The month of May of our sixth year went down in history as one of the shittiest ever. Reports of strange things happening were coming in a lot more frequently than before. We saw a new missing person in the paper every other day, and Red, being the smart girl she was, quickly spotted a pattern. Most of the missing people were muggle borns. We were told not to worry time and time again, but it was hard not to.
I had found an unexpected ally and support in Lily Evans. She made excuses for me when I felt overwhelmed by any situation and had to disappear for a few hours. She never even asked me where I went or what I did with that time, she just seemed to know I needed it. In order to avoid raising suspicion, I had tried going back to sleeping around, but it just didn’t feel right. Eventually, I started just going to Hogsmeade and getting drunk, but I stopped that too when I came back one night and ran into Jocelyn in the common room. Turns out being drunk around her was way too risky.
With the quidditch season over I had no reason to spend any alone time with Jocelyn which was good and bad. I missed our beater practice. I also missed her in general, but as Lily had wisely told me, I had to stay away from her. So, I tried. I tried with everything I had.
I was getting really worried. The news on the Daily Prophet were increasingly disturbing and the fact that Lily had figured out whoever this dark wizard was he was targeting muggle borns didn’t make it any easier. I was on my way to meet James at our usual spot, the mystery room only he knew how to open, but the last thing on my mind was whatever girlfriends thought about when going to meet their boyfriends.
“Hey, sorry I’m late” I said pushing the door open.
“Don’t worry, everything okay?” I reached him and sat next to him.
“No. I’m worried, James. We’ll be done with sixth year in a little over a month and that means leaving Hogwarts for the summer. I’m worried about Lily” saying it out loud made me feel even worse, if that was possible.
“I know. I’ve been thinking about it, too”
“Of course I have. And I have an idea” he informed me.
“Go on” I smiled at him. Being around James, talking to him, was so easy. We got along so well. Why did I constantly feel like there was something missing?
“I got tickets to the Quidditch World Cup in France” he said, beaming.
“Us? Like you and I?”
“And Sirius, Remus, Peter, Alice and Lily, if they want to come” I stared at him.
“James, that must have cost a small fortune”
“My parents were happy to do it. It’s our last Hogwarts summer, I want it to be special. Plus, there’s no way these sick bastards would do anything during the World Cup. Lily will be safe for at least two weeks”
I hugged him. “You are the best, James Potter. And I have an idea to add to yours”
“Let’s hear it”
“We should just spend summer together. As much as we can. I’ll invite Lily to my place, then we could go somewhere all together, my parents have a house in the south of France. We could go for a week, then make our way to the World Cup. That’s a month gone, and Lily would be safe throughout” James was nodding enthusiastically.
“I could host us for a week or two at my place in London after that” he offered.
“I’m sure Alice will offer her place too” I clapped my hands. “This is brilliant, James. Thank you”
“We take care of our friends” he said. I hugged him again, feeling a lot better about the ‘worried about Lily’ situation.
The thing about my relationship with James was that it was very good. We got along well, we were comfortable with each other and we had good sexual chemistry. I couldn’t find anything fundamentally wrong with it, not even remotely. So, I thought again as we left the room together a couple of hours later, why did I feel like there was?
We met our friends for dinner in the Great Hall. They were all there, even Sirius who had recently been disappearing a lot to Merlin knows where with only Godric knew who.
“I have been thinking” I said by way of hello.
“Did it hurt?” his tone was light, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes.
“You’re hilarious, Sirius” I rolled my eyes. “Anyway, I’ve been thinking and discussing with James that in a month or so we’ll be out of here for the final time before we graduate” everyone nodded.
“So, we should make this a summer to remember” I continued. “We have a plan”
Our plan was very well received by everyone, including Lily. She didn’t fail to notice it was partly motivated by our desire to keep an eye on her, but she was grateful. The quidditch World Cup was the part Sirius and I were most excited about. My parents’ villa in the south of France had Lily and Alice in a frenzy, on the other hand.
“We need to go shopping before the holiday!” exclaimed Alice when we made it to our room. I lounged on the bed before replying.
“We can take a day or two just us girls in London before we meet the ma... the boys”
“I can’t believe we’re going to spend all summer together” Lily said clapping her hands.
“It is the last Hogwarts summer; it has to be grand” Alice beamed.
