attackfish: Ron, drinking "felix felicis" while Harry watches, text "Always be specific when you lie" (Harry and Ron Rule 7)
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Disclaimer: I own nothing in the Harry Potter universe, and am not affiliated with anyone who does.  However, J. K. Rowling and her affiliates leave me (and those like me) alone because I don't make any money off these and provide free, if relatively ineffective, advertising.

Summary: Despite James Potter's heroism, Severus Snape does not escape the Shrieking Shack unscathed.  When Remus Lupin bites him, Severus has to face a full share in Lupin's secret while whispers of a new Dark Lord grow louder every day.

Author's Note: Before you read this story, I have three things to say: 1)This fic is in no way connected to my shortfic "Closing Doors".  2)I'm going to update on the first of every month, so that I still have time to write my original fiction novel.  3)The title is a reference to Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of the god Mars and a mortal woman, Rhea, who were raised by a she-wolf and founded the city of Rome.  Romulus killed Remus in a fight over which one of them the city would be named after.



Chapter One: Down the Tunnel



The Whomping Willow froze mid swing as Severus poked the knot at its base with a long stick.  His hands trembled with something a lot like excitement and he clutched his wand tightly, whispering "Lumos," softly while soil shook loose from around the tree's roots with every one of his footfalls.  The roots overhead changed from the faintly wriggling ones of the Whomping Willow to more ordinary tree roots, and he suspected he was underneath the Forbidden Forest.  He stopped for a moment to slump against the side of the tunnel, startled to realize he didn't know how long he had been walking.  It had been just after sunset when he had descended the steps into the tunnel, but he couldn't say what time it was then, except that it was a long time after sunset.  He sprang away from the wall and swallowed.  His wand could only illuminate the blackness of the tunnel so far, and the light dazzled his eyes, deepening the darkness around him.

He shifted the strap of the camera he had lifted from Avery's trunk higher up onto his shoulder, but it kept slipping back down.  Wiping his clammy palms, he shook himself.  There wasn't anything creepy about the tunnel when he knew what was waiting at the end.  It hadn't hard to figure it out, he congratulated himself, with Lupin falling ill every single full moon.  Black's ploy to get him into the tunnel and probably eaten was equally obvious, but he was prepared, and at least he knew where to find the monster now.  His heart pounded, but he reassured himself that he wasn't going to get close to the werewolf.  He was just going to snap a few pictures and run.

As he fiddled with the knobs on the camera, readying it to use, he didn't notice the harsh panting behind him until a hand slapped down on his shoulder and grabbed it.  He dropped the camera and it hit him in the chest as he spun around.  "Potter!" he snarled.

"You don't," Potter heaved, "you don't want to see what's at the end of the tunnel."

He jerked his shoulder out of Potter's grasp and raised his wand, the shining tip throwing both their faces into bleached out peaks and sharp shadows.  "Don't touch me," he hissed.  "I know what he is and you can't keep me from exposing him!"

Potter's eyebrows flew into his hair and his lips pulled back into a grimace.  "No, you don't know what he is, because not even you're enough of an idiot to be down here if you did."  He grabbed for Severus' hand, but he slashed his wand  as he batted it away, and when Potter touched his cheek, his fingers came away slick with blood.  Suddenly Potter stopped and stared down the tunnel, eyes wide.  "Come on," he seized Severus' wrist and dragged him closer.  Severus yanked his arm back, but Potter was fitter and stronger, and he couldn't get away.

Potter slung his arm around Severus' waist and lifted him up.  Severus stopped struggling when he looked up.  The wolf crouched against the wall of the tunnel, ready to spring.  Swearing under his breath, Potter did his best to run, still carrying Severus around the waist.

The wolf lunged towards them and Severus's foot landed squarely on its jaw.  It barely seemed to notice except to growl deep in the back of its throat as it twisted its head.  The jaws closed on Severus' knee and he could feel the bones shattering.  The sounds they made as they crunched together almost made him sick before every muscle in his body seized up.  His pupils dilated and when he bit down on his shrinking lips, his newly sharp canines sliced right through.  When Potter let go of him, he fell to the dirt floor, convulsing and shrieking, until the shrieks became howls.  The matted black furred wolf that had once been Severus stood on three legs and snarled at his fellow wolf, springing to him, limping heavily.

