The Midnight Marauder

Moony's Furry Little Problem

Full Moon of October, Maya’s 4th Year and the Marauder’s 5th Year

A large black dog and a black cat with one white paw glared at each other on the moon-soaked grounds of Hogwarts. A magnificent stag was waiting impatiently just out of reach of the Whomping Willow’s branches with a rat sitting on his antlers.

< Come on, Midnight,> the dog growled. < Hurry up. >

<To the cursed tree? > the cat said, she sat back and gave her white paw a lick. < No thank you.>

<Moony’s waiting for us,> Sirius moaned. <I don’t want to leave you behind but I don’t have time to argue.>

<Moony?> The cat arched her back and looked up at the moon in the sky.

<Yes,> Sirius panted. <Our friend. Remus.>

<Remus,> said cat-Maya. The name seemed to mean something to her. <Friend...? The werewolf. Under the Whomping Willow.>

<Yes,> Sirius said. He wagged his tail once. <Our friend. We’re going to help him.>

<Werewolves are dangerous,> cat-Maya said.

<Not to us.> Sirius barked once, like a laugh. <We’ll be okay.>

Cat-Maya regarded the dog before her for a long moment before meowing, <Lead the way, Padfoot.>

Triumphant, Sirius gave cat-Maya a quick lick. She didn’t purr. But she didn’t hiss either which Sirius took as a good sign. After spending an hour trying to convince her to come with them to what she regarded as “not my territory” it was definitely a good sign. Together they headed towards the others.

<Finally?> Asked James.

<She didn’t know who I was at first,> Sirius explained. <I had to transform into a human and everything. Where were you two, anyway?>

<Wormtail here decided to take a detour to the kitchens,> James explained.

<We still got here first,> Peter protested, hopping off of James’ back.

<Rat,> said Cat-Maya.

<Hi, Maya.>

<Cat eat rat.>

Peter squeaked in alarm and climbed onto James’ antlers again.

<Werecat don’t eat fake-rat,> cat-Maya said with a contemptuous toss of her head. <Not to worry. Wormtail is safe.>

<How can she call me Wormtail but still talk about eating me?> Peter squeaked worriedly.

<She’s like…I dunno, mate, suffering from multiple personality disorder,> Sirius yawned. <Let’s go. She knows who we are enough.>

Peter didn’t look too sure about this.

<The tree, Peter?> James prompted, lowering his antlers to the ground so that Peter could hop off.

<All right already, I’m going,> Peter said. He slipped between the violent branches of the great tree before them, feeling mysterious and clever as he dashed across the ground among the tall stalks of grass, and put his paws on the knot that was conveniently close to the ground. The tree froze – not even the leaves were quivering.

Feeling pleased and important, Peter squeaked, <Come on!> and dashed into the tunnel first.

The other three followed, cat-Maya bringing up the rear; she was wary of the growing scent of the werewolf that soon rose to engulf her as she entered the damp earth. The tunnel was just as they remembered it from the day a few years ago when they had plunged into the passage in response to Remus’ cries for help. It was this memory that was prominent in Maya’s mind, and the almost-feral impulses of the werecat drunk on the full-moon subsided and she found her own mind again. Even more than when her friends had approached her as humans, as she felt her mind become less foggy and strange; their animagus presence inside this tunnel that smelled so strongly of danger made Maya emerge and the full-moon madness subside.

<James?> Maya meowed, stepping lightly in the footprints he was leaving on the ground. <What are we going to do when we get to the Shrieking Shack?>

<I’m honestly not sure,> James admitted.

Peter froze and Sirius almost stepped on him. <What do you mean you’re not sure?> Peter squeaked, his tail tying itself into worried knots. <He’ll be a fully grown werewolf – how can you not have a plan!?>

<Wormtail,> Sirius complained, hiding his head in his paws. <You’re making my ears ring. Be quieter.>

<This isn’t funny!> Sirius snapped at him. <And I hate that nickname.>

<We’ll just talk him down, the way we did Midnight,> Sirius growled at him. <Relax.>

<But Midnight isn’t Maya,> wailed Peter.

<What does that mean?> asked Maya.

<I mean…you’re like…wild or something…> Peter trilled. Then he froze. Maya’s tone had been different. Less…well, crazy. And she was looking at him with that look she often wore when she was in cat form on a normal, non-full-moon night. <Maya?> Peter asked.

<I’m right here,> she said. She arched her back. <Relax, Wormtail.>

<I think we can talk to Moony without him trying to eat us,> said James. <It may take us a while; but I think this will work.>

Sirius nudged Peter forward with his nose. <Let’s go.>

A bit ashamed, Peter followed close to Maya’s long tail. A few minutes later, he tripped over the same tail as Maya froze.

<Midnight?> Sirius panted.

<Cursed,> replied Maya. She sniffed the ground cautiously. <Werewolf scent everywhere.>

<That’s the werecat, right?> asked Peter.

