Author's Note: Okay, I bashing out this chapter before inspiration deserts me, which could be at any time, in any place, with no warning. It's incredibly scary I can tell you.
Disclaimer: I'm working on it, but the werewolf traps just aren't working…
Sirius Black and his Quest for the Pop Tart
Chapter 10: Just Another Full Moon: Time For My Midnight Disguise
Sirius Black ducked through the doorway of the boy's shower room and breathed a sigh of relief, leaning heavily on the sink he stared at his reflection in the mirror. Pretending to be gay had seemed like such a good idea at the time, but now, he really wanted people to believe him when he said he was straight. He hadn't realised that after you come out of the closet, there's no going back in… even if you weren't in the closet in the first place. Apart from the obvious hard work being gay was (the obsessive grooming and washing really was beginning to take it out of him) it also meant that thousands of girls suddenly wanted to discuss hair care products, eyebrow plucking and James Potter with him.
Sirius was going to have nightmares for months, haunted by images of what girls wanted to do to his poor oblivious best friend. Poor James, poor, poor James. Sirius had always assumed that he was high up there in the girls stakes, well until Dinkerella had come along, but now, after his brief and terrifying dalliance inside their minds, he hoped no girl ever fancied him again. He was even beginning to wonder about Dinkerella and her brain functions.
He didn't think he wanted to be gay much longer; the talk of hormones put him off his food. It really was amazing what a change of sexuality could do.
Saying this, he was pleased with how well they had got on yesterday, sure most of the conversation had been about Ancient Runes, but still, it was a start, and now she had to speak to him at least once a week, what with the tutoring she had decided he desperately needed. All he had to do was convince her that there was more to him than just a mind deprived of Ancient Runes...
She had even waved at him in the Great Hall at breakfast time... Well, at least he thought she did. He couldn't be sure at all, as Niamh had said something particularly cutting about Arithmancy just moments earlier. (Sirius knew this because the wave had included a piece of toast in her hand and a dismayed cry of: "How can you possibly think that Character Numbers have no affect on your daily life?! Are you mad?!")
Sirius was snapped out of this train of thought when he realised he was not, as previously assumed, alone. The water in the cubicle behind him was running, but the curtain was no longer drawn. A tall, copper-haired boy leant against the support that held the curtain up. He had bedroom eyes in a deep dark brown, and a healthy all over tan. Sirius swallowed and wished he didn't know that the tan was all over. The boy smiled and took a step towards Sirius.
"Hello Sailor," he purred.
Sirius spun around and panicked, he had no idea why the boy was calling him sailor, but he did know what that tone of voice meant, he had invented it for goodness sake. He also knew he wanted to run away. Very fast.
Remus Lupin flopped onto his four-poster bed. The day had dragged by for him, and he felt glad that it was finally over, though, of course, it meant that he had to get down to the shack as soon as possible. The moon was rising and he could already feel the hairs on the back of his neck quivering in anticipation. He rubbed it now, trying to release the tension that had his neck tied up in knots.
In two hours thick, coarse, grey hair would be sprouting all over his body, and the neck he rubbed now would be lengthening, becoming thicker, as his shoulders broadened and forced his upright torso to crash towards the floor, his arms would become powerful front legs, and his hands paws, as they lost their ink-stained fingers and claws took their place. He would feel his chest blow up as his ribcage jutted out at an unnatural angle until he felt his skin might burst.
A long shaggy tail would then lengthen from his spine, as his legs became stocky haunches and his lengthening ears sprouted tufts of fur. Last of all he would feel himself spiraling away, falling down a deep dark hole, as his snout protruded with its salivating fangs and bleeding gums. His golden eyes would be the last thing that resembled him, showing his fear and pain, fear he would do something unforgivable and pain from the physical and mental torture of this monster that lurked within. But before the transformation was done his eyes would yellow to a violent ochre, a maddened glint shining there. By the time you could see the tiny bit of Remus reflected in the pupil it was too late for you.
He could hear what was going on; see it as it happened through the dark tunnel, the well in which he was trapped, but he couldn't stop it, couldn't control it. He could only shiver, as his body became something that was no longer his own, feel the thirst of this parasite that slept within him until the time when the moon was at its most complete.
He sighed and stood again. Of course this was only after the sweats, the spasms that would wrack his body for the next two hours, the gasping breaths as someone took hold of his heart and twisted it.
He would meet the others there. He felt nauseous and didn't think that he could face any dinner.
