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February Stars by Padfoot_Prongs
Chapter 13 : xiii.
 
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February tenth.
1978.


Iris had never seen her friend quite so nervous.  They’d just gotten the owl from Madame Pomfrey that James had finally awoken, and they were standing outside of the Hospital Wing, but Lily couldn’t seem to bring herself to open the door.  “When did this happen?” Iris finally asked, arching an eyebrow, “You and James, meaning.”

“While we were in the mountains.  Officially.  Where you and Sirius seemed to finally hit it off, I might add.”

“That’s been coming for ages.  Actually, so hasn’t you and James,” Iris said thoughtfully, “Alright, are we going in or not?  He was asking for you.”

“He’s always asking for me,” Lily muttered under her breath before pushing the door open.  James’ bed was located at the far end of the Hospital Wing, away from curious eyes, and Sirius’ bed was across from him.  They sat and talked with him for awhile, listening as he recounted what had happened and what Pomfrey had told him about the dark curse Emily had thrown at him, Emily, who was being restrained four beds away, magically unconscious and silenced.  Pomfrey was tending to her wounds before Dumbledore decided what was to be done.

“I just saw her picture on the Prophet,” Lily was saying, and Iris nodded, looking over at her friend somberly, “I can’t even believe it.”

Iris shifted her gaze to the drawn curtains around Sirius’ bed, and her whole body sagged as she stared at it.  She was alive and human because of him, but Pomfrey’s words wouldn’t leave her mind, no matter how hard she wished for them to, He’s dying.

James seemed to have followed her gaze because, next thing she knew, he was holding Lily’s hand very tightly and whispering soothingly to her as Iris stood.  She heard none of it, just the tone of his voice, but her mind was set.  She slipped through the break in the curtains, and her heart leapt into her throat.

Sirius was pale and ghost-like, entirely too lifeless for her liking, and he was icy to the touch.  Dark bags had formed under his eyes, and his skin looked sallow and sickly.  She didn’t know the spell, didn’t know how to do what he did, but she knew that she had to try because she would not be the death of Sirius Black.  Her skin could wait until spring; his life could not wait at all.

And so Iris carefully leaned over him, her lips pressed to his just as he’d done a week ago in the frigid winter night, and she felt all the warmth leave her, breaking her into violent shakes.  Her stomach turned and ripped, and her eyes turned feral and wolf-like.  She stepped back, gasping, but there was a flush in Sirius’ cheeks, and his eyes were moving under the lids.

“Sirius,” she breathed, desperately trying to hold onto her human thoughts, “Sirius, please.”

With a groan, his eyes opened, and Iris collapsed to the floor.  “Iris?” his voice said, and she stared up at him, their eyes connecting.

“Sirius, I love you,” she managed to rush out before she felt her skin splitting and she was gone.

--

Sirius blinked.  The blue and green eyes of Iris the wolf blinked back up at him, and he knew that even the stifling heat of the Hospital Wing couldn’t bring her back.  She’d given him her warmth as he’d given her his, and she was frozen beyond hope of heat.  Only spring would bring her back now.

Lily flung the curtains back at the exact wrong moment, even as James struggled to push himself off the bed, face screwed up in pain and panting.  Pomfrey was already making her way toward them as the wolf growled and backed away.  Lily was frozen in place, staring with wide eyes.

“Lily,” Sirius said softly, trying not to startle the wolf, “Just don’t move.  Stay very still.”

Lily obeyed, not even nodding to agree, and Pomfrey seemed to have heard him because she stopped a few feet from Sirius’ bed, looking frightened.  Sirius tried to sit up, but it seemed his limbs didn’t want to obey him.  He struggled until Pomfrey huffed and glared fiercely at him, and he stopped, looking pained and scared.

“Iris,” Lily whispered, slowly lowering to one knee and reaching a hand forward.  “Iris, it’s me, Lily.  You have to get out of here.  You have to go.”

Iris stared at her a second longer before bolting, carrying herself out of the Hospital Wing and into the school.  They heard Remus’ voice from outside, but it faded away as he realized what had happened and worked to direct Iris out of the castle without hurting anyone.

Sirius sunk into his pillows, staring resolutely at the wall.

-- 

February twentysecond.
1978.

Sirius woke to James’ alarm, and the three boys yawned and stretched in the darkness.  It was well past midnight, but Remus hadn’t wanted them to come early tonight, especially with it being a school night.  “Right.  You guys know the drill,” James said tiredly, pulling himself out of bed and going over to his dresser.

Sirius quickly tugged on a pair of jeans, socks, and his boot, leaving them unlaced as he padded over to his dresser to find a t-shirt.  After that, he threw a sweatshirt on and grabbed his leather jacket.  James was ready as he shouldered his backpack, and then they only need wait for Peter.  Finally, they were ready, and they headed out under the invisibility cloak, James checking the map, Sirius leading the way, and Peter glancing over his shoulders and into hallways.

They made it outside and into the forest without any troubles, and they stopped here so that James could bundle the cloak up and stow it away in his backpack.  They continued on, wands out and lit, chatting softly so as not to startle any of the creatures or announce their presence.  However, when they erupted into the clearing where Remus usually changed in the morning, Remus was already there.

