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Following the Footsteps by Violet Gryfindor
Format: Short story collection
Chapter 3: Moony
Alone. That word is no stranger to me. I’ve known it all my life, more so since my ‘accident’. There is no way to avoid it.
Even amidst my friends I feel alone. They know of my dreams, my fears, my secret, but they can never understand what it’s like to be me. How can they? I would never expect them to. But it means that I must be alone. In this and in everything else.
My footsteps crunched on the snow as I walked towards my place of torment. Usually, my friends would have been with me, snickering at some joke of Sirius’ or lamenting on James’ failed attempts to woo Lily Evans. But James and Sirius were both in detention for accidentally exploding a Fillibuster Firework in the Great Hall, and Peter claimed that he hadn’t been feeling well. Deep down, I knew that he was simply too afraid to spent the night running with a werewolf without the safety of Sirius and James’ presence.
Peter had always been a bit wary around me. Who could blame him really? Spending as much time as he did with me was a miracle. He was as normal as normal could be. He had been raised to fear werewolves, yet now he found himself forced to be friends with one. It must have caused him much angst at times. Peter was not half as brave or foolhardy as James and Sirius were, nor was he as clever. He was a follower, he only did what they did because they were doing it. Even if he didn’t understand Sirius’ witty jokes, Peter would laugh because he knew he was supposed to.
I had always wondered if Peter had made sure that James and Sirius befriended him so that he would be safe from bullies. Whenever we had the chance, the three of us would try and speculate who the mysterious bullies were, because no one, not even the Slytherins, would dare touch a friend of James Potter and Sirius Black. But, even so, Peter would appear late for class or late catching the train to Hogwarts, covered in cuts and bruises. We could never figure out why.
Coming out of my brown study, I realized that I now stood before the Whomping Willow and ducked as a branch swung at my head. Quickly grabbing a long stick, I carefully poked the button which would stop the tree’s mad branch-swinging. The movement of the tree stopped with a soft creaking noise and, just by the roots, a small gap opened, just wide enough for me to crawl through. Then I found myself in the tunnel that led to the Shrieking Shack, the place where I would become a monster.
The tunnel was cold and dark, but I knew my way well enough that I needed no light. Wrapping my robes tighter around my thin frame, I swiftly made my way towards the far end of the tunnel, keeping my shoulders hunched so that I would not hit my head on the low ceiling.
Finally, I came to the end of the tunnel and felt the ancient wooden door beneath my near-frozen fingers. My hand found the latch and I stumbled into the abandoned building that once had been someone’s home. A place of warmth, safety, and solace from the surrounding world.
To me, the place was one of coldness, pain, and desolation.
I stood near the window, knowing that I still had a few moments to myself - as myself.
My mind drifted to Lily Evans, who I admired greatly. She was intelligent, generous, just, and also very pretty. I could see her vividly in my mind’s eye: long fiery red hair, a tall graceful figure, those glittering emerald eyes. There was nothing about her which I could not like. It was evident that she liked me as well, but my condition would always stand between us if we became more than friends.
I walked down the hall to class. Professor Dumbledore had wanted to talk to me about a new potion that could help my condition, and now I was late. The only people in the halls were stragglers, and certainly none of them were hurrying towards Professor Grimm’s potions class.
Clutching the excuse note Headmaster had given me, I pushed open the heavy door into the dungeon classroom. Grimm frowned at my entrance, but took the note from Headmaster without a word and motioned for me to be seated.
James and Sirius were already paired up, that was no surprise. Peter had been stuck with a prissy Slytherin girl and didn’t look at all happy. Miraculously, Lily sat alone on the other side of the room.
...like she had been waiting for me...
She smiled when I sat beside her. “Looks like we’re together today,” she said, “At least we know that the potion will work out with both of us making it.”
I laughed, only peripherally aware of James glaring at the back of my head.
She did not know what I was, and I could never tell her. It’s true that she would understand and not like me any less, but that fear of what I could be would always exist. How could love ever grow from fear?
Lily must never think of me as more than a friend. It’s best for her... and for me.
Far away, deep in the Forbidden Forest, I could hear the howls of one of my brethren. Soon I would join him. But the pain hadn’t come yet. It wouldn’t be much longer until it overtook me.
What else could I do to keep my mind off of what was to come?
