Furious Centaurs and Utter Rubbish
Any plans that the stag, dog, rat and werewolf might have had of venturing past the Shrieking Shack’s walls tonight were marred completely by the vicious thunderstorm raging outside. They weren’t sure Hogsmeade had ever seen so much rain before and, of course, this had to occur the night they wanted to roam the village under the full moon’s light. Mother Nature was rubbing their faces in her power. There was not a second that the sky was free of the rumbling thunder and the brightly flashing lightening. The rain was falling in buckets, causing a deafening racket on the rooftop of the Shrieking Shack. There was not a soul out on the cobblestone streets that night, for fear of drowning if they stayed out for more than three seconds.
Despite the inclement weather, the three Animagi were determined to make this night a good one for their werewolf friend, who had only just rebounded from his horrible month. They wanted him to have fun and they weren’t going to let a little thing like bad weather ruin this for them. Of course, they knew better than to go outside, right now anyway. It would look much too unusual for four of the five Gryffindor seventh year boys to be ill the next morning. The best the Animagi could do for their friend within the confines of the Shrieking Shack was to make sure he didn’t bite or scratch himself at all. This meant a lot of distractions.
Half the furniture in the upstairs of the Shrieking Shack had been destroyed beyond repair through the almost seven years that the werewolf had been visiting the place. The only thing that remained intact was the four poster bed, which the werewolf used when he was still human. The Animagi knew better than to bring damage to that particular piece, lest they incur the wrath of the werewolf when he was human again. The fact that a good portion of the shack was already far gone allowed the Animagi and werewolf to have free reign to run about the place to their hearts’ contents.
The dog and the stag were currently chasing each other relentlessly about the room, while the werewolf watched them with what must have been interest and the rat hovered in the corner, trying desperately to not get stomped on. The padded feet of the dog scuffled across the wooden floorboards, while the clopping from the stag followed close behind. The werewolf and the rat were not entirely sure why the stag and dog had suddenly decided to chase each other, but it was fun to watch, nevertheless. It was only when the large dog trod on the werewolf’s paws that things went wrong.
A dangerous snarl ripped from the centre of the werewolf’s throat as he charged towards the dog, who instantly went running out of the room. There was a brief beat in which the stag and rat watched the werewolf with what could pass for nervous looks and the werewolf ran after the dog. The stag tore after him, the rat scuttling along a good distance behind the three larger animals, terrified of being trampled on. The dog ran furiously down the steps and towards the door leading into the Shrieking Shack.
Within moments, all four animals were running through the tunnel heading towards the opening under the Whomping Willow.
Somehow, the stag managed to wedge himself between the dog and the werewolf and took the brunt of the werewolf’s lunge. The stag kept on his two hind legs and fought the werewolf back, trying to convey that it had only been an accident - the dog hadn’t meant to tread on his paws. The werewolf seemed to calm down after a moment and retreated backwards, showing the dog that all had been forgiven. Now that they were in the tunnel, they could hear that the larger part of the storm had disappeared. It was still raining, but not nearly as badly as it had been earlier.
They didn’t have to be stuck inside all night after all.
The rat ran ahead and prodded the knot at the base of the Whomping Willow’s trunk. The thrashing branches suddenly stopped, giving the group of animals enough time to wriggle their way through the hole and onto the Hogwarts grounds. The grounds were damp and muddy, very difficult to walk across, even on four legs. The only light illuminating the grounds was the light provided from the full moon, casting a white glow across the grass. The torches in the castle long ago extinguished. There wasn’t a soul out on the grounds except for the four animals that had just emerged from underneath the willow. Hagrid had long ago gone to sleep, taking his boarhound Fang with him.
There was no one outside to notice the four unusual animals heading straight for the Forbidden Forest.
The grass squished beneath the four and they slipped across the way, the stag almost falling headfirst into a tree trunk, much to the amusement of his companions. Instead, the stag fell backwards, causing a puddle of mud to splatter up, spraying the dog and werewolf and completely covering the rat. The dog barked loudly when the stag got to his four feet and the huge brown spot on his backside was visible. In what passed for a glare, the stag set off after the dog. They weaved in and out of the trees, going deeper still into the forbidden woods.
The group of animals continued on their way, the stag giving up on his pursuit of the dog. They were carefree in their prowl of the woods, only interested in making this the best full moon the werewolf had ever had. They would have succeeded in their endeavor, had it not been for the set of three arrows that narrowly missed their targets. The werewolf let another angry growl rip from his throat, this one louder and more furious than the one he had let out in the Shrieking Shack.
A pack of ten centaurs stood a few yards away, three had their bows raised and pointed where the stag, dog and werewolf stood. The centaurs looked livid, their eyes narrowed into slits. They were not pleased. The biggest of the centaurs, a reddish brown one, stepped forward, placing another arrow in his bow as he did so. “Leave this place, you do not belong here,” he commanded in an authoritative tone.
