Disclaimer: All characters belong solely to JK Rowling. If you recognize a scene or a name, it is hers.
Chapter One: The Betrayal
Remus Lupin woke on the ground of the Shrieking Shack with a feeling of dread in his stomach. He knew something had gone wrong last night, of that much he was certain. But what? He was vaguely aware of a chase… Hopefully his friends hadn't gotten hurt. Even after all this time, and his friends' animagi forms, he still was wary of their accompanying him on the full moon. Even as animals, they may still have a human scent. And, once transformed, a werewolf doesn't care if it's his friend he's attacking.
He stood and surveyed the room. No trace of blood. Surely that meant everyone got out alright. But something was wrong; Remus never got this feeling over nothing.
Remus followed the path he knew from memory after the last five years and left the Shrieking Shack. As usual, Madame Pomfrey, the Hogwarts Mediwitch awaited him just out of reach of the Whomping Willow. Only this time, her face displayed a harsh expression. Something was, in fact, very wrong.
"Madame Pomfrey? What's going on? Is something… Did something… Is someone…" Remus' heart froze at the look of apprehension on the nurse's face.
"Remus, let's just… Let's just get back to the Hospital Wing. We'll explain everything. It'll be fine. Remus, it'll be fine."
Madame Pomfrey had never called Remus by his given name, preferring his surname so as to treat the boy the same as the rest of the students. So upon hearing his first name, Remus shivered. He followed the nurse at a distance, in complete horror. Would he remember the murder of his friends? Would the thought haunt him? Who had died? James? Sirius? Peter was more likely. He was the least able of the four Marauders by far. One of his friends was surely dead, and it was surely at his own hand. He had warned them of the danger, yet still had allowed them to change into animals every month and accompany him in his transformations. If they were dead or hurt, he had only himself to blame.
Entering the Hospital Wing, Madame Pomfrey led Remus to a bed and had him sit down. There were no other beds filled, which surely meant a death, not just an injury. Remus felt the sobs coming, but pressed them down. He would wait to hear it from the nurse. It was his own fault, after all.
The door opened, and in walked Dumbledore. Of course, that would be why Madame Pomfrey hadn't told him anything. The headmaster wanted to be the one to question Remus. Dumbledore turned around immediately past the doorway, and said something to the boys who had followed him to the doorway.
Dumbledore ushered Sirius and James inside, followed by, to Remus' shock, Severus Snape. The werewolf looked from James to Sirius and back, looking for a reason for Snape's presence, but neither of his friends could seem to meet his eyes. Remus immediately thought of Peter Pettigrew. No doubt he was dead.
After the four visitors had seated themselves around Remus, Sirius started to say something, but was immediately cut off by Dumbledore. Remus looked at the old wizard, and trembled at the angry look in the man's face. The ever-present twinkle was gone, replaced by a sadness which Remus had never before seen.
"Silence, Black. You'll have your chance to explain yourself, believe me. For now, we should inform Mr. Lupin of what is going on. No doubt, he is confused at this point. Remus, do you remember any of what happened last night?"
Remus stared into the headmaster's blue eyes, but couldn't hold the piercing gaze for long. "I… I remember a chase. And I woke up knowing something was wrong. It's Peter then? He's…" Remus broke off, not trusting his voice any longer.
"Remus, you mention a chase. Is that all that you can recall?"
There was a small noise from the other side of Dumbledore at those words. Snape was staring at Remus with a look of loathing, a look usually reserved for James and Sirius, and a look which Remus had never before received. Remus attempted to hold the Slytherin's gaze, still searching for answers, but the boy broke off the eye contact quickly, leaving Remus to look back at the floor once more.
Dumbledore had noticed the noise and also glanced toward Snape, but looked immediately back to Remus. The latter's eyes looked apprehensive, almost fearful.
"Your friend Peter is fine, Remus." Remus' eyes jolted back to Dumbledore, hardly daring to believe it. "You are still wondering why we are all here, I am sure."
