Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. The ones that belong to JKR belong to JKR, and the ones that don't belong to the oh-so-talented whydoyouneedtoknow, or Anne Walsh. If you can't tell them apart... well, go read Anne's Dangerverse.
A/N: This is an AU of the werewolf event in the Marauder's sixth year. I'll go into more detail at the bottom, but this is a sort-of AU of 'A Little Slice of Heaven', so it takes place in seventh year, but Evanie doesn't exist and Remus' mother didn't survive the fire.
Chapter 1- Betrayal
Remus blearily came to his senses. Then wished that he hadn't. Merlin, he hadn't felt so run-down since his first transformation, all those years ago… wincing, he took a half-conscious inventory of himself. His right leg felt like it was on fire, and his back had the tingly, not-uncomfortable feeling of 'hastily-Healed'. He found that his arms felt strangely stiff, as though he couldn't move them from his side.
Must have been a bad Full Moon… I wonder where Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs are.
Deciding that it was time to rejoin the world, Remus yawned. He frowned when he realised that one of his arms wouldn't move properly, but shrugged it off. It was probably because he had particularly injured that limb this time.
Alarm bells started ringing in Remus' mind as the sleep-induced fog in his brain started to clear and absorb more details about his current surroundings.
Something was wrong. The bed was not as comfortable as those in the Hogwarts hospital wing usually were, and he'd had his fair share of the hospital wing in all his seven years worth of Full Moons at Hogwarts. The sheets were slightly scratchy, and the pillow seemed thinner than usual.
Opening his eyes fully, Remus started to panic. This was not Hogwarts hospital wing, or the Shrieking Shack, or his dorm, or anywhere in Hogwarts, in fact. Hell, he had never seen this place before.
It was a tiny room, completely white. White ceiling, a metre or two above him; white walls surrounding the small room, and a white, polished floor, on which stood only his small bed and a white chair next two it. His sheet was practically threadbare, and his pillow was, as he had observed, very thin.
If Remus wasn't in a panic already, he was certainly thrown into one when he noticed two, final, important details.
Firstly, woven into the corner of his scratchy bed sheet was the black monogram 'DRCMC'- Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
And finally, there was a thin, iron manacle chaining his right arm to the side of the bed.
Madame Pomfrey was used to having a patient the day or two after the Full Moon. Sometimes a day or two before the Full Moon as well, depending on the time of moonrise. At first, her patient had been cautious and shy, but after the first tense couple of months, Remus Lupin warmed up to her and her Hospital Wing, and they became good friends. So, every month, the Hospital Wing would be alive with chatter, if Remus was feeling good. And even if he wasn't, then one of his friends or the other would most certainly be there to liven things up- either by dropping off a positive crate of sweets, to joke, or to talk.
But this Full Moon, the infirmary lacked the warmth and laughter it normally held. The air was tense, very tense. An outsider would note that the nurse herself was worried and anxious. If said outsider was very observant, they would notice that it wasn't just one thing bothering her, but several. They would see that she was within the curtained bed quite a lot, only leaving to get some potion or the other from her office. The observer would be able to smell that the sterile scent of the wing was tinged with the coppery smell of blood.
Moving outwards, to the doors of the Hospital Wing, the observer would see an old man, well beyond the usual age boundaries of humans, with long white hair and beard, sitting in one of the chairs. His slumped posture showed defeat, and his blue eyes behind his half-moon glasses were devoid of their usual twinkle. His forehead was resting on his long, wizened hands and his elbows were resting on his knees.
A younger, but still considerably old woman, clad in a tartan dressing gown, approached her superior and friend.
"Albus?" She spoke in a distinctly Scottish accent, sounding tired. She had spent most of the night awake, and had not yet changed out of her sleeping attire.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, looked up. "Any news?" he asked, wearily.
Minerva McGonagall sighed. "Sirius Black claims that he was drunk, and not thinking properly," she said, softly. "He, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew are devastated, and I fear that Sirius has lost the friendship of all three of the others." Albus nodded, tiredly. Minerva paused, then sat down beside him. "How is Severus?"