James Potter reflected distantly that the transformation always seemed much longer than it was.  When his sense came back to him, he did the only thing he could do.  He ran.

~*~

James was halfway back up the tunnel before the adrenalin wore off and the exhaustion set in.  He stumbled the rest of the way out of the tunnel and pounded on the knot at the base of the Whomping Willow before he clambered out.  His legs shook under him, but he managed to slither out of reach of the Whomping Willow's branches before he collapsed into the grass.

Before he even realized he had closed his eyes, a foot poked into James' side to wake him.  "You going to get up?" Sirius asked, standing over him.

Groggily, James shielded his eyes from the full moon, still large and low in the east of the sky.  He checked his watch.  Fifteen minutes wasn't a long enough for a nap.  "No," he groaned.  "No, if I get up, I'm going to kill you," but he scrambled to his feet anyway.  Dew soaked through James' robe and he shivered.  It was an unseasonably cold March.

Sirius glanced around uneasily.  "I thought you were going after Snape."

Peter glanced from one of them to the other, looking lost.  "What's going on?"

"Nothing, Peter," Sirius began wearily, still listing a bit, but James stopped him.

"Sirius told Snape how to get down the tunnel."

Sirius flinched and closed his eyes as if they hurt.  "Yeah, but you said you were going after him, right?"

"I did," James snapped, "but I was too late."

James thought Sirius was going to be sick, but he didn't know if it was because of Snape or the massive bump on the back of his head.  "Is he... I mean, I didn't want him to die!"

"Well, that's good, because he didn't,"  James crossed his arms sulkily.

Sirius did his best to look relieved and not fall over at the same time.  "But you just said-"

"He got bitten," he retorted, "So yeah, too late."

Things didn't seem to be connecting in Sirius' head.  Everything just kept sliding around.  "Oh."

Suddenly James wished Remus were there and human to say what he was about to say instead of him, so that he and Sirius could glare at him together and pretend that it was Moony spoiling their good time.  "We have to go to Dumbledore."

Sirius nodded, and then decided that moving his head was a bad idea.  His whole head throbbed as he staggered after James as he marched back to the castle.

"Prongs," Peter stared nervously, "Do we really have to?  I mean, there's nothing we can do now anyway."

James turned around lazily, but when he spoke, his tone was cold.  "And Pomfrey's going to find Snape tomorrow and he's going to tell her exactly who told him how to get past the Whomping Willow.  We might not get expelled if Dumbledore hears it from us first."

As he stepped through the doorway into the castle, Peter's eyes widened, and he squeaked out, "Yeah, well, I have nothing to do with any of this, so I'm just going back to the tower."

"Thanks for the moral support Wormtail," James muttered, before Peter started away.

"I really wish everyone would stop talking!" Sirius hissed, wrinkling his forehead.

James cocked his head and peered at his friend's face, "One of your pupils is bigger than the other."

"Really?"

Sighing heavily, James wished he had brought his cloak.  He rattled off the names of Wizarding sweets at the gargoyle while Sirius leaned his forehead against the cool stone wall next to it.  "Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Sugar Quills, Bertie Botts, oh, come on, open already!"  He glanced up and down the corridor, frustrated.  "Pumpkin Pasty, Ice Mice, Tooth-floss-" but the Gargoyle had already jumped aside to reveal the stairway.  Grasping Sirius' arm, he sped up the staircase and knocked on the door to Dumbledore's office.  When it didn't open, he pushed it open and stepped in, dragging Sirius with him.  "Psst, Fawkes," he hissed at the slumbering, cooing phoenix, glowing faintly in the darkness.  The bird opened one eye to glower at him.  "Fetch Dumbledore for me," it closed its eye and tucked its head under its wing, "Please?"  The phoenix huffed and fluffed its feathers before vanishing in a ball of fire.

Finally, it was too much for Sirius.  His head spun and he heaved his mostly digested dinner up onto the office floor.  "Ick," James exclaimed, jumping back.

