All characters depicted here belong to JK Rowling. I own nothing but the pleasure of writing this particular story.
"It is done, My Lord."
"Do you think it will work?"
"I do not do something unless I am certain it will. You ought to know that by now."
"Of course, sir. I meant no disrespect."
"Has he broken yet?"
"Not yet, sir. They've barely begun to warm up. They are enjoying this one. It's not every day we get a member of the Order of the Phoenix."
I sat up, drenched with sweat, my whole body shaking. The voices of the two men echoed in my ears and pounded in my head. The cold humour in the one voice made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
And what I had seen as they'd rounded the corner. I didn't want to relive it, but I forced my mind back to it.
Remus. Tethered to a wall, his eyes bruised, his nose bloody. Defiant and angry, his eyes steely.
I ripped the hangings back and quickly pulled my robes over my nightgown. I had to see Remus. I had to know he was safe.
I knew it was just a nightmare. I'd had nightmares after my first go with the Cruciatus too. But this one had been so clear.
I stopped for a moment, listening intently for some sound from Hermione. The last time I'd had a nightmare that vivid, she'd had one as well. Her breathing was deep and even. She was fast asleep.
I held my breath as I opened the dormitory door and moved down the stairs slowly. I glanced around the common room as I got there. The fire was low, its dying light casting creepy shadows along the walls. After I was sure it was empty, I set out across the room.
"Who's that?" the Fat Lady murmured sleepily as I opened the portrait. I didn't answer her, merely turned my back, hoping she wouldn't see my face. Not that she wouldn't see me when I gave her the password later.
I hurried along the corridor, my ears listening hard for any sound other than my own footsteps. It was hard to hear over my heart beating. I didn't want to be caught. I had to see Remus.
Who had I seen in my dreams?
I heard a soft meow at my ankle. I gasped and looked down, straight into the wide yellow eyes of Mrs Norris. I cried out loud and took the first turn I could find, sprinting along the deserted corridor. Harry had warned me about the strange connection between Mrs Norris and Mr Filch. I didn't wish to stick around to see if it was true. I ran as hard as I could, barely slowing when the stitch in my side caused my breath to come in sharp, painful gasps.
I finally slowed to a walk, allowing myself to look to see if anyone had followed me. Seeing nobody, I stopped completely, trying to catch my breath. Common sense took over and I ducked into an empty classroom and leaned against the cool stone wall, bent over with one hand on my knee and the other jammed into my side. I breathed deeply and evenly, hoping to get my wind back quickly.
I chuckled quietly when I finally caught my breath. Sneaking around a school, trying not to get caught, at my age.
I scanned the area quickly when I left the classroom a few moments later. I started walking in the direction I had run in. I didn't know exactly where I was, but I knew I couldn't go back the way I'd come from. Filch might still be there.
"Out late, aren't you?"
I let out a cry and spun, both of my hands out in front of me. Sirius stood there, leaning lazily against a door jamb, his Invisibility Cloak hanging over one arm. He grinned at me.
"What the hell are you thinking?" I snapped. "Don't sneak up on me like that!"
"What are you doing out so late?" he asked, coming toward me.
"I am going to the hospital wing. I had a bad dream about Remus. I need to see him."
Sirius frowned at me. "What sort of dream?"
"A bad one. What are you doing down here?"
He grinned sheepishly. "You raced right past my thinking spot. I thought something must be up and thought I better check it out."
"Your thinking spot?" I asked, intrigued. "Where is it?"
He smiled at me, but didn't answer.
"Since I am a teacher now, I suppose I should take some points from you and send you back to your dormitory," he mused. I opened my mouth to protest, but he raised his hand, cutting me off. I closed my mouth with a snap. "However," he continued. "I am a Marauder first and foremost, so what I am going to do is give you my Invisibility Cloak. A loan, just so we're clear. I want it back first thing tomorrow."
He held it out to me.
"You're not going to punish me?" I asked, surprised.
"Do you want me to?" he replied, pulling his arm back. I shook my head fervently, reaching for the Cloak and swinging it around my shoulders. Sirius grinned at me again. I leaned up and hugged him tightly, which caused a slight flush to spread across his cheekbones. I grinned back at him and flipped the hood up, covering me completely.
