The full moon hung heavily in the night sky. A howl could be heard from miles away as a lonely wolf raged against the restrictions of having nothing to hunt. The wolf was tearing through the otherwise quiet forest. He wanted to hunt but there were no sounds around him that indicated any other life out there except him. It made him mad. He wanted to claw something, bite something. But there was nothing and no one around.
With another howl the wolf started clawing the next best thing; himself.
But he had only gotten a few scratches in on his chest when a slight noise reached his ears. His head perched up as he concentrated on the sound. He had company. Expecting to come across a rabbit or a squirrel, he made himself ready to jump and attack. But it was not a squirrel or a rabbit that came out from the bushes; it was another wolf. A female with dark fur, smaller than him. A wolf that sat down right in front of him without trace of hostility or fear. She just watched him.
She didn't even flinch when he bared his teeth and growled. And when he jumped on her to attack, she simply moved to the side to avoid the collision. He did it again and she moved out of the way with the speed of only a wolf. He tried again and jumped on her quicker this time. He managed to knock her over but only to follow suit and the two of them tumbled to the ground. The female was quick up on her feet again though, and he followed.
Suddenly, it was all a fun game.
The two wolves played around with each other as the moon travelled the sky to make room for the sun.
The sun shone brightly over the treetops of the forest. Birds chirped. The air was still slightly cool from the night. Spring had yet to really set in.
The sunrays searched their way down the tree trunks and settled on the two only creatures on the ground. They were sleeping, laying only a meter apart from each other. One male, one female. The smaller of the two had her long dark hair spread out around her. Her pale skin stood out against the dark red fabric of her dress. The taller one matched her paleness but sported quite a few scars across face, neck and arms, some old and some new. While his clothes certainly were old and well worn, he was dressed warm with a cloak over his jumper and trousers.
It was impossible to know that these were the same creatures that had howled and wrestled all night.
A rather large, blue bird flew down and sat on a branch only ten feet above the sleeping humans. It opened its beak and let out a loud screech. Instantly the two people on the ground started waking up. The smaller one rolled over onto her stomach with a groan that made the taller one's eyes shoot open. He was on his knees next to the girl in mere seconds.
"Are you hurt?" he asked but his eyes asked another question: Did I hurt you?
He placed a hand on her shoulder and carefully rolled her over onto her back. But there was no blood, no gashes.
"M' fine", the girl mumbled and slowly opened one eye to peek up at him.
As soon as their eyes met she propped herself up on her elbows.
"Are you okay?" she asked, concerned. "You were quite brutal on yourself last night."
The man stared at her, totally confused.
"What?" he asked.
"Oh you don't remember", the girl said with realization and sympathy in her voice.
"I don't remember what?"
"What are you talking about? Last night was the full moon… where did you come from?"
"I know last night was the full moon", the girl said. "I'm also a werewolf."
Everything suddenly clicked into place for the man. Why he'd woken up next to another unhurt human, why he wasn't in as much pain as usual, why there were fewer new scratches on his body. He sat down on the ground and she followed with boosting herself up in a sitting position.
"You're a werewolf?" he said.
"Then how come you talked about last night like you remembered anything?"
"Because I do", she said. "I learnt to control the wolf some time ago. But you obviously haven't and you were raging against yourself so I tried to help you out."
"Wait, you learnt to control the wolf?" the man asked. "That's not possible, you can't do that."
"Of course you can", the girl said. "My… my mother taught me."
The man shook his head in disbelief. The girl decided to change the topic.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Remus", the man replied. "What's yours?"
"That's a nice name."
"Thank you", Red smiled but then shivered as a gust of wind blew past them.
"Are you cold?" Remus asked. "Here take my cloak."
"I can't take your cloak", Red protested but Remus had already unclasped it and was draping it over her shoulders.
"It's fine", he said. "You helped me last night, so let me help you now."
"Thanks", Red said and gave in to the warmth of the cloak. "So last night… is the wolf usually this violent on yourself?"
"When it doesn't have anything around to hunt."
"I'm sorry, that sucks", Red sighed.
Remus smiled lightly.
"Well, thanks to you it was a lot better this month."
Red grinned back a little.
"So where did you come from?" Remus asked tentatively after a moment of silence. "I've been transforming in this forest for the last couple of months, since it's miles away from any humans. It's always been empty."
"I'm not sure", Red said, frowning a little. "I was running, maybe further than I usually do, and I heard howls so I went to investigate. Then I found you."
"Hm", Remus said. "Strange."
Red nodded, still trying to remember where she'd run. But she couldn't come up with any explanation to why she'd gotten so far. She looked up at the sky and sighed.
"Granny's going to worry if I don't get back soon", she said, mostly to herself. "I should probably get going."
"I'll walk with you", Remus said instantly. "Do you know which way to go?"
"Vaguely", Red said and looked at the sun. "But you don't have to go with me, I'll be fine."
"I'm sure you will, but I would still like to."
"Alright then", Red said and rose to her feet. "We should probably get going."
She stretched out her hand for him. He grinned at her and accepted it. Together they began walking towards where Red thought she'd come from.
