PG-13 [language], 600 words
Summary: The Marauders discover a hedgehog. Remus takes a shine to him.
Notes: This, err, continues past autumn? Never mind!
‘Remus, old chap,’ James said conversationally, ‘are you aware there’s currently a very spiky thing sitting very close to your right elbow?’
‘What?’ Remus tried hard not to panic. He turned around very slowly.
James was right. Next to his elbow (which had been up until this juncture leaning happily against a tree log) there was indeed a very spiky thing. A very spiky moving thing. Remus stared at the very spiky moving thing. It blinked before continuing to trundle along the log.
Remus decided it was clearly called Spike.
‘Is that a hedgehog?’ Sirius said suddenly, having stared at it intently for the last few moments. ‘What the hell is a hedgehog doing in Hogwarts?’
‘It can’t have come from the Forest, surely…’ James mused, frowning.
Sirius reached out to pet it, then quickly regretted it. ‘Screw me sideways, that hurts!’
Peter looked at it sideways. ‘They really are spiky buggers, aren’t they?’
‘Thanks for that, Wormtail,’ Sirius replied, still clutching his hand.
‘Yeah, well, most of us aren’t obsessed with touching everything we see,’ Peter shot back.
‘He’s got a point,’ James added.
Remus interjected. ‘If you’ve all stopped bickering, I think Spike here is probably in need of some attention. He’s got to be a very long way from home.’
They all looked at him incredulously.
‘Oh, come on,’ Remus replied, gingerly picking Spike up. ‘Look at his little face! We have to keep him.’
‘Remus Lupin,’ Sirius said gravely. ‘You really are the biggest sap I have ever met in my life.’
Remus felt above such aspersions. He had a hedgehog to look after.
With much eye-rolling, the other three helped Remus to gather suitable materials for hedgehog care. Soon, Spike had his own little nest in the entrance of the Whomping Willow, complete with bedding, food and water. Remus had spent an entire afternoon nailing together bits of wood to make a room of sorts for him.
‘He’ll have to hibernate soon,’ Remus said. ‘We’ll need to make sure he’s got enough leaves and things.’
‘Sap,’ Sirius replied.
A few weeks later, and Spike had obeyed the calling of his species and made a thick pile of leaves to burrow into. Remus felt a certain sadness at his departure. It had been something to do, making sure he had water every day.
‘You miss him, don’t you?’ Sirius asked.
Remus made a non-committal noise.
‘So you keep telling me.’
It was early March. Remus woke up unusually early one morning, startled by the light in the dormitory after such a long, dark winter. Sirius appeared to be already up, and Remus fumbled for the Map in puzzlement. Seeing where Sirius was, he walked out into the grounds, shivering in the early morning cold, and grabbed a stick to navigate his way into the Willow.
‘Padfoot?’ he called. ‘What are you doing?’
‘He’s been hibernating a really long time, how do we know he’s ok?’ Sirius was staring at the pile of leaves.
‘I’m sure he’s fine – tough creatures, hedgehogs.’
Sirius laughed. ‘This is entirely your fault.’
Remus walked up to him, taking his arm (something he was allowed to do, now, in this new this that had happened). ‘I know. But do you know what it makes you?’
Sirius groaned, letting his head fall onto Remus’ shoulder (another pulse beating out an anthem next to Remus’ skin). ‘A sap. Moony, what have you done to me?’
Remus smiled. ‘Come on, let’s go outside. It’s a beautiful day.’
Deep within the leaves, a hedgehog’s whiskers began to twitch.