Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Timeline: This story is meant to take place in MWPP's fifth year. I began writing it a very long time ago, before the fifth book even came out. I think I've changed everything so it's cannon friendly, but I'm sorry if I missed anything…
Summary: "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes." MWPP get mixed up in a dangerous business...
Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.- Frank Borman
James woke up laying uncomfortably on his back, looking up at a dark ceiling. There were bars on the wall and dirt beneath him. He grunted with pain and pulled himself upright, noticing that Remus was sitting next to him in the same little cell, his head tilted to the side like he was trying to listen to something.
He held a hand up before James could say anything, and James figured it was the werewolf in his friend, because he couldn't hear anything but the faintest murmurs.
Finally, Remus sighed and turned. "They're too far away for me to hear. We're in the caves again, I guess."
James nodded, running his fingers through his hair and brushing out the dirt. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, having drooled a bit while unconscious.
Remus slid back into the corner, looping his arms around his knees and looking tense and worried all in one.
Then again, they were, what, two days from the full moon? No doubt, Remus had already started worrying about what would happen in two days, if they were still stuck there.
James rubbed his head. "My head's killing me from getting stunned. You?"
Remus didn't look at him. "It's not as strong, this close to... that."
James nodded. "We'll have to remember that the next time we go after Severus, and if it's his time of the month, we'll stun him twice."
Remus glared at him, but it faded when he realized James was just trying to get him to relax. He looked down again.
James sighed and pulled himself up, testing the strength of the bars and the lock on the door. He found nothing helpful and had just taken a seat again when they heard arguing from further down in the caves.
"- stealing from us, you-" something James had heard before, but never so colorfully - "Did you think we wouldn't find out? We wouldn't know?"
"I'll pay it back!" another voice said, this one trembling and quieter.
"Too late for that, mate," a third voice said. "You're a traitor and a thief, and there's only one thing we do to traitors."
"Wait, no, please, let me have a chance-"
James and Remus looked down the hall with terrified horror as they heard a horrible scream and saw green light flash.
James felt his hear racing and swallowed hard, shifting so he was on his knees, like he'd have a better chance to escape that way, though he knew he wouldn't.
He glanced at Remus, and saw his friend was equally frightened.
Worse was the words they heard after. And not even that, it was the tone- total disregard for the murder that had just been committed. Like they didn't even care.
"What ought we do with him now?" the first voice wondered.
"Let 'im rot there," the third said. "Maybe they can make a fancy potion out of his parts."
They laughed and James and Remus could hear them talking as they went further away.
The fifth year boys looked at each other, then looked away.
There was nothing to say, and nothing they could do.
Suddenly though, it was a lot scarier than it had been a few minutes before.
Sirius and Peter were hidden behind a large pile of rocks and watching as the smugglers emptied out the cave, never leaving it completely empty of people.
They still hadn't seen James or Remus yet.
"I think you'll have to do the recon, Peter," Sirius said.
Peter swallowed, lowering his head a little.
"Come on," Sirius encouraged him. "You know they won't even see you- and if they do, you just have to scurry out of there."
Peter sighed. "All right," he agreed at last, because really, he had no choice. "Where do I go?"
He sounded terrified.
Sirius couldn't blame him and wished, for the first time since he'd taken his Animagus form, that he'd changed into something smaller, more discreet. Instead he had to wait here and hope that Peter- of all of them, Peter- could do this.
"I bet that little tunnel over there," he said, trying to make it sound like he really thought Wormtail was up for it, like James spoke to him. "Follow it and see what you find."
Peter nodded and melted into the darkness and changed into Wormtail. He could feel Sirius's eyes on him as he scurried away, going around the corner into the chamber that the smugglers were using.
Everything looked distorted from what it did as a human, but he quickly adjusted. There were two men in the room that he could see, and they were busy moving boxes. Peter sniffed, trying to catch the right scents-
There. That was Remus. He had a very distinctive smell. Very… predatory, like Sirius. It masked James's scent, which was much more comforting in that his form was an herbivore and had no interest in eating rats. Peter went forward, staying near the sides of the cave, and entered another little cavern, and then another, all dimly lit by flickering torches.
He froze where he stood, in the center of the tunnel, when he realized someone was laying right there on the floor. He waited a moment, certain he was doomed, but the man never moved, and Peter realized with terror that he wasn't breathing.
He was dead.
