stories

“So he’s not coming?”

“He said he’s sorry.”

“But you planned it so there weren’t any full moons and he’d be able to come. Was he still sick from the last one?”

“No, he looked fine. But he was really distracted and said he didn’t have time to talk. He also said not to wait for him to go to Diagon Alley when the booklists come, he won’t have time to go with us.”

“He won’t have time to get his school things with us? That’s the only other time we could’ve seen him.”

“That’s what he told me.”

“Did he at least say why he’s not coming?”

“Said it was a family problem, he didn’t want to explain.” James threw himself backwards on his bed and stared at the ceiling. “That kid has more problems than anyone I’ve ever met.”

“Yeah, but they’re not all his fault,” Sirius pointed out reproachfully, sitting down at the head of the bed and folding his arms across his chest.

“Wish he could’ve come,” Peter lamented as he took a seat on the floor, drawing his knees up to his chest.

“He left us his Animagus book, though.” James jerked his thumb towards his desk and they saw their friend’s birthday present lying on top. “That was why he just didn’t send me an owl. He Flooed over to give me that, said we should practise even if he isn’t here.”

Peter stood up to retrieve the book. Flipping through the pages, he sat down in between James and Sirius. “How are we supposed to do this?” he muttered. They knew from the beginning that this would be difficult to master; they may not even get it until after school finished. James and Sirius always managed to do anything they truly set their minds to, but Peter wasn’t so sure he would be able to do it. He was not unintelligent by any means; he just had a harder time at accomplishing challenging tasks than his friends did. He knew they would help him. He was not about to be left out on something as exciting as becoming an Animagus.

“My parents will be out tomorrow, and Willie won’t bother us,” James said, pulling his trainers on. “We can practise in the library.” He jumped off his bed and headed to the door. “Come on, Mum said she would let us go to Diagon Alley with her.”

Peter set the book down and he and Sirius hurried to follow James out the door, pulling their shoes on as they did so. James’s mother was waiting by the fireplace, the bowl of Floo Powder sitting in the palm of her hand. Mrs. Potter had a few errands to run and knew the boys would enjoy going to with her. They could look around while she did her shopping.

When they all emerged on the other side, in the Leaky Cauldron, they saw that, once again, the barroom was considerably empty. Tom the barman grinned wryly at them as he repeatedly rubbed the same spot on the counter with his bar rag. Mrs. Potter led them off to the alley in the back where they were confronted with a seemingly unmoving brick wall. Mrs. Potter tapped the correct brick and the wall part in half, allowing them entrance into the shopping street. Diagon Alley was rather empty, which didn’t surprise them in the least. The booklists had yet to arrive and they were only meant with older shoppers or people who just needed to get out of the house.

Mrs. Potter had to pick up a set of books at Flourish and Blotts. She was forever adding to the library and set of books she quite liked had had just been sent to the shop. She left the boys to wander about, and only instructed to meet her in the Leaky Cauldron at four. As Mrs. Potter walked up the cobblestone street the boys stood in the same spot, confused. They didn’t know quite where to go. They would usually have to go to the stores where they would get their school supplies, but they had none to get at the moment. Now they were at liberty to go wherever they liked. James immediately suggested Quality Quidditch Supplies. He had heard rumors of a new broomstick model being in and he wanted to check it out.

“You already have a broom,” Peter reminded him as they set a course for the shop.

“So, because I have a broom, I can’t look?”

“You don’t look, James. You drool,” Sirius mocked, earning a slap on the side of the head. They entered the store and James searched the store for any sign of the new broomstick, only to find none. Peter and Sirius laughed quietly as James’s face fell into a state of disappointment. He sulked around the shop for another few minutes before declaring defeat. They exited the shop and were, once again, unsure of where to go. Had there actually been a new broomstick model, it would have killed some time.

Coming out of Quality Quidditch Supplies, the boys made a beeline for Eeylops Owl Emporium. Peter’s parents had promised they would get him an owl for his thirteenth birthday and he wanted to get a head start looking, so he could drop obvious hints. A bell tinkled as James pushed the door open and they were met with the quiet hooting of numerous owls of various kinds – Barn, snowy white Scoop. James, who already had the family owl at his disposal and did not want one of his own, spent his time sitting next to a snowy white owl, gently stroking the back of its head. Sirius knew that a personal owl was a far cry from reality, and joined James as they waited for Peter to find one he really liked.

“That one’s nice, Pete,” James said, nodding towards a brown owl speckled with black. Peter moved towards it for closer inspection. The owl was nice; it had golden eyes that caught the light in a strange fashion. But it wasn’t exactly what Peter was looking for. He wove his way further into the store, looking at the owls in the very back. He saw a pitch black owl, which shocked him. He didn’t think owls could ever be all black. He had never seen one like it. To contrast its dark feathers were its lightly coloured eyes that stood out extensively. Though initially surprised, Peter took a liking to the owl and decided that this would be the one he would hint to his parents for.

“Hey, let’s go to the Magical Menagerie,” Sirius suggested as they exited the Emporium. The Magical Menagerie was a pet store but, unlike Eeylops Owl Emporium, it contained more than simply owls. It held everything from magical, dancing rats to large furry cats. As they made their way to the pet store, Sirius’s eyes caught a head of sleek blonde hair that was all too familiar to him – Lucius Malfoy. His eyes continued to follow the Slytherin’s progress down the street. Malfoy stopped and cast a covert glance at his surroundings, before turning off into a dark side street. It was Knockturn Alley, a street full of shops dedicated solely to the Dark Arts.

“What are you looking at, Sirius?” Peter asked when he noticed Sirius was distracted by something.

“Narcissa’s boyfriend,” Sirius replied grimly, nodding towards the head of blonde hair, which was still visible in the darkened alleyway.

“Lucius Malfoy?” James said, remembering an occurrence in their first year that involved Malfoy calling Sirius a “disappointment” to the Black Family. The pair had graduated from school the previous year, something for which Sirius was eternally grateful.

“What’s he doing down there?” Peter wondered. If someone trekked down Knockturn Alley, it usually meant they were up to no good.

“Are you kidding? That’s where he belongs.” Sirius moved closer to the entrance and glanced over his shoulder at his friends, a mischievous smile playing at his lips. “Let’s follow him.”

“Are you mad?” Peter hissed. He had no intentions of ever going down that street.

“What’s the harm in it?”

“We get caught by some crazy Dark wizards?”

“Don’t be such a coward, Peter.”

“Hold on,” James said suddenly, cutting off Peter’s retort. He shoved his hand in his robe pocket and withdrew a silvery cloak. “We’ll use the cloak.”

“Why do you have that?”

“In case Sirius got the idea to wander down Knockturn Alley, of course.” He rolled his eyes. “My dad told me to carry it around with me.”

He led the two over towards the entry and, casually checking their surroundings, tossed the cloak over the three of them. They had to crouch lower than usual, as all three of them had grown considerably. They didn’t want their feet to be seen. They crept stealthily into the darkened street, sidestepping a grim-looking witch who was muttering madly to herself. Lucius’s head was no longer in sight; he must have turned into one of the shops. James and Peter, who were on either side of Sirius and had better views of the stores, peered through the windows. Lucius must have been moving quickly, as he was not in any businesses closest to the entrance.

“There he is,” James whispered, pointing into the window of Borgin and Burkes. Lucius’s back was to them as he conversed with a slimy man behind the counter. They neared the building and Sirius’s hand was on the doorknob before James stopped him. “Too obvious.”

Neither of the boys could hear the conversation going on in Borgin and Burkes, but they were sure it was about nothing admirable. All they could do was take in the forbidding décor of the shop. Even if the establishment had not been placed in the middle of a street devoted to the Dark Arts, it would have been painfully obvious where the owner’s allegiance laid. The minimal lighting cast a murky glow around, illuminating only the objects it could catch in the light. There were skulls mounted on the cluttered shelves, caskets standing against the walls, cabinets that looked as if they would never let you out if you made the mistake of stepping inside.

Sirius’s gaze focused on his cousin’s boyfriend and the man behind the counter. It seemed to be an irritated conversation, mostly on the part of the worker. His eyes were dangerously narrowed and his mouth drawn into a tight frown. Lucius must have been talking very low; he was bent forward and the man had inclined his ear. Sirius recalled a time earlier that summer, when Narcissa had brought Lucius by the house; he had spoken to Sirius in a very low, intimidating voice. That must have been the manner in which he was speaking at that moment. When Lucius backed away, he held out his hand, the man taking it only reluctantly. Sirius wished he could see the expression on Lucius’s face; it would give him some sort of indication as to what had happened.

“Here he comes,” James said, holding out his arm to back Sirius and Peter away from the opening door. Lucius exited the shop, a smug smile etched on his face. He cast another look around and swept up the street and back into Diagon Alley, all the while cleaning his hand on the inside of his robe.

“Where did you three go today?” Mrs. Potter asked curiously when she met the boys at the Leaky Cauldron a few hours later. The boys had spent their remaining time wandering the cobblestone streets aimlessly, talking heatedly about what they had seen. They knew Lucius Malfoy was scum, but they couldn’t think of why he was consulting in Knockturn Alley.

“Nowhere really,” James replied vaguely. “Went to Eeylops, Quality Quidditch Supplies.”

“Did they have the new broom you heard about?”

“No, it was only a rumor.”

“Well, come on, then. Your father said he was getting home early today.”

The three boys followed Mrs. Potter over to the fireplace, deciding silently that it was best she did not know about their trek into Knockturn Alley.

The boys sat in the library of James’s house, flipping anxiously through the pages of Remus’s Animagi book. They started with the Patronus that they had read about at school. It was described as a spell that was well beyond the Ordinary Wizarding Level. They had two years before they would take their O.W.L. exams, how were they to perform this? It didn’t sound difficult when written down, but when put into execution it would probably prove to be a challenge. They had to concentrate on the happiest memory they could remember and a silvery substance would erupt from their wands, turning into an animal that related to their personality.

“Wait a moment,” James said. “We can’t do this.”

“Why not?” Sirius asked, frustrated. They had been sitting for an hour, doing nothing except reading a book that was getting them nowhere.

“We can’t do magic outside of school!”

“Merlin,” Peter muttered, slumping back in his seat. “How are we going to get anywhere?”

“Don’t ask me.” James slammed the book shut. He stood up and walked around the room, irritated. How were they to make any progress if they could not use their magic outside of school? They couldn’t risk being expelled; their efforts would be for nothing. They couldn’t help Remus if they were kicked out of school. “Maybe we can just think of anything that would be a happy memory, so we don’t have to waste time with that when we try our Patronuses.”

And so they did. James dug out the notebook he had used the previous year when they were tracking down Remus’s disappearances, and started a new section on their Animagi training sessions. Sirius didn’t have to waste any time thinking up his happiest memory. When he was Sorted into Gryffindor rather than Slytherin, nothing could quite beat that moment. James sat a little longer, his quill poised, but his mind at a standstill. He had no significantly terrible experiences to compare the good ones with. He had to sort through his happy memories and finally came upon his first trip on the Hogwarts Express where he met his three best friends. It took Peter even longer to come up with a happy memory, but he decided to go with the first time he successfully transfigured something in school.

“What do we do after we get our Patronus form?” Peter asked Sirius, who was skimming through the book.

“Uh… we brew a potion with the hairs of whatever our animal is,” Sirius replied slowly, reading the instructions. “Sounds a bit like a Polyjuice Potion. It’s really difficult to brew. I guess James and I will work on that.”

“What if we’re some really exotic animal that’s impossible to find?” James asked playfully.

“I doubt any of us will be a tropical fish. If we were, we’d have a hard time getting hair.”

“I fancy myself as a majestic horse.” James drew himself up, lifting his chin and placing his hands on his hips.

Sirius snickered at his friend’s pathetic pose. “I fancy you as a slimy slug.”

“Whatever our form is depends on our personalities,” Peter plowed on, diverting James’s impending retort. “They put some examples on this page.” He pushed the book forward so James and Sirius could get a better look. There were the personality traits listed in a column on the left, and a number of possible animal correspondents on the right. Loyalty was befitting of a dog, slightly touched in the head corresponded with a hummingbird. The boys couldn’t pinpoint their perfect match; they could only narrow it down to about fifteen choices each.

James collected the book and tucked it under his arm. “It was worth a shot.” He shrugged and led the way back to his room so he could stow the book away until he could give it back to Remus. Remus didn’t give a time when he would come back for it; he didn’t say much of anything while he was there. James had been sitting by the fireplace, lounging in one of the comfortable armchairs, when the emerald flames unexpectedly erupted under the mantle. Startled, James nearly fell forward onto the floor, but recovered himself long enough to recognise the sandy haired boy that had come stumbling over the grate, covered in soot.

Remus’s face was pale and his eyes focusing on everything and nothing. He had never been to the Potters’ before, but didn’t even seem to take in his new surroundings. He was clutching his book in a vice-like grip, before pushing it into James’s arms. He spoke quickly, saying something was going on at home and he was really sorry, but he just couldn’t come and visit. He wasn’t even supposed to be there at that moment. His parents had no idea. Before James could even get a word out, Remus had gone back through the fireplace and Flooed home. James couldn’t understand it, what was happening that caused him to behave like that?

The boys were stumped on what to do. They could not practise becoming Animagi, due to their inability to do magic at the present. Peter would protest playing Quidditch and it was nowhere near warm enough to go swimming at the lake. Sirius was gazing out at the evening sky, purplish and still as twilight fell. Mr. and Mrs. Potter had returned from work and errands, and were in the downstairs. Mrs. Potter was fixing dinner and Mr. Potter was probably reading the paper, or else having a quiet conversation with his wife.

“I have an idea,” Sirius said suddenly, breaking his gaze away from the window.

“What?” James asked from his bed.

“Is there any spare wood around here?”

James sat up, looking befuddled. “Out back, why?”

“After dinner, why don’t we take any sweet we can put on a stick and roast them over a fire? Tell ghost stories like Muggles do.”

“Do you know any good ones?” Peter asked skeptically.

“Of course I do. I’ve seen pictures of it… I heard some kids who take Muggle Studies talking about it.”

“Hey, how do your parents feel about you taking that class?” James asked inquisitively.

“Thrilled… If I keep this up they may blast me off the family tree.” Sirius stood up and peered at his two friends. “So are we going to do that or just sit here bored?”

After dinner with James’s parents, the boys raided the kitchen for anything they could put on a stick. After fifteen minutes, they made their way to the backyard, their arms laden with Chocolate Frogs, marshmallows, and Cauldron Cakes (only because James begged) and set them down on the grass. James led the way to the area where his father kept the firewood. It was stacked in a neat pile beside the door to the kitchen. The curtains were pulled back from the door and they could see Willie bustling about, doing her nightly scrub. They collected the logs and brought them back to where they had deposited their candy.

“Who can light it?” Peter asked as he put the last log in place.

James volunteered and pulled out a pack of matches he had swiped from the kitchen. Sirius, bewildered, asked why his parents would have matches. James shrugged; sometimes his mother preferred doing things the Muggle way. He struck the match against the box and set the flame to the log nearest to him. The pile erupted, illuminating the dark night sky and giving the area a frightening atmosphere. The boys sat down and began spearing their candy onto their sticks and roasting them over the roaring flame.

“Okay, who’s going first?” James asked, blowing furiously on a flame that had found its way onto his Cauldron Cake.

Sirius grinned evilly. “I think I will.” He bit off his Chocolate Frog’s leg and stood up, pacing around the fire, deep in thought. “Okay, then.” He spun around, now standing opposite James and Peter across the fire. “I suppose neither of you have ever wondered about Inferi?” James and Peter shook their heads. “Well, you see, Inferi… they’re not very nice little beasts. Reincarnated dead… brought back to life, though not exactly living. They’re corpses, you see. If someone’s feeling particularly evil… they’ll animate the corpses so they can attack poor unsuspecting people. A lot of times they’ll go after innocent boys… girls too.”

There was a noise that James and Peter couldn’t distinguish, but it didn’t seem to bother Sirius.

“There was this one time, in Bulgaria I believe, where a town was ravaged by these monsters. It was a dark, calm summer night… very much like this. The town was having a bonfire; having a great time, singing and dancing… eating sweets on sticks… and all of the sudden they had some unwelcome visitors. The Inferi didn’t hesitate to rip to shreds anyone who was not nearest to the fire, because Inferi can’t stand the light. So it was a real shame when it started raining and the fire was extinguished. No one was safe after that. The night was filled with these innocent peoples’ cries as the Inferi ripped them limb from limb.” Sirius paused for a moment to take in the terrified faces of his companions. “Anyway, legend goes that the people who died, their spirits still haunt that Bulgarian village. On late summer nights you can still hear their cries. The Inferi that killed them… well, they’ve moved on. They’ve traveled far and wide to find new prey. Often they go after people with fires, so the rain can just,” Sirius snapped his finger and the fire was out, “put the fire out.”

James and Peter jumped out of their seats and ran to the house so quickly that they could not even see what the cause was. Sirius, however, stood happily in his place, laughing loudly beside a short, pointy-eared figure. He held out his hand, which the figure took. “Thanks, Willie. You’re the best.”

The Potters’ House Elf stood beside Sirius, holding an empty bucket. “You is welcome, Master Sirius.”

Chapter 24: Tackling the Boggart
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Chapter Twenty Four
Tackling the Boggart

Sirius sat in an empty compartment on the Hogwarts Express, gazing out the window at the students who were saying goodbye to their parents. Sirius had not even bothered; his parents were too wrapped up in Regulus to care. Sirius may have been the Black Family heir, but Regulus was the Black Family prince. He had been given a new broomstick, a Silver Arrows like James’s, so he could try out for Slytherin’s house team. If Sirius had even asked, he probably would have been laughed at. He managed to slip by his folks, unnoticed, onto the train and left to search out a vacant compartment for when his friends arrived. He had not seen James or Peter since he left the Potters, and he had not seen Remus at all.

He yawned widely and glanced at the door, hoping one of the three would suddenly materialize. He had to admit, he was very much looking forward to his third year. Third year students were permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade on designated weekends. He had been there only a few times and never really had time to look at the shops he wanted to look at. He had gone into Honeydukes when he went with James and Peter the year before, but they were on a condensed time schedule. Now they were at their leisure. He couldn’t wait to get inside Zonko’s Joke Shop. He had discussed it with James and Peter and they had come to the conclusion that there would not be a quiet moment left in the castle once they were allowed entrance into Zonko’s. The Three Broomsticks was another place he was looking forward to visiting. It was basically the hangout for Hogwarts students who weren’t willing to go into the Hog’s Head, or did not want to be amongst the lovesick couples in Madam Puddifoot’s.

Yes, third year already seemed like it was going to be one of the best years at Hogwarts. He got to start his new classes and learn more interesting topics in his classes. Muggle Studies shouldn’t be too hard, and he wanted to see what creatures they would be working with in Care of Magical Creatures. Transfiguration was going to be extremely helpful; he knew this was the year when they would learn about Animagi. Defence Against the Dark Arts was debatable. If they had a good teacher it would be worthwhile. If they had a repeat of first year, there was no point in going to class. He wondered what had ever happened to Professor Jones. He had read the papers countless times to see if he could find anything. It seemed his former professor had not yet succumbed to the illness that was plaguing him.

He was broken out of his reverie by the compartment door sliding open. Remus stepped over the threshold, offered Sirius a small, tired smile, stowed his trunk away, and sat down. Sirius couldn’t imagine why his friend looked so tired; the full moon had been weeks ago. Nevertheless, he greeted Remus happily.

“Hey, how’ve you been?”

“Fine,” Remus replied vaguely, cracking his knuckles noisily.

“How was your summer?” The moment the question fell off his lips, Sirius knew it was stupid. James had said that Remus was having problems at home. How else was his summer supposed to be except bad?

Remus, however, did not seem to really register the question. “Good.”

“Is everything okay? At your house, I mean?”

Remus finally seemed to come to reality. “Not really.”

“Are your parents okay?” Sirius knew that if something ever happened to Remus’s parents, he would be devastated.

“Oh, they’re okay.” He shifted in his seat. “I mean, they’re not sick or anything. Just upset… worried.”

“About what?”

About what, Sirius did not find out, as James and Peter chose that moment to appear. They both greeted their friends merrily, James sitting down next to Sirius and Peter beside Remus.

“Hey,” they said together.

“Hi,” Sirius said, while Remus nodded. “So, what happened?” Sirius asked, turning back to Remus.

Remus looked uncomfortable, but answered anyhow. “My grandparents… they got really sick earlier this summer, that was why I couldn’t come and visit you three at James’s.”

“What are they sick with?” James questioned worriedly.

“We’re not exactly sure what’s wrong with my grandpa and my grandma has some Muggle disease called Cancer.” He glanced up from his lap and saw his friends looked shocked – both his grandparents at the same time? “My parents and I were back and forth between St. Mungo’s and some Muggle hospital in London.”

“I’m sorry, mate,” Peter said, unsure of what else he could say.

“Don’t be, Pete. You’re not the reason they’re sick.” He slouched back in his seat and yawned. He hadn’t gotten much sleep the entire summer. Back and forth between hospitals, two violent transformations that had him in bed for three days after, how was he to get any rest? Then he was also worried about his father. His dad and grandparents had many disagreements – most of them about Remus – but he loved them and couldn’t bear the thought of anything bad happening to them. He and his mother had spent a good amount of time trying to cheer his father up, to no avail.

Sirius bit his bottom lip, thinking for a moment before breaking the uncomfortable silence that had fallen. “Hogsmeade? Did you three gets your forms signed?”

“Yeah, the second I got it my mum signed it,” James replied. “I can’t wait to get in there.”

“It’s going to be wicked,” Peter said excitedly. “Going wherever we want without having to meet our parents.”

“When’s the first trip usually?” Remus asked; glad to have something new to think about.

“Probably around Halloween,” Sirius answered, shrugging. He didn’t care when it was, as long as he got to go. “They put up the notices in the common room. Don’t you remember seeing them?”

Remus shrugged. He never really paid attention to the notices that he did not need to know. So they had Hogsmeade to look forward to. This would be the first time during the school year he got to visit the village on a night that did not contain a full moon.

“You know, this is the first time we’re not going to be in all the same classes,” James said.

“It’s only one,” Peter reminded him. “Doesn’t make much of a difference.”

“Yeah, but still… Hey, I wonder what classes Evans is taking.”

“What do you care?” Sirius laughed. The last time he checked, Lily Evans hated James Potter’s very existence.

“Just curious.”

“I think she’s taking Care of Magical Creatures,” Remus said, recalling Lily mentioning it during one of their tutoring sessions. “And Muggle Studies.”

“Why on Earth would she be taking Muggle Studies? She’s a Muggle-born!”

Remus shrugged. “She wanted an easy class.” He remembered Lily laughing, saying the Muggle Studies would be no problem, one less class to study for. This was the reason he and his friends were taking Care of Magical Creatures. It didn’t require much hard work. He shifted again in his seat. “New Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher again.”

“Yeah, I wonder what’s going to happen to this one,” Sirius speculated.

“Maybe they’ll fall off a cliff,” James mused, feigning thoughtfulness.

“Does anyone know what even happen to Jones?” Peter asked. They had heard nothing of their former professor’s condition since Remus brought them the news of the man’s transfer to St. Mungo’s.

“Oh, yeah,” Remus said, suddenly remembering. “He… died, early in August.”

James’s, Sirius’s, and Peter’s mouths dropped open at this pronouncement. How could that be? They had not read it in the Daily Prophet and they were fairly certain that the papers would jump on the opportunity to report the death of a former Hogwarts professor. It seemed so strange that he died so suddenly. It was also odd that James had not heard the news before Remus did. His father worked at the hospital, after all.

James was the first to recover from the shock. “Do you know what he died of?”

“I don’t know… But, didn’t your father tell you? He must have known.”

“No, my dad didn’t say anything about it.”

Remus frowned. “We heard it when we were visiting my grandfather. The Healers were talking about it.”

“Did you see him at all?”

“No… we stuck mostly to my grandpa’s ward.”

As Sirius opened his mouth, undoubtedly to ask another question, he caught James’s eye and refrained from doing so. They strongly doubted Remus would want to be reminded of being in a hospital all summer. Instead, they sat in silence, thinking about the passing of their professor. It didn’t seem fair that a kind man like Professor Jones had to die, while a horrible man, Professor Crane coming to mind, could live. It was strange how the world operated.

“I hate Divination!”

“We told you it was going to be a joke.”

“But it’s just so… I don’t even know how to say how bad it is.”

“Did you really think you were going to find something in those tea leaves, Pete?”

“Shut up, James.”

The boys were sitting at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, just tucking into their lunch. The class before had been their electives, in which the four boys had been separated as they went to their own classes. Peter was currently ranting about how terrible Divination was, and thoroughly regretting that he did not listen to his friends’ warnings the previous year. They had heard from the older students that Divination was a class best left avoided.

Peter moodily stabbed at his stew, not realising there was no point in doing so. “How were your classes?”

“Muggle Studies is great, but weird. Muggles have to do everything the hard way,” Sirius said, looking awed.

“It’s not the hard way for them,” Remus said, looking up from his plate of steak and kidney pie. “Arithmancy is great.”

“What do you do?” Peter asked, hoping it wasn’t as interesting as Remus thought. Divination couldn’t have been the worst class in the school.

“Right now, we’re using the number and letter charts to find out what our Life Numbers are.” He looked at James. “How’s Ancient Runes?”

“Not bad,” James said, pulling the bowl of stew away from Peter. “Save some for the rest of us. You’re starting to act like Sirius.”

Sirius, whose plate was piled three feet high, looked away innocently. “Anyway, I can’t wait for Care of Magical Creatures.”

“What do you think Kettleburn’s going to do with us?” Remus asked, shifting through the books in his bag.

“Probably something huge… like Hippogriffs,” James joked.

“I think Hagrid would do that, not Kettleburn,” Sirius said, weeding through the massive amount of food on his plate. He picked out a sausage and stuffed it into his mouth. “Bud be don hab it umtil Bursday.”

“You know what’s sad?”

“What, James?” Peter asked, glaring angrily at his Divination book.

“I actually understood that.”

Sirius swallowed with great difficulty. “What do we have next?”

Remus consulted his timetable. “Defence Against the Dark Arts.” He set the chart down. “That Handlin bloke didn’t look too bad.” The man had a friendly smile for the students when Professor Dumbledore introduced him. Professor Jones had done the same the previous year. Professor Crane only sneered at them. When they finished their lunch they headed to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom where they were joined by their fellow Gryffindor and Hufflepuff third years. Professor Handlin was sitting at his desk, reading, and looked up when his students entered.

“Good afternoon,” he said pleasantly. “Would you mind putting your books away? We will be heading to the dungeons.” The class exchanged curious looks; why would he be taking them there? This was Defence Against the Dark Arts, not Potions. Still, they packed up their books and followed Professor Handlin out of the room. The students whispered excitedly as they passed through the vacant corridors, down through the Entrance Hall and into the dungeons. Handlin did not take them towards Slughorn’s classroom; instead he veered off and brought them to a large encasement.

“What’s that?” Allison Abbot asked.

It was an elaborately designed case, decorated with slithering snakes and shimmering emeralds. Professor Handlin ran a hand along the side of it. “It’s a cabinet, but what that is, is not important. It’s what’s inside that we are concerned with.” And the cabinet shook violently. “Don’t be startled.”

“What’s inside?” Alice Gordon asked apprehensively.

“A Boggart.”

“I think that’s something to worry about,” Sirius hissed in Remus’s ear. So did many other students. Peter was now giving the cabinet a wary look, as though it might attack at any moment. Allison Abbot also appeared to think that a Boggart gave sufficient worry. Some students, like Lily Evans, didn’t know what a Boggart was and, therefore, did not know what everyone was so scared of.

Professor Handlin rubbed his hands together and surveyed the class. “Now, Boggarts are shape shifters. They will take the shape of whatever frightens the person closest to it. It could turn into a giant snake… a banshee… anything that you may find terrifying. We have an advantage over this particular Boggart, as we are standing in a group. The Boggart will not be able to decide what shape it would assume. Who knows why this is an advantage?”

James’s hand shot up in the air.


“It’ll probably try to turn into more than one thing and that wouldn’t be very scary.”

“Exactly. Ten points to Gryffindor. In fact, should a Boggart attempt such a feat, it will turn into something quite amusing and that is the way we repel Boggarts. With laughter.” He raised his wand slightly. “Will you all repeat after me? Riddikulus.” The class repeated the incantation. “Very good. However, the incantation is not all you will need. You must think of whatever frightens you the most and turn it into something funny, something that will make you laugh. Will you all please do so right now?”

The class went quiet as every screwed their eyes shut, thinking rapidly for what they feared the most. It was rather obvious for many, their worst fears instantly coming to mind. Some, like James, had a little more difficulty, but managed to come to a decision in the end. When the class was ready, they fell to the back of the room while Handlin decided who he should call up first.

“Let’s see now… Sirius Black, why don’t you come up first?”

Sirius looked surprised at being called first, but strode to the front, determined. He faced the cabinet and Professor Handlin tapped the knob. The door burst open and out stepped a giant whose head scraped the ceiling as it crouched over. Sirius raised his wand. “Riddikulus!” There was a loud crack and the giant was now the size of a mouse. The class roared with laughter.

“Good job, Sirius,” Handlin commended. “Now the Boggart will turn its attention to the rest of us. Remus Lupin, come forward.”

Remus clapped Sirius on the shoulder as they passed. The Boggart rounded on Remus and with another loud crack the mouse disappeared and was replaced with a silvery orb hovering in mid air. The class watched as Remus stayed frozen for moments, before saying, “Riddikulus!” The orb disappeared and a white balloon deflated, flying around the classroom as the students laughed appreciatively.

“Wonderful!” Handlin laughed.

The Boggart became a banshee, wailing loudly. Crack. The banshee now had a clothespin attached to its mouth. Crack. The Boggart now became a sphinx, rearing its head. Crack. The sphinx was now a kitten, purring.

“It’s confused,” Handlin told the class. “James Potter, your turn.”

James, frowning slightly, stepped forward as Lily Evans returned to her place in line. Ever since he had been a small boy and had seen pictures of them, James had been terrified of Dementors, the guards of the wizard prison, Azkaban. He had never encountered one, and doubted he would be severely affected by them, but that did not stop him from being scared. The Boggart found James and with another crack it became a black, hooded figure.

The room went cold. James had an idea of what he was going to turn it into, but he couldn’t remember. His mind had gone foggy. What had it been? The Dementor drew closer to James, who stepped back slowly. The room was eerily quiet, so much so until Peter’s voice broke through.


Professor Handlin stepped in front of James and the Boggart turned on him instead. James did not linger to see what it turned into when it saw Handlin; he wanted to see why Peter had shouted. He didn’t see until Handlin cleared through the crowd of students.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be alright,” Handlin was saying, stooping down onto his knees. James peered around the professor and saw that Remus was slumped against the wall, his face a pasty white, seemingly coming out of a doze. “Move back,” Handlin said to the students. “Give him room to breathe.” He fished for something in his pocket. “Eat this.” Remus groggily took whatever it was Handlin had given him and bit off a small piece. “Come on, stand up now.” He helped Remus to his feet. “Let’s see… five points to everyone who fought the Boggart. Class dismissed.”

The class began dispersing, except for James, Sirius and Peter, who moved toward Remus instead of the exit of the dungeons. “What happened to you?” James asked concernedly.

“I don’t know,” Remus mumbled, his eyes wide, biting off another piece of the chocolate the professor had given him. “I heard things in my head and I think I passed out.”

“It was the Dementor,” Handlin said from behind them. “Even in Boggart form, it has the effects of a real one. They make people relive their worst memories. Some are affected more than others, depending on what has happened to them. It’s understandable why it affected you in such a way.” He peered closely at his student. “Are you alright?”

Remus nodded, staring down at the floor. “I’ll be fine.” He slung his book bag over his shoulder. “C’mon.”

Defence Against the Dark Arts was their last class of the day, so when they emerged into the Entrance Hall they saw flocks of students heading to the Great Hall for dinner. Remus, who was not hungry, turned away from the dining hall and headed for Gryffindor Tower. Sirius nodded James and Peter on, saying he would catch up with them later. James and Peter hesitated, but Sirius had already turned and followed Remus up to the common room. Remus covered ground fast and was already a good way ahead of Sirius. He probably wanted to avoid the questions of those who had seen him in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

Sirius emerged in the boys’ dormitory just as Frank was leaving to go down to dinner.

“Is he alright?” Frank whispered to Sirius.

“Yeah, he’ll be fine.” Sirius stepped aside, letting Frank through, and found Remus sitting on his bed, scrawling out a letter. His brow was furrowed and his hand moving oddly fast for someone who had just collapsed. “You okay?” Sirius asked, sitting down beside his friend.

Remus nodded, his writing now ceasing. “I just… needed to write to my dad.”

Sirius knew what Remus was telling his father; Mr. Lupin would want to know what happened. “Remus… what did you hear?”

Remus’s quill paused in mid-sentence. “Myself.”

“Doing what?”

“Yelling… I think it was the night I was bitten.” He finished the sentence in his letter and folded it. “I don’t ever want to hear that again. Once was enough.”

“Can’t blame you for that.” Remus knew that Sirius had followed him to the Shrieking Shack when they were trying to confirm that he was a werewolf. He had rarely ever seen him right after the transformation was over, not even when he had stayed at the Lupins’ over Christmas. He knew what the screaming was like; he knew why Remus would never want to hear it again.

“Everyone probably thinks I’m crazy, don’t they?”

“No, they were just worried.” Sirius chanced joking. “But if the Slytherins had been there…”

“Thank Merlin they weren’t.” He tied the folded letter together with some string he had been knotting around his fingers. “I’m going to go up to the Owlery.”

“I’m going down to dinner.” Sirius stood up, rubbing his growling stomach.

“How on Earth could you be hungry? You ate the entire table for lunch.”

“I have an iron stomach.”

“Iron skull…”

“I heard that.”

“I meant you to.”

The boys separated as Sirius went down and Remus up. Remus was not hungry, and he doubted there would be any food left by the time Sirius got to it anyway. The chocolate had made him full and he didn’t feel like sitting in the Great Hall. News traveled fast in Hogwarts and it was only a matter of time before the wrong ears heard about what had happened in Handlin’s class. He could only imagine the looks on the Slytherins’ faces, soon they would all be wondering why Remus Lupin fainted in front of a Dementor. Sirius was right; it was a good thing the Slytherins had not actually been there.

The Owlery was filled with the incessant hooting of the owls as they slept or communicated in their language unknown to humans. He manoeuvered his way through the straw and droppings on the floor, searching for an owl to send his letter. At the far end of the Owlery was a Barn Owl, looking rather lonely and bored. Remus wove his way around to the owl, who readily held out his leg. The owl nipped his finger once the letter was attached and swept off into the late afternoon sky. Remus watched the owl as it became nothing more than a speck, and was broken out of his gaze by the door opening and closing.

“Oh, hullo, Remus.”

“Hey, Lily.”

Lily was holding a colourful package, searching for an owl large enough to carry it. “My dad’s birthday is this weekend,” she explained. “I wanted to make sure it got home on time.”

“Happy birthday to your dad, then.”

Lily grinned. “He hates being reminded it’s his birthday. He hates ageing.” She spotted an appropriate owl high above in the rafters. She coaxed it down by producing a handful of food. “Are you feeling better?” she asked as she allowed the owl to peck the food out of her palm.

“Yeah, Handlin gave me something for it.”

“That was scary, what happened. Do you know why you… fainted?”

“Dementors… they make people relive their worst memories.” He hesitated, he wasn’t sure if he wanted her to know more than that. Lily, however, seemed to guess what was coming next.

“And sometimes they’re so bad no one can take it?”


Lily finished tying the package to the owl and sent him off. “At least you probably won’t be coming across any Dementors again,” she told him optimistically.


“Well, I’m going to go down to dinner, unless Sirius has eaten everything.”

Remus laughed. “He just went down, you don’t have a hope.”

Chapter 25: The Room of Requirement
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Chapter Twenty Five
The Room of Requirement

“What’s the matter, Lupin? Afraid of the big, bad Dementor?”

“Sod off, Rosier.”

“Don’t let the Dementors hear you talking like that. They don’t like foul language.”

“Because you’re such good friends with them, of course you’d know that.”

“Better keep that attitude of yours down. None of us wants to see you faint again.”

“Bugger off.”

“I wonder what could have been so bad that made you lose it like that… Maybe it was you realising you’ve got a filthy Muggle for a mother, or that your father-”

“Shut up!” Remus had been trying, unsuccessfully, for the past fifteen minutes to shake off Evan Rosier, a Slytherin third year and friend of Severus Snape. He had been right when he assumed that word would spread fast and reach the wrong ears sooner than he would have liked. The taunting generated primarily from the Slytherins, as he suspected, but he was also surprised to find a few ridiculers in the other houses, only it was mainly the older students. He had not come in close contact with any of the mockers until now, and he was on his last nerve.

“Are you going to hex me, Lupin?” Rosier laughed derisively, his eyes resting on Remus’s drawn wand.

Remus knew it was stupid to hex someone in the middle of the hallway where a teacher could walk by at any given moment, but he was too incensed to care. These people had no idea what they were talking about; they didn’t know what he had heard when the Dementor appeared. If they did… if they did he would be in a worse position than he was. No Slytherin would take pity on him because he heard his own screams as the werewolf in his head closed in. But he didn’t care about that at the moment; he just wanted to hurt Rosier.

“If you were going to hex me, you would’ve done it by now,” Rosier hissed.

“Get out of here,” Remus snarled. He had expected the Slytherin to laugh, and he did, but he had not expected him to actually listen. Remus could not pretend he was ungrateful. Rosier saw that he was not looking for a fight. Remus stared at the Slytherin’s back as it wove its way through the crowd of oncoming students. How many more encounters like that was he going to have before people grew tired of it? Ten minutes later he climbed through the portrait hole and spotted Sirius sitting by the fire, tossing a balled up sock.

“Where’re James and Peter?” he asked as he sat down.

“James is at Quidditch practise and Peter’s in detention,” Sirius replied lazily.

“Filch is finally getting payback for Peter hexing his cleaning supplies to clean him?

Sirius nodded. “He’s enjoying it too; I think he has Pete cleaning the entire dungeon with a toothbrush. Actually, I think it’s Filch’s toothbrush.”

“Poor Peter.”

“Yeah, he’s going to be sore tomorrow, not to mention sick. Where were you?”

“Getting something for my headache.”

“But it’s not for a few days.”

Remus did not have to ask what it was referring to. “I know, but they haven’t been very good lately. I’ve been getting sick sooner.”

Sirius shoved the socks in his pocket. “D’you know why?”

“I thought over the summer it was just because I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep. Maybe it’s just part of getting older… I dunno.”

An awkward silence fell, in which Sirius tried to break, thinking of the most random topic he could. “You know… those records you three gave me for my birthday, am I ever going to get to listen to them?”

“Yes… you’ll just have to wait a bit more; we’ve almost got all the money.”

“Good, I was getting tired of just looking at black wheels that do nothing.”

“They’re not wheels. Honestly, you’re the one taking Muggle Studies.”

“Well, you’re the one who grew up with a Muggle for a mother and your grandmum’s a Muggle too.” Remus gave a jerk of the head, which Sirius took as a nod. Any mention of his friend’s grandparents, no matter what it was about, was not a smart move. “Err… how are they anyway, your grandparents?”

“Fine, they’re fine.” Remus stood up and hurried to the dormitory steps. “I have to go finish some homework. See you later.”

“Yeah, see you.” Sirius knew it was understandable for Remus to worry about his grandparents, even though they hadn’t tried until recently to be a part of his life. Sirius couldn’t imagine what it was like to actually have family members that would make him upset if something bad happened to them. He supposed it must feel nice, even if pain had to be endured. To have known someone for a long time, to get to know them, it would be sad to see them leave the world, but he would have memories. Good memories. He wondered that if any of his relatives were to die, would he be as upset as Remus would be when his grandparents finally passed on? There was his great uncle, Alphard. He was always nice to him; he supposed that he would be sad when his great uncle died.

Family was never something Sirius understood. He doubted he would very soon, and he often wondered if he ever would.

Animagus training was proving to be unachievable, so far out of their reach that it appeared an almost impossible feat. They could not practise just anywhere. They couldn’t risk getting caught. What they were doing was illegal. There would be no point in them even trying if they were going to have the professors catch them. It would be pointless. They need to find a room that no one knew about. The Shrieking Shack was out of the question, they knew this already. Even though the Shack was off limits, Peter suggested using the tunnel leading to it, which Remus shot down just as quickly as he had the tunnel’s destination. Their predicament was frustrating on many levels, though none more than when Remus departed for his first full moon of the year and they could not be there with him.

The full moon fell on Wednesday, the twelfth of September. It seemed that Remus was right when he said that his transformations would get worse as he got older. During his second year, the only truly terrible transformation he had was when he and his friends were not speaking. This time, however, he was fighting with nobody. True, he was still a little agitated by the snide remarks the Slytherins were throwing at him, but that was nothing. James, Sirius nor Peter could wake him up, not even after Sirius got it into his head to flip Remus’s mattress over while he was still on it. He slept on soundly on the floor until they picked him up and fixed his bed. From what they could see, Remus appeared to be extremely warm and was covered in sweat as he continued to sleep, oblivious to whatever was going on around him.

Finally, after spending the better part of fifteen minutes attempting, the boys left Remus to his sleep and went on to class. They knew they were going to have to start training soon. They would all be maturing in a matter of time and it would have a worse toll on their friend than it would on them. If they could accompany him it wouldn’t be so bad. He wouldn’t have to hurt himself the way he did. But they couldn’t think of where to train. This was all that was preventing them from starting. They couldn’t use a spare classroom. There was too much of a risk that they would be caught by a professor. James had once suggested using the Forbidden Forest, but Peter quickly dismissed that notion. He didn’t fancy being at the mercy of the forest creatures.

Their predicament was frustrating on many scales. They didn’t want to see their friend hurt anymore, but they were doing nothing except stressing themselves out over finding the perfect training spot. They combed the castle while Remus was away, searching every potential area. They had uncovered the kitchens the previous year, why could they not find another secret? True, the castle was expansive; it would be near impossible, or at least very difficult, to come upon another unknown passage again. The professors would get suspicious if they saw the boys repeatedly at random parts of the castle. Where could they work?

Late afternoon on Thursday, after bringing a recovering Remus some chocolate they had nicked from the kitchens, James, Sirius and Peter continued their still fruitless search. Their search brought them up on one end of the seventh floor, near the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy.

“This is hopeless,” Peter moaned as they walked back and forth before the painting, bickering about whether to head back to the common room or not.

“It is not, Peter,” Sirius said warningly, glaring sideways at his friend. If Peter had a problem with it, he should have gone back.

Peter seemed to notice Sirius’s agitation. “I mean, where are we not looking? We’ve gone through almost the entire castle.”

“I doubt that,” James said as they wheeled around and walked the same path. “This castle is so huge; I bet there are places Dumbledore doesn’t even know about.”

“Like that?” Sirius said, stopping short. James and Peter turned to what Sirius was pointing at. It was a large wooden door that had not been there while they had been pacing back and forth.

“Where did that come from?” James wondered, running his hand along the wood as if it might disappear if he didn’t.

“It just… came out of nowhere.” Sirius jerked his head at James, signaling for him to open it and see what was inside.

Hesitating only slightly, James turned the knob and pushed the door open. Inside was what very much resembled the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, yet there were no desks, nor was there any sign of Professor Handlin. For a moment, the boys thought they had stumbled on another entrance to a classroom. There was a large clearing in the centre and at the edges were comfortable cushions. Bookshelves lined the walls, filled to the maximum capacity with books whose titles they could not see from their distance. There were a number of cauldrons stored at the back, with almost all of the ingredients they could fathom.

“We’ve struck Galleons,” James said, leading the way into the room.

“So, what exactly is this place?”

“We told you, it’s our place for Animagus training.”

“And it just appeared out of nowhere, a door just came out of the wall?”

“You say that like it’s so unbelievable, Remus. A pear laughed just because Peter leaned against it and it became the kitchens. A door come out of nowhere isn’t so strange.”

The boys were filling Remus in on their recent discovery. After searching out the room and making sure that it was definitely not a mirage, the boys hightailed it back to Gryffindor Tower to fill their friend in on everything. Remus was annoyingly sceptical at first, repeating over and over that it was insane they had not found this room sooner. Yet he was slowly coming around. They sat, piled on Remus’s bed, flipping noisily through the pages in Remus’s Animagus book.

“When are we going to start?” Remus asked eagerly. Now that they had a place, what was stopping them?

“Whenever you get better,” Peter replied, running his finger along the sentence he was reading.

“I’ll be fine by tomorrow.” This was not entirely true. His transformation the night before had been terrible and Madam Pomfrey was stressing that he remain in bed for another day at the least.

“We can wait another day, Remus,” James insisted. He did not want his friend prolonging his recovery just because he refused to listen to the nurse.

“You can start without me.”

“What’s the point in that?” Sirius said. “You’re the one who’s going to tell us what to do.”

“You don’t really need me for that.”

James scoffed. “You think we’re going to actually read it?”

Sirius shook his head. “No way, mate. We need your brain for this.”

Remus rolled his eyes, exasperated. “Fine… I’ll be better by tomorrow.”

The following day the boys headed for the portrait of Barnabas the Barmy and stood before the wall across from it. The door had gone. Remus gave them a look that clearly asked where the alleged door was, and they had no answer for it. They were not mental. There was no way the three of them could have had the same hallucination. Or could they have? After all, they were at Hogwarts, the place where painted pears laughed and portraits purposely tried to get students lost. Was it possible that they had only imagined the room? It just seemed so unlikely.

“You dragged me out for this?” Remus asked, folding his arms across his chest and staring at his pacing friends.

“Hey, we didn’t drag you out, you came willingly,” Sirius corrected. Remus was still not looking well, the bruises on his white face stood out exceptionally and he was having a difficult time walking. But he had gotten out of his bed on his own accord and went with them to find the room after classes.

“I swear there was a door right there.” James pointed an irritated finger at the wall as he passed by it.

“Well it seems to have gotten up and walked away,” Remus told him, heading back towards Gryffindor Tower.

“Wait! Remus, get back here!” Sirius was gaping at the wall.

“What?” Remus turned to see what Sirius was staring at. Clearly the boys had not been having delusions. There stood the door that James, Sirius and Peter had stumbled on the day before. They were still not sure of how it was there one moment and gone the next, but they didn’t waste their time dwelling on it. It was time to start training. The room was arranged the same as it had been the previous day. The same books were in the same spots on the same shelves, the chairs and desks had not moved. They knew they had found their destination.

The boys dropped their bags on one of the armchairs, while Remus knelt down and fished through his bag for the book. He found it crushed under his Transfiguration and Potions books and placed it on the table, flipping open to the first helpful page. He quickly read what had to be done and noticed that these instructions seemed oddly informative to his Dementor problem. It was even mentioned in the book that Patronus Charms were generally used to repel Dementors. He had to find a happy thought, the most joy-inspiring memory he could conjure. It wouldn’t hurt if he tried this along with his friends; he never wanted to experience the repercussions of an encounter with a Dementor again.

“Okay,” he said finally, looking up at the three. “You know what to do with the Patronuses, don’t you?”

James nodded. “We haven’t actually tried yet, since we couldn’t do magic at my house.” He pulled his wand out and cleared his throat, concentrating all his thoughts onto the day he met his three best friends. “Expecto Patronum!” Nothing happened. “Bloody hell.”

“Let me try.” Sirius raised his wand, focusing his mind on getting Sorted into Gryffindor. “Expecto Patronum!” The same thing happened that had with James – nothing.

“You’re not concentrating hard enough,” Remus said, watching them from his seat. “You give it a try, Pete.”

Peter stayed where he was. If James and Sirius couldn’t get it, what made Remus think that he, Peter, could? Still, he had to give it a shot. He knew his memory, successfully accomplishing Transfiguration, was not the happiest recollection he had. He just couldn’t think of anything else. “Expecto Patronum!” Once again, nothing happened.

“It’s supposed to be really hard,” Remus told them encouragingly. “It’d be amazing if you got even a little bit of sparks.”

“You do it, Remus,” Sirius said suddenly.

“What? Why me?”

“Because you could probably do it. Come on, just one try.”

Remus got to his feet, pulling his wand out of his back pocket. He bit his bottom lip; he was not at all prepared to give an attempt. But this would help him. He wouldn’t have to fear Dementors if he could produce a Patronus. Maybe Sirius knew this and that was why he wanted him to try. He knew the happiest memory of his life; it had come weeks after his friends had abandoned him. It was the moment they truly accepted him for what he was. They had announced that they did not think of him as a monster. He focused every bit of himself on that moment, the exact words of his friends. He could feel the joyful sensation erupting in the pit of his stomach.

