Disclaimer: I own no HP characters, only the plot and a few OC's.
Warning: Rated for violence, some profanity. This is an AU story so don't expect canon characters in this. Some Potter, Black, and Pettigrew bashing.
Cursed: Saga of the Outcast Pack
The evening before the full moon,
Hogwarts, 6th year, 1977:
A look of sheer disgust contorted James Potter's handsome features as he peered down at the Black Lake and the two students who meandered along its shores, their hands clasped together as if with a Sticking Charm. Hovering some twenty-five above them on his Starseeker 700, the top racing broom made in Europe, he watched with a mixture of savage jealousy and disbelief as the taller of the two figures halted and turned to face the slighter one, then the two outlines merged into one, as they exchanged a breathstealing kiss.
James coughed and turned away, longing to hex that miserable Slytherin into oblivion. "How can she let that swamp rat put his greasy hands all over her, Padfoot?" he demanded very softly, looking at his best mate, Sirius Black, who was hovering next to him, watching that scumbag Snape cozy up to Lily Evans. The nerve of that Death Eater wannbe!
"Maybe he has her under a spell? Or a Love potion?" Sirius whispered.
"Like Amortentia?" James named the only love potion he could recall learning from Slughorn. "Yeah, that must be it, because no self-respecting witch would ever allow Snivellus to kiss her unless she was out of her mind." His lip curled as he flew lower and saw Lily twining her arms about the greasy git's neck, pulling him even closer to her. It made him feel ill, that she had chosen the Slytherin over him, when he had wanted her forever. "I can't believe she forgave the miserable creep for calling her that word! Why would she ever do that?"
"She's besotted," Sirius speculated.
"No kidding, Siri! What I want to know now is what can we do about it?"
Sirius frowned. "Do about it? She's made her choice, mate."
"Snape's ensorcelled her with a charm of dark desire or something, I know it!"
"A charm of dark desire? Where did you hear of such a thing, Prongs?"
James shrugged. "There's bound to be one out there. Otherwise how would any dark wizard have kids? They have to use magic to seduce a decent witch to marry them, much less lie with them. I mean—look at them! They're so bloody involved in each other that the castle could fall down and neither of them would notice!"
"Mate, if Evans were snogging me like that, I wouldn't notice if the sky fell down," Sirius admitted.
James shot his best friend a nasty glare. "Rub it in, why don't you?"
"Prongs, maybe you ought to just . . . forget her and find someone else? That little Ravenclaw Maddie Swann has legs that go on for miles and she's built in all the right places. But she's shy, and I'm sure if you asked her, she'd be willing to put out for you."
But James shook his head. "I'm sure, Padfoot, but I don't want her, even if she's available. I want Evans. No good Gryffindor girl ought to have to put up with Snivellus pawing her every night. It's disgusting! I need to make Lily see that he's nothing more than an evil heartless bastard, a wolf in wizard's clothing. A swamp beast."
Sirius was nodding. "How are you going to do that? If she is under Amortentia, it'll take something pretty big to break its hold on her."
"I know! Help me out here, Sirius! Before she shags him or worse, gets engaged to him!"
Sirius gagged. "That would be monstrous. Okay . . . let me think . . ." He was silent for several minutes, while below the couple continued kissing and embracing before finally separating and continuing their walk around the moonlit lake, which sparkled like dark fire when the silver light struck it. Sirius snapped his fingers. "Ah ha! I've got it. We can scare Snivellus so bad he'll wet himself. We can terrify the little bastard out of his wits and make him leave Evans alone forever."
James studied his handsome friend intently, Sirius had a look in his eyes that meant trouble for the one he was plotting against. "How?"
"Remember what tomorrow night is?" Sirius prompted.
"The full moon. Why? Oh." James smirked. "Padfoot, you're brilliant!"
Sirius gave him a mock bow. "One does one's humble best. I figure we can lure him to the Shack and let Moony catch sight of him. You know how he is when he's in Rage mode . . .that aura he projects . . .shove Snape up in front of the door and let him feel it, and I'll bet he'll be screaming for his mama in two seconds. Then we can tell him to break it off with Evans or else he'll become werewolf chow. He'll be so damn scared he'll agree to anything by then."
