Flying without the Moon
Sunday 20 January 1980 – Sunday 1 November 1981
Ecclesall, Sheffield; Godric’s Hollow, Devon; Daventry, Northamptonshire; around Nottinghamshire.
Rated PG for yet more violence.
Alastor Moody saw no reason to arrive quietly when he was to be among friends. He pounded on the Plumptons’ door and, after Peter Pettigrew let him in, he thumped into the hall with a scowl and a growl, apologising for having missed lunch and grumbling about the Ministry of Magic. New powers had been granted to the Auror Division.
“As if it’s ‘in the best interests of the British public’ to have Aurors acting like Death Eaters! It took me six months to track down Karkaroff because I played within the law. And I think it’s taken all of three weeks to come to – to this!”
He tossed the morning’s issue of the Daily Prophet onto the dining table, and Remus read:
This is the year that Muggles are finally due to abolish their much-abused Sus Law (which gives Muggle Aurors the right to arrest criminal suspects even without evidence). It is also the year in which wizarding authorities have seen fit to introduce a Sus Law of their own, thus setting back the progress of wizarding society by about eight hundred years.
Bartemius Crouch, Head of Magical Law Enforcement, decreed last week that Aurors should be allowed to use “whatever means are necessary” to bring suspected Death Eaters to justice.
Yesterday a surprise Auror raid on the Wolverhampton home of Evan Rosier, 21, revealed a large collection of Dark artefacts and some suspicious-looking documents.
“That was good enough for us!” says Auror John Dawlish, 57. “We’d long suspected young Rosier of being up to no good, and this confirmed it.”
To a question about why the Aurors had blown up Mr Rosier’s parents’ house, Auror Dawlish only replied, “It’s sometimes necessary to blast places to winkle people out.”
Mr Rosier resisted arrest, shouting that he knew nothing about the Dark artefacts, and he threw several Stunning curses at the Aurors.
“We did warn him to come quietly,” says Auror Dawlish, “but he just threw an anti-gravity mist and completely disoriented Auror Proudfoot. So there was really no option except to kill him.”
Auror Dawlish threw the Killing Curse at Mr Rosier within seconds.
No charges will be pressed. Mr Crouch, 49, commented from his office yesterday evening: “This is the kind of difficult measure to which these desperate times have driven us.”
“Don’t see why they had to resort to killing,” said Moody. “An Imperius would have brought Rosier along to Azkaban nicely. Then a fair trial and a life sentence – how would it have hurt old Crouch to allow that much?”
“If it’s any comfort,” said James, “Evan Rosier was a Death Eater. I’m sure he had more than one murder on his own record.”
“I’m not comforted,” said Sirius. “I doubt the Aurors will always be so careful about only using their illegal curses on people who happen to be guilty.”
“Why are we fighting this war,” asked Peter, “if there’s no difference between what the Death Eaters do and what the Ministry does?”
“I’m not fighting for the Ministry,” said Remus. “I see a difference between what Death Eaters do and what Dumbledore does.”
Dumbledore called the meeting to order. “Now that we are all here,” he said, “I have to make a very grave announcement. Voldemort has new plans, and at the top of his latest hit-list are the Potters.”
Alice Longbottom, slightly green in the face from the rigours of her first pregnancy, asked, “Are you sure?”
“How do you know?” asked Sirius.
“I have my sources,” was all Dumbledore would tell them. No one really doubted that Dumbledore had long since posted spies to watch the Death Eaters; but it was an uncomfortable reminder that Voldemort also had spies watching the Order.
“I’m a Muggle-born,” said Lily soberly. “Professor, is Voldemort after James because of me?”
“No,” said Dumbledore, “that isn’t the reason. I’ll explain it after the meeting.” He looked around the room, from one Order member to another, almost as if measuring up each one of them. “What you must all understand is that James and Lily need to go into hiding.”
“But you need us to keep working for the Order!” James protested.
“We’re willing to take the risk,” said Lily.
“This is more important than your work for the Order, or even your lives,” said Dumbledore. “As I’ll explain later, this is about the survival of the whole wizarding community. The reason I’m raising it at a meeting is so that the other Order members clearly understand that all ties will be cut.”
“What! We will not be speaking to James and Lily any more?” asked Peter. “But they’re our friends!”
