Words

The Brightest Star

"We'll never find it in all this junk," Sirius commented, trying hard to keep the disappointment from his voice. He dragged another crate into the centre of the floor and tapped it twice with his wand. The lid flew open, and he rummaged through the contents impatiently. James, Peter, Remus and himself had found their way into one of the many attics that were dotted around Hogwarts. Famously difficult to get into, there were rumoured to be all kinds of rare and forgotten magical artefacts stored in each small room. They had stumbled across the entrance to this one quite by accident, waiting for the cover of darkness to explore properly.


In the meantime, Remus had been doing what he did best – innocently asking random Professors seemingly non-consequential questions. He'd returned with a smile on his face – apparently there was a whole box of enchanted mummified remains just waiting for the Marauders to discover.

The discovering part was taking a lot longer than any of them had expected, and Sirius reflected that it was a good job tomorrow would be Saturday. Minutes had turned to hours, and he noticed Peter yawning. Perhaps the others wanted to sleep – let them. He'd stay up all night if needs be. After all, at least this was interesting junk.

"Interesting alright," he muttered, pulling a long, heavy, stone slab free from its hiding place. Instead of putting it on the floor beside him, Sirius stared at it for a moment. There didn't seem to be anything remotely offensive or magical about it, which almost certainly meant that it was the most dangerous item they'd uncovered so far.


"James, look at this," he said, turning to tap the other boy on the shoulder. James raised an eyebrow, then tried to say something. Unfortunately, his words were lost in the spray of spittle that covered Sirius' face.

Frantically wiping his face with the edge of his robes, Sirius heard Remus and Peter burst into snorts of laughter. He glared at them both and then turned once more to James.

"What happened to you? Do I have to start carrying an emergency umbrella around with me?"

"Don't speak, just point," Remus chimed in, joining them in the far corner of the attic. Peter looked up from the pile he and James had been amicably sorting through, and held up a round, pink ball.

"Is that it, Prongs?" he asked, still giggling. James nodded mournfully, and Sirius hit Peter's hand sharply, forcing him to drop the offending object. "Hey! What was that for?" yelped the smaller boy. Sirius leaned over and flicked the Spit Ball away.

"I don't think you're supposed to touch it, Peter," ventured Remus.

"So how come I'm not..." Peter was cut off mid-sentence as a torrent of spit issued from his mouth. Some of it splattered onto James' glasses. Shooting Peter an annoyed glance, he pulled them off and started to clean them.

"It's a Spit Ball," Sirius explained, grinning. "My dad had one, they don't make them anymore. I bet you anything that Filch keeps some of his confiscated stuff up here, we should definitely nick some of it."

"Ow uh ee op ittin'?" James managed to grunt through closed lips.

"Maybe you don't. Maybe we go and get Lily so you can tell her how you really feel about her," teased Sirius. Remus smiled and produced something from a pocket in his robes. It was a silvery grey disc, that somewhat ironically resembled the moon. The four had liberated it from Filch's office some time ago – he had tons of the things. They were Curse-Breakers, only available on special order and good for at least one hundred curses. None of them had needed to use it yet, and Sirius imagined Remus was happy to have found a couple of guinea pigs.

"Here, both of you place your fingers on this and say Reversia. It won't hurt," he said reassuringly, and James rolled his eyes before complying.

"-sia!"

They all caught the end of the spell word, and both ex-spitfire Marauders smiled in relief. "Nifty," said James, flipping the Curse-Breaker in the air for Remus to catch.

"Look," Sirius said, a little more forcefully now the crisis was over. The other three obliged, and he hefted the slab into the meagre light. The four friends formed a circle around It (he felt such a find deserved a capital I), and Sirius admired the way the candlelight shimmered across the smooth surface. When he tilted It the slate grey changed to emerald green, to sky blue, to Gryffindor gold, to slate grey once more.

"Impressive," breathed Remus, running his fingers over It.

It reacted.

They drew back as one collective being. Even James, who liked to think of himself as unflappable, released a small, gasped breath.

As Remus' fingers had gently stroked the object, It had clouded, a maelstrom of colour spinning into a whirlpool of white. Suddenly Padfoot felt a great pull on his hands and an intense chill that burned his fingers. A sharp burst of fear and pain caused him to drop the slab.


"Bloody hell!" he hissed, rubbing his fingers together violently, before conjuring up a blue flame to warm them. "Hope nobody heard that...we'll have to spread the old 'I saw some really large rats yesterday' and pray Filch swallows it..." he trailed off. The others weren't listening. They were all staring into the whiteness, transfixed, their eyes glassy.

