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February Stars by Padfoot_Prongs
Chapter 3 : iii.
 
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“Shit,” Sirius grunted as Iris slipped from their hold, but the next second, he was pushing himself onto Lily and shoving her away from the girl.  Lily screamed, and they watched as Iris’ head tipped back farther, her neck curling past human limits, her skin splitting and her muscles trembling.  And she was gone, slipping out of her pale skin and into the fur coat of a fiery red and orange wolf.

“Lily,” Sirius whispered, swallowing dryly, “Lily, you have to get back inside.”

“What about you?” she hissed, shoving his shoulder.

“I’ll be fine, trust me.  You, however, need to get back inside,” he repeated in a low voice as the wolf’s head swiveled to face them at their voices.  Iris’ blue and green eyes stared back at them, and Lily gasped.

“She’s a werewolf.  That’s why Remus is so interested in her!  But wait,” she paused, “I saw Remus today, right before I went to bed.  It’s not even close to the full moon.”

“Which is why you need to get back inside.  Because I don’t know what the hell is going on,” Sirius said, not sparing her a glance as he spread his arms and backed Lily against the wall, “Look, Evans, I really don’t want to do this with you right now.  James will have my head if something happens to you.”

“Oh,” she scoffed, narrowing her eyes, “Who cares what Potter thinks.  What about you?  What are you going to do?”

“Lead her out of the castle.  Something is wrong, Evans, and I don’t know what it is, but I’m not going to let her roam the castle like this.  She could bite anyone.”

“And you?”

“Lily!” he yelled, spinning, “Go.”

She listened this time, slipping back through the portrait hole as Iris stepped back, her ears flattened against her head.  Everything about her stance screamed fear, and Sirius could practically smell the anxiety rolling off of her as he fell to his hands and knees, shaking his head as he transformed.

He was shocked as an image crossed his mind, an image of Lily, tainted with the touch of fear.  He shook his head, looking at Iris, but the image came again, and he pushed it back, trying to convey that she was a friend.  Iris backed away again until Sirius stepped forward, growling, and she fell to her haunches, looking up at him worriedly.  He tried to communicate with her as she had, coming up with an image of the Forbidden Forest, and her eyes seemed to brighten.  Somehow, he managed to coax her into going with him, and he directed her around the castle, stopping her from marking anything and pushing them out into the night air.

There, she bounded for the forest, and Sirius went with her, his human mind working furiously through options.  He’d never met anyone like Iris.  Of course, he’d had his fair share of adventures with Remus, but this, this was something he was entirely unfamiliar with.  This was a werewolf he couldn’t understand, which felt odd for him.

Iris was nothing like the fear and shyness of Remus, either, and Sirius was wary of her.  She leapt at animals, never meaning to harm, only meaning to play, and more than a few accepted her offer, running alongside her and nipping at her legs until she growled at them, eyes sparkling.  She was carefree and wild, whereas Remus just wanted to get far from the castle and hide away from everything.  He only ever trusted his three friends that he’d grown with as a wolf, but Iris seemed to come alive in the chilly night air.

Eventually, though, Sirius relented, wrestling with her a few times and playing games with her.  They chased the night away until dawn was crackling through the forest, bringing to life the birds and morning dew.  They’d stopped by a river somewhere deep in the forest to quench their thirst, still animals, which trickled confusion through Sirius.  Remus had always started to shake and transform at first light.  He, James, and Peter were used to backing away and shifting beyond the cover of trees, waiting for him to find his thoughts and call for them.  Iris, however, merely lifted her head as the sunlight touched her and closed her eyes, humanlike, and basked in the rays for a moment before licking her muzzle and nudging Sirius in the shoulder.  He looked at her, his human mind still tumbling, though duller in this body of a dog, and he understood, even if only a little.  She was no normal werewolf.  Something different pulsed in her blood.

They ran into the morning, leaping through trees and over roots, awakening the forest with their barks and howls, shaking the glistening drops of dew from their branches.  The wind began to die away as they reached familiar territory; this was the valley where Remus normally shifted in the morning.  Sirius watched as Iris stopped, head tilted, and the warm breath of the sun touched him, warming his fur.  He sat, tail wagging behind him, until Iris suddenly buckled, howling in pain.  He shot up, trying to comfort her, but she snapped viciously at him, her eyes screaming danger.  He backed away and sat again, watching her fearfully.