Dumbledore was implacable. “This is more important than friendship.”
Dumbledore found James and Lily a vacant cottage in the ancient village of Godric’s Hollow. He placed a charm on the building so that he would know immediately if anything happened to the Potters. James and Lily remained inside like prisoners, doing no further work for the Order of the Phoenix.
After a couple of months, Sirius told Remus that the Marauders had been cleared to visit the Potters. “Dumbledore has ascertained that the Death Eaters have no idea where they are hiding. But don’t spread the word – only their closest friends are allowed entry. Even most Order members don’t count.”
Remus and Peter paid a visit to Spencer’s Alimentation so that they could bring the Potters a box of groceries. Lily, whose abdomen had ballooned out to the size of a Diricawl, seemed placid and delighted to see them, but James was champing at the bit.
“No work, no friends, not even a safe place to ride my broomstick! I’m going to end up smashing down a wall if I can’t start moving!”
“Can you not wear your Invisibility Cloak as you ride?” asked Peter.
“Dumbledore won’t even let me risk that much. To be truthful, I have sneaked out wearing the Cloak before now, but it isn’t really safe. Death Eaters are everywhere. I just hope Voldemort changes his target soon!”
Voldemort did not change any targets, but he added new ones. By the time he had terrorised Britain for ten endless years, even the Muggles were complaining about high prices and unchecked acts of violence. The Ministry of Magic retaliated by tightening its own controls. Remus remembered one particularly dreary Sunday afternoon, in which the Order of the Phoenix spent hours and hours discussing a list of Death Eater suspects that Sturgis Podmore had stolen for them from the Ministry. Several of these people were certainly innocent, and the question of how to protect them from their own Ministry absorbed time that could have been spent discussing the question of protecting Muggles from Lord Voldemort. It wasn’t until the clock struck seven that Remus, Sirius and Peter were able to Disapparate to Daventry.
It was raining, and the full moon was due to rise within an hour. Remus, taking temporary shelter under a cherry tree, only wanted to race into the garage, but Sirius suddenly said, “Let’s not bother with the shed. Let’s be Moony, Wormtail and Padfoot tonight.”
Remus looked at the eager faces of his two friends and felt himself weakening. “But it isn’t safe,” he said. “What if the wolf jumps the hedge?”
“This hedge?” laughed Sirius. “Oh, no, I defy you. This is a neighbour-proof, burglar-proof, wolf-proof hedge, designed to keep us in and everyone else out.”
“Go on,” begged Peter, gesturing at the riot of rhododendron and lilac bushes spread over the five acres of lawn. “This is a fabulous garden for animals. And we cannot spend all our lives worrying about You-Know-Who.”
Remus hesitated a moment longer. They had been idiots at school, but this was a safely enclosed space. The next-door neighbours lived at such an expensive distance that even if they did see or hear anything, they would simply assume that young Mr Black had acquired a couple of dogs. And Peter really was nervous about something; he deserved some fun.
“All right,” Remus conceded. “If you promise you’ll keep me inside the garden.”
“Who’d be wanting to leave a garden like this one?” said Peter.
“It’s a pity Prongs can’t be here,” said Sirius.
“Do you think this baby is going to ruin everything?” asked Peter, for Lily’s baby was by this time already overdue. “James has become such a very married man. Do you think he’ll spend the next twenty years always shut up in Godric’s Hollow, bathing the children and reading their bedtime stories?”
Sirius burst out laughing. “No, Wormtail, it’ll be the other way round. Voldemort will be defeated, and then this baby will be the fifth Marauder. We’ll corrupt him early into the ways of mayhem and mischief – he’ll be an Animagus before he receives his Hogwarts letter.”
They shivered under the cherry trees for a little longer, and when that became boring, Sirius and Peter transformed. Remus sat leaning against the dog, with the rat in his hands, waiting for the moon to rip away his awareness of his friends.
That was one of the Marauders’ last adventures – adventures that didn’t seem the same without James. Lily’s baby was born four days later and, with nothing else to occupy their time, James and Lily became completely absorbed in parenthood. If little Harry ever became a fifth Marauder, it was only going to happen after the war ended, because as long as the Potters remained in hiding, the marauding spirit barely existed.
