"He's a werewolf, he has to be!"
Sirius and Peter looked at James with concerned expressions on their faces. "No offence James," said Sirius, "But that is one of the craziest ideas you've ever had. And that means a lot coming from me."
"He's right you know," said Peter, "It really is."
James sat back with an indignant expression on his face. "Really. Even crazier than the time I though putting Mandrakes in the girl's bathroom would be a good idea? Even crazier than the time I wanted to grow a forest in the fifth floor corridor? Even crazier than when I thought Lily Evans would actually go out to Hogsmeade with me if I asked nicely?"
"Although the one with the Mandrakes was actually my idea," said Sirius.
"Still a stupid idea," muttered Peter under his breath, too quiet for Sirius to hear.
"Look", said James, desperately trying to steer the conversation away from his own past failings, "All I'm saying is that it makes sense."
Sirius and Peter looked at each other and rolled their eyes. "Sure it does, James."
James, seemingly not hearing the sarcasm in their voices, or at least ignoring it, jumped on their comment with the ferocity of a rabid Kneazle. "Finally, you agree with me! There's just too much evidence to ignore!"
"Do you think we should humor him?" whispered Peter to Sirius, "It might be the only way to get him to shut up."
Peter carefully considered Sirius' response. The last three – no- four times he had said that, things had actually gotten a lot worse. The last time had culminated in a series of failed pranks that had gotten all of them detention for two weeks. The time before that was even worse, ending with Peter failing his transfiguration midterm and Remus being dyed blue for a month. But then again, they were in the middle of the Great Hall at breakfast time. It wasn't like anything could go seriously wrong. The worst that happened was that James made a fool of himself, yet again.
"Yeah", said Peter, "Can't hurt".
"So James," said Sirius in a much louder voice, "Tell us about this evidence!"
"Well", James proclaimed, loud enough that people sitting halfway down the table turned to look at him, "you know I have long suspected that there was a werewolf at Hogwarts!"
Peter gave Sirius a look that quite clearly said "Here we go again". He only shrugged in response. Maybe humoring James wasn't the best idea after all. Peter wished Remus was there. He had always been the best at dealing with James and his stupid ideas. Sirius just seemed to encourage James most of the time.
"Now I have proof!" exclaimed James, oblivious to his companions' exasperation. Most of the other students seemed to have turned back to their meals, much to Peter's relief. "I was walking under the cloak last night-"
"Wait a minute," interrupted Sirius, clearly hurt, "You went out with the cloak without us?"
"I wanted a snack. It's my cloak after all, I can do whatever I want with it," snapped James, his grandiose tone disappearing as swiftly as it had come. "If you're going to keep interrupting I won't tell you the rest." He turned away from Sirius, sulking.
Peter sighed. James could really be a prat sometimes. He would be in a huff for the rest of the day, unless he got to tell the rest of his story. Peter sighed, and then with as much enthusiasm as he could muster (which wasn't a lot), planted a fake smile on his face and assured James that they did indeed want to hear the rest of his story, and that Sirius would keep quiet.
"As I was saying", resumed James, with a pointed look at Sirius, "I was walking out under the cloak last night. I was feeling rather peckish, and wanted a midnight snack. I was making my way down to the kitchen, when suddenly I saw him standing at the end of the corridor. He was bathed in light from the torches, and it gave him a most evil aura!"
Peter rolled his eyes. James could be so overdramatic sometimes.
"I stood there, frozen in shock as he looked right at me, as if I wasn't even wearing the cloak! He must have sensed me with his animal instincts!"
"I don't think…" began Sirius, before Peter elbowed him in the ribs to get him to shut up. Thankfully, James was too absorbed in his daring tale of bravery to notice this interruption.
"We stared at each other for what must have been over an hour, his eyes boring into my soul, and me glaring defiantly back! After a while, he turned away with a chuckle, as if he had some evil plan that I was not yet aware of. He walked off, and knowing my duty as a member of Gryffindor, I tried to follow. However, I couldn't move. I was rooted to the spot by some powerful werewolf magic!"
"Powerful werewolf magic? More like he was too scared to move" sniggered Sirius. Peter would have reminded him to shut up, that they didn't want to have to deal with a sulking James for the rest of the week, except that he honestly agreed with Sirius. This was getting too ridiculous, even for James. There was no way the Board of Governors would ever allow a werewolf into Hogwarts like that. There would have been a huge outcry- literally, in the hordes of angry Howlers sent by worried parents. No one would believe that their children were safe while a dark creature stalked the castle grounds.
Coming back from his thoughts, Peter realized that James was still talking. "…could move again, so I decided to follow where he had gone. Silently, I made my way down to the ground floor, to the entrance hall where I saw the door had been left ajar. I said to myself 'James Potter, this is it! You can go back to the dorm and forget all about this and be safe, or you can step into the night, into danger and discover the truth!' Gathering my courage around me, I pushed open the door and stepped into the night!"
James paused. Peter was sure it was for dramatic effect. Taking advantage of the break, he stole a glance at Sirius who looked as though he might punch James if he didn't hurry up and get to the point of his story soon. Peter hoped that James would finish quickly too, or else they would be late to transfiguration for the third time that month, and Professor McGonagall would not be pleased. He really didn't want to have to sit through another three hour detention writing lines under the deputy headmistress watchful eye.
