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Chapter 10 : Warning
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I wasn’t conscious of running away from Remus and out of the kitchens. I didn’t even remember leaving the castle. It was dark by the time I started to think rationally again.
I was huddled against the base of a large tree on the far side of the lake. It wasn’t opposite the castle, but it was further down than most students went. It was probably off Hogwarts grounds, but I didn’t care.
My time at Hogwarts was running out anyway. I couldn’t stay at a school where people knew. Durmstrang wouldn’t have me at all and Hogwarts only under the condition that I kept everything a secret.
Well that secret was about to be let out of the bag. I only hoped none of this would blowback on Remus or Dumbledore. They’d both been so kind for the past two months despite the fact that I never returned any of it.
The cool October wind had chilled me to the bone and I shivered, drawing my knees in even closer. I was cold, but that didn’t matter. I was tired, but that didn’t matter either. Nothing mattered. I could stay out here for as long as I wanted and no one would come searching for me.
I stayed out for an hour or two longer, I wasn’t sure of the exact time. I didn’t care. I wanted to be cold and tired and feel awful. I wanted to punish myself for all of this, for being bitten and getting expelled from Durmstrang, for letting my secret get out at Hogwarts and my inevitable expulsion.
I’d been a good student. I never thought I’d get expelled from one school, let alone two in the same six months. My life had fallen apart and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
No amount of studying would matter. I could get a dozen NEWTs and still no one would hire me. Because I was disgusting. I was a monster.
Now that I could use that word I punished myself with it constantly.
Werewolf. A filthy disgusting halfbreed monster, that’s what I was. That’s what everyone was going. That was what the Healers believed. Maybe even my parents too.
At some point I managed to pick myself off the ground and start making rational decisions. I needed to let my parents know I’d be returning home soon, preferably within the week. A few days if possible.
I needed to owl them, but it was after curfew surely. I couldn’t just go meandering around the school whenever I liked.
But I could. What was the worst they could do? Expel me? That was already going to happen. I was done for.
In any case, I could wait until morning to owl my parents. They wouldn’t receive it until then anyway and a middle of the night owl would only freak them out more. I needed to calmly and rationally tell them that their daughter was being expelled from yet another school.
That really wasn’t going to go well.
I couldn’t go back to my dormitory, not with Remus there. Not with the Marauders there. They could already know and have started spreading it around the school.
I couldn’t sleep in my own bed.
The only other place I could think of was the Hospital Wing so I stumbled along the corridors until I reached it. I was numb and shaking violently and the scar on my back had opened slightly and blood oozed through my robes.
I half fell when I opened the door and Madam Pomfrey started when she saw me. “Miss Haugen! What- You’re frozen to the bone!”
She ushered me over to a bed and pulled off my cold robes, heating a blanket to wrap around me.
I fell asleep nearly the moment my head touched the pillow.
When I woke up that morning I was confused by the bright lights. It took a moment for the previous day to come back to me and I sank against the pillows. My entire body ached more than it usually did three full days after the full moon and there was a dull pain in my back that was difficult to ignore.
Madam Pomfrey bustled out and fixed with a sharp glare. “What in Merlin’s name were you doing last night?” She demanded, fixing me a tray of several different colored potions.
I didn’t trust any of her concoctions, but they had to be better than the grey sludge the day of the full moon.
I shrugged, not bothering to respond. It didn’t matter if I was polite anymore. I was on borrowed time. I just needed to get out.
“It was my fault,” a breathless voice claimed. I glanced up and stared at Remus in shock. He stood in the entrance, sweat gleaming on his forehead and upper lip and panting so hard he could barely speak. “We were- were walking. Last night. And got separated and- I thought Ana had just come back a different way, but she got lost and I’m so sorry.”
Madam Pomfrey raised an eyebrow at his long speech and looked at me. “Well you’re very lucky you didn’t have to spend the night out there,” she said dryly. “Although as both of you are of age you should have a bit more sense than that.”
Remus nodded and looked at me out of the corner of his eye.
I glanced away.
Why was he covering for me? No one had asked him to and he didn’t owe me anything. I just wanted him and all his friends to leave me alone until I could get away from this castle and go back to living with my parents.
When Madam Pomfrey went into the backroom Remus started talking in a whisper. “I’m sorry about yesterday. I didn’t mean to freak you out, I should have found a better way to word it. My friends won’t tell anyone. I just- I thought you should know so they don’t take you by surprise one day.”
I refused to meet his eyes and Remus laid his hand on the bed beside mine. “I promise. I swear on my life that my friends won’t tell anyone.”
