Chapter 12 : The Shack
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Ginny looked at him amusedly, “What are you talking about, Harry? Look at you. You’re sixteen!”
Harry rolled his eyes at her. They were sitting in the Gryffindor Common Room, Ginny was doing her homework and Harry was going through books he had found in the Library.
“No, Ginny,” he said, “I’m actually turning twenty-two soon. I’m an adult. I hate being one.”
She put down her quill and moved her chair closer to him, placing her hand in his.
“What’s wrong? What are you trying to find in these books anyway?”
“I’m trying to work out a way to reverse the effect of the timeturner,” he responded, putting his head down on the table. Ginny’s other hand moved to stroke his hair gently; she felt his tense shoulders relax underneath her arm.
“How?” she inquired gently.
“I don’t know! That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I had this theory earlier that maybe we can’t create another timeturner, but we could definitely study its magic and try to make it turn time forward instead of backward.”
“There really isn’t much here that you can study.”
Harry sat up again and ruffled his hair subconsciously. He looked at her with smiling eyes.
“I think I discovered that about twenty minutes ago.”
Ginny laughed at him. “Then what exactly were you doing for the past twenty minutes?”
Harry raised his hand and tucked Ginny’s hair behind her ear. “There’s this beautiful girl right here in this room; I couldn’t tear my eyes off of her.”
She leaned close to him and whispered, “I know.”
Sirius Black was sitting in the same Gryffindor Common Room across from the laughing pair. He was sitting alone at that moment, staring intently at the couple. There really wasn’t anything visually suspicious about them but he had this feeling that something was really fishy about the two.
He pointed his wands to his ears and cast the spell he and James had invented to enhance their hearing. He wasn’t very far away from them, so he could easily hear what they were saying after he’d cast the spell
“..turning twenty-two soon. I’m an adult. I hate being one.”
What? Sirius had relaxed in the sofa and closed his eyes but now he sat up, alert.
Harry was twenty-one? They were also talking about a timeturner and making it turn time forward? Who the hell were these people?
All these thoughts distracted him momentarily and he almost missed what Harry did next. He ruffled his hair. Sirius froze once again, his eyes fixed on Harry. He could swear upon his grandfather’s grave that he had seen that action before. He could swear that he saw that action every single day. It was imprinted in his brain. But it wasn’t this boy who did it in front of him. It was his best friend.
Sirius stared at Harry. Harry Jackson responded to ‘Potter’ whenever he heard the surname. He ruffled his hair. His facial features had always seemed vaguely familiar. If you looked closely, Harry’s face was almost the same shape. His nose, his eyes – no, there was something different about his eyes. They weren’t as he thought they would be.
Suddenly, Harry turned his head away towards Ginny and Sirius’ concentration broke He shook his head, cleared his brain and cursed himself inwardly. What in the hell was he thinking?
“This is ridiculous!” he muttered to himself as he got up and left the Common Room.
He needed a distraction. Badly.
And before he had even taken twenty steps outside the Common Room, he spotted Severus Snape lurking around on the corner of the Seventh Floor corridor. Perfect!
“Snivellus!” Sirius called, “Perfect timing!”
Snape ignored him.
“What?” Snape whirled around, looking furious.
“Whoa,” Sirius halted and raised his hands, “Just looking for some entertainment.”
“I’m not your toy, Black. Go to hell.”
“Ouch.” Snape had turned around and had started walking but Sirius kept pace with him.
“I know you’re up to something suspicious,” Snape said suddenly.
“Whatever do you mean?” Sirius asked, appearing clueless.
“I know you sneak out at night!”
Black raised his eyebrows. “Ohh! Yes, we do. Oh my, however did you figure that one out, Snivelly?”
“I keep my eyes open,” Snape muttered.
“So, should we prepare some tea for you at the Shack tonight, dear?”
Sirius did not respond. He merely grinned at Snape and quickened his pace. He needed to look for Remus. The clouds were going away and the moon would be out soon. He’d already forgotten about Snape or Harry as he turnedthe corner.
“What do you want?”
