The Dark Arts
Remus Lupin/Sirius Black
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Darkfic Action
The First War Against Voldemort (Cir. 1970-1981)
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 12/06/2008
Updated: 12/09/2008
Words: 13,767
Chapters: 4
Hits: 4,737

The Innocence of Wolves


Story Summary:
(RL/SB) AU. The Prank goes wrong, Severus Snape dies, and the Marauders dispose of the evidence and get away with it -- and after that, what can't you do?
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Chapter 02 - The Free-Blood Guards

Chapter Summary:
Death, mayhem, and Christmas cheer.

Warning: Politically-motivated murders

2 -- The Free-Blood Guards

On the first day of the Christmas holiday, before breakfast, Peter looked out of the dormitory window and gasped. Sirius shot over to join him in looking towards the Forbidden Forest.

"Bloody hell! What's the groundskeeper playing with now?"

James and I crowded into the narrow space to see what they were on about, and I cast a telescopic charm on the window.

"Yeuch," James said.

Sirius frowned. "Aren't those...?"

"Thestrals," I confirmed. "We've all seen death."

We watched for a while, all disturbingly fascinated by the sight of the skeletal winged horses wolfing down chunks of raw meat.

"You know," Sirius said, "we need to pretend we can't see them."

"What?" Peter yelped, but James nodded reassuringly at him.

"Padfoot's right. The professors will be watching, I bet, to see if anyone reacts to them. They'll be looking for witnesses, if not actual suspects. That might be what he's called them out for."

That wasn't it, of course. Fortunately, we ate quickly and toured the castle windows on the third floor until we caught sight of the thestrals again, by which time, they were harnessed to the carriages. When we walked outside, we weren't shocked. Still, Peter couldn't keep his face straight, and had to pretend to have a stomachache.

Mrs. Potter had invited me, as well as Sirius, to come home with James, and Peter, once safely on the train, whinged about how much fun we'd have together, and how it wasn't fair. James humored him, giving him sweets and telling him what lovely presents he had waiting in his trunk. It was all so childish that I nearly forgot about thestrals.

The Potters were very nice. If they noticed that Sirius tended to stand a bit too close to me, they ignored it. They even gave the three of us some time alone every few days while they went out visiting. It felt a little odd, sitting in their drawing room a few days after Christmas, roasting chestnuts on the fire, admiring the tree, and choosing our next kill.

"It could be Regulus," Sirius said, as if he didn't care. Still, I could feel his leg tense behind my shoulders as he waited for a response. He was taking up all of the sofa, and I was leaning back against him. James had left his regal spot in the wingback chair to tend to the chestnuts.

"Has he done it, then?" James asked.

Sirius shrugged. "Dunno. It's just a matter of time, right?"

"Won't do," I protested. "It needs to be people who are really involved and causing damage, not just mouthing off."

Sirius shot me a grateful look, but that didn't keep him from arguing. "No one at school is really doing damage -- not while they're there, anyway. They're just going to when they leave."

"Or now, maybe." James shook the covered pan emphatically.

"We managed damage at school," I pointed out. Someone had to say it.

"But no one is missing that we can't account for."

"At school. There have been kills in Hogsmeade." And one of those worried me. I suspected that the last attack on Hogsmeade residents was in retaliation for our killing of Avery.

"You know what would be brilliant?" Sirius asked dreamily.

"I suspect you're about to tell us."

"If we could get someone important. Malfoy, for example."

I twisted to look at him. "Lucius Malfoy? Head Boy when we were in second year?"

"That's the one. My cousin Narcissa is engaged to him, you know. Regulus says he's very high up in His organization."

"Didn't think you talked to Regulus."

"It's from the quill."

Before Sirius had left home, he had charmed several quills that Regulus owned to link to one of his, so whatever Regulus wrote with them was written on a parchment in our dormitory, as well. Sometimes it wrote several pages before one of us was there to move the parchment, and so made an unreadable overscribbled mess by the time we saw it, but Sirius also had complete letters that his brother had sent to their parents or to his friends.

"Do you know how bloody well protected Malfoy Manor would be?"

Sirius smirked. "Against animals?"

