"They're going to figure it out," insisted Remus. "They're too clever not to."
"They won't," Sirius soothed. "It'll be fine."
"They will." Remus was in no mood for baseless assurances.
"They might," said Peter.
"Shut it, Pete," snapped Sirius. "You're not helping."
James shot his best friend a quelling look. "The Prewetts aren't going to figure it out, Remus. And even if they do, they won't tell anyone."
"Won't they?" said Remus darkly. "'Oh, Lupin's a werewolf? How interesting. I wonder what's for supper today?' Is that how you think they'll react?"
"No." James made a face. "But they know you, and they know Pomfrey knows, and if Pomfrey knows, then Dumbledore has to know, and if Dumbledore knows, then they'll know it's fine, won't they? They know all kinds of secrets, and they don't blab them all over the school."
"This is different," said Remus. "It's not Flitwick's romance novels; it's a Dark creature mixing with people's children, pretending to be one of them."
"You are one of them," insisted Sirius hotly. "If the Prewetts ask us, we'll tell them --"
"You'll tell them what? You can't tell them anything, because you're not supposed to know anything. There's not supposed to be anything to know." Remus rubbed his temples. The December moon was still five days away, but already he felt a headache coming on.
"If they ask us," said James, "we'll tell them that, whatever they think they know, you're our friend, and anyone who wants to give you trouble has to get past us first."
Remus sighed. "It's not that I don't appreciate the thought, James. It's just -- people aren't supposed to know. The more people who do, the more chances there'll be trouble."
"Nothing is going to happen," Sirius told him. "It'll be winter hols soon. By the time we get back, they'll have forgotten all about it, and found ten new things to investigate."
Remus was not convinced. As the days passed, his paranoia only grew. By Friday evening's Junior Defence League meeting, he was a nervous wreck, jumping at every loud noise, and relying solely on Shield charms to keep himself in one piece during dueling practice.
"You can't win a fight playing defence," James reminded him.
"I know that," grumbled Remus. "I just had a bad day."
He was doubly annoyed because it was the last League meeting before the holidays. The following Friday, everyone would be busy packing in preparation for the journey home. None of Remus's roommates were staying this year, though James and Sirius had been working out schemes that might allow Sirius to spend Christmas with the Potters.
Whenever the Prewett twins were nearby -- usually only during meals, and sometimes in the Gryffindor common room -- Remus could not help casting furtive glances at them. A few times, he caught Gideon or Fabian's eye, but they did not appear to pay him any more attention than usual. This did little to allay Remus's fears. He could not shake the sense of foreboding that lurked behind his every thought.
Meditation might have helped ease the tension coursing through Remus, if Sirius had not insisted on joining him for every session. He, too, was becoming restless with the waxing of the moon, distracted by every sound.
"D'you think you could maybe sit still for five minutes?" Remus snapped the third time Sirius shifted position, breaking his concentration.
Sirius stared at him, shocked by the uncharacteristic outburst.
"Sorry," muttered Remus, turning red. "It's just -- I need to do this."
"OK," said Sirius. He did not move again until Remus told him they were done for the afternoon.
Tuesday morning's double Defence lesson with Slytherin fell only a few hours before moonrise. In spite of the prickle at the back of his scalp and a ringing in his ears, Remus insisted that he was fine, but he didn't argue when James and Sirius made him sit between them. Not a word of what Professor Gandolfsson said to them managed to penetrate his consciousness. Remus spent the first part of the lesson with his wand clenched in his fist, wary eyes following the Defence master's every move.
When Gandolfsson flung a hex, Remus's reflexes were quick to bring his wand up, but his mind could not summon a single spell to his tongue. That did not matter, though, because James and Sirius were on their feet. Gandolfsson's wand flew across the classroom in a high arc, clattering against the wall. The professor summoned it back with a wave of his hand, dividing a hard stare between the three of them. They waited at silent attention for a sharp remark or snide comment, but instead the Defence master nodded.
"Sir?" said James.
"A man's chances of survival are much better if he has people he can trust watching his back, Potter," Gandolfsson said. "Just make sure you never put your trust in the wrong person, eh?"
"No, Sir," James agreed, as Remus let out the breath he had been holding.
When Gandolfsson called for Defence drills, he said nothing to James partnering with Remus, leaving Sirius to work with Peter. James went easy on him, but even so, Remus could barely keep up. The room was too hot and his movements felt as slow as if he were underwater.
