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One of Those Lunar Weeks


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Hey all! So this is my first fic! I originally started it as a writing exercise, but my fetish side took over. I was a little afraid to post it, but I thought I'd be faithful to my SFF community and let you decide whether you wanna read it or not. If you like it, I have an idea on where I can further the story, so let me know! Hope you enjoy.

Title: One of Those Lunar Weeks

Author: Alias

Fandom: Harry Potter, Marauder's Era

Disclaimer: I don't own any of these lovely characters.

The sun crept over the edge of the black lake, swallowing up the last soft beams of the harvest moon that glowed relentlessly full all throughout the night. Barely masked by the morning cock crow, the Shrieking Shack emitted a haunting moan that chilled the spines of passersby. Surely it was just their imagination. After all, the building was rather pathetic, really. Just an old abandoned shack. There was nothing ghostly – or even magical – about it.

But behind the dilapidated exterior, a wolfish figure writhed on the broken floorboards through the tearing of muscles and the cracking of bones shrinking back into a humanoid form. An unlikely trio of animals encircled the helpless beast – a large dog with silky black hair, a magnificent stag, and a rather corpulent rat – bowing their heads in sympathy as the only aid they could offer their dear friend through his transformation. A growling howl escaped the lips of the changing creature and melted into a young man’s cry of agony. He grasped at the floor in vain as his back curled and his body continued to spasm. With each sickening crack that echoed down the dusty hall, the black dog gave a whimper, while the rat scampered about anxiously. After what always seemed like an eternity, the bending and breaking ceased, leaving the frail body of a teenage boy quivering in the center of the room.

Remus Lupin held his eyes shut as the fog on his mind cleared and he could again process his own thoughts, only slightly aware of the cloak being draped over his naked body. His breathing was shallow and marred by a thickness in his lungs, but that was only a small concern compared the ache penetrating his entire body. The pain was a constant. A certainty. Some months were better than others when it came to how well he and his fellow marauders could keep his mind in check. When James, Sirius, and Peter were at his side during his transformations, it was like being able to squint through a fog. He didn’t always know if he would be able to see, to think, without completely losing himself. It was a toss-up every time. But the pain, that was sure to always be the same.

Except for last night. Whatever the quirk in this month’s lunar cycle was, it did not fair well with Remus, and that was evident amongst everyone. The three boys, now human again, knelt down next to their friend and waited somberly for him to regain enough strength to make the trek back to the castle. After nights like these, the agony was shared.

“Alright Moony?” asked James in a soft voice. Remus swallowed hard and managed to nod his head just a hair. He held himself rigid on the ground a great while longer, until finally he shifted his weight onto his palms, arms like rubber and shaking as he attempted to push himself up. He was immediately met with the aid of three pair of hands.

“Take it easy mate.” That was Padfoot’s voice. “That was a rough one. Take your time. We still got at least an hour until the girls start prancing around the dormitory in their undergarments.”

When the pain dulled enough to walk, they made their way across the grounds, one of Remus’s arms latched over James’s shoulder to support his weight. He hated being so fragile on mornings like this, but he knew that if he were to let go he would get a face full of dirt.

“I’m adding that painting to the map as a possible passageway,” chimed Sirius, reliving the fruits of the night’s adventure. “I don’t care if we didn’t figure it out yet. I know there’s something to it.”

“This isn’t going to lead to more vandalism is it?” James feigned concern. “Because the last time you knew something, you ended up decapitating Borius the Brave.”

“It was a statue of a ghost! How is that not a contradiction? Clearly the architects of Hogwarts were trying to signify something.”

“And clearly the way to discover it would be lopping its head off.”

“Nearly-Headless Nick didn’t seem to have a problem with it.”

Remus grinned at his friends’ banter and managed to breath out a short laugh. His body still ached, and now out in the frigid dawn, began to chill too. A icy breeze that only gently ruffled the grass hit lungs like a dagger. He pressed a fist to his lips as he erupted into a fit of deep coughing. “…Ugh,” he moaned, when he managed to regain his breath. Last night definitely left him more rattled than others.

By the time they reached Gryffindor Tower, Remus had to wipe perspiration off his forehead, though even after the strenuous effort of ascending the seven stairwells, his core still quaked with a chill. The many blankets of his four-poster bed were a welcome thought in his mind, and he was grateful for the Sunday, where everyone would still be asleep at this hour and he could slip into his dorm without having to answer to inquiring minds. His pounding head would rest so mercifully on the owl-feathered pillow.

Sternutarus.” James shouted the password to the Fat Lady, who was dozing upright in her frame. She scowled at the awakening and raised a suspicious eye at the group, yet again returning to the common room in the wee hours of the morning.

“You know Dumbledore only ever gave me permission to let the peaky one in without question early in the morning. But he never said anything about the rest of you three. Just where have you been?” she questioned, much the rolling eyeballs.

“Come on now, we’ve said the password. We’ve been through this already!” Sirius took a step forward, raising his hands in exasperation. “Ever heard of the buddy system?”