"I think that might be my last meal too," Sirius joked feebly. 

One of the book cases swung outward and the headmaster strode into the room with Fawkes riding on his shoulder.  The lights blazed to life with a flick of his wand, and Sirius turned grey.  "I think I'm going to be sick again," he breathed, and James hastily conjured him a plastic bowl as he stared at Dumbledore's canary yellow dressing gown and fuzzy turquoise slippers with tiny lights charmed to flash pictures of the giant squid, swimming around the lake.  "Mr. Potter, Mr. Black, you wished to see me?"  James clasped his hands behind his back and nodded.  "I must say it's refreshing that the two of you came to me for once instead of waiting for me to call you," he shot the two of them a piercing look, and Sirius gulped and then gagged.

"Well," James began, shifting uncomfortably.  "Sirius and Snape got into a fight."  The words came out in a rush and he didn't pause until they were out of his mouth, but then he couldn't make himself say anything else.

"I suppose that this is the reason for Mr. Black's current condition, though I doubt either of you are here to tattle."  his eyes twinkled over his half moon glasses.

James shook his head, eyes down.  "Sirius told him how to get past the Whomping Willow."  The twinkle vanished from Dumbledore's eyes.  James backed up a step fearfully, unhappily realizing that he was one of the few people to completely shock the redoubtable headmaster.

"How did you know about that?" he asked sharply.

"We dug it out of Remus," his voice cracked, "a year ago."

Deadly voiced, Dumbledore demanded "How long have you known what Mr. Lupin is?"

Sirius backed up until he tripped over a chair and fell into it.  The bowl followed him determinedly.  "Since third year," James whispered.  "We figured it out.  Remus didn't tell us."

"Do you have anything to say about this, Mr. Black?" he probed.

Sirius responded by bending over and spewing everything remaining in his stomach into the bowl.  "No," he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.  "James is doing fine."

"I suppose that I'll have to prepare Madam Pomfrey to find a corpse in the shack."  His lips didn't have any blood in them as he pressed them together and James stuttered.  "Your friend, Mr. Lupin will probably be Kissed."

Sirius trembled, eyes wide, and James found himself seeing how it would have all played out, with Snape dead, Remus a soulless husk, Dumbledore forced to resign, Sirius, Peter and himself probably arrested and thrown in Azkaban.  Minutes passed before he could find his voice again and the silence stretched terrifyingly on.  "No, he's not dead," he stammered at last.  "Just bitten."

Dumbledore's head snapped up and relief flashed across his features before he steadied himself.  "How do you know this?"

Sirius flushed and swallowed the vomit rising in his throat.  "As soon as I told him, I mean, I didn't mean to," he paused and gave up, spilling it into the bowl.  "I ran after him, and grabbed him, and dragged him back, and he hexed me into the wall.  James found me and woke me up."  He pillowed his head against his arms, laying them on the headmaster's desk.

James glanced at him, worried.  "So, Sirius told me what he said, and I ran after Snape and caught up with him in the tunnel, and I had to carry him out because he wouldn't come with me, and Remus bit him.  They were fighting when I ran."

With all his might, James wished that Dumbledore would blink.  "Give me one reason why I shouldn't expel both of you for endangering the lives of two students?"

James glanced at Sirius, who opened one eye to glance back.  "Er," James said.

"Uh," Sirius added.

"Well."

"Um."

Finally, James clasped his hands.  "You'd have to let everyone know that Remus is a werewolf if you did, and he'd get kicked out, and you'd have to quit?"

The headmaster smiled coldly, and for a moment, James thought he was going to have to borrow Sirius' bowl.  "Perhaps you should both contemplate how lucky you are that the punishment you deserve would be more harmful to innocent students than to you," he suggested unrelentingly.  Both boys flushed, grateful for the dismissal, but when Sirius looked up, Dumbledore called him back.  "Go to the hospital wing, Mr. Black; one of your pupils is larger than the other."

As Sirius stumbled away, James hesitated at the door.  "You know I didn't have anything to do with this right?" he babbled, "I mean Sirius barely had anything to do with it, he just sort of blurted it out..."  He trailed off, really hoping that was amusement in the back of Dumbledore's eyes.