Have I mentioned that Sirius is brilliant? He looked at me, then. "You should learn to be an animagus, too. We'll have more options if you can change at will."

It had taken three years for my friends to become animagi, but they had started from scratch. I had all their research and experience to draw on, and Sirius was fairly certain that I could do it in a year -- eighteen months, tops. I had my doubts. He tended to forget that we'd need to earn our livings once we left school, and I don't think he had any idea how much free time that might consume. Before then, we had N.E.W.T.s to study for.

N.E.W.T.s didn't keep the Free-Blood Guards out of action, though. Sirius and James, both naturally clever, and with all the poise of flawless arrogance, knew exactly how well they had done on their O.W.L.s, and judged (sadly correctly) that the N.E.W.T.s would be similar. They studied precisely enough to excel, and not a moment more. I wasn't that sort of intelligent, but I was experienced at studying, so I could do it efficiently. Poor Peter was going mad, stuck with the lot of us.

What was more of a problem was the atmosphere at school. Classes had no sooner started than the prefects were gathered for a special meeting. Apparently the staff had discussed the matter over the holiday, and come to some decisions. Hogsmeade weekends were not cancelled altogether, but all the third and fourth years had had their permissions for them revoked. Some older pupils were in the same state on the insistence of their parents. At the end of the meeting, McGonagall drew Lily and me aside.

"Professor Slughorn," she said, with a slight twist of her lip, "has made several rather pointed remarks about all the disappearances being children from his house. As such, he has asked me to tell my prefects to pay special attention to any suspicious activities."

I looked confused. "But no one's gone missing from school."

"Exactly what I think. Well, the poor Snape boy, of course, though knowing his predilection for trouble, I suspect he strayed out on his own, and then met with it. However, I must honor Professor Slughorn's request: please be attentive."

We both murmured our consent, and I flatter myself that we sounded equally sincere. I even relayed the message to the fifth and sixth year prefects on my side of the tower, although perhaps more lightly than the professors had intended.

Under the circumstances, we weren't going to rush the next job, but we did spend a bit of our time refining our list of possible targets. James said the best possible circumstances for disposal would be an unseasonably late snow, repeating our last trick with the deer, but I reminded him of the spring migration, and also of a spell I had found to turn flesh to salt, which might be dissolved. We had options.

We also had options when it came to a target. Slytherin still had one seventh-year and two sixth-years who bragged about connections to the Dark Lord. (There was also a fourth-year, but we didn't believe him.) We debated whether we should strike Goyle from the list. If we killed him, after Nott and Snape, it would leave only one Slytherin boy in our year. That seemed inadvisable, considering that the house connection was already being discussed by staff.

While that was under consideration, I started noting how Sylvester Rookwood, in Ravenclaw, had a habit of rubbing his arm where Nott and Avery had borne the mark. I began to watch for his reactions to announcements of attacks, and to Goyle's blatantly offensive comments about Muggle-born pupils.

"Rookwood," I said. "Put him at the top of the list."


"In Ravenclaw?"

"Exactly. We can't do another Slytherin -- it's too suspicious. And I'm nearly certain he's one of Voldemort's servants."

Peter, with a harassed expression, responded to a prod from James by saying he would check when he had time. Chastised, I pulled out my books and began revising. Sirius gave me an appraising look. When I glared in reply, he answered with a smile, rose, clapped James on the back, and murmured something about firewhisky. They were out long into the night.

The year after Sirius left his family, I spent a lot of time worrying about his future. As I saw it, he had expensive tastes and no work ethic whatsoever. He didn't consider his family to have had any money; compared to the Potters, they did not. Compared to mine, they were impressively well off, even if they did tend to waste it all on trappings of greater wealth. As their heir, he had a buffer zone; without that, I wasn't sure what he would do. I tried to scold him into studying and get him to think about careers, but he just laughed and told me not to worry.

"If it gets too bad, I can always eat rabbits. Something will come up."

He didn't ask what I was going to do; everyone knew I had no prospects, no matter how many N.E.W.T.s I took.

March was nearly over by the time that Peter finally reported on Rookwood. He confirmed my suspicions, but it took him a week of surveillance, and by then all of Ravenclaw tower was up in arms about rats. "Their traps won't catch me, of course," Peter said, "but I'd better stay clear of them anyway."