"See you in the morning."
"Good night, Sirius!"
I walked away from him, continuing in the direction I'd been going before he'd stopped me. I glanced back at him. He'd stuck his hands in his pockets and was ambling away slowly.
"By the way," he said casually over his shoulder. "You want to take your second left, go up the two flights of stairs. On the right there will be a tapestry. Go through it, take that passage. It will take you to just up the hall from where you're going."
I blew a kiss at him and took off at a run up the hall. I found the second left and turned that way, making sure to keep covered with the Cloak.
I found the tapestry with ease, pushing my way through it impatiently. The passageway beyond was small, dark and had a slight scent of mildew. I hurried along it, wishing I had a flashlight with me. The image of Harry lighting his wand flit across my mind. I frowned, trying to remember the words he'd said. Would I be able to do it? Lumos, wasn't it?
"Lumos," I muttered, holding my right hand out in front of me. I stared as each of my fingertips lit, a dim, magical light filling the passage around me. "Amazing," I whispered, shaking my head.
Keeping my hand out in front of me, I was able to walk more quickly in the light. The passage was smooth, but wasn't a well used one. Once in a while I would walk through a cobweb, which would cause me to quiver with disgust and fright. I've never liked spiders.
Finally I came to the end of the passage. I pushed through it and, sure enough, found myself just down the hall from the hospital wing. I silently thanked Sirius and sprinted for the door.
I pulled it open, looking around the silent room. I could see a faint glow coming from the far right, which I assumed was Madam Pomfrey's room. The only other people in there were a student and the curtain that blocked Remus from view. I walked slowly toward it, keeping as silent as possible.
I came around the curtain, careful not to disturb it. Remus was fast asleep on his side. I stood there silently for a moment, just watching him sleep. He must have felt my presence because his eyes slid open slowly and he rolled on to his back, his hand instinctively reaching for his wand.
"Is someone there?" he murmured sleepily. I carefully pulled the hood of the Cloak back, revealing only my head. "What're you doing here?"
I frowned. He must have been sleeping soundly; he didn't usually combine his words like that. I slipped the Cloak off my shoulders and rested it over my arm.
"I needed to see you," I whispered back.
"I had a nightmare about you and I had to make sure you were okay."
Remus stared at me as though I had sprouted a second head. To my absolute horror, I felt my eyes well up with tears. Embarrassed, I turned my face to the side so he wouldn't see.
"I didn't mean to wake you, Remus," I said softly, my voice thick. I took hold of the Cloak and made to put it back on. "I'll let you go back to sleep."
I was about to pull the Cloak over my head when Remus sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"Wait," he said, flipping his blanket off and sliding his legs over the side. "Wait, I didn't mean to upset you. You surprised me, is all. I wasn't expecting you."
I paused, looking over at him. He smiled at me, reaching out a hand.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm very sorry."
I shook my head and took his hand. "It's okay, Remus."
He slid his legs back under the blanket and patted the feather bed. I didn't need a further invitation. I slid in beside him. He kissed the side of my neck softly and wrapped his arm over me, tucking me safely against his chest.
"Maybe you should keep that Cloak on," he whispered in my ear, his breath warm on my ear. "In case Madam Pomfrey finds you."
"But you said she knew about us."
"Oh. Well, she does. But she won't be happy to find you here."
I nodded. That made sense. I spread the Cloak over me like a blanket. Remus pulled me even tighter against him.
"This is strange," he laughed quietly. I laughed too, imagining how it must look, holding on to air.
It seemed like a long time since I'd fallen asleep in Remus' arms, though it had only been since the Quidditch match. I felt safe at Hogwarts, but I was at home in Remus' arms.
"Where have you been?" Sirius hissed as he opened his office door the next morning. I pulled the Cloak off and he gaped at my appearance. I hadn't bothered to brush my hair or to straighten my robes. "You look like you had a fun night," he said with a grin, waggling his eyebrows at me. I laughed.
"I missed sleeping next to Remus," I admitted to him. I knew I was smiling like an idiot.
