Behind the Story PlotEdit
Fenrir Greyback wants the moonstone, so he goes to somebody that he knows is in contact with the Minister of Magic and the Department of Mysteries. He threatens to infect the entire Mahenry family if Jerome does not get him the sacred stone. Jerome, terrified, goes to his older brother, Cygnus, for help and together, they beg Cornelius Fudge for the gem. Fudge refuses but fortunately for him, Jerome knows who the key-holder is. The Mahenry brothers deduct a plan to kidnap Amelia Fudge, determined only to return her home in exchange for the moonstone.
Short Brief of Major EventsEdit
Rowan Frost, an ordinary muggle girl, is invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Going from normal student to brave Gryffindor destined for greatness in a big transition for anybody. Fortunately for her, with inspiration from popular and pretty Lily Evans and her friendship with Remus Lupin, she is able to deal with it without much trouble.
That is, until she hears whispers of a kidnapping. With help from Remus, Rowan is able to listen into the kidnappers’ secret conversation. Regretfully, the only piece of useful information that they are able to discover is that the event will take place near the time of the fast-approaching Christmas holidays. As they are both going home soon, they are forced into asking Sirius Black for help. Naturally, he agrees.
When Rowan and Remus return, it’s all over the newspapers; MISSING: AMELIA FUDGE. Sirius fills them both in on everything that he learnt, but again, everything is worthless. Frustrated and determined to help this poor girl, Rowan keeps trying to find the kidnappers. She has no luck. That is, until she catches a glimpse of a figure entering the Forbidden Forest.
She immediately goes to wake the boys and, with the invisibility cloak, they use the secret portrait passageway to get out of the castle. They then follow the mysterious person through the woods to a tiny bothy where they find Fenrir Greyback and Jerome and Cygnus Mahenry.
Rowan, Remus, James and Sirius sneak inside and listen in, but are soon discovered when somebody trips and the invisibility cloak slips. Drugged with a powerful Sleeping Draught and deprived of all magical objects, they are locked in a room with Amelia Fudge.
They wake up – presumably – the following night to find the bothy silent. Rowan and Sirius go to collect their belongings after James remembers that he had managed to pocket the invisibility cloak and his wand, whilst the remaining two help Amelia to escape.
After a close call with Greyback, they are able to get their stolen wands and run back to Hogwarts without much difficulty.
Chapter Two - The JourneyEdit
"Firs' Years! Over Here! Firs' Years!"
As soon as Rowan had stepped off of the train and onto the platform, she had been swept away in a wave of students. She had completely lost sight of Remus, Lily and Severus - who never had returned to our compartment - so it came as quite a relief when she heard the great, gruff voice calling out above all of the chatter.
Turning around, Rowan was startled to see a gigantic man, most of his face hidden by wild, bushy hair. He was standing in the midst of the sea of pupils, the lantern in his hand bobbing up and down well above everybody else's heads.
Warily, Rowan fought through the crowd, glad to see other children of around her own age also making their way over to the man. Once she was about a minute or so away, she stopped, gazing around at the other gathered first year's. Lily, who appeared to have found Severus, was standing by two dark haired boys and looked to be deep in conversation with a girl with short, spiky hair. Across from her, was the group of giggling girls from the Hogwarts Express and Remus was standing to the side of them, a short, chubby boy next to him, although they appeared to be looking in opposite directions.
"Is that all o' yeh?" the huge man boomed. When nobody replied, he began to move forward. "All righ'! Follow me, firs' years!"
Nervously, Rowan followed him off of the platform and onto a narrow path - though she couldn't be sure, as it was so dark, she had to squint to see more than an arms-length in front of her. The damp earth trail curved steeply downwards and tree roots jutted out of the ground on either side. Rowan stumbled and slipped a couple of times, but was able to keep her balance - unlike the spiky-haired girl that Lily had been speaking to, who managed to fall flat on her face at least twice.
"If yeh all look round this nex' corner, yeh'll be able to see Hogwarts," the giant man told us.
As Rowan continued onwards, the trees began to thin and the path gave way to a large lake. The starry sky was reflected perfectly onto the great stretch of twisting black water and at the other side, on top of a mountain cliff, was a huge castle. Light poured through its arched windows and its many turrets and towers reached high up into the air.
Ooh`s and aah`s broke out on either side of me as other people caught a glimpse of the magical school, and the crowd soon burst into a excited babble.
"Four to a boat!" the man yelled above the noise. "Hurry along now! All o' yeh," he added to the two dark haired boys that I had seen earlier on. The one with the curls leaped down from the tree that he had been attempting to climb, grinning sheepishly.
Rowan followed everybody to the edge of the lake where there was a jetty. Beyond that was a cluster of small, wooden boats. By the time she got to the edge of the platform, there was only one boat left. Nervously, she stepped into it, grabbing onto the side as it lurched violently. Remus, who was already sitting down, reached out for my other arm to steady Rowan. Rowan smiled at him gratefully, walking carefully over to the bench and sitting down beside him. They were soon joined by the two dark haired boys.
"Righ' then," the man, who seemed to have taken up a whole boat all by himself, hollered. "Everybody ready?" There was a few scattered nods. "FORWARD!"
The two boys, who Rowan still did not know the names of, hurriedly grabbed an oar each and began to row forwards. Meanwhile, Rowan looked on in amazement as all around me, people glided over the glimmering, dark liquid, heading towards a gaping hole in the rock face of the cliff. Out little boat was sailing smoothly, despite how rickety it looked, until;
Startled, Rowan turned to see the bespectacled boy with the messy black hair leaning over the side of the boat. It wasn't until saw the oar that he had been holding floating in the water did she realize what had happened.
"Here!" the other boy cried, tossing the oar towards him. Rowan gasped, ducking down as it flew over her head. "Use this to get it back." The boy with the glasses nodded.
"Good thinking, Sirius," he responded, once again leaning over the side. A moment later Rowan heard a faint plop and the boy cursed under his breath.
"James!" the one who I assumed to be called Sirius said slowly. "Please tell me you didn't just drop that?"
"I didn't just drop that," James replied. When Sirius gave a small sigh of relief, he added, "Now how are we going to get it back?"
Rowan glanced up to see the others slowly disappearing through the ivy curtain by the mountain, far up ahead. Remus and Rowan exchanged an anxious look.
“Wait!” Sirius warned as James made another attempt to reach the oars which, by now, were making their way up to the castle without us. “I’ll try and get them! You’ll probably fall out!”
James shot him a glare, but sat down without protesting. Sirius got to his feet, causing the boat to sway dangerously. He took a step forwards and I slid down the bench as Remus was almost thrown overboard.
“Stop!” I cried before he could move any further. “I’ll get them back!”
As I was lighter and closer to the edge, I managed to clamber over easily. Getting the oars back, however, proved to be a lot more troublesome.
Though I was lighter than Sirius, I was quite a bit smaller, meaning my arms weren’t nearly as long as they needed to be. I had to lean much further out of the boat than I would have liked to before I was able to grasp my hand around the slippery handle of the oar. I heaved it partly out of the water and pulled it back to my stomach. Pausing for breath, I reached out again, making sure to keep a tight hold of it with both of my hands. Rescuing the other one required a lot more effort.
As it had been dropped a while ago, it had been carried right out into the centre of the lake – much unlike us. Stretching out as far as I could without falling out, I began to scoop the second oar back towards us. It was just inches away from being within easy reach when a wave passed underneath the boat.
I flew forwards, feeling my grip on the oar loosen and gave a startled cry. I would have almost certainly tumbled into the lake if arms had not wrapped themselves around my waist, dragging me safely back into the boat. The oar that had still been in my hands fell to the floor with a clatter and I flopped back onto the bench, my heart thumping in my chest.
“Thanks, Remus,” I managed to gasp out, realizing that it had been him that had saved me from falling into the icy waters. Remus smiled faintly, shrugging his shoulders in a modest reply.