And then it happened, so fast Sirius barely saw it.  Head bent low, Iris lowered herself onto the ground, and then her paws were gone, transforming into human hands, dirty and rubbed raw.  The wolf’s howl faded into a trembling scream, and there was Iris, pale and shaking.  They were close to the lake, and Sirius shivered as the wind picked up its frigid breeze, and when he stood into his human form, Iris was shaking so hard, he felt a twang of pain for her.

Her head shot up when he took a step, and he stopped.  Her eyes were feral, all animal, and it scared him.  Not many things could, but that same look when she’d snapped at him still haunted her blue and green eyes.  “Get out of here,” she gasped, nails digging into the grass.  “Go!” she yelled when he didn’t move.

And she was a wolf again.  Sirius blinked.  He had never, in any of his researching, heard of someone like Iris Vlokx.  “Iris,” he whispered, and he was met with the terrified stare of blue green eyes in a wolf’s body.  “Iris, what is it?” he asked softly, taking another step toward her.  She instantly backed down, and he swore as he tried to step closer and she bolted.  His transformation was fluid, but finding her was hard.

When he finally did find her, he rammed into her, rolling them both onto the ground until he was atop her, pinning her down.  He snapped at her when she tried to bite him, and she recoiled, going limp.  He pushed an image at her, himself as a human, introducing himself for the first time.

“You’re the new girl,” Sirius said, dropping a hand on her desk and leaning forward, “You have pretty eyes.”

“Go away, womanizer.”

“Ouch,” James whistled, laughing, “She’s got you pinned, and you haven’t even told her your name.”

“Sirius Black,” he whispered against her ear, and a tickle ran through her, causing her to blush.  Sirius Black.  She wasn’t going to forget his name.

Iris pushed the image back at him, and he repeated the movement.  They battled this way, Sirius fighting to make her understand until she showed him another one, a younger version of herself, cowering in a corner.  He recognized the wild eyes of Emily Kelunt bending to say something, and then he saw Iris shift.

He tried to convey confirmation.  He wanted her to know that yes, that is you.  She seemed to understand, and then she was shaking, and faster than he could comprehend, Iris’ pale body was underneath him.

“Sirius,” she gasped out, and something in her voice made him shiver and back out of his dog form.  “Who are you?” she said after a breath, “How do I know you?”  And the images suddenly made sense.  She lost Iris when she gained the wolf.

--

Sirius turned away, eyes closing, as Iris continued to vomit.  He was finding it hard to concentrate.  Iris’ voice kept echoing in his mind, not knowing who he was.  She hadn’t given him anytime to ask, either, because she’d turned and thrown up as soon as she’d set off that bomb.

He felt uncomfortable, standing here naked with her in an equal state of undress, but he was fearful of leaving her alone, of what might happen to her.  It wasn’t that he’d become best friends with her, but he knew what agony Remus could be in after his cycle was complete.

“Iris, if I leave you to get clothes, will you be alright?”

“No,” she whispered, and he looked over his shoulder to find her straightening and loosening her hair from her fist.  He’d offered to hold her hair back, but she’d just shaken her head and turned away from him.  “I might shift again.  I don’t feel… I’m not sure in this skin,” she said.  She sounded so foreign, so unfamiliar.  Her voice was hollow, and he knew she was in pain.  “I’m sorry,” she suddenly whispered, “I’m sorry you heard that.  I don’t even really remember saying it, but I know I did.  I—I know who you are.”

“Then why didn’t you?” he demanded, his voice cold and hard.

She frowned, folding her arms over her chest, though Sirius’ eyes were fixed on her face anyway.  “When I turn into a wolf,” she managed before a shake ripped through her, and she groaned, her shoulders slumping.  “It’s the cold.  The cold makes me a wolf,” she gasped, sinking into the tree.  “Sirius,” she whimpered, and he only thought about it for a second before leaping forward and folding her into his arms.

“Talk,” he ordered, rubbing her back with his hands to warm her, “Just talk.”

“When I turn into a wolf, I can’t remember anything.  I can’t even remember my own name.  I don’t know how you did that, how you made me think of your name like that, even when I didn’t know who you were.  I can’t recognize faces or people or anything.  If you asked me who I was, I could tell you nothing.  It takes me a few minutes to remember where I am, who I am, what I am.  It’s not that I hate you or something or that I was trying to be rude or that you’re forgettable; I just can’t hold onto human thoughts.”

