Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
An Everlasting Friendship, Shattered
Sixteen-year-old James Potter was lounging around in the Gryffindor common room, playing Exploding Snap with Peter Pettigrew. At this point in time, he was beating Peter horribly. He had just come back from Quidditch practice, and was waiting for Sirius Black to come back from a rendezvous with a pretty girl. Sirius was the ladies' man of the Marauders; he was always off somewhere, snogging a girl in a corner. James, on the other hand, had eyes only for Lily Evans. But the stubborn girl just wouldn't go out with him! James did everything to try to impress her, but it was just not working.
After the game of Exploding Snap had finished, with James beating Peter to a pulp, Sirius strutted into the common room, a maniacal gleam in his eyes. Oh goodness, James thought. Sirius always got that look when he had done something mischievous. "Padfoot, what did you do this time?" James asked.
As James got a closer look at his best mate, he noticed that the gleam in Sirius's eyes was actually dangerous; he looked a little insane. James started to get worried. Usually Sirius's eyes were filled with laughter, but he noticed that as well as the mischief, this gleam was one of undisguised triumph and a little bit of hatred. Only one person came to mind that Sirius hated that much: Severus Snape. "Padfoot, what on Earth did you do to Snivelly this time?" squeaked Peter.
"Oh, you're not going to believe this," laughed Sirius. "Come up to the dorm and I'll tell you."
James, Peter, and Sirius walked up to the dorm room. Remus was missing; he had gone into the Whomping Willow to transform since tonight was a full moon. The three other Marauders would be joining him later for another night filled with fun and mischief in their Animagus forms. They'd been doing this for a year now; they'd had some close calls, but all in all, it had been a hoot. Remus was so much happier now that he didn't have to bear those long nights alone.
Once they were in the sixth-year boys' dorm room, Sirius said, "Snivellus is going to get what's coming to him; a good scare. Guess what I did? He was really getting on my nerves, saying all this shit about Remus, so I told him he could see for himself what he wants to know. I told him how to get into the Whomping Willow, and he's so stupid he'll probably take my advice. If he wants to get us expelled so badly, he can bloody well get a good fright. He'll probably go running like a coward."
All the color drained from James and Peter's faces. "You ... you did what?" James said quietly.
"I told him how to get into the Shrieking Shack," said Sirius, still with that evil glint in his eye.
"You did WHAT!" James now shouted, shaking Sirius roughly. "Sirius Black, what the hell did you think you were doing? You're going to make a murderer out of Remus! I can't ... I can't believe you'd do this! This is going too far!" With that, he ran out of the room.
"Prongs, wait!" Sirius yelled, but James was gone.
"Peter," Sirius said, "what the hell's gotten into him?"
"Dunno," said Peter in a scared voice. "But Sirius ... maybe you shouldn't have done that."
"Lighten up, Wormtail," Sirius chided. "You'll see, Snivelly won't get hurt. He'll go running to his mummy and daddy, screaming about the big bad Marauders."
James had pure adrenaline running through his system. He ran through the halls and out the front doors of the school. Then he ran to the Whomping Willow, grabbed a stick to press the knot, and ran through the tunnel. As he got closer, he heard a howling noise. Remus, he thought. Oh, God, is Snape with you? Oh, God. Oh, Merlin. Please let me be there in time.
When he arrived at the shack, he immediately transformed into his Animagus form and made his way inside. At the sight before him, his heart plummeted and he fell to his knees, his whole body going numb. There was Remus, howling with the ferocity of a feral wolf, and next to him, in a bloody and mauled heap, was the body of Severus Snape. He was very clearly dead.
As quickly as he could, James transformed back and picked up Snape's bloody body. He ran back through the tunnel as fast as his legs could carry him. When he got to the end of the passage, he continued to run to the school. Not even thinking twice, he went straight to Dumbledore's office.
Sirius and Peter were still hanging out in their dorm room when Professor McGonnagall knocked on their door. When Peter opened it, the look on her face was the scariest look they'd ever seen. Peter's face immediately turned white and Sirius felt all the energy drain from him.
"Come with me, Black, now." McGonnagall said quietly. "Headmaster's office. Don't dawdle. Come on, this instant!"
This took Sirius Black down a peg or two. With a horrified look on his face, he began to understand the severity of what he had done. What was meant to be a large scare for his enemy had turned out to be...'he prayed to God that he was wrong.
When they reached the gargoyle, McGonnagall snapped the password in an angry tone and they moved up the spiraling staircase, into the office. Professor Dumbledore was sitting in a chair, looking old and tired. Also sitting in the room was Alastor Mad-Eye Moody. Sirius's heart sank even further at the sight of him. He had heard of this Auror before, and Moody certainly didn't mess around.