Albus sighed, wearily. "Bad. Poppy is doing all she can, yet…" Albus spread his fingers wide. "None of us are sure whether he will make it."
Minerva rubbed her eyes. She still could not believe that this tragedy had taken place. Not even twelve hours ago, she had been getting ready for bed. An hour after moonrise, Peter Pettigrew had burst into her office, nearly hysterical and shouting about Remus Lupin, Severus Snape and James Potter. Once she had calmed him down somewhat, she had summoned Albus from his office and together they went down to the Whomping Willow immediately. What they had found there horrified her.
Severus Snape's mangled body had come into view first, in a position of being half dragged, half thrown hastily out of the way. At first, none of them even thought that he was alive, but after they saw the slow rise and fall of his chest, Albus quickly summoned Fawkes who took Severus immediately to the Hospital Wing. A little further in, they had come across what would have been a magnificent stag. It was severely injured, particularly its antlers and front legs. At the request of Peter Pettigrew, Minerva had re-transformed the animal into the bloodied form of James Potter. She was horrified, but luckily, his injuries were mostly superficial and a concussion. All his maladies had been fixed quickly by Madame Pomfrey.
And so that left Remus Lupin, in werewolf form, at the end of the tunnel, in the Shrieking Shack. The wolf looked furious, and was in the process of crashing open the trapdoor. It looked like it had been in a fight or two, and was obviously infuriated by having his prey taken away from him. Albus had sadly conjured a thick, sturdy cage around Remus before the wolf could to any more damage.
Back at school, the whole story had come out: how Remus' friends had become animagi in order to assist Lupin on Full Moons (Minerva was amazed by this- these three boys had accomplished one of the most amazing and complicated transfigurations in their fifth year); how Sirius Black had, in a drunken haze, told Severus Snape how to go down after Remus to the Shrieking Shack; and how James Potter, when he found out, went straight after them. Peter had taken it upon himself to find a teacher.
And so, here they were.
Minerva had no idea how many lives were ruined last night. Severus', for sure- even if he survived the attack, he would be permanently infected with lycanthropy, and Remus', as well. He had already been taken into custody at the Ministry, and although her own recollections of werewolf laws were hazy, Minerva had no doubts that they were severe. Suddenly, she was struck with a horrible thought.
If Severus dies from his injuries, Remus will, almost certainly, be put down.
She shuddered. Remus was a wonderful, intelligent boy, who definitely did not deserve such a harsh fate. Even if Severus did not die, he was faced with a long Azkaban sentence.
Minerva's eyes began to water. Two lives permanently ruined from the mess of the last night. And probably more, as well. Remus' friends, the Marauders- she smiled, sadly, at the name of the small group- would never be the same again. Sirius had probably ruined the friendship of the four when he prodded Severus into the path of a werewolf, which he certainly would not have survived if he had no help. Even if Remus forgave Sirius, James probably wouldn't and Minerva knew that Sirius Black would not forgive himself. She had seen the look of complete and utter horror on his face when he finally realised what he had done.
So many people affected… Albus, probably for ever allowing a werewolf to enter Hogwarts, herself, for doing nothing about it… John Lupin…
Oh Merlin. John Lupin… I hadn't even thought of him before…
Remus' father had just recently lost his wife to a fire the past summer. He was still grieving, and when he found out about the events of the night…
"Oh Albus," Minerva said, her voice cracking. Dumbledore looked up at her. "What are we going to do now?"
He sighed, and rubbed his temples before replying. "I don't know, Minerva. I don't know."
Sirius Black felt worse than he had in his entire life. Which wasn't hard, if he really thought about it. He never felt bad when he pranked anyone. He never felt bad when he got detentions. He couldn't feel bad when his mother as good as kicked him out of the house. But right now, somebody's life was hanging on the balance, and one of his best friend's life was in jeopardy, all because he was stupid enough to push Snape into going into the Whomping Willow.
