Chapter Thirty-One: Secrets Kept Are Secrets Earned
I've received the following information:
Regulus has been Marked a Death Eater; Emmanuel Crabbe, Michael Flint, Bartemius Crouch Jr and Severus Snape are close to joining the Dark Lord and being Marked; a number of Slytherin students are being worked on; a Gryffindor student, seventh-year, is spying for the Dark Lord (I don't know who).
Please be careful, Sirius, and don't do anything stupid. Trust no one; if the Dark Lord can infiltrate Hogwarts and use a Gryffindor as a spy, you can't let yourself be put in a position where others can use you.
Also, make sure your friend James Potter knows that he'll most likely be scouted; he might be a Gryffindor, but if the Dark Lord thinks he can turn him, he'll try.
Be careful, Sirius.
Lucius' letter replayed over and over again in Sirius' mind as he sat in the Gryffindor common-room. All around him students were chatting and laughing. Remus was playing chess with Peter, and James was sitting on the armchair across from him with Lily on his lap.
Sirius watched his best friend chat and laugh with Lily before kissing her quickly, the red-head blushing. Would Voldemort really try and sway James? He was the most Gryffindor person Sirius knew; loyal, brave to a fault, and so Light it wasn't funny.
Sirius couldn't imagine anyone in Gryffindor being a spy, but he took Lucius' words seriously. Not all Gryffindors were good, just like not all Slytherins were bad. The house didn't make the wizard, and if the Dark Lord offered power, wealth, and protection, any gullible idiot would blindly follow him.
His eyes once more roamed over the common-room, settling on faces; some he'd known since first year, others he'd got to know during parties, in the Great Hall, when everyone relaxed and had fun in Gryffindor Tower.
Which one was the spy? Who was it; who was the person who sat here laughing and having fun, while secretly passing information onto a madman?
What if it was someone Sirius knew?
His eyes flicked to James and Lily; happy, laughing, completely devoted to each other. No, James was in love with a Muggle-born. He would never support the Dark Lord. It couldn't be Lily, she was a witch and a Muggle-born; Lucius had specifically written wizard.
Sirius felt his heart skip a beat, imagining that one of his best friends was a spy for Lord Voldemort. He looked at Remus, the werewolf smiling and encouraging Peter to try harder while they played chess. Remus was certainly smart enough to hide being a spy, and he was a half-blood. But he was a werewolf, surely Voldemort didn't trust werewolves.
That idea was laughable and Sirius snorted softly to himself. Peter, while a Marauder, wasn't the sharpest stick in the bundle. He could barely read and tie his shoes, let alone seek out a grown Death Eater and offer to spy.
The teenager glanced up to see Peter staring at him, one brown eyebrow raised.
'What?' Sirius said.
'You alright?' Peter asked as Remus moved one of his pawns. 'You look a bit depressed.'
Sirius forced a smile as Remus, James, and Lily all looked at him too. 'Sorry, just thinking about exams.'
'Already?' James blanched. 'It's only January.'
'You should be prepared,' Lily said, scowling at her boyfriend.
James smiled brightly. 'I totally am.'
Remus snorted and Peter giggled as he and Remus went back to their chess game. Sirius reclined further in the armchair, James and Lily's attention once more back on each other.
He didn't want to think that any of his best friends could betray him, or innocent people.
But anything was possible in war.
Sirius blinked when Remus started gathering his things. They were studying beside the oak tree alone, James having had Head Boy business to attend and Peter having gone to talk to Professor McGonagall about something or other; Sirius hadn't been listening when Peter had told him.
'Where are you going?' Sirius asked when he realised that Remus had his bag over his back.
'It's the full moon tonight,' Remus said, frowning at his best friend. 'I've gotta go see Madam Pomfrey before she walks me to the Whomping Willow.'
Sirius stared. 'Oh.'
'Are you okay?' Remus asked.
'Yes, why wouldn't I be?' Sirius replied.
'I told you four times earlier that it was a full moon tonight,' Remus said. 'And James complained about having to patrol so you lot couldn't join Moony like usual. Remember?'
Sirius frowned and then shook his head. All he remembered was Peter mentioning his homework, James and Lily planning a date for next Hogsmeade weekend, and then Remus asking if he wanted to go down to the lake to study.
'No,' he said. 'Sorry.'
'Are you sure you're okay?' Remus asked. 'You've been a bit quite lately.'