The Fat Lady huffed and shifted herself in a flustered matter, pursing her lips in tacit castigation. Her duty got the better of her though, and the portrait swung open.

“Why thank you!” Sirius bellowed sarcastically.

“Not so loud, Padfoot,” Remus croaked, his voice as scratched as a cat’s clawing post. Talking for the first time since his vocal chords scythed themselves back into human anatomy sent another cough through his chest, this one rattling in his lungs and making him wince. He swallowed a dry lump in his throat before continuing. “You’re going to wake – ”

“Holy unicorn’s blood, what happened!?

The four boys each gave a start at the feminine voice, shrill in panic. Pettigrew leaped so violently that he staggered backward and barreled over a tub of umbrellas, but the others were too caught up in their new company to pay notice. A young women, still gowned in her evening ware, jumped off the coach where she had been lounging with an assortment of textbooks and parchment sprawled around the coffee table, her conflagrant red hair tousled back by the urgency of her stride.

Remus immediately pushed himself away from James, using the frame of a chair as a crutch instead, and hauled himself upright, turning his head away from Lily and summoning all his energy to act ordinary.

“Evans!” James exclaimed. Aside from the shock of being caught unawares, Remus could tell he was trying his best to sound annoyed. Though none of them could miss his eyes dart down to take in Lily’s shorts and tank top. James ruffled a hand through his already messy hair and took a step forward, putting himself between the path from Lily to his wolfy friend. “Why are you up already?”

“What did you do to him?” berated Lily, ignoring his question completely. “Where were you? Have you been out since last night or did you sneak out this morning?”

“Yes,” smirked James.

“Very funny,” she sneered.

“I thought so.” James laughed at himself while Lily scoffed and crossed around the table to avoid him. Before she could reach Remus, James pranced into her path again, dancing tauntingly on his toes back and forth to obstruct her direction, then stretching his arms tiredly to appear coincidental.

“Stop trying to hide him, Potter. What sort of fool do you take me for? I can see his face all scratched up! It looks like he’s had a go with a kneazle!”

Remus raised a hand to his face and traced four thin gashes with his fingers, still warm and wet.

“Yeah, sorry about that mate,” muttered Sirius from the corner of his mouth. “You were gettin’ a bit feisty last night. Didn’t mean to take such a hard swipe at ya. Gotta clip my nails.”

“Not to mention he’s about as pale and sallow as an inferius,” Lily went on. “What were you doing, practicing your own amateur jinxes on him?”

“Lily, it’s alright I’m – ” Remus began, but he was halted by hitching in his breath, and he pitched forward with a sudden sneeze muffled into his right hand. “Heh-ptchuh!!!” The contraction made him groan, as all of his muscles still throbbed sore.

The arguing went on around him as if his weak voice hadn’t even piped in. He sniffed back a persistent irritation in his nose and sank into the chair he’d been leaning on, too tired to make an effort.

“That’s ridiculous,” James snorted. “Of course he wasn’t being our test dummy. That’s Pettigrew’s job, and that’s not until Thursday.”

Lily crossed her arms and let out a slow breath through her nose, eyes ablaze and locked on James like a sniper rifle. Remus turned toward her ever so slightly, watching her steam in anger at the boy who ogled back at her with nothing but pure adoration. A quiet sigh escaped his lips and his face contorted to a wince, this time having nothing to do with the pain in his body. The tension between the two was nearly tangible. It was only a matter of time.

“Quit being a git. I honestly cannot believe how completely immature you are. You’re impossible!” Lily’s volume rose to surpass conversational comfort, nearing danger of making the entire tower privy to their argument.

“What’s it to you anyway, Evans?” Sirius interjected. Remus pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. Perhaps if he snuck up to his room, they would remain too entwined in their bickering to notice. Sirius stepped forward. “If you find James so immature and unseemly, why do you care so much about where he’s been?”

“I – ” Lily faltered. “I…don’t.” She cocked her chin up in the air, but couldn’t hide the rouge coloring her cheeks. “Go rough your own smug face up for all I care. But Remus is my friend too and I’m sorry but I do actually care about what happens to him.”

At this comment Remus couldn’t help but meet Lily’s gaze. Her emerald eyes gleamed like two lily pads floating gently on a sparkling pond, soothing him with candid comfort. Then he felt the sting of the fresh wounds across his face and turned his head again in embarrassment. The bitter chill in his core warmed momentarily with a pleasant flame as her vibrancy radiated in his mind.

“Well then, perhaps you two should ditch us immature blokes and do some more adult things on your own. What’dya say, Moony? Fancy a date with the ginger?”

James flashed his smug grin as he elbowed Remus, who bent over in his chair and covered his face with his hands in an expression of fatigue, though truly shielding his own blushing visage. Their seemingly endless banter was more than his throbbing head cared to process at the moment and he muffled a groan, the tail end of which turned into another coughing spell.

“Look at that, even the thought of it makes him ill. Sorry Evans. Guess you’re stuck with Snivellus Snape. Of course, my original offer still stands.” James winked, an action that reduced Sirius to snorting laughter.

