When I read PoA, I get the impression that neither Sirius nor Remus ever faced any truly serious consequences from Dumbledore or the Ministry after the Whomping Willow incident (when Sirius told Snape how to get into the tunnel). I wrote my story "A Sirius Mistake" from that viewpoint. However, for those of you who like a bit more angst in their tales…
Werewolf on Trial
Chapter 1- Suspension
Sirius stared at the small hole burned in his robe just above his left knee. "Probably from when I tossed a Filibuster Firework in Rosier's cauldron two weeks ago. How was I supposed to know that Mood Intensifying Potion would turn into acid when exposed to a Filibuster?" He could feel McGonagall's glare boring into the top of his skull. He didn't dare look up. He had lost count years ago of how many times he had been hauled into McGonagall's office to face her wrath and learn his punishment. This was the first time he couldn't look her in the eyes. He tried to resist the temptation to pick at the small hole in his robe. "I wish she'd yell or something." McGonagall's silence reminded him of his mother. She became deathly silent when she was at her most angry too. "So does Remus." That thought made him squirm.
"Professor McGonagall, Mr. and Mrs. Black are in the entrance hall." Sirius looked up at the sound of Nearly Headless Nick's voice.
"Thank you, Sir Nicholas. I'll go down to meet them." She walked to the doorway, paused, and looked back at Sirius. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again with an almost imperceptible shake of the head. She followed Nick out of her office.
Sirius realized that he had been holding his breath. He exhaled sharply as he stood and began pacing the room. "Alone in a teacher's office," he thought wryly as he kicked his trunk, "and a trunkful of dungbombs and fireworks. Should be a dream come true." He sank down onto his trunk and dropped his head as he ran his fingers through his hair. The sound of the office door opening caused Sirius to leap to his feet.
"Only got a minute, Padfoot. McGonagall's on her way with your parents." James waved the Marauder's Map in the air, and Sirius nodded.
"Did you get in to see him?"
"Yeah, Pomfrey let me in, but…" The pained expression on James's face told Sirius what he had sent James to learn.
"But he won't see me," Sirius said in a defeated tone.
Sirius nodded. He hadn't really expected Remus to be willing to talk to him, but he had hoped. He dropped his gaze to the floor.
"Thanks for trying, James, and—and thank you for last night. I'd never forgive myself if Remus had hurt someone because of me, even if it was Snape." He looked up into his friend's blue eyes. "I'm really a bloody idiot sometimes, aren't I?"
"Absolutely," James said with a slight smile. "But at least you get to start your summer holiday a month earlier than the rest of us."
"I doubt I'll survive that long once my parents learn what I did." He glanced at the map in James's hand. "You'd better go, Prongs. McGonagall's so angry with me that it might spill over onto you."
"Yeah…" James murmured as he looked closely at the map. "Damn. Too late." He hastily folded the map and hid it in his pocket a moment before the door opened.
"Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall said icily, "Shouldn't you be at supper?"
"On my way, Professor. I just wanted to give Sirius a textbook that he forgot to pack." James took one step toward the door before turning back to Sirius and embracing him.
"Thank you again, James," Sirius said quietly. James left without a word, nodding at Sirius's parents as he passed.
Time stretched to a crawl as the three adults stared at Sirius. Finally Professor McGonagall spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Black. "Professor Dumbledore wanted to speak to you himself, but I'm afraid he was just called to London on an urgent matter."
Mr. Black nodded. "I'm afraid that Professor Dumbledore's letter was rather vague about what Sirius did. Could you please explain, Professor?" Professor McGonagall looked momentarily troubled and pressed her lips together tightly. "Please understand, we aren't disputing that Sirius earned this suspension. God knows that he's probably earned dozens, but this is the first one he's gotten, and we'd like to understand what he did."
"I'm afraid that I can't explain the details unless you already know something else," she replied. She then looked at Sirius. "Do they know?"
"No," he said quietly. No, he still hadn't told his parents that one of his best friends is a werewolf.
* * * * *
Thanks for the letter. You're slipping. It took me less than a day to figure what to say in order to make the message visible. "James is a Quidditch god"? Too obvious.
Did you see the article in today's Daily Prophet about the werewolf who attacked that family in Cornwall? Mum and Dad were talking about it at breakfast and they said some awful things. My own parents! I'm sure you can imagine. "You can't trust any of them." "They should all be locked up." "They're dangerously violent all month long." It made me feel sick inside.
