Author's Note: Woot! The holidays are over! Well, I can't complain...I'm already sick of school and it's only been one day...anyway, here's chapter six!!!!! Please, please, please take a minute to review and rate!
Chapter Six: A Halloween Birthday, a Sleepover, and an Epiphany
Second year came and went, too fast for any of the Gryffindors’ taste. All summer meant was returning to a glum lifestyle similar to their Christmas holidays; with the even more atrocious exception that they had a three month waiting period until the opening of Hogwarts. Third year had come, and most gratefully, they still a full eight months until it was just another memory. Moreover, being third years, the Marauders’ mischief and prying was not limited to only the Hogwarts grounds.
Now, there was Hogsmeade.
“I want a butterbeer…no, a firewhiskey…NO! I WANT A QUADRUPLE CARAMEL-SLASH-FUDGESICLE-SLASH-CHOCOLATE COVERED NUTS AND RAISINS-SLASH-BANANA SPLIT-SLASH-PUMPKINS SPICE-SLASH-MARSHMALLOW EXTRAVAGANZA WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM AND A CHERRY ON TOP!”
“Coming right up,” replied Madame Rosemerta, the amused Three Broomsticks pub owner. “Anything else for you lot?”
“Just some pumpkin pie with candles,” Lily said hastily before Sirius opened his mouth to say something rude and absurd. When Rosemerta left, Lily glared at him and James. “You two better not ruin this. If it wasn’t for Phoenix’s birthday, I’d-“
“Lillikins! Stop threatening the rabid turds! It’s my birthday! Only I can! And Rum!”
“I’d rather not,” said Remus meekly. He just recovered from another sick episode and his skin had a plastic sheen to it that worried Lily more about him than Phoenix.
“Four butterbeers, one hot chocolate, and one QCFCNRBSPSME with extra whipped cream and a cherry on top!” exclaimed Madame Rosemerta breathlessly, bringing the orders along.
“I can’t believe she actually just said QCFCNRBSPSME in less than three seconds,” Peter gasped as she walked off to welcome new arrivers. “She’s my heroine.”
“Heroin? Pictionary, I didn’t think you’d do drugs! But I guess it’s always the good ones that turn out bad…“
“Shut up and drink your mountain of trans-fat,” Sirius snapped playfully, eager to watch Phoenix chug down a liter of just-off-the-boiler liquid. She eyed him carefully than back to the giggling girls who had just entered the pub, their skimpy clothes barely covering the appropriate amount of skin.
“Only if you stay away from other girls, especially those kind,” she said cryptically, fiddling with her amulet like she always did when she was plotting something or became excited.
“Why?” asked Sirius, genuinely oblivious. “I mean, those girls are annoying anyways, always complaining that I spend too much time setting raccoons loose in Sluggy’s office…” Phoenix rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless.
“Because they have this Muggle disease that’s really hard to fully recover from. It’s called-nah, you don’t want to know.”
“Aw, c’mon! I can’t risk getting a disease and ruining my face and hair!”
“Your face and hair have been ruined for the past decade and three years. They look like horse spit.“
“Don’t make me use your full name-”
“Do you even know it?”
"No! Phe, do not give into the puppy eyes!" wailed James, his hazel eyes wide and glowing as always from behind his slipping glasses. Phoenix sighed.
"Can't help it mate," she muttered. "Cooties, mate. And the only way to get rid of cooties is by telling the one person you love more than anything that you, of course, love them."
Sirius clicked his tongue angrily. “What if that never happens? Merlin, seventh year will suck…my reputation is going to the dogs!”
Phoenix smirked darkly before chugging her steaming vat of QCFCNRBSPSME. “You have no idea...”
The Marauders, Lily, and Phoenix leisurely walked down the main street of Hogsmeade; the warm rays of the October evening sun revitalized their bodies, the Halloween decorations floating about, and the soft breeze rushing through their skin. As they walked up towards the castle, they came to the newly constructed Shrieking Shack and saw off in the distance where a group of men was planting a thrashing tree.
“Merlin’s left saggy buttocks!” Phoenix whistled. “How are they holding down the Whomping Willow?”
“Whomping Willow,” she repeated slowly for James. “My gramps told me they were planting one here for a certain reason-“
As Phoenix went on to explain what the Whomping Willow did to those who violated it within a five hundred foot radius, Remus’ skin paled until it was a grotesque shade of light purple. He knew what-or rather, whom it was for.
His monthly werewolf transformations were getting worse; according to Madame Pomfrey, it was the result of his human stage of growth and puberty. In the end, Headmaster Dumbledore decided to excavate some land by the castle to plant the tree, which had a secret tunnel going to the not-so-haunted Shrieking Shack. The Shack was designed and magically locked for his use when he was fully transformed and unable to be in contact with humans.