“Got it!” I looked up to see James, who was waving the second oar triumphantly in the air. “Well done, err...” He looked at me pointedly.
“Rowan,” I told him.
He nodded and began to help Sirius row us to the edge of the cliff. Within moments we were passing through some kind of tunnel that seemed to have been built right underneath the very school. Its walls, shimmering with acrid water, arched high above my head.
It didn’t take long before we reached the other boats and, I saw with a sigh of relief, the other first years and the giant-man waiting for us.
When the boat had reached as far as it could to the edge of the lake, I climbed out onto the rocks after James, waiting for Remus to catch up before hurrying over to everybody else.
“Are yeh lot all righ’?” the giant-man asked us gruffly. “Didn’ fall in, did yeh?”
Sirius shook his head.
“No,” he replied. “We just had a slight incident with the oars.”
“And it was not at all my fault,” James added quickly.
The giant-man shook his head vaguely before turning and leading us the rest of the way through the stone passageway. As our footsteps echoed around the cave, I was suddenly glad to be in the middle of the crowd and hurried to keep up with them, anxious not to fall behind again.
After ascending a large flight of stairs, I stopped behind a magnificent pair of tall, oak double doors. I gazed at the giant-man in awe as he raised his humongous hand and knocked loudly three times. At once the door opened to reveal a stern-faced woman with dark hair tied up in a tight bun and robes of a deep blue.
“Professor McGonagall,” the giant-man addressed her. “Sorry we’re a bit behind schedule.” The woman shook her head.
“Not at all, Hagrid,” she assured him. “You may leave us here.” Turning to us, she continued, “Welcome to Hogwarts. Please follow me.”
:Note: Improve length and detail! Replace Lupin with Snape for a more interesting scene!
Chapter Three - The Sorting HatEdit
"When I call your name, you will put the hat on your head and sit down on the stool to be sorted!" Professor McGonagall cried. "Abbott, Henry!"
A boy with masses of curly brown hair and a very red nose stepped forwards and sat down on the stool. The moment Professor McGonagall placed the hat on his head, it shouted;
The table that was furthest left cheered loudly and Henry Abbott ran to join them, while I gawped in astonishment.
A small, rosy-cheeked girl with wavy brown hair moved hurriedly to the front of the room, her blue eyes flashing nervously.
Sirius stepped out from in front of me, tripping on his robes as he stumbled across to where Professor McGonagall was standing. He managed to regain his balance before he fell and flopped down onto the stool, taking long, shaking breaths and muttering something to himself quietly. As I hadn't ever imagined him to be shy, I was startled, even if I hadn't known him for more than half and hour.
Sirius grinned widely, despite the fact that his applause was noticeably quieter than everybody else's, and went to join the Gryffindor table. The list went on and on. Alexandria Chase was sorted into Ravenclaw, Lily and Alice Fortescue to Gryffindor, while Morris Elmes was placed in Hufflepuff.
I could feel myself shaking. My knees were wobbling so much that I felt sure that I would lost my balance and embarrass myself in front of the whole school. The distance between where I was and Professor McGonagall seemed to increase by about a mile as I ploughed onwards, finally sitting down on the wobbly three-legged stool. As soon as the Sorting Hat was put onto my head, an earsplitting voice cut through my worried thoughts.
"A Frost, eh? I've only ever had one of you before," it said. "Your loyal, yes, there's no doubt about that, but you don't seem to be a Hufflepuff as she was. Oh no, no, no... Your far too cunning, and what's this? A definite thirst to prove yourself. How peculiar; a Mudblood Slytherin."
I glanced out towards the Slytherin table and a flash of fear shot through me. I didn't want to be one of them. I wanted to be with Lily and Severus.
"You'd like to be a Gryffindor? Yes, I can see it all here; bravery, courage, chivalry... My, you are difficult to place, Miss Frost. You would be perfect for Slytherin, yet you seemed to be destined for its rival house. What a shame."
The voice stopped and suddenly, the Sorting Hat bellowed;
With a small sigh of relief, I leaped to my feet to join Alice Fortescue and Lily, who beamed delightedly at me. I wass able to relax at last as I watched David Gudgeon being sorted into Ravenclaw. Lucy Halt and Deborah Jacks went to Hufflepuff.
Remus and James joined Sirius, as did a stumpy boy named Peter Pettigrew. Professor McGonagall continued to call out name after name until she came to,
"Zabini, Undecided!" who was placed in Slytherin house.
As soon as Undecided Zabini had settled down, an old man roses from his seat. He had a long white beard, robes of dark purple and piercing blue eyes which he gazed out at us with over the top of his half-moon spectacles.
"Welcome to Hogwarts!" he announced. "Before we get too befuddled with our meals, I have a few start of term notices. Professor Bud would like to inform everybody that she has planted a new tree near the Great Lake. Very dangerous plants, are Whomping Willows, so I would advise you all to stay well clear of it. Secondly, our caretaker, Argus Filch, has asked me to remind you that magic is not to be used in the corridors, and lastly, the forest on the grounds is, as per usual, strictly out of bounds. That is all! Pausing, the man who I guessed to be Professor Dumbledore - the Headmaster - clapped his hands. "Let the feast begin!"
Instantly, a wide variety of different cuisine appeared inside the empty platters and bowls that lines the lengths of each of the four tables and a delicious smell filled the air. The whole of the Great Hall erupted into a joyous blabber. I looked around in wonder, taking everything in, before piling my plate high with food. From across the table, I heard Sirius speaking;
"Pass the mash will you, Angus?"
"That's my name."
"Huh's your name? I thought you were called, Angus?"
"No! My name is Remus!"
"Are you sure?"
I smiled to myself, plunging into a conversation with Lily and Alice Fortescue, knowing that I had finally found a place where I fit in and looking forward to the year that lay ahead.
NOTE: More detail on the appearance of the Entrance and Great Hall. Perhaps the School Song could be added at the end (Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy, Warty...).
Chapter Four - Defence Against the Dark ArtsEdit
Th next day started with a lesson in Defence Against the Dark Arts. As Hogwarts was so large, it had taken me quite some time to find the classroom. With the hundreds of moving staircases, the many unnecessary rooms and the very unhelpful ghosts, it was almost impossible to find my way around the castle. After taking a wrong turn on my way out of the Great Hall, I had asked an older student for directions and had ended up at a cupboard with a pond and several ducks inside.
After helping Alice Fortescue and another girl named Marlene McKinnon out of the Owlery, I finally made it to the Defense Against the Dark Arts room.
"Turn to page three of your copy of Defence Against the Dark Arts for Beginners," Professor Mahenrie, the teacher, snapped.
I quickly sat down beside a wavy-haired girl, Katie Anderson, pulling my book out of my bag and quickly opening it.
Professor Mahenrie stalked up to the front of the room, his narrowed blue eyes glaring out at everybody. As they rested on me, I felt a small shiver run down my spine and looked down at the old, wooden desk that I was sitting at.
"Why are there two empty seats?" Mahenrie barked.
"James Potter and Sirius Black aren't here yet, sir," a boy that I didn't recognize squeaked after a moment of silence. MaHenrie walked briskly over to the boy's desk and continued,
"Where are they?"
"I- I don't know, sir," the boy stammered, trembling under the Professor's icy gaze.
"They were still in the Dormitory when I left."
I looked up in surprise as Remus spoke confidently and calmly. His voice was still quiet and it quivered slightly as he neared the end of his sentence, but he didn't sound nearly as shy as yesterday. As well as this, he didn't seem almost as ill and tired as earlier.
"This is a lesson, Mr Lupin," Mahenrie growled in response. "You shall address me as Professor or Sir." Remus sank down into his chair as he went on, "My name is Professor Mahenrie and we are beginning the year with a project on basic defensive spells. Please read the page in front of you."
Hurriedly, I looked down, my eyes scanning the crisp, white paper. The passage was about a disarming spell that, if performed correctly, would deprive the opponent of his or her wand. Just as I was finishing the last paragraph, the door flew open.
"Sorry we're late, Professor!"
