Disclaimer: I Don't own the Marauders, Hogwarts, or boggarts. Rowling has copyrights on all the characters and places in this Fanfic.
Half a Slug
"It's always best to have company when you're dealing with a boggart. He becomes confused. Which should he become, a headless corpse or a flesh-eating slug? I once saw a boggart make that very mistake – tried to frighten two people at once and turned himself into half a slug."
– Professor Lupin, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Summery: One night Remus, James and Peter find a never before seen horror under the bed. (Christmas 3rd year)
Tick, tick, tick. The sound of the large grandfather clock filled the Gryffindor common room, joined only by the howling of a blizzard outside and the occasional turn of a textbook page. The only people in the room were James Potter and his friends Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin. Parchments of notes and transfiguration textbooks were spread about and Peter's face was red with anxiety. James, however had pushed his notes confidently aside an hour ago and was now pouring over a book on animagi, copying over key passages to his parchment. They still had so far to go if they were ever going to find how to become animals at will. It was overwhelming really.
Sighing in slight frustration James pushed his glasses higher on his nose and glanced up at the ticking clock. It was nearly two in the morning. "Jesus, is Filtch ever going to let Sirius out of detention? You'd think he'd could have the smallest smidge of mercy on the night before the last bloody midterm."
"Yeah," agreed Peter, who sounded stressed. "I really don't know what I'm going to do. I'm freaking out! None of this makes since and the test is tomorrow… McGonagall's going to kill me!"
From where he was sitting at the table, James glanced down at Peter sitting on the floor surrounded by a mess of notes. "Geez, you're still having trouble?"
"Yes," whined Peter miserably.
"Well you're lucky it was only Sirius who got caught, otherwise it'd be all of us polishing suits of armor until two in the morning. Then you'd really be toast."
"I know. Sirius was a champ to take all the heat for us like that. I thought he would spill the beans when Filtch grabbed him."
"Come on Peat, you know Sirius better than that. Besides I'm sure you would have done the same for us." James shut his book and began stacking his notes. "That prank was SOoo worth it though!" he chuckled, his brown eyes gleaming behind his glasses. "I never would have guessed Sirius could dance the Nutcracker, let along in full armor!" He laughed and Peter chuckled as well. "You were pretty good too, you know."
"Thanks Peat," grinned James running his hand over his hair to mess it up, "Maybe I have a secret talent in ballet. Wonder if it can be applied to Quiditch."
Peter laughed, and James's eyes sparkled more. "Well, I know we said we'd stay up 'til Sirius got back. But I need to freaking sleep." He piled his books under his arms, "You going to wait up?"
Peter's round face fell and he looked down at the transfiguration textbook. "I think I better."
James shrugged. "If you still don't get it in the morning Peat, I'll go over a few points with you."
James looked over at the large red armchair by the fire, where Remus was, lying on his back, holding a heavy textbook awkwardly up, apparently too enraptured by transfiguration to notice anything else.
"Remus? Hey Remus, are you staying up too?" called James.
Remus didn't take his eyes off his book.
Clearing his throat James walked over. "Oh Moony… HellOo" he wrapped a knuckle on the back of the textbook and Remus started, letting an old paperback fall from its hiding place under the textbook.
"Hey!" he shouted quickly snatching back the paperback, before James could see it.
James raised and eyebrow. "What's that? I thought you were studying for McGonagall's test."
"I was," answered Remus sitting up smoothing the pages of the textbook.
James cocked his head as he read to top of the page. "Getting ahead aren't you? We don't get to Chapter 14 until Easter. Come on Moony, what were you really doing?" he grabbed the paperback from his friend's hand and turned it over to read the title "The Christmas Carol, by Char…"
"Give it back!" Remus snatched his book from James's hands.
"Isn't that a muggle book?" asked James teasingly.
Remus thumbed through the worn pages looking for his spot. "It's a Christmas classic," he corrected.
"A muggle Christmas Classic," corrected James further.
Remus ignored him and started to read again.
James stared impatiently at the cover hiding Remus's face. "Didn't you read that last year?" he asked, after a moment of being ignored.
"It's tradition," explained Remus.
"On the night before midterm?"
Remus was too busy reading to answer.
"You know I was staying up late researching animagi."
Remus looked up at that, "Well good," he said after a moment, "But can we talk about it later I'm right at the part about the Ghost of Christmases Past."
