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Chapter 10 The Bearer of Bad News Monday came too quickly for the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The weekend had been beautiful and with only three days of school previously, the majority of everyone’s time had been spent outside since homework was scarce. But now the overall mood was glum, for an entire week of studies lay ahead of them, and the full reality of being at school once again was settling in. “This is going to be the worst day of the week for the rest of the year,” grumbled James as he looked over his schedule. “Look at this: Arithmancy, then Ancient Runes, and then we’ve got that blasted Mahadeo in Potions at the end of the day. If I make it through this day alive, it will be a miracle.” “I like Ancient Runes,” said Remus through a mouthful of eggs. “It’s one of my best classes.” Sirius rolled his eyes. “Well, of course the class is easy. But it’s as boring as hell. After three minutes of decoding symbols they all start to mold together. Then I end up translating mountain peaks into chicken vomit.” Claire was a little uncomfortable with the ‘chicken vomit’ and pushed her remaining food away, her appetite abandoned. “Thank you for that assessment, Sirius.” “Don’t mention it,” he said as he continued to shovel food. The excitement had died down considerably the rest of the weekend but this did little to help Peter. His nerves were too frazzled by the experience and as a result he still hadn’t finished his Potions essay by Monday. It was the last class of the day so he hoped to scribble off the last six inches of parchment before he reached class. While he worked on this the other boys calmly finished off their breakfast. Sirius crunched on a bit of toast and looked over at his panicked friend. “I’m telling you, Wormtail, you should just write really big. Or just make stuff up; he probably doesn’t read them anyway. I bet he just scans the parchment to make sure you reached the length requirement,” he suggested. “When I ran out of ideas, I just started blathering on about the uses of Runespoor eggs, or some such ruddy nonsense like that. You could probably talk about your favorite color for the rest of the essay and he’d think it was brilliant.” “But he wouldn’t mind it from you because your a good student, Sirius,” Peter replied. “I’d probably lose a trillion points if I did that.” Sirius rolled his eyes. “He just picks random people to like and dislike. For all we know, he thinks your the best student. I mean, if he’s cracked enough to think Moony is a trouble maker, maybe he thinks you’re really studious or something.” Peter simply squeaked in response. After Remus had lost a million points, Peter had gotten quite an immense fear of Professor Mahedeo and only McGonagall held more terror for him. Therefore he didn’t dare slack off in any way when doing his homework, especially since he wasn’t very good at Potions in the first place. A loud screech sounded above them. Hundreds of owls dove in through the open windows and began circling the room, looking for the recipients of the letters and parcels the birds were carrying. James’ prairie owl spotted him and dove. After landing on the table and handing him a letter from home, the tiny owl began to burrow into his food. “Hey!” exclaimed James loudly, “Shoo! Go on! Go burrow outside!” The owl gave a disappointed hoot and took off from the table, bits of eggs dropping from his feathers as he departed. A large tawny arrived and handed Peter his Daily Prophet, and Orion landed to give Ande and Claire separate letters from friends and their father in America. Remus snatched the paper from Peter and began reading silently. A few moments later, five other owls deposited gifts in the girls’ laps and they opened the parcels to find American snacks and soda, much to their delight. Breakfast was concluding and a few students were starting to rise and head off to class. Sirius and Peter were just getting their bags when a spray of orange juice flew across the table from Lupin. Everyone seated around him leaned away as if afraid he was going to spit more food at them. “Er... Moony? You okay?” asked James tentatively. Their friend just sat their, his mouthed hanging open. He had gone white and his eyes were wide as they continued to scan the paper he was holding. Eager to find out the source of Remus’ shock, everyone gathered around him so that they could read over his shoulder. It was a small article by a journalist named Jackie Sparrow: Werewolf Attack Leaves Ministry Mystified by Jackie Sparrow While a werewolf attack may not seem like front page news to most, we here at the Daily Prophet definitely think it’s worth taking notice when the attack does not take place on the night of a full moon. Just such an event occurred just last night in a small