Chapter 17 : House Rivalry
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He tried to keep his mind on good things, like his friends, the approaching Halloween Feast and the first Quidditch match of the season, between Gryffindor and Slytherin, but the closer the full-moon came, the harder Remus found it to concentrate. His dreams were troubled and his appetite was gone. Soon James, Sirius and Peter started to notice, and they kept asking if he was alright, and he kept lying and said he was fine. They couldn’t find out what he was. He must, at all costs, prevent them from figuring out the truth.
On the day of the full-moon, time made a fool of Remus again. One minute he was sitting in his first class, then before he knew it was lunchtime, then the bell was ringing and his second last lesson of the day was over. He had no idea what had happened in the intervening time. He was dizzy and it was all he could do to stop himself trembling.
With the evenings becoming darker much quicker, Remus had to miss his last class to head to the Hospital Wing, just to ensure he had enough time to get into Hogsmeade before the moon rose. He had planned on quietly and secretly slipping away from his friends and heading to meet Madam Pomfrey, but right now he felt too sick to think. He stopped walking and clutched the wall for support. He didn’t want to go down the dark tunnel into the house with the boarded up windows. He didn’t want the moon to ripen to full. He didn’t want to lose himself.
“Remus!” Lily shouted, grabbing his arm. He looked at her, having no idea what was going on. “I’m sorry,” she said letting go, “you just look so white, I just thought you were about to fall over. Are you alright?”
But before he could answer, James, Sirius and Peter had turned around, having noticed Remus was no longer with them. “Oi, Evans,” James shouted, “what are you trying to do, covert Remus to your gang of Slytherin worshippers?”
Lily glared at James. “Ha, ha, very funny.”
“You won’t succeed,” James said firmly, “Remus is a Gryffindor man through and through.” He turned to look at Remus as he said this, but suddenly his face fell. “You’re all white, are you sick again?”
Remus hesitated. Was he going to go with the sick story again or should he come up with a different excuse? He didn’t know what to do, but James was staring at him, and the longer he remained silent the greater chance there was of James suspecting there was something wrong.
“Yeah,” he said weakly, deciding to go with the sick lie because right now he wasn’t able to think of anything better. “I have a really bad headache again.”
“You better get it checked out,” said Peter, looking at him with concern.
“Want me to take you the Hospital Wing again?” Sirius asked. “Flitwick won’t mind if you miss Charms.”
Remus shook his head. “I’ll go by myself.” His trembling was getting more violent which each passing second. Fear had command of his body. He didn’t know how much longer he could hold on and he didn’t want anyone around in case he broke down before he reached the Hospital Wing.
“You shouldn’t go by yourself!” Lily added, with a worried look on her face. “I’ll take you.”
“No you won’t!” James piped up. “I won’t have any Slytherin sympathiser take him anywhere, how do I know you won’t ambush him?”
Lily looked stung by these words. “I’d never ambush Remus!” she said fiercely. “You, on the other hand,” she added angrily, glaring at James, “that’s an entirely different matter.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” James asked briskly.
“It just means that if I was going to ambush anyone it would be you, because you are the most pig-headed and arrogant boy I’ve ever laid eyes on!”
James laughed, “And how exactly would you ambush me? You can’t brew an army with a potion and I’m the best in the year at spells!”
Lily’s face was red and she opened her mouth and looked ready to roar, but Peter cut across her. “Stop!” he injected, his voice nervous. “None of this is helping Remus.”
“Oh, right, yeah,” said James quietly, casting an apologetic look at Remus. “Sorry, mate, I forgot.”
“C’mon, Remus,” Sirius said almost lazily, “I’m taking you to Madam Pomfrey.”
“I can do it,” said James stepping forward.
“Oh no,” said Sirius sarcastically, “wouldn’t want to deprive you of the chance to annoy Snivellus, he’s coming this way – look,” he pointed off into the distance. James and Lily both turned and sure enough Severus was marching towards them, his wand in his hand.
“Just make sure you don’t use all the best insults ‘til I get back,” Sirius said, winking. James grinned in response as a mischievous glint crossed his eyes. Lily looked at the pair of them as if she wanted nothing more than for them to disappear.
Before Remus could say or do anything, Sirius had grabbed the arm of his robes and was dragging him away from the Charms classroom. Remus didn’t have the strength to protest. They slowly ascended the marble staircase, neither speaking. Remus could feel his whole body shaking underneath his robes. Fear was impatient.