"Brilliant, Sirius! Just . . . make sure Moony doesn't get free."
Sirius waved off the other's concern. "He never broke free before, unless we unsnapped the chain. Don't worry, Prongs. By tomorrow night Evans and Snape will be history. Then, if you play your cards right, you'll be able to sweep her off her feet. Girls always like a bloke's sympathetic shoulder to bawl on, especially if they've just been dumped."
"Right. That's going to be the easy part." James said confidently. He had never met a girl who didn't admire him . . . until Lily Evans. But that was because Lily was bespelled by the snarky dungeon crawler. Once she was free, she would see that James was the one and only for her. They were both Gryffindors, both good looking and clever, they were meant to be. "How shall we get Snivellus to come out of the dungeon and follow us to the Shack?"
Sirius chuckled sinisterly. "That, mate, leave to me."
Satisfied, James spun around and headed back to the castle. He trusted Sirius implicitly. The dark-haired pureblood had never let him down yet, he had a streak of deviousness in him courtesy of his Slytherin ancestors that few ever saw, but it came out in times like these. Sirius masterminded most of their pranks, he was clever enough not to get caught mostly, unless his temper got the better of him.
Below, the unlikely couple embraced one last time before parting to return to their dorms, never suspecting that this night was one of the last they would spend in carefree bliss, reveling in each other's company, innocent and free.
The night of the full moon:
"See you tomorrow at Hogsmeade, Sev!" Lily whispered breathlessly into Severus Snape's ear, he had just kissed her as they paused in front of the castle entrance. He had just agreed to be her escort to Hogsmeade tomorrow, for the first time allowing their secret attraction to be acknowledged publically.
At first they had decided to keep it a secret because of the rising hatred between both Slytherin and Gryffindor, as the Slytherins who supported Riddle became a byword for power in the dungeons, and their hatred for Muggleborns was well known, as well as their disdain for anything coming out of Gryffindor. Severus was not among that set, or indeed any of the pureblood groups at all, despite his formidable intelligence, he held himself aloof from even those of his House, all save the youngest, whom he tutored in potions and Defense. But those of his year and older saw little of him, he preferred his solitude and his friendship with the redhaired Lily Evans to any Slytherin witch, be her blood pure enough to date back to the Four Founders. Most of his House sneered at him behind his back, both for his mother's disgrace in marrying a Muggle and daring to produce a halfblood, and for his shabby appearance—his robes were usually of poor quality, since his family struggled to put food on the table, and he spent what little he earned working at Slug and Jiggers on top quality potions ingredients and texts. He preferred his hair long, it served to hide his eyes and thus prevent people from knowing what he was thinking, plus he didn't have money to pay for a barber, and cutting his hair magically only served to make it grow faster. Because he refused to declare himself for Riddle or against him, instead remaining above the fray, some students, especially Potter, Black, Pettigrew, LeStrange, and Rosier, thought him a coward.
Severus could have cared less. All he desired from life was to be left in peace to invent new drafts and improve old ones, and to marry Lily Evans, who was the only person in the whole world who loved him for himself and had since she was nine years old. But they had known enough to be cautious when their friendship had grown steadily into a pure and abiding passion, for theirs was a love forbidden, with their Houses at war, neither wanted to chance getting hexed by disapproving members of the opposite side, or in Severus' case, both sides. But sometimes it was hard, and they slipped up, especially when Severus was the target of mean-spirited pranks by the Marauders. Lily had defended him against Potter and Black, revealing that she cared deeply for him, as a friend, if not more. It had caused Potter to become even more annoying and petty than usual, but Lily and Severus had vowed to never let anything come between them. And now, it was time to show everyone that Slytherin and Gryffindor did not always have to be rivals, that a lion and a snake could coexist in harmony, and trade something more meaningful than insults and jinxes.
Lily savored the taste of him, as he kissed her one last time before parting with her at the castle entrance. Her lips tasted of chocolate and mint, as he had been sucking on a lozenge, she licked the sweetness off. "Sweet dreams, Sev."
"Same to you, Lily. Meet me in the Entrance Hall at nine-thirty, all right?"
"Will do, Sev. I love you."
"I love you too. Always," he whispered, which was what he always said to her when they parted now.