Expecto Patronum!” A jet of silver fell out of his wand, vaguely taking the form of a wolf before it vanished. James, Sirius and Peter stood in astonishment, staring, mesmerized at the spot where the Patronus had just been. Remus was staring as well, his expression very much resembling that of his friends’.

“How did you do that?” Peter asked, amazed.

Remus shook his head. “I don’t know.” How had he managed to produce a Patronus, even the quickest of ones? James and Sirius, who were better wizards than he, did not get it. He hadn’t even thought he would get it; he was just trying to see if he could.

“That has to be the fastest anyone has ever gotten the spell,” James marveled. “You’ve always been good at Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

“Yeah, but not that good,” Remus contradicted, his eyes still resting on the now gone Patronus.

“If you can do it… help us,” Peter begged.

“I don’t know how I did it, how could I help you?”

Peter had no answer for this. Despite their failed first attempts, the boys did not give up. Remus offered whatever advice he could, making most of it up. He hadn’t the foggiest idea of how he had done it on his first try. He was convinced that it was luck. Sirius told him that it couldn’t possibly be luck. Luck had no bearing when it came to magical ability, it was either you knew it or you didn’t. They kept at it for another hour and a half, neglecting the fact that they had a rather ominous pile of homework awaiting them when they returned to the common room. Remus had brought his along and was getting sentences into his essays when he wasn’t helping his friends.

Sometime during this hour and a half, James yelled out, “I got something!” startling Sirius and Peter and awaking a sleeping Remus. A wisp of silver fell out of James’s wand, disappearing before any of the boys could even witness it. “It’s gone, but I swear there was something.”

“That’s b-brilliant, J-James,” Remus said through a yawn.

James beamed at his accomplishment. It had not been a true Patronus, he could distinguish no form. But it had been something.

“Why don’t you go back to the common room, Remus?” Sirius was saying as James basked in the glory of his achievement. “You don’t look well.”

“I’m just tired,” Remus replied, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “I want to help.”

“You’ve been sleeping for the past half hour. How are you going to help? Snore at us?”

“I don’t snore.”

“Yes you do. You broke Peter’s concentration and mine. Come on, just go get some rest.”

“I have homework.”

“That you aren’t doing.” Sirius stooped down, picked up Remus’s bag, and shoved it into his friend’s chest. “Go get some sleep now, before I go and break all your bloody records and dance on the pieces.”

Remus blinked. “What?”

“Just go to sleep before he starts sounding dumber,” James said as Sirius opened his mouth again.

Remus knew there was no point in arguing, especially since he really did want to go to sleep. His head was pounding and he knew the best thing to do was to sleep it off; he would feel better the next morning. He slung his bag over his shoulder and trudged out of the room, leaving his friends to finish their training.

When he was sure that Remus was gone, Sirius turned to James and Peter. “You see, that’s exactly why we need to get this. James, you managed to get a bit of the Patronus, but that’s not enough.”

“I know it’s not,” James said reassuringly. “We’ll get it. It just takes time, he knows that.”

“You don’t get it, James. Neither of you do. You’ve never seen him right after it happens, I have. It’s something I never want to see again and I don’t want him to have to go through it again. You should have seen what it was like at his house. It hurts his parents. They can’t do anything about it. They’re not going to become Animagi; the thought has probably never crossed their minds. If they can’t help him, we have to.”

“That’s exactly why we’re doing this, Sirius,” Peter reminded him. “We don’t like it either. We may have not seen him right after he’s back to normal, but we know it’s bad.”

“I just… don’t want it to take forever to get.”

James nodded; he understood just what Sirius meant. “We don’t either, mate.”

Chapter 26: Hogsmeade
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Chapter Twenty Six

“Sirius, get back here.”

“No way, I’m getting him good.”

“He wasn’t doing anything to you.”

“He was breathing, that’s good enough.”

Remus caught up to Sirius, who was tailing his brother all the way down to the dungeons. Remus had not been entirely truthful when he said that Regulus had done nothing to Sirius. He had not done anything on that particular day, but he had during the week. The youngest Black had written home to inform his parents of Sirius’s latest escapades. Sirius’s behaviour included hospitalizing Severus Snape and Abrac Zabini. It was supposed to be an innocent prank, or at least as innocent as they could have made it. It backfired… Snape and Zabini were now in the care of Madam Pomfrey with noses that were long enough to compete with Pinocchio. The boys were serving a week of detention and Mr. and Mrs. Black were not pleased with their son. Sirius really didn’t mind that they were mad; he just didn’t feel like hearing them at home.

“Sirius, you can’t hurt your brother.”

“Who says I can’t?”

“I’m sure a lot of people would back me up on this.” When Sirius didn’t look convinced, Remus added, “McGonagall’s already hinting about banning you from the Hogsmeade trip if you keep this up.”

The first Hogsmeade trip of the year fell on October the twenty eighth. Every student, third year and up (but predominantly the third years), was looking forward to this more than anything else. Remus knew that Sirius would not want to miss this for something as stupid as an easily avoided detention. Sirius relaxed his grip on his wand and let his arm fall to his side. He glanced up the corridor and saw that Regulus had successfully escaped, though he had no idea that he was being tailed. Angrily, he rounded on Remus.

“Happy now?”

“At least you’re not going to miss the Hogsmeade trip now,” Remus shot back irritably.

“It would’ve been fun to see what I could do to him.”

“Of course, loads of fun. I know you hate your family, Sirius, but sometimes you push it a bit.”

“Because you know all about what it’s like having annoying, suck ups for siblings.”

Something flashed behind Remus’s eyes that made Sirius take a cautious step back. “You’re right, Sirius, I don’t. But, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s because of me that my parents decided not to have any more kids. I’d rather have an annoying brother than have none at all.”

Sirius frowned; he hadn’t meant what he said to come out the way it had. “You know I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I know you didn’t. I’ve just been… well, you know.”

Sirius did know what his friend was talking about. Earlier in the week Remus had received a letter from his father, saying that his grandparents were not getting any better. The Healers still didn’t know what was wrong with his grandfather, and his grandmother was faring no better. Mr. Lupin didn’t come right out and say it, but Remus knew that his grandparents didn’t have much time left. James, Sirius and Peter had been avoiding the subject as best as they could.

Sirius sighed and replaced his wand in his pocket. “How about this – I won’t hex my brother for another three weeks?”

Remus grinned slightly. “You’ll probably forget by then.”

“Do you doubt my memory skills?”

“I would if there were any to doubt.”

“Mr. Lupin, I am insulted.” The alarm on Sirius’s watch went off. “Come on, detention awaits! Let’s make James and Peter scrub the cauldrons this time. I’m not going near any after I found a rat spleen in that one.”

The morning of October the twenty eighth dawned sunny, but with a vicious chill in the air. The five boys in Gryffindor’s third year dormitory were up before Frank’s alarm clock sounded; each of them was far too eager for the trip to think about sleeping. They waited, rather impatiently, in the dormitory before deciding that it was time to go to breakfast. They collected their cloaks, filling their pockets with whatever money they could find, and headed down to the Great Hall. The Great Hall was packed with students chatting happily about the day’s trip. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter were sitting in their usual seats at the Gryffindor table, mapping out their day’s activities.

They wanted to hit Zonko’s Joke Shop and stock up on their prank supplies. Dervish and Banges was another establishment they hoped to visit. Honeydukes was on their list. They couldn’t possibly go to Hogsmeade without taking advantage of the sweet shop. They had heard from the older students about the local pub, the Three Broomsticks. It was a good place to stop by when the weather became unbearably chilly. The forecast for the day, according to the Daily Prophet, was predicted as growing colder as the afternoon wore on. They would go to the pub once they checked out all the stores, unless the forecast was wrong and it turned cold early than anticipated. Either way, the boys knew that the Three Broomsticks could expect an appearance from them at one point of the day.

When the students began queuing up the boys joined up at the back of the line, checking the pockets of their robes to make sure that they had all the money they would need. Argus Filch was at the head of the line, checking off the students that were permitted to enter the village, all the while wearing a disgruntled expression. It was a well known fact that Filch loathed the trips into Hogsmeade for the pure reason that it meant more cleanups for him. It was one of the many trials of being a Squib. The students would go to Zonko’s, buy every bit of mayhem they could, and he would have to tidy up the results.

“Come on, come on, move along,” he was barking, checking off the names on his clipboard. “No permission slip, no entry!” He muttered angrily under his breath. “Demons… with their Frog Spawn and their Dungbombs.”

The boys snickered as they trooped past Filch, already dreaming up the many ways in which they could make the caretaker’s worst nightmares become reality. The walk to Hogsmeade seemed to take no time at all, and within a matter of minutes they were standing on the cobblestone streets of the village of Hogsmeade. There were stores to both sides of them; so many that they did know where to start.

“Let’s go to Honeydukes,” Remus immediately suggested.

“No, Zonko’s first,” James said.

“What about Dervish and Banges?” Peter asked.

“Why not all three?” Sirius offered jokingly. His friends looked at him. “Look, let’s go to Honeydukes first, hit Zonko’s go to Dervish and Banges, and then go to the Three Broomsticks for a drink.”

And they did just that. They joined the throng of students headed towards the sweet shop. Honeydukes was fit to burst with Hogwarts students who were all sifting ravenously through the barrels and shelves of candies. The boys wove their way through a group of Ravenclaw sixth years who were grabbing handfuls of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans out of a barrel that was almost as tall as Peter.

“Look at all this chocolate,” Remus said, gazing in amazement at the shelves full of different flavoured chocolate bars.

“I think Remus has found his heaven,” James said as he picked through the stacks of Cauldron Cakes. He and Remus began filling their arms with their favourite sweets, while Peter and Sirius attacked the Chocolate Frogs and Fizzing Whizzbees. They checked out the counter that had the unusual tastes, deciding whether or not they should buy the Blood Pops. They only ended their debate when Sirius bought one for his brother, thinking that he could tell Regulus it was cherry flavoured. After nearly twenty minutes of stocking up on anything that could make their teeth rot, the boys exited Honeydukes and made their way to the infamous Zonko’s Joke Shop. Zonko’s was filled with the more mischievous set of students, all of whom were observing the display that the owners were showing at the centre of the store.

Two of the owners of the store were putting on a show of the results of Frog Spawn. One of the owners was producing frogs by the second and the second was catching them on his head, his hands, and between his toes. The students watching were cheering loudly, yelling for more. The owners, after bowing extravagantly, scoured the store for more items they could use for demonstration. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter laughed as the owners pulled out a set of Biting Tea Cups and started setting them after each other. There were so many prank items; they had no idea where they should start.

“Look at these!” James exclaimed, shoving a handful of Resizable Wands into Sirius’s arms. “They shrink so much you can’t find them or they grow so big they’re impossible to use.”

“I think these have Slytherin written all over them,” Sirius laughed.

“What about these?” Remus asked, holding up a packet of Stink Pellets. “There has to be someone we can use this on.”

James grinned evilly. “I know I can think of a few.” He picked up a small, round package with the label Fanged Frisbees. “These look interesting.” He observed the picture on the box and saw that it looked like a regular Muggle Frisbee, but it bore fangs and growled, spitting, at whoever dared pass it.

“Amazing Filch hasn’t banned those yet,” Peter mused when he saw what James had.

James shook his head. “They’re pretty recent, he probably hasn’t heard of them yet.” He added it to his supply. “I think we can change that.”

The boys exited Zonko’s nearly an hour later, each clutching a bag full of prank products. The weather was growing dangerously chilly, sooner than they had anticipated. Peter agreed to bypass Dervish and Banges so they could warm up at the Three Broomsticks. They would go to Peter’s choice the next time they visited the village. It seemed that their fellow classmates had the same idea they had, as they met a dozen or more students heading in the same direction they were. Some of the more lovesick students veered off, presumably to Madam Puddifoot’s, but most everyone moved on to the pub.

The Three Broomsticks was a warm, pleasantly loud pub that was filled to the capacity with Hogwarts students. Every table was filled to the maximum and only seats remained at the bar where a young, pretty woman was currently filling a glass for their fellow third year Ravenclaw, Xenophilius Lovegood. To their luck, there were four empty seats beside the Ravenclaw and they grabbed them before anyone else thought to. Removing their cloaks, the boys inspected the taps behind the bar counter, looking to see what the place had to offer.

“Butterbeer sounds good,” Sirius said.

Remus grinned. “My dad always gets it for Christmas, since my grandmum always wants eggnog instead.”

“What the bloody hell is eggnog?”

“Some drink that Muggles have around Christmas. It’s actually really good.” He rubbed his hands together to make them warm. “Don’t you remember having it at my house?”

“Was that what that stuff was?”

“Yes… I told you that.”

Sirius said nothing, but looked mildly surprised.

“How can I help you boys?” The pretty woman behind the bar had appeared in front of them, hands on hips, looking at them expectantly. James and Sirius grinned at each other.

“Why, yes, my fine woman,” Sirius said, suddenly adopting a thicker accent and a royal air. “I would like a warm mug of Butterbeer, as would my fellow comrade, James.” He nudged James in the ribs.

“Ah yes, I would like that, Madam,” James said, taking the same voice as Sirius. “My charming little friend here, Peter, would like a Gillywater… can’t handle his Butterbeer, I’m afraid. Our companion, Remus, on the other hand, would like the largest glass you have of Firewhiskey. He’s a lad who can handle his whiskey.”

Remus rolled his eyes as the barmaid chuckled. “Butterbeer, please,” he told her.

“Of course, gentlemen,” she said before turning to the taps and filled up four mugs of Butterbeer, figuring that Peter did not really wanted a Gillywater. When she had the four glasses filled, she turned back to the boys. “I’m Madam Rosmerta. Third years, aren’t you?”

“Bright lady, you are,” Sirius observed thoughtfully.

“Well, I’ve never seen you four around here before.”

“No you haven’t,” James said, feigning a look of shock. “We should change that.”

“I think it’s time we formally introduced ourselves.” Sirius gestured to himself. “I am Sirius Black, at your service. “This lout over here is James Potter. That fine boy is Peter Pettigrew. And we have the man of few words, Remus Lupin.”

“It’s nice to meet the four of you. I hope to see you all here again.” Madam Rosmerta bustled off to take the orders of Hagrid, who was sitting a few tables back with Professor Kettleburn.

“I like her,” Sirius said.

“Because she put up with your stupidity?” Peter asked, taking a sip out the warm, gingery liquid.

“It is not stupidity, Mr. Pettigrew, it is charm.”

Peter snorted into his drink. He glanced over his shoulder, watching as Hagrid and Kettleburn became engaged in a spirited conversation. “I wonder what’s going to happen to the Flobberworms when it gets really cold.”

In Care of Magical Creatures Professor Kettleburn had been teaching them about Flobberworms, pointless creatures that resembled simple earthworms. None of his students, Gryffindor and Slytherin alike, could understand how they could possibly learn about these slimy creatures for two months. As far as the students were concerned, they wouldn’t be too devastated if the Flobberworms froze to death over the winter. It was cruel, but they were sick of stuffing lettuce down the worms’ disgusting throats. They were ready to advance onto something more interesting, perhaps break into Hagrid’s store of pets.

“Halloween’s this week,” James said conversationally, wiping his mouth of Butterbeer.

“What’s Dumbledore got booked for this year?” Remus asked, blotting out a spot of drink off the counter with his sleeve.

“The Fat Friar is singing something,” Sirius replied. “There’s supposed to be some singing group of House Elves, but I think Peeves will be giving them hell if they come out of the kitchens.”

Remus nodded. “Do you remember what happened the last time he caught them out of the kitchens?”

At the end of September, a group of House Elves ventured out of the kitchens at an unusual time, during the middle of the day. Usually they went out during the night to clean up the common rooms, light the fires. No one was quite sure what made them come out, but before anyone knew what was happening, Peeves had grabbed them mid-flight. He took them on a terrifying trip up and down the Astronomy Tower. Needless to say, the House Elves were petrified to come out of the kitchens. They doubted the poor creatures would come out for the Halloween Feast, they were content themselves with preparing the food.

“Peeves loves interrupting the feasts anyway,” James reminded them. “It doesn’t matter if the House Elves are there or not.”

“The feast was ruined anyway last year,” Peter said, swiveling around the remaining bit of Butterbeer with a spoon he had pulled out from a bin behind the counter. Peter didn’t have to elaborate any further. It was around this time last year that Alice Gordon’s father was killed. The Halloween Feast was held in low spirits as nearly every student wondered how Alice was feeling. As this thought fluttered into their minds, they peered over their shoulders and saw that Alice was sitting with Frank and Lily, smiling but distracted. They had no doubt that she was dwelling on her late father.

“How’s the Animagus training going?” Remus asked, draining the last bits of his drink. He had not been going to their recent training sessions, as Lily had been scheduling Potions tutoring at the same times. He hoped they had progressed, even if only a little.

“James has almost got his Patronus,” Sirius relayed. “But he gets so excited that it goes away before we can tell what it is.”

“You can’t even get that silvery stuff,” James shot back.

Remus intervened before Sirius could think up a retort. “How about you, Peter?”

Peter shook his head sadly. “I still can’t even think up a happy memory.”

“There has to be something.”

“Nothing that I can think of. What did you do? You got yours on your first try.”

“I thought of when you guys accepted me for what I am, that was my happiest memory.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Just think of a time when you were really happy, Pete. It’s not so hard.”

“First I thought of when I finally transfigured something in McGonagall’s class.”

“That’s not good enough, there has to be something better.”

“Then I thought of when I first got my wand.”

“That didn’t work?”

“I thought it would, but nothing happened.”

Remus shrugged. “We’ll help you think of something.”

By the time they exited the pub, after having a lengthy conversation with Madam Rosmerta, there were flurries falling out of the sky. The rest of the students and staff who had been out for the day were heading back to the castle, shaking snowflakes out of their hair and off of their hats. The temperature had dropped considerably. It had not been a hot day, but it had not been at all freezing. By the time they reached the castle the snow was pouring down in buckets.

The marble floors of the Entrance Hall were slippery and squeaking as the students’ shoes rubbed across it. Dinner was going on in the Great Hall; the loud chatter could be heard. The boys bypassed the dining room and headed to Gryffindor Tower to deposit their wet cloaks and change their shoes. They were already discussing the next trip to Hogsmeade, listing the places they would go that they had not gone to this time. They wished they had been able to go to the Post Office, Dervish and Banges, even to the Shrieking Shack (as James and Sirius had managed to convince Remus to go up there on a day when he wasn’t going to turn hairy).

“The Three Broomsticks was cool,” Sirius said, stripping off his cold cloak and hanging it on the posts holding up the curtains around his bed. “But it was freezing out.”

“Winter’s coming early,” Peter surmised, turning his left shoe over and allowing it to drain of water.

“What do you want to do now?” Remus asked, rubbing his arms to keep warm.

“We could always go to the Room of Requirement and continue practising,” James recommended. They had heard it from one of the House Elves that this room was referred to as the Come and Go Room, but that was a name used almost exclusively by the elves. Otherwise it was known as the Room of Requirement.

Peter looked up from tying his shoes. “I thought we were doing that tomorrow.”

James looked slightly put out, but shrugged and mentioned going to the kitchens to see what the House Elves had to offer.

“Dinner’s going on. We can go there if you’re hungry,” Sirius said, sticking his head through a new jumper. “Hopefully Sluggy’s not having another one of his parties.”

James grimaced at the thought. “Those boring things… they’re murder.”

“At least the pheasant wasn’t coming out of you.”

“Well this conversation took a pleasant turn,” Peter said to Remus.

“Yeah, but don’t forget, Pete, we all love hearing about Sirius’s bodily functions.” He ducked as Sirius’s wet socks came flying at his head. “Watch it, Black!”

“You see, the point was to hit you. Whoa!” He moved to the side as Remus’s pillow soared at him. “Nice try, Lupin.”

James joined Peter on the other side of the room. “Looks like we’ve got a show.”

“Ow! Your shoe was in that!”

“Was not!”

“They’re mental, the both of them,” Peter muttered.

“Was too!” Remus turned the pillowcase over and Sirius’s shoe fell out. Sirius looked away innocently. “That was aimed at my head.”

“Not intentionally.”

“Then how do you explain the fact that my head is in pain?”

“Getting a migraine?”

“Yeah, from you.”

“I don’t give head pains, I’m a loveable person.”

Remus stooped down to his knees. “Where’s my biggest book? That one’s going at your face.”

“You better run, Sirius,” Peter advised, ripping open a Chocolate Frog wrapper.

“Yeah, really, mate,” James added as Remus emerged, clutching a four hundred page book.

“You were serious?” Sirius yelped.

“Admit you meant to throw your shoe at me.”

“I didn’t!”

“Yes you did.”

“I did not!”

“Yes you did!”

“I did - hey!” James and Peter had appeared beside them and swung their pillows – James at Sirius and Peter at Remus.

James looked at the two bickerers. “We win. Time for dinner.”

Chapter 27: Ends May Bring Peace
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Chapter Twenty Seven
Ends May Bring Peace

Class had been grueling that day, and it was only lunchtime. They were forced to weather an excruciatingly long period of History of Magic in which Professor Binns droned on about something that no student could remember. Transfiguration had them transfiguring everything in sight into a furry creature. They had just come from Care of Magical Creatures, covered in snow, dirt and slime after chasing escaped Flobberworms. The boys were convinced the worms must have been on sugar to move as fast as they had. They could at least enjoy their lunch before trudging off to Defence Against the Dark Arts and learn about Hinkypunks. They were confident that would be somewhat interesting. The only bright spot aside from Defence Against the Dark Arts was that it was a Friday; they would be free after the final bell.

“My head hurts,” Sirius whined, pouring large spoonfuls of steaming stew into his plate.

“My knees are killing me,” James moaned, rubbing his knees. He looked at Remus and Peter. “What about you two? Anything about to die on you?”

“My ears,” Peter told him.

Remus gave him a funny look. “Your ears?”

“A grasshopper attacked me outside.” Peter wondered how there could possibly be a grasshopper out in all that snow.

“Oh… okay.” He glanced around the table, seeing what he was hungry for. “Well, my back is killing me.”

“Why are all the teachers being so brutal today?” James wondered, before stuffing a roll of bread into his mouth.

Sirius swallowed. “Binns wasn’t brutal, he was just boring.”

“McGonagall was merciless. You can’t deny that.”

“I suppose he couldn’t, Mr. Potter.”

James jumped at the sound of Professor McGonagall’s voice behind him. This was too typical. When he looked up, however, he saw that she was not looking mad, or even wearing her usual stern expression. In an attempt to cover up what he had said, he cracked a smile and took on his gentleman façade.

“Hullo, Professor McGonagall.”

“James,” she said simply. James raised an eyebrow at Sirius. She hadn’t called him Potter. That was odd. Instead, she turned her attention to Remus, who suddenly looked extremely uncomfortable. He hadn’t done anything to warrant a talking-to from his professor, or at least he was fairly certain that he hadn’t. What did she want with him? “Remus, would you come with me?”

Remus picked up his bag and confusedly followed the Transfiguration teacher out of the Great Hall.

“What was that about?” Sirius asked when the two were gone.

“She called me James. She never does that.”

“And she looked sad,” Peter told them. “We’ll find out what happened in our next class.”

But Peter was wrong. They did not find out what had made Professor McGonagall seem so sad, because Remus was not in Defence Against the Dark Arts. They spent the entire period wondering where their friend could be, rather than focusing on the Hinkypunk that Professor Handlin was showing them. James had actually been looking forward to this lesson, so he could finally discover what a Hinkypunk was after the disastrous quiz during first year in which he had claimed that they were creatures who resembled miniature ponies. Try as they might, they could do nothing to help their concentration. It came as a relief when the final bell rang and they immediately dashed for Gryffindor Tower.

When they entered the boys’ dormitory they saw Remus crouched down beside his bed, emptying the books out of his bag and filling it with clothes instead. He looked bewildered, shocked. He didn’t hear his friends enter, nor did he seem to notice that Frank was repeatedly asking him if anything was the matter before declaring defeat and heading down to dinner. It took the combined efforts of his three roommates to break him out of his state and get him to acknowledge any of them. However, he only looked at them for a split second before returning to his packing. James grabbed Remus’s wrist as he was shoving one of his shirts into his bag.

“What happened?”

“I-I have to go home,” Remus said quickly, in a strange voice. He sounded confused, as if he had no idea where he was or what exactly his home was.

“Why?” Sirius asked, sitting down on his bed.

“I – McGonagall said I have to.”

“Why?” Peter asked, sitting beside Sirius.

“Got a letter from my dad… said for me to come home right away.”

“Did he say why?” James asked patiently. Remus had a habit of going around in circles before he actually came out and told them what was bothering him.

Remus ceased his packing and stared at the floor. Then, as though he was getting himself to admit something terrible, which he was, he said, “Yes.”

“What did he say?”

“My grandparents died today.” Having gotten the worst over, he continued to furiously pack.

James, Sirius and Peter glanced at each other. They knew this was coming, but they knew Remus was not prepared for it. No one was ever ready to hear that someone they had loved was dead, let alone two loved ones.

“Wow… we’re sorry,” Sirius finally said.

Remus seemed not to hear him. “Have to go home… Dad’s upset… Mum needs me… They’re dead.” He didn’t appear to be able to grasp the situation. It was true that it had only been within the past two years that he had actually developed a real relationship with his grandparents, they had always been there. He couldn’t deny that they had been frightened of what he was since he was bitten, but that never stopped them from visiting on Christmas and on his birthdays before he started school. He could hardly begin to start imagining life without them. He didn’t want to; he was only just starting to get to know them. Why did they have to be taken away?

Not knowing what else to say, Peter settled for asking, “When are you going home?”

“In an hour. Dumbledore wants me at his office.” He zipped shut his bag. “They still don’t even know what killed my grandpa. They don’t know anything…”

“The Healers must’ve tried,” James reassured him. His father told him that the Healers always tried to find out what happened, even if they were unsuccessful in the end.

“I know they did, but he still died.” He stood up and slung his bag over his shoulder. It looked as if it was causing him a great deal of effort to maintain his composure. “Merlin, there’s a bloody full moon tomorrow!” In light of what he had only just discovered, the impending full moon slipped his mind completely.

“Do you want one of us to go with you?” James offered. James was sure that anything, even the death of a family member, could be made more bearable if there was a friend there.

“You don’t have to,” Remus told him, though he sounded as though he very much liked that idea. “I’ll be fine.”

“Come on, Remus. I’ll go with you. Your mum will probably need help around the house and you won’t be up to doing it and your dad won’t be either.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I don’t, but I’m going to anyway.”

“Evans! Hey, Evans! Lily!”

“What, Black?”

“Can you come here for a minute?”

Sirius and Peter were sitting out in the courtyard, poring over their Transfiguration book in an attempt to find the answers to the homework. James and Remus had been gone since the previous night, after Remus had asked Professor Dumbledore’s and his mother’s approval for James to accompany him home. They didn’t need help with the homework when they saw Lily walking by, but Sirius had promised Remus that he would tell Lily to forget about the tutoring session they had planned. The red head, looking exasperated, went to the boys.

“I don’t have the answers to the homework,” she said when she met them and saw what they were doing.

“That’s not what we were going to ask,” Peter assured her.

“What is it, then?”

“Cancel your tutoring session with Remus tonight,” Sirius said.

“Why? He’s not feeling ill again, is he?” A number of times Remus had asked her to cancel their lessons because he was feeling under the weather. Never, however, had he not been there to tell her himself.

“He is feeling a bit ill, but he’s gone home,” Peter told her.

“How come?”

Sirius frowned. “His grandparents died yesterday. He’s gone home to be with his parents. James went with him.”

Lily’s mouth dropped open. “Oh… well, okay. When you talk to him, tell him I’m so sorry.”

Sirius smiled slightly and nodded. “Definitely.”

Lily hesitated for a moment. “Is he okay?”

“He will be,” Peter assured her. “Once the shock wears off.”

“Was he close with them?”

“Not until recently. That’s the worst of it, I think.”

Lily bit her bottom lip. “Be sure to give him my message.” She adjusted the strap on her bag and continued on her way through the courtyard. Sirius and Peter watched her go and only once her red hair was no longer visible did they go back to their work. They couldn’t help but wonder what was going on at the Lupin house; they hoped James was doing his best to help Remus and his parents. Sirius and Peter knew he was trying; James would never go back on his word to help if it involved his friends.

“This is a wonderful cake, James.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Lupin.”

“Where’d you learn to bake?”

“Willie taught me that when I was ten.” He turned on the faucet and began cleaning everything he had tossed in the sink while he was preparing the cake. “There’s more over there if anyone wants it.”

“Thank you, James.”

The Lupin house was, naturally, subdued. James was in the kitchen with Remus and Mrs. Lupin, who had plates of James’s chocolate cake in front of them. James was not an expert on cheering people up after the death of a loved one, but he did know one thing – cake made any situation better. He was suddenly eternally grateful for the week Willie had kept him in the kitchen, patiently teaching him how to bake a cake. Mrs. Lupin and Remus were faring better than Mr. Lupin. James had only seen him once since they arrived.

Mr. Lupin was waiting by the fireplace for the arrival of his son and his son’s friend. He greeted them, Remus with a sad hug and James with a gentle clap on the shoulder, and had disappeared into his study. He had not come out since. Remus had gone in earlier that morning to check on him, but didn’t stay too long. His father wanted to be alone, he had to respect that. Both boys knew that Mr. Lupin was close with his parents, even after they had shortened their visits ten years previous, after their only grandson was bitten by a werewolf. Nothing could destroy the bond of a child and their parents, unless it had been destroyed before it had a chance to be created.

It was now mid-afternoon and Mr. Lupin had still not appeared. James knew he was going to come out eventually; it would not be long before Remus had to go to the shed for his transformation. James involuntarily shivered at the thought; he wanted nothing more than to already know how to turn into an Animagus. He knew Remus’s transformation was going to be worse than the previous month’s, and that had been the worst they had seen in a long time. Mr. Lupin was aware of this, he would come out.

“Here, I’ll take that,” James offered when he saw that Remus was not going to finish his piece of cake. He had snatched it up before Remus even had a chance to react.

“I think I’ll go check on your father,” Mrs. Lupin said to Remus, standing up and edging towards the hallway.

“James, you don’t have to clean all that up,” Remus said when he saw the mess in the sink.

“That’s what I’m here for,” James reminded him.

“I wish my dad would come out here,” Remus said, choosing not to remark on what James had told him.

“He needs time, you know that.”

“Yeah, but he shouldn’t be by himself either. He always told me that worst thing you could do when you were upset is to hide out from everyone else.”

“Never stopped you from doing that.”

“I don’t listen to everything my parents tell me.”

“That sounds like a good bit of advice to take, though.”

Remus gritted his teeth. “My dad should follow it then.”

James dried off the dish he had finished washing and set it on the counter. He knew this was Remus’s way of venting his frustration about what had happened, his way of grieving. “Listen, you know your dad is just trying to get through this the best he can.”

“I know he is.” He leaned against the counter and folded his arms across his chest. “It just isn’t fair.”

James didn’t really know what to say to this, the truth was coming out. “Don’t you think it might be better this way?”

“That they’re dead?” Remus sounded incredulous.

“That came out wrong… What I meant was, don’t you think it’s better that they’re not in pain anymore? That they never will be again?”

Remus sighed, running a hand over his face. “You’re probably right. They can’t get sick anymore.” He glanced over his shoulder, out the window. The full moon would rise in only a few hours, he didn’t want to do it.

James saw what Remus was looking at, though there was no moon in the sky. He knew that tonight he would discover why Sirius was so determined to become an Animagus. James knew the transformations were bad, but he had never seen his friend just as they were ending. “You’ll be okay. You’ve been fine all day.”

Remus shrugged. He hadn’t felt ill all day, which was a first. He knew that the lack of illness was due to his concern for his father. It was only a matter of time; however, that he would feel it and it would be at the worst possible moment. That’s why he wished his dad was there. And with thinking of that he was reminded of how his grandfather had come after the New Year full moon in his first year, ready to help him. “Whenever I transformed home, after first year, my grandpa would come and help me. He used to be a Healer. That was why my dad tried becoming a Healer, before he decided that he liked teaching and writing better.”

“You know, I could ask my dad to come here before he goes to work,” James offered. He knew his father could never deny the opportunity to help someone when they were hurt.

Remus, though he appreciated the offer, didn’t want to put Mr. Potter out. “Your dad’s busy… he doesn’t have to.”

James didn’t further the question, but he was going to send an owl to his father regardless of Remus’s answer.

James now knew exactly why Sirius got so impassioned whenever it came time to practise becoming an Animagus. James had never before heard anything so terrible, so… he could barely think of words to describe it. All he knew was that he never wanted to hear it again. Remus was only thirteen; he didn’t deserve to have to go through that every month. James had sat up in Remus’s room, trying vainly to go to sleep and block out his friend’s howls, but it was impossible. They were too loud, too violent. He knew Mrs. Lupin was awake, sitting in the downstairs, listening, defeated, to her son’s howls. James knew that this transformation was going to be bad, especially when Mr. Lupin did not emerge to help Remus to the shed.

It came as a relief when James opened his eyes and saw the morning sun blaring through the window above Remus’s empty bed. He heard stirring coming from downstairs and saw, when he looked over the railing, that his father was coming out of the fireplace, quietly greeting Remus’s mother. James pulled on his socks and dashed down the stairs.

“I’m so sorry, Anna,” Mr. Potter was saying.

“Thank you, Charles. And thank you for coming to help Remus. I knew he was going to have a bad night.”

“That’s what James said when he wrote me. Where’s Harry?”

“Sleeping, I think. I was out here all night.”

Mr. Potter nodded knowingly. He led Mrs. Lupin out onto the snow covered grounds, James following, hastily pulling on his shoes. The shed was in the backyard, surrounded by two feet of snow. Mrs. Lupin and James had worked hard digging a path around the structure, so they could open the door, but the night’s snow had piled up in front of the door. James stepped forward and pulled on the door, trying to force it through the stubborn snow. Mr. Potter placed a hand on his son’s shoulder, signaling for him to stop. Mr. Potter waved his wand and the snow melted away, allowing the door to open easily.

They were met with Remus’s groans of pain when the sunlight hit his pale, bloodied and bruised face. James glanced at his father and saw that he looked sick. This somewhat surprised James; his father must have seen worse at St. Mungo’s. Then again, he had never really gone too far into the werewolf wards. He must have only seen a recovering werewolf a few times. Even if he had seen it numerous times, it never would get easy. Mr. Potter fell down to his knees, pulling out his wand and conjuring up a jar full of blue flames to warm himself and Remus.

“Good morning, Remus,” he said quietly, running his wand across a gash on the boy’s face.

Remus could say nothing, he only watched as Mr. Potter tried to mend his wounds. He bit back a cry as James’s father moved his arm up and down, checking to see what was wrong with it.

“I’m sorry,” Mr. Potter apologised. “I know it hurts.”

James felt sick, he couldn’t watch anymore. He spun around, intending to run to the house, but only ran into Harry Lupin. Mr. Lupin’s eyes were bloodshot and had bags under them. He had not slept at all. He easily saw what James was thinking when he started running.

“It’s hard to see.” He watched as Charles bound Remus’s arm up so it would be still while he tackled the other injuries. Breaking his gaze away, he looked down at James. “Thank you for coming, it means a lot.”

The funeral was quiet, held the morning after so Remus could spend time recovering. Gabriella and John Lupin were buried in a Muggle cemetery, as had been the request of Gabriella, who wanted to be with her family when she died. John, who was not on good terms with his own family before their death, did not object when they had written it out in their wills. It was a grey morning, fitting of the affair, with a soft breeze that ruffled the grass surrounding the new gravestones. The priest read quietly from a small prayer book, looking up briefly at times to acknowledge the family. The Lupins, joined by the Potters, watched mutely as the caskets were lowered into the ground when the priest finished.

The two families lingered in their spots before beginning to head to the Ministry cars Mrs. Potter had arranged for them. Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Lupin walked together, talking in hushed voices, James and his father following behind. When James noticed that two members of the group were not following, he looked over his shoulder and saw Remus hovering behind his father, who had not moved from his place.

“Remus?” he said uncertainly.

Remus nodded for James to go on, pointing with his free arm at his father, indicating that they would catch up. When James and Mr. Potter entered the car, Remus approached his own father, unsure exactly what he wanted to say. His father was standing with his hands in his pockets, his eyes fixed on the open holes in the ground, through which the two caskets had disappeared.

“Dad?” he said, breaking his father out of his reverie.

“They were good people, Remus,” Harry said in a tone that Remus could not distinguish.

“I know they were.”

“I know they weren’t here for a lot of your life, but that doesn’t make them bad people.”

“They were here at the end, that’s what matters.”

“They still loved you… They loved us all.”

Remus was beginning to suspect that his father was talking to himself more than he was his son. Remus knew it bothered his father that his own parents willingly did not come around as much as they could have. He was doing his best to convince himself that they had loved him, that they loved his wife, and that they loved his son. “I know they did, Dad. You don’t have to remind me… and you don’t have to remind yourself either.”

Harry sighed. “I know I don’t.”

“Come on, Mum’s waiting.”

Remus led his father around the other gravestones, pausing only a moment to look back at the ones they had left behind. His grandparents had lived seventy long years; they had had the opportunity to do many things they wanted. It was their time. James was right; they would no longer be in pain. His grandparents were happy.

Author's Note: So, I decided to put little snippets from the following chapter at the bottom of each new chapter. Here we go!

Excerpt from Chapter Twenty Eight - The Forbidden Forest:

“Where are there vampires anyway?” Remus asked one night, looking up from the letter he was writing to his parents.

“Up in the northern parts of England, some live in Scotland too,” Sirius replied, leaning back on his pillow. “They don’t usually come to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley or any of the other places wizards go to.”

“So why would Malfoy want them?”

“Remus, they don’t stay away from here by choice. The Ministry keeps them away. Malfoy figures that if they gave vampires things they can’t have because of the Ministry, they’d have them on their side.”

“We don’t even know what their side is, James.”

“I know, Peter, I was just saying.” He turned back to Remus. “Think about it. If you weren’t allowed to come to school would you be so eager to be friendly with wizards?”

I’m a wizard, James.”

Chapter 28: The Forbidden Forest
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Chapter Twenty Eight
The Forbidden Forest

“Hamilton catches the Snitch! Gryffindor beats Hufflepuff! Two hundred and sixty to one hundred!”

The stands covered in scarlet erupted into raucous applause as the Gryffindor team took a lap of honour around the Quidditch Pitch, celebrating their victory in the first match of the year. It had not been a difficult match by any means; the victor had been decided before the Quaffle was released. It wasn’t that Hufflepuff was a terrible team; it was that Gryffindor was better, and everyone knew this. Initially it had been Ravenclaw they were set to take on, but a Chaser had injured his arm during practise, and they had no replacement. The mass of scarlet slowly descended to the ground, following out the remaining backs of canary-coloured robes to the changing rooms. The spectators in the stands began filing out, talking excitedly about the match and the odds for the upcoming games.

Sirius, Remus and Peter caught up with James outside of the changing room. It had been a week since he and Remus returned from school and they had hardly had any time to talk about what went on while they were gone. James had been hauled out to Quidditch practise every night, literally by the ear, by Cory Hamilton, who was on a training binge. While James was gone, Remus was absorbed in whatever work he was doing. Sirius and Peter knew better than to bother him while he was working. It was only a matter of time before Remus pulled out that four hundred page book again, and this time he might actually use it. Sirius and Peter had news to report and now was the perfect opportunity to report it.

“So what is it that you’ve been dying to tell us?” James asked, swinging his trusted Silver Arrow over his shoulder.

“Some Slytherins, the older ones, they disappeared for a few hours the nights you guys weren’t here,” Peter reported in a quiet voice.

“Where?” Remus questioned, looking interested.

“That’s the thing, we don’t know,” Sirius said, casting a glance around to make sure they were not being overheard. “It’s strange… suspicious. They all got up from the Great Hall at the same time and looked like they were going to the same place.”

“Maybe it’s nothing important.” Remus tried shrugging it off. It wasn’t unusual for a few students to disappear somewhere in the castle. It was so large; there were many places to go. They, themselves, had been vanishing for a few hours one or two nights a week in the Room of Requirement.

Sirius seemed to guess what Remus was thinking. “They’re not going to the Room of Requirement. Peter and I managed to get in. If they were in there, they wouldn’t want anyone else getting in, would they?”

“I s’ppose not.”

“I don’t think its anything to worry about right now,” James said decidedly. “Let’s keep an eye on them; if they do it more often we’ll see what they’re up to.” He shifted his broom to his other shoulder and looked at Remus. “Have you spoken to your parents?”

“My mum wrote me yesterday. She says Dad’s starting to feel better.”

Sirius nodded, peering closely at his friend. “How about you?”

“I’m alright.” Remus wanted to get off this particular topic. So he let his eyes wander around the grounds until he saw a group of students moving as inconspicuously as they could across the way. The students were casting covert glances over their shoulders, trying to detect trailers. They didn’t seem to spot the boys. Remus could tell from a few faces that he recognised that they were older Slytherins. He stopped in his path. “Look at that.”

Peter’s eyes followed where Remus was pointing. “Those are the ones we were talking about.”

“Where do you think they’re going?” James asked.

“I dunno.” Sirius moved closer. “This is earlier than they usually leave. It’s not even six.”

“We don’t even know if it’s anything bad they’re doing. They’ve only left for a day or two,” Remus said suddenly. “Unless they’ve been doing it all week and we haven’t noticed?”

“They might have,” Peter agreed. It was very plausible that these Slytherins had been disappearing and the boys had not noticed, being too wrapped up in their own affairs.

“Let’s follow them,” Sirius proposed, already moving at a swift pace towards the Slytherins. James followed Sirius, but Peter and Remus hung back. The Slytherins looked as if they were headed towards the Forbidden Forest, no good could come from that.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Peter asked, hoping to stall them as much as he could. “We don’t know what they’re doing.”

“Which is exactly why we’re going to follow,” Sirius said, sounding as if it was the most obvious thing. “Come on, if we see it’s something we can’t handle, we’ll go back.”

Peter and Remus still looked uneasy, though there was an undeniable streak of curiosity. They took off behind James and Sirius, who walked as quietly and quickly as they could across the grass. As they neared the edge of the Forbidden Forest they slowed their pace, wanting to give the Slytherins a head start, but have them close enough to keep in sight. They couldn’t hear the conversation their rival house was having, but it was excited, they could tell that much.

Both groups trekked farther into the ever-darkening forest, one impatiently waiting to reach the destination, the other waiting impatiently to find out exactly what the destination was. The sounds of the forest increased as they loomed further in. Howls, screeches, an occasional roar, the boys were beginning to discover why it was called the Forbidden Forest. James fished inside his pockets, hoping to find his Invisibility Cloak inside, only to remember that he had taken it out before the match. Of all the times for him to clean up after himself…

None of the boys dared speak, not wanting to give off their location if their voices carried. Soon the forest became so dark that they could not define a path before them, but they did not want to risk lighting their wands. Ahead they could see a faint orange glow; the Slytherins had been thinking the same thing – that it was dark, but they were unafraid to light their wands. Stepping over branches and uprooted tree roots they found that the faint glow was no longer faint. They had been approaching a clearing and could see a large crackling fire. The Slytherins had not only been searching for the right spot, they had been searching for the right people.

Tall figures wearing masks and black cloaks stood around the fire, their wands drawn. As the Slytherins approached, they said something the boys could not hear correctly. Whatever it was, it gained trust between the two groups. The boys ducked down behind several bushes, peering through the branches.

“You could bring no more?” asked one of the voices behind a mask. It was a harsh voice, demanding.

“We didn’t have much time,” replied a Slytherin that the boys did not know. He seemed only slightly apprehensive at the masked face before him. “There was a Quidditch match, you see, and everyone was busy for it. We couldn’t ask at the pitch, there were too many professors around.”

“Be that as it may, you should have put more effort,” said a second voice, this one recognizable. It was a cold drawl, and even if the man had been wearing no mask they would have been able to see his pale, sneering face. Lucius Malfoy. “He waits for no one. He doesn’t believe in obstacles as immature as a Quidditch match.”

“We are very sorry,” said another Slytherin, a slightly rougher voice. “We promise, by our next meeting we will bring others.”

“Do not make a promise you cannot keep. He does not take well to broken promises.” It appeared that Lucius was running everything and the other masked figures were simply there for the intimidation factor. He did all of the talking, and generated most of the fearful obedience from the Slytherins. “You do remember what happened to the last person who broke a promise?”

The Slytherins nodded, not one of them chancing a word. The boys looked at each, wondering what they had stumbled into. This was a meeting, a meeting for wizards that would have made the Black Family proud. Sirius was the first to see this, even before Lucius Malfoy had announced his presence. Part of them wanted desperately to leave, but their feet were stuck. They listened on.

“We have come to discuss more of our cause with you,” Lucius went on, his voice deadly calm. “You do know about our goals – purifying the Wizarding World where it needs to be?”

“Getting rid of those Mudbloods,” the third Slytherin chipped in gleefully.

“Yes, disposing of those born to unworthy blood. But we also have to go beyond half-bloods and Muggle-borns. We have to think about the half breeds. Vampires, Giants, Werewolves. How can we use them to our advantage?”

James felt Remus shift behind him, he had become oddly still.

“If we offer them what the Ministry has denied them – their rights – we can have them on our side. He will be very pleased.” This pronouncement was met with a round of approval. “Those disgusting creatures, they may be of some use after all.”

“Then we can get rid of them?” asked the second Slytherin hopefully.

“If they do not serve us well. Unforgivable Curses will be a must; we must use them to our strongest strength.” Lucius basked in the cheers of those around him, but something made his smile falter. “Quiet, quiet,” he instructed. “I think we are not alone.”

The boys did not even have a chance to look at each other before they were at their feet, running as fast as they could. But it was no use. They were too far in, there was no escape. Four spells hit their backs and they knew nothing as a sheet of blackness fell.

“Poppy, come quick. One of them is coming around!”

Through blurry eyes, Sirius could see the form of Madam Pomfrey hurrying over to him. He could also see the recognizable shape of Professor Handlin. He was standing over the bed across him, holding the wrist of whoever was in it, checking for a pulse. Why was Handlin there? And how had they gotten to the Hospital Wing? The last thing he could remember was running as fast as he could out of the Forbidden Forest. Something had happened. He had blacked out. He wondered if James, Remus and Peter had too. They must have; Handlin had said that one of them was coming around. He groaned as Madam Pomfrey pressed her hand against his forehead.

“He doesn’t feel warm anymore,” the nurse said, placing two fingers against his neck. “His pulse is good. Are the others waking, Samuel?”

Who’s Samuel? Sirius wondered, before realising that Samuel must have been Professor Handlin’s first name.

“Ah, James is,” Handlin responded. “Evening, Mr. Potter.”

Sirius raised his head off his pillow and saw James lying in the bed next to the one Handlin was standing at. James looked just as confused as Sirius felt. Of course, that could have been because someone had taken his glasses. He saw how white James’s face was and wondered if he looked similar. Putting his glasses on, James caught Sirius’s eye and mouthed: What happened? Sirius bit his bottom lip and James understood that his friend had no more of an idea than he did.

Madam Pomfrey bustled over to James’s bedside, muttering something about getting to be too old for her job. She checked James’s pulse and went to the cabinet, presumably to retrieve a potion.

As Madam Pomfrey’s back was turned, Professor Handlin said, “Here comes Peter.”

Peter slowly raised a hand to his head, murmuring something incoherently. He glanced at Sirius, who was in the bed next to his, and across at James. None of them could figure out how they ended up in the infirmary. If they had been caught by those Slytherins and those other wizards with Lucius Malfoy, they should have been dead. They had been hopelessly outnumbered. Who had rescued them? With Professor Handlin hovering over them, they had no opportunity to discuss the events of the day.

“Take these,” Madam Pomfrey ordered, returning with three bottles of teal potions. She handed one to each of the boys and refused to look away until they had downed the entire thing. They tasted disgusting, as did all of the potions in the infirmary. Luckily the bottles were small and could be taken in one gulp. When they were finished, the nurse collected the empty potions and brought them back to the cabinet to wash and refill. Professor Handlin excused himself for a moment to use the lavatory, giving the boys the chance to talk about what they had seen.

“So that’s what they’ve been doing,” Sirius whispered, eyes downcast. “They’re in some sort of society.”

“Not a good one either,” Peter added.

“I knew Lucius Malfoy was up to no good when we saw him in Knockturn Alley,” James said.

“No one’s ever up to anything good there,” Sirius interjected.

“But what exactly were they doing?”

“Talking about someone with no name,” Peter said. “Malfoy just kept calling the guy ‘him.’ Not very enlightening.”