"Sirius Black, you are hereby arrested for the murder of Severus Snape." Moody's voice rang clearly through the room as soon as he spotted the two of them.
"W-what?" Sirius stuttered, his whole complexion paling even more.
"You heard me, Black," growled Moody in a menacing tone. "You are going straight to the Ministry. We are holding you in a cell for tonight, and we will be talking more about your case in the morning. It may be Azkaban for you. Even minors in the wizarding world, when convicted of murder, are convicted as all criminals would be."
"B-but I didn't mean ..." Sirius cried. "It was only meant to scare him!"
"Sirius," said Dumbledore, and the look on his face was frightening. "Never, in all my years here at Hogwarts, have I seen such a thing from a student. You know what Remus is. You knew what would happen to him tonight. You sent Severus down there knowing that he could get killed. Now he is dead, and he wouldn't be if you had thought about the consequences of your actions. I hope you know, Sirius, just what you've done. Not only is Severus now dead, but you have made your best friend a murderer. Have you even thought about how Remus will feel in the morning? Are you aware that he will probably be executed by the Ministry for this, put to death as a dangerous creature? Do you know that I will probably be fired for allowing a werewolf to come to Hogwarts?"
"But you ... you ... you won't let Remus die, will you?" Sirius said in a small voice.
"Dumbledore can't fix everything, boy," snarled Moody. "What the Minister of Magic decides, he does not have much sway over. Bagnold is very strict about werewolves. I hope you realize, Black, that Mr. Lupin will probably be put down."
"No!" Sirius suddenly shouted. "No, no, no! This can't be happening! He can't be put down, he just can't!"
"Shut your filthy mouth, Black!" came another voice. James Potter had just stormed into the office and caught the tail end of Sirius's words. "You've just cost us Remus. Don't say anything at all. I never want to see you again. You filthy traitor, how could you do this to us? You are scum! You are just like the rest of your stupid family! I thought you were better! How could I have ever called you my best mate? We swore an oath, Black, remember? We swore we'd always keep Remus's secret!"
"James, I'm sorry!" Sirius cried. "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking!"
"That's obvious," sneered James. "Your "not thinking" has cost one person his life, and probably Remus's too!"
"But Snape was the one who decided to go down there!" Sirius tried to protest. "He should have thought about what he was doing before taking advice from his worst enemy!"
At this, James punched Sirius in the face. "Listen, Black," he said in a soft, dangerous voice, a voice that Sirius had never heard him use with him before. "Go to hell."
Moody then restrained Sirius by binding handcuffs to him. "No, Moody, please!" Sirius yelled, his face hurting like hell. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, I'm sorry! If only I could fix this! I didn't mean to get Snape killed, I swear!"
"SILENCIO!" roared Moody viciously, and with James Potter glaring at him, the sixteen-year-old was dragged out the door of the office. Some students were in the hallway when they came out of the office, and looked in shock to see one of the beloved Marauders being led away in handcuffs by an Auror.
"What's he done?" students whispered to each other. "Mad-Eye Moody's here! He must have done something really horrible to have him here, of all people. Don't you know he's the craziest Auror around?"
James miserably made his way back to his dorm room after being comforted, to no avail, by Dumbledore. He felt truly terrible; how was he going to break it to Remus in the morning? How was he going to tell Peter what had happened? When he arrived in the room, it was to a white-faced Peter. The plump boy's face grew more and more horrified as James told the story. All in one night, the Marauders' friendship had been tested to its limit, and not only was one friend maybe going to Azkaban, but they would probably lose another to execution.
In the morning, Remus Lupin was told of what had happened. Dumbledore gently informed him, and Remus, of course, did not take it well at all. He had known instantly that something was wrong when he'd woken up in the shack; there was blood everywhere, and Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs were not with him. He felt dirty, somehow, as though he'd done something awful.
"Oh, no," he said softly as soon as he was told. "By merlin, no! No, please tell me this is a dream. Please! Please! Sirius couldn't have done that! That's not our Sirius!" he cried weakly. He'd gone totally numb inside: his worst fear had come true. All the times he'd been worried about his friends knowing his secret, all the worries about maybe biting or killing someone, had come to fruition in the worst way possible. He had killed a fellow student, given him a horrific death, and it didn't matter at all that said student was someone he didn't like very much. In the whole scheme of things, that didn't matter one bit.
Dumbledore held him as he burst into heartbreaking, gut-wrenching sobs. Before they knew it his mother and father were at the school, telling him they'd take him home. James and Peter came by, saying they'd support him to the end. Remus was shocked by this.