"So what do you do, Remus?" Red asked. "I mean, when you're not running through forests."
"Oh you know", Remus replied without looking at her. "This and that."
Ruby didn't press the matter; Remus obviously didn't want to talk about it. And his clothes alone told that he wasn't too well of.
"Tell me about your Granny", Remus said instead.
"She's bossy", Red started instantly and Remus chuckled. "She's a ragged old wolf. But she raised me and she's the only family I got."
Remus glanced at her. After all, he remembered that Red had mentioned her mother, but maybe the mother just wasn't around anymore. That would probably be something that Red wouldn't want to talk about. But, surprisingly, she met his gaze, unfazed.
"You're wondering about my mother?" she stated.
Remus instantly started backtracking and denying, but Red stopped him.
"It's fine", she said, though Remus had a feeling it really wasn't fine. "Snow is nagging me to talk about her. She says I keep things bottled up and that it's unhealthy. And you're a perfectly good stranger, so why not tell you about my messed up life?"
"Well, my life is not the straightest at this point either", Remus said as he ducked under a low branch. "I'm happy to listen if you want to talk."
Red looked at him.
"You're nice", she stated bluntly and Remus smiled slightly. "Well, I never knew my mother. Nor my father. I was, as I said, raised by my grandmother, my mother's mother. She was very good, but she kept a huge secret from me. She didn't want to see me hurt, but… the consequences of that were… bad. She didn't tell me I was a werewolf…"
"Wait", Remus had to interrupt. "How did you not know you're a werewolf? What about the time during full moon?"
"I blacked out", Red explained. "I never remembered anything. But then, one night, it all went very, very bad. I realized what I was and I ran. Not from that but from knights… that's an entirely different story… anyway, I didn't see Granny again for a while. After the second day of full moon, the night after the very bad thing happened, I was found. A man from a pack of werewolves found me and brought me to their place."
Remus looked cautious at this. The packs he'd encountered were awful. He shuddered as he thought about Greyback, the werewolf who'd bitten him.
"There I met my mother", Ruby continued.
Remus looked up, surprised.
"At first it was great", Ruby said. "I finally got to know my mother. She taught me how to control the wolf…"
Remus simply ignored that statement. Werewolves cannot be controlled.
"But they were different from who I've been brought up to be. They were wolves. I was not. In the end my mother wanted me to kill my best friend, my only friend at that time. I wouldn't do it. And I couldn't let her do it. So…"
"So…?" Remus said.
"I killed her", Red's voice was very low. "I had to. I couldn't let her kill Snow."
Remus gently put a hand on her arm.
"I understand", he said, because he did.
Red let out a deep breath.
"So who's Snow?" Remus asked to take Red's mind of the bad memories.
"A great friend. I have to say apart from Granny, she's my family. But she just got married, so I don't see her just as much at the moment", Red grinned. "What about you then? What's your messed up life like?"
"Well, since you told me…"
"And since we're perfectly good strangers who probably won't encounter each other again", Red added.
"Exactly… I guess I could tell you some of it. I don't have a job and I don't have any money. I haven't really gotten a family; my mom is dead and I don't see my dad as much anymore. And my friends are dead."
"Oh", Red said. "That's rough."
"Yep", Remus agreed.
"What happened to your friends? If you don't mind me asking?"
"They were killed. James and Lily were their names. Fortunately – miraculously, really – their one-year-old son survived. He lives with his aunt now. Peter was another friend. A fourth friend of mine – at least I thought he was a friend – killed him. That fourth 'friend' is now in prison. And here I am."
"That is awful", Red said. How can so much tragedy happen in one life?
She saw how the raw, blunt words had hurt Remus to say. She wanted to do or say something to make him feel better.
"Well", she said and smiled at him. "Count me in as a friend. At least you'll have one."
"I thought you said we probably weren't going to meet again?"
"Still", Red shrugged. "I'll be your friend mentally. Especially during full moons."
Remus had to laugh.
"Sure, alright, Red. I'll be your friend too."
"Good", Red grinned.
Little did they know that they both would in fact think about each other in the future. Occasionally, sure, but when Sirius Black turned out to be innocent, Remus really wanted to tell that blunt, energetic girl he met ones in the woods about how he'd been wrong about that fourth friend. And when Snow was about to have her baby, Red thought back on the calm, gentle man with the scars and wanted to describe to him how glad she was for her friend.
Red showed up for brief seconds in Remus' mind when he was bursting with want to tell someone about Tonks, or later on; about Teddy.
Remus would pop up from Red's memories when the world of her and everyone else she knew, turned upside down and Snow's baby came back as a twenty-eight-year-old to save them all from a curse.
They didn't know that they would be remembered by each other. They probably wouldn't believe it, if someone had told them there when they walked through the woods just after they'd met. They swapped stories just because they were caught up in the moment and after having felt so much – aloneness being one of them – and finally having someone to vent to.
Then again, they didn't believe some of the things the other mentioned.
You can't control the wolf.
A magical school for wizards and witches certainly does not exist.
"I feel like we're from two different worlds", Remus said after Ruby had mentioned the Evil Queen.
"I agree", Red laughed.