“It will be”
We busied ourselves getting ready for bed. It was a beautiful clear night and I could see the moon shining through our window. It would be full in a day or two. That reminded me, I still hadn’t figured out the marauders’ nicknames. Too much going on.
“Jo?” I looked around, confused.
“Woah, what’s gotten into you girl?”
“What? Nothing” I shrugged. Lily arched her eyebrows.
“Don’t you ‘nothing’ me, you were looking out the window like a melancholic widow” sometimes it was very helpful that your best friend was so perceptive. Other times it was really not.
“Jo, you are always here for us, let us be there for you, too” said Alice. I sat on the windowsill and sighed.
“Alright, here’s the thing” I took a deep breath. “I really like James, I think he is extremely hot, we get along really well, he is nice and treats me right, he is a good kisser, sex is good. Our relationship is good”
“How do you know there’s a but?”
“Isn’t there?” Ugh, Lily!
“Fine. But... I feel like something is missing. I don’t know what or why, it makes no sense to me, like I said our relationship is good. But I can’t shake the feeling”
“Okay, let’s analyze this for a minute” said Alice. I looked at her.
“When did you start feeling like this?”
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while. At first it was a small thing, I ignored it. I mean, I am still super attracted to him so it’s easy to ignore these things when we are... you know... together…”
They both nodded in understanding. There may have been some eyebrow wiggling on Alice’s part, but I ignored that. Lily asked “is there like a third person?”
“No, not at all. It’s not like that. It’s not that I fancy someone else, it is that I can’t shake the feeling that I am missing something in my relationship with James” her question made me uneasy, but I viciously repressed whatever that was. This had nothing to do with anyone else. It just didn’t.
“Did you feel the same with Jax?” Alice asked.
“I never thought about it. We weren’t together long enough for it to even cross my mind, I guess. The thing is, I kind of see James and I, like, we could be a long-term thing. A really long-term thing” I explained. I was growing increasingly anxious. Talking about things to my friends usually made me feel better, not worse.
“And that’s a bad thing? How?” Lily asked.
“Alice, tell me something. How do you feel when you’re with Remus?”
“What do you mean? It’s great, but you said you feel the same with James”
“No, I mean how do you really feel? Like if you had to put the feeling into words”
“I... I feel like the world is electric, like I am buzzing. I feel like I gravitate towards him, like the universe pulls us together” she said after some thought. I nodded eagerly. Lily stayed quiet for a bit. I looked at her, a foreboding growing in me. She was going to figure it out, and, worse, she was going to make me figure it out. I wasn’t sure I wanted to.
“I think I know what your problem is, Jo” Lily said eventually. Then, she locked eyes with me and said “And I think you know it too, you just don’t want to know”
“I think I do,” I sighed. There was no point denying it any longer. Hearing Alice talk about her and Remus, plus every little nagging feeling I had had being with James… well, let’s just say I wasn’t super perceptive like Lily, but I wasn’t an idiot, either.
“James and I work. We could stay together forever, marry, have children and a pleasant, happy life”
“That’s your problem? I’m so confused” Alice groaned.
“I don’t want just a happy life” I whispered. I continued before Alice could protest. “I want a love story to inspire songs”
Alice and Lily were looking at me with very wide eyes.
“I want to feel like he’s everything. Like he is my everything. I want to feel like the world stops spinning when he looks at me. I want to drown in his eyes and lose the ability to function if he touches me. I want all encompassing, all-consuming love. I want to despair, to feel like I can’t live without him. I want it to tear me apart and put me back together. I have always hoped for something like Catherine and Heathcliff, Romeo and Juliet. I want to be Anna Karenina and find a Count. Fucking hell, I’d even settle for Elizabeth and Mr Darcy!” I didn’t know where any of this was coming from, but I couldn’t stop it. I stood up without even realizing it halfway through my speech and kept going. It was like I’d opened the floodgates and there was no stopping the tide. It was coming for me like an out of control avalanche and I was ready to let it swipe me off my feet.
“I want to burn the world to the ground with our passion. I want to catch on fire. I don’t want good, I don’t want nice. I don’t want a happy, comfortable life. I want toe-curling and mind-blowing. I want electric, I want terrifying, I want immense, I want huge, I want world-rocking. I want epic. I want fireworks.”
