Peter twisted his wrist as he tried to free himself but it was pointless. His fingers were too weak to the loosen the knot. He sighed heavily as he relaxed as much as possible against the oak tree that captivated him. The shadows were growing dimmer now that darkness was a full blanket. The stars were out and shining brightly under the moonless night. It was a bit relief as being friends with a werewolf; he knew none would be out tonight. Yet there were plenty other ways one may die such as a murderous escapee from an asylum running amok through the forest. Or maybe a diseased squirrel was holed up in the trunk of the tree just waiting for Peter to falls asleep. Sirius had warned him that squirrels harbored murderous actions. Given a closer thought on the rodents, Peter could see Sirius statement being true. Squirrels were tricky creatures that seemed to mock the world. People all over the world tried to barricade these creatures from food, yet they always managed to proof higher intelligence by getting through the obstacles with quick and corky motions. Then there were the beady eyes and sharp teeth that could crush nuts that they hid behind a cute fluffy tail. Peter looked up at the oak tree knowing that they were up there, waiting for just the perfect time.
With a gulp, Peter forced himself to think of other things such as a warm plate of mashed potatoes and corn oozing with butter. Or perhaps chicken simmered in the finest sauces and pumpkin juice. Yes, that would be a treat. Peter shifted from one foot to another with a dreadfulness realization. He hadn't gone to the bathroom and now he wished he had.
'Its like my friends to do this kind of thing.' Remus growled but there was an ever so slight of a grin to his lips. Alyssa smiled on as she walked close to Remus, feeling so very safe in his presence. 'It doesn't matter what we set out to do, they always find a way to add a bit of trouble.'
'Maybe they are just a type to find it. Some people are unfortunate like that.' Alyssa gave his arm a sympathy squeeze.
'No, not them. See they are trouble. They make it and they enjoy it. It's quite a madness that I'm afraid has no cure.' Remus looked up at the beauty of the night's sky. His favorite moments were when the moon wasn't present. Almost as it didn't exist. 'Who ever crosses their paths will be in an experience they will never forget, I can assure you.'
'You don't approve of their behavior?' Alyssa asked as she observed the emotions on his face. 'Because I believe you do.'
'No…well, not all of it.' Remus grinned in spite of himself. 'Yes I suppose at times I find their behavior full of comicalness but that kind of stuff needs to be taken with care. Innocent people could get hurt and those guys, they don't think about that. As smart as they are, they just don't get it sometimes.'
'Well atleast you are there to help them along the way.' Alyssa didn't notice the frown.
'I'm not their keeper. They do what they like.' Remus nodded to the path before them. 'So tell me the story of this lady and what does she do that has everyone afraid of her? I'd like to know what we are up against.'
'Ah, let me think for a moment.' Alyssa nibbled on her lower lip as her thoughts went to the lady in the little cottage. 'Now, I have never seen it before but I am to understand that her home is made of sweets.'
'Sweets? Like candy and cakes?' Remus grinned a little, 'And chocolate, I suppose.'
'Yep. And chocolates.' Alyssa couldn't help but laugh as Remus' eyes lit up. 'For that, young travelers are often drawn to her home and they start to, well chow down the house. The lady of the home usually comes back with her door gnawed off and new guest for dinner. She feeds them and feeds them and then, they just disappear.'
'I don't understand how a place could exist. With the weather it would surely collapse.' Remus puzzled it over. Of course he thought of many spells that may keep the place intact but he very well couldn't mention it to Alyssa, as she being a muggle. 'As well as the captives, perhaps they just left. No one forced them to her home, if I understand correctly. Maybe she let them leave on their terms.'
'And never show up at either village?' Alyssa shook her head, causing her hair to tumble over her shoulder. 'No, something happened to them that made them disappear.'
'Maybe whatever happened to them happened on their way to the villages. The cottage is in the mist of nothing but the forest and as I recall, you have mentioned that a wolf prowls the area.' Remus shrugged his broad shoulders. 'Seems to me that maybe it got them.'
'No, there would be bodies. The previous attacks always left bodies behind. Unidentifiable bodies but nevertheless, bodies had been spotted.' Alyssa explained. 'But when this lady is involved, nothing is ever found. Some people say that she feeds off trespassers' youth.'
'Okay, so maybe she has a hand in their disappearances. Eating up their youth is a bit far.' Remus could agree with the lady knowing something or being part of the disappearances but that was all. 'But explain the home. Why doesn't wild life snack on the house? How would a breaded home even with stand a rain storm without getting soggy?'
'Well, it is enchanted.' Alyssa looked at Remus a bit weary. 'How else would it be protected by natural weather?'
'Enchanted? Like spells and potions?' Remus stopped walking and gave the girl before him his total undivided attention.
'Of course.' Alyssa back away slightly not liking the way Remus suddenly looked.
'You know about wizardry and witchcraft?' Remus pressured.
'Everyone knows about it.' Alyssa looked around nervously now. Rethinking that walking alone in the dark with this stranger was probably a bad move on her part.
'Everyone. So this whole area, is it part of the wizardry world?' Remus asked.