The dog snarled, baring his sharp teeth at the centaur. The centaurs did not own the forest; they had no right to tell them to leave. They would leave when they wanted to.
Another centaur, this one a palomino, joined the reddish one. His bow was not drawn, but his hands looked ready to grab it if needed. “Werewolves do not belong in this forest,” he said in a deep, commanding voice, glaring at the werewolf with the utmost contempt.
The stag reared his head back disgustedly. He wanted very much to change back into his human self and tell these bloody centaurs off, but knew better than to do that. That was all he and his friends needed, for their werewolf friend to smell human blood and snap. This would give the centaurs more of a reason to shoot at them. And who was to say the centaurs wouldn’t inform any of the staff that there was a student who could turn from human to stag at will? That was asking for it.
At the stag’s feet squeaked the nervous rat, who could not be seen when standing next to the large creatures he was with. He was petrified. He knew the stag and dog well, they would not back down without a fight. The centaurs either ignored the rat or else they did not hear him. “Leave, now,” the reddish centaur persisted heatedly. The dog barked furiously again, while the werewolf let out a roar of its own. They were not leaving just because a group of arrogant centaurs told them to. “You have no business being here!”
The Animagi and werewolf stood defiantly in their places. They were not letting these centaurs push them around. The centaurs didn’t own the forest. This was just as much their forest on the nights of the full moon than it was theirs. They had heard several dozen times from Hagrid that the centaurs were proud little buggers, thought they were the only creatures who belonged in these woods, but the Animagi and werewolf had never had a problem with them before. Now, all of the sudden, the centaurs wanted to cause trouble?
“Fine,” the palomino said disgustedly. “If you will not leave will, we will have to give you some encouragement.”
The group of centaurs placed the arrows in their bows in one, swift motion and before the Animagi and werewolf knew what was happening, they were running, ten arrows just missing them by mere centimetres. Stumbling across the muddy forest ground, they could hear the furious shouts of the centaurs.
The four animals took this as their cue to call an end to the night.
“I feel like complete rubbish.”
“Yeah, well, I feel like the rubbish that’s found on the rubbish you feel like.”
“That must be some serious rubbish.”
“Can we please stop saying ‘rubbish’? It’s making me ill.”
James placed his forehead on the cool, oddly comforting, wood of the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. They had all woken up with violent headaches, runny noses and deep, shuddering coughs, not to mention stomachaches that were bound to come out sooner or later. This was what they got for spending the night outside, in the rain, in the middle of the muddy Forbidden Forest. Add a rampage of angry centaurs shooting arrows and this was what led the boys to this state of utter rubbish. They knew, though, that if they were feeling this terrible, Remus must have been feeling ten times worse. They had avoided the Hospital Wing all day, not wanting Madam Pomfrey to see them all sick at the same time.
It would raise too many suspicions.
“What’s wrong with you three?” Lily Evans had sat down beside Peter, pulling a dish of stew towards her.
“We’re lamenting our lives, Lily,” Sirius told her, his voice muffled as his face was pressed into his hands. He had a throbbing headache; just the sound of Lily’s voice was enough to push his head into a bloody mutiny.
“What happened to you three? Did you all catch the same bug?”
James managed a small, slightly sickened, smile for her. “We do everything together, Lily. Haven’t we told you?”
“I believe you have.” Lily ladled some stew into her dish and spoon it around before eating some, ignoring the boys’ groans of revulsion at the sight of food. “Have you seen Remus yet today?” Her voice was concerned. All the previous day she had watched her friend nervously, just waiting for him to pass out again as he had after Defence Against the Dark Arts. She was grateful that he hadn’t, but she couldn’t erase the anxiety she felt. She supposed this was how James, Sirius and Peter felt a lot of the time – never sure when the full moon was going to be too much for their friend. Lily knew Remus had told his friends about his Lycanthropy when they were just twelve, and she could see that they were glad he had told her. He had never willingly told anyone about it before.
James shook his head. “He’s probably sick enough already; we don’t need to spread our germs to him.” That and they didn’t want to face the wrath of Madam Pomfrey. She would probably keep them overnight for not going straight to her the moment they first coughed or felt their noses run. “Are you going to see him?”
Lily nodded. “Right after I finish eating.”
Sirius grinned. “Send him our regards, would you?”
Lily rolled her eyes, but grinned despite this. “Of course.”
James chuckled. “And our love.”
Sirius quickly jumped in again. “And, while you’re at it, would you mind telling him we plan on kicking his arse the moment he feels better.”
Lily’s eyes widened. “Why would you do that?”
