Story One: Recklessness
The Forbidden Forest was dark and damp
and deep. And forbidden, which was probably its greatest virtue, at least
in Sirius Blackís mind. James sometimes said, half jokingly, that revealing
his invisibility cloak to Sirius was the biggest mistake heíd ever made.
Heíd long since abandoned the principle that others could use the cloak
only if he joined them. Sirius loved to steal it and go roaming, deeper
and deeper. He wasnít afraid of anything; not getting caught, not getting
in trouble, not getting eaten by the unknown beasts who growled and moaned
rather creepily in the darkness, and sometimes even in the brightness
of a lazy Saturday afternoon. When he was at school, around people, he
made sure he was in the middle of things; the life of the party, or just
the Transfiguration class, but even Sirius Black needed his alone time,
so he was pleased that James gave up so easily his insistence on following
him. But he did share some of his more exciting stories with his friends,
most notably the time he met the centaurs and they recognized him, and
talked about him like he wasnít even there. That had creeped the others
out, Remus especially, since he knew about centaurs, but Sirius thought
it was cool. Today was a Saturday, and he would normally be itching to
go out, but he was doing something much more fun instead. Studying. Not
that boring type Uric-the-Oddball studying, but learning about something
he wanted to know. Something relevant. How to become an Animagus. It was
the best idea James had ever come up with, although that wasnít saying
too much; Sirius was usually the idea man for group projects. But even
he had to admire the genius of this one. If they were in animal form,
they could be with Remus every month when he transformed into a werewolf.
Plus, well, he could be an animal at will! He could go farther than ever
into the Forbidden Forest! He could execute plans in Hogsmeade under the
perfect disguise! Helping Remus would just be a bonus, although a n ice
one. And working on this all together made them happy, and a lot more
comfortable than they had been in nearly a year.
The night they found out Remus was a werewolf
stuck in Siriusí brain like a failed test whose consequences he couldnít
ignore, even though he tried. It seemed unfair; they were only twelve
years old, nothing that serious should have happened to his group of friends.
A month later, he had gone out with the cloak to the Forest to sit quietly
under the full moon and listen to all the sounds. It bothered him too
much, so he didnít do that again, and just concentrated on acting like
everything was perfectly normal. He hated to admit it, but he was glad
James took the approach he did. First, (without Remus knowing) he researched
all the methods of curing a werewolf, but that was unsuccessful, all the
information was either on warding off, killing, or, in the case of the
restricted section, different gruesome spells you could do with parts
of a werewolfís body. Sirius was almost sorry he agreed to help James
swipe those books. James spent a lot of time brooding after that, and
reading an y literature he could get his hands on. Remus always looked
really uncomfortable whenever he caught James with one of the books, and
even though nothing was ever said, on all of those occasions, Sirius had
to tail out of there and wander the forest.
But everything was okay now. After McGonagallís
lecture on transfiguration, James had remembered that werewolves werenít
a threat to and suggested that they become Animagi. Sirius had enthusiastically
agreed, and even Peter wanted in, without them having to pressure. And
then, miraculously, Remus was receptive to the idea. Receptive, then agreeable,
then filled with barely contained enthusiasm. They were afraid he would
have been awkward or embarrassed, like usual, but this idea focused on
them, rather than him. And the more they worked at it, the more they promised
they would do it for him, the more light came into his eyes, and the more
he would talk to them about it; what it was like, what he remembered,
how he was bitten, even- a little- how it felt. And even though they knew
they still had years left to go, on they worked.
"Who has my beans?"
"My Every-Flavour Beans! Who has them?
I want a couple more of the red ones."
"This one is kind of orange-ish."
"Give that here!"
"I donít have the bag, just this bean.
Iím afraid of it."
"Be quiet, Peter, I have the bag. Iím picking
out the white ones," Sirius said distractedly. James looked disgusted.
"The white ones? Theyíre all so horrible!"
"Here." Remus pushed the orange bean to
Peter. "Have this one."
"Itís not red!"
"Maybe itís pumpkin."
"Maybe itís carrot, I had an orange one
that was carrot once before."
"Doesnít look like carrot. Looks unnatural."
"Oh, this is impossible!" James heaved
his book across the room. "Weíll never get to the next step until McGonagall
teaches us intermediate living object transfiguration at least."
Sirius frowned exaggeratedly. "I though
we agreed we didnít need McGonagall for anything. And that does look unnatural.
