Disclaimer: Not mine, JKR’s.
Author's Note: Third in the Obsession series.
Warnings: Mention (briefly) of rape, parental abuse, and other nasty things. These boys are a little fucked up.
[Author’s Note: Lyrics quoted herein are: "I Wanna Be Me" by the Sex Pistols. This is my first attempt at writing Dumbledore, which I’ve been wary of. It’s really hard to capture his unique approach to life…so I just wrote him as somber. Hope he doesn’t come off as too OOC.]
Murder of Love
Part 3 - Fooled You
It seems to be my week for somewhat uncomfortable wooden perches. But the branch of a tree, nestled against the trunk, under its spreading canopy…much better than a broomstick, if not quite equal to the chairs in the common room. It’s not raining, either, which is another bonus, especially for spring in England. I feel like whistling, but restrain myself cheerfully. After all, I wouldn’t want Snape to catch me lurking about out here, so close to the Whomping Willow. He might suspect something…I allow myself a small snicker at that thought. Snape suspects everyone, and everything. But I know he can’t resist the bait I dangled so skillfully under his nose last night.
And here he comes, perhaps a little early. It isn’t quite moonrise yet, though that fateful hour is only maybe ten or fifteen minutes away. I consider attempting to stall him, but can think of no reasonable explanation to be hanging around out here, so I remain silent in my elevated perch. The wan glow of his wand sets sickly shadows dancing over his face, and his dark eyes flicker this way and that, until they fall upon the Willow, with its branches dipping and swaying, creaking mournfully.
He scans the ground now, finds a longish stick and carefully skirts the perimeter of the violent tree. I can see his lips moving, perhaps he’s mumbling something to himself…and then he spies the knot. With surprising dexterity he darts in, presses it with the stick, then leaps backward. I watch the familiar stilling of the branches, and see the hole open up, hidden amongst the roots. He must see it, too, because he nervously licks his lips, then tightens his grip on his wand before ducking carefully into the tunnel.
Now it’s just a matter of waiting, and a lot of problems will be solved. At the very least, he’ll be scared witless…at most…well, I don’t really want to think about that. But if things get too bad, I can always get in there myself, in my Animagus form. I won’t let things get too far. Probably.
It being safe, I start humming to myself, then singing, audible, but not too loud. Don’t know who else might be out of bed illicitly.
"Gimme world war three
We can live again
You didn’t fool me but I fooled you
You wanna be me yeah
You wanna be me
You wanna be someone yeah
Ruin someone yeah
Didn’t I fool you
I ruined you yeah"
"The Sex Pistols?" James’ voice rings clear and amused through the trees. I glance around, startled, until I spot him standing in the shadow of another oak, grinning up at me, those beautiful, heartbreaking brown eyes crinkled at the corners in a smile.
"And how do you know who the bloody hell the Sex Pistols are?" I ask him tartly, grinning down at him.
"Lily let me listen to a few of their albums." He saunters over to my tree, leaning casually against it, gripping my ankle lightly, so carelessly, and I close my eyes briefly at that soft touch.
"Lily likes the Sex Pistols?"
"Nah, she hates ‘em. Says they’re crap. But they really hack off her sister, so she plays them at home. Top volume." He laughs at this, and tugs lightly on my ankle. I slide from the tree, holding onto his shoulder to steady myself. I leave my hand there a moment, and our faces are so close, and as always, it’s agony.
"They’re not crap. Well, alright, that Sid Vicious is crap, but the rest of them are rather good." James just shrugs.
"Couldn’t see the appeal myself. Bit noisy, aren’t they?"
"That’s the point!" I exclaim, tightening my finger, pressing the thin pullover into James’ slender shoulders. "They’re all about noise, and making a row, and-"
"Yes, I had figured that out," James reminds me gently, placing his hand over mine. "I was listening to the lyrics, which was why I could tell what you were singing just now."
Oh, yeah. "Why’d you want to listen to them in the first place?"The light from his wand reflects obliquely off his glasses as he turns his head, and for a moment I can’t see his eyes.
"Because you like them, you bloody pillock," he answers softly, lips curving in an easy smile.