“Shh,” James hissed suddenly. Madam Pomfrey was coming back within earshot.

The boys fell silent as the nurse went through the same procedure with Peter that she had with James and Sirius. Once she finished with Peter she went to the bed beside James, which contained Remus. His eyes were shut, so they could not tell if he was sleeping or had not yet come around. The sight of Remus reminded James of something they had heard in the forest.

“Malfoy was talking about werewolves,” he said when Madam Pomfrey had gone into her office. “He was talking about using them, and giants and vampires. And killing them once it was over.”

“Yeah, but using them for what?” Peter asked fearfully. He was not scared of these species, but he could not stand to think of what they could be tempted into doing.

“We never got around to hearing that, did we?” Sirius said vehemently. “I hate people like him.”

“We all do, Sirius.”

“I hate people who use others who have something different about them and use it to hurt them.”

“Same here.”

James, Sirius and Peter looked around to see that Remus’s eyes were fluttering open. He greeted his friends with a tired smile. “Let’s never follow Slytherins into the Forbidden Forest again, agreed?”

“We have to find out what they were doing,” James insisted.

“James, they would’ve done worse to us than just Stunning us if they’d gotten the chance.”

“That’s what I want to know – how didn’t they get us?”

“Dunno, Sirius.”

Their conversation was halted by the reappearance of Madam Pomfrey, who had come in when she thought she had heard Remus’s voice. The nurse checked his pulse as she had done with James, Sirius and Peter, then proceeded to feel his forehead, check to se if his pupils were dilated, and a number of other medical procedures. The three boys were who not being inspected grinned at each. Madam Pomfrey had more of a maternal side when it came to Remus, who had been in her care more than any other student. When the nurse deemed their conditions “survivable” she went back to her office, after instructing them to spend the night.

“You four are lucky… in the Forbidden Forest of all places…”

Just as the office door closed, the entrance to the ward opened and Professor Handlin walked in. “Moaning Myrtle decided to come to the teachers’ bathroom… enormous flood.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “I think some of the water may have been her tears.” He shrugged and turned to the boys. “Would you mind telling me what were you doing in the Forbidden Forest?”

“We… we thought we saw people going in,” Sirius admitted.

“So you followed them?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” James said, suddenly realising that they should not have followed the Slytherins, although he did have every intention of doing it again.

“I didn’t see anyone when I found you.”

Remus looked up. “How did you know we were there?”

“No one saw you return to the castle and one of the centaurs was close to the grounds. He told me he saw four boys go into the forest.”

Peter’s eyes widened in surprise. “It was you who saved us?”

“I wouldn’t call it saving, just looking out for my students.” He stood up and headed towards the exit. “I’m not going to force you to, but it is in the best interest of the school if you tell us who you saw going in there. Professor Dumbledore has no idea any of his students went into the Forbidden Forest. He will, if you tell us what you saw.”

It wasn’t that the boys were frightened of what Dumbledore would do to them if he found out they had gone into the Forbidden Forest. It was that they were a bit afraid of what they had witnessed. Those Slytherins and those masked figures knew they were being watched and it was guaranteed that they were looking for whoever it was. The boys couldn’t even be sure that their faces had gone unseen. How long had it been before Handlin had found them? Was it right after they had fallen unconscious or was it a few minutes later, when they were already at the mercy of their attackers?

In the end they decided that, for the time being, they would not tell the Headmaster what they had witnessed. The boys began noticing that the Slytherins they had tailed did not get up during dinner any longer. They must have realised it was too dangerous to continue going, for the moment at any rate. When they were alone in the dormitory they could not keep their conversation off the Forbidden Forest. Who were those people Lucius Malfoy was with? What were they doing there? Who were they trying to recruit? What did they want with the giants, werewolves and vampires? These questions had no answers that they knew of yet.

“Where are there vampires anyway?” Remus asked one night, looking up from the letter he was writing to his parents.

“Up in the northern parts of England, some live in Scotland too,” Sirius replied, leaning back on his pillow. “They don’t usually come to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley or any of the other places wizards go to.”

“So why would Malfoy want them?”

“Remus, they don’t stay away from here by choice. The Ministry keeps them away. Malfoy figures that if they gave vampires things they can’t have because of the Ministry, they’d have them on their side.”

“We don’t even know what their side is, James.”

“I know, Peter, I was just saying.” He turned back to Remus. “Think about it. If you weren’t allowed to come to school would you be so eager to be friendly with wizards?”

I’m a wizard, James.”

“I know you are, but what if you were denied everything every other wizard has?”

“I pretty much will be once I get out of here.”

“Then look at the situation from there. Once you’ve graduated, what’s to stop the Ministry from taking all your rights from you? Any other werewolf would want revenge on them. Malfoy knows this.”

“Well, I don’t want revenge.”

“I’m just saying that other werewolves would.”

“I’m not those other werewolves, James.”

“James,” Peter hissed warningly. He knew that James was not intending his words to come offensive, but they were.

“You know I didn’t mean that, Remus.”

“That’s how it’s coming out.” Remus snatched up his letter and left the room with it.

“Brilliant, James,” Sirius said sarcastically, clapping his hands. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone crash and burn so badly.”

“Shut up, Sirius.”

“No, really, I mean that was just amazing. Comparing him to those crazy wolves that bite people for fun, like the maniac who bit him? That was a stroke of genius! I’m surprised he didn’t punch you because that’s what I would’ve done.”

“It’s a good thing I wasn’t talking to you, then.”

Sirius sat up. “Honestly, James, you just showed him the reason why a lot of werewolves go over to the bad side. People are ignorant.”

“I am not ignorant.”

We know that, both other people don’t. I’ve told you a million times how my parents talk about werewolves; they don’t give werewolves a good reason to stay on the side of good wizards.”

James knew there was no point in arguing it, Sirius was right. He hated when that happened. “I’ll go find him.”

“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said in the past fifteen minutes.”

After flinging his pillow at Sirius’s face, James left the dormitory and made a beeline for the Owlery. He suddenly wished they had never followed those Slytherins into the Forbidden Forest; it would have saved them a lot of trouble. The world as they knew it was turning for the worse and they had witnessed it. For the past two years they had been hearing about strange deaths – starting with Professor Flitwick’s sister and Alice Gordon’s father. No one seemed to know who or what was behind it or if they did they were unwilling to share it. The boys had managed to stumble upon something that had to do with these deaths. There was no solid proof, but they knew it anyhow.

The path up to the Owlery was freezing; James wished he had brought his cloak with him. As he neared the door he could hear the sleepy hooting of the numerous owls that roosted in the tower. Pushing the door open, he saw Remus leaning his elbows forward on the windowsill, looking out into the darkening night.

“I’m not like them, James,” he said without looking around.

“How’d you know it was me?” James asked, surprised.

Remus chose to ignore this. “I don’t want revenge on the Ministry because they’re not going to let me live like normal wizards. I won’t like it, but I’m not going to hurt them because of it.”

“I know that.”

Remus finally turned around and James saw an anger that he had never seen before. “Well you didn’t act like you did. The whole reason Fenrir Greyback bites children is so he can fill their heads with those stupid ideas – that we should hate wizards for treating us like we’re scum. My parents worked hard to keep me from thinking like that. I’m not about to adopt Greyback’s plans just because I heard Lucius Malfoy talking about werewolves like we’re puppets he can use.”

“I’m sorry. I was just trying to show you how werewolves like Greyback are, not werewolves like you. You’re different and we know that!”

Remus visibly relaxed. “I’m not going to end up like them.”

“No, you’re not. And you don’t have to remind yourself.”

Chapter 29: Holiday Happenings
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Chapter Twenty Nine
Holiday Happenings

Professor Kettleburn’s class of Gryffindor and Slytherin third years was a disgruntled bunch. The grounds were coated with three feet of freshly fallen snow, making it incredibly difficult to walk down to the edge of the Forbidden Forest where the class was held. They had progressed on from Flobberworms to a creature even less interesting – Caterfaeries. These creatures were faeries without the gift of flight, and were as hairy as the every day caterpillar. The only difference was that they were roughly the size of a Flobberworm, without the slime factor. The reason for their disgruntlement – the Caterfaeries escaped.

Normally if any of the disliked creatures ran, or crawled, to freedom, the class wouldn’t be devastated. However, Professor Kettleburn had made it his class’s mission to find the escapees and return them. The Gryffindors and Slytherins were crouching down on their knees, walking awkwardly around to find the creatures, who could conveniently camouflage themselves. The way to find them was to run a hand along the snowy surface to detect any hairy crawlers. Another downside was that if the Caterfaerie was rubbed the wrong way, the rubber gloves would rip open due to the unusually sharp hairs.

The students were grumbling miserably, their legs sore, their socks saturated with snow, and their hands freezing. Some students silently cursed Kettleburn and his undying love for all boring creatures. At any rate, each house should have been given fifty points automatically for putting up with this task. Kettleburn did assist, but very little. He stood by the empty crates and waited for his charges to return. Why had they not thought to escape like the stupid bugs?

“My hands are freezing!” Sirius snarled through chattering teeth.

“I can’t feel my face anymore,” James said, running a finger down his numb left cheek.

“I think my hands are bleeding,” Peter noted, looking down at the red snow below his hands.

“Mine too,” Remus said, holding up his own bleeding palms, which were visible through his torn gloves. “Bloody beasts are sharp.”

“You think Kettleburn would’ve told us these things can cut our hands open,” James remarked, handing Remus and Peter handkerchiefs for them to wrap around their bloody palms. “You two didn’t even catch those ones.”

“For slimy little things, they’re fast,” Remus said.

“The man’s mental, that’s all there is to it,” Sirius concluded.

The boys were broken out of their search by a high-pitched shriek. They looked up to see Lily Evans shouting for someone to get something out of her hair. A Caterfaerie had attached itself to her head and now matched the same shade of red as her hair. Snape was trying to get her to remain still long enough for him to pull it out, but Lily was hopping up and down in place, yanking at her hair in an attempt to get it out.

“Lily!” Snape shouted. “You’re going to hurt yourself if you grab at it like that.”

“Snivellus is right, Evans,” James said, leaping to his feet.

Sirius turned to James. “Snivellus?”

“It’s catchy.”

“Can’t argue there.”

Snape, or Snivellus as he was now called, managed to steady Lily long enough so he could pull the bug out of her hair. The Caterfaerie morphed instantly to the colour of Snape’s pale hand. Kettleburn, who had seen Lily’s panic, brought the box over for Snape to deposit the creature into. Kettleburn looked around at his disgruntled and cold students.

“I suppose we can call it a day. Get on back to the castle, warm up.”

The class could hardly resist cheering loudly and obnoxiously as they trekked through the snow back to the castle. As far as they were convinced, that lesson had been an entire waste of time. For them, it was good riddance to the Caterfaeries. None of them wanted to keep in touch, both literally and figuratively. The boys broke apart from the group after James gestured for them to do so.

“What’s up?” Sirius asked curiously, as he, Remus and Peter huddled around James.

“I was just thinking… d’you think Snape was involved with those students we saw?”

“I thought we were dropping this,” Remus said reproachfully.

“Come on, you can’t tell me you weren’t thinking the same thing.”

“Actually I wasn’t.”

“Think about it now, then!” He bent forward, lowering his voice. “He’s just the type of person to go around with that lot.”

“He’s only thirteen, James. I don’t think they want kids.”

“Who knows with scum like them?”

“Remus is right, James. Malfoy’s going to want some older people. I hear him talking when he comes round to my house. He doesn’t set much store by kids.”

“You’ve heard him talking about this stuff?” Peter asked dubiously.

“Not that, just kids in general. He doesn’t think anybody’s useful until they’re at least sixteen. Unless he knew them really well, he wouldn’t trust them until that age.”

Remus frowned. “Can we just not talk about this?”

James shook his head wildly. “You can’t deny there’s something going on.”

“I’m not denying it. It doesn’t involve us, so why are we getting so involved?”

James opened his mouth, no doubt prepared with another protest, but Sirius silenced him with a look. It was true that this did not involve them, yet it did. These people had proven they were capable of hexing a few kids, who was to say they wouldn’t do it again? Remus also had a point; it wasn’t any of their business what was going on. If they delved any deeper they would only find trouble they could not cope with, at least not yet. It was only a matter of time before it involved them, and everyone they cared about. Sirius, personally, wanted to face that trouble, whatever it was.

Needless to say, that was the last time Professor Kettleburn’s Care of Magical Creatures class saw the Caterfaeries. In fact, the following day the little worms managed to escape, this time to be lost forever. Kettleburn assumed that they had found a wolf or centaur in the forest and had been stomped on, or else eaten. The class did not even try to feign sorrow over the blow. They didn’t go as far as to cheer, but their glee was evident as they began to learn about unicorns. Unicorns weren’t actually on the third year syllabus, but Kettleburn felt bad about the torment he had put his class through and wanted to repent for it.

One night in early December James and Peter were sitting in the common room going over their Potions homework, while Sirius was serving detention and Remus was picking something up from Professor McGonagall’s office. Professor Slughorn had assigned them to research the properties of a Shrinking Solution. They all thought Slughorn was a wonderful teacher, but his essays were always killers, no matter what they were about. Peter’s nose was blotted with ink and his mind raced through everything he knew about the particular potion, while James bit the edge of his quill, spitting out the bits of feathers that caught in his teeth.

“I can’t think of anything else!” Peter shouted, slamming his quill down and glaring at the offending essay.

“You think I’m a fountain of information?” James questioned sardonically. Each of the boys still had two feet left to write.

The common room entrance opened and they were met with Remus’s voice, a welcomed distraction. “Oi! Help me, you two!” They looked up to see Remus struggling with a very large box. Curious about what he could possibly have, James and Peter leapt up to assist their friend.

“What the bloody hell is this?” James asked when they set it down on Remus’s bed in the dormitory.

“Sirius’s Christmas present,” Remus replied, pulling his shoes off. “I sent the money to my parents over the weekend and Dad went to pick it up.”

“I thought you said your dad could do something that’d disguise it?” Peter asked, peering at the box as if it might turn into a fuzzy bunny.

“He did.” Remus pulled out his wand and tapped the box five times and ran his wand along the centre. “Open it.”

Peter slit open the Spellotape and there was a large book entitled What to Do When Your Parents Are Gits rested in the packaging. He picked up the book and flipped open to the first chapter – Help Me, My Parents Are Morons. “Looks like the perfect book for Sirius. Wouldn’t he get in trouble, though?”

Remus shook his head. “It changes every time you do the spell.” He pocketed his wand. “My dad said that once the spell is performed, you just have to do what I did. To turn it back into the phonograph you have to do the same thing backwards.”

“So can you turn it into that thing now?” James asked impatiently. He wanted to see exactly what they had paid for. He had seen one at Remus’s, but he thought that Sirius’s might look different.

“Of course.” Remus performed the motion, only backwards. The book shrunk and grew until it resembled Remus’s phonograph, except it had Sirius’s name in curvy writing on the needle. “You guys will have to keep it here.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay at the castle this year?” Peter asked. Remus had told them that he would be going home, once again, for the Christmas holidays. James, Sirius and Peter would be staying at the castle. Sirius couldn’t stand to go home again; Peter’s parents were going to a wedding in Germany, a wedding that Peter was not invited to. James’s house was being renovated and his parents didn’t want him to get in the way. Remus, on the other hand, thought it was best that he went home. It was going to be his family’s first Christmas without his grandparents. He knew his father was going to be upset. He had to be there.

“I’m sure. We’ll all spend the holidays here next year.”

Suddenly they heard a voice approaching the dormitory. “I hate her!” Sirius burst through the doorway, while James, Remus and Peter huddled around Remus’s bed, blocking the phonograph out of view. Sirius knew what his present was, but they did not want him to have an early look.

“Who do you hate?” James asked casually, as if they weren’t hiding anything.

“Professor Jankes.” Sirius practically spat the name, his face contorted in anger.

“Your Muggle Studies professor?” Peter was confused. Sirius had always given them the impression that he enjoyed Muggle Studies and liked the teacher. What had brought on this sudden change?

“Yes, the old bat.”

“What happened?”

“She has me alphabetizing her entire library, five hundred and fifty seven bloody books. Then she has me clean the whole classroom the Muggle way!”

“Well, she is the Muggle Studies professor,” Remus pointed out. Professor Jankes was probably just trying to show Sirius the trials of being Muggle.

“Doesn’t mean she has to make me act like one!”

“Get a grip, mate. It was you who hexed those books to follow Snivellus around,” James told his best friend.

“It’s not like any of them caused any damage to his head. They just dented it a bit.” He sighed exasperatedly and finally stopped to really look at his friends. They were standing together in a rather rehearsed away, and their smiles were strange. “What are you three hiding?”

“Nothing,” they said simultaneously, moving closer together.

“What’s on the bed?”

“My cloak,” Remus replied quickly.

“Then why are you hiding it?”

“Peter had an upset stomach, lost it on my cloak.”

Dubious, Sirius sniffed the air. “Doesn’t smell like he did.”

Scourgify is really handy, isn’t it, Remus?”

“It is, James.”

Sirius observed Peter, who looked to be in perfect health. “He doesn’t look sick to me.”

“I’m a fast healer.”

“What are you three hiding?” Before they could do anything, Sirius had pushed past them. “My Christmas present?”

“Yes, you git!” the three yelled.

Sirius leaned forward to get a better look at it. “Hey, it has my name on it.”

“And soon it’ll have your face on it,” James added under his breath so only Peter and Remus could hear. “Honestly, Sirius, you couldn’t have waited a few more weeks?” he asked Sirius, loud and annoyed.

“I already knew what it was!” Sirius said defensively.

Neither boy said anything else; they knew it was pointless to argue with Sirius about something as important as his Christmas present. Instead, the three contented themselves with flinging every object that would not cause severe damage in his direction.

Christmas morning dawned early in the castle. Actually, there was no option as Sirius set his own mental alarm clock at seven sharp. James and Peter protested, knowing all the time that it was a futile attempt. When Sirius wanted to wake up, especially on Christmas morning, there was no way to make him go back to sleep. He had to have everyone up with him. James and Peter did manage to buy some time by pulling the hangings around their beds under the pretense of getting dressed, but actually trying to catch a few more winks of sleep. It was only after they took twenty minutes to get dressed that Sirius caught on.

Each boy had a pile of presents at the foot of their beds, waiting patiently to be unwrapped. Sirius ignored the pile and walked over to his phonograph, which had been unceremoniously left on the desk after the day it arrived. He went to put on a record. There was only one problem – there was already one there. He stared at it, wondering where it could have come from. It was unlabeled, unlike all his other ones his friends had given him, and he could not remember placing it there. Shrugging, he put it on. Through a faint scratching sound, he could hear a familiar voice.

First off, don’t ask me how I did this because I’m not telling you because you are a git. Sirius rolled his eyes. Remus, of course… secondly, you’re a git. But I covered that already. Thirdly, next time we tell you that Peter lost it on my cloak, you should believe us because we’ll probably be telling the truth. Sirius rolled his eyes; he already had prior knowledge to his Christmas present, so why was Remus getting upset about it? And no one cares that you already knew about it, it’s the principle of the thing. Lastly, next year we’re getting you a sack of pocket lint. Just thought you’d like to know… Happy Christmas.

Sirius picked up the needle as his friend’s voice faded away and replaced the record in a vacant pocket he found, assuming that Remus had left it there for that purpose. He made his way back to his bed to unwrap the rest of his gifts. Once the three boys had opened, compared, and stowed away their presents, they dressed and headed down to the common room. There were only a few Gryffindors who remained behind. Cory Hamilton sat by the fire, reading a book. He stayed behind every year; the rumor around Gryffindor was that his parents didn’t want him to come home. Lily Evans sat on the couch, petting her cat, Slink.

The boys sat around the table, much to the disconcertment of Lily. However, instead of being rude to them, she forced herself to maintain a level of politeness. “Happy Christmas,” she said, letting her cat down.

“Happy Christmas,” the boys replied. Slink pranced over and sat down beside James, allowing him to scratch her behind the ears.

“You have a friendly cat, Evans,” he remarked. “Where’d she learn that?”

Lily laughed sarcastically. “Funny, Potter.”

“What are your parents doing for the holidays, Lily?” Peter asked, skillfully avoiding the fight that would inevitably follow. He was not the only person who did not wish to see James in makeup again.

“They’re going on a vacation to Sweden.”

Sirius looked confused. “And you’re not going with them? What about your sister?”

Lily appeared shocked that Sirius even knew she had a sister. “She’s staying with some friends. They wanted to have a private vacation.”

James huffed. “Privacy? Don’t parents know that’s impossible when they have kids?”

“My parents have two,” Sirius added. “Actually, I like that they can’t get privacy when me and Regulus are home.”

“I’m sure they love having you here then, mate,” Peter chided.

“They love when I’m here; they want their beloved Reggy home.”

Lily, who knew very little about Sirius’s home life, watched the exchange with mild interest. She couldn’t understand why Sirius would say something like that. Judging by the tone he used, she knew it was something she should not further question, particularly because she hadn’t been on real speaking terms with these boys since first year.

“Who else is here?” Peter asked. “Who stayed at the castle, I mean.”

“Reggy’s home,” Sirius chimed in as though he really cared.

“Severus Snape stayed,” Lily told them.

“Snivelly didn’t want to go home?” James asked, feigning a shocked expression. He didn’t seem to notice the glare that quickly ran across Lily’s face.

“No, he didn’t,” she replied coolly. “Xeno Lovegood stayed too.”

“He’s weird, that one,” Sirius commented.

“He’s interesting, at least,” Peter said fairly. The others couldn’t argue with this. Xeno Lovegood was eccentric, to say the least. He tended to believe in things that could not be proven to exist; there was never any evidence to suggest either way. His main belief was that there was a creature called the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. No one was quite sure where he had gotten the idea, or the name, but everyone was certain that this particular animal roamed no land. There was no use in trying to point this out to Xeno; he was set in his beliefs.

“Like I said, he’s weird,” Sirius insisted after Lily mentioned Xeno’s obsession with these creatures.

Lily frowned at this comment, but said nothing further. “The feast is going to start soon.”

Sirius jumped in his spot. “Food!” And he sped off towards the portrait hole.

James sighed exasperatedly and rolled his eyes at Lily. “You had to say that, didn’t you?” He shook his head. “Come on, Peter. Let’s go stop Sirius before the food’s gone. Evans.” He nodded at Lily.

He led Peter through the portrait hole, noting that Sirius had made good time. By the time they reached the Great Hall, Sirius was sitting comfortably at the one long table in the centre of the room, where the four house tables should have been. The table was empty, save for Sirius; the food had not yet appeared on the golden platters. Shaking their heads at the absurdity of their friend’s actions, Peter and James sat down on either side of him.

“The feast isn’t starting for a while, Sirius,” James said in a voice suggesting that he was speaking to a five-year-old.

“Lily said soon,” Sirius whined, playing the part of the little boy.

After another twenty minutes the professors began filing into the Great Hall. Some of them, such as the Muggle Studies teacher and Professor Kettleburn, looked shocked to see the boys already there. Others, like Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, looked as though they expected no less.

“Happy Christmas, boys,” Dumbledore said cheerfully, taking the vacant seat at the head of the table.

“Happy Christmas, Professor,” the boys replied in unison.

Not long after everyone settled at the table did Lily Evans appear with Severus Snape, in conversation about the notorious Caterfaeries. Professor Kettleburn grinned innocently, shifting in his seat. He had not forgotten his students’ intense dislike for the creatures and their overwhelming joy when their search for them was declared a failure. The red head and the Slytherin took the seats opposite the boys, not breaking their conversation except to eat whatever they put on their plates. Xeno Lovegood drifted in moments later, lost in a daze and looking as if he had walked in by mistake.

The boys spent their time pulling every cracker within reach, until their laps were barely visible through the pile of gifts they accumulated. James, who had found a purple wizard hat and had no use for it, offered it to Professor Dumbledore, who gratefully accepted. As the feast wore on the cheerful talk turned to more serious matters amongst the professors. They wouldn’t come right out and say what it was, noting the presence of the students, but it didn’t keep them from asking very vague questions.

“Did you get those papers, Samuel?” Professor McGonagall asked Professor Handlin as she was cutting a piece of turkey.

“Yes, he sent them to me last night, Minerva,” Handlin replied, fiddling with the Sneakoscope he found in one of the crackers. Professor McGonagall nodded, seemingly satisfied. Professor Dumbledore, his new purple hat perched on his head, leaned forward and said something quietly to the Transfiguration professor that the boys strained to hear. Unfortunately, they could catch nothing.

“Wonder what they’re talking about,” Sirius hissed to James and Peter, who shrugged in response. They were just as curious.

“That is not for you to hear, Mr. Black,” Professor McGonagall said curtly.

The boys soon got up to leave, followed almost instantly by Lily, Snape and Xeno. The boys were under the pretense of going back up to the common room, only so the professors would continue their conversation. When their fellow students passed by, they doubled back to the entryway to the Great Hall and hid just outside the doorway. Now that they supposed their students were gone, nothing was stopping the professors from talking freely.

“There was an attack,” Professor Dumbledore was saying gravely. “But it was kept out of the papers.”

“How did they manage that one, Albus?” Handlin asked, surprised. “The Prophet gets their hands on everything the Ministry misses.”

Dumbledore smiled ruefully. “I have friends in the newspaper business. Harry Lupin is quite skilled at making sure nothing is printed that I don’t want printed.”

“You want an attack on Muggles that was clearly done by wizards to go unnoticed?”

“Not yet,” Dumbledore replied. “The public will know, but we don’t want to cause such an alarm as of now.”

“What about last year when David Gordon was killed? Or Filius’s sister the year before? You told the students about that one.”

“Their professor was going to be missing, Samuel. They had the right to know why,” Professor McGonagall reminded him.

“As for David, the students were bound to wonder why Alice disappeared from school.”

“But this is so unlike you, Albus,” Handlin insisted. “You usually want people to know what is happening.”

“And they will know. When the time is right, the public will know what is happening. That is all I will say on the matter.”

It was clear that the conversation was over, so the boys retreated to Gryffindor Tower. None of the boys could deny it, they all agreed with Professor Handlin. It only made sense for the public to know if something was going wrong. It had been done before, so why not now? It was reported when Mr. Gordon died, and Professor Flitwick’s sister. Maybe Dumbledore didn’t want it advertised over the holidays? But that also seemed so unlike Dumbledore. Maybe the Headmaster was worried, though they found that so impossible. Nothing ever worried Dumbledore… unless what was happening was something that had never happened before. Something he didn’t know how to handle.

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty - Back to the Forest

“Sirius!” Remus panted, running at full speed to keep up with Sirius’s pace. “What are you doing?”

“What do they want with him?” Sirius asked himself, seeming to not even hear Remus.

“Maybe they were just talking to Regulus. It can’t be that bad.”

“Those are the gits we followed into the forest!”

“I know that, but that doesn’t mean-”

“What else could it mean, Remus?”

Chapter 30: Back to the Forest
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Chapter Thirty
Back to the Forest

“I got it!”

“Nice one, James.”


The boys were assembled in the Room of Requirement, trying once more to attempt their Patronuses. James, who had progressed the furthest of he, Sirius and Peter, had finally managed to produce a Patronus. It happened very quickly, as it had when Remus managed it, but they could just make out a deer shape, though they were sure it was not a deer exactly. It was different, but they couldn’t be too sure what it was. James was standing in the centre of the room, his wand poised, staring at the spot where the silvery creature had once been floating. He lowered his wand, pocketed it, and whirled around.

“Your turn,” he said to Sirius.

Sirius glanced at his watch, it was nearing curfew. “I’ll try next time. We should be getting back.” He crossed the room to where Remus was dozing in his chair. The full moon had been two days ago and Remus still had not fully recovered. He lightly shook Remus’s shoulder. “Wake up.” Remus muttered some incoherent nonsense and sleepily swatted Sirius’s hand away. He shifted in his seat and continued sleeping. Sirius continued to shake his friend’s shoulder.

“Five more minutes…”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Fine, we’ll just leave you here for Filch to find.” This didn’t seem to bother Remus. “Come on, mate.” Still, he had no progress. “James.” Sirius jerked his head towards the other side of Remus and James instantly knew what Sirius was going to do. The boys hitched Remus up by his shoulders and began dragging him towards the door.

This woke Remus up. His eyes opened and he looked around, wondering why he was moving without his permission. “What are you buggers doing?”

“Aww… he’s awake,” Peter said sentimentally, looking at Remus as though he were an adorable little baby.

“Put me down!”

“Good thing he’s easy to carry,” James said to Sirius from behind Remus’s head.

“Put me down!

“I know,” Sirius agreed wholeheartedly. “If this had been you, on the other hand, I think my back would break.”

“Put me down, you idiots!”

“Shut up, Black.”

“Bloody hell, I want my feet on the floor!”

“I mean, I’d be like an old man trying to carry you, bent down under your weight.”

“PUT ME DOWN!” Startled, James and Sirius dropped Remus to the floor. Remus stood up, straightening out his robes, glaring daggers at his friends.

“You could’ve asked, Remus,” James said, looking insulted.

“Wouldn’t have made any difference,” Remus shot back, leading the way down the corridor. He looked over his shoulder and saw that only Peter was following. James and Sirius were rooted to the spot. Remus grinned to himself, caught Peter’s eye, and jerked his head towards the two. Peter knew instantly what Remus was going to do. The two quickly doubled back, hitched James and Sirius up by the elbows and began dragging them down the hall.

“Put me down!” the boys yelled together.

“You were right, Sirius,” Remus remarked thoughtfully. “James is heavy.”

After James’s accomplished Patronus, Sirius began making progress. He couldn’t achieve a distinguishable shape; he only achieved a fog of silver. Shape or fog, Sirius didn’t care, he was getting somewhere at last. James was working on keeping his Patronus long enough to discover if it was really a deer or something else. Peter was still having difficulty coming up with a decent memory. Remus helped him in that area, though between the both of them they were coming up fruitless. Remus would sit with Peter, while James and Sirius practised, and they would put their heads together, thinking up the happiest memory Peter had. As of yet, they had nothing.

Near the end of January the boys opened a copy of the Daily Prophet and saw the article Handlin and Dumbledore had been talking about had finally been printed – the one about the Muggles killed by wizards. Dumbledore must have gotten Harry Lupin to give the okay to print it. They had filled Remus in on the conversation when he returned from the break and he was, naturally, surprised that his father was helping Dumbledore with this. He knew he should have expected this. He was aware that his father and Dumbledore talked to each other. He never realised that his father would be doing such favours for the Headmaster, however.

Unlike the previous year, when Alice Gordon’s father was murdered and the year before that when Professor Flitwick’s sister was found dead, this bit of news did not induce a craving for information amongst the students. It may have been because it was only a group of Muggles, or because it was getting tiresome to worry about whoever was behind it. Many students, surprisingly, were failing to notice the reoccurrence of the mark in the sky, which still had yet to be labeled. The fact was that whenever a murder occurred, this mark was hovering in the sky above the area where the murder had taken place. The same person was behind it, yet hardly any of the students were troubling themselves about it.

The boys sat in the dormitory, Sirius’s phonograph playing lazily in the background. They were reading through a copy of the Prophet, talking quietly about the article of the Muggle killings.

“I don’t know why Dumbledore would want to keep this quiet,” Remus remarked, resting his chin in his hand.

“He didn’t really go into why he didn’t want to,” Sirius told him, recalling the conversation they had overheard on Christmas.

“Yeah,” Peter agreed, nodding. “He said something about timing. What was it, James?”

James, who was leaning back on his bed, glanced towards the three assembled on Sirius’s bed. “He said he didn’t want the public to know until he thought it was the right time.” He laughed bitterly. “Of course, everyone has to wait for Dumbledore before they get to know what’s going on.”

Sirius, Remus and Peter looked at each other; this was not something James would normally say. James usually agreed with everything Dumbledore thought of. James respected the Headmaster, revered him. They had never heard him talking about the Headmaster in such a sarcastic tone.

Hesitantly, Sirius asked, “What d’you mean, James?”

“It’s not right of Dumbledore to keep something like that from people.”

“He didn’t really keep it; he just held it back for a little.”

“That doesn’t make it right.”

Before anyone could say anything else on the matter, the dormitory door opened and Frank entered. “Did you guys hear?” he said when he spotted them. “Handlin’s going away for a week.”

“What?” Remus asked, perplexed. Hogwarts teachers didn’t simply go away during the school year. It was unheard of.

“There was a sign on his door,” Frank elaborated, sitting down on his own bed and removing his shoes.

“Did the sign say why he’s going to be gone?” Sirius queried.

Frank shook his head. “Nope, just that he’s going to be gone for a week.”

“Who’s going to cover for the class?” Peter asked interestedly.

“Dunno. Maybe they’ll get your dad again, Remus.”

Remus didn’t seem to be thrilled at the idea. The faces of the jeering Slytherins had not yet faded from the first time his father was a substitute teacher. “I don’t think so. My dad’s better at Charms; he wasn’t really great at Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

Frank looked thoughtful. “I wonder who they’re going to get then.”

The answer to Frank’s question was answered that Tuesday when they queued up outside the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom. The Gryffindor and Hufflepuff third years stood outside the door, debating rapidly about who was going to be the first to enter and see who was at the door. For one wild moment, Allison Abbot suggested that maybe Professor Crane was back, an idea that absolutely horrified the entire class. Luckily, Lily mentioned that it was unlikely Crane would ever step inside that room again, believing it to be haunted. The five boys, Lily and Alice smirked to themselves; it was their deeds that had driven him from the castle.

Finally, Frank proved to be the first to enter and saw an elderly woman with salt and pepper hair sitting at the desk, writing hastily on a piece of parchment. She looked up and smiled pleasantly at the group of relieved students. They took their assigned seats and waited patiently for the woman to introduce herself. They were all grateful about this one thing – she didn’t look as if she would bite their heads off if they made a wrong move. Whispers spread across the room, everyone was still mulling over where Handlin could be. Was it so important that he had to hide the nature of his absence? Or maybe it was too dangerous…

The woman cleared her throat loudly and all heads turned to her. “Good afternoon, class. I am Professor Twikom,” she said in a scratchy voice.

The class muttered some hullos, which she took with the same smile she had greeted them with. “Professor Handlin will be away for a week, attending to some business. He has asked me to continue with the lesson you were working on.” She consulted her class roster. “Longbottom, what was it you were studying the last time you had class?”

Frank thought for a moment. “I think we were just about to start learning about werewolves.”

James glanced at Remus through to corner of his eye. His friend didn’t seem to be agitated at all by the pronouncement. This could have been because a kind teacher was handling it. If it had been Crane teaching this lesson, Remus would have something to worry about. Besides, Professor Twikom wouldn’t have the slightest idea that one of her students was a werewolf; she wasn’t a full time teacher. Why would she have to know? The lesson went smoothly enough; they merely covered the differences between a regular wolf and a werewolf. There was nothing mentioned about identifying a human.

When the class ended the boys followed their classmates out into the crowded hallway. Defence Against the Dark Arts was their last class of the day and they were discussing what they were going to do for the rest of the afternoon. Homework, naturally, was out of the question. When they were debating on whether or not to see what Hagrid was up to, Cory Hamilton appeared at James’s side.

“Practise!” he told his Chaser.

“What?” James yelped. “It’s freezing out!”

This bit of news did not seem to faze the captain. “We’ve only got until next month to prepare for our match against Slytherin. You’ve seen Black play; he knows how to catch that Snitch.”

Regulus had been admitted onto the Slytherin Quidditch team at the beginning of the year as their new Seeker. James had seen the youngest Black play and was inclined to agree with Cory. Regulus did know what he was doing. Yet he did not see why Cory was worrying himself, he was the best Seeker the school had ever seen. Resigning himself to defeat, he was dragged away by Cory down to the Quidditch Pitch.

“And then there were three,” said Peter. This did not last long. The moment the words came out of Peter’s mouth, Professor Flitwick appeared at his side, asking to go over his latest Charms essay. He had a question about some of Peter’s reasoning. Peter waved to his friends as he followed the professor to the Charms classroom.

“Now what?” Remus asked, turning to Sirius.

“I’m hungry.”

“What else is new?”

“Let’s go to dinner.”

The two boys followed the crowd of students heading to the Great Hall. As they were descending the staircase in the Entrance Hall, Sirius caught sight of something that greatly interested him. It was his brother talking to the Slytherins they had followed into the Forbidden Forest. There was something different this time, there were more of them. Had they gotten more people since their last visit? What was Regulus doing with them anyway? Did he know what they were up to? Sirius didn’t like to think that he did. Regulus should have had more sense than that.

He froze in his place when Regulus parted from the group. The second year Slytherin glanced up and saw his brother, but made no sign of recognition. The group his brother had been talking to departed through the giant double doors into the darkening evening. Sirius forwent any thoughts of having dinner and headed straight for the group. Remus, taken by surprise, hurried after his friend to find out what he was doing. Sirius was determined to find out exactly what those Slytherins were doing and what they wanted with his brother.

“Sirius!” Remus panted, running at full speed to keep up with Sirius’s pace. “What are you doing?”

“What do they want with him?” Sirius asked himself, seeming to not even hear Remus.

“Maybe they were just talking to Regulus. It can’t be that bad.”

“Those are the gits we followed into the forest!”

“I know that, but that doesn’t mean-”

“What else could it mean, Remus?”

Remus did not have an answer for this. It did seem more suspicious than he was making it out to be. He just didn’t want to think that Sirius’s only brother could be taking the path of those Slytherins. They were halfway down the grassy slope of the grounds when Sirius slowed down. He squinted into the darkness; he could only just make out the backs of the group in the distance.

“Wish we had the cloak,” he muttered.

“It doesn’t matter if we do. It’s dark enough for them to not see us,” Remus said, catching his breath.

“What are they doing?” Sirius couldn’t stop wondering. He wanted to know what they were up to. Why were they still consulting with Lucius Malfoy? What was it they were planning on doing? He knew the answer to that – they wanted to purify the Wizarding race. But who were they answering to? Who was higher up than Malfoy? More importantly, what did they want with Regulus? What was Regulus getting himself into? “I’m following them.”

“What?” Remus said, caught off guard.

“They’re going back to that place, I know it. I’m finding out what they’re doing!” He took off at a dash again.

Remus bolted after his friend again. “You do remember what happened to us the last time we went in there?”

“I don’t care!” Sirius called back.

“Handlin isn’t here to save us again!”

“I don’t need him! They’re going to be the ones who need saving when I find out what they’re doing!”

Remus knew there was no point arguing. Sirius’s mind was set. He could do nothing except join him and make sure Sirius didn’t get into trouble. They took the same trail they had before Christmas; only this time there were fewer numbers on their side, and more on the other. This didn’t benefit them, but this did not deter Sirius in the least. They weaved their way through the dark forest, tripping over tree roots, getting slapped in the face with branches. Now that it was evening, they could see the crackling fire earlier than they had the first time.

“What happened to being hungry, Sirius?” Remus hissed in a last ditch attempt to make his friend turn back.

Sirius ignored Remus. They crouched down behind a particularly large tree trunk and watched the group as they consulted with Malfoy. If Malfoy hadn’t been wearing a mask, they could have sworn he was smirking triumphantly. When he spoke, his voice was full of disgusting joy. “Excellent, you’ve brought more.”

“That’s not all,” said a Slytherin whose voice they recognised from the previous meeting. The tones in his voice matched those in Malfoy’s. “We have some of the younger students interested in what we are doing. We did not bring them this time. We wanted to ask, is he interested in younger students?”

Lucius Malfoy’s displeasure at children showed only slightly at this news. Perhaps he was considering them for when they aged. “He is not uninterested. Which students did you have in mind?”

“There are a few… Regulus Black, for one, was extremely interested in what we were doing.”

Remus felt Sirius shift at these words. He shot him a warning look. It would not do them any good for Sirius to spring up and announce their presence. Sirius couldn’t see the look, but knew it was there.

“However,” Malfoy went on, “Regulus is young, hardly thirteen. Perhaps when he is older he can be more active in our cause. I know his family will like that.”

“Except for his reject of a brother,” one of the Slytherins they did not recognise chuckled.

“Yes,” Malfoy agreed. “Sirius does lack the proper pride of a true Wizard. He shows it so well in the company he consorts with.”

Sirius almost jumped up, but Remus forced him down. “Are you trying to get us killed?” he whispered furiously.

The group was laughing, but stopped in an all too familiar way. They knew they were being watched again. The boys were quicker this time. They leapt to their feet and sprinted far out of the reach of the spells that were sent their way. They jumped over branches, side-stepped mice running across the ground, and could just make out the exit. Sirius only stopped when he heard Remus stumble and groan in pain. He spun around and saw his friend on the ground, clutching his leg.

Sirius doubled back and nervously knelt down. “They didn’t get you, did they?” He looked back into the woods, but saw that they were far out of range. Remus shook his head. It was then that Sirius noticed which leg his friend was holding. “That still hurts you? It happened almost two years ago!”

“I know,” Remus said disgustedly. “But if I step on it hard enough… running like that…” He inhaled and exhaled deeply and seem to relax somewhat. “I’m sorry.”

Sirius blinked. “For what?”

“For whatever your brother’s going to do. I know you’re not going to like it.”

Sirius didn’t really know what to say to this. “You don’t have to be sorry about that.”

Remus shrugged one shoulder. “D’you remember that time you wanted to hex Regulus and I told you not to? You said I didn’t know anything about it because I don’t have any brothers or sisters.”

Sirius remembered this; it had been right before their first Hogsmeade trip. “Yeah, I remember that.”

“You’re right; I don’t understand anything about it. But I do know that you’re not going to want your brother involved in whatever they’re doing.”

“Yeah, I don’t. But what can I do to stop him? He has a mind of his own; it’s not my fault if he uses it for something stupid.”

Remus looked at him dubiously. “You know, even if he doesn’t act like he does, Regulus does care about what you think.”

“He has a great way of showing it.”

“Yeah… well… you’re right about that.” Remus flinched as a pain surged through his leg.

“C’mon, let’s go back up to the castle.” He bent forward and helped Remus to his feet, swinging his friend’s arm over his shoulder, getting the weight off his bad leg. When they entered the Entrance Hall they saw that most of their classmates were still in the Great Hall, which they were grateful for. There would be no prying inquires as to why Remus could not walk on his own. They entered the empty dormitory ten minutes later. Remus lay down on his bed, propping his leg up on his pillow and shutting his eyes, while Sirius sat on the floor, leaning against his bed’s footboard.

How had Regulus come to this? It was true that Regulus took part in his parents’ insane views and positively loved being a Slytherin. Sirius cringed every time he thought of his brother’s emerald and silver room decorations back at Grimmauld Place. He always thought that Regulus had a little more sense than his parents did. He had been wrong. He had been so wrong after what he had heard that night. His brother was going down a path he, Sirius, could not prevent him from taking. The time had passed that his opinion truly mattered to Regulus. Remus had been wrong; Regulus did not care what his brother thought anymore. Sirius was beginning to wonder if it had ever been that way.

Chapter 31: Questionable Interests
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Author's Note: Sorry about the prolonged absence of updates. I usually update my fics on all the sites I write on at the same time. But one site has had a problem with hackers and my fic's been stuck in the queue. So I decided you guys over here have waited long enough. Enjoy!

Chapter Thirty One
Questionable Interests

As the weeks wore on, Sirius did all he could to avoid Regulus. It wasn’t terribly difficult, as their paths hardly ever crossed. But, on the occasions when they did, Sirius made sure he could not see his brother. During meals at the Great Hall, Sirius sat on the side of the table that did not face the Slytherin table. He knew he and Regulus were both on the third floor when Sirius had Transfiguration, so he drew out a new route for him and his friends to take. His friends did not argue about this, they knew Sirius needed time to process what he had learned about his brother. Though, because of this, it took them some time to get used to travelling in the new part of the corridor. James and Peter had been filled in by Remus on what had occurred the night they had not been there. It didn’t really surprise the two what had happened, although they would not mention that to Sirius.

Sirius had become touchy about anything involving his family. Any mention of Regulus, his mother, his father, Narcissa, Lucius, Bellatrix… anyone who was a member of the immediate or extended Black Family was an avoidable topic. In fact, the only way his family could make him smile was when he heard that his cousin, Andromeda, had had a daughter. She hadn’t just had the baby; Nymphadora Tonks was almost a year old, but the news had been kept out of his reach by his mother and father. Andromeda was a disappointment. They did not wish to admit that Nymphadora was part of their family, nor was her father, Ted, a Muggle-born. The only reason Sirius had even heard of it was when he read an article in the Daily Prophet about Ted Tonks speaking out against the harsh treatment of Muggle-borns. It had quickly mentioned the members of his family.

Professor Handlin had returned to school, looking exhausted but otherwise happy. He refused pointblank to tell his students what he had been up to, and they knew better than to ask him after the fifty third time. He picked up with their lessons as though he had not been absent for a week. Throughout his lessons, the students whispered theories to each other about their professor’s whereabouts, voicing suspicions as to what he had been doing. Some students, the more dubious Slytherins, ventured that, whatever it was, it was illegal. No one dared to believe this. Despite the overall oddness of the disappearance, they doubted Professor Handlin would ever take part in illegalities.

As for the boys, they were investing their time and energy in the nights they spent in the Room of Requirement, trying desperately to complete their Patronuses. James’s was perfected; they had discovered that it was a stag. So he helped Sirius and Peter. Sirius had gotten it with only a little help from James and they had seen that his Patronus was a dog. Remus offered help as well, mostly with Peter, as he had the most patience out of the group. Sirius could achieve his Patronus; he was only having trouble keeping the shield long enough. Peter was having difficulty producing even a wisp of anything. His frustration was showing extensively, to the point where he had hurled his wand across the room, sending sparks with it that ignited the hem of James’s robes on fire.

“Watch it!” James snapped, stepping on the flames in an attempt to extinguish them.

“Sorry,” Peter moaned miserably, aiding James in putting out the flames. When the fire was out and the only source of smoke was from the charred remains of the ends of James’s robes, Peter retrieved his wand. “I’m hopeless.”

“No, you’re not!” Remus said encouragingly. “You just need to focus! You get distracted too easily.”

“Well, I’m sorry if I can’t focus on just one thing!”

“Don’t get mad at him, Peter,” James warned.

“Just think of something happy!” Remus instructed, ignoring the snap Peter had sent at him.

“How am I supposed to do that?”

“People manage it when there are hundreds of Dementors around them, it’s possible.”

“We can’t all be Remus Lupin and get them on the first try.”

“Merlin.” Remus slapped a hand to his forehead. “I’m just trying to help you!”

“I don’t need your help!”

“Yes, you do,” Sirius muttered under his breath.

“Then make a Patronus!”

Peter opened his mouth and closed it. “What?”

“You don’t need my help, show me you don’t!”

“I don’t know how to!”

“We’re not leaving until you produce a Patronus, so do it.” Remus settled himself in his chair, gesturing for Sirius and James to do the same. Peter stared at them in disbelief. “Come on, Pete. You said you don’t need our help, prove it.”

Peter couldn’t believe them. They were actually going to sit there until he produced a Patronus? They would be sitting there forever then, because he couldn’t do it. But, looking at the expectant faces of his friends, he knew he had no choice. He should at least try. He poised his wand and screwed his eyes shut, trying to find one truly happy memory. He remembered when he was about to turn eleven and thought, for the longest time, that he would not receive his Hogwarts letter. Then, shortly before his birthday, he saw a Barn Owl hovering outside his kitchen window. The feelings he felt were ineffable. If that wasn’t a happy memory, he didn’t know what was.


A jet out silver flew out of the point of Peter’s wand and formed, for the quickest of moments, the shape of a rat. The rat vanished, but it had been there. He had done it. He glanced at his friends, who were grinning at the spot where the Patronus had been.

Remus stood up, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “What was it you were saying about not being able to do it?”

Now that each boy was able to produce a Patronus, their task was to find the hairs of the creatures they would turn into. Finding Sirius’s was easy enough; they would simply take the hairs from Remus’s dog. Over the summer Remus would pull the hairs off the Labrador’s back and keep them safe for Sirius. Sirius could help Peter out with the rat hairs; Grimmauld Place was notorious for rats. Peter had to admit, he was slightly baffled, not to mention revolted, as to why his Patronus was a rat. He couldn’t understand why. James was the one that no one could help. They had no idea where they could get stag hairs. When they had all the hairs they would add them to the potion, which James and Sirius would get working on straightaway. Remus had offered to help, an offer that was quickly shot down. They didn’t want it blowing up. James and Sirius decided that the most he could do was gather the materials, Peter would help him with that.

