Disclaimer- The characters, plot and places of Harry Potter are the property of JK Rowling
Disclaimer- The characters, plot and places of Harry Potter are the property of JK Rowling.
Author’s Note- Many thanks to my new beta-reader Beth for her suggestions and insight :)
A MARAUDER BY ANY OTHER NAME
By Templa Otmena
Despite the fact that it was the middle of December it was an unusually sunny day.
The change in weather had succeeded in lifting the spirits of seemingly the entire castle of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The atmosphere within and without of the great castle was as lucid as the early afternoon sky. It was even noted by some that Filch the Caretaker seemed to be in an unusually good mood. He still stalked the corridors, prying into every deserted nook and cranny but as he worked something of a smile could be discerned beneath his usual scowl and he had not persecuted nearly as many pupils as he would have done in one morning.
It was the Friday before the very last weekend of term before Christmas. And as the afternoon hazily passed, the fifth year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws could be found sat in their Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom where a dazzling, opaline white light was streaming through the high and airy windows, bathing them in the icy sunshine.
At the back of the classroom, with their two red heads huddled conspicuously together, something that would have had any self-preserving Hogwarts Professor separating them by no small distance, Fred and George Weasley were discussing the very fact that they had managed to escape Filch that very morning.
‘I can’t believe we managed to get away with it!’ remarked Fred.
George continued, ‘I know…we’ve done heaps less worse stuff than that before and been caught…he didn’t even notice that we had the wrappings in our hands…’
‘…right in front of him!’
The twins attempted unsuccessfully to stifle their laughter. The noise succeeded in interrupting a few of their fellow students from their note taking and earned them a rare and somewhat disgruntled glance from their Professor. He tiredly surveyed them for a moment before returning to his nap at the front of the classroom.
Fred cocked his head towards him, his face, though smudged and streaked with what could only have been smoke, clearly showed his concern. ‘Doesn’t look too well does he?’
George, equally as smeared slowly nodded whilst continuing to study the man. ‘No…we’d better be quieter…don’t want to disturb him…’
Fred nodded in agreement. Nearly the entire student body considered Professor Lupin to be the best Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher that Hogwarts had ever seen. He was kind and respected their opinions. He also had a great sense of humour and though he might not admit to it he had a developed appreciation for pranks, something that the Weasley twins especially deemed a superb quality in any teacher!
However, whilst the students were all happy with their teacher they could not help but notice that he seemed to be constantly ill and often very tired and weary. It was not often that a Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson these days would not involve some form of practical work. But every so often Professor Lupin would seem to be so worn out that the class would have to resort to an hour or so of note taking.
This was one of those times and because of the respect that the students’ held for Professor Lupin they were trying to be as quiet as possible. They did not want to disturb him or get him into trouble so they silently scribed away.
After a brief lapse in their conversation Fred whispered, ‘When should we give it to him?’
‘Straight after class I think…we’ll get him alone.’
‘But what?’ George asked incredulously. ‘You’ve seen how miserable he’s been…it’ll help him lift his spirits. Corrupt him…’ he added as an afterthought.
‘I know, I know…’ Fred insisted. ‘It’s just…’
‘We have memorised it…’
‘I know, I know…’ Fred hissed.
‘Then what then?’ George demanded.
Fred sighed, ‘If only he’d let me finish!’ he thought. ‘We’ve had it for gone four years now…and we still don’t know who wrote it. I’d give up all knowledge of the map…’
‘Well…some of the knowledge of the map just to know who those guys were. To meet them.’
George nodded solemnly. ‘I know what you mean…Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs…we owe them so much…’
‘Indeed.’ Fred added heavily. ‘Giving the map to Harry…it just feels as though we’re giving up the search for them.’
George considered this for a moment. ‘We’re not really…we’re doing what they did…handing it down…corrupting future mischief-makers…’ He thought for a second and then in a falsely-tearful voice he added, ‘It’s what they would have wanted…my brother…’ he squeezed Fred’s shoulder.
Fred rolled his eyes, chuckled and shook George’s hand off. ‘No! I’m serious!…we’ve always just let it go and convinced ourselves that we’d find out someday. But now that we’re giving it away…I just…I really need to know…now…’
George considered his brother for a moment. It had always been in the back of his mind, but Fred was right. Handing The Marauder’s Map over to Harry meant severing all ties with Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. It was no exaggeration, George thought, in considering them to be their heroes…they had inspired them to do so much. That map was a work of art…
‘I ‘spose,’ he began, ‘that we could…you know just give up our search and ask someone, I mean, they had to have gone here at some point…’
‘Who would we ask?’ Fred whispered.
‘Filch!’ Fred exclaimed.
Although Lupin did not look up but several pupils in front of the twins shifted in their seats. George held a finger up to his own lip to silence his twin.
‘Sorry!’ he continued more quietly, ‘But…Filch!…why would he tell…how would he even know them?’
‘It figures that Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would have been as well acquainted and familiar with him and his office as we are. Filch was probably the one that confiscated it off them…which is why it ended up in his drawer.’
