Chapter 1 : Part One
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It was late one night at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Most of the castle’s occupants had been asleep for hours, blissfully unaware of the thundershower raging outside. The only person in sight was a teenage boy with messy black hair, which under normal circumstances would stick up in all directions, but which was currently plastered to his head, due to the fact that it was sopping wet.
This boy’s name was James Potter, and even to the untrained eye, it was painfully obvious that he was utterly miserable. It was clear that he was out there to try and numb the pain of the rejection and loss he had suffered.
After standing in the pouring rain for approximately two hours, he dragged himself back to the Gryffindor common room, unseen due to the aid of his Invisibility Cloak. Upon arrival in said room, he collapsed in an armchair by the fire, feeling miserable, exhausted and rather ill, courtesy of the rain shower.
For a while, he simply sat staring into the glowing embers of the fireplace, reflecting that going outside in the current weather had probably not been the best idea.
It was no help that he was completely useless as far as Heat spells were concerned and that he didn’t want to go and change, for fear of waking his roommates. So he sat there, shivering violently and hoping that he would be able to doze off soon. It was an hour later when he finally fell asleep, feeling worse than ever and firmly resolving to visit Madam Pomfrey the next morning.
Meanwhile, in the girls’ dormitory upstairs, Lily Evans awoke with a start. She shuddered at the nightmare she’d been having, before groggily pulling back the curtain surrounding her bed and reaching for her luminous alarm clock. It was only 2 o’clock in the morning.
With a groan she climbed back into bed and was just about to shut her hangings, when her best friend, Alice Prewett, spoke up sleepily from the neighboring bed; “Lil, are you okay?”. Lily swore she had forgotten what a light sleeper Alice was.
With a yawn, Lily replied sarcastically; “Yeah, I just had a nightmare about a stalker by the name of Potter, I’m absolutely fine.” Looking at Alice’s bed intently, she noticed that her friend was sitting up now, with her own hangings pulled back, the better to reason with her.
Apparently Alice had sensed that her stubborn friend was about to start cursing the mere name of James Potter into next week, because she said firmly “Give the guy a break Lils, do you have any idea how much he loves you?”
“Yeah, enough to stalk me even in my dreams,” replied Lily bitterly, angry that she lost her chance to rant about James.
She was mildly surprised therefore, when Alice shook her head and said impatiently; “No, damn it Lily, he loves you enough to be miserable when you turn him down, just like anyone else! The last time you rejected him was one time too many, didn’t you notice how he didn’t even smile when we won the Quidditch Cup last week? Or has it still not sunk in that he is a human being with feelings?”
After a stunned silence Lily retorted; “Yeah, well that doesn’t necessarily mean I had anything to do with his misery!”
To her dismay, Alice responded; “One second, I need to show you something.” Curiously, Lily watched as Alice bent down and rummaged in her trunk for a good five minutes, before straightening up with a “Daily Prophet” clutched in her hand.
When her friend sat down next to her, Lily leaned in to see what article Alice so desperately wanted to show her and realized that she had stopped at the page which listed Voldemort’s latest victims. Her eyes widened in shock when she read the two names which Alice was pointing at: Louisa and Harold Potter.
Folding up the newspaper again, Alice turned to her friend and said quietly; “So Lily, now you know, you aren’t the only reason why James has been so down lately, but I’m willing to bet your continuous rejection hasn’t helped him feel any better. A word of caution as well, yesterday in Advanced Muggle Studies, Remus told me that Sirius is really mad at you for hurting his best friend again, so don’t be surprised if he gives you a piece of his mind tomorrow.”
After a minute, during which Lily seemed to find her feet very fascinating, she looked into Alice’s eyes and wondered how the girl had become a Gryffindor, everything she had just said rang so true, with that wisdom she ought to have been a Ravenclaw in Lily’s opinion. Alice smiled at her, the moment she saw the regret and guilty realization in her friends eyes, she felt confident that Lily would apologize the next day.