"You don't h-hate me?" he managed to get out. "I k-killed somebody, b-brutally murdered them, and you're n-not going to s-stop being my friend?"
"We know you didn't mean it, Moony," James said gently. "We know that on the full moon, you're not our Remus. Our Remus would never hurt a fly, let alone a human being."
Remus's tears came faster now, and he held on to James and Peter like they were a lifeline. "My poor baby," Mrs. Lupin sobbed as she held him. Mr. Lupin looked horrified and so sad.
Remus then said, "The Ministry is probably going to put me down for this, and perhaps that's a fair punishment. I can't live with myself after what I've done; it's better if I don't live at all."
"Don't you dare say that, Moony!" shouted James. "You deserve to live, of course you do! Professor Dumbledore's going to do everything he can to fix this."
"Professor Dumbledore can't solve everything, Prongs," Remus said with a resigned sigh. "But all I can say is that you and Peter, and even Sirius when he was my friend, gave me the best years of my life. If I can die knowing that I have friends, that's better than what others can say."
"Remus, please stop talking like this!" Mrs. Lupin cried. "We're not going to lose you. Oh God, we can't. I'm not going to lose my baby, Dumbledore. You'd better fix this!"
"I'll try, Brianne," Dumbledore said, but his face looked old, sad, and tired.
But everything continued to go wrong. Sirius Black spent the next few days in a Ministry holding cell, and it was decided that he would go to Azkaban for the rest of his life for the charge of murder. Sirius felt that was more than what he deserved. He'd killed two people: Remus and Snape. He was almost sure that Remus would be put down. His suspicions were horribly confirmed when Alastor Moody stormed into the cell two days after the murder.
"Well, Black," he snarled, "you'll be going to Azkaban on the day of your friend's execution, did you know that? Now do you realise what you've done?"
Sirius burst into hysterical sobs. He pleaded with Moody to talk to Dumbledore, but Moody told him that Dumbledore had tried everything he could, and Minister Bagnold was not having it. Remus was to be executed in two days' time, by silver. "No!" Sirius screamed. "That's the most painful way for a werewolf to die!"
"Well, you brought this on him, Black," sneered Moody. "Screaming and crying isn't going to make any difference now. Thanks to you, he won't have a life anymore. Thanks to you, his family's ruined."
James and Peter were allowed out of Hogwarts to spend the last few days of Remus's life with him. They talked about the good times, memories they'd had as the Marauders. They tried not to mention Sirius, but talked about other pranks James had pulled. You couldn't even imagine the devastation that James and Peter were going through. It was true that Peter often felt the odd one out in the Marauders' friendship, but he'd been shocked by what had happened. James, Peter, and Remus had pulled closer together through this, and Remus was grateful that he had such good friends.
"We want to be with you," James said, the night before the execution was scheduled. This was the first time anyone had brought it up. The atmosphere in the Lupin household, however, was subdued and somber. Mr. and Mrs. Lupin spent every last moment they could with Remus.
"No," said Remus. "I won't let you. I don't want you two traumatized by this."
"It doesn't matter how we feel," said James. "This is about you, Moony. You once said your worst fear was to die alone. We don't want you to be alone."
"But my parents will be there," said Remus softly. "Please, Prongs, Wormtail, it's not going to do you any good."
But James and Peter wouldn't listen. They continued to beg him until Remus finally gave in. They all held each other and cried together, knowing that this was their last night to share memories and friendship.
The next morning, Sirius Black awoke with a jolt. When Moody came into his cell, he begged and begged him to let him say goodbye to Remus.
"I'm sure Remus doesn't want to see the likes of you, Black," growled Moody. "You are beyond selfish. Do you even think for a second that he wants to see you before he's put down like a rabid creature?"
"N-no," stuttered Sirius. "I'm sure he d-doesn't. But please, just let me see him, one last time." He continued to needle Moody, on and on, until the Auror finally snapped, "I'll talk to Albus, and he'll talk to Remus. I hope you know, though, that I'm disgusted with you. You have absolutely no right to see him, Black." He slammed the door of the cell.
It turned out that Remus was too kind for his own good, for he astonishingly said yes to seeing Sirius. Remus said that he knew Sirius was sorry, his mate would never have acted like this to purposely kill him. His parents said he was way too forgiving, but agreed because they thought Sirius should learn what the consequences of his actions had amounted to.