'Wizardry world?' Alyssa shook her head, not understanding him. 'It just has always been this way. There are a few witches and I believe there is to be rumored of a wizard b…but the whole land is enchanted. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows about the way the land works since childhood.' Alyssa narrowed her eyes at the tall boy, keeping a large space between them. 'But not you. Why do you not know?'
'More pies, sweeties?' The home owner placed a whole pie in front of the two boys who sat at dinner room table.
'I can't.' Sirius shook his head. 'I really would like to but I can't consumer another bite.'
'Oh I'm sure you have a bit more room in your tummy for another slice!' The overly cheery granny patted Sirius' stomach and frowned. 'My you are underfed! How am I ever to fatten the both of you up if you don't eat more pie!'
'I do love your pies, Madam.' Sirius removed her hand from his stomach. 'But I assure you that there is no more room in my stomach to harvests even the smallest morsel at this moment. I haven't even a spot to swallow my saliva.'
'That's not good. Not good at all.' The lady turned to James and pushed the pie closer to him. 'How about you, dearie? Fancy another slice?'
James gagged at the thought of picking up the fork. He put his head between his hands. 'I feel like the day after a fire whiskey night.'
'The boy cannot hold his pie or his whiskey.' Sirius shook his head with great amusement.
'Who are you to call me a boy?' James glared at Sirius.
'Am I not older then you?' Sirius smirked as James pulled a face. 'I rest my case.'
'I believe I need to evict the already consumed meal in my stomach, where is the bathroom?' James fighting back another gag as his stomach threatens to bring up his dinner.
'Oh, no. We wouldn't want you to be sick! Oh no, not good at all but I have something. That would be waste of food! Yes.' The old lady ran straight to her cupboards in the kitchen. Sirius leaned over the edge of his chair as he tried to keep an eye on her. Both boys could hear her moving boxes and bottles of spices around in her search. 'It will ease your belly ache. Yes, it is in here somewhere. Now where is it? I used it by only a year ago.'
'She's a bloody loon, Prongs.' Sirius raised his eyebrows as he whispered to his fellow marauder. 'Who in their right mind gives food to a pair like us? We were eating her home up, for merlin sakes so the old gal shoves more food our way!'
'It stopped us from eating her home, didn't it? ' James whispered hoarsely. His stomach was really aching and with the reducing sugar rush, his head wasn't feeling all that well either. He pushed himself away from the table, barely able to hold back the urgent demand of his stomach. 'Seriously, Sirius I'm going to hurl, potion or not.'
Sirius shook his head in disbelief as James disappeared around the corner. 'Ah, well not everyone can handle a decent meal.' Sirius pushed himself away from the table and searched out the old lady.
He found the kitchen with no problem, as he and James did explore the place on first entrance and it wasn't all that big of a cottage. Both boys lived in far more luxurious places then what the cottage offered. On entering the kitchen, he found it empty but heard moving in the food pantry. The lady of the home was still searching earnestly for a remedy on over-stuff stomachs. Sirius noticed a large pot settling over the kitchen's hearth, simmering with wonderful aroma.
'Wonder what's for supper.' Sirius murmured to himself as he noted a large book resting on a bookstand. Unhurriedly, he walked up to the lectern to check out the book. Finding the ribbon place mark, Sirius opened the book to the receipt the old lady must have been working on. He scanned the ingredients and frowned at the last item needed for the stew. 'Ah, it appears we are dinner.' He closed the book and looked at the pot simmering over the fire. 'That is disgusting. It's no good, anyways. James' head would never fit in there. Well, not with the lid on.'
'I see you found my secret.' The lady's voice slipped with crackles of age. Sirius started to turn around, to confront the lady but she was armed with a frying pan. The lad had not a chance when it collided with his head.
She let the pan slide from her abnormal twist fingers and tried to gather Sirius up under his arms and trying to heave him off the floor. She was able to get his half of him off the floor and she tried to drag him but she wasn't built for menial labor. 'Tisn't any good.' Like the frying pan, she let Sirius drop to the floor. His head bounced a bit but being unconscious had its advantages, for he didn't feel a thing. She used her apron to wipe the sweat from her face.
'Madam.' James appeared, holding a mop. 'I am concern about the treatment of this broom.' He placed the handle on the floor, looking at the mop head as it dripped with water. 'It appears to me that you were trying to drown it.' James looked back at the lady who held a hand over her mouth then he looked down at the floor where Sirius laid, a bruise showing on his temple and the frying pan on the floor.
'He just fell over.' The lady pointed to Sirius. 'I-I was cooking some nice vegetables and there he was! Snuck up on me, he did! It was by instant I can assure you that made me defend myself!'
'Then he didn't just fall over, did he?' James dropped the mop and with great caution, he walked over to Sirius and knelt beside the fallen boy. All the while, the lady was backing away. 'Why would you be afraid of us now when you weren't earlier?' He poked Sirius but got no response. James poked him a bit harder. 'Hey, Padfoot. Time to wakey-wakey.'
'I-I became afraid.' The lady slowly made her way towards the counter, her twisted fingers finding a knife that she was using earlier to cut some onions. 'I was looking for a remedy for your sudden illness.' She brought the knife up behind James' back.