Give it here."
"Youíre sure itís not pumpkin?"
"Itís impossible to learn that level of
transfiguration out of a book, especially with less than three years experience.
And donít eat that in front of me."
"I think youíre pronouncing it wrong."
"They should have books that pronounce
things for you."
Sirius laughed at that one. "Books that
say the spells? Iíd love that! You could open it up and the book would
curse you with a hair-losing charm!"
"Sirius, I doubt sincerely a book would
"Shut up. Anyway, I thought it was a good
idea. Besides, Iím not the one who got caught out of the dorms because
I pronounced Ďnoxí wrong. Who pronounces Ďnoxí wrong?!"
"You shut up! And give me my orange bean!"
James rolled his eyes at Remus, but he
was grinning. Even Remus looked amused, probably remembering that night
Sirius decided to try out those new spells; the first night they were
at Hogwarts. But James knew he had to get them back on track, and he knew
just how to do that. "Gosh," he said loudly, "I canít wait until this
is over with and Iíll be able to turn into a cheetah."
"A cheetah? A cheetah? "Sirius turned to
look at him doubtfully. "You wonít turn into a cheetah, theyíre all fast
and graceful. Youíll turn into an ostrich." A cheetah? James is mental,
thought Sirius. Cheetahs aren't indigenous to Hogwarts, youíd never
be able to blend in as a cheetah.
"I want," said Peter importantly, as though
this was the first time he had stated his opinion on this matter, "to
be a bear. A very big and scary bear."
"Our Sirius is going to be a dog, of course.
Heís stated so, many times, heíd be so embarrassed if he turned out to
"Nah, a centipede."
"A pissant." Laughter followed by Sirius
whacking everyone with his pillow.
James took on a thoughtful expression.
"I do wish you could choose your animal. It would make things a lot more
fun, even if weíd probably all end up choosing the wrong animals for ourselves."
Sirius rolled his eyes and ignored the
lecture. "Hey James, I bet things would go so much faster if we looked
at some of the restricted Transfiguration books."
"Come on, I bet thereís some real advanced
stuff in there."
"You wonít get in trouble, Iíll go aloneÖ"
"No, come on Sirius, you know we already
got all the books we need out of the restricted section."
"We found out what books we could use might
be in there and got those. But there could be books we donít even know
about, books that could help us, books that could speed things up."
"Sirius, we have plenty of material, we
just need more lessons."
"I suppose so." He sighed, knowing James
would hold firm. He got up from his position in the circle on the floor,
then flopped down on his bed.
"Tired, Sirius?" asked Remus. "What were
you up to last night? Not sneaking into the Forbidden Forest again?"
"Yeah Sirius, when will you grow out of
that and start sneaking into the girls dorm?"
"Donít encourage him!"
"Muphmuph," said Sirius. "Forbidden Forest."
He brightened a little. "It was great. I heard something new. More like
a screaming than a howl, but low pitched." He noticed Peterís expression.
"And it was really loud too, like it was close by. So I started slowly
creeping towards itÖ"
"Oh, stop it Sirius."
"Itís true. You guys donít believe me Ďcause
youíre too scared to go in there yourselves. ĎCause you know whatís in
"Because we believe you?"
Sirius could have felt slightly affronted
at the slander his friends were throwing at him, but instead, as he thought
of the forest and its million and one treasures, and his friends all around
him, he felt slightly magnanimous. "We-ell, if you donít believe me, you
should just go with me sometimes."
"No," laughed James, "Iíve tried that."
"That was years ago! Back before I discovered
Tree Gnomes are harmless, and heading due west into the forest takes you
to much more interesting ground. Come on, itís a grand idea. Iíll be your
guide. Tonight, weíll sneak out of-"
"No!" shrieked Peter. "The Forbidden Forest
"I do it all the time. I know that forest
inside and out, come on, itíll be so much fun."
"Not at night."
"Peterís right, maybe we shouldnít go at
nightÖ but it does sound like a fair idea. No lie, Sirius, youíve seen
unicorns in there?"
"Of course I have. But weíve got to go
at night. Thatís when all the really cool stuff comes out." Which was
true, of course, but Sirius was having second thoughts. Did he really
want to share his forest with these other people? People who couldnít
even appreciate its greatest assets? Then again, James was looking kind
of excited. And he did have that certain gleam in his eye that usually
promised fun. "Címon, guys."