“Look, Lily, can’t you-”
Lily turned around for the second time and faced the portrait of the Fat Lady. She was looking at her with her eyebrows raised, probably wondering what this was about. Before Lily could open her mouth to utter the password to the Gryffindor Common Room, the Fat Lady spoke.
“You really should listen to the greasy haired boy,” she whispered theatrically, “he looks like he means whatever he’s about to say.”
Lily snorted. “That’s pretty unlikely.” But she still turned back around to face Snape and stared at him plainly. That was the only indication he was going to get that he could speak.
His tense shoulders relaxed as he took a deep breath and attempted to smile at her. Her stony expression caused his face to fall.
“Alright. If you can’t forgive and forget; fine. I don’t care anymore,” he didn’t meet her eyes when he said that. Even when Lily’s feelings were bordering on hate for Severus she could see that he was lying. He did care. “But you have to admit that Potter and his three minions are up to something!”
“Oh not again!” Lily exclaimed in exasperation, “Why are you so keen to prove that they’re up to something? What would you get if they were doing something wrong?”
“I wouldn’t get anything!” He replied vehemently, “Just the satisfaction that you know their reality! You know what I think about Lupin! It’s so obvious, Lil-”
“Don’t. Don’t call me that.”
“Fine. You don’t want to see it; I can’t really say anything more. It’s the full moon tonight, isn’t it? I’ll go after them myself. I’ll show you who they actually are and what they’re hiding. You’ll see that I’ve been right all along.”
Her eyes met his. The green irises were burning with a passion that hadn’t been there before.
“You were never right, Severus Snape. You always thought you were right.”
They stood in silence for the next ten seconds; staring at each other with an intensity neither of them had thought could come between them. Finally, Snape turned on his heel and walked away from Lily as fast as he could.
As she muttered the password and entered the common room, she couldn’t help but wonder if Snape was actually going to go after the Marauders. She knew that they snuck out regularly and she knew that it was a pretty high chance that Lupin was a werewolf but she didn’t think anyone would dare follow him on a full moon. Was Severus really that foolish?
The Common Room was a blur as Lily made her way to the table where she had been doing her homework. She was wrapped up in her own thoughts, trying to figure out if she should stop Snape from what he was about to do. She knew that he’d get hurt; he’d deserve it too but her better judgement told her that she wasn’t that cruel. She knew deep down that she wouldn’t ever want to harm anyone.
Her hand picked up the quill and she began writing her Transfiguration Essay. She didn’t know how much time passed whilst she worked; it seemed like hours when they were only minutes. After writing on exactly seven and a half inches of parchment, Lily’s sixth sense told her to look up. And there he was. The solution to her problem. James Potter was making his way to the Portrait Hole accompanied by Sirius Black. Her brow furrowed; they looked very serious.
Without really thinking about what she was about to do, she got up and hurried after him.
He turned around, his face lighting up immediately. She could tell he’d recognized her voice instantly.
“Evans! To what do I owe this pleasure?” He motioned Sirius to go on.
Lily looked down at her feet. Now that she was in front of him, she didn’t know how to phrase it. She cursed herself inwardly for being so thoughtless.
“Er, I need your help.”
Those two words forced Lily to look up in surprise. He looked genuinely concerned. His eyebrows had come together forcing his face to support a slight frown. She noticed that his eyes had crow’s feet and there were tension lines on his forehead. His lips were pressed in a line; worry was evident in his expression. She’d expected a smug and cocky remark in response to her request; not concern.
There were too many people around them. She couldn’t talk to him with people around. She grabbed his elbow and pulled him into a corner of the room.
“Hey, hey, hey!” James protested and pulled his arm out of her grip, “As much as I would love to give you that kind of help, I’m a bit distracted right now. Maybe some other time?” He smirked.
“Shut up, Potter. I’m seriously worried right now!”
“What’s wrong, Lily?”
There was that concern again. Lily stopped herself from rolling her eyes.
“Look, I just had a talk with Severus and he told me that he’ll follow you guys out on your monthly stroll tonight. It’s the full moon and he’s gonna try and prove that - ”
“Wait a second,” James raised his hand, “how in the world do you and SNAPE know that we sneak out at night?”
