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Term ended and I went back home to Spinner's End. I avoided Lily on the train, sitting alone with Gabriel in his crate at my feet. It was the first time since coming to Hogwarts that I didn't share a compartment with Lily and knowing she was with that arrogant strutting dick Potter made me feel ill. I kept replaying the scene by the lake over and over in my mind, wondering what I could have done differently. But there was nothing else that I could have done to defend myself once Potter and Black had gotten the jump on me. I detested them for their unjust persecution of me, but I also learned a valuable lesson from them—always be prepared. I should have had my wand up my sleeve or in my hand, not lying beside me. I should have also found a better place to study, where no one could sneak up on me without me knowing. I knew better now. The book my fellow Slytherin Amos Mulciber gave me would help me teach those rotten Marauders a lesson. I hoped Potter had a scar on his pretty face from my curse, it would serve him right. Poor Lily! Maybe she would come to her senses over the summer holiday.

Once at home, I released Gabe from his crate and walked him, I found it was rather peaceful being back here again, and the neighbors were all glad to see me and Gabriel and said hello as we walked by. I swung by Lily's house, but was too much of a coward to knock on the door. I went back home, dragging Gabriel, who couldn't understand why we didn't go and visit like usual. He whined until I snapped, "Stop it, we're not going there. She doesn't want to be friends anymore, understand?"

That hurt more than anything, for Lily had been my best friend for years and just when I was starting to look at her as more than that—this had occurred. I was quiet and sullen at supper and told Mum I was tired when she asked what was the matter. I went to bed early and spent some of that time reading The Book of Night.

I knew after the third chapter that this was not a spellbook my mother would want me to read. It was full of "Gray Magic" spells that skirted the line between dark and light, at least what I had read so far. So I determined to keep it a secret from her. I knew deep inside that I shouldn't go down this road, that spells such as this only led to darker magics, but I was angry and hurt and searching for a way to outmaneuver the damn Marauders any way I could. I was too proud to ask for help from my fellow Slytherins, who had scorned me for my friendship with a Muggleborn witch, and yet the incident beside the lake had taught me that I needed stronger spells than I currently knew to make the Marauders keep their distance. I needed spells that would make them fear me, so they would leave me in peace. I also wanted to hurt them as they had hurt me, stealing away my best friend. Well, one of my best friends, I amended, looking at the collie sprawled on my rug.

Nothing and no one could ever take Gabe from me. Except old age and death. I bent down to scratch him behind the ears and he groaned in pleasure. Then I resumed reading.

Three days later, I decided to gather up my courage and go visit Lily. I had planned on persuading her to reconsider going out with Potter, only to discover that she had gone away to stay with her aunt in Liverpool for almost the entire summer. "Didn't she tell you that, Sev?" asked Mrs. Evans kindly. "She received a letter from my sister, who hasn't seen Lily since she was knee-high, and she's Lil's godmother besides. My sister travels constantly and is almost never in Britain. She spent seven years in America and three in Japan and was sorry she missed out on seeing my baby grow up. So she invited Lily for almost the whole summer holiday. I'm surprised she didn't mention it to you on the way home, I sent her the letter a week ago."

"Oh. Well, thanks for telling me. Goodbye."

I left, feeling utterly depressed, and as if Lily had truly cut me out of her life for good. She could have told me she was going away, so I could wish her bon voyage at least. Could Potter have turned her against me so quickly in the week before we left? Or was she trying to spare us both the pain of parting over and over? Whatever her reason, I was very upset and resolved even more to learn those spells in the Book of Night.

I spent the lazy days of July and August trying to master the few beginning spells in the book and couldn't wait to try them out on the Marauders. Some of the spells were designed to scare and intimidate, others to conceal, and the last one was designed to give the target painful leg cramps for three hours. That was one I was dying to try on bloody Pettigrew, and Black too.

I saw Lily at King's Cross Station and waved to her.

She gave me a small smile, but didn't come to say hello, instead she got on the train after Potter and the rest of the Marauders. I ground my teeth together.

The first two weeks of term I spent studying for my classes and using my newfound spells to hide from the Marauders. I still watched Lily from afar, Potter kept his promise, such as it was, and didn't attempt to hex me, but the others, mostly Black and Pettigrew, still stalked me when they could. But once when they tried to ambush me when I was returning from a late night session in the library, I got them good. I used the new curse I had learned and nailed them both.

