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Siriusly by ChoS_sista_gurl
Chapter 7 : Part III: Full Moon
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 16

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A/N: I'm really proud of this chapter, I think it's the best I've written for this story so far. I would really appreciate reviews, good or bad.

All afternoon Remus grew increasingly ill, and was moved to the Hospital Wing under the cover of the Invisibility Cloak right before dinner. The uneasy feeling in Sirius’s gut did not go away, despite his own constant reassurances to himself that Moony was more important than any tiff he and James were having.

          The sky darkened after dinner and the moon was visible out of the window of the Gryffindor common room, where the Marauders minus Remus were waiting restlessly. Lily blustered about the boys and fussed uncharacteristically, trying to encourage them to make conversation and alleviate the tension.

          Once she had tried to rub James’s shoulders as he sat stiffly in the squishy armchair by the fire. The whole evening, James had not spoken once. Now he frowned. “Lily, please sit down,” he muttered coldly. “It’s making me nervous.” That was all it took to silence her and freeze her in her tracks, a hurt expression taking over the concern on her face.

          Painful hours passed. Finally, it was a quarter to midnight, and they left Lily and trooped out silently underneath the Invisibility Cloak.

          In the Hospital Wing, Remus was barely conscious. The transformation had already begun. His face was turning hairier and his jaw grew wider to accommodate for teeth that were not his. His limbs shrank and shriveled, while his upper body became thicker. The boy’s poor torso had contorted to try and fit the strange body parts together.

          James, Sirius, and Peter hoisted him onto their shoulders silently and headed through the entrance hall, across the grounds, toward the forest.

          Lowering him carefully to the ground at the edge of the forest, the boys paused to look at their friend. Now that the transformation was nearly complete, Remus had become a full-out werewolf. The only human quality he retained was his own eyes, as Sirius could see through the wolf’s fluttering eyelids. Sirius shivered involuntarily, as he did every time, and wrenched his gaze away. He knew that if those eyes opened fully before he transformed, he would be dead in an instant.

          Peter seemed to disappear all at once in a burst of fog, and Sirius could just make out the tiny shape of a rat in the darkness. James’s transformation took longer, but he was already enveloped in a light silvery mist. Sirius closed his eyes and reached for the part of his mind that he had trained to think like a dog.

          It came easily. He was well-practiced by now. Soon he opened eyes like yellow lanterns, and blinked through the mist up at the regal stag that stood where James had been.

           The werewolf on the ground stirred, shaking his head and body to get rid of the grogginess dragging him down. As always, the dog and the stag faded into the shadows as the small rat near his feet jumped up and down to get his attention. As soon as the wolf caught sight of him, Peter streaked into the forest, away from the castle, and the wolf plunged in after him.

          The chase through the forest had become a routine now. It was always to keep Remus as far away from the castle as possible. Peter the rat would lead him, nipping at his feet, deep into the Forbidden Forest, where the creatures had already learned to keep out of sight on full moon nights. Sirius and James would follow, concealed in the thick underbrush, to make sure everything went as it should. When Peter was in trouble or got too tired to go on, they would hold back the wolf.

          Tonight Peter tired more quickly than usual. Less than two human hours had passed before he began to slow down. Even before they had reached the heart of the forest, the rat disappeared and dove to hide in a large clump of scrubby bushes.

          The wolf stopped, sniffing the air for the rat’s scent. Moony turned his head this way and that, nose twitching. But at that moment the wind quickly changed direction, and Sirius knew at once that they were in trouble.

          The stag and the dog had skirted around the werewolf and the rat, avoiding the wind throughout the chase. But now that they were entirely still and silent, it was impossible for them to move upwind of the wolf without giving themselves away. The slight breeze tickled Sirius’s whiskers, and he wanted to reach out and grab it, stop it from carrying their scent away from them and into the nose of the wolf.

          Sirius growled low in his throat. Tonight, the chase would end early.

          James, frozen ten feet to the left of him, was directly in the wind’s path. The wolf snorted as he smelled his new prey.

          Peter had realized what was happening, and shot out of the bushes, frantically bouncing up and down near the wolf’s feet. But it was no use. Its attention was elsewhere, on a stag hiding in the forest. The wolf closed the gap and pounced.

          Without thinking, Sirius launched himself from his hiding place into the large tangle of animal bodies rolling and thundering through the woods. Urgent barks and piercing howls resounded through the forest. Sharp brambles and protruding sticks dragged shallow gashes along his sides as they tumbled along.

          The three crashed headlong into a moonlit clearing and separated, trailed by an unnoticed rat. The wolf raced to one side of the clearing while the stag and dog backed to the opposite corner.

