Unofficial Portkey Archive

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban by hermy_madness

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban


The Man Behind the Mask

Alice blinked. Whatever she had been expecting it hadn't been that.

"But that's impossible," Hermione piped up in quavering tones. "Peter Pettigrew's dead, he killed him; there was a whole street full of witnesses!"

"Who didn't see what they thought they saw! Peter never died that day; that would have taken too much back-bone and commitment. No, he scurried away like the traitorous rat that he really is." The level of hatred that this statement brought to Black's eyes terrified Alice and it was that, more than anything else that had been said or she had seen that evening, that convinced her Black was telling the truth, or at least he believed that he was.

"Let me show you," Black repeated. Pleading with Lupin now. For one breathless moment the children watched their professor as he stood, Scabbers biting and scratching so frantically in one hand that Alice realised he was drawing blood. Finally, after an eternity, Lupin nodded.

"Together then;" he moved so that Scabbers, or Pettigrew if that was indeed who it was, hung suspended by his tail between them. As both men turned their wands on the creature it emitted a shrill squeal and attempted to escape one last time by climbing up his own tail. An odd light had entered both of their eyes, Alice noticed. It was neither manic as Black's had been earlier, or sombre as Lupin's had, but full of a grim determination and an energy which she assumed could only come from the fact that for the both of them they were dealing with unfinished business here. "Three," Lupin began to count down.



There was a terrific bang and flash of blinding light. Alice felt rather than heard something heavy hit the floor nearby. Blinking to clear her vision she saw something that she had half suspected that she would- although this didn't make it any less of a shock. Sitting curled up in the middle of the room, looking bedraggled, crumpled, filthy and disorientated was a man who would probably at one time have been inclined to be chubby, but now had the sunken and saggy look of someone who has lost weight rapidly. Unsurprising considering the fact Scabbers, or Peter for there was no one else it could be, had been ill all year. An illness which made sense now that his true identity had been revealed. Doubtless he had heard that Black had escaped and had been worrying himself to death about it all year.

"Hello Peter." Lupin's carefully controlled voice cut through the stunned silence in the room. Even Black seemed slightly surprised that he had been right all along; as though he had not expected the good fortune of being vindicated.

"R-Remus? Sirius? What -" The pathetic, reedy voice seemed to think the better of whatever it had been about to say. "My old friends -"

"Don't you dare." Sirius' low, even voice managed to be calm and threatening all at once. If even half of what he had accused Pettigrew of was true Alice didn't know how he could stand there so and not want to curse the rat, or man she mentally amended before realising her earlier description was probably still more appropriate even now, into the next life. His eyes had become fiery beacons burning in the hollow mask of his once handsome face. "Don't you dare call us your friends. Friends don't do what you did Peter."

"I don't know how closely you've been paying attention Peter, or how much you heard over all that racket you were making," Lupin too was remarkably measured, though he had turned even paler than usual, if that were possible, and there was a spark of disgust in his eyes, "but we've been having a bit of a chat. Catching up on old times as it were, and we got talking about the night that Lily and James died. If you don't mind I'd quite like if Sirius could finish his story. You see," he turned to the man standing next to him, "I must confess that whilst I can work out some of what happened, I still seem to be missing the full picture."

Black stared hard at Pettigrew for a moment before his dark, inscrutable eyes flicked up to Lupin's face and then across to Harry who didn't flinch away. After a tense moment he finally spoke, though his voice was strangely detached as though it was coming from very far away. "I was Lily and James' Secret-Keeper, but…" his eyes flickered momentarily, "but I persuaded them to change at the last minute, to use someone else. Peter. I thought there was no way anyone would suspect that he would be the one who…" An unearthly laugh bubbled to his lips, "but that shows how much I knew, how you managed to fool us all. Didn't you Peter? I must admit we didn't give you nearly enough credit." He exhaled sharply through his nostrils and Alice suspected he was struggling to control himself.

"What happened next?"

"That night, I was meant to check on Peter, but when I arrived at his hiding place, he'd gone. Yet there was no sign of a struggle, everything was just as it should be, too neat. I didn't like it so I set out for Godric's Hollow straight away, but by the time I got there… it was too late. I found the house destroyed, their bodies… I saw what Peter had done; what I had done. After that -"

"You went after him." Lupin wasn't asking a question.