Their last adventure of all occurred a year later, on a night when Remus jerked awake to the sound of shattering glass. He sat bolt upright in bed, and found himself staring through the broken window into the maniacally-laughing face of Sirius Black.
“Padfoot, what on earth – ?”
“Sorry I startled you,” said Sirius carelessly. He was level with the upstairs window, as if he were sitting on a hovering Thestral – except that his mount was purring like a cross between a cannon-volley and a tiger. “Get dressed, and I’ll fix the window after you’ve brought yourself out here.”
“What’s going on?” Remus could see now that the “Thestral” wasn’t a living creature at all, but a huge motorbike. “What if the Muggles – ?”
“They won’t see a thing. There’s a new moon, and we’ll shortly be higher than the most interfering please-man cares to look.”
Five minutes later, Sirius had helped Remus onto the back seat of his contraption, and they were shooting up to the heavens faster and more smoothly than Comet’s newest-release broomstick. Remus tried not to feel sick as he held onto Sirius’s Afghan jacket while the wind rushed through his ears. The ground felt a million miles below him when he chanced a glance downwards – but it was so dark that he might as well not have looked. Finally, Sirius brought his bike back to a hover and agreed to light his wand.
“Ingenious machine, isn’t it? I saw some at a Muggle-bait that I intercepted last month, and I bought this at one of those Muggle show-rooms the next day. They call it a motor-triumph – no, a motorbike; the Triumph is the manufacturer. It accelerates from zero to 125 miles per hour in five seconds, and it has a five-speed gear box, a 750 CC engine…”
Remus managed to find his balance, perched in the sky in the middle of literally nowhere, and told himself that if he began to fall, he could Disapparate before he hit the ground.
“…MK Three carburettors, seven point nine to one compression to reduce vibration, eckeltronic ignition and eckeltrick starter, halogen lamp…”
When Sirius had exhausted his new words, Remus reminded him, “But I don’t think the Muggle ones fly.”
“Of course they don’t; I stripped down a load of second-hand broomsticks and re-applied their flight charms to the bike. It’s better than a broomstick, wouldn’t you say? James was about ready to give up Quidditch after I took him out on the Triumph the other night. Wearing the Invisibility Cloak, of course.”
Sirius chattered on about James and the motorbike for a while, then suddenly changed the subject. “Remus… Who are your friends?”
This was an odd question, but the glow of the halogen lamp didn’t allow Remus to see Sirius’s face properly. “Apart from you and James and Peter, you mean? No one much.”
“There must be someone… Who else is your friend, even a casual one?”
“If I had to name my fourth-best friend, I think that person has come to be Lily. Why?”
Sirius hesitated. “Because someone – someone close to the Potters – has been talking to an enemy. Dumbledore told James that someone close to him has a Death Eater connection.”
Remus jolted. “Padfoot, if you want to talk about such alarming things, can we go down to the ground?”
“Fine, we’re right above the forest.” Sirius sounded displeased, but he lowered the motorbike.
Breathing easily for the first time that night, Remus jumped off the bike, lit his wand, and asked, “What do the Death Eaters know about the Potters?”
“Too much. I’ve been combing my mind for what one of us might have accidentally told whom. Because aside from you, me, Peter, Emmeline and Dumbledore – who does know where the Potters are hiding?”
“Lily bonded with Alice Longbottom last year, but I didn’t think the Longbottoms knew where they’re hiding. Besides, Alice couldn’t… She’d never…”
“Of course not – deliberately. But I have been wondering how far I’d trust Frank. I don’t say I don’t trust him, only that I don’t know him all that well. You’ve worked with him, Moony – what do you think?”
Remus’s mind turned upside down at the thought that someone was not trustworthy. But some instinct made him say, “I don’t suspect Frank Longbottom – he’s always seemed decent.”
“I know,” said Sirius uneasily. “I’m not saying anyone’s deliberately playing double agent. Only that someone, beyond doubt, has spoken carelessly to someone else whom we only thought we could trust. If we discount Frank… Who are Emmeline’s friends?”
“She talks to Sturgis Podmore and Dorcas Meadowes. But I’ve never heard Emmeline discuss any person’s private business with a third party. She just doesn’t. What about Peter – he has a girlfriend, hasn’t he?”