          Now that they had room to move, James and Sirius had the advantage; they could take care of Moony the wolf without permanently hurting Remus inside of him. Sirius sneezed in relief. But without even a glance in his direction, James began to make a charge for the wolf, alone.

          “Hey!” Sirius barked. “What are you doing???” But of course James didn’t understand him.

          The wolf reared, paws lashing forward, claws everywhere. The intelligence that glinted in his eyes was unnerving.

          Sirius stood, frozen, helpless, as he watched James lower his head and rush for the wolf from the other side of the clearing. If he interfered now, he would just be in the way.

          Usually, he and James would form a double attack, but tonight James took no notice of him at all. The stag heeded no strategy, and Sirius began to wonder if it was no coincidence. But coincidence or not, it was foolish behavior. The stakes were too high for pride.

          It was a good shot. His antlers caught the wolf right under his flailing limbs, right between his deadly claws, and threw him across the clearing.

          Sirius raced over to the stag, whimpering. James tossed his head casually, and caught Sirius’s eye. His gaze was level and cold. It stopped Sirius right in his tracks.

          Forty feet off, the wolf lurched to his feet. But again, before Sirius could do anything, James turned away.

          Again the stag bowed his head and charged, and again his aim was true. This time the wolf was struck in the chest and shoulders, and fell on the spot. His paws raked the air wildly in front of him as he fell, and when James straightened up blood ran crimson down his chest. It streamed from shallow, jagged wounds on his chest, sparkling in the moonlight that illuminated the clearing with an ethereal silver glow.

          The wolf took longer to rise than the first time. Both animals were breathing heavily, and Sirius took the opportunity to place himself between the stag and the wolf. He would not be too slow this time, caught off guard again. He could not let James be rash and proud. The dog growled low in his throat and bared his teeth.

          James retreated to the far edge of the clearing, and Sirius was relieved. He started in toward the wolf.

          Clop, clop, clop. Sirius circled the panting, injured wolf. Clop, clop, clop. He reared back on his haunches, ready to strike. Clop, clop, clop. He glanced behind him, distracted and annoyed. What was that noise?

          The stag came tearing through the clearing once again, gaining momentum and speed, headed right for Sirius and the wolf on the other side of the small space. James seemed not to see the shaggy black dog. His eyes were blank. He did not slow down or stop.

          Sirius swayed from side to side, trying to decide whether to move or stay. At the last moment, he leapt aside, and even so was shoved away forcefully by a burst of air as the stag charged again.

          Squealing and barking indignantly, Sirius dodged the wolf’s two paws, raised high in the air in a desperate last defense, and retreated not ten feet before he turned around again to watch. The wolf’s heavy paws came crashing down on the stag’s head, claws dragging, and the defeated wolf was crushed underneath as the stag collapsed on top of him. The blood flowed in thick rivers into James’s eyes so that he could not see. The wolf, pinned underneath, ceased to move.

          Sirius padded hurriedly over, braced himself against James, and shoved with all his might. The stag slid off of the now-unconscious wolf.

          Silver mist erupted in a cloud, floating about the clearing, and when it had evaporated, a tall boy lay where the wounded stag had been. James had no energy left in him to keep his animal body.

          Sirius reached for the part of his mind that was human, and found that in all his anguish it took an enormous effort to change back. When he could flex his fingers and toes, and his hair fell across his eyes again, he turned toward James. “What the hell were you doing? You idiot! He could’ve killed you! Why didn’t you let me help?” he bellowed.

          His voice echoed through the forest, and the dark, shadowy bushes nearby rustled. Mist started to fill the clearing again. Peter, unnoticed before, materialized in front of them.

          James said nothing. His eyes were open, which was a good sign, but his face was pale and his lips clamped shut. Peter looked scared. “What do we do?” he whispered, gesturing at the unconscious werewolf on the ground. “Is Moony hurt?”

          “Moony, you idiot? He’ll be fine! It’s Prongs here we have to worry about!” Sirius whispered hoarsely. “We have to get him back to the castle, but what if Moony wakes up?” Peter was no help; he could only pace in panicking circles and wring his hands.

          Sirius crouched on the ground and gently tucked James’s head onto his arm to examine the damage. Tracks of blood still ran down his temples and his hair was matted with stickiness. James looked back up at him listlessly through drooping eyelids.

          “Hey, Prongs, you with me? Just hold on, I have to heal you,” Sirius said softly. He could feel tears stinging his eyes as he contemplated what the hell he could do for him.

          Sirius had no idea how to heal. He could clot the wounds, staunch the blood flow, but how long had they until sunrise? It was too long to stay in a compromising position, for sure. How long until the wolf woke up? How long had they until he alone would have to defend James against the wolf?