“Oh, he’ll know why.” They wouldn’t be sick if it wasn’t for him and his full moons. It was all in good fun, of course. They took this upon themselves, getting sick. They were the ones who wanted to go outside at night. Had it been Remus’s decision, they would have been stuck in the Shrieking Shack for the duration of the full moon. It was Sirius who had trodden on a werewolf’s paw, after all.
Lily looked doubtful, but shrugged and asked nothing more on the subject of bringing physical harm to Remus’s rear end. Instead, she was treated to a seemingly mutinous discussion about the centaurs living in the Forbidden Forest.
“Right buggers, they are,” James snarled. If it wasn’t for the centaurs, they would have had a better night than they had. They still would be sick, but they wouldn’t have had to run from sets of arrows pointed at their vital body parts.
“They think they own the forest,” Peter lamented.
“What does it matter if they think they own the forest?” Lily asked, utterly nonplussed. Since when did they have such a vendetta against the centaurs?
“Well…” James did some quick thinking. Why would it matter to them if the centaurs thought they owned the forest? James, Sirius and Peter – the boys who weren’t Animagi – shouldn’t care in the slightest. But the James, Sirius and Peter who were Animagi cared a great deal. They couldn’t go out into Hogsmeade every time the full moon rolled around; they had to vary their routines. The Forbidden Forest would not be cut off to them.
“We just think it’s arrogant of them,” Sirius supplied easily. James was finally in good standings with Lily, Sirius knew he didn’t want a little flub to ruin that. Only Merlin knew how Lily would react to discovering that the three of them were illegal Animagi.
Lily considered this. Sirius had a point. The centaurs weren’t the only inhabitants of the Forbidden Forest – there were unicorns, owls, even large and numerous spiders if the rumors were true. They didn’t have the right to claim that no one else could go into the woods. But why would they care so much? Lily had hardly ever heard them express any interest in that plot of land. Then again, they were the boys who loved anything that was out-of-bounds, they probably thought the Forbidden Forest would be their next endeavor.
She hoped it wasn’t. James was the Head Boy. He had to set an example for the younger students and going into the Forbidden Forest certainly wasn’t going to help.
“Heads down!” Sirius said suddenly, staring avidly at the tabletop, James and Peter doing the same.
“What are you doing?” Lily asked, looking around as though she expected someone to start throwing mashed potatoes.
“Madam Pomfrey!” Peter whispered urgently.
“We can’t let her see us!” James elaborated.
When he was sure the nurse’s back was to him, Sirius picked his head up and raised his eyebrows at Lily. “If we let her see us like this, she’ll give us grief until we’ve graduated!”
“Because you didn’t go to her when you got sick?”
“Exactly!” James burst out, a little louder than he would have liked. Sending everyone who was staring at him a glare, he went on. “What does Madam Pomfrey live for except to badger those of us who don’t run to the Hospital Wing for every runny nose?”
Lily observed the circles under each boy’s eyes, their red, clogged noses and the overall nauseous looks on their faces. “You three have more than just runny noses.”
“Yes, but it’s not like we’re deathly ill,” James said exasperatedly.
Lily shrugged and continued eating her dinner. When she was finished she left the boys to their lamentation of their illness and decided to head to the Hospital Wing. She purposely took her time getting there. It wasn’t as though she didn’t want to see her friend, she was just afraid of what she might see. From what she knew, werewolf transformations were dreadful and, if the werewolf was cut off from all sources of meat, he would resort to biting and scratching himself. She remembered all those times that she had seen Remus sporting a bruise on his face or an arm wrapped in thick bandages. She always wondered what happened that would cause those injuries. She thought he was just clumsy.
Clumsiness was far from the real reason.
When she arrived at the Hospital Wing, it was to see Remus sitting up in his bed, rummaging for something in the bedside table. When she saw him holding his sleeve up to his nose, she surmised it could only be a tissue he was searching for. He was sick too? She supposed what James said was true – they really did do everything together, including catching the common cold. She knocked lightly on the door and Remus pulled himself away from his search. He smiled at her and gestured to the chair that was placed at the foot of his bed.
“How are you feeling?” Lily asked tentatively, pulling out a tissue from her own pocket and handing it to him. She saw up close that he did not look as bad as she had fretted. His face did not bear any bruises, though there were several scratches on his cheeks and there was a light layer of bandages wrapped around his wrist. Other than that, he looked just as his friends did – red nosed and utterly miserable.
“Like someone decided to take away my breathing abilities,” Remus replied, his voice stuffed, gratefully accepting the tissue.
Lily nodded. “Oh, James and Sirius wanted to me tell you they send their regards, their love and to also… err… tell you they’re going to ‘kick your arse’ when you feel better.”
“Which one said that – James or Sirius?”