March brought with it the early beginnings of spring. The skies, clouded from the winter, could now been seen blue through the white puffs drifting across. The snow had all but cleared up, something which elated the Care of Magical Creatures classes. The students were now taking their homework outside to do, rather than be stuck in the castle common rooms. The boys took to sitting under the beech tree by the lake to study, read, or to simply be lazy. They were occasionally joined by the Giant Squid, who would propel itself in their general vicinity. One day in early March the boys could be found sitting under the tree.

“Quick, give me a ten letter word for genius and insanity that starts with a D,” Sirius said, holding up the crossword puzzle in the Daily Prophet.

“Dumbledore,” Peter supplied, twirling a fallen leaf around between his thumb and index finger. Sirius laughed and wrote in the name.

“I think you have an obsession with these crosswords, Sirius,” James observed. “It’s almost as bad as your obsession with food.”

“Stuff it.” Sirius folded up the paper and pocketed it. He stood up, grinning, and flexed his right arm. “At least I’m not fat.”

“How do we know?”

“Do I look fat?”

“Not when you’ve got all those robes on. For all we know, you could wear those things Muggle queens wear to hide that they’re fat. What are they called?” He looked at Remus and Peter for help.

“Corsets,” Remus said sleepily, his eyes shut and his head leaning against the tree trunk. The full moon was the next day and he was feeling the effects of it already.

“Yeah, those things.”

Sirius sat down again. “You’re calling me a girl?

“No, we were just saying that you might dress like one. If you’ve got anything you need to tell us, Sirius, you know we won’t judge.”

“Bug off, git.”

James’s retort was cut off by a violent sneeze from Remus. “Tomorrow’s going to be fun, isn’t it?”

“Loads,” Remus said. “Bones breaking, claws coming out of my hands, hair growing where it shouldn’t be. Yeah, it’ll be the time of my life.”

“Too bad it has to be right before your birthday,” Peter said sympathetically.

“As long as it’s not on my birthday, I don’t care.”

“Has that ever happened before?” Sirius inquired.

“Not yet. The year I was bitten, there was one on my birthday. But I was bitten in April.” He opened his eyes and looked at his friends. “I hope it never happens.” He inhaled sharply as his head received a painful twinge. He stood up and picked up the book he had been leafing through earlier. “I’m going up to the castle.”

The boys nodded. “See you later, then,” Sirius added.

Remus trekked up the grass towards the giant oak double doors. His head was swimming; he just wanted to lie down. But he had homework to do, he had to write a letter to his parents, and he had a tutoring session with Lily. Why hadn’t he thought to cancel that? He knew he was getting sicker earlier than the day of the full moon. He should have told Lily he couldn’t make it. Groaning at his idiocy, he squinted at his watch and saw that it was almost time for him to meet her in the dungeons. Veering off his intended path to Gryffindor Tower, Remus descended the cold stone steps into the drafty dungeon.

When he approached Slughorn’s classroom, he could just make out Lily’s voice. She seemed to be talking to someone, and, unless his ears were cheating him, this person was Severus Snape. Remus knew Lily was friends with Snape, a fact that disgusted, mystified and horrified James. Remus couldn’t help but wonder sometimes how the Gryffindor and the Slytherin were friends; they seemed so different. Then again, that may have been the very reason that they got along. He shrugged it off and tapped lightly on the door. He saw that Lily and Snape were sitting at one of the desks bent over an open book.

Lily glanced up when she heard the knock. “Hullo, Remus,” she said pleasantly.

“Hey, Lily,” he replied, setting his book down on one of the vacant desks and sitting down. “Snape,” he acknowledged as an afterthought. He didn’t need Lily in a bad mood because he had ignored her friend.

“Lupin,” Snape responded curtly.

“Are you feeling alright?” Lily was observing Remus closely now that he had come into the light. “You’re looking pale.”

Remus smiled slightly. “I always look pale, Lily.”

Lily allowed herself a small grin. “Well, worse than always.”

“Just feeling a little nauseous.” This was true; his stomach was raging a storm that he could not sail through for much longer. He saw Snape was watching him, as if he saw right through his lie. He hoped that Snape was not planning on staying. His potion-concocting abilities always seemed to worsen when the Slytherin was around. He attributed this to the fact that Snape was his first partner in Potions and they had not come off for the better.

“Severus was just showing me an easier way to make the Shrinking Solution,” Lily explained, gesturing down to the open book.

Remus pretended to look intrigued. “Really?”

Lily nodded eagerly. “I thought we’d try it. The only way you ever made a really good Shrinking Solution was doing it by accident, so maybe this might help.”

“Yeah… sure… let’s give it a try.”

Snape hovered in the background throughout most of the lesson, speaking only when Lily had a question about his instructions. Remus knew he was going to have a hard time concentrating and the presence of Snape was not easing this. Lily sensed something was wrong and casually asked Snape to get something she had left in the hallway, thinking this would make Remus feel better. It did only faintly. When Snape returned, Remus had made no more progress.

“You can do this,” Lily said bracingly.

“I’m trying,” Remus muttered, forehead in hand. He was having a difficult time keeping his mind straight. “My hands are just shaking a bit.” He had accidentally decapitated a caterpillar.

“Your hands are shaking a lot to me,” Snape pointed out as he was stacking some books onto Slughorn’s shelf.

Remus was very much tempted to tell Snape that no one had asked his opinion, but refrained from doing so.

Lily bit her lip. “Maybe we should call it a night. You don’t look good.”

“I’m fine, just tired.”

Lily looked as if she was doing it against her better judgement by allowing him to continue. Sighing, she uncorked a flask and handed it to Remus to measure. He peered at the measurements he had etched out on the cup he was pouring it into, unaware that he was seeing double. The liquid dripped over the edges and onto the table, where it promptly burnt a hole through the countertop. Lily jumped back as the liquid made a beeline towards the sleeves of her robes, disintegrating the table on its way. Remus jerked up when he saw this.

“Sorry,” he moaned, waving his wand to vanish the substance. This, however, did nothing to alleviate the situation.

“I’ll do it,” Snape said, whipping out his wand and waving it at the desk. The liquid vanished immediately. “Reparo!” The holes in the desk mended together.

Lily hopped off her stool. “You should go get some rest,” she told Remus. “You’re too sick to be working.”

“I can do it, it’s not that hard.”

“It’s not hard, and you could do it if you were feeling better.”

Remus considered arguing again, but his head was telling him that it wanted to lie down on his pillow. Resigning in defeat, he nodded. “Fine, we’ll just try again next week. Sorry I wasted your time.”

Lily frowned sympathetically. “You didn’t waste my time. Do you want me to walk up to the common room with you?”

“No, I’ll just go now. See you later.” He slung his bag over his shoulder and clutched his book to his chest. It was only when he was out the door that he heard Snape speak to Lily.

“I wonder what’s wrong with him.” His voice didn’t sound concerned, as Lily’s had. It sounded curious, a little too curious. Remus froze; he didn’t want Snape wondering about his condition.

“He’s ill,” Lily replied simply. “It happens.”

“He seems to be ill a lot more than normal.” There was a pause in which Remus was sure Lily had given Snape a warning look. “It happens every month, Lily. Don’t you think that’s a bit unusual?”

“I don’t think it’s any of our business.”

“You must wonder about it.”

“Not as much as you do, apparently.”

“Have you ever asked him about it? You talk to him enough for him to tell you a bit about it.”

“I have asked him; all he would tell me is that it’s been happening for a long time. He wouldn’t tell me what it was and I won’t ask until he’s ready to tell me.”

“It’s odd, every month it happens.”

Lily sounded exasperated. “What do you suspect, Severus?”

“There are only a few illnesses that happen once a month and some of them aren’t even illnesses.”

There was a long pause in which Remus strained to hear any sign that the two were still talking. Snape was trying to figure it out; he was smart enough to realise what the symptoms meant. He couldn’t have his condition in the hands of that boy. Who knew how long it would be before Snape used it to his advantage? He felt his headache increase at the thought of what would happen.

“I don’t think it’s any of our business.” Remus was thankful for the air of finality in Lily’s voice. He was even more thankful for the fact that Snape seemed to respect her enough to listen.

“Well, I’ll be going to the common room, then.”

Remus ran into the shadows as Snape exited the dungeon. He waited until Snape was well out of sight before continuing up to the Entrance Hall. As he was climbing the marble staircase a pain shot through his skull, rendering his mind dizzy and his eyes blurry. Clutching his head in his hands, he sank to the floor and waited for the pain to abate.

Through the haze in his ears, Remus heard a voice from above him. “You were listening, weren’t you?” It was Lily, on her way back to Gryffindor Tower.

Remus didn’t even bother to feel guilty. “It was me you were talking about.”

“He was just wondering, I don’t think-”

“Stop defending him. I don’t want people wondering what happens to me. You know that.”

“I don’t think he meant anything by it.”

Remus bit his lip, refraining from saying what he was thinking. “Tell him to stop thinking about it, will you?”

“I will, okay?” She sat down beside him. “Your head hurts, doesn’t it?”

“A bit, yeah.”

“You should see Madam Pomfrey about it.”

“I’m used to it.”

“I’ve noticed… you’ve been getting sicker this year than any other. Is there any reason or-”

“I’m just getting older, that’s it.” He rubbed his temples and stood up. “I’m going to bed.”

“Hold on,” Lily said, standing up with him. “I’ll walk with you.”

The two walked in silence the path to Gryffindor Tower. Remus could tell that Lily was still thinking about what could have been making him sick. He wished she wouldn’t. It was true that he held no grudge against the girl; he wasn’t ready to let her know any more than she already did. James, Sirius and Peter were different; he spent all of his time with them. They were bound to find out. The most he spent with Lily lately was the tutoring sessions. She was a good person, he knew that, but he just didn’t want her to know yet. She would know that he was a werewolf one day, but not one day too soon.

They arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady and saw she was hosting dinner with her friend Violet and Sir Cadogan. They were talking loudly and laughing boisterously, holding their bellies as they chuckled at a joke unknown to the two Gryffindors. Neither Lily nor Remus could make themselves heard over the laughter and Lily ended up shouting so deafeningly that the knight drew his sword, thinking that someone was attempting to break into the tower. When he saw that it was only two students, he relaxed and Lily uttered the password. Remus bid Lily goodnight and made his way up to the boys’ dormitory, while she went in the opposite direction to the girls’.

When Remus entered the dormitory he saw his roommates sitting on Peter’s bed, bending over a copy of the Daily Prophet that Sirius had been using earlier to do the crosswords. He sat down on his own bed and rolled over so he was facing them.

“What are you looking at?”

The four boys jerked their heads up, clearly they had not heard anyone come in. “Some article,” Frank answered, his eyes roving the pages.

“No one’s died again, have they?”

James shook his head. “Nope. Actually, it’s about some singer who was doing cartwheels on the bar counter at the Leaky Cauldron.”

A flicker of a smile crossed Remus’s face. “Interesting.”

“Here.” Sirius tossed the newspaper over. “They got pictures.”

Remus sat up, turned the paper over and saw a black and white shot of a middle-aged woman doing cartwheels over the bar in the Leaky Cauldron. Tom, the innkeeper, was standing just at the edge of the frame, watching with mingled curiosity, hilarity and fear. “Why was she doing that?”

“Too much Firewhiskey,” Peter replied.

“Figures.” Remus tossed the paper back over and Frank caught it between his hands. He lay back down on his pillow and shut his eyes.

“How was tutoring with Lily?” James asked, knowing that that was where Remus had gone if he had not gone straight to the dormitory.

“Fine.” He didn’t want to tell them that Snape had been there and was starting to wonder about Remus’s monthly disappearances. He didn’t want to worry them. They were happy sitting there, discussing drunken singers making fools out of themselves. Who was he to ruin that? Rolling over onto his stomach, he allowed himself to be lulled away to sleep.

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Two: Strained Relations and Lifeless Hands:

Sirius gasped dramatically. “James Potter, give up on hexing! Peter! The world is ending!”

“Should I get the kids and load them on the broom?” Peter jibed.

“And the dog!”

“What about the cat?”

“Forget him, I hate cats.”

“Fine, the cat stays and dies.”

“We’re going to need a bigger broom.”

“Okay… I’ll take one with the dog and little Peter and you take one with the luggage and little Sally.”

James’s head was turning back and forth during the exchange between Sirius and Peter, his limp and useless hand forgotten. “You two are mental.”

“Thank you,” Sirius said, a large grin plastered on his face. “Seriously, James, you’re going to stop hexing Snape?”

Chapter 32: Strained Relations and Lifeless Hands
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Chapter Thirty Two
Strained Relations and Lifeless Hands

The full moon shone, illuminating the otherwise dark night. The usually calm and tranquil air of Hogsmeade was pierced by vicious howls coming from the Shrieking Shack. The villagers were used to the monthly disturbance. After three years, it was expected. What they did not expect was the increased violence with which the spirits yelled. Sometimes the yells were more violent than was normal, but never did they sound like this. It seemed that they were more ferocious this night than they had been at any other time, though no one could understand why. There was nothing especially different about this night, at least not to the villagers. Maybe this night was significant to the spirits; the villagers couldn’t tell.

The wolf wanted out. It didn’t want to be stuck in that rundown, foodless shack again. There were people around; though it could smell them only faintly. The wolf knew they were there, nonetheless. The wolf wanted to get at them, to bite them and scratch them. The wolf wanted to taste their blood, feel their flesh through its teeth. The wolf wanted to hear their screams of agony. But there were no people within reach. The walls barred them away. Those wretched walls, the walls that kept the food out and kept the wolf in. The wolf wanted to get at them, but there was no way to do it. So, the wolf was left with nothing else to do except get at himself. It was better than nothing.

When Remus’s eyes opened the next morning he was blinded by the sickeningly white ceiling of the Hospital Wing. Repressing the urge to retch, he tried to roll over onto his side, and retched anyway. He wished someone would turn down the lights, before he realised that it was the sun. Then he wished that someone would make the sun go away. He wanted the clouds to cover it. He had never felt so tired, so exhausted, after a transformation. He had shooting pains in his head, his limbs were on fire, and now all he could smell was his own sick.

Where is Madam Pomfrey? Every other time he had woken up in the Hospital Wing the nurse was at his side, trying to see what had happened to him the night before. Why would she not be there at that moment, after he had had possibly one of the worst transformations of his life? He groaned as his stomach churned and pressed his lips together, praying that whatever was inside of him remained there. Where is she? He wanted a potion to put him to sleep or to pass out again. The pain would disappear so he could rest.

The Hospital Wing door opened and the nurse walked in with none other than Severus Snape. The Slytherin was nursing a bloody nose and looked particularly disgruntled. Remus could only guess who was behind this.

“Stop your muttering, Mr. Snape,” the nurse hissed. “I have other patients and they should not be disturbed.”

Remus groaned, but not from pain this time. He was hoping that Snape would not notice that he was there. To Remus’s displeasure, Snape’s eyes flashed over to his bed and a strange look crossed the boy’s face. Remus turned his head down, trying to shield the injuries that may have been scarring his face. The nurse sat Snape down on one of the empty beds, tilting his head back and pressing the tissue to his face. “I’ll get Potter back,” he muttered angrily.

“Mr. Potter has already been dealt with,” Madam Pomfrey said reproachfully. The quiet of her infirmary was being ruined and she didn’t like it. “Professor McGonagall has given him detention every night this week.”

Remus rolled his eyes. Naturally James would get detention for an entire week. He knew Cory Hamilton would be upset about that. They were scheduled to have Quidditch practise every night that week. James had landed himself detention put them at a disadvantage. He knew for a fact that, as it was a Saturday, the Gryffindor team was having an all day practise session. James definitely didn’t want to miss the Quidditch sessions, so what had possessed him to hex Snape?

Madam Pomfrey had handed Snape a potion to ease the bleeding and moved over to Remus’s bed. “Ah, you’re awake.” She laid a hand on his forehead. “Hmm… You’ve got a rather bad fever.” Remus didn’t need her to tell him that. He felt as though someone was pressing a hot iron against every inch of his body. Remus looked over the nurse’s shoulder at Snape, who was watching the two intently. “What’s the matter?” Madam Pomfrey inquired. She turned to where Remus was looking and saw what was making him uncomfortable.

She drew the curtains around the bed and began inspecting his various injuries. She prodded his sides, checked his pulse, and bent his arms and legs before coming to a final assessment. He had several broken ribs, a sprained ankle, a broken arm, and a number of nasty lacerations. Remus didn’t mind this. It was actually better than what he had expected. He had been anticipating every inch of his body to need mending. What he did mind was that he was going to have to spend the entire weekend in the infirmary. Any chance of celebrating his birthday at all was destroyed. Madam Pomfrey left to go check on Snape, who was doubtlessly wondering what the nurse was tending to for such a long. He heard their whispered exchanges before the nurse went back to her office. It was only when the door to the ward opened that Snape spoke again.

“Oh, it’s you Black.” Sirius was making his customary drop in after a full moon. Remus wondered where Peter had gotten to.

“Ah, it’s you Snivelly,” Sirius snarled back. “That’s a nice shade of red.” Clearly Sirius was noting the smeared blood that must have been on Snape’s face.

“Potter attacked me behind my back.”

“With a nose like yours, you should have smelled him coming.”

Remus heard Snape mutter something under his breath, but could not make out the words. All he heard was the infirmary door slam shut.

“I know you’re in here, Remus,” Sirius said in a sing-song fashion. “Show yourself!”

“Do you have to be so loud?” Remus groaned, his ears hurting.

“I can be louder if you want.” Sirius pulled back the curtains around the bed and sat down at the foot of it.

“No thanks.” Remus carefully rolled onto his back. “Where’s Peter?”

“He’ll be in here in a minute. He had to ask McGonagall about something he wrote in his last essay.”

Remus nodded slowly. “So, James has detention all week?”

“Yep, Hamilton’s not too happy about that.” Sirius was fishing for something in the pocket of his robes. He pulled out an envelope and handed it to Remus. “This came for you.”

Remus turned the letter over and saw that it was from his parents. He set it down on the nightstand, he would open it later. He cast his mind around for something to talk about. “Did you see that article my dad wrote?”

“The one about that prat Dirk Umbridge?” Sirius responded, his voice full of malice. Dirk Umbridge was one of the latest members of the Ministry of Magic to speak out about people he deemed as half-breeds. This included Vampires, Merpeople, Giants and Werewolves.

“Yeah, that one.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen your dad write so madly before.”

“What was his dad writing about?” Sirius and Remus turned at the new voice to see that Peter had arrived. He was clutching a piece of parchment in his right hand and looking at the two.

“The article he wrote, remember?” Sirius supplied. “We read it the other day.”

“Oh yeah, that one.” Peter took a set on the other side of Remus’s bed. “Your dad was mad.”

“He tries not to think about it,” Remus said, rubbing a sore spot under his left eye. He knew he had a bruise there, though he could not see it. “How’s your essay, Pete?”

“Its fine, McGonagall said there was nothing wrong with it.”

“That’s good. I told you there was nothing to worry about.”

Peter shrugged; he had only wanted to make sure. A sudden grin flashed across his face. “You know what I heard while I was at McGonagall’s?”

Sirius’s and Remus’s interest peaked immediately. “What?” Remus asked, eager for something interesting to talk about.

“Flitwick was there and he was telling her how he heard that Crane’s been working millions of Muggle jobs because no Wizard wants to hire him.”

Sirius laughed harshly. “I almost feel sorry for the man.”

Remus couldn’t help but agree. “How’d Flitwick find that out?”

“He heard it from Jankes, who was at a Muggle shop looking for something for her next class.”

“Should we feel bad we put him out of work?” Remus questioned, his voice full of mock pity.

“Maybe we should send him a gift basket,” Sirius suggested in false tones of thoughtfulness.

“And have it explode in his face?”

“Naturally.” Sirius and Peter jumped up when they saw Madam Pomfrey coming over, no doubt to check on her patient again. It only took five minutes before she retreated back to her office. When the office door shut quietly, Sirius turned to Remus. “So, chances of celebrating your birthday are…?”

“Zero to none.”

“Yeah,” Peter consented. “Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t like us making noise in here.”

Just as the words came out of Peter’s mouth, there was an eruption of noise right outside of the infirmary. Madam Pomfrey emerged from her office, a look of fury blazing in her eyes. Every Hogwarts students’ last act of defiance would be to make noise within earshot of the nurse. She yanked the door open and began shouting at whoever had dared disturb the peace of the ward, coincidentally making more noise. Sirius and Peter, who were not confined to a bed, hurried over to see what was going on. Sirius’s eyes widened in surprise when he saw who the offenders were. He pushed past the nurse and broke up the fight on his own.

“Alright, go on, get going you gits!”

Madam Pomfrey made a noise of disapproval, but seemed relieved that Sirius had taken care of the problem. She stepped back into the ward and Sirius backed in after her, clutching Regulus by the scruff of his neck. Regulus was struggling against his brother’s grip, muttering wildly under his breath.

“Merlin, Sirius!” Regulus shouted, earning nothing but another hiss of impatience from the nurse.

“What are you doing fighting with Lovegood?” Sirius barked, finally releasing his brother.

“I wouldn’t call it fighting; he didn’t do anything back!”

“Look, I don’t think Xeno Lovegood would pick a fight, so what were you doing?”

“None of your business.”

“Stop fighting and maybe I’ll stay out of your business.”

Regulus scoffed. “Yeah right.” Regulus glanced at Peter and Remus briefly, a scathing look in his eyes. “Find better friends and maybe I’ll consider letting you know why I do things.” And he swept from the infirmary.

“You know,” Sirius said, looking at his friends. “You two are lucky you’re only children.”

“I guess so,” Peter agreed, shrugging.

Sirius threw himself back down at the foot of Remus’s bed and glared at the wall opposite him for a moment. When he seethed long enough, he forced a smile onto his face and engaged his friends in a conversation about their latest prank. Peter and Remus seized the topic with unusual enthusiasm. They knew that the last thing Sirius wanted to think about was his brother.

March tenth came and passed with no more excitement than if it had been any other day. James, Sirius and Peter had made a point to visit Remus in the Hospital Wing, only to find that he was too exhausted to celebrate anything. He fell asleep within seconds of their arrival. The three boys, now left with nothing to do, as it was a Sunday and classes were not in session, spent the day in the Room of Requirement. They only broke their research when James had to go to detention. There wasn’t much they could do at the time; there were ingredients that were not available to them at the school. They merely discussed who was responsible for which ingredients.

When Sirius and Peter returned to the common room at eight in the evening they found Remus resting in one of the armchairs, a book open on his lap. Sirius and Peter took seats on either side of him and Sirius took the liberty of reading the page Remus was on. He didn’t recognise the title; it must have been a Muggle book. Remus’s mother must have given it to him. It was about a ring and strange, tiny folk called Hobbits. Muggles are weird, Sirius thought, grinning. He flipped through the pages, making sure to keep a mark on the one his friend was on, and read lines at random. He closed the book and turned to Peter.

“Can rings destroy the world?”

Peter seemed taken aback by this question. “I don’t think so… why?”

“This Muggle guy,” he consulted the front of the book, “Tolkein, says they can.”

Peter shrugged. “Maybe they can… I dunno.”

They lapsed into silence, which was broken rather abruptly by a loud, irritated, “ARGH!” from the head of the common room.

“Merlin, James!” Sirius exclaimed when he located the source of the yell. “What’s your problem?”

James, disheveled and angry, was rushing towards them. “McGonagall! Five hundred lines! FIVE HUNDRED! For making Snivelly’s nose bleed? I got easier when I made his nose the size of his face!”

Sirius snickered at the memory. “That was a funny one.”

“Five hundred!” James ranted on, either not hearing or not caring about what Sirius had said. “My hand is dead! Dead, I tell you!” He waved his limp hand in Sirius’s face. “Look at it! It’s pathetic!”

“It’s like its owner,” Sirius observed brightly.

“If my hand wasn’t incapable of movement, I’d slap you with it right now.” James waved his hand lightly and it tapped Sirius on the cheek.

“Ow, that hurt.” Sirius pretended to furiously rub the side of his face.

James groaned and sat down. “Maybe I should cut down on the hexing for a few days?”

Sirius gasped dramatically. “James Potter, give up on hexing! Peter! The world is ending!”

“Should I get the kids and load them on the broom?” Peter jibed.

“And the dog!”

“What about the cat?”

“Forget him, I hate cats.”

“Fine, the cat stays and dies.”

“We’re going to need a bigger broom.”

“Okay… I’ll take one with the dog and little Peter and you take one with the luggage and little Sally.”

James’s head was turning back and forth during the exchange between Sirius and Peter, his limp and useless hand forgotten. “You two are mental.”

“Thank you,” Sirius said, a large grin plastered on his face. “Seriously, James, you’re going to stop hexing Snape?”

“For a week at least, until my detention is over.”

“The world has got to be ending…”

“Well, it’s not.”

“I thought boys are supposed to mature when they get older.” The boys turned at the new voice and saw Lily and Alice Gordon making their way through the common room. James wondered if they had been sitting there through the entire pronouncement of the world’s imminent demise.

“No, Alice, girls are the ones who get mature. We’ve got about five years on boys.”

“So we’re about nineteen when they’re fourteen?”


“I was trying to be mature, Lily,” James pointed out.

“By saying you’re not going to hex Severus for a week? Try for a month and maybe I’ll believe you.”

“He can’t do a month,” Peter told her, shaking his head sadly. “He’d explode.”

The corners of Lily’s mouth turned up slightly, but she flattened them at the next second. “Tell him,” she inclined head towards the oblivious Remus, “that I’ll tutor him Thursday at half past six.”

“Sure thing,” Sirius said, propping his elbow up on the arm of Remus’s chair.

Lily thanked him and she and Alice disappeared up to the girls’ dormitory. James planted his head on the palm of his living hand. “Is she ever going to not think I’m a git?”

“I don’t think so,” Peter said. “Unless you actually do stop hexing Snape.”

“Which means she will never think anything else about you,” Sirius added.

“Brilliant,” James muttered angrily.

“You’re only thirteen; you’ve got years before you actually have to grow up.”

“Unless you want to be able to talk to Lily without ending up in makeup before you turn sixteen.”

“Thanks, Peter.”

“Always here to help.” Peter stood up and cracked his knuckles. “It’s nice having hands that work.”

“I love how everyone decided to pick on me tonight.”

“Not yet, Remus still hasn’t had a go at you.” He peered down at Remus and saw that any opportunity his friend had to make fun of James was not going to come soon.

“You have a message to give him, Sirius.”

“Oh, right.” Sirius jumped up and pulled out his wand.

“What are you doing?” James inquired, eyeing Sirius confusedly.

Sirius said nothing. He simply muttered something under his breath and waved his wand until words appeared scrawled across Remus’s forehead. James shook his head, but couldn’t help smiling. “He’s going to kill you.”

Sirius shrugged. “What’s he going to do? Snore at me?” He pocketed his wand. “We never gave him his present, you know.” He dashed up the stairs and came back clutching a soft package to his chest. He set it down on Remus’s head and gestured for James and Peter to follow him. Once the three were gone, Remus shifted slightly in his seat and the package fell onto his lap. Remus stirred, his eyes opening slowly, and he noticed it lying there. Wondering where it had come from, he ripped the note off the top of it.

Your old robes were getting a bit shabby. Happy fourteenth birthday!
- James, Sirius and Peter

Remus did remember James saying something about his robes the other day. He pulled off the paper and saw a new set of school robes folded up inside. He grinned to himself, thinking of his old pair of robes, patched and frayed, lying under his bed in the dormitory. He shakily stood up, intending to thank his friends. He collected his book and his gift and went up to the dormitory. He found the three getting ready for bed.

“Thanks for the robes,” he said, passing them on his way to the bathroom.

“No problem,” the three called back.

Remus stepped into the bathroom and his eyes were instantly drawn to the mirror when he saw something out of the ordinary. He moved closer, his eyes widening with every step he took. Scribbling across his forehead were the words, written in a flaming pink: I, Remus John Lupin, hereby profess my undying love for all things Slytherin. P.S. Lily’s tutoring you on Thursday at six thirty, don’t miss it. Love, Sirius.

The relative quiet of the third year boys’ dormitory was broken by a furious yell from the lavatory.

“Sirius Black, I’m going to murder you!”

James chuckled lightly. “Told you mate.”

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Three: Platform Traditions

“Nifty spell,” James observed, watching as Sirius’s wand cleaned his shirt.

“One of the sixth years taught it to me.”

“Yeah,” Remus said abruptly. “After I threatened to stick your head inside the phonograph unless you figured out how to get that stupid message off my forehead.”

“You’re never going to let that go, are you?”

“Maybe when I’m twenty.”


“Oh, come on, Sirius,” Peter chimed in, shaking Sirius playfully on the shoulder. “Six years isn’t a long time.”

“When you’re living with him,” Sirius jerked his thumb at Remus, who flashed a smug smile, “for the majority of those years, it is a long time.”

Chapter 33: Platform Traditions
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Chapter Thirty Three
Platform Traditions

The Gryffindor common room was loud with the cries of victory. Bottles of Butterbeer were strewn across the floor, explosions of poppers melded together with the raucous cheers. Sweets and their colourful wrappers were clumped together in piles on the floor, occasionally getting scattered as someone unknowingly kicked into them. Seven Gryffindors proudly wore their scarlet robes, which stood out brilliantly against the black of the others. Gryffindor was celebrating their victory over Slytherin in the Quidditch Final. An outstanding three hundred and twenty to one hundred and ninety point victory. The common room was about to burst with the noise.

The week preceding the match had been plagued with fights breaking out in the corridors and arguements during classes. More than once, James had to be threatened with detention as he fought with the Slytherin teammates. Cory Hamilton regularly got into disagreements with Regulus Black, as they were the competing Seekers. Luckily Hamilton was restrained enough to not let the disagreements evolve into full-fledged duels. The last thing either team wanted was for their Seeker to be given detention on the day of the final.

The seven Gryffindor Quidditch team members were in the centre of the room, animatedly retelling the events of the match, occasionally exaggerating the play-by-play. Hamilton had not stopped beaming, much like rest of his team. He stood behind his teammates, grinning down at them, clapping them on the shoulders. They had wanted to give him the big victory before he graduated. Hamilton didn’t have much that made him as happy as much as winning a Quidditch match did, it was the least they could do for him. As Jamie Kirkland was going over one of the many spectacular scores she had made, James extracted himself from the group to join his friends.

“Great match, James,” Remus said when James sat down beside him.

“Thanks,” James replied, the grin on his face widening.

“It was brilliant, seeing the looks on the Slytherin team’s faces,” Sirius laughed, joyously accidentally slopping Butterbeer down his front. Frowning, he tapped his wand to his shirt and the Butterbeer siphoned itself off.

“Nifty spell,” James observed, watching as Sirius’s wand cleaned his shirt.

“One of the sixth years taught it to me.”

“Yeah,” Remus said abruptly. “After I threatened to stick your head inside the phonograph unless you figured out how to get that stupid message off my forehead.”

“You’re never going to let that go, are you?”

“Maybe when I’m twenty.”


“Oh, come on, Sirius,” Peter chimed in, shaking Sirius playfully on the shoulder. “Six years isn’t a long time.”

“When you’re living with him,” Sirius jerked his thumb at Remus, who flashed a smug smile, “for the majority of those years, it is a long time.”

“Did you guys see McGonagall after the game?” James asked, sidetracking Remus from whatever comeback was formulating in his mind.

“She was in tears,” Remus said, chuckling lightly. “She’s as bad as the students are.”

“Honestly,” Peter agreed. “She loves rubbing it in Slughorn’s face when Gryffindor wins.”

“It’s the only time she ever seems normal,” Sirius adding, grimacing at the thought of the Transfiguration professor ever being normal.

“At least this puts us over the top for the House Cup,” James said happily. “The Great Hall looks so much better in red than green.”

Remus nodded. “Can’t argue there.” He suddenly stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a folded up sheath of parchment. “I forgot to tell you guys, my parents wrote to me and said you three were invited over for the summer.”

“How could you forget to tell us?” Sirius asked, feigning offense.

Remus ignored this. “The first two weeks in July, you all can come to my house.”

“Are there any you-know-what’s?” Peter asked anxiously. He was the only one who had not seen Remus after a transformation. He wasn’t so sure that he wanted to see it.

“On the fourth, but it’s no big deal. I don’t think it will be bad.” He scanned the letter once more before pocketing it. “So will you come?”

“Sure,” Sirius said automatically. He needed any excuse to get out of his house. He and Remus turned to James.

“I think my parents were hoping you guys would come over again.”

“I think Sirius and Peter have wreaked enough havoc on your house, James. They can do it to mine instead.”

“Fine, my parents will just have to get over it.” He glanced over his shoulders at Hamilton, who was cheerfully retelling one of his spectacular blocks as a Slytherin Chaser tried to steal the Quaffle from a Gryffindor. “It’s going to be strange having a new captain next year.”

“Who’s in the running for it?” Peter asked.

“Biggs is probably going to get it, he’s the oldest.”

“That matters that much?” Remus asked. He knew that James’s fellow Chaser, Lawrence Biggs, deserved the position more than anyone else, but he didn’t think a person should get the spot just because of their age.

“Not really. He’s the best one of us. He’d be great for the team.”

“Hopefully you find another Seeker,” Sirius said, cracking open a tin of Fizzing Whizzbees. “That’s going to be hard.”

James couldn’t help but agree. He couldn’t think of anyone better than Hamilton. “I hear Cory’s getting picked up by the Tornadoes.”

“Too bad it’s not Puddlemere,” Sirius lamented. “Now I have to root against him.”

“What’s this about rooting against me?” asked a voice feigning outrage. The boys looked up to see that Hamilton had woven his way through the crowd to them. “How could you root against me?

“I hate the Tornadoes.”

“They’ll be better when I’m on the team, Sirius.” He turned to his Chaser. “You won’t root against me, will you, James?”

James shrugged apologetically. “I’m pretty attached to Puddlemere. Sorry, Captain.”

Hamilton shook his head, grinning. “You’ve been a great Chaser, Potter.” He clapped James on the shoulder. “Keep the team going, your Lawrence’s second in command.” Hamilton nodded at Sirius, Remus and Peter and disappeared over to Jamie Kirkland, who was failing at uncorking a bottle of Butterbeer.

“Second in command, that’s something,” Sirius commented, eyebrows raised. “Looks like captainship is in the future for you.”

James smiled proudly. “I guess so.”

“WHAT?” This was the reaction of every Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in Professor Handlin’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Handlin took a step back, evidently surprised by his students’ outburst. He waved his hands up and down, trying to calm the anger children. “Quiet, please,” he called over the outraged chatter. This did nothing. If anything, the volume only increased. They were trying to understand what their professor was telling them, yet they did not want to believe it. Handlin couldn’t have been leaving, he had no reason to. At least none that he could tell.

“I’ve told you, I must leave,” Handlin continued, speaking calmly, leaning against his desk.

“But why?” Frank Longbottom asked fiercely.

“Yeah,” agreed his fellow Gryffindors.

“I have business to attend to.”

“What kind of business?” James asked, leaning forward on his desk so he could look Handlin in the eyes. He could see no reason why Professor Handlin couldn’t tell them why he was leaving.

“It is private, James.” Handlin flicked his wand and the robes across the room straightened themselves on the coat rack. “I will tell you that I regret having to leave. You have been a wonderful class, one of my favourites. You are some of the brightest students I have ever seen.”

Compliments did nothing to assuage the students’ anger at the situation. Could they keep a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor for more than a year? What was going to be the next professor’s excuse for leaving the next year? It was true that they had chased away Professor Crane in their first year, but they had done nothing to Professor Jones, and now Handlin was leaving them too? Maybe the position really was cursed. Professor Handlin sighing and ran a hand through his hair. “It is something that I am not required to do, but I feel that it is something I need to do.”

The class had nothing to say to this. They knew Handlin well enough to realise that he would not leave them unless it was absolutely necessary. All they knew was that this year, unlike the previous two, they had Handlin for the rest of the year. This would be the first time the third years ever had to take a Defence Against the Dark Arts final.

The boys sat down in their usual seats at the Gryffindor Table on the second to last day of finals week. They had each just taken their finals for their elective classes and were miserably comparing notes. Peter, in particular, looked forlorn.

“I hate Divination,” he moaned, piling his plate with lunch.

“Don’t turn into Sirius, Peter,” Remus cautioned, eyeing the large pile of food. “What did you have to do?”

“Try and find something in the crystal ball. No one could see anything! Except for Jensen Patil, but I think he was lying.”

“Just think, Pete, you can drop the class after fifth year,” Sirius said optimistically. Peter’s mouth dropped open in horror at the idea of waiting two more years before he no longer had to care what his tea leaves told him. “Muggle Studies was nothing. Only… Remus, do Muggles need to press buttons on a lift or do they pull a lever or…?”

“They press buttons, Sirius.”

“Bloody hell, one wrong.”

James rolled his eyes. “Haven’t you ever been inside the Ministry, Sirius? They have lifts there too.”

Comprehension dawned upon Sirius. “Oh yeah… Eh, well, it’s only one wrong, isn’t it?” He proceeded to eat his lunch more happily. “How was Ancient Runes, James?”

“It was okay; I mistranslated one rune, but nothing major. How was Arithmancy, Remus?”

“Fine. Life Numbers, Heart Numbers, all that stuff. Nothing difficult.” He took a swig of pumpkin juice. “What exams do we have left?”

“Transfiguration and Charms,” James replied, taking out the schedule he had drawn up that morning.

“Cheering Charms, good thing too. Peter could really use one.” Sirius patted Peter on the back. “It’s only Divination, even Dumbledore hates that subject.”

Peter looked up from his lunch, which seemed to have gotten larger rather than smaller. “Then why are we still learning it?”

“Good question.” Sirius poked at a potato. “When are we supposed to be at your house, Remus?”

“A day or two after we get home.”

Sirius grimaced. “You mean I have to spend time with my family?

Remus knew what Sirius was getting at. Sirius would rather stick his head inside the mouth of an enraged Hippogriff than have to stay with his parents, even for the shortest amount of time. “Want me to ask my parents if you can come straight over?”

“Would you?”

Remus pulled out a sheet of parchment, along with his quill and ink. He poised his pen over his parchment and started writing. “Dear Mum and Dad, Sirius would like to know if he can wear a frilly pink dress and sing the Hogwarts school song in front of the entire student body.”

“You didn’t write that, did you?” Remus held up the parchment. “Git.” Remus grinned humourously and crumpled up the parchment. “That’s more like it.”

After lunch concluded the boys joined up with Frank, Lily and Alice as they made their way to the Transfiguration classroom. Transfiguration proved to be easy enough. The theory questions were simple, though the practical bit was more of a challenge. They were instructed to turn their teapots into a turtle. In the end, each Gryffindor managed to achieve a turtle, though some were deprived the ability of movement or the gift of a proper head. Even with the difficulty of transfiguring the teapot, the Gryffindors were in high spirits. They had only one final left.

Sirius was right about the Cheering Charms cheering Peter up. When they exited Professor Flitwick’s classroom the next day, Peter was literally bouncing from wall to wall with excitement. It took the combined efforts of James, Sirius and Remus to keep Peter walking in one direction, though they did not stop him from babbling about how wonderful everything was. James, Sirius and Remus, also rather giddy themselves, did not have the heart to bring him back to reality. With a successful turn in Charms, the third year Gryffindors concluded their final exams.

With their overwhelming victory over Slytherin in the Quidditch Final, and no severe loses of house points, Gryffindor took the House Cup for the second year running. The Great Hall was once again decked out in scarlet and gold banners with lions embossed on them, looking proud and regal. The chatter at the Gryffindor table was louder than any other as they basked in the glory of their victory and talked elatedly about the upcoming summer.

The four boys sat in their usual compartment on the Hogwarts Express, mesmerized by the scene taking place just outside the doors. James and Sirius had their faces pressed up against the window, while Peter and Remus had to settle for standing on the seats so they could get the tiniest peeks above their friends’ heads. They were staring as Evan Rosier and Jensen Patil held their wands aloft, each ready to send a curse at the other. The boys were trying to decide who would be the first to crack and hex their opponent. Sirius and Peter had their money on Jensen, while James and Remus were betting on Rosier.

They weren’t completely sure what had started this showdown. From what they could gather from the raised snarls of the Slytherin and Ravenclaw, Rosier had taken a cheap shot at Jensen while his back was turned. Whatever the damage was, it was not visible to the nosy Gryffindor boys. Rosier’s wand rose higher in the air and he took an intimidating step forward. Jensen, however, was not easily frightened and stood his ground. In fact, they saw that Jensen had also moved forward, his wand higher than it had previously been.

“My Galleons are on Rosier,” James said, looking up at Peter.

Peter looked sceptical. “Have you see Jensen duel? He’s incredible.”

They pressed their noses back against the glass and continued to observe the impending duel. They wondered why it was taking so long for either of them to simply shout a hex and get things going. They found the source of this only when James shifted to his left and saw the Prefect making his way over to the two boys. The Prefect broke the imminent duel apart and gave each boy a stern talking-to before sending them back to their own compartments. The four boys settled back into their seats, still debating about who the victor would be if the duel had commenced.

The remainder of the voyage to Platform Nine and Three Quarters was wholly uneventful. Remus dominated ten matches of Exploding Snap before he was taken down by a vicious match of Gobstones. By the time they played the last round, Remus smelled so bad that he was isolated in the corner of the compartment. He suddenly remembered why he hated Gobstones so much. In the end James, Sirius and Peter were overwhelmed by the smell that they used a useful cleaning spell on Remus. It was a relief when the Hogwarts Express pulled up at the platform, the abnormal monotony was broken.

The Lupins, Potters and Pettigrews were assembled a little way away from the train, talking animatedly. Sirius saw, with intense dread, that his family was waiting for Regulus not too far away. What would they do when they saw him go straight with the Lupins? Harry and Anna had both agreed that, if he wanted to, Sirius could go right to their house with Remus. Obviously they wouldn’t be pleased. Sirius couldn’t help but remember what happened the last time his mother had encounter the Lupins, Potters and Pettigrews. She had called two of his best friends a blood traitor and a Mudblood. Trying to look as casual as possible, he veered off with his friends.

“Hullo, boys,” Mrs. Potter said, pulling her son into a hug.

“Hullo,” they greeted.

“When are we coming over, Remus?” James asked, breaking away from his mother and turning to the three Lupins.

“I guess in two days,” Remus suggested, looking questioningly at his father, who nodded in approval.

“You’re coming right over, aren’t you, Sirius?” Mrs. Lupin asked.

“If that’s okay?”

“Yes, it’s fine.”

“Sirius!” barked a familiar voice from behind the group. Mr. and Mrs. Black were approaching, Regulus at their heels. Sirius groaned inwardly, this was just what he needed. His father had never met any of his friends’ parents, and his remarks were guaranteed to be twice as nasty as his mother’s were. To make matters worse, neither his mother nor his father had ever met Mrs. Lupin, yet they knew perfectly that she was a Muggle. They would not be kind to her.

“Where are you going?” Mr. Orion Black asked his eldest son.

“With Remus,” Sirius replied grudgingly. “You said I could.”

Mr. Black’s eyes moved slowly over the Lupin Family, taking in their normal, lower middle-class appearance with distaste. He seemed to be having second thoughts about allowing his son to go off with a Muggle and her half-blood son. “I’m not so sure, Sirius.”

Though he fully expected this, Sirius could not stop his jaw from dropping open. If only they had been fast enough to leave without being noticed. “But you said I could.” Why couldn’t he think of something more forceful than that to say?

“Mr. Black, it’s perfectly okay for Sirius to come with us now,” Mrs. Lupin chanced saying. She did not seem to recognise the warning glances that were being thrown at her from her son and husband, not to mention the families around her.

Mr. Black laughed derisively. “It’s not a question of whether or not it is fine for you.” He angrily gestured towards Mrs. Lupin. “It’s a question of whether or not I want my son spending time with a Mudblood and his Muggle mother.”

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter had a horrible feeling of déjà vu as three wands were whipped from their belts and pointed at Mr. Black, who remained quite calm. “Are you going to hex me like you tried to do to my wife?”

“Don’t insult my wife or my son,” Harry Lupin hissed fiercely. He pressed the tip of wand into Mr. Black’s chest.

“Dad,” Remus whispered warningly.

Mrs. Black smiled nastily. “Even your son knows where your place in society is.”

Remus threw her an angry glance; he had not meant that at all.

“Is this going to become a tradition?” Charles Potter questioned harshly. “Every two years we’ll see you and you’ll do nothing except insult us?”

Mr. Black pretended to look offended. “I said nothing to you, Charles. I was speaking to the man with filth in his family.”

“Dad!” Remus gripped his father’s arm and held it down. Harry’s eyes had flashed and his wand rose in an attempt to hex Orion Black until he was something resembling a slug writhing on the ground.

“Remus, let go of my arm.” Remus, despite the intense warning in his father’s voice, did not loosen his grip. “Remus! Let go now!” Slowly, Remus released his father’s arm, but remained close by in case he had to stop him again. However, he was not fast enough and before any of them knew what was happening, Mr. Black was on the floor with something ugly sprouting off his face. “Get your things, boys,” Harry instructed Remus and Sirius. “Come on, Anna. We’re going home.”

“Get your trunk James,” Hannah Potter told her son, taking this as the signal to also leave.

“You too, Peter,” Maggie Pettigrew said to Peter, who was watching the situation unfold in shock.

The three families made their way to the platform barrier, not breaking their stride until they heard Mr. Black’s voice shout once more through the sprouts on his face. “It will be people like you who go first - Mudbloods and blood traitors! When Lord Voldemort gains power, you will all be the first to die!”

The adults did not pause to listen, but the boys could not help themselves. They stopped to see Mr. Black struggling to his feet with the help of Regulus. His grin was manic and his eyes alight with a glee that could not be compared with anything good. John Pettigrew called for them to hurry up and the boys broke their gaze. As they reentered the Muggle world they could not help but wonder – Who was Lord Voldemort?

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Four: Loyalty

“You can’t kill us, Remus!” James told him happily. “You love us too much.”

“DEATH!” Remus emerged from the other side of the bed and was holding what appeared to be a cricket bat. James, Sirius and Peter took a cautionary step backwards.

“What is that?” Sirius asked, eyeing the bat.

“Didn’t I ever tell you my mum played cricket?”

“Put it down, Remus,” James instructed.

Remus looked a little reluctant, but heeded James’s instructions. “What, in Merlin’s name, possessed you to dump water on me?”

“A little owl told us,” Peter answered offhandedly.

Remus raised an eyebrow. “Was the owl’s name James? Or was it Sirius?”

“Actually it was named Peter,” Sirius said brightly.

Remus’s jaw dropped open in disbelief. “Peter, I thought you were on my side!”

Chapter 34: Loyalty
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Chapter Thirty Four


“I wasn’t being loud!”

“Sirius, you’re naturally loud.”

“I resent that.”

“Will the both of you just shut up?” Peter glared between James and Sirius. They had to be as quiet as possible and Sirius was snickering so loud that their plan would be ruined. James wasn’t helping matters by shushing his best friend, he simply added to the noise. James was clutching a shaking bucket of cold water and he was poised above a slumbering, clueless, Remus. They had had this planned since before they ended the school year, but had decided to hold their plans off until Remus had recovered from the full moon. They did not want to anger him then; they decided to wait until he was well enough to chase them around. The prank wouldn’t be nearly as fun without the chase that would indefinitely follow.

“On three?”

“Do it, James.” Sirius held his fingers up, counting off to three. With a wicked grin, James tipped the bucket forward and the icy water fell into a flood on Remus’s face. The three boys jumped backwards, to avoid getting splashed and coincidentally putting a larger space between themselves and Remus. Remus bolted up with a yell. Hair sopping wet, his shirt sticking unpleasantly to his chest, he leapt out of his bed and slipped to the floor. He narrowed his eyes when he heard the explosion of laughter from his three houseguests.

“You’re dead!” he shouted. “All three of you! Death! Painful death!”

“You can’t kill us, Remus!” James told him happily. “You love us too much.”

“DEATH!” Remus emerged from the other side of the bed and was holding what appeared to be a cricket bat. James, Sirius and Peter took a cautionary step backwards.

“What is that?” Sirius asked, eyeing the bat.

“Didn’t I ever tell you my mum played cricket?”

“Put it down, Remus,” James instructed.

Remus looked a little reluctant, but heeded James’s instructions. “What, in Merlin’s name, possessed you to dump water on me?”

“A little owl told us,” Peter answered offhandedly.

Remus raised an eyebrow. “Was the owl’s name James? Or was it Sirius?”

“Actually it was named Peter,” Sirius said brightly.

Remus’s jaw dropped open in disbelief. “Peter, I thought you were on my side!”

“We were bored.”

“It’s seven in the morning, of course you’re bored!”

“No, we were bored when we planned this.”

“When did you plan this?”

“June thirteenth?”

“June thirteenth!” Remus’s hand slapped against his forehead. “Ladies and gentlemen, these are the people I call friends.”