That tradition had started the night he spent outside Gryffindor Tower, waiting for her to come out so he could apologize for his dreadful temper. First they had quarreled, but upon seeing his genuine remorse, and also his devotion to her, Lily had forgiven him, and allowed him the opportunity to tell her that he loved her. And always would.
She waved goodbye before entering the castle and heading up the staircase to her room.
Severus looked about first before going inside, as was his wont. He had been made a prefect this year, and was very conscious of his responsibilities. He knew that the full moon was a prime time for students to prank each other, especially older ones terrorizing the younger ones. Most of the pranks were pulled by Slytherins and Gryffindors on each other, though some older Slytherins used their position to force Slytherin firsties to do things like polish their boots or gather volatile ingredients for their potions projects. And then there were the Marauders, the bane of his existence, they pranked everyone, including professors, but they tended to target Slytherins more, and himself in particular.
He saw movement out of the corner of his eye, and turned rapidly, his wand out. He had learned the hard way to always be prepared for someone to hex him from behind, the Marauders did it often enough, especially that cowardly sneak Pettigrew. What he saw was Black drawing Pettigrew behind some hedges that flanked the courtyard. Growing suspicious and knowing those two's penchant for nasty pranks, Severus followed, soft-footed.
As he drew nigh, he heard Black say, "Come on, Wormy, grow a little backbone. It'll be fun, we'll have a campfire and roast some marshmallows and grill cheese sandwiches on sticks. It'll be our own Halloween bonfire celebration."
"But I'm afraid of fire, Sirius!" whimpered Pettigrew. "And I don't like the Whomping Willow either."
"The Willow won't whomp you unless you're too slow to duck," Sirius snorted. "Besides, I've heard there's an entire library hidden beneath its roots . . . all kinds of spellbooks, really old ones, with ancient potions in them and defensive spells . . . that's why it was planted, to guard the treasures of Hogwarts."
"Really? How do you know?"
"I don't, not really. But what do you say we check it out? We could be the first to discover some spell that can kill You-Know-Who . . . or his followers."
"Yeah, like him," Sirius laughed mockingly.
Severus fought to keep from snarling that Black was too stupid to live. He couldn't believe they would actually dare to set a fire by the willow. Not after the lecture Sprout had given all of them today, warning at how dry the grass and trees were, because of the sweltering heat of the summer. Some claimed the weather had been witched by Voldemort, because it was too hot for northern Scotland. But whatever the reason, the fact remained that the land was parched and dry as a bone. They had had no rain for weeks. Not since April. That meant that a stray spark from a fire could set the willow and the entire grounds alight. Idiots! He was also, however, very curious about the supposed cache of spellbooks hidden beneath the willow. He suspected it was probably nothing but rumors, but what if Black was correct and there were ancient texts beneath the tree? A Whomping Willow was a guardian tree, one that was planted to guard something or someone. Why not some ancient and valuable spellbooks? He couldn't bear the thought that such ignoramuses like Black, Pettigrew, and Potter would put their filthy hands all over them, they had no respect for the written word at all. Potter drew stupid cartoon characters in his textbooks, for Merlin's sake!
His curiosity raging and also his need to catch Black and Pettigrew doing something truly forbidden, giving him an excuse to take points and give them detention, made Severus follow the two across the grounds. He hoped that they were meeting Potter and Lupin there as well, he would enjoy giving out detention to all of them, especially that arrogant shite Potter. Silent as a shadow, he trailed them.
Lily was sprawled across her bed, dressed in her most comfortable pair of denims and a short-sleeved emerald green babydoll top. Severus had told her that the shirt perfectly matched her eyes, and the thin cotton allowed her to be cool in the Tower, which was stiflingly hot, even with the windows open. She was trying to study her Herbology text book, her ankles crossed, her feet bare. She had her chin propped in her hands while she read, a mannerism that Severus sometimes teased her about.
Across the room Mary Macdonald and Alice Prewitt were laughing at something silly that had gone on during Astronomy, sipping butterbeers, and arguing goodnaturedly about who had the more built boyfriend. Alice was going steady with Frank Longbottom, who was a Chaser on the Quidditch team, and she claimed playing made Frank have awesome shoulders and rock hard abs. Mary disagreed, saying Sirius had a better body because he played second string Beater, and that developed muscles more.