A shudder running through his tiny body, he scurried around the body, rushing towards the cell that wasn't too far ahead.
There were actual bars there, which was terrifying in its own right- his friends were prisoners!
James and Remus were in the same little cell. James was leaning against the bars, his eyes closed, and Remus was leaning against the wall, staring up at the ceiling.
Peter squeaked slightly and James's head snapped forward, his eyes flying open. At the same time, Remus sat up straight and began searching for the noise.
"Wormtail," James said, his voice sounding a bit hoarse. He looked down the hall to see if anyone else was coming. "What are you doing here? Is Sirius with you?"
Peter nodded his head, not daring to change.
"Well, get out of here and get help," James said. "They're going to kill us- and if they find you, they'll kill you too."
Peter saw James glance over at Remus, and the other two exchanged dark looks. Peter wondered what that meant, but couldn't ask.
"Seriously," Remus said, very softly. "You guys get out of here and get help- get Dumbledore and tell him what's going on, don't try to do this on your own."
"Minus the parts about the cloak and the animagus," James added quickly. "You don't need to mention those parts."
"Whatever it takes though," Remus said. "But don't do anything stupid- and don't let Sirius either."
A laugh came from down the hall, followed by a door swinging open. "Get out of here," James hissed. "Just run and they won't even notice you."
Peter was scared, and didn't argue. He scurried out of the cell and ran down the hall, freezing for a split second when he saw two men walking towards him, one of them actually kicking the body as they walked past. They didn't even notice him, and he hurried past them.
He slowed down when he got to the large room where the boxes were.
"So," came a voice from where he'd just left, as a metal door squeaked while it opened. "Are you lads ready to tell us what you think you know?"
Peter hurried up, but was terrified by the pained grunt that he heard before he got away.
She hadn't exactly forgotten about the letter, of course, but she was working on schoolwork within an hour of seeing Sirius, and it wasn't the most important thing on her mind. She was certain that they'd gone to see Dumbledore, and he would keep them safe.
The owl came an hour and a half after Sirius had been gone, and fluttered around the room anxiously until Lily called him down.
"To Sirius," Lily read. "I'll take it for him- He's not here right now."
The owl dropped the letter, hooted again, and took off out the window.
A little surprised it had been so easy, as most owls preferred to give their package to the proper owner only, Lily picked up the letter, which was not in an envelope.
On the reverse side of the parchment was another note. "Open immediately."
Two thoughts struck her:
It was wrong to read other people's mail.
But what if it really was urgent?
She hesitated, then unfolded the letter.
We have your friends. If you want to see them alive again, come down to the place you saw us and bring what you stole from us. Bring the other boy as well. If we think anything is going wrong- that you have alerted the authorities or even the staff at the school- we will kill both of your friends. Be at the end of the tunnel at midnight. We will not kill you.
"Oh Merlin," Lily breathed. She reached for the envelope Sirius had given her, then stopped, thinking of Sirius. He'd said three hours, and the look on his face hadn't recommended she try to open it early.
She glanced around the Common Room. "Mike," she said, spotting a fourth year boy who had a huge crush on her. She felt a bit guilty, but it was important, wasn't it?
He trotted over to her, looking excited. "Yes, Lily?"
"Could you open this for me?"
He looked puzzled, but took it. "Sure thing. Who's it-"
The envelope exploded when he opened it, and when the smoke cleared, he was lying on the floor, his skin green and wart-covered, and boils were forming all over his skin.
Lily stared for a moment, then took the letter. "Um... Thank you. Perhaps you should go to the hospital wing now? I promise I'll explain later."
He blinked a few times, staring at her. "Sirius Black?" he guessed.
She nodded. "I'm really sorry."
He sighed and turned away, shaking his head. "The things I do for love," he muttered mournfully.
Lily opened the letter.
This is urgent:
There is a passageway that leads to the caves past Hogsmeade in the broom closet near the Potions Room. We followed it a while ago, and have gone back several times. We saw a group of wizards who were hiding out in the caves. We think they are part of the local smuggling ring and they figured out that we know about them. Remus and James are most likely being kept in the caves at the end of that tunnel. Peter and I are looking into it- if we do not return in the three hours, we're in trouble and probably need help.
PS: If I die, do NOT give any of my possessions to my brother. They all go to James, and after that, Peter and Remus. Or donate them, but NOT to my family. Especially Regulus. No Slytherins either. Just burn them so that they can't have them.