"Oh." I glance down at the ground, I can’t meet his eyes. "What are you doing here so early? Didn’t expect you for another hour…"
He remains silent for a heartbeat, hand resting warmly on mine, his fingers aligning perfectly…then he answers, deliberately pulling away, voice light, far away. "Well, Lily had some homework to do…" he trails off, spinning his wand idly. "What are you doing here, then?"
"Nothing." I know my tone is unconvincing, because he glances over at me sharply, brows drawn down suspiciously. "Well, nothing serious…"
"Oh, now that sounds like trouble." But James’ eyes glitter with repressed mischief, and I can’t help but tell him. It’s been hard enough keeping this secret as it is.
"Well, I met up with Snape last night," I begin, and watch him quirk an expressive eyebrow up, but other than that his expression doesn’t change. "And he was asking about Moony, you know, where he goes every month…so I told him how to get into the tunnel-" I cut myself off at the expression of dawning horror on James’ face.
"You what?" he asks in a strengthless whisper. "Oh, Sirius, tell me he hasn’t gone in there!"
"Well, yeah, but look, James, we can step in before it gets out of hand," I explain, touching him on the shoulder. But he pulls away, frantically scanning the sky.
"Moonrise…in a few minutes. We have to get him out of there! Oh, Sirius, what have you done?" And then he’s gone, sprinting for the Willow. I’m hard put to keep up with him, and I just see him diving down into the tunnel as I get there. I follow as fast as I can, hear him yelling ahead of me.
"Snape? Snape, don’t go any further!" His feet pound ahead of me, slapping noisily on the packed earth of the tunnel floor, and despite the fact that my legs are longer, I’m not catching up. My breath comes in heaving gulps of air; it feels like we’ve been running forever, though it can only have been a few moments. Then I hear it…Remus’ growl, a low noise that insinuates itself into the air around me, seductive with its weight of danger. I hear Snape’s voice ahead of me now, too.
"Remus?" He’s answering that warning growl, and sudden fear shoots through me, crackling ice in my veins. Is he really stupid enough to keep going? Oh god, what have I done?
"Snape! Get back…now!" James’ voice holds a seldom used tone of command, but it snaps through my spine with its power. I can see them ahead of me now, James gripping Snape by one bony elbow, yanking him backwards. And Snape, staring up into the waiting darkness that feeds into the Shrieking Shack, a completely unreadable expression on his face. He isn’t pulling against James, but he isn’t helping him either, standing like a stone, just staring towards the prophetic rumble, foretelling his imminent demise.
"Move it!" James hisses to him, slowly pulling him backwards, and I do the only thing I can think of…I shift into my Animagus form, and bound past the pair, towards Remus, hoping to slow my friend before he can reach them. I’m quicker on four feet, and the stink of adrenaline and fear rides high in the air as I pound up the tunnel, catching Remus slipping down the trap door, graceful as the wolf always is.
He’s never really himself like this, and we can’t talk, not the way humans do, with words and things. Still, we can both use that language of canines, scent and gesture and eloquent tilts of the head intermingled with barks and whines.
"Stop," I tell him, but he isn’t even looking at me, instead staring past me, golden eyes gleaming with hunger and desire.
"I smell him," he tells me as he stalks closer. "I smell him. I want to taste him. Let me by."
I stand my ground, knowing that as sturdy as my dog form is, it’s no match for the magnificent creature that is his wolf. But I know he won’t hurt me…he has no will to, he just wants to get at James and Snape. But it’s not Prongs he wants to taste. "No. No. Go back."
"I won’t…" and if a canine can laugh, then he does, lifting his nose high and making a chuffing bark. "I want his blood. I smell him. I smell him. He’s mine. His blood is mine, his flesh is mine." And without a thought, he barrels into me, pushing me aside with ease, and begins loping down the tunnel. I tear after him, but once again I am outdistanced effortlessly; I can hear his voracious howls baying through the confined space of the tunnel, echoing madly.
And then, a sudden yelping whine, outraged, furious, and hurt. In a few moments I am at the end of the tunnel, and the entrance between the roots of the Whomping Willow gapes open still. But the tree is active once more, and Remus crouches there, muzzle resting on his front paws as he stares out. Blood trickles down from a wound in his forehead, mingling with one at the side of his neck, doubtless inflicted by the tree. He licks at it absently, watching something with intense hunger.