"That's fine," James said. "We can't do jobs too close together. So how do we take him?"

"Do we know if he's still planning to go to Hogsmeade at the weekends?"

"That's a problem," I pointed out. "A lot of Ravenclaws don't, especially in the second half of exam years."

"But...." Peter began. He stopped, as if uncertain if it was worth continuing.

Peter, oddly, was most likely to do that when he'd thought of something especially clever. "Yes?" I prodded.

"Well, if he's serving, well, You-Know-Who, won't he need to leave? When he goes to do things, I mean?"

"If he does," James argued. "He might not be expected to, during school."

"We can use the map," Sirius pointed out.

We had a map, you see, that we had made of the school, and it listed not only places, but the people moving around in them. We'd figured out a way to set alarms on it, as well, so if a particular person crossed a particular line, the map would unfold. That was only good outside class hours, of course, and we'd only done it for Snape, Filch, and McGonagall, previously, but there was no reason we couldn't put an alarm on the two entrances -- or, more importantly, exits -- to the castle, so that the map would unfold if Rookwood crossed them. All we needed was a strand of his hair. Ravenclaw Tower, unfortunately, was still in an uproar about the alleged rat infestation. It took two weeks to get the hair, and then we needed to wait.

"So what do we do," Sirius asked, "when we get him? Birdseed again?"

He was lying in bed -- my bed, which seemed rather pointed. I was pretending to ignore him, but he had the trick of posing to display his striking good looks to best advantage, and I couldn't help glancing over when he spoke.

"That or fish, I suppose," James said.

"Maybe we could feed him to the thestrals," Peter contributed, sounding excited at the prospect.

I sighed. "I think we better leave a body."


"We're going to get him when he's sneaked off the grounds, right? If he just disappears, he'll have disappeared from school, and students are likely to be investigated officially. We don't want that."

Sirius grasped the idea immediately. "So we need there to be a body -- or at least part of one -- outside the school, so they know where he was killed."


"But they could check our wands!" Peter protested. "If they have the body, and they know what spell killed him --"

"I could do it," Sirius volunteered. "As Padfoot, I mean. If he's killed by a dog, and the tracks vanish into the Forbidden forest...."

"They'll say it was a werewolf."

"So we won't do it if it's a full moon," Sirius promised. "Oh come over here, Moony, and lie down with me. You're as skittish as a rabbit with all this studying."

"Poofs," James said, without malice, as I stepped slowly towards the bed.

"I've had more of our year's girls than you have, Prongs," Sirius retorted, in equally good humor, reaching for my hand. "I just know a good thing when I see it, whatever the variations in packaging."

"You have no discernment, you mean."

Sirius pulled me down and looked over me at James. "Something like that." His mouth swept over my hair. "Or he doesn't," he whispered.

"Brooms," James said.


"I'll fly. If we're too close to school to Apparate, you can ride behind me for a bit, so they don't see your footprints change."

Rookwood left the school twice when the map was unmonitored. It was over a week into May, when I heard a rustling noise and looked up from my Arithmancy studies to see the parchment unfolding.

Across the room, eyes met. I watched James end at Sirius, and smile.

"Tally-ho," he said softly.

As a pack, we tumbled out of our seats, each darting this way and that for a few essentials. For my part, I snatched up some Magic Mist bombs and the map itself. In a few seconds, we were out the door, moving with a rapid stealth born of years of practice. As a prefect, with some late-night entitlements, I went openly, Peter riding in my sleeve, while James and Sirius followed under the stretched invisibility cloak. We left by the short tunnel so as to avoid the door. When we emerged by the greenhouses, Rookwood was still on the map, accompanied by another label, L. Hutchinson.


"Ravenclaw girl," Sirius said absently. "A bit heavy, but nice tits."

"You mean he's just courting?" Peter exclaimed, disappointed.

I shook my head, pointing at the map. "They're walking awfully fast for that."

James agreed with a quick nod. "You lot follow; I'll grab a broom and catch up. Don't attack until he's alone."

