February, Morning After the Full Moon
Remus Lupin knew pain before he knew he was awake. Deep, all consuming, terrifying pain. He let out a moan that he could not contain, tears gathering behind his eyes. He opened his eyes – even that was painful – opened his eyes to blinding dawn sunlight that was creeping in through cracks in the boarded-up windows. What it illuminated would have scared Remus even if he wasn’t in so much pain. Somehow, sometime, during his time as a werewolf the night before, Remus had managed to trap himself underneath an armoire. He was underneath it – saved from being crushed only because so much other stuff, rubble and boards that werewolf-Remus had ripped from the floor – was trapped with him. He had just enough clearance to carefully move his hand onto his stomach. And that was what Remus was doing now...and that’s how he knew that being trapped underneath the cabinet wasn’t the worst thing. Just where his rib-cage ended, Remus could feel something hot and sticky that leaked out a bit more with each beat of his heart.
His memories from the night before began to resurface and Remus trembled. It had been a bad night, he’d torn up half the floor and fallen through. He’d fallen on debris...he must have speared himself then...everything ached...it had hurt enough for the werewolf to black out...it had been near dawn...how long ago was that?...how long had he been bleeding?
I’ve got to get out of here, thought Remus. He carefully, slowly, wincing with pain began to inch backwards – using his elbows to pull himself along. He felt it when something shifted – a board, his own leg, something – moved just a little and the entire arrangement toppled. The armoire rocked forward and collapsed on him. Remus screamed as whatever was in his side was pushed further in and the scream tapered off to a gasp as he suddenly couldn’t breathe. With strength born of desperation, Remus pushed up on the cabinet, lifting it just enough to be able to breathe. If it fell all the way it would crush his chest...he would suffocate...
I’m too weak to lift it off me, Remus realized. A sob tore itself from his throat. His arms were already beginning to tremble.
Remus gasped in a shuddering breath and shouted, “Help! Help me! Somebody! Help!”
This is useless, said a voice within him. No one will hear.
Tears screamed down Remus’ face. His trembling arms gave out and the heavy piece of furniture fell on his chest once more. Remus held his breath for as long as he dared before pushing back on it and gasping for air. He could feel his blood soaking his shirt and each second was an eternity as he tried to keep that awful armoire off his chest long enough to breathe.
“Somebody,” he gasped. “Please...help me!”
A Few Minutes Earlier
Maya froze as she passed by the Whomping Willow. It had snowed during the night and she had spent a rather miserable evening hiding under a bush in the Forbidden Forest. She wished that she remembered that Hagrid was friendly in her cat form and had simply spent the night at his place; but, at least she didn’t need to be locked up in the Shrieking Shack once a month. Speaking of which...
Maya stared at the tree, seeing the passage underneath it in her mind’s eye. Remus had told his friends how to freeze the tree and what lay on the other side of it but, haunted by what it represented and terrified of what he could do in his werewolf form, he had made them promise to never use it. Storm clouds covered the bright sun and the freezing wind began to blow. Maya shivered but still couldn’t bring herself to move.
Something felt wrong.
Maya was suddenly terrified. She ran to the hospital wing as fast as she could and stood in the empty room, panting.
“Mr. Lupin? Is that you?” Madame Pomfrey entered the ward and looked at the swinging door – whoever had come had left in a hurry.
Maya was gasping for air to the point that she couldn’t get the password out and the Fat Lady looked at her with alarm the second before the door swung open from within.
Peter Pettigrew looked at Maya in surprise and concern. “Maya? What is it?”
“Re...Remus..?” She asked, gulping lungful’s of air.
“Isn’t he...” Peter lowered his voice. “In the hospital wing?”
Maya’s eyes widened and she shook her head frantically.
“Get the others! Hurry!” She shouted at him, and sprinted off the way she had come.
Something in her eyes, in her voice, prompted Peter to race through the common room and actually jump on top of a still-sleeping Sirius Black while shouting. “James! Get in here! Hurry!”
James came running from the bathroom with his shirt open and tie in his hand and Sirius sat up, swearing.
“What the bloody...?”
“Something’s wrong! Maya’s gone mental! I think Remus...” But James was already gone, racing through the common room so fast that he almost knocked over Lily Evans who was searching for a school book by the fireplace. She stared after him in surprise and then leapt out of the way as Sirius – wearing pajamas and a bathrobe – and Peter dashed after their friend.
“What are they up to now?” She asked the empty room with exasperation.
James – still holding his tie – caught up with Maya on the stairs and Sirius was next to them by the time they got outside. Peter puffed along behind them.
Maya thought she might cry as she ran to the Whomping Willow and began frantically searching the snow. That feeling of wrong was stronger now – it was more of a familiar yet terrifying sound, far in the distance, that made the cat within her hiss and thrash around.
“A stick! Find a stick!” She shouted. James was on his knees in the snow with her.
“Summon it!” Sirius yelled at her.
“I don’t have my wand on full moon nights!” She yelled back, hating that she couldn’t risk leaving her wand by itself when she was in her cat form.
“Here!” Sirius thrust his in her hands.
“Accio, stick!” She shouted. A brown, pointy shape flew out of the snow by James’ foot and Sirius caught it. He savagely jabbed the knot Remus had shown them and the tree froze. The four young wizards hurried into the tunnel and followed it.
A few moment later, Maya heard a faint call, “Please...help me!”
“Remus!” She shouted, something in his voice was desperate and terrified and raw.
“Hold on!” Shouted James. “Just hold on, Remus!”
Remus’ strength was spent. I’m going to die, he thought.
