A Matter of Choice
Disclaimer: If I were J.K. Rowling, I would be rich, married and pregnant.
As I am none of those things, it may be safely assumed that I would have a bit
of a job pretending to own this stuff.
A/N: I owe lots of people big-time on this one. Many adulations go to Katinka,
Poppy, Erica, Madhuri, Arianrhod and Akela. They’re lovely people, so go and
worship them. Oh yes, and the title comes from a quote by William Jennings Bryan,
and anyone who finds the Monty Python quote gets chocolate.
"Hallowe’en was originally the pagan version of our New Year’s Eve. The name
comes from 'All Hallow’s Eve’, or the day before All Saints Day, which marked
the beginning of the pagan new year. The Muggles had a peculiar practice at
this time of a kind of practical joke; knocking on doors and running away, for
example. They would also make an effort to make themselves look frightening.
This was done in the hope that it would prevent the spirits, believed to be
nearer the normal world on this day, from taking over their bodies. Additionally,
this had an impact…”
Apparently Professor Binns had taken it upon himself to be topical, but this
didn't stop him from being as boring as ever. Remus wondered whether he'd had
to practice to make his voice that monotonous, or if it just came naturally.
It had to be bad when even he, known for being the nerdiest of the Marauders,
found it hard to concentrate.
"I can't believe he made even that boring," complained Sirius as they
made their way downstairs afterwards. "There's all kinds of gruesome and interesting
things he could talk about - I know, my dad told me. But no, we just get the
really dull bits."
"Really?" asked James, perking up.
"Really! They even had these nasty spells for making Muggles believe a spirit
was trying to get into them - some of it even involved live maggots and shrinking
your skin and other really gory stuff. The Ministry stopped them doing it very
much, even back then, but some people still did."
"Why?" enquired Peter, struggling with an errant buckle on his bag.
"Mostly because they thought it was funny, according to dad. Liked laughing
at the silly Muggles believing a load of nonsense, apparently."
The conversation drifted on to other topics, such as the contemplation of Quidditch
(Sirius having been newly promoted from Reserve to a full-fledged House Team
member) and how many sweets remained from their first Hogsmeade visit two days
before. In fact, they pretty much forgot about Binns’ lesson entirely, until
they made their way to Gryffindor Tower after dinner, gave the password (“Romani
ite Domum”) and entered the Common Room to find the whole place in uproar.
"Davey Gudgeon's lost an eye!"
"And broke his arm!"
"It's all Snape's fault, oh, if he doesn't catch it I'll-"
Amid the crowd gathering round Fiona MacDougal, the only person in the room
who had actually witnessed the event in question, it appeared the story had
got rather confused. All Fiona could say was that first year Davey Gudgeon -
widely liked for his affable nature, if admittedly a bit inclined to hero worship
- had been taken to the hospital wing after prompting from Severus Snape to
go near the Whomping Willow. It also emerged that Snape, while officially denying
having anything to do with the incident, had privately admitted that he'd suggested
it, and that it had been a Halloween joke.
Gradually, the indignant yammering died down, and the Gryffindors began to
disperse to get ready for the Halloween Feast. The Marauders, however, tramped
off to the hospital wing, only to be told, “As I told you the other 87 times,
he’s not having visitors yet!”
Remus was confident in his ability to sweet-talk Madam Pomfrey, though, and
sure enough, a few minutes wait elicited the information, “He’s probably going
to be fine, but he still needs constant care. It’s a very touchy stage.”
"Well, it could be a pureblood thing, I suppose," said James thoughtfully,
back in the Common Room.
"Davey is Muggleborn," said Peter. "It might be that. Snape’s saying
it’s a Halloween joke is rubbish, anyway."
"I'm not so sure," said Sirius, frowning. "Snape has History of Magic today
too, doesn’t he? I bet Binns did the same lesson, and that gave him the
idea. Maybe the stupid pureblood thing is partly behind it, but I think it might
have less to do with the pureblood stuff and more" - he glanced at Remus in
silent apology - "with Remus."
Remus was quite glad he hadn't had to say it, as while he'd had much the same
idea, he didn't want to sound like an egomaniac.