Lily pretended to ignore their conversation. She had nothing against Frank, in fact he was one of the nicest boys in their year, but she detested Sirius and didn't care to join in any conversation where he was the main subject, unless it dealt with him getting the detention he deserved for pranking Severus. She kept her eyes fixed on her text, though her mind was far away, recalling the last kiss she and Severus had shared that night. Unbidden, a soft sigh escaped her lips.
Her two yearmates peered over at her.
"Fantasizing about Sexy Sevvy again, Lils?" Alice teased gently, chuckling. She was one of the few in Gryffindor who accepted Lily's choice of a boyfriend, and wasn't forever insisting she give Potter a chance.
Mary made a face, as if she'd bitten into a sour pear. "I don't understand what you see in him, Evans. He's nothing but a greasy Slytherin follower of You-Know-Who."
"Well, I could say the same of Black, MacDonald. He's nothing more than a spoiled rich bully who enjoys picking on firsties and persecuting people who've never done him any harm. Isn't that what the Death Eaters do?"
Mary gasped. "You're nuts, Evans! Comparing Sirius to those vicious scum! My Siri is nothing like them. He only hexes people that deserve it, like Snape."
"Oh, really? Then why was he hexing a firstie yesterday morning? What did that kid ever do to him except trip over his own feet?"
"Well, he was a Slytherin and probably up to no good."
Lily rolled her eyes. "You know, MacDonald, people like you amaze me. You think you're such goody-two-shoes, but you're really no better than the Slytherins who think purebloods are better than Muggleborns. Only your bigots in reverse, thinking all Slytherins are dark. Either way, you disgust me."
Mary scowled at her. "You've some nerve, Evans, when you snog someone who probably wears a mask and tortures little children."
"You have no proof of it, MacDonald, except your own narrow mind. I happen to know that Sev refused all offers made by Riddle's crew. He told me he wants no part of them, now or ever."
"But Snape called you a Mudblood!"
"And Black calls you his sweet piece of ass," Lily pointed out angrily. "How you can put up with that is beyond me. Severus never meant to call me that, it was a slip of the tongue, spoken in the heat of anger, and he apologized to me and vowed to never speak that word again. Since then he's been a perfect gentleman to me, which is more than I can say for Black, who's always copping a feel when a teacher's back is turned."
Mary tossed her head scornfully, her blond hair falling artfully over her shoulders. "You're just jealous, Lily, because I've got the better man."
Lily snorted. "If you want to believe that, Mary, go right ahead. But I know the truth. When you're crying into your tea cup next year because Black is off seeing someone else, Severus and I will still be together."
"Only because no one else would want him, Evans!" laughed Mary cruelly. "Tell me, how do you stand touching his grungy hair? Does the oil get all over your fingers? Do you have to wear gloves?"
Lily's eyes flashed. "Shut up, MacDonald! Why are you so determined to believe the worst of Severus? What's he ever done to you?"
Mary shrugged. "He's a Slytherin, a dark wizard in the making. That's enough reason to dislike him. Plus, he hexed Sirius."
"And how many times has your precious dogboy hexed Sev? A lot more than Severus has, I'll bet! And for less cause!"
"What is it you Muggles say? One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel?" Mary inquired, smiling sweetly.
"You got the saying right, but we're not talking about fruit here, MacDonald. People are much more complex. At least some people are. Others, like Black see the world like a simpleton, us and them, and whoever's not one of us deserves to be hexed."
"Siri only hexes dark wizards." Mary insisted.
"Keep telling yourself that. But someday he'll go too far and hex an innocent person and then he'll be in for it. Same with the rest of the Marauders."
"You know, Evans, you'd get on better with everyone in Gryffindor if you'd wake up and smell the butterbeer. Dump Snape and go out with James. He's a much better catch, he's got it all."
Lily looked like she was about to hurl. "He's got all the arrogance and sensitivity of a pile of dragon dung. I don't date boys who think they're God's gift to women. Or who think they have the right to tell me who I can be friends with. I'd sooner marry a werewolf than Potter! His ego is too big for me to handle."