Sirius kept casting him odd looks every few seconds, as though he was afraid Remus was going to collapse. “Look,” he said seriously as they walked down the corridor leading to the Hospital Wing. “Is there something you’re not telling us?”
Remus’s heart-rate increased ten-fold. Panic and fear flooded his system. Did Sirius know? “No!” he lied quickly, his voice coming out much louder than he meant it to.
“You sure?” Sirius asked. “It’s just you’ve been acting funny of late, spending all that time in the library and everything, and you keep getting these headaches and I hear you moaning in your sleep.”
Remus was hot all over. What had Sirius heard? His heart was thundering in his chest. He had to do something because he was utterly terrified that if this discussion continued Sirius would figure out what he was. He didn’t look at Sirius, and instead cast his gaze all around, while his brain frantically groped for some sort of escape-route. Finally, it seized upon the only valid answer in his mind: “I just miss my parents a bit, that’s all.”
Sirius looked at him. He was unconvinced. A painful silence pressed down upon them at this point and Remus didn’t know what to do, he was afraid that the longer it went on, the more likely it was that Sirius would suddenly figure out what Remus’s symptoms meant.
“And what about you, are you alright?” Remus asked eventually. “Your brother’s letter...”
Sirius’s expression fell at this comment. “He didn’t say anything,” he admitted stiffly. “The letter was blank.”
“Maybe he used Invisible ink?” Remus suggested childishly, as he felt a fierce assault of guilt grip his insides. He shouldn’t have brought the letter up. He had upset Sirius.
“He didn’t,” Sirius replied sadly, “he just sent me back a blank piece of parchment.”
Remus didn’t know what to say. “I’m sure he’s alright, maybe he just sent you the wrong letter by mistake?”
“Yeah ... maybe,” Sirius said dully, looking at his shoes.
They had reached the Hospital Wing now. Sirius looked miserably at Remus and knocked. Madam Pomfrey opened the door. “Can I help you?”
“Remus feels sick again,” Sirius replied.
“I see,” said Madam Pomfrey expressionlessly, looking from Sirius to Remus. “Well, you had better come inside, young man.”
“Bye,” Remus said wretchedly to Sirius, his heart still pounding and his frame trembling as he knew time was marching on towards the point where he would be forced to become a monster.
“Feel better,” said Sirius, smiling weakly and walking away with his hands in his pockets. Remus watched him go, wishing he could do something to help Sirius, but he knew all too well that this was just one of those situations that no one could fix.
Once again Remus awoke in the Hospital Wing with every inch of his body aching. He had no memory of having been moved from his prison house to here. It took him two days to recover this time. He wasn’t too worried about this, his transformations were always worse in winter, because the nights were longer. He mostly lay in bed as his brain pounded against his skull and every part of his body screamed at the slightest movement. Madam Pomfrey fussed over him, force-feeding him all manner of bad-tasting potions, and constantly urging him to eat, but he felt too sick to do so.
When he had finally returned to school it was Halloween. His friends were a bit shocked at his pale and sickly appearance, but they got over it fairly quickly. In fact, James and Sirius laughed and said that Remus resembled a zombie. They even made a game of it, pretending Remus really was a zombie. They got such amusement out of parting the crowds walking down corridors by saying things like, the walking undead is coming, run for your lives! Remus wished they wouldn’t do this, he didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that he ‘got sick’ so often. But he didn’t complain too much, because if he was honest, he liked being included in their jokes.
When they entered the Great Hall on Halloween night, they were greeted by hundreds of floating pumpkins, which had been placed over the usual candles, and the way the light flickered inside them almost made their eyes look alive. A whole flock of live bats flew around the hall as well, shrieking at various intervals. The food at the feast itself was delicious and the Hogwarts ghosts provided the entertainment by floating out of the floor and through the walls, doing some sort of oddly graceful dance.
The weather worsened dramatically as they entered November, but this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits as they all had one thing on their mind: Quidditch. The opening match between Gryffindor and Slytherin was fast approaching and everyone was taking an interest in it, even the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. The game marked the first of the new season and everyone, having been starved of Quidditch over the summer, was looking forward to a good match. Remus couldn’t wait for the game either, though he doubted it would be anywhere near as good as the one between the Tornadoes and the Magpies.