"Then what happened?" Harry's eyes were narrowed in a pale face, weighing up all that he was hearing, refusing to believe anything until it had all been put before him.

"I caught up with Peter, cornered him on a street full of Muggles. That much at least was true. But he outwitted me that time, who would have thought it? He transformed before I could hex him into tiny pieces - so you see he actually prevented me from committing the one crime I was imprisoned for which I had actually intended. Ironic really. And because he cut his finger off before he did it, everyone thought he was really dead. Why wouldn't they? Half the rest of the street was, he'd seen to that."

Alice looked to see where Sirius gestured dismissively and sure enough saw that one of Pettigrew's fingers was missing. "You don't b-believe him do you Remus?" Peter's eyes flickered from one man's face to the other searching for an understanding that was not forthcoming. "He tried to kill me!" Alice noticed that he had rocked forward onto his knees in a pitiful display of pleading, it also didn't escape her notice that the more he tried to defend himself the more eloquent he became. "All those years - He killed Lily and James and then he tried to kill me; he'd have succeeded if I hadn't escaped! He tried to kill Harry here -"

"BE QUIET!" Sirius suddenly roared, looking more like the bear he had resembled earlier than at anytime since they had entered the Shrieking Shack. Pettigrew flinched and cowered against the bed behind him. "Don't even speak his name, don't say any of their names! After what you did -" Sirius brought the wand in his hand up to point directly at Pettigrew's heart.

"Remus! Please! Save me! I knew this would happen, I knew…" His pleading became incoherent as he pulled his head under his arms and curled up in a ball sobbing pitifully.

Lupin turned and put a restraining hand on Sirius' shoulder. "Wait." Black eyes darted upwards to look incredulously at him and Alice could sense Harry stir restlessly beside her. "Just wait," Lupin repeated. "I know patience is a lot to ask of you after everything that has happened, but wait just a little longer." After glaring at his old friend for a moment, Sirius finally relented with a frustrated sigh and lowered his wand.

"Th-thank you Remus," Pettigrew's snivelling voice rose up from the dust choked floor boards."

"I didn't do it for you."

"I knew," Pettigrew was muttering, "I knew, I knew this would happen."

"You knew Sirius would manage the impossible and escape from Azkaban to come after you?"

"The…" Peter was scrambling to build a defence, his puffy eyes darting wildly around the tiny room; it was enough to convince Alice of his guilt. She felt a wave of loathing sweep over her quite unlike anything that she had ever experienced before. It was because of this piece of filth that Harry had lived the blighted childhood that he had, been deprived of the family he deserved. " The D- He Who Must Not Be Named would have taught him tricks to -"

"Voldemort?" Sirius was derisive. "What's wrong?" he added when Pettigrew flinched again. "Scared to hear your old master's name? Admit it Peter, you were Voldemort's spy for months before Lily and James died," his voice was building to a crescendo again as he continued. Alice could see why he had been mistaken for a mad man, if he hadn't been before he went into Azkaban there was certainly a touch of insanity about him now. "You haven't been waiting for me to find you for twelve years, you been waiting for the Death Eaters to catch up with you. I heard things in Azkaban you see, they blame you for what happened to Voldemort. I'd almost be tempted to let them know where you are… almost."

Pettigrew was frantically shaking his head as Sirius' voice dropped to a whisper on the last word. Whether in horror at the prospect of such a fate or to still try and deny the accusation Alice wasn't sure, and to be honest she really didn't care.

"Er - Mr Black - Sirius?" Hermione piped up in a quavering voice. Alice was vaguely aware that she began asking him how he had escaped, but she was only half listening to the response she was too busy watching Harry. He was staring at the dusty floorboards with vacant eyes, his forehead furrowed, deep in thought. Processing everything he had been told was obviously a lot for him, but although he may not have realised it yet, or said as much, he clearly believed Sirius' story on some level at least, because his wand which minutes before had been trained on Sirius was now pointing towards Pettigrew. Now that she came to think about it so was hers, although she had no recollection of taking it out of her pocket.

"Right - well then," Professor Lupin's voice was abruptly businesslike once again. "I don't suppose that leaves much else to say then really."

Sirius glanced across at him and quirked an eyebrow quizzically. "Together?"