Sirius forced a smile and nodded as he said, 'Yeah, just thinking about N.E.W.T.s and the war; you know how it is.'
Remus started at him for a few seconds before nodding, and then waited for Sirius to collect his things.
It wasn't really a lie; Sirius had been thinking about the war. But he'd more been thinking about Lucius and his father, and then about the Gryffindor seventh year who was apparently a spy. If Lucius said it was true, then it was; Rodolphus Lestrange, whom Sirius knew Lucius got all his information from, would have no reason to lie to the Malfoy heir.
It was keeping Sirius up at night, trying to figure out it was. But short of catching them in the act, or outright asking every Gryffindor student, there was nothing he could do.
Sirius and Remus parted ways near the Hospital Wing, the werewolf still giving Sirius worried looks. Sirius just smiled and promised himself that he'd try to act more normal; he didn't want the others worrying, or anyone finding out that he knew more about Death Eater activities than probably Dumbledore. That would just cause trouble for Lucius.
Sirius was walking along the fifth floor, heading towards a short-cut, when he literally ran into someone. He pulled back quickly, ready to ask the person if they were okay, when he caught sight of Slytherin robes, a hooked nose, and greasy hair.
'What the fuck are you doing?' Sirius demanded, pushing Snape away roughly.
'I tripped,' the Slytherin scowled.
'Fuck off,' Sirius growled and pushed him again.
Snape pulled out his wand and Sirius did the same, the two facing each other in the corridor.
When Snape made no move to hex him, Sirius sneered, 'What's the matter, Snivellus? Has Voldemort warned you against hexing people?'
Snape flinched and Sirius smirked. The oily-haired boy quickly recovered and said, 'What's wrong with you, Black? Sick of Potter abandoning you for a pretty girl? Jealous, are you, that he doesn't play for your team?'
Sirius had to stop himself throwing his wand aside in favour of punching Snape in the face. 'At least I have friends, Snape.'
'Friends you wander about with after hours,' Snape said. 'I saw you sneaking towards the Whomping Willow last month, under the full moon.'
Sirius grinned as a plan quickly formed. 'Oh, saw that, did you? Try to follow us beneath the tree?'
Snape opened his mouth to reply before frowning. 'Under the tree?'
'There's a tunnel, idiot,' Sirius said in a bored tone. 'You press the knot closest to the middle of the tree and the entire thing freezes.' He sneered. 'But you're too weak to try doing that, aren't you? Slytherins are all alike; happy to sit by and watch others do everything.'
'Oh, yes, being a big dumb lion is so much better,' Snape growled.
'Greasy-haired git,' Sirius snarled.
'Blood-traitor!' Snape shouted.
'Death Eater!' Sirius shouted back.
Snape flinched and Sirius stowed his wand away.
'Whatever,' he said, 'I don't have time for you; I've got friends, you see, who want to spend time with me. Unlike you who only sits with people Voldemort tells him to associate with.'
Snape's face was as white as a ghost and Sirius waved as he walked away.
'It's a full moon tonight, isn't it?' Sirius called over his shoulder. Snape didn't say anything and Sirius just shrugged, walking away.
Hope the fucking arsehole gets himself ripped to shreds, Sirius thought. One less Death Eater in the world.
Sirius threw his bag against the wall and jumped onto his bed. James was sitting on the one he used to sleep in before becoming Head Boy, though he still spent a lot of nights in the shared dormitory when he was bored.
'What's up?' James asked.
Sirius just shrugged and checked his watch. Remus wasn't there, meaning Madam Pomfrey had already led him down to the Whomping Willow.
'Sirius?' James said.
'Oh, just had an interesting conversation with Snape,' Sirius said, rolling over to face the window; it was a cloudy night, but he could see the full moon peeking through the grey.
Sirius smirked. 'He was being a prick so I told him to head down to the Whomping Willow tonight.'
James sat up quickly, dropping his Arithmacy texbook. 'You what?' When Sirius didn't answer, James jumped from his bed and approached Sirius'. 'Padfoot, what did you do?'
Sirius rolled over to face him and said, 'What? I just told him how to get into the tunnel.' James' mouth fell open.' The fucker deserves it,' Sirius growled. 'Always running around poking his giant nose in. He's a fucking Death Eater, he deserves to have his arm ripped off.'
James stared at him a few seconds longer before running, ripping the dormitory door open and bowling Peter over in the process. Peter fell into the wall and blinked as James disappeared down the staircase.