On the morning of the match, the whole tower woke up early. Students had donned scarlet and gold banners and several had lions and Gryffindor flags painted on their cheeks. James had painted his whole entire face red and yellow, and Sirius had bewitched a banner so that it flashed different colours. Peter had wrapped his Gryffindor scarf around his head and ran around pretending to be a Muggle ninja, whatever that was. Remus donned his Gryffindor scarf too and pinned Plumpton’s badge to the front of it, just for luck.
“Why do you wear that Quidditch captain’s badge all the time?” James asked, looking at Remus as they left the common room. “I’ve only just noticed.”
Remus told him all about Plumpton and the old man. James looked impressed, but quickly re-arranged his expression into one of mock-disgust. “Urgh, I feel unclean even standing beside something belonging to the Tornadoes captain!” he exclaimed jumping backwards out of fear of contamination. Remus merely laughed, reminding James once again of who had won the day the Magpies played the Tornadoes last season.
At eleven o’clock they all headed down to the pitch in high spirits. It was a cold enough day and the grounds were doused in misty rain. Slytherins and Gryffindors jeered at each other whenever they came into close proximity, brandishing flags and banners. Even the neutral Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws took sides.
They took their seats in the stands, sitting halfway down the side of the pitch, level with the goal hoops. The stadium was draped in the four house colours and even though it was nowhere near as big or as spectacular looking as Bodmin Moor stadium, Remus loved it none the less. The atmosphere was brilliant as nearly the whole school had come to watch the match. He spotted McGonagall proudly wearing a Gryffindor scarf and Slughorn had put on emerald green robes with silver fastenings for the occasion.
When the fourteen players came out onto the pitch, they were met with tumultuous applause. Remus squinted down at the Gryffindors, but he didn’t recognise any of them. He did notice, however, that they all looked rather nervous and scared, while their Slytherin counterparts were grinning arrogantly. Then Mr Swift, the flying teacher, released the balls, mounted his broom, blew his whistle and started the match.
Hogwarts Quidditch was played at a much lower tempo to that of the domestic league. But Remus actually liked this better, because the slower pace meant that it was easier to keep track of where the balls were and what was going on. Slytherin were the first to draw blood, scoring a mere twenty seconds into the match. James moaned very loudly and much to Remus’s surprise many older Gryffindors removed their hats and scarves and threw them to the ground. He didn’t understand why. They were only ten points down, they could come back into this game easily; there was no need to abandon hope that lightly.
“And that’s 10 – nil to Slytherin,” said the commenter in a rather pained voice. “And it starts again. This looks to be shaping up to last year’s opening game, when Slytherin beat Gryffindor 430 to 20.”
The Gryffindor fans booed in protest to this piece of trivia and Remus didn’t blame them, that sounded like a match you never wanted to be reminded of. The Slytherins just cheered and began chanting the score of that match over and over: “430 - 20!” they droned. “430 - 20!”
The Gryffindors responded in kind by passionately cheering their team on, Remus, James, Sirius and Peter amongst them, but it was no good. Twenty minutes later the Slytherins were 80 points ahead and Gryffindor still hadn’t touched the Quaffle, let alone scored with it.
If Remus was honest, he had never seen anyone play this badly before. The Gryffindor team could do nothing right. The Beaters couldn’t get the Bludgers to hit a target, the Chasers, it seemed, didn’t know how to tackle or pass and the Keeper looked as though he had been confunded.
As time went on, James got more and more frustrated. He took to swearing loudly every time Gryffindor did something wrong. “I could have scored that! What are you doing?! You’re all bloody idiots! Pass the damn Quaffle – PASS IT!” he roared repeatedly at the players.
Soon the Gryffindor supporters were rendered mute. They were losing by three hundred points and their team was giving them absolutely nothing to cheer about.
“Score! For the love of Merlin – score!” Remus roared as the Gryffindor Chaser approached the Slytherin goal with the Quaffle, only to throw it directly at the Keeper. Remus moaned and covered his face in his hands.
“Are you blind?” James roared. “You put the Quaffle in the goal-hoop, you muppet!”
Remus just wanted to be put out of his misery. He just wanted the game to end, because he was afraid the score-line would enter quadruple figures. Gryffindor were just abysmal. They looked like they had never played Quidditch before, in fact they looked like a bunch of five-year-olds who had never been on broomsticks before, and more Remus thought about it, the more he realised that five-year-olds would probably play better.
