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Chapter 19: Curiosity Nearly Killed the Cat
Curiosity Nearly Killed the Cat
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Now that Myra knew about Remus – knew the reason behind his illness and disappearances – there was something that made her more perceptive about the changes he underwent near the full moon. Either he was more open around her, or her finding out had pulled back a veil. Along with very flu-like symptoms, he could snap at the smallest of things. Only at the things his friends did, though. He managed to grit his teeth and bite down on whatever he wanted to spew around everyone else. Sometimes he had a sharp tone with Myra, but she could see the regret in his eyes almost instantly afterwards. She always let it slide but she worried about him. He didn't seem to want to take care of himself when he was like this.
The changes in Remus were the least of her troubles, though. The bigger worry was for the changes she saw in herself. Myra realised one evening when she found herself staring in his direction – there was something about him that stirred something inside her, deep inside her. His rougher than normal voice? His watchful eyes? Just him in general? She could hardly keep her eyes off him, she wanted nothing more than to be near him. It reminded her of how she had been while under the influence of the Fertility Potion, though she managed to control herself now. But even that was hard when Remus would catch her looking. He got this look in his eyes that she had no idea what meant, but it pulled at something inside her. She couldn't help but wonder if he would affect her in the same way as, well... as a wolf...
After watching these changes in Remus for the past week Myra was getting desperate to both be with him and to help him in some way. Any way. Instead, he ended up helping her, as usual. The day before the full moon, during their shared free period, he was supposed to be helping her with Defence Against the Dark Arts. They started out well, but soon they did more talking than studying. The subject of the next day's patrol came up.
"It's such a weight off my shoulders that James and Lily are our Head Boy and Girl. I don't have to do anything anymore. They just write whatever works in the reports and find replacements for our patrol." He sighed with a smile, and sank deeper into the couch.
Myra smiled. The common room was empty except for them. She sat sideways on the couch, facing him. She wanted nothing more than to put her arms around him, but she didn't even dare put her hand on his shoulder in comfort, for fear of losing control of herself. "I'm glad," she said. "If there is anything I can do to help too, just let me know. I would do anything to help." She tried not to put too much weight on 'anything', but of course she really meant she would do absolutely anything for him.
A light of some kind flashed in his eyes, and he lifted his hand, looking like he was about to touch her, but instead he let it fall to his lap. He didn't reply to her statement. "It's alright, though. I don't have to worry about the Head Boy and Girl getting suspicious anymore," he said quietly.
"How long has Lily known?" Myra asked carefully.
"Two years. I blame James for her finding out. He always draw her attention towards us. But I'm thankful for it." He tiredly mumbled the last part.
"Why is that?"
"She helps me catch up on the subjects I miss when I'm gone. She copies her notes and her homework, and helps explain it to me if I need it. James or Peter or Sirius never did that. Well, they did. But the difference in quality is miles apart." He finished with a lazy smile.
Myra had to smile too. She felt a sort of relief inside herself now that she had gotten an explanation to why Lily had secret and whispered conversations with him when he came back from the full moons. While it looked awfully cosy and intimate, it was really about school.
Too soon the bell rang, bringing Myra back to reality. The thunder of hundreds of students heading for dinner sounded below them.
Remus straightened up and looked at the school books and parchments lying around them. "We didn't finish your homework!"
"Don't worry about it, Remus. You can barely sit straight. I can ask Hestia to explain the chapter to me before bed tonight. Your health is more important."
When he didn't even protest to that last sentence, Myra definitely knew he was not well.
"Why don't you go up to your dorm, and I can have your friends bring dinner for you?"
"No no, that's not necessary. I'm not that ill."
Sure sure, Myra thought as he stood and closed his eyes and swayed for a second.
"Remus, please. Go upstairs, and I'll make sure you get some dinner up there." She had to put a hand on him now, to keep him from going anywhere and to be within reach should he fall down. The heat of his fever nearly burned her hand, but it didn't faze her. "Please."
He slowly opened his eyes and gazed at her. "Okay," he agreed meekly.
She sighed of relief.
He began collecting his things, but Myra beat him to it and put the parchments, books, ink and quills into his bag. She handed it to him. "Can you get upstairs alright?"
"I think so. Thanks, Myra. Really... Thanks."
Myra nearly choked at the tiredness and emotion in his voice. She only nodded in response.
"See you later." Remus began walking upstairs, and Myra stood watching him until he had climbed too high for her to see, then she waited until she heard the door close.