“You know you love us,” James reminded him.

“I doubt that sometimes.” Remus folded his arms across his chest and narrowed his eyes. “Where did you find water that cold?”

“Outside,” Sirius said simply. “The lake.”

“The lake is three miles away!”

“We’ve been keeping it cold.”

Remus chose to drop the subject. He wasn’t going to get anywhere. Besides, he was far too used to the behaviour of his friends, he knew better than to press the matter. “If you three are finished torturing me for the day, can I get changed?”

Sirius looked surprised. “You don’t want to spend all day in wet clothes?”

“I’m not a freak like you.”

“Fine, let’s let Mr. I-Hate-Water get dressed.” Sirius led the way upstairs.

Since Remus’s room was rather small, only big enough for one extra bed, the four boys camped out in the sitting room. Remus had helped his father set up four beds that seemed to fit perfectly, though under any other circumstances they wouldn’t have fit at all. The couch was pushed all the way back against the wall, though they could not move the piano very far. It wasn’t in the way very much initially. Remus gathered up the clothes he found on the floor beside his bed, which looked to have been unceremoniously thrown there by his friends. Rolling his eyes and resisting the urge to grin or question his choice of friends, Remus disappeared into the bathroom.

When he arrived in his room, he found James, Sirius and Peter observing the pictures on the wall behind his bed. James and Sirius had seen most of them, although he had added more since their last visits. Peter, however, had never seen any of them, as he had never before been to Remus’s house. Peter, like James and Sirius, had been forced into taking and being in some of them. There were many scenery shots that Remus had taken when he and his father had gone camping. He would usually try to get pictures of the sunrises and the sunsets. Sometimes he would see an animal in an interesting pose and take a picture before the creature could notice the flash. There were photos of his dog and many of his friends at school. However, the one that the three were looking at was not one of themselves.

“What is that?” Sirius asked, pointing to the confusing picture.

“The inside of the Christmas tree,” Remus told him upon closer inspection. The photo was a mass of green bristles and colourful lights.

“When did you take that?”

“Last year.”

Sirius looked confused. “Why did you…?”

Remus shrugged. “I was bored.” A small grin appeared as the corners of his lips upturned. “See I, unlike you three, decided not to dump water on someone else to solve my boredom.”

“Ah, but the water was a lot more interesting,” James pointed out.

“I beg to differ.” Remus sat down on his bed. “What do you guys want to do?”

“The lake?” Peter suggested.

“Wonderful, more cold water.”

“Come on, it’s hot outside.”

“Fine, just let me push one of you in?”

Sirius smiled. “Can’t guarantee we’ll let you.”

The boys gathered their necessary swimming belongings and set out for the three mile trek through the woods surrounding Remus’s house. Peter was correct when he said it was hot out. The warm air was stifling, making it somewhat difficult to breathe. Remus vaguely wondered how his friends could have made the trip that morning, before realising that it must have been cooler in the earlier hours. The sun was still low in the sky, though that did not lessen its intensity. They knew it would be worse later and, therefore, were grateful for Peter’s suggestion of going for a swim.

“You two are lucky,” Sirius lamented, pointing at James and Remus.

“Why is that?” Remus questioned, raising an eyebrow.

“Living in London means that you can’t have lakes or anything around.”

“The lake’s pretty far from my house.”

“James’s is closer.”

“It is,” James agreed. “But I don’t go there, only when you lot are over.”

Sirius didn’t look convinced, however he dropped the subject. They continued on, shifting the conversation to their Animagus training. They would have to work on procuring the necessary ingredients for the potions. Sirius didn’t have time yet to get rat hairs for Peter, and Remus had completely forgotten to rip some hairs off his dog. They were still baffled as to how they would obtain stag hairs for James. None of them knew where stags would dwell. Peter was adamant that they could find one in the Forbidden Forest, but his friends weren’t as certain. Besides, they were not too eager on running into Lucius Malfoy and his masked friends again in the forest.

They had refrained from mentioning anything about Lucius Malfoy’s exploits in the depths of the Forbidden Forest, as it brought about the unpleasant inquires about what Sirius’s father had meant at the platform. This man – Lord Voldemort, his name was – was going to go after people like the Lupins and Potters first. Who was he going to go after next? Who else was there besides blood traitors, half-bloods, half-breeds and Muggleborns? Who was this man, anyway? What gave him the right to decide who was worthy and who was not worthy to practise magic? Did he fancy himself as an ultimate ruler? They had not brought up the subject around Remus’s parents either, knowing that it would be a sore subject. Anna Lupin was a Muggle and Harry was a half-blood, and Charles and Hannah Potter were blood traitors.

They came upon a large clearing in which a sparkling blue lake rested. They were so far into the forest that they could hear almost nothing of the world around them. The animals did not venture to this area and neither did people. It resembled a secret haven, displaced from all civilization. It was the perfect place to come for the ultimate form of privacy. There was no way to be disturbed unless someone knew of the person’s whereabouts.

“Do you ever come here?” James asked Remus as he removed his shoes and socks.

“Sometimes,” Remus replied, sitting down and doing the same. “Whenever things at home get loud.”

“Somehow I can’t imagine things being loud in your house,” Sirius said, leaning against a tree trunk and folding his arms across his chest. The Lupins always seemed to get along well; there would be no reason for shouting.

“When I was younger they were.”

“How come?” Peter asked, though he had a very good idea of the reason.

“The first few years after I was bitten my parents argued about it a lot. I would get frustrated and leave, sometimes they never even noticed I was gone.”

“Sounds like my house. My parents never had any idea if I left. Now, if it’d been Regulus…” Sirius sank to the ground.

“My parents had no idea I left sometimes, but if they did they’d be sorry about arguing so much to make me leave.” Now barefoot, Remus stood up. He walked over to the edge of the lake and dipped the toes of his right foot into the water. He hissed as he registered the icy temperature. “Merlin, that’s cold.” Remus noticed the lack of response from his friends and stepped quickly to his left. He laughed loudly as three splashes and yells broke through the silence of the clearing. “That’s what you get!”

“He knows us too well,” James muttered as he pulled himself out of the water.

“Tried pushing me in?” Remus asked, bending forward so he was eye level with Sirius and Peter. “Yes, I do know you too well.” His head moved up and down as he looked at his friends. “That must be uncomfortable,” he added with mock sympathy. “Those wet clothes.” He sighed and gazed up at the treetops. “I wonder how that feels. I probably have no idea. Wait… yes, I do.”

“Do you enjoy the sound of your own voice, Remus?”

“Not as much as you do, Sirius.”

Quickly, Sirius shot out his hand, wrapped it around Remus’s ankle, and pulled him down into the water. With a shout of surprise, Remus’s arms shot out the ease the fall. He rolled his eyes as Sirius, James and Peter burst into laughter above him. He stood up, picking at his wet shirt, already dreaming up ways to get them back. However, he didn’t have time to think of that before Peter was shouting out that they should play Marco Polo.

At noon the sun was overhead and so fierce that not even the cool water of the lake could completely erase the heat. Sirius, in order to counteract the weather, suggested they see who could stay under the water long enough, thinking that maybe this would keep the warmth away. It worked until he and James got into so brutal a competition that both of them nearly drowned and had to be pulled out by Remus and Peter. After this not so brilliant idea, the boys sat around the edge of the lake, letting the sun dry them before they headed back to Remus’s house.

“I wonder who our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher will be this year,” Peter wondered, flicking an ant off his leg.

“Why do you even bother wondering?” James asked, leaning forward so he could see Peter from across Sirius. “We’re just going to get another one fifth year.”

“We shouldn’t get too attached to them,” Sirius chipped in.

“Jones and Handlin prove that,” Remus concurred. “Especially Jones.” He turned to James. “Does your dad know what killed him?”

“Faulty potion, only they don’t know how it could have been ruined. Jones was supposed to be a great potions maker.”

Sirius looked thoughtful. “Maybe it was tampered with.”

“That’s one of the Healers’ ideas.” He picked up a pebble and smoothed the mud off it. He studied it for a moment before skipping it in the lake. “D’you think it could have anything to do with that man your dad was talking about, Sirius? Lord Voldemort or whoever he was?”

Sirius shrugged, he had hoped they would not have to bring this up. “I dunno. I never even heard the name before my dad said it. How should I know?”

The last part came off a bit more defensive than he had planned, but no one said anything about it. The truth was that James was probably right. Sirius had no doubt that Voldemort was behind every single one of the terrible things that had happened since their first year, beginning with the death of Professor Flitwick’s sister. The professors had known, their parents had known, yet they were saying nothing of it. Professor Dumbledore knew more than everyone, yet he was keeping it quiet. The conversation they had overheard at Christmas proved it. The boys weren’t supposed to know something was happening. Yet they did, and they wanted to know why.

Remus woke with a start. He swung his legs over the side of his cot and shivered as his bare feet touched the cold wooden floor. His stomach was gurgling unpleasantly, his dinner doing a number on him. He crept through the space between James’s and Peter’s cots, where they slept with undisturbed stomachs, and hurried through the darkness to the bathroom. He knew he should have thought twice about letting Sirius talk him into eating a fourth helping of dinner. When he emerged a few minutes later, he noticed the light on in the kitchen. Curious, he approached it.

“What are you doing?” Sirius was sitting at the table, an empty glass in his hand. He looked as if he was immersed in his thoughts and, judging from the expression he was wearing, they were not happy ones.

Remus took a seat across from his friend. “I could ask you the same thing.” He glanced at the clock on the wall – it was almost three in the morning. “Your brilliant suggestion of eating four helpings of dinner was giving me a bit of payback.”

Sirius frowned. He actually looked sorry about it. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay. So, what are you doing?”


Remus rolled his eyes; trust Sirius to give the most obvious response he could think of. “Clearly. I meant, about what?”


“What about him?”

Sirius’s face contorted until it was indescribably frustrated. “Is he really going to be as bad as my dad’s making him sound?”

The dark cloud that had been hovering over Sirius, no matter how much he tried to hide it, since he arrived was finally bursting. Remus expected as much. “Well, he’s already done some terrible things… Flitwick’s sister, Alice’s dad, those Muggles Dumbledore was talking about…”

Sirius had forgotten all about the death of Mr. Gordon. “What do you think he did to deserve it?”

“I don’t think he deserved it.”

“That’s not what I meant. I meant, why d’you think Voldemort did it?”

“Mr. Gordon probably didn’t agree with whatever Voldemort thinks. He doesn’t believe in that purity of blood nonsense.”

“Neither do we. You, me, James, Peter, all of our parents, except for mine, we don’t believe that.”

“I know we don’t.”

“Does that mean he’s going to come after us too?”

“He might.”

Sirius raised an eyebrow. Remus was taking this far too calmly than was natural. “You don’t sound scared.”

Remus laughed hollowly. “Who says I’m not scared?”

“You are?”

“Sirius, I must be the scum of the Earth to these people – a werewolf and half-blood all in one.”

“But you heard Malfoy - they want werewolves.”

“Which makes me even worse because I’m not following them.”

“Why is this happening?”

Remus sighed and leaned back in his chair. “Because things can’t be perfect.”

“I know that, but why are things turning out so bad?”

“It’s not so bad yet. We haven’t seen the worst of it.”

“When that does come, what are we supposed to do?”

“Sirius, we’re only fourteen. We can’t do much.”

“That’s a pretty bad attitude.”

“It’s not going to happen now, whatever it is. When we’re older, that’s when it’s going to happen. And we’re going to know more, and we’re going to fight it.”

The corners of Sirius’s mouth upturned. “That’s a better attitude.” Sirius glanced up at the clock, it was late. “I just hate that my parents love what’s going to happen so much.”

“It doesn’t mean you have to love it. Their opinions never really mattered much to you anyway, did they?”

Sirius hesitated for a moment. “No, not really.”

Remus jumped up suddenly. “My dinner’s coming back again.” And he ran from the kitchen.

Sirius, feeling slightly guilty that he had been the primary cause of Remus’s upset stomach, got up from the kitchen table. He rinsed out his glass in the sink, dried it off, and replaced it inside one of the cabinets. He had never had trouble sleeping before, not even in his own house. His home had an oppressive and forbidding atmosphere about it; the Lupin home was warm and welcoming. If he should have had difficulty sleeping, it should have been at number twelve, Grimmauld Place. But his mind had been foggy with thoughts about Lord Voldemort and those masked figures that were with Malfoy in the Forbidden Forest. They were working together, Sirius knew they were.

He reentered the dark sitting room and saw that James and Peter were still sleeping soundly, unaware of anything around them. He wondered what it was like to have no knowledge of the evils of the world. It must have been peaceful. Ever since they had left Platform Nine and Three Quarters on the first day of the summer holidays, Sirius wished he could have been oblivious. He wished his father had not thought to shout those threatening words to the Lupins, Potters and Pettigrews. If what Mr. Black had said was true, people like them would be the first to go. There was no doubt in Sirius’s mind, his friends and their families would be the first targets. Sirius also knew he would be in some danger, but his family name would shield him a little longer.

The Potters were well known for their acceptance of every blood type – pure, half, Muggleborn and non-magical. They had no problems with half-breeds; the fact that they were not entirely human held no bearings on the Potters. They treated House Elves with respect. Willie was one of the lucky elves. The Potters made her feel as if she was a part of the family. Kreacher was treated as what House Elves were supposed to be – servants. Sirius never liked the creature, so he couldn’t exactly feel any sympathy towards the menace. If there was a picture definition for the term blood traitor, the Potters would have been it.

The Lupins were no better. They were pure up until Harry and his father, who both decided that a Muggle woman better suited them than a witch. For some families, this would have caused an outrage. Harry and John Lupin would have been deemed outcasts, forced to change their surname and adopt a new family history. But his parents had been fine with it; they had loved Anna. John’s parents must have been accepting of it as well. Then, of course, there was the epitome of a terrible Wizarding family in the eyes of every pureblood extremist. The epitome came in the form of Remus – a half-blood and a half-breed wrapped up in one fourteen year old boy. If there was ever a reason to eliminate a family, it was because they did not terminate their child the moment he became a werewolf.

The Pettigrews… Sirius didn’t know very much about them. He knew they were decent people. John Pettigrew had always come to their aid on the platform and they had raised Peter to become a good kid. There was nothing wrong with them, in Sirius’s opinion at least. Even so, they didn’t support Voldemort’s point of view, this much was clear. They would be another family marked. Sirius never realised how much danger the families of his friends were in. The Pettigrews were pureblood, but they were not proud purebloods. They would be on the list with the Potters and Lupins. Sirius’s stomach performed an unpleasant back flip.

Sirius rolled over on his cot when he heard footsteps. He saw the outline of Remus, hunched over with a hand on his stomach, enter the room. As Sirius pretended to be asleep, he could have sworn he heard Remus curse him. Sirius smiled to himself and listened as Remus’s snores began to fill the room. Sirius’s friends were what mattered the most to them; he sometimes wondered if they knew how much. Remus and Peter were his best friends; James was like a brother to him. Their bond was supposed to be unbreakable, the hard times that were about to fall upon them could not change that. He didn’t want their friendship to end. Their loyalty would carry them through.

Sirius swung his legs over the side of his cot and bent forward so that he was level with James’s head. “James?” he whispered.

James muttered some nonsense and swatted his hand around, as if he was trying to hit an imaginary fly. “What?” he muttered sleepily.

“You know you’re like my brother, right?”

“Yeah… leave me alone.”

Sirius fell backwards and stared at the ceiling. Their loyalties were what would carry them through. There was no way their friendship could end… no way.

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Five: Infirmary Visits and Warnings

“So Dumbledore really did admit a werewolf into the school?” Professor Twikom was saying. There was a faint trace of marvel in her voice. Twikom did not know about Remus’s Lycanthropy, as she had only been a substitute before.

“Yes, he did,” Madam Pomfrey replied distractedly. The boys knew she was probably tending to her patient while carrying out the conversation.

“How long has he been one?”

“Eleven years, I think. I may be wrong.” The boys heard her sigh as Remus groaned audibly. “Here you go, Remus.”

“Those potions help?” Twikom asked inquiringly.

“They ease the pain.”

“I feel as though I should know more about this,” Twikom continued. The boys could hear footsteps, Twikom must have been pacing.


“I have a relative… A cousin removed a couple of times or maybe a nephew. I’m not exactly sure of his relation to me. He was bitten years ago.” There was a pause of silence. “I haven’t heard from him since then. I have no idea what Fenrir is up to lately.”

Chapter 35: Infirmary Visits and Warnings
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Chapter Thirty Five
Infirmary Visits and Warnings

The Hogwarts Express chugged across the rolling, green English countryside on September 1st, slowly making its way to Hogwarts Castle for the upcoming school year. The weather was bright and sunny, with a breeze playing in the air every so often. The white, puffy clouds rolled in the sky leisurely along with the hills as the occupants of the train stared out the windows at them. James, Sirius and Peter sat in their usual compartment, which had earlier been stolen by a band of Slytherin third years and recaptured. They now sat together, James and Peter on one row of seats and Sirius stretched out on the other. The lunch trolley had just departed from their compartment and they were sorting through their sweets.

“Chuck me those Every Flavour Beans, would you, Peter?” Sirius asked. Peter tossed him a pack and Sirius ripped it open with his teeth. “When d’you reckon we’ll get there?” he asked, spitting bits of paper to the floor.

“Not for a few more hours,” James mused, biting off a piece of his Cauldron Cake. They never arrived at the castle before nightfall, so why should this year be any different? James selected another Cauldron Cake and looked up at his friends. “Did you see those first years?” The first years were easily distinguishable from the other years. Their height was a key factor to this observation, not to mention their unnatural amount of excitation and nerves.

“They’re tiny,” Peter said, observing some first years that were passing by their compartment. “Were we ever that small?”

“I don’t think I was,” Sirius said, shaking his head.

“Me neither,” James agreed. “You were a bit small, Pete.”


“But you grew.”

“Remus has always been small,” Sirius said, sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bench. “When’s he getting to school anyway?”

“Sometime tomorrow,” Peter reported. Remus had owled him the previous day, asking him to relay the information to James and Sirius. “Whenever they can move him from his house to the castle.”

“This is a first, a full moon on the first day of school,” James commented, redoing the laces on his right shoe. “Hopefully there’s not a second time.”

As the boys were halfway through a competitive match of Exploding Snap, taking full advantage of the absence of Remus and his dominating skills at the game, they heard a commotion from outside their compartment. Sirius slid off his bench and peered through the window. He could see that a rather small Ravenclaw, possibly a second year, was caught in between two Slytherin seventh years, both of whom had their wands drawn. The boys didn’t recognise any of the students, but they certainly didn’t want the Ravenclaw to receive an undeserved beating, especially with the crowd that was hurrying to watch.

As James was sliding the compartment door open, they heard the voice of the Gryffindor Keeper, Oliver Pulliman. He sounded furious and, when he came into view, they could see his eyes blazing at the trio in the centre of the corridor. James, Sirius and Peter exchanged inquiring looks. Oliver hated uncalled for duels as much as the next person, but he was never one to step in and do something about it. They wondered what had brought this own.

“Break it up!” Pulliman ordered, grabbing the back of one of the seventh year’s robes and restraining him.

“What are you going to do about it, Pulliman?” challenged the seventh year heatedly.

“I’ll dock points from Slytherin before the school year even starts, would you like that?”

Sirius jabbed James in the shoulder and pointed at the Keeper. On his chest was a shiny, silver badge, emblazoned with a P. Apparently Oliver Pulliman had become a Prefect over the summer. The boys continued to watch the arguement between Oliver and the two Slytherins, none of which seemed to register that the Ravenclaw had snuck away. In the end, Slytherin was down to negative twenty points by the time Pulliman had finished dealing with them. Once the two Slytherins had returned to their compartment, Pulliman turned to head back to his own. He caught sight of James, nodded at his teammate and dashed down the corridor.

“I would hate being a Prefect,” Sirius lamented, resuming his seat.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Peter asked to no one in particular.

“It would take all the fun out of life.”

“I can’t argue with that,” James concurred, pulling his feet up onto his seat. “Who wants to have to break up fights all the time?”

“You’d rather start them,” Peter said, nodding his head understandingly. “You know that’s going to be one of us next year, don’t you?”

The corners of James’s mouth turned down slightly. He honestly couldn’t picture himself as a Prefect. He wasn’t cut out for it. “Well… yeah. I doubt it’ll be me, or Sirius.”

“Maybe it’ll be you, Pete. Or Remus. Or it might even be Frank. You three are better choices than us.”

“Anyway,” James plowed on, wanting to get off the topic of Prefects. “When are we going to start working on the potion?”

“I’ve got the hairs I need,” Sirius said happily. “Too bad Remus’s dog bit him when he tried getting them off.”

“You were laughing, Sirius,” Peter reminded his friend. Sirius pretended to look insulted. “Thanks for getting mine. I can’t believe I have to be a rat.”

“How are we going to get mine?” James asked concernedly. They had not figured out any place where they could get stag hairs. “You don’t think there’d really be any in the Forbidden Forest, do you?”

“There might be,” Sirius mused. “If there aren’t, we’ll have to think of a backup plan.”

“Maybe we should go to a zoo,” Peter suggested jokingly. “Those Muggles love keeping animals in cage.”

James shrugged, looking as if he thought Peter had something in his suggestion. “If they had a stag, why not?”

Sirius pulled open a Chocolate Frog pack. “We don’t need to hair until the end; we don’t have to worry about that right now.” He bit off one of the frog’s legs. “We can get started on it, and the sooner the better.”

James, Sirius and Peter sat by the window of the common room, staring at the centre of the room with their fellow Gryffindors. The tables and chairs had been pushed back to make room for the most grueling match of Exploding Snap they had ever seen, and that including all the disastrous loses caused by Remus. The game had been going on for an hour and a half, and it was a welcome relief from the monotony of the first day of school. The Gryffindors cheered when a spectacular move was made and groaned when someone’s move cost them a possible victory.

Their cheers were ruptured by an explosion and then a mass of more cheers started as the victor emerged, punching his fists in the air. The common room was filled with clapping and congratulatory shouts before the crowd dispersed and everyone returned to their own activities. The chairs and tables were moved back in front of the fireplace once the cards were picked up and the smoke was sucked up through someone’s wand. A buzz of loud chatter filled the room and the night was uneventful once more. James, Sirius and Peter resumed their seats by the window, where they had been discussing the idea of setting dates for Animagus training.

“What d’you think about every Wednesday?” Sirius suggested, opening the window a crack.

James shook his head; Wednesdays were the nights the Gryffindor Quidditch team usually practised. “How about Mondays?”

Peter disagreed with this one. “Too early.” He pulled at a loose thread at the bottom of his shirt. “Maybe we shouldn’t schedule our practises? It’s too predictable.”

Sirius frowned in thought. “Pete has a point,” he said to James. “People will begin to wonder what we’re up to.”

James nodded in consent. “Now that that’s settled… what do you guys want to do?”

“It’s past curfew, there’s not much else to do,” Peter reminded him.

“But I’m bored.”

“What about sneaking down to the Hospital Wing?” Sirius offered.

James raised an eyebrow at his friend. “What’s supposed to be fun about that?

Sirius rolled his eyes at the question. “Remus might be there.”

“But he’s never fun after his furry little problem.”

“We can at least see him, can’t we?”

James looked at Peter, who nodded in agreement with Sirius. James told them to wait a moment so he could retrieve his Invisibility Cloak. Filch would be waiting for the first opportunity to catch them after curfew. It was only the first day of classes; they would wait until at least the third before they had a detention to fulfil. James returned with the cloak clutched under his robes and the three crept as inconspicuously as they could towards the portrait hole. To their luck there was an eruption of sound as someone conjured up a rampage of frogs and the common room occupants were distracted once more.

The trek to the Hospital Wing seemed to take no time at all. The halls were vacant of ghosts, poltergeists, wayward students and caretakers with their obnoxious cats. They followed the path of torches that illuminated the otherwise pitch-black corridors and soon found themselves outside the familiar infirmary. James’s hand was on the doorknob when they heard voices from inside. One of them they recognised as Madam Pomfrey and the other was, they thought, their substitute Defence Against the Dark Arts professor from last year, Professor Twikom. Professor Twikom had been appointed to the official position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher for that year.

“So Dumbledore really did admit a werewolf into the school?” Professor Twikom was saying. There was a faint trace of marvel in her voice. Twikom did not know about Remus’s Lycanthropy, as she had only been a substitute before.

“Yes, he did,” Madam Pomfrey replied distractedly. The boys knew she was probably tending to her patient while carrying out the conversation.

“How long has he been one?”

“Eleven years, I think. I may be wrong.” The boys heard her sigh as Remus groaned audibly. “Here you go, Remus.”

“Those potions help?” Twikom asked inquiringly.

“They ease the pain.”

“I feel as though I should know more about this,” Twikom continued. The boys could hear footsteps, Twikom must have been pacing.


“I have a relative… A cousin removed a couple of times or maybe a nephew. I’m not exactly sure of his relation to me. He was bitten years ago.” There was a pause of silence. “I haven’t heard from him since then. I have no idea what Fenrir is up to lately.”

The boys had to bite their tongues to keep from making sounds of outrage. Fenrir… She couldn’t have meant Fenrir Greyback, the maniac who had bitten their friend when he was only three. But how many boys were named Fenrir that were bitten by werewolves? They couldn’t fathom a man – or beast – such as that actually having a family. However, from what they heard, it didn’t seem as if Twikom and Greyback were very close. They pressed their ears closer to the door, as the conversation’s volume decreased.

“Remus, are you okay?” The voice of Madam Pomfrey sounded suddenly worried.

“He looks ill,” Twikom commented, her tone similar to the nurse’s.

“Does Madam Pomfrey know Greyback bit Remus?” James hissed to Sirius and Peter, who could give no response. They doubted Remus ever told the story to anyone, aside from them. The nurse hadn’t the slightest idea.

“He’s warmer than he was before.” Madam Pomfrey’s voice was so quiet that the boys almost missed it. There was the faint noise of the nurse’s heels clicking to the floor as she crossed the room, presumably searching for a potion to lower his fever. “Agatha, maybe you should go back to your office?” The nurse did not sound reproachful, but she seemed to have realised that it was something Professor Twikom had said that upset her patient. If there was anything the nurse hated, it was someone upsetting her patients. The boys rushed to the side as the infirmary door opened and Professor Twikom appeared. They hastily slipped inside.

Madam Pomfrey was standing at the bed in the very back of the ward, bent over, her hand resting on Remus’s forehead. She was muttering under her breath, though the boys could not make out the words. She set a goblet down on the nightstand and again said something they could not hear to Remus. Madam Pomfrey bustled about, shutting various cabinets, and returned to her office. Once the door was shut, the boys pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and hurried to their friend’s bed. They sat down on either side of him and waited for him to notice their presence.

Remus’s eyes were half open and his face was as pale as death. Apparently the words spoken by Professor Twikom had rendered him into a sicker state than he had originally been in. His left arm was bound up in a sling and his right foot was propped up and wrapped in a number of bandages. The cuts and bruises stood out exceptionally on his paper white face and looked worse than normal. Remus seemed to break out of a trance and his eyes darted to his friends.

“What‘re you doing here?” he asked in a voice no higher than a hoarse whisper.

“We were bored,” Sirius said simply. “So we thought there was no better way to solve that problem than to come and visit you.”

“What was Twikom doing here?” James asked, wanting to find out before Remus fell asleep again and was unable to answer their questions.

“I dunno… she was here when I woke up before.” He inhaled sharply and cringed. “Last night was awful.”

“Seems like it.” James fiddled with a piece of the bed sheets. He wondered what the best way to ask his friend about what Twikom had said was. He couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t come out so blunt. Luckily, Sirius took the problem right out of his hands.

“So Twikom is related to Greyback?”

The little colour that had returned to Remus’s face in the past few minutes was drained again. “If she says she is…” Remus muttered, shifting so that he was facing away from his friends.

Peter cast his mind around for a topic that wasn’t so uncomfortable. “We were thinking of starting the potion this week.”

Remus was visibly grateful for Peter’s change of subject. “Really? What day?”

“Probably Friday.”

“What do Peter and I have to do?” Remus asked James and Sirius. They had made it very clear that Remus was not to touch the potion, lest it would explode. Peter also wasn’t to be trusted. He was not a terrible potion brewer, but his skills were nowhere near as good as those of James and Sirius. This potion was guaranteed to be delicate. They couldn’t risk the slightest mistake.

“You two are in charge of collecting the ingredients we need,” Sirius told them. “There are some in the student stock, and some in Slughorn’s storage room. You guys have to break in there.”

Peter looked less than thrilled about that idea. “Brilliant.”

The relative quiet of the room was ruptured by a shout of pain from Remus, whose injured foot was accidentally knocked into the bed’s footboard by James. The three boys took no time at all to throw the Invisibility Cloak over themselves and moved out of reach of the ever approaching nurse. The office door swung open and the harried and hassled nurse appeared. The boys watched from the opposite wall as Madam Pomfrey tended to her single potion.

“I told you to take that when you were ready to sleep.” Madam Pomfrey was pointing to the goblet she had left on the nightstand, which had not been touched.

“I wasn’t ready to sleep,” Remus mumbled, flinching as his foot throbbed.

The nurse clicked her tongue and lightly pressed her wand on Remus’s big toe. James, Sirius and Peter could see their friend relax. Madam Pomfrey seemed satisfied and returned to her office. Waiting a few moments so they were positive she would not reappear, the boys threw off the Invisibility Cloak.

“I’m sorry,” James apologised. “I wasn’t looking and I-”

“It’s okay.” Remus slowly rubbed his good foot against his bad one, hoping that this would not cause too much pain. It didn’t. “Maybe you guys should go back to the common room. I really should go to sleep.”

The boys nodded and stood up. There was no point in arguing. Remus needed his rest and they had to get back anyhow. Besides, it was only a matter of time before Sirius did something stupid, now that James already had. They bid Remus goodnight, put on the Invisibility Cloak, and began making their slow progress to Gryffindor Tower. The boys walked quietly through the now black corridors, sidestepping the suits of armor when they veered too closely to them. Their minds wandered towards the conversation between Madam Pomfrey and Professor Twikom. Would their new professor have prejudices against their friend? If she was related to Greyback, it wasn’t such a far-fetched idea… was it?

The Gryffindor fourth years sat in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom that Thursday afternoon with the Slytherins. Neither group of students was very happy about this arrangement. The year before the Gryffindors had been with the Hufflepuffs, and the Ravenclaws the year before that. Both of those pairings were bearable, enjoyable, but not this one. They already had to endure Potions with the Slytherins, whose brilliant brainchild was it to put them together a second time? The students attempted to alleviate the situation by sitting on opposite ends of the room – Gryffindors on the left and Slytherins on the right. This didn’t work.

Professor Twikom had obviously predicted what would happen, as she immediately had a solution. The solution, however, was not to either house’s benefit. She decided to sit one Gryffindor with one Slytherin and hope that they would stifle their animosity for the time being. Each student was now battling with the idea of whether or not their professor was delusional. She was not a stranger to Hogwarts and not to this particular group of students, as she was their substitute for a week last year. A week was more than enough time to realise which students despised each other. As it was, she must not have remembered this, or chose to neglect it.

The class was miserably settled in their assigned seats. James sat grudgingly next to Evan Rosier, who looked as if he was repressing the urge to hex James from under his death. James’s face was turning red, doubtlessly from the same effort. Sirius was planted next to Abrac Zabini; both boys looked as if they had swallowed a considerable quantity of Stinksap. Peter was placed beside Phillip Bullstrode, though they looked as if they had reached an agreement to wallow in their annoyance at a later time. Remus sat beside a particularly disgruntled Severus Snape.

Professor Twikom was droning on about some hexes or other that the students did not care about, disgusted as they were with the seating arrangement. Her voice therefore became a buzz in the background as they all contemplated the many ways in which they could put the seating to their advantage. As of yet, they had come up with nothing. The Gryffindors were ready to overtake the Slytherins, and the Slytherins were ready to overtake the Gryffindors. Whenever the situation presented itself, they would be ready. For the moment, they would sit in a stony silence.

They were assigned to read the chapter on Tripping Jinxes for the next fifteen minutes, an immediate cause for low, mutinous conversation. Professor Twikom, at the very least, allowed this. The students propped their books up so they could whisper to their housemates that may have been sitting behind them, in front of them, or on the opposite side at another desk. They were searching for any way to communicate. Peter was sitting behind Remus and sat up so he could tap his friend on the shoulder.

“What was the woman thinking?” Peter hissed, his eyes wide at the absurdity of the idea of sitting Gryffindors beside Slytherins.

“That we should bury our prejudices for an hour?” Remus suggested, his voice mocking.

“She’s hoping for a miracle.”

“You’re telling me.”

“Hey, are you going to talk to her about-”

“About the reading?”

Peter raised an eyebrow at his friend, before realising why he was cut off. Of course Remus didn’t want his Lycanthropy mentioned while he was sitting next to Severus Snape.

“Yeah, about that.”

“No, I think I’ve got it.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” He dropped his voice even lowered and blocked his mouth from Snape’s view with his hand. “I really don’t want to think about my professor being related to that.”

Peter’s eyes darted to his right and he noticed that Snape’s eyes had frozen on the page. He was listening in. “Anyway, better start reading this.” He leaned back and drew his book closer.

Remus began reading the chapter, only stopping when he felt someone’s eyes on him. He turned his head somewhat and saw Snape was watching him. “Yes?”

“How are you feeling?” There was no definable tone in Snape’s voice, it was frighteningly neutral.

“Fine, why?”

“You weren’t in school for a couple of days.”

“I was feeling sick.”

“I don’t remember seeing you on the train either.”

Remus bit the inside of his cheek. Why was it that all of the sudden Snape had so much time to notice when Remus was and was not places where he should be? “Why do you care?”

“You’re Lily’s friend.”

“I don’t think-”

“And Lily’s my friend.”

“What does this have to do with-?”

“So I’m concerned when one of my friends is worried about one of her friends.”

“Drop it, Snape.”

“She’s always wondering why you disappear every month. It’s strange, your illness, does it always occur once a month?”

Remus slammed his textbook down, causing a rather large thud that drew the attention of his classmates. He threw them a warning look and they went back to their work. “You know, why don’t you just stop thinking about all of this?”

“It’s not something I choose to wonder about.”

“I think you do, and it’s none of your business. You don’t have to care or wonder why I get sick, so just stay out of it. Do you understand me?”

The corners of Snape’s mouth turned up for the quickest of seconds. “Understood.”

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Six: Never Forget a Name

“You remember me, Agatha?” asked a dangerously hoarse and vicious voice.

Professor Twikom maintained a brave front, but the boys could tell she was frightened. “Of course I do. I was beginning to wonder if you’d forgotten everyone in your family, Fenrir.”

“The family that abandoned me when they found out what I’d become? How could I forget them?”

Twikom was visibly uncomfortable, the boys could tell from the way her figure was swaying slowly back and forth. “How did you get in the castle?”

“Don’t worry about that.”

“I’m a professor; I have to worry about it.”

“I just came to ask you a question.”

Twikom glanced around, searching for anyone who might overhear this conversation. Even in the darkness, the only listeners were invisible to her. “Make it quick.”

“Is it true that Dumbledore let a werewolf into this school?”

Chapter 36: Never Forget a Name
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Chapter Thirty Six
Never Forget a Name


The large number of black and scarlet clad students dropped to their hands and knees, pressing their foreheads against the grass at Lawrence Biggs’s warning. Third year Gryffindor, the eternally uncoordinated Jules Hannigan, came plummeting at the spot where the group had been standing. Hannigan pulled up before he hit their backs and soared up once more before plummeting again. He gripped his broomstick tightly, his face scrunched in fear as the ground loomed ever nearer. Biggs hurried to stop Hannigan before he contacted the ground, but failed miserably. He was not even close to the third year before the tip of the broomstick cracked on the ground and Hannigan went tumbling forward. There was a collective groan of sympathy from the crowd of students still crouched on the ground as they cautiously peeked up.

“He never stood a chance,” James muttered to his fellow Chaser, Jamie Kirkland, as he picked himself.

She nodded in agreement and stood up as well. “He stayed up longer than I thought he would, though.”

“Yeah, we’ll give him that.”

They watched as Biggs helped Hannigan to his feet and they saw that the boy’s nose was bruised, crooked, and bleeding. The knees of his pants were ripped to shreds, revealing dirt covered knees and there was a gaping hole in his jumper, showing small cuts on his stomach. Hannigan’s face was shocked, to say the least. He appeared as if he had seen his entire life flash before his eyes. The crowd watched as Biggs escorted the third year over to Oliver Pulliman and asked him to take Hannigan to the Hospital Wing. Once Pulliman and Hannigan left, Biggs turned back to the group and called out for fifth year Mary Macdonald to come up and do her tryout. The Gryffindor team and the potential Seekers watched as she swerved around, following the path of the Golden Snitch. She was good, but was nowhere near as good as Cory Hamilton had been.

Two hours later the Gryffindor team was sitting lazily against the wall of the stands, watching as Biggs told off a few second years for roughhousing with the brooms. The second years had been bored and levitated a few of the broomsticks after a third year girl who had tried out. They didn’t stop until she spun around and was knocked in the forehead with the handle of one of the broomsticks. The second years were indignant, thinking that they had done nothing wrong. The fact that the third year was knocked unconscious and bruised had no bearings on them.

“So, when d’you reckon he’ll be finished with them?” asked one of the Beaters, fifth year Anthony Mitchell.

Sixth year Gina Reynolds, his fellow Beater, checked her watch. She shook her head sadly. “They’ve been going at it for a while.”

James checked his own watch and saw that it was nearing six in the evening. He had to meet his friends at half past in the Room of Requirement. They were going to discuss what they needed for the potion. However, none of them could leave until Biggs officially announced the new Chaser. Biggs wanted the entire team to be there. James glanced to his right and saw the crowd of hopefuls was getting restless as well.

Anthony leaned forward so that he could look past Jamie and at Oliver, who had returned in fifteen minutes after bringing the unfortunate third year to Madam Pomfrey. “Hey, Oliver, you’re a Prefect, aren’t you?”

Oliver nodded slowly, unsure of the purpose of the question. “Yeah… why?”

“Go over there, give them detention and dock some points. That’ll get this going.”

Jamie looked outraged at the suggestion. “You want him to dock points from Gryffindor?

Anthony frowned as he thought about what he had said. “Oh, yeah, well just give them detention.”

James groaned as another five minutes passed and the arguement had not desisted. He was cutting it too close. He had to be there and he was not going to have a bunch of second years keep him from leaving. He stood up, clutching his broomstick in one hand and balling his other into a fist. “Hey, you lot!” he shouted heatedly at the quarreling second years. “Shut up already so he can tell us who got on the team and we can leave!” This proclamation was met with many cheers of agreement from his teammates and the hopefuls. The second years stared at James and then at Biggs, who raised an eyebrow pointedly. They grudgingly tossed the school broomsticks aside and trudged up to the castle, muttering mutinously all the way. Biggs threw James a thankful grin and cleared his throat, bring everyone to attention.

“Okay, now that that’s over with,” he said as the crowd closed in around him. He consulted his clipboard, where there were numerous scribbles and cross-outs next to the names of the people who had tried out. “It is time to announce our new Seeker.” The group became still, their hearts pounding almost audibly, as they waited in painful anticipation. “Many of you were great, but unfortunately you can’t all have the position, even though that’d be really convenient for substituting. Try coming back next year if we have openings. So, the new Seeker is Robbie Brown.” The sixth year cheered loudly, along with the rest of the Gryffindor team.

The crowd of rejected students began to disperse, leaving only the seven Quidditch players to talk about the upcoming season.

“Where is James?”

“Still at tryouts, probably.”

“I’m bored, when’s he going to get here?”

“You’re always bored, Sirius. And he’ll get here when he gets here.”

Sirius, Remus and Peter were sitting in the Room of Requirement for at least forty five minutes and Sirius was getting restless. He was currently pacing back and forth in front of Remus and Peter, who had settled themselves in the squashy armchairs. Peter was tossing his left shoe up in the air, not quite sure why he was doing so but needing something to do anyhow, and Remus was leafing through the Animagus book, though he was not having much success. His eyes traveled from reading to watching Sirius pace before him. Finally he’d had enough and set the book down.

“Sirius, you’re making me sick.”

Sirius stopped walking. “Well, stop watching me.”

Remus rolled his eyes and forced them down on his book. Sirius continued his stride, casting annoyed glances at the door every so often as though if he did it enough James would materialize. Again he paused and turned to Remus and said with frustration, “You’re ignoring me!”

Remus slowly looked up from his book. He calmly turned to Peter. “Can I borrow that?” Peter, looking confused, handed Remus his shoe. Sirius was far enough away that Remus had no problem throwing the shoe at his friend’s face.

Sirius flinched as the shoe connected painfully with his chin. He stooped down to pick it up and tossed it back to Peter. “When did you get so violent?

Remus pretended to look thoughtful for a moment, rubbing his chin. “I think it was around eleven years ago, you know, when I was bitten by a werewolf… That might factor into the violent thing.”

Sirius sat down next to Peter, rubbing his forehead, a smirk concealed by his arm. “I need some normal company.”

“Because you’re so normal?”

“Stuff it, Remus.”

“You two argue like you’re married,” Peter observed, sitting up straighter in his chair and folding his arms across his chest.

Both Remus and Sirius pulled faces. “Sorry, Pete, but I’m pretty sure I like girls,” Sirius said firmly.

“Same here.”

“What did I miss?” The three looked up to see James, still in his Quidditch robes, standing in front of the closed doorway, looking breathless. He must have run straight from the Quidditch Pitch. He was looking from Remus to Sirius to Peter, his eyebrows raised, as he tried to catch his breath.

Sirius took the liberty of filling James in on what he had missed. “Peter was making suggestions as to whether or not Remus and I like girls.”

James’s curious look turned to mildly surprised. “Why?”

“Did you ever hear the way they argue?” Peter asked.

“Yeah,” James replied, sitting down at the table and pulling off his boots. “It’s pretty funny.”

“You see, Pete.” Sirius stood up and snatched the Animagus book from Remus. “We’re entertainers.” He crossed the room and set the book down on the table, flipping through the pages to find the one they needed. He found the page that had the ingredients they needed for the potion. “Okay… Lacewing Flies, those are in Slughorn’s storage. Err… beetles; those are simple, unless they all suddenly die out, in which case we’re lost. Sopophorous Beans… does Slughorn have those in the student storage?”

“Good thing I’m not drinking that,” Remus commented, tying his shoelace.

“Why?” James asked, looking from the book.

“I’m allergic to those things. Remember the summer before our second year?”

Realisation dawned on Peter’s face, making the connection. “Yeah… I remember that. I’ll handle getting those.”

“They’re in Slughorn’s storage,” Remus confirmed for Sirius. “I saw Lily move a box of them during our tutoring sessions.” Occasionally Slughorn would grant Lily access to his private storage. They never really needed anything from it, but Lily went inside once to see what was there. He stood up and went over to look at the book as well. “What else do we need?”

“Nothing else right now. We can start with those.”

Peter looked at Remus, his eyebrows knitted together. “So I guess we’re breaking into Slughorn’s storage tonight?”

“Looks like it.”

“I have a question.”

“What’s that, Pete?” James said, rubbing his chin as his eyes skimmed the page.

“This doesn’t sound difficult at all. If we could do this, why don’t millions of other wizards?”

“Making the potion and getting the Patronus are only bits of it.” James waved Peter over and pushed the book forward so he could have a better look. “Once you do that, you’ve still got to be able to clear your mind enough to transform into the animal, and then you’ve got to figure out how to change back.”

Peter’s eyes widened. “We could get stuck like that?”

Remus nodded. “Precisely the reason wizards don’t try it very often. What if you were a fly? You wouldn’t be living very long.”

Sirius noticed Peter’s anxious expression. “Don’t worry about it. We’re not going to get stuck.” He turned the book so the text was facing him. “And if we do, we have him,” he jerked his head at Remus, “to blame.”

“Because I’m the one who said ‘let’s become Animagi!’?”

“Old married couple,” Peter sang under his breath.

Later that night Remus and Peter found themselves crouching under James’s Invisibility Cloak and walking through the dark corridors of the castle. The Sopophorous Beans were what they were after; they could get everything else from the student storage. Remus had already agreed to get some when Lily was tutoring him. He would simply offer to get the ingredients and pilfer what they needed when he was there. They knew that to access Slughorn’s private storage they would have to break into the Potions classroom, all the way down in the dungeons. They were making decent progress, they were already on the third floor and they had been walking for a mere fifteen minutes. There was nothing standing in their way, preventing them from getting farther.

Nothing, they thought, until they saw a large shadow dash by stealthily. Remus put an arm over Peter’s middle and pushed him and himself against the cold stone wall. They couldn’t tell who it was from the distance they were at, and they only had a shadow to judge by. They knew, however, that this person was definitely not welcome in the school. Remus and Peter glanced at each apprehensively other, how long was this person planning to stay? They had promised James and Sirius that they wouldn’t be long. They heard a door open nearby and saw the distinct figure of Professor Twikom appear. What was she doing out at this time of night? And, more importantly, why was she meeting this unknown figure?

“What are you doing here?” she hissed furiously. The large shadow turned into a large, dark figure. Peter did not recognise this person, but Remus had a sinking feeling in his stomach. A certain conversation heard nights ago was ringing in his ears - I haven’t heard from him in years. I have no idea what Fenrir is up to lately. Remus had never seen Greyback in human form, but he had a feeling he was about to. He gritted his teeth, what was going on?

“You remember me, Agatha?” asked a dangerously hoarse and vicious voice.

Professor Twikom maintained a brave front, but the boys could tell she was frightened. “Of course I do. I was beginning to wonder if you’d forgotten everyone in your family, Fenrir.”

“The family that abandoned me when they found out what I’d become? How could I forget them?

Twikom was visibly uncomfortable, the boys could tell from the way her figure was swaying slowly back and forth. “How did you get in the castle?”

“Don’t worry about that.”

“I’m a professor; I have to worry about it.”

“I just came to ask you a question.”

Twikom glanced around, searching for anyone who might overhear this conversation. Even in the darkness, the only listeners were invisible to her. “Make it quick.”

“Is it true that Dumbledore let a werewolf into this school?”

“So what if it is?” Twikom shot back dismissively.

“Who is it?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“It is my business because this werewolf is trying to pretend to be a wizard.” Greyback laughed harshly. “Like he’s one of them.”

Twikom forced some finality into her voice. “I think you should leave now.”

Greyback was not easily sent away, however. “Not until you tell me who it is.”

“I’ve been sworn to keep the student’s secret. I tell no one.”

“Not even family?

“I haven’t heard from you in years, what makes you think I still considered you family?”

Greyback stepped forward so that he was towering over the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. “Fine, don’t tell me. I’ll find out one way or another. I can always find a list of the students who go here. I never forget a name.”

“Why does it matter so much?”

“He’s trying to be something he’s not; I’m going to show him where he really belongs.”

Greyback spun around and was off at a run. Twikom, looking severely shaken, retreated into her office. Peter breathed a sigh of relief, not over what he had heard, but because Greyback was gone. He stood up straight and began on the way to the dungeons again, before realising that he was walking easier than he should have been if there were two people under the cloak. He looked over his shoulder and saw that Remus had not left his spot on the wall. He was suddenly reminded of the night they had visited him in the Hospital Wing and Twikom had announced that Fenrir Greyback was a relative of hers. Remus’s face looked very similar to that. He looked like he was going to be aggressively ill.

Peter doubled back. “Remus? Come on, we’ve got to hurry.”

They didn’t have time to talk about what they had overheard, at least not at the moment. They were burning moonlight quickly. Remus followed Peter, though he looked as if he couldn’t quite recall where they were headed, what their purpose was for being out. The remainder of the way down to the dungeons was marked by their cautious steps and frequent pauses to make sure that Greyback had indeed gone from the castle and could not reappear. Yes, they were invisible, but the sight of the man would not make their trip any better. Luckily, they saw no other sign that Greyback was still around and they safely made it to the dungeons.

“What’s taking them so long?”

“You don’t think they got caught, do you?”

“How could they? They had my cloak.”

James and Sirius were sitting in the empty common room, their wands lit and held out towards the portrait hole entrance. It was nearing midnight and Remus and Peter had been gone for more than an hour. Remus had promised them they would take no longer than a half an hour. Sirius and James were considering going out to find them and were about to do so when the entryway opened, seemingly of its own accord. James and Sirius jumped up and hurried to meet their friends. Peter pulled the Invisibility Cloak off and handed it to James. He stuck a hand in his pocket and pulled out a vial of Sopophorous Beans and handed them to Sirius.

“What took you guys so long?” Sirius hissed, putting the vial in his own pocket.