Pettigrew had obviously realised what was going on a second before Alice had because he suddenly launched himself sideways and tried to dive under an old piano in the corner of the room. Sirius and Lupin lunged after him and for a few seconds there was a flurry of dust and robes as the three men tussled, but his former friends were too quick for him, seizing onto his robes they dragged him out and threw him bodily back on the floor before them.

"Nice try," spat Sirius sweeping away the hair that had fallen in front of his eyes with one hand whilst the other raised the wand again.

Lupin's expression was stony. "Goodbye Peter."

"WAIT!" Alice swore later that she must have blinked and missed Harry move, because suddenly he was standing between the three men, his hands thrown out pleadingly towards Lupin and Sirius.

"Harry, what -?" Hermione took a step towards him and then seemed to think better of it, clamping her mouth shut and stumbling to a halt. In his corner Ron let out an incoherent whimper.

"What are you doing Harry?" Sirius looked at him in confusion. "It's because of that piece of filth that you've had to grow up without any parents."

Harry turned to look at Lupin who met his gaze for a long moment. "He's right Harry."

"I never said that he wasn't. But I know my Dad wouldn't want his two best friends to become murderers just for him." He threw a disgusted glance at Pettigrew whose rapid, rat-like gaze was flitting from one face in the room to the next. Their responses gave him no encouragement. Harry's next sentence made his face crumple and turn an unhealthy yellow. "Besides, the Dementors can have him."

"Noooooooooooooo!" An agonised wail tore out of Pettigrew as he threw himself prostrate before Harry, filthy fingers scrabbling at the hem of his robes. "No, Harry please, I beg you, I -"

"Don't you touch him," Sirius aimed a swift, sharp kick at Pettigrew's head which he only narrowly avoided, "I told you not to talk to him." Peter recoiled with a snotty whimper.

"Are you sure?" Lupin's pale eyes searched Harry's determined face for a long moment, then seeming to find himself satisfied with what he found there he nodded. "Alright then. If that's what you want."

Sirius puffed out a long irritated breath, clearly he didn't agree with the decision that had been reached. With twelve years in Azkaban behind him and having searched all year to find the pathetic excuse for a man now gazing up pitifully from the floor, Alice could understand his frustration. Still, she knew Harry had made the right decision. For a second there was silence as everyone contemplated what had happened. Lupin and Sirius still had there wands trained on Pettigrew, and now that Harry had determined they were no longer going to kill him, he had moved aside.

"Shouldn't you knock him out before you take him to the castle?" Alice forced herself to speak up eventually; it seemed no one else was going to make the suggestion. "To make sure that he doesn't try to escape again?"

"Good idea." Before anyone could make a move to stop or assist him Sirius gave a dismissive flick of his wand and Pettigrew's eyes rolled backwards in his skull as his body slumped sideways with a crash; the fact that his now unconscious victim's head connected sharply with the leg of a stool before reaching the floor did not seem to overly concern him. "Should have done that ages ago," Black turned to look properly at Alice for the first time since she had entered the room a transformative smile on his face that seemed to strip away the years. The minute he registered her properly however the expression froze and then gradually slipped away leaving him looking confused and haunted. He sat down heavily on the stool as what little colour there was left drained from his waxy complexion.

"Sirius…" Lupin's warning voice sounded from the corner where he was now tending to Ron's arm. "Sirius just let me explain." As their teacher straightened up, his gaze flicking with concern between his old friend and Alice, she found herself at a loss all over again; what was there to explain now?

"How…?" Sirius seemed about to point an accusing finger at her before seeming to think the better of it and leaving his arms to flap helplessly. "How can she be here? They all died… all of them, they all… Remus?" The way he sought clarity from his friend was so childlike that Alice almost felt sorry for him.

"Professor Lupin, what's he talking about?" Harry came across to stand next to her; everyone seemed to have forgotten about Pettigrew now lying like a discarded sack of potatoes on the floor between them. "Who died?"

Lupin seemed to be fighting some sort of internal battle, a range of emotions flitting across his scarred face too quickly for Alice to pick out any one individually. Eventually his gaze, which was ranging across all of their faces, settled on Alice and as he looked into her eyes she could see enough of his inner turmoil to know that whatever it was was causing him a lot of pain, but there almost seemed to be some pity in there too… surely not for her? What could that be for? "They don't know Sirius. No one's ever told them."