I sat back down on the bed and let out a small sob. “I am a horrible human being.”
Lily and Alice rushed to my side and hugged me at the same time. “Jo, you aren’t horrible. You are just human.” Lily said.
“And you deserve epic,” Alice said. I looked at her. “You deserve all those things. You are the most loyal, selfless and brave person I have ever met. You’ve been there for me after every breakup, every mistake. You helped Lily every time someone bullied her. You have never, ever, asked anyone for anything in your life. Not even when you thought you were invisible. You never complained, never made us feel bad that we got attention and you didn’t. If anyone deserves fireworks, Jo, it’s you”
I started crying, and we stayed there for a while. Eventually, I calmed down enough to look at my friends again.
“What do I do? I can’t break up with James, he doesn’t deserve this”
“You can’t date him just because you don’t want to hurt him, Jo” Lily reasoned.
“I need to think about it. What if I’m just having a bad run? What if I break up with him and regret it forever?”
“I think you should follow your heart no matter what, Jo. But, if you’re unsure, then give it until after the summer,” Alice suggested. “Maybe the fireworks will come”
Voicing my doubts made it both easier and harder to date James. Easier because I knew what the ‘issue’ was, so I could just decide to ignore it. Harder because every time we kissed, every time we touched or had sex, I couldn’t stop thinking that it was good, it was great, but it wasn’t epic. I always immediately felt like an absolute dickhead for it. James was amazing, and any girl would be lucky to have him. So, back to ignoring the ‘issue’ until the next time it cropped up in my mind, and so on.
I had decided that keeping busy was going to help, so I had devoted most of time to a) finding out once and for all what the Marauders’ nicknames were and b) exercising. After all, I had a bit of vanity in me and wanted to look my best now that I was going to spend most of the summer around the boys, and in a bikini for a good part of it. The b) part of my plan was going great. I had returned to early morning runs and it was doing wonders for my mental health. The a) part wasn’t really progressing.
It had become apparent I wasn’t going to figure it out on my own. I needed help. Unsuspecting help in the form of Sirius Black. Since quidditch season had ended we hadn’t really spent much time together on our own, and it was bugging me. So, with the excuse (for myself) that I was on a fact-finding mission, I went looking for him.
“I give up,” I dramatically threw myself on the common room sofa next to Remus, Lily and Alice.
“On what exactly?” asked Remus.
“What do you need him for?” Lily chimed in.
“Just need to check our transfiguration essay with him, the one we’re supposed to hand in tomorrow, remember?” I had been preparing this lie the entire hour I’d been looking for him. We did have an essay to hand it, but it did not need any checking at all whatsoever. They did not know that.
“Ah, well, in that case, maybe he’s in our room?” Remus gave me an odd look, very intense. I was about to say I had already checked their room when I realized what he meant.
“Ah, ah, yes, I didn’t check there… thanks Remus”
“What am I missing?” I heard Lily ask as I walked up the boys’ staircase.
It took me a while to find it, and I tried to enchant two completely normal pieces of parchment before I found the actual map. ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good’. Hogwarts appeared before my eyes. I scanned it carefully, looking for Sirius Black. It took me forever to find him, but in the end, I did. ‘What is he doing all the way across the lake?’ I wondered. He was alone.
Satisfied, I put the map away and ran to get my broom. No way I was going to walk all the way there… a thought occurred to me. I could probably run (in Husky form) rather quickly. It was almost dark, and close to the new moon, so it was unlikely anyone would see me. Besides, I had to keep up my practice.
I waited until I was safely behind a bunch of trees in case anyone was looking from the castle (unlikely, anyway) and transformed. The rest of the way was a piece of cake. I made it to the spot where I had seen Sirius on the map, and carefully slowed my pace. He was sat down on the grass with his back against a tree. He looked absolutely miserable. It broke my heart. What was he so upset about? Had he heard from his family again?
Worried about him, I transformed back to my human form. I was about to alert him of my presence when he stood up, shook his head and turned into a dog. The dog. The dog I had been running with every now and then. A dog.
