Chapter 17, Marauders' Requiem
The Common Room was strangely quiet. No one was in the mood to do anything; not while a Gryffindor was dying in St Mungo’s.
Remus sat by the window, staring out into the Sunday rain; he didn’t know what to think or do. He should never have let the others near him.
Sirius was staring into the fire; he knew it was only a matter of time before the axe fell. He knew it now; he was rotten to the core, he couldn’t escape being a Black.
Both boys looked haggard, tired and upset; but no one tried to talk to them. What did you say to someone whose friend was dying in hospital?
The remainder of the Gryffindor Quidditch team were huddled round a table and Tommy was trying to comfort a sobbing Sarah Huntly. Pettigrew had gone up to their dormitory earlier.
Lily didn’t know what to think.
The Seventh Year Prefects had gone round each dorm, making sure people got up for Sunday breakfast. Everyone in the school had been there and Professor Dumbledore had stood up and announced that James Potter was in St Mungo’s Hospital, that there had been a werewolf attack in the Forbidden Forest, that he had saved his friends and Severus Snape’s life. But also that he was terribly injured.
Had James really saved Severus? People had craned to look at the remaining Marauders and Snape, but Snape had just looked sour and the Marauders weren’t talking to anyone; more wrapped up in themselves than ever before.
Professor McGonagall had come in late in the morning and told everyone James was making a recovery. But after a werewolf attack…
A Ravenclaw Prefect who had been on late night duty had seen him taken into the Hospital Wing, and the rumour had spread that it looked like someone had attacked him with a meat cleaver. She knew from Defence Against the Dark Arts that werewolf wounds were cursed; there would be scars, terrible scars.
Would it be the same boy who came back? No longer handsome, but horribly disfigured? Scarred beyond recognition? Would he come back at all?
Lily couldn’t bear to think about it, and suddenly she wondered if perhaps she had been too judgemental with James Potter in the past. He had saved Severus’ life; he hated Severus.
Maybe he wasn’t the person she thought he was. Maybe… maybe…
Suddenly it was like there was something stuck in her throat, and her eyes grew hot. Then there were tears pouring down her face.
‘Lily?’ Mary asked hesitantly, ‘what’s wrong, Lils?’
‘I…’ she choked, ‘I was always so horrible to him and now… now he’s…’ her voice left her and she broke down completely.
Mary dropped the book she had been pretending to read and hugged Lily hard, feeling her own eyes prickle as the reality that someone so close to them was so close to… to death. Laura had been crying all morning, and now even Lily seemed to have been affected.
‘I want to see the others; Remus, and Sirius, and Peter.’
Fear shone in his Mother’s eyes.
‘I need to.’
The portrait hole opened and Professor McGonagall stepped through; people looked up, some fearful, some hopeful. Peter just stared.
The silence was terrible.
Everyone was completely still.
‘Mr Potter will be alright,’ she spoke quietly, but everyone heard every word.
A few people grinned; a couple of girls began to sob again, over by the Quidditch Team Tommy Ransom said, ‘I knew it!’
Nobody but Peter noticed both Sirius and Remus flinch at her words.
‘Will Mr Black, Lupin and Pettigrew please come with me.’
Sirius knew his life was over; he’d almost got his best friend killed. He was going to be expelled, he couldn’t go back to his parents, James would disown him, he had already decided he would go and end his life somewhere quiet. It hadn’t been a hard decision; it was like stating a fact.
He’d despised his family for years; he was amazed it had taken him so long to realise he was a part of it no matter what he did. The best thing for all of them would for him to just disappear.
He’d go once McGonagall had finished talking to him. He’d take one of the passageways out of the school and head for the coast somewhere, somewhere with cliffs. His broom would carry him there and he could end it out of anyone’s way.
Remus could see his life unfolding in front of his eyes; thrown out of school, abandoned to whatever fate brought him, maybe even Azkaban. He should never have let them near him, never led them on.
Once he was expelled he’d head for the hills; he’d go where real people couldn’t find him. All he had ever done was bring a curse on his parents and they had never deserved that; they had been happy before he was born, maybe they could be happy again.
He knew now that there was no fighting what he was; last night had proved that. He had mutilated his best friend; James would be scarred for life, maybe even…
He couldn’t think about it.
He’d barely known what had happened that morning, until Dumbledore had questioned him. Hazy memories came back; of blood, pain and the… the want for…
Thankfully he’d managed to patch himself up a bit before Miss Pomfrey came for him; the tell-tale antler marks were mostly gone. He heaved himself out of his chair, feeling terribly old and followed McGonagall to the Portrait Hole.
The door to the Retlong Thorpeville Ward opened and three boys stepped inside, or rather two were pushed inside by a third. Peter was obviously playing nursemaid.
Only Peter looked up at him though, and he stared in shock.
After what seemed like an age Remus looked up and he gasped.
Then Sirius too drew his gaze away from the floor.
They stood transfixed.