God Moony, I'm so sorry, I won't blame you if you hate me forever… Sniv- Severus, everything you've ever said about me is right, I'm so sorry… Oh god, why, why, WHY did I do that?
What had he been thinking? He knew how dangerous Moony was in werewolf form, especially to humans. Sending one down there was just as good as sending him to his death and it was only 'sheer dumb luck' that James had realised what he'd done and rushed after Snape. And Remus… had been taken into custody at the Ministry. Sirius didn't know much about werewolf laws, but he wasn't naïve enough to believe that they were lenient. James hadn't spoken to him since he'd run down to the Willow, Peter was following his lead, Snape was fighting for his life in the infirmary…
Oh Christ, Lily and Letha and Danger, they're going to kill me…
He transformed into Padfoot and howled. He put all his sorrow, and grief, and anger at himself into the loud, mournful sound. He could hear and smell people moving about, but he didn't care. He didn't care if someone heard him. He didn't care if someone found him. He wanted to reverse the clock and go back, back to before this all started. He wanted to go back so that Prongs found out earlier… he wanted to go back and not tell Snape how to follow Moony… he wanted to go back and not drink those extra bottles of Firewhiskey… to not play so many pranks on Snape so that he would never have felt the need to follow Moony… even to go back and prevent Moony's lycanthropy. Something, anything he could do to change everything that had happened… but he could do nothing. No matter how much he wanted, he could do nothing to change what had happened. He had caused all of this gigantic mess, and he could do absolutely nothing to help it. Nothing.
The thought only made him howl harder.
He was half-aware that he heard footsteps coming behind him. He carried on howling, gradually loosening the tight knot that had formed in his stomach. But he was aware that no matter how much he howled, the knot would always be there. He would always be guilty of ruining two people lives. He would always feel sick, disgusted and angry with himself.
His howl wound down, and he became aware that he was no longer alone. Sniffing the air for a scent, he nearly choked on the strong smell of anger radiating from the person. Sorting through the emotions, he also found sorrow, hatred, and guilt. But one smell yanked so hard on the knot inside him that his eyes began to water.
It was betrayal.
Not necessarily a betrayal committed against that person, but a betrayal committed against their brotherhood. The friendship, the love that had been exchanged between the Marauders, the trust that had been placed in him. He had forfeited that trust, with disastrous results. And now he was a helpless rider, powerless in the raging storm he had created.
"Change back," James' virulent hiss broke into his thoughts.
Sirius whined slightly, but did as he was asked.
James looked down at his best friend, his brother, slumped down in a corner. Sirius had disappeared some time before, and James had decided to leave him for a while. Currently, they were in one of the dungeons by the Potions classroom- he got the impression that Sirius hadn't been paying attention when he ran.
It's his own, bloody, idiotic fault.
James registered, distantly, how harsh his thoughts were. He didn't know if those emotions showed on his face, but, judging by Sirius' expression, they were probably coming through pretty strongly.
Sirius was slumped in the corner. He looked up at James, with fear, horror and sorrow in his eyes.
He still couldn't believe what had happened. How could Sirius have been so bloody stupid?
He summed up his feelings with one, heartfelt word.
Sirius flinched as though he had been struck.
I might oblige him about that sooner or later.
After several moments of staring at one another, hazel eyes and grey locked together, Sirius looked down and spoke.
"I don't know."
"You don't know." James repeated. His voice sounded deadly even to his own ears. Sirius curled in on himself, as though trying to go back through the wall or drop through the floor. "You don't know why you sent Snape to an almost certain death if I hadn't intervened. You don't know why he is now hanging onto life by a thread- a thread that may break any moment now. You don't know why Remus is now facing either death, or imprisonment in Azkaban."
Sirius didn't move during this calm, quiet speech. James' anger built up inside him, going up past boiling point until all he could see was red. He stalked up to Sirius, grabbed him by the collar, hurled him up and punched him, hard, in the eye.
Sirius fell back against the floor.