James and Sirius stood inside the classroom, sounding very out of breath, their hair sticking up at odd angles.
"Where have you been?" Mahenrie demanded, his voice deathly calm. James shifted awkwardly, running a hand nervously through his already dishevelled hair.
"Well," he began. "We kind of slept in... And then we got lost."
"Then perhaps you should get a map," Mahenrie responded coolly.
"We asked a ghost for directions," Sirius went on. "But he sent us up to Dumbledore's office!"
"Professor Dumbledore," Mahenrie said sharply before James cut across him.
"He told us how to get here, but we must have turned right instead of left because we ended up at McGonagall's Transfiguration class as they were starting a test. She wasn't very pleased and-"
"All right!" Mahenrie interrupted. "Sit down! Ten points will be taken away from Gryffindor, from all three of you."
"Ten points?!" James exclaimed, outraged. He opened his mouth but quickly paused, his eyebrows furrowing in confusion. "Wait, three? Only two of us are late!
"Do I look like I'm blind, Mr Potter?" Mahenrie hissed. "Of course there are only two of you! But I'm going to have to take points away from Mr Lupin as well. He should have woken you before he left."
"What?!" James cried. "You can't do that!"
"It wasn't Angu-Remus's fault!" Sirius agreed.
"Sit down!" Mahenrie growled.
James and Sirius shot each other a lot but sat down without any further complaint. Mahenrie's lips twisted into a smirk.
"That's unfair!" I blurted before I could stop myself. The Defence Against the Dark Arts professor whipped around, his eyes blazing blue fire. I heard Remus's muffled groan from across the other side of the room and, ignoring it, proceeded to hold Mahenrie's gaze defiantly.
"I was not under the impression that it was your place to decide how I can and cannot teach, Miss Frost," he said tartly. "This matter does not concern you." When I did not reply, he continued, "It doesn't look as if Gryffindor is having the best of days; I'm going to have to take another ten points away from you for telling me how to teach my own class."
"I wasn't telling you how to teach your class," I replied without thinking. "I was merely stating the truth."
"Detention, Miss Frost! You will come to my office next Tuesday afternoon, and I suggest that you learn to hold your tongue if you do not wish to make it more than three days." With that, he stormed up to the front of the room and went on to tell the class about the Expelliarmus spell, leaving me gawping after him.
Chapter Five - Lost and FoundEdit
"You didn't have to do that for me you know?" Remus mumbled as we left the Defence Against the Dark Arts room. Professor Mahenrie's harsh words seemed to have knocked what was left of his confidence from him. As he spoke, his fingers twizzled anxiously with the ends of his sleeve and he directed his words at the floor instead of at me.
"I know," I told him simply, allowing myself to be swept into the fast moving crowd. Remus dived in after, tripping over passing feet as he tried not to be separated from me.
"So why did you stick up for me?"
Dodging to the side to avoid being hit in the face by a book bag, I turned a sharp corner that led to the Potions classroom. Fortunately the corridor there was very almost deserted and there were no doors, moving staircases or confusing turn-offs. There was just a straight pathway to our destination.
I turned to face Remus.
"Isn't that what friends do?"
I couldn't help but let a small smile slip as Remus stared at me in surprise. His blue-grey eyes were skeptical and his jaw was dropping in amazement, but his expression, although dazed, was full of pleasure. It was obvious that he had a low self-esteem - if low was the right way to put it; it was as if he had been brought up to believe that he was a slug - so I therefore took satisfaction in seeing him happy.
"You... Y-You want to be m-my friend?" Remus spluttered, looking at me as if I had sprouted a second head.
"That's right," I nodded. "Now we better get to class."
A grin spread itself across Remus's lips as he began to walk forwards, a new-found purposeful stride in his step. Having only ever seen him look miserable or nervous, I found it quite peculiar.
The corridor continued onwards for what seemed like miles. From time to time there was a corner, but there seemed to be no doors or windows; only paintings lining the walls. It would have been pitch black if it were not for the burning torches, held up and secured by brackets. I felt a small shiver run down my spine; we hadn't passed anybody in at least ten minutes and we didn't seem to be getting anywhere.
Just as the thought entered my mind that perhaps it would be a good idea to turn back, a door appeared ahead. Remus reached out to open it.
"Lupin, Lupin, loopy, loony, Lupin!" the voice was loud, screechy and successfully caused me to jump out of my skin. "Loopy, loony, loopy, loony, Lupin!"
Remus glanced at me warily but, receiving no response, stepped forwards anyway. He soon disappeared from sight.
"U-um, ex-excuse me?"
A faint clang, followed by a splash resulted in Remus's startled cry. I held my breathe as I waited for him to re-emerge.
"Aww! Is ickle Woopin scared of old Peeves?"
Remus leaped back out into the corridor, dripping from head to toe with water. Throwing me a terrified look, he had just enough time to mouth the word run to me before something white with an almost translucent look to it swooped out of the door.
It was a ghost, I realized with a start as I legged it down the corridor, and it was chasing after us with a bucket of water. With no time to ponder over this strange occurrence, I concentrated inky on putting one foot in front of the other. Judging by the state of Remus u ahead, it didn't look as if it would be very pleasant to have a container of icy wetness tipped over my head.
Flying around another turn, I wouldn't have noticed the squint angle of the portrait in front of us if I had been going any faster. With a quick glance behind me, I grabbed Remus's arm and dragged him with me.
Gripping the picture frame, I began to push with all of my might. Thankfully, it wasn't too heavy - as if it had been designed especially for this particular use - and we were soon both safely inside.
After making sure that the ghost was out of ear-shot, Remus turned to gawp at me.
"How did you know that-that="
"That this was a secret passageway?" I finished. "The portrait was squint. It wasn't covering the hole properly."
Shaking his head and smiling to himself, Remus turned around.
"This must go on for ages," he gasped. "Should we follow it?"
I glanced at the light spilling in through the portrait.
"Well," I said after a moments thought. "I don't fancy being chased by another ghost."
"And I don't fancy having another bucket of water chucked over my head," Remus agreed. "But who knows what may be lurking up ahead?"
★ ★ ★
One minute I was walking through an empty, dark passageway, the next I was colliding with something hard. At first I thought that we had perhaps reached a dead end. When the dead end gave an alarmed cry, I figured maybe not. My heart skipped a beat as I was pulled to the floor.
In the tangle of kicking limbs and wands, Remus was the only one smart enough - or brave enough - to speak the incantation,
"What are you doing here?" the face of Sirius Black was not but a few millimetres away from my own.
"What are you doing here?" was my response.
"We're hopelessly lost!" came James's voice from not far away. "We've been wandering around all morning!"
"How did you get in here?" Remus asked incredulously.
"Through a door," Sirius said, scrabbling to his feet. "How did you get in here?" Shooting him a glare, I struggled into an upright position, turning to Remus. The blueish glow that emitted from the tip of his wand was enough to illuminate his face and slice through the darkness around us, but nothing more.
"We need to get to class," I announced, already making my way past Sirius. Remus was close behind.
"Wait!" James cried. "Where are my glasses? I can't see a thing!" There was a while of impatient silence. "It's all right! Panic over! They were in my hair!"
After a fifteen minute or so walk we, sure enough, came to a door. It was old, wooden and looked very out of place in the middle of an otherwise empty concrete wall. James confidently strode over and opened it.
Chapter Six -Edit
"I've tried to mix you up as much as possible," the teacher was going on. "But I'm afraid that because we have more Gryffindors than Slytherins, you will not all be paired with somebody from a different House." Pausing, Professor Slughorn shuffled through his notes until he came to a long sheet of paper. "Sirius Black and Severus Snape, Alice Fortescue and Richard Avery, Marlene McKinnon and Gordon Goyle, James Potter and Lily Evans..." I tuned our as the list went on, looking up only when Slughorn said, "Remus Lupin and Rowan Frost." He gestured to a desk that was near the front of the classroom and I quickly made my way over to it, Remus following closely behind.