By lunch time, his vision was off. Everything was darker than usual and slightly fuzzy around the edges. Remus focused on his food, unable to concentrate on his roommates' conversations, and tried to shut out the clatter of the Great Hall. When he couldn't bear it anymore, he left, pushing open one of the oak doors in the entrance hall to slip out of the castle. As soon as he started down the stone steps, he knew he had been followed.
"I don't need minders," he grumbled.
"We're not minders," James told him easily. "We're company."
"Is there anything you do need?" asked Peter.
Remus sat down on the steps, closing his eyes and breathing in the cold, fresh air. "Sleep. I barely got any last night."
"Maybe you can grab a quick nap after Charms," Peter suggested.
Remus shook his head. "Moonrise is before half two today. I'm not going to Charms."
"That early?" said Sirius, shocked. "When will you be back?"
"Tomorrow sometime," Remus shrugged. Talking so casually with his friends about his other life felt surreal, but everything felt surreal to Remus at the moment. "Winter means long nights. I'll be out for eighteen hours or so."
"Merlin, mate," whistled James.
"Do you ever sleep?" Sirius asked. "While you're -- gone?"
"I dunno," said Remus truthfully. "It's hard to remember much. I don't think so, though." Wearily, he dragged himself to his feet. "I should go meet Pomfrey."
He left his friends sitting on the steps and went back into the castle. Maybe if he was early enough to his safe-house, he would be able to steal a few minutes' sleep back from the moon.
"I feel bad for him," said Peter. "You lads saw how knackered he looked. Can you imagine the state he'll be in by tomorrow?"
James nodded. "And he has to transform. Twice. Everything I've read says that's painful and exhausting."
Sirius didn't know if it was the moon itching him, but he couldn't bear listening to his friends pity Remus. "C'mon," he said, getting up. "We can't be here when Pomfrey brings him down. He'll have plenty of time to rest tomorrow."
On the second landing of the great staircase, he halted. "Bring my bookbag and Charms text down, will you?"
James rolled his eyes. "Yeah, fine. Just try not to be too late to class."
"I just want to make sure he gets there all right," Sirius excused himself as he turned and hurried towards the hospital wing.
He almost missed them. It was only by chance that he caught the flicker of Madam Pomfrey's Disillusionment charm on the stairs as he passed. Sirius kept going, pretending he hadn't noticed them, then doubled back at the top of the flight of steps to follow. Standing in shadow on the first floor landing, he watched the entrance hall doors open and shut, then ran the rest of the way to peer between them at the indistinct figures crossing the grounds in the weak winter light.
Sirius did not notice the other figure, striding up the path from the school gates, until he was almost to the steps. Hastily, Sirius stumbled backwards, away from the doors. As the newcomer entered, grim-faced, Sirius pretended to be on his way down to the dungeons. The man took no notice of him, breezing past to hurry up the steps.
Sirius followed at a slower pace, eyes fixed with intense curiosity on the back of the man's dark blue robes, until he turned off the main staircase. For a moment, Sirius considered following him, but he knew there was only one place in the school this particular man could be headed.
Sirius practically flew the rest of the way to Charms. He was out of breath when he slid into the seat beside James.
"The Minister for Magic's at Hogwarts," he hissed. "I saw him. He looked --"
"Five points from Gryffindor for tardiness, Mr Black," squeaked Professor Flitwick irritably, "and it will be five more if there's anymore whispering between you and Mr Potter. Each."
The Charms master went back to his lecture on charms for repairing broken objects as James raised his eyebrows at Sirius. Flitwick was passing around cracked bowls and goblets for the practical part of the lesson, when a Hufflepuff prefect hurried into the room and handed the professor a note.
"What now?" Flitwick gave a frown of impatience. He unrolled the parchment, and read it quickly. Then he read it again.
Sirius exchanged a wide-eyed look with James. Something had happened. Something big. Sirius gave a nervous swallow. His heart was pounding.
Clearing his throat, Flitwick looked up. "Class dismissed," he said briskly. "Leave your broken items on your desks and return to your dormitory immediately. Wait there for your Head of House." He turned and strode out of the classroom, the Hufflepuff prefect hurrying after him.