The other girl shook her head. "Poor Evans!" she turned to Alice, who had wisely kept out of the argument. "Someday she'll realize what she's missing. Even if Snape wasn't dark, he's so boring. All he does is study and brew potions. He's a stiff. At least Sirius knows how to have fun. Snape's idea of fun is probably stirring a cauldron fifty times."
Lily clenched her fists, but silently refused to rise to the bait. In her own way, MacDonald was as irritating as Sirius. They were made for each other, she thought angrily.
"Mary, stop," Alice spoke up suddenly, sensing that Lily had reached the limit of her tolerance. Ever the peacemaker, Alice tried to diffuse the situation. "I'm sure there's plenty Lily could say about Sirius, but she's considerate enough not to. Why don't you show her the same consideration?"
Mary huffed and pouted, like a five-year-old getting a reprimand from her older sister. "Fine! You're such a killjoy, Alice. Always playing Miss Prefect." Then she giggled shrilly. "You won't have to worry about Snape any longer, Alice. Because Sirius told me he was going to play the best prank ever on him tonight and make Snape flee the country with his tail between his legs. He said it was going to have something to do with the Whomping Willow . . . I think."
Lily sat up abruptly. Her textbook fell to the floor with a thump. "MacDonald, what do you mean? What are they planning?"
"I don't know. That's all he told me."
Lily's wand was suddenly leveled at the other girl. Mary squeaked and scuttled back against the wall. "You'd better not be lying to me, MacDonald. Or else I'll come back and turn you into a real ass and see how Black deals with that." She sprang to her feet, stuffed her feet into her shoes, and bolted out of the room. She had to warn Severus, and hoped she wasn't too late.
Severus cursed himself for a fool, even as he struggled to get to his feet. His head spun dizzily, and he groped for his wand, only to discover it was gone. He was in a bare wooden walled room, with a small lamp hanging from the ceiling, and across from him, slavering and growling in a frenzy, was gray-furred, yellow-eyed werewolf. The werewolf was chained with silver, heavy links that served to keep him pinned in a small circle, but he still radiated a terrible aura of fear and bloodlust and hatred. Golden eyes fixed upon Severus, who was lying not ten feet away, trying desperately to shake off the jinx he had been hit with as he followed the voices of Black and Pettigrew down into the tunnel beneath the willow.
It had been a trap, and he'd walked into it like a witless first year, he thought disparagingly, trying to push away the nauseating fear with scorn. But the fear was slowly strangling him, cutting off his ability to reason, to think of anything but the beast lunging at him, drool falling upon the floorboards, eyes wild with the need to tear and rend and slay. Severus forced himself to meet that terrible gaze, and he trembled with what he saw there. All raw hunger and savagery, with nothing to indicate there had ever been anything human within the crookbacked monster at all.
Severus shoved himself to his knees, and half-turned, banging upon the door behind him, which was locked. "Black, you bastard! Let me out! Are you insane? There's a werewolf in here!" He pounded the door till his knuckles were bloody. "BLACK! Let me out! NOW!"
"What's the magic word, Snivvy?" taunted another voice.
"Potter! I knew you had to be behind this," Severus rasped. Sweat trickled down his face as he heard the sharp scrape of claws across the floor and then the soft sound of the werewolf whining. "What kind of sick joke is this?"
Don't think about what could happen if the beast frees itself. Those chains are silver, a werewolf can't break them.
"No joke, Snivellus," Black replied, his voice hard and sharp. "We want you to promise us something. Then we'll let you out."
"Sod off, Black!" spat Snape.
Behind him, the werewolf panted heavily, and the silver chain clanked against the floor as the gray beast paced back and forth across the floor, testing the limit of the chain time and again.
"Fine, but it's your funeral, Snape," Black called from beyond the door. "Your choice if you'd rather get devoured by a werewolf."
The lycanthrope howled then, a low keening sound that quickly scaled up into a full-throated wail that made Severus' head hurt even worse than before. The werewolf resumed his attempt to get free of the chain, throwing his full weight against the restraints, uncaring if the silver scent stung his tender nostrils and made his skin burn. He was starving, and there was fresh meat for the taking if he could but reach it . . .