Fred thought about this for a moment. He finally shook his head. ‘No. They were too elite. They managed to scour out the whole of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and yet they lost the product of their labours? I think that they planted it in the drawer, knowing that somebody like them would find it some day. Somebody like us’ He added proudly, jabbing himself in the chest with his thumb. ‘None of them could have been stupid enough to lose it.’
George in turn considered this. ‘Yeah, you’re right. But Filch would probably still know who they were…’
‘They might not have gone here in his time…’ Fred whispered. ‘And they’re obviously nicknames. Filch wouldn’t have known them by their nicknames.’
‘We can’t asked him!…’Hey…Dumbledore…yeah, see this parchment that we’ve been using to sneak around the castle with since we got here…do you know who wrote it?’ Fred allowed himself a smirk at his brother’s grimace. ‘Besides, the map is the secret to our success…admitting to people that our mischief is not all of our own making…it’s…’
‘Doesn’t bare thinking about.’ George finished. ‘We’ll tell Harry though…?’ He questioned.
‘Of course.’ Fred insisted, ‘We can trust him…and he needs it to get out for a change…’
George nodded. ‘OK, so not Dumbledore…who then? Who could we ask? We can’t ask McGonagall for the same reason as Dumbledore…what about…’ he paused and his eyes flashed up to his brother with realisation. ‘We should ask a past-pupil…’
‘Like who?’ Fred asked.
‘Snape.’ George simply stated.
It took a lot of strength for Fred to stop himself from falling off his chair and bursting into fits of laughter. ‘Are you crazy?’ he asked. Half amused; half scandalised. ‘For one thing he’s a teacher…same problem as with Dumbledore and McGonagall. And even if he did go to school with them…as if they’d be friends with him or even know him! They would never have given someone like him the time of day. You know what he’s like now…imagine what he would have been like when he was at Hogwarts…!’
The brief look of horror that flashed across George’s face was overshadowed by his irritation at his brother for his reaction to his suggestions. ‘Well! You got any brilliant ideas…?’
The grin faded from Fred’s face. He looked at his desk for a moment and then began to glance around the room as if inspiration or better yet the answer would be found plastered over the walls. His eyes finally settled on Professor Lupin at the front of the classroom. His chin was settled on his chest that rose and fell steadily as he slept.
Fred turned back to George and found him staring at him in bemusement. Blinking and shaking his head he answered is silent question. ‘Lupin had to have gone to Hogwarts…he’s a past pupil…perhaps he’d know…’
This time George cut Fred off with an exclamation of laughter that he quickly hid. ‘Professor Lupin…?’ Now George looked up to the front of the class and surveyed his teacher. He was of slight build…not very tall and quite thin. His robes, though of no consequence to most of the students, particularly to the Weasley twins, were quite shabby due to their evident age, wear and tear. His posture as it was as he slept seemed to convey a vulnerability that could not be explained or detected when one saw him directing a class. ‘Look at him…’ George motioned. ‘Have you ever seen anyone that looks less like a person who would cause trouble, mayhem and wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting castle full of helpless teachers and students? Not to mention him knowing them…He would have steered well clear of their sort!’
Fred slowly nodded as he too watched his Professor. ‘Yeah…you’re right. Too sensible…’ he sighed, ‘So, who do you…’
He was cut off as the bell rang. Immediately students started to pile their parchments and quills into their bags and file out of the classroom. Fred and George slowly followed suit.
‘C’mon Fred…’ George urged as he prodded his brother out of the door. ‘We’ve got a young man to corrupt…’
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah…we will find out though…’ This was more a statement than a question.
‘Of course we will.’ George unnecessarily confirmed as he patted Fred on the back. They headed up to Gryffindor tower.
‘What time are you going up there tonight?’ Sirius whispered.
After glancing at their teacher James hastily replied, ‘Around midnight I think… I’m taking the cloak with me so I’ll be fine… there and back…’
Sirius nodded and went back to distractedly flicking through his textbook. He was bored. Well, Sirius was always bored. Being exceptionally bright meant that the only excitement that he could draw from his studies was in secretly passing his limits. The same went for James. Sirius spared his friend a glance out of the corner of his eye. Many a time the two of them had snuck out of the dormitory they shared with their friends’ Remus and Peter with the sole intention of teaching themselves new and advanced spells, curses and incantations.
Sirius could tell that James was bored to distraction as well. But there was something in the posture of both boys that belied their outward weariness with the lesson. With every quick flick of a wrist as it turned a page, every sharp dart of an eye and with the many glances at the clock, it was evident that Sirius Black and James Potter had something else on their mind. Something that both scared and excited them.
Remus watched all of this from his seat behind the two fifteen year olds. Having finished his work a few minutes ago he was able to fully concentrate on what his two friends were doing and talking about. Peter sat next to him, still scrawling away and eagerly snatching glances at Remus’ work that Remus distractedly pushed towards him, so intent was he on the discussion going on before him.
‘You don’t need any help?’ Sirius whispered.
‘No, I told you,’ James replied ‘I just have to pick up the last few things. I had to hide them behind the tapestry at the end of the fifth corridor in the North Wing.’ James narrowed his brow in mock-seriousness ‘You, Mr Black had taken my cloak for your mundane nightly activities and I got caught by Filch!’