Peter cast a look at Remus, who had not seemed to have been breathing since their encounter in the corridor, witnessing Greyback’s confrontation with Professor Twikom. “We ran into a bit of trouble.” He led the way over to the couch and sat down.

“What happened?” James asked as he sat down in one of the soft armchairs.

Peter told them of the conversation they had heard. By the time he was finished, James and Sirius were looking uncharacteristically serious. “Merlin,” Sirius muttered, staring into the empty fireplace. “What are we going to do about this?”

James shrugged. “I dunno… but we have to think of something.” He leaned back in his seat. “How did he get into the castle?”

“That was what Twikom wanted to know.”

“He couldn’t have used the castle doors, could he?” Sirius wondered. “That’s too easy. There would be some sort of protective charm on them.”

“The castle has secret passages, doesn’t it?” James said. “He could have used any of them.”

“How would he know about them?” Peter asked fretfully. “Dumbledore doesn’t even know where half of them are.”

“The only one he knows about is the one under the Whomping Willow,” Sirius said. It only made sense that Dumbledore knew about the one he had helped construct. If that was the case, it wasn’t a secret passageway then. At least it wasn’t to Dumbledore.

“Can we stop talking about this?”

The three boys turned to Remus and saw that he was looking unusually panicked. They couldn’t blame him. The only times he ever appeared that way was when he was discussing the man who had turned him into a werewolf. This must have been the first time since that fateful night eleven years ago that Remus had seen the man – or the beast.

James bit his lip. “Don’t you want to know how he got in?”

“Of course I do, but I don’t want to think about it right now.” He stood up from his seat on the floor. “I haven’t heard anything about him since my dad told me that it was Greyback who bit me and I haven’t seen him since I was three. Now he’s in the castle, asking Twikom who’s the werewolf who’s pretending to be a wizard so he can find them. So he can find me and turn me into someone like him.” His face contorted in disgust. “It won’t take him long before he finds out who it is.”

“He never forgets a name,” Peter said quietly.

“Exactly. The second he sees Remus Lupin on the school roster, he’s going to have all the information he needs.” He couldn’t stand to imagine what Greyback would do with the information once it was in his hands.

“But what can he do while Dumbledore’s here?” Sirius questioned, hoping that this made Remus realise that maybe he didn’t have to worry so much.

“Dumbledore can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

“Who says he can’t?” James said confidently.

“I know Dumbledore’s a genius, but he’s still human.” He moved towards the stairs leading to the dormitories. “And humans can’t be everywhere at once.” With that, he disappeared up the steps.

“He’s right, you know,” Sirius said when Remus had gone. “Dumbledore does everything he can to protect us, but he really can’t be everywhere at once.”

“I know that,” James snapped. “I was just saying that to make it seem better than it really is.”

“Ah, so you lied.”

James was silent for a beat. “Yes.” He stood up and walked over to the fireplace, staring into the empty grate. “What else are we supposed to do?”

“Not lie?”

“I know, lying was stupid, but I couldn’t think of anything else. So many terrible things happen to him and now we have this? We can’t solve every problem.”

“You know he’d do something for you, if you had a problem,” Peter reminded him.

“I know he would. I never said he wouldn’t.”

Sirius placed his hands on his knees and straightened up. “Look, why don’t we just try to forget this for now?”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “How are we supposed to do that?” He couldn’t think of any way to forget what he had heard on the third floor. Times were changing for the worst and they had proof of it right under their noses. Now it involved one of their friends. “We can’t just say that it never happened.”

“I know we can’t,” Sirius shot back defensively.

“Then why are you suggesting that we do?”

“Because I can’t think of anything else either!” Sirius clenched his teeth and folded his arms across his chest. “Okay, let’s not forget about it, but let’s not talk about it either?”

James shrugged. “That’s all we can do for now.”

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Seven: A Matter of Time

“You’re mean,” Remus commented quietly, forcing a picture into its frame.

“Says the guy who made us look like girls,” Sirius said sardonically.

“Just your hair.”

“It was bad enough, wasn’t it, James?”

James couldn’t help but agree. It wasn’t the most pleasant feeling in the world to wake up from an unintentional nap to discover that he had pigtails and the entire common room had seen it. At least Remus hadn’t thought to add makeup as Lily Evans had done. “Why’d you do that anyway?” he asked Remus.

Remus grinned sarcastically. “I was bored.”

Peter sighed exasperatedly. “Didn’t you get us back for that bucket of water?” He could distinctly remember Remus stepping sideways and, as a result, the three of them fell into the lake near his house.

“Not really, no.” He flattened out the plastic on one of the pages of his album and selected his next picture. “Besides, there are other things you’ve done to me that I haven’t gotten you back for yet.”

“You’re going to hold everything over our heads for the rest of our lives, aren’t you?” Sirius accused.


Chapter 37: A Matter of Time
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Chapter Thirty Seven
A Matter of Time

The boys had come to a silent mutual understanding that what Remus and Peter heard that Friday night was not again to be discussed, unless it was brought up willingly by Remus. They doubted he would bring it up, but if he ever wanted to talk about it, they were there to hear him out. James, Sirius and Peter, though, somewhat hoped that he would want to talk about it. It was killing them that they had this information, but they couldn’t do anything about it. However, to their dismay, Remus was eager to keep all forms of conversation away from the topic. Instead, he threw himself into helping them with the potion for their Animagus training. He couldn’t help them concoct it, naturally, but he would retrieve whatever they needed and would read the instructions for them when they were ready to begin mixing. The first night he had Potions tutoring with Lily, he made it a point to go into the storage room and sneak away the items they needed.

Snape seemed to make himself a permanent fixture during the tutoring sessions, something that bothered Remus greatly. He did not loath Snape as much as James and Sirius, or even Peter, did, but he did not like the fact that Snape was making himself an unavoidable presence. Yes, he was best friends with Lily – a fact that extremely puzzled many Gryffindors, including Lily’s best friend, Alice Gordon – but did that mean he would never leave her sight? The tutoring sessions were between Lily and Remus; this was never supposed to include Snape. This fact almost ruined Remus’s chances of smuggling out the ingredients, as Snape was lurking right by the doorway, as if he was anticipating Remus’s every move. Luckily, Remus was quick and when Snape turned his back, he snatched them up.

The boys did not have as much time as they would have liked to spend in the Room of Requirement, as James was at Quidditch practise almost every night. The team was working terribly hard to build Robbie up to the standards of Cory Hamilton, and this meant that they would have to practise every night. Cory was a Seeking prodigy; therefore he was not easily replaced. But Robbie showed definite natural skills. They would do everything in their power to make him just as good. Whenever James returned from the Quidditch Pitch, Sirius would suggest going down to work on the potion, but James was always too exhausted. He only wanted to go upstairs and sleep. Their inability to work on the potion did nothing to raise their spirits, especially when the first full moon of the school year arrived.

The last time there had been two full moons in one month was in December of their first year. This had not fazed any of the boys, other than Remus, because they were not aware of his ailment. This time, however, they were fully aware of it. This year, there were two full moons in October – on the first of the month and on Halloween. When Tuesday, October 1st, dawned, James, Sirius and Peter left Remus in the dormitory, knowing he would want to sleep, and headed on to their classes. When they were in Defence Against the Dark Arts they noticed something odd about Professor Twikom’s mannerisms. She was usually bright and bubbly, speaking spiritedly about her plans for the day and keeping that same spirit during the actual lesson. Today, however, she looked sullen and spoke with little, if any at all, enthusiasm.

They could only attribute this to the professor’s meeting with Fenrir Greyback, though they were uncertain as to why this would affect her in such a way. She was in no danger of being the product of one of Greyback’s revenge schemes. She was protected in the castle walls; at least that was what they thought initially. Greyback had gotten into the castle, undetected, before. Who was to say he couldn’t do it again? He could easily slip within the walls and unleash his fury on Twikom. Family didn’t matter to him, it wouldn’t mean anything to him if took a bite out of her and condemned her to a cursed life. When they brought this up with Remus during lunch that day, he reminded them that it would be far more difficult for Greyback to sneak into the castle when he was a werewolf. This was when the castle’s security was at its peak, and that was simply for Remus, who was miles away in Hogsmeade.

They could do nothing to assure themselves that Greyback wouldn’t be venturing inside the once sacred walls of the castle. Remus’s words did not relieve them of their concerns, so they spent a restless night in the dormitory, envying the slumbering Frank Longbottom. Frank had nothing particularly nasty on his mind, especially not a vicious werewolf who was out for blood, and slept peacefully. They had considered once or twice – or a thousand times – to do something to change this, but decided against it. Frank didn’t have to stay awake like they did, and he would be severely ungrateful if they woke him. They passed the hours playing relatively silent rounds of Wizards Chess and trading Chocolate Frog cards. It was only when the sun began to break through the clouds and illuminate the room that they fell asleep.

They all sorely regretted losing so much sleep that night; they were falling asleep in every class. Their professors were not pleased about this. Professor McGonagall threatened a round of detention for each of them. Professor Flitwick, who was always cheerful and easygoing, continuously warned them of nightly detention for the next few days if they didn’t wake up. For the first time in their lives, James and Sirius created a potion whose explosion rivaled any that Remus’s potions had ever done. The entire class could not escape and therefore had several burns plastering their bodies. Needless to say, James and Sirius were very unpopular that day.

“I don’t want to do homework,” Sirius whined, banging his forehead repeatedly on the tabletop in the common room that night.

“You think I do?” James snarled, his head resting on his folded arms.

“You might.”

“Shut up, I’m trying to sleep,” Peter moaned. He had procured a pillow off the couch and had placed it on the table where his notebooks should have been.

“Sorry, Pete,” James and Sirius said together. The boys were half asleep and did not register the fourth person who sat down with them. It was a few minutes before the person decided to make himself noticed.

“You guys aren’t supposed to be the tired ones.”

The three wearily looked up to see Remus observing them through darkly bruised eyes. Normally, they would have said something about this comment, but instead ignored him and went back to sleep. Remus propped his elbow on the table and leaned his head into his hand. “I should really use this chance to get revenge on you guys for something.”

“What have we done to you lately?” Sirius asked uncaringly, his voice muffled.

“Nothing yet, but you will.”

“Good point.”

Remus looked around and spotted Lily Evans sitting with Alice Gordon. He went over to them and whispered something to them so that his friends could not hear. When he returned to the table, he produced a number of hair ties and began doing up Peter’s hair in pigtails.

“What are you doing?” Peter whined, waving his hand in an attempt to swat Remus away from him. Unfortunately, he was swatting his hand in the wrong direction.

“You have a bug in your hair,” Remus explained calmly.

“Well get it out.”

“That’s what I’m doing.” Remus hummed a tune as he admired his handiwork and moved on to Sirius, who also had the same reaction. Remus simply explained that the bug had flown from Peter to Sirius (and would soon fly over to James). He was lucky that they were too tired to care. He stood up and looked at their newly acquired pigtails. Sirius’s hair was long enough to make a very believable girl hairstyle, while James and Peter merely looked strange with their pigtails. Shrugging it off, he yawned and retreated to the dormitory.

He entered the room to see Frank Longbottom lying on his bed, writing a letter. Frank nodded at his roommate and returned to his work. Remus sat down on his own bed and kicked his shoes off. It was only a matter of minutes before his roommates discovered what he’d done to them. He wondered what they’d do, and then decided that they probably wouldn’t do anything, as they were far too tired. He smiled to himself. It wasn’t as bad as dumping cold water on them, but making them look like girls was entertaining enough. He sat up when he heard footsteps, thinking it was his friends coming, then settled back down when he realised it was only Frank walking across the room.

“Do we have Charms homework?” Frank asked over his shoulder.

“Nope,” Remus replied. “Flitwick said next time he’s giving us an essay.”

“Brilliant. D’you know on what?”

“No, sorry.”

Frank folded his arms across his chest and bounced on the balls of his feet. “What do you think about Twikom?”

Remus picked at a loose thread in his bedspread, keeping his eyes down. “What about her?”

“Think she’ll be a good teacher?”

“What’s it matter? She’ll be gone by the end of the year anyway.”

“Good point.” Frank opened his mouth to say something else, but Remus never heard what it was. At that precise moment, three suddenly wide awake voices sounded from somewhere below. “REMUS LUPIN!” The dormitory door burst open and in ran James, Sirius and Peter who were clearly unhappy with their new hairstyles.

Remus’s eyes darted from them to Frank, who was staring at the spectacle with an open mouth. “See you later, Frank.” Remus jumped off his bed, all of his weariness from the full moon gone, and ducked past his friends.

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter sat out on the grounds under their favourite beech tree near the lake. James was playing with a Golden Snitch he had nicked out of Madam Spark’s office; Sirius was sitting with his arms behind his head, leaning against the tree trunk and staring across the lake. Remus was surrounded by a number of photographs and was organising them in a photo album, while Peter shifted between watching this and watching James catch the Snitch. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon that was just warm enough for the students to take advantage of.

Sirius yawned and sat up. He took in his surroundings and spotted something that made him grin mischievously.

James saw this look and knew it all too well. “What’s up, Sirius?”

“Do you think I could skip this stone so it hits Snivelly across the lake over there?”

James secured the Snitch in his pocket and bent forward so he could see where Sirius was pointing. Snape was sitting farther down the lake, skipping pebbles in the lake while he spoke with Lily Evans. A grin very similar to Sirius’s grew on James’s face. “Just make sure you don’t hit Evans.”

Sirius stood up and walked to the shore of the lake. He squinted his eyes and knelt down, trying to figure out the perfect angle to skip the stone. Slowly, he raised his arm back and, in a blur, brought it down, releasing the stone. He, James and Peter watched intently as it bounced across the surface of the water, making circles of ripples as went. To their misfortune, the stone sunk inches away from Snape. Sirius snapped his fingers in disappointment and sat down.

“You’re mean,” Remus commented quietly, forcing a picture into its frame.

“Says the guy who made us look like girls,” Sirius said sardonically.

“Just your hair.”

“It was bad enough, wasn’t it, James?”

James couldn’t help but agree. It wasn’t the most pleasant feeling in the world to wake up from an unintentional nap to discover that he had pigtails and the entire common room had seen it. At least Remus hadn’t thought to add makeup as Lily Evans had done. “Why’d you do that anyway?” he asked Remus.

Remus grinned sarcastically. “I was bored.”

Peter sighed exasperatedly. “Didn’t you get us back for that bucket of water?” He could distinctly remember Remus stepping sideways and, as a result, the three of them fell into the lake near his house.

“Not really, no.” He flattened out the plastic on one of the pages of his album and selected his next picture. “Besides, there are other things you’ve done to me that I haven’t gotten you back for yet.”

“You’re going to hold everything over our heads for the rest of our lives, aren’t you?” Sirius accused.


Sirius looked at James. “Do you reckon I could skip this stone so it hits Remus?”

James laughed lightly. “I don’t want a part of it; I’m not looking like a girl again.”

Sirius spun around. “What about you, Pete?”

“I’m with James on this one.”

Sirius huffed, and then grinned shiftily. “Hey, Remus, would you help me?”

Sure… give me the rock and I’ll throw it at myself.” He snatched the rock from Sirius’s hand and threw it over his friend’s head and into the lake. “That’s settled.” He replaced the photos that he had not framed inside the front cover of his photo album and stood up.

“Where are you going?” James asked.

“I have tutoring with Lily later, so I figured I’d better do my Potions homework.” He tucked his album under his arm and headed up the grassy slope towards the castle.

“So,” Sirius began, searching through the blades of grass for another stone. “When’s the first Quidditch match?”

James thought for a moment. “Sometime next month.”

“You guys are ready?” Peter wondered, pulling his knees up to his chest.

“As ready as we can be. The rest of the team is fine; we’re working mostly on Robbie.”

Sirius picked up what he thought was a rock, but turned out to be a dirt clod. He crushed it between his fingers. “He’s good though, isn’t he? Otherwise he wouldn’t have made the team.”

James was quick to come to his teammate’s defence. “No, he’s a great Seeker; it’s just that he’s nowhere as good as Cory was.”

“You guys were too used to him,” Peter reminded James. “You have to get used to Robbie now.”

“Pete has a point; Robbie will be good when he’s comfortable.”

James agreed with this, though he said nothing. Quidditch was different this year. He liked Biggs, he was the best choice for captain, but there was something strange about not having Cory as the captain. It was probably because he was the only captain James had ever been under. Now Biggs was the captain. James wondered… he couldn’t have been jealous because he had been passed over as captain, could he? It only made sense that Biggs became the captain, he had been on the team longest and was easily the better player. Besides, James was second in command, this was enough. He shrugged it off. He wasn’t jealous.

“Anyway,” Sirius was saying. “I was figuring that we begin mixing the potion sometime next week. That good for you?”

“Fine with me,” Peter said, plucking up pieces of grass. “James?”

“Practise all week.”

Sirius sighed in disgust. “Merlin, when you become captain, James, don’t make practise every single night.”

“Why don’t we do it now?”

“It’s Saturday!


“Saturday isn’t a day for work.”

Peter groaned in annoyance. James wasn’t going to be able to do the work until Biggs lightened up on the practising sessions, yet Sirius would never work on a Saturday. They needed a little persuading. Defiantly, he stood up and glared down at the bickering pair. “I’m going to work on the potion.” He spun on his heels and began up the slope to the castle.

James and Sirius were startled, having momentarily forgotten that Peter was there. When they registered what he had said, horror grew into their expressions. The potion would be doomed if Peter got his hands on it. They jumped to their feet and sprinted after him. “No! Wait! We’ll do it!”

Remus sat in Professor Slughorn’s classroom, waiting impatiently for Lily and Snape to finish whatever conversation they were having. Snape seemed keen on not letting Lily into the room. They were standing out in the hallway, their voices muffled by the closed door. He wished they would hurry up; he had been sitting there for at least fifteen minutes. He could have taken his time getting there if he knew he would have to wait. Snape knew very well that these tutoring sessions with Lily were precious to Remus’s grade and that he would not pass without Lily’s help. Then again, this fact probably had no bearings on the Slytherin.

Remus thought once or twice about getting up and making it known that he was still there, but decided against it. Judging by the altering in the muffled voices, the conversation must have been concluding. He saw the doorknob turn ever so slightly, until the lower of the two voices – Snape’s – spoke up again and the golden doorknob was still once more. Remus gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. He wanted to get out of there and find his friends. Ten Galleons said they were doing something that involved their Animagus training and he wanted to be there.

Resting his head on his folded arms, he stared at the stone wall opposite him and let his mind wander. He couldn’t remember when he’d had a moment to just sit and think. His friends had always wanted to sneak down to the kitchens or go to the Room of Requirement or watch James’s Quidditch practises. They were constantly kept busy. Remus had had so much on his mind that he welcomed these activities with open arms, needing something to clear his head. He had been putting up a front that he wasn’t at all bothered with the confrontation he and Peter had witnessed the night they snuck to Slughorn’s storage room. The truth was that he was terrified. How long was it going to take before Greyback found a way to get the names of the students enrolled at Hogwarts? Greyback was cunning… he could get it easily, or at least talk to a few helpful candidates.

What Remus wanted to know was how did Twikom not know what a monster her relative was? He was not speaking of monster in the way of a werewolf, but a monster in his behaviours. Greyback purposely contaminated children without blinking an eye, without the slightest twinge in his conscience. She must have heard about some time when a child was bitten… Then again, Greyback probably knew how to cover his tracks so it couldn’t be pinned on him. But what about Dumbledore? If Twikom didn’t realise it, surely Dumbledore, the most intelligent wizard the world had ever seen, should have known it. How had Greyback gotten past Dumbledore’s watch that night? Dumbledore couldn’t be everywhere at once, Remus knew this, but he definitely knew everything. He must have known that the sacred walls of his castle had been infiltrated.

Remus had thought about sending a letter to his parents, informing them of this, but then chose not to. He didn’t want to worry them more about him than they already were. He was making his parents age faster than they had to. Every month he could tell lines were growing on their faces and their hair was greying as they wondered how badly their son was going to come off after the full moon. It wasn’t fair to them to have something else to add to their anxiety. He would just keep it to himself, the extent of his horror. He was the only werewolf to ever attend Hogwarts. It wouldn’t be difficult for Greyback to realise it was Remus he was after. He never forgot a name.

How long was it going to take? How long would it be before Greyback procured Remus’s name and figured out a way to break into the castle again? How would he do it? Would it be on a full moon, when Remus wasn’t even in the castle? If that was when, it would endanger the lives of all the other students. He couldn’t live with that. He couldn’t live with knowing that students had been injured, or even killed, because of him. He couldn’t ask his friends for help. They had given him far too much for a lifetime. They invested themselves in his problems more than they did their own. He often wondered how they were still his friends, he had too many troubles. Aside from Sirius, who had his own dysfunctional family to deal with, there was nothing that needed to worry them. Except for him.

He had to think of something on his own. Should he leave the school? He would possibly be saving the lives of his classmates. If he did leave, where would he go? He couldn’t go home, his parents would never be able to accept him if they knew he dropped out of school. He grinned bitterly at the thought. Most would assume his parents wouldn’t accept him because he was a werewolf, it would never cross their minds that his parents loved him despite of that. But they would never forgive him if he threw away his one chance at a normal life. But what was normal anyway? He had never been normal. Not since March of 1963, the month before he had been bitten. Never before had he hated Fenrir Greyback as much as he did right then.

Greyback had already destroyed Remus’s innocence; did he have to come back for seconds? Remus bit the inside of his mouth, his mind was on overdrive. If he left, when would he do it? If he stayed, what was he going to do when Greyback finally decided to execute whatever plan he had up his sleeve? He couldn’t continue acting as though nothing was weighing on his mind; his friends were able to see through the façade. They just knew enough not to say anything about it. It was only a matter of time before everything came crashing down. No watch could tell him how much time he had before it happened.

The door to the classroom opened and Lily strolled in. She smiled at Remus when she saw him and set her books down, flipping open to the chapter on poisons. As she opened her mouth to speak, Remus abruptly stood up.

“I have to go.”

Lily was perplexed. “Remus… we’re having a test on this next week, you have to work on it.”

“I know… I just… I have to go.” He frowned apologetically at her and collected his things. With one last apologetic look, he hurried out of the classroom. He didn’t feel like studying anymore.

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Eight: Feeling Normal

Sirius pulled the most shocked face he could. “Depressed? Never!” He jumped off his bed. “We should remedy that!”

“How?” James asked, feigning a desperate tone. He slid off the bed, landing on his knees. He folded his hands together and shook them wildly. “How?

“Dance in women’s clothing?”

James rolled his eyes. “Sirius, stop living your fantasies through me. How many times do I have to tell you?”

“We’re going on fifty three, I think.”

“Really? I thought we were at sixty.”

“No, fifty three.”

James got to his feet. “Well, if you’re sure… But, in all seriousness, how do we solve my depression?”

Chapter 38: Feeling Normal
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Author's Note: I apologize for waiting over a month to update, which is very not like me. I'm trying to catch this up somewhere, but chapter 34 has been stuck in the queue for ages and it's not fair to make all of you guys wait. Besides, I just finished fourth year yesterday and it put me in a good mood. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter Thirty Eight
Feeling Normal

“I can’t believe they cancelled the Hogsmeade trip,” Sirius lamented early one Monday evening mid-October.

Remus looked at his friend incredulously. The staff had cancelled it for the safety of their students. “They had to, Sirius. A bunch of people died there only last week.” He yanked on one of his socks, which was sliding off his foot. “You couldn’t expect Dumbledore to let us go, especially when they didn’t catch whoever did it.”

“I hope they catch him soon,” Peter muttered desperately. James, Sirius and Remus, who were piled on Sirius’s bed, looked down at Peter, who was sitting on the floor. Mr. Pettigrew worked in one of the Hogsmeade businesses; they could easily see why Peter hoped for the quick arrest of the culprit. The day they heard of the attack, the boys had waited nervously with Peter as he awaited a letter from one of his parents, assuring him of the safety of his father. When Mrs. Pettigrew owled him, she told him that his father hadn’t even gone to work that day. He had been feeling under the weather and decided to stay home. There were no words that could sufficiently describe the relief Peter felt at his mother’s words.

“Are they rescheduling?” James asked, diverting the conversation away from the uncomfortable side. They knew Peter was doing his best to forget about it. Even with his father safe at home, he still wished the culprit was apprehended soon.

Remus shook his head, his brow furrowed. “I don’t think so. If they do, it won’t be for a long time.” They all knew the professors would never let the students step foot in Hogsmeade after such an attack.

“There’s goes the Christmas trip!” Sirius whined, throwing his hands up in the air and falling backwards on his mattress.

Remus shot his friend an angry glare. “You’re taking this very maturely, Sirius, as usual. People died, that’s as good a reason as any to miss a few trips to the village.” He glanced hopefully down at Peter. “You’ll back me up on this, right, Pete?”

It was obvious Peter wasn’t truly listening to their conversation. “Mmhmm… sure, James.”

“I’m taking that as an insult.” Remus knew Peter was tuning them out; he didn’t want to hear anymore about the attack on Hogsmeade. “Okay… change of subject. How about that test in Slughorn’s class?” He had regretted skiving off Lily’s tutoring session, as he severely needed the extra help. He knew next to nothing about brewing an effective poison and, as a result, melted a large hole right through the bottom of his cauldron and through the desk. His friends had fared better than he did.

“That was easy,” Sirius said offhandedly, sitting up straight again.

“Yeah,” James conceded wholeheartedly. “I’d do it all over again.”

Sirius scoffed. “No you wouldn’t.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t.” He turned to Remus. “I felt sorry for your desk. It must’ve hurt when the potion went right through it.”

Remus shifted his head from side to side guiltily. “Yeah… well… that’s what I get for leaving tutoring before we even started.”

“Why did you?” James inquired interestedly. It was not like Remus to skive off a tutoring session without a good reason. There had been no full moon that night.

Remus had resolved not to tell them any of his thoughts about Greyback. Those thoughts were precisely the reason he had left. He couldn’t sit still long enough to focus on something as trivial as potions when there was Fenrir Greyback to think about. “No reason, I wasn’t feeling well.”

James raised his eyebrows at Sirius, but said nothing else, for which Remus was thankful. He didn’t very much feel like creating a lie to cover up why he hadn’t been feeling well.

Instead, James cleared his throat and shifted his sitting position. “Well, you’ll do better next time.”

“Hopefully.” He slid off the bed and crouched down beside Peter, who had become occupied with a dust bunny that was tumbling across the floor. “Come on; let’s go down to the kitchens.” One of the easiest ways to cheer Peter up was to sneak down to the kitchens and have the House Elves whip up some of his favourite foods. Their favourite House Elf, Twinky, was always ready to assist them. Peter considered Remus’s offer for a moment, before yielding. He stood up and led the way to the door. Remus looked over his shoulder at James and Sirius, who were still sitting on Sirius’s bed. “You guys coming?”

“Nah,” Sirius told him. “You go on ahead.” Remus shrugged and followed Peter out of the dormitory. When the two were gone, Sirius turned to James. “What would we have done if Pete’s dad had been one of the people who were killed?”

James shivered at the thought. “Don’t even ask me that, Sirius. He wasn’t, so why should we worry about that?” James just wanted to forget about the possibility of Mr. Pettigrew’s death.

Sirius understood how James felt. He, himself, had no idea what he would have said to Peter. He had never been skilled at consoling someone after the death of a loved one. He could only attribute this to the fact that he had rarely ever encountered a situation such as that. The only time he could really remember was when Remus’s grandparents had died. He didn’t think he had done a good job at it, anyway. James had been the one to accompany their friend home, not him. He hadn’t even thought of that idea. No, consoling someone who was in mourning was not one of Sirius’s good abilities.

“We would’ve just been there for him,” James said firmly. “If that ever happens to any of us, we would just be there for each other.” James sighed and pulled his knees up to his chest, staring at the wall opposite him. “Okay, I feel depressed now.”

Sirius pulled the most shocked face he could. “Depressed? Never!” He jumped off his bed. “We should remedy that!”

“How?” James asked, feigning a desperate tone. He slid off the bed, landing on his knees. He folded his hands together and shook them wildly. “How?

“Dance in women’s clothing?”

James rolled his eyes. “Sirius, stop living your fantasies through me. How many times do I have to tell you?”

“We’re going on fifty three, I think.”

“Really? I thought we were at sixty.”

“No, fifty three.”

James got to his feet. “Well, if you’re sure… But, in all seriousness, how do we solve my depression?”

“I’m all for turning Snivelly’s hair pink.”

James frowned at this suggestion. “We just got him the other day with that itching charm. Let’s think of someone else.”

“Like who?”

“I dunno… we could always go after Abrac Zabini. We haven’t gotten him in a while.”

Sirius grimaced. “He would look too good in pink.”

James cringed and took a cautious step back. “I’m a little afraid that you actually thought of what colour he would look good in.”

“I didn’t, I just thought of that now.”

James dismissed this claim, not wanting to question the validity of it. “Who are we going to hex?”

“What about Evans?”

James looked horrified at the very notion. “Are you barking mad? She’d murder me!”

“That’s half the fun of it!”

James raised his hand, ready to bring it down on Sirius’s head, when the dormitory door opened. To their utter shock, it was Lily Evans. James and Sirius gaped at her; they had never realised girls were allowed in their dormitory. They vaguely wondered if it worked the other way around. Most importantly, had she heard Sirius’s suggestion to hex her? Judging by the expression on her face, she hadn’t. She didn’t look angry. Instead, she looked embarrassed to even be in there, but shook it off and shut the door.

“What’s up, Evans?” James asked coolly, folding his arms across his chest.

Lily answered just as coolly. “I just thought you’d want to know, your friends are in the Hospital Wing.”

“What? Why?” Sirius questioned quickly. What could Remus and Peter possibly have done that would hospitalize them?

“They were ambushed down on the first floor by some Slytherins.”

Sirius wheeled around to face James. “I told you we should’ve gotten Snape.”

Lily gritted her teeth. Of course the first person Sirius would accuse would be Severus Snape. “It wasn’t Severus, Black. It was some older students that you don’t even know.”

“How do you know this, anyway?”

Lily’s face took on a hard, mean look. She did not loathe Remus and Peter nearly as much as she loathed the two boys standing before her. “I heard some Slytherins who had seen it boasting about it.”

“What happened to the ones who actually did it?”

“I imagine they’re in the Hospital Wing too. The Slytherins who were boasting about it probably forgot to mention that -” She hurriedly stepped aside as James and Sirius bounded for the door. “You’re welcome!” she called at their retreating backs.

“Yeah,” Sirius called back. “Thanks, Evans!” They hurried through the crowded common room, nearly destroying a group of first years and their game of Wizard Chess. The only good thing they could think of was that Lily said that the culprits were in the Hospital Wing too. That meant that Remus and Peter had gotten them good enough to cause some damage. It was just like Slytherins to neglect to mention that they had been brought down by a group of Gryffindors, especially ones that were younger than they were. The ones who were boasting must have chosen to repress their housemates and the damage that Remus and Peter had inflicted. They followed the corridor until they were outside the infirmary and subjected to hearing Madam Pomfrey’s furious tirade about the dangers of dueling. The boys snickered at each other. They had heard this a million times before. They waited until her voice died down before entering.

It was easy to see that Remus and Peter had gotten the better of the Slytherins, though James and Sirius supposed that the majority of the damage on the Slytherins had been reversed. The older boys still looked as if they had been shoved through an extremely tiny hole. They looked shorter and smaller than they probably were and their faces were somewhat scrunched together. James and Sirius could only imagine what else their friends had done to defend themselves. Remus and Peter were sitting next to each other on one of the vacant beds, their faces ashen, their robes singed, and their arms bandaged, but otherwise looking quite pleased with themselves. James and Sirius strolled over, eager to hear what had occurred.

“So,” James began casually. “What did we tell you two about fighting when we’re not around?”

Remus looked thoughtful for a moment, staring up at the ceiling. “To do it more often?”

“That’s what I thought.”

Sirius sat down beside Peter and observed his friend’s ragged appearance. “What did they do? Shove you two in a fireplace?”

“They tried,” Peter muttered darkly. Then, smiling, he added, “We still would’ve come out better than they did.”

“They caught us when we were going down to the kitchens,” Remus explained lightly. “They tried hexing us and ended up setting our sleeves on fire.”

James flinched. “Ouch.”

Remus waved it off, as if it was every day that someone ignited his clothes. “It looks worse than it is. Right, Pete?”

Peter nodded agreeably. “You couldn’t feel it after a while.”

“That usually isn’t a good thing, you guys,” Sirius told them gravely. “Doesn’t that mean you lost nerves in your arm or something?”

“Probably.” Peter observed the bandage wrapped around his arm, wondering if what Sirius said was true. He then decided that it didn’t matter and continued with the story. “So, Remus and I got them good. They were small enough to be put in a little satchel by the time we were through with them.”

“Really?” James said, leaning back, impressed.

Remus grinned proudly. “Yeah. We got detention for a week with Twikom after she caught us, but that’s nothing.”

“I never thought I’d hear the day Remus Lupin said a detention was nothing,” James whispered to Sirius.

“We must be having a bad influence on him.”

Before any of the boys could get another word out, Madam Pomfrey came bustling out of her office to check on her patients. She clicked her tongue in disgust when she approached the two Slytherins. The boys wondered if she did that because she was angry or because they looked so disfigured. They preferred to think that it was the latter, but knew it was the former. Or it could have been a bit of both. When she was through with the Slytherins, she strode over to the Gryffindor boys and briskly gave Remus and Peter the once-over before announcing that they were free to go, only to return the next day to change their bandages.

“And no more dueling,” she warned them distinctly as they left the ward.

“Can’t make any promises,” Remus and Peter mumbled under their breath.

Remus and Peter sat in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, their hands cramping painfully as they scrawled out three hundred lines of I will not duel in the hallway. Professor Twikom was nowhere to be found. They had only seen her once since they arrived. She had been waiting just inside the doorway with a stack of parchment and the instructions ready to give to her detainees. Once she was sure the boys were settled and at work with their lines, she hurried out of the classroom to a destination unknown to the boys. They hadn’t thought of anything at first, but now that their detainment was almost over, they wished she would appear. They couldn’t leave unless she allowed them to.

“Where do you reckon she’s gotten to?” Peter asked Remus as he looked toward the doorway, hoping she would suddenly materialize.

“I dunno,” Remus replied concernedly, also peering at the doorway. “I hope she gets back soon.” Remus did not really wish this, as he always got an unsettling feeling in the pit of his stomach when he was around her. He only wanted her there so they could leave. Just as he thought this, the door swung open and the professor reappeared, a piece of parchment clutched tightly in her hand. She strode over to her desk and set the parchment down. Without even acknowledging the boys, she left again.

“Why do I feel like she’s forgotten we’re here?” Peter asked Remus exasperatedly.

“Because she did.” He set his quill down and cracked his sore and cramped knuckles. He wondered why the Slytherins were not serving detention as well; they had started the fight. He knew it was because he and Peter had bested them in the worst way possible, but they hadn’t exactly escaped unscathed. Their arms still bore bandages for their healing burns.

“She looked worried,” Peter was saying, breaking Remus out of his thoughts.

“Yeah… yeah, she did.” Remus scratched his chin and let his eyes wander over to the piece of parchment Twikom had set down. It was wrinkled and slightly rolled up. This must have been the source of the professor’s anxiety. He turned to Peter. “You don’t think that,” he pointed to the parchment, “has anything to do with it.”

Without hesitation, Peter nodded. “Definitely. She looked like she wanted to burn it.” He stood up and joined Remus where he stood. “I wonder what it says.”

“We can’t go looking at a teacher’s mail.” Remus knew that they would be serving more detention if they were caught looking at Twikom’s letter.

“Who says we can’t?”

“I think a few people would.” Despite his resistance, Remus couldn’t deny that he was curious as to what might be written in the letter. He bit his bottom lip in frustration, one look couldn’t hurt. He hurried over to the desk and snatched up the letter. He quickly scanned it and felt the knot that had been residing in his stomach since the beginning of the term constrict. It was a letter written in a scratchy, disjointed handwriting. It didn’t give off the impression of the sender being well-educated. As Remus read, he saw familiar phrases. He had heard them recently and he knew whom he had heard them from. Greyback wasn’t going to stop. With a shaky hand, he set the letter down and tried to act natural. “Come on, Pete.”

Peter did a double take. “What?”

“Let’s go. Twikom can’t get mad at us if we finished our lines.”

Peter narrowed his eyes to get a closer look at his friend. Remus’s face had gone a shade or two paler. “What did that letter say?”

“Nothing,” Remus said hastily, his voice raising an octave. He began leading the way to the door. “Come on, Peter.”

But Peter wasn’t budging. He had to know what that letter said. Swiftly, he made a run for it, and Remus was not fast enough to catch him. Peter snatched the letter up and pushed Remus’s hand away as he tried to grab it back. Peter walked away, the letter almost pressed against his nose as he read it. When he finished, he spun around to see Remus glaring at him. “I said it was nothing, Peter.”

Peter merely gaped at him. When he regained the use of his tongue, he was disbelieving. “This is nothing? Remus, who are you trying to fool?”

Remus ripped the letter out of Peter’s hand. “Myself, thank you.” He replaced the letter on Twikom’s desk and proceeded through the open doorway, not halting or slowing his pace to match Peter’s. He heard Peter’s footsteps following him, though they seemed to be coming from far away, rather than right behind him. Peter’s voice, when he began speaking, also seemed to be a long distance away.

“Why are you pretending that this isn’t happening? Remus!” he shouted when his friend didn’t respond. “You’ve always been the most realistic one out of all of us, why aren’t you being like that now?” He stood momentarily in his spot, hoping that Remus would answer him. His hopes, however, were not received. “Remus, you know this is happening! Why are you suddenly acting like this?”

Remus snarled and whipped around. There was an anger, and a terror, in his eyes that Peter had never seen before and wished to never see again. It was unnerving. “I’m acting like this because all those times when I was being realistic never involved a vicious werewolf trying to get me and make me like him! That’s why, Peter, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad!” He whipped back around and continued furiously on his way to the common room.

“I know you’re scared, Remus.” Peter was trying to be reasonable, bring his friend back down to a calm level. This was futile.

Remus didn’t even stop walking, he spoke as he went. “Scared? I’m not scared, Peter. I’m terrified! You don’t get it. You won’t get it until it’s happened to you and I pray to Merlin that it never will because you don’t deserve it. No one deserves it. No one except Fenrir Greyback himself and he’s the one who caused it.” He finally stopped walking so Peter could catch up with him. Peter hovered behind his friend, unsure if another outburst was to follow. Slowly, Remus’s shoulders began to relax and his breathing steadied. “I’m sorry, Peter.”

Peter blinked. “For what?”

“Blowing up at you. None of this is your fault. I’ve just been frustrated lately.”

“I can see why…”

“I just… I guess I never thought something like this could happen.” He loosened his fists and walked over towards the wall, sliding down against it so he was sitting with his knees against his chest. “I thought that once Greyback ruined your life that was it. He wasn’t going to come back for seconds.”

Peter groaned inwardly. This wasn’t his area of expertise. James or Sirius was usually the one who handled situations like this. Peter had never been involved in the inspirational words of comfort, except as backup. He never had to take care of it himself. He had no idea what to say. He joined Remus by the wall and sat down. “He didn’t… Greyback didn’t ruin your life.”

Remus had half a mind to ask how could Greyback not have ruined his life, but then realised that Peter was right. Yes, he had his monthly transformations, which were easily the worst kinds of pain he would ever experience, but aside from that… he had friends. It took him so long to find true friends, friends who would never abandon him because of his condition. That wasn’t something that could qualify as a destroyed life, quite the opposite. He was too busy getting caught up in his worry to realise these things. “Yeah… you’re right.”

“You have every right to be scared, though.”

“I know.” Remus stood up and looked around the vacant hallway. “What do you think will happen if he does find out it’s me?”

Peter couldn’t very well lie, Remus would know. “Something bad.”

There was a grim sort of acceptance in Remus’s voice. “That’s what I thought.” He leaned against the wall. “Do you ever think we’ll have a year at this place that’s close to normal?”

“First year was fairly normal,” Peter reasoned.

“With the exception of a lunatic teacher.”

“We got rid of him.”

“Let me rephrase my question, then… Can we ever have a year like first year where our only problem was getting rid of a teacher we hated?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What do you suppose will happen next year?”

“Sirius becomes a Prefect?”

Remus grinned lightly. “That’s scarier than Greyback.”

“Hey, I don’t think me being a Prefect is so scary.” Remus and Peter looked around to see James and Sirius approaching them, Sirius looking considerably insulted. They stopped when they reached the boys by the wall. “I may be loud and obnoxious and a troublemaker, but I could definitely be a Prefect.”

James looked doubtful. “I don’t think so, mate.” He patted Sirius on the shoulder and talked to him in a voice that suggested he was speaking to someone slow. “You see, you have to be a good boy, not a troublemaker.”

“I get good grades,” Sirius argued defensively.

James turned to Remus and Peter. “You know, I still find that unbelievable.”

“James… I act stupid, but I’m not actually stupid.”

“That’s debatable.”

“Want to go find my records and prove it?”

James stepped forward, standing on his toes so he was taller than Sirius. “Let’s go find them!” he challenged.

“Come on then!” Sirius began marching down the corridor.

“Hey, wait a moment.” James sped off to meet Sirius. “Where exactly are we going to find them?”

“How should I know? Come on!”

Remus and Peter watched as James and Sirius ran up the marble steps. Laughing quietly, Peter turned to Remus. “After listening to them, don’t you feel normal?”

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Nine: Lockdown

“I think I speak for everyone when I say this is insane!” Sirius shouted over the thunderous winds. His statement was met with many raucous roars of consent.

“What is he thinking?” Frank Longbottom asked his classmates incredulously. No other professor would have done this. Professor Grines had cancelled all Herbology lessons for the day.

“Didn’t he see that Hufflepuff get picked up by the wind?” James said, his voice hoarse from the raised tones.

“Of course he did,” Remus groaned loudly. “He was one of the ones who had to go get her.”

“Does he enjoy being wet?” Alice Gordon questioned fiercely, rubbing her arms in a futile attempt to stay warm.

“If he does, he’s out of his mind,” Lily muttered, so low that no one heard her.

“For once, I’m agreeing with this lot,” Abrac Zabini admitted grudgingly, jerking a thumb towards the Gryffindors.

Chapter 39: Lockdown
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Author's Note: Yes I'm a bad person! I'm sorry you guys had to wait so long for the next chapter. But the good news is - updates are once again regular! Between one-two weeks.

Chapter Thirty Nine

Halloween morning dawned with black, stormy skies. The treetops in the Forbidden Forest swayed dangerously; some trees were almost bent perpendicular because of the violent winds. The students had been warned to stay away from them, lest the trees fall. Rain was splattering noisily against the windows, making it impossible to see anything through the obscurity. In fact, it was only because a first year Hufflepuff had been foolish enough to open one of the giant double doors to see outside that anyone knew how much the trees were suffering. Needless to say, the Hufflepuff was instantly swept away and it took the combined efforts of Professor Kettleburn and Hagrid to retrieve her from the eye of the storm. Speaking of Professor Kettleburn, he was not deterred in the least by the inclement weather. He still insisted on holding class.

The fourth year Gryffindors and Slytherins rarely agreed on anything, let alone worked on anything together in harmony. Today, however, was a special day, one that temporarily changed this fact. They were wet, soaked completely through to the skin. Their hair was plastered unpleasantly to their heads. Their noses were dripping continuously. They were shivering unpleasantly. More or less, they were mad, uncomfortable, mad, saturated, and mad. They wanted revenge on their professor, and they wanted it badly. The only problem was that they didn’t know how to get it. It would be wrong to take it out on the Nifflers they were working with. The Nifflers hadn’t caused them anything problems (with the exception of one trying determinedly to snatch away Lily’s earrings).

Professor Kettleburn had excused himself inside Hagrid’s cabin for a moment, to deposit Lily’s earrings with Hagrid, well out of the reach of the magical creatures. The students doubted this was the true reason he went there, he just wanted to get out of the torrential downpour. The Gryffindors and Slytherins were huddled against the cabin walls, hoping that the outward jutting of the roof would shield them from the rain, if only slightly. They all grumbled mutinously, wondering how their professor could possibly let them work in this weather. The thunder was rumbling and lighting was striking almost every minute. This was nothing short of pure insanity.

“I think I speak for everyone when I say this is insane!” Sirius shouted over the thunderous winds. His statement was met with many raucous roars of consent.

“What is he thinking?” Frank Longbottom asked his classmates incredulously. No other professor would have done this. Professor Grines had cancelled all Herbology lessons for the day.

“Didn’t he see that Hufflepuff get picked up by the wind?” James said, his voice hoarse from the raised tones.

“Of course he did,” Remus groaned loudly. “He was one of the ones who had to go get her.”

“Does he enjoy being wet?” Alice Gordon questioned fiercely, rubbing her arms in a futile attempt to stay warm.

“If he does, he’s out of his mind,” Lily muttered, so low that no one heard her.

“For once, I’m agreeing with this lot,” Abrac Zabini admitted grudgingly, jerking a thumb towards the Gryffindors.

“That’s when you know it’s bad,” Peter shouted as the wind took up a roaring howl. “When Gryffindors and Slytherins agree.” There were some mumbles of consent.

Sirius shook his head. “The world is ending!”

“Figuratively or literally?” James asked, trying desperately to lighten the mood.


The group of students cringed, shut their eyes and tightened their holds on themselves when a fresh gust of wind brought forth a tremendous sheet of rain.

“That’s it!” Snape and James shouted simultaneously, only to stare at each other in amazement.

James stepped forward and turned so he was facing his fellow classmates. His eyes were glinting with a determination to get back inside the castle. “We are not staying out here anymore!”

“Hear, hear!” Remus cheered. It was a full moon that night and he was not benefiting his health by being out there in the rainstorm. He wanted to get into the warmth just as much as his classmates.

Obviously we’re not staying out here, Potter,” sneered Evan Rosier. As much as he agreed with James, he was not going to be nice about it. “But what are we going to do about it?”

“We only have a few minutes before Kettleburn comes back out here,” Sirius assumed through clattering teeth. “What can we do?”

“Run?” suggested a Slytherin girl by the name of Juliet Percival.

“We’re not going to get very far,” Remus told her dismally, gesturing towards the long distance they would have to run. “He’ll see us before we’re even up the slope.” The other Gryffindors and Slytherins muttered and nodded in assent.

“How about we set the Nifflers free and have Kettleburn go running after them so we can escape?” Alice offered, shrugging her shoulders. They Nifflers wouldn’t get far, there was no danger in letting them go for a run.

Zabini quickly stamped on this idea. “He’ll expect us to run after them with him.”

Severus Snape’s eyes widened suddenly as he thought of something. “How many of us are wearing watches?”

All of the Slytherins and James, Sirius, Lily and Frank raised their hands, displaying the bands of their timepieces. Snape called them forward, asking them to hold their wrists out. He held his wand aloft and brought it down lightly on each of them. The hands spun around so they matched the time the class ended.

“Why didn’t we just wind them?” Peter asked the Slytherin.

“That would’ve taken too long,” Snape replied calmly. “Lupin, go inside and tell Kettleburn the class ended.”

Normally, Remus would have thought twice about taking orders from Severus Snape, but the situation was desperate. Unless he wanted to be locked up in the Hospital Wing for a week with no foreseeable leave, he would listen to what the Slytherin was telling him to do. He hurried into the cabin, only after snatching James’s watch, to confront Professor Kettleburn, who was in a deep conversation with Hagrid about breeding a new species.

“You know,” Sirius said as the group turned to try to peer through the windows. “He’s not the greatest of liars.”

James and Peter glanced at each other. They moved over to Sirius and spoke in hushed tones so the others couldn’t hear. “We believed him, all those times he lied to us about visiting his mum when he wasn’t,” James pointed out.

“Well, we’re just stupid.” Sirius laughed as James slapped him on the side of the head. He spun around and looked through the lowest window on the cabin walls. “Looks like Kettleburn’s a bit confused.”

The Slytherins and Gryffindors pushed their way over to the window to get a better look and, as a result, pushing James, Sirius and Peter out of the way. Remus and Kettleburn were going back and forth with each other. Kettleburn was pointing to his own wristwatch, which had the correct time, while Remus pointed to the one he had taken off of James before he went inside. No one outside could hear what they were saying, but it looked as if both the professor and the student were getting immeasurably frustrated. Kettleburn’s eyes were narrowing and Remus’s face was turning red.

“Come on, Lupin,” muttered Juliet Percival vehemently.

“I’m frightened, Sirius,” James said stepping back from the group. “A Slytherin is cheering on a Gryffindor.

Sirius nodded agreeably. “The world must be at an end.”

