Chapter 10 – The Sword
Talia grumbled as the bright morning sun invaded her sleep, pulling her from her abnormally pleasant dream. She rolled back over, shoving her head beneath her pillow wishing she had not forgotten to draw her hangings closed the night before.
Inwardly she groaned thinking about her row with Severus. What had he meant by saying, "Don't say that you haven't been warned."? Talia wondered what he was up too and most importantly of all; should she tell the Marauders?
With so may things cluttering her mind add to the bright sunlight in her eyes, she knew she wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep. She sighed and rolled out of bed to get dressed. As she threw on her clothes and slipped her feet into her trainers Talia decided to go to the library which would certainly be quiet this time of day. Professor Rigel had granted her permission to work on a few more advanced potions and she needed to look up instructions and ingredients.
Hogwarts was eerily quiet; after all it was dawn on a Sunday morning. Who else would be up at that hour? Amusingly enough, Talia was laden with books even though she was headed for the library. This unfortunately, kept her so occupied that she never noticed Bellatrix Black headed her way.
Talia's body was pounded against the hard stone and her head ricocheted off the wall. Dizzy and unnerved she shook her head rigorously, trying to clear her befuddled mind. Talia felt the cold wall behind her but there was something strange and soft wedged between it and her body. Talia moved forward and her back groaned in pain. Mrs. Norris, Filch's cat, jumped out from behind her hissing and baring her claws. With one swipe Talia looked down at her hand and as if by magic, four blood red lines appeared. Bella laughed maniacally at her handiwork, as blood dripped from Talia's hand onto the floor.
Talia looked up at her attacker, What in Merlin's name was Bella doing up at this hour? she asked herself. But before she could find out Filch appeared out of nowhere.
"What are you two up to?" Filched asked eyeing a very agitated Mrs. Norris. "What have they done to you my love?" He asked gingerly lifting the cat into his arms. His glare turned on Bella.
Her sugary sweet voiced pierced Talia's eardrums like nails on a chalkboard. "Oh Mr. Filch, I was just patrolling," she turned slightly so he could see her Prefect's badge, "and I saw her trying to attack that poor defenseless animal." With one hand she pointed at Talia, the other attempting to hide her wand. Talia gasped, "I did no such—"
"YOU!" Filch's voice quivered with anger, he began stuttering as small wads of spittle spewed from his mouth. "I will see you punished for this!" He turned off running down the corridor, "HEADMASTER!"
Bella stood before Talia, supremely pleased with the scene. Talia stood and dropped what books she still held, grabbing for her wand.
"NONSENSICA!" Talia shouted before Bella could react. Bella raised he wand trying to retaliate against Talia but all that came from her mouth was an incoherent babble. Talia's babbling hex had done its job; Bella grabbed at her throat trying to coax it into working properly again while Talia laughed.
Talia gathered her books and noticed that the bleeding on her hand had not stopped, if anything it was growing worse. She quickly changed direction and headed for the hospital wing.
Sirius flopped down onto the ground next to James' bed. A pain shot through his knees but it didn't matter, all that mattered was James. He was still passed out and the three remaining Marauders looked at each other in fear. Madam Pomfrey attempted to chivvy them away from the bed but gasped at the sight of them.
None of them had even noticed their appearance because they were much too concerned with James. Peter had a gash in his arm, where his robes were torn away by the sword that the maniac had wielded. Remus was bleeding profusely from a gash just above his left eye and his limp was caused by a fractured bone. Aside from the aching pain in Sirius' undoubtedly broken ribs, he had a bloody lip. The blood had been running down his face for quite some time, soaking the front of his shirt thereby making his injuries appear much worse.
James was the one they were all worried about. The maniac had actually stabbed James with that sword; luckily Sirius was able to get it away from him. They were able to fight off their attacker, causing him to retreat before he inflicted any further damage.
McGonagall and Dumbledore burst into the hospital wing as Madam Pomfrey muttered and fretted over James. Dumbledore looked absolutely furious, which was something that the Marauders were not used to. Sure they had gotten in trouble before but that was all in good fun, no one was ever seriously harmed during one of their pranks. This was different.
"Mr. Black, my office now." Dumbledore strode in and stopped directly in front of Sirius' bed. He had never heard the Headmaster speak like this to anyone and quite frankly he was more than a little bit frightened. But Dumbledore, sensing his terror, lowered his voice into a more calming tone. "Sirius, I need to know what happened."
"Oh, no you don't! This boy needs to be tended too." Madam Pomfrey came rushing over wagging her finger at Dumbledore. Her other hand was laden with bandages and a vile of the most dangerous looking potion Sirius had ever seen; and after growing up in the Noble House of Black, that was saying something.
"Poppy, I understand but I must speak with him,” said Dumbledore.
She shook her head vehemently, "So talk here!" Dumbledore and McGonagall had to acquiesce and began questioning Sirius. He sat there as McGonagall began firing questions at him.
"Minerva, let him speak." Dumbledore put his hand on McGonagall's shaking shoulder. Sirius could tell that she was frightened for James, but she had the entirely wrong idea.