James Potter stuck his head out of the doorway to his transfiguration classroom. He checked left, he checked right. When he had fully satisfied himself that there was no need to fear the corridor (i.e. Sirius was no where in sight with his new found homosexual tendencies) he stepped out and took up a brisk trot towards the Gryffindor Tower. He needed to dump his books quickly, grab some food and hurry over the Willow. He didn't want to be shut out, like last month, when he had nearly had the door shut in his face for being so late.
He had to move especially quickly this month, because he had stayed behind after Transfiguration. Voluntarily. James Potter never stayed behind after classes. Well that isn't exactly true. He never stayed behind class voluntarily. And if he was truly honest, he hadn't wanted to help MacGonagall put away the iguanas and toucans that they had been using that lesson, or rectify them to the proper state. (They had been transfiguring them into hat stands, and more than one or two of the results where the things of nightmares). This had taken him the best part of half an hour, but it had allowed him to avoid Sirius. He knew he would have to be locked up with him all night, but that he could handle. Dogs didn't have vocal chords and neither did they mince as they walked, and he thought that interspecies relations were something that even Sirius drew the line at.
James took large paces as he worked his way down the corridor and up the staircase; he glanced about himself and peered into every classroom he passed. He didn't want any surprises from Sirius. In fact, he was so intent on avoiding Sirius that he didn't see the girl walking towards him down the corridor, equally distracted. He also didn't see that she didn't see him, so it was only inevitable when...
There was a clatter as two bags fell from shoulders, spilling their contents across the deserted corridor.
"I'm sorry," James scrabbled around collecting up the books that were lying at his feet. He hastily pilled parchment, quills and books together. "I didn't see you there, I should watch where I'm going."
"Yes you should."
James looked up and straight into the startled eyes of Lily Evans. His mouth hung slightly open and he flapped it uselessly for a minute, before he realised that the goldfish look was never attractive. He snapped it shut. Lily, however, had already gathered herself together and had set about gathering the few remaining quills at their feet. James watched as she did this, vaguely considering asking her out. He didn't. He had been harassing her since... It suddenly struck James he couldn't remember a time when harassing Lily hadn't been a daily activity, and anyway it hadn't worked yet, so what was the point? He couldn't let Remus down. Not tonight.
She stood. James took this as his cue to do the same, and rose to his feet, throwing his bag over his shoulder. Lily met his eyes and smiled briefly holding her bag open for him to put her books inside. James dropped them in.
They stood opposite each other for a minute before James took a step back.
"Anyway I'm sorry, I'll pay more attention in future."
Lily nodded, shifting her bag further up her shoulder.
James nodded half to himself.
"Well, bye," He stepped around her and carried on his way, he couldn't be late, it was too important, more important even, that chatting up Lily Evans. He turned the corner towards the Gryffindor Tower. He didn't look back.
Lily Evans watched as James Potter turned the corner at the end of the corridor. She was slightly stunned. She couldn't really remember a time before this that she had bumped into Potter and not been harassed to go out with him. She couldn't remember the last time she hadn't wanted to scream in frustration at the sight of him. It was weird, but she almost wanted to call him back and demand the usual declaration of adoration.
Finally, she set off, walking slowly down the corridor. She didn't like to admit it, but she felt disappointed. She had always thought that the day James Potter realised that she would rather lance a boil on Professor Fester's backside than go out with such an arrogant pillock she would rejoice, but she felt strangely hollow. Why had he suddenly given up? When did he stop being so arrogant? It had almost seemed that the arrogance had drained from him like a burst balloon right before her eyes. Did he not fancy her any more? Did he realise that he was just persisting out of habit?
She mentally shook herself. What was up with all this vanity? It was good that Potter had finally got the message. Life could only get better from here on in. And thus, a confused Lily Evans continued down the corridor, trying to think of anything but what had just happened.
James Potter's satchel flew across the room as he chucked it in the vague direction of his bed, where it landed and promptly spilled its entire contents across the bed. It seemed to like doing that today and that was fine, if that's what his satchel wanted to do with its life, fine. James ripped his shirt of over his head and threw it in a heap, along with his shoes and trousers. He scrabbled through his chest and pulled out an old baggy T-Shirt emblazoned with a picture of the deceased Jim Morrison on it and a large hole by the hem, and a pair of dodgy linen trousers that his mother had thought were 'pretty groovy'. He threw them on, and picked up the cloak. He had to get down the kitchens sharpish where Peter was picking up the food supplies. He cast one last look around the dormitory to check that nothing of vital importance was forgotten... Wand.