James shook his head and snorted, his large antlers scratching the side of the tunnel walls. <Get over it, Wormtail. She’s the same person – just a little different. Moony will be the same way.>

<This is going to drive me insane,> Peter snuffled into his paws worriedly.

<It’s okay, Midnight,> Sirius told her kindly. He went over to her and gave her a little nudge with his wet nose. <You’ll be fine.>

Maya looked at him for a moment, her nocturnal eyes wide and unblinking in the dark. She began to walk deeper into the tunnel. The others fell into step – Sirius beside her, James behind them and Peter bringing up the rear. Soon, a moaning sound filled the tunnel followed by a strange howling scream. Peter dashed up to hide in James’ antlers. Sirius’ tail stopped wagging and Maya hissed softly. It was the obvious, heart-wrenching sound of an animal in pain.

<Here we go,> said James. And they entered the Shrieking Shack.

That night wasn’t easy. Remus threw Sirius against a wall so hard that he lay on the ground, stunned, for several long minutes. Peter got trapped under a dresser and had to be rescued. Maya almost ran away several times but always remembered, at the last second, who they were and why she was there.

Several long, stressful hours, where the best they could do was keep Remus from hurting himself. James’ snout was bleeding and Sirius was limping heavily. Peter and Maya took turns by simply running the werewolf in circles until he was dizzy and confused.

And then, finally, when the moon was beginning to set outside, it happened. Werewolf-Remus had knocked James down the stairs and Sirius was so tired and weak that he couldn’t do more than stand on the stairs and growl at the figure before him.

The werewolf lifted one of his great paws to slash the dog’s face, and a black cat jumped in front and hissed.

The hiss had power. It was spoken like a spell and carried a definite message of “don’t harm my property.” It made the werewolf pause. And in that pause, cat-Maya said, <Werewolf. They are here to help. Remember.>

Remember.

And Remus remembered that little black cat with a white paw and large green eyes. He remembered the black dog and the great stag. And he remembered a rat but as it wasn’t in sight he didn’t know why a rodent was important.

And he stepped back and asked, <Friend?> And he backed into a corner and whimpered, feeling afraid.

<Friend,> the werecat meowed.

James stood, painfully, slowly, and climbed the stairs. The two animagus and the werecat stood before the werewolf. The werewolf stared back. It was silent.

They stayed this way for several hours – each animal sitting on the ground in a comfortable position but still alert.

The moon set outside. Remus and Maya both let out gasps. Remus arched his back and let out a strangled cry. Maya curled into a ball with a pitiful meow.

<Clothing!> Peter squeaked from the top of the dresser.

<Bloody hell!> Sirius yelped. <Where have you been?!>

<They’ll be naked!> Peter yelled back. He scurried down the dresser and began searching cabinets as best he could. <Find clothing!>

The three animagus ran around, frantically searching all the rooms, and had the good sense to go inside of an adjoining room as Maya’s cat-body began to elongate into that of a girl. The strange moaning stopped and they heard Maya’s voice; “Remus if you open your eyes I swear I will blind you.”

“What in God’s name are you doing here?” Remus demanded.

“Give your memory a moment,” Maya replied.

James transformed into a human – only in jeans once again – and forced himself not to shout. He gritted his teeth, ignoring the cut across his cheek and chin and his aching ribs and began opening boxes. He found Remus’ cloak, wand, and clothing stored securely in a box with a latch and shouted, “Remus! I found your stuff. Can Maya use the shirt or something?”

“Yes,” he shouted back. His voice sounded strangely chocked.

James opened the door and poked in the clothing. Someone – presumably Maya – snatched it and a few seconds later, she and Remus came out of the room. Remus was only wearing his pants, Maya was in his T-shirt – which was long enough for a short dress. Sirius had transformed back by then, also only in jeans, revealing a nasty bruise across his back and fading bites on his arms. Peter, always awkward about his weight, transformed back wearing a bit more clothing. The four young wizard and one witch looked at each other for a moment. Remus’ eyes trailing across the injuries of his friends. Unlike every other night for most of his life, Remus was more-or-less un-harmed except for a few scratches on his back and legs.

“So?” Sirius asked softly.

Remus embraced James like a brother, his eyes filling with tears. Maya’s eyes also filled with tears and Remus gave Sirius a hug that was just as strong.

“Thank you,” Remus whispered, unable to say anything else. “Thank you.”

Peter couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge within his stomach as he saw how tightly Remus hugged James and Sirius. He knew that he hadn’t been fighting with Remus the way the two of them had the entire night. Peter knew that he was hurt even less than Maya, who had a bite on her shoulder from the one time that werewolf-Remus had caught her. But he wanted to be hugged that tightly, that desperately by his friend. He wanted to be wanted – to be appreciated – that way.

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