The next morning, Lily’s alarm clock went off promptly at half past seven. Normally she was one of the first people to get out of bed, but now she groaned, hit the snooze button and rolled over to try and get back to sleep, not even realizing that she was the only one still in bed.
She was very startled to find the dormitory completely deserted when she awoke again half an hour later. Hurriedly, she jumped out of bed and dressed at the speed of light, cursing under her breath. In her hassled condition, nothing could have prepared her for the sight that awaited her downstairs in the common room.
She was halfway down the stairs, when Sirius’ voice carried up to where she stood, making her stop short; he sounded positively furious. “Alice, I DON’T CARE IF SHE IS STILL SLEEPING; SHE NEEDS TO SEE WHAT SHE’S DONE TO MY BEST FRIEND! GO GET HER NOW!”
Shakily, Lily continued slowly down the steps and nearly collided with Alice, who had succumbed to Sirius’ yelling and was coming to fetch her. Gathering strength from Alice’s quick embrace, Lily prepared herself for a tirade as she turned to face Sirius. The moment he saw her, Sirius bellowed; “EVANS!”
Having expected something worse, she was able to reply quite coolly; “Yes Black, what’s wrong?”
“I’LL SHOW YOU WHAT’S WRONG, YOU HEARTLESS MONSTER!” he yelled in her face. Lily blinked; clueless as to what could she possibly have done to get Sirius so worked up. In a flash, her conversation with Alice from the previous night came back to her and she must have looked guilty, because she heard Sirius mutter: “Now she remembers!” under his breath. Then, without warning, he spun around and, grabbing her wrist, pulled her through the portrait hole.
Lily winced, as he mercilessly pulled her along by the wrist and she jogged along, trying desperately to keep up with his fast pace. Finally, he stopped in front of the entrance to the hospital wing and said in a strained voice; “Look Lily, I’m sorry for yelling at you, but I’m just worried you know? It was around midnight last night, while it was just us Marauders in the common room, when James suddenly said he wanted to go for a walk. We all told him he was being stupid, that it was pouring outside, but he didn’t listen, and now he’s down with the flu or worse! Madam Pomfrey isn’t even sure what’s wrong yet.”
Lily nodded understandingly and said; “Don’t worry about it, really! Alice told me what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Potter, and now I feel really guilty too. I didn’t exactly help James by turning him down time and again, now did I?”
Sirius laughed humorlessly; “You finally got something right there, Evans! You have no idea how much you hurt him when you turned him down in front of all of Gryffindor House last week. You ruined the victory party for the entire Quidditch team! Didn’t you wonder why he disappeared just ten minutes into the celebrations, despite being our star player?”
Lily nodded absently, she remembered the occasion only too well, and as she thought about that disastrous night she felt more ashamed of herself than ever.
One week ago
The final Quidditch game of the season had been won by an ecstatic Gryffindor team. The match was played against Slytherin, which made the team even happier. The weather conditions hadn’t been ideal, so they had been slightly concerned. Their worries proved pointless, as James had caught the snitch in ten minutes, giving the Gryffindors a real reason to celebrate.
A roaring party was soon underway and James frequently proclaimed his happiness that evening. Apparently it wasn’t meant to last, just as the party was really getting underway, Lily entered the common room. She had borrowed a thick book from the library and had every intention of going to read quietly in her dormitory, when James stopped her. “Hi Lily,” he said, with a huge grin.
She simply glared at him; “Get out of my way Potter,” she demanded in an icy tone. He either couldn’t or wouldn’t take the hint. He asked her for a dance, which was the final straw, she slapped him hard. Everyone in the room looked their way in astonishment as she yelled; “Oh, grow up and get it into your thick head, I HATE YOU JAMES POTTER!”