Remus nodded, looking back toward Sirius and James, the question still in his eyes. But neither of them could look at their best friend. Both stared at the floor, unable or unwilling to answer Remus' unasked question.
Dumbledore, seemingly sensing the tension in the room, looked once more toward Remus. "Mr. Black found what he claimed to be, what was the word… a harmless, yet interesting prank to pull on Mr. Snape. Can you guess what the prank entailed, Mr. Lupin?"
Remus felt his eyes grow wide in horror. He stared at the headmaster, unwilling to accept the hidden accusation. "No. Sirius, no." He looked back to James and Sirius once more. "You didn't… You wouldn't… Please, please tell me you didn't… Oh no. Merlin, no. Not…" He felt his eyes filling with tears, and his voice sounded hoarse to even his own ears. But his friends' refusal to look up answered the question. Hot tears rolled down Remus' face, tears he angrily brushed aside. "You swore to me. You swore you… you… you're my best friends! How… How could you do this to me? You said… you said…" His voice broke at last, and he could do nothing now but whisper a final, "How could you." He looked down at his lap. His best friends had betrayed his trust.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, and received no visible acknowledgement. He was, however, fully aware of the newfound silence, and realized that everyone in the room would be awaiting his own decisions in this matter.
"There are two possibilities for the outcome of this problem. Remus, it is clear to me that you and Mr. Snape are the only ones to have no blame in this situation. Mr. Potter, you would have done better to immediately go to a teacher or to myself. Would you care to explain why you did not do so? You were, I believe, in the middle of a detention with Mr. Filch when you heard about the so-called prank your friend here planned? I'm sure all of us would like to know this answer."
James looked up at last, his hazel eyes meeting with Remus' amber ones. The pain in Remus' eyes caused James to look away once more, so James looked up at Dumbledore. "I… I didn't know that Fil… That Mr. Filch knew about Remus' condition. I didn't want to…" James looked toward Remus again, pleading for his friend to understand. "I didn't want to tell someone who did not already know, Remi. I know, I should have, but I didn't think that Sniv… that Snape would actually go. Please, Moony, you've got to believe me!" Remus could not meet his friend's eyes. He had nothing to say to him. Well, nothing that could be said in the presence of the headmaster at least.
"And you, Mr. Black. Care to explain yourself? Why would you put not only Mr. Snape in jeopardy, but Remus as well? You call Remus your best friend, along with Mr. Potter, do you not? Give your reasons, Mr. Black."
Sirius did not even look up, not to Dumbledore or to Remus. "I… I only wanted to scare the… To scare him. I didn't want him dead. He couldn't have known it was you, Moony. Merlin, Remus, I'm so sorry. Please forgive…"
Remus could take no more. "Sirius, I could have killed him!" Everyone's eyes were on Remus now. "Are you really that stupid? Forgive you? You think I could… I almost killed someone! I'm probably going to be expelled now, all thanks to you. You happy now? Your delightful prank go well? Happy are you? I'm sure that you…"
Dumbledore raised his hand. "I think it's time to speak with the victim now. We've heard the reasoning. And I am certain now that Remus, you had nothing to do with this. Therefore, Severus, the choice lays with you. There are two options. Option one, you remain silent about last night's events, and protect Remus from expulsion, as he had no part in what happened. Option two, you refuse silence, and Sirius, as well as Remus, are both expelled," Remus looked up at Dumbledore, but as Dumbledore was focused on Snape, Remus could not meet the old wizard's eyes. So he looked instead to the Slytherin, who instead of looking gleeful of this being his decision, looked conflicted. The boy's obsidian eyes found Remus', but both quickly looked away, one out of shame, one out of hurt. "The decision is yours alone, Severus. You could have died tonight. The fate of these boys lies in your hands.
Will Severus allow Remus to remain at Hogwarts? Will he ask for their expulsion? Please review!