At first I remained still, but then I jerked my head up and down. We sat in silence for a minute longer before I managed, “But they hate me. Why would they keep my secret?”
Remus stared at me. “Because they’re not Mulciber or Avery or Snape. They wouldn’t take pleasure in ruining your life. At the worst they’ll keep ignoring you. At best-” He shrugged. “Maybe they’ll learn something more about who you really are. I dunno. But your secret’s safe.”
I still didn’t believe him, didn’t trust his friends. After all, they did hate me and they had no reason to want me around. Sirius in particular could hold a mean grudge and all it would take was one little whisper to the right person and it’d be all over the school.
Something told me Sirius knew several people who would be right for the job.
Remus invited me to lunch with his friends when I got out of the Hospital Wing.
He issued invitations to dinner, breakfast the next morning, even to another Quidditch practice, but I declined them all. I wanted to stay as far away from the Marauders as possible.
We weren’t punished for our late night “walk”, but I wasn’t concerned with that. I had finished my detentions for cursing Sirius and if I got anymore for something like being out after curfew it wouldn’t be too problematic.
I was more concerned with waiting for the other shoe to drop. Remus had said his friends were clever and I didn’t know why I hadn’t realized that before. The full moon worked like clockwork. All it took was someone noticing that I disappeared around the same time every month and then checking just a few things.
It was obvious. Remus’s friends had figured it out when they were thirteen, it’d be even more obvious with me since they already knew when the full moon was and when Remus was gone.
Merlin, I was a little surprised they hadn’t noticed already, though glad.
I kept thinking that maybe if I kept away from them they wouldn’t notice or it would take them longer than the eight months I had left at Hogwarts, but I knew that was fruitless. I had class with them and they especially would notice that I wasn’t there the exact days Remus wasn’t.
How had Dumbledore thought this would work? He had to have known some students would find out, especially if they already knew about Remus.
Finally, on the night of the Halloween feast, Remus corner me outside the Great Hall. “You’re avoiding me,” he accused.
I looked at him in surprise. I’d thought that much was obvious. Why he thought I’d want to spend more time around his friends, who still hated me, so they could discover my darkest secret, I don’t know.
“It’s self preservation,” I muttered. “Let me by.”
“Not until you talk to me.”
I sighed and turned to meet his eyes. They had softened from our previous conversation and I found myself unable to hold them. I stared just past his face at the stone wall instead. “What?”
“Why won’t you sit with us?” He asked.
“Because I don’t want the entire school knowing that-” I stopped. I hadn’t actually planned on finishing the sentence, but Remus knew where I was going.
“Trust me, everything will be fine. It’ll be especially fine if you come sit with us and try to make nice with them.” I rolled my eyes. There was no need for Remus to talk to me like I was a small child. I understood what he was saying, I just thought it was wrong.
“Why should I trust you?” I demanded. “I don’t know you, we’re not even friends.”
“Because I know you,” he said slowly. “Because I’m the only other person you’ve met who can understand what you’re going through. Because it’s either me or no one, and trusting no one isn’t a life at all. Do you need anymore?”
I bit my lip. Everything he said was true, too true. I needed him. I needed him more than I needed anyone before, just to know that someone else had gone through this too. Someone else knew what I felt.
So in spite of everything else, I found myself nodding. Remus was right, he was the only person I could trust.
When he sat down at the table, I stood awkwardly for a moment, waiting for an invitation. I wasn’t just going to sit with the other three Marauders glaring at me.
Remus frowned at them. “Ana, sit.” He said.
I stilled waited for a cue from one of the others. He was outnumbered and it was clear James and Sirius were the unofficial leaders. What they said went, not Remus.
“What the hell is she doing over here?” Sirius snapped. His eyes flashed and I saw his hand move across his lap to grab his wand.
“I invited her,” Remus said. He was clear, but quiet. In his tone was authority that I’d never heard him use before, even on his prefect duties. “Ana is my friend and I want her to sit with us. Is there a problem with that?”
The way the question was directed allowed for only one answer, but I still held my breath. Sirius seemed contrary enough, or at least seemed to hate me enough that he would say no.
Instead James spoke. “Your friends are our friends, you know that.” He eyed me with caution and distrust despite his words, not that I could blame it.
I finally took my seat beside Remus. Peter was on his other side and James and Sirius sat across from them so I faced an empty seat. It was better that way. The less direct eye contact with James and Sirius the better.
“I’m not staying here,” Sirius snapped.
“Padfoot,” James said, his voice a low warning.
“No! She tried to kill me, does that mean nothing to you?”
“Just sit,” James replied, sounding tired.