It was horrible seeing him like this. It made no sense at all, that this allegedly flu-sick boy would turn into a werewolf in less than a day. How could he be so ill only to become so strong for one night? She couldn't really believe it until she could see it.
Nearly having reached the Great Hall, Myra stopped abruptly. She had to see it with her own eyes, Remus as the wolf. Tomorrow after patrol would be a great opportunity. But it was crazy. So she had to be careful no one would know what she planned. She had to be exceptionally careful around Hestia. That girl always knew when Myra was up to something.
Myra took a few moments to let the plan fully form in her head, then she pushed it to the back of her mind and collected herself before entering the Great Hall.
To Myra's delight, Lily had made arrangements to have Tara Thompson take Remus' place that evening. Tara was great fun to be around, and Myra was sure her animated chattering and bubbly personality would be enough to stop her from thinking about whatever was going on outside, at least for a while. She managed to make it through the entire patrol without once thinking about her plan. Once they were done, Tara said goodnight and departed for the Hufflepuff dungeons, while Myra pretended to head towards the seventh floor.
Instead, Myra went no further than the sixth floor; where she had hidden a warm cloak in an unused office. Being a prefect and all, Myra couldn't really get into trouble for walking the castle at night. Even so, she tried to be quiet to avoid capture by the caretaker or his cat, moving from shadow to shadow as quickly as she could tiptoe. She made it down three flights of stairs without incident, but then something made her freeze. Every hair on her body stood on end. The creatures in the Shrieking Shack were at it again, howling and screaming and crying so loud it felt like her bones erupted in goose bumps.
"No no no, not tonight," Myra hissed to herself. She contemplated going back up to Gryffindor Tower, to the safety of her dorm. It was the thought of Remus being out there that wouldn't let her. Gritting her and setting her shoulders, Myra continued her creeping down to the Entrance Hall before hesitating again. Now she had to actually open the doors and step outside. Out there somewhere was her greatest fear. She was about to go outside, where she could run into an out of control werewolf – and yet it was the ghosts that really couldn't hurt her she was afraid of. The ghosts that were said to never leave the Shrieking Shack.
Myra put Remus' face in her mind's eye, forced herself the rest of the way to open the door and stand outside. Moonlight flooded the grounds, and for a moment she stood there, reluctant to close the door behind her and seal her escape route back inside.
"Great Godric, help me now," she muttered, and pushed the doors shut. They made a small boom when they closed, making Myra cringe and momentarily forget all about Remus and the shrieking ghosts. All she thought about was whether someone inside had heard that bang or not. She stood there listening intently for footsteps from the inside. Not a single sound could be heard, except for another sudden pained howl in the far distance. It reminded Myra of why she was out there.
Her greatest fear. No, wait, that wasn't it. Remus. She wanted to see Remus. She needed to see him as the wolf.
"They never leave the Shrieking Shack," Myra whispered as a mantra as she slowly walked across the scantly lit courtyard, over the bridge and onto the grounds, her gaze fixed firmly on a spot in the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. She didn't dare cast a Lumos for fear that someone from the castle would see her. Thankfully the full moon lit up the ground just enough for her to avoid tripping. She wasn't entirely sure that the forest was where Remus went to transform, but that was the direction Sirius, James and Peter had been heading the day she had followed them. She couldn't think of anywhere else he could go. Leaving him in the castle seemed too risky, even if he was secured with physical locks and powerful charms.
The ghosts shrieked again, making Myra stop short. She had never been this close to them before, and certainly not alone. And she was only going to get closer. Gritting her teeth, she forced her right leg to move in front of the left and was on her way again in what felt like a sea of syrup, ghosts howling depressingly in the distance. In time, Myra must have made it to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, because the grounds around her started to darken. The moonlight didn't quite filter all the way down to the mossy ground. She ran through every defensive spell she could remember, as she lit her wand and took the first step into the break of trees, feeling some excitement through the thrilling fear. If the ghosts hadn't come out to maul her yet, then surely they never would. Now all she had to do was find Remus, if he was out there.
The deeper she went, the darker it got. Every sound was muffled by the density of the trees. It felt like she went on forever, and she met no other living creature save for a few insects that climbed at her legs whenever she stopped to listen for sounds. She could have been walking through the forest back home – peaceful, quiet –
Then she heard a twig break behind her. She snapped around.
She turned and saw a huge beast, its shoulders easily as high as her waist, long light brown fur that was dirty and tangled. Yellow eyes were burning with viciousness, and a surprisingly long, tufted tail swung threateningly back and forth. Its paws were so large they could easily crush a cat with one 'wrong' step, claws sticking out ready to slice skin.