“You have got some nerve to bring that up again, Potter. You think you’re so funny, so clever. But you always have to knock someone down to stay on top don’t you?”

“Please. Don’t tell me you’re still defending that swine. After what he called you!”

“That doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been a tool from the beginning. If you’d have given him a chance, maybe he wouldn’t have – ”

“It’s called judge of character, I didn’t need to give him a chance. He’s bad news. You don’t want friends like him.”

“Oh! Well thank you for telling me what I do and don’t want, because surely I’d never know without you!”

Remus massaged his temples and peaked up at the ongoing brawl, squinting through the bright sunlight beating in. James and Lily, octaves rising by the second, continued shouting back and forth with a variation of the same argument they had all heard countless times before. Sirius egged James on in his usual stance to the right, while Pettigrew just snickered mindlessly in the background.

The ache in his bones, the knife paring his lungs, the incessant burning in the back of his nose. Then add on the strident bickering, and that was more than enough. Remus heaved himself out of the chair and dragged his feet up the stone steps to the boy’s dormitory, not stopping until his head was buried deep enough in his pillow to drown out everything else.

He awoke to his ears ringing with an echo of the morning’s clamor, but finding himself alone in the otherwise silent bed chambers. His head was like lead. What time is it? He lifted his neck up with great effort to peer at the time teller on the wall. Nine o’clock! Has it really only been three hours? The pain from the transformation had dulled, as per usual, but unlike other “mornings after,” he still felt plagued by an ache in body, coupled with a harsher scratchiness in his throat and lungs than he had felt before falling asleep.

More sleep would be ideal. Madame Pomfrey would flip her cauldron if she found him having gone on only three hours sleep. Eight hours was her set minimum after full moons, though she advised he sleep clear through to the next day. As much as he’d like to, his body didn’t seem to be accommodating. His bed felt like concrete. No point in laying around uncomfortable. He pushed himself up on his elbows into a sitting position and stretched into a deep breath.

Heh’Ehksschoo!!!” He doubled over with a harsh sneeze that caught him off guard. Ugh. Great, he thought. It’s gonna be one of those weeks.

The week after a transformation always left Remus a little drained. Month after month, the physical trauma took a toll on his body, and that didn’t always leave him in the best of health. It was the perfect opportunity for illness to take lodging, while his defenses were low and he had little immunity to fight back.

He sniffed deeply and rubbed his eyes awake. Where was everybody? James, Sirius, and Peter were all up through the night too. They may not have had their limbs contorted out of every socket under the beam of moonlight, but surely they’d still be exhausted.

He cast his sheets away and was immediately hit with the winter draft, like solid ice smacking his skin. How could the castle be this cold? He slid out of bed and raced over to his trunks, dizziness from the quick motion sending him stumbling into his four-poster along the way. At the bottom of his trundle he dug for the heavy sweater he usually only wore out in the snow. The sweatshirt hung oversized on his skinny stature, but was wooly enough on the inside to keep warm and comfortable. The emblem on it’s front had long faded into an unrecognizable shape, which made it wise to keep for casual wear. He drew the tattered hood up over his head and burrowed his hands in the pockets, drawing into himself as he slugged out of the dormitory.

The fireplace was a warming sight, and with a cursory scan around the room he plopped down on the scarlet couch and leaned his head back, keeping his arms wrapped tightly around each other.


The voice startled Remus and stole a short gasp, pitching him over to cough into his fist. Apparently the common room wasn’t as empty as he’d assumed.

“Sorry! I thought you saw me. You must still be a little out of it.” Lily rose from the arm chair that had been angled almost out of view and joined Remus on the couch, drawing her legs under her on the cushion.

Remus gave her a nervous smile. “Oh, no. It’s fine – you’re fine. You didn’t… I mean I’m not – wasn’t… Er…” He cleared his throat and rubbed the outside of his neck.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you what you were up to last night.” Lily laughed and returned a smile of appeasement. “Clearly it was something… private. I can respect that. And I know you wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize yourself… Or, ya know, Gryffindor House,” she added.

Remus rubbed his nose, which was building an irritating itch. “Thanks Lily. And really, you don’t have to worry.” She nodded her head and forced a smile, an expression that clearly said of course I’m still worrying but I’m going to act cool about it. He was used to that from people. Some secrets, especially big hairy ones, were hard to keep without people getting suspicious.

The wind whistled through a hole in the windowpane, drawing attention to their solitude. “Where is everyone, anyway?” Remus asked. He felt so disoriented, and his heavy head didn’t help.

“Hogsmeade,” said Lily. “Last trip before the winter holidays. As for the first and second years, I’d imagine they’re out in the snow.” Remus shivered at the thought. Lily continued, “I was actually kind of surprised your gang ditched you.”

“Yeah,” said Remus. Apparently they didn’t need as much sleep as he’d thought. “Me too.”