Remus, looking tired and resigned, was brought to a room in the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures section of the Ministry. The silver was to be injected into his bloodstream, and from there, it would take a few minutes for him to die. It would be painful, but he'd have Dumbledore and his parents there with him, and James and Peter. Remus said that he didn't want Sirius there with him, watching him in pain; he thought that was too cruel. His parents were too heartbroken to argue, but they did think Sirius deserved to see how his thoughtless, selfish actions had affected his friend.
When Remus was brought in, he was followed by Sirius, who went in after him. Sirius sat in the chair opposite him, his face buried in his hands. It was just the two of them alone now.
"Moony," Sirius whispered. "I-i'm sorry. Gods, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen, I swear. I never meant to get Snape killed. I never wanted to get you killed."
"I know you're sorry, Padfoot," said Remus quietly. "But what's done is done, and we unfortunately can't change anything now. But I want you to know that I can't stay angry with you. I knew that coming to Hogwarts was a huge risk, and I feel terrible that Professor Dumbledore's lost his job over it. It was just announced this morning that he's been fired as Headmaster. The school governors are in charge of finding someone else to replace him. I shouldn't have told you my secret. I was just so caught up in having friends, finally, and then when you three figured it out, I thought that we would just keep it between us. But I should have expected that it wouldn't stay that way."
Sirius was openly crying now. "I'm so sorry," he sobbed. "I know I b-betrayed your t-trust and I'm so s-sorry."
"I forgive you, Sirius," said Remus softly. It took all his strength to say this, but Sirius had been his friend, and Remus believed in forgiveness. He knew this was the last time he'd ever see him, and he firmly disagreed with ending things on bad terms.
This made Sirius cry even harder. Remus held out his arms for a hug and Sirius ran into them, embracing his friend with all the strength he had. When the embrace ended, he couldn't bear it anymore and ran out of the room.
He waited outside while James, Peter, Remus's parents, Professor Dumbledore, and a Ministry worker who would be doing the injection came in. Remus's father gently lifted his son and placed him in his mother's arms. Mrs. Lupin had promised that she would hold him while it happened.
Everyone had tears streaming down their faces as they watched the Ministry worker rub alcohol onto Remus's arm. Then, as quick as a flash, the silver was injected.
Nothing happened at first. But after about thirty seconds, Remus started gasping for breath, and moaning in horrible pain. Mrs. Lupin held him tight, whispering soothing words to him, and Mr. Lupin held his hand. James and Peter were sobbing on either side of him, trying to comfort Remus in his final minutes by saying, "remember when ..." and then talking about memories of their Marauder times, just like they'd done the last few days at Remus's house.
"I'm sorry, Professor," Remus said to Dumbledore. "I didn't mean ... to cost you your job. It's all my fault."
"No, my boy. Don't even think that," said Dumbledore, the twinkle gone from his eyes. "It was my pleasure having you in Hogwarts. You were a wonderful student."
"Thank you," Remus whispered.
When it was almost over, and Remus's breathing began to slow, James said, "We love you, Moony. Wormtail and I love you, and we don't regret being your friends for one single minute. We would do it all over again, for you."
"I love ... I love you guys too," Remus gasped. "Thank you ... for giving me ... the best years ... of my life."
"I love you, baby," Mrs. Lupin sobbed.
"I love you, son," Mr. Lupin croaked.
"I love you ... too," Remus said, and the pain began to disappear from his face. With one last breath, he was gone.
With a howl of grief, Mrs. Lupin held him even tighter. The Ministry worker tried to make her let him go, but she refused to. Finally, all her strength left her, and Mr. Lupin gently ushered her out of the room, with a heartsick James and Peter following.
When they left, they came face-to-face with the last person they wanted to see at this moment: Sirius Black.
"You destroyed my baby," Mrs. Lupin wailed as she looked at Sirius. "You destroyed my baby."
"Burn in hell, Sirius Black," yelled James, the anger coursing through him. "You can rot in Azkaban, for all I care. You've killed Remus, you've killed him! He's gone, and it's your fault!"
"James, please...'" Sirius tried, but James just glowered at him. "I hope the Dementors drive you mad slowly," Mr. Lupin snarled. "You killed my son, and that, Black, is unforgivable. Azkaban is truly too good for filth like you."
Sirius, all of a sudden, began to laugh. But it was not the laugh of a sane person. The laugh was hysterical, mirthless, mad. Everyone looked at him, and James muttered, "Take him away, Moody." Still laughing crazily, Sirius was led away by Moody. Dumbledore looked sadly at him as he was escorted out.
The rest of the family was left with broken hearts, and James and Peter didn't know what to say to each other. In the space of four days, one of the most everlasting friendships had been completely and utterly shattered. Things would never be the same again.