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 03 - Freedom and Strife

Chapter Summary:
Out of school, the Free Blood Guards can do more, but James still wants Lily, and Sirius has his eye on a major target -- whatever the price.

3 -- Freedom and Strife

The rest of the year focused around N.E.W.T.s. There was one spot of trouble after the Charms practical, when Goyle called Lily a mudblood and told her she wouldn't last a month away from school and her doting professors.

"We're taking him out," James said angrily.

It had been an hour since the actual slur, but no one needed to ask for clarification. We had just arrived back at the dormitory, so it was really the first opportunity for James to say anything.

"No," I said.

"Why not? The last week of school -- we won't be here anymore!"

"And if he gets killed on the grounds, and no one gets killed next year, then what?" Emboldened by fear, I advanced furiously on James. He tensed back in surprise. "Then they know it was a seventh year! There are rules outside school you know. They don't have Filch, but they have Aurors. You have heard of them, right? Four convictions for murder will get you worse than a week's detention."

James looked ready to respond furiously, but Sirius flopped theatrically down on his mattress, with such force that his bedcurtains waved in the outward push of air. All eyes went naturally to him.

"We'll do it," he declared, "but after we leave school. No harm in waiting, James -- and he's the one that won't last a month."

Actually, it took a little more than that. Sirius had arranged to rent a room in the Leaky Cauldron for the two weeks after school -- the pub was quite full of classmates who had had the same idea -- and from there, we went househunting, often spending all day on it. We thought it took a long time, though in retrospect, we were lucky to find a place as quickly as we did. Ten days after leaving school, we -- well, Sirius -- bought a cozy little house in Hunterdale, a Wizarding settlement in the Mendip Hills. It was a long way from both London and the Potter estate, but there were plenty of places in Diagon Alley -- including the Leaky Cauldron, of course -- that didn't restrict the use of their grates to customers. I had no doubt that we would have more than our share of pints at the pub, by way of passing through. The purchase used less than half of Sirius's inheritance, and mine, although much smaller, was not negligible, so we found ourselves well set up, for the short-term. Sirius declared that he would look for a job in the autumn, when the summer glut was over, and I pretended to believe him. We spent a week alternately cleaning vigorously and lounging about on the mattress on the floor that was serving us as a bed. It wasn't until the fourth week that, having invited Peter and James over for a housewarming dinner, we finally began to plot Goyle's demise.

James, at least, had been thinking about it. Of course, he was back on his parents' estate, with homecooked meals and a house elf to pick up his clothes, so he had plenty of time. He showed up with a sheaf of parchment, which with a tap of his wand and a whisper of "confusion to our enemies," turned into notes.

"Here," he said, handing them out. "Goyle is back with his parents, and that place is dangerously heavily warded. However, he works in Wales, at a remote farm that breeds Welsh Greens for steak and potion components...."

It was a lot less complicated than Rookwood. Goyle -- in the form of a fat ram -- fed a Welsh Green the next week, and the Free-Blood Guards were back in action.

"Parkinson, then, leaving his night at the club. How about this week?" It was almost a year later. Sirius and I still didn't have jobs -- deliberately, on his part. By my calculation, we could handle another five years of that, if he didn't buy anything else like the motorbike. That gave us time for other things, such as monitoring possible Death Eater targets. We usually didn't have the force to counter-attack, but I'd found a very good tracking spell, and we could frequently take the bastards out during the following week. You would have thought we'd have made some dent in the forces of the rising Dark Lord, but there seemed to be a limitless supply of people willing to be his servants. At least more of them were now inexperienced and poorly protected.

James put down his wine and shook his head. "Can't, I'm afraid. I have a date with Lily."

Sirius looked sharply at him. "You're still seeing her?"

"Ease off, Padfoot. I'm keeping it casual, just like you said."

I didn't believe it. James doesn't know what "casual" means. Sirius could see a girl for a year and not lose anything to her -- James couldn't. James shifted uneasily.

"Are you getting anywhere on the animagus transformation, Moony?"

Sirius went along with the subject change. "He's ready. He just keeps putting it off."

At which point, I had to try, because Peter was getting that gleam in his eye, and I knew I would be taunted mercilessly until I did it. I stood up.

"Good time," Sirius said. "Easier after a glass or two."

I hesitated.