Once everybody had setted down, Professor Slughorn pulled over an old blackboard. On it, he had written, Pepperup Potion and beneath a long list of what appeared to be ingrediants.
"First of all," Slughorn began. "Does anybody know what the Pepperup Potion does?" A few hands shot up across the room. "Lets see... As, Miss MacDonald, perhaps you could tell us?"
"Isn't that the potion you take when you have a cold?" asked a tall girl with long dark hair.
"Right you are, Miss MacDonald," the potions master agreed. "And today we are going to attempt to make it. You will work in pairs and the two that are able to produce the best potion will earn ten points each. I have taken the time to write up the instructions, so all you will need to do is follow them as accurately as you can. You may begin."
Eagerly, I placed my cauldron onto the desk while Remus pulled out his dried Mandrake roots. We worked in silence, cutting the roots up into equal chunks and adding the snake scales. It was only when we began to stir it together did wew realize just how awful at Potions we both were.
"Its supposed to be red," Remus told me, looking down at the green sludge that stuck to the bottom of the pot.
"And I highly doubt that it's supposed to move," I added, moving back a few paces as the sticky mixture twitched.
"Well," Remus eyed the pewter cauldron warily. "I don't think we're going to get those ten points." As the potion crawled across the table and slid down onto the floor, he leaped up onto a nearby stool. The green sludge then slithered over to my leg. Yelping, I jumped up onto the desk, pulling my knees up to my chin so that they were well out of reach.
"In fact," I said. "I think we could even lose points."
Remus brandished his wand from his pocket and directed it at the blob, truing to keep his hand as steady as possible.
"Mr Lupin, I don't remember telling you to use that spell," Slughorn scolded, his eyes never leaving the paper in front of him. "Though I may admire your knowledge on levitating, this is not a Charms class." Staring in horror at the live Pepperup Potion that was now floating in mid-air, I opened my mouth to protest. Before I could say anything, a high-pitched scream came from the lips of Marlene McKinnon. She was standing to the side of our desk, her blue eyes round and terrified.
"What in the name of Merlin is-" Slughorn broke off as he glanced upwards. A hushed silence filled the room as the class, which by now were all gawping at Remus and I, waited for the professor to make his next move.
Slughorn sprang to his feet, his chair falling to the floor with a clatter. Pulling a jar from his desk drawer, he warily reeled the creature towards him.
The failed potion wriggled and squirmed, but before it could free itself from the spell, he had it captured inside of the jar, making sure that the lid was securely shut.
The whole room, which seemed to have momentarily frozen, suddenly sprang to life. An excited chatter broke out amongst the students and a few of the bravest actually ventured up to Slughorn's desk and tapped on the glass of the jar. I let out the breath that I hadn't realized I had been holding and climbed down off of the table while Remus stepped from his stool.
"Well," Professor Slughorn told me, catching my eye. "That was certainly an extraordinarily ... unique creation - though, perhaps not one that should be made again. I think it may be for the best if you and Mr Lupin step to the side while I finished the lesson."
Obliging without protest, Remus and I hovered by the door as Professor Slughorn announced the winners of the ten points, Lily and James, and began to lecture the class about the potion that we would be learning about next week. He was cut short when the bell rang.
"Right," he finished hastily. "Class dismissed! Have a good afternoon everybody!"
★ ★ ★
Chapter ? - Partners in CrimeEdit
December came along all too soon, and with it arrived the Christmas holidays. Having promised to meet Bonnie on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, I soon found myself sitting in a shared compartment with Remus on the the Hogwarts Express. Neither of us spoke, we just waited in apprehension as the wind battered the window and the snow continued to fall. We had not wanted t leave the school;
not with all that was supposedly going on at this very moment. We did not even know who these men were planning to kidnap. So, in a last attempt to stop the terrible crime - or to at least gather some more information - we had done the unthinkable.
Shifting restlessly on the red cushioned bench, I recalled what had happened yesterday. After a very long discussion, Remus and I finally agreed that it would be for the best if somebody were to help us out whilst we were absent. Of course, there was limited choice within Gryffindor - we had come to the conclusion that if we chose somebody from our own House, they would be less likely to report us for fear of losing House points - as most people were going back home for the Christmas holidays. Therefore, we were forced to go the one person that we knew would be happy to do our bidding. Unfortunately, this person happened to be Sirius Black.
Thankfully, he had listened to our explanation with a straight face, seemingly all ears. James, who had been sitting in the arm-chair beside him, had even looked concerned at the mention of the kidnapping. They had ruined everything of course, by breaking into large grins when told about the broom cupboard incident.
"Are you kidding?" James exclaimed after Remus had finished speaking. "Of course he'll help you!"
"Oh he will, will he?" Sirius scoffed, raising his eyebrows.
"Do you have any plans for the holidays?" Remus's question me into the present. It took a while for my eyes to focus on his slight figure, perched on the edge of the bench.
"No," I replied. "But my sister will make sure we're doing something - she always does." I smiled as I remembered last year; the fiery brunette had persuaded the entire family to take a trip out to Loch of Aboyne. It had all ended in disaster when my father had slipped on an icy patch and had fallen into the water.
"You will remember to write to me, won't you?"
I had returned to the common room to collect a forgotten textbook, only to find the small boy curled up in an arm-chair, staring blankly into the remaining embers yet to burn out. When he had turned around, I had been startled to see tears streaming down his cheeks. His unusually pale face was red and blotchy, leading me to believe that he had been crying for quite some time.
My immediate thought was to comfort him; to wrap him in my arms and to persuade him that everything would be okay. I did not do this of course as I knew from experience that occasionally, when somebody is upset, all they want is to be left alone. There was also the problem that perhaps everything would not be okay; I still did not no the reason that was causing Remus to become so emotional.
"What's the matter?" I asked softly, settling down on the sofa beside him. "What was Dumbledore saying?"
Remus's gaze was steady, despite the shakiness of the rest of his body. He probably would have answered by now if it were not for the sobs that wracked his chest, knocking all of the breath out of him each spasm. As it was, he did not reply but continued with his internal battle of emotions. He, however, was not crying as I had seen my siblings cry. Remus was not like my sister, Bonnie - who wailed loudly and pitifully - nor was he like my brother Aaron - who closed his eyes and tried to pretend that he was not hurt or upset. Remus just sat there, trembling, tears tumbling from his puffy glue-grey eyes. He seemed so defeated, so lonely, that my heart shattered just looking at him.
"I-it's sil-ly," he finally gasped out.
"It doesn't look silly to me," I responded.
"Well yo-ou wo-ouldn't u-understand," Remus tried.
I could tell that he was just looking for excuses not to tell me, but was too worked up to think up any valid answers to my replies. "Then help me to."
For a minute or so, Remus just sat with his eyes closed, bottom lip trembling. He seemed to be wondering whether or not to confess to me. "I'm a b-bad p-pe-person," his voice was barely a whisper. "A m-monster."
I felt a lump form inside of my throat and gently took the hand of the poor, distressed boy. "Don't say that!"
"I-It's true!" Remus protested. "You'll h-hate me w-when I tell yo-ou! Everybody does!" His voice, although quiet always, became increasingly high-pitched with each word each word until it reached the point of near-hysteria. His eyes, usually as calm as still water, were raging storms, full of self-loathing and fear. “R-Rowan, I’m a... I-I mean I... I had a fight with my mother!”
I almost laughed aloud - judging by the state of him, I had been expecting him to admit to a murder. Of course, after I had let his words sink in for a moment, I realized that they were not really all that surprising. Even the tiniest of things seemed to lead Remus to believe that the world was ending. Or, I thought back to yesterday when I had asked to be his friend, that it was Christmas and he had just received the very best gift that he could have ever have asked for.
"Remus," I said slowly. "I fight with my mother all the time; you shouldn't worry about it so much."
Remus looked at me with sad blue-grey eyes, swimming with tears. I fought the urge to hug him.