I was so shocked I couldn’t talk or move. Sirius, the dog, whatever, sprinted away back towards the castle, and I just stood there. And then, I had an epiphany. I had flashbacks to Sirius’ wounds that night in February. I remembered James’ ghastly cut across his face. My mind picked up other things I had never paid attention to before: how Sirius had been extremely quiet for an entire month during the beginning of fifth year and, most notably, not made out with anyone. How, the following month, James had not asked Lily out a single time (we thought he was over it, but he re-started his conquest efforts after exactly 30 days). And the one thing all those events had in common was a full moon. And, every time, Remus had gone missing for a reason or another. I remembered Peter saying ‘accident in herbology’, ‘mother is unwell’, ‘fell off his broom’, and ‘just a bit unwell’. And I knew.
It all made so much sense now. Sirius was Padfoot. An illegal animagus, except he hadn’t been tutored by anyone. He had learnt it all on his own. And I was pretty sure so had James, possibly even Peter though I had some doubts about that one. And they’d done it because Remus Lupin, my best friend’s boyfriend, was a werewolf.
Padfoot walked into the common room and I noticed, confused, he was alone. “Did Jocelyn not find you?” I asked him.
“What?” he came closer. Alice was half asleep on my lap.
“Hold on” I told him. “Hey, babe, I think it’s time you got some sleep” I whispered to her. She looked at me sleepily and agreed. We kissed goodnight and she disappeared up the stairs. I turned to Padfoot just as Jocelyn entered the common room.
“Your room. Right now. Move” Sirius and I looked at each other in great confusion. I had heard Jo could be quite scary if you pissed her off, but she was also quite difficult to piss off (unless you were Padfoot) so I had never actually been on the receiving end of her rage until now.
“Whatever it was, it wasn’t us” said Padfoot, smiling at her. She didn’t budge. If anything, she looked angrier. The smile died in his lips immediately. I thought it was the only time I’d seen Sirius fail at making Jocelyn smile back.
“Up the fucking stairs, right now” she said, marching towards them herself. “And James and Peter better be in there too”
We hurried to follow her up the stairs. “Do you have any idea what this is about?” Sirius whispered to me. I shook my head no.
Prongs and Wormtail were, in fact, in our room. Jocelyn barreled inside without even knocking.
“Shut the door” she said, taking out her wand.
“WHOA, what’s wrong?” James jumped up, glancing at her wand.
“Muffliato” she pointed at the door. “Sit”
Nobody dared disobey. We all sat down. She stood in the middle of the room. For someone so short, she sure as hell was scary and imposing.
“You may or may not remember you told me to ‘let you know when I figured out who is who’” she started. “I have, and you better start explaining yourselves, right now,” she looked straight at me and I felt terror like I had not felt since my friends found out my secret in second year. She knew. She knew, and I was sure she was going to tell Alice.
“Calm down, babe. They’re just nicknames,” James tried.
“Don’t you fucking dare tell me to calm down,” she yelled. “I don’t give a flying fuck about the nicknames. You lied to me,” she told him, hurt visible in her turquoise blue eyes. “And you lied to Alice,” I definitely, definitely did not like it when her eyes were fixed on me.
“How?” my voice came out broken, just like I was feeling. I was sure she was going to tell Alice tonight, and I wouldn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to her before she was out of my life forever.
“Full moons. Every single time. Sirius’ wounds. James’ gash on his face. Wolves howling in the school grounds,” she counted these things off with her fingers. “And, I know you are animagi,” she added.
That, we weren’t expecting. That she had realized I was a werewolf wasn’t that strange. She was very smart, and anyone paying attention could tell. After all, it was every full moon, like she had pointed out. But the boys?
“How?” this time, it was James’ turn to sound somewhere between scared and amazed.
“Because she is one, too,” I turned towards Padfoot so quickly I it was a miracle I didn’t get whiplash.
“WHAT?” James was looking from Jo to Sirius, back to Jo, to him again.
“You are an asshole,” she said, staring at Padfoot. “You and I will have words, privately. Don’t expect to survive them.”
“What did you want me to do? Confront you about it?” he put his hands up in a pacifying gesture. Not sure that was a good idea, Jocelyn was beyond pacifying right now.
“You were fucking spying on me!”
“I was not, it was by chance”
“Why didn’t you say anything!?” she yelled at him.
“It was clear you didn’t want anyone to know. I figured if you wanted to, you’d tell me” he replied.
“I had my reasons!”