“Oh! Sorry,” Lily caught herself. “That sounded so harsh, I didn’t mean it that way.” She scrambled to backtrack, scooting closer and setting a gentle hand on his shoulder. It was hard to hear her words after she did that. “I just mean, ya know, with you coming in this morning… And that whole situation… I just would’ve thought…”

“It’s okay, no offense taken,” Remus chuckled, and he was pleased to see her anxiousness calm to a relieved smile. The heat furled in his stomach again. “So…” he went on, “am I allowed to ask what you were doing up so early this morning?”

“Studying,” she groaned, shooting a glare at her mini library. “I woke up from a horrible nightmare about Wednesday’s transfiguration exam and could not go back to sleep until I crammed.”

Remus eyed her pile and couldn’t help but let a grin slip. “Lily, I don’t think it’s considered cramming when you still have three days left to study.”

She stared blankly at him for a moment, and he was unsure whether or not he had affronted her. Then she burst out with melodious laughter. “Okay fine! You got me there. At least now I’m prepared!” She nudged him playfully with her fist, which against his fevered nerve endings sent an ache down his arm, and he struggled not to wince.

“Are you alright?” Her expression darkened frightfully, mirroring the concerned one he met earlier this morning.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine, it’s just a little cold in here, that’s all.”

“Well here.” Lily reached for a quilted blanked that lounged wrinkled on the armchair, still keeping her eyes locked on him, unconvinced. “You can have my blanket.”

“Thank y– ” Remus began, but was halted by a hitch in his breath. He pinched his nose and turned his head, trying his hardest to suppress a sneeze. “Heh-NNSHhhuu!!”

“Bless you.” She raised her eyebrows knowingly.

He sniffed, chagrined. “Thank you.”

Instead of handing him the blanket, she draped it over him, taking care to tuck it in tight, then plopped back down on the couch right next to him. Her body pressed close against his as they both watched the flames waltz in the fireplace. His mind moved at a much quicker pace, alive and erratic as jumping beans. If James saw us… But he’s not here… He’s had more than enough chances… But he’s my friend… She can make her own decisions… He loves her… What if I do too?

He squinted his eyes shut, brow crumpled in conflict. If he could just shut out all that for now. Just let his head rest against hers.

“Remus!” she exclaimed, shooting upright.

“Sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean t – ”

“No!” she hushed him, holding his face with both hands. “You are burning up! You have to go to the hospital wing.”

He breathed a small sigh of relief, glad that her outburst wasn’t what he’d thought. He stroked her hand on her thumb, hoping she wouldn’t let go for a while. “It’s just a cold. I’ll be fine by tonight. No need to bother Madame Pomfrey.”

“If it were just a cold, you wouldn’t have a fever.”

Remus opened his mouth to protest, but fell on his own sword and instead succumbed to the tickle in his nose. He turned away from Lily and covered his face with his sweatshirt pulled over his steepled hands.

Heh-NNGXTch!Huh-ttchhoo! … HehISSHOO!!!” The sneezes doubled him over and ripped through his throat.

“Bless you,” she said. “Let me walk you to the hospital wing. You’re ill. You need to get rest.”

“Lily,” he began, pressing the back of his hand to his nose to stop another sneeze. It was no use though, and he held up a finger in pause as he turned away again: “HhNCHhoo!!... Ugh.” He swallowed and regained his breath while her eyes bore into him, point proven. “Okay fine, you’re right. I need to rest. But frankly, if you try to make me walk all the way to the hospital wing, you’re going to end up carrying my pathetic body there.” It was a true statement, but he meant it to be humorous. She didn’t seem too amused.

“How about I just nap here?” he tried, sniffing pitifully and rubbing his nose.

She bit her lip and tapped her foot, letting out a breath of frustration. Although he hated seeing her in any kind of anxiety, it did bid him a small amount of delight knowing his wellbeing prompted her feelings.

“Alright,” she conceded, sliding back down next to him. “But I’m keeping an eye on you.”

He smiled and let his head lay against her, this time to be met with hers resting back against his.

“Medicine in itself.”

(Possibly TBC. If so, part two will have more sneezes.)

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Wow. Okay. Where do I even begin? wub.png

Aside from the excellent and impressive writing, this story was ridiculously engaging. I can't remember the last time I read something that stuck so true to the Marauders. Seriously! It was like reading the books all over again. The banter was perfect, and so were the overall interactions. Don't even get me started on the imagery, because your metaphors and similes were AMAZING. *Shiver*

Well done, alias! biggrin.png

I know for a fact that a certain Dusty will love this~

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Ooh, adorable. I love the dynamic between the marauders here, and I like Lily a lot too. I'd never really considered Remus/Lily as an option, but he does seem to be more her type than James at least at first. And of course she's pretty bright and would notice things like Remus' absences. I thought Dumbledore did allow the marauders to go with Remus, but I might be imagining that. It's been a while since I read the earlier books. Either way I really enjoyed this.

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Spoo's definitely right that a certain Dusty will like this. A certain Dusty definitely likes this! I saw the title in the 'recent posts' and thought to myself, "oh my goodness, I really hope that's a Lupin fic....!" AND THEN IT WAS! <3

Way to hit all my fetishy buttons...coughing, sneezing, fever, skinny boy in oversized sweatshirt, etc etc etc.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Excellent story! I love sick Remus, and what I love even more is that it's not Remus/Sirius. biggrinsmiley.gif (Hate that ship) My OTP is Remus/Tonks, but pairing him with Lily isn't bad either. Continue please!!