I trot to his side, letting my tongue loll as I pant, and peer out the entrance. It appears as though James got them out just in time, and they’ve both collapsed at the perimeter of the tree’s strike zone. James is on his knees, taking in huge swallows of air, his hands planted in the fertile spring ground. And Snape…he’s just sitting there on his bum, as though he’d fallen backwards, hands splayed behind him, staring at Remus, unblinking, like a snake. His lips are moving again, and Remus growls his frustration.
"Mine, he’s mine," he snarls, twitching his paws restlessly, shifting, but never taking his eyes away from his intended prey. "Why do you stop me?" he asks me then, puzzlement - though no anger - coming through clearly in the angle of his head. "Why?"
I have no answer.
The hole in the roots of the Willow closes a few moments later, but Remus stays there for hours more, watching the place where it was patiently, waiting for his prey to come back, I think. I sit with him, but say nothing. What can I say? I have no real sense of time, but when I see the great wolf shuddering and twisting in pain, I know it must be dawn. He spills from wolf to boy so quickly, with a howl that turns into a weak, helpless cry as Remus twitches, naked, on the earthen floor of the tunnel. I take my own human form again with some relief, and gather him to me. I know what will happen now…he always falls into a deeply exhausted sleep after his change, and won’t wake for hours.
As I settle his head against my shoulder, though, he blinks his eyes open, now only lit with gold instead of drowning in it, green and brown swimming there as well. "Padfoot?" he asks, and I can see the huge effort it is for him to keep awake. "Was…was Severus…? I thought I saw him…was he here?"
What can I do? I lie, as I stand, picking him up with me. "No, Moony. It’s just me…just me." He nods, sinking back gratefully into my arms as I open the door to the tunnel and take him out into the grey light of the new morning.
McGonagall is waiting in front of the portrait hole to the Gryffindor dorms. Her normally severe face is set in thin, stark lines as she watches me carry Remus up the steps. "Take him into his bed, then come back out here," she commands frostily, and anger crackles through her eyes. //Didn’t take Snape long to go running to Dumbledore,// I think with some resentment, as I move past her and into the common room.
I settle Remus gently into his bed, pulling the covers up around him and watching as he lets out a soft sigh and turns, curling into a fetal ball. The morning light shines through the window, lighting his honey hair with gold and red, gilding his long lashes. In sleep, he is truly more beautiful than any of us, even my beloved James, and so fragile. I brush my fingers lightly across his cheek, then turn away to slip back downstairs.
McGonagall leads me silently through the halls until we stand outside Dumbledore’s office. "Cinnamon Salamanders," she snaps out, and I follow her into the cozy, crowded room, glancing around. Dumbledore is there, of course, sitting behind his desk and looking upon me gravely. I feel my eyes drop in shame at his gaze, and the full weight of what I’ve done comes to roost on my shoulders like some great, dark bird. James is here, too, polishing his glasses nervously on his robes, and Snape, sitting in a corner. He does not look at me, merely stares at the ground in front of him, his thin fingers twisting in arcane knots in his lap.
"Sirius," Dumbledore addresses me, gesturing to an empty chair. "Please, sit. I feel there are certain things we should discuss, the four of us." McGonagall takes that as her cue, and exits the way she came. I gingerly sit on the edge of my chair, for once not prepared with glib explanations and facile excuses.
"Now," he begins, "James has told me some of what happened, but I would like to hear your side of the story." I frown, glancing over at Snape. Surely, he’s covered all of that? Not in the most flattering terms, I’m sure, but…I glance back at Dumbledore, who is merely watching me patiently, kind blue eyes exuding a sense of solemn calm.
"Well, sir, where would you like me to begin?" I ask, uncertain of where I stand, what to do. I look over at James again, and he’s got his eyebrows down, urging me to do…something. Though I can usually read his every expression with ease, I’m stumped now. So I decide that maybe going with the truth is the best bet, at this point.
"Begin at the beginning, Sirius."
So I do. I tell him the whole sordid thing…from a point, anyway. I tell him about luring Snape into the tunnel underneath the Whomping Willow, and how I thought that I could act in time if things got out of hand, how James found me there, and saved Snape, and trying to keep Remus back…though I didn’t mention exactly how I did that. In fact, there are many glaring holes in my story, which I think the headmaster realizes, from the small frown on his face at certain points. But still, he doesn’t probe any further, and seems to accept everything at face value. I feel somewhat relieved after the whole thing, glad to have gotten it out…but still, I know I’m likely to face expulsion.
