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Chapter 6 : The Three Animagi and the Big Bad Wolf
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The Three Animagi and the Big Bad Wolf
James saw it coming. When Remus, in werewolf form, had made his way out of the Shrieking Shack, James knew. He, Sirius, and Peter chased Remus through Hogsmede, yet eventually Remus had made his way back onto the grounds. After a rather unfair duel between stag and wolf near the forest, Remus got away and darted towards the Whomping Willow. Something had to go wrong now. A werewolf couldn’t get so close to the castle without harming anyone.
Yet a shot of fear and shock pulsed through James’ stag body as he followed Remus when he saw exactly who the werewolf was advancing on.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Lily shrieking, Remus sprinting directly at her, and the sharp blow to her chest as he tackled her. Sirius was pouncing on Remus’ back, digging claws into his ribs, before James sprang from behind and threw Remus with all his might against a tree adjacent to the Whomping Willow. While James rammed continuously into the great werewolf before him, Sirius and Peter morphed back into human form, grabbed Lily by her arms, and dragged her half-conscious form out of the way.
They had barely carried her twenty feet before Remus had regained domination over James and began to trounce him. With one look at Peter, Sirius transformed back into his scruffy black canine body and attacked the werewolf. Peter followed, morphing back into a rat and biting at Remus’ heels. This managed to subdue Remus for long enough to let James escape, change into a human, and get to Lily.
Lily was in a catatonic state as he picked her up and carried her towards the castle, one arm under her knees, the other cradling her back. She held onto his neck uneasily, her face trancelike and unreadable. The trail was short yet excruciatingly steep, only increased by the deadweight obscuring the view of his feet as they clumsily tried to navigate the hill. James thought to himself how big an explanation he would owe Lily in the very near future, when the fast-walking forms of Dumbledore and McGonagall came into view.
“Mister Potter,” Dumbledore apprehensively, his robes swishing behind him as he approached James, staring at the unlikely image before him, “where is Mister Lupin?”
“Whomping Willow, sir,” James croaked. The headmaster descended towards the willow, quite nimbly for someone of his age.
Professor McGonagall gazed concernedly at James and the anemic redhead that he held uncomfortably for a short moment. “Take her to the wing, please,” she ordered, before following Dumbledore down to the willow, where the headmaster was presently trying to quell Remus and rescue the other two marauders.
At the courtyard, James put Lily down on a bench and took his wand out from his pocket. “Accio invisibility cloak!” he said, pointing his wand up towards Gryffindor’s high tower. The cloak, practically transparent in the night sky, couldn’t be seen until it was mere feet away. James grabbed it and threw it over himself, then picked up Lily and covered them both in the silken cloak. He walked them to the corridors carefully, and as he did, her head fell limply and unconcernedly to his shoulder.
The Hospital Wing was still. James sat with his hand wrapped in a bandage, examining his scrapes. There were numerous magical wounds, brought about by his brawl with Remus. Madam Bowne had hastily treated them, dripping a healing potion over the cuts. She mumbled incomprehensively as she went, though James caught her say, “shouldn’t be anything new, every month, seven years of this, I’d say. Surely I’ll be telling Dumbledore, my goodness…”
James gazed over Madam Bowne’s head to where Lily sat in a brilliantly white bed in the open ward. She was studying her fingernails intently, her expression blank. She hadn’t said anything since they came inside the castle. He contented himself with watching her shoulders rise and fall peacefully, her eyelids blinking slowly, like a conscious sleep.
The only sound that could be heard in the Wing was the soft bubbling of a potion from the back room and the faint noise of wood against carpet as Madam Bowne scooted her chair back and stood up.
“I’ll be back soon,” she said softly, and strolled out the Hospital Wing door. After the handle clicked behind her, Lily jerked her head up towards James.
“You have a lot of explaining to do,” Lily stated. Her face was still unreadable.
James nodded. “That’s true,” he said. He stood up from the chair he had been occupying and sat down on the bed adjacent to Lily, facing her.
“Start from the beginning.”
“I plan to do that,” James joked halfheartedly. Lily sighed impatiently. “Okay. Er, you know who Fenrir Greyback is?” Lily shook her head no. “Well, he’s a werewolf. He’s mean. Anyways, when Remus was a kid, he was bitten by Fenrir. Of course then, Remus became a werewolf,” Lily’s eyebrows went up resignedly. “Well, there’s never been a werewolf at Hogwarts, to our knowledge. So Dumbledore stuck the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmede; yes, it’s not ghosts haunting that place, it’s Remus.
“He built a tunnel that connected the Shack to a tree they’d planted for Remus on the grounds, the Whomping Willow, so kids wouldn’t have any way to get through. In first year, when Remus, Sirius, Peter, and I were sorted into Gryffindor, we all became close friends, as you might’ve realized. But it wasn’t until third year that we found out he was a werewolf. Sirius and I got an idea to become animagi to keep Remus company every full moon, and Peter joined in too.