Ignoring the hurt look in his eyes, she turned and ran upstairs where she collapsed on her bed, positively fuming. When her temper had cooled down, she returned to the party where she was met only by angry glares from all of James’ fan girls. Needless to say, although James was nowhere in sight, Alice was the only one who actually spoke to her for the rest of the evening and as she made her way up to bed that night, she was almost certain she heard muffled sobs coming from the boys’ dormitory across the landing.
Before Lily knew it, Sirius had pushed the infirmary doors open and entered, motioning for her to follow him. With a resigned sigh she entered the room, closing the door behind her. She was slightly surprised to see Remus sitting up in one of the beds, reading a book. It became evident fairly quickly, that Sirius was as well; “Why did you stay up here, Moony? I thought you said you’d help Prongs to get here, and then be back.”
Remus looked up and sighed, honestly sometimes Sirius could be so clueless. “The full moon is tomorrow night, Pads! I just feel kind of dizzy because of that, so I thought I’d rest for a while. Relax, it’s nothing serious!”
Before Sirius could say anything in reply, Madam Pomfrey bustled into the room, frowning slightly; “Mr. Black if you cannot keep your voice down, I’m going to have to ask you to leave! Need I remind you, that it is your friend who needs to rest?”
Sirius nodded quickly, the matron’s words had reminded him of why he had come to the hospital wing in the first place. He was about to ask about James when Lily pushed him aside and asked the Healer; “Madam Pomfrey, what’s wrong with James?” It surprised Sirius to hear such fear and concern in her voice, who was this girl and what had she done with Lily Evans? He jerked out of these insane musings, just in time for Madam Pomfrey’s diagnosis.
“Potter is lucky he got nothing more than a bad case of the flu and quite a high temperature,” she explained, to the immense relief of Sirius, Remus and Lily. They weren’t too thrilled to learn that he was currently in need of not only rest but isolation as well, though they knew it was the best way for him to get better and for them to say healthy as well. With that Sirius and Lily left for their classes, after leaving Remus with strict instructions to let them know when James woke up.
Six hours later, James was still out like a light. Remus gazed at his cubicle sadly. It was obvious that he wouldn’t be able to join them in the forest the next night, making it the first time, in the two years since his friends had become Animagi for him, that one of them would be missing the action.
This worried him slightly, he wasn’t sure that Padfoot and Wormtail could handle the werewolves’ aggression without the stags help. Making a mental note to discuss the issue with Sirius later on, he lay back and tried to take a quick nap. Pre-transformation jitters were irritatingly exhausting!
Half an hour later, he awoke to the distant sounds of the students going to lunch, and crossed his fingers, in the hope that Sirius would pop by for a visit first. Luckily, that’s exactly what he did, with a sigh of relief Remus beckoned to his friend, so that they could quietly discuss the issue at hand. Needless to say, the fact that he had expected Sirius to argue with him didn’t make it any easier to hear his friends’ stubborn tone of voice.
They began to argue, not realizing how loud their voices had become, until they heard a weak moan coming from behind the curtains which screened James from view. They both shut their mouths abruptly, and Sirius ran to fetch Madam Pomfrey from her office.
James awoke very suddenly, drenched in cold sweat and shivering despite his warm and cozy covers. It took him a few minutes to register that he wasn’t in the Gryffindor common any longer, which was where he was sure he had fallen asleep. Soon after, he realized that his skull felt like it was going to crack; it was pounding painfully inside his head.
This probably wasn’t helped by the raised voices nearby, although he didn’t really feel up to protesting against the noise, he gave a pathetic little moan to try and shut the voices up. Surprisingly though, the tiny sound succeeded in shutting off the noises, which had felt a lot like those things Muggles called “drills” to his aching head. Then he heard hurried footsteps fade away into the distance; not long after that the screen around his bed gave a screech, as it got pulled back and a hassled Madam Pomfrey came into view.
“Potter, how do you feel?” she questioned in her usual brisk manner.