As the game progressed, the Slytherin players grew less and less respectful. Sportsmanship just went out the window. One of their Chasers stopped in mid-air and teasingly held the Quaffle out with one hand, just to see if the Gryffindor Chasers could get it off him. But as soon as one of them made a move for the ball, he passed it to a team mate. The Slytherin Keeper even pretended to fall asleep on her broom, and the two Slytherin Beaters were just hitting the Bludgers back and forth between them, trying to start a rally. The whole thing was infuriating to watch, not only were Gryffindor being played off the pitch, but they were being humiliated too.
Mr Swift told the Slytherins off for their behaviour, but it didn’t do anything. Then he awarded Gryffindor a penalty. Remus crossed his fingers. “Please let us score!” he begged.
The Chaser did well, he beat the Keeper, and had a free shot on goal. Remus half stood up in his seat, ready to cheer, only to fall back down again. The Chaser had scoffed her shot about thirty yards over the goal hoop.
“My nan could score that and she’s dead!” James bellowed in anger. He kept grabbing his own hair and moaning every time Gryffindor conceded a goal.
Remus just wanted to return to the common room and forget the match had ever taken place. He only had to go through five more minutes of agony, because the Slytherin Seeker caught the Snitch, which had been floating around her counterpart’s ankles, without him even noticing.
As the final whistle blew, the commenter concluded: “Well, that has to be a new record, 480 - nil. How on earth Gryffindor finished in third place last year I’ll never know. Another dreadful performance.”
All the Gryffindor supporters walked quickly and quietly back to the castle, taking off their scarves and hats and crunching them into balls in their hands. James looked as though someone had died. Peter and Sirius were saying nothing and Remus just wished he didn’t care about Quidditch at all. It was all so humiliating.
“I can play better than the whole team put together!” James roared in frustration. “And if it wasn’t for stupid Filch I’d be on the team!” he seized fists-full of his own hair. “Ahhhhh, this is so damn frustrating. I want to punch a wall!”
“480 - nil! 480 - nil!” the Slytherins jeered over and over. Remus just wanted to run away from them all and go hide somewhere until everyone had forgotten about the match. But as the days went on, things did not cool down. Slytherins taunted Gryffindors in the corridors, and someone had taken to painting the score-line on various corridor walls, much to Filch’s displeasure. The seven Gryffindor players were booed and hissed wherever they went, even from members of their own house. James just had his fists clenched in rage most of the time, and even Sirius, who didn’t much care for Quidditch, was shaking with fury. The ultimate insult was someone draping a large Slytherin banner over the portrait of the Fat Lady which burned the fingers of anyone who tried to remove it.
“I – hate – Slytherins!” James muttered through clenched teeth at least twenty times a day.
“Oi, Potter!” sneered Severus as they walked down to dinner the following Tuesday. “How bad did you fly at Quidditch trials if you got rejected from that team?”
“Piss off, Snivellus!” James roared, his whole body shaking with anger.
“Or what?” laughed Severus, “You’ll throw a Quaffle at me? I don’t think I’ve anything to worry about then, seeing as no one in Gryffindor can make a Quaffle hit a target!”
The vein in James’s temple was throbbing. He removed his wand and pointed it at the smirking Slytherin.
“Don’t!” Remus warned, angry himself, but knowing that fighting was not the answer. “It’s just what he wants!” But James didn’t listen.
“Aguamenti!” he shouted, as a jet of water erupted from his wand-tip, hitting Severus square in the face.
James, Sirius and Peter laughed, so did all the other onlookers in the corridor. Remus, however, remained silent.
“He looks better after a wash, doesn’t he?” Sirius said, grinning, “but I don’t think you got all the slime out of his hair!”
Dripping wet and roaring with rage, Severus drew his own wand, but Sirius was too quick for him. Another fountain of water hit him in the face. There was more laughter. Severus coughed and spluttered, and once he had enough air in his lungs to breathe, pointed his wand at James and wheezed something inaudible. Whatever spell he had used, Remus didn’t recognise it. A flash of light raced passed James, narrowing missing contact with his face. Both James and Sirius looked at Severus, with hatred in their eyes. They raised their wands, ready to cast Merlin only knew what spell, when suddenly there was a shot like a cannon and both James and Sirius were pushed back about three feet.
A Slytherin prefect with blonde hair and a pale, pointed face had appeared at the end of the corridor. The crowd around the boys instantly scattered. “Fifty points from Gryffindor, for duelling in the corridors,” he said silkily.