"I suppose pressuring your housemate into telling you the way into a dilapidated building and using it as a hideout isn't an expellable offence, which is why it is Mr. Black who will spend the next two years in detention every evening."  James nodded uncertainly, a tendril of panic creeping into his stomach at the knowledge that Dumbledore wasn't omniscient after all, but he clamped down on it, thankful that the headmaster didn't know about the animagus transformations.  "You will not however receive any public thanks for saving your fellow student's life."

"I won't be getting any kind of thanks," James muttered.  "It's Snape," but there was Evans, too.

Dumbledore shot him a sidelong look.  "I'm well aware you didn't do it for the thanks, or even for young Mr. Snape.  Your friend Mr. Lupin will be grateful that you prevented him from killing someone,and once he comes back to himself, Mr. Black will be grateful you prevented him from becomming a murderer."  James' face heated.

~*~

There was a jagged piece of plastic and a role of film poking into his back, but that wasn't what woke him.  "Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no..."  When he opened his eyes, Lupin was leaning over him, chanting his denial over and over again.  Severus pushed himself up with his arms, sitting.  Pain shot up his leg and the blood ran out of his face as he sank back to the floor a few inches away from the broken camera parts.  He was naked, he realized, and distantly he knew that his clothes must be in shreds in the tunnel.

"No," he asserted fiercely, "no."  Every nerve in his body ached dully, except the ones in his leg, where the pain wasn't dull at all.

"Oh God, I bit..." Lupin gasped, "Oh God!"

"Shut up," he snarled.  He shook all over and the salt from his sweat ran into his scratches and gashes, stinging.  Small wounds, he noticed, covered Lupin too.  Blood from a cut on his forehead ran into his eyes and dripped onto Severus.  He wiped it away disgustedly.

"How," Lupin, begged, his voice quavering, "did you get down here?"

Severus waved him away, hiding his gentiles with his other hand.  Obligingly, Lupin pulled the tattered bedspread off of the bed and draped it over him.  Poking his finger into one of the quilt's many holes, Severus glared at Lupin out of narrowed eyes.  He was already dressed, his uniform rumpled.  "Your friend Black told me," he hissed, pulling the bedspread tightly around himself.

"Liar," Lupin said calmly, "you would never have listened to him."

Severus colored, but his sallow skin only managed a dull yellow-pink.  "I listened after he tried to keep me from going."

The sunrise trickled through the grime covered windows, staining the inside of the room orange and red.  "He couldn't have tried very hard,"  Lupin muttered resentfully, slumping down onto the mattress.

"He wasn't moving when I left him," he'd also had a steady pulse, but Severus didn't mention that, "nasty fall."

Lupin stared down at him, horrified, his mouth working furiously, but no words coming out.  "Oh God," he moaned again.

Severus ignored him.  "What is this place?"

Lupin glared murderously, waving his hand around the room mock-grandly, "The Shrieking Shack."

"There aren't any actual ghosts here, are there?" he questioned sardonically, narrowing his eyes.

The door creaked open quietly, but both boys started before Severus froze from the pain in his leg.  Madam Pomfrey bustled through the doorway, her wand in one hand and a bundle of cloth and a bag full of potions and cotton balls in the other.  Severus let loose a sigh of relief until she threw the quilt off of him and he cringed and covered his lap.  The blood from his leg had soaked through the fabric and oozed onto the floor.  "Let's get that cleaned out, she said briskly, uncorking a bottle of potion and pouring most of it onto the wound where it fizzed a lurid purple.

"AAARGGGG," he groaned, ripping his leg out of her reach and then yelping.  "You could have just dabbed it on," he grumbled, seeking to take the bottle away from her, but only succeeding in tipping the rest of it onto the bite wound.

