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Chapter 17 : Seventeen: Werewolf
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Another head hangs lowly, child is slowly taken.
And the violence caused such silence, who are we mistaken?
But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting.
-Zombie, The Cranberries
I sat up, inhaling sharply. That time I was definitely sure I heard it. A howl. I crawled to the end of my bed and peered out of the window. The moon was out and full, illuminating the rooftops and grounds. The forest was strangely silver and the treetops swayed in the breeze. I pushed the window open and leant out, my heart racing. It was past three in the morning according to my watch, and I heard a rustle in the bushes, just louder than the sound of the trees in the wind.
Three distinct shapes emerged from the Forbidden Forest. A stag came bounding out of the forest first. I watched in amazement as a great black dog came loping from the trees behind it, chasing it playfully around the grounds. I had known all sorts of things lived in the forest, but deer? I had never expected that. The third shape sent me reeling. A tall, bony creature with a wolf’s head and a hair-covered body lumbered from the forest and began to play with them. I stifled a yelp but found I was unable to move away.
I watched them play in fascination for a few minutes, and began to realise that there was another, small shape on the ground. A rat was running about between their legs and spinning in circles. But then the most extraordinary thing happened – the moon disappeared behind a thick wall of cloud and the strange creature collapsed into a ball. Something confusing happened that I couldn’t see through the darkness, but then a boy got to his feet, and I gasped.
Not only had I just seen a werewolf, but that werewolf was Remus Lupin.
The three animals closed in around him. I wondered what they were going to do for a moment, but something indescribable happened and the next thing I knew all four of the Marauders were standing in the grounds, whispering. Remus was doubled over in pain and they supported him and led him back to the castle. As soon as they were out of sight I hurried down the stairs into the common room and paced up and down agitatedly until I heard their approaching footsteps.
“Moony, seriously, you need to be more careful watching where you’re going,” said James seriously and I froze as they entered the room and lowered Remus into an armchair. As they clearly hadn’t seen me yet, I marched forwards from the shadows, making all of them jump.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked sternly, reminding myself scarily of my mother. They all exchanged worried glances.
“You saw us?” Sirius asked cautiously. I nodded. “Wormtail, you prat, I told you we shouldn’t go in the grounds!” he scolded Peter immediately. James shook his head slowly.
“What are you going to do? Report us?” he asked, sounding more worried than rebellious. I shook my head.
“Just tell me why you broke the law,” I replied. James and Sirius looked at each other; Sirius nodded at James and he turned to look at me again.
“I guess we don’t have much choice,” he said with a sheepish grin and continued. “We found out that Remus was a werewolf in second year. Dumbledore made him a tunnel to the shrieking shack, starting at the Whomping Willow, for him to you know . . . tear stuff up in, when it was the time of the month,” he explained. “And last year us three illegally became Animagi so that we could be with him when it happened without getting the curse ourselves. Or getting killed.” He grinned in spite of the situation. I sat down in an armchair next to Remus, dumbstruck.
“So what are you thinking?” asked Peter. I shrugged.
“I guess a lot of stuff makes more sense now,” I replied. “I mean, your nicknames, you talking about Remus’s ‘Furry Little Problem’ – good name, by the way – and the way Remus is always grouchy about this time of the month . . .” I trailed off, aware of them all watching me with interest. But a thought struck me. “Potter, does this have something to do with that night when you and Snape-” He nodded before I had finished the sentence.
“Padfoot wanted to lure him into meeting Moony, the werewolf, but I stopped Snape before he got to the entrance of the Shrieking Shack. Snape was surprised to see me there, and he thought I was going to prank him or something-“ he bit his lip, staring out of the window, but then seemed to switch back on. “But then Moony forced his way through the door and I switched to stag form and held him off. Padfoot got Remus under control and I chased after Snape, but he didn’t want to hear about it . . . I don’t think he can stand that I basically saved his life . . .” He sat down as well, looking exhausted. Sirius took a seat beside him.
“Who else knows?” I asked curiously.
“No one,” Sirius replied, and I tilted my head and sat back, relaxing into the armchair.
“Too much drama for one evening.” I stated simply, feeling that that said it all. The Marauders nodded in agreement.
“I’m going to bed,” Remus said, getting to his feet. We all made our way to our separate dormitories, calling goodnight as we reached the stairs. I collapsed onto my bed and was asleep before I knew it.
Remus limped to breakfast the next morning, apparently not having visited Madam Pomfrey. He told me Sirius had bandaged his foot, which was obvious when I saw how badly it was put on. Bliss arrived for breakfast and all talk of anything from the happenings of the previous night ceased at once.
The post owls soared in, dropping packages and letters. I didn’t expect anything that morning except the Daily Prophet, which dropped into the toast basket in the middle of the table. I picked it up and unrolled it as a roll of parchment dropped onto James’s plate opposite me. I began to read about the latest deaths and attacks as breakfast continued, when all of a sudden James took a sharp intake of breath and jumped up, breathing quickly. He ran from the room, his knife and fork clattering to his plate, the letter scrunched up in his hand. Sirius and Remus exchanged looks before getting up and following him. I caught Bliss’s eye and we went after them.
They weren’t in the entrance hall and we would have seen them if they were still going up the stairs. They must have gone into the grounds. We rushed outside and caught up with Sirius and Remus, who had spotted James by the lake. We reached him and he lay on his back in the grass.
“Prongs, mate, what’s the matter?” Sirius asked concernedly. James closed his eyes.
“My parents,” he half-whispered. “My parents are . . . dead.” He barely said the last word, as if he couldn’t bear to face it. Sirius sank to his knees beside James and shook his head, looking as upset as James. They were like parents to him as well, every summer and Christmas that he stayed with them and since he had been living there since the Christmas of Jazz’s death. I held my breath. They had been lovely to me the holidays that I had stayed at the Potter mansion.
“How did it happen?” Remus asked, cautiously.
“Wizarding illness,” James replied. “It took them completely by surprise. Mum died and Dad was taken into St Mungo’s last night where he died this morning. Must have been something they both ate,” he said quietly, still not having opened his eyes. I sat down under the tree and looked out across the lake. They had been so nice when I had met them.
“Don’t worry, mate,” Sirius said calmly. “We’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.” James shook his head.
“It just feels so weird. It’s different to when Jazz died, a little. Because I’m just beyond crying, I just feel hollow. All I want to do is stay here and never get up again,” he said slowly.
“No, mate. Remember what Professor Dumbledore said? You can’t dwell on this. You will have to let them go,” Remus said wisely, biting his lip. Bliss came and sat down beside me. I watched the waves gently rising and falling against the shore and had never felt so entirely surrounded by death before. It was inescapable.
A/N: Well, you know. I write short chapters. (I'm just that cool)
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