village near the coast. Mr. and Mrs. Atwood were out last night, trying to recapture their pet Crup when they were taken quite by surprise and attacked maliciously by what they say was most surely a werewolf. While the Ministry of Magic refuses to confirm these allegations they assured us that they were investigating the matter thoroughly. Not wishing to wait for the Ministry’s report the Prophet did some investigating of its own. The only witnesses besides the Atwoods were Muggles so their testimony is dubious, to say the least. Once their statements were taken their memory was modified so we were unable to get eyewitness accounts for our article. A few details were released to the press, however, which we will now relate to you. The Atwoods had discovered that their pet had run off after they had finished a late supper. It had rained the night before so they were able to follow the its tracks in the soft earth. A distressed yelp pierced the still night air and the worried couple quickly ran through the wood where the sound had originated. To their horror they found the mangled body of their beloved pet. Before she could react, Mrs. Atwood was bowled over by something quite large she couldn’t make out in the dark. Luckily Mr. Atwood had his wand on hand and was able to free his wife from her attacker. The creature was knocked out of the wood and could now be seen more clearly in the light coming from the Atwoods’ house. When the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures finally arrived on the scene, the monster had vanished. Mr. Atwood, an authority in the field of Magizoology, swears that what attacked him and his wife could be nothing other than a werewolf- which, as we said earlier, the Ministry will not confirm. As for the fate of the Atwoods, they were taken in by the Ministry so that they could be put under observation. Thankfully neither Edward or his wife Jane were bitten but they did sustain major injuries and their Crup, Peaches, was killed in the encounter. Since the full moon occurred nearly one week ago, we at the Daily Prophet suspect the work of dark wizards to be behind this mysterious attack. This, unfortunately, is another subject that the Ministry refuses to comment on. We will keep you updated when more information becomes available. After hurriedly taking in the article, James huddled closer to Sirius and Remus. “Do you suppose Death Eaters are behind this?” he asked them. “It’s hard to say,” Sirius answered. “They didn’t seem to have all the information and how can we even be so sure it was a werewolf?” “That Atwood guy seemed sure enough. And you saw the article, it said he was-” James scanned the paper then quoted, “ ‘an authority in the field of Magizoology.’ Isn’t that what those kind of guys know about?” “But it wasn’t a full moon,” Sirius said, still somewhat doubtful. “That’s why Death Eaters or some other nutters must be behind it,” James replied. Remus, who had not yet added his opinion, remained for a moment more in silence. He glanced over to Claire and Ande, who were sitting nearby, to make sure they weren’t listening in. They were absorbed in making plans for Quodpot, so he finally spoke up. “If Death Eaters are responsible, then they seem to have a way to make werewolves transform without the full moon. And if that is the case then what if I... what if they get to me? You all could be in serious danger.” Remus turned his grey eyes away from his friends as if he expected them to suddenly see him as some sort of monster. Quite the opposite, they smiled at him and Sirius even gave a small laugh. “Don’t worry about us. I think we’ve proven we can handle a werewolf,” he assured. “And this might just be some kind of freak occurrence,” James comforted. “We can’t be sure of anything unless it happens again or at least until we get more information on this attack.” Remus sighed. “I suppose,” he muttered. The twins disappeared with the crowd and the tables were rapidly thinning. The other boys looked at each other. Each looked worried and Peter was scanning the article one more time. The four of them chuckled lightly and laughed it off, although the nervousness was still evident even after they dismissed the story as false. James looked at his watch and the bell rang. They grabbed their bags and headed off to Arithmancy, doubt still clouding their thoughts. The next morning followed much the same as the one the day before, except that Gryffindor was again deep in the negative range due to Potions class. Yet again, Peter was frantically trying to finish his homework; this time for first period Transfiguration class. And once more, Sirius was lazily munching on his breakfast and giving Peter unhelpful hints about how to finish his homework. “Just copy something from your notes or book,” he said. “I mean, it’s still Transfiguration