Serves you right, you mutt, said the dark voice inside him. You’re dangerous, a freak. No one cares if you die...
“Hold on! Just hold on, Remus!”
Remus took one last, shuddering breath and shouted, “Help!”
His arms gave out and that mass of wood was pressing his chest to the ground, preventing his lungs from expanding and drawing in the air he desperately needed.
A door burst open and Remus was dimly aware of James’ voice; “wingardium leviosa!” The armoire flew off and Remus coughed as he drew in air. A gasping breath that became a scream of pain as blood pumped out of his body onto the ground.
“Oh my god...” Maya gasped, staring at the red liquid that was rapidly spreading across the floor.
“I’m getting Madame Pomfrey!” Shouted Peter and he ran back the way they had come. He knew that they’d get in trouble for being inside the Whomping Willow but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to let Remus die – none of them knew enough magic to even stop a nose bleed and all that blood...Peter ran even harder, forcing his un-athletic body to slog through the snow that was once again beginning to fall on the world.
Back underground, Maya had both hands over Remus’ stomach. Her hands were already stained with blood.
“Get me...out...of...here...” Remus begged.
“Shut up, mate,” said Sirius, his face very pale.
“Please,” Remus grabbed Sirius’ arm and looked at him with pain filled eyes. “Anywhere but here...”
James, Sirius, and Maya looked at each other. They couldn’t say no. Not when Remus sounded so scared and desperate. Maya snatched the tie that James was still holding in his hand and tied it tightly around Remus’ wound. Her hands trembled as she tried to tie the knot, and James’ rough fingers took over, cinching it as tight as he could in a makeshift tourniquet. Maya bit her lip. It was the best they could do.
“Hospital wing,” Maya said. The boys nodded and each put one of Remus’ arms over their shoulder. He moaned as they moved him.
“Hurry,” said Maya. She ran ahead, wishing that she knew more magic and could do something better to stop the bleeding. They were leaving a trail of blood behind them. James and Sirius were going as fast as they dared, but three abreast was hard to fit in the tunnel and they kept stopping to try and work their way around sharp corner and jutting roots. Maya emerged from the ground first and froze the tree with a savage poke at the knot. She gasped a bit as the cold snowflakes stung her face. The storm was getting worse. She hopped from one foot to the other nervously, as her friends emerged.
Remus was completely limp on the shoulders of his friends.
“C’mon Remus,” Sirius said, shaking the arm he was holding. “You’re going to be fine.”
“Remus Lupin!” A familiar voice called from within the blizzard.
“Madame Pomfrey!” Shouted Maya. “Here! Help!”
“Help us!” James added his voice to the calls for help, even as he and Sirius continued to trudge to the castle.
“You’ll get...into...trouble...” Remus gasped.
“Nobody cares, Remus,” Sirius said fiercely.
A shape emerged from the storm, but it wasn’t Madame Pomfrey. Professor McGonagall looked at the sight of Remus being carried by James and Sirius with worried eyes. She magicked a stretcher out of thin air and James and Sirius placed their friend on it as Madame Pomfrey appeared out of the storm with Peter right beside her.
“Inside! Hurry!” Maya said, dancing around. “He’s lost a lot of blood!”
The group all hurried inside and Madame Pomfrey began summoning potions and bandages.
“Out!” She shouted when she noticed the other children hadn’t left.
“We want to make sure he...”
“I can’t work with you standing about! Out!” She said.
“Please, everyone,” said Professor McGonagall.
Giving Remus one more worried look, the young wizards and one little witch followed their Head of House. To their surprise, she motioned for them to follow her to her office where she poured them all glasses of hot tea and handed them all blankets. Sirius sat down and began to rub his freezing feet. Now that the excitement and adrenaline had worn off, he remembered that he’d run into the snow wearing nothing but slippers.
Professor McGonagall sat down and offered them a tin. “Biscuits?”
Peter took some, remembering breakfast. Maya was busy drying her hair and didn’t reply. James just looked at their professor. “Will Remus be okay?”
Professor McGonagall sighed and set down the biscuit tin. “I have complete faith in Madame Pomfrey. I believe that he will be in the hospital wing for some time but yes, he will be all right,” she allowed herself a small smile. “Seems as if you got to him just in time.” They all breathed a sigh of relief.
“That leaves the question,” said Professor McGonagall, “Of how you got to him...”
The four looked at each other and, before James or Sirius could say any of the explanations that came to mind (not all of them true), Maya said, “I found him, professor. They just...heard me screaming for help.”
“And I went to Madame Pomfrey while James and Sirius went to help Maya,” added Peter. It was true, in a way.
Professor McGonagall regarded them for a moment. Maya got the feeling that she knew they weren’t telling the whole truth. But then she smiled.
“Go on and finish getting ready for class,” she said. “I’ll let your teachers know that you’ll be late.” The young Gryffindor’s nodded and left. Peter grabbed a few more biscuits on his way out.
“How did you know he was in trouble?” Sirius asked Maya as they approached their dormitory.
“I’m not sure,” Maya admitted. “Animal instincts?” Then, she burst into tears.
“Maya?!” The three boys asked with various stages of alarm.
“I’m sorry,” she said, the tears flowing down her cheeks. “But that was t...t...terrifying.”
James went over and put his hands on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Maya,” he told her. “You saved Remus’ life. We all owe you one.” Maya nodded tearfully.
Peter looked from Sirius to James, then gently gave Maya a hug.
“It’ll be okay,” he told her firmly.
Then they were once again in the common room and not another word was spoken.