Ah, yes. I could think of how to explain to Professor McGonagall that I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated from Hogwarts. Then again, maybe not. Any career path I took would be barricaded by what I was. Who would want a werewolf working for them? Even if I didn’t tell anyone, they would have to figure it out eventually, as James and Sirius did.
What did werewolves do with themselves? Breed dogs? I suppose I could always stay at Hogwarts as part of the staff, a teaching assistant, or even a professor. Hagrid was expelled years ago, yet he was still here as Keeper of the Keys of Hogwarts. Maybe I could become his assistant; I knew the Forbidden Forest as well as anyone. I should, seeing that I spend many hours roaming it.
Not that I remember anything of my time there. The others would. They had helped write the map after all. I had researched the spells to make the Marauder’s Map unreadable unless you knew the password, while the passageways and halls were carefully mapped by James, Peter, and Sirius.
In my most tormented and lonely moments, I had to admit to myself that I liked him more than I ought. He knew my deepest secrets and I knew many of his. At times, he could be as lonely as I. Even before he ran away from home, he had never belonged with the rest of the Blacks. They followed that muggle-hater Lord Voldemort and were very open about their anti-mudblood opinions. Sirius wasn’t like that. He believed that blood shouldn’t decide what you could be in life.
If the Malfoys were any proof of that, then I agreed heartily.
Laughing silently to myself, I pictured the tricks Sirius pulled on his lovesick older cousin, Narcissa, when he was in first year and she in her sixth year. Narcissa had been allover the wealthy and pureblooded Lucius Malfoy, and Sirius had written love letters to her using Malfoy’s name. She had been elated until Malfoy bluntly pointed out to her that he would never write such “romantic drivel”. Even though the couple was now married (mostly because of their parents’ insistence), Narcissa was not quite as obsessed with Lucius as she once had been.
Another memory, this one of Sirius, surfaced in my mind.
The two of us were sitting in the Gryffindor common room, warming by the roaring fire. James was up in his room, cleaning his beloved broom, and Peter was off somewhere, I didn’t know exactly. It was just Sirius and I for once.
We first talked about menial things: his latest prank, schoolwork, what we wanted to do after we left school... Then, he brought up his family, who had been estranged from him for the past six months. Apparently, they had entirely thrown their lot in with the dark wizard Voldemort. He was greatly upset, I could tell from the way that he struggled to hide the emotion in his voice, and perhaps afraid as well. Sirius may have pretended to hate his family, but they were his family after all. He may have physically left them, but he would always be a Black.
He must have seen the look of worry and pity on my face because he leaned forward and with a whisper, relayed to me his greatest fears.
“This Voldemort will do some horrible things, I know it, and he will take my family down with him. I fear that he will ask me to join him, along with my brother. Remus, promise me that the Marauders will never grow apart. Without you three, I doubt that I could keep my sanity.”
I started at him with disbelief. Sirius, afraid?
Gently, I placed my hand upon his. “We’ll always be there for you, Padfoot. Don’t worry.”
He smiled, but I could see that he was not comforted by my words.
What would happen to us? Better yet, what would happen to the world around us?
A cold wind blew through the dilapidated building, making my body shiver uncontrollably. Could it be that I was afraid of what was to come? No, that didn’t make sense. I had transformed so often that I shouldn’t fear it anymore.
Perhaps then what I most feared was being alone.
Usually, I would hear James, Peter, and Sirius talking somewhere close by. Simply knowing that someone was there was enough to calm the fear I had of the transformation - and of myself, what I would be afterwards... a monster...
If only Sirius were here. Then I wouldn’t be afraid.
Then I wouldn’t be alone.
The moon rose over the tree tops. Its cold glow gave a ghostly light to the snow-covered earth. My heart beat quicker. It was time.
Pain seared through my shoulders and I screamed. My fingernails grew long and sharp. Coarse grey hair began to cover my body. My face changed shape and my ears became longer and more pointed. Soon my mind would change as well...
Oh, what would I do with myself? Would I roam the countryside, alone and forgotten? Would I one day find peace and happiness? Would I....?
Blood... I can smell human blood... Not far from here, there is prey. Live prey. Hungry, very hungry. Must find food. Must find prey. Must kill prey. Howl. Run. Bite. Kill.