I laughed and gave Sirius a shove. "Nothing happened," I said, still laughing. "Not in a school hospital wing!"
Sirius grinned at me again and handed me a cup of coffee. I glanced at it, surprised.
"I wasn't sure what you took in it," he said. "But I thought you might like a cup."
"Mmm, I'd love one." I raised the cup and breathed in the aroma. It smelled heavenly.
I looked up to find Sirius laughing at me. I raised my eyebrows at him.
"You need to spend the night with Remus more often," he said simply.
"Are you implying that I'm not a happy person?"
"Not at all!" he denied quickly. "You're just not usually this happy!"
I smiled, taking a sip of the coffee. Wow, it was strong.
"Good coffee," I said, only lying a little bit. Once you got past the strength, it wasn't bad.
"You're a horrible liar," he laughed.
"You're in a pretty good mood yourself," I observed. Sirius laughed.
"Are you implying I'm not a happy person?" he inquired sweetly. I stuck my tongue out at him. "So are you going to tell me about your dream?"
"I…Are you going to tell me why you were in your thinking spot?"
I snorted into my coffee.
"It's nothing to worry about," I assured him. "I had nightmares the first time I was hit by the Cruciatus too."
Sirius watched me silently as I spoke. I thought I saw concern flare briefly but it was gone before I could be certain.
"You should get back to your dormitory," he said finally. "Before the other girls are awake."
I nodded, finishing my coffee and setting the cup on his desk.
"Thanks for the coffee, Sirius. And for the Cloak and for directions."
I waved as I left the room, moving quickly back toward Gryffindor Tower. I knew I wouldn't be in trouble for being out in the morning, but I didn't want to run into anybody when I looked the way I did.
I made it safely to the portrait of the Fat Lady. She smiled drowsily at me.
"Out for a morning walk?"
"Um, yes, I am," I lied. I gave her the password and the portrait swung open. I hurried inside and was just about to go through the door leading up to the girls dormitories when, "You're up early."
I gasped, spinning. I hadn't expected anyone to be up that early. I was also getting tired of being snuck up on while I was sneaking around!
He was sitting in the chair directly in front of the fire. He hadn't turned his head to look at me, merely continued to gaze into the fire. I moved toward him and saw him reach up quickly and wipe his eyes.
He looked up. His face was pale and his eyes were slightly red.
"Hello," he said coolly. He hadn't warmed up to me at all, though I hadn't really spoken to him much.
"Are you alright?" I asked.
"Fine." His answer was clipped, as though my question annoyed him.
"You're up early too."
"Couldn't sleep. Where did you go?"
"For a walk. I couldn't sleep either."
"You've been walking for a while."
I felt something drop in the pit of my stomach.
"What do you mean?"
"You left about six hours ago."
I stared at him, my jaw open slightly.
"How do you know that?"
He rolled his eyes. "I was here, obviously."
"No you weren't, I looked around the room."
He smirked at me and held up an Invisibility Cloak. Harry's Invisibility Cloak.
"He was sleeping. I didn't figure he'd mind," Neville said simply, as though reading my thoughts.
"I see," I said. The fact that he'd taken Harry's Cloak without permission made me angry, but I didn't say anything. "What's keeping you from sleeping?"
I raised my eyebrows. He was being very condescending toward me, as though I was inferior to him.
"Well, I'll let you sit here then." I stood and walked toward the stairs leading toward my dormitory.
"So who did you sneak out to see?" he asked casually. "A student in another house? Here I thought that you and Harry were an item."
I stared at the back of his head, shocked beyond words. He slowly turned to look at me.
He rolled his eyes again. "You snuck out here hours ago and you just came back. You look like you've been … busy since you left. I'm just curious as to who you snuck out to see."
"I didn't sneak out to see anyone!" I denied hotly. "I had a nightmare and I went for a walk!"
"A nightmare keeps you out that long?"
"I went and visited Fang and fell asleep at Hagrid's!"
Neville looked surprised. I felt bad for lying, but I couldn't tell him the truth. Dumbledore had been explicit about that.
"You knew Hagrid?"
"No. I came after he died. But I know Fang and I know the hut was his."
"So you and Harry are together?"