"What's going on?"

"Shush a minute," said James, squinting slightly. "There're words...look."

Sirius looked.

The Judas Lamb

"Shush a minute," said James, squinting slightly. "There're words...look."

Peter could hear him speaking, but the sound was muffled, as though everything was coated in cotton wool. He was aware that in his left hand he was holding a chocolate frog, and that he was kneeling on the floor in a forbidden attic, staring into an unknown magical object. Magical thing. He also knew that they should probably all look away now. The...the thing seemed to have other ideas.

He felt the white light grow brighter, a lot brighter. It didn't seem to hurt his eyes, and as he watched everything Peter had previously been aware of didn't seem to matter so much anymore. In fact, all that knowledge was being replaced with something new.

The words.

For several minutes they flickered rapidly across the slab, indistinguishable from each other, and even as Peter watched they slowed. He could pick out one or two particularly bold phrases.

...remember Cedric...

...would have died before I betrayed them...

...kind boy, kind master...

...for a cup of tea with his fanged serpent...

...so sorry. It's the P...

...didn't do it! I didn't do it! It was him, he's the one...

...will you marry me? I know this is sudden...

...I know I've failed my N.E.W.Ts, I just know it...

...paying attention and so the Boggart started tap-dancing...

...really large rats yesterday' and pray Filch swallows it...

...words. Look...

Then, they stopped.

"I said that just a minute ago!"

"Me too...are we speaking, or thinking?"

"I don't know. Peter? Peter, are you here?"

"Y...yes. I don't feel like I'm anywhere."

Then a dark cloud passed over the whiteness, and Peter blinked. Where before the letters had been black, they appeared snowy white, seeming to shimmer like smoke above the solid stone-like surface. He wanted to reach out and touch them, but found he couldn't move. This didn't scare him, or worry him. All he cared about were the words.

...you know the victims? Your silence isn't helping anyone. We need to file a report, purely for the records, you understand. We're in no doubt that he...

That he did it. Yes, yes I know.

Then you'll answer our questions? Good. Now then, how well did you know the victims?

I...very well.

How would you describe your relationship with them?

Family. They were family to me.

We understand that this is hard for you. Please bear with us, we only have a few more questions. Were you at anytime prior to the murder aware of the identity of the Secret Keeper?

No. No, in fact I assumed it was Albus.

And where were you on October 31st?

I was...indisposed.

Of course. So your whereabouts can be accounted for?

They didn't have their bloody throats ripped out, did they? They weren't savaged, they were just lying there on the floor...sorry. Sorry. I just lost my temper.

Lose your temper a lot, sir?

Never. You said twenty minutes. It's been half an hour.

Somewhere you have to be?

Yes, actually. There's a reason for the black ensemble...I have to bury my best friends today. All of them, except for one. And he's worse than dead...

Peter shuddered involuntarily, and blacked out.

The Lone Wolf

"I said that just a minute ago!"

"Me too...are we speaking, or thinking?"

"I don't know. Peter? Peter, are you here?" asked Remus, immediately concerned about the others. He couldn't move, and the feeling of paralysis was working its magic on his jaw. It took every ounce of strength he possessed to ask the question.

"Y...yes. I don't feel like I'm anywhere."

Fighting was something that Remus had learnt not to do a long time ago. If he fought the transformation, fought the wolf, the wolf would fight back. And the wolf had the advantage of killer teeth and razor sharp claws.

He knew that fighting in this particular situation wouldn't do any good, and besides, the deep crimson mist settling over the slab seemed rather pleasant. As he watched, words started to snake their way across the crimson mist in a startling shade of green. He resolved to berate Sirius later for getting them all into this mess, and in the mean time, he read the words.

...master, and I tried my best.

It seems your best just isn't good enough.

I'm sorry, so sorry...aaaah! Ah! IpromiseIwillneverdoitagain! Ipromise...

That's better. I like to see you dance, you should dance more often for your Lord.

I will.

We shall all assemble in the graveyard tonight. Despite your complete failure to contact Lucius, I have managed to make the necessary preparations with the help of my dear Nagini...tell me, oh faithful servant, do you hate the boy now? Or do you still harbour some gratitude towards him, towards Potter's son?

Of course I hate him, of course I do. He is weak, and deserves to die.

You too are weak. Never forget that. You are weak, and your weakness has corrupted you. You have become as your nature willed you. You are an evil thing, and you'd do well to remember that...