          The stakes had risen immeasurably.

          Hands shaking, Sirius pulled out his wand and did what he could. Then, turning to Peter, he said, “Stay here. Watch Moony. If he wakes up, you’re on your own for a little bit, and you had better lead him away from here. I’m going to get Prongs set up somewhere nearby.”

         James listened to all this, his expression never changing. Silently he heaved his body into a sitting position. Peter nodded encouragement and smiled at him shakily. The effort proved to be too much, however, and Peter’s smile quickly disappeared as James swayed violently and his eyes rolled. His head was an inch from the ground before Sirius caught it.

          James wouldn’t listen to reason tonight, Sirius thought. He couldn’t fight now. He needed to sleep, but of course would refuse to. How could he force James to rest? There was only one thing Sirius could do.

          Blinking away tears, Sirius drew his wand again, pointed it to his best friend’s forehead, and whispered, “Somnius.” The hazel eyes, cloudy with pain and grief, dropped closed into sleep immediately.

          Nodding to Peter again, Sirius picked James up carefully into his arms, and with the great difficulty and stooped silhouette of a very old man, made his way slowly into the shadows.

          They settled at the roots of a giant cedar tree, about half a mile from the clearing where the wolf lay. Sirius dared not stay too close, but was afraid to wander too far. It was best that he know when the wolf woke up.

          The hours passed by slowly and quickly at the same time. Each minute passing by was another torturous minute that James could not be healed properly. And yet, each same minute brought them closer and closer to the end of this horrible night. Sirius was painfully aware of both these two facts, but time still blurred with pain and guilt. He was tired, emotionally spent, and was beginning to feel crazy. The situation was just too incredulous to believe. All he could do was sit here, and wait it out.

          The stars dimmed and winked, and the sky began to lighten into a velvety dark blue. James slept on. Sirius thought that it was about five in the morning, and still he heard nothing of the wolf. Instead, a distinct rustling that could have been made only by a moving animal crackled in his ears.

          Leaping up, wand drawn, he yelled, “Show yourself!” His voice echoed through the forest tauntingly. Feeling foolish, he was about to sit back down when a hand on his shoulder made him whip around. He jabbed his wand into the semi-darkness before recognizing the shadow.

          “Peter!” he gasped. “Why aren’t you with Moony?” he asked, eyes narrowed, accusing.

          “H-he’s not waking up. I think there’s something wrong with him.” Peter sounded scared. “It’s been hours…”

          “He just had a bloody stag fall on top of him, Peter! But he’s never hurt after our nights, remember? When he changes back, he’s fine. It’s not like us. We’re in danger, you know. We should be glad he’s still out cold.”

          Peter was not convinced. “Sirius,” he whined, “come back with me, come see about him, please.”

          “I’m not leaving James.”

          “But he’s sleeping, he’ll be fine.” Sirius shook his head and his expression set stubbornly. “Then bring him along!” Peter exclaimed in a panicked voice. “Mobilicorpus.”

          James’s sleeping form rose several feet into the air. Peter started walking away, leading James with his wand. Sirius had not the strength to argue or even to roll his eyes, so he followed them silently back to the clearing. A weight lifted off his heart as he saw the werewolf still lying on the grass, unmoving. At least he was not awake and wreaking unobstructed havoc on the forest.

          Sirius gestured for Peter to settle James in a thick bed of grass near the edge of the clearing, still in sight but as far away from the wolf as possible. He himself walked over to Moony cautiously.

          The wolf looked completely normal; he could have been sleeping. A closer examination of his chest revealed that he was breathing. Sirius looked back at Peter, who was hovering about fifty feet away, scared to come any closer. “He’s alright,” he called. “If you weren’t such a wimp you would’ve seen for yourself.”

          Peter looked down at the ground, then up at the sky, now the light gray-ish blue color of pre-dawn. Finally he busied himself by making sure James, who had stirred and turned onto his side, was comfortable.

          Sirius shook his head. He didn’t have the energy for this. But he also didn’t want the sun to come up while Moony was still unconscious, because he had a feeling that Remus's human form might not fully heal from his injuries, as he had on previous nights. He didn’t want to wait to find out what would happen if he did nothing to wake the wolf. It was now near dawn anyway. He could hold him off for that long.

          “Hey, Moony, wake up!” Sirius hissed in the near direction of the werewolf’s ear. “Sun’s almost here, you better wake up…” Feeling incredibly stupid, Sirius continued to talk to him with an increasing urgency.

          “What do we do? What do we do?” Peter shrieked insanely. The wolf’s ears seemed to prick up slightly. That gave Sirius an idea.