so it’s not technically wrong.” “But I’m supposed to be describing the pros and cons of Avis Swan’s hobby of transfiguring books into birds. That’s what we talked about last Thursday but I can’t find it anywhere in my notes,” Peter whined. “Sorry, I can’t help you there. I wrote my essay from memory. Maybe you should just start repeating yourself,” said Sirius. Peter looked up at Sirius with a sullen expression before turning hopelessly back to his unfinished essay. “I’m not listening to you again,” he said with a pout. “I wrote some nonsense for the last two inches of my Potions essay and he took away two hundred billion points.” “How was I supposed to know he was just going to read the ends of the essays?” Sirius protested. Too worried about his homework, Peter dropped the argument and continued working. It seemed that everyone was anxiously awaiting mail more than usual. Yesterday’s news had unnerved the Daily Prophet’s readers, and anyone who had read the article was looking forward to being updated on the situation. A hoot, and nearly every head looked up at once. The mail arrived, but even those who had received heart-felt gifts from home ignored their parcels and crowded around any subscribers of the Daily Prophet. Sirius’ attention was also drawn to another subject when the morning mail arrived. Dozens of owls flew in baring their parcels to the appropriate young witch or wizard. When the paper arrived for Peter, it was quickly snatched up by James. Remus didn’t appear too eager to read it but he leaned in anyway, along with Sirius, to see what it said. James scanned the article quickly, and read out loud any bits of information that seemed relevant. “It says, ‘The Ministry of Magic has confirmed that a werewolf was behind the attack. In addition to the testimony given by the Atwoods, they were able to track down the werewolf behind the attack by utilizing information from the Werewolf Registry in the Beast Division of the Ministry,’” James paused in his reading and turned to Remus. “There’s a Werewolf Registry?” Remus reddened slightly when he nodded. “There is,” he confirmed, “but I’m not quite, er, registered... or at least not yet.” Realizing he had hit on an uncomfortable topic, James resumed reading the newspaper article. “Okay, let’s see, where was I... oh, here it is. ‘The perpetrator was one, Miss Hannah Summers. On the night of the attack she said she was reading a book inside her house when she heard a knock on the door. Then she claims her memory got fairly hazy. The next thing she remembers she was in the middle of a forest almost a half of a mile away from her home.’” “What did the Ministry do to her when they found her?” Remus asked, his face once again rather pale. “Um, give me a second to find it,” James said. His hazel eyes flew across the page until they reached the final paragraph of the article. “It says that they are holding her under surveillance until they are sure that she did not transform through ‘any fault of her own.”’ “What do they think, that she just willed herself to turn into a werewolf?” Sirius scoffed indignantly. “Maybe they think something is wrong with her, like that she transforms late,” James suggested. “What are you guys talking about all huddled up?” The three boys started at the sound of the voice then calmed when they realized it was just Ande. She and Claire had been sitting over at the Ravenclaw table and came over when they had finished breakfast. Claire took the newspaper out of James’ hand and looked down at it to see what he had been reading. “Have you guys been following this story?” she asked. “No... I mean, yes,” James said, stumbling over his own words. “Why do you ask?” “Well, it’s just so weird isn’t it? How do you suppose that woman transformed without a full moon?” Claire answered. James heart slowed down a few notches when he remembered there was no reason that it would be suspicious for all of them to have been following the story closely. After all, half the school was discussing the bizarre attack. In a much calmer voice he continued the conversation, “I agreed with the Daily Prophet when they said it was probably the work of dark wizards. They probably thought it would be funny to watch a werewolf attack innocent bystanders.” “But how would they even do that?” Ande wondered aloud. “It would be difficult enough without the full moon, but how would they do it without being attacked themselves?” “Who knows,” Sirius sighed. “I suppose the only thing we can do is keep an eye on the news.” “Well, we better get going to class,” Remus cut in, still uncomfortable with the topic. Claire glanced down at her watch and jumped. “You’re right. We have to start moving if we want to get to Herbology with the Ravenclaws on time, Ande.” “See you guys in Charms,” Ande said with a smile and wave as she and her