"HOW COULD YOU, SIRIUS? SEVERUS SNAPE IS DYING, BECAUSE OF YOU! REMUS, WHO'S PRACTICALLY OUR BROTHER, IS IN DEEP TROUBLE WITH THE MINISTRY, WHO MIGHT NOT EVEN LET HIM LIVE! HE TRUSTED YOU, SIRIUS! AND YOU GO AND DO THIS TO HIM!" James' eyes were on fire, and he wondered if he was seeing smoke curl around Sirius or whether it was his imagination. "THERE'LL BE AN INQUIRY ABOUT WHY THERE WAS A WEREWOLF AT HOGWARTS, AND DUMBLEDORE MIGHT LOSE HIS JOB! REMUS IS PROBABLY WAKING UP NOW, WONDERING WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, AND I DON'T THINK THAT HE'LL TAKE TO IT VERY WELL!" James was breathing heavily, staring down at Sirius, who had curled back up. He noticed that Sirius wasn't doing anything about his black eye, which was worsening by the second. There were tears rolling down his face.
This was so uncharacteristic of Sirius that James felt shaken. A small part of him wanted to sit down next to his brother, to put an arm around his shoulders and tell him that it was anyone's mistake. To tell him that they would get through this somehow, as only Marauders could. But he wasn't finished yet.
"He trusted us, Sirius," said James, his voice a mixture of emotions. Anger and sorrow were predominant. "He trusted all three of us with his secret. We trusted each other not to be so stupid. And you betrayed that trust."
He turned sharply on his heel and stalked towards the door. Half way out of the room, Sirius finally spoke up.
His tone was so defeated, so sorrowful. It was little more than a whimper. It clenched at James' heart, how much Sirius must be suffering from his actions. He wanted to turn around, to comfort the person who he knew as his brother. Instead, he stayed where he was and closed his eyes.
"You betrayed us, Padfoot."
And he was gone.
Sirius was still sitting on the floor. His right eye was throbbing, but he didn't care. He had thought that he couldn't feel any worse than he had a few minutes ago, but he was wrong. All during James' speech, the knot had tightened and tightened, until it was in danger of snapping. But when James used his nickname, in such cold, clipping tones, the knot didn't just break; it shattered. Each piece of the knot was flung outward, hitting and rebounding and tangling until Sirius wanted to be sick. He flung himself at the door, pounding at it with his fists.
"WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO, PRONGS?" he cried. "I'VE SAID, I'M SORRY, I'M SORRY, I'M SO SORRY!" His knuckles were getting raw from pounding at the hard door. He sank to the floor, still pounding his bleeding fists into the door. "I'm so sorry…"
Unaccustomed to the tears, his sobs coming out in gasps, Sirius Black cried in the dungeons, wanting nothing more than to go back in time and undo everything he'd done.
A little down the corridor, James Potter heard his friend's cries. He punched the wall, unaware of the pain. He leaned forwards into the wall, dropping his head down between his arms. Not noticing that the stones around his hands were starting to get scorched, he desperately hoped that he could wake up and find out that this had all been a nightmare.
Outside the Hospital Wing, Albus Dumbledore, one of the most powerful wizards in all time, kept a constant vigil, waiting to hear more news of one of his students. He rarely looked as old as he did then, wondering how so much had gone so wrong so quickly.
In three close dormitories, four girls started to wake, unaware of the shocking news they would be receiving later in the day. One of the youngest had recently been through a lot of pain and suffering. The next oldest had experienced a close shave with fate already. The oldest was to live through suffering and war.
But the last one was scheduled to have her life change today.
A/N: In case you haven't figured it out, this is going to be a rather angsty story. For those who want to know how it's going to differ from ALSoH... hmm, let's see. Katherine Lupin didn't survive the fire, but Letha's mum survived cancer, so Letha and Sirius are pretty much together and Evanie... didn't exist, but I wrote her in later. If there's anything else, you'll probably figure it out later in the story.
So, please review!