Remus' eyes stung. He realised he was crying, that tears were making tracks down his face. Potter's son. As your nature willed you. An evil thing...he blacked out.

The Father

"Me too...are we speaking, or thinking?"

As soon as James said it, he knew he wouldn't be able to speak again. He barely heard the following responses, couldn't even start to puzzle out what was happening. Now the words were coming quickly, and he had no idea what they meant.

...couldn't wait for you to get here! So...do you like it? You can tell me if it's wrong, if you want different colour walls or something...Harry, speak to me.

It's perfect.

Really?

All my life, all I've ever wanted is a home. This...this is home.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I know I keep saying this, but you really are your father's son. He would have been...no, he is, somewhere...so proud of you. I'm proud of you. What's so funny? Godric, you try to have a heartfelt conversation with someone...

It's just...we got our happy ending, didn't we?

We did...

He was overcome with a sense of peace, and well-being. A happy ending. That sounded good. James felt his eyelids start to close, then he frowned. He couldn't do this, he couldn't just fall asleep. What about the others, they could be in trouble...it was the slab doing all this, causing all of this to happen...he tried to move his arm, to reach out and grab something.

James had been leaning forward, and as he managed to move his arm his hand slipped on the dusty floor. His entire body slid forward and he was pulled into sudden consciousness.


"Help!" he managed to yell before slamming his head solidly into the slab.

He blacked out.

The Four Musketeers

James blinked. As far as he could make out, he was lying on his back, in a place that smelt like crisp clean sheets and herbs. So he was in the hospital wing.

"He's awake."

"Finally. What did you see?" asked Sirius eagerly.

He groaned, and Peter put a pair of glasses into the outstretched hand. "We had to mend them for you," said the shorter boy. "You broke them when you smashed that thing. Snapped us all out of it, though, thank goodness."

"What happened to you lot? I saw some writing about someone...they had a happy ending, I think. Moving into a house or something. It was nice. They were both a little sad about something...but it was nice," James said, at last. Even now the memories were slipping away, and he struggled to recall the exact words.

Remus was looking unusually drawn, and Peter seemed nervous. Sirius, however, was on top of the world.

"We worked out what it was!"

"Sirius has a theory," interrupted Remus.

"Theory, shmery. It tells the future, and I've got a great one. I'm going to be married to this beautiful girl, and we've got this little boy..."

James smiled his bewildered approval, touched his head gingerly, then turned to Peter.

"How about you? What did you see...read?"

Peter gawped for a moment, before Sirius started talking again. "Oh, something boring about food. Personally I think he's holding out on us."

James privately agreed, judging by the way Peter's face seemed to suddenly seize up. Remus took a deep breath, then walked away. Sirius frowned.

"Where're you going?"

"I'll see you later, James, I said I'd help Frank with his homework."

"That's odd."

"Very."

"So, what excuse did you give Madam Pomfrey this time?"

Confirmation

Remus leaned against the cool stone wall in the corridor and took a few more deep breaths.

Potter's boy. Evil creature. True nature.

He wasn't sure what it meant, but he had a very good idea.

Still, maybe Sirius had been wrong, and that stupid slab didn't really show the future. Maybe it had all been a silly conjuring trick, much like the Map. He'd sleep it off and forget all about it by tomorrow. Pulling his robes a little tighter, Remus managed five steps before he bumped into Lily, Arabella and Charlotte.

"Hi!"

"We missed you lot."

"Where's James?"


He gave them all a tight smile, and tried to walk away. Lily grabbed him by the arm.

" Remus, where's James? Have you argued?"

"No...sorry, didn't mean to be rude. I'm just tired...been up all night." He managed a weak grin, and the girls exchanged knowing glances. "James is in the hospital wing he hit his head, tripped down the stairs, idiot."

"You'll never guess what happened in DADA!" broke in Arabella, beaming. Charlotte hid her head in her hands. "Professor Havers brought in a Boggart, and Charlie here was day-dreaming. Well, she was thinking about going to dancing class later, wasn't actually thinking of her fear or paying attention and so the Boggart started tap-dancing, totally misread her..."

"What did you say?" he asked, urgently, feeling the bile rise in his throat. It couldn't be. He hadn't heard her properly.

"The Boggart started tap-dancing. Are you feeling alright?"

"Maybe you should go and sleep it off," Charlotte added kindly before the three went on their way.

Remus made it to the boy's toilets before he was sick.

This was confirmation, then. The words didn't lie.