Then I left them on the floor, crying and gritting their teeth. "Not so tough are you now, without your mate Potter, are you?" I sneered.

"What dark curse did you use, Snape?" demanded Black. "Ahhh! I think I'm crippled for life you bloody git!"

"I wish, you miserable arse. Have a nice night! Better hope Filch doesn't patrol the corridor and find you!" I turned away and as I passed Filch's office on my way to my common room, I left him an anonymous tip. They had done the same to me too many times to count.

Then the next morning, we had our first potions lab of the year, the first two weeks Slughorn had spent reviewing the syllabus and having us collect ingredients. It was then I found out that Lily would no longer be my partner. Slughorn had decided to pair us with different people this year, and he made Lily be Mary McDonald's partner and I got stuck with Lupin! I almost choked. Me, paired with a Marauder! Of course Lupin wasn't as bad as the other three, but still . . .

"If you start anything with me in here, Lupin, or try and sabotage our potion—" I began warningly.

"I won't Snape. It's my grade too, remember? Let's just brew, all right? I'll take the first four steps and you can have the last, they're more complicated and you're better at this than I am."

"Humph! Maybe if you concentrated instead of playing stupid pranks you'd learn something," I said acidly.

Lupin flushed. "I spent hours studying last year and it still wasn't enough. I don't have the skill to memorize hundreds of names and properties of herbs and ingredients and Slughorn figured I'd benefit from watching one of his gifted students at work. That's why he put me with you."

I was somewhat mollified when I heard that, I had never considered myself a role model before. And as long as I was with Lupin, his mates would try anything. Lupin wasn't a bad partner, he did what I told him and didn't make fun of me, but I still didn't enjoy brewing the way I usually did. Lately, nothing I did seemed to make me happy. I was moody and angry almost all the time, and at first I put it down to losing Lily. I never thought to consider another reason.

It was about two months after our first potions lab that I began to observe something off about Lupin. I noticed that he became extremely pale and ill-looking around the full moon, which normally lasted three days. He always missed class and yet the teachers seemed to expect it and never took points and always allowed him extra time to make up the work. I usually allowed him to borrow my notes from potions, since I wanted him to be up to snuff, because I couldn't stomach a lousy brewer. Annoyed me to no end.

Still . . .I couldn't figure out why Lupin got sick around the full moon. And Gabriel got snappish around him during that time and my dog never did that unless there was something amiss. Gabe didn't care for any of the Marauders, but he had never snarled at Potter or Black or Pettigrew unless they were attacking me. When I inquired about Lupin's mysterious absences to my Head, Slughorn told me that Lupin had a chronic illness and to not be a nosey-parker. That really got my curiosity going. What kind of illness did Lupin have that had to be kept secret?

The answer should have been obvious, now that I think back, but at the time, my judgment was clouded. I was instantly suspicious. I tried doing some research on my own, but no wizard disease listed in the library fit his symptoms. In November, the full moon came early, and I was all set to do some covert spying. Since the Cramping Curse, Black and Pettigrew had mostly avoided me, except for calling me rude names across the Quidditch pitch and throwing various rotten fruits at me during lunch and other stupid things. Sixteen years old and they acted like they were nine!

The full moon was only a day away, and I had plans to conceal myself beside the Gryffindor portrait hole and see where Lupin went during that time, or if he went anywhere, since he was sick he might just stay in bed. That was when an unfamiliar owl approached me with a note. I opened it, and found it was almost illegible because of several large water spots.

Sev,

Please forgive me. You were right. I can't stand being with Potter any longer. We need to talk. Please meet me by the Whomping Willow at eleven o'clock tomorrow night.

Always,

Lily

My heart leapt with joy and I clutched the letter to me as if it were a precious gem. Gabriel looked up from his spot on the foot of my bed and whined. I suppose he thought my reaction very strange , I was practically walking on air.

I knew she would come to her senses. Tomorrow night couldn't come quick enough.

June 15th, 1993:

I still can't sleep, despite the early hour, and it's probably because the memories I have bottled up inside me are not ones conducive to sleeping. For what followed was a very dark time in my life, and it all began with the Great Werewolf Prank, as I have come to call it.

November 20th, 1976:

The note was not, of course, from Lily at all. It was a decoy, written by Black and Potter, to lure me to the Whomping Willow and once I was there, they cast a Voice Mimic charm and made me think Lily was trapped beneath the willow and hurt.