Severus glanced back at the beast, and went sickly pale, like curdled milk. He slammed a fist against the door again, his legs were still unresponsive and tingly, like rubber tubes, they refused to hold his weight. "I can't move my legs. What spell did you use, damn you?"
"Relax, Snivvy, it's only a Jelly Legs Jinx. It'll wear off in a few." Pettigrew laughed.
"We'll cancel the spell and let you out if you agree to one little thing," persuaded James.
"What?" snarled the other, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. Was the wall where the ring was soldered starting to bend? Severus squinted, but couldn't see that well in the dim light and couldn't be sure. He prayed not.
"Never see Lily Evans again. Remove the spell you put on her and tell her you made a mistake."
"The spell? What the bloody hell are you talking about, Potter?"
"Don't deny it, Snape. Either you cast a dark spell on her or you slipped her Amortentia in her butterbeer."
"I don't need a spell or a potion to make Lily fall in love with me, you stupid bollocks-licking prat!"
"Liar! That's the only way a smart girl like Evans would give you the time of day, Snivvy!" sneered Black.
"All you have to do, Snivellus, is remove the curse and we'll let you out. Or give her the counterdraft to the love potion," James said reasonably. "We both know Lily would never choose you voluntarily over me. What could you possibly give her that I couldn't, you miserable craven git?"
"Respect," answered the other, shivering as the werewolf began lunging at him, rattling the chain violently, teeth bared.
"Wrong answer, Snape!" Black sniggered. "Try again! But hurry, 'cause I think Moony's hungry."
"You fucking arsehole! This isn't funny anymore!" Severus yelled. He could almost feel the werewolf's hot breath on his back. "Open the damn door now, before I have you expelled for attempted murder!"
"Ooh, now we're really scared," taunted Pettigrew. "How are you going to do that, Snivellus, if you're torn into itty bitty pieces and inside the werewolf's stomach?"
Severus looked behind him again, and he heard a board creek ominously. "You're sick, all of you! And you claim I'm a dark wizard?"
"Say it, Snape. Four little words. I don't love Lily." Sirius purred.
Severus clamped his mouth shut. He refused to give in to them. His love for Lily was the one pure and shining thing in his life, and he wouldn't sacrifice it to a bullying snot and his friends.
He turned and faced the werewolf, fear surging up from the pit of his stomach. His bowels turned to water as he stared into fanged horror, knowing full well what fate awaited him. Bile clogged the back of his throat as the gray beast strained to the limit of his tether, strings of drool falling upon the floor as the shapeshifter grunted and heaved, eyes alight with a terrible hunger.
Severus's gaze shifted, as he heard the agonized sound of wood stressed beyond all tolerance, and he saw the boards behind the large silver ring start to bend and warp, splinters flying up into the air in a deadly splatter.
"The wall is breaking, dammit!" he cried, unable to help himself. He didn't want to die, not like this. "Open the bloody door!"
"Scared, Snivellus?" Peter asked in a singsong voice. "Is the big bad Slytherin afraid? Does he want his mummy?"
There came a series of loud pops as the boards began to give way, the ring tearing loose from the wall with a sharp screech.
"Potter! Let me out! Lily will never have you if you kill me!" Severus gasped.
James froze. "Maybe we should open the door."
"No! He hasn't promised!"
"Padfoot . . ." James began, fumbling with the latch.
He yanked the door open just as Moony ripped the ring from the wall and sprang at Severus' throat with a howl.
Severus just managed to get his right arm up across his throat before the werewolf was on him, claws raking him across the face and arm. The werewolf pinned him to the earth, an awful howl of triumph emerging from its throat.
A terrible pulsing fire seared him, and Severus Snape screamed.
Lily had never run so fast in her life as she did then. She had thought Severus safe in his dorm room, studying, which was how he usually spent his evenings. But when she tapped on the portrait hole, and Regulus Black answered, he had told her that Severus hadn't returned to the dungeons as far as he knew. At her request, he went to check Snape's room, only to inform her that it was empty. Lily had thanked him and tore off up the stairs, fearing the worst.