The morning light stabbed at Remus's eyes, making his head throb. His eyes and his throat both felt as if someone had rubbed them vigorously with sandpaper. He swallowed, wincing.
"Are you awake, Mr Lupin?" asked Madam Pomfrey's clipped, professional voice.
Even the tiniest of nods sent crashing pain ricocheting around inside Remus's head. A strong arm behind his shoulders levered him halfway into a sitting position, and the rim of a glass pressed against his lips. Remus took a few small, painful swallows of water.
"What time is it?" he rasped.
"Still early. I've only just brought you back. Did you sleep all the way?"
Remus was not certain whether his unconscious state could properly be termed sleep, but he did not recall the journey, so he merely nodded again.
Some mornings, when she could tell he had had an especially bad night, the matron was the soul of tenderness and concern. Today, she was all business, checking Remus over swiftly, and administering a few more sips of water before she breezed out, admonishing him to get some sleep. The privacy curtain swung closed behind her.
She probably has other patients, Remus told himself. He wondered again what time it was. He had checked his painstaking table listing sun and moon rise and set times only the day before, but his exhausted brain would not yield up the relevant information. Well past eight, he thought. Maybe even past nine. If it was, his roommates would already be in ... Transfiguration? That sounded right. Unless Sirius had decided to skive off again to visit him.
Remus was still listening for his friend's footsteps when he fell asleep.
Whispers woke him. Feeling little better than he had before, Remus blinked open grainy eyes to find all three of his roommates huddled at his bedside. It took a few more blinks to bring them into focus. When he caught sight of their faces, Remus's insides went cold.
"Who knows?" he wheezed, sitting up. The words clawed at his throat, and he began to cough. By the time Sirius got the water glass into his hands, his windpipe felt shredded.
"It's not that," said James as he drank. "There's been an attack."
Remus nearly dropped the glass. "Well, it wasn't me. Ask Pomfrey! I was in the house this morning when --" he broke off as another fit of coughing seized him.
"Easy, mate." Sirius steadied the glass in his hands and urged him to take another drink. "It was a Muggle village. And it wasn't werewolves. They don't know who it was yet."
"It's -- just gone." James shook his head in disbelief.
Remus stared at him. "What d'you mean 'gone'?"
"Fiendfyre," whispered Peter, sounding awed and fearful. "The whole place was burnt to a crisp."
"It happened yesterday morning," James went on. "Hundreds of people are dead. Aurors are combing the place for clues, but there's probably nothing left. Fiendfyre doesn't leave much behind besides ashwinders."
"Your dad --?"
James gave him a thin smile. "He's fine. I had an owl at breakfast."
"They're not saying much else --"
Sirius broke off as the privacy curtain was yanked back, and the glowering matron appeared. "I told you boys to leave him be. Mr Lupin needs his rest. Off with you! And I'll be taking twenty points from Gryffindor."
As his friends made vociferous protests against such unfair treatment, Remus pushed back the covers and swung his feet shakily to the floor.
"And just where do you think you're going, young man?" asked Madam Pomfrey.
"I don't think I can sleep anymore, Ma'am. I want to know what's happening."
The matron's scowl deepened. "I'd force-feed you a Sleeping draught, if I thought it would have any effect on you, Mr Lupin." She took what looked like a series calming breaths. "Will you agree to stay put and rest if I allow your friends to remain?"
Remus thought about the long, cold, weary walk back to Gryffindor tower. "Yes, Ma'am."
"All right," said Pomfrey. "But I don't want to hear any noise, and you are to remain in that bed until I deem you fit to leave it, am I understood?"
Remus bowed his head. "Yes, Ma'am," he said again. "Thank you."
When the matron and her storm clouds had departed, Remus scrubbed his hands over his face, trying to form coherent thoughts.
"What time is it?"
"Almost lunch," said James, taking the bedside chair as Sirius flopped down on the bed across Remus's feet. "We've been trying to get in to see you for ages."
"We had to wait for Pomfrey to take a loo break," added Sirius, with the shadow of his usual smirk.
Remus frowned. He had assumed his roommates were on their post-lunch break. "Why aren't you in class?"
"Cancelled," said Peter. "Everything's off."
"OK." Remus pinched the bridge of his nose. "Tell me all of it, from the beginning."
There was not much more to tell. The halls of Hogwarts were alive with rumours, but most of them sounded like no more than wild speculation. The only one that seemed credible was the Prewetts' belief that the Death Eaters were behind the attack.