I stared at him again. This time it was my turn to roll my eyes.
"Harry is my friend, Neville. He's nothing more. Harry is with Ginny."
Neville smirked at me but said nothing more. I rolled my eyes again and went up to my dormitory.
"Nosy little…" I muttered under my breath as I went through the door. I quietly made my way to my bed and crawled under the sheets, pulling the curtain closed. I lay there for some time, just staring at the curtains.
I groaned, rolling on to my other side.
"Go 'way," I muttered, opening my eyes. Harry stood before me. I gasped and stood up on my bed, my blanket around my shoulders. "How did you get in here?" I shrieked, looking closer at him. The closer look revealed that it wasn't Harry. "James," I whispered.
"He needs you."
"Who needs me?"
James smiled kindly. "You know who."
"Voldemort needs me?"
James actually laughed at that. "Not that You-Know-Who. You know who I mean."
"How are you here?" I demanded. His edges had started to blur again.
"You need my help." He smiled again. "And he needs yours."
"Who needs my help?" I cried, kneeling down on my bed. James was even more faded. "Don't go again, please. I need you to tell me!"
"Stop being so damned cryptic!"
"Remember, if you need us..."
"You can help. Got it. Who needs me?"
He was gone. I opened my eyes for real that time and swore under my breath.
"Whoa, watch that mouth, Jules," Hermione said with a laugh. She poked her head through the hangings on my bed, about to say something when she saw my appearance. "What happened to you?"
"Another bad dream," I growled, throwing my legs over the bed and picking a clean robe out of my bureau. "I have to go see Remus or Sirius."
I smiled tightly at her, but said nothing.
"Can't say, I guess."
I was dressed in record time and was pulling my hair back as Hermione and I went down to the common room. Harry was there, but Ron and Ginny were no where to be seen. Harry appeared angry.
"Neville," he snarled angrily.
"Ah, taking your Cloak. I know, it annoyed me too."
I glanced at the two of them. Both were staring at me.
"How'd you know?" Harry demanded. "I only found out this morning."
"Me too," I answered. "I've got to go. Talk to you guys later."
Without a backward glance, I moved toward the portrait hole. The Fat Lady called a cheerful "Good morning" at me, which I barely replied to. I hurried toward the Defence classroom.
"Rem…er…Professor Lupin?" I called, pulling the door open. "Professor Black?"
"Just me still, Jules. Remus is still in the hospital wing."
"James visited me again," I said without preamble. "Just now."
Sirius stared at me, surprised.
"What did he say?"
"'He needs you'."
"Who needs you?"
I smiled sheepishly. "I asked that and he said 'You know who.' I said 'Voldemort needs me?'"
Sirius laughed, perching on the edge of his desk. "So who did he mean?"
"That's just it. I have no idea. I told him I was getting tired of the cryptic messages."
Sirius didn't even smile. He ran a hand through his hair, frowning thoughtfully.
"Harry needs our help, I know that…but James knows we know that. Dumbledore?"
"Why would Albus need my help?"
Sirius shook his head slowly. "He said that you knew who needed your help?"
I nodded silently. Sirius stood and started to pace slowly.
"I'm sure it's not Harry or Dumbledore. Ron?"
"What about Neville?"
Sirius paused in his searching, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. "He for sure said 'he'?"
Again I nodded.
"Could be Neville. I don't know."
"What…How could I help Neville?"
Sirius wasn't listening to me. "I remember a spell…A spell for raising-"
"What's going on in here?"
We both spun. I felt slightly guilty as Harry entered the room.
"Jules had another visit from James," Sirius said absently. Harry looked at me.
"How come you didn't say anything?" he demanded.
"I didn't want to say anything in front of Hermione."
"What'd he say?"
I filled him in quickly. Harry sat in his desk chair, trying to help us come up with the names of people who James might have meant.
"And you have no idea who he meant, even though he said you know?"
"No, I have no idea who he meant!" I answered testily.
"We should stop and go down for breakfast," Sirius finally said. "I'm starving and we might be able to think better after we eat."
Harry and I both agreed, so we followed Sirius out of the room and down to the Great Hall.
"When is Remus getting out of the hospital wing?" Harry asked.