"He means it," James put in. "Not drunk, really, but about like you are now. You could Apparate, right?"

I could. I nodded.

"More to the point, you could turn a log into a roman couch." Sirius had a way of working too much information into any comment. Peter made a contrived gagging noise. "So go ahead."

Apparently, I needn't have worried about being a sheep. Perhaps the wolf was worked too deep in my self-image for me to be anything else. I didn't know what I was at first, of course, just that I had had sharp teeth and long fur and that my head was roughly at crotch-level to my mate.

"Oh, pretty!" James exclaimed.

"I knew he'd be sweet." Sirius laughed and changed.

I wasn't thinking entirely normally, but I did understand. I hated when they treated me like a girl. Yes, I wasn't as macho as either of them, but that didn't mean I needed to take being called pretty. Confronted with Padfoot, who was a good head taller than my new form, I bared my teeth, but he just whined ingratiatingly, wagged his tail, and moved into sniff me.

It was too much. With a sharp yelp, I twisted around and mounted him. It wasn't sex, really -- just pure dominance. (To my chagrin, I later discovered that real wolves don't use mounting that way, so I couldn't blame my actions on unaccustomed biology. Fortunately, none of the others ever bothered to research the matter.) I bit his thick ruff, pumped against him twice, and then dropped back, growling. The dog crouched in front of me, and licked up at my mouth.

"Oh, so it's like that, is it?"

"Hey," said a second voice. "Remus. Remus, change back. You need to speak to me."

I didn't think I really did need to speak. I focused on the dog, again, but he turned into a man.

"Yes, Remus," he said intently. "You need to talk. You need to be a man, now. Come on, Remus."

"Oh, I don't know," said another voice. "I think I could stand to watch you two fuck, like that."

I changed back, glowering, and Peter laughed. "Hard to remember, isn't it?" he said, and I couldn't hold it against him. James and Sirius might have been hours coaxing me.

"God, you were gorgeous," Sirius said.

"What was I?"

"A wolf." James threw himself back on the sofa.

"Small though. And white. White the way a real wolf would never be -- as white as a show dog that's washed every Friday."

I supposed that made sense. My fur had never had a chance to get dirty. Sirius stood up.

"Shall we go to the Jolly Shepherdess for a pint? I think we should celebrate!"

We postponed the job for a week and didn't let the delay ruin our evening, but Sirius and I couldn't forget the problem of Lily. Our suspicions had been raised. We kept an eye on James, and found that he was seeing Lily at least once a week. The resulting fights were as fierce as they were soft, and they led to James being such a bear that Lily told him to go away and grow up. For the moment, disaster was averted.

In '79, a group of masked men broke the protections on the Potter estate, killed Mrs. Potter as she was mulching her roses for the winter, caught Mr. Potter as he charged out of the house to either avenge or help her, and then hit the house with Incendiary curses. That, at least, was the scenario reconstructed by the Aurors. James arrived home from a pint at the Wand and Cup to find the Twickenleys, a wizarding family from up the hill, helping to put out the fire, and Aurors firing off investigative charms around his parents' covered bodies.

We hadn't had tracing charms on the Potter estate. We probably should have, but we all, including James, tended to think of it as being the home of his mother and father, and they were moderate purebloods -- not supporters of Voldemort by any means, but not doing much to oppose him either. The Aurors theorized that James had been the real target of the attack. He had attended a fundraising ball the previous week, making the society pages of the Daily Prophet with a radiant Lily Evans on his arm.

"Nothing against Muggleborn witches," the leader of the investigation commented gruffly, "but these days, with You-Know-Who as powerful as he is, you need to be more circumspect. Have your lady friend come to my office tomorrow morning, and I'll send one of my people out to strengthen the protections on her home. If that was the motive, she's a target as well."

In the aftermath of the funeral, we ended up back at the Potter's estate. The manor house still wasn't safe to enter, much less use, but the summer house at the end of the garden was intact, and other mourners had brought food and drink. James had more of the latter than perhaps he should have, considering how little he had eaten in the past three days, and he began to rant about vengeance.

Lily, who had been rubbing comforting circles on his back, pulled away.

"You listen to me, James Potter!" she chided, an almost maternal crack of authority in her voice. "You are not to do any such thing! I won't have you joining some renegade vigilante group and running about with a lot of murderous thugs who are no better than Death Eaters themselves."