"Did the papers say where it was?" asked Remus.
All three of his roommates developed matching thoughtful frowns.
"England," said Peter with a shrug.
"Somewhere south," added Sirius. "I think it started with an H."
"No, a D." James tapped his fingers on his thigh. "Dun ... something. Dunmarsh. Dunwich. Dunhill ...?"
The cold feeling gripped Remus all over again. "It wasn't Dunheath, was it?"
"That's it!" said Sirius. "How did you know?"
Remus felt faint. "I've been there. It's not far from where I live. My family use the shops on the High Street." He could see the cobbled streets. The rows of shops and houses, products of different centuries. The people hurrying past. A little girl in a green coat who had said "hello" to him once. His mother smiling as she handed ice creams to him and Natalie.
"It's all right," said Peter. "It was just Muggles. They don't think any wizards were --"
"My mum is a Muggle," snapped Remus. He was halfway out of bed and reaching for his robes when James and Sirius grabbed him by the arms, restraining him.
"Your mum is fine," said Sirius. "Probably. They don't go to the shops every day, do they?"
Remus struggled weakly against his friends' grasp. "I need to write home. I have to check --"
"The common room is full of people," James told him. "If you go blundering through there, everyone will notice. They'll ask where you've been. Why you've only just heard. If you want to send an owl, let us do it for you."
Remus slumped, defeated, and let Sirius and James manoeuvre him back onto the pillows.
"All right," he said as his head gave another painful throb. "Get me parchment, quill, and ink, and a copy of this morning's Prophet. And tea. I'm going to need tea."
"Are you sure?" Sirius asked for the fourth time.
"Yes." Remus's voice was firm, but he looked as though he was about to topple over from exhaustion.
"You don't have to," James told him. "We'll tell you what he said."
"And we'll bring you food," offered Peter.
Remus bent to put on his shoes. "I know. I just can't bear the thought of waiting around the dormitory by myself."
Sirius understood that. The castle was buzzing with the news that Headmaster Dumbledore had returned from the Ministry of Magic that afternoon, and was planning to address the school over supper. Sirius would rather let Snape hex him than miss the latest report.
They were early to the Great Hall, but still among the last to arrive. With nothing to do but gossip for the past day, the Hogwarts student body were hungry for news. The usual chatter was muted, and nearly everyone shot expectant glances towards the high table. None of the Hogwarts staff had appeared yet.
Sirius kept one eye on Remus. His friend had barely slept two hours that morning. His eyes were bloodshot, with dark shadows underneath them, and his mouth was set in a thin, worried line. Remus had not heard from his parents yet, and could not reasonably expect an owl anytime before breakfast tomorrow. Sirius worried that Remus might not be able to sleep until he had word of his family.
What if Remus's mother was dead? What if someone Sirius was related to had killed her? He knew it wasn't likely, but it was possible. His extended family was large, and Sirius was all too familiar with their opinions on Muggles. Would Remus still want to be friends with a relative of his mother's murderer?
"Look at the Slytherins," James said in a low voice.
Sirius glanced across the hall to the green-draped table. To look at the students seated there, one might not know anything was amiss. Some shared the pensive, nervous expressions of those at the other three tables, but for the most part, the talk and laughter continued at its usual volume. Sirius scowled, but could not muster any real surprise.
"Tossers," he muttered.
The side entrance to the Great Hall opened and everyone sat up a little straighter as the Hogwarts staff filed in, led by a grim-faced Dumbledore. When he reached the high-backed chair at the centre of the staff table, he paused, and leaned to say something to Professor McGonagall. Her eyes went straight to where Sirius and his friends were sitting. She nodded and turned away.
Sirius felt Remus stiffen beside him as the Deputy Headmistress strode down the line of Gryffindors towards them, and thought he saw a flash of fear in his friend's eyes. His hand moved to squeeze Remus's forearm under the table, and did not let go.
McGonagall gave Sirius only the briefest of glances before bending to speak quietly to the boy beside him.
"At ease, Mr Lupin," she said. "The Headmaster has asked me to inform you that, as soon as he realised your family lived near the location of the ... incident, he had someone sent over by the Ministry to check on them. They are safe, and you should expect an owl from them shortly."
Relief swept through Sirius, and he let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding.