James dived at the bed and scrabbled through the various items that lay there, having fallen from his bag. He found it sticking out of the top of his transfiguration textbook, which he then carefully stored in a heap on the floor, because the Charms textbook that was not his that was resting on his bed had distracted him. He knew it wasn't his because Sirius had not altered the title of this one in a rude way, and all the cover was still bright red and not in the least bit dog-eared. He picked it up and flicked open the front cover.
Lily Evans, Gryffindor Tower
James stared at the page for a minute then snapped the book shut. He must have given Lily his. Tearing a piece of parchment from the sheet that lay in a rather crumpled mess on the bed her hastily scrawled a note and stuck it inside the front cover. He carried the book over to the tawny owl that sat on the windowsill. The owl was his own, a gift from an elderly aunt who still didn't know his name (she insisted it was Timon). But she gave good presents, and in her honour the owl had taken the name of which she was so fond. Timon the owl hooted sedately and looked at James through one eye. He held the book out and the owl regarded it lazily before taking a grip on it and looking expectantly at the window, which James opened.
"Hey Timon, take this to Lily Evans for me," James told him, and Timon clicked his beak. He watched for a moment as Timon swooped idly out of the window before pegging it back over to the bed, swinging on his cloak and disappearing entirely.
Peter Pettigrew adjusted the backpack he had swung over his shoulder, filled with food for that night. A large amount of the space was filled with water for Remus the following morning; the tremendous strain of the transformation combined with the howling made him incredibly thirsty. He tried to look nonchalant as he leant on the wall beside the portrait of the fruit bowl. He tried to look full of purpose, a casual arrogance resting around his shoulders like a sweater. He was failing. He looked agitated and knew he did. He always did. It was probably something to do with the fact the James Potter was such an abominable timekeeper, and always turned up by the skin of his teeth, with barely a second to spare till they had to be in the shack. But he must know what he was doing, and he was right; risks made life more fun.
Adjusting the backpack again, Peter then looked up and down the corridor, which was a completely pointless exercise, because he knew that James would be in the cloak. It allowed him to wear ratty old clothes that could get covered it dirt and grime in the Shack and the surrounding countryside without a day of mourning being declared, because under the cloak no one could see him. He was very vain at times.
Peter didn't see the point in being vain. When your best friends were some of the most attractive boys in the school, and you were rather dumpy and had acne on your chin, there seemed to be very little point. Peter loved his friends, but sometimes he wished that they could be a little bit more, well, ugly. He was sure that was what he was, or at the best, below average.
His arms and legs sprouted from his body and were far too skinny for the rest of him, which was sort of round to match his head. He didn't have cheekbones, and was unsure when his body would decide to shed the puppy fat that he had carried around with him for so long and decide to give him the sort of jaw line that even Reggie Rolands (the heartthrob actor who had starred in such classics as You've Got Owls and Never Been Cursed)would kill for. His hair was an all right colour he supposed, a flaxen sort of colour that went streaky in the sun, but it was just there. It wouldn't grow long like Sirius', it didn't flop like Remus' and it wasn't thick and willful like James'. It was just… there. But His eyes were clear blue and crinkled when he smiled. When he smiled he was almost above average.
This was why he had been so enthralled in giving Remus advice about Anastasia the day before. In that way he could get excited about Remus' potential girlfriend, in a way he hadn't had the opportunity to be about himself. He had never really had a girlfriend.
Peter leant on the wall, lost in thought and studying the picture in front of him intently, so intently that he almost didn't hear the approach of three female Hufflepuff fifth years, giggling and laughing something chronic. Almost. Just in time, in Peter's opinion, he swung himself around a corner and out of sight of the three. He hated it when girls giggled. He always thought that they were laughing at him. They disappeared off down the corridor and out of sight, obviously on their way to their common room. Peter stepped out of his hiding place, breathing a sigh of relief. He walked slap into James Potter 's smiling face.
"Bloody hell! You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Peter clutched at his chest to illustrate his point. James ignored this comment.
"You know Peter, you're never going to get a girlfriend if you carry on like that."
James wrapped the cloak around the two of them and started down the corridor.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Peter said, blushing a furious fuscia.
James shook his head, before seizing the backpack from Peters shoulder and rummaged through it. He let out an excited yelp. "Mint Cake! Wormtail you've out done yourself!"
Peter smiled. It felt good to be praised.
James grinned back at him and picked up the pace slightly.
"We better hurry though, ten minutes until lock down."
Peter groaned. For his next birthday, James was getting an alarm clock he could strap to his head. But regardless they reached the Whomping Willow with time to spare. James whipped the cloak off with a flourish and stood before Sirius and Remus, who lay just out of hitting distance of the tree.