"Didn’t Snape tell you all of this?" I ask, interrupting the pregnant pause drifting through the room at the end of my confession.
Dumbledore glances over the other boy, who still has his head down, shoulders hunched. "Severus has chosen to remain silent on the details of this matter," he replies, and I have to stare, before it hits me. Of course, he’s embarrassed about his relationship with a werewolf, exactly as I thought he might be. What an utter bastard.
"Severus?" Dumbledore continues, turning that patient gaze to the other boy. "Do you concur with Sirius’ version of events?"
Snape looks up then, his dark eyes burning with…something. "He tried to kill me." His voice is flat, dead, and I suppress a shudder at the lack of emotion there. //Jesus, he really is a cold fish.//
"You have to understand, Remus isn’t really in control of his actions when he’s in that state-" the headmaster begins, but Snape cuts him off.
"Not Remus. Black. Black tried to kill me."
"Look, Snape, I already said I didn’t really think anything bad would happen!" I exclaim angrily, outraged his accusations. //What a hypocrite! I’m sure he would have been glad to sit by and watch me be devoured myself, given the choice!//
He turns his head then, fixing me with those sinister ebon depths. "Bollocks, Black. You knew exactly what would happen…or what you hoped would happen. Sorry to disappoint you." I watch in amazement as a ghost of a smile flickers over his lips, before disappearing again.
"Boys," Dumbledore interrupts, glancing between the two of us. Satisfied that neither of us were about to jump the other, he continues. "I’m sure you’re aware of the gravity of your offense, Sirius. Normally, such blatant disregard for another student’s welfare would be punishable by expulsion."
My heart leaps at the last. Normally, he said…I listen eagerly as he continues. "However, I must consider the welfare of all involved here. And while I am deeply disappointed in you, Sirius, I feel that you are a good friend to Remus, and in the days ahead of him, I do not feel right in taking any of those from him." I can’t stop the smile from winging its way onto my face, but the headmaster holds up a hand to prevent me from speaking. "However, I feel at the very least a month of detentions with Mr. Filch are in order. You will report for your first tonight directly after dinner."
James touches my shoulder lightly, relief washing beautifully through his expressive face, and I smile back at him. A month of detention is nothing to sniff at, but it’s a far cry from the disgrace of being expelled in my 7th year. I glance over at Snape, but find his gaze directed to the floor again, his lips set in a hard line.
"I would also ask that you boys please keep this among yourselves. Remus has another year here, and I think things on him are hard enough as it is." Dumbledore addresses all of us with a lighter tone, but still serious. I think we’re all shocked at the words that come tumbling out of the Slytherin at this point.
He leaps to his feet, and suddenly his expression is all too clear; rage clouds his dark eyes, twists his mouth in an ugly snarl. "That’s really for me, isn’t it? Everyone knows you can’t trust a Slytherin with a secret, and of course, I have absolutely no reason to care for Remus’ feelings, do I?" His hands are clenched into white-knuckled fists at his side, and his normally low voice is thick with emotion. "Please excuse me, Headmaster, if I can no longer stomach this little farce. You have nothing to fear from me." And he shoots Dumbledore a look so laden with poisonous hatred that the old man would have fallen over dead, if such looks had power.
"Severus, that is not what I meant," Dumbledore begins gently, but Snape merely shakes his head curtly, and stalks from the room, slamming the door behind him. I look back to the headmaster, and am surprised to see a deep, ages old sorrow there in his faded blue eyes. He turns them to me, and I feel shame flood through me again, washing away the tentative relief that had sunk its tendrils into my heart.
"Sirius, you may have done more damage than you know," he says. "Severus is a good boy, at heart. I hope that you’ll reflect on that in the months to come."
"Professor Dumbledore, you don’t know-" I begin, but a quick wave of his hand silences me more effectively than any spell.
"I do know. Please, boys…breakfast is surely commencing down in the Great Hall." It’s a dismissal, but I remain sitting, staring at Dumbledore, only rising when I feel James’ hand on my elbow urging me to my feet. I can’t help but look back as we slip out the door, but it seems as though he’s miles away, an expression of such terrible melancholy wearing on his face that I feel like crying.
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