And Then There Were None
Snape reacted so fact it was as though he had been expecting an attack...Wormtail was on his feet now, watching hungrily, edging around Lupin to get a clearer view...
“Leave him alone,” Lily repeated. She was looking at James with every sign of great dislike. “What’s he done to you?”
“Well,” said James, appearing to deliberate the point, “It’s more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean….”
“Leave him alone.”
“I will if you go out with me, Evans,” said James quickly...
“I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!”
- Snape’s Worse Memory, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her…”
OWL testing period in May; The Marauder’s 5th Year at Hogwarts
Maya trudged back to the Gryffindor Common Room with the rest of her year, potion ingredients buzzing in her head like a pair of rogue bludgers chasing her around the Quidditch field. Thomas was reciting the uses of Dragon Blood under his breath and Christy kept plunging her hand into her bag and pulling out this or that book to check some fact. Needless to say, being halfway done with finals didn’t mean they were any less stressed.
“Prontocore!” Maya snapped at the Fat Lady.
“No need to be rude,” she huffed, but opened the door all the same. Thomas, Christy and the others sank into armchairs by the fire – too tired to climb stairs. But all Maya wanted to do was slip away in cat form and have fun for at least fifteen minutes without feeling trapped in her own skin. So she said something about being tired – Christy winked at her knowingly – and climbed up to her room. She was so preoccupied with the thoughts about potions and charms that she didn’t even notice the other person in the room until she was out of her robes and halfway done unbuttoning her blouse.
“Lily?!” Maya demanded, finally registering the older girl sitting on Maya’s bed. A second later, Maya asked anxiously, “What’s wrong? What happened?” Lily’s face was streaked with tears. Her red hair was disheveled and her clothes rumpled. It look as if she has been sitting there for a while.
“I’m sorry,” Lily said, trying to smooth out Maya’s covers. “I didn’t want anyone to see and you’re the only person who knows him so I thought I’d wait for you here but...”
Maya sat down next to Lily and grabbed her hands. “Shhh,” Maya said gently. “Don’t worry about the bed. What happened? Who...” A horrific though struck Maya. “Severus?”
Lily nodded, tears springing into her eyes.
“What did he do?!” Maya demanded. A second later she realized that she shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that Severus had done anything. Just because the Marauders had renewed their war against him because of his involvement with Remus being half-tortured didn’t mean that he had anything against Lily. But the look on Lily’s face confirmed Maya’s initial reaction.
“You’re not even surprised,” Lily lamented softly. “I’m such a fool.” Maya snuggled close to Lily and lay her head on Lily’s arm. Maya waited. She knew Lily would tell her when she was ready. Sure enough, a few seconds later, Lily whispered. “Sev...no...Snape called me a mudblood.”
Maya’s heart stopped. “What?” She gasped managed to gasp.
“He said,” Lily said in a trembling and choked voice, “I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her.”
Maya’s shock quickly gave way to fury. “That...!” She was so angry she couldn’t get out any words. Her own simmering anger at his part in what had been done to Remus and his mistrust of her boiled over with the fire of the insult to Lily. “I thought he was...” Maya didn’t know what she was going to say. Lily’s friend? Maya hadn’t been sure of that for a while now. Not now that he spent all his time with the Slytherins who all but openly worshipped the Dark Lord.
“So did I,” said Lily. She buried her face in her hands. “I thought...I thought I could save him from them.” Maya gave her a huge hug.
“You still have me,” Maya whispered. Lily hugged her back tightly.
They stayed like that, snuggled in the bed, both lost in their own thoughts, until Christy came up to the room. “Maya? Remus wants you. He says it’s important.” Maya frowned slightly. Remus wasn’t one to lie about the importance of things.
“Go ahead,” said Lily. “I’m going to take a nice hot shower...”
Maya gave her one last hug before walking back down to the common room. Remus was waiting at the bottom of the winding stairs, a frown on his face. He took Maya aside and whispered, “Snape’s outside the common room. He keeps shouting at everyone to get Lily for him. Scared a few first years half to death.”
Maya’s green eyes flashed angrily. “Sirius and James?” She asked.
“Still at dinner,” Remus replied tightly. “Peter’s with them.”
“Don’t tell Lily,” Maya said. “I’ll take care of this.”