All this thinking brought Remus to a peculiar question: who was Phoenix’s grandfather? Only Dumbledore, Madame Pomfrey, and Professor McGonagall knew about his case. Remus’ mind buzzed in perplexity and unease of someone discovering the truth.
“Remus? You okay?” asked Lily as she squeezed his hand. “Are you sick again?”
He shook his head, hoping some color would return to his face. “I don’t know-“
“Maybe it was a bad idea for you to come out of the Hospital Wing so early,” she mumbled, mostly to herself. “Do you want to go back? ‘Cause I’ll take you-”
“Um…” he began, gently patting his freshly covered scratches and bruises.
“Or better yet, do you want to tell us something?” Phoenix asked. Her eyebrows rose and looked expectant, and her amulet flew madly between her slim fingers.
“Phe, what the Gobblestones are you talking about? Honestly, sometimes I question why I still stick around with you. Especially since you’re always with…them.” Lily hissed, quickly glancing at Sirius and James maliciously.
“Please, Lillikins. You know you stay around because you can never find people as amazing as us. You’re a darn lucky gal, Ms. Evans. A darn lucky gal,” Phoenix replied, her bubblegum pink eyes glazed and boring into Remus’ brown ones, giving him the troubling feeling he was being x-rayed.
He stared back at her; he knew she was trying to convey a secret message to him…could she possibly know the truth about him? No, how could she? She always seemed to be the most oblivious and forgetful of the group, even more than Sirius. Nevertheless, what was it that Phoenix told him after the Sorting in first year? Something about it was easy to mistaken a person to be something they’re not and how oblivion is just a mask but-
“Remus? Mate, are you still with us?” shouted James. He blinked twice to find his friends all staring at him worriedly.
“No- I mean, yes…well, no,” he replied hurriedly. “I think I’ll just go back to the Hospital Wing, make sure I fully recovered this month.”
Phoenix’s face fell. “Oh, right…it’s a shame, though…” she whispered to him as Lily trudged him down the hill towards the Hospital Wing. Phoenix and the remaining Marauders stared after them.
“It’s really cool that your birthday is on Halloween, Phe,” said Peter erratically. “It kinda suits you too, you know? You being, well, mysterious and all. I mean, I can't believe you knew all those cool spells! Sure, some of them seemed a bit Dark but-”
Phoenix laughed abruptly and a bit forcefully. “I know what you mean, Pictionary. Now, who’s up to a game of Pin the Fire on the Slytherins?”
“Me!” the boys chanted. Laughing, Phoenix led the way back to Hogwarts where they awaited their favorite seventh year targets, Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black.
“Bloody Hell! If someone doesn’t go down to the Shrieking Shack and perform an exorcism on the thing howling in there, I’ll do it myself!”
“Siri, if you came into a seven hundred mile radius of holy water, you’d burn.”
“Hey! I’m not that bad-“
“Yeah, ‘cause setting people on fire, demeaning harmless bystanders, and forcing house-elves to make you food at three in the morning isn’t deemed bad in any way.”
“I never said I didn’t. Now shut up and stop moving. I can’t sleep when your sending death glares to inanimate objects.”
“The Shrieking Shack is not inanimate! I mean, really! Listen to it!”
“You’re so paranoid-“
“SHUT UP! THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE HERE TOO!”
“Oh, Lillikins, I’m sorry. Were you and Snotter having a moment? Siri, we better shut up. We could be ruining the making of our godson.”
“Right you are, Phe.”
Of in the distance, another deep, loud howl echoed into the full moonlit night, cutting Lily off from strangling Phoenix for the third time. She shivered and turned onto her side to face Phoenix, her eyes wide in fear and her hands clammy. Phoenix smiled sympathetically and squeezed her best friend’s hands reassuringly as she always did when Lily was anxious or frazzled.
It had been a month since Halloween and Phoenix’s thirteenth birthday and like every month when the Shrieking Shack’s ghostly residents came out, Lily dragged Phoenix to the boys’ dormitory where they would spend the night feeling somewhat safer and shivering in apprehension of whatever beast was trapped inside. Moreover, as every month, Phoenix and Sirius stretched out on the floor underneath his bed (in case of a Shrieking Shack ghost raided the dorms, according to Phoenix) and James and Peter were respectively in there own beds. Lily would usually occupy Remus’ empty bed but when she realized she could see the roof of the Shrieking Shack (Remus’ bed being the closest to the window), she quickly joined Sirius and Phoenix on the floor. Of course, James followed suit and Peter, always the dedicated follower, tagged along and fell into his coma-like sleep upon lying down.
“Are we going to do this every month?” groaned James. “Are we going to hide under Sirius’ smelly bed because we hear something outside Hogwarts grounds?”