“Remus is like that sometimes, but he always knows it’s us.”

“I’m not like Remus.”

It was a simple statement, but it started to click things in Sirius’ mind.  “Something else is in your blood,” he said, and Iris nodded.

“Sirius,” she whispered, and he grunted.  “I know this is going to sound weird, but… hit me,” she finally spat out.  He didn’t think about it.  He just brought his hand back and let it collide with her pale skin, and she gasped into him, knees buckling a little, and then he understood.  The skin on her back under his palm flared with heat, reacting to the strike, and he pushed her off of him, biting his lip and slapping both of her arms.  She cried out, falling into the tree before he let his hand come down on her stomach and then on her neck.  She looked red, raw and hurt, but Sirius knew the shake of her shoulders already.  And so he scooped her up and he ran, faster than he ever had.

--

“Padfoot!” James gasped as a great black dog came bounding through the front doors of the Great Hall.  The students fell silent, staring as he ran between the aisles, making a beeline for the staff table.  James started to stand as did Remus; Peter looked on, brow furrowed.

“Where do you think he’s been?” Remus whispered, and James shrugged, swinging his legs over the bench and heading for the end of Gryffindor table.  Peter scrambled to follow them, and the three stopped in the aisle as Sirius ran past them, up the stairs, and let out a vicious growl.

Dumbledore was already on his feet and coming around the table as Sirius came closer to McGonagall and barked angrily.  The elderly witch gasped as the voice of a one Sirius Black floated into her mind.  Iris.  He repeated her name until she understood.  She had never truly believed that the Marauders had really successfully become Animagus until she stared at the grey eyes of the black dog before her and heard Sirius Black’s voice in her mind.  Only Animagi could communicate like that.

“Minerva,” Dumbledore said as Sirius’ growl rippled through the hall, “Minerva, now.”  She leapt to her feet, and Dumbledore touched a hand to Sirius’ head, causing him to snap his eyes up to the headmaster.  “Lead us, and quickly,” he added.

“She’s just outside,” McGonagall whispered, going past Dumbledore, “He’s going to get clothes and Madame Pomfrey,” she said, looking straight at Sirius before continuing.  Dumbledore followed her without another word.

The entire Hall was frozen as the two professors disappeared until Sirius barked again, eyes settled on James, and he moved, tugging Remus and Peter with him.  They ran after Sirius as he bounded out of the Great Hall.  When they erupted outside, he was crouched on the ground, chest heaving and hair hiding his face.  His head snapped up, and James gasped at the claw marks on his shoulders.

“Get Pomfrey,” he managed to gasp out, “Just get her and send her outside.  I have to go to the tower.  Prongs, please,” he groaned when they didn’t move.  He shifted before they could respond, and he was off, sprinting away up the grand staircase.

When he arrived in the boys’ dormitory, he changed into a pair of loose jeans and a t-shirt, threw a sweatshirt on, and then charmed the girls’ staircase so he could hurry up and into Iris’ room.  He found jeans and a grey sweater along with panties, a bra, and socks before running back out of the tower in his human form.  When he arrived outside, McGonagall was coaxing Iris away from the lake while Dumbledore guarded the steps so no one would come outside.

“Mister Black,” he said when Sirius arrived, “You have much explaining to do.”

“We were almost back,” he said, looking over at the two, “She shifted by the lake.  Why does she change because of the cold and not the moon?” Sirius asked, looking up at the old headmaster.

“Iris Vlokx is something none of us understand yet, not even her.  She’s going to die, Sirius, unless we can discover what it is that has made her this.  She will always be an anomaly of the werewolves, will always change because of the cold and not the moon, but if we can remove whatever has poisoned her, she will live without fear or pain.  Why did she shift before?”

“It was warm, but then a breeze must have caught from the lake.  We were near it, in the valley near the farthest edge of the lake.”

“Ah, I see.  It appears as though Professor McGonagall is having a hard time.  I will feign ignorance after this moment, Mister Black, but if you happened to be an Animagus in this moment, I would ask you to help.”

Sirius needed no more convincing.

--

Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling.  Everything otherwise recognizable belongs to Maggie Stiefvater.

THIS IS MAKING ME SO HAPPY.  THAT IS ALL.

Also, I am currently piecing together a compilation of oneshots centering around the lives of the Black sisters, and I am immensely excited about it.


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