The Whomping Willow was highly dangerous, as several silly firsties and some third years had learned to their dismay over the years. It could toss you into the air and swat you hard enough to shatter bones or knock you unconscious, or even kill if it hit you hard enough in the right place. It cared nothing for stupid young wizards daring each other to dodge its club-like branches, all it knew was if something moved within range of its branches, it was fair game. Lily had helped Madam Pomfrey patch up several youngsters who had dared to match reflexes with the magic tree. She feared the Marauders would throw Severus within reach of the tree and see if he could dodge quick enough to escape. That would be just the kind of sick prank they'd pull.
She sprinted down the path to the willow, her shoes slipping upon the wet grass, while the full moon soared overhead, bearing silent witness to the tragedy taking place below. She had just reached the tree when she saw the odd gaping hole between its roots and the fact that it wasn't moving. "Huh? What's that?" she asked herself.
Then she heard the screams, raw and full of terror, unlike anything she had ever heard before.
"Severus!" she cried, knowing instinctively they came from his throat.
She took three steps and jumped into the hole, finding herself going down a steep chute and then landing in the dirt. She was in a tunnel, she got to her feet and raced down it.
She had gone about ten feet when she came upon the Marauders, standing about stunned as a huge werewolf pinned Severus to the ground and was about to bite him savagely. Blood covered his face and chest and he was struggling to break free, to no avail.
Lily screamed and pointed her wand at it. A Repelling Charm exploded from her wand, knocking the beast down.
"Severus!" she cried, rushing past the Marauders to her boyfriend, trying to help him to his feet.
But she was not quite strong enough, and her spell, while powerful, did not affect a werewolf the way it did a normal human, especially one in the throes of bloodlust.
In those few moments, the werewolf rose and lunged at her with a roar of rage.
Before she could cast anything, it had grabbed her by the arm and bit down.
At first she felt nothing and wondered why that would be so. Wasn't being bitten supposed to hurt?
Then the pain hit, an agonizing burning, as if her arm had been bathed in acid, and she screamed, crumpling to her knees, lying half across Severus, who finally managed to stand up.
"Lily!" he shouted, and tried to grab the werewolf by the back of the neck and pull it off of Lily.
Faster than thought, the beast spun, jaws gaping, and snapped.
Teeth sharper than steel closed upon Severus' arm, piercing his flesh like a hot knife through butter.
Severus screamed, he could feel the poison enter him, transmitted through the werewolf's saliva, and knew he was doomed.
"Moony, no!" James cried.
He pointed his wand at his best friend and his burst of magic knocked the werewolf against the wall. Lily had been bitten. That was never supposed to happen.
But Moony was in full bloodlust and barely registered the shock, bounding back to his feet and going back on the attack. He was not going to be denied the feast put before him.
"Protego!" James chanted, and a blue shield enveloped the bleeding Lily and Severus.
Moony slammed into it, howling furiously.
"Padfoot! Get him away! My spell won't hold him too long!" shouted the Chaser.
Sirius transformed into a huge black mutt, easily weighing around a hundred pounds, but next to the lycathrope he looked like a Pomeranian. He charged the werewolf, yipping and biting at the other's muzzle and legs, taunting the beast to come and chase him.
The werewolf turned and snapped at the black canine, unwilling to be challenged by a mere dog, and with a snarl, tried to bite Sirius.
But Padfoot was fleet of foot, and dodged the massive jaws, and turned tail and ran, barking up the tunnel.
"Wormtail!" James panted. "Go get help! I'll go and help Padfoot distract Moony! Run! Lily could die! And so could Snape." He levitated the two injured wizards out of the tunnel, laying them down beyond the tree's reach.
Then he scrambled through the hole and bolted after the werewolf and the dog, shifting in midleap into the great white stag. In two huge bounds, the deer vanished into the forest, following the sounds of the frustrated werewolf.
Wormtail crept out of the hole, touched a certain knot with his paw, and the willow came back to life. Then the rat sniffed the air, wrinkling his pink nose at the scent of blood and fear, and scuttled away towards the castle.
Severus wrapped his arm about Lily and tried to stanch the bleeding with his uninjured hand, pressing his wadded up cloak to the bite, while above them the willow's branches swayed menacingly, unaware that the one it guarded against had slipped his leash and now roamed free.
This is what happens when I don't get enough sleep and a plot bunny hounds me to death.