“Snotter, if you want to be eaten, by all means, go ahead. It won’t be a drastic loss-“
“Lillikins!” gasped Phoenix, her pink eyes wide and glowing in the dark.
“Nothing, I just like saying your name.”
“Hey!” James complained. “You should scold her for saying mean things to me!”
“Yeah, and have my butt kicked from under here? You’re on your own, Snotter.”
“So much for being my best friend…”
“Excuse me!” cried Lily, turning back to James with her emerald eyes blazing. “She’s my best friend!”
“But I found her first-“
“She chose to take my side-“
Phoenix turned her own back to Lily and faced Sirius, smiling. They were sandwiched together, Lily on Phoenix’s side and Peter on Sirius’. Both complained verbally, but what went on in their minds was quite the opposite. The two shared a blanket and pillow, causing their bodies to mold complimentarily into one another’s, their peppermint-toothpaste smelling, hot breaths softly tickling their skin, and their faces so close to each other, they could count each other’s eyelashes.
“When will they shut up and kiss?” whispered Phoenix as Lily and James’ voice began to die down; the two were slowly falling asleep.
“As soon as we do,” Sirius blurted, trying to pass his comment off as a joke. Lucky for both of them, it was pitch black and neither could see the other blush crimson.
“Right…” she yawned obnoxiously and another howl broke the silence.
Lily’s leg twitched and, being rather strong, she managed to push Phoenix’s lower body even closer to Sirius, if that was humanly possible. Phoenix’s eyes drooped and since she had found even more warmth by entwining her legs, arms, and fingers with Sirius’, she snuggled up closer to him. Sirius’ body automatically replied by holding her tight and stroking her face.
“One day, one day…” she was mumbling. “One day, we’ll all open our eyes…one day, we’ll see…no fear…” Sirius nodded, his grey eyes drooping as well. With one last look at Phoenix, he closed his eyes and whispered softly into her silky hair.
“One day, Phe. One day we’ll all happen.”
“Never again will I sleep on the ruddy floor with you. Never again,” Lily yawned as she pulled out her Potions book and pretended to busy herself while Slughorn made his rounds about the classroom. “I probably have scoliosis now.”
“Come off it, Evans. You know you liked being so close to me,” James replied ostentatiously as he and Sirius, his partner for the day, followed Lily’s example.
“As if, Snotter! I’d rather-“
“-snog Snivellus? Yeah, Evans, we know you like him!” James said slightly louder so Severus Snape sitting three cauldrons away heard. The twinge of envy in his voice wasn’t disregarded in Phoenix and Sirius’ ears.
Lily blushed crimson but said nothing. Phoenix watched her charily as she chopped up bat wings instead of owl droppings. Even the clumsiest potion maker, Phoenix knew the chemical reaction that could occur if Lily added the wrong ingredients.
“Um, Lillikins? I don’t think you want to be doing that.“
“He went too far, Phe. It’s not going to slide this time-” Lily went on an inexplicable rant. Phoenix tugged on Sirius’ sleeve and pointed silently to Lily.
“Is she speaking in Tongues? Should I blow something up? Will some toxic gas get her to come back- HOLY MOTHER OF JOHOSEPHAT! WHAT DID SNOTTER DO?”
Lava-like substance began oozing out from James cauldron and burning everything in its path. Students shrieked and jumped on top of their desks as the goo inched its way around the room, a trail of fire following behind. Slughorn was running about, trying to save his prized and rare artifacts, most of which consisted of dragon blood.
Moreover, as everyone was wide-eyed and panicky, three people were not crying over their destroyed belongings. In fact, one was smirking to themselves, another was eyeing the smirking one suspiciously, and the third howled with laughter, oblivious of the other two’s atypical behavior.
Lily Evans, Phoenix Somebody, and James Potter, respectively.
“FIFTY POINTS FROM GRYFFINDOR!” bellowed Slughorn, his beady eyes watery. “POTTER! BLACK! PETTIGREW! GO TO DUMBLEDORE’S OFFICE NOW!”
“But sir-” pleaded Sirius and Peter, whom, for once, were innocent. Slughorn slammed his hand on the table before using his wand to blow up the blob still moving about the room.
Terrified, Sirius dragged Peter and the still snickering James out of the dungeons and to the Headmaster’s office. Phoenix turned to the still smirking Lily as Slughorn, sobbing over his broken bottles, dismissed the class.
“Wow, Lillikins. For a minute I thought I lost you there,” she whispered cautiously. “I mean, adding bat wings to Snotter’s potion…a Marauderish move, if you ask me.”
Lily’s face paled and her smirk morphed into a round O. “Oh my gosh, Phe. I just-“
“Trust me, Lillikins. I think going to Dumbledore’s office will be good for them. It’ll open up their minds a bit, if you know what I mean.” Phoenix walked out of the dungeons, an enigmatic smirk creeping on her lips. Lily stared after her, not at all knowing what she meant.