Peter stood on his toes to get a better look, only after shoving his way back to the front. He grinned triumphantly. “I think we may have success.”

Kettleburn was hanging his head in defeat, moving it slowly back and forth. Remus must have gotten through to him. He must have for Kettleburn to look like that. They couldn’t see the expression on Remus’s face, as it was obscured by something hanging off the ceiling. They couldn’t tell if he was a triumph or a miserable failure. The class backed away from the window when they saw Kettleburn making his way out of the cabin, Remus trailing at his heels. When the professor and student emerged into the stormy weather, the Slytherins and Gryffindors hurried to see if their mission had been worthwhile.

Professor Kettleburn cleared his throat loudly over the whistling wind. “If you wanted to end the class early because of the weather, you could have just asked me.” Every mouth of each of the students dropped open. “You didn’t have to think of this elaborate scheme to trick me! Class dismissed!”

For a moment, the fourth years were far too stunned to move and, as a result, got drenched by a sudden downpour of rain where they were standing. The rain pattering against their already freezing bodies, the Slytherins and Gryffindors trooped back up to the warmth and dryness of the castle. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter walked, huddled together, muttering mutinously about the class. Nice as Professor Kettleburn was, he was positively clueless about everything that wasn’t a magical creature. Did he honestly believe his students loved that class so much that they would be willing to brave torrential downpour? The only thing they did that for was Quidditch.

“Mental!” Sirius shouted for the fifth time since they had begun their trek back to the castle.

“Gee, Sirius, I don’t think we heard you the first four times. What is Kettleburn?” James inquired sardonically. Wet weather always made him sarcastic.

Sirius, however, did not detect the acerbic tones. “Mental! Bloody insane!”

“Oh, is that what he is? I was beginning to think his behaviour was perfectly normal.”

“He is mental,” Remus conceded wholeheartedly. “For a moment, I had him believing that it really was time to leave and that our watches hadn’t been changed.”

“Speaking of which, can I have my watch back?” James requested, holding out his hand.

“Oh, yeah.” Remus undid the snaps on the band and dropped the timepiece into James’s hand as Sirius pushed open the doorway into the castle. The warmness of the castle and the smell of pumpkins coming from the Great Hall was a welcome relief from the bitterness of the outside. The boys drifted in the direction of the dining hall and peered inside to see what it looked like. The professors who did not have a class were busy decorating the hall with floating pumpkins and bats. The boys knew the House Elves must have been hard at work in the kitchens.

“Shame you can’t go tonight,” Peter told Remus sympathetically.

Remus shrugged his shoulders, feigning indifference. “There’s always next year, isn’t there?” He shook off the annoyance he felt at the full moon for having to fall on Halloween night. Rubbing his stomach, which had suddenly taken to doing a few flips, he turned to his friends. “Anyway, I think I should go to the Hospital Wing. I’m starting to feel a bit sick.”

“See you tomorrow, mate,” James said quietly as Remus quickened his step up the marble staircase. James, Sirius and Peter veered off to their left and descended into the cool dungeons. None of them was looking forward to Potions today. They did not find it much fun concocting poisons. The only consolation was that it was probable Slughorn was not going to get it into his head to test them out on the students. That was only the work of a crazy, vindictive, Crane-like professor. The boys shuddered as they tried to imagine what it would have been like if Professor Crane was teaching Potions. They had no doubt in their minds that he would test the poisons out on them.

They entered the classroom with the Slytherins and saw their cauldrons bubbling at their seats. The potions had to simmer between their lessons before they could continue and it seemed that Slughorn had been keeping the poisons well-prepared for them. The boys took their seats behind their cauldrons and looked inside them; they had turned more or less the right shade of green, not too dark and not too light. Professor Slughorn emerged from his office and simply instructed them to begin working where they had left off.

“What are the odds that Professor Kettleburn will do that to us again?” James asked, uncorking a vial of caterpillars.

“You mean leave us outside in the middle of a storm?” Sirius questioned as he tipped a container of porcupine quills into his cauldron. “I’d say the odds are very good.”

“The man is out of his mind,” Peter marveled, shaking his head.

When Potions let out, the boys joined the throng of students flocking into the Entrance Hall, all intent on making their way to the Great Hall to see it decorated for the Halloween Feast later that night. They forced their way through a gang of third year girls who were shrieking excitedly and discovered that the hall was in shambles. The house tables and the staff table were overturned, pumpkins were smashed and the bats were huddled in a corner in the very back of the hall, flying fearfully. The boys exchanged shocked looks – this was bad, even for Peeves.

“What’s going on?” Lily Evans, Alice Gordon and Frank Longbottom had appeared beside the boys, wondering what was causing the crowd.

“Take a look.” James stepped aside, giving Lily, Alice and Frank a clear view of the disaster area.

“Merlin,” Lily whispered astonished, her eyes wide. “Who did that?”

“We were just wondering that,” Sirius told her gravely. “I don’t think Peeves was behind it this time.”

“Attention.” The crowd of students spun around to see Professor Dumbledore. His eyes, which were usually twinkling brightly, were serious and his mouth was set in a stern frown. “Would you all please enter the Great Hall?” The students stared at him; the Great Hall was in pieces. Why would the Headmaster tell them to go inside? Dumbledore seemed to realise this and so he rectified the problem. “Ah, yes.” He waved his wand and the room was repaired. “Now, may you enter? You will be spending the remainder of the day and the night in here.” Immediately, worried chatter exploded amongst everyone. “Please, do as I say.”

Once the doors to the Great Hall were locked securely, students began shouting out reasons why they suspected they were under lockdown. Every student, young and old, knew that someone inside the castle was dangerous, but they could not understand who the source was. Who was it? What was it? Was the intruder an outsider or someone they had thought belonged inside? What could this intruder possibly have been looking for? The boys sat down at the Gryffindor table, which had been supplied with their dinner.

“Is it just me or is today stranger than usual?” Peter asked as he put some chicken on his plate.

“Debimatly,” Sirius said through a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

“You’re disgusting,” James commented, wrinkling his nose.

Sirius swallowed with great difficulty. “You’re no better.”

“At least I swallow before I talk.”

“I just thought of something,” Peter said, halting the impending arguement that was about to ensue. “What about the kids in the Hospital Wing?”

James and Sirius knew Peter was only talking about one person in particular. They hadn’t thought about that. Would they smuggle Remus out of the castle earlier than was normal? It would make sense… every student was in the Great Hall and would remain there for the rest of the night. Now was as good a time as any, unless, of course, the intruder had not left the premises yet. Madam Pomfrey may not want to move him just yet, but they didn’t know how long it would take before they declared the castle safe.

“Hopefully they’re making sure they’re safe,” James replied carefully. He had no doubt someone was listening in.

November first dawned with all of the students waking up in their puffy, purple sleeping bags. They were strewn across the floor of the Great Hall, all having fallen asleep still talking about the unknown trespasser. Professor McGonagall had appeared in the dining hall late the previous night, announcing that they would not be required to attend class that day, but that the castle was safe. The intruder had escaped, but, thankfully, no one had been harmed. With this news, the students were able to sleep easier.

“You think they brought him back yet?” Sirius asked as he, James and Peter left the Great Hall, intending to drop their belongings off in the dormitory.

“Probably,” James replied, adjusting the strap on his bag. “Want to head up there now?”

Sirius and Peter nodded eagerly and they veered off their set path. It wasn’t early by any means, they had taken advantage of the fact that classes were cancelled for the day and had slept late. Remus would definitely be back. The only question was whether or not Madam Pomfrey would permit them entry. If she was hassled enough, she would shoo them away before they even opened their mouths, already knowing what question was on their minds. Sometimes the nurse was completely unreasonable. It wasn’t as if they were going to be roughhousing with Remus, they knew better than that.

Unfortunately, when they finally arrived at the infirmary, the nurse acted just as they had predicted. “No,” she barked firmly, ready to slam the door in their faces. “He had a terrible night; I won’t let you disturb him.”

“When have we ever disturbed him?” Sirius asked disbelievingly. They never disturbed Remus when he was recovering. They would talk to him and he would talk back. They would leave when they saw that he was tired and wanted to sleep. That was hardly what they would call disturbing him. Peter jabbed Sirius in the ribs; they were never going to have their way if Sirius took up an attitude with the nurse. Sirius, however, took this with the wrong intentions. “Ow!” he shouted, causing James, Peter and Madam Pomfrey to jump back in shock. “Peter, I think you broke my ribs!”

The nurse rolled her eyes. “Mr. Black, will you please lower your voice?”

“But Peter broke my ribs!”

“I did not, you idiot,” Peter hissed angrily. He wasn’t about to let his attempt for Sirius to calm down be mistaken as a way to trick the nurse.

“Excuse us, Madam Pomfrey,” James said loudly, grabbing both Sirius and Peter by their shoulders. “We’ll be going now, sorry to have bothered you.” With unusual force, James yanked the two backwards, spun them around and pushed them forward.

“What was that for?” Sirius shouted when they were well out of hearing range of the Hospital Wing.

“You’re a moron,” James told him exasperatedly. “If you really want to get in there, go trip down some stairs and really break your legs.”

“Who stuck a broomstick up your-”

“I just think maybe we shouldn’t go in there. He had a bad night.”

“That’s never stopped you before,” Peter pointed out.

“He’s had to go through this twice this month, let him rest and you can annoy him when he’s better.”

Sirius huffed, folding his arms across his chest. “I resent that.” Dropping his arms to his sides, he cocked his head sideways at James. “But, really, James, what’s on your mind?”

James shook his head. “Nothing… We should just go back to the common room.” He started on his way back towards Gryffindor Tower. Sirius and Peter let him go, deciding that it was best to leave James to his thoughts for the time being. Instead, they went down to the Great Hall to see what they could scrounge up for lunch. James was acting oddly; he had never before refused the chance to see Remus after a full moon. He had also never before refused to tell them what he was thinking. He was always open about whatever thoughts were on his mind. Why the sudden change?

They didn’t find the answer to this out that day, as when they returned to the common room James was leaving for Quidditch practise. Biggs was taking advantage of the fact that classes were cancelled and was using it to put it some extra sessions before their first match. James must have been pleased with that – Biggs was beginning to show the obsessive signs that Cory had exhibited numerous times. James hurriedly told them that he wouldn’t be back until that night. Sirius and Peter were at a loss as to what to do. They had witnessed far too many Quidditch practises than was natural and they didn’t want to work on the potion without James. Sirius was a sufficient potions maker, but he was nothing without James helping him.

There was always going back to the Hospital Wing to see if Madam Pomfrey had lightened up at all and would let them in. They severely doubted this, but it was worth a try. She was usually feeling less harassed by the evening, when Remus was in less pain and resting comfortably. She would take this opportunity to give herself a break. Sure enough, when they reached the infirmary, the nurse let them in. She did, however, remind them that on other occasions such as this, they would do well to remember that she did not appreciate them trying to get in so early in the morning. Sirius and Peter had to resist the urge to tell her different; this was hardly going to stop them.

Madam Pomfrey disappeared into her office, leaving the boys to themselves. Sirius and Peter spotted Remus lying on one of the beds in the back of the ward. His eyes were shut, but they knew he was not sleeping, as there was an absence of snoring in the air. The bulk of his injuries had clearly been mended sometime during the day, but he still looked ill. His face was that all too familiar shade of white and his arm was bound up in a sling, preventing movement. His eyes fluttered open when he heard the sound of footsteps.

“Hey,” he said tiredly, pushing himself further up his bed with his good arm, wincing slightly.

Sirius and Peter took their seats at the foot of the bed. “So,” Sirius said brightly. “Splendid night, I see.”

“Yes, it was quite lovely.” Remus flinched and lightly placed a hand on his side. He felt like there was something wedged in his side. For all he knew, there very well might have been before he had awoken. It was then that he noticed someone was missing from their group. “Where’s James?”

“Qudditch,” Peter answered simply.

“He was acting a bit… strange today, actually,” Sirius went on, knowing that Remus may have some ideas as to why James was acting the way he was.

Remus cocked an eyebrow. “How do you mean?”

“For one thing, he actually listened when Madam Pomfrey told us we couldn’t come in here this morning.”

Remus considered this. Anyone who didn’t know James at all would say that he was simply respecting this wishes of the nurse and doing what was best for his friend. They, however, did know James and were able to see that this was unlike him in every way. James knew that Remus would rather be woken up in the early hours of the morning after a full moon to be with his friends, rather than have to sleep all day without them visiting.

“What else?” Remus asked intently.

“He wouldn’t tell us what’s bothering him,” Peter explained concernedly. “James is an open potions book, he tells us everything.”

“What d’you guys think is wrong?”

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong.”

Remus, Sirius and Peter looked up to see James standing in the doorway, his face almost as white as Remus’s. His hair was drenched and his Quidditch robes were splattered with mud. Practise couldn’t have concluded; Biggs would make them play through every weather condition. So what was James doing there? “Who else would want to break into the castle? Who else has already done it?”

Sirius, Remus and Peter glanced at each other with wide eyes. The pieces had not been put together earlier; they hadn’t been concerned about the whom before. Now that James brought it up, only one person came to mind. How had they not realised it before? There was only one person… and he was hardly a person at all.

“You don’t mean…” Sirius murmured, gaping at James.

“Fenrir Greyback.”

Excerpt from Chapter Forty: Frigid Fights

“We really have to get moving on this,” James stated as he stirred the flies around the liquid.

“Well, is it our fault that someone has Quidditch practise every second of his life?”

“Blame Biggs for that, not me.”

Sirius snorted. “Of course. I’ll just walk right up to him and say, ‘hey, lighten up on the Quidditch practises, would you? James has got to be brewing an illegal potion!’ That would really benefit us.”

James rolled his eyes, but instead of retorting, he turned to Peter. “What time is it, Pete?”

Peter, who was tackling some homework at the table, not taking in a word of the conversation until that point, checked his watch. “Quarter to eight.”

Sirius frowned, annoyed. “Time to start packing up.”

Chapter 40: Frigid Fights
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Chapter Forty
Frigid Fights

The boys were undoubtedly shocked by the news James had brought to them, but they were shocked more so by the fact that it had not even crossed their minds that Greyback could be the culprit behind the infiltration of the castle. The evidence was staring them in the face the entire time and they had still not seen it. Who else would have a reason – insane or not – to try and break into the castle? Only Greyback had the motivation to do so. But why had he done it on the day of a full moon? Remus wouldn’t be in any of the likely places that Greyback would suspect, which explained the wreckage of the Great Hall. Greyback must not have been familiar with a student’s schedule and went straight to the dining hall, not realising that everyone was still in class. This brought up another question – what had possessed him to do it in broad daylight?

They had later learned from Remus that he had not been in the castle at all when the intrusion occurred. Madam Pomfrey had elected to take him down to the Whomping Willow early, thinking that the bad weather would only worsen as the day transformed into night. She wanted to be back in the castle before then. Remus had not argued in the slightest against this; he could sleep just as well in the Shrieking Shack than in the Hospital Wing. The fact that Greyback had broken into the castle for a second time, however, made him eternally grateful for Madam Pomfrey’s intense dislike of being wet. The boys now only wondered if Dumbledore was aware of the situation. He must have been… How could he not be aware of it?

November brought with it a fresh blanket of snow that draped itself across the castle grounds. The castle went to sleep one night, completely green, and awoke the next morning completely white. The students, as usual, took advantage of the weather to have snowball fights, to go ice skating, or else to hex snowballs to follow around their enemies, periodically bashing them in the back of the head. A group of first years got it into their heads to build a snowman, only to have it crashing down as the result of the cruel tricks of some of the older, rougher students. The first years retaliated remarkably by charming the tree the older boys were sitting under to dump all of the snow on the branches onto the boys.

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter did not take to the snowy grounds as they had in the past years. Instead they locked themselves in the Room of Requirement for endless hours to work on the potion. They stored the cauldron in one of the numerous cabinets that had appeared when James announced they needed to keep it somewhere dark. They also took advantage of the sudden plethora of cabinets to keep the ingredients they hadn’t gotten to using yet. Unfortunately, the boys couldn’t spend nearly as much time as they would have liked in the Room of Requirement. People would start getting suspicious. It was simply not natural for the boys to not be causing some sort of havoc. So, they would prank someone at least once a week and claim that their quota was filled.

“Hand me the Lacewings, would you, Remus?” Sirius asked one evening. He was bent over the lip of the steaming cauldron, peering into the bubbling potion. Remus, who was sitting in one of the armchairs, flipping through the Animagus book, tossed Sirius the vial. “Thanks.” He uncorked the container and tipped the contents in.

“We really have to get moving on this,” James stated as he stirred the flies around the liquid.

“Well, is it our fault that someone has Quidditch practise every second of his life?”

“Blame Biggs for that, not me.”

Sirius snorted. “Of course. I’ll just walk right up to him and say, ‘hey, lighten up on the Quidditch practises, would you? James has got to be brewing an illegal potion!’ That would really benefit us.”

James rolled his eyes, but instead of retorting, he turned to Peter. “What time is it, Pete?”

Peter, who was tackling some homework at the table, not taking in a word of the conversation until that point, checked his watch. “Quarter to eight.”

Sirius frowned, annoyed. “Time to start packing up.”

“We should start bringing my cloak with us,” James lamented as he corked the several bottles they had used. They always intended to bring the Invisibility Cloak with them, so they could stay long past curfew, but no one ever remembered to take it on their way out. James and Sirius stowed away the cauldron and the unused ingredients, and left with Remus and Peter.

As they traipsed up the corridor, Peter asked, “What are you guys doing for the holidays?”

Not going home,” Sirius answered at once, grimacing at the very thought of Christmas at number twelve Grimmauld Place.

“I’m staying here,” James replied contently. “I already told my parents before I left for school. Remember, we all agreed to spend the holiday here this year?”

“I was just wondering if plans had changed.” Peter turned to Remus. “What about you? Staying or going?”


“We’ll have the entire castle to ourselves,” James said happily. “We can use that for working on the potion.”

Sirius twirled a finger in mock celebration. “Just what I wanted to do over Christmas – work!”

You came up with this idea, Sirius.”

“Actually, we both did, James.”

“Then why are you-”

“Relax, I was joking. Merlin, can’t a guy make a joke?” He looked at James in amazement. James always knew when Sirius was joking. Why was he suddenly so defensive about everything? He had been that way ever since the break-in on Halloween. If anyone had a reason to worry about the infiltration, it was Remus, and Remus was not saying anything. So why was James acting worse than Remus was? “What’s wrong with you, James?”

James raised an eyebrow, either feigning or truly not knowing what Sirius was talking about. “What do you mean?”

“You’re acting as if you’re the one who has to worry.”

“Worry about what?”

“James, you’re not dense, so stop pretending that you are.” Sirius spun around so he was facing James and, as a result, giving his friend no way to get around him. “You’ve been acting like this ever since you told us it was Greyback who got into the castle.”

“You don’t think that’s something to worry about?” James was incredulous. How could Sirius stand there, acting as if there was nothing out of the ordinary going on? Hogwarts was a sacred place, a safe place, and its walls had somehow been penetrated. It hadn’t happened only once, but twice now. If there was ever anything to be troubled by, it was this. It wasn’t as though it wasn’t directly affecting them either. It put one of his best friends in danger and James would not stand for it

“I do, James,” Sirius admitted, hoping that he knew this already. “But you’ve been obsessing over it. Even Remus hasn’t been like you.” Sirius jerked a finger in Remus’s direction. “I would expect him to be acting the way you are.”

“Don’t think I haven’t wanted to,” Remus muttered under his breath so no one heard him.

“Sirius, Greyback got past Dumbledore!” James exclaimed exasperatedly. “Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

“It proves that Dumbledore’s human and can’t be everywhere at once. But he knows something’s going on.”

James grudgingly agreed with Sirius. As long as Dumbledore knew someone had gotten by his security, that meant something was going to be done to prevent this from happening a third time. Dumbledore was only human, as Sirius said. He was undeniably a genius, but he could occasionally slip up. James tried shrugging the thoughts that had been clouding his mind for some time away or at least push them into a dark corner where he would not think about them.

It was the first day of the Christmas holiday and the boys were hopelessly bored. They had long ago exhausted snowball fights and hexing snowballs to follow Slytherins around, yet they did not want to stay in the castle, where there was absolutely nothing to do. However, the only thing that anyone seemed to be doing outside was, in fact, having snowball fights. They were not in the mood to work on the potion, as they had done so for three hours the previous day and they could swear that their cauldron was about to turn on them for overuse. They could always visit Hagrid and see what new creatures he had procured. Then again, they weren’t truly in the mood for dealing with illegal magical creatures or the uneatable rock cakes he would push on them.

Finally, after endless deliberation, they elected to simply take a walk and do whatever came to them as they were walking. They collected their cloaks, scarves and gloves, and trooped out onto the snow covered grounds. The snow was shin deep, but was already giving signs of starting to melt. The weather was not nearly as cold as they thought it would be. James, in particular, was pleased about this. Snow didn’t do anything to damage a Quidditch match, but it was a pain having to stand in it during practises. They trudged through the snow, the legs of their pants soaked within seconds, and headed towards the Quidditch Pitch.

James led the way, getting it into his head that it would be fun to fly around for an hour or so. Despite the never-ending Quidditch practises he had to endure, he never got enough of flying. If it was humanly possible, he would have been born with a broomstick attached to him. Sirius loved flying as well, but he was not nearly as fanatical about it as James. He could get on for a month without ever swinging a leg over the handle of a broomstick. Remus and Peter, well, they did all they could to avoid ever going flying after their disastrous Flying Lessons during first year. Nevertheless, they joined James as he led the way toward the broom cupboard. He had left his own broom in the castle and did not want to run back and get it.

“Here you go,” he said, tossing Sirius a broomstick. Sirius clutched it and made his way into the pitch to wait for the rest of his friends.

James turned back to the shed, took out a broom and placed it on the snow, saying that it belonged to him. He then removed two more and held them out to Peter and Remus, who did not take them.

“I’m sorry, were you mistaking us for people who can actually fly?” Remus questioned in astonishment. James was very well aware of the fact that neither Remus nor Peter fancied flying, nor were they talented at it.

“Oh, come on,” James moaned. “Sirius and I aren’t going to make fun of you.”

“In front of our faces,” Peter muttered under his breath.

“Oh, yes, because Sirius and I frequently talk about you behind your backs,” James scoffed sardonically. “If you haven’t noticed, we never get the chance to do that because you’re always around.” He rolled his eyes, frustrated. “When have we ever done that?”

Peter narrowed his eyes. “I’m not always around.”

James opened his mouth, no doubt ready to say that Peter was, indeed, always around, but was distracted by a snowball connecting with the back of his head and Sirius’s cry for them to hurry up. James pushed the broomsticks into Peter and Remus’s hands, yanked up his own, and dashed over to where Sirius was hovering about five feet in the air, impatience etched across his face. James hopped onto his broomstick and kicked off the ground until he was hovering five feet in the air, level with Sirius. He raised an eyebrow at Remus and Peter, who still stood resolutely on the ground.

Remus rolled his eyes at the absurdity of the whole thing. James was never going to rest until they were in the air, so they might as well get it over with. Slowly, taking as much time as he possibly could, he mounted the broom. He blocked out James and Sirius when they began whooping in triumph, and lightly kicked off the ground. Peter remained on the ground; there was no way they were going to get him in the air. If Remus wanted to humiliate himself when he fell, that was not Peter’s problem. He let the broomstick James had shoved at him fall to the ground.

“This isn’t so bad, right, Remus?” James called to his friend, who was hovering in the same spot, unable to move farther.

“If I don’t fall, it’ll be the most fun I’ve ever had on a broom,” Remus called back shakily, as his broom dipped slightly.

“Grip it tightly,” Sirius advised, flying over to help. “If you hold it too loosely, you’re going to fall.” Remus hastily did as Sirius instructed, his hands gripping the handle so tightly that his knuckles turned white. “Now to get Peter up here.”

“Good luck with that,” Peter shouted, sitting down on the cold, melting snow.

Sirius cast a look towards James, who grinned back mischievously, knowing exactly what Sirius was thinking. They were going to get that boy in the air whether he liked it or not. James caught up with Sirius and they flew side by side downwards to where Peter was sitting, his back facing them. Sirius went to Peter’s left and James to the right. The space between Peter’s arms and his torso was wide enough for the boys to slip their arms through and try to lift Peter into the air with them.

This plan, however, was better in theory than in actual execution. For one, Peter had planted himself rather firmly on the ground and had the resilience to stay there. Another, he was not the easiest person to lift. James and Sirius tugged under their friend’s arms, but he simply sat there, laughing loudly. Instead of pulling Peter into the air, they only succeeded in sailing, headfirst, into the snow. The two lay there for a moment, their mouths filled with the freezing snow, listening to Remus and Peter’s shouts of laughter. James turned to look at Sirius, and winked.

Instantly, James had leapt to his feet and flung a snowball at Peter. Peter, completely unsuspecting, took the snowball in the face. This only caused Remus, who was still hovering in the air, to laugh louder.

“I don’t know what you think is so funny, Lupin,” Sirius called, his back facing his friend as he balled up some snow. Before Remus could react, he took a snowball to the ear.

“Excellent aim, Black!” he yelled through his laughs, slowly bringing the broomstick to the ground. He did not trust himself to be flying when his friends were chucking snowballs in every direction. The odds were that he would not remain in the air for long. He was not laughing for long, however, and was met with a snowball mixed with a rather large chunk of ice that connected painfully with his nose. Remus dropped the broomstick to the ground and his hand went straight to his face. “You bloody git,” he snarled. “That had ice in it.”

“I didn’t plan it that way!” Sirius quickly defended. He really hadn’t planned on this; it was just a bad coincidence. Feeling guilty, he went over to Remus to see the damage he had inflicted. But, just as he got close enough to see what was wrong, Remus’s foot shot out, kicking Sirius in the shins. “Merlin!” Sirius gripped his shin and hopped up and down, his eyes shut in pain.

“That’s what you get!”

James folded his arms across his chest and shook his head seriously at Peter. “It wouldn’t surprise me if these two murder each other someday.”

Peter couldn’t help but agree. “They’ll probably finish each other off at the same time.”

“Seriously, Remus, let me see what I did.” Sirius was standing a few feet away from his friend, just in case he got any more clever ideas. Remus let his hand drop from his face and Sirius saw it was steadily turning purple. “Well, at least you have ice for the bruise.” He smiled cheerfully, dropped the ball of ice into Remus’s hand, and patted him on the head.

“If you need ice for the bruise you’re going to have on your shin, I’ll be happy to supply you with some.” Remus snatched up a handful of snow, put one hand on the back of Sirius’s head and used the other to press the snow into Sirius’s face. Sirius yelled something indistinguishable and ducked down to grab an armful of snow, ready to dump it unceremoniously on Remus’s head when the opportunity presented itself. Amidst the shouts of the two boys, James and Peter watched interestedly.

“Yeah,” Peter said exasperatedly to James. “They’re definitely going to kill each other someday.”

“We should bet on how.”

“I bet you three Galleons and a whole pack of Chocolate Frogs that Sirius pushes Remus over a cliff.”

“Well, I bet you double that Remus uses that cricket bat his mum has and let’s Sirius’s head get better acquainted with it.”

Peter laughed. “One of us should really write this down; we don’t want to forget about it when it happens.”

James chuckled. “I’ll run and get my quill and parchment right now.”

The shouting of Remus and Sirius suddenly stopped. Sirius huffed and turned to Remus. “They think we’re a form of gambling!” he said, outraged.

Remus looked equally outraged, though the corners of his mouth were twitching upward. “And they’re betting on which one of us is going to kill the other first. How lovely.”

“Well, personally, I think you wouldn’t stand a chance against me.”

Remus quirked an eyebrow up. “Excuse me? You were cowering like a baby when I pulled out that cricket bat at my house.”

“You wouldn’t have had that if it wasn’t for your mum.”

“I could have found something that would have done equal damage to that thick skull of yours.”

Peter grinned broadly. “Look what we’ve started, James.”

“Another brilliant show, Pete.”

“They should really be paid for what they do. It’s that good.”

The arguement that was ready to commence between Sirius and Remus stopped once more. “Did you hear that, Remus?”

“I did, Sirius.”

“Peter said we should be paid for our wonderful entertainment.”

“I think we should be.” Remus and Sirius wheeled around on James and Peter and the smiles instantly vanished from their faces. “Pay up.”

James took a step back. “Are you serious?”

“I’m always serious when it comes to money, James.”

James gaped from Remus, to Sirius and, finally, to Peter. Remus held out a hand and looked at James impatiently. Unable to believe that he was actually going to do this, James stuck his hand inside his pocket and pulled out two Galleons – one for Remus and one for Sirius. He held out the first to Remus, who did not take it, but chortled loudly. James groaned, rolling his eyes. “Now what?”

“Did you honestly think I was going to take your money?” Remus asked incredulously.

“You seemed pretty set on it.”

“I just wanted to see if you’d actually do it.”

“Oh,” James said swiftly. “In that case, I’d like a Galleon.”


“An eye for an eye, a Galleon for a Galleon.”

“I believe that’s for revenge.”

“What do you think this is?”

Remus groaned and fished through the pockets of his robes for a Galleon to keep James quiet. When he finally produced one, James chuckled. “I just wanted to see if you’d actually do it.”


The fourth year boys’ dormitory in Gryffindor Tower was particularly loud on Christmas night. This could be attributed to the fact that James had presented Sirius with two-way mirrors that allowed them to speak to each other when they were separated, usually in detention. They were walking around the room, speaking the other’s name into the glass, cheering happily when the other’s face replaced their own. Remus and Peter sat on Remus’s bed, watching the spectacle with mildly confused expressions on their faces. They didn’t understand why James and Sirius couldn’t just talk to one another without the mirrors. If they really wanted to test them out, one of them should have at least left the room.

As James and Sirius continued to test out the mirrors, Remus and Peter settled for trading the Chocolate Frog cards Peter had found under his bed. He had lost them in second year and found them hiding under a loose floorboard. This Christmas was very unlike the ones from the previous years. For one, this was the first time they had spent the holiday together in the castle. Another was that there was no news of Muggle attacks like last year. Yes, this Christmas was the easily preferable one.

“Sirius Black,” James said clearly into the mirror, his breath fogging the glass. Slowly, James’s face disappeared and was replaced with that of his best friend.

“You know, guys, I think they work,” Peter said, turning over a card of Morgana so he could read the back.

“You can never be too careful, Petey,” Sirius said, finally setting the mirror down on his bed.

Peter grimaced. “Don’t call me that.”

“Why not? I think it’s adorable!”

“Don’t ever say the word adorable again.”

“Point taken.”

James and Sirius, at long last, put away their mirrors and joined Remus and Peter as they broke into Remus’s large box of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans that his parents had sent him, along with a dark green jumper embroidered with a Chinese Fireball. James was convinced that if you took a handful of beans at once, you wouldn’t be able to taste the disgusting flavours. Sirius challenged him, naturally, betting five Galleons that it would be just as disgusting. James took this wager, shaking on it with Sirius, and scooped up a considerable amount of the colourful beans. Looking determinedly at his opponent, he grinned and dumped them into his mouth.

Sirius was right. It took James a moment to register the actual taste, but when he did, he spat them onto the floor. He was convinced that there were boogey, vomit, and dirt flavoured beans in there. He mumbled mutinously as he paid Sirius and shoved the box back to its owner. Remus took the box back, carefully selecting what turned out to be a cherry flavoured bean. He, Sirius and Peter laughed as James sped from the room, his destination most likely being the kitchens.

“He should’ve listened to me,” Sirius chided, shaking his head and grinning largely.

“That was an easy five Galleons,” Remus commented, picking his way through the box.

“And, for which, my friend, you can have two of them.” Sirius ceremoniously dropped two of the Galleons into the Bertie Botts box.

Remus looked at the pieces of gold in amazement. “Feeling generous, are we?”

“Well, you are my fellow entertainer according to him,” he jerked his head at Peter, “and Mr. I’m Going to Make Myself Puke with Jellybeans.”

James returned moments later, clutching four bottles of Pumpkin Juice. His bottle was already half gone, a surprise to nobody. He chucked the remaining three at his friends and joined them, sitting on Remus’s bed. They uncorked their bottles and drank.

“You know,” James said, lowering his bottle thoughtfully. “This year has been one of the tougher ones, I think.” He didn’t have to say what he was talking about and no one else was going to mention it. The last thing they wanted to talk about on Christmas was Fenrir Greyback and what Remus was in for. “But it’s almost half over,” he added optimistically.

“Yeah, and we’ll be fifth years soon,” Remus added, marveling at the thought of their education at Hogwarts being half over come the summer.

“With the dreaded O.W.L. exams,” Sirius groaned, shuddering.

“Yeah, but after that I can drop Divination!” Peter cheered happily, punching a fist in the air.

“We told you not to take that class, Pete.”

“Next time I’ll take your advice.”

“Anyway,” James went on. “How has it taken us four years before we all spent the holiday here?”

“Let’s see…” Sirius began ticking the occurrences off his fingers. “First year, we all went home. Second year, you were going to France and Peter was going to Belgium. Third year, he went home. Fourth year, we all had nothing to do.”

James rolled his eyes. “I didn’t ask you to name everything.

“But you said-”

Remus quickly cut in. “Make your point, please, James.”

“The point is that the four of us are best friends and, therefore, should have spent the holidays together years ago.” He raised his bottle in the air.

Sirius, Remus and Peter followed the suit. “Hear, hear!”

Excerpt from Chapter Forty One: The Intruder

Remus finally turned so he was facing Sirius and Sirius saw there was just a helpless look in his friend’s eyes, one that he tried vainly to mask. “That’s just it, Sirius,” he said, casting his eyes downward again. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” He bit his lip and returned his attention to his friend. “There are so many things he could do; he doesn’t want me to be a wizard.”

“But what does it matter what he thinks?” Sirius questioned fiercely, throwing his hands up in the air. “He’s not the one who decides your future. He has no say in whether or not you become a qualified wizard.”

Chapter 41: The Intruder
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Chapter Forty One
The Intruder

The Gryffindor fourth years were not happy. They were enraged, disgusted, utterly peeved. Due to the brilliance of the Slytherin fourth years and a vat of Shrinking Solution, the Gryffindors found themselves serving a group detention with an equally enraged Professor Twikom. The professor had been on edge all year; it was obvious even to those who didn’t know the reason why. The Slytherins knew better than to do something ridiculous, such as shrinking every piece of furniture in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, yet this did not stop them from doing so. It was a plus when the entire group of Gryffindors fourth years got blamed for it. The fourth years were now sitting in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, growing the furniture back to its original size, a task that was taking ages. Seven fourteen year old wizards could only do so much.

The seven Gryffindors were dispersed about the room, crawling on their hands and knees, careful not to accidentally tread on any of the desks. Their faces were pressed close to the floor, one eye open to spot the tiny chairs and tables. It was only when Peter accidentally squashed three of the chairs with his knee that they all snapped. They wanted revenge, sweet, sweet revenge. Why was it that the Slytherins could get away with framing them for shrinking an entire classroom? Why couldn’t the Gryffindors do something that would incriminate their rivals? The Gryffindors hadn’t banded together on a prank in years. The last time had been their memorable attack on Professor Crane. It was the only time they were completely united. They wanted that sense of unity once more, and what better way to do that with a plan of vengeance?

The plan was simple. They had Lily Evans, the top potion brewer of the Gryffindor house, and, because of Remus’s abysmal performances in Professor Slughorn’s class, they also had complete access to the storage room in the dungeons. During one of Remus’s tutoring sessions with Lily, they snuck out everything they needed to concoct a potion to make everything in the Defence Against the Dark Arts room double in size. Lily brewed the potion and the others planted it in the room when the Slytherins had their class. It didn’t seem fair to plant it in Professor Twikom’s room twice, but it would hopefully prove that the Gryffindors had not been responsible for the first catastrophe. They were only responsible for the second.

They were successful and the Slytherin fourth years were sentenced to three weeks of detention – starting with resizing the furniture and ending with giving the room a good cleaning, Muggle style. The Gryffindor fourth years walked proudly by Twikom’s classroom, laughing loudly and obnoxiously, waving merrily at the Slytherins as they fulfiled their sentence. Of course, this could have been the start of a war between the Gryffindor and Slytherin fourth years, had their plans not been thwarted by Professor McGonagall, who had caught wind of what was going on. She knew it was far too coincidental that two relatively similar pranks had occurred within days of each other and threatened the suspected culprits with detention for the next two years. They knew she would do it and so refrained from a war of any sort.

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter had more important things to worry about than a prank war, anyway. As the year progressed, they noticed that there was a lack of mysterious disruptions, but this did not set them at ease. If anything, it increased their apprehension. It was only too typical when the villain disappeared for a while, all traces of his presence disappearing as well. It would make the would-be victims complacent; it would allow them to think that the danger had finally passed. This method was certainly working for Professor Twikom. She did not seem on edge at every moment, as she had been when the fourth years were serving their detention. She must have assumed her relative had given up with his plan.

If only this were true. The boys knew that nothing of the sort had happened. The break-in on Halloween had not left their minds. The confrontation Remus and Peter had witnessed that night at the beginning of the school year had not vanished from their thoughts. They knew that the professors would not tell the students if Dumbledore’s office had been broken into, but the boys couldn’t erase it from their minds that it had possibly happened. If it had, Greyback had the name of the werewolf who was trying to pose as a wizard. What worried them was why nothing had happened yet. Why had Remus not been followed during a full moon? He wasn’t complaining that he hadn’t, but this did nothing to lift the weight that had made itself at home in his stomach. Greyback had the information he needed. Why hadn’t he used it?

They could only attribute this to the fact that Greyback did not know where Remus went every full moon. The secret of the Shrieking Shack was still safe, for the time being. But how long would it take before Greyback made the connection between the monthly howls of pain and the full moons? They were not entirely sure of his intelligence, but he must have had some brains. He managed to contaminate almost all of his targets; this had to take some amount of intellect. It couldn’t be long before he realised that it was Remus who was the source of the supposed haunting in the building on the outskirts of Hogsmeade.

Indeed, their luck lasted well into the spring months. There had been no more odd activities around the castle, save for a few rocks that had taken to walking down the corridors and shouting profanities during the lessons, but that had been taken care of. No, it was almost as if there had been no intrusion at all on the hallowed grounds of Hogwarts. The students no longer spoke in fearful whispers about who it might have been who had penetrated the walls on Halloween. In fact, some students seemed to find it a rather nice joke, a Halloween prank that had no potentially lethal ramifications.

“Hand me that quill, will you, James?” Sirius asked one night as they sat in the library, poring over their notes. They had been possessed to study early for the impending end-of-the-year exams. The earlier they studied, the more time they would have for more enjoyable tasks, such as working on their Animagus potion. Besides, they knew that next year would be impossible for their usual last minute studying, not with the O.W.L. exams. They had to start practising proper studying methods, as much as they loathed doing so.

James handed Sirius the quill he had pointed out and jabbed his index finger at one of the sentences in his potions textbook. “Antidotes, that’s all that’s going to be on the exam, right?”

“And poisons,” Remus added, scratching his chin with the tip of his quill, blotting his skin with black ink. He was looking rather pale and peaky; the full moon was only a week away.

James drew two columns down the length of his parchment – one for facts about antidotes and the other for facts about poisons. During his third year, James had read the entire textbook two times and had been close to collapsing with the useless information that it provided. There were pages and pages of sentences that were entirely irrelevant to what Slughorn put on his tests. This year, he was going to look through the textbook once and jot down only the truly important facts. The only hard task was finding the relevant information.

“So, in the event that someone decides to poison me, I could whip these potions up within the time it takes before I die?”

Sirius shrugged, his eyes focused on his Transfiguration textbook. “I suppose.”

“Always good to know.” James scrawled something down in the poisons column and continued to flip through the book. “How’s that History of Magic coming along, Peter?”

Peter was scanning anxiously through his History of Magic textbook, trying to copy down all the names of the historical figures they were required to remember. They were absurd names, really, names like Ulric the Ugly. What was so magnificent about these people? What was the point of taking History of Magic in the first place? Peter was in a bad mood. He had spent the entire night working on his dream journal for Divination, making up dreams that would suffice the teacher’s craving for all things gloomy. In one of his invented dreams he had been devoured by a manticore, the only trace of his disappearance being a lone finger. “It’s not coming along,” he spat, violently ripping the page as he went to turn it. He swore loudly, earning a reprimand from the librarian.

Sirius sighed and looked at Peter sympathetically. “I told you once and I’ll tell you again-”

“Do not say I shouldn’t have taken Divination.”

“Okay, I won’t.” Sirius returned to his homework. “I will, however, say that there was a myriad of other electives for you to take.”

James glanced up at Sirius, astonishment spelled out on his face. “When did you learn the word myriad?

“I know how to use a dictionary, mate.” James opened his mouth, no doubt to ask how Sirius knew what a dictionary was, but decided against it. The librarian was already glaring daggers at them, best not to infuriate her any further. Not when exams were looming ever nearer and they actually needed to use the library. They’d irritate her once the exams had passed. Instead, he continued working on his chart for Slughorn’s class; it wasn’t fun at all, but since when were exams ever fun?

The full moon for May landed on the twenty fifth. Remus sincerely hoped it would be better than the previous two. The full moon in March had been on the twenty seventh, James’s fifteenth birthday. Remus detested that he couldn’t spend the day with his friend, though he made it up by getting James an autographed photo of the Puddlemere United team, something James had framed and hung with care above his bed. Though, Remus had to admit, he was grateful that the March full moon had not been on his own birthday. Last year had been the closest in years. The moon had never fallen on his birthday; he had narrowly missed it the year he was bitten. He only missed it because he was bitten in April.

Remus supposed that the fact that he missed celebrating his friend’s birthday was the reason he spent the next three days in the Hospital Wing under the close surveillance of Madam Pomfrey, who feared if he closed his eyes for too long, it would be even longer before they opened again. The wolf must have been having a wonderful time, taunting its host, mocking him because he had to be locked up in the Shrieking Shack while his friends were having a good time. Remus had fought, and lost. It never surprised him anymore, when his transformations were so violent. He had given Lily the reason for this once - he was getting older. There was only so much a fifteen year old boy could handle, and morphing into a full-grown wolf twelve times a year was not usually in the job description.

There was still the looming threat of Fenrir Greyback. Nothing had happened, yet Remus was certain something would. He just didn’t know when. Would Greyback choose the summer and try to sniff Remus out? The Lupins had moved once Remus was bitten as a child, to throw the attacker off their track. Besides, they could not live in a city like London with a werewolf for a son. Because of this, Greyback no longer knew where his victim resided. So that left Hogwarts, didn’t it? But it had been so long ago that the threat had seemed real. It sometimes felt like a thing of the past, that Greyback wasn’t going to come, wasn’t going to live up to his word to make whoever the werewolf was that was pretending to be a wizard pay.

Maybe the danger had finally passed. Maybe there was nothing to worry about. Maybe Greyback wasn’t coming for Remus after all.

“What’re you reading?”

“A book.”

Obviously. It’s not one of those weird Muggle books again, is it?”

“They’re not weird, Sirius, and so what if it is?”

“Let me see what it is!” Sirius ripped the hardcover book out of Remus’s slackened grip and turned it over so he could see the title. He frowned. “The Crucible. What in Merlin’s name is this supposed to be about?”

“It’s a play about the Salem Witch Trials,” Remus replied calmly, not bothering to get up and snatch the book back. All he could think of was lying on his comfortable bed and he knew Sirius would give it back eventually. Once he’d had a good, long look at it.

Sirius looked blankly at his friend. “And what’s that supposed to be?”

Remus sighed in exasperation. “When they thought there were witches in Salem, Massachusetts.”

“Fascinating.” Sirius dropped the book on Remus’s head, watching as it slid to the floor. “Oops,” Sirius said, laughing. He stooped down to pick it up and placed it in Remus’s outstretched hand. Remus flipped to the page he was on and marked it with one of his quills. “So,” Sirius went on, sitting down on his own bed, pulling his knees up to his chest. “Full moon’s soon.”

Remus nodded, staring at the blue back cover of his book with unmoving eyes. He had been reading to keep his mind off that very fact. Never before had he been so keen to not think about the impending rising moon. Naturally, he dreaded this time of the month, but never as much as he did at the present. There was just the nagging thought in the back of his mind that something wasn’t right. The atmosphere of the castle seemed ominous to him and he didn’t know why. He hadn’t heard anything about Greyback in ages, but he wasn’t about to be lulled into complacency like his professor. No, something wasn’t right and he had a feeling that this month he was going to find out what.

“You know, we’re really close to getting this Animagus thing.” For once, Remus knew that Sirius was being truthful. James and Sirius were almost finished concocting the potion. They were lucky that it took the length of the summer for it to simmer to completion. They could hide it in the Room of Requirement for the duration. Once they drank it, all they had to do was morph into their animals and morph back into their human forms. The latter was the difficult part of the task. “This time next year we’ll probably be going with you to the Shrieking Shack.”

Remus smiled lightly at the thought. His transformations would still be terrible, there was nothing that could alter that, but between the moon rising and the moon setting, there was hope. He wouldn’t be biting and scratching himself, mangling himself in ways he didn’t know possible. His friends would be there to keep his mind off it. He wasn’t sure how that was going to work, exactly, but he knew it was going to happen.

Sirius exhaled loudly and dropped one of his legs to the floor and pulled his other knee up to his chest, resting his chin on his kneecap. “What’s up, Remus?”

Remus jerked his head up in surprise. “What?”

“You’re someplace else.”

“No… I’m pretty sure I’m right here.”

“Well, you may be, but your brain isn’t.” Sirius, James and Peter had talked about it in private. Remus was constantly thinking about Greyback. It was obvious by the faraway look in his eyes. He tried not to, they knew this, but he failed. But whenever it appeared as if he was drifting away from the conversation, they knew where his thoughts were headed. Sirius decided it was time they stopped ignoring it and got some definitive answers. “What do you think is going to happen?”

Remus finally turned so he was facing Sirius and Sirius saw there was just a helpless look in his friend’s eyes, one that he tried vainly to mask. “That’s just it, Sirius,” he said, casting his eyes downward again. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” He bit his lip and returned his attention to his friend. “There are so many things he could do; he doesn’t want me to be a wizard.”

“But what does it matter what he thinks?” Sirius questioned fiercely, throwing his hands up in the air. “He’s not the one who decides your future. He has no say in whether or not you become a qualified wizard.”

“He’s trying to keep me from getting that and he’s not going to stop until I’m convinced that I shouldn’t be a wizard.”

“But you should be! He doesn’t have any right to tell you that you shouldn’t be.” It was important to Sirius that his friend knew this. Sirius had been taught many things by the lovely hypocrites that he loosely called parents; one of them was that people should be put in their place. Naturally, Sirius chose to go the opposite path and decided to believe that no one should be put in their alleged place if it wasn’t where they belonged. Sirius didn’t believe in his parents’ credo. He wasn’t about to allow one of his best friend’s to believe in it either.

“Tell that to Fenrir Greyback,” Remus said bitterly, spitting out his enemy’s name with a malice Sirius had never before witnessed. “He doesn’t believe that I should be.”

“You shouldn’t care what he thinks. I know you’re scared, and you have every right to be, but don’t believe that you shouldn’t be a wizard. You’re brilliant with magic.” He chanced laughing. “Who else could have gotten all those pranks to go off like that during first year in Crane’s classroom?”

Remus allowed himself a small smile as he thought of their renowned prank. “That wasn’t so hard.”

Glad that he had at last gotten somewhere, Sirius went on. “Being modest, are we? What about getting your Patronus before any of us and on your first try?”

“Okay, you’ve made your point.”

Sirius snickered. “Did I mention girls love piano-playing, singing werewolves?”

“Yes, I believe you have.”

“Well, they do.” Sirius chuckled. “Come on, we’re meeting Peter to watch James’s Quidditch practise.”

“Oh, yeah,” Remus suddenly remembered. “Isn’t this their last practise before the Quidditch Final?”

Sirius nodded eagerly. “Yeah, which means Biggs is going to be mental. That’s got to be fun to watch.”

The two hurried down to the common room to meet Peter, who was working on his Divination assignment with a rather disgruntled look on his face. The three headed down to the Quidditch pitch, where it was almost certain Lawrence Biggs was going to be shouting himself hoarse with the drive to win the Quidditch Cup from Slytherin. It was good to go outside. It gave them a chance to catch some fresh air and a chance to not think about what Fenrir Greyback had up his sleeve.

May twenty fifth dawned quite early with Sirius jumping out of his bed, shouting that a giant was threatening to step on his face. He refused to believe that it wasn’t going to happen until Remus, groggy and sick and annoyed at being woken up before he would have liked, threw a glass of cold water in his face. With his four roommates furious with him, Sirius was shunned to his four-poster bed while the others got ready for the day. Thankfully, it was a Sunday and they had no class that day. Sirius pouted loudly from behind the curtains, which James had pulled around and hexed them to stick to the wall until he decided to free them. It was only when Peter and Frank threatened to put a Silencing Charm on him that Sirius stopped speaking.