Sirius grinned and felt some of his anxiety elevate. He released a shaky breath and shook his head. He could not reconcile his emotions. Never in his life had he been so excited but, although he would never admit it, he was almost equally… almost equally as scared. Tonight he, James and Peter would be attempting the Animagai Transformation for the first time.
‘No!’ He corrected himself, ‘For the only time!’
Sirius once again shook his head. There was no place for thoughts like these now. Five years they had relentlessly persued this goal. Five years of hauling over-sized books from the library in secret. Five years of hard work, late nights and determination. It was no time to get cold feet and Sirius knew that deep down the excited part of him would always win. He breathed in, deeply but discreetly. Some might have called it arrogance but Sirius knew that he and James were on the path to becoming great wizards; nothing would go wrong.
As he thought this, the bell rang and Sirius commenced packing his bag, his movements thankfully less jittery than they had been throughout the lesson. After shouting out their homework tasks above the clamour their Professor had beat a hasty exit, followed by the remaining students but Sirius hung back, waiting for his friends. James stood by his side and they looked on as Remus and Peter finished up. Both noticed that Remus would not look at them. After exchanging a worried glance with Sirius James stepped forward.
Remus jumped startled, his head flying up to locate who had addressed him, so lost was he in his own thoughts.
‘Sorry?’ He attempted to laugh it off, chuckling rather weakly, but Sirius and James were having none of it. ‘What did you say James?’
James sighed and nodded to Sirius who went to the door and closed it before resuming his stance by his friend’s side. Peter stood next to Remus, anxiously glancing between the three taller boys.
James once again stepped forward, placing his hands on Remus’ shoulders in a reassuring gesture. ‘Remus… do not worry. This is our choice. We want to be there for you, to help you,’ James lips quirked as he nodded towards Sirius, ‘and Sirius wants a tail.’
Remus rolled his eyes as he smiled. He struggled with James’ proximity that made it hard for him to hide his emotions, something that he supposed James knew and had counted on.
‘It’s… its just that you’re my friends…’
‘We’re your friends…’ Sirius cut in. They all turned towards him. ‘We’re your friends and it is our honour to do this for you. We want to do this Remus… we wouldn’t be your friends if we didn’t want to help.’
James and Peter nodded.
‘Besides,’ Peter chimed in, shuffling his feet; ‘we’ve been practicing for five years.’ James and Sirius shared an amused glance at Peter’s definition of ‘we’, but they would help him.
Sirius slapped Peter on the back, causing the smaller boy to jerk forwards. ‘It is just like Peter says Remus… we’ve done everything we can.’ Sirius gulped, not wishing to tempt fate but desperately wanting to reassure his friend so he decided to gamble, repeating his earlier thought; earnestly did he smile as he resolutely stated, ‘Nothing will go wrong.’
Remus closed his eyes and James removed his hands from his shoulders, when he opened them he smiled to see his three friends tentatively looking at him with concern.
‘Thank you…’ he whispered.
With that Sirius draped his arm around his shoulder and steered him out of the long-ago deserted classroom, James and Peter following.
‘Just think Remus…’ Sirius was saying as they walked through the door, ‘All of the places we’ll see. All of the pranks we’ll be able to pull… we’ll be the best marauders’ that this place has ever seen!’
The laughter of the four boys drifted out of the classroom as they exited out into the hall, echoing down the long corridor as they moved away.
As the classroom door slid shut Remus lifted his eyelids. He had awoken as the bell had gone but had decided to wait until the classroom had emptied so as to avoid any difficult questions. He shuffled uncomfortably in his chair as he sat up, running his hands over his face as he yawned.
It was true that the Wolfsbane Potion succeeded in keeping the wolf at bay but it was at great expense to his human side physically. Every month he felt as though he was having a great internal battle that ripped him to shreds mentally and left him exhausted. This month was no exception. Remus was so tired. He knew that Dumbledore would understand, but he did not like disappointing his students…
After a few moments he stood. He flattened his robes and reached for his briefcase that was placed on the floor. He opened it and began to put the essays that he had collected into it. He avoided looking around the classroom that he had been given. Every time he walked in he felt as though he was fifteen again. He felt as though he would simply walk in, late back from the hospital wing and find James, Sirius and Peter waiting reassuringly for him, his seat faithfully saved.
Shutting his eyes against the torrent of memories that crashed into him he put the remaining essay papers into his briefcase and left the deserted classroom after locking the door behind him.
He walked down the corridors at quite a fast pace; not wanting to be stopped and disturbed from his thoughts.
Despite everything that had happened, Sirius betraying James and Lily. Them being murdered by Voldemort. Sirius murdering Peter, killing those twelve Muggles, Sirius escaping from Azkaban…coming after Harry…everything, Remus just could not help but think back to those happy, almost carefree times no matter how much he thought he wanted to forget and keep them from his mind.
Strangely, it was something of a comfort to him as he traversed the familiar corridors that he knew so well to remember the good times. When he had had three great friends. They thought that they had been invincible…that nothing would ever harm them.
They were Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs…nothing could.