"You don't understand!" he cried. "She's ill" The -the healers say she'll b-be lucky if she's still aro-und by the e-e-end of the we-ek!"
It all made sense now; Remus was worried that he would not be able to apologize to her before she passed away.
"That's awful!" I exclaimed, gently squeezing his hand. "I'm so sorry, Remus!"
"I'm going to visit her tomorrow," his voice trembled dangerously. "T-to say good-"
A floorboard creaked, stopping the distraught boy in his tracks. I looked up to see Marlene McKinnon at the foot of the staircase. She looked almost angelic dressed in her snow-white nightgown with her wavy blonde hair that fell down to her waist. I would have even said that she was pretty if it were not for the nasty smirk that twisted her pale lips.
With her head held high, glaring out at us as if we were vermin, she strode towards our arm-chair. I held my breath, wondering what filth was about to come from her mouth.
"Lupin!" she gasped with mock concern. "Whatever is the matter? Did your father lose yet another job?" Remus shrank under my questioning gaze. He seemed as if he would quite happily turn invisible as Marlene continued, "Scared you'll be thrown out of that hotch-potch hut you call a house?" She grinned horribly. "Maybe then Mummy will run out on you for real? After all, it can't be easy living with a man who can't earn a living because of his diseased son. And she is only a mudblood."
Remus crumpled. His face - which had been fixed in a pained expression of grief to start with - seemed to collapse. He brought his knees up to hide his face as fresh tears began to fall down his cheeks.
Ignoring all of the questions that were flying through my mind, I squeezed Remus's hand and leapt to my feet.
"I can't believe you just said that, McKinnon!" I surprised myself with the anger present in my tone of voice. "You don't belong here! You should have been sorted into Slytherin with all of the other slimy gits!"
I watched with a sick satisfaction as Marlene's face contorted with rage. Part of me wanted to continue, to hurt her as she had hurt Remus, to stab her with vicious words and to laugh as she fell to the ground, screaming in agony. My breathing became ragged as I imagined hitting her, biting her, throwing curse after curse at her as she screeched and begged for me to stop.
"Says you!" Marlene spat in retort. "You shouldn't be here at all, you filthy mudblood!" She spun around and stormed up to the girls's dormitories, leaving Remus and I in stunned silence.
The thoughts of violence and punishment had left, leaving me with a terribly sense of alarm.
What had come over me?
This question was louder than all of the others, over-powering any thoughts about what Remus's home life was like or what the term "mudblood" may mean.
★ ★ ★
The following day was fairly uneventful. After spending half of the night with Remus, I was rather tired and wandered around in a dream-like state, struggling to reply if anybody were to talk to me. I made do with the company of the other Gryffindor girls, tactfully avoiding Marlene McKinnon - though fortunately that wasn't too difficult as she seemed to be doing the same.
If ever I was at a loose end, I would find my mind wondering back to the scene in the common room. A shudder ran down my spine as I recalled the sensation that I had felt, the power-hungriness that has seared through my veins. I had been just seconds away from leaping at her. If Marlene had not spoken, than I could not even bare to imagine the damage I could well have inflicted upon the unknowing girl.
Did this side of me have anything to do with the prophecy that the Sorting Hat had mentioned?
As well as this muddle of thoughts, I also found myself questioning Remus. We had only known each other for a matter of days, I reasoned, but surely he should have realized by now that I would not turn my back on him just because of the events going on in his home-life?
There was one more thing that I was pondering over; a word that Marlene had spoken several times last night.
"James?" I asked, startling not only myself but the boy walking up ahead. "You come from a magic family, don't you?" I had decided that this term must only be used in the wizarding community otherwise I would have heard of it before.
"Yes,2 James replied, turning around. "I'm pure Gryffindor! Why d'you ask?"
"Could you tell me what.. mudblood means?"
Sirius shifted uncomfortably whilst James's hand jumped up to his hair, causing it to stick up even more than it had been doing before. If they' did not want to explain it to me, then I guessed that it must be as bad as it sounded.
James reached out tentatively and grasped my arm, leading me to a quiet corner. For once, a grin did not play with the corners of his mouth and his eyes had lost their sparkle. I turned to Sirius, only to find a mirror image of James's expression plastered upon his face.
"I- I'm guessing this isn't a word you would expect to hear in a civilized conversation?" my voice was barely above a whisper, filled with dread. James shook his head in agreement.
"Some wizarding families," James began slowly, obviously choosing his words carefully. "That consider themselves better than everybody else because they come from an all magic heritage. They are, as some say, pure-blooded."
"My family being the prime example of these people," Sirius put in. I forced myself not to flinch at the bitterness in his voice. "They're all Slytherins - all of them, apart from Andromeda. But she was disowned as soon as my aunt found out. I'm lucky I only got a Howler."
"But..." I interrupted. "What does mudblood mean?"
James, once again, ran his fingers through his already dishevelled hair. He fidgeted awkwardly, worry clouding his hazel eyes.
"Rowan, where did you hear this word?" he demanded. "If anybody called you a... you-know-what, I'll-"
"Enough with the death threats, James," Sirius cut across whatever he had been about to say. "They come afterwards."
"Oh alright; I'll tell her. Mudblood is a really awful name for muggle-borns. Whoever uses it is hinting not-too-subtly at the fact that they think muggle-borns are dirty-blooded. That they are... abnormal."
Tears pricked the corners of my eyes. It was silly; I was well aware of that. The only reason that the name even got to me was because I was considered an outcast in the muggle world, the normal world. When I had received my letter inviting me to Hogwarts, I had thought that I had finally found a place in which I belonged. Obviously I was wrong. I was just as much of a freak here as I was at home.
"Rowan?" James reached out as if to pat me on the shoulder before he thought better of it.
"Forget it," I cut across him. "Let's just get to class."
Mudblood, mudblood, mudblood.
The words rang in my ears, drowning out the excited chatter of the first year flying class first years. I did not hear a word of Madam Hooch's instructions, and I did not remember when I had taken off into the air. One minute I was standing in the corridor with James and Sirius, the next I was soaring through the sky along-side Marlene McKinnon.
"Hey, Frost!" she called over to me, blonde hair flying in the wind. "Where's your friend?"
Ignoring the sickeningly familiar sensation of anger bubbling in the pit of my stomach, I leaned forwards, determined not to let the girl beside me get to me.
"Don't tell me," Marlene pushed on. "He deserted you? Shame, half-breeds aren't that much better than mudbloods."
Receiving no response from me, she ploughed onwards, intent on stabbing me with her dagger-like words. No matter how much they pierced me, spilling more blood with each blow, I was determined not to show the foul Gryffindor girl my true feelings.
"I mean, half-breeds aren't even properly human. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have one of them decide he's better than me. You must-"
"Shut up!" in the instant that I gave in to rage, my broomstick spun wildly out of control. With a helpful shove from Marlene, I had completely lost grip of the handles and was falling; faster, faster and faster. I did not even have time to scream as I picked up speed, a tangle of flailing limbs and broomstick.
The class had stopped circling the Quidditch pitch. I could feel all eyes on me as I plummeted to downwards to my certain death...
★ ★ ★
"She's broken various bones."
The voice sounded strange and faraway; I had to strain to make out anything that was being said.
"Will you be able to fix her?"
"Do you doubt me, Rolanda?" There was a few seconds of silence in which I tried to work out exactly where I was. "Of course I can heal her! I've been mending bones all my life! Miss Frost is no exception!"
"What about Remus Lupin?"
"What about him?"
"I thought it was tonight that-"
"Albus offered to escort him to the shack; the poor scrap is terrified! Never once has he been anywhere but his own garden to do it!"
"Yes, well I can imagine. And what about after the transformation? Won't he need you're full attention?"
"Well, I'll deal with that when the time comes."
Suddenly I became aware of the shooting pains running up and down the length of my whole body. I gasped in surprise, tears burning in my eyes. The agony was unbearable. It was as if fire ran through my veins, replacing the blood.
"She's stirring. Pass me that Sleeping Draught will you, Rolanda?"