          “Get back, get away from him,” he said. “Start shouting stuff.”

          They tried names, teachers, foods, the Fat Lady’s passwords. It was only when Sirius, convinced of his friend’s doom, roared, “Remus Lupin!” so loudly and desperately all the birds fluttered out of the treetops, that the wolf began to stir. He lifted his head and blinked sleepy eyes.

          Sirius, relieved to have brought him back by sheer will, swayed with exhaustion. Peter was laughing with relief.

          Neither of them noticed the change in the wind again, nor that behind them James had sat up, roused by the shouting, and was now watching the waking wolf solemnly.

          Peter finally sobered up and began to transform. But this time the wolf seemed to get up unnaturally quickly, sniffing something in the air. Before a few moments had passed, he was wide awake as if he had not just been sleeping too heavily to rouse a moment before.

          The rat was almost done. The wolf turned in a circle, his vision probably still blurred from sleep but his nose as sharp as ever. It’s us, Sirius thought all of a sudden. Nothing like the scent of humans to a werewolf…

          The rat raced over, but the wolf took no heed. He had identified the scent of what he wanted on the wind, and was making to attack, licking his hairy cheeks and baring his fangs. He charged.

          He charged, but not at Sirius. He was headed toward the other corner of the clearing. James.

          Sirius whirled around. James was closing his eyes hard in concentration, jets of almost transparent mist floating around him. But nothing was happening. The effort was too much. Sirius set off sprinting towards him in a race with the wolf.

          Halfway there, he realized that he was still as human as James was. He reached for the part of his brain that was a dog’s, still running, running, panicking. His chest felt heavy, his lungs felt squashed--he reached for the part of his brain that was a dog’s, and grasped it with all his might, pulling it towards him and jumping into it like a pool of cool water, still running, padding, galloping…

          His body collided with the werewolf, throwing them both off to the side. The wolf snarled and clawed at his sudden opposition, sending prickles of pain into the big dog’s body. Sirius reared, a formidable five feet on his hind legs, and swiped a heavy paw into the side of the wolf’s head. The wolf staggered, retreating back some ten feet before catching scent of James again. Spurred by this reward, he charged back at Sirius.

          The dog fought hard to keep out from underneath the wolf’s deadly claws, but was losing ground, and gaining shallow but painful gashes all over. The fighting pair was moving closer and closer to James.

          James opened his eyes. He saw them. He tried to get up, to run, to transform, anything. But his head was heavy and slow, and his vision swam whenever he moved. To be helpless was never something that James could deal with, but now, at this moment…

          Sirius growled threateningly, and caught the wolf in its side with his paw. Slowly, painfully, the wolf collapsed with the breath knocked out of him. Sirius finally had the time to look behind him to check on James. But what he saw made his heart pound in fright.

          They were now not but twenty feet away from him.

          The wolf could cover the distance in a second. But so could he.

          A piercing howl sounded, and before Sirius could turn, the wolf was on him. They wrestled and clawed and rolled about on the ground, inching this way and that. It was a fight for blood: The wolf wanted to get closer to James. The dog needed to stop him.

          I have to do this, Sirius thought suddenly, his racing thoughts slowing. His brain could wrap around nothing but one. This is more important than anything. And the thought made him incredibly scared.

          Shoving his fear into the back of his mind, into the rational, logical, human part, Sirius the dog flexed his limbs. By sheer will, he wedged them underneath the wolf’s body and flung him away.

          But lying on his back on the ground, his sense of direction was skewed, and by mistake the wolf’s body was flung at an angle, now even closer to where James was lying. The wolf was bruised and injured, but could still move.

          Snarling, Sirius lumbered to his feet before the wolf could.

          Sirius covered the twenty feet between them in less than a second; he ran faster than he had ever run, spraying droplets of blood from his wounds everywhere. The dog skidded to a stop right in front of James, and placed his body between him and the advancing wolf.

          This was it. He had one shot. And if it didn’t work, they were both dead. Sirius charged at the wolf head on. At the last second, he turned, slamming into him with the full weight of his body.

          The wolf roared with anger, and again he raked his claws wildly through the air as he fell. Again they caught his opponent on the head, and Sirius howled as terrible pain swept through his brain in waves, pulsing until he blacked out, and knew no more.

          “No!” James roared, finding his voice, as the big black dog ceased to move. “Sirius!” His eyes filled and tears splashed down his face as the sun rose a minute too late over the treetops, bathing the clearing in the light of a new day.

A/N: Did you like it? I really appreciate all the great reviews that have been coming in for the story. This definitely is NOT the end, so don't worry!!

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