"Remus?" Myra asked tentatively.
It answered with a deep growl.
She looked into its eyes, thinking maybe that if they had been a bit darker, and kinder, they would be exactly like Remus'.
The werewolf took a few steps forward, flashing sharp, dirty teeth and growling again, its breath smelling of rotting flesh. It held its head lower than the rest of the body, leaning forward slightly as it advanced, menacing and ready to pounce. Myra automatically stepped backwards, but then the wolf snapped its jaws and began moving to the side. She turned too, careful to always keep it in front of her, her wand at the ready. It circled her, gobs of drool falling to the forest floor, circling closer and closer and closer.
Suddenly the forest seemed very noisy – breaking twigs, rustling – but Myra didn't dare take her eyes off the werewolf. After all, no other animal in the forest could be more dangerous than it. The wolf also heard the sounds, snapping its head from side to side, snarling angrily at the possible interruption of getting a late night snack. It didn't take its eyes off its prey for too long though. It focused intently on Myra. Then, it lunged.
It felt as if everything had suddenly slipped into slow motion. Myra lifted her arms u in a futile attempt to protect herself, the wolf flying through the air, its slavering jaws wide. It was nearly upon her when suddenly a huge stag, not unlike the one who almost attacked her several months ago, and a black dog almost as big as the werewolf itself jumped in from the side. The stag knocked the werewolf away, catching it in the side with its massive antlers.
The werewolf tried to lurch forward and almost crashed into the two other animals, but stopped with amazing agility when the dog barked angrily, and the stag bowed as if to charge again. The drove the wolf back a few inches, it tried to sidestep around them only to be cut off again.
Pain was arching through Myra's left arm. One of the wolf's claws had ripped through her robes when it had been shoved away. She could feel blood seeping into the cloth, and it felt like her skin was on fire. She stumbled backwards, holding her injured arm to her chest, only to back into something solid that grabbed her around the waist. It covered her mouth when she tried to scream.
"Shh," the person behind her hissed into her ear. "Calm down, don't struggle! I'm taking you away from here!"
Myra could not believe her ears. "Peter Pettigrew?"
He held her hard against him, so hard it was going to leave bruises. Slowly, he backed her away from the three animals. The stag and the dog were busy keeping the werewolf at bay, and it was still putting up quite the fight. It bit into the dog's shoulders, making it yelp. The stag retaliated by using its antlers to pin the werewolf against the forest floor.
In spite of the threat the werewolf was on her own life and how close it had come to killing her just seconds ago, she couldn't help but whimper in sympathy when the animal whined in pain. After all, Remus was somewhere inside that furry body. Her legs stopped moving, but whoever held her didn't. They dragged her on until she got her feet working again.
Once the two were far enough away, the grip around her middle loosened. Myra was finally able to turn around. It was Peter. She was about to ask him what he was doing out here, when he started running, forcefully dragging her along by her injured arm.
"Come on! Dammit!" he hissed at her.
Myra was gasping for breath, struggling not to trip on every rock and tree trunk and pulling enough air into her lungs to stop her from collapsing. She gripped her wand as tight as she could, afraid that she'd drop it, as she tried to ignore the burning pain of the injured arm which Peter yanked whenever she stumbled. They kept running until they were far past the edge of the forest, all the way up by the covered bridge leading to the courtyard. There, he finally let her go, and Myra fell onto all fours, feeling incredibly nauseous, unused to such extreme exertion.
"What the bloody hell were you doing out there?!" Peter yelled.
"I could" heave "ask" heave "you the" heave "same" heave "thing!"
"I asked first!" For a boy that was usually very quiet and seemed to agree with everyone, he was surprisingly forceful now.
Myra swallowed a few times, then sat up, clutching her arm. She closed her eyes. "I was curious."
"Curious about what it would be like to die?"
She snapped her eyes open, glaring at Peter.
"Of course not!" She was still a bit out of breath, and mad that Peter seemed to recover so quickly. "Curious about the werewolf."
"And so you sneaked out in the middle of the night and hoped to meet it for a spot of tea and biscuits?!"
"Would you stop that!"
"I'm not ridiculing you, I'm trying to make you realise how bloody stupid you are."
Myra stood up so she could be at eye level with Peter, but she had unconsciously tried to use her arms for support, and cried out in pain. She stumbled a bit; feeling like someone had cast the Jelly-Legs Jinx at her and looked down at the injury for the first time.
"Did he bite you?" Peter asked, the anger gone from his voice.
Myra carefully pulled the broken robe aside. The claws had made a clean cut through her cardigan and shirt and into the skin. But thankfully it didn't look too deep.