Alice was frowning now, her mind trying to sort through everything that was going on and only managing to conjure up a headache. Every time she tried to settle on a fact to reason it out it seemed to slip away from her, like water trickling through her fingers.

"But how… I mean she looks so like L-"

"Sirius!" Lupin warned again, but it came too late because just like that the dam burst and Alice's mind seemed to be swarming with thoughts. Everything that had happened that year, all the clues and hints, suddenly seemed to slot together like pieces of a puzzle.

The way Sirius was reacting to her now, the way Lupin had reacted to her on the train, Harry's aunt's fixation with her when they had met over the summer, the unfathomable looks she had received from Snape over the years. She understood exactly what had annoyed her so much about the photographs of Harry's parents. It had been so obvious now that she thought about it! Snippets of prior conversations seemed to bubble up from her memory all at once, clamouring for attention. Fudge speaking about Petunia's worry: "she even asked after your friend Alice here." Dumbledore's cryptic explanations to Harry: "Lord Voldemort murdered everyone in that house apart from you that night." His expression when she had owned up to being the one to find the journal. The Sorting Hat's observations on her very first night at Hogwarts: "Plenty of courage, but that's to be expected," almost as though it had recognised her somehow. Every time she had thought Lupin was about to say something and then had seemed to change his mind. Fred's innocent observation: "You have green eyes you know." And her own comments to Harry so long ago now: "Harry, sorry - do I know you from somewhere? Before Hogwarts I mean, you look really familiar." The screaming that only she and Harry could hear whenever Dementors got close, for Merlin's sake Harry had even told her he realised that it had been the sound of his mother! Why hadn't she worked it out earlier? If nothing else her last name ought to have made it blindingly obvious. The final line in the journal entry seemed to be playing on a loop round and round inside her head: at least his sister is better behaved. Could it really be possible?

"ALICE!" She felt a hand grab her arm to steady her as her legs suddenly seem incapable of supporting her weight anymore and the world began to spin disconcertingly. Blinking rapidly to try and clear her vision she sought out Lupin's worried and resigned face.

"Is it true?" He didn't need to ask what she meant.


A strangled sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob burst through her lips before she clamped them shut. Conflicting emotions raged inside her: joy, excitement, confusion, anger, grief, frustration - she hopped from one to the next without any control or logic. Slowly she turned to look at Harry who was still hovering protectively next to her with his arm outstretched in case she should need his help again. Harry who was always there for everyone and always got the raw end of the deal. Harry who right now looked so confused and clearly hadn't worked it out yet. And why should he have?

Abruptly her stomach felt the need to echo her roiling emotions and she bolted from the room before emptying its contents noisily over the banister.

"Alice, are you alright?" Lupin's voice was calm once more as it followed her out into the corridor.

"Yes," she croaked wiping her mouth with the back of her sleeve before straightening up gingerly. "I'm fine," she called back slightly louder. As ungraceful and out of character as it had been throwing up seemed to have cleared her mind slightly. She was still full of questions, but they were more ordered now. Squaring her shoulders determinedly she turned to face whatever lay ahead of her and walked back into the room.

"Will someone please explain to me what is going on?" Hermione was looking worriedly from her friend to Lupin and back again.

"I'm… that is Harry and…" Where should she start?

"Harry, she's your sister." Lupin finished the sentence that she could not. His words dropped, less like pebbles creating ripples on a pond and more like enormous boulders whose waves Alice could feel crashing around the room. With those four words she could feel that the entire fabric of all their lives had shifted irrevocably.

"My…" Harry shook his head rapidly, though whether this was a denial of the information or simply to clear his head Alice wasn't sure. She kept her eyes fixed on his pale face that, despite all the trauma he had already been through, still contained such innocence. "What? How? No… Dumbledore said that - he said that she died." He seemed to be refusing to look at Alice, as though to make eye contact and see her properly, see the truth, would be too painful for him. For her part Alice was still trying to make sense of things. She had no doubt that what Lupin said was true, after all what reason would he have to lie about it? And even if it had taken her a ridiculously long time, she had come to the same conclusion herself anyway. There were still pieces missing though, parts of the puzzle that she desperately wanted someone to fill for her.