He passed the cloak to me -- it's not all that effective on a broom -- and Sirius and Peter took their animal forms. The more I thought about it, the more value I saw in learning to do that as well. I'd managed to incorporate some of the introductory exercises into my Transfiguration revision, but I was still a long way from trying the real thing. Sometimes I wanted to dump the whole idea, as well. What if my animal form was something embarrassing? It would be just my luck to end up as a sheep.

Scooping up Wormtail, I hurried after the great black dog as he broke into a trot, heading across the lawn towards the gates. He had a point, I decided. Rookwood and Hutchinson were skirting the forest, but that was probably just for cover. If Rookwood really intended to leave the grounds, his first goal would be the gate.

Indeed, when we reached the great rhododendrons that flanked the entrance, the map showed us that the two Ravenclaws had just turned in our direction. While they were still out of sight, we took cover in the deep shadows of the tree to the left. Wormtail darted away and was lost to sight. Padfoot crouched beside me, and I trailed my fingers through the thick fur of his ruff. It was soothing to touch. I thought I saw James in the sky over the wall to the north, but before moonrise, it was hard to see clearly.

"Be as careful as you can, though." The girl's voice was pitched low, but they were close. "No one knows their enemies in times like these."

"Is that a warning, Lachlanina?" Rookwood teased. His voice grew more solemn. "I know my enemies -- anyone who tries to dilute Wizard culture, whether it's a Mudblood pupil like Lindsay, or a pureblood Muggle-lover like Black major."

"They don't always announce themselves, Sylvester."

"You do your part, Lala, and I'll do mine. Now you'd better get back."

I tried to watch both of them at once as she trotted back towards the forest, almost immediately vanishing into the deeper black around the rhododendron, and he paused for a moment, looking after her, and then turned and strode efficiently towards the gate.

He was just short of that opening -- and the chance of Apparating -- when a huge black form surged up from my side, barreled out from the shadows, and bore him down. Although they made no sound other than the thump of two bodies hitting the soft spring mud, there was a cry from the direction of the forest. It was quickly followed by running footsteps.

"Sylvester! Sylvester, wait!"

I drew my wand just as the dog raise his dripping jaws, but before either of us could move, we heard a shout of "Here!" from behind her.

The voice was one only us four would recognize -- how Peter sounded after a particular potion -- and the meaning was also peculiar to the Marauders -- run, it meant. That may seem counter-intuitive, but it was a signal that we had devised as second years. You see, if you shout "run!" anyone who is pursuing you, or even watching you, looks about for the people being warned. If you shout "here!" they look at you. Peter used it the most frequently, not because he was especially self-sacrificing, but because he could dodge behind a shrub and vanish.

It worked. The girl turned to look, and Padfoot darted into the blackness next to the wall. Even a very large black dog can hide quite well by starlight. I hit her with a Confundus charm, gathered the cloak around me, and then began to quietly work my way back from the scene.

I had just reached the cover of the trees when I heard the wailing from the gate.

Padfoot was sticky with blood. He rinsed off in the brook on the way back to Gryffindor tower, and I dried him off with a charm. Sirius was good enough at that sort of thing for practicalities, but not for show. When I was finished with him, you couldn't tell he had ever been wet.

The walk back to Gryffindor tower was quiet, and as soon as we got there, Sirius went to take a real shower. The rest of us got ready for bed and then sat in the dormitory, trying to think of what to say. Sirius returning was like a light turning on. He shook his head, splattering droplets of water on James and my Charms essay, and then pulled out some firewhisky from under his bed.

"Drinks all round, I think! And toasts." He'd already dumped the water out of the glass at my bedside and replaced it with a generous dram; now he passed the bottle on to James.

"Toasts," James commented, amused, as he cast a charm to steam my water out of the carpet. Peter was pouring now.

"Toasts, yes -- a toast to Peter for quick thinking!" He raised his glass, and we all followed, James with an overly dignified "hear, hear!" Peter flushed with pleasure. "And Moony as well, for his speed with a well-chosen hex."

"Do I get anything for pulling you out of there?" James asked.

"Hell," I said, over a laughing reply from Sirius.


"We didn't do anything about footprints going out."

Everyone fell silent. James got to his feet.

"Well, that doesn't need all of us to fix. I'll grab a broom, again, and fly out there."