“It’s pretty obvious! All you have to do is look at the pattern! Severus thinks that - ” She paused. She didn’t know how James would react.
“What?” He urged her to speak.
“He thinks Remus is a werewolf,” she muttered.
Lily had expected James to laugh. She had expected him to mock her and make fun of her thoughts but what she hadn’t expected at all was the way he suddenly froze at her words. His eyes were wide in horror and shock; he was staring at her as if he couldn’t believe what she had said.
“When? When does he plan to follow us?” His voice deadly silent.
She shrugged. “In about an hour? You were already on your way, weren’t you? So, Remus really is a werewolf?”
James moved so fast; she barely had time to register it. He put his left hand on her waist, his right hand on her mouth and pushed her against the wall bringing his body close to hers. His face was only two inches away from hers. Her eyes had widened in shock but she couldn’t make a sound as her mouth was covered.
“Listen to me, Lily. Carefully,” James whispered, “Do not, do not, tell this information to anyone else. No one, okay? You’ve done enough on your part and I’ll deal with it now. Thanks for telling me. I’m going out now and I promise you that nothing will happen to the stinky idiot. I’ll make sure of that. Okay?” She nodded. “Alright, I’m going to let you go now.” He took his hands off of her and took a step back slowly. She took two deep breaths before James turned around and started to make his way towards the Portrait Hole.
Before he had taken two steps, he turned suddenly, his eyes sparkling and looked at her in the eyes, “And Lily, try not to be heroic and follow us out there, okay? Just stay safely in here.”
His concern for her and the way he was looking at her left her speechless. The only thing she could do in response to his request was nod. As she did, he smiled warmly at her and then left.
As soon as James was out of the Gryffindor Common Room, he began to run. He knew that his friends were already down in the Hogwarts grounds, helping Remus to transform. As he passed a window, he saw the full moon glaring down at him, as if trying to tell him that something was terribly wrong. He quickened his pace.
The Great Hall was buzzing with chatter as he reached it. Halting in front of the double doors, he did a quick sweep of the hall with his eyes and realised that Snape wasn’t there. James groaned. He really hadn’t expected this kind of action that night! He’d only wanted a peaceful sprint out in the forest and then, some sleep. Curse you, Snivellus.
As he stepped out into the gardens, after successfully evading Filch by the edge of the Entrance Hall, his brain went into overdrive. He admitted to himself that Snivellus could have figured out their sneaking out patterns. He knew that Lily was right; all they had to do was notice the days Remus was absent and they’d know something was wrong. Even though he was having a hard time believing it, he had to acknowledge the fact that Snape had already figured Remus out; and that too on his own.
The real issue was the fact that James had no idea if Stinky Pants knew anything about James, Peter and Sirius being Animagi. That was something that was impossible to figure out; even Dumbledore was unaware of what the three of them had accomplished right under his nose. If Snape knew about that, then there really was something he and friends would have to be worried about.
The Whomping Willow came in sight; its branches swinging wildly in all directions. His friends and Snape were nowhere to be seen. Either that loser had lied to Evans or he had already entered the tunnel beneath it. James looked around. Snape definitely wasn’t there at that moment.
He shot a Stunning Spell at the knot at the base of the Tree and made his way towards the tunnel as it froze. After entering the tunnel, he relaxed his body, let go every worry he had ever had, pictured that beautiful redhead in his brain and calmed himself down. Taking deep breaths, he urged his body to melt. He felt the changes going on in his body; first, he dropped on his all fours and his hooves made an echoing sound in the tunnel; then his skin made the smooth transition to the soft white fur; his hair disappeared to be replaced by the two antlers of the stag he was becoming. And finally, his facial features changed, completing the transition. This happened in the five seconds he stood there; to anyone watching it would have been almost an instantaneous change.
The rest of the journey to the end of the tunnel was a blur. James only focused on the sound his hooves made as his stag form cantered through the tunnel. Finally, before he had even reached the end, he heard footsteps ahead of him. The stag he turned into had better hearing than his human form so before Snape even heard him, he turned back to human. About ten steps further and he spotted Snape, lurking at the entrance of the Shack.