“It took awhile, but we eventually learned how to transform; Sirius a dog, Peter a rat, and I a stag. For every full moon after that, we’ve all been sneaking out to the Shrieking Shack, with Dumbledore’s knowledge, of course, to help Remus transform. Remember when we learned about werewolves in fourth year Defense? The werewolf has no human instincts when it transforms, so he attacks us, even though we’re his best friends.
“All this time Remus has been using the cover that he visits his sick mum every month, when he’s really starting to feel his wolf instincts kicking in and we sit around with him and wait until the moon comes out. Then we all transform and try to quell his wolf-y rage. It usually works out fine, because now you’re the only other student who knows his secret , as far as we know. But tonight I couldn’t get him, and he ran out of the Shrieking Shack, through the skirts of Hogsmede, and onto Hogwarts grounds.
“When I saw it was you he had chosen to chase, I panicked. Sirius tried to get you out of the way, and Peter tried to distract Remus, but obviously we weren’t fast enough, and I’m sorry.”
They were silent for a moment while Lily considered it all. “Wow,” Lily said, “I had no idea you guys did--“ she faltered.
“All that, yeah. This explains Dumbledore’s unwavering trust in me, doesn’t it?”
The edges of Lily’s lips curved upwards slightly. “Not completely, no. If he liked you four just for that, then Sirius would have just as good a chance at being Head Boy, which seems unimaginable.”
“Remus and I were made authority figures in a feeble effort to control Sirius. But he’s too free a spirit to be quelled.”
“No kidding. Still, I can’t believe you all learned how to be animagi in your third year. You could barely transfigure a mouse into a kettle back then, yet you could turn yourself into a deer.”
“Stag, if you will,” James interrupted. Lily raised an eyebrow. “It’s more masculine. Deer sounds so girly.”
“Is you masculinity In that much danger?” Lily inquired playfully.
“Well yes, if you call me a deer, my masculinity is in mortal peril. Plus, I haven’t snogged anyone in months, which must be some kind of record.”
“Oh,” Lily said disbelievingly, “you’re going to take a vow of celibacy soon, then?”
“Are you mad? I won’t be doing anything of the sort.”
“I’m only saying…” Lily said, looking at her arm and examining the yellow tinted scrape that ran down it. They were quiet for a moment, Lily running her finger along the scrape and James just watching her.
Her hair was dirty and disheveled, falling on her face and shoulders haphazardly. Her eyes drooped tiredly and her nose had a smudge of dirt on the tip. The pajamas Madam Bowne had issued her were unbuttoned at the collar, showing some of the werewolf scrapes on her chest where Remus had tackled her. She was hunched over, yawning, her knees sticking up under the sterile white sheet. James thought she had never looked more alluring.
Lily glanced over at James, aware that he had been staring. She gave him a suspicious look and he quickly averted his gaze.
“What?” she snapped.
“I didn’t do anything,” James defended.
“Yes, you did. You were staring.”
“And since when is that against the law? I’ve got to look at something.”
“I’d appreciate it if you focused your gaze on something else, thank you.”
“Well everything else’s kind of boring to look at.”
Lily shook her head and rolled her eyes, mumbling incoherently. James cocked his head to the side, and was about to ask her what she had said, before Madam Bowne came through the door, disheveled, with Dumbledore and McGonagall. Behind them were the figures of Sirius and Peter, exhausted and shambling.
“It’s difficult,” Madam Bowne began, fuming, “to fathom that with this lot prancing about the castle, biting at each other’s necks all the time, I’m still paid by the hour!”
“Bonnie, as is the rest of the staff,” Dumbledore soothed.
“They’re not the ones who have to deal with the late-night bites and scrapes and fractures, which, I might add, happen after curfew!”
“Bonnie—“ Dumbledore began.
“--And here I am, making special arrangements so that no other student may hear of this—these special conditions, only to be greeted by my most infamous, reckless patient, accompanying one of my own nurses!”
“And because of another blasted werewolf attack! Now, of course, the secret will spread to the whole school, Merlin knows the mouth of a seventeen year old witch—“
“I assure you, Miss Evans is nothing of the—“
“And I’ll surely lose my job! The injustice of it all!” Madam Bowne cried, facing Dumbledore.
There was an uncomfortable silence, in which Lily glanced uneasily at James, who shook his head, leaned across the space between beds, steadying himself with a hand next to Lily’s pillow, and whispered in her ear, “She does this sort of thing every time.”