He looked up at their arrival, and he started to move until a snarl forced him back to the ground.  Their heads shifted at the noise, and Sirius choked on his breath as Iris the wolf came trotting from the forest.  She went over to Remus and rubbed his head affectionately before looking up.  Her eyes settled on Sirius, who was already stripping out of his clothes.

“Padfoot,” James whispered.

“I know.”

The other two set about undressing, leaving their bare skin to the treacherous cold of winter.  Sirius was the first of them transformed.  He loped over to Iris, tackling her to the ground, and she pawed at him playfully until they settled again, looking at each other.  He pushed his head against hers, warmth flowing through him.

An image came to him, one that made Sirius close his eyes and relish in.  It was the time they’d kissed in the mountains, the last time he’d seen her.  He could feel the words he wanted to say deep in his chest, and he pushed the emotion toward her, begging her to understand.  Iris closed her eyes and leaned into him, and Sirius was at peace.

-- 

April fourth.
1978.

From that night in February on, the Marauders spent the full moon not only with Remus but with Iris, as well.  James made Sirius promise he wouldn’t spend every night out there, and he didn’t.  He left for the weekends, though, every Friday night into late Sunday afternoon, and he slowly returned to the Sirius they all knew and loved.

Spring was fast approaching, which meant Snape came calling.  Sirius received his note early that day as they were sitting for lunch.  “Mm, post,” James mumbled before he kissed Lily.  She smiled when they parted and set about filling her plate with food.

They went through the usual—James’ father was getting better, Petunia’s wedding was still approaching, Remus’ mother was worrying too much again, Peter still didn’t have any mail, and Sirius jumped when his owl landed in front of him.  “You never get mail either,” Peter complained, “Why now?”

Sirius shrugged and reached for the small piece of folded parchment.  His owl nibbled at a pile of peas as he unfolded it and immediately recognized the elegant scrawl.  He looked up, and Severus Snape was staring back at him.  He nodded.

They met in the Astronomy Tower that night at the same time, and Sirius was there first again.  He leaned over the edge of the tower, staring out at the forest, and, just as the midpoint door opened, a shadow stepped out of the trees.  He squinted his eyes to see better, and the shadow lifted its head.  Even from here, he knew.  Blue and green look up at him, and the shadow stepped into the moonlight.  Iris.

“Black,” Snape said from behind him, and Sirius held the wolf’s gaze for a moment longer before turning.

“Snape,” he replied, “Well?”

He reached into one of his pockets and tossed something at Sirius.  When he caught it, he looked down at the small vial in his hands.  “That is the improved version.  I’m not telling you how it works.  You don’t need to know anyway,” he said as Sirius straightened, “Wait until late March.  It will be spring enough then that she should be close to changing, though you should administer it to her while she’s still a wolf.  I know, it doesn’t make sense, but it will take the wolf away from her, I promise.”

“And?” Sirius prompted, turning back to the edge of the tower.  Iris was still there, still staring up at him.

Snape didn’t respond immediately.  He walked over to where Sirius stood, and he looked down.  “You love her,” he said softly, and Sirius nodded, “Then it shouldn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t,” Sirius confirmed, “I just need to know what has to be done.”

“Breathe into it.  Right before you administer it,” he added.

“That’s it?”

“The potion will do its work.  You’ll be weak, but you should be able to walk back to the castle.  I’m assuming you’ll do this in the forest.  Bring her clothes.”

“Of course,” he said, nodding.

They stood there another few moments, looking down at Iris, before Snape bristled and stepped back.  “Well, I can’t say it was a pleasure working with you, Black, but thank you for not making this painful.”

“Snape,” he said, quickly turning.  The Slytherin turned halfway to the door, arching an eyebrow.  “Thank you,” he said, and Snape shrugged.  He started to turn again, but Sirius spoke, “There’s something else.”  Snape faced him fully, but his attention was quickly stolen as Lily stepped out from the shadows.  She smiled shyly, and Snape looked over to Sirius, agape.  Sirius just shrugged and pocketed the vial.  As he made his way toward the door, Snape stepped out of his way, returning his eyes to Lily.

“He told me what you said,” Lily whispered when Sirius had gone, “That you were sorry.”  Her green eyes were watery as she stared at him.

“I am, Lily,” he murmured, swallowing the lump in his throat, “I’m so sorry for ever hurting you.”

“I don’t hate you, Severus,” she said, stepping forward, “I never will.  I’ll always love you.  You’re one of my best friends.”  She stopped in front of him, and Severus looked down at her, trembling.

“Lily,” he whispered.  She closed her eyes when he reached up a hand and ran his thumb under her eyes, drying away her quiet tears.  “Lily, I just want you to be happy.”

“I am,” she promised.

He reached forward as she said this, and Lily let him fold her away in his embrace, the last they’d ever share.  “It will always be you,” he whispered.

Miles away, Sirius hung his backpack on a tree branch, the vial tucked safely away, and he ran the trees with Iris, his heart soaring.

--

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

HI!  LOOK AT THIS!  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I know.  I know it’s been a very long time, and I apologize.  I hate that I’ve left these two stories for so long, and I’ve really been trying to get back and finish them.  Oh, that word.  Yes, this will be done soon.  In two chapters, actually.  Starting this, I’d only planned to write the time of their seventh year and Iris’ struggle to become human permanently, and, well, as you can see, that’s going to happen quite soon.

But, I hope you enjoyed this, and definitely look for the last two chapters!  I’m hoping to get them on the scheduled every five days.


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