"I think so too. He's convinced we've got something to hide, and maybe somehow
he's connected it to the Whomping Willow. I wouldn't be surprised if Sirius
is right and the idea was to have poor Davey stumble on something and then report
us to Dumbledore. Trick Davey like those early Muggles."
“Wouldn’t put it past him,” muttered Sirius darkly.
Remus had to agree, and the cold feeling sank a little lower in his stomach.
Snape was conspicuously absent from the Halloween Feast that evening. This
did not help the Marauders in their enjoyment of the delicious food one bit,
and the other Gryffindors seemed unsettled too. Fiona was beginning to tire
of being asked the same thing again and again, and everyone was rather tense
This atmosphere wasn’t helped when, halfway through the meal, Professor McGonagall
came up and quietly told Remus that the Headmaster wanted to see him once the
meal was over. The rest of the meal was spent trading theories as to what it
meant, although this didn’t stop them all from managing extra-large helpings
of sticky toffee pudding.
The taste of the pudding was still in Remus’ mouth as he made his way to Dumbledore’s
office. The statue in front of the staircase that led there moved aside as he
walked up to it. Dumbledore clearly knew he was there; he couldn’t put it off
by standing around, as he’d half thought of doing. Meetings with Dumbledore
always made him feel as though he was made of clear glass at the best of times,
and who knew what kind of interview this was going to be?
Once inside, Dumbledore ushered him into a seat. One of the portraits, a raven-haired
16th century Headmistress, waved to him as he sat down. The others
“Now, Remus,” Dumbledore began, looking down over the tops of his spectacles.
“I have called you in here because your name has been… ahem… mentioned in connection
with the unfortunate events of this afternoon.”
So, he’d been right. It didn’t take a genius to guess who might have said something,
either. It was just rather a pity that they didn’t have any actual evidence
to prove it was Snape’s doing. Remus tried very hard not to stare too obviously
at the floor.
“And what I want to know, Remus, is this. Did you or your friends, truthfully,
have anything to do with this unfortunate incident, which may yet cost Davey
Gudgeon one of his eyes?”
“No,” said Remus. He was going to leave it at that, but Dumbledore didn’t say
anything and somehow the silence seemed to force him to carry on talking. “There
is, um, something that you should probably be told about, though, sir.”
“Yes?” Dumbledore raised an eyebrow quizzically. “And what is that?”
“They… James and Sirius and Peter… well, they know. About the wolf.
And I think Lily might have guessed too,” he blurted, glad to get it out. Part
of it, at least.
“Ah,” said Dumbledore. “I see. Well, since they still appear to be perfectly
happy to remain your friends, I don’t see that presenting a problem.” He smiled.
“Rather the opposite, in fact.”
Remus had to smile too. “Yes, sir.”
“All right then, Remus, you may go. But remember,” Dumbledore’s blue gaze suddenly
became pointed, “if you find yourself with any relevant information, don’t hesitate
to come and see me.”
Not knowing quite what to say, Remus nodded, and left.
The Gryffindor Common Room was still full of people when Remus returned, so
he had a job keeping the details of his meeting with Dumbledore secret. In the
end he resorted to a policy of just saying that he’d been asked whether he knew
anything and had said no.
It did, however, have the almost unprecedented effect of getting Sirius to
go to bed early, simply so he could vent his frustration in the privacy of the
“I can’t believe he’s just got away with it!” fumed Sirius later, sat
upright in bed with the curtains back. “Absolutely scot-free, too.”
“He’s lucky, that’s all,” said James.
“That’s for certain,” said Sirius as he drew the curtain closed. “But he won’t
be that bloody lucky always. Not if I have anything to say about it. He could
have got Remus expelled.”
“He could have,” said Remus, who didn’t want to talk about it. “He didn’t,
“Good thing too,” yawned James. “He’d have had to face more than a bit of questioning
from Dumbledore if he’d managed it. Didn’t stop him trying, though.” He turned
over to go to sleep. “Night.”
“Well he’s going to pay for that, if nothing else, that’s all I can
say,” muttered Sirius, closing his curtains. “Night.”