Chapter 1 : The Marauders
Four young wizards in black school robes were plodding along the dirt trail from the gamekeeper's hut to the Entrance Hall.
"That was an easy detention, Prongs!" said the first wizard, dark and handsome.
"It always is with Hagrid," grinned the boy walking next to him, pushing his glasses back on his nose "It's almost worth getting caught, isn't it Moony?"
The boy with sandy hair walking right behind them smiled quietly while the fourth was tagging along a little behind, hopping with some difficulty on his stocky little legs.
Sirius Black, James Potter, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew -or The Marauders, as they liked to call themselves- were unsurprisingly returning from detention, for the second time that week, after a non too subtle prank involving a basket full of horned toads and the girl's bathroom.
Just as they rounded the corner of greenhouse three, Sirius suddenly froze and gasped, while his two friends rushed past him to the small body laying face down in the grass.
James and Remus dropped to their knees and turned the body over.
"Who is it?" asked Sirius over their shoulder as he caught up with them.
Remus brushed the cloud of hair out of the way and hurriedly withdrew his hand, as if burned, when his fingers brushed the skin of the frail and shabby looking young girl.
"She's freezing!" he cried out, getting out of his school robes and covering her. He adressed the boy who had just joined them: "Peter, rush to the infirmary and tell Madam Pomfrey we're bringing someone in! Padfoot, fetch Dumbledore or McGonagall!"
He turned to James: "I don't want to cast a warming charm, it may hurt her. Who knows what spell she was hit with. Can you carry her? I'm getting weak from...you know." He finished lamely.
James had already gathered her in his arms and was walking briskly towards the castle, his jaw set. "It's frightening." He said quietly, "She weighs nothing at all and I can feel the cold through my robes. Are your sure she's not dead?
" I.. I'm not sure." Remus stammered.
Over dinner at the Gryffindor table, Sirius and James huddled together, heads bent in whispered conversation about their discovery, under the wary gaze of their teachers at the head table who knew it usually meant they were planning mischief.
"Do you think it was a banshee?" asked Sirius.
"I've never seen one but I think banshees have greenish skin, not blueish." Answered James "And the hair is not right either." He added as an afterthought.
"But she wasn't wearing school robes and I didn't recognise her."
"I know you pride yourself on your girl-skills, Sirius, but I don't believe for a second you know every single one attending this school. She was on school grounds so she has to be a student."
"Or she came from the Forbidden Forest. I bet there are banshees in there!" insisted Sirius.
"Or a ghost, she had the temperature right."
"Sirius! This is nothing to be laughing about!" exclaimed James. Sometimes he could not fathom his best friend's lack of compassion, even towards strangers.
"I still say we should sneak in the infirmary with your invisibility cloak and find out more about her"
"I have a better idea." James grinned " We already have a date with Moony tonight and he will be spending some time in the infirmary after that. He'll be our inside spy!"
"Brilliant!" Sirius jumped out of his seat "Let's find Moony before he leaves!"
Peter, who had no idea what they were talking about, hurried to follow his friends.
Remus had been tended to by Madam Pomfrey after his night out and was now waiting for her to settle down in her office before peeking through the privacy screen surrounding his bed at the rest of the ward. There was another student lying in a bed near the office, a very clumsy first-year Hufflepuff who was here as often as he was. He heard Madam Pomfrey telling her to take a sleeping drought to avoid the pain of the Skele-Gro potion. There was only one other bed with the privacy curtains drawn all around the cot, two beds from his own at the far end of the infirmary wing.
He crept up and peeked around the curtain. A girl was there but it was hard to be sure it was the same one they had rescued the day before. Her skin was not tinged in blue for one and she was not covered in dirt from head to foot. Her very unhealthy gaunt figure and the very bushy hair were unmistakable however, so he glanced at the matron's office before sneaking behind the curtain.
Now what? he thought, having accomplished the first part of his spying mission, he had no idea of the next step.
He looked around but saw no personal items, not even the clothes they had found her in, no get well cards or gifts from friends and classmates. No one is that disliked, well except maybe for Snape. Remus just couldn't imagine Snape surrounded by colourful balloons and piles of chocolate frogs sent by fellow Slytherins every time Sirius and James sent him to the hospital wing.
His detective skills reaching a technical end, he approached the bed and looked down at the girl, at her face -thin but seemingly at peace-, the regular rise and fall of her chest, her small hands no longer tinged in blue. He suddenly wished he could protect such a frail looking girl. He touched her hand, it was genuinely warm, and soft. Remus blushed and ran back to his bed, mumbling something about being inappropriate.
For the rest of the day, the wizard feigned exhaustion to stay longer in the hospital wing and maybe find out more about the girl. James and Sirius would mock him endlessly if he didn't find even he tiniest bit of information about the mystery-girl. He half hoped she would wake up and talk to him, but he knew that would be to easy and thus, wouldn't happen.
Dumbledore and McGonagall had come and gone that morning, inquiring about the girl's health. Hearing their voices close by again, he feigned sleep once more and strained to hear what was being said two beds away.
"Hello dear girl, I see you have finally awoken. How do you feel?" Dumbledore's amiable and clear voice carried easily to Remus' bed.
A long silence followed by a weak voice, the girl, no doubt:
"Professor Dumbledore? Sir? I don't understand? What happened? I thought you...Where am I? Did I die? I died, right? Or am I hallucinating?"
"No, absolutely not. I can assure you, you are very much alive, despite the state in which you were found. Would you mind telling me your name so I may alert your relatives?"
"Sir? You know who I am. Is there something wrong? Why are you asking my name? Where are Harry and Ron?"
The girl sounded panicked and Remus was starting to think she may be delirious. Maybe she hit her head. I didn't see blood or a bump but with that load of hair, it would be difficult to notice anything. It really doesn't seem like Dumbledore knows her at all. So Sirius was actually right for once, she isn't a student!
Madam Pomfrey was ushering the visitors out and attempting to calm the distraught girl, probably giving her another sleeping drought.
Soon after, Remus left the infirmary, doubting he would find anything new in there after all, and met with his friends.
"So?" asked Sirius "What did you learn about the banshee?"
"The banshee?" Remus asked quizzically, cocking his head in his direction.
"Don't listen to him, Moony. How is the girl? Did she wake up?" James asked.
"Yes, but she seems a bit lost, she wasn't coherent at all when she spoke to Dumbledore, and he didn't seem to know who she was, which is a bit strange." Seeing the smirk on Sirius' face, he added: " And she's certainly not a banshee, Sirius, she looked a lot better and she is definitely warm-blooded!"
"Oh really, Moony? How could you tell? Already that intimate are you?" teased Sirius.
Remus blushed and turned away with a huff ignoring the snickering behind him. Still, he was intrigued by the girl and decided it was time to use his werewolf hearing to catch up with common gossip among the students and the staff.