The first thing that came to his mind was: how the hell did he knew where to find us? There is NO way he could’ve already known where we hung out.
James shouldn’t have wasted time standing there wondering how Snape had found the place. He should have gotten Snape out of there; he should’ve known that Remus would smell him and he would make a dash for him as soon as he did. He should’ve known.
There was loud growl and before he knew, the trapdoor right about Snape’s head was pulled out its place. Snape looked up and screamed just as James rolled his eyes at him. Werewolf Remus was standing above him, bits of the wooden trapdoor in his mouth, his eyes were bright, hungry looking and he was practically salivating staring at Severus.
Only two seconds passed before James shouted “NO!” and ran forward tackling Snape. They both feel down on the floor as Remus roared and a black dog jumped on him from behind him. It bit his neck and ran away, leading the angry werewolf after him. James looked up to see Padfoot leading Moony away from him and Snivellus. He got up and realised that Snape had been knocked out.
“YOU PATHETIC IDIOT!” He yelled down at the unconscious Snape before he turned into a stag and went after his two friends.
It took about ten minutes to calm Moony down and distract him enough that he sat down in a corner and began whining. The sad sound echoed through the Shrieking Shack, threatening to drown James in the unhappiness. He gave a meaningful glance at Sirius and then carried the half dead Snape out of the tunnel. When out in the grounds, he turned back to human and instead of taking him to the Hospital Wing, he turned towards the Headmaster’s office on the Seventh floor. The entire school seemed to have fallen asleep but he knew that Dumbledore would be awake and up there.
“Baubles,” the stone gargoyle leapt and allowed James to knock on the Headmaster’s door, still supporting Snape’s weight. He was coming to now.
“Mr. Potter!” Dumbledore exclaimed as James entered his office. “What happened?”
James dropped Snape into one chair and took the other as Dumbledore stared at him intently.
“This idiot here,” James spat at Snape, who was completely awake now and was trying to figure out where he was, “almost died out there trying to prove himself the hero.”
“Mr. Snape,” Dumbledore turned to Snape, “are you alright? Do you need immediate medical attention?”
“No, sir. I’m fine.”
“Good. Now, would you please explain what Mr. Potter just said?”
“I wasn’t trying to prove myself the hero, Professor!” Snape burst out, “I was trying to prove that him and his lot are dangerous people! You don’t know anything, Professor, but Remus Lupin is a werewolf and they have beensneaking out with him every month, helping him with his transformations!” Snape paused as Dumbledore appeared slightly amused.
“Surely, Mr. Snape, you don’t think I was unaware of Mr. Lupin’s condition?”
“Y-you weren’t?” Severus appeared stunned.
“I wasn’t,” confirmed Dumbledore.
“But they still tried to kill me!” He pointed at James. “Him and his friends led me down there! They planned all this and led me in that trap!”
“No, we didn’t! I just saved your life, you moron!” James exclaimed.
“Mr. Potter,” Dumbledore said in a warning tone.
Snape scoffed. “Saved my life? You led me there, you liar! Sirius Black told me that you all would be down there tonight! It was all a stupid prank for you!”
“What?!” James literally shouted, “What? Are you crazy?! We wouldn’t ever endanger your life! We wouldn’t ever risk Remus’ life like that!” He turned to Dumbledore who had been sitting quietly, listening to the argument, “He’s lying, Professor. We did not plan this!”
Dumbledore leaned forward.
“Mr. Snape, I think you need some rest right now. You’ve been through too much tonight and I suggest you get yourself some sleep. I would also request you to keep this secret of Mr. Lupin quiet. I assure you, I’m aware of how dangerous he can be and I know that he would not harm my students whatever happens.” He then turned to James.
“Mr. Potter, I believe you when you say that you didn’t know anything about this. However, I suggest that you ask your friends whether they did in fact lead Mr. Snape out into danger. I’m glad that you saved Mr. Snape’s life.”