Since he didn’t even have the energy to lie to her, James simply croaked: “Absolutely lousy.”
The matron just nodded, having felt his forehead; “I don’t find that difficult to believe, your temperature is going up! I’ll get a fever reducing potion for you, and then I want you to go back to sleep, alright?”
He nodded weakly, noticing vaguely how even that simple action hurt his head and then leaned back with his eyes closed. All too soon, Madam Pomfrey returned, holding a goblet full of an inky blue potion in her hands. “Here, this will make the fever go down, drink up.”
She hadn’t noticed his eyes become hazy and unfocused as he whispered hoarsely; “But Mum, I just had my pumpkin juice, tell Sirius to drink this glassful.”
It was a good thing the medi-witch had set the goblet down seconds before, because her shocked expression suggested she would have dropped it, in the few seconds since she’d left his bedside, James’ temperature had risen so high that he’d started hallucinating. She knew she had to act fast; quickly she made him sit up straight and poured the potion down his throat.
Unsurprisingly, he shivered; the potion was designed to reduce fevers and it was therefore like an icy drink. When she was sure he had swallowed every last drop, the matron tucked him in gently and went back to her office.
The peace and quiet didn’t last long; soon enough Madam Pomfrey heard a panicked voice call out to her. Frowning slightly, she strolled into the ward to a worrisome sight; Remus was kneeling on the floor next to James, who was leaning over one of the buckets which were stationed near the beds and throwing up.
“Good Heavens!” she cried, even as she rushed to assist the two boys. Quickly, she cast “Scourgify” on the bucket and it began cleaning itself out, then she helped an exceptionally pale James climb back into bed before pulling Remus to his feet.
“Mr. Lupin, could you tell me what happened in here since I left the room?” she questioned calmly.
Remus glanced around nervously, before responding; “James just mumbled something about the potion not agreeing with him, he said he felt queasy ever since taking it. Then suddenly he’s on the floor throwing up, I was only trying to help.”
If the situation had not been so serious, Madam Pomfrey would have laughed at the defiant look glowing in his eyes, but instead she simply said quietly; “I am not berating you Mr. Lupin, you did the right thing! However, the fact that Potter cannot, apparently keep the medicine down is a serious matter indeed. The hallucinations will get worse as the fever goes up and if the medicine against it does not agree with him, an alternative must be found.”
“What do you suggest, Madam Pomfrey?” he asked testily. The matron sighed, with the full moon so near at hand, she couldn’t possibly expect a useful suggestion from Remus and so she held her tongue and resolved to investigate the reason why James’ immune system rejected the potion, the very next day.
That night, Madam Pomfrey slept restlessly, it had been a long time since she’d had to deal with anything as severe as James’ condition and she was determined to help him yet confused at the same time. In the middle of the night an idea came to her; smiling slightly to herself she noted down the idea and slept peacefully thereafter.
When the medi-witch awoke early the next morning she remembered her midnight inspiration with a jolt; after seeing to it that Remus and James were still sleeping soundly, she headed towards the headmaster’s office.
It wasn’t long before she found herself standing in front of the intimidating stone gargoyles which guarded the office entrance. She didn’t waste any time in blurting the password at them and rushing impatiently up the stairs when they moved aside.
When she reached the top she wrapped her knuckles smartly against the door, proceeding to yank it open upon the headmaster’s invitation. He looked slightly surprised to see her; “What brings you here at this time, Poppy?” In a matter of minutes, she explained the situation, when she was done; her colleague’s amicable smile had vanished; leaving a concerned frown in its place.
Before she could bring forth her suggestion however, he pointed out; “You did remember to consult Mr. Potter’s medical chart before administering the potion, didn’t you? Just this term, he brought a letter from his mother with him to school, saying he recently developed an allergy to asphodel; which, if I remember right, is a key ingredient in the fever reducer you gave him.”