Lily nodded knowingly, and Peter and Sirius slipped past the dramatic scene in front of them to sit down on a bed near Lily and James. The four watched half amusedly, half exhaustedly, as Dumbledore and McGonagall tried to quell Madam Bowne’s outburst, laying hands on her shoulders and talking in soothing voices. It was like watching two parents pacifying a child who had just missed the jolly white ice cream truck at the park.
After a few minutes of appeasing her, Dumbledore and McGonagall had managed to get Madam Bowne to treat Sirius and Peter. The two professors sat down in a quiet corner of the room, whispering and nodding to each other, unintentionally making Lily a little uneasy. She turned back to James, who had somehow implausibly become her bearer of assurance and protection in the past few hours, and he shrugged.
“All I know,” he whispered in her ear once again, the feel of his breath near to her face tickling slightly, “is that we’re in for a long-winded talk in Dumbledore’s office sometime soon, and that, by the looks of it, we’re all staying here overnight.”
“What?” Lily whispered loudly, so it sounded more like a hiss.
“Look,” James said moving back and pointing at a disgruntled Madam Bowne, handing two pairs of pajamas to Sirius and Peter, and moving over towards James and Lily to give him the third pair.
“Thank you,” James said as Madam Bowne shoved the blue and white striped nightclothes at him. As she turned away, he thought he caught her say, ‘ungrateful bastards,’ but he hoped his ears deceived him, for Madam Bowne’s sake.
The three boys got up to go change, but were stopped by Dumbledore’s calm, yet strong voice. “Misters Potter, Black, and Pettigrew,” he said, “and Miss Evans,” he nodded in her direction, “I would appreciate if before lunch tomorrow you would report to my office. I daresay we have a lengthy discussion in order. Oh, and before you go,” he added, standing up, “I want you to rest assured that Mister Lupin is under control in the forest and will be quite fine by morning. Sleep well and good night.”
Dumbledore proceeded to the door, followed by McGonagall, and turned the handle. James, Sirius, and Peter had begun to walk towards the bathrooms. “And before I go,” Dumbledore said, making everyone stop and turn around once more, “I ask that you have utmost respect for Madam Bowne, who works most diligently and unremittingly for your wellbeing. Now I won’t prolong my exit any longer, so good night.” Dumbledore winked and the two professors walked out the door.
The boys had already retreated to the bathrooms, and in the silence of the main ward with just Lily and Madam Bowne, the one-time St. Mungo’s healer said, “Well, at least that man has one thing right. If only the rest of the staff would respect me.”
Madam Bowne shuffled a few last papers into their rightful places and turned out the light at her desk. “I’ve had enough of those raucous boys for one day. I’ll be going back to my quarters, Miss Evans, and I’d appreciate it if you’d make sure those…those rogues go to sleep, please.”
“Yes,” Lily confirmed, “of course.” But in her heart Lily knew there was no realistic, earthly way that she could order those boys around. Not in the very slightest, not with the marauders.
“She leave already?” James asked, hobbling sorely back to the bed he had been sitting on, next to Lily, before. Sirius and Peter followed, all four now in the same Hospital Wing-issued blue striped pajamas. Lily noticed that James’ were too loose at his hips, and they showed off his maroon boxers when he bent down to shove his discarded clothes under the bed.
“Yes, she left. She told me that you all have to go to sleep, and that I was to make sure of it.”
“Best of luck with that.”
“I wont even try.”
“Is this out of indifference, or is it because I’m so…gallant?”
“I’m not going to answer that, for fear of disappointing you.” Lily replied, smiling slightly.
“Hey,” James said, crawling into the sheets, “it’s good to know you have some concern for my feelings, at least.”
“If I do, it’s very little.” Lily was aware that Peter and Sirius, in the two beds on James’ right, were watching and listening to her and James’ conversation.
“Some, even a little, is better than none,” James said, punching his pillow into a favorable shape and laying his head down, without taking off his glasses.
“Pighead,” Lily said softly, turning her back to James.
“Look Sirius,” James said loud so that Lily could hear clearly, “she really does like me! She even had the sensitivity to call me a pighead, and not a wanker or a prat or irrevocably daft!”
“Mmhmm,” Sirius replied sleepily, “what a nice girl.”
Lily was now very much glad that she had her back turned to everyone else. For some reason, her face had turned as red as her hair, and she was— No, it couldn’t be. She was smiling, grinning in fact, trying very hard not to giggle like a little girl.
It was the scariest thing that had happened all night.
A/N I'm terribly sorry for putting in the whole explanation of the marauder's history, but I feel like something of that magnitude deserves to be explained in print, not just substituted with a short line. Anyways...it was fun to make Madame Bowne a total nervous wreck, she quite reminded me of Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (minus five daughters and a corset).
Please go ahead and tell me what you thought of this chapter, your input is invaluable to me!
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