"Day after tomorrow, I think," Sirius answered. "That's the impression I got, anyway."
I started to slow as we walked along. He couldn't have meant…
"What is it, Jules?" Sirius asked.
"Well…you just kind of made me think…" I said slowly.
Sirius smirked, rolling his eyes. "Everything makes you think of Remus."
I smiled. "That's not what I meant. But what if James meant that Remus needs me?"
"Why would Remus need your help?"
"He didn't say that Remus needed help, not at first anyway. He said 'He needs you'. Maybe he meant that Remus just needs me there. He needs my support."
Sirius nodded pensively. "That could be."
"D'you really think that was it?" Harry asked sceptically. I shrugged, not really sure at all.
"Well, before, when we were travelling, before I knew he was a werewolf, it seemed to help him when I was there. And last night - "
"We can discuss it more in depth later," Sirius interrupted. "Go eat. I'll see you after your classes. There's something that I thought of, but when Harry came in, I forgot what it was. Maybe by then I'll have remembered."
We agreed to meet him after Harry's class. I would be spending the day doing homework, as it wasn't a day that I had classes.
"Where did you go, Jules?" Ron asked as Harry and I joined them at the table.
"I had to see Sirius about something."
They waited for me to elaborate and looked slightly disappointed when I merely poured myself a goblet of milk instead.
"How did your session go last night?" Ginny asked instead. "Did you stop Cruciatus?"
Seamus glanced over at us, causing Harry to glare in Ginny's direction. She flushed slightly but looked at us expectantly.
"No," I answered. "I didn't."
"Are you over this foolishness then?" Hermione demanded. "Are you going to stop trying it?"
"No, Hermione, we're not," I replied, annoyed. "It might seem foolish to you, but I need to know. It's not that I want to know. I absolutely need to know what I can stop and what I can't."
"You can't - "
"Hermione, do you honestly think I would put myself through Cruciatus if I didn't feel I could stop it?" I snapped. "I can, I can feel it. I just have to figure out exactly how."
Hermione sighed softly, nodding. "Sorry, Jules. I just hate the thought of you…"
I immediately felt bad for snapping at her. I reached over and gave her hand a squeeze.
"I know, Hermione. I'm sorry for snapping."
"So how come Neville had your Cloak, Harry?" Ron whispered. Harry rolled his eyes.
"Who knows. I was so furious that he had it that I barely even talked to him."
"He used it to sneak down to the common room, he said."
"How d'you know?" Ron asked, surprised.
"I was up early this morning. I, er, had a nightmare and went for a walk. I ran into Neville in the common room. I was annoyed that he had Harry's Cloak too."
"What makes me so angry," Harry said, "is the fact that he had to go into my trunk to get it."
"You'll have to put a better locking spell on it," Hermione said. "I can do it, if you like."
"I can't believe he went through your trunk," Ginny sighed, shaking her head. "That's not the Neville we knew."
"I told him not to do it again," Harry replied. "That's about all I said. I had to leave or else I was going to start shouting."
"Since when have you worried about shouting at someone?" Ron asked, grinning at Harry.
"Since I don't know what sort of state he's in."
"Ah. I guess."
"The post is -" Ginny started to comment, just as hundreds of owls came soaring through the windows. Ginny laughed as they flew around, delivering mail to their owners. "I was going to say it's a few minutes late today."
I chuckled to myself, taking a sip of my milk. A screech owl landed on the table in front of Harry and stuck its leg out. Surprised, Harry removed the roll of parchment that had been tied to its leg. The owl ruffled its wings and took flight immediately. We turned to Harry.
"What is it, Harry?" Hermione asked. Harry shrugged.
"Not sure," he answered, carefully unrolling the parchment. "There's…"
We leaned forward as he trailed off. His face had gone pale and his eyes were wide.
"What is it?" Ginny demanded.
"It's from the Ministry of Magic."
Again, I'm sorry for the length of time for this chapter to come. I'm struggling with it, and it has taken me this long to get this one to where I can read it and not cringe, lol. I've started the next chapter but I don't know how long it will take either. Again, don't give up on it and please be patient. Thanks, and enjoy the chapter!