“They broke up a couple of weeks ago. And she was a Muggle anyway – she wouldn’t have had Death Eater connections. While Peter’s mother…” His voice trailed off. They both knew that Mrs Pettigrew’s conversation was limited to whether Peter was wearing his gloves and had remembered to wipe his feet on the mat; even if Peter had spoken out of turn, his mother wouldn’t have absorbed what he was saying. Then Sirius spoke again. “Moony, I need to know – do you have a girlfriend? Or is there anyone at all whom you’re seeing… Order business, or anything?”
“No. No girlfriend, no friend who isn’t also a friend of yours, and no one at all with whom I’d have any reason to discuss the Potters.”
“You’ve been quite busy – tonight was the first time in two months that I’ve caught you at home.”
“I’ve been taking the Order paperwork to other people’s houses because I can’t concentrate at my own. The Plumptons’, the Longbottoms’, the Diggles’… anywhere, really.” He wondered why this simple explanation sounded hollow when spoken out loud. “No, the Diggles don’t talk about anything except their garden and Quidditch. What about you, Padfoot – are you seeing anyone apart from me and Peter?”
“Yes.” Sirius was plainly dissatisfied with the absence of clues. “Since you ask, I’ve been seeing Dorcas Meadowes.” He smiled faintly, as if a vision of Dorcas Meadowes could cheer the gravest situation. “She knows nothing about the Potters and nothing about motorbikes. Oh, let’s not pick any more of our friends to pieces. I’ve warned you to speak carefully, and we’re not going to learn any more tonight. Let’s get out of these trees and enjoy the bike.”
Remus tried to close his mind to the dangers of friends-who-weren’t, and even to the dangers of flying motorbikes, as he climbed back onto the pillion and placed his arms around Sirius’s Afghan. The engine roared, his heart flew into his throat, and the motorbike dived upwards into the stars.
In that dreary autumn, when it rained and rained and rained, Sirius was too distracted with worry to talk to anyone, and Peter was so nervous that Remus expected him at any minute to shatter like glass.
Remus Flooed the Potters to ask if he could do anything to help; but Lily said, with a slightly forced cheerfulness, that James was “too busy to come to the fireplace”. Remus sent an owl, but by evening no answer had arrived. Mystified, he Flooed Sirius.
“James can’t be contacted,” said Sirius briefly. “Don’t try too hard; you might endanger him.”
Remus was left with the distinct feeling that Sirius was cold-shouldering him. So he Flooed Peter to ask about that.
Peter squeaked, “But why are you thinking that, Remus? Sirius is just busy and frightened, like all of us! Nobody is cold-shouldering anybody.” And he began discussing Quidditch with such force that Remus was left feeling that, in a different way, Peter was cold-shouldering him, too.
The next morning, Remus tried Godric’s Hollow again – he knew that James would be out, but Lily and Harry were at home. Lily seemed pleased to see him, yet even she was evasive about Sirius’s strange behaviour.
“It’s nothing,” she said. “No one trusts anyone very much nowadays. The less everyone knows about anyone else’s business, the better.”
“Lily… is someone suspicious of me? What am I supposed to have done?”
She hesitated. “No, Remus, I don’t suspect you of anything. Do you want to hold Harry?” She passed the baby over, as if in pledge of her good faith. “But, Remus, someone… but something… However it came about, Voldemort knows too much. Dumbledore thinks there is a spy among our closest friends, someone who is on the point of selling out to Voldemort and betraying exactly where we are.”
“But that’s – ” It was a very small group of people who counted as the Potters’ closest friends. Once one ruled out Sirius (who was James’s shadow) and Peter (who couldn’t have betrayed a stray dog without plastering the signs of guilt over his every move) and Dumbledore (because the Order of the Phoenix still existed) and Alice Longbottom (who just could not have faked her devotion to Lily)… the shortlist looked very frighteningly short.
Emmeline Vance. Or himself.
Only it isn’t me, he thought. But it was hardly less absurd to accuse Emmeline. She might be somewhat cool and mysterious, but she had been Lily’s friend for eleven years; she had several times risked her life on Order business; and Lily, who was no fool, had always trusted her absolutely. Remus began to see why, with such a short list of suspects, the finger of suspicion might be pointing towards a werewolf.