James rolled his eyes. "G'night Remus," he said crossly and marched past him to the stairs.
"Night," murmured Remus already glued back to Dickens.
James disappeared up the stairwell and the room fell back to the steady ticking of the clock and turning of pages. However the silence only had a few minutes to enjoy its supremacy, because not long after James had left there was a crash then a scream sounded down the stairwell, followed the rushed thumps of James running back down.
Remus and Peter looked up from their books and turned puzzled eyes on their friend, as he stumbled breathlessly back into the common room. "Corpse!" he gasped, "In our room… Headless!"
"What?" squeaked Peter, going wide eyed.
Remus frowned. "What the bloody hell you talking about James? There can't be a corpse in our room."
"There was! I saw it! It was dead! There was blood everywhere and its neck was…!" James put a hand nervously on his throat.
"Who was it?" gasped Peter, looking horrified.
"Don't know! The head was gone! I don't…" James choked slightly and sunk onto a chair, still looking shocked.
"Then… who… It could be anyone?" squeaked Peter in fright.
Remus frowned. "Or no one," he said. "He's probably trying to pull another prank."
"No," gasped James seriously, "No, it's true! Go look for yourselves."
"And walk into some booby trap?" scoffed Remus.
"It's not a booby trap! Can't you even tell went I'm joking or not?" James shouted standing up, "You believe me don't you Peter?" He turned to Peter, who looked nervously from James to Remus to the stairs.
"Uhm, it doesn't seem, well, unlikely, that a…"
"Peter!" cried James.
"I believe you!" Peter assured quickly, "I believe you, just…"
"Go up and see! Go see for yourself," said James and grabbed his friend by the hand pulling up from the floor and the mess of notes.
"Uhm…" Peter looked nervously as the stairs.
"Go on Peat," said Remus, "It's probably nothing worse than pillows hexed to attack you."
James glared at him. "Moony sometimes you're just… You never understand me. Go look Peter, then maybe then Remus will believe me."
"Um… Alright, I, I'll go…" said Peter hesitantly and edged toward the stares.
"Go on," encouraged James.
Swallowing, Peter went up one step at a time and disappeared around the stairwell.
James watched the steps solemnly still looking frightened and serious and Remus began to wonder if he really had seen a corpse. But that idea was hardly rational! Who would leave a headless corpse in their room? Why would anyone at Hogwarts behead anyone else at all?
He was about to question James farther about the matter, when another scream echoed down the stairwell, and both boys started. A moment later Peter ran into the room, "They're up there!" He shouted, his round face pale. "They were crawling to get me! They were in my bed!"
"What?" gasped James in bewilderment, "What? How could it crawl? It was dead!"
"No they were alive! The slugs, with their ugly eyes and…" he shivered in disgust. "I hate HATE those things!"
"Slugs?" asked Remus frowning. "What is this? Some dumb joke you're both playing? There are no slugs around in the middle of winter."
"Didn't you see the corpse? The headless corpse," asked James confused.
Peter shook his head. "No, I only saw the flesh eating slugs. They crawled out from under the bed. MY BED! And, and…"
"This is so stupid," interrupted Remus. "It makes no since for their to be either a headless corpse or flesh eating slugs in our room."
"Well then why don't you go check it out, Mr. Smartly Pants," snap James crossing his arms and glaring at Remus.
"Fine," said Remus stiffly, "I will, but if this turns out to be another prank you two are both so dead!"
"It's not a prank, Moony," swore Peter solemnly.
Stacking The Christmas Carroll and his transfiguration textbook neatly on the table, Remus got up and went to the stairwell.
"Go on then," urged James when he hesitated.
"I am," Taking out his wand, Remus walked quickly up the stone steps. He slowed down again though once the common room was out of sight. Whether it be a corpse, slugs or hexed pillows in the room, he wasn't sure he wanted to walk in there. Nverously he stopped in front of the door. What would they do if there was a corpse? He shook his head, This was all so stupid.
Turning the knob, he pushed open the door and froze. There it was! The MOON! It was hovering like and evil god between the ceiling and Peter's bed! Shaking, Lupin dropped his wand to the floor and stepped back, slamming the door, so he wouldn't have to see it. With frightened gasps he sunk to floor, waiting for the pain to start, for his mind to rebel against him in savagery and terror. Why was it here! In his room! It's only been two weeks! This can't be happening!