Remus snorted knowingly. “Would you mind telling him I plan on doing the same thing to him? He deserves it more.” Remus did not forget what led them out into the tunnel in the first place – Sirius treading on his paws last night. Sirius was a large dog, weighed a lot, it was painful.
Lily looked as if she wanted to question him further on the subject, but settled for saying, “I’m sure you both have good reason.”
“Yeah, we do.” Remus shifted in his bed, bringing his bandaged arm to his stomach. Remus being sick at the same time as recovering from a full moon had only happened once in his life, when he was eleven. His grandfather had been there, at least, to help him recover. Now he was at the mercy of the school nurse, who was not happy that he had somehow managed to catch a cold during his transformation. Madam Pomfrey didn’t need to know that he had left the Shrieking Shack and brought this upon himself.
“Anyway,” Lily went on, looking around the infirmary, unsure of what to say. “When… when is the next full moon?” Lily almost scoffed at herself. What a stupid question to ask. When is the next full moon? Real sensitive, Evans.
Remus, thankfully, didn’t seem to find the question insensitive at all. He answered her question as if it was nothing at all. “The twenty sixth of October.”
“At least it’s not on Halloween,” Lily offered optimistically. “It has been before, though, hasn’t it?”
“Yes it has… Fourth year was the last time that happened, I think.” He didn’t mind if the full moon was on Halloween. This year the moon fell at the worst possible time – on Christmas. He’d rather the full moon fall on Halloween, Easter, and his birthday than for it to be on Christmas. There was no way he was going to spend Christmas day lying in his dormitory, too sick to enjoy the holiday. He had already told his parents to expect him for the holidays.
He knew James wanted them all to spend the holiday at the castle, because this was their last opportunity, but Remus didn’t want to ruin their Christmas because he was sick. He hadn’t even told them when the December full moon fell.
“I remember that night,” Lily said with a small shudder. “That was when someone broke into the castle, wasn’t it?”
Remus grimaced, recalling that night all too clearly. It had been a long time since he had thought about his fourth year, the year when Fenrir Greyback made a reappearance in his life. The few times he did think about it, he felt something clench in his stomach and overwhelming desire to throw something extremely heavy. It was people like Greyback who helped give werewolves the terrible lot in life they had. He set the example that made no one want to employ them.
“Remus?” Lily said quietly, breaking him out of his thoughts. “What’s the matter?”
“Hmm?” He had completely forgotten the question Lily had asked him before, getting too wrapped up in his bitter thoughts about Greyback.
“You look mad.”
“Just thinking, that’s all.” He shifted again in his bed, his back sore. Apparently he had fell one too many times last night and the last one he had ended up on his back. How that happened, he would never be entirely sure.
Remus had forgotten the inquisitive Lily still existed. She hadn’t asked many questions, in or outside of class, since her parents died. She must have been sick of them – the constant questions of why her parents died had to be buzzing around her mind longer than she liked. He hadn’t talked about fourth year in a long time, not since the train ride home when he finally caved in and told his friends exactly what had occurred in the Shrieking Shack.
He didn’t know if he wanted to tell Lily, not so soon after she had just found out he was a werewolf. “Just… about the person who turned me into a werewolf,” he told her, in a tone that suggested he really didn’t want to broach the subject further.
Lily frowned. “Oh… wh-what’s his name?”
Remus couldn’t keep the grimace from sliding onto his face or the disgust from appearing in his voice. “Fenrir Greyback.”
“That sounds like a terrible person.”
The infirmary door opened suddenly and James came scurrying in, holding his sleeve up to his nose, clearly in an attempt to stifle the running. “I couldn’t take it anymore!” he said when he saw the raised eyebrows Remus and Lily were sending him. “My nose feels like it’s going to fall off my face and run away before I can catch it!”
Remus snorted. “You think you feel bad?”
“Oh yeah, how’re you feeling?”
“Better than you at the moment, I think.”
James sighed and shook his head. “The day when a werewolf feels better the day after the full moon than a person with the common cold is the day you know the world is ending.”
Madam Pomfrey came swooping down upon James, furious that the relative peacefulness of the Hospital Wing had been shattered. “Mr. Potter, what’s this racket you’re causing?”
James instantly shrunk under the glare of the nurse. “I don’t feel good, Madam Pomfrey. I’m sick.”
The nurse nodded to one of the empty beds and James sat down while she looked for the appropriate potions.
He jerked his head towards the back of Madam Pomfrey and said in an undertone, “She scares me.”
Excerpt from Chapter Sixty Five: A Well-Deserved Date
“Look, he’s standing right there. I can hit him from here!”
“Yeah, he is standing right there, but there’s also a giant piece of land between you and him.”
“So, that means there’s the likelihood that some poor innocent bugger will walk between you and Snivellus and get hit with whatever hex you’re planning to throw at him.”
“Serves them right for getting in the way.”
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