Breakfast that morning was also terribly loud as a flock of two hundred owls came down through the rafters, seven of them bearing long, thin packages. Every student watched keenly, wondering where these owls were headed. It was clear from the shape of the packages that they were brand new broomsticks, but who would they be for? When the seven owls bypassed the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables, they knew that the brooms were not for those teams. All heads turned towards the Gryffindor table but, sadly, the owls were not destined for this Quidditch team either.

No, the brooms were for the Slytherin Quidditch team. The seven team members looked smug as the packages were set before them, knocking over several pitchers of pumpkin juice and bowls of cereal. Regulus was the first to unwrap his broomstick, which turned out to be the latest model of the Silver Arrow edition. He held it up for his fellow Slytherins to see. When he caught the eye of his brother, who was glaring at the brooms in disbelief, he smirked. “A gift from my father, for the entire team.”

“Oh,” Sirius said, just as loudly, his voice hot with fury. “So you did get on the team by bribery?”

Regulus scoffed dismissively. “In case you haven’t noticed, Sirius, I’ve been on the team for almost two years.”

“So you must have done some serious shoe licking last year.” Sirius, however, did not hear the answer that Regulus had, because James chose this moment to tap his best friend on the shoulder.

“Look at Dumbledore,” he hissed, pointing at the Staff Table. Dumbledore was looking unusually grave. He was speaking with Professor McGonagall, his lips moving in such a way that they could not even lip read the conversation. Instinctively, James, Sirius and Peter looked at Remus, who could do nothing except shrug hopelessly. They did not necessarily know that the Headmaster’s severe expression was caused by the threat Greyback. The rest of the Great Hall was far too enamored by the arrival of the Slytherin Quidditch teams’ new brooms to register what the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress could be speaking about.

For the remainder of the day, Dumbledore’s expression weighed on the minds of the four boys. What had he learned the made him appear the way he had? They had scanned the day’s copy of the Daily Prophet and discovered there was no news that could have inspired it. In fact, all of the news in the Prophet was positively good news. There was a once in a lifetime sale at Madam Malkin’s in which all robes were ninety percent off. The Chuddley Cannons actually won a game, and the Leaky Cauldron was going under renovations, adding more tables and barstools to allow for more customers. There was nothing dreadful about any of it, unless Dumbledore was upset that the Cannons’ losing streak was finally over? No, he had learned something that the students were not supposed to know, but may very well have involved one of them.

That night, Madam Pomfrey escorted Remus down to the Whomping Willow as she had done every month for almost five years. The night was still, the trees did not rustle and the animals seemed as though a Silencing Charm had been placed upon them. The sky was pitch-black, yet no stars were visible. The nurse grabbed the long stick that lay inconspicuously at the trunk of the dangerous tree and prodded the hidden knot. The branches froze and took on a calm, docile appearance, as though they would never dream of hurting somebody. Madam Pomfrey retrieved the Invisibility Cloak from her charge and wished Remus good luck as he descended through the hidden passageway.

The moment he entered the Shrieking Shack, Remus knew something was wrong. The tables were misplaced, the chairs in a different position then he remembered. Someone, usually one of the professors, came and cleaned up the damage he inflicted after each transformation and always in the same fashion. Remus knew exactly where the tables and chairs should have been, and they were not there. Along with this, they were not whole. The chairs and tables should not have had large chunks broken off. Who had done this? He felt the familiar jolt in his stomach as it flipped over and over repeatedly. He knew he had to hurry upstairs; he could not linger in the downstairs. But his legs did not want to leave this spot, they were shrieking for him to run. He slowly climbed the creaking stairs, but when he reached the landing, he wished he had stayed downstairs. Downstairs was safe. If he had stayed downstairs, he would not have to endure the hell that was about to occur.

He was greeted with a hoarse, growling, disgustingly satisfied voice, the voice he had been dreading ever since he heard it that night in the Defence Against the Dark Arts corridor, the night he and Peter had flattened themselves against the wall and listened in terror. It was the voice that came to Remus in his dreams sometimes. It was the voice of the beast that had forever altered his life. He had come to do it again. “Hullo, Lupin. I was wondering when I’d see you again.”

Excerpt from Chapter Forty Two: Say Something

“I see your five Chocolate Frogs and raise you three Dungbombs.”

“I see your Dungbombs and raise you fifteen Bertie Botts beans.”

“I fold.”

“Peter,” James said, glancing over at Peter’s hand of cards. “Why would you fold? You could have beaten us both with the hand you have.”

Peter groaned and threw his cards down, a Royal Flush. “I always forget how to play this stupid game.”

“Patil didn’t teach us to play this very well,” Sirius lamented, shaking his head and setting his cards down for the others to see.

“How does he even know how to play this?” James wondered throwing his cards down as well and scooping up the prize in the middle. “This is a Muggle game, he’s not a Muggle.”

Chapter 42: Say Something
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Chapter Forty Two
Say Something

“I see your five Chocolate Frogs and raise you three Dungbombs.”

“I see your Dungbombs and raise you fifteen Bertie Botts beans.”

“I fold.”

“Peter,” James said, glancing over at Peter’s hand of cards. “Why would you fold? You could have beaten us both with the hand you have.”

Peter groaned and threw his cards down, a Royal Flush. “I always forget how to play this stupid game.”

“Patil didn’t teach us to play this very well,” Sirius lamented, shaking his head and setting his cards down for the others to see.

“How does he even know how to play this?” James wondered throwing his cards down as well and scooping up the prize in the middle. “This is a Muggle game, he’s not a Muggle.”

“We know he’s not, James. His mum’s a Muggle.”

“That would explain it…” James ripped open a pack of Chocolate Frogs with his teeth and handed it to disgruntled Peter. “You would’ve won.”

“Thanks,” Peter muttered, biting the frog’s head off with unnecessary viciousness. His eyes scanned the Great Hall, which was full for lunch and his eyes caught sight of Madam Pomfrey hurrying between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables, making a beeline straight for the Staff Table. It was not only Peter who was watching this spectacle with interest, every person who could see the nurse was watching her with curious looks etched into their faces. Peter caught his friends’ eyes and jerked his head towards Madam Pomfrey. This was not good. Only one patient of hers could have instilled such a look into her – the look of utter panic.

“Let’s go,” James barked instantly, jumping up, almost tripping over the bench in his hurry. The three boys tried to remain casual as they strolled out of the Great Hall, feigning a fascinating conversation about the dung beetles in Egypt, though none of them knew exactly what was so interesting about them. They lurked in the Entrance Hall, waiting for Sirius to redo his shoelace, still chatting pointlessly about the beetles of the Egyptian desert as if they actually knew something about the creatures. Once they saw Madam Pomfrey dash by with Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall in her wake, they began their ascent to the Hospital Wing. What had gone wrong?

The boys were not going to fool themselves into thinking that they would be allowed inside the infirmary today. They would as soon be allowed to do cartwheels on the moving staircases at midnight. Instead, they hovered down at the end of the corridor, wishing they had something to improve their hearing so they could hear what Dumbledore was saying. Madam Pomfrey was so hysterical that her voice carried the distance, but Dumbledore was speaking so low, they wondered if he was speaking at all. Something had gone horribly wrong the night before; this was what they gathered from the nurse. This was no help, they knew that much already. What they wanted to know was what happened.

Someone had intruded in the Shrieking Shack the night before… Someone had gotten through Dumbledore’s enchantments, or had found the passageway under the Whomping Willow, which meant someone had broken into the grounds. Either way, someone knew where Remus was and what he was doing. The boys couldn’t take it, standing there and not being able to see their friend. Throwing caution to the winds, they marched to the Hospital Wing door and peered through the crack. Remus was lying in a bed directly across from the door, but his body was obscured by the bodies of the three adults gathered around him. McGonagall’s face had gone ghastly pale, the light in Dumbledore’s eyes had completely gone out and the nurse’s hands were wringing helplessly.

“This wasn’t an accident,” the nurse hissed angrily to Dumbledore, her eyes wide. The boys had never heard such a voice from the nurse unless she was shooing misbehaving students out of the ward. Dumbledore whispered something in response to this statement; something the boys were fairly certain was that he already knew this. “But why would he want to hurt Remus?”

James, Sirius and Peter looked quickly at each other, their eyes widened. So the nurse and the professors knew who the culprit was? How had they figured it out? Without the evidence that the boys had, it could very well have been anyone who loathed werewolves. It was difficult to even assume that this was the handiwork of a werewolf. Then again, who else would actually attack of werewolf on the night of a full moon without the fear of becoming one himself? It was then that the boys realised Dumbledore knew everything behind Remus’s lycanthropy, including who had bitten him as a child. He had to; it must have been one of the conditions when he admitted Remus to Hogwarts. Of course he would know who had bitten him.

“Albus, what are we going to do about this?” Professor McGonagall asked in a voice that the boys only just heard. The usual sharpness in the Transfiguration professor’s voice was replaced with shock and distress.

Dumbledore’s voice was firm, decided. He knew what he had to do to remedy this. “I will take care of it, Minerva. This will never again happen to one of my students. You have my word.”

The boys had no time to run before the door to the Hospital Wing opened and they were met with the Headmaster. Now that they saw up close, his face was nearly as white as Remus’s was when the full moon was rising. His mouth was set in a determined line; he was going to stop this no matter what he had to do. He did not have to ask what the boys were doing in this corridor instead of class. The boys had no concept of time at the moment and did not know that they were due in History of Magic. Besides, they doubted Professor Binns would notice their absence. “I think you three should go to class now,” he told them softly, his eyes hard with fury that was not reflected at the young boys.

“We want to see Remus,” James spoke up heatedly, though he knew his request would not be heeded.

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “I am afraid that is not possible at the time.”

Sirius didn’t like how Dumbledore said this. The way the words came out, it sounded as though the worst had happened… “Is he going to be okay?”

Dumbledore studied the three faces of the boys with a look of mingled pride and concern. He was proud that his students had such bonds of friendship and concerned for the very same fact. The only answer he could give Sirius was, “All physical wounds heal eventually. You may see him tonight and only if Madam Pomfrey allows you. It is best you do not pressure her at this time.” With that, he swept away to a destination unknown to the boys.

Madam Pomfrey, however, refused to allow anyone who wasn’t bleeding at the head into the Hospital Wing that day, and for the remainder of the week. During this time, Remus had not been released and James, Sirius and Peter had no knowledge of his condition or what had happened that night in the Shrieking Shack. Many times they had approached Professor McGonagall, in hopes that she would be able to tell them something enlightening, but she said nothing, though her eyes clearly revealed to them that she wanted to. This was something only Remus could tell them when he was ready. But how could he ever tell them if Madam Pomfrey kept him in the Hospital Wing? And, when he was finally released, would he be ready to tell them?

It was only on Friday evening when James, Sirius and Peter had returned from a walk around the lake that they saw the curtains drawn around Remus’s bed. For the entire week they had been open, as there had been no occupant in need of them. So Madam Pomfrey had finally let him go. It took her long enough. They stepped lightly over the threshold, across the room, and Peter gently pulled the curtains around. Remus was lying on his side, arms folded across his chest, staring at the wall opposite him. He made no sign of recognition towards his friends.

The boys took in their friend’s appearance and saw that it had been necessary for Madam Pomfrey to keep him the entire week. There was still no colour in his face, a disconcerting fact because usually within a day or two the little colour he had returned. Under both of his eyes were fading purple bruises. There were the traces of lacerations running down the length of each side of his face. They could also see similar bruises and lacerations slowly vanishing around his neck. They did not even begin to think of what else was there that was not visible to them.

“Are you okay, Remus?” James finally asked cautiously. It was a stupid question, they were aware of this, but it was the only one he could think of. Remus said nothing; he only continued gazing at the wall. “Do you want to talk about it?”

When Remus spoke, his voice was almost inaudible. His friends had to lean in slightly to make out the single word. “No.”

James looked uneasily at Sirius and Peter, who were both biting their lips uncertainly. James and Peter then glanced pointedly at Sirius. Sirius had an uncanny ability to get Remus to admit things he normally would not want to talk about. They never knew how Sirius did this, exactly, but they needed him to do it now. This situation was different from the other times Sirius had persuaded him to speak, but he gave it a try, regardless. “What happened the other night?”

Remus shook his head, stopping quickly, his eyes scrunched in pain. His voice was pleading. “I said I don’t want to talk about it.”

They knew this was their chance to drop the subject, to let Remus talk to them about what happened when he was ready, but they continued to push him. “Was it Greyback?” James questioned guardedly. It was a ridiculous question; he knew this, but anything to get Remus to talk. Bottling up anger was the worst thing for him to do at this time. It would only come out at a later time, and more violently than if he had said it now.

Remus rolled his eyes at the absurdity of James’s query. “What do you think happened?” he snapped, bringing his hand up to his forehead. What a stupid question. Who else could have been behind this? No, a pixie did this to me, Remus thought crossly, his eyes narrowing. He didn’t want to be mad at his friends, but he could not keep his attitude in check, particularly when he didn’t want to. He had every right to be mad. He hadn’t asked to be turned into a werewolf; this was solely Greyback’s decision. Remus did not ask for the monster to appear at his house that night, twelve years ago. He also hadn’t asked to be accepted into Hogwarts, no matter how much he wished for it. This was Dumbledore’s decision. The only thing Remus did was accept the offer.

“Remus,” Sirius continued, his voice almost beseeching, “What happened?” Sirius knew more than anyone else that keeping your anger bottled up only backfired in the end. This was something Remus had to get out now more than later.

“Merlin, are you three deaf?” Remus shouted, sitting up so fast he made himself dizzy. Closing his eyes, regaining his balance, he went on. “I said I don’t want to talk about it. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Can’t you just leave me alone?”

“Did you at least tell your parents?” Peter asked hopefully. If he had told his parents, at least he had told someone. The occurrences of the last full moon would not be entirely a mystery. His parents needed to know.

“Of course my parents know,” Remus said, the volume of his voice lowering. “I couldn’t hide this from them.”

James’s face was reproachful. “But you can hide it from us?”

I didn’t tell them. McGonagall did. Did you honestly think McGonagall would let me go home looking like this and not have an explanation ready for my parents?” Remus fell back onto his pillow, facing away from his friends. “Look, can we just drop it for now?”

Sirius tried hard not to sound too expectant. “Does that mean you’ll tell us eventually?”

Remus was careful not to give any indication of yes or no in his voice. “I don’t know, Sirius.” Though there was no sign of positivism or negativity in his voice, there was an air of finality that James, Sirius and Peter knew not to cross. Their friend was not willing to share what had happened to him and if they continued to force him, there was a chance that he never would tell them.

They pushed the limits all the time, but this time, they knew better than to cross it.

The four boys sat quietly in their usual compartment on the Hogwarts Express, the minutes ticking by dreadfully slow as the train progressed to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Conversation was nonexistent, save for the several times Sirius asked James what time it was. Soon, James gave in and allowed Sirius to wear his watch for the duration of the ride, just to rid himself of the repetition. They were interrupted only by the appearance of the lunch trolley, but none of the boys was very hungry, and so the confused witch pushed the trolley right on away.

Eventually, Peter pulled out his Wizards Chess set and started a match with James, while Sirius softly refereed the match. The game was halfhearted and done only to distract themselves from the unnatural silence that had befallen them. There was nothing to talk about, and the only thing three of them wanted to talk about was off limits. Occasionally, they would throw glances at Remus, who stared determinedly out the window, thinking if they looked at him long enough, he would cave in and tell them what they wanted to know. They had no such luck.

“There goes your pawn, James,” Sirius said, shaking his head as one of Peter’s men crushed James’s pawn to pieces.

“I hadn’t noticed,” James remarked sarcastically. “I must have left my eyes in my trunk. Thank you, Sirius.” James scooped up the remnants and dropped them unceremoniously in the box. He sat back in his seat and turned to Peter. “I can’t believe your parents are willing to put up with the four of us all summer.” Earlier that week, Peter had received a letter from his parents allowing Peter to invite his friends over for the summer holiday.

“Yeah, I thought after they found out we drove Remus to pulling out a cricket bat on us, they’d have some reservations,” Sirius scoffed.

Peter smiled at the memory, which was hilarious now that it was so far in the past. “As long as it’s not aimed at them, they have no problem with it.”

The sky outside had been overcast the entire morning. The clouds steadily grew darker with each second and had finally decided it was time to burst. Pellets of rain noisily bashed the windows of the compartment relentlessly, making it almost impossible to see outside. Remus, who had focused all of his energy on watching the countryside trail by, now had nothing to distract himself with. Instead, he turned his attention to the game between James and Peter.

This, however, did not last long.

“Victory!” James shouted, pumping his fists in the air. Peter, defeated, collected the broken pieces and replaced the box in his trunk. James, still basking in the glory of his defeat, turned to his best mate. “Hey, what time is it, Sirius?”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Not time to arrive.” He snapped the clasp on the watch and threw it at James, narrowly avoiding hitting him in the chin. “Happy Christmas.” Sirius sighed and looked around the compartment. Never had it been so awkward between the four of them. Not since their second year when they had discovered Remus was a werewolf. Actually, it had not even been awkward then. That discovery had resulted in a standoff, a separation between the four. There had been no time for unease.

Peter cleared his throat hesitantly. “When is the… full moon… for July, Remus?” It had been agreed that for that night Remus would have to go home and come back when he was feeling better.

Remus shrugged. “At the end of the month.” This was the first time in months he didn’t have to worry about whether or not Greyback would be showing up. Dumbledore had taken care of everything to prevent another visit. The beast had not been arrested, but he had no memory of what his motives had been. The Shrieking Shack had also been given extra safety precautions. Dumbledore put up spells that only he could break. Remus didn’t understand why Greyback wasn’t arrested, and no one was willing to divulge the information. The adults could hardly use the excuse that he was too young to know. He was fifteen, he deserved to know why.

Sirius bit his lip. “You still don’t want to tell us what happened?”

Remus shifted agitatedly in his seat, avoiding his friends’ eyes. “What do you think happened?”

“Greyback obviously hurt you,” James supplied, choosing his words carefully. “It had to be more than that, though.” It couldn’t just be the physical wounds. The day after that full moon Dumbledore had told him that all physical wounds heal, it was the ones in Remus’s head that may never do so.

“What did he say to you?” Sirius pressed on.

Remus laughed hollowly. “Nothing I haven’t heard before.” It wasn’t far from the truth. Greyback had said everything anyone who knew what Remus was said. The only difference was that with every word, Remus began to believe it. In the back of his mind, a voice told him it was all a lie – he deserved to be a wizard, he was not, as Greyback put it, a “freak of nature” and his only purpose in life was to keep others from having the same fate as him. Soon, the voice in the back of his mind gave in and allowed Remus to believe every word Greyback spoke. He did not deserve to be a wizard, he was a freak of nature and his purpose in life was to condemn others to the hand in life he had been dealt.

James’s voice was almost inaudible when he next spoke. “You know what he said isn’t true.”

Remus said nothing to this, but merely excused himself to use the bathroom. Anything to get away from the tide of questions that was, without a doubt, coming.

Once the compartment door was completely shut, James turned to Sirius and Peter. “This is bad.”

“No, James, it’s incredibly good,” Sirius snarled, pressing his forehead against the cool glass of the window.

“Sirius,” Peter hissed warningly. Now was not a time for him to develop an attitude when James began stating the obvious. “I don’t see what we can possibly do. He’s not going to talk and we can’t make him.”

James gritted his teeth, searching for any way they could do the exact opposite of what Peter was telling them. There had been a point in their friendship where they could tell each other anything; this point had long since disappeared. This was territory they were unfamiliar with. They only knew what happened the night Remus was bitten. They knew nothing of the years that followed, the years before they all met in the same compartment on their way to Hogwarts. They didn’t know how he was treated. What could they do to get to the former point of their friendship where absolutely nothing was off limits?

“We’ve already proven to him we don’t care what he is,” James persisted fiercely.

“I don’t think that’s the problem, James,” Sirius muttered, his eyes glaring at the countryside as if this held some blame. “He knows we don’t care, we showed that ages ago. Why else would we be trying to become Animagi?”

Peter folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his seat exasperatedly. “Then what are you saying, Sirius?”

“I’m saying that we can’t change the opinions of others. Whatever Greyback said to him, it involved that. It involved him saying that Remus is scum and that no one in their right minds would ever be friends with someone like him. We’re only three people and three people are nothing compared to the hundreds that would never put up with what he is.”

“His parents do,” Peter interjected.

“Because they’re his parents. They would love him no matter what he is, that’s the kind of people they are.” Sirius planted his forehead in his hand. “Maybe we should just do what he wants and stop talking about it. We’re not helping him by trying to force him to tell us exactly what happened that night. We’re not helping ourselves either by constantly wondering.”

“We can’t just drop it, Sirius, and pretend that nothing happened,” James snapped disbelievingly.

“Yes we can! We’re not helping, James!”

“You want to know what happened?” James, Sirius and Peter whipped around to see Remus standing in the doorway with an unreadable expression in his eyes. It looked like reluctant defeat, or unspeakable annoyance. “I’ll tell you what happened, if it makes you all stop talking about it. I went to the Shrieking Shack that night, just like any other, and Greyback was there. He was waiting there all day for me. I don’t know how he knew that was where I would be, but he did.” Remus closed his eyes for a moment as the scene replayed in his head, Greyback’s voice ringing loudly in his mind. “And… he said he wanted to prove that I was nothing – as a wizard or werewolf. That I couldn’t fight him off as a wizard and I couldn’t fight him off as a werewolf. He was right. You didn’t see me until Madam Pomfrey was through, if you’d seen me before then, you’d see that he was right. I couldn’t fight him off, I was too weak.”

“Greyback is a monster, Remus,” Sirius asserted vehemently. “You shouldn’t be expected to fight off a monster.”

“He’s the same thing I am, Sirius! We’re both monsters.” What couldn’t they grasp about this? He was no different than Greyback. The very fact that he fought back proved this. Only a monster would fight back the way he had tried to. He could have taken the beating without protest, shown that he was the better man, but he didn’t. He was trying to prove something to himself, and he didn’t even know what that was. He lowered himself to Greyback’s level, the level where he showed he was what everyone expected werewolves to be – complete and utter monsters.

“You’re not a monster.”

“I fought back, Sirius! I fought back. If I hadn’t, I would still have some dignity left that proved I was above that kind of thing.”

“You were defending yourself,” James inserted in the hopes that it would do something to remedy the situation.

“Listen, James,” Remus said slowly, visibly fighting to keep his voice in check. “I swore to myself a long time ago that I would never become what I became that night – a vicious beast. I could have taken it, Greyback wouldn’t have killed me. He had something to prove and he couldn’t do that by killing me.”

Remus stared at the faces of his friends. He’d seen each of them wince horribly the mention of Greyback killing him, but the wince went away when Remus said that was not going to happen. He knew when James said that he was defending himself; it meant that he was trying to keep his life. “I became like Greyback that night.” He slumped against the frame of the compartment door.

“Not entirely,” Sirius murmured. Then, in a louder voice, added, “If you had become like Greyback, you wouldn’t be beating yourself up about this.”

Remus said nothing; he only sat down on the empty seat beside James. The corners of James’s mouth turned down as he tried to think of something to cheer his friend up. “Who’s up for wrecking Peter’s house this summer?”

Peter, startled by this sudden change of subject, jerked his head up and yelped, “What?”

“Well, you two have done it at my house for two years, you got Remus’s last year, now it’s your turn, Peter,” James explained reasonably.

“What about Sirius’s house?”

“We’re not going to my house, Pete,” Sirius rebuked quickly. “Besides, my house is a wreck enough without you three having any part in it.”

James scoffed. “I seriously doubt your mother would let your house go to ruins.”

Sirius smirked. “Not unless I had something to do with it.”

“Yes, but you’re not home often enough to do something like that.”

Sirius barked out a laugh. “Wait until I’m an adult and I can use magic outside of school. Think my dear old mum would enjoy having a house full of wild animals?”

“She’d fit right in, wouldn’t she?” Remus offered in a small voice.

Sirius feigned outrage, though was pleased that their efforts had proved fruitful and Remus was back to joking around with them, even if only a little. “Remus Lupin, I am astonished! No, I am outraged that you would ever compare my mother to a wild animal!” He slapped a hand to his forehead and shook his head wildly. “The more appropriate comparison is a banshee.”

“Oh, well, sorry for the confusion.”

“You’re quite forgiven.”

Some time later the train skidded to a halt at Platform Nine and Three Quarters and, almost at once, the students began filing into the corridors, ready to greet their families after another year of separation. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter sat in their compartment, watching through the window as the others passed by.

“So,” Sirius finally said, tapping his knee with his hand, “fourth year is over.”

“Yeah,” James said, nodding slowly, Peter and Remus doing the same.

Sirius stood up and pulled his trunk off the luggage rack above the seat. He looked over his shoulder at his friends and nodded towards the door. “I say good riddance.”

Excerpt from Chapter Forty Three: Brownies, Explosions and Wagers:

“Problems at the Lovegood house,” Charles whispered, though the boys just managed to hear.

“What kind of problems?”

“We’re not sure,” Harry admitted. “There were loud explosions, lots of yelling, the neighbours reported it. Dumbledore only just got the information to us.”

“Who else is heading there?”

“Mad Eye’s on his way,” Charles reported.

“Fabian and Gideon are going, as well,” Harry added. “We might have more coming, but so far, it’s just us. We need you to come, as well. If there are a lot of them, we need as many men we can get.”

Chapter 43: Brownies, Explosions and Wagers
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Chapter Forty Three
Brownies, Explosions and Wagers

“I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised.”

“As am I.”

“You could knock me over with a quill.”

“Oh, come on,” Peter said, setting a wooden spoon covered in brown goop down on the counter where James, Sirius and Remus had made themselves comfortable. They had been making remarks like this for the past twenty minutes. “Is it so hard to believe that I can cook?” He turned the sink on and ran the spoon under it, rinsing the gooey brownie mix off it.

“I don’t know,” Sirius said thoughtfully, looking up at the ceiling. “I mean, Remus here can sing and play the piano, and now you can cook? What secret abilities do you have, James?”

James could actually bake, but not to the extent Peter could. He shrugged in a nonchalant manner and thought of a better, more original talent of his. “I can juggle plates.”

Sirius laughed loudly, before stopping and facing James seriously. “Wait, honestly?”

James nodded towards Peter. “Hand me two plates, will you, Pete?”

Peter, looking as though he was doing this against his better judgement, warily retrieved two plates from the nearest cabinet. Tentatively, he handed them to James. “Try not to break them,” he pleaded. The last thing he needed was for his mother to come home and find two of her plates smashed to pieces.

“Don’t worry.” James grasped the plates in each hand and, very steadily, began tossing them in the air and catching them.

“Okay, I feel like a complete loser now,” Sirius lamented, though with a big grin on his face as he watched James continue to juggle. “The most I can do is roll my tongue.”

“You should feel proud,” James commented earnestly, still juggling the plates, his eyes narrowed in focus. Sirius, smirking, stuck his tongue out and rolled it. “See, you’re talented,” James commended, successfully catching the two plates in each hand and setting them down beside him on the counter.

Peter, relief evident on his face that no plates had been shattered, said, “If my parents had walked in to see you juggling their silverware, they would have heart failure.”

James chuckled reminiscently. “My mum screamed for about five minutes straight the first time she saw me do that.”

“And how old were you when you discovered this talent?” Remus inquired leaning forward so he could see past Sirius to where James was sitting.

James glanced up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “Four, I think.”

“I see your mum’s reasoning.”

“I don’t see why she went so mental. For all she knew, I could have turned out to be a plate juggling prodigy.”

“Yes… or you could have cost your mum every plate she owned.”

James scoffed. “You’re such a cynic.”

“Is anyone going to help me clean this up?” Peter piped up suddenly after he slid the tray filled with brownie mix into the oven. He was looking pointedly at Sirius, who was the one with a craving for chocolate. Sirius, sensing the hint, promptly looked away, pretending to be intensely interested in the knitting patterns of the place mates on the kitchen table.

Remus sighed exasperatedly and slid off the counter. “I’ll help you, Pete.”

“No, that’s okay, you don’t have to,” Peter said quickly. Remus raised an eyebrow at him. It had been some time since the incident in the Shrieking Shack, but Peter occasionally treated Remus as if he was going to break at some point, as if he was still too close to the edge. Remus was not blind to this, but he did not understand it at all. He had proven that he was not going to have a nervous breakdown – he hadn’t had one when it happened, so why would he now, weeks later? Peter, guessing what was going through his friend’s mind, nodded. “Here.” Peter tossed Remus a towel, which Remus caught as it almost hit his face.

“Wait a moment,” Sirius said abruptly. He leaned over and peered into the sink, where the wooden spoon was lying. “You cleaned the spoon already?”

“Yes… what’s it to you?” Sirius had been watching as Peter ran the brownie mix off the spoon and into the sink.

Sirius’s face fell. “I wanted it.”

James rolled his eyes and shoved Sirius in the shoulder. “How old are you, Sirius? Six?”

“Take nine years off my age, and yes, I am six.”

“You can still have the spoon, you know,” Remus said casually, picking up the soapy wooden spoon and holding it out to his friend. Sirius made a face of disgust and pushed Remus’s arm away, splattering Remus’s shirt with soap. He hastily wiped it away with the towel Peter had thrown at him. “Don’t say I didn’t offer.”

The front door opened and Mrs. Maggie Pettigrew strode inside, carrying three grocery bags filled to the brim with groceries. James and Sirius immediately took on their gentlemen facades and slid off the counter to relieve Mrs. Pettigrew of her burden. “Thank you, boys,” she said rather breathlessly, fanning herself with the letters she was gripping. The weather outside was stifling, and it was no better inside the Pettigrew house when the oven was on. Only Sirius could want a warm brownie on a day when entire egg breakfasts could be made on the sidewalk.

Apparently Mrs. Pettigrew was thinking along the same lines as three of the four boys. “Peter, how could you possibly be baking in this weather?”

“One of my friends is clinically insane,” Peter responded, pulling down the oven door to see the progress the brownies were making.

Mrs. Pettigrew made no further inquiries and, instead, simply opened the window above the counter where the boys had been sitting moments earlier. “I have some letters,” she said, shuffling through the parchment envelopes in her hand. “Here you are, Remus,” she handed Remus the letter on top. “And one for you, James,” she gave James the letter that had been resting under Remus’s. She took the rest of the letters and set them down in the letterbox at the centre of the table.

“Hmm,” Remus said as his eyes scanned his letter, his brow furrowed.

“What?” Sirius asked curiously, trying to read the letter over his friend’s shoulder.

“My dog is a father,” Remus laughed.

What?” James, Sirius and Peter yelped.

“He’s a father,” Remus repeated, laughing even harder. “He got a bit too friendly with a Lab in town and she gave birth to three puppies yesterday.”

“Aww, Remus is an uncle,” Sirius crooned sentimentally.

“What are your parents going to do with the puppies?” Peter questioned.

“They took two and the owner of the other dog kept the third one. My parents are probably going to give one of them away. They can’t handle four dogs.”

“Three,” Peter corrected.

Four,” Remus insisted, pointing to himself. “Personally, I think Dommie is the worst one to handle. Hey, any of you want a dog?”

“Mum?” Peter asked hopefully. He had always wanted a dog and his friend was offering one for free.

Maggie’s lip twitched. Peter wanted a dog, yes, but he would not even be around for the remainder of the year to take care of it. Yet, she had always wanted a dog when she was a child and her parents had refused. She turned to Remus. “When could your parents bring it by?”

Peter grinned triumphantly.

“As soon as I write to them,” Remus replied happily. His parents were keeping one of the puppies, but they wanted a good home for the other one. The Pettigrew house would be a nice place for it. Remus took the quill and ink that was pushed against the wall on the counter and turned the parchment over, writing his own response for his parents. When he was finished, he straightened up and folded the letter so his response was facing upwards. “What did your letter say, James?”

“Oh,” James started, startled. He had not even read his letter yet. His eyes quickly scanned the page. “Nothing very interesting,” he admitted. “They were just wondering if I was having fun and that Willie’s thinking of trying a new cake recipe – tripe cake.”

“Ugh,” Sirius groaned, cringing in disgust. “What is she thinking?

“That since my parents enjoy tripe they might like it in cake batter.”

“No offense meant, James, but that’s revolting.”

“Yeah, it is,” James conceded wholeheartedly. He pocketed the letter, trying to force the image of a cake made of tripe out of his mind. “So, what d’you guys want to do?”

“No lakes around your house, are there, Peter?” Sirius queried, folding his arms across his chest and cocking his head to the side. It had almost become tradition for the boys to visit a lake during the summer holidays. This was mainly because there was a lake around both James’s and Remus’s houses. Sirius, to his disdain, lived in the heart of London and there were no lakes to be found around his house. Peter did not live in the country like two of his friends, but he did not necessarily live in the city either.

“No…” Peter replied distractedly as he bent down to peer once more inside the window on the stove door. Straightening up, he answered more definitively. “No, there aren’t any lakes near here.” He took the oven mitt off the counter and placed it securely on his hand so he could remove the brownies. “I wish there was one,” he added, setting the tray down on the stovetop to cool.

“Why’s that?”

“We’re going to need a way for you to get this sugar out of your system.”

It was a quiet, still night, the only sounds to be heard were the chirping of the crickets, the occasionally rustle of the trees as a small breeze passed through, and the light breathing of the four boys crammed inside the parlour of the Pettigrew house. Mr. and Mrs. Pettigrew had done as Mr. and Mrs. Lupin had and forced four cots into the room that was usually crowded with sofas and chairs. These pieces of furniture currently resided in Peter’s room. The boys had exhausted themselves in their attempt to keep Sirius from devouring too many of Peter’s delicious, and sugar-filled, brownies. They could hardly handle a Sirius when he wasn’t wired on sugar. They shuddered to think of what his behaviour would be like after he’d eaten five considerably large pieces of pure chocolate.

The silence of the night was quickly broken by several pops and an abrupt rapping on the front door. The four boys bolted up and sat rigid in their beds, wondering if it was okay to move or not. Sirius, Remus and James glanced uneasily at Peter, their expressions clearly asking if it was protocol at his house for visitors in the early morning hours. Peter’s eyes told them that this had never happened before, at least not when he had been home. His mouth opened, no doubt in an attempt to call his parents, but he shut it quickly. If there was someone at the door who wasn’t supposed to be out there, they did not want to give that person any hints that the only thing on the other side of the door was four unarmed boys of fifteen.

The person knocked again, as though he or she was about ready to knock the door down if there was no answer, and it struck the boys as faintly odd. If this person had come to harm them, he or she would certainly not bother to knock, though it was in a harsh manner. This person would sooner throw the door off its hinges and invade the house with wand at the ready. Maggie and John Pettigrew came rushing down the stairs, both with their wands in hand. They threw a sideways glance at the boys, and John motioned for them to lie down. They did this reluctantly, but they knew Mr. Pettigrew was telling them to do the right thing. They would be less obvious to the callers if they were lying down.

“Who’s there? Identify yourself!” Mr. Pettigrew barked, holding his wand steady. “I’m armed!”

“John!” a familiar voice called back.

“You’ve got to come with us!” a second, also recognizable, voice shouted.

Though the relief was apparent in Mr. Pettigrew’s face, he still forced the callers to identify themselves or else he would not let them in.

“It’s Harry Lupin! I’m a writer for the Daily Prophet, my Muggle wife’s name is Anna and my son, Remus, is staying at your house and is probably only a few feet away from you right now.”

“It’s Charles Potter. I’m a Healer at St. Mungo’s, my wife’s name is Hannah and my son, James, is also staying at your house, as well as his friend Sirius, and they’re also only a few feet away from you, I reckon.”

Satisfied, Mr. Pettigrew unlocked the door and allowed the two harried men inside. Mr. Lupin and Mr. Potter were out of breath, though they must have Apparated from wherever they were coming from. The boys were surprised to see that the two men had not come alone, their wives were with them. What was going on? What would bring the four of them out at this time night? “What’s going on?” Mr. Pettigrew asked, lowering his voice and his wand now.

“Problems at the Lovegood house,” Charles whispered, though the boys just managed to hear.

“What kind of problems?”

“We’re not sure,” Harry admitted. “There were loud explosions, lots of yelling, the neighbours reported it. Dumbledore only just got the information to us.”

“Who else is heading there?”

“Mad Eye’s on his way,” Charles reported.

“Fabian and Gideon are going, as well,” Harry added. “We might have more coming, but so far, it’s just us. We need you to come, as well. If there are a lot of them, we need as many men we can get.”

John peered over at Anna and Hannah, who were hovering by the door. “Is Hannah coming as well?” He knew that Hannah had no objections to fighting, but he was not set on letting them go so readily. Not with all of the boys here. Anna, who was a Muggle, could not do much to help in this situation.

“We wanted them here,” Harry told him. “We can send them any information we get and they can forward it to Dumbledore.” Harry yanked the cloak off the rack beside him and threw it at John. “We don’t have time to waste.” And the three men ran out of the house and disappeared into the night.

“Mum, what’s going on?” Remus asked, his eyes fixed on the spot where his father had just been standing.

“Nothing, Remus, go back to sleep,” Anna said hastily.

Remus exchanged an incredulous look with his friends. How could she possibly expect any of them to go back to sleep after they heard there was suspicious activity going on at the Lovegoods’?

“We might as well let them stay up with us until the men come back,” Maggie said resignedly. The three mothers were well aware of the determination of four teenage boys to get what they wanted. It could do them no harm to simply sit up and wait for the men to return. Besides, they did know the Lovegoods’ son, Xeno. They would want to hear if everything was okay. Maggie, Anna and Hannah disappeared into the kitchen, speaking in hushed voices as they did so.

“Loud explosion at the Lovegoods’?” James said, his eyes wide with curiosity and a trace of fear.

Sirius laughed nervously. “Well, you know that family, for all we know, they could be the ones causing the commotion.”

Remus shrugged halfheartedly. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right. Let’s just hope you are.” He swung his legs over the edge of his cot and said he had to go ask his mother something.

“What do you think happened?” Sirius asked James and Peter as Remus disappeared around the corner.

“It could be those people we saw with Malfoy in the Forbidden Forest,” Peter reasoned before anxiously chewing his bottom lip.

“I was thinking that too,” James admitted, playing with a loose thread in his blanket. “We don’t know if they were still recruiting last year. We had too much else to worry about.”

Sirius nodded. With their friend in danger, how could they let their minds wander to the Forbidden Forest that they had visited in their third year? “They could have been. Maybe if I ask Regulus he could tell me.”

It was a well known fact to James, Peter and Remus that Sirius’s younger brother, Regulus, was considering joining up with the group they had found in the Forbidden Forest almost two years ago. The moment Sirius saw his younger brother conversing with some of the Slytherins involved, he snapped and proceeded to chase them down to the Forbidden Forest, Remus at his heels. Sirius vastly disagreed with the views of his brother, as they perfectly matched those of their parents, but he did not want his brother associating with people like that. Sirius couldn’t help that he was born with the protective older brother gene.

James tried to appease his friend’s darkened thoughts. “I doubt Regulus is stupid enough to go with these people at night. He may be a Slytherin, but he’d got some intelligence, at least.”

Sirius smiled darkly. “Why not? We saw him fighting Lovegood once before. Why wouldn’t he do it again?”

“Because this time it involved seriously hurting someone and his entire family, not just stupid hallway dueling.” James yanked out the thread he had wrapped around his fingers. “Your brother does have a brain, Sirius. I know you don’t like to think so, but he does.”

The corners of Sirius’s mouth turned up again. “Yeah… Regulus isn’t that stupid. Not yet, anyway.”

Remus reentered the room, carrying a copy of the day’s Daily Prophet, his eyes moving frantically as he scanned the front page. Eyes still on the newspaper, he sat down on his cot.

“Anything interesting?” James inquired. He knew the only reason Remus was reading the paper was to see if there were any hints of strange activity that could have led to the goings-on at the Lovegood house.

“Nothing that could tell us what’s happening,” Remus said quietly, his gaze still focused on the Prophet. He folded the paper in halves and held it out for James to take. “But there’s an article about Twikom being sacked.”

The four knew it was only a matter of time before Professor Dumbledore sacked their Defence Against the Dark Arts mentor, Professor Twikom. She had known all along that something was going to happen to Remus and had withheld the information. Professor Dumbledore could not have a staff member who was so selfish that it jeopardized the safety of one of his students. It was rare that a Hogwarts professor was actually fired; they usually left for other reasons. Some resigned, some were ill, others left for mysterious duties he could not tell his students, one even ran off with a love stricken banshee, but none had yet been sacked.

Sirius and Peter leaned over to read the article with James. “Says she went to Dumbledore with the information right after Madam Pomfrey took you down.”

“So why did McGonagall look so scared that morning?” Peter wondered. He had rarely ever seen such a terrified look in the Deputy Headmistress’s eyes.

Remus shrugged. “Maybe she suspected something and that was why Madam Pomfrey took me to the Shrieking Shack so early?”

“Could be,” James conceded. He folded up the paper and set it down on his cot. “So we’re on our fifth Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. I say we have a bet. How is this one leaving?”

“Three Galleons says they’re sacked,” Peter wagered.

Remus shook his head disagreeably. “No, four Galleons say this one’s run out of the school.”

James frowned. “Doubtful. The only people who would bother to run a professor out of school are us and I don’t really feel like it. Five Galleons that they leave on some unknown expedition that they won’t tell anyone about.”

“No way, mate,” Sirius disagreed vehemently. “This one’s leaving doing back flips because he’s so bloody happy to get away from the Slytherins.”

James laughed loudly, trying to imagine any professor doing that. “You’re on!”

Remus turned to Peter. “How did we get to betting on our professor?”

Peter shrugged. “That’s a good question.”

“Boys.” The four boys looked over their shoulders to see Hannah, Maggie and Anna standing in the doorway to the parlour.

“Yes, Mum?” James, Remus and Peter said in unison.

“You really should get some sleep,” Anna advised, crossing her arms across her chest. “They’re not going to be back for a while.”

The boys raised their eyebrows at each other; it was clear the women were going for the theory that if they went to sleep, they would find out what they wanted to know faster. This theory had been applied to everything – Christmas, birthdays, and summer holidays – and it hardly ever proved true. The boys would not rest until they found out exactly what was going on at the Lovegoods’ place.

Just then there were three distinctive pops from inside the kitchen. That was incredibly fast.

“I don’t believe it,” Harry Lupin snarled, the outrage apparent in his voice.

“It was utterly ridiculous,” Charles Potter raged, his feet stamping hard on the floor as he moved about the kitchen.

“What were they thinking?” John Pettigrew wondered in a tone much similar to his peers.

“What happened, Dad?” James called.

“There was no attack!” Charles replied heatedly.

What?” the four boys and three women said in shock. If there was no attack, why had there been such a commotion that it drew the attention of others?

“Mad Eye won’t be pleased,” John muttered just loud enough for the others to hear.

“He hadn’t arrived yet?” Maggie asked her husband. “He’s usually the first on the scene.”

“Oh, no,” Harry said, appearing in the room with Charles and John at either side of him. “He was just arriving as we were leaving; we didn’t wait to see his reaction.”

“But what happened?” Hannah questioned impatiently. “If there was no attack, where did the explosions come from?”

Charles grinned wryly. “Xeno thought it would be fun to set off all his Exploding Snap cards in one of the potions his father was working on. He’ll be getting a warning from the Ministry of Magic tomorrow, I expect.” He suddenly scowled. “The boy should know better than to pull stunts like that, especially in times like these.”

“Times like what, Mr. Potter?” Sirius piped up. He knew exactly what Charles was talking about; they were living in dangerous times, but he wanted to know the specific reason.

Charles, however, was not willing to give them that information. “Nothing, boys, just go back to sleep.” The six adults lowered their voices and disappeared into the other room, unwilling to let their sons hear anymore of what had occurred that night and why they had all panicked.

The boys reluctantly listened to them and fell back onto their pillows. Why was it that whenever something exciting was happening, parents could do nothing except tell their children to go back to sleep?

Excerpt from Chapter Forty Four: To Be a Prefect

“Oi, Lupin!” he shouted gleefully, laughing as the top of Remus’s head stopped moving as Remus made his way towards the train. Sirius could see Remus whirling around on the spot, trying to locate the source of the noise. He turned in the appropriate direction and Sirius yelled, “Get that disgusting bum of yours over here!”

“Nice to see you too, Sirius,” Remus greeted sarcastically once he had fought his way through a group of hyperactive fourth year girls who were giggling endlessly, fawning over the others that they had not seen in what they proclaimed to be ages. Honestly, girls made three minutes of absence seem like an eternity.

Chapter 44: To Be a Prefect
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Chapter Forty Four
To Be a Prefect

The relative calm and quiet of the Lupin household was abruptly broken with a cry of complete horror. Mr. and Mrs. Lupin, who had been debating on a new way to decorate their bedroom, gaped at each other when they heard this, recognising the cry as their son’s. What had he done now? It was not uncommon recently for Remus to be doing something and accidentally smash, snap, or melt whatever he was using. Now must have been one of those times. His frustration must have reached its breaking point. The adults abandoned their debate and quickly descended into the kitchen, where they could see, through the window, an owl flying off in the distance. Remus was standing in the centre of the room, a red and gold badge in one hand and his wide eyes staring at the sheet of parchment held in his other hand.

“Remus, what happened?” Anna Lupin asked concernedly, looking over her son to make sure he was alright.

Remus struggled with his words for a moment, seemingly trying to find the best way to express what he was feeling. His mouth opened and closed several times as he tried to formulate the best way to word it. “How could he do this to me?”

Harry sighed knowingly. They should have suspected this the second they saw him holding a letter. “What did James do?” Who else could be behind the source of Remus’s horror if not for one of his best friends?

Remus did not hear his father and merely continued with his tirade. “Is he mental?”

“What did Sirius do now?” Harry amended. If it wasn’t James, it was certainly the eldest Black child.

“He is! He’s bloody mental! What was he thinking?”

Harry and Anna glanced worriedly at each other, both clearly concerned about their son’s sanity at this time. He was making absolutely no sense. Anna asked tentatively, “Remus, what are you talking about?”


Dumbledore?” his parents echoed in shocked. Remus never spoke so lowly of their Headmaster for the fact that Dumbledore had never done anything to warrant it. “What did he do?” Harry questioned interestedly.

“He made me a Prefect,” Remus replied, spitting out the words like venom.

“Oh, Remus, this is wonderful!” Anna said happily. It was one of the highest honours at Hogwarts to be made a Prefect. So why was Remus acting as if Dumbledore had assigned him his execution date?

“Wonderful? This is not wonderful! This is terrible!”

“Why is it terrible?”

“Do you know what being a Prefect means?”

“That Dumbledore thinks you’re responsible enough to help the younger students?”

“Remus, you’re not upset about that, are you?” In all the years Harry had gotten to know his son, this was the last thing he would expect. Remus liked helping others; he wouldn’t be upset about that.

“No, of course not! This means I have to keep my friends in line; do you know how bloody impossible that is?”

“Ah, now we come to the problem.”

“They’re insane! Sirius and James more than Peter but put the three of them together and you have a huge mass of fifteen year old insanity!”

“Remus, you’re fifteen too,” Anna pointed out carefully.

“I know, Mum, but they never had to keep me in line.” He thrust the badge at his mother so she could get a better look, never having seen a prefect badge before. “Stupid letter P,” Remus muttered, narrowly eyeing the badge of honour with a look of the utmost loathing.

Harry stepped in, trying to erase the confused anger his son was currently experiencing. “Maybe Dumbledore just thinks you’re the right person for the job.”

Remus laughed hollowly. “I bet you anything he only gave me the job so I would have to keep my friends in line.”

Anna and Harry eyed at each other, each of them thinking along the same lines. Remus was probably right; Dumbledore’s main reason for assigning him the job would be to keep his best friends in line. James and Sirius were rowdier than Remus ever would be. It was true that Peter was not nearly as… hyperactive as James and Sirius; he would have a far more difficult time keeping the two from breaking too many rules than Remus would. Remus held a bit more authority over the two than Peter. They saw where their son’s anxiety was coming from – this would turn out to be a full time occupation, not just a side job.

“Well, Dumbledore wouldn’t give you the job only for that Remus,” Harry assured his son, hoping to ease his nerves. “I’m sure Dumbledore doesn’t hand out Prefect assignments based solely on what you’re worried about.”

Remus had to keep the derisive laugh threatening to come out from doing so. “If that was the case, why didn’t he give the job to Frank? He’s just as capable as I am.” He honestly just did not wan