I never even thought it could be a trap, all I knew was that Lily needed me and I had to help her. So, without thinking I rushed into the opening beneath the tree and down the tunnel leading to . . .the Shrieking Shack. Gabriel had accompanied me, and he went crazy when I went down there, barking fit to wake the dead. Before I could order him to stay, he had followed me down the tunnel.

I could still hear Lily's voice, more frantic now, yelling, "Help! Severus, are you there? Please help me!"

"I'm coming, Lily!" I called.

But then Gabriel grabbed the back of my robes and tugged backwards, nearly making me fall. He was growling urgently. "Gabriel! Let me go, you bloody dog!" I shouted. "I have to save her!"

I struggled with my eighty-five pound collie, and heard my robes tear as I did so. I swore angrily. "Goddammit, Gabriel!"

I was just about to tear free from my dog when I heard Potter's voice behind me. "Snape! Don't open that door!" He grabbed my arm.

"Get off, Potter!" I snarled. "What have you done with Lily? Is this some kind of sick joke?"

He hung onto me. "That's not Lily in there, Snape! That was all a prank to get you to come down here, but—"

"You blithering idiot! Just what in hell's name is in there if not Lily?" Between my collie and Potter I felt like a rope bone. One whose patience was slowly unraveling.

"I can't tell you that, Snape. But it's dangerous, now come away."

"You're lying, Potter! You just want to make a fool of me, like always! Well, not this time! Get . . .off . . .of . . .me!" I managed to pull free just as something heavy slammed into the wooden door inches from my hand.

The wood started to splinter, whatever was in there was bloody strong. Then I heard it . . .the chilling dreadful howl . . .it is a sound that once heard, can never be forgotten. Think of all the creepy stories you have heard about wolves howling and then multiply that a hundredfold. That is a werewolf's howl, it freezes the veins in your blood. And I was right next to the door when Lupin howled and so the full force of the howl slammed into me.

"Snape! Hurry! He's breaking free!" Potter screamed, trying to haul me backwards.

I was rigid with terror for a few moments. Gabriel suddenly released my robes and came to stand in front of me, his head down and snarling furiously.

Potter dragged me backwards down the tunnel just as the top of the door was smashed to pieces and a huge gray slavering monster emerged from the room, eyes burning red with the need to rend, tear, and kill.

And my collie was right in its path.

For some reason, the sight of my dog facing death on four legs removed the paralyzing fear from my limbs. "Gabriel! NO!"

But my dog refused to run, even though he probably knew the monster he faced could kill him. He faced the beast and snapped at its hairy paws, managing to bite it hard.

The werewolf howled and swatted my dog, claws slashing and knocked my valiant collie across the tunnel. He hit the ground hard and lay still.

Potter still had hold of me by the back of my robes and I screamed, "Arsehole, let me go! I have to get my dog!"

"You nutters, Snape? In case you haven't noticed, that's a werewolf down there!" Potter yelled, and kept trying to pull me away.

I dug in my heels. "I don't care! I'm not leaving my dog to die!"

"He's probably already dead, Snape!"

I ignored him and shrugged free of my robe, leaving him holding it, I raced down and cast a Featherlight Charm on my collie. Then I picked him up and ran like hell up the tunnel. Potter followed and did something to the tree that caused the tunnel to seal itself and the willow to start thumping its branches again.

I was panting and sick with terror. I had figured out Lupin's secret, I realized then. Now it made sense. Lupin was cursed, not ill. I cradled Gabriel to my chest, I could feel his heart still beating beneath my fingers. He was bleeding badly from four parallel lacerations across his shoulder and side. Could a dog become a werewolf? I knew that it was a werewolf's bite which passed on the curse, but what about the claws? I had to get to Hagrid, fast.

"Snape, you're insane—risking your life for a bloody dog that way—" Potter began.

I whirled on him, practically spitting my words. "Shut your bloody gob, Potter! What are you playing at? If my dog dies—" I shuddered even thinking about it. "I'm going to hunt you down and nail your arse to a wall—you and your little friends Black and Pettigrew—I know they're involved in this too, don't deny it!"

"Look, Snape, it was an accident . . ." Potter began.

"Fuck off, Potter!" I turned and walked away, I couldn't trust my temper right then.