"Werewolf saliva is full of all sorts of pathogens," she informed him, "there's no point in taking chances."  When she uncorked another bottle of wound cleaning potion, however, she did just dab it onto the scratches covering him.  The breath hissed into him around his teeth and Severus could feel Lupin watching them serenely, as he fussed and wriggled under the mediwitch's care.  he gritted his teeth.  Before she set to work on Lupin's cuts, she threw the bundle of cloth at him.  he shook it out gingerly to discover that it was one of his school robes, a green and silver Slytherin tie, trousers, and a greying white button up shirt.  "I sent a house elf to fetch some of your clothes when the headmaster told me what had happened. Can you dress yourself?"

Severus vowed that he would make himself able before he'd let her stuff his limbs into his clothes, but she had already turned to Lupin and was swabing his wounds with the wound cleaning potion.  Lupin endured her ministrations with absolute stoicism while Severus pulled the shirt over his arms and buttoned it up. Cautiously, Severus lifted his injured right leg high enough to slip the trouser leg over it.  Lupin sat cross-legged on the bed as Madam Pomfrey helped Seveus stand so that he could pull up his pants and trousers and helped him hobble over to the bed.  As soon as he sat down, she shoved the robe over his head where it caught on his nose and in his mouth.  He snatched the tie away from her when she looped it around his neck.  "I can do that," he snapped, tying it in place under his collar.  She gave it to him without comment and an unidentifiable expression.  "There aren't any shoes," he pointed out sullenly.

"You're not going to be walking on that leg anyway," she reminded him sweetly, patting his leg just above the injury.  As the pain shot through him, he hissed profanities and fell back onto the mattress.  Madam Pomfrey ignored him pointedly and Severus did his best not to think of anything at all as she swept her wand over him and pronounced "Mobilicorpus."

As Severus bobbed ungainly in the air, it didn't take him very long at all to decide that particular spell should never be used on living, conscious people.  "Come along, Mr. Lupin," Madam Pomfrey said gently, putting a hand on his back and rubbing it in circles, guiding him down into the tunnel.

"Stop," Severus demanded as they passed the shreaded pile of his clothing.  "My wand's in there."  Green-faced, Lupin bent over and searched through the mangled bits of fabric until he found a short, slender ebony wand and pulled it out of the cloth.  With a bit of trepidation, he pressed it into Severus' hand, but Severus turned his head away without saying anything.

Severus poked one of the squirming roots of the Whomping Willow as he passed under it and Lupin sprang forward to prod the knot at the base of the tree.  The root flinched away from him before it froze and Madam Pomfrey levitated him out of the tunnel.  "You're alright to go back to class, if you're not too tired, Mr. Lupin," she told the boy, "but I advise that you wait before you visit your friend Mr. Black.  I had to give him several cincussion repairing potions, and he's still sleeping them off."  She shook her head in Severus' direction, "He hit that wall quite hard."  The air rushed out of Lupin's lungs as he nodded, and Severus sniffed distainfully.

As Madam Pomfrey levitated him out into the early morning sunlight, Severus swallowed convulsively, wondering panically if anyone was watching him drifting over the field from one of the castle windows.

Chapter Two


A new beginning

Date: 2008-11-03 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] konekochan-desu.livejournal.com
I'm excited for this new story. I'll be back each month to read this one. Don't forget to work on your original novel too, though. Hopefully someday I can read that one when it's published!

Re: A new beginning

Date: 2008-11-03 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
I'm glad you like it, but have no fear, I toil as ever on my novel.

Good luck on NaNoWriMo!

Re: A new beginning

Date: 2008-11-03 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] konekochan-desu.livejournal.com
I'm pretty sure I'll fail in the first week, but... c'est la vie!

Date: 2008-11-04 04:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] obsidiantabitha.livejournal.com
Great start! You really write the characters very well. I am looking forward to the aftermath of all this.

Date: 2008-11-04 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Thanks, It's weird, but writing fanfiction is different from writing original fiction, not just because I don't have to introduce the characters and the world, but also because I get to begin abruptly with the major crisis. There's a structural similarity in the plots of all of the novel length fanfics I have planned (except for one, which is more a series of vignettes) in that they're ordered "crisis, aftermath, resolution". I've never had to chart rising action for my stories, but all of a sudden I want to.

And you know what, since I have James in this, my computer still gets to fill in "'Potter!' he snarled," after I type "Po

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