The worst part—I didn't say anything! Not one bloody word! I was afraid that if I started, I'd say too much. (Oh my God! Thinking before I speak! Remus is rubbing off on me!) The perfect argument against all the stupid stereotypes is to say, "You know my friend Remus? My kind, polite, peaceful, trustworthy friend Remus? Well, he's a werewolf." But I can't!
I've always pretended to myself that we need to keep it a secret because the parents of the other students might object to Remus being at Hogwarts and get him expelled. But the truth is, my parents are just as much of a threat. We all know it. You, Peter, and I have known for almost 3 years. You never told your parents, and Peter and I still haven't told ours.
I guess it isn't their fault that they don't know any better. They all learned the same misinformation in Defense Against the Dark Arts that we've had to suffer through. But I know better, and I don't think I could ever look Remus in the eye again if I don't say something to my parents. Don't worry. I won't tell them about Remus. I don't know what I'll say, but I know what not to say.
Wish me eloquence!
* * * * *
"Tell us everything, Sirius," his mother said with deadly calm. Her dark brown eyes fixed Sirius with a look that allowed no argument.
Somehow, he managed to shake his head slightly and said, "You just need to know that I was thoughtless and reckless. I acted without thinking. I put people's lives in danger."
"Was anyone hurt?" his father asked with the same forced calmness.
"Not yet," was Professor McGonagall's reply.
Sirius was startled. "'No.' The answer is supposed to be, 'No.' No one was hurt thanks to James," he thought.
"And if common sense prevails over prejudice," she continued while looking at Sirius, "no one will be hurt."
Dread settled on Sirius as an enormous weight on his chest, making every breath, every heartbeat, a struggle. "Prejudice…werewolves…Dumbledore called to London…the Ministry is going to kill Remus…" Professor McGonagall's face disappeared into darkness.
* * * * *
Sirius knew that his mother was staring at him. She hadn't eaten a bite since dinner started. She always knew when something was bothering him; she said she could see it in his eyes. He avoided looking into her face as he ate.
"Sirius, what did you do this time?"
"Why won't you look at me then?"
"Damned if I do, damned if I don't."
"Either you did something and you want to confess, or something else is bothering you. Either way, you aren't getting any peace until you tell me."
"It's nothing important," he lied, "and I'd rather talk to you and Dad together." That part was true. If he were going to try to find the right words, he'd prefer to do it just once.
"It isn't important, but you need to speak to both of us," she repeated. Sirius glanced up and saw his mother's lips tighten. He was uncomfortably reminded of how Professor McGonagall looked just before saying, "Detention." This was going to be a long dinner.
A quiet "pop" announced his father's arrival home. Sirius saw his mother smile like a cat who just caught a bird. He'd have to tell all now.
"Good evening, all." Aeneas put a hand on Sirius's shoulder and leaned down to give his wife a kiss.
"Welcome home, Dear. You're home earlier than I expected," she said.
"What do you mean? I said that I'd try to be home for dinner."
"Exactly," she replied with a smile at Sirius. They both knew that if he said that he "would" be home for dinner, that he might, but if he said that he would "try" to be home, the chances were somewhere between slim and none. All employees of the Ministry of Magic were quite busy these days. His father shook his head with a bemused smile and set a place for himself for dinner.
"How was work, Dad?"
"Boring for a change—and I loved it. It's nice to have a bit of a breather, a day without a crisis."
"Well, I do hope your breather left you well rested enough to deal with the latest installment in 'The Confessions of Sirius Black'," Sirius's mother said as she raised her eyebrows inquiringly at her son.
"What did you do this time?" His father's voice was carefully neutral and he began to eat his dinner.
"I didn't …" Sirius began but stopped. "That's exactly the problem. I should've spoken up, but I didn't." He put down his fork and looked directly at his father. "Actually, there is one thing." He glanced at his mother and saw her slightly triumphant expression at having read her son correctly. "I was talking with some people and they said some things I didn't like." He took a deep breath as he chose his words. "Some things that were based on stereotypes and prejudices. Now I feel guilty for not speaking up."
His father nodded understandingly. "Most people have done that at some point in their lives. It's to your credit that you feel you should have spoken up."
"What did they say?" his mother asked. Sirius saw his father tense at the question.