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  • 1 month later...

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for all your kind words! It means so much to me that you liked it, and I am so happy i get to share it with you. wub.png Sorry it has been a RIDIKULUSLY (pun very much intended) long time since I posted this. I got caught up in that dang real life thing. But I am back with PART TWO for you if you haven't lost interest yet! Here it comes:

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“Well what does that mean?”

“Just what it sounds like.”

“So they weren’t on the train?”

“Not that I saw. Probably would’ve noticed ‘em though. They tend to command a presence.”

“Did you see them at Hogsmeade? Were they all together?”

“I dunno, Lily, I’ve told ya all I heard. They’re probably just goofing off somewhere. You don’t have to have a panic attack.”

The high-pitched voice cued a déjà vu in Remus’s half-slumber, painting a picture of the flaming girl striking with her white iron at his early morning sneak-in. The buzz of conversation began to rouse him from his dream, around the same time that his head lolled to the side, no longer to be braced by the beauty he had be watching behind his lids only a moment before. He jumped spastically at the awkward awakening and peered through heavy eyes, much to the amusement of a pair of younger girls who giggled and pretended to avert their attention. Taking in the now bustling common room – all of which was probably privy to his likely drooling nap fest, fantastic – he surmised that everyone had returned from Hogsmeade. As he pulled himself further into consciousness, he spotted Lily near the portrait hole, and while she was not shrieking at him like he’d imagined, she did seem to be interrogating one of the fourth years.

How long had he been out? He dared to swallow, only to endure the sides of his throat bristle with sandpaper. Out the window, the hills were engulfing the sun in a blinding pool of orange. All day! Just when he thought he’d never sleep again. He let his hand sweep across the shallow cove in the cushion next to him. It was still warm.

Had Lily slept there all day too?

He sniffed, pawing his nose with the back of his wrist. If she had fallen asleep with him – Er, fallen asleep next to him – she surely would have woken up by the first entry of students. Which probably wasn’t long ago, given that many were still shedding their layers, sodden with snowflakes. Nobody would’ve seen them. Hopefully.

“Remus!” Lily came striding back over, too much out of breath for a walk across the room. Her eyebrows steeped in the same worry he’d seen before falling asleep, only this time her verdant opals glistened with a deeper intensity, and he felt like there was something more there. Some other focus that he couldn’t quite make out.

“What’s the matter?” he asked her, lifting himself off the couch and clenching his brow to ignore the dizzy rush.

“James hasn’t… um… ” She cleared the panic out of her throat and composed herself. “Potter, Black, and Pettigrew haven’t come back yet. Everyone’s saying they haven’t seen them, and the last train already came in.”

She propped her hands on her hips, and Remus took it as a motion to appear angry again, but the mild quiver in her fingers gave her away.

“I’m sure they just came back on an earlier train,” he reasoned. “You know them, they’re probably wreaking havoc around the castle somewhere.”

“No, you don’t get it! They’re missing. People are talking about it. The teachers are talking. They went to Hogsmeade in the morning and didn’t come back on any of the trains!”

He tried to wrap his head around all this new information, when, as if on cue, McGonagall stepped through the portrait. That was never a good sign. McGonagall had her own chambers. If she was entering Gryffindor Tower, it wasn’t arbitrary.

“Attention please!” One call from McGonagall was more than enough to quiet the crowd. “Everyone please gather round, there is some urgent news you need to be informed of.”

The tower fell silent as the students promptly scooted in close together. Many looked up with the anticipatory faces of those on the edge of their seat in a thriller, waiting for the revelation of the ax murderer. He had missed so much in the little time he slept.

He crashed back onto the couch, yanked down by Lily’s grip on his wrist, which didn’t let up even as five other students squeezed into the sofa.

“It would appear that three students from Gryffindor who visited Hogsmeade earlier today have not returned.” There was no need to name them. Their absence left a gaping hole that was almost more conspicuous than their company. Heads turned toward Remus, and he could read their thoughts on their faces: Why aren’t you with them? You should know where they are. It’s weird that you’re here by yourself.

“There is no need to fear the worst,” McGonagall continued to a mélange of expressions. Some rolled their eyes, annoyed with what must have been another attention-seeking farce. Others, like the girl who still clang to his wrist, held their breath. “Although we do take measure to keep track of everyone departing from and returning to the castle, it is possible for a fluke to occur, wherein not everyone is immediately accounted for. It may be as simple as a miscalculation of students, paired with the happenstance of a few missing the train. Like I said, it would not be prudent to worry at this point. A group of Hogwarts staff has left for the city already and will be collaborating with Hogsmeade vendors to determine the students’ whereabouts and ensure their safe return before nightfall. Until then, curfew has been temporarily shortened, and students are not to leave their house dormitories for the remainder of the evening.”