“And what about Slytherin?” James injected, completely outraged. “Snape was duelling as well as us!”
“I see no evidence of that,” the prefect replied softly, giving Severus a friendly nod. He then waved his wand and Severus’s robes were suddenly completely dry.
“Thank you, Lucius,” Severus said, smiling smugly.
Remus knew instantly that this was a fight that James and Sirius were not going in win because it was a fight that was destined to lose Gryffindor an inordinate amount of House Points. Severus was friends with this prefect and he was going to use him to get one back on the four of them.
“That’s not fair!” Sirius said affronted. “You can’t take points from us and not Snivelly!”
“He’s a prefect, you blood-traitor,” said a drawling voice, “he can do whatever he wants.” Narcissa, Sirius’s nasty cousin, had arrived on the scene. She appeared to have abandoned her plan to ignore Sirius.
Sirius glared back at her, his face livid. “Get lost!” he yelled. “This doesn’t concern you!”
“So this is the brat that has ruined the noble House of Black?” Lucius mused, looking from Narcissa to Sirius. Narcissa nodded. “Then that’s another fifty points from Gryffindor for that.”
“That’s not fair!” Remus said in protest, whatever about taking points for the duel, but for something like that? This prefect was abusing the power of his position. It wasn’t right. Sirius already got a hard time from his mother and from Narcissa over being in Gryffindor, and his brother wasn’t talking to him as well. He didn’t deserve this prefect giving him a hard time too.
“That’s another ten, for disagreeing with me,” Lucius replied, staring at Remus. Severus looked as though Christmas had come early. Remus was so angry. He didn’t deserve to lose House Points. He hadn’t done anything. This prefect was just taking points for no reason at all, other than the fact that he could. “And what’s this?” Lucius exclaimed, spotting Plumpton’s badge on the front of Remus’s robes. “That badge is not part of the school uniform, hand it over.”
Remus placed both hands over his badge. “NO!” he shouted instantly, retreating backwards. He was not going to part with Plumpton’s badge. He would be expelled before he let the prefect have it.
“That’s another ten points from Gryffindor, and if you don’t hand over that badge right now, you’ll be in detention.”
Remus enclosed his hands ever more tightly around his badge. James and Sirius stepped in front of him, their wands raised. But Remus knew it was useless, this prefect was a fifth or sixth year; they stood no chance against him. They didn’t know enough magic.
“Leave Remus alone, he didn’t do anything,” Peter said bravely from his place at Remus’s side, but any fight in him instantly evaporated under the look Lucius gave him.
“Hand over the badge or you and your co-conspirators will be in detention.”
“NO!” Remus roared, holding Plumpton’s badge so tightly it hurt.
“Leave Remus alone!” James said fiercely. “This is between you and me and Sirius. Remus hasn’t done anything!”
“He’s just a kid with a Quidditch badge!” Sirius added. “Loads of students wear Quidditch badges. You just made that uniform rule up!”
“So what if he did?” Narcissa replied, her eyes narrowing on Sirius. “And who are you to question him, you’re not even worthy to wipe the dirt from his shoes!” She then turned to Remus. “Hand over the badge, brat.”
“NO!” Remus replied fiercely. He didn’t care if he got detention, he didn’t care how many points he lost. He was not handing over Plumpton’s badge. It was the first present he had ever gotten from someone who wasn’t his parents. It meant that people could like him just for being himself. It meant everything to him. He wasn’t going to hand it over! NO WAY!
Lucius considered the four boys for a moment, looking like a chess-master about to make the move that would win the game. He raised his wand. “Accio badge,” he said lazily.
Plumpton’s badge jumped in Remus’s fingers, fighting to get free. Remus clung on as best he could, but he wasn’t strong enough. All he could do was watch as his most prized possession was heaved from its place on the front of his robes. It streaked through the air towards the prefect. James, Sirius and Peter made to try and catch it, but they couldn’t. It landed in the Lucius’s hand and he pocketed it.
“Please,” Remus begged, not caring how pathetic he sounded. “It’s Plumpton’s badge, it was a present. It means a lot to me.”
But Lucius, Narcissa and Severus merely laughed.
“It’s Plumpton’s badge you say, Gwendolyn Plumpton?” Lucius said, amused. “Well, there must be a lot of Tornadoes fans who would pay through the nose to own this. I wonder how much I could get for it?”