"Taa-Daa!" James beamed at the two of them, before his brow furrowed. Peter was already crouched by his friend. "Moony?" James dropped to his knees beside Remus who was shaking and sweating profusely.
"Hey Prongs, about time," Remus managed to smile weakly, but a spasm wracked his body and he gasped for air, clawing at his chest. James and Peter looked across at Sirius, who was chewing his lip nervously.
"He's been like this for around half an hour, I tried to get him into shack, but this damned tree won't stop thrashing," Sirius blew up on his hair in frustration and threw a stick at the tree, which was knocked far out across the Lake. Peter stood up. Although he hated to see his friend in such pain, he loved feeling useful. He could do something the rest struggled with. Quick as a flash he was scurrying towards the tree on his four legs, pushing the knot and then scratching behind his ear with his hind foot. He wished he were this bendy in his human form.
He returned from his rat form and turned to watch as James picked up the backpack and cloak and Sirius, scooped up Remus, supporting him under his arms and trying to convince Remus he wouldn't drop him.
"Remus, I swear I won't drop you, it's fine you aren't a burden… stop being difficult!" Sirius was trying to put Remus in a fireman's lift, but he was being stubborn.
"Don't be silly I can walk." Remus had his whole weight on Sirius and it was clear that walking was not going to be happening. James looked helpless, as Sirius tried to gently pries Remus arms from around his neck.
Peter strode back to his friends, and took Remus under the right arm; his left remaining hooked around Sirius' neck.
"Sure you can walk," Peter and Sirius exchanged a look and very slowly the four boys made there way into the tree and down into the tunnel. Everyone could tell it was going to be a long night.
Making their way down the long, damp tunnel, Remus whimpering with every step, but too stubborn to allow himself to be carried. Eventually with sight of the door, he collapsed onto Sirius who picked him up in an awkward sort of backwards piggyback, leaving Peter and James to run ahead and unlock the door. They quickly set about moving furniture and sorting out the things that they had with them, locking the doors and windows tight and checking the magical reinforcements on the structure. Sirius stumbled up the rickety stairs, and was nearly at the top, Remus and all before either Peter or James had the fortitude to help him. Remus hadn't had such a bad transformation for many months, and they could tell that they would not be able to leave the shack this month. Remus' demon would be too powerful.
Slowly, Sirius lowered Remus onto the bed as James and Peter removed any sharp wood from the frame where it had been splintered and gnawed in previous nights.
"There you go Moon-boy." Sirius gently laid Remus onto the sagging mattress and then flopped down next to him to catch his breath. James and Peter exchanged a look, before joining the shaking Remus and the panting Sirius. They sat for a moment, not saying anything before James glanced out of the window.
"It's time," James said. He squeezed Remus' arm before stepping away from the bed, Peter following suit with a deep swallow and worry in his eyes at the fever that had broken out across Remus' brow. Sirius too, rose.
"Hang in there Moony, we're right here."
Remus' face was screwed up and he was panting. He was fighting the transformation, he always did. Sirius wiped at Remus brow with his shirttails and Remus' eyes opened a crack. They were full of pain, fear and something else. Gratitude.
"Thanks Padfoot." His voice cracked over the whisper, a smile playing at his lips.
"You're welcome," Sirius had barely said the words when Remus screamed; slicing Sirius in two as his transformation began. Sirius, James and Peter cringed and squeezed their eyes shut, as they became their animal selves.
There was nothing that the dog, stag and rat could do now but watch and wait.
Author's Note: What do you think? I know it's quite different from the previous chapters, but I thought that the transformation and all that went with it was important in understanding the friendship between the marauders, and I had foreshadowed it so much I decided it was impossible to leave out, even though I know all marauders fics seem to have a randomly places full moon chapter. I hope I managed to stop it being too similar to works already out there based around similar topics.
I would like to point out that my description of Peter is purely from my own screwed up head. I hate the way that he is so often made out to be a complete loser in the looks department while the other three are made to sound like Greek Gods. Hence, for the purpose of my story, even if it is moving away from the books I felt I should balance him out a little, as the way that I have written the relationship between the four is quite different in some respects to the books anyway and… well yeah and stuff…
Anyway, there's Chapter 10 for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoyed it. It's quite different from my other chapters, and a fair bit longer, but please tell me what you think! I don't think I'll be getting that angsty again for a while, it should be back to happy-Sirius land next chapter, but you never know what the muses will bring…
Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed my last chapter. I know it was a long time in the pipeline, and thought I shouldn't make you wait so long for this one! Every review is read and appreciated so if you've got a spare five minutes I'd really welcome any thoughts you have about this. Thank you again!