Sirius just snorted and rolled back over.
'I don't think I have to stress the severity of what has happened tonight, Mr Black,' Dumbledore said.
Sirius didn't say anything, instead finding the Headmaster's desk quite fascinating.
'Severus could have been killed, and Remus would have been the murderer,' Dumbledore continued.
'It's Snape's fault,' Sirius muttered.
'He goes around needing to know everyone's business,' Sirius said. 'He's a bloody Death Eater, he's probably passing everything on to You-Know-Who!'
Dumbledore leaned back in his seat, long fingers linked together. 'That's a serious allegation, Sirius.'
'He is a Death Eater, I know he is,' Sirius said. 'And if he's not he's on the fast track to becoming one; he hangs out with all those bloody Slytherins, the lot of them are foul.'
'I don't trust him,' Sirius said, folding his arms. 'It's his own bloody fault he almost got hurt.'
'Sirius, I can't have you sharing your knowledge of Remus' transformations with the school,' Dumbledore said.
Sirius' eyes widened. 'I'd never tell anyone, Remus is my best friend!'
'You told Severus.'
'I told him where to find-'
'It's the same thing, Mr Black,' Dumbledore cut in, making Sirius go quiet. The Headmaster's eyes were hard, no twinkle to be seen. 'You gave Severus information which could have led to his death, which you were fully aware of,' the older wizard continued. 'If it wasn't for Mr Potter, Severus would be dead.'
Sirius remained silent.
'You'll have five weeks detention with Professor Slughorn, and you're not allowed to see Lucius.'
'What?' Sirius choked.
'You're eighteen-years-old, Mr Black, it's time you grew up and saw that your actions have consequences,' Dumbledore said sternly. 'Each weekend I want you in the dungeons doing whatever Professor Slughorn needs you to do. If I catch wind of you or Lucius seeing each other, you will face suspension. Do you understand?'
Sirius swallowed thickly and nodded.
'Good. Now go back to your dormitory.'
Sirius mumbled a, 'Yes, sir,' and left quickly, cursing Severus Snape's name as he went.
'I can't believe you saved Snape,' Sirius said as soon as he got back to the dormitory. James was sitting on his bed and Peter on his, but the short boy quickly scrambled into the bathroom when he saw the glares the two best friends were sharing.
'I had to, Sirius,' James said. 'I hate Snape, yeah, but he doesn't deserve to die.'
'He's a fucking Death Eater!'
'He is,' Sirius insisted. 'He'd kill you as soon as look at you, James!'
'That doesn't mean we should go around acting like them,' James pointed out, trying to keep his voice level. Both of them yelling wouldn't help. 'If we go 'round killing Death Eaters, that makes us no better than them.'
Sirius scowled. He hated it when James was right.
'Think about how horrified Remus would have been,' James tried. 'He'd never forgive himself if he killed someone, even Snivellus.'
Sirius felt his heart drop. He hadn't really thought about Remus, he'd just wanted Snape to shut his trap.
'Did Snape see him?' Sirius asked.
James nodded. 'He was pushing the trapdoor open when I grabbed him. Moony nearly ripped our heads off but I got Snape out of there.' He paused, eyes careful on his friend. 'I hate Snape too, Siri; but think about what I said.'
Sirius didn't say anything and James crossed the room. He squeezed the other Marauder's shoulder before disappearing, no doubt going back to his own quarters.
Sirius sat heavily on his bed, staring out the window at the dark night sky. He thought about what James had said, about what it would mean if Snape had died, and found that his own actions sickened him. James was right; Sirius trying to kill Snape was as bad as Snape joining Lord Voldemort. If Sirius went around murdering people, he was no better than the Dark Lord himself.
Peter came back into the dormitory and said, 'You alright?'
Sirius laid back on his bed and wrapped his arms around himself. 'No,' he said.
'What's wrong?' Peter asked.
'Me,' Sirius answered before drawing his hangings, cutting himself off from Peter. He closed his eyes just as the self-loathing fully encased him.
Author's Note: I always thought that Sirius playing a prank on Severus, a prank that almost got him killed, was just really horrible. I mean, I get that Snape was an arsehole to them in school, and the Marauders were no better, but Snape literally could have been killed. So I wanted Sirius to have a proper reason as to why he'd even consider doing that. Not that that makes what Sirius did okay, but I wanted him to at least have a good reason for doing it.