"Does it really matter, Maggie? We've heard it all before." Maggie Black's mother was muggle-born. She and her family had put up with "Mudblood" comments and the like their whole lives.
"You don't have to worry about my feelings," she said and smiled encouragingly at her son. "What did they say, Sirius?"
Sirius looked from one to the other and couldn't resist a nervous smile. "Not what you think. It was about werewolves." "No going back now. Don't say too much, you idiot."
His parents glanced nervously at each other but remained silent.
"This morning, you were talking about werewolves as if they weren't even people, but they are—28 nights out of 29 and 29 days out of 29." His mother frowned slightly and shifted uncomfortably in her chair. His father shook his head slowly.
"I'm glad that you're compassionate, Sirius," his father began, "but you have to understand that even when werewolves are in their human form, they are always part wolf."
"True," Sirius said smiling. He remembered how Remus used to growl when annoyed during first and second year. "But they can control it." Remus hadn't growled at him in a couple years, even though Sirius had certainly provoked him on numerous occasions.
"Control it?" His father was scowling now and bitterness was in his voice. "Did you read that article in the Daily Prophet this morning, Son? A boy was killed and his mother was bitten while trying to save him. I don't call that control."
"But that was at the full moon, Dad. I'm not saying werewolves aren't dangerous at the full moon. I know that. I'm talking about the rest of the month."
"All right, Sirius. Let's talk about 'the rest of the month' as you call it." With a sweep of his arm, Aeneas pushed his half-eaten dinner aside. He leaned forward on his elbows and looked intently at his son. "I know some people in the Werewolf Capture Unit of the Ministry, and I've heard their stories. I heard about a werewolf who repeatedly went into hiding just before the full moon because he didn't want anyone to lock him up while he was a wolf. I heard about a werewolf who lost his temper and killed two people with his bare hands." As his father spoke, Sirius raked his fingers through his hair in frustration.
He asked, "But what about all the werewolves you haven't heard about because they've never caused any trouble?" He looked at his mother then. He thought she was being strangely silent. "What about the ones who don't lose their tempers, and who willing lock themselves up at the full moon because they don't want to hurt anyone? Should they be treated like monsters?"
"No," she said quietly. His father exhaled sharply and stood up. He began to clear the table, and Sirius rose to help. When his father spoke again, it was in a gentler tone.
"I'm sorry, Sirius, but I think you're being naïve. You're still young. You see the world as you wish it to be instead of how it is." The bitterness was creeping back into his voice.
Sirius squared his shoulders and pulled himself to his full height as he blocked his father's path back to the table. At fifteen, Sirius was taller than all of his friends and almost as tall as his father. He wanted his dad to see that he was growing up.
"I'm not as naïve as you think I am. I know how dangerous things are now—all my friends do. James's parents were murdered. Remus once predicted that none of us would live to twenty-five." Sirius paused as he saw his father flinch. "The point I'm trying to make, rather badly I'm afraid," Sirius smiled apologetically, "is that I'm not seeing the world as I wish it to be. I just—I just know that I'm right about this."
"Sirius, you know someone who is a werewolf, don't you?" his mother asked. Sirius turned to face her while thinking quickly. She wouldn't believe a denial, and keeping Remus's name out wasn't enough. He couldn't let them know that it was someone at Hogwarts.
"One of my friends knows a werewolf," he said. "That part is true." "And I've met him a few times." "At least a few."
His mother pulled out his chair. "Come here, Honey. Tell me about him." Sirius sank into the chair, grateful for the calm tone of her voice. He glanced at his father and saw him scowling slightly as his crossed his arms and leaned back against the sink. Under the table, Sirius felt an encouraging paw on his knee and reached out to scratch the head of one of his dogs.
"First of all, he's never hurt anyone," Sirius began, "and he's one of the nicest people I've ever met. But none of that matters to people when they find out what he is. He's always afraid of people finding out."
His mother nodded and then looked at her husband. "Maybe Sirius does know more about this than we do. We don't know anyone who is a werewolf, and he does." She looked at Sirius again and the inquiring expression was back. "Or do we?"
Sirius smiled and shrugged his shoulders. His father sighed, returned to the table, and sat next to Sirius.
"I suppose you're pretty disappointed in your dad."
"Only a bit."