“So did I,” this conversation had gone from scary to confusing in a millisecond. James looked rather puzzled himself as they went back and forth, keeping us all out of it rather effectively.
“I thought you were a stray dog!”
“Why does it matter? I figured you’d appreciate the company,” he gave her a smile so charming Jocelyn faltered.
“When did you find out?” she asked in a small voice.
“Keeping a mandrake leaf in your mouth for a month is a real bitch,” he replied, shrugging. She considered this for a moment.
“True. I think I know when you did it, too,” she replied. I noticed she did, somehow, appear a bit calmer. Sirius was like a balm to this woman, it was uncanny.
“Excuse me! How did you know? Why did you not tell me?” Prongs wasn’t happy. I had a feeling he wasn’t going to like the answer.
“She didn’t want you to know, mate,” Padfoot replied. And, there it was. James looked like he might punch Sirius.
“And she’d want you to know? Why is that? I’m her boyfriend, Padfoot, not you.”
The silence in the room was so thick you could have cut it with a pair of scissors. Sirius and James glowered at each other, Jocelyn looked rather panicked before she spoke again.
“This isn’t about me,” she took back control of the situation quickly. “This is about you. You lot. You are illegal animagi, and you, you are a werewolf,” when she said it, I realized with a jolt there was no disgust in her voice. She had just stated a fact, like someone says ‘it’s snowing’.
“And you lied to me. You are my friends and you, you are my boyfriend, and you didn’t tell me. And you,” she looked at me again. This had to stop, it was terrifying, “you haven’t told Alice.”
“I know” I looked down, guilty and miserable.
“She won’t care, Moony,” she said. “But she’ll care you didn’t trust her enough; you didn’t know her enough to realise that. It’s going to break her heart that you thought she’d leave you over something like this.”
Nobody knew what to say for a long while. When she marched us into our room and told us she had figured it out, the last thing I expected was her being angry at us for lying and not for the lies themselves. She was angry at me because I was going to cause Alice pain, not because she thought I was some sort of monster. She was angry because she felt exactly how she said Alice would feel.
“It’s not their fault” I said, finally. “It wasn’t their secret to tell. You can’t blame them”
“Padfoot wanted to tell you,” we all stared at Peter. He hadn’t spoken until now. He shrugged before adding “it’s true. He wanted to tell you the truth for ages, but he didn’t dare asks us for permission.”
“How do you know that?” James asked Peter.
“He wanted to tell her everything. She knows about the map, the cloak, the kitchens, the passages. But he didn’t know how to tell her he’s an animagus without dragging everyone else into it,” he replied casually. Sirius looked pale as ever.
“What cloak?” she asked.
“Uhm…” Prongs shifted uncomfortably.
“Oops” Peter realized his mistake. Jo didn’t actually know about the cloak yet.
“I have an invisibility cloak,” Prongs said.
“I’ll show it you in a sec”
“I couldn’t tell you about it, the cloak is Prongs’ not mine,” said Sirius.
“I get it,” said Jo, looking at Sirius. They locked eyes for a second and I felt a growing sense of foreboding in my gut. This was not good.
“Sorry.” Sirius said. “No matter how close we are now, Remus had to come first. Always. I’m sorry”
“So am I,” Prongs chimed in. Jocelyn sighed.
“I get it. I just wished you’d known me better. What did you think I was going to say? It’s not Remus’ fault he was bitten,” she said, coming over and sitting next to James.
“Thank you” I said, from the bottom of my heart.
“Don’t thank me yet. You still have to tell Alice,” she gave me a pitiful look that had nothing to do with my lycanthropy and said “but I’ll help you, so she forgives you quickly. Then, you can help me”
“Now, I know Sirius is a dog. Don’t even think I’ve forgiven you for stalking me like that, you’ve got some serious groveling to do,” she told him. Then, she turned to James and Peter. “What about you?”
“How about we go all in and just show you?” Prongs said, his eyes shining. I knew he wanted to make it up to her.
“Alright. Let’s go” she stood up, smiling for the first time.
“Wait, we’ll need to take turns. It’s past curfew, there’s patrols tonight” Peter said mischievously. He took out the map, and Padfoot pulled Prong’s cloak out of his trunk.
“Consider this your christening, Jo. You’re now officially a marauder”
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