James had a terrible sense of timing for everything but pranks, so his 'dramatic pause' dragged on for 30 seconds too long. After what seemed like an age, he continued his story.
"So there I was, standing on the front steps of the castle, all alone except for the werewolf roaming the grounds around me. I was getting ready to explore further, when far off in the distance I heard howling. I knew then that the creature had sensed my presence, and that if I stayed, my death was inevitable. With this in mind, I made a tactical retreat back to Gryffindor tower."
"And then?" prompted Peter, who against his better judgment had become curious.
"That's it?" exploded Sirius. "I listened all the way through your stupid story, and that's it?"
"Sirius", interjected Peter urgently, but his friend brushed off his warning.
"I sat all the way through that story, listened to your ridiculous theory yet again, only to find out that you ran away after hearing a few howls- from far away. Howls, which I might add that could be made by any number of creatures from the Forbidden Forest!"
"Why did you listen then, if my story is so ridiculous", James yelled back. "Were you just patronizing me then? You think you're so smart, looking down on the rest of us because you're from the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black?"
"Listen up Potter," Sirius spat out, "If anyone here could be called an arrogant, conceited jerk, it's you!"
As the two boys continued yelling, Peter sighed and looked around the room. Where was Remus when you needed him? The calm, quiet boy was usually the only one who could make peace between Sirius and James when they got into a shouting match, especially if Sirius had called out James on his arrogance, or James reminded Sirius of his family.
Then like a miracle, Peter spotted Remus entering the Great Hall. He waved, and the tired looking boy came over to sit with them, casting a wary glance at James and Sirius as he did.
"How's your mother?" asked Peter, "Doing any better?"
"Wha- oh, yes … um… she's still sick and I'll probably have to go see her again in a few weeks."
"That's too bad. How are you feeling? You look a bit pale yourself- did you catch what she has?"
"No, no it's not contagious," reassured Remus hurriedly. "Probably just a bit of stress, we have our exams coming up soon."
He looked at James and Sirius, who had degenerated into insulting each other's grades, and then their looks. "What are they fighting about? It must be pretty serious, James just compared Sirius to his brother, and then Sirius accused James of having a crush on Snape.
Peter winced. There were some things that were too cruel, even for Marauders.
"I haven't seen them this mad since the Halloween debacle in our second year", continued Remus, "remember, when McGonagall- "
"Yes, yes", Peter hurriedly interrupted. "I remember". The incident had partly been his fault, and bringing it up now hardly seemed like the best of ideas. No need to give James and Sirius a target to combine their anger on.
"What happened", he continued, redirecting the subject, "was that James decided to tell us another crazy conspiracy theory."
"Which one?" asked Remus, with an amused smile. "The merfolk plot to kill the Giant Squid? Leprechauns in a secret alliance with vampires? Goblins being baked into pies?"
"No" said Peter, his voice laden with sarcasm, "His latest and greatest- a werewolf at Hogwarts."
Remus paled beside him. "R-really…I don't think I've heard that one before."
"Oh sorry Remus, I forgot you were afraid of them. Don't worry. I doubt there's one on the grounds. Sirius basically told him as much, but then James exploded. You know how he can be. Said he heard howls last night."
"But you won't believe the best part- the werewolf's identity. You see, James is convinced-"
Before Peter could finish, a loud shout from James cut him off. "You take that back Sirius Black!" Everyone still finishing breakfast in the Great Hall turned to look towards the Gryffindor table. "My theory is not insane, and neither am I! There is plenty of rational proof that Albus Dumbledore is a werewolf!"
There was silence. Peter could hear the sound of forks dropping, as well as some sniggering coming from the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables.
"He thinks Dumbledore is a werewolf?" asked Remus incredulously, looking somewhat relived.
"Ridiculous isn't it? As if they would ever let a werewolf near a castle full of students."
Someone at the Gryffindor table started laughing, loudly, and it wasn't long before others joined in. James looked more and more annoyed by the minute, and Peter was starting to become a little concerned that James would do something stupid.
His suspicion was unfortunately confirmed. "I'll teach you all to laugh at me!" yelled James, as he leaped on top of the table, kicking over Sirius goblet of pumpkin juice as he did. He pointed his wand toward the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall, yelling "Pluant Rosea!" as he did.
Suddenly, it began to rain inside the Great Hall. This would have been bad enough, but everywhere the drops touched, they left a long trail of slimy pink mucus. Peter winced. It would have be one thing if James had used it against the Slytherins, but unfortunately everyone in the Great Hall was affected by the prank. He noticed that some of the older Ravenclaws had managed to cast an umbrella type spell, to keep the pink rain away from them and their precious books. He tried to do the same, but unfortunately failed. Beside him, Remus had more luck, and cast the charm over Peter when he finished with his own.
"Potter!" Slughorn snapped, from his seat at the high table, "Detention! Tonight at 7:30!" Next to him, Flitwick was standing on a chair, waving his wand at the ceiling. After a few minutes the diminutive professor managed to stop the rain, but not before most everyone in the hall was completely drenched, as well as hot pink.
"Well, that could have gone worse," exclaimed Sirius jovially, as brushed the pink slime away from his eyes.
The sad thing was, Peter had to agree with him.