The following night, I made my way up to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom as planned. Remus has already gone down to the dungeon corridor to wait for the two men, even though it was only 9 O'Clock. As all students had to be in their common room by half past nine, he had decided to go down early so that he wouldn't get caught and that he would be there if the people decided to meet early. I entered the classroom, ascending the small flight of spiral stairs to Professor Mahenrie's office and knocking on the door. A few moments later, it was pulled open, but to my surprise, it wasn't Professor Mahenrie that had answered it.
A skinny old man in a ragged brown dressing gown and a pair of slippers that looked as if they were close to falling apart stood in the doorway. His hair stuck out in wispy tufts and his glasses were askew.
"Oh," he mumbled. "You, ah, must be Miss Snow. I think, oh yes, Victor told me about you. You've come to help Horus, haven't you?" I blinked.
"Err," I stammered. "Professpr Mahenrie sent me up here for detention." The man beamed, nodding his head.
"Well done," he smiled. "Good for you! Here's your list!"He turned around and disappeared into the office, leaving me standing bewildered on the landing. When he did not return, I, once again, knocked on the door and peered inside.
"Umm..." I began awkwardly.
"Oh yes!" the man cut across me. "Your list! Here!" He stumbled over the the large desk that was opposite the door and handed me a slip of paper. "Have a lovely night! We're going to be studying from a book tomorrow!"
I hurriedly took the paper and rushed out of the classroom. Only when I had passed down a corridor and turned a few corners did I open it out. On it, it read;
Dear Miss Frost,
Professor Mahenrie told me about your detention, and, as he will be away for a couple of days, asked me to keep you busy. As it so happens, despite the fact that I am very disappointed in you, I have a rather enjoyable task for you to do for me. Somebody has broken into my store and turned it upside down - personally, I suspect it to be the doing of one of my rather exuberant sixth years. It would be very helpful if you could arrange the shelves in the order that I have written on the back of this page. Professor H. Slughorn Turning the slip over, I glanced at the long list of potion names and ingredients, sighing. It would take me all night to get through it all.
As it so happened, it took me until twelve O'Clock to get to the last shelf. My eyes refused to stay open long enough for me to read the last list and I had to squint just to make out the word `Sleeping Draught`. Blearily, I reached out for the few remaining bottles in front of me, but all that I could find was a flask labelled `Polyjuice Potion` and one of `Veritiserum`. Impatience took over and I shoved them onto the nearest shelf, no longer caring about what order they were supposed to go in.
Getting to my feet, I left Professor Slughorn's store and began to make to the common room, longing to get back to the warmth and comfort of my bed in the dormitory. Before I could get much further, however, somebody grabbed my arm and pulled me through a door.
Startled, I turned to find myself crammed into a broom cupboard with Remus. A mop leant against me, covering my red hair with unpleasant smelling cloth and possibly a thousand spiders, if not a lot of cowebs. I shook it off.
"What are we doing in here?" I demanded.
"Keep your voice down," Remus warned me. "They're still out there!"
"What?" I exclaimed. "They've been talking for two hours?"
"Of course not!" Remus hissed. "They've only been here for about forty minutes!"
"So you've been sitting here waiting for the last two and a half hours?" I asked incredulously.
"I was doing homework," he replied shortly.
Though still unsatisfied, I fell quiet and slid to the dusty floor, pressing my ear against the door. For a while, I heard nothing but a faint shuffling from the room across the hallway. It sounded like footsteps. After a moment, I picked up a low mumbling noise. For a few seconds, I couldn't place it, but I then realized that it was the noise of somebody speaking. Shifting closer to the door, I strained to make out the individual words, but it was no use. To my surprise, Remus was crouched beside me, his head tilted slightly to one side, seemingly listening intently.
"You can hear that?" I whispered. He nodded, but clicked the door open a crack so that I could make out the conversation too.
"-We can't do it until the Christmas holidays."
"Why? Can't we just get it over with?"
"Dumbledore will be able to hush it up until then; there's no point."
The voices dropped to whispers and once again became inaudible. I seethed with frustration.
"Why don't you sleep?" Remus suggested softly. "I'll wake you when they're gone and tell you what they said tomorrow." When he uttered the word `sleep`, I suddenly remembered how tired I was. Remus scooped the bucket and mop towards him, allowing me some more space. I gladly filled it, dropping onto my side and curling up into a ball in an attempt to keep warm.
Remus's soft breathing, mixed with the low drone drifting in through the door, lulled me into a light doze.
★ ★ ★
Somebody shook my arm gently, pulling me from my slumber.
"Rowan!" the voice sounded muffled and faraway, as if it were coming from the far end of a tunnel. I wrenched my eyes open, but they were so blurred with sleep that I couldn't focus on anything for a long while. When I could finally see, I found myself in a small space, crushed against the wall and another body. A slither of sunlight filtered through the door of the cupboard, just bright enough to illuminate half of Remus's face.
"What time's it?" I asked groggily, my words slurring together.
"Half past seven," Remus replied. It took a couple of seconds for me to process what he had just said, but when I did, I sat bolt upright.
"We've been in here all night?" I gasped. Remus chuckled softly.
"I tried to wake you, but your a very heavy-sleeper," he explained. "And I was too tired to really try." it was then that I realized just how pale Remus's face was. The dark circles beneath his eyes were even more prominent than they had been on the day that we had met and he was shivering slightly.
"Are you all right?" I asked, concerned. "Your not ill, are you?" Remus quickly got to his feet and pulled the door open.
"We better get to breakfast," he told me, ignoring my question all together. "I don 't think it would be a good idea to be late for Herbology." I nodded in agreement and clambered up and out of the small cramped space that I had been lying in. Before he left, Remus reached into a rusty bucket and pulled out his bag which was full to bursting with textbooks and foot-long lengths of parchment.
"You really were just doing homework!" I exclaimed. "But how come you've got so much? I thought we only had to write an essay for Transfiguration?"
Remus did not reply but anxiously shifted from foot to foot. Unable to help myself, I reached into his bag and pulled out a Potions assignment on the bezoar. After studying it for a moment, I realized that that was what Professor Slughorn had said that we would be looking at next Tuesday. I opened my mouth to question Remus on it, but quickly closed it when I saw the almost pained expression that he wore, his eyes flashing with the fear that he seemed unable to hide.
Feeling a stab of guilt for going through his belongings, I quickly put it back.
"Sorry," I muttered. "Shall we go to the Great Hall?" Seeming relived that I had changed the subject, Remus began to make his way up the stairs beside me. "So, what did you hear last night?"
"Not much," he responded. "I found out their names though; Cygnus and Arcturus. Their family seems to be in some kind of danger and that's why they need this... thing that Professor Dumbledore has." I nodded; when I had heard them, one of them, whether it was Cygnus or Arcturus I was unsure, was reluctant to be a part of whatever it was that they were doing. In fact, the other one didn't seem to be over the moon about it either. They must both be rather desperate if they were resorting to kidnapping. I also remembered a name that Remus had mentioned earlier.
"You said they were talking about a wizard," I told him. "What was it? Fredrick Redback? Is he bad or something?" Remus froze, turning to look pointedly in the other direction.
"Fenrir Greyback," he corrected me stiffly. "I don't know anything about him."
I had no doubt about whether or not he was telling the truth; he wasn't very good at lying. Deciding that I would look up this man, Fenrir Greyback, in the library later on, I carried on through the double doors and into the Great Hall, Remus trailing behind.
As soon as I had left the warmth of the Gryffindor common room, chilly night air wrapped around me like icy tendrils. Shivering, I stuffed my hands into the pockets of my jacket and waited impatiently as Sirius clambered out of the portrait hole. After making sure that the Invisibility Cloak was securely covering the four of us, we hurried along the draughty corridor and down the nearest flight of stairs.
A mixture of fear and excitement tightened my throat as I took the steps two at a time, tripping over my own feet in the process. All of those weeks spent eavesdropping were finally paying off. We were on our way to rescue Amelia Fudge.