The matron brought her hands up to her mouth; an aghast expression on her face. “I did this to him,” she murmured; eyes wide as the realization of her mistake sank in. After a shocked silence she recovered herself and suggested her idea; “Albus, I was thinking last night; you have already promised Severus Snape a position as the school’s Potions master when he graduates, why not let him try and find a cure for Potter’s ailment?”
Her colleague looked thoughtful for a moment then, sighing slightly, responded; “Poppy, that is a good idea, there is however the small matter of Mr. Snape’s hatred of Potter.”
The Healer looked put out for a moment, then she argued; “But surely he would help even his arch-enemy in a life or death situation.”
Dumbledore looked skeptical; “Do you really think so?”
Seeing that she was adamant, he added; “If you really feel so strongly about it, I can suggest this to Mr. Snape, but I am almost certain he will not agree!”
The matron shot him a grateful smile; “It will be good enough for me if you would just try, Albus,” she assured him, before consulting her pocket-watch. “Oh my, I must be getting back to the hospital wing Albus, excuse me.”
With that she turned and hurried back to the hospital, time had flown and she had to escort Remus to the Whomping Willow soon.
Meanwhile, back in the Gryffindor common room, Sirius and Lily were working on their Potions essays together. Normally Lily was a Potions whiz, but today she was struggling to concentrate. She would never admit it, but Sirius knew that she was as worried about James as he was.
It was clear they were both avoiding talking about it; the silence was just becoming unbearable when she claimed she couldn’t concentrate and headed to bed, leaving him to struggle with the essay.
Lily got up and went upstairs, where she found Alice combing her hair before going to bed. “What’s the matter Lily?” she asked when she saw her friend looking downcast. Lily shook her head mutely, not because there was nothing the matter, but because her pride wasn’t letting her put her problem into words. She, Lily Evans, was worried about James Potter; the very idea sent shivers down her spine.
Evidently her expression betrayed her thoughts, because Alice smirked slightly and said; “It’s not a crime to care, Lils.” Apparently her friend could read her like a book, Alice possibly understood the guilt surging through her and more importantly, she was telling her it was alright to have a change of heart.
Even so, Lily couldn’t help crying out in frustration; “I’ve never liked James Potter, Al! Why do I have to start caring now, at exactly the point when I’m completely helpless? A part of me is trying to fool my conscience, by saying that it’s his own fault that he went out in the rain and got sick, but now another part of me which I never knew existed, is telling me that it’s my fault and that he did it because I hurt him!”
Alice looked at her hysterical best friend sympathetically; “Did you go and visit him today, Lils? Personally, I think it would make him feel a whole lot better to know that you care.”
Lily sighed and shook her head; “I couldn’t bear the idea of seeing him now, I’m sure he hates me,” she declared.
Alice snorted; “Lily, we are talking about the same boy here, right? Because the James Potter I know could never hate you. Just go and visit him tomorrow and you’ll see!” Lily nodded, today she had wanted to visit the hospital wing countless times, but her pride had never let her; ironically her feelings always seemed to change after conversations with Alice, she truly was a good friend.
Back in the common room, Sirius had given up all hope of getting his essay done that night. If Lily couldn’t do it, with her skills and all, how on earth would he? With a sigh, he casually tilted his chair back on two legs and relaxed. A howl coming from the general direction of the Forest brought him back to reality not long after.
“Oh, Merlin,” he muttered, jumping up as though he’d been electrocuted. He’d completely forgotten about his argument with Moony earlier that day; until he heard some random creature call into the night at that moment. Well, if Remus seriously thought he would ever face another full moon alone, then he was crazy!
With that thought in mind, Sirius ran to fetch Peter from the dormitory and they proceeded to the grounds. That night, three of the Marauders had their usual fun, romping around the grounds, albeit a bit more cautiously than usual; also that night, Remus Lupin learned the true meaning of the saying: All for one and one for all!
A/N: there you have it, part one of "A Stag In Need" review please and enjoy!