“You sure you’ll be okay?” Asked Remus softly. “He was your friend, too.” Maya looked at Remus for a moment. He alone out of all the Marauders had given Severus a chance – but even he hadn’t understood why Maya protected him...now, it seemed as if their other friends has been proven right. “Not anymore,” said Maya. She thought of her first day at Hogwarts almost five years ago, she thought of a boy with kind black eyes and a girl with red hair who laughed and smiled on the train. It’s as if that boy died, Maya thought. “No,” she told Remus softly. “Not for a while.”
Maya marched determinedly through the common room and walked through the door. Severus was standing right outside, looking as if he was going to rush into the room. However, the sight of Maya brought him up short. The Fat Lady swung shut behind Maya and she crossed her arms, glaring at the older boy.
“Which version did you get?” Severus asked anxiously.
“Lily told me,” Maya said shorty. Her blood was beginning to boil.
“Then you know I was provoked...” Severus started.
Maya snapped. “Provoked?” She demanded. “Provoked?! You called Lily a...how could you? You’re supposed to be her friend!”
“I am her friend,” Severus protested.
“Friends don’t call each other disgusting things like that!” Maya shouted at him. “And it’s not just that! Sneaking about with your little Death Eater buddies – don’t think we haven’t noticed!”
“That doesn’t mean anything!” Severus protested. “You wouldn’t understand...”
“Try me,” said Maya, glaring at him.
“It’s...” Severus searched wildly for the right words. “It’s belonging to a community...connecting with my magic roots...I’m a half-blood, it’s important to me...”
“And do your friends acknowledge your blood status?” Maya said tauntingly. Severus eyes flashed and he was silent. “You can’t deny that you act more like them every day,” Maya hissed. The cat within her puffed up her tail and bared her teeth. “They’re...they’re making you bad, Sev.”
But she’d already lost him. His eyes darkened with fury and he said quietly, menacingly, “And who are you to lecture me about being like the people who I choose as friends?”
Maya’s eyes narrowed into angry green slits. “They’re nothing like you,” she said.
“Dangling me upside down, jinxing me wherever I go...” Severus began to list, breathing hard. “And you not doing anything about it.”
“But they don’t use Dark Magic!” Maya snapped. “And they don’t betray each other!”
“How dare you talk to me about betrayal, half-breed,” Severus hissed.
Maya slapped him.
Severus pulled back – his hand instinctively going to his face – his mouth slack with shock.
“Don’t ever speak to me again,” she hissed.
“Maya...” Severus began weakly.
“She said,” a voice said softly behind him, “To never speak to her again.” Severus’ heart began to hammer in his chest and he slowly turned his head. Sirius Black’s wand was digging into Severus’ back and James Potter had his own wand outstretched. Uncertain, Peter Pettigrew lurked behind them.
“He’s not worth it, guys,”
said Maya. She turned her back on Severus and whispered the password to the Fat
Lady. The secret door swung open and she walked inside without another word.
James and Sirius kept their wands trained on Severus, their eyes filled with
disgust and anger, as they slowly walked backwards into their common room
(Peter had scurried in right after Maya.)
Severus stood there in shock that stemmed as much from Black and Potter not dangling him upside down as from, more importantly, from the words that had flown from his mouth.
Severus sank to his knees, his head buried in his hands. What have I done?
Two Hours Later
It was strangely quiet for a weekday in Gryffindor Tower. Everyone was studying and conversations were in whispers. An unspoken rule seemed to have been made; don’t talk about Slytherin boy that’s right outside the door. Even more unusual, the Marauders and Lily Evans were all studying at the same table. Maya had come back inside of the common room after confronting Severus to find that the two prefects – Lily and Remus – has grabbed a table by the fire. Neither spoke to the other except about Transfiguration, their last OWL. Maya sat down beside them and a few moments later Sirius, James, and Peter had joined hesitantly. Lily had looked up at them silently, then looked back at her book without a word. There was no sudden migration to another table, no scolded speech about how they had to stay focused. They were all quiet except for asking each other questions about what they were studying, and Maya’s cross mutterings as she forced herself to study History of Magic and Herbology.
After almost two hours of this, Nearly Headless Nick floated in through one of the walls and approached a table on the other side of the room, where Mary and the other fifth years were studying. He seemed troubled and spoke to them in a soft yet agitated voice. Mary got up with a frown and walked over to Lily.