"Not Wind charms," I warned. "That's as obvious as the footprints."

He saluted me with the firewhiskey and downed it. "Of course not. No, the whole area is going to be trampled by a deer, who will come from -- and return to -- the Forbidden Forest."

"Thanks, James," Sirius said warmly.

"No problem. Save me a drink or two, yeah?"

He slipped out, and we were quiet again, although it wasn't quite as strained.

"I hope my Confundus was enough."

"Should have been. She didn't get a good look at me."

"I had her distracted at first."

"Yes, you did, Peter. That was brilliant."

Sirius and I looked at each other. I think it was supposed to be about Peter's need for reassurance, but honestly, I was thinking more about stripping Sirius down to his still-damp skin. Sirius gave me a wink and topped up Peter's glass. We crept away as soon as he nodded off.

Despite the stress-relieving nature of activities with Sirius, I hardly slept for worrying about what the girl would remember or have turned out to have discovered. It turned out that we were free and clear. My Confundus charm had caused her to turn her glimpse of Padfoot, crouching and bloody-jowled, into a sighting of a panther, and she hadn't managed to investigate in the dark, with the torn body right there. By the time Dumbledore and others of the staff had made it out to the site, James had done his job well. Furthermore, from what was left of Padfoot's tracks, they thought he had come from outside the gate, rather than beside it. Once again, we were safe.

We definitely were not doing anything else that year, however. All Hogsmeade trips were cancelled, and strict controls were placed on leaving the building.

"Which is ridiculous, really," James declared, waving an arm towards the window. "I mean, Rookwood wasn't supposed to be out there, now, was he?"

He was interrupted by Sirius bursting into the room.


I would have thought something was wrong, but he sounded delighted.


"My Uncle Alphard died! Well, not that I'm happy about that, really, but he left me almost all his money, and...." His excited words skittered to a halt. For a long moment, he just looked at me. "Um ... live with me? I mean, if you help me find a place, I'd -- You'd be welcome."

He had turned uncharacteristically red, and the last words were formal. I tried to absorb everything that would mean, from a roof over my head to not missing Sirius, to Sirius treating me like a boyfriend, rather than as a diversion.

"Sure," I managed. My voice squeaked slightly. James cleared his throat.

"I think I'll head down to the library," he announced. "Coming, Peter?"

We were not as kind to James about his budding relationship. A few days later, when we were coming in from Quidditch practice (that is, James and Sirius had been at Quidditch practice, and I had studied in the stands rather than the library, because the weather was too beautiful to waste, and Peter had been pretending to study in the stands, to show off that he was that close to James Potter) -- anyway, walking back, we met up with Lily Evans and a friend of hers coming up from the greenhouses.

"'Lo James," she said casually. "Want to work on that Potions project after dinner?

I looked at the others. Sirius and Peter were both looking almost angrily at James. I have to admit that James had told us that Lily was softening on him. However, since James periodically claimed she was, and it had never been true before, none of us had paid it any attention. They began chatting together about something. She even sat with us during dinner, nattering away at James about the project they had in mind, and N.E.W.T.s, and how good it was of Slughorn to give them extra brewing time.

Back in our dormitory, Sirius pushed James down to sit on his bed and glared at him.

"Lily!" he said accusingly. "When did that start?"

"I told you she was softening!" James retorted. He was too amused to be really angry.

"No offense, mate, but you've been saying that since the fifth year."

"Ah, but this year, we haven't had Snivellus around, and I've caused so much less trouble. She appreciates how I've matured." He raised his head with haughty dignity, and then ruined it with a smirk. "She's quite sweet, really."

"And if she ever finds out what trouble you've actually caused, we're all doomed," I said sharply.

"Then she better not find out, right?"

"You can't count on that," Sirius interjected.

I sighed. "He's right, James. Lily is Head Girl -- the top of our class. If you want to study with her or snog her, that's fine, but don't let it get anywhere near full-time. She'll figure it out. If she even sees your animagus form, she'll figure it out -- the deer tracks around our last job were noted."

"I'll be careful," James said, but his jaw was set in its most stubborn line. "But I will have her."

"Have her as much as you want." Sirius stepped back, his head still high with anger. "But you don't keep her."