“We’re not gonna lose house points for this are we?” one of the fifth-years shouted. He was met with a smolder from Lily that would have evaporated the black lake.

“Repercussions will not be discussed until all the information on the matter is acquired. We needn’t assume this be an act of carelessness, nor of hostility. It is probably just an occasion of accident and circumstance.”

McGonagall turned on her heel and strode aggressively out of the common room, as if to avoid anymore questions. Her exit roused the din of student chatter again, some whining at the abridged curfew, others woven in gossip about how those three always get Gryffindor into trouble. Only he and Lily seemed to be the ones remaining silent.

He shouldn’t worry. Like McGonagall said, probably just an occasion of circumstance. Circumstance that they happened to leave suddenly for Hogsmeade without him, even though they never had before, nor had any reason to now. Coincidence that they missed the train on the same day the caretaker failed to check their names off on the list.

Coincidence? No. There was no such thing. They wouldn’t miss the train. Or even if they didn’t take the train, they would have given themselves enough time to get back through a passageway before causing suspicion. So it was possible that they had indeed returned to the castle. And there was one way to find out.

Remus leaped to his feet, adrenaline giving him enough energy to take the steps two at a time up to the sixth-years’ dorms. He wondered idly if the bitterness in his stomach was a product of the fever or something else.

Sirius had it last, he remembered, and slid down next to Sirius’s bed, reaching under the four-poster, and through a spell that was carefully crafted by one of Hogwarts’ brightest minds to only allow four specific arms to penetrate it. His hand settled upon a thick piece of folded parchment.

Remus tapped the paper with his wand. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” he breathed. The blank page came alive with ink.

The map wasn’t finished yet. There were still places unexplored. But he trusted it enough to reveal whether or not his friends were in the castle or on the grounds. If they had returned through one of the secret passageways, they might have been lurking somewhere.

He perused over the grounds, then the floors, looking for outliers among all the names clumped in their common rooms and the teachers scurrying about, no doubt in search of the same thing. But the names he was hunting were not to be found.

“Show me James Potter,” he said, tapping the wand to the center of the map. No figures grew bold. His abdomen hollowed. “Sirius Black.” He rapped the paper more harshly. Nothing. “Peter Pettigrew?” Though he knew nothing would result.

So they really didn’t make it back. It was already well past the last train. Even though Padfoot and Prongs definitely skidded on thin ice when it came to the rules, they still took precautions to avoid any real trouble, with the professors or otherwise. Everyone seemed to be able to write off their absence as another escapade, but James, mischievous and daring as he was, knew his limits. He would make a point to get back before their absence raised alarm.

Something was keeping them from coming back. Maybe the same something that summoned them to Hogsmeade so abruptly, at such an inopportune time in the first place.

“Why do the teachers want us to stay in the common rooms?”

Remus jumped at the sudden interpolation of Lily’s voice, her soft entrance having gone unnoticed.

“You’ve got to stop doing that,” Remus exhaled, massaging his chest.

“They shortened curfew because of Potter and the others,” she went on. Remus slipped the map into his sweatshirt pocket while keeping her gaze. “They wouldn’t do that just to have more room to look for them. That’s impractical. If Dumbledore wants to keep us all in one place, it’s for safety, not convenience.”

He searched for another explanation, but couldn’t deny that the thought had occurred to him too. Lily opened her mouth to continue, but seemed to get caught in the graveness of it. Remus finished for her.

“That means they think there is another entity involved that puts the school at risk.” The words hit a hard truth as he said them. “And if that is the case, James, Sirius, and Peter are in real danger.”

The muscles in Lily’s neck tensed into tight lines as she took in the actuality of this revelation. Remus regarded her only for a moment, unsure of what to make of her. Then he was on his feet.

“Where are you going?” she cried, as he scrambled for his boots and warmer wear.

“I’m going to find them.”

“What!?” She hopped to her feet and trailed beside him as he coiled a scarf around his neck. “Are you mad? How d’you expect to find them? You can’t just parade off into Hogsmeade – ”

“I can’t just sit here, Lily!” he exclaimed, surprised by the intensity of his own voice. “My best friends are out there and I dunno if they’re okay. I have to do something! If there is something bad out there, and it’s got them, I have to help them!”

His chest seized with his outburst, and he coughed roughly into his cuff, drawing attention back to his ailing body.

“You’re sick.” Lily was almost pleading now. “You can’t go out like this. Just let the teachers handle it. They know what they’re doing.” She wrapped both her hands around his face, her eyes wide with a thick glistening.

“They don’t know James and Sirius. I do. And that gives me more to go off of.” As much as he didn’t want to, he tore away from Lily’s clutch.

“And just what are you going to do then?” she piped indignantly. “Hoof it all the way there in the snow and knock on shop doors?”

His finger traced the edge of the map in his pocket. “I have an idea of where to start.”

“We’ll have to find a way to sneak out through the portrait without drawing attention.”

Remus halted. “We?”

She cocked her head and looked at him like he’d just asked her what two plus two was. “I’m certainly not going to let you go on your own, just so they can find the others in time to come across your frozen corpse.”