"Did he bite you?" Peter repeated desperately.
Myra shoved her arm into his face. "No, he didn't bite me. He only scratched me when he was pushed away."
Peter grabbed her arm and carefully inspected the scratch. Myra wasn't worried. A wolf could scratch and maim you all it liked with its paws, but it had to actually bite you for you to be inflicted with lycanthropy. The fact that it hurt more than any other scratch she'd gotten throughout her life did worry her a bit, but she decided to give it a few days. Hopefully, no one would find out. She had not been turned, and that was the most important thing.
"My arm is fine. I'll repair the clothes and clean it later. I don't even think it'll scar," Myra then said and pulled her arm back. Then she remembered what they had been arguing about seconds ago. "Why the hell were you out there?"
"That is none of your business."
"The hell it is! You didn't follow me out there. I made sure no one followed me. So you had to have been there before I got there. Did you think you would meet the werewolf for a spot of tea and biscuits?"
"What I was doing there is none of your business."
"I think I should know the agenda of the guy who just saved my life."
"You should just be bloody thankful that I did save your life and fucking leave it at that! Now go inside, clean that wound and... and go to bed!"
"No! I know you and Sirius and James have snuck out in a suspicious manner at least two times before a full moon, and only appeared again late the next day looking like you all had hangovers. Why? Why can you hang out in the Forbidden Forest when I can't?"
"We do not hang out in the Forbidden Forest! We never have."
Myra glared at him. "Well, you're doing something in there, and I want to know what!"
An angry and pained howl came from the distance.
"Oh Merlin," Myra moaned. She had forgotten all about the ghosts in the Shrieking Shack.
Peter looked worriedly at her. "What's wrong with you? You look like you've seen a Dementor."
"The ghosts in the Shrieking Shack. I... don't really... they're my greatest fear. My Boggart," she whispered, staring into the distance, in direction of the Shack.
Peter burst out laughing. Myra gaped at his insensitive behaviour. "What the hell is wrong with you?! You don't laugh at someone's greatest fear!"
He struggled a bit with composing himself long enough to give an answer. "It's not ghosts," he wheezed, clutching his stomach.
"Yes, it is! They've been there for ages! Haunting and causing fear. Dumbledore himself has confirmed it!"
"He's lying." Peter had managed to calm himself, though his lips still twitched some.
"Why would he lie about that?"
"Because it's Remus making the sounds. He's the one in the Shrieking Shack, he's the one making all that noise. Dumbledore just backed up the stories people made up, to protect Remus."
"But... But the ghosts, they've been there for ages, longer than Remus has been alive."
"No, they haven't. People just think they have been. Incredible what a few stupid stories can do."
"But, the wailing, it's not only during the full moons. They're only worse then!"
Peter looked pointedly at her. "Are you sure?"
Myra opened and closed her mouth, suddenly not so certain anymore. She thought back. Had she really heard any sounds from the Shack when there wasn't a full moon? The last time she remembered to have heard them was during the last full moon, before the summer holidays.
"Oh, Remus," she sighed and fell down into a sitting position again. "Poor soul. Is it really just him?"
"It's really just him. And this is one more thing you can't tell anyone, you understand?"
Myra nodded sadly. "How can one werewolf, one boy, scream with so much pain?"
Peter sat down next to her. "I don't know if I should tell you this or not. The others would probably tell me not to, but... I will anyway. First off, a transformation is not exactly pleasant, whether it's into a werewolf or back into a human. Secondly, Remus is out for blood when he's a wolf. He needs raw flesh and meat, but since he can't get it, he... he goes after himself. That's why he's screaming so much, and... That's where all the scars come from."
"Oh, Merlin." Myra's voice was thick with unshed tears.
Peter suddenly stood up. "You should go back to the Tower."
Myra nodded slowly and stood up too.
"You do promise to keep everything about tonight secret, right? You know what will happen if you don't."
"I won't tell anyone. No one even knows I went out here."
"Good. Now, just go..."
She stepped onto the bridge, but turned around when he didn't follow. "Aren't you coming?"
He shook his head. "I need to go back out there."
"But how can you do that?!"
"I have my ways."
"I'll be okay. I promise on Remus' life."
Myra sighed and continued on the bridge. Halfway across she turned around and saw Peter still standing there, watching her. A few more steps later she turned again, but now he was gone. She ran back to the end of the bridge and looked frantically around, but he was nowhere to be seen.
