Brotherhood of the Wolf
“Did you get it?” James and Peter crowded around Sirius on the Hogwarts Express at the beginning of seventh year.
“Get what?” Sirius asked, a mischievous grin splitting his face.
“You know bloody well what!” James punched his friend on the shoulder.
Peter shushed them as Remus entered the compartment.
“Remus!” James exclaimed, clapping him on the back. “How was your summer?”
“Fine. What are you up to?” Remus’ gray eyes showed suspicion. “You have your heads together and that means trouble.”
“Nothing, nothing.” James said. “Just trying to get this git to come clean with information he said he’d get for us in London. Nothing for you to concern yourself with, Moony. Just a little something we’ve been working on. That’s all I’m saying and that’s the end of it, so stop up your gob and stop asking.”
A suspicious Remus didn’t press the issue further.
Late that night, Sirius shook James and Peter awake and three of the four Marauders descended to the Gryffindor common room.
“Peter, keep an eye on the stairs,” Sirius commanded, throwing himself into a squashy armchair.
“Yeah,” yawned James, sprawling out on the sofa by the fire.
“I got it!” Sirius announced. “Three trips to Knockturn Alley, but I finally found it.”
James sat up, an admiring look in his eye. “I didn’t think you’d manage it. Well, let’s see, then.”
Sirius pulled something from his pocket. It was small, the boys saw, and dark in color. James and Peter leaned in close to look. In Sirius’ palm lay a black circlet about four inches across and an inch wide. It was woven from what looked like a single leather strand, crisscrossing over itself in a tight pattern. It was an insignificant looking, bracelet-like thing, flat and dull against Sirius’ skin.
“You git, you were cheated,” James sputtered.
“You think so, do you?” Sirius gave them a hard look. “I have it on good authority this is the genuine article.”
“From who?” scoffed James.
“You know, I’ve got a little bridge over the Thames that I could sell you…” Peter grinned.
“Got it at Borgin and Burkes!”
“You didn’t!” James looked at Sirius in stunned appreciation.
“I’m telling you, this is it. It’s from Hungary and everything. You wear it on your wrist. I’ve checked it against all the references in the bookshop.”
Peter stood with his hands clasped behind his back, as if afraid he might accidentally touch the strange object.
“Brilliant!” James leaned close, reaching for it.
“Hands off, you sod!” Sirius snatched back the circlet.
“Oh, let us have a look. We all chipped in, you know.” James took the bracelet and examined it closely.
“Don’t put it on,” Sirius warned.
“Of course we’re not putting it on. Like we’d do that in the castle. Think we’re idiots?”
“Who’s going to try it?” Peter asked.
“We all are, of course.” Sirius announced. “On Halloween. We’ll draw to see who gets to go first.”
“That’s OK. I don’t want to go first.” Peter looked as if he didn’t want to go at all, his left eyelid twitching slightly as it often did when he was nervous or frightened.
“James, old boy, it’s between you and me then.”
“Why wait until Halloween?” James asked Sirius.
“Just fits, don’t you think?”
Plans were discussed late into that night and many times over the next weeks.
The full moon fell on Halloween this year - a rare blue moon. Saddened to miss the evening’s feast and party, Remus urged the other boys to enjoy themselves at the festivities, and let him go alone to the Shrieking Shack. The Marauders allowed themselves to be grudgingly persuaded, anxious to surprise Remus all the more with their plans for All Hallow’s Eve.
Halloween came, and with it the full moon. Remus could always feel the moon. He knew where it was at every moment, and could point it out even as a mere crescent invisible in the daytime sky. Alone in the Shrieking Shack, without the accustomed presence of his friends, he waited for the call of the moon.
With a scraping noise and a flurry of arms and legs, James, Sirius, and Peter burst from the Hogwarts tunnel, grinning.
“What are you lot doing here? You’re supposed to be at the feast! ” Remus demanded.