"No. Well, not at night. Please?"
"Thatís all right Peter, you donít have
to come with us." Sirius knew exactly what sort of ammunition to use on
"No, please guys, not at night. Please?"
Sirius saw Peter searching the other faces vainly and realized he was
alone. Then he gulped back his scared face and put on one that kind of
looked brave, if you squinted at it for a while. "Well, okay then. Weíll
just have to go at night."
The invisibility cloak they all huddled
under was ditched as soon as they got inside the forest, so there would
be no more tripping accidents. They headed slowly and silently (well,
more silent than normally, anyway) into the forest, deeper and deeper.
After an hour had passed, they hadnít seen any wild beasts yet, but for
some reason these rather large bird-type things had swooped down past
them a couple of times. Sirius had never seen them before, but then again,
he reasoned, he was usually invisible. And making less noise. He winced
as Peter stepped on another branch that he and James and Remus had avoided.
He looked back and James motioned for him to stop.
"Is this as far as you normally go?" he
asked, very quietly.
"No, further. I can usually go a little
"When are we going to see things?"
"What are those birds?" Peter nobly did
not ask to go back.
"Shhhhh! Whatís that?" Sirius wished very
much to be able to answer and tell them all about it, but the truth was,
he had never seen a silver horse like that before.
"Itís a unicorn." Remus breathed. He started
very slowly towards it, and it stood stock still. Sirius was afraid it
was about to bolt, but Remus was getting closer and closer, and James
started towards it too, and it only lowered its head a little. Sirius
couldnít believe his eyes. He had never seen a unicorn before,
not even a full-grown white one. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw
Peter slowly start towards it, then stop in mid-step, holding himself
very, very still.
"Sirius" he whispered. Sirius craned his
head over to him a little.
"Sirius." More frantically. His eyes were
wide. All of the sudden, the unicorn turned and fled silently into the
woods. As Sirius turned to look, he felt something whooshing past him
"AAAAAAGH!" Peter! Where was Peter?
"Peter!" cried James, pointing upwards.
He was at the top of the nearest tree, being held onto by some bird which
looked scary and scaly enough to be a dragon. Sirius wondered dazedly
if it breathed fire.
"DONíT WORRY, PETER, IíLL GET YOU DOWN!"
"What do you think" James asked Remus,
"Donít be stupid."
"STOP SCREAMING PETER! SOMEONE MIGHT HEAR
YOU!" It was uncharacteristically Remus instead of James who cuffed him
on the head.
"Okay, a burning charm should work, but
itís going to have to be strong to pierce his skin."
"Donít miss. And, umm, what happens after
he falls 200 feet?"
"Weíll think of something. HANG ON! DONíT
If anyone could do this, thought Sirius,
it was James. He and Remus set their wands at the ready. A shot a red
blasted from his wand, and went so close, so close, right on the claw,
right next to Peter, but didnít hit him. He screeched anyway, as he fell.
"Windgardium Leviosa!" James and Remus
waited until Peter was only a couple of yards from the ground, then sat
their spells in unison. It worked- but just quite. Peter slowed down,
and instead of hitting the ground, was sent backwards, and in an upward
direction again, at what would have been a very fast speed if the tree
hadnít been in his way. They crowded around him.
"Peter! Peter, are you okay?"
He opened his eyes very slowly. "GuysÖ
can we go back now?"
The next day, Sirius felt a little bit
uncomfortable and guilty, but, since it was really the birdís fault and
not his own, he decided to not discuss the incident with the others.
Peter found that eating lots of chocolate
made him feel better, and Sirius, deciding that was a good enough philosophy,
broke out his emergency stash of Chocolate frogs and passed them around.
"So," said Remus, unable to read Siriusí
mind, "weíve decided to not go back to the Forest again for another couple
"Makes sense to me. Actually, I liked the
idea of sneaking into the girlís dorm. Or better yet, the Slytherin dorm,
so I can try out some of those curses from the restricted book I swiped
when James wasnít looking."
"Iíve got it!" announced Remus, who was
looking at what turned out to be the orange-ish bean. "Yam."
"Yuck. I dunno."
"Throw it here," said Sirius, who was feeling
"With pleasure," Remus responded, flinging
Sirius popped it in his mouth and made
He burst out laughing. "Itís orange."