"Actually he didn't," at the sound of her voice Alice turned towards Hermione. As she did so she caught sight of Ron, his mouth hanging open and his eyes flickering searchingly between his two friends faces as though trying to spot similarities, the unfolding drama in the room had momentarily distracted him from his own pain. "He didn't say that she died," Hermione continued. Despite the evident shock on her face she couldn't help but reason things out. "He said that everyone who had been in the house had died, we just assumed that your sister… Alice," she whispered the name before continuing "We just assumed that she had been there too."

"We all did." Black spoke for the first time in several minutes.

"So he lied to everyone?" Hermione's eyes flashed with concern towards Harry, but he seemed too shocked to be angry… for the moment.

"Yes, but… Listen I don't know all of Dumbledore's reasons for doing what he did, for not saying -"

"You've known since the start of term." Alice was surprised at how cool her voice sounded as she interrupted a teacher.

Lupin looked at her for a long moment a mixture of pity and an apology swimming in his pale eyes. "Yes," he answered even though it hadn't been a question. "And I'm sorry I didn't say anything to you, Dumbledore made me swear… I know that's no excuse, but I genuinely thought that it was best for you, for all of you."

"He always was devious," Black piped up again. Whether it was the shock of the situation he found himself in or the fact that Pettigrew was still lying unconscious at his feet and no longer a threat he seemed to be a completely different person to the mad man that had greeted them when they entered the Shrieking Shack. "If you want answers though, he's the one that will have them."

Alice hated to admit it, but he was right.

"But what about us?" Harry finally looked at her. Alice felt her stomach twist as she met those green eyes, so similar to the ones that had gazed out at her from the photographs. They had the same eyebrows she noticed suddenly, it fleetingly occurred to her that this was an odd thought to have at such a moment but then the brain had a tendency to do such things, they had the same arch before tapering off at an angle. She smiled tentatively at him. Her brother. The word sounded odd even in her head. "I mean," he elaborated, "what happened to us? Why didn't we know about each other…?" He stumbled to a questioning halt, not knowing quite what to say. What was there to say?

"You were - are - twins," Lupin answered. "I don't know why Alice wasn't in the house the night your parents were murdered, though I'm guessing Dumbledore does -" Hermione let out a loud snort at this, "we all thought she had been. The way he explained it to me was that he kept her a secret to keep her safe from Voldemort and any Death Eaters looking for revenge -"

"Yes, but surely he could have done that without lying to Harry about the fact that she had survived?" Sirius seemed quietly outraged all of a sudden. "Lily and James would have hated the thought that their children grew up without knowing each other." At his words Alice felt as though someone had sucked all the air out of her. Of course. It hadn't occurred to her, not fully anyway, that if she was Harry's sister then that meant that Lily and James were her parents too. Of course she knew that that was how it worked, but the thought just hadn't dawned on her yet. She had parents! Real, identifiable, nameable parents; she wasn't some anonymous cast off anymore, there was a family she could claim to. It was a strange feeling.

"Right… right…" Harry's brain seemed to have stalled. She didn't blame him it was a bit of an information overload; she was barely keeping up herself. "Right," he repeated again. "We should get him back to the castle," he nudged Pettigrew's prone form with his foot. "Sort out one thing at a time."

"I still think you should have let us kill him, he's not worth keeping alive and we only really need his body to - but you're right of course!" Sirius held up his hands as the four Gryffindors glared at him. "It was only a suggestion."

"Let's get on with it then." Lupin became businesslike once more and rolled back the sleeves of his robes. "Alice, would you be so kind as to give Ron a hand?" She nodded, glad to have something to keep her occupied.

"You alright?" Ron whispered as she stooped to help him up.

"Yeah," she nodded vigorously and forced a smile. "Of course." He didn't look convinced but the motion of standing had obviously jangled his arm again, which at this proximity she could see was evidently broken as well as bleeding, so he didn't respond and concentrated instead on keeping it still. "Can you walk?"

"Yeah, of course," he echoed her with a hint of a wry grin, although it quickly became a grimace as he moved again, "it's just my arm, not my legs."

In silence they waited for the others to shuffle out of the room ahead of them. Lupin in the lead, followed by Sirius who had Pettigrew's inanimate body suspended in mid air in front of him, then Harry with an ever present and nervous looking Hermione close behind him.