“Lily,” she said, “Snape’s threatening to sleep out there.”
There was a confused silence then; “What?!” Demanded everyone around the table, the voices ranging from honestly confused to indignant. Sirius actually rose to his feet.
Mary shook her head. “He says he won’t leave until he talks with you.”
“That...” Began James furiously.
“I’ll take care of it,” said Lily shortly. She closed up her books, packed her notes into her bag, and marched determinedly out the door. As soon as it swung shut behind her, the entire room began to buzz with conversation.
Maya bit her lip and stared at the same sentence that she’d been looking at for the last five minutes, struggling not to cry.
“I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just —”
“Slipped out? It’s too late. I’ve made excuses for you for years. None of my friends can understand why I even talk to you. You and your precious little Death Eater friends ... You’ve chosen your way, I’ve chosen mine.”
-Severus and Lily, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Lily came back in a few minutes later and picked up her things. “I’m going to bed,” she said shortly. Her voice left no room for any sort of conversation, but as she left...
“Lily,” said James. She looked at him a bit coldly.
“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely, his hazel eyes looking straight into her green eyes. “I didn’t know this would happen. I didn’t want you to get hurt.”
Lily’s gaze softened. “Good luck tomorrow, James,” she said softly after a moment.
“Transfiguration?” James asked, he gave her his normal cocky grin. “Piece of cake. The only one who may do better is...”
“Sirius I’m guessing?” Lily interrupted.
“I was going to say you,” James finished.
Lily gave him a long, strange look, and then – amazingly – she smiled. “Good night,” she told him.
A few minutes later, the Marauders and Maya gave up on studying and went to bed too. The boys had all been in bed for a good ten minutes when the door seemed to open on its own accord. James squinted at the door, reaching for his glasses and Sirius’ hand crept to his wand.
Peter shrieked and jumped.
“Calm down, Wormtail,” said Sirius. “It’s Midnight.”
“Why is she in our room?” Demanded Peter.
The meow came again and Remus frowned. It sounded strange.
“Maya?” Asked Remus. She jumped onto his bed – a lithe black shape with a single white paw. In the dim light of the waxing moon he could see tears shining on her whiskers.
I didn’t know cats cried, Remus would think later. Must be a werecat thing.
But for now, he only felt sad that Maya was upset, and angry at Severus for making her so. He began to scratch Maya behind her ears with his long, thin hands that were crisscrossed with faint scar lines from transformations when he was younger. But she didn’t purr. She put her head on her paw and curled on the bed beside him. Peter fell back onto his pillows and was soon sound asleep, but James sat up in his bed and Sirius got up.
Walking softly, Sirius went to stand by Remus’ bed. He gently put one warm hand on Maya’s back and began to pet her in a long, rhythmic motion. He stayed that way for several minutes; petting the little cat he called Midnight while Remus and James watched. Peter’s soft snores filled the room. Finally, she began to purr. It was soft, nowhere near as loud as it got when a werewolf and dog were being silly while a stag kept watch. But it was there. Sirius sat down on Remus’ bed and kept petting, and Remus pulled his legs up against his chest like a small child.
James watched silently. Here, alone, it was as if his friends has let all of their guards down. Remus looked tired and strained in the light of the growing moon. And Sirius...Sirius eyes’ were troubled yet his expression soft as he gently comforted the little cat that was curled between them. After several long minutes, Maya stopped purring. Sirius froze – confused – and Remus gave him a small smile.
“She’s asleep,” Remus whispered.
“You sure?” Asked Sirius. Remus nodded.
“When are you going to tell her?” Asked James. Two pairs of confused eyes looked at him. James gave them a half-smile. Any other day, any other time, James would have grinned and punched Sirius in the arms calling him Padfoot and teasing. But a strange spell seemed to have been cast on Gryffindor Tower. A spell that brought the real world and Lord Voldemort into Hogwarts. “You like her, Sirius,” said James. “It’s obvious...well, obvious to me anyway.”
“I...” Sirius looked down at the sleeping cat, curled like a donut on Remus’ sheets, her one white paw gleaming in the moonlight. “I was going to tell her when final exams were over. But now...something just changed, James.”
“It’s like we got older all at once,” said Remus. The three boys were silent, then they all went to bed without another word.