sister left to go to the greenhouses. The boys gathered their things and started out the door. They stopped, however, when hey realized that Peter wasn’t behind them. He was still sitting at the table, scratching his quill on the parchment as fast as she could. The three friends walked back over to the table to urge on Peter. “You did what you could, mate. It’s time to go to class,” James said. Peter refused to budge an inch. Planted to his seat, he continued to hack away at his essay. James and Sirius each grabbed him under one arm and lifted him up forcibly. Peter whined and struggled, but his friends continued out to the Entrance Hall. “Would you rather have McGonagall yell at you for skiving off her class?” Sirius asked. This immediately had the intended effect and Peter stopped struggling. Sirius and James placed him back onto the ground and then they hurried off to get to class. The same questions haunted their thoughts throughout the rest of the day: How could there have been a werewolf attack after the full moon had passed? Had Jackie Sparrow been right? Could this be the work of dark wizards? Had werewolves finally chosen sides? For Remus, the news had affected him like no one thought possible. It seemed that all symptoms of the full moon had been forced upon him once again. He was fatigued, and his hands shook so bad on occasions that he couldn’t write. He jumped at loud noises and began to distance himself from his schoolwork and friends. The next morning, they were disappointed when they found no further word about the werewolf attack. James couldn’t ponder over this very long, though, because he was busy planning for Quidditch try-outs that evening. Throughout the day he was busy going to anyone who had signed up and reminding them to be out to the Quidditch pitch at six o’clock sharp. This was useful the first time around, but by the fifth time he came up to the potential players they started to get irritable. Claire told him that if he came by again, she would stick a Filibuster Firework in a rather uncomfortable place. This was enough to make James relent. Everyone trying-out for Gryffindor arrived promptly on time along with students from other houses. The only house missing was Hufflepuff because they still had all their players from the previous year. Ande tried out for Keeper and easily beat her competition- a twitchy second-year boy and the fifth-year named Liz. While Liz was disappointed to not make the team, Ande cheered her up by pointing out that her crush was there. Liz drooled over James while the Gryffindors took their turn trying out. Claire made Chaser and a big fourth-year named Dan McCarthy became a new Beater. Everyone from Ravenclaw and Gryffindor then went back to the castle, except James who wanted to get a glimpse of the competition. This inevitably lead to a scuffle with the Slytherins, so he begrudgingly went inside at the order of Madam Hooch. “I can’t believe we’re going to play Quidditch in England!” cried Ande. It was Friday; Quidditch try-outs had been on Wednesday; and the girls were still running around the castle as if they had just received the news that they had been accepted. “I know!” Claire responded with equal enthusiasm, “I can’t wait until our first game! By the way James, when are we practicing?” James looked up from his work. He had layers of parchment spread out before him. He had skipped breakfast and was scribbling frantically. “I’m working on it!” he bellowed, “But homework comes first! Or so I’m told...” He shrugged and went back to writing. Sirius leaned over and helped his friend write. Another shock came with the arrival of the morning mail. The twins were sitting with the boys discussing the approaching Quidditch season, when Orion, Ande’s pet barn owl, flew in carrying a large bundle. Orion gratefully released his load and happily accepted a bit of bacon from Ande. He gave a short hoot then flew away with the other owls back to the owlery. The boys gaped at Ande as she untied a knot that was keeping what appeared to be a rather large newspaper wrapped up. “What is that?” James asked his cousin. “It’s the Weekly Watchdog,” Ande replied, placing the paper on the table. With the periodical sitting next to Peter’s latest edition of the Daily Prophet the boys could see that it was at least three times as thick. “We’re having it mailed in from America. You know, so that we can see what’s going on back in the good old US of A,” Claire explained. “Usually it comes out every Wednesday but it takes a while longer since it’s coming from over sea.” Ande thinned out the large newspaper before she started reading it. The four boys looked at the different sections with interest; there was a sports section which appeared to be mostly dominated by Quodpot, though there was a few headlines about Quidditch, there was a