"Professor McGonagall, Remus didn't bite James," said Sirius. Remus sat on his bed, not daring to look up. Sirius could tell that his insides were torn apart worse than any flesh wound. He knew that he had to carefully concoct his lie so that McGonagall and Dumbledore wouldn't know that he, James and Peter were Animagi. "We went to get Remus after the sun had come up. We know what a state he's usually in after the full moon. When we got to the Shrieking Shack we were attacked."
Dumbledore's eyes were alert and concerned, if he had detected Sirius' lie he didn't show it. "Attacked by who Mr. Black?"
Sirius moaned softly, that was the problem, they didn't know. "I didn't recognize him. None of us had ever seen him before. He might have…" Sirius trailed off but as he gazed over at James lying so still in the hospital bed, he knew that he couldn't hold back. "We think he might have been the dark wizard who killed his father."
A look of shock spread across Professor McGonagall's face, "How did you four know about that?!" Sirius noticed the slight glimmer in Dumbledore's eyes when he looked at him.
So he did know Talia and I were there!
"I—I overheard something, anyway we managed to fight him off but not before he stabbed James with his sword."
"Sword?" Dumbledore asked, any glimmer in his eye was now gone. He face looked as if it were made of stone as he sat down on Sirius' bed. "It is important Mr. Black that you tell me exactly what this sword looked like."
Sirius was a little taken back, who cared about the sword, what about the wizard!? But still he began to describe the sword to the Headmaster. "It seemed to be made completely of gold. It had rubies on the handle and it looked like—well it looked kind of like a snake."
Dumbledore's grave silence did not make Sirius feel any better. Dumbledore stood and walked over to Madam Pomfrey. "Will he be okay Poppy?"
Madam Pomfrey sighed deeply and nodded, "I thought for a second that he would have to go to St. Mungo's but he'll be just fine. All he needs is a few weeks rest. I've given him a blood replenishing potion and healed his wounds."
Dumbledore silently thanked her as he placed his hand on her shoulder. "I will leave you to it then." McGonagall followed him out the door and they disappeared from Sirius' view.
"Oh Albus, what would we have done if Lupin had bit him? One werewolf is difficult enough but two!" said McGonagall.
Talia stood hunched behind a suit of armor in complete shock. She had ducked behind there thinking that she was in trouble for Filch's cat. She had never meant to overhear their conversation. Remus, a werewolf? Did Sirius, James or Peter know about this? she asked herself. She felt the blood drain from her face and her hands began to tremble.
Who did he almost bite? she wondered. Not knowing where to go or what to do, she stood frozen; the blood from her cut continued to run down her sleeve.
"Oi Padfoot, she's awake!" declared James.
Talia's eyes fluttered open. She didn't know where she was or who was talking but she felt a strange tingling sensation in her arms and legs. "Wha—Where am I?" Talia opened her eyes and saw the concerned face of Sirius staring back at her. "Sirius, what's going on?"
A smile of relief spread across his face. "It's okay Tal, you fainted."
"Gave us a right scare," said Remus.
Remus smiled down at Talia and the memories began to flood her mind. Remus is a werewolf Talia felt a slight twinge in her chest and she couldn't quite figure out what it was; was it fear? Her brain began to work overtime, arguing with her reaction. THIS IS REMUS FOR MERLIN'S SAKE. He's your friend! Talia tried to hide her emotions as she closed her eyes again.
Madam Pomfrey came bustling over to her bed, ushering Remus and Sirius into their own beds of the hospital wing. "It's okay dear. You lost a lot of blood, I don't know what gave you that cut but it must have been nasty. Do you remember how you got it dear?" Madam Pomfrey was fussing with the bandages on her hand and continued speaking, not allowing Talia to answer her question. "The poison wouldn't allow the wounds to heal but I think I've got you sorted out." It took a moment before Talia could register what the nurse just said.
Talia's face was panic stricken as Madam Pomfrey tried to comfort her, "It's fine dear, it's fine. You'll be right as rain once I'm done."
"No," Talia shook her head fervently, "you don't understand, it couldn't have been poison."
Madam Pomfrey frowned at her response and then pushed her back down onto the bed. "I'm afraid that it was definitely poison Miss Grace, now lie still so I can—" But Talia didn't let her finish as she jumped out of bed and sprinted towards the door. With a flick of Madam Pomfrey's wand the door shut tightly. "Just where do you think you're going?"
"I have to see Professor Dumbledore!" Madam Pomfrey could see the desperation in her eyes.
"Get back in bed, I will summon him." With that the conversation was over and Talia was meekly making her way back to the hospital bed. She was greeted with unbelieving stares from the four Marauders, who still occupied their beds.
"What's wrong?" asked Remus in a hushed whisper.
Talia looked at him and her eyes began to tear. Why did he have to be a werewolf? She stuttered, slowly trying to answer his question, "It was Filch's cat," she answered rubbing the bandages on her wrist.
Sirius jumped out of bed grabbing his shoes and beginning to throw them on, "That slimy, good-for-nothing—"
"Shhh!" James chastised Sirius, "she'll hear you!"