"Thank you, Ma'am." Remus's voice trembled slightly, and he appeared to be struggling for control over his face. Sirius's grip on his arm tightened. "Please thank the Headmaster for me."
She nodded and returned to the high table. Remus slumped in his seat, head bowed, eyes closed. Sirius thought he might be biting his lip.
"All right, mate?" asked James.
Remus took a deep breath, opened his eyes, and gave James an almost-convincing smile. "Yeah. Fine."
"Heads up, lads," said Peter. His eyes were fixed on the staff table, where Dumbledore stood, arms raised.
The Great Hall fell quiet.
"You will all have heard by now what has happened," the headmaster began solemnly. "Hundreds of people are dead. The village of Dunheath is no more. Some will call it a tragedy, a disaster. I will not. It was a willful and evil act performed by humans against their fellow humans. Men, women, children. People who were innocent of any wrongdoing, who had no means to defend themselves against such an attack. It was an act of cowardice. An act of fear."
Sirius heard a snort and whipped his head towards the Slytherin table, but he could not identify who had made the sound.
"Do you doubt it?" Dumbledore continued in a low voice. "Some wizards fear Muggles. Why? one might ask. Why fear someone who has no magical ability? The answer is that they have put their faith in the wrong things. People like to believe they are special -- blessed. Some wizards have decided that having magic makes them special, and that the more magical ancestors one has, the more blessed one is. Because of this, they fear that their offspring will fall in love, will marry, will have children with those less 'pure' than themselves. Such fears are more than foolish; they are dangerous.
"Beliefs about blood-purity have no foundation in reason. Witches and wizards born to Muggle parents are no less able than those born of ancient Wizarding lineages. They are no less intelligent. No less capable of kindness, nor love, nor bravery, nor wisdom. Witches and wizards have no greater capacity for any of those traits than Muggles themselves, though they lack magic, through no fault of their own. To treat Muggles as the 'other' breeds enmity and destruction, not only between magical and non-magical people, but between those magical people who see Muggles as fully human, and those who do not.
"Many of you have friends and relatives without magic. People whom you hold as dear as the friends whom you greet every day in the halls of this school. You already know the truth that some have yet to learn: we owe Muggles protection. It is our duty as witches and wizards. Because Muggles are as fully human as we are. Because our desires are the same, even if our abilities are different. Because Muggles cannot protect themselves from magical threats. Because, for our safety and theirs, many of them do not even know such threats exist.
"We have knowledge. We have power. If we do not use it for the good of our fellow man, then evil wins. Evil thanks us for our indifference and our silence, which allow it to carry out its goals, unhindered.
"I remind you all, once again, that you are safe within these walls. We value and protect all of our students equally. If anyone has information regarding the destruction of Dunheath, if you learn anything over the winter holidays, I urge you to take it to your Head of House, no matter how insignificant it may seem, no matter how you came by it. No harm will come to you. I and your Head of House will be the only people to ever know your identity.
"On a happier note, you will be pleased to learn that all classes between now and the end of term are cancelled. Those of you heading home for the holidays will take the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade on Saturday morning, as planned. And now, let us tuck into our too-long-delayed supper."
Food appeared on the tables as the headmaster sat, and conversation broke out once more.
"He didn't tell us anything," complained Sirius.
Remus shrugged. "Did you think he was going to name names?"
"He thinks someone at the school might know something," James pointed out, "or might be related to someone who does."
"Makes sense," said Peter. "All pure-bloods are related, aren't they?"
"You're a pure-blood," Sirius scowled.
"Yeah, but my mum would never do anything dodgier than buy discount potion ingredients, and my uncle likes Muggles," said Peter comfortably. "You're a pure-blood, too. So's James."
"I don't have any relatives closer than second or third cousins, besides Mum and Dad," said James.
Sirius said nothing, pretending to turn his attention to his food. He knew he was related to exactly the sort of people who might burn a Muggle town without a second thought, but he wasn't going to remind his friends of the fact. It did not improve his mood when Lily Evans moved down the bench to sit on the other side of Remus.
"I heard McGonagall," she said, hugging him fiercely. "I had no idea. Are you OK?"
"Yeah," replied Remus, returning the hug for what Sirius felt was an indecently long time. "Everyone's fine. It was just a bit close to home."
Girls, thought Sirius grumpily. Always hugging people.