comic section, and there were a number of other sections, ranging from articles about the latest brooms to pieces on house care. James grinned at the logo for the paper which was on the top of every page. He pointed to it and whispered, “He look Padfoot, you’re their mascot.” Wagging it’s tail on every page was a very large, shaggy black dog with a paper in its mouth. Besides the large watch it wore around it’s neck, it did look nearly identical to Sirius in his transformed state. Sirius found this fairly amusing and he was about to ask the girls if he could take one of the pages but when he looked up he saw that they both had grave expressions. They were looking down at the front page of the paper and their brows were scrunched up from worry. Before anyone could ask what was wrong, Ande spoke up. “It’s says that there has been an epidemic of Death Eater attacks in America, especially along the west coast. There has also been a large public outcry against the Ministry.” “But didn’t you guys say your father was the Minister of Magic in America?” James asked, now looking just as concerned as the two girls. “Yeah, he’s mentioned,” Claire said, “And so are we.” “What? It mentions you two?” Remus said. “Not by name but it’s clear enough,” Ande replied. Claire held up the paper and started reading out loud. “ ‘Minister Henry Moon has been receiving a lot of complaints from the wizard community for failing to suppress the recent plague of Death Eater attacks. His character has also come under question during this time of trouble. He is a known werewolf sympathizer and his daughters even attend the dubious Filiae Nocti Academy for Witches. A reporter from our rival paper, The Sneak, even went so far as to allege that Moon may have had a hand in the death of his wife, Jessie the famous Auror,’ ” Claire said, quoting the paper. “Yanks are nutters if they believe any of that rot,” James growled through tightly clenched teeth. Claire hushed them and said, “Look, there’s more. There’s an article by Dawn Hannigan. Listen. ‘Due to recent events surrounding werewolves, enormous pressure has been placed on the Ministry of Magic, and the Minister of Magic himself to deal with the terror. While the Minister has refused to comment on the situation, Dale Gurte of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures briefed me. “It should be known throughout the magical community that their Ministry is working day and night to solve the problem. In the meantime, we highly recommend caution. I suggest suitable charms on the doors and windows, and even Muggle bear-traps have been found effective. Until the cause for these transformations has been found, it is crucial to always have a wand on hand.” Dale Gurte is not the only wizard questioned on the matter. Daniel Worps, president of the Werewolf Elimination Team, or WET, had been used as a bounty-hunter by past Ministers. Daniel comments, “Personally, the only good werewolf is a dead werewolf. They can’t be trusted in society! So far, the Ministry has denied my grant to put wolf hides on the market, but once there’s killings, and mark my words there will be, I’ll expect a letter from the Minister begging for my services.”’ Sirius, James, and Peter slowly turned to Remus. Their friend looked beyond mortified; in fact, he looked to be on the verge of tears. Claire and Ande were flipping through the Weekly Watchdog rapidly, continuing to look for any other articles on the topic. Before they could notice Remus’ condition, his friends pulled him from the table and made the excuse that they had left their books in their dorm. The girls barely noticed them go because other Gryffindors and Ravenclaws were questioning them. In Defense Against the Dark Arts, the four chose seats in the back of the room to give Remus some time to cope. They heard the bell ring, and in only a few moments, other six-year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs had filed into the room. Professor Gerencher stalked through the doors. He was a short, plump, older gentleman, but he had a lot of spunk. He was balding, and he had bright blue eyes that darted between students when he asked questions just to trip them up. Overall, he was laid-back and if you paid attention and took notes, you stayed on his good side. The class was enjoyable too, because there was plenty of hands-on experience and interaction time. “Good morning, class,” he said gruffly. “Today, we will-” As he stopped talking, his eyes were suddenly directed at the door. Much to the surprise of everyone, Professor Dumbledore himself stood in the doorway, looking calm and cheery. “I was wondering, if I might observe a class, Michael,” he said. Professor Gerencher looked taken aback for a moment but then beckoned the headmaster in. Dumbledore smiled and conjured a chair in the back of the