At that moment, James glanced at his reflection on a stainless still pan, seeing the figure in cloak standing behind him. The thing that had been following him since they landed in this strange place now stood behind him. It was Death. James spun around in time to see the lady swing the knife.
'Stupefied!' The spell was cast so quickly and wit out hesitation. James watched as Death took in the appearance of the old lady, her body crumbling to the floor as the curse hit her.
James gave a quick smile to his friend. 'As always, perfect timing Moony.'
'How bad is he?' Remus quickly knelt down alongside James, looking closely at Sirius' injuries.
'Well, his head is hard.' James shrugged his shoulders. 'Most likely he wake up more grouchy than normal.' James nodded his head over to the doorway. 'Who's the girl?'
'That would be Alyssa.' Remus avoided James' questioning eyes and the lift of a grin. 'The hunter's daughter.'
'Aren't you a bad boy!' James patted him on the back with the mischievous grin still on his face.
'What should we do about her?' Remus nodded over to the fallen lady.
James shrugged his shoulders. 'Petrificus Totalus her till Sirius wakes up. There is something off about her. After seeing what she does to her broom…' James gave a sicken glance at the mop laying on the floor. 'I cannot honestly trust her.'
'Not to mention she was going to slice your spine open.' Remus pointed out.
'Well, yeah there is that too.' James admitted.
Is that a chocolate cake?' Remus quickly casted the binding spell before going to the cake.
'The whole roof is made out of chocolate.' James spoke to his friend but his eyes went back to the pot. Death no longer was staring back at him. Still, he couldn't help but feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
'Let me help.' Alyssa knelt to the floor, placing Sirius head on her lap as she gently pressed a cold rag to his wound.
'Your father is a hunter?' James gave a false smile. 'He hunts what? Bears? Rabbits? Um…deer?'
'No. Mostly monsters and the wolf.' Alyssa petted the smooth hair on Sirius head.
'The wolf?' James bit his lower lip and gave a glance to Remus who seemed only interested in the top of the cake.
'It prowls the forest killing innocent people. It has huge eyes and large teeth!' Alyssa eyes grew with every detail. 'My father is trying to protect our village. He will find the beast and kill it.'
'Well, that's nice. To be safe an all, I mean.' James stood up finding Sirius to be in safe hand. He moved over to Remus who was licking his fingers. 'The hunter, the daughter and the wolf. Yeah, that makes an awkward relationship.'
'There isn't any relationship.' Remus pointed a spoon at James. 'I found her alone in the woods.'
'Like the good wolf you are.' James folded his arms in front of him.
'She was going to her grandmother's house and I offered to see her saftely there.'
'Oh sure.' James nodded approvingly.
'Then we found this…' He held up the apple jointed with two feathers.
'My snitch!' James grabbed it from Remus' hand.
'Alyssa said you guys would end in danger and so she is now helping me.' Remus looked at James as he soared the snitch into the air, making it fly. 'That is an apple.'
'You got your cake and the girl, let me have my snitch.' James gave a wretched look once more at the mop. If only it was in better condition but he had tried to mount it. The back was just too heavy. Air wheelies were all that 'broom' would be able to do.
'Any luck on finding Pete?' Remus asked before shoving another mouthful of iced spoon into his mouth.
'Nope.' James smiled brightly. 'But you found us and you find the snitch so maybe our luck will change and together once more we'll be.'
'Help!' Peter cried out into the night. There had to be someone out there that could hear him. That could help him. 'Please! Someone! Anyone! Well, no – not the wolf. Anyone else!'
'You keep yelling like that, it's the wolf that will find you.' A man stepped out from the row of trees.
'W-Who are you?' Peter swallowed nerviously.
'It appears that I am the one who will be freeing you.' The man smiled but his face wasn't meant to do such a thing. Instead it looked more like a snarl.
'A-are you the hunter?' Peter asked once the man came closer.
'Hunter?' The man backed away slightly. 'I suppose you could say that I am a hunter but 'The Hunter', no.'
'A-are you the wolf than?' Peter squeezed his legs together, hoping it would help from wetting himself.
'Boy, havne't you ever seen a wolf before?' The man howled with a laugh. 'They have large ears. Gleaming yellow eyes. Teeth so pointed it would cut through your skins. Not to mention, they roam on all fours and covered head to tail in fur.' The man gave Peter a wink before pulling out a small dagger at his side to cut the ropes.
'T-Those people in that house, they left me out here so the wolf would get me.' Peter still felt fear. This man didn't exactly have the looks of a hero.
'Oh, yes. That would be the Bears.' The man nodded his head. 'Nice enough folks most of the time but terrible imprudent family if you be asking me. Misinformed, you understand.' The man watch Peter rub his wrist sorely. 'Now, you may you be?'
'Oh. Peter, sir.' Peter held out his hand but the man didn't take it. 'I lost my friends in the marshes and found the family instead. Now, I'm here. Glad you came along, um…sir'
'Cruven Carter is my name, boy. Not sir.' Cruven gruffly nodded to Peter. 'Now what to do with you.'