I could hear the boys' boots as they thumped down onto the hard stone floor and out of the blue, I found myself wishing that I had worn something a little sturdier than my shabby old slippers. They were no use when running and once we were outside, they would be soaked through within a couple of seconds.
A girl’s life is much more important than practical footwear.
Shaking my head my own ridiculousness, I forced such thoughts from my mind and tried to concentrate solely on the given task.
“Are you sure this plan of yours is going to work?” Remus demanded, stumbling as the staircase suddenly jerked from its place and swung over to the left.
“Positive,” James replied. “It’s flawless.”
“We’ve got it all worked out,” Sirius agreed. “We slipped a touch of Sleeping Draught into Filch’s dinner.”
“While he’s asleep, we can sneak out the front doors. Amelia is being kept in a building on the other side of the Forbidden Forest.”
“We’ll have exactly one hour to figure out the best way to get her back to the castle before Filch wakes up and locks the doors for the night.”
I found myself abstractedly surprised at how thoroughly had planned out our rescue mission and turned to see Remus blinking at me in similar shock. Though, I found myself thinking, their prank on the Slytherin’s must have been just as methodically thought out. It probably took them weeks to create a potion that, when ingested, would turn the consumer’s clothes pink. Even longer to figure out a way to sneak the potion into the Slytherins’ dinner without students from any of the other Houses ending up with strangely coloured robes.
With a new found respect for James and Sirius, I took after them down the hallway, only stopping once the tall, oak front doors loomed over me. Without warning, uneasiness began to creep over me, making the hairs on the back of my neck prickle. Anxiousness was gnawing at my insides, making my stomach twist and turn, and it was all I could do not to gag as I felt rank bile inch its way up my throat. I felt as I had done on the Hogwarts Express when I had been trying to find an empty seat.
Pull yourself together.
Swallowing down the foul taste, I took a few deep breaths in and out. In front of me, James was reaching out a steady hand and pressing it flat against the smooth wooden surface of the door, seemingly unfazed by the dangers that we were about to walk into. Sirius, although slightly shakier, stood confidentially by his best friend’s side, his dark eyes gleaming determinedly. Even Remus, who had paled to an alarming shade of white, did not hesitate before stepping outside. Reminding myself once more why I was doing this, I dragged in a ragged breath and followed them out into the darkness.
The door slammed shut behind us with a clunk.
Feeling dread wash over me once more, I turned around and gave the door handle a tug. As I had suspected, it was stuck in place.
“We’re locked out,” my words were left to hang in the frosty air. .
Despite how carefully they had considered it, James and Sirius’s ‘Flawless Plan’ had got us locked out of the school. Gulping down my fear, I shot them a glare which they both ignored, trying to look innocent.
“I promise,” James said vaguely after a while. “That was definitely not supposed to happen.”
The four of us stood in silence, assessing our situation. We were standing outside in the middle of the night with no way back into the castle. To rescue the Minister of Magic’s daughter from her potentially murderous kidnappers, we would have to cross through the Forbidden Forest. Even if we managed to sneak Amelia from the bothy to the castle, what would we do next? Spend the night outside in the icy coldness? Attempting to catch somebody’s attention by knocking on the front doors wouldn’t work – everybody inside was a sleep. Then when morning came along, assuming we had survived the night, what would happen? Would Dumbledore be so happy that we had saved Amelia that he would not care about all of the school rules that we had broken? Or would he expel us?
With a heavy sigh, I sank down to the ground. The wispy snowflakes that were beginning to fall from the sky were strangely soothing as they landed on me, melting as soon as they had touched my skin. Why hadn’t we just told one of the professors about Amelia and her kidnappers? They could have stopped it before it had even started.
But no, I thought bitterly, we had to go and save her ourselves to earn ourselves a few House Points.
“Let’s go,” Sirius murmured finally.
The sooner we ended this, the better, so I nodded, following the boys who had already begun to move forwards.
It seemed eerily silent as we edged down the slope and headed in the direction of Hagrid’s hut. Even the wind seemed to have died down. I was well aware of my thudding heart, so loud that I was sure that Remus, Sirius and James could all hear it. It came as such a surprise when a twig snapped beneath my trainer, that I lunged forwards, grabbing the sleeve of Sirius’s cloak and clutching it tightly. I could feel his brown gaze burning into me for a moment, until we came to a sudden halt.
Hagrid’s hut loomed in front of us; its wooden walls creaked as the wind -which had already picked up - battered it. Usually light from inside would be pooling through the windows and warmth would be radiating from its walls, but tonight seemed to be different. The windows were dark and dusty, giving the whole house a cold, empty feeling. I edged nearer to Sirius and Remus.
“Maybe he went for a walk,” Sirius suggested, but his voice was so full of doubt that it was hardly comforting.
Just as the words had left his mouth, a series of loud thumps sounded from behind the wooden hut. I flinched away from the building, my heart in my throat.
“Hagrid!” James called bravely, craning his head to look around the corner, trying to see who or what was there. “Hagrid?”
I squeezed my hands into fists, waiting, praying for Hagrid’s familiar gruff reply. But there was only silence. He wasn’t there.
As we stood, frozen to the spot, the thumps came again, but this time from further away.
It felt as if somebody had punched me in the stomach. All of the breath was knocked out of me in a rush. Sweat began to pour down my forehead, despite how cold it was outside. Inside my pocket, I wrapped my fingers tightly around the bumpy handle of my wand.
I could see Remus squeezing his eyes tight shut, his whole body trembling as he attempted to shut the rest of the world out. Sirius was edging slowly closer to his messy haired bespectacled best friend, drawing in rough, shallow breaths. James, with his mahogany wand raised in front of him, was the only one daring enough to take a step forward.
“M-maybe that is Hagrid,” he suggested nervously. “Maybe we should follow him...”
Sirius nodded slowly in agreement. “He never could hear that well,” he mumbled.
I sighed. That was true...
Slowly, I began to follow James and Sirius around the side of Hagrid’s hut while Remus trailed slightly behind. For a few moments it was disconcertingly quiet again. The only sounds were that of the leaves crunching beneath our frozen feet. Then the thumps came again, inside of the forest this time.
I started slightly but marched on, determined not to be spooked. James and Sirius quickened their paces and I chased after them, though always staying slightly behind because of my nervous glances whenever I heard the slightest sound. We soon reached the forest and were swallowed into its smothering darkness.
The four of us were only a few steps into the woods when we realised that there were only three people standing beneath the Invisibility Cloak. Remus stood stiffly by a nearby bramble thicket. He appeared to be rooted to the spot with fear, his hands slowly rising to cover his face, blocking out the horrors that only he could see. Wind tugged at his robes, raking through his golden hair as the snow swirled around him.
I looked behind me to see James and Sirius staring at the terrified boy with similar looks of concern plastered upon their faces, but I was the only who rushed over to his side.
“His eyes,” Remus whispered to me. “I can still see his eyes.”
It was then that the banging noise sounded once more, this time coming from only a metre or so away. Slowly, I turned around and then I could see them too. A pair of hungry, yellow eyes staring out at us from the shadows.
The next thing I knew, I had grabbed Remus’s arm and was dragging him, forcing him to move backwards, away from the man dressed in the ragged grey robes. The Invisibility Cloak gone, James and Sirius were leaping in front of us, wands raised defensively. Then I was tripping over a water-clogged log, falling down a steep drop into a hollow and landing on my back on the cold ground.
My dressing gown was smeared with mud and slush, my slippers lost somewhere in the undergrowth. I tugged one of my hands out of a thorny bush, wincing as blood gushed out of the scrapes along my palm. My other arm was still firmly linked with Remus’s.
As soon as my dizziness had eased, I heaved myself to my knees, grimacing as I realised how beaten up and bruised my body was.
We must have fallen a long way.
Hauling Remus with me, the two of us huddled under the shelter of a particularly large tree root as the footsteps grew closer. The stranger was pulling James by the collar of his pyjama top and was shoving Sirius forwards with his other hand. His lip curled into a nasty yellow grin as he caught sight of the two of us over at the other side of the hollow.