After making their stealthy escape through the Gryffindor common room portrait hole, sidling to the outside grounds was a cakewalk with the aid of the Marauder’s Map. Remus made less of an effort to hide it from Lily, under the assumption that she would end up spotting it anyway and discerning its function. He noticed her glance at it a few times, and could see the cogs in her brain spinning to put it together, but she never inquired details.

The moment they stepped out into the barren winter dusk, the cold sliced through the bundles of his clothing with the swift blades an assassin strikes into its unknowing victim. Even in the midst of the sun’s disappearance, the gleaming stretch of fresh white that extended before them shone a ray of brightness into his eyes. He pinched his nose.

“Heh’NNGXTchh!!!” he stifled, with great effort to remain quiet but instead was betrayed by an awful squelching sound.

“Are you sure about this?” Lily hugged her arms together against the wind.

He wasn’t. He wasn’t sure about anything. About James, Sirius, Peter. About whatever might be out there. About Lily. His eyelids fluttered shut at the latter thought and he fought for his consciousness through the uncertainty, already marred by the sickness whose presence inflated in the bite of the snow. This could be a trek right into a hole six feet under. But if his venture out meant there was even a slightly less chance of the Hogwarts staff carting three inanimate bodies back to the castle, he had to face the potential risk of adding one more corpse to the heap.

They would risk the same for me.

Lily was still looking at him, waiting for an answer, her eyes upturned in hope to hear a word of reprieve. He thought of the black haired boy that looked at her this morning, eyes assumed satiated with lust, but deeper beyond the pupils bore something raw and true. It was beyond shallow desire, beyond adolescent infatuation, beyond even anything understood in friendship.

James would risk the same for me.

“Let’s go,” he said stolidly.

They hiked through the snow for what felt like a long time, much longer than it usually took to get to the infamous tree. Every step felt three times as heavy. Lily remained at his side, linked by the frequent brush of elbows.

The willow stood stiller than he’d ever seen it, it’s boughs mounted in layers of ice that snaked over each tenuous, but lethal, branch. It gave a shiver at their crunching footsteps approaching only as close as they dared, and the ice serpents cracked and pelted their coats.

“Why are we here?” asked Lily.

Remus kicked the snow around in search of a long stick. “If James and all them didn’t get accounted for on the train, it’s probably because their names weren’t on the list in the first place. Meaning they took an alternate route to Hogsmeade, and planned on taking an alternate route back.” His foot caught on a broken branch and he dug it out of the snow. “So I guess our best bet at this point is to try and follow their footsteps.”

He grunted as he lowered himself to the ground and stretched the branch toward the knot at the Whomping Willow’s base. Lily watched him in silence, brow furling in questions she must have been keeping to herself. Her eyes darted to the parchment corner that peaked out of his pocket.

“How many, alternate routes, are there?” she asked him, with emphasis that made it clear she had pieced a few things together over the years.

“Probably several,” he stretched further, the strain evident in his voice. The stick was too short, but he’d be hard-pressed to find another in the layers of snow. “But we only know of a few for certain, this one being the most convenient.” He hesitated, treading carefully on how much to tell her. He kept his voice even. “This one lets out at the Shrieking Shack. From there it’s as simple as slipping behind the trees and following the forest line into the village.”

She continued to watch him, perplexed, though she’d see soon enough that the knot would freeze the tree and open up the mouth of the tunnel. Just a little further… and…

Got it!


The tree recognized the intruder only a second before it froze. With one last jolt of life, a weeping bough sprung up and whipped Remus across the face, tumbling him over in a roll. His back hit the ground, knocking out what wind was left in him.

“Bloody fff – ” he cursed, biting his lip with a trailing f sound.

Lily shrieked and dropped into the snow beside him. “Are you trying to kill yourself!?”

“Evidently,” he groaned. He pushed himself to his feet, much to the protest of the rest of his body, and staggered over the tree’s roots, which had risen up out of the ground and curled over a black passageway.

“You’re going to have another bruise on your face,” she chastised.

“Are you lecturing me?” Only part of him was piqued by her comment, while the other half, neglecting the dire circumstances, would have given in to an adoring laugh.

“Stop giving me heart attacks and I’ll have no reason to lecture you.”

The corners of his mouth twitched, and in any other situation would have pointed up in a grin. But the pressing matter at hand kept his face level.

“This way, then.” He lead her into the dark tunnel, which she marched towards with a ferocity in her steps, unrestrained by any fear.

They followed the tunnel for a while, illuminated only by the soft glow at the tips of their wands. The air was rife with sheer clouds of dust that caught in Remus’s throat, which he swallowed back dryly to avoid choking; it was to no avail though, as before long he would end up submitting to short fits of coughing when he could no longer counter the itch.

“Let’s check upstairs, just to be safe,” he said when they dropped into the basement of the Shrieking Shack. “Hope you aren’t afraid of ghosts.”

Lily let out a short scoff. “Of course not,” she said quietly, but he couldn’t help but noticed how swiftly she whipped her wand about at a slight scuffle or creak.