As she helped Ron move stiffly down the staircase she nodded towards Pettigrew who was now being propelled into a secret corridor Lupin had revealed in the wall - although not, she noticed, the one they had entered by. "Are you ok about the whole… Scabbers situation?"

"I suppose," Ron's lip curled up in disgust, or it might have been pain, Alice couldn't really tell. "I mean it's not exactly like I would have wanted my rat back now is it? I just can't believe that I kept that - that thing! That I looked after him all these years!"

"You didn't know."

"No." They lapsed into silence again, broken only by the muttering of spells as they all lit their wands to guide them along the corridor. This passage was very similar to the one they taken from the forest, although, if Alice was any good at geography, it seemed to snake back in the direction of the castle.

"Professor?" Harry called after they had been walking for about five minutes. "Where are we going?"

"Back to Hogwarts." Lupin confirmed Alice's suspicion. "This passage comes out at the bottom of the Whomping Willow."

The four friends stumbled to a halt. "Errrr…" Alice had to smile as Ron and Harry shared a panicked look. They knew only too well about the stroppy tree in the grounds.

"Don't worry," Lupin reassured them. "It'll be quite safe, I promise." Alice caught Harry's eye and shrugged, for a second it was as though nothing remarkable had happened in the past hour, as though their entire world hadn't been turned upsides down, then they both glanced away again embarrassed and unsure of what to say.

Instead Alice concentrated on helping a flagging Ron along the corridor and making sure he didn't either pass out, or bash his arm against the narrow walls of the tunnel. As they walked she also watched the back of Sirius' head, his matted mass of dark hair, considering everything that they had found out about him. She didn't doubt he was telling the truth. After all Pettigrew had as much as confirmed his story, and even if he hadn't there was something in his eyes when he had told them his story that Alice couldn't deny. Right now he was whispering to Harry, who in turn was looking up at him with an expression Alice had never seen in his eyes before. It was a mixture of hope and excitement and… she struggled to find the right word to describe it - longing possibly? It sounded soppy, but she knew family meant everything to Harry and as his godfather Sirius was the closest he would ever get to that now. Except for her she reminded herself. This sister business would take some getting used to, but every time she contemplated it her overloaded brain reeled dizzily away from the subject. She was rapidly becoming exhausted; it had, after all, been a very long day.

As they reached the roots at the bottom of the Whomping Willow and waited patiently for Lupin, who had somehow gone to stop the tree from savaging them, Sirius sidled past her friends and came to stand by Alice.

"Look," he cleared his throat and shuffled his feet awkwardly as once again she marvelled at the change in him, "I've just been telling Harry that I'm his godfather, though he already knew that, but Lily and James made me your godfather too. Anyway I was saying that the two of you are more than welcome, that is if you want, to come and stay with me, once this is finished and I get myself sorted out, it doesn't have to be forever, just over the summer, or longer if you want of course, not that I'm saying you have to you're probably perfectly happy where you are, it's only if you want and… well the offer is there."

Alice could hardly believe her ears. As he spoke she was aware that the biggest grin had spread across her face. It was so wide that she had to stop after a few seconds because her cheeks were beginning to hurt, once she had relaxed her face though it instantly sprang back again, she couldn't help it. "You mean the three of us?" She asked shyly. "Like a proper family?"

"Well," the corner of Sirius' mouth curled upwards in evident pleasure at her enthusiasm, "I can't promise anything, but it's a start."

"I'd love to." Leave the Home? Carol and the other women were kind enough to her, but she would have given her right arm long ago, and probably her left too if she was honest, to have gotten out of that place.

"That's it!" Lupin's voice rebounded around the inside of the tunnel.

"Well then," Sirius flicked his wand so that Pettigrew shot upwards through the opening in the earth, not seeming to be overly perturbed by the fact that his skull connected sharply with the ceiling, "onwards and upwards." With an elated smile she followed him. As she emerged into the grounds she was only just aware of the fact that the Whomping Willow was indeed somehow miraculously still and that the moon had risen, illuminating the imposing silhouette of the castle in the distance when suddenly Sirius threw an arm out in front of her.


She glanced up at him in alarm, moonlight reflected onto eyes that were staring straight ahead at Lupin who stood rigidly several feet away, himself staring at the source of the light.