“Last time I checked I didn’t need your permission to sit somewhere else.” He stood and moved quickly down the Gryffindor table to sit with a few giggly sixth year girls and their male counterparts who seemed more than pleased to have such a popular seventh year joining them.
Sirius shot a dirty look my way before turning his back and completely ignoring us.
James sighed. “That could have gone better.”
“It was his choice to leave,” Remus commented softly. “No one forced him.”
“But you know she cursed him! He’s still got pains in his shoulder from that, by the way,” James told me. “Next time you ought to think twice before you use dark magic on someone in practice duel- or ever!”
I remembered what Avery had said about his father suddenly- that he’d been killed by Voldemort six years ago. It would have been James’s first year at Hogwarts, just a kid.
No wonder he hated dark magic so much.
And Sirius? He’d been disowned by his family for sticking up for what he believed in. They both had their reasons.
And I had mine. But maybe we could find some common ground, some that started with me apologizing yet again for what had happened. Or more precisely, what I had done.
“I’m sorry, I never should have used that spell,” I said as sincerely as I could. I did mean it. That curse had been an awful idea and had I been thinking straight I wouldn’t have used it at all.
“You’re damn right you shouldn’t have.” James scowled at me. “That curse can kill. Does that mean anything to you? A simple apology isn’t going to get you off the hook.”
I could explain again that I’d used a buffered version of the curse, and specifically aimed for his wand arm instead of his heart, but that wouldn’t help. For now I needed to stick to what James wanted to hear. Defending myself wouldn’t help my case.
James nodded, still looking less than satisfied, but at least the murderous glare was gone from his eyes.
“Remus told us he’d spoken to you,” Peter spoke up suddenly. “About dark magic.”
So that had been why James calmed down so quickly. Remus had talked to him on my behalf. I glanced up at him shyly, then ducked my head, too embarrassed to show him any thanks.
“What was Durmstrang like?” Peter asked. “It sounds different from Hogwarts- a lot different.”
I nodded. That was one thing the Marauders had right. Durmstrang and Hogwarts were both castles and wizarding schools, but that was about where the similarities ended. I didn’t know how to explain it to the boys. They were already so set that Hogwarts was better, and who was to say they were wrong?
“It was- home,” I finally managed. And that was true. Durmstrang had been nothing more and nothing less than my home for six years.
Hogwarts would never quite be that for me.
The three Marauders and I split ways after the feast as I wanted to stop by the library for a book on Transfiguration to catch me up on what I’d missed in class. I was halfway down a corridor when an unseen force slammed me up against the wall.
My back exploded in pain and I crumpled to the ground. It took me a moment to control myself enough to see Sirius standing a few feet away from me, his wand out. Mine was in my pocket, but I wouldn’t pull it out anyway. Sirius was a quick dueler and would be impossible to beat with the wand tucked away.
Besides, attacking him would hurt my case with the whole school, including Remus, James, and Peter.
Instead I leaned back against the wall, trying to push the pressure from my head and rid my vision of spots.
Sirius sneered at me. “I don’t know what you did to Remus to make him think you’re some sweet little goody two shoes, but I don’t let people mess with my friends, particularly people like you.”
I stared up at him in silence. I didn’t actually believe Sirius would physically harm me. He didn’t know my back was scarred from the attack and every full moon since. On a normal person that hit would have merely left them bruised and sore the next day.
“You may have fooled him, Durmstrang, but you haven’t fooled me. You’re just like the lot of them, just like my family. Just like Avery and Mulciber and Snivellus. Give it two years and you’ll be a Death Eater too, just you watch.”
Sirius took a step closer and brandished his wand in my face. “And if you hurt any of my friends, I will personally make sure you don’t make it to your Dark Lord alive, is that clear?”
I didn’t nod or shake my head, give him any sign of submission. Instead I stared him straight in the eyes, a feat easier with him than Remus for some reason.
“Is that clear, Durmstrang?” He repeated.
I still didn’t stand, but this time I opened my mouth. “The only one confused here is you. I’m no Death Eater and Remus isn’t fooled by my lies.”
Sirius snorted and dropped his wand to his side. Had I been in serious danger, this would have been the moment to pull out my wand and curse him.
But I left my wand where it was and watch him walk away from me down the corridor.
A/N: Here you go! Hopefully this will make up a bit for the last cliffhanger, though I promise there is much more to come. :) I'm evil, so sorry about that. But let me know what you're thinking! It's so lovely to see all of your wonderful reviews. It really makes my day.
Oh, a note about the reviews- make sure they're 12+! I'd hate to see any of them get deleted because I do love them all so much. Thank you guys for all being so wonderful! :)
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