"I saved your life, Snivellus, you greasy git!" he shouted after me.

"After you put me in danger first, you bloody prick! Thanks for nothing!" I called over my shoulder.

I started to run towards Hagrid's, and half broke down the door in my haste.

"Hagrid! Open the door, it's me, Severus!"

Fang started howling and soon the door was thrown open.

"Severus? What's wrong, lad?"

"Gabriel . . .he . . ." I couldn't finish, my throat closed up. "Please, help him!"

Hagrid led me into his home, and directed me to put my dog on Fang's big dog bed. Gabriel was still unconscious and his blood had soaked into my uniform. "What happened, Sev?"

"He . . .got clawed by a . . .werewolf . . ." I gasped.

"Werewolf . . .not Remus Lupin . . .!"

"You knew?" I cried.

"'Course I did. All the staff knows about him, Dumbledore told us first day of your first year. Had to. But how did you find out?" He knelt and applied a potion to stop the bleeding, then used a magically sharp razor to shave the fur away from the slashes, making them easier to treat.

I told him everything. Then I asked, dread in my tone, "Hagrid can . . .can dogs contract lycanthropy?" I didn't want to know the answer, but at the same time I couldn't bear not to know.

"Ahh . . .I don't think so, Severus. Least I never heard of it." Hagrid said.

"It's contracted through saliva, right? That's why they say if you're bitten by a werewolf you can get the curse, right?"

"Yeah, that's about right." Hagrid agreed.

"But Gabriel was clawed, so that should mean he won't get it. Claws aren't the same as fangs."

"Yeah. And he did bleed a fair bit too, so that should clean out the wounds some," Hagrid said. He felt over my collie's skull with expert gentle fingers. "Took a nasty knock on the head, though. Fetch me some Bone Mend on my shelf, Sev. He might have a cracked noggin."

Bone Mend was safe to give dogs, Skele-Gro was not. I quickly fetched it and we poured it slowly down the unconscious dog's throat, and then did the same with a Pain Reliever. I helped Hagrid swab out the scratches and put a Wound Cleansing Paste upon them. Then I wrapped a clean white bandage about him.

Then I sat by him, numb with shock and fear. I fell asleep there, not caring that I should go back to the castle. All that mattered was that my dog should live. Tomorrow was a Hogsmeade weekend, something I normally looked forward to, but not then.

Gabriel woke around the early morning, I gave him some water and took him outside, then when he came in, I took his temperature using magic, I had learned that spell from Madam Pomfrey, it was certainly more comfortable than the way a Muggle vet took a dog's temperature!

I found he was running a high fever and he just lay there on Fang's dog bed, all woozy and panting. Fang was snoring on the other side. I quickly found a bottle of a Fever Reducer made for animals and gave him two spoonfuls mixed with a beef paste so he would swallow it easily. Afterwards, he just slept, and I remained beside him, stroking his fur.

"Get well, Gabriel. Please get well!" I pleaded, I fell asleep there next to him.

When I woke I was in a large bed, and realized it was Hagrid's.

But Gabriel was very sick from the werewolf injuries. A werewolf's claws might not transmit the bite, but they were very dirty and full of germs, and Gabriel's shoulder became infected. It took Hagrid and I two days to bring down the fever and defeat the infection, I brewed nonstop and once I was satisfied my dog would live, I told Hagrid that I was reporting the Marauders to the Headmaster.

"But Severus, no one's supposed ta know about Remus!"

"Too late for that, Hagrid." I said with a sharp laugh. "The cat—or wolf—is out of the bag."

This time the Marauders had gone too far. Surely Dumbledore would realize this now and expel them?

I had almost died and worse, so had my dog.

But things didn't work out that way. The Headmaster seemed more concerned that I not blab Lupin's secret than the fact that a stupid prank had nearly cost me and Gabe our lives. He made me promise not to tell anyone what I knew.

McGonagall happened to come into the office during that time and to my everlasting shock she stood up for me. "Albus, you cannot let them off with a slap on the wrist! Not for this! This was no mere prank, this could have cost young Severus his life! Not to mention the life of that wonderful collie!"

"I understand, Minerva, but I cannot expel them, nor can I allow Severus to reveal what really happened that night. Besides, James did pull Severus away from the door. Clearly no harm was meant."

I gaped at him and thought he was seriously mental.