“I remember you,” the man’s eyes bore into Remus. “John’s son, right?”
Remus opened his mouth, but all that came out was a strangled whimper before a sob caught him and he turned his head in the other direction.
“Take it you remember me too,” the stranger said with a bark of laughter. His face suddenly grew deadly serious, his voice dropping to a threatening growl. “Do exactly what I say; exactly when I say it and you and your friends will remain unharmed. But step one foot out of line and I’ll give you another reminder of what I’m capable of.” The man prodded Remus with his tattered shoe. “You hear me, Lupin?”
Remus looked up, nodding vigorously. “Y-yes,” he mumbled, his voice barely audible.
“Good,” the man nodded. “Now get up and follow me.”
The bothy was waiting alone in the dark, snow covered field. It stood tall in front of us, but only just. The old stone walls seemed as though they might crumble apart at any moment and the rusty corrugated tin roof looked ready to cave in on itself. There were two small windows at the front of the cottage, but the curtains had been drawn tightly shut, so I could not see inside.
The building did not have any flowers or a lawn, only untamed yellowing grass and half of an unsteady brick wall. A lone gnarled ash tree jutted from the ground beside the house, its bare branches reaching into the night sky like jagged claws, and a single path cut through the grass to the front door, but apart from that, the glen was as good as empty. A long white stretch giving away to mountains for as far as the eye could see.
I started slightly but did not pull away when I felt Remus slip his hand into my own. Our fingers interlocked and he squeezed our palms together, pressing so hard that I thought for a second that he was trying to hurt me. Then I saw the tears that were threatening to spill from wide grey-blue eyes and the barely concealed trembling of his bottom lip. Pressing close against his side, I stepped inside as the man ushered us through the door, locking it behind us.
“I have to go for a minute,” the man said, flicking the lightswitch on. His yellow eyes glinted at us dangerously. “If you even think of doing anything while I’m gone, you’ll be wishing you were dead by the time I’m done with you.”
The man disappeared up the staircase and I found myself in what appeared to be a perfectly ordinary living room. A TV stood in the corner, three chairs were gathered around a dying fire and the mantelpiece was lined with delicate ornaments and framed pictures. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that it looked to be the house of a pensioner couple.
Across the room, James sat on a rickety stool. Perspiration was dripping from his face in sheets and his hazel eyes were clouded over and faraway. It almost sounded as if he were drowning as he desperately gulped in frantic mouthfuls of air.
“What happened to him?” I demanded, turning to Sirius who was patting James’s shoulder reassuringly.
“Cruciatus Curse,” Sirius replied simply.
“Crushy what?” I echoed.
“An Unforgivable Curse,” Sirius explained. “Causes extreme pain to the victim.”
With a heavy sigh of resignation, I flopped down to the carpeted ground, leaning my back against the wall. There was no way that we would be able to escape and suddenly that realisation made me exhausted. The dizziness from when I had fallen into the hollow had returned and was preventing me from thinking straight. My whole body was cold and clarted with mud, my arms and legs laced with scrapes and scratches. My head was pounding and, absent-mindedly, I placed my hand on the back of my skull, only to feel intense pain. Yanking my hand away, I looked down at my fingers to see that they were wet with blood.
Coming out of my shock, I quickly wiped the sticky wet substance onto my pyjama trousers and looked up.
“Who was that man?” I asked Remus, unable to stop my words from slurring together. “How do you know him?”
Remus flinched away at my question, but opened his mouth to answer nonetheless. I couldn’t tell whether he was swaying or if the whole room was swaying. Blinking my eyes, I tried to concentrate only on my friend’s slight, skinny body.
“He’s F-Fenrir Greyback,” Remus answered. His voice sounded faraway and echoed through my head. “He-“
“I was the one who made Remus who he is today.”
I looked up in shock to see the man descending the flight of stairs, two other adults trailing behind him. Cygnus and Arcturus, I thought vaguely before blacking out completely.
Thump, thump, thump.
His head throbbed. The ache was intense. Incessant. It would pound against his skull; each time with more force; each time lasting a moment longer. Every time he tried to focus on what Professor McGonagall demonstrating, his vision would blur and he would quickly squeeze his eyes shut.
He wanted to listen to her. He really did. But the pain was too much. Every word, every scrape of chalk on the blackboard, every scuffle of a shoe being dragged across the floor, every sigh of a nearby student. It all made him cringe as the blood pulsed in his temples.
Remus rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hand in a half-hearted attempt to ease the pain. He didn't have to sit for much longer. In thirty minutes, he could crawl under the covers of his warm bed.
In three hours, he could wander down to the Hospital Wing so that Madam Pomfrey could escort him to the Whomping Willow.
At exactly 7 o'clock, it would happen.
Pain seared through his veins like poison. It was as if a million daggers were stabbing into his arms, his legs, his stomach, his face. A scream was burning in his throat, slicing through the otherwise silent night, filling the air with shrieks of agony.
He was blind to his surroundings. The field, the river, the forest, the distant cottage. None of it existed any longer. The only thing that now mattered to him was the moon. So big and bright, it made the stars beside it look like tiny specks of dust. It filled the glen with milky white light and however hard he tried, he just couldn't pry his eyes away from it. It seemed to be calling to him, whispering his name.
His blood bubbled and sweat poured down from his forehead in sheets. There were several sickening cracks as his bones snapped, growing, rearranging themselves. Long, grey hair burst from his skin, covering his entire body in a thick coat of fur. He cried out, bringing his hand up to his face as his jaw broke and pulled outwards. His teeth lengthened, became pointed. They were no longer human teeth; they were animal teeth. Teeth that were designed to kill. His finger nails were now razor-sharp claws, perfect for ripping into his prey.
Just like that, Remus John Lupin was no more. His memories had been lost somewhere during the transformation. His friends and loved ones were now as meaningless to him as the rocks that littered the river-bed; they were nothing more to him than the rabbit that nibbled at the grass in the safety of the woods. He was now a creature of the night; a creature of darkness.
He was a hunter.
And he was hungry.
"I think I'm going to throw up."
Remus was barely aware of the other students leaping out of his way as the words tumbled from his mouth. He couldn't hear Professor McGonagall calling out to him when he tripped over his own chair and he didn't care that he had knocked his book bag over in his fumble to regain balance. The contents were now pouring out over the side of his desk, hitting the floor with a clatter.
Throwing his Transfiguration teacher an apologetic look, he flung the door open. And then he was stumbling down the empty corridor, not entirely sure where he was going. He knew that he wouldn't be able to make it to a bathroom in time. He couldn't even remember where the bathroom was. As another wave of nausea threatened to wash over him, he threw himself into the nearest broom cupboard.
Although Remus had made himself ill with worry uncountable times before, it had never actually come to anything. Therefore, it almost came as a surprise when he realised that he was down on his hands and knees, emptying his stomach into a rusty old bucket. His sides heaved as he coughed and spluttered.
After what seemed like a lifetime, Remus shivered with disgust and wiped his mouth against the back of his hand. He fell away from the bucket, crawling into the corner beside the precariously balanced mop. That was where Argus Filch found him many minutes later. Slumped against the wall, pale faced and shaky. For a moment, Filch felt a stab of sympathy for the poor boy. Then the awful stench of vomit hit his nostrils.
"Get up," Filch snapped. He had just spent his day herding up the fire crabs that one of the students had set loose in the Great Hall. That had resulted in some very burnt hands and badly singed robes. After rescuing a First Year from Peeves (the poltergeist had been feeling particularly mischievous today and had been prowling the corridors with a bag full of giant slugs), he had just been on his way to collect a shovel to remove a failed potion from the underside of a desk when he had come across Remus Lupin. His patience had completely run out.
"S-sorry!" Remus yelped, scrambling to his feet. "I- I just couldn't... - wasn't-"
"Come with me, boy," Filch interrupted.