Don't get excited. I just broke everything up into more manageable chapters. It was getting a bit long and unwieldy as it was. The last chapter is new, though.
I don't own HP…This is an MWPP/L, but the L stands for Longbottom. ^-^ Thanks to all the people in LJ land for essentially beta-ing parts of this for me! *glomps* Y'all rock. ^-^
Any mistakes are completely my own. Read at your own risk.
A Werewolf's Secret
"Lupin! You were supposed to quit adding the ginga root
when the potion started turning purple." Sirius managed—just barely—to keep his
exasperation to a minimum, as he looked at the mess his partner had managed to
create in the course of five minutes. Lupin might have been a whiz at all the
other classes they were taking as first years, but the kid stunk at Potions.
"Sorry," Lupin murmured, looking crestfallen. The look had worked on Sirius for the first two months, but now that they were working their way into their third month, the ploy had definitely lost some of its effectiveness.
Sirius looked down at the gloopy bluish-green mess. "We're done for," he sighed, resigned to the fact that this was yet another class, completely wasted. "Look, I don't know what's up with you. You can recite the whole bloody recipe for these stupid things before we start class, but once we start actually working on it," Sirius trailed off, frustrated.
"You wish you weren't stuck with me as a partner," Lupin stated matter-of-factly.
"How is it that you can be good at everything else but this?" He shot a sideways glance at Lupin, but saved the scowl for the potion, which was now bubbling and burping. Unlike everyone else's.
"I just stink at Potions?" Lupin offered with an apologetic smile.
"Well, can you try to not stink for at least one class?" He grumbled, running his hands through his hair. It was getting long, and his mum was going to have kittens when she saw him next, but it wasn't his fault that the teachers never bothered to ask the first years if they wanted haircuts, now was it? After all, his hair was still leaps and bounds better than James'. That kid had looked shaggy on the first day. Three months in and it looked as if a baby owl had taken up residence in that black hair.
"I'm not doing it on purpose," Lupin said softly as they both stared despondently at the cauldron.
"Could've fooled me," he muttered as he slumped down onto his stool.
"Look, I said I was sorry." He could hear the frustration in Lupin's voice, but still, it wasn't as if this were a singular occurrence. This happened every class period. And quite frankly, it showed no sign of improving any time soon. Even James had managed to get through a couple of classes with successful potions, and he was working with Peter. Peter. Peter didn't even know what ginga root looked like, let alone when to add it.
"So you're sorry. You realize that we haven't successfully finished one of these blasted things yet this year? Not that I'm as nutty about grades as James is, but come on. I don't want to fail Potions."
"What, and I do?" Lupin glared at him incredulously.
"Hey, I'm not the one who keeps screwing it up," he returned defensively.
"I. Can't. Help. It." Lupin spat out, eyes flashing.
"So you're saying that you're naturally stupid at potions?" It wasn't that he minded covering for Lupin every once in a while if the kid hadn't done the homework, or was tired or something. But this wasn't helping out every once in a while. This happened every bloody time. Short of making Lupin stand and just watch while he did all the work, there didn't seem to be any way to make any potion work in this stupid class when they were partnered.
His retort however, may have been a bit over the top, he realized belatedly as Lupin's face turned a motley shade of red in anger.
"Go to hell," Lupin growled before upending the entire cauldron of potion over Sirius' head and stalking out of the room.
Remus sunk down onto the floor in a corner of the Defense Against the Dark Arts room. