Much Ado About Hogwarts

First Aside - Big Bad Loup-Garou

It didn’t take long for Eleanor to settle into the rhythms of the school, the only major difference from her earlier education being a change in venue between classes; adjusting to the volume of students moving through the school and at mealtimes was much more difficult however. It wasn’t too bad in class, where for the most part she could fade into the background beside her new friends, but in the rush between classes or the packed Great Hall at mealtimes it felt as though all eyes were on her.

She had taken up Remus’s offer of sanctuary in the library on several occasions and had discovered in him both a delightfully sly wit and a thirst for knowledge that was on par with her own. Several times a week they could both be found toiling happily away behind one or another bookcase, content with their work and each other’s company. She was dangerously aware of how easy it would be to fall for him, with his quiet patience, his warm grey eyes, and that hoarse little chuckle that always pulled her further in… and once, when he’d stretched in the common room, the delicious way his jumper had ridden up over his stomach…

Sometimes she caught him looking at her while she worked beside him, or relaxed with Annie or Lily in the common room, and she often wondered if he might be just as aware of her, quiet and reserved as he was. Not that it mattered, seeing as he was off-limits. She, Lily and Alice had become fast friends, and there was nothing she would do to hurt them or jeopardise that friendship. Thankfully, the sixth year workload offered plenty of distraction. Lily and Alice had also invited her to join their weekly study group with Frank and a sour faced boy from Slytherin, Severus Snape.

From these sessions Remus was conspicuously absent, an observation that was compounded one evening when he had spotted Eleanor and begun to make his way over to her before noticing her companions; he had blanched, turned in mid stride and nearly taken out the startled librarian in his haste to leave.

“Remus and Severus don’t get on,” Frank had explained in an undertone. “In fact I don’t really like Severus most of the time, but he’s friends with Lily, so I don’t let it bother me.”

Eleanor could see why; Severus was hard work. The first time she had joined the group he had scowled at her proffered hand and sneered at her home tutoring, only grudgingly offering her welcome because Lily had glared at him until he did. He had begun to warm to her of late because of her skill with Potions, giving them common ground on which to base discussion, though he didn’t encourage conversation outside of the study group. Under his apparent mask of sourness he had concealed a wonderfully caustic sense of humour, and Eleanor quickly learned to value his input in group discussions, since he generally came at problems from a wholly unorthodox angle. Accordingly he had allowed her the odd brief smile when she brought something new to the table, and had even begun to nod in acknowledgement if they passed in the corridors.

He still had his moments of petulance however, usually characterised by a darkening of his countenance and a sharpening of his already keen sarcasm. On the occasion of Remus’s hurried retreat he had gripped his quill so hard that it had splintered in his hand, leaving a mess of broken feather and ink on his parchment that had taken them a while to get off.

Part of the reason for their apparent mutual animosity became clear one Thursday break-time, when Remus and his friends were relaxing in a brief interlude of autumn sunlight in the Clock Tower Courtyard. Eleanor had been looking for him since they were the only two in their year taking Ancient Runes (much to Professor Castaway’s disgruntlement) and it made sense to walk there together. She had been about to wave to the group when Severus had come out of the opposite cloister; it was difficult to say in what precise order things had transpired, but the gist is thus.

Both Severus and three of the Gryffindors had drawn their wands and flung hexes at one another without preamble, Remus hanging back and simply deflecting anything that came his way. Once a deadlock had been established James, Sirius and Peter had begun circling Severus, who was having a hard time trying to keep them all in sight; they had postured around one another, name calling and snarling for several minutes before ‘Snivellus’ as they were calling him appeared to make a mistake. Tiring of flinging barbs at James and Sirius, who were more than matching his banter, he started on Remus in earnest.

While her friend had remained largely impassive under this new onslaught, one affront made him start and blanch, while Sirius launched himself at Severus in anger. The ensuing fight had been broken up by tiny Professor Flitwick, who had been forced to levitate the two boys apart and escort them both to the Hospital Wing, scolding them roundly as he went. She’d stood and watched as both James and Peter had jostled their friend and slapped him on the back to cheer him up, and watched them exchange worried glances as he’d turned away to collect his things.

The strength of their feeling and Remus’s reaction were curious, given the insult, and certainly something upon which Eleanor could not stop herself reflecting. After all, what possible reason could Severus have for calling Remus ‘half-breed’?

Remus was still rattled by the time they had arrived at Ancient Runes, and found it very difficult to concentrate on his translation, a fact that his classmate had no trouble at all picking up on.

He had come so close to being revealed.

Realising that Eleanor was watching him more closely than usual, he attempted to pull himself together and worked steadily for the remainder of the class. It wasn’t until they were walking back down to lunch that Eleanor decided to call him on it.

“Are you feeling alright today?” she asked, moving out of the way of a couple of high-speed first years. “Only you seemed a bit distant earlier…”

“Er – yes, I’m fine, thank you. I – er, didn’t sleep particularly well is all,” he stammered.

She had shot him a shrewd look at that, making him suddenly very worried about how much she had witnessed prior to her arrival in the Courtyard. She didn’t press him further, however, and they were soon caught up in the usual bustle of the Great Hall at lunchtime.

The events of the morning continued to puzzle Eleanor however, as the week wore on. Why had the boys reacted so strongly to what could only have been a throwaway comment? Why, for that matter, did Severus and the Gryffindor boys hate one another so completely?

And why hadn’t Remus wanted her to know?

0o0o0o0

Nearly a week later, she began to comprehend her answer.

For the first time since she’d known him, Remus (who was notoriously bad at getting up and therefore made an extra effort to be punctual) was late for breakfast. He forgot his textbook for Charms and had to share Peter’s, which was a little dog-eared to say the least. He barely even registered that Rubeus Hagrid, the Keeper of the Keys at Hogwarts and a veritable giant of a man, had said hello to him in the corridor.

He pushed nearly a full plate of food away at lunch, and blanched a little at the plate of steaks a fifth year boy had asked him to pass over, loosening his tie as if it was suddenly much warmer in the room. He barely took any notes at all in Transfiguration, not that Eleanor had much time to watch, since James’s newly transformed Labrador had escaped and the class had been required to round the thing up so he could turn it back into its previous incarnation of a lampshade.

In the afternoon he – and this was the clincher, as far as Eleanor was concerned – actually fell asleep in History of Magic. To be fair, if it had been anyone else she wouldn’t have been that surprised. Professor Binns, the only teacher in Hogwarts who hadn’t let death deflect him from the pursuit of his subject, could make a manticore attack sound like the driest civil suit ever conceived. But it wasn’t anyone else, it was Remus Lupin. The boy who in her first week in Binns’ class had instructed her to read the interesting bits of the textbook in order to stay awake – something he had apparently been employing for the previous five years in order not to miss some useful titbit of information.

By the time they’d finished dinner, Eleanor was really beginning to worry about him.

Although his appetite appeared to have returned – he ate three helpings of everything within reach with the gusto of a famished man – he was paler and more drawn than ever, with dark circles forming under his eyes… and he kept making comments that seemed completely out of character for his usually retiring nature.

He joined Sirius in maintaining a largely derisory running commentary of the female population of the Great Hall, managing at points to even out-perv’ his friend. He laughed in the face of a second year who admonished him for taking the last lamb chop, and even began to flirt outrageously with Alice right in front of Frank. It was downright weird.

The feeling began to steal upon Eleanor, as dinner wore on, that she too was being scrutinised; whenever she glanced up at Remus, however, he would be thoroughly engrossed in verbally undressing the student body or wolfing down his food. As she cleared her plate, however, he met her curious glance full on and held it for just a few seconds. The sheer intensity of his gaze shocked her, and she felt herself shiver. She couldn’t tear herself from his eyes: grey and mischievous and very slightly predatory. Had he just winked at her?

Eleanor was beginning to think that someone had slipped him a suspect potion.

The strangest thing of all, though, was that nobody else seemed to notice it, everyone getting on with eating as if this was perfectly normal Remus-behaviour…

It didn’t escape her notice that when they made to leave the Hall, Sirius picked up Remus’s bag without even looking at him, and again, nobody commented. Sighing, she said her goodbyes and made her way to the Library to get out a couple of Herbology texts for her and Alice’s joint research project; clearly, whatever was wrong with him, he was well tended. She was nearly there when she heard a shout behind her.

“Eleanor!”

Remus was running to catch up; he had taken his tie off entirely now and looked a good deal more dishevelled than usual, his brown hair spun with gold in the flickering torchlight. She had never seen him run before… he cut a strangely athletic figure, pale as he was; it was almost as if he usually controlled his movements to conceal this fact.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” he panted. “I forgot to say at dinner – there’s a couple of books I thought we could get out to help with our next translation.” He gave her a toothy grin that made her breath catch in her throat and looped his arm around hers, eyes sparkling. “We could get started on Sunday, if you’re game.” He was a lot closer to her now than he’d ever been and she felt her skin prickle in response to the warmth of his bare forearm, brushing against hers.

Off Limits, she thought, desperately.

“Um – sure –”

“I mean, I’d suggest we started on Saturday, but it’s the first Quidditch match of the season and Gryffindor are playing and we’d never hear the end of it if we didn’t go… not to mention the after-match party that will inevitably last until the small hours. Oh, by the way,” he said, steering her towards the library. “Sirius takes it as a personal affront when a girl turns him down, so he’ll probably try to get a bit, well, handsy at the party…” he squeezed her arm reassuringly. “But don’t worry, I’ll make him keep his filthy paws off of you,” his voice was still cheerful when he said this, but Eleanor could have sworn she’d heard the edge of a growl…

They made fairly quick work of the library, since they both knew precisely what they were after; as soon as Remus had booked out the tomes on Ancient Runes he made a beeline for her as she waited by the door and immediately reclaimed her arm, as if it were his right.

“I’m glad I caught up with you actually,” he said, as they set off in the general direction of the common room. “We’ve not been able to spend any time together really – I mean outside of schoolwork – since that day in Hogsmeade… I liked it, that day, with everyone around,” he was suddenly excited. “It was excellent fun, don’t you think?” he asked earnestly. His demeanour was so much like that of a small excited puppy that she was a little surprised not to see a wagging tail.

“Er, yes,” she said, forcing herself to concentrate on the conversation and not on the familiar way he’d grasped her arm when he’d asked the question. “Everyone’s been so kind and welcoming.”

“They are, aren’t they? I do enjoy their company. Well,” he qualified, “most of the time. They can be so loud sometimes.”

Eleanor laughed, nervously.

“That they can.”

He awarded her another brilliant smile.

“And people are always in and out of each other’s business,” he continued, quickening his pace. “And each other’s possessions,” he said quietly, his grip ever so slightly tightening on her arm.

“Anyway, what do you say to spending some time together – outside of the Library?” he asked, with all the confidence of a Gryffindor. “We seldom get to see each other socially…” he paused and turned to her. “…and I like spending time with you.”

He gave her another skin tingling smile, which made her blush all the harder.

He’s Off Limits Ellie, OFF LIMITS!

They were in a part of the school which Eleanor hadn’t seen much of before, and there were a good deal fewer students walking through the darkening halls. Just where was he taking her?

Firmly, he pulled her to one side beside a statue of an ancient storm mage holding an angry looking raven.

“What-”

“I really like spending time with you,” he said, standing just a little too close to her; suddenly she could feel the heat of his not-quite-touching-her body mingling with hers, and her head began to spin with warmth and want, making her dizzy. If only he would move nearer… close the gap between them… but he was off limits – she took a deep breath and pulled a half step away from him. There was cool stone against her back and she realised too late that she was now right up against the statue. He moistened his lips.

“You’re just so…” he trailed off, reaching out to her. He tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear, the fingers of his other hand just grazing her hip, sending delicious shivers of desire through her. Eleanor was very aware that she was losing what fragile grip she had on her remaining will power… but she couldn’t look away.

His lips, warm and pink and curved in that wicked, un-Remus-like smile, were so close to hers… it wouldn’t take much now for them to meet… Eleanor wasn’t sure that she’d be able to stop him.

“So…” he frowned, as if the word was lodged on the tip of his brain; finally, his expression brightened in triumph. “So very Eleanor,” he whispered, and leant determinedly towards her.

Off Li- oh, bugger it, she thought, and let him kiss her.

It was perfectly chaste at first, although to Eleanor it felt as though she were being pulled headlong into some inexorable cavern of feeling; she could taste the dark, sweet, chocolate he’d had for pudding on his lips and tongue as he began to explore her mouth. She pulled him closer, powerless to her own desire – bag and books forgotten on the floor as he pressed against her, all heat and muscle and scent, running his hands up and down her sides, long fingers tangling in her hair.

Gradually, the frenetic need that had spurred them into action slowed to a slow, steady fervour, their need for one another cooling to a smoulder as they kissed and held and touched. Lost in a delirium of sensation, Eleanor was astonished to feel him pull away from her. Bewilderment however, soon cascaded to concern as Remus gasped and clutched at his chest in pain.

“What? What is it?”

“I- can’t- breathe-” he choked, reaching out blindly in panic and pulling her to the floor beside him. “Help-”

Eleanor swore, what the hell were you supposed to do if someone couldn’t breathe? She pulled out her wand.

“Anapneo!” She shouted, but to no avail.

Distantly remembering something she’d overheard in a muggle village as a child, she pulled him into a sitting position, and forced herself to be calm.

“Is there anything in your throat?” she asked, quietly, holding him up.

Still gasping for air, Remus managed to shake his head.

“Asthma?”

Another ‘no’. There really wasn’t any way she could move him – or a way to get a message to the Hospital Wing, not that she knew where that was. Not for the first time, she wished that someone had thought to give her a map of the place.

“Right,” she said, sounding much more confident than she felt. “Lean forward, hands on your knees – I know it’s easier said than done, but try to stay calm…”

Although he appeared to be trying to follow her instructions, he was still clearly panicking, reaching for breaths that just weren’t coming; in a deep, terrified part of her mind it registered that the edges of his lips were beginning to turn blue.

Sending a silent prayer to whatever deity it was that watched over misbehaving teens, she knelt down behind him and pulled him back against her chest.

“I need you to breathe with me,” she said, willing her own breathing under control. “Just pay attention to my breathing Remus, that’s it, it’s going to be ok-”

The seconds of his desperate gasps for air seemed to stretch on forever; she held him to her as firmly as she dared, the other hand had been caught by his, frantically clutching at her as his only lifeline. She couldn’t give up now. Finally, just when she was beginning to think that picking him up and making a mad dash for a more civilised part of the school was her only option, his breathing began to slow, matching the calm steady beat she was forcing herself to maintain.

It took some time, but he eventually relaxed against her, breath still a little ragged. They sat like that for a few minutes, not daring to move, until Eleanor couldn’t fight the cramp in her legs anymore and swore.

“S-sorry,” he said, shakily.

“There is no way that that was your fault,” said Eleanor, assessing him. He was still very pale and shiny with sweat, but the blue tinge around his lips had gone, at least. “Although I’d appreciate it if you’d never do that ever again.”

“So would I,” he panted. “I think I need to go to the Hospital Wing,” he said, rubbing his chest.

“Agreed,” said Eleanor, packing their spilled books into her bag with a flick of her wand. “You’re going to have to point the way though. Can you stand up, do you think?”

He could, but not particularly well; she slung his arm over her shoulder.

“Eleanor,” he said, leaning on her gratefully. “Th-thank you…”

“Don’t mention it.”

It took them a surprisingly short time to get to the Hospital Wing, which Eleanor had been certain was in an entirely different part of the school; she hadn’t failed to notice that some of the passages which Remus had directed her down weren’t readily visible.

Madame Pomfrey took immediate charge of him when they arrived, hustling him to the nearest bed and interrogating her in a businesslike manner.

She missed out the part where they had very nearly defamed school property.

“Quick thinking on your part, Miss Wren,” the matronly witch announced, approvingly. “You need to return to your dormitory now though, I’m afraid, Mr Lupin here needs his rest. I’ll have the House Elves send you up a restorative,” she added more kindly, and patted her lightly on the shoulder as she made off to fetch Remus a potion. Eleanor dragged a hand across her eyes. Funny, she thought… she hadn’t even realised she’d been crying.

He looked at her from the bed, pale and drawn, and no longer in possession of that wicked grin; it struck her suddenly how frail he looked.

“Er – I’d better go then,” she said, uncertainly, suddenly unwilling to leave him. “Feel better…”

He nodded and watched her go.

“Thank you,” he said quietly after her, grimacing in a fresh burst of pain.

0o0o0o0

She didn’t remember exactly how she’d got back to the Common Room, but in no time at all she was being inspected by a very worried Fat Lady and hurrying up the steps to the boys’ dormitory. Silently thanking the architect’s apparent need for symmetry she pushed open the second door, and felt immediately that she had come right into the middle of something.

“… don’t find him soon there’s going to be a serious problem,” James was saying.

“Where the hell could he be?” demanded Sirius, apparently of the world at large. “Hogwarts is huge, there’s no way we could find him in time, and soon it won’t matter!”

“Eleanor!” said Peter, noticing her. “Merlin’s ghost, are you alright?”

She must have looked a right sight with her dishevelled clothes and tear streaked face. Abruptly she was surrounded by three earnest and very worried boys; it was a lot like being in the centre of a sudden and very specific eclipse.

“Are you alright?”

“What happened?”

“Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m fine,” she said, feeling very far from it indeed. “It’s Remus, he had some sort of attack –” She couldn’t help noticing how all three of them stiffened at that. “He just stopped breathing – I took him to the Hospital Wing…”

“He stopped breathing?”

“Fuck! Is he ok?”

On her nod, James appeared to assume command.

“Right,” he said, “you two get to the Hospital Wing, I’ll catch you up.”

“Madame Pomfrey said he needed to rest,” Eleanor said, uncertainly.

“And so he can,” said Sirius fiercely, “just as soon as we’ve seen him.”

“Don’t get caught,” called James. He turned to Eleanor as the two boys raced for the stairs, both looking pale and determined. “It must have been a bit of a shock.”

“That’s a bit of an understatement,” she said, shakily.

I’m shaking, she thought, why am I shaking?

“Come on,” he said, putting a strong arm around her shoulders. “Best get you to your dorm’…”

Eleanor let him steer her down the stairs and back into the common room.

“Can’t get you any further, I’m afraid, bloody anti-boy charm. Oy! Lily!” he shouted, grip still firm about her. She was a little grateful, truth be told; she wasn’t entirely sure why but her legs were beginning to stage a mutiny.

Lily’s outraged face appeared at the top of the girls’ stairs.

“What in Merlin’s name –” she began, but then she saw Eleanor. “Imps and pixies! What happened?” She rushed down towards them, and took her friend’s arm.

“Remus stopped breathing,” James said. “Eleanor was with him – he’s in the Hospital Wing.”

“He stopped breathing?” Lily had gone very pale.

“He was doing better when I left,” Eleanor managed.

“Sirius and Peter have gone to see if he needs anything – I’m going to catch them up.” He gave Eleanor a worried look. “If Madame Pomfrey had time to tell you to come back here then he’s going to be alright,” he told her firmly, and she nodded numbly.

“Look after her,” he mouthed over her head, before setting off out of the portrait hole at a sprint.

“Come on, upstairs,” said Lily in a commanding voice, which didn’t fool either of them.

Alice was reading on her bed when they reached the dormitory, ready to tease Lily about answering James’s summons. When she saw them however, she was at Eleanor’s other side in an instant.

“What-”

“In a minute,” said Lily, steering Eleanor to her bed, which she gratefully sank into. “Remus had some sort of attack after he left the Great Hall this evening…”

Eleanor drew her legs up to her chin as Lily filled Alice in.

“Merlin’s ghost!” Alice said, sitting down beside her. “What happened? I mean, did he just stop in mid-sentence or something?”

Eleanor told them, though she neglected to mention what they’d been doing immediately prior to his attack… a niggling part at the back of her mind was quite worried that whatever it was had been her fault.

She drew a great ragged breath and realised to her embarrassment that she was crying again.

“S-sorry,” she sniffled, head in her hands.

“Nonsense,” said Lily, from somewhere beside her, “I think anyone who’s just had a scare like that is entitled to a bit of a cry.”

0o0

Madame Pomfrey’s restorative potion, which popped into existence on Eleanor’s bedside table was warm and gingery and made her feel a hell of a lot better; the matron of Hogwarts knew her stuff – clearly Remus was in safe hands. Peter called up to them a bit later on to tell them that Remus was doing a bit better and that Sirius had been caught trying to sneak in to the Hospital Wing. Apparently after the third such intrusion, Madame Pomfrey had hauled him off to McGonagall, which made them all chuckle.

Feeling that if the boys could joke about it then things were looking up, Eleanor turned her attention to her own state of being. Although she was a good deal calmer than she had been, she was still tense, and decided that the best way of combating this would be a spot of exercise.

“I think I’m going for a swim,” she announced, as Lily and Alice got ready for bed.

“What, in the lake?” asked Alice, surprised.

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’m quite a strong swimmer.”

“But it’s after curfew,” she said, shooting a worried glance at Lily.

“I won’t get caught,” Eleanor said, forgetting for a moment that Lily was, in fact, a prefect.

“Never mind that,” said Lily, possibly surprising even herself, “there are Mer-people in the lake-”

“I speak Mermish,” Eleanor said. “My mother taught me.”

“-and a giant squid-”

“-and Hinkypunks-”

Eleanor gave them a hard look. Something was definitely going on.

“It’s not safe – there are things in the Forest you wouldn’t want to meet,” said Lily firmly.

“Like what?” said Eleanor. If they were going to try to distract her she might as well see what she could get out of them while they tried. Honestly. As if she were afraid of Hinkypunks.

“Well…” Lily faltered, apparently at a loss. “Sirius said there was a colony of Acromantula…”

Eleanor stared at her. Could she hear herself?

“Sirius Black told me on the first day I met him that he’d been a cover model for Witch Weekly for the last three years.”

“Point taken,” said Lily, unhappily. “But there are things in the Forest that you shouldn’t go near, like… like…”

Outside in the grounds something howled, making them all jump.

“Like werewolves,” finished Alice, quietly.

She had to admit, that was a pretty good reason not to go outside tonight…

“Why didn’t you say that first?” she asked. “Werewolves are a very good reason for not being outside at night.”

“We – er – didn’t want to scare you,” said Lily, with all the conviction of someone who knows she won’t be believed.

“Oh,” said Eleanor. “Thanks.”

She watched her two friends get ready for bed; every so often the howl from the grounds would echo up to their tower and both girls would exchange worried glances. Eleanor sighed and decided that in lieu of a good swim, a hot shower would have to do.

Upon returning from the bathroom however, Lily and Alice could be heard whispering hurriedly to one another, which did nothing at all for Eleanor’s peace of mind.

“… but what if she knows?” Alice was asking.

“Then we’ll talk to her about it – but not until we’re sure…”

Eleanor rolled her eyes. At least she could be certain that neither of her room-mates would ever be able to keep anything important from her without her noticing.

Like you are from Lily, her mind supplied, accusingly. She shook her head and pushed the voice away. After all, given the events of the evening it was unlikely that that would ever happen again…

Unable to sleep, she listened to Alice’s soft snores and tried really hard not to remember how delicious Remus had tasted, pressed up against her and –

Stop it, Ellie.

Frustrated, she opened her school bag, intending to get some reading done; her hands grazed the unfamiliar cover of an Ancient Runes text…

Remus’s books… she thought. Well, I should probably put them in his dorm… She glanced at her alarm clock: the boys would be fast asleep by now…

Slowly a smile slid across her features… it wasn’t as distracting as a good swim, but sneaking into the midst of three sleeping Gryffindors would be an excellent challenge.

Silently, she slipped out of bed and padded across the floor, careful not to wake her room-mates. From what she remembered, the boys’ door didn’t creak, so she needn’t be too careful… she pushed it open. Bright moonlight was shining into the tower through the mullioned window, bathing the four beds in a soft blue glow.

Now, she thought, which bed is Remus’s?

Stood in the middle of the room she waited for her eyes to adjust to the relative brightness of the room; it probably wasn’t the one nearest the door, that one had a giant poster of a Quidditch team tacked to it, the tiny players zooming back and forth after their own miniature quaffle.

James, she thought, smiling slightly. Who else?

Peter’s bed was also reasonably easy to identify… it was surrounded by small stacks of parchment, scores perhaps, from the choir…

There was a ring of darker wood around the next bed, as if something had exploded there recently… the edge of a Gryffindor Quidditch strip was poking out from under the bed; a poster of a scantily clad witch atop a muggle motorbike winked out at her seductively. Sirius, she thought, rolling her eyes.

She gave a small wave to the witch, who smiled and waved back; apparently being stuck in a room full of prepubescent wizards wasn’t necessarily her idea of a good time.

Which left the bed by the window: his table was fairly neat, though a large stack of books was teetering on the edge of it. She frowned: she’d need to be careful near those…

Silently, she crept across the room and set the books down on the floor by his bed; she glanced at the empty covers. He really hadn’t looked well earlier. Turning to leave, her eyes fell on James’s bed – the hangings were open, leaving her in absolutely no doubt: James wasn’t in his bed. She glanced at Peter’s bed… there was no evidence of a sleeping boy there either. Sirius’s hangings were closed…

Cautiously, she pulled them aside slightly.

Where the hell were they?

No longer having the need for caution, she pulled out her wand.

“Lumos,” she whispered.

This was weird… admittedly, they might have hidden out somewhere near the Hospital Wing to keep an eye on their friend, but why had Peter bothered to come back and wish them a goodnight?

She had another look at his bed, the light of her wand illuminating his bedside cabinet. For some reason, there was a block of cheese on it.

Seized by irrepressible curiosity, and aware that this opportunity would probably never repeat itself, she had a good nose around. After all, they’d undoubtedly do the same, given half the chance.

Sirius had several unexploded dung bombs under his bed, along with a half-finished chart for Divination; she stifled a snort. She knew that he and James had only taken it as a ‘doss’ subject, and that the resident Professor was an appalling teacher; in her first week she had spent a very amusing half hour helping them to come up with less and less likely misfortunes to befall them as part of their prediction homework…

James’s bed was largely uninteresting, his possessions largely comprising quidditch equipment and half chewed sugar quills, although she did find a scrap of parchment with the letters ‘JP + LE’ scrawled on it inside a rather ornate heart. It was unlikely that she’d ever get to tease Lily about it though. Her friend probably wouldn’t appreciate her nocturnal wanderings.

Finally, she turned back to Remus’s bed. He’d left it fairly neatly in the morning, and someone, presumably Sirius, had deposited his schoolbag on top of his pillow. She smiled. The schoolbag had seen better days – it looked like Remus had had to repair it several times, probably from the sheer volume of books he tended to haul around with him. She glanced at the stack of books on his table… most of them were textbooks, some of them on subjects he didn’t take anymore, but the smallest of them, sandwiched between ‘Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration’ and ‘Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes’ caught her eye.

‘Hairy Snout, Human Heart’ she read, eyes widening. She knew that book… she glanced out of the window at the full moon, which stared impassively back.

Oh.


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