“We’re here to spend Halloween, you great prat! Think we’d go to some ruddy feast without our best friend? Codswallop!” James smiled broadly.
“Yeah. And we’ve got something extra special for tonight,” Sirius said, a sly grin spreading across his face.
“You’re all blooming idiots - but I love you for it.” Remus laughed, happily. “Well, hurry up and tell me what’s so special. The moon will be up soon.”
With a mischievous look, Sirius pulled the black woven circlet from his robe and held it out proudly.
Remus stepped back quickly, a look of disbelief on his face. “No.” The word came out quietly, only an exhale of breath, but the boys heard and were silent, staring curiously at their friend.
The procurement of it had been James’ idea, although Sirius had taken charge of the operation. What was sought, and what was found, was a wolf-strap, a dark magical object that most sensible wizarding folk believed merely legend. According to stories, mostly from Eastern Europe, any person could transform himself into a werewolf by using a wolf-strap.
James had run across the legend and, after rummaging through the Hogwarts library, had found several books that convinced him the wolf-strap was indeed more than legend. Sirius had taken to the idea with his usual robust enthusiasm. Sharing Remus’ transformations as Animagi was one thing, but it was intriguing for the boys to think they could share the experience as actual werewolves. In addition, the boys were curious. They could see Remus as the wolf while in their animal states, but they could never know what he really felt and what he truly experienced. Sirius, in particular, was keen to see what it was like to be a werewolf.
“Remus, it’s a wolf-strap. One of us can be a werewolf with you tonight. Better than being plain old Animagi, don’t you think?” James looked curiously at his friend who seemed to be in some state of shock.
“Get rid of it.” Remus’ voice was calm and quiet.
“Sod off,” Sirius chided gently, curious at Remus’ reaction. “We spent a lot of money on that. What’s the matter?” He turned to James and Peter. “You’d think he didn’t want us to try it out!”
“I don’t believe you!” Remus spat. “It’s bad enough that I’m what I am. I won’t have you doing this.”
“What are you on about?” Sirius turned to James in surprise. “What’s he on about?”
“Don’t you think I know everything there is to know about… about… my condition? I know what that… that - thing - is. You have no idea what you have. It’s bad. I won’t allow it.”
“Look, you great imbecile, we’re doing this for you in case you haven’t noticed.” Sirius’ jaw jutted obstinately.
“Well, don’t.” Remus looked dead serious. “Do you think this is a game? Something you can play around with?” His voice was incredulous. “Do you think I don’t hate what I become each month? Dread it? I have to live with that. I live with the possibility that I may kill someone. Even worse, that I may bite someone, and make them endure this curse. How do you think that makes me feel -knowing that I become a mad animal bent on destruction? I won’t have any of you going through that - even once. Even for me.”
Remus leaned close to Sirius, his gray eyes cold, their usual liveliness gone. “If you do this, we’re no longer friends. I mean it.”
Sirius’s jaw dropped as he looked into Moony’s eyes. James and Peter watched nervously, wondering what would happen. They knew Sirius was not one to back down from anything.
Sirius picked the circlet from his palm. He held it aloft for a long moment as if he might put it on. Peter stumbled backward.
With a sudden movement, Sirius pulled his wand from his pocket. “Incendio.”
Flames burst around the wolf-strap and Sirius dropped it to the floor. The thing twisted and writhed, skittering from the fire like it was alive. Sirius gestured and, in unison, the four Marauders used their wands. Flames finally enveloped the black plait, putrid smoke bellowing through the room. The Marauders stepped back as one, silent as the thing thrashed and burned and died. They stood noiselessly long after the fire burned itself out.
The long silence was broken as Sirius clapped Remus on the back. “Well then, let’s go have some real fun.” In the wink of an eye he transformed.
Remus smiled at Padfoot, the great black dog, and at James and Peter, now Prongs and Wormtail. In the moments before the moon finally took him, he realized more than ever the value of friends.