"So what?!" Sirius bellowed, "If he thinks he can get away with—"
"He won't Padfoot, Dumbledore'll set him straight."
Although James was lying in the hospital bed, unable to move he was able to coax Sirius to sit back down. Talia marveled at the way he was able to make Sirius understand; she would have to beg him for a few lessons. Talia felt Remus' stare and wondered, in a panic, if he knew what she had overhead and that she found out about him. So she did what was in her nature to do, she lowered her head and shut her mouth. Madam Pomfrey brought Dumbledore in the nick of time, to save them from the uncomfortable silence.
He seemed as if he was gliding on air as he walked briskly in the room to the side of Talia's bed. "Miss Grace, I believe you have something to share with me." Talia nodded, all of a sudden much shyer about conveying what had happened. Sirius saw this and took it as his cue to intervene.
"Professor, Filch's cat attacker her, it scratched her hand, WITH POISONED CLAWS!"
"That is enough Mr. Black," he turned to face Talia as she became enormously interested in the pattern of the floors. "Is this true Miss Grace?" Talia nodded her head slowly, not taking her eyes off of the floor. For some reason she never told him that Bella was there and how she had cursed her. Dumbledore nodded and stood, making his way to James' bed. "And how is our young Mr. Potter doing?"
James grinned and shrugged, "All right," he said, stifling a wince. But Madam Pomfrey had heard it and was rushing over with more potions to throw down his throat. Unfortunately for James it was a losing battle and he was forced to drink the awful concoctions.
"You complain now but later you'll be thanking me." She walked briskly back into her office.
"Fat chance." James whispered. Dumbledore could not hide his grin as he stood and addressed the group as a whole.
"I do not dare to interfere with Madam Pomfrey's medicinal expertise therefore you will remain in the hospital wing until further notice. However, there are some people that wish to see you." With a simple hand gesture the doors to the hospital swung open and Alice and Lily rushed in.
Lily ran to James' side as Alice came and sat between Remus and Talia. "Oh James are you okay?! What happened to you?!"
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows at James and put his hand on Lily's arm, "I think the questions would be best left for later." Lily didn't notice the thankful gaze that James sent Dumbledore. That wouldn't be the last time that Dumbledore would get him out of a tight spot with Lily. Dumbledore left the room full of 7th years and a whole lot of questions.
Alice turned to Talia with a concerned look on her face, "Talia, what happened to you?" It only took a few moments for Talia to explain what happened and when she was through Lily turned to James.
"And what happened to you four?" James just groaned and turned over on his side,
"Come on Lils, you heard Dumbledore." Lily just grabbed his shoulder and flipped him over to face her.
"I know what didn't happen," she growled at him through gritted teeth, "so tell me what did!" James' face looked as though he had seen a ghost; no amount of complaining about pain would get him out of this.
Talia watched wondering what Lily meant by that comment; did she know about Remus too?
"You went off on one of your stupid adventures, didn't you? You were trying to find this wizard?! JAMES POTTER, ANSWER ME!" It didn't matter that Madam Pomfrey was now out of her office and chastising Lily, she wasn't going anywhere until she got some answers.
Talia winced on James' behalf; he was really going to get it. James didn't need to answer Lily though, the guilty look on his face was all the proof she needed.
"We're through! Do you hear me? THROUGH!" Lily stormed out of the hospital wing with her face almost as red as her hair. Talia wasn't sure if she had ever seen anyone that angry before. Alice turned and shot Talia a look before running off after Lily.
No one spoke after that. James looked as if he wanted to crawl into the mouth of a Hungarian Horntail. He turned over in his bed so that he wasn't facing any of them.
Three days were spent in silence, with only small interludes when Lily and Alice came to visit them or bring them their class work. Lily made sure to stay clear of James, she refused to speak to him and he remained silent, still not speaking to anyone, even Sirius. Whenever Lily spoke about some particular fun she and Alice had, she made sure to turn up the volume. Everyone in the room knew that Lily was concerned about James and that James was a wreck without her; that is of course everyone except Lily and James.
"Ignorance is bliss." Alice whispered as they left one day. Talia gave her friend a weary smile, knowing that she must be going through hell with Lily for the past few days.
Finally it was Friday and the patients were getting fidgety, even James wanted out of the hospital wing. Not only was Hogsmeade the next day but so was the Halloween feast and no one wanted to miss that. Madam Pomfrey allowed Sirius, Peter, Remus and Talia to leave but she refused to let James go.
The yelling match could be heard as far as the Forbidden Forest, but no matter how much James pleaded, Madam Pomfrey was not letting him out.
In the midst of the begging a pleading from, not only James, but everyone, the door to the hospital wing opened, and much to everyone's surprise George stood in the doorway with a bouquet of calla lilies for Talia. Sirius' jaw dropped as Talia blushed, taking the flowers from George. "Er…thanks George, they're beautiful."
With one last look of pity towards James and a wave goodbye to the rest of her friends Talia walked out the door with George.
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