Whenever I think of the infamous "prank" (Sirius told Snape how to get into the Whomping Willow tunnel) I always wonder about Remus and Sirius in the days immediately after.  So…

A Sirius Mistake

Chapter 1- Remus

            The pain of transforming back from a wolf into a human left Remus Lupin gasping for air as he crouched on the floor of the Shrieking Shack.  He closed his eyes, waiting for the ache to subside and allowing his mind to clear.  The wolfish part of his mind merely acknowledged the pain, but the human part thought, "This hurts more than usual."  He opened his eyes to see that his arms were covered with bite marks, gashes, and blood.  He didn't need to look any further to know that his legs would show the same; the pain there was just as bad.

            He fought down the impulse to lick his wounds and reminded himself that Madam Pomfrey would be waiting for him.  "Just get through the tunnel, Remus, and she'll take care of you," he told himself sternly.  The thought of Madam Pomfrey made him smile grimly.  "Man, is she going to fuss when she sees what a mess I am.  She hasn't seen me this bad in over a year."

            He wouldn't be able to explain to her why he had reverted to his self-destructive behavior after refraining from it for so many full moons—fortunately, Madam Pomfrey never asked many questions—but Remus knew.  He couldn't remember his friends joining him last night; in fact, he couldn't remember any of last night clearly.  This fact alone told him that he had been alone last night.  When Prongs, Padfoot, and Wormtail were with him, there was more of Remus in Moony's mind, and thus Remus found it easier to recall his nights as a wolf.

            Remus stood up carefully and reached for his cloak; he had put it on a high shelf before transforming last night.  After all, he didn't want to tear it to bits or chew holes in it.  As he wrapped himself in the warm cloak, "I miss my fur," he wondered why his friends hadn't come.  He wasn't overly concerned.  Even with James's invisibility cloak, it could be difficult to sneak out of the castle.  "If they did get caught sneaking out, it won't be the first detention for any of them."

            It was, however, the first full moon at school since his friends became animagi that they hadn't been together.  Remus attributed his gloomy mood to this fact.  Last night wasn't the first time that he had torn himself apart in his frustration at imprisonment and lack of human prey.  Somehow, having experienced the glorious alternative, running free with his unusual "pack," made last night all the worse.

            He pulled his wand from the pocket of his cloak, "Lumos," and began the long walk through the dark, damp tunnel.  Remus wondered again why his friends hadn't come.  He closed his eyes and took a deep sniff of the tunnel's familiar scent.  Partly, this was due to the wolf instincts so close to the surface this morning, and partly, it was due to his human experience.  He had learned many years before that scents, so important to his wolf self, could provide a bridge to his wolf memories.  Moist earth, mildew, dog pee—and blood.  His eyes snapped open.  He had never smelled blood in the tunnel before.  The Shrieking Shack was filled with the scent of his own blood, but not the tunnel.

            He hurried deeper into the tunnel, away from the shack, and sniffed again.  The scent of blood was a bit stronger.  Panic began to set in.  "Calm down, Remus.  Maybe you killed a rabbit or something."  He wished desperately for the wolf's nose instead of the human one.  The human nose could recognize the slightly metallic scent of blood; the wolf nose could have told him what he needed to know: rabbit, wolf—or human.

            Even as he scanned the ground, looking for signs of some struggle, Remus tried to recapture his memories of last night.  What had he done?  What had he felt?  Rage.  Hunger.  Desire to kill.  Remus panicked for a moment as the violent urges and desires of the werewolf surged to the surface of his mind.  For so many years he had struggled to keep these feelings submerged, and prided himself that the struggle was only lost when the full moon rose.  But now, he needed to know.  Burying the wolf inside himself would also bury its memories.  He allowed the strong feelings to surface.  Rage.  Hunger.  Desire to kill, to tear, to bite.  Frustration.  The last was a beacon of hope to Remus.

            He was sure now.  A human had been in the tunnel last night.  He had wanted to kill him.  He had tried to kill him.  He had failed.  A well-timed growl from his stomach almost made him smile.  He definitely hadn't eaten anyone.  The human had escaped, but had he been mauled? had he been bitten?

            The scent of blood lingered, but Remus still didn't know if it was the blood of the human he attacked or his own.  He knew his werewolf side well enough to know that he had probably turned on himself when he had failed to kill the human.

            The faint light of the tunnel entrance was in sight now.  Madam Pomfrey was waiting.  She would tell him what happened.  Briefly, the image of Madam Pomfrey tucking him into a hospital bed beside the bed of his victim floated into his mind.  "Yeah right.  You'll be lucky if they even let her patch you up before they take you away."

            Somehow, the idea of the Werewolf Capture Unit of the Ministry of Magic throwing him into a cage and taking him away from Hogwarts wasn't as frightening as he expected.  The image was a familiar one—a recurring nightmare—it had jolted him awake in a cold sweat many, many times.  Now that fear didn't seem as important as the news that Madam Pomfrey would deliver.  Had he cursed another person to a misery like his own?

            Remus gathered his courage and called out, "Madam Pomfrey?  I'm here."  He saw the branches of the Whomping Willow freeze in mid-swing and climbed out of the tunnel's mouth at the tree's roots.  He crawled to a safe distance, stood, and saw not Madam Pomfrey, but Professor Dumbledore.  A heavy stone dropped into Remus's stomach, and he couldn't remember how to breathe.

            "Professor…" Remus gasped.  "How badly did I hurt him?"  Remus knew that there was only one reason that the Headmaster would be there instead of Madam Pomfrey; she was too busy caring for Remus's victim.  Professor Dumbledore looked slightly puzzled.

            "You didn't hurt either one, Remus."

            Remus's mind was whirling.  "Either one."  There were two humans in the tunnel last night.  He could have killed or bitten two people.  He hadn't hurt either one.  He remembered how to breathe.

            "You don't remember?" asked Dumbledore with a note of concern in his voice.

            "Not enough," replied Remus.  The stone in his stomach grew lighter.  "Who was in the tunnel?"

            "Mr. Potter and Mr. Snape.  It's a bit of a story I'm afraid, " said Dumbledore as he turned toward the school, "so why don't I fill you in as we walk to the hospital wing.  That's why I came down myself this morning.  I knew you'd want to know."

            By the time they reached the door of Madam Pomfrey's domain, Professor Dumbledore had told Remus all that he knew: Sirius had told Snape how to freeze the Whomping Willow and about the tunnel entrance at its roots, Snape had gone into the tunnel, James, learning of Sirius's actions, had also gone into the tunnel in order to save Snape, and Snape had been sworn to secrecy regarding Remus.

            Remus found it hard to speak.  He found it hard to think.  By the time he realized that he should thank the Headmaster for telling him what had happened, Dumbledore was already gone.  He decided to put on his nightshirt and realized that he had already done so.  Madam Pomfrey came inside the curtains around his bed, carrying a potion for his injuries.  There was one thought that was clear in his mind.

            "Madam Pomfrey?"

            "Yes, Remus?"

            "If Sirius comes by to see me later, please don't let him in.  I'm not ready to talk to him."

            "All right, dear.  Now let me see the bites on your legs."

Don't stop now—read Chapter 2!


Disclaimer:  All characters, places, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling the Great.  Thank you for creating them!