room, directly behind the four friends. Class continued on as if there had not been an interruption, although James noticed that they were much more well behaved now that they had a supervisor. “Now, clear the desks away,” said Gerencher, “We’re going to practice a few of those spells I taught you last Friday.” With a wave of a few wands, the desks and chairs were neatly stacked against one wall, leaving plenty of room for their duels. Dumbledore continued to sit in the shadows, and seemed highly amused. They were split into pairs; Sirius went with James, and Remus went with Peter. Pretty soon, curses and jinxes were flying across the room and being met with “Protego!” the defensive spell they had just been taught. Plenty of room was being given to the two pairs of friends. Sirius and James were advanced and were dueling so quickly that it was merely a blur of color between them. They were muttering spells that most of the other students had never heard of before, and many were distracted by the boys’ demonstration. They were not the only ones watching. Professor Gerencher had given some tips and then made his way over to Dumbledore. The two men conversed quietly and kept glancing back at the class and pointing to individuals and certain pairs. Remus stood in front of Peter and had been watching the teachers talk instead of his opponent. Peter, taking advantage of his friend’s momentary lack of attention, attacked. “Expelliarmus!” The blast rocketed Remus into the desks and chairs against the far wall. Wood splintered on the impact and the debilitated Remus found himself laying under a pile of broken furniture. James and Sirius were distracted from their own fight as they both fired jinxes at each other, which they both then failed to block. Two more bodies were flung against the walls, where they crumpled to the floor, groaning loudly. When they had gotten to their feet again with the help of fellow students, they were covered in large bruises and cuts. Sirius had a black eye, and James was sporting a bloody nose and lip. Remus, who was being pulled from the rubble, was barely conscious and was mumbling incoherently. Peter stood in the center of it all, looking nervous. “I didn’t think I’d actually hit him, Professor! Honest!” he said as Gerencher growled at him. “Don’t say sorry to me, Pettigrew. You’re the one who has mangled your friends,” he responded. “Help them to the hospital wing, Pettigrew, and then report back here.” Dumbledore suddenly rose. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll be going Michael. And I’ll help them along. It’s on the way.” Sirius and James followed the Headmaster from the room, limping as they went, closely followed by Peter who was helping Remus. James didn’t really know what to say in the awkward situation and so kept his sleeve to his nose to stop the bleeding. Sirius was holding his head gingerly and wobbling dangerously. “Bloody hell, mate,” Sirius groaned, “That was some curse you used. Nearly knocked my block off.” Dumbledore glanced back and his eyes sparkled. “Yes, Mr. Potter, that was some curse.” James mumbled a nervous thank you through his sleeve. “And Mr. Black, I am very impressed with your wide range of spells. Where did you two learn those?” “Er...” Sirius certainly wasn’t going to let the Headmaster know that ninety percent of his knowledge on curses came from his family, the books in the restricted section of the library, and his encounters with Snape. He finally came up with a reasonable answer that was sure to satisfy any teacher, “Well, you know us Professor. We love to study, study, study.” Dumbledore smiled and his eyes twinkled again. He turned left down a corridor and the others halted. “Er, isn’t the hospital wing over this way, sir?” The headmaster halted but did not turn to face them. “You will not be going to the hospital wing yet, Mr. Black, and the same goes for the rest of you. A far more pressing matter needs to be addressed, and it is concerning your behavior. All of you, follow me to my office.” The boys looked at each other, both confusion and anxiety plaguing their expressions. Could Dumbledore have finally found out about their monthly excursions from the castle? Or had the faculty finally had enough of their pranks and antics? Or had he finally realized the dangers of keeping a werewolf on the premises? They hung their heads, and followed silently. Authors\' notes: Here\'s chapter 10! Sorry it took so long to get up and sorry it\'s a little lengthy, but we really enjoyed writing it! If you enjoyed reading it, then please review us! The school year is approaching, and it might take us a little while to keep updating, but everyone knows fanfiction comes before homework, so we\'re on it! And thanks again to all those who have reviewd us!

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