"I just want you to be safe, Sirius. There are so many people and so many things that I can't protect you from, and—I just want you to be safe."
"I know, Dad."
* * * * *
"Sirius…Sirius, wake up, Honey…please wake up, Sirius…" Sirius heard his mother's voice somewhere high above him. He felt himself rising up through a thick cloudbank to her.
"I'll bring him up to the hospital wing." His father's voice this time.
"No," Sirius struggled to say. The room became clearer. "No, I can't go up there. James said."
"Hmm. Forgotten textbook," Professor McGonagall murmured as she pulled open a desk drawer. "Perhaps it is better if Sirius rests here. Why don't you eat this, Sirius? It should help." She handed a Chocolate Frog to Aeneas Black.
"Impedimenta," he said under his breath as he unwrapped the enchanted candy. He then handed the temporarily stilled frog to Sirius.
"Thank you, Professor." Sirius pushed himself up to a sitting position and bit off the head of the frog. The image of a tabby cat pouncing on a hopping Chocolate Frog flickered through his mind. He smiled feebly at his teacher and mentally promised himself that Padfoot would never again chase cats.
"Well, I have several matters that need to be attended to. You are all welcome to stay in my office until you feel that Sirius is ready to travel. Sirius, Professor Dumbledore said that he would be sending you an owl from London."
Sirius nodded, understanding. Professor Dumbledore would let him know if Remus was in danger from the Ministry. He finished eating the frog as he listened to his parents saying good bye to Professor McGonagall. As he stood up, his mother whirled around to face him again.
"Sit, young man. I'm not watching you keel over again."
He sank into a chair. "Yes, Ma'am."
She sighed as she sat back on her heels in front of him and held his hands in her own. "I think you need to tell us more, Honey." Sirius nodded. It was time to tell them. Remus needed as many allies as he could get. He looked at his father.
"But first," Sirius began, "please promise me that you'll help Remus. None of this is his fault."
"So, you and Remus were pulling a prank on someone?" his father asked.
"No!" His overly emphatic answer caused his mother to jump. "It was me. I did it. Remus did nothing wrong, but it's Remus who'll be blamed."
"Has he been suspended too?" His mother asked as she moved back into the other chair before the fireplace.
"No," Sirius said with a worried shake of the head. "I'm afraid they might kill him."
His father laughed. "Has Mr. Filch been threatening the four of you with bodily harm again?"
"No! He's really in danger. Promise me that you'll help him, or I can't tell you." Sirius's parents exchanged startled glances.
"Of course we'll help Remus. Who wants to hurt him and why?" Aeneas Black asked as he moved to stand beside his wife's chair.
"Do you remember the summer before last when I told you that I know someone who is a werewolf?" His mother looked puzzled for a moment and then her eyes widened as she realized the truth.
"Oh—I can't believe—Remus?"
Sirius nodded. "He was bitten when he was five. Only a few of us know. He thought that he could trust me, and I've ruined everything." He looked up at his father hoping to see the same concern that his mother was showing, but his father's expression was unreadable.
"Tell us what happened, Sirius," his father prompted.
"It was the full moon last night," he saw his mother recoil slightly, "and Remus went with Madam Pomfrey to a safe place they have for him to transform. He can't get out, and only a few people know how to get in. That's when I did something incredibly stupid. Snape—Severus Snape—"
"The Slytherin boy you're always fighting with?"
"Yeah. He was spying on Remus and trying to find an excuse to get him expelled. He saw where Remus went, and—and I told him how to get in." Sirius saw his father's grip on the back of the chair tighten. "I was angry at him, and I wanted to frighten him. I never meant for Remus to hurt him."
"But he did," his father stated with that artificial calmness again.
"No, he's fine, but—but only because James went in after him and got him out in time." His mother glanced involuntarily at the doorway where she last saw James. "James is fine, too," Sirius assured her. "No thanks to me. It's Remus I'm worried about. What McGonagall said just before I—keeled over—I'm afraid that the Ministry might blame Remus for the whole thing just because he's a werewolf."
Sirius rose and stood in front of his father. "I'm the one who's dangerous, not Remus. We can't let them lock him up or—" The words died in his throat as the heavy feeling of dread crushed his chest again.
"No, we can't," his father said as he pulled his frightened child into an embrace. "We won't let them hurt your friend."
Disclaimer: All characters, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling. (As if you had any doubt.)