It didn't. Nothing happened. No pain, no braking of bones, or ripping of flesh. Slowly Remus looked up from where he was cringing on the floor. Why was it in his room? That was stupid! The moon didn't come inside. He shivered at the thought. What was going on here? It was weeks until the fullmoon, there were no slugs out in winter, no murders in Hogwarts…
Getting up Remus frowned at the door then, taking a shaky breath, he slowly turned the knob and peeked in. It was still there! He shut the door quickly. "There had to be a rational explanation for all this." He gasped out loud to himself. However things appeared tobe, the moon was not in his room. Was this some cruel prank? James and Sirius playing on his worst fear? No they wouldn't do that. They didn't even know the moon was his worst fear.
Opening the door again, Remus bent to quickly grab his wand then glared a moment at the moon, before slamming the door. He would not allow this! Whatever that moon really was, he'd find some way to get rid of it! Turning his back on the closed door, Remus racked his brain for some logical explanation.
Peter and James were waiting nervously at the foot of the stairs, listening for some sign of their friend. "You don't think they ate him do you?" asked Peter.
"That's crazy," said James, "Maybe he fainted at the sight of all that blood."
The clock ticked, the storm beat the windows and Peter sweated nervously. Finally there was the sound of footsteps and Remus walked calmly in view.
"Did you see it/them!" asked James and Peter together.
"I know what this is," said Remus, "There's a boggart in our room."
James and Peter blinked. "A bogar?" asked James raising an eyebrow.
"A boggart," clarified Remus, "At least I think so. They're in our defense against the dark arts book. I think we're suppose to study them at the end of the year. They're shape shifters. You know… They take the form of your worst fear."
"Oh…" said James and pushed his glasses up his nose rather embarrassedly. "I guess that makes, uhm, since…"
"But…" said Peter confused, "Then how did the slugs get in?"
"Does it say in the book how to get rid of them?" asked James, ignoring Peter.
"I think so. It should. Let me see," said Remus, going to his school bag by the red armchair and digging out his defense book and flipping through the pages. "Here we go."
"I wasn't really that scared," said James, as he and Remus leaned over the book, reading the pages on boggarts together.
"It says here, that it's best to face them in numbers," said James, "The three of us should be able to handle this, no problem."
"Yeah," agreed Remus hesitantly, but he didn't like the idea of James and Peter knowing he was so afraid of the moon.
"Let's practice this spell first," said James, "Come here Peter. We think of some thing funny and say Ri-DIC-u-lous!"
"That will get rid of slugs?" asked Peter.
"No Stupid, boggarts," laughed James.
"Oh…" said Peter and blinked.
"Come on lets say this together."
"Ri-DIC-u-lous, Ridiculous!" they practiced a few times then James stood up. "You guys ready to win back our room!" he asked.
Peter and Remus both looked hesitant, but James was clearly in his team-sprit mood and at such times all you can do is follow him, so they all three made their way boldly back up stairs, wands in hand.
However, as the neared the door, Remus fell back ever so slightly. The moon, such a normal peaceful thing to most people, yet a terror to him. Even if it wasn't real he really, really didn't want to face it.
"Ready?" asked James.
Peter nodded and griped his wand, with a sweaty hand.
With a bang, James thrust the door open and James and Peter pushed inside. There was and odd puffing sound and Remus looked over Peter's shoulder at a pathetic sight.
"What the hell? Half a Slug!" laughed James, "What a joke!" he laughed harder and the slug/boggart writhed, shrinking slightly.
There were sounds from below and Sirius's footsteps were heard on the steps.
"Hey Sirius! Sirius you got to come see this!" called James.
"You guys still up? You know… Whoa! What the bloody hell is that?" Sirius came in and gawked.
"Half a slug!" laughed James.
"A boggart," explained Remus, "A shape shifter that takes the form of your worst fear. I think this one is a little confused."
They all looked at the dead slug bleeding on the floor.
"Hey bet we could trap it!" said James enthusiastically.
Sirus and James looked at each other and broke into two evil smiles, which Remus knew much too well.
Afterward: Poor Severus Snape. He found a shocking horror trapped in the Slitheren toilet the next morning and caused such a ruckus that half the Slitherens were late to the transfiguration midterm and McGonagall took off 20 house points.
AN: Hope you enjoyed it. Please review.
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