"What do you know about it?" James sneered. "Bloody girl. I've --"

"I met your parents! They wouldn't have wanted --"

Sirius, out of desperation, sent Calming charms at both of them, just as I cast a Sobering charm on James. He sank back in a wrought iron chair, his face in his hands.

"Please -- I can't talk about this now, Lily. I'm sorry."

Her stance softened, and Sirius, all charm and reassurance, ushered her off. I heard him saying something about letting James get it off his chest, and she was starting to nod as he escorted her from the room.

James cried.

"You need to break up with Lily."

It was a week later, and James was sinking into despondency. Sirius had him over to our -- well, his -- house, and had sat him down for a talking to, firewhiskey included.

"I can't."

"Of course you can! She's more trouble than she's worth." Sirius leaned forward. "Listen, James -- she will work it out. And there's no way to get her to go along. I think even if we involved her, she wouldn't."

"I know that, but ..."

"Then you know that you need to leave her."

James let a noisy breath out through his teeth. "She thinks she's pregnant."

Sirius wasn't pleased. He made a brief sound of sympathy, but his eyes never wavered. "James? My chosen brother?" He waited until James was fully focused on him, and he spoke very slowly and deliberately. "You give her a generous allowance, and you leave her anyway."

"But the baby --"

"Will get no good out of being associated with you. If we're ever caught, anyone close to us is dead." Sirius refilled their glasses. "Take your girls night by night, James, or find one who'll join us. Not Lily."

In the end, James did as Sirius insisted, and the next two years passed much like the previous two. In retrospect, the times that the four of us gathered to socialize between the jobs became steadily fewer, but it took me a long time to notice that. I had Sirius, and I was happy, really. If our breakfast table conversation sometimes involved hexes and poisons and ways past wards, that didn't make much of a difference. They were just tasks that we discussed as a couple, like some couples discuss what to plant in the garden.

In the summer of '81, Sirius picked up a pair of new friends. They were twins, named Fabian and Gideon, and they seemed to belong to a more reputable counter-Dark group, but didn't mind sharing intelligence. Not that they necessarily knew that they were. At any rate, plied with drinks and attention, they'd gladly give Sirius name after name of the people unofficially known to be behind particular attacks, and when some of those people were found dead, they'd raise a glass to the anonymous killer. It was useful.

That source brought us back to the matter of Malfoy -- now married to Sirius's cousin, much to his disgust. According to Fabian and Gideon, Malfoy was just as high up in the Dark Lord's ranks as the letters from Regulus had intimated, with his money furthering his master's goals by day, and his wand supporting them by night. For the first time in months, we had unanimous support for a target.

Getting in was easier than it should have been -- a surprising number of wards against intruders have no effect on animals, even animagi. By the time we were getting to things we needed to dismantle, we were within a stone's throw of the manor.

Our work, of course, raised alarms somewhere, but we had expected that. As soon as the barriers dropped, James and Sirius split to either side, while I continued straight on towards the door, and Peter resumed his animagus form. When the master of the house came out, wand raised, he was hit by hexes from both sides. The plan was that the first would weaken his Shielding charm -- if he managed to cast one -- and the second would take him down. It usually worked, but not with Malfoy. Instead of a Shielding charm, he cast a spell that propelled him backwards, into the house.

I was the closest. I immediately shifted form and shot off in pursuit, preventing him from closing the door. The others followed, Sirius baying like a hellhound, and Prongs striking sparks from the marble floors.

We brought him to bay in the ballroom. I think he'd hoped to get through to the smaller room beyond, but Prongs cut him off. I changed back just as he turned, wand already sweeping through the air.


Peter had him. I stepped forward, just a hex came angling downward from the side and sent Padfoot flying. I whipped around. A statuesque blond woman was standing on the stairs. Instantly, I sent off a Stumbling hex that brought her tumbling down the long sweeping staircase towards the marble floor of the ballroom. She had a young child in her arms, and he screamed as she pulled him down, and then let go of him on the first bounce. On the second, he was suddenly floating, and then James was running past me. He pulled the child close. Not unwisely, it kicked and flailed, but it couldn't have been all that much over a year old, and James could easily hold it.