"Will it be war, then?" asked a voice farther along the table.
"It's hard to say," Fabian Prewett frowned. "It's complicated, isn't it?"
"How do you mean?" asked a fourth year girl.
"Well," said Gideon, "usually when there's a war, it's one government declaring it on another. Sometimes, it's between different countries; other times, two rival governments fight for control of one country. In this case, even if the Ministry wanted to declare war, who would they declare it on?"
"The Death Eaters?" James suggested. "I mean, they have to be behind it, don't they? How many different groups of Muggle-hating wizards can their be?"
"The Death Eaters are a terrorist organisation," said Fabian. "They're very clever. They do everything in secret. No one knows who's in, who the leadership are, what the command structure looks like. They'll never come out in the open, except to attack people who can't fight back. They operate by fear, not by force, or by strength of numbers. It's almost impossible to wage war against people you can't even find."
"So what will the Ministry do?" asked Evans. "They can't just pretend it's not happening."
"They're doing things, Red. Count on it." Gideon flashed the girl a grim smile. "They're recruiting Aurors. Beefing up Magical Law Enforcement. Hiring spies. Paying informers. They'll gather clues, and eventually they'll track one of them down. Then they'll track down the rest of them, one, two, three at a time. If this is war, it's one that can only be won by stealth and cunning."
"Get ready to be sneaky, boys and girls," said Fabian. "You're probably going to need it before this is over."
No one felt much like going to their own beds that night. The four Gryffindor boys sprawled across James's bedspread in their pyjamas, talking in low voices. Remus had on the ratty brown jumper that had belonged to his father, which Sirius had noticed he sometimes wore when he needed extra comfort. Sirius was wrapped from head to toe in the red-and-gold striped afghan James's mother had knitted. Peter had just reluctantly returned his pet puffskein, Constantine, to its cage for the night.
"Why d'you think Dumbledore cancelled lessons?" James asked sleepily.
"Maybe he thinks everyone's too upset to concentrate," yawned Peter.
Sirius shook his head. "Maybe if wizards had died, or someone's family, but people aren't going to stay upset for long over a bunch of Muggles no one knew."
"I didn't mean it like that, Moony," he amended hastily. "I just meant it was a shock, but it didn't really affect anyone at Hogwarts."
"It could have."
"It didn't, though. You'll have an owl from home tomorrow, and you'll see your family on Saturday."
Remus sighed. "I know."
Sirius rolled over to look at him. "So why do you think classes are cancelled?"
"It'll be all hands on deck at the Ministry, won' it?" Remus's speech was slurred with exhaustion. "Th' people who teach here're some of th' best witches an' wizards in th' country. Maybe the Ministry's asked for their help. You know. Ideas and things."
"Yeah, probably," said Sirius. He glanced around. "I think we lost James and Pete."
"Gonna lose me, too, in a minute."
"Not yet, though?"
His voice must have betrayed something, because Remus's eyes blinked open. "'M still here. Everything all right, mate?"
Sirius looked down at his fingers, poking through the afghan's loose knit. "Yeah. Just thinking about things. Going home."
"Are you worried your family could be involved?"
"No. Maybe. Not Mother and Father. They'd never get their hands dirty. But some of my cousins -- My parents think that Voldemort bloke has the right idea. They'd probably pack me and Regs off to the Death Eaters for training, if they could."
"They might try." Remus gave him a sweet, sleepy smile. "But even if they did, James and I'd come find you and bust you out."
Sirius couldn't help smiling at that. "How would you find me when the Ministry can't track down a single Death Eater?"
"I always know where you are, when you're close by," said Remus. "You know that."
Sirius's smile faltered. He had known he could sense Remus, but he had somehow never suspected that the reverse was true as well. Remus will always find me. The thought was comforting.
Sirius's friendship with James was built out of laughter and competition and trying to top the last prank. Remus's friendship was quieter. It was made up of whispers, thoughtful words, and the occasional comfort of touch. Before Remus, Sirius had never realised those were things he valued, or even wanted. He was always safe with Remus. He could confess any worry, no matter how ridiculous, and Remus would never mock him.
"What if they turn me into one of them?" he whispered.
"They won't," Remus promised. "I know you. You'd never give up on a friend, and we'd never give up on you. Marauders look out for one another, right? As long as you're alive, all you have to do is wait. We'll be there as soon as we can."