“How did you do it?” asked Peter excitedly as he, James, and Sirius ventured up to eagle-guarded office of Headmaster Dumbledore.
“I-don’t-know!” wheezed James through every snort of laughter. “Amazing!”
“Sure is,” Sirius muttered, replaying in his mind how Lily had dumped a handful of chopped bat claws in his cauldron. “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” he shouted to the eagle before it jumped out of their way.
“Honestly, who makes up these passwords?” asked James. “Dumbledore is wicked brilliant, but a bit mad. Call me crazy-“
“Crazy,” Peter and Sirius chorused. James grinned, but continued his thought.
“-but sometimes when Dumbledore says these things, I think of Phe-”
“Headmaster, I really fear for the boy’s wellbeing,” someone behind the closed office door urged. James stopped talking and listened with his mates. “Did you hear him last night? I had half the nerve to make sure he wasn’t ripping himself apart!”
“Poppy,” a soft and weary voice replied. “I myself don’t know what to do. There’s so much we’ve done and can do, but in the end, there’s nothing that can ease a young boy’s metamorphosis into a werewolf.”
“Surely there’s something-“
“I’ll talk to my granddaughter. I’m sure she can cook up some sort of idea in that rather imaginative, intelligent brain of hers.”
“She’s like her mother, Albus, and yourself. Her father can’t intercept that.”
A pause swept the room. “Mmm,” the old headmaster mumbled, his tone skeptical. “Perhaps Mr. Lupin will find some refuge. For now, you should go tend to the boy.”
With their mouths gaping like a fish deprived of oxygen, James, Sirius, and Peter hid behind the nearest statue as Madame Pomfrey exited. Once the coast was clear, they stepped out, staring at each other as the pieces of the puzzle fell together.
How blind could they have been to not realize something was wrong with their friend, their brother? How many times could his grandmothers die? How many times could his mother get an organ transplant? How many pets could need major surgery? How many full moons gatherings in the boys’ dormitory have there been without their calming, warm-hearted Remus?
Forgetting altogether about seeing Dumbledore, the Marauders scurried after the neurotic nurse, not noticing the pair of old blue eyes following their every step. At the entrance, they waited for the nurse to enter the privacy of her locked office before bursting into the infirmary and hurrying to the only occupied bed.
“Remus!” gasped Peter as the three boys clambered over to him. Remus’ brown eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped.
“H-hi, g-g-guys!” he said nervously as he attempted to pull the covers over his open wounds. “W-what are y-you doing h-here? D-d-did Phe s-set s-s-someone on f-fire?”
“No, but James nearly did in Potions,” Sirius said. Remus’ eyebrows furrowed as he pulled the sterile sheets to his chin. “Don’t hide it, mate. We know about…it.”
James looked morosely at Remus as he carefully pulled back the covers, revealing Remus’ sliced up, pale body. “Remus…why?”
“I…I,” Remus paused, his face turning stony and his tone icy. “It’s not like everyone will say ‘oh yeah, my best mate’s a fre-”
“Werewolf,” corrected Sirius. Remus grimaced; the word stung more than the alcohol Madame Pomfrey dabbed onto his wounds earlier that day. “So…that was you we heard last night?” Remus grunted in response.
“We were sent to Dumbledore’s office ‘cause of James’ explosion in Potions-I’ll get to that later- and we heard Pomfrey talking about you to Dumbledore. They’re trying to find a way to help you, to make it easier,” Peter explained to Remus’ unasked question. “They’re gonna contact Dumbledore’s granddaughter, whoever that is…”
Remus scoffed bitterly. “Like she’ll come up with anything-“
“Don’t, Remus. Just don’t,” James said forlornly. “We’re the Marauders. We’re going to find a way. That’s just how we do things.”
“Where have you all been?” asked Phoenix later that night when all four Marauders entered the Common Room. “You missed Lily blowing up on a group of sixth years!”
“That’s fine a dandy, but we were at Dumbledore’s office, of course,” James said, his voice cracking. Phoenix snorted but said nothing as she opened an envelope and read the letter. “Who’d you get a letter from?”
Phoenix quickly read the letter and tucked it away. “Oh, just my old gramps,” she said. “Well, I’m going to bed. Maybe I’ll have another wicked dream like last night.”
“Whatcha dream about?” asked Peter curiously, the avid translator. Go figure why his favorite class was Ancient Runes.
“Oh, it was brilliant!” she exclaimed. “These people were transforming from humans to animals willingly! This one girl with black hair and wicked red eyes turned into a phoenix…Animagus, I believe they’re called…” She turned on her heels and walked up the stairs to the girls’ dormitory, a smirk creeping on her lips.
In the common room, the Marauders were grinning to one another, thanking whatever strange deity it was for sending Phoenix to them.