"Those bloody Marauders," she muttered and went back into the castle, taking her time to help calm herself down. She needed her cool if she was to go back to the Tower unseen. But before she went on, she took a few moments to cast Reparo on her clothes, in case she met someone.
She made it back to the Tower with very little fuss, save for a close call with Peeves on the fourth floor. The Fat Lady had not been happy to be woken up, but grudgingly swung aside when Myra gave her the correct password.
The common room was dark. Only a very faint glow was coming from the hearth.
"Myra?" a sleepy voice came from a dark corner.
Myra squealed in surprise. "Hestia?" She lit her wand and the light fell on her best friend, sprawled across a couch, rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
"Where have you been?" Hestia sat up.
"I've been on patrol," Myra lied. Well, it was the truth. It was just a while since it was really true.
"This long? It's two thirty in the morning. MacDonald came back ages ago."
"I've- I've been wandering the castle."
Hestia looked at her in an 'I'm-not-stupid'-way.
Myra sat down next to her. "Why are you down here and not in bed?"
"I was in bed, but I was worried since you hadn't come back. I came down here to wait, and I guess I fell asleep. After all, it's been two hours. Where were you?"
"I-" Myra opened and closed her mouth several times. "I can't tell you," she said sadly.
"You can't tell me?"
She shook her head.
Myra just shook her head again, looking down at the carpeted floor.
"Does it have something to do with Remus?"
Myra twitched involuntarily at Remus' name.
"It does." Hestia nodded, and didn't speak for several long seconds. "I'm worried, Myra. All the things we discussed about him last year? How curious you were to find out why he lied, and why he was in such bad shape in the hospital wing? I still shudder when I think about how he looked when we sneaked up there. Then suddenly you give up on trying to find out, saying you've learned the truth, but aren't allowed to tell. Sirius, James and Peter keep giving you these looks ever since, like they're monitoring you or something. And then you don't come back after patrol today! You smell like you've been outside, Myra. What did you do?"
"Hestia, please, I'm not allowed to say anything!"
Hestia looked pleadingly at her best friend.
"I hate this, Hestia, not being able to tell you! But there is too much resting on my silence. I think this is one thing I would swear on Marie's life; mum's and dad's too."
"It's that serious."
"Yes, it is! It's really for the best of the entire student population. But... it's nothing to worry about. Nothing dangerous." Not so much, anyway, she thought to herself, unconsciously letting the fingers on her right hand ghost over the scratch and the repaired fabric on her left arm. "Hestia, I can't tell you what I know. But there's nothing wrong with finding out on your own, as long as you promise not to tell what you find out!"
"Hmm..." Hestia seemed to be thinking it over. Myra crossed her fingers behind her back, hoping it'd be enough. "Alright, I guess. I'm starting to get an idea of how it is to be you. The curious you." A small smile graced Hestia's lips.
Myra smiled too, but it quickly turned into a yawn. "I'm going to bed." She stood up and walked up to their dorm, Hestia following.
They did their nightly routine as quietly as possible, Myra secretly cleaning out the scratch while in the lavatory. It still burned a bit.
Before she laid down on the bed, she called Hestia over. "I really want you to know what I know, Hestia, so please, try your hardest to figure it out. But remember. When you do find out... you can't tell anyone."
"I will, and I promise. Goodnight, Myra."
Once again, very very sorry this has taken so very long! But life's been a bitch, for both me and my betas. For me, my kittens are really making things difficult for me. They need to be monitored so they don't kill the tv or jump on things they're not allowed on, and when they rest they usually demand to be on top of me. One in my lap and one as close to my face as she can get. At the beginning of November, I'm having them neutered and then hopefully after New Years I can get back to a nice schedule. I'm about to kill off two of my four jobs as well. That should help. So, I doubt I'll win NaNo this year. I'm participating, but I won't go for the win. If things work out, sure! But I'm hoping for 25.000 words...
Anyway. Chapter 19 is finally here! Shining moment for Peter, who is majorly miswritten in a lot of stories. I'm trying to write him properly, so hopefully this was okay. Next chapter should be out around mid-November. A long time, I know. But I have so much on my plate right now, I don't have time to write. The less I write, the less chapters I have ahead of schedule. The more I post, the less chapters I have ahead of schedule, again. I like to be many chapter ahead. Means generally less waiting for you guys...
Please review if you have anything to say!
Coming: Chapter 20 – Regret and Ambush
Anna came back and the trio began walking again. Hestia was quiet; it looked like she was thinking hard, while Anna was looking through some notes her Arithmancy partner had given her. Which is why they were slow to react when Sirius, James and Peter came walking by, from one class to another.