Horror rose inside Remus. He was going to sell it?! “Give it back!” Remus shouted, not caring that Lucius was a prefect, not caring that he was being rude and disrespectful.
“I’ve confiscated this badge, boy,” Lucius droned, “you’re not getting it back.”
“That’s out of order!” Sirius yelled. “Give it back to him!”
Lucius, Narcissa and Severus laughed even harder. Rage was coursing around inside Remus. “GIVE IT BACK!” he shouted again, drawing his wand, though he knew of no spell that could help him get his badge back. “Accio Plumpton’s badge!” he shouted in desperation.
Nothing happened and laughter simply increased. “That spell is out of your league, boy,” Lucius laughed, as he and his two companions began walking down the corridor, Severus giving the four of them a rude hand-gesture as he went.
Remus didn’t know what to do. His wand was utterly useless to him in the situation. He was about to lose Plumpton’s badge and could not, would not, let that happen. “Give me back my badge,” Remus yelled, running forwards, but he found he couldn’t move as three sets of hands grabbing him around the chest, holding him back.
“Don’t,” James warned, “we don’t know enough magic yet to fight him.”
That was easy for James to say, Remus thought, Lucius hadn’t stolen his badge. He struggled more fiercely against the hold his friends had on him. He had never lost control like this before, all he knew was he wanted to punch every inch of the prefect he could reach until he had his badge back.
“Give me back my badge!” Remus shouted again, fighting his friends as he watched his prized position walk further and further away. “Give me back my badge! Give it back!”
“Remus, calm down,” said James.
“He took my badge!” Remus shouted. “I have to get it back! I have to!”
“There’s no point in going after him, he’ll jinx you. He’s not like Downing, he’ll do more to you than take House Points.”
“I don’t care! I won’t let him take my badge! I have to get it back!”
“We’ll get it back for you!” James said firmly. “We just have to come up with a plan first.”
“I have to get it back now!” Remus shouted, his voice breaking as his eyes burned.
“It’s just a stupid badge!” Sirius said. “It doesn’t matter!”
“It’s not! It’s my badge! It belonged to Plumpton! It’s the first present I ever got! It’s proof that people can like me! It’s proof that I’m not bad! I need my badge! I have to get it back!” Remus shouted desperately, hardly thinking about what he was saying.
“Remus, stop acting like a mad-man!” James shouted as he fought to prevent Remus from escaping.
“Let me go!” Remus shouted. “Let me go! I have to get my badge back!”
But James, Sirius and Peter didn’t let go of him, instead they dragged him back up to Gryffindor tower. They said it was for his own good, they said they were saving him from doing something stupid. They kept promising him they would get his badge back, but Remus didn’t care. He had lost Plumpton’s badge. It had been taken from him and Merlin knew what Lucius was going to do with it – selling it probably. He’d ever get to see it again.
It was only when they were safely back inside the dormitory that his friends released him. “That Lucius bastard was bang out of order!” Sirius said angrily, slamming the door behind him. “He must have taken well over a hundred points from us all!”
Remus didn’t care about who was out of order, he didn’t even care about House Points, all he cared about was his badge. He was upset. He was angry. He wanted to run up to the Slytherin common room right now and demand his badge back, but that would do no good. He was just a stupid little first-year. There was nothing he could do.
“Yeah and I bet you anything old Snivelly told him to do that, bet you,” James said darkly. “He’s a bloody coward, can’t fight his own battles so he goes running to prefects to get them to do it for him!”
And it was then that Remus was handed a life-line. He still had a chance of getting his badge back. He tore from the dormitory, his three friends hot on his heels, telling him to come back. Remus didn’t listen. He spirited down into the common room and searched the sea of faces for the one he wanted. Then he found him, laughing his head off in the far corner of the room surrounded by a gang of friends.
“Frank!” Remus shouted desperately. He felt like crying. He wanted his badge back. He had to get his badge back.
“Hi, Remus,” Frank said brightly, looking up from the comic he and his friends had been reading. “How’s it going?” But then he noticed the anguished look on Remus’s face. “What’s wrong, mate?”
“A Slytherin prefect confiscated my Quidditch badge! It was Plumpton’s badge, Frank, Plumpton’s! She threw it into the crowd after the match against the Magpies last season and a nice old man caught it and gave it to me. The prefect stole it!”