I looked around. The lady had cracked open her head, and probably broken her neck, besides. It was a messy death, but it would do. Someone, probably Peter, had slit our target's throat, so that was good. The problem was this child, which James looked determined to protect. I'd never known James to show any affection to infants before. As I watched him walk carefully down the staircase, I wondered what on earth had got into him. He was holding the thing and cooing.

"There, love, there. It will be all right."

I didn't think it would be. Both of the child's parents were dead, and though he was too young to understand that, he was old enough to understand that his mother wasn't holding him, and that he had been hurt, and he was probably still animal enough to know that the sharp scent of blood in the air was bad. Watching James gaze at him with a mixture of longing and sorrow, I suddenly understood. Lily's child -- his child that he had never met -- would be about this age.

Sirius was there, apparently not significantly injured, and speaking quietly to James. "Sorry, mate. We need to kill it."

"No!" James pulled the child closer and drew his wand. "No. It's just a baby."

"A baby that saw all of us. The Aurors can get at his memories you know." Sirius took on a coaxing tone. "Come on, James. He'll be miserable, anyway."

"Better than dead!" James raised his head. "I'll Obliviate him, and we can leave him here. This place is sure to have a house elf or four -- he'll be found before he starves."

It wouldn't work. I knew it wouldn't. Obliviation isn't reliable on infants before the age of speech; it's something about the organization of the brain. It was clear, though, that James was adamant about not killing him.

"Fine," I said, sending Sirius a warning look. "Make it good."

While James Obliviated the baby, I hastily transfigured a cot for him. Sirius, meanwhile, had started to search through drawers in the adjoining room.

"Sirius!" I called.

"I'm finding things. There's this portkey --"

"Elves, Sirius -- let's go!" Leaving the baby crying in the cot, we headed out to the lawn, to Apparate home. At least, that was what we were supposed to do, and I suppose the others did do. I apparated across the garden, into the shadow of a wall, and waited for them all to be gone. When the coast was clear, I jogged back inside.

The baby was really lovely. He had fallen asleep in the few short minutes I had been gone, and he was a sweet little thing, with pale blond hair and round cheeks. I cast an Anesthetic Charm on him, picked him up, and snapped his neck.


I did feel rather awful about it, which took me by surprise. I didn't usually mind killing people -- of course, the people I killed where usually killers themselves. I didn't throw up, at least. I took the body and laid it by the lady, and then I apparated out. I expected that Sirius knew what I was doing as soon as I didn't show up at home, but we needed to discuss it anyway. And a drink wouldn't hurt.

We were woken by James thundering up the stairs to our bedroom.

"SIRIUS!" He was standing in the doorway, his face crimson with rage, dragging at the stained carpet with one foot, like Prongs about to charge. In his hand was the morning paper. I pushed the covers out of my way.

"Don't yell at him, James. I did it."


I held his eyes as I got out of bed and pulled on last night's trousers in an attempt to feel less vulnerable. Unfortunately, I could still smell perfume and baby on them. "It needed to be done."

"He was a baby!"

"A Death Eater's baby," Sirius said, joining me in standing. He didn't seem to mind being naked. "Why wait fifteen years?"

"More to the point," I interrupted, "Obliviation is unreliable on infants."

James stepped back, shaking his head. "You maniacs," he said, his voice unsteady. "When did you become such heartless bastards? How did I not notice?" He sounded on the edge of hysteria. Sirius stepped forward and caught his arm.

"Listen, James," he ordered. "That boy got a good look at all of us, and unless you wanted to turn his mind to mush, there would still be a good chance that an Auror with the right training could pull those images out. You can risk yourself ... but not the rest of us."

The color drained from James's face, even as the lines of it hardened. For a moment, he took in small gulps of air, working at words. "I want out," he said flatly. Now that he had managed to speak, the words were hard and deliberate. "I'm out of this, and I'm finished with you, understood? I'll keep your secrets, but I'm not doing this anymore. I'm done."

With a wrench, he pulled free of Sirius's hold and apparated out before we could even begin to argue with him. In the wake of his departure, Sirius stood in the center of the room, his hands clenched into fists, in absolute silence. I went and used the toilet; Sirius joined me in the shower. Before I could even wet the soap, he turned me towards the wall and started a rough fuck. I didn't mind; I felt about the same. We didn't speak until after breakfast.