"No harm?" cried McGonagall, she was furious. "They lured a boy into a dangerous situation for no reason! That isn't what I would call no harm!" Her mouth firmed. "You indulge them too much. I want your permission, Albus, to give me leave to discipline them as I see fit. They are my House."

Dumbledore looked up at her, his eyes grave. "Very well, Minerva. You do have charge of them."

She gave him a nod. Then she turned to me. "You have my apologies, Mr. Snape. They did not behave like Gryffindors, they behaved like . . .like hoodlums. I do hope your dog shall be all right. He's in good hands though, with Hagrid. I've seen him nurse a half-dead Pegasus back to health. I shall stop by later to see how he's getting on. Right now, I have some miscreants to punish."

She sailed out of the room, looking like she was going to take strips from them. She had always had a soft spot for my dog, saying Gabriel reminded her of her Jock, and giving me treats for him.

Later, Minerva did stop by and see Gabriel, and while she knelt and stroked his head, she told me that I would be receiving four written apologies from the Marauders, including Remus, who felt terrible and wanted to write one as well. She also told me she had taken a cane to Potter, Black, and Pettigrew for their detestable behavior, giving them ten each, as had been done when she was a girl. "I felt they deserved more than just lines, or scrubbing toilets, and all the normal detentions seem to have no effect on them, so maybe this one might."

At first I felt happy that they had finally gotten what they deserved, but after a moment or two I found myself just wishing my dog would get better soon and not giving a damn about the Marauders. McGonagall had tea with Hagrid and me, and I thanked her for punishing the Marauders properly. She bent and petted my dog before leaving and Gabriel woke and licked her hand.

"There's a good dog!" she crooned. "I'll bring ye a nice bone tomorrow, shall I? Would you like that, you big beastie?"

Gabe wagged his tail and gave a sort of half bark.

My teacher smiled and said, "Mind you return to your dorm tonight, Severus Snape, else your Head will be forced to take points."

Hagrid said he would help me carry Gabe up to my room that evening. I was rather upset that Lily didn't even come and see how Gabe was doing, when all of a sudden there was a knock at the door and when Hagrid opened it, there was Lily. "Severus, I just met McGonagall coming back and she told me Gabe had been injured! Is he going to be all right?"

Her green eyes were full of compassion and she went and knelt on the floor and hugged my collie. "Poor Gabe! Poor brave dog!"

I was happy to see her, and for awhile I said nothing, content to just be in the same room with her.

"How . . .what happened? Did he get hurt fighting off a wild beast?" she asked.

"You could say that," I told her, wishing I could tell her the truth. But I was bound by my promise. "He got an infection in his shoulder and he nearly died."

"Oh, Sev! I'm so sorry . . ."

I touched her on the shoulder. "Lily, dump James the jerk and let's be friends again."

But she shook her head. "Severus, we've been through this. I can't go back on my word."

"Why not? He went back on his!" I snarled. "Or didn't you know that the Marauders were responsible for me nearly dying and Gabriel as well that night!"

"James said he tried to stop you from going into the Forest," Lily began.

"He got cold feet but don't let him fool you. He was in on it too." I said sharply.

"Severus, being with him is the only way I can protect you."

"I can take care of myself, Lily!"

"Can you?" She sighed. Then she rose to her feet. "I have to run. Take care, Sev. Bye, Gaby! Hope you feel better soon!"

Lily, what the hell happened to you? I wondered sadly as I petted my collie. I never ever asked you to do anything for me.

I couldn't understand how she could tolerate them, because except for Remus, I hated them all.

June 15th, 1993:

Behind me, I heard Lily stir.

"Sev? What are you doing up? Are you sick?"

"No. I just couldn't sleep so I was writing down some memories," I answered.

"Oh. Hope they were good ones. Come back to bed, love. I'm cold." She patted the bed invitingly.

I smiled and pretended reluctance, setting my quill down. "Is that all I'm good for? A bedwarmer?"

She chuckled, low and sultry. "Among other things."

I did as she asked and slipped back beneath the sheets, snuggling next to her. Before I knew it, we were kissing and that in turn led to other things, and I fell asleep afterward finally, content and happy, and slept until breakfast time. Oh, how I loved when Lily came home!

So, how did you like Minerva's interference? I know it probably wasn't enough for some of you but she did what she could.

Next: Severus reveals how but for a dog, he would have become ensnared by dark magic.
 

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