Lily stared at the letter for a moment before it all sank in. Then she jumped up, rushing over to her friends, who were still playing Gobstones. "Rebecca, Patty, I need you to take these to Dumbledore right now," she said, dropping the letters on the board. "Jean, I need you to come with me."
"It's past curfew," Patty immediately argued. "We can't go out!"
"Black and Pettigrew went after Potter and Lupin."
"What?" squeaked Rebecca, looking shocked. "They know where they're at?"
Lily pointed to the letters. "They think so- and the people who have James and Remus just sent a note demanding that Black and Pettigrew meet them, or else they'll kill the other two."
"Where are you going then?" Patty asked.
Lily scowled. "We're going to stop those two idiots before they get caught too."
The four girls stood up and quickly left the Common Room, Patty reading the letters as they went.
"Merlin," Jean snarled when she'd finished. "Those idiots...!
"Exactly," Lily agreed.
"Good luck," said Rebecca when they reached the splitting of the paths.
The two girls nodded, and Rebecca and Patty went up a flight of stairs, heading towards Dumbledore's office.
Halfway up, the staircase started shifting.
The two stared, horrified, as it came to a halt with the top leading into a broom closet, and the bottom leading to mid air.
They stared at each other. "Oh dear," said Rebecca.
Patty swallowed. "Quite."
"We should have waited for Dumbledore," Jean hissed as they hurried down the long, dark tunnel.
Both had their wands out and were terrified, though neither was willing to admit it.
"We couldn't," Lily said. "The boys need to know that help is on the way, or else you know they'll do something stupid."
"Good point," Jean muttered.
They slowed down, both fearful, as the tunnel got narrower.
"There's a door," Jean whispered.
Lily nodded and went up to it, putting out her wand.
Jean did the same, and grabbed the back of Lily's robe so they wouldn't be separated.
It was pitch black in the cave and they moved slowly.
A slight noise made her pause.
There was still only darkness ahead, and she listened for a moment, then dared to light up her wand again, certain she'd heard something and deciding she'd rather have light and knowledge than have someone else surprise her.
She almost screamed when the light illuminated two people directly before her.
For a moment, she fumbled with her wand while the two facing her did the same.
Then they both recognized each other. "Black!" she hissed.
"Evans! What are you doing here? Where's Dumbledore?"
Jean came through the door. "What do you think you're doing? Why didn't you tell him in the first place, you idiots?"
Peter stood behind Sirius and looked terrified. "There's no time for this! They're going to kill them!"
"What?" Lily demanded.
"We... overheard them," Sirius said, and Lily knew he was hiding something. "They're going to kill James and Remus, and they already killed somebody else. We've got to get help, we can't take them ourselves.
"Help is on the way," Lily said. "Patty and Andrea are getting Dumbledore. Listen, they sent a letter, there's a deadline. You have to be at the end of the tunnel at midnight, with whatever you took, or they said they'd kill Potter and Remus.
Sirius glanced at his wrist watch. "That's in fifteen minutes!"
They looked at each other in silence, all filled with fear.
"Maybe Dumbledore will get here in time," Jean said finally.
"Yeah," Sirius said quietly. "Maybe he will."
None of them looked at each other.
Then they saw a light coming towards them. They looked up, then bolted towards the door.
The quartet crouched in the darkness, waiting.
One of the smugglers had come by, glancing around with a lit wand, but miraculously he'd missed seeing them, and the smugglers had gone back into the caves.
"We don't have time to wait," Sirius whispered, his voice so low they could barely hear him. "We have to act now."
"I agree," Lily said, to the surprise of all of them. "Rebecca and Patty will have backup here soon, but if they're not here soon, something could happen."
Sirius and Peter looked at each other, nodded, and Peter pulled something out as Sirius decided on their plan. "Put this on. It's an invisibility cloak. We'll go in and try to get them to bring us to James and Remus. You two put this on and follow us in. Move quiet and stay to the back, and when I say... um, blueberry, count to three and then you guys stun everybody you can and we'll do it too. Got it?"
"Blueberry," Jean repeated nervously.
Sirius nodded and looked at Peter.
"We're going in?" Peter whispered weakly.
"Yeah," Sirius said. "And then we're going to kick their butts."
Jean let out a weak laugh, but none of them found it even remotely funny.