"Please, sit down," Albus Dumbledore said firmly, looking at the three students and Professors McGonagall and Slughorn. A wave of his wand moved five of the chairs scattered throughout his office so that they were lined up in front of his desk.
The five of them sat, Severus Snape on one end with the two professors between him and James Potter and Sirius Black.
"Now, first of all, Mr. Snape, I apologize for not sending you straight to the Hospital Wing, but the situation is such that I need to deal with it now. I promise that as soon as we are finished here, I will take you down to Madam Pomfrey myself."
The young Slytherin just sat there, his expression a mix between angry and sullen.
Things were, unfortunately, not going to get that much better for him - at least to start off with. Albus only hoped that he'd be able to reassure the boy that he was going to deal with this.
"Secondly, I must ask you to give me your word, Mr. Snape, that you will not tell anyone else that Remus Lupin is a werewolf. The vast majority of the time, he is no danger to anyone, and the rest of the time he is imprisoned in the Shrieking Shack."
"He almost killed me," Mr. Snape protested.
"Serves you right--" Mr. Black started.
"Mr. Black, that is enough!" Albus snapped furiously. "I am not talking to you at the moment, and I suggest that you would do well to keep your mouth shut right now."
The young Black heir stared at him in open shock.
"Yes, Mr. Snape," Albus continued, "I am well aware of that, and I am not happy with the situation. However, Mr. Lupin is unaware of the fact, and was not in control of himself when it happened. He is very good at making sure that he stays safely in the Shrieking Shack during the full moon, and so does not generally have the opportunity to harm humans at that time. The rest of the time, he is human, and does no harm."
Severus's mouth tightened, but he didn't reply.
"So, I must ask for your word," Albus repeated.
With clear reluctance, the young man said carefully, "I give you my word that I will not tell anyone else that Remus Lupin is a werewolf, unless he does something to endanger others."
"Mr. Potter, please be quiet," Albus said firmly, though not as angrily as he'd spoken to Sirius. "Mr. Snape is being perfectly reasonable in his conditions." He turned back to the Slytherin. "That is acceptable. Thank you, Mr. Snape. And as I said, as soon as we are finished here, I'll bring you down to the Hospital Wing so that Madam Pomfrey can make certain you're all right."
Then he turned to look at the two Gryffindors. "Mr. Black," he started, "I don't believe I've ever been as ashamed of a student - save for the man who became Voldemort," he ignored the flinches that produced, "as I am of you right now."
"But--" Sirius protested.
"What you did tonight goes far beyond a schoolboy rivalry, Mr. Black. This was attempted murder. Nothing makes that in any way acceptable." Albus glared at the boy. "Believe me, if there was a way I could think of that would not bring Mr. Lupin - who is, after all, innocent in this - in, I would have snapped your wand, expelled you, and turned you over to the Aurors already."
Both Sirius and James went pale at that. "The Aurors?" Sirius repeated.
"The only reason I am not is because it would bring up the fact that Mr. Lupin is a werewolf, and thanks to our bigoted society, werewolves are not given the rights of humans. To get across the seriousness of this matter to you... if Mr. Lupin had bitten Mr. Snape - if he didn't kill him, which is also possible - he would have been sentenced to death, and there would have been nothing I could do about it. Nothing. You would have killed one of your best friends for nothing more than what you say is a schoolboy prank. If Mr. Snape had been killed, you would have been responsible for two deaths. This is absolutely unacceptable."
"So... what are you going to do, Headmaster?" James asked nervously.
"That depends somewhat on what you have to say to me, Mr. Potter," Albus replied. "I know you managed to rescue Mr. Snape from the situation, and you have my thanks for that. However, just how involved were you in this to begin with?"
James shook his head. "I promise you, Headmaster, I didn't know anything about what Sirius was planning until Peter mentioned something about it this evening. That's when I started looking for Sirius and Snape."
"I see." Clasping his hands in front of his face, Albus studied the two Gryffindors for a long moment. "All right. Mr. Potter, as I said, you have my thanks for saving Mr. Snape, and will not share in Mr. Black's punishment. At least, not more than the rest of Gryffindor House will."
"Albus?" Minerva McGonagall questioned.
"I cannot deal with this through official channels, because of the risk to Mr. Lupin," Albus explained. "So, I believe that Mr. Black needs to learn a few lessons in peer pressure, and Gryffindor clearly needs to learn that there are limits beyond which no one should go when it comes to so-called pranks."
"Mr. Black. You will be serving afternoon detention on the weekends for the rest of the school year, and for the first term of next year. You will not be permitted to go to Hogsmeade at all during that time."
Sirius frowned, then shrugged. "Okay, I can--"
"I'm not finished, Mr. Black," Albus said firmly. "You will also be under House arrest - meaning that you will not be permitted outside of Gryffindor Tower without adult supervision - for that period. I will be setting a spell on the Tower entrance to ensure that unless you are accompanied by an adult, you will be unable to exit.
"In addition to that, Gryffindor House's points have now been set to zero. For the remainder of this year, there will be no further points given to Gryffindor. Any that are accidentally given by either teachers or prefects will be immediately removed. Furthermore, all point deductions from Gryffindor will stand - meaning that it is quite likely Gryffindor will finish the year with negative points. Those points will, in turn, be carried over to the next school year, which will be the soonest Gryffindor will be able to start earning points again. And I will come and speak with Gryffindor House in the morning before breakfast, and inform them both of this punishment and of the fact that it was due to a serious misjudgement on your part."
"But... but... they'll tear me apart!" Sirius protested.
"It's better than being sent to Azkaban, Mr. Black," Albus stated flatly. "Which is where you would find yourself if I could go through official channels.
"In addition to that, I will expect written, sincere apologies to both Mr. Snape and Mr. Lupin. If either of those apologies are not sincere, you will re-write them until I am satisfied that you mean it."
The boy stared at him, slack-jawed.
"Now, Minerva, if you would please return the two of them to Gryffindor Tower? And please inform Mr. Pettigrew that he will be sharing Mr. Black's detentions for the rest of the year for not immediately notifying a professor of Mr. Black's plans."
"Of course, Albus," Professor McGonagall replied. Standing up, she glared at the two boys, neither of whom appeared terribly eager to meet her eyes. "Come along," she ordered, taking hold of Sirius's ear when he stood up, and ushering the two of them out of Albus's office.
"Horace, I will see you at breakfast," Albus continued, and Slytherin's Head of House nodded, standing up as well and heading for the door. "Now, Mr. Snape, shall we go to the Hospital Wing?"