"Everyone behind me now!" His tone brooked no argument and Harry and Hermione quickly scurried round, helping Ron emerge from the passage once they had done so.

"What's going on?" Hermione's panicked whisper was audible in the stillness. Alice glanced from Sirius' white face, she wasn't sure if it looked even paler because of the moonlight or if what little blood left in it had left completely, to her Professor, to her friends standing worriedly next to her. All looked as non-plussed as she felt, but there was a fear in their eyes too, generated largely by the tension radiating off of Sirius. Clearly something was very wrong.

Suddenly Lupin began to shake and tremble, his body arched and contorted as though something was causing him great pain. Alice began to make a motion towards him, but she had stopped even before she felt the warning pressure of Sirius' hand on her arm. Glancing up at him she could see that for the first time that night he was genuinely afraid and her opinion of him had changed so radically in the last few hours that she knew that it wouldn't be without reason. And just like that it all fell into place.

"Oh Merlin," she breathed, looking back at Professor Lupin in horror. Professor Lupin who no longer really resembled their kindly Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Professor Lupin, who couldn't seem to stand the light of the full moon. Professor Lupin, who appeared to be elongating and sprouting copious amounts of hair and teeth. Alice gulped.

"Oh," Hermione's voice was a high pitched squeak. "Oh my… he's a werewolf!"

As she spoke, Pettigrew, whose lifeless body had settled on the ground just beside them, let out a sudden moan as he began to regain consciousness. Sirius didn't even bother with magic this time he just pivoted on one foot and smashed his fist against the side of Pettigrew's head; eyes that had been fluttering open as he struggled to rise rolled back in his skull and he dropped like a stone. The damage was done however, the noise had attracted the attention of Lupin, or what had been their teacher; the beast that had replaced him snapped his head in their direction and glared at them with feral yellow eyes. A deep, throaty snarl ripped from between rows of dagger sharp teeth at least as large as Alice's fingers.

"Run!" Sirius bellowed. With a rough shove he sent the children spinning in the opposite direction and once again Alice found herself sprinting for her life across the Hogwarts grounds.

For several seconds she could hear the swift pounding of the werewolf behind them, then there was a thud and a pained, bone-chilling howl. Glancing back she saw that they have been granted a few moments respite due to the fact that Lupin's transformation was not yet quite complete. Elongated, furry head thrown back towards the moon, his distorted features twisted in pain, what was left of the man was becoming fully the wolf. Next to her Hermione faltered, looking back in concern at the sounds.

"Hermione, MOVE!" Alice and Harry, who had to pause in helping Ron along, grabbed her robes and propelled her forwards.

"Keep going!" Yelled Sirius as he caught up with them. "Get to the castle!" Alice would have time later to contemplate the amusing and ridiculous sight of Pettigrew skimming rapidly across the grounds, his toes brushing the grass, his head lolling to the side, as the five of them ran behind him; at least she hoped she would have time. Right now she was concentrating on staying alive. Another, more elated howl, sounding behind them told her that the werewolf was finished transforming. With a desperate effort she pushed her body, fighting against the tiredness, churning out every ounce of speed that she could from her legs. They were almost at the castle now, Ron leaning against Harry, doing an odd lopsided gallop, she and Hermione sprinting along with Pettigrew in front of them and Sirius behind. Abruptly he ignored his own command and stopped.

"Go!" He repeated when she wavered in response. From the corner of her eye as she turned back she saw his body morphing and shifting into the dog he had obviously been in the woods earlier. She didn't have time to contemplate it however as she was concentrating too much on keeping up her speed. Added to that she was nearly sent flying as Pettigrew, no longer under the force of Sirius' spell began to slump to the ground right in front of her. Thankfully Hermione was on the ball and resumed his duties, never breaking her stride as she did so. Alice once again thanked whichever fates were responsible for making that girl her friend. Behind her a torrent of snarling had erupted followed by the rhythmic pounding of paws on the grass; the howls receded, but she didn't dare to look back.

Mercifully it wasn't far to go and as they reached the castle they all sprinted up the steps and threw themselves gratefully behind a sheltering wall. Whether it had been deliberate on Hermione's part or not, Pettigrew didn't stop in time, slamming into the wall and sliding down into a crumpled heap on the floor. At this rate Alice doubted he would regain consciousness by his own volition any time this week.