“He’s lying, he knows all about it,” muttered Snape.
“I do not! Shut up, Snivellus,” James retorted, “I just handed you your sorry life back. The least you could do id be grateful.”
“Liar.” Severus whispered.
James gritted his teeth and looked away.
“That will all, Mr. Snape,” Dumbledore stepped in, “Remember what I told you and please, recover yourself. You both may leave now. Thank you.”
James was extremely exhausted as he entered the Gryffindor Common Room. He hadn’t gone down into the grounds again, trusting Sirius that he would be fine taking care of Moony along with Wormtail. He was far too tired to drag himself downstairs so he had decided to go to bed. Besides, it was almost dawn so the rest of the Marauders would coming back soon anyway.
“What happened? James, are you alright?” He could recognize that voice anywhere. He turned around to face her, failing to smile at the sight of her. She was walking towards him, looking as if she’d been sleeping on the couch.
“Yeah,” he replied, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Did you know that you have a bleeding gash in your cheek?” She asked him, stepping forward.
“What?” He raised his hand towards his face when she stopped. Her hand stopped his.
“No, don’t touch it,” she told him, “It’ll get worse. You really should let Madam Pomfrey check that.”
He wasn’t listening to her. He was concentrating on holding her hand. She’d lowered his hand with hers and was still gripping his fingers lightly. He didn’t know if she was aware of it but he couldn’t stop himself from entangling his fingers with hers. Surprisingly, she let him.
“Nah, it’s alright,” he replied to her statement, “I’ll be fine.”
He loosened his fingers, slipping his hand out of hers but she pulled him back stopping him from turning away.
“Will you let me fix it?”
“Are you sure?”
“I am.” She didn’t break eye contact with him as she led him to the chair beside the fireplace.
“Episkey,” her wand touched his face momentarily and he felt his skin coming together underneath it. He raised his hand and felt the healed skin.
“Thank you,” he muttered and got up from the chair. She stepped away from him as he made his way towards the boys’ dormitory. He really needed to lie down.
“James?” She called him again.
This time, he smiled at her, “You’re welcome, Lily.”
James had been asleep for only two hours when he was being shaken awake.
“Prongs! Wake up!”
“What the hell happened tonight?!” asked Sirius. He noticed that Peter wasn’t back yet. And neither was Remus.
“Where are the other two?”
“Hospital wing,” Sirius replied shortly, “Mate!”
“Did you lead Snape to the Shrieking Shack?” James asked.
“What?” Sirius seemed taken aback by the question.
“Did you or did you not lead Severus Snape down through the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack? Did you tell him the location of our hang out?”
“Well, yeah, I did. Why?”
“What were you thinking, Padfoot?!” James almost yelled, “I saved him in the nick of time! He was about to get eaten! Why would you endanger Remus like that?!”
“It was just a joke, James!” Sirius defended himself, “I had no idea that idiot would actually follow us!”
James shook his head. “That’s no excuse for being careless, Padfoot. I think it’s about time we start growing up.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry about what I did. I didn’t really realise that my idea of a prank could be so dangerous.”
This time, James grinned at his best friend.
“I know. But for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed watching Snivellus screaming and wetting his pants.”
Sirius bark of laughter echoed through the dormitory as him and James finally let themselves relax that night.
And as he closed his eyes, Sirius Black wondered how he would talk to James about what he had discovered.
A/N: Firstly, I'm really very sorry for being this late with the update. Real life has taken a lot of my time and now finally, I've gotten some time for my story. I'm sorry, readers. I hope you haven't given up on the story. :) Secondly, I know that it seems a bit unlikely that Sirius would figure out who Harry is so easily. But guys, all that's happeneing is part of the plot and I really don't wanna change it :P So please, bare with me despite all the unlikelihood of the story. :D Thank you to everyone who reads my story. I'm really grateful to you all. Please, PLEASE, let me know what you think in your reviews. They're the best things that could happen to an author. :) hope you liked this chapter. It was kinda longer than the previous ones, no? I suppose we all needed that. So, what did you think? :) Let me know in that little box down there!