“Calm down, calm down,” Frank said, raising his hands in the air. “Do you know this prefect’s name?”
“Lucius,” Remus replied, with such venom in his voice.
Frank rolled his eyes. “That git! Malfoy’s always doing stuff like this. Alright, I’ll go have a word with him, wait here, I’ll get your badge back, Remus, don’t worry.” And with that Frank stood up and walked out the portrait hole.
Remus sank onto the couch and buried his face in his hands. How could he have lost Plumpton’s badge? He had worn that badge every day since he had gotten it. It was like a talisman, it kept hope alive in his chest. It was incontrovertible proof that he wasn’t monster, that people could actually like him for him, being a werewolf didn’t matter. But now he had lost it. He couldn’t stand it. He wanted to cry, but he knew he couldn’t. He was too old for tears, far too old.
“Cheer up, Remus,” Peter said consolingly. “Frank will get it back for you, he’s good like that. I’m sure he has your badge in his hands as we speak.”
Remus said nothing. He didn’t doubt that Frank would do all in his power to get the badge back, but what if he couldn’t? What would happen then?
“C’mon,” Sirius said, pulling Remus up, “it’s time for dinner.”
“No!” Remus said grumpily. He was going to wait here until Frank came back with his badge.
“You need to eat, mate,” James said, looking at Remus and frowning. “There’s nothing to be done until Frank gets back, c’mon.”
Remus followed them down to the Great Hall, a little begrudgingly. Peter kept telling him he was over reacting, that it was only a badge, that it didn’t really matter and that he could get another one in Quality Quidditch Supplies. But Peter didn’t understand, none of them understood. It wasn’t just the fact that it was a Tornadoes captain’s badge, or that it even belonged to Plumpton, it was what the badge symbolised. It was Remus’s light in the dark, because if he ever started to lose himself, he would look at the badge and remember the nice old man who gave it to him, just because he liked him for being nothing more than himself.
As they sat down in the Great Hall for dinner, Remus kept looking up every few seconds to see if he could see Frank or Lucius, but neither showed up. Remus reckoned that Frank would return to the common room. After they had eaten rather quickly, Remus dragged his three friends back up the marble staircase to Gryffindor tower.
“Hey, Remus, hey!” shouted a voice from behind them. Remus turned and saw Frank. He looked at the prefect expectantly, but he didn’t have the badge in his hand nor did he pull it out of his pocket.
“I’m sorry,” Frank said apologetically. “I chased Lucius down and he denied ever taking the badge in the first place. He said he was studying in the library the whole time and Narcissa Black confirmed his story.”
Sirius laughed. “Only because she was with him when he stole Remus’s badge!” he said angrily, his animosity towards his cousin growing with each passing second.
“I believe you,” Frank replied earnestly. “But there’s nothing I can do without proof and Malfoy has Black as an alibi which makes things difficult. I reported it to McGonagall anyway, and she said she would look into it. Malfoy’s been doing stuff like this ever since he got his prefect’s badge.”
This was not the answer Remus wanted. McGonagall would take forever to look into this matter and by the time she got around to it, Lucius could have sold the badge on to someone else and he would never see it again.
Remus kicked the wall in anger, just because he didn’t know what else to do. He was powerless and helpless and his badge was gone. “It’s not fair!” he shouted, covering his face in his hands.
“Sorry, kid, I did my best,” said Frank sadly, putting a hand on Remus’s shoulder.
“Thanks,” Remus muttered miserably through his hands. “Thanks for trying, I appreciate it.”
“Sorry I couldn’t get it back,” Frank replied sadly, “but hopefully McGonagall will have better luck. Don’t give up just yet.” Remus felt Frank squeeze his shoulder before he left, deciding it was best for James, Sirius and Peter to console their friend.
Remus sat down on the bottom step of the stairs and buried his face in his knees. He knew that his badge was gone. He knew that he would never see it again. It wasn’t fair. He had been punished for nothing. He had had his prized possession taken from him for no reason at all.
“There’s only one thing for it then,” James said sighing, sitting down beside his despairing friend. Remus lifted his head from his knees and looked at him. James had that mischievous glint in his eyes again and he was grinning from ear to ear. He had an idea, an idea no doubt that would lead them to detention or expulsion.
“We’re just going to have to break into the Slytherin common room.”
It was a mark of how desperate the situation was that Remus didn’t have any misgivings whatsoever about agreeing with this suggestion.
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