Breathing heavily the four friends all gazed at each other for a moment before wordlessly sticking their heads around the corner almost as one and peering back towards the Whomping Willow. The grounds were deserted. The only sign of movement was the tree itself, now back to swishing its branches gently through the air.

"Where -?" Harry's question was cut short as an eerie howl echoed out across the grounds. Alice glanced around nervously, her short breaths creating billowing clouds in the cold night air. She could feel her heart still thudding in her chest with fear and exertion, each beat keeping the adrenaline pumping through her body. Where were they? Just when she thought she couldn't stand the suspense any more there was a disturbance in the tree line and a large animal came bounding out of the Forest. But which was it? Alice squinted to see more clearly in the moonlight, and sighed with relief as a huge black dog left the shadows and raced towards them. It was Sirius, and he appeared to be alone. Her relief slightly surprised her, an hour or two before she had been convinced he was a psychotic mass-murderer after all, although she kept a wary eye on the tree line as he leapt up the steps to the front door and transformed back into a man in one fluid movement.

"What happened to Lupin?" Harry asked looking earnestly at his godfather.

Sirius stretched and rolled his shoulders, readjusting to his body again, before answering. "Don't worry, I didn't hurt him. He's in the Forbidden Forest somewhere. I just had to draw him away and then give him the slip; make sure he wasn't going to hurt himself or one of you four."

"He's a werewolf?" Alice wasn't sure whether she was imagining the faint note of disgust in Ron's voice. She never had understood the odd prejudices and fears of the wizarding world.

"Of course, he's a werewolf Ron," Hermione snapped before Sirius even had a chance to respond. "What else could he be?"

"Does Dumbledore know?"

"Of course." Sirius responded as Hermione rolled her eyes with a muffled groan and mimed bashing her head against the stone wall. "He's known since Remus was at school here. But that is a story for another day," he made to roll back his sleeves in a businesslike manner before seeming to think better of it, but not before Alice had seen that his forearms were covered in a crisscross of fresh scratches. "We need to sort things out with regards to Peter here."

"We should take him to Dumbledore," Harry looked down at the unconscious figure on the floor. "While we're at it, he has some explaining to do." His eyes flicked up towards Alice and she felt her heart lighten as he smiled at her nervously before looking away again. Maybe things were going to be alright after all.

"Wait," Hermione glanced nervously back over her shoulder as Professor Lupin's unearthly howls echoed around the grounds, "Sirius can't just go stomping through the castle. We might know he's innocent, but until his name is cleared anyone that catches sight of him is probably going to curse him on sight, or at the very least call the Dementors. We need to get him to Dumbledore's office without being seen."

"She has a point." Sirius furrowed his brow as he gave the problem some thought.

Harry however reached straight for his coat pocket. "Don't worry, I've got the cloak you can use that."

"The cloak?"

"Yes, it's an invisibility -"

"I know what it is," his godfather cut in, "I'm just surprised to see it again that's all." He accepted the shimmering fabric from Harry gingerly and held it up for inspection, memories that they could only guess at played out across his face. "It's a long time since I've seen this," he whispered finally before swirling it around his shoulders and disappearing from view. Alice suspected this was partly to conceal his emotions from them.

"What…" Ron winced, "what are we going to do about him though?" He nodded towards the seemingly lifeless body of Peter Pettigrew, floating eerily several feet above the floor of the Entrance Hall.

"I'll sort that," the raw croak of Sirius' disembodied voice was a tad spooky in the dark hall. Alice felt a disturbance in the air next to her as he moved. "Celarium." As if from nowhere, the back of Pettigrew's dirty robes seemed to ripple and then, spreading out from the point where she assumed Sirius' wand must be, he became invisible. Well not invisible as such she reasoned, he was sort of there if you looked from certain angles, but she could see straight through him at any rate.

"Right." Hermione was brisk once more. "Are we all set then? Let's go see Dumbledore."

A/N: And there you go; finally the big reveal, hope you liked it and that it lived up to expectations. If it didn't I apologise, but this was always how I had intended to do it. Also Celarium vaguely means concealed in Latin, I realised there wasn't actually an incantation anywhere for a Disillusionment charm so as usual invented one. Hope you're enjoying it, please R&R!!!