He couldn’t even deny the charge; that would insult Lily, who had just acquitted him.
He shook himself out of the horrible thoughts. It must be someone else, someone of whom he had never thought as being close to the Potters, perhaps someone whom Lily herself had forgotten ever taking into her confidence…
He said, “Lily, what’s going to happen to you and James?”
“Dumbledore says we have to increase the security. Professor Flitwick has discovered an obscure spell, something called the Fidelius Charm, which should keep us absolutely safe. And,” she added ruefully, “absolutely imprisoned. Once the Fidelius Charm is cast, we’ll effectively be invisible. Even people who thought they knew where we were hiding… people like you… well… you just won’t know any more. You could look through our front window and simply not see us. The information will be hidden with a Secret Keeper, and not even we ourselves will be able to reveal where we are. No one can know anything unless the Secret Keeper himself tells.”
“Well, no one will think of you as trusting a werewolf. Do you want me to act as your Secret Keeper?”
She looked embarrassed for a moment. “I think Dumbledore will decide who does that.”
Harry stared at Remus with huge green eyes, and distinctly announced, “Moony!”
Remus was always glad he had made the opportunity to say good bye to Lily and Harry, for that same evening the Fidelius Charm was cast, and the Potter family disappeared into hiding. Sirius was Secret Keeper and he didn’t tell anyone where his friends were, neither Remus nor Peter nor even Dumbledore.
“It’s safer that way,” said Remus.
“Oh… yes, yes, of course,” said Peter. “It’s just that I – well, I’m missing them so much!”
It was less than a month later that Peter burst into Emmeline Vance’s drawing room, where several Order members were holding a breakfast meeting, and shouted, “They’re dead! James and Lily are dead!”
Emmeline dropped the minutes.
“And the Dark Lord is dead too.”
Madam Plumpton dropped the teapot.
“Sounds like a trap to me,” said Alastor Moody. “Are you certain, Pettigrew?”
“Sit down, Peter,” said Arabella Figg. “Tell us everything.”
Gasping for breath, Peter took the chair next to Mrs Figg, and said, “He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named went to Godric’s Hollow last night and killed James and Lily. But the curse bounced and it killed him too. You-Know-Who has gone.”
“How do you know?” asked Emmeline, disbelieving.
“Dumbledore had a charm on the Potters’ h-house, remember, so he’d know if anything happened. The alarm went off just before midnight, and Dumbledore sent Hagrid straight to the scene of action, but he was too… too late.” Peter brought out his handkerchief and sniffed into it. “I’m thinking Hagrid would have saved James and Lily if he could, but if he could see their bodies at all… what with that Fidelius Charm… they must have been deader than dead. He says the house was all collapsed, just a pile of r-ruins…”
“Oh, my dear, how terrible,” said Madam Plumpton.
Peter wiped his eyes and finished his story. “Dumbledore was there himself a couple of hours ago. He investig-igated the magical traces, and he’s thinking… thinking that You-Know-Who has gone!”
“You mean he Disapparated?” asked Elphias Doge eagerly.
“Perhaps,” said Peter. “But Dumbledore’s thinking it’s more permanent. He’s yet checking the details, but the reason he sent his Patronus to me so early this morning is that it’s not only about the Potters any more. It’s seeming that You-Know-Who was destroyed by his own spells.”
“Wait a minute,” said Moody. “How did You-Know-Who find out where the Potters were hiding?”
There was a deathly silence.
“I’m supposing…” squeaked Peter, “I’m supposing Sirius Black must have told him!”
There was another long pause. Remus’s mind was reeling, but he was the first person to speak into the silence, latching onto the one obvious detail that Peter had failed to cover. “And Harry?” he asked. “Is the baby dead too?”
“He is not,” said Peter. “Harry Potter is alive and well. You-Know-Who could not kill him.”
A/N 1. Huge thanks to Spiderwort, who guided a major re-write of this section of the story
A/N 2. Thanks also to Asherr for explaining to me exactly how Sirius made his motorbike fly. And thank you to Keridwen and Soonertoby as well as Asherr for helping me to settle the bike’s make and model. In case Sirius’s own description wasn’t crystal-clear, we’ve made him the proud possessor of a Triumph T140E Bonneville 750 Executive.