There was a very slim chance that they’d find the others here sitting in a circle upstairs playing a board game. But if they had been here – which, he thought bitterly, wasn’t even a certainty – then maybe they left some trace of evidence or vestige as to where they went.

Once they had ascended each flight of stairs, keeping oxygen flowing in his lungs had become a more strenuous feat than it should have been. His heavy breaths did not go unnoticed by his companion.

“Why don’t you sit for a few minutes. I’ll look around.” She motioned him over to the wall.

“I’m fine,” he lied, which was accentuated by the harrowing cough that nearly doubled him over, covered by the back of his coated wrist in a feeble attempt to muffle. His voice continued in a croak, “We don’t have time to play doctor’s office –”

“NO!” Lily shouted at him. Her sudden outburst froze him. “Remus, sit down. This whole thing is madness enough as it is! Just stop being so… so…” But she couldn’t find the word. “If you could see yourself like this… If you had any idea what it does to me to see…” Her voice cracked, and she took only a quick second to smooth it out again. When she looked back up at him, her emeralds were ablaze with stringency. “We need to get our bearings. If we take off in some random direction with nothing to go on, we may as well slump back to Hogwarts right now, because it’ll do us no good. You will sit down for five flippin’ minutes, and I’ll look around for anything that may be of use, while we both think about where to go from here.”

A moment of silence passed between them as each of her words registered. Lily kept on him like a hound, never averting her smoldering eyes until he finally sank down to the floor, leaning his back against the wood-paneled wall.

“Right then,” Lily relaxed, and commenced to shining her wand around the room in search of any possible scent to set them on a trail.

As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he did need the repose. It came with acrimony though. Sure, Lily had been over-attentive to him all day. But he hadn’t realized the altitude of her worry. Or the grounds in it. He couldn’t decide whether or not this made him feel better or worse.

His nose itched. He tried to bury it in his sleeve, but it was resilient.

“HhNGXXT!!!” The stifle shot a sharp pain into his abdomen, but it was better than the guilt he’d feel from succumbing to any more sickness in front of Lily. He clamped his sleeve over his face, pinching his nose with his thumb and forefinger in a vain attempt to stave off the rest.

“Heh…heh’MMNpt! … huh’NNGTshh!” Each one pitched him forward, forcing him to curl into a ball against his knees. “… … … Heh’NNGTch!!! Nguhh…”

“Bless you,” Lily said absently. Her attention was not on him. He followed the point of her wand, which was hovering over the far wall, the boards of which were streaked with the deep scratches of a bestial claw. Then he light moved with more precision, taking in the gouges out of the floorboards, the splintered wood on torn-apart furniture, the thin streaks of blood long coagulated.

Lily’s eyes were wide. Again he could see the action of thoughts alight in her mind. What those thoughts were though, that was less conspicuous. “What…” she swallowed, unsure of how to phrase her question. “What of all this is… normal, for here?”

“I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.” He pushed himself to his feet, slowly, as not to incur any more wrath. Then he added, “It is haunted, after all.”

“Yeah… haunted,” she mused, gaze still fixed on the scathed wall.

“Let’s keep moving.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, and her head snapped towards him. For a moment it looked as if she was going to say something, but then she turned slowly back to her front.

They descended the creaky stairwell to the first floor of the shack. Lily stood idly before the front door. She did not attempt to open it, because although it seemed to hang on it’s hinges by nothing but a few splinters, she knew it wouldn’t budge. The shack could not be entered from the outside, as was proven by countless students brave enough to approach; there was some kind of spell sealing it.

Remus drew his wand and mumbled the incantation to unlatch the door. Emergency exit. Go figure. They slipped out into the snow, letting the door slam closed with suction noise the signified the charm sealing it back up.

“Where now then?” Lily inquired.

“I dunno.” Remus pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration, letting out a slow breath. “I had really hoped we’d find something. Maybe they didn’t come this way after all.”

“Yes they did.” Lily squinted at the ground. “Look, you can still see their footprints.” She pointed to a pattern of disheveled snow and traced it toward the village, only lightly dusted by fresh flakes. “I guess we can at least see which direction they went once they got there.” She started walking into the white abyss, her feet crunching into the untouched snow parallel to the already trudged path.

“Wait a second...” Remus stopped her, gazing perplexedly down at the two paths. Something was different. Why did they look different? One had three times as many footprints and was under another layer of frost, but there was something else too. He got down on his knees to examine more closely. It was subtle. Barely noticeable. Then it hit him.

“These prints aren’t going to the village, they’re coming from.” He traced the outline with his finger. “Look at the shape of the foot. They’re pointed that way.” He backed up along the beaten path, following the direction of the footprints, which, the more he looked at them, seemed to have been scrambling. Instead of leading up to the door of the Shrieking Shack, they curved off in a diagonal to the right.

Right into the tree line of the forest.

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AUGHHHH I can't even. I'm so so so happy to see Remus fic here. He's my all-time favorite and you write him very beautifully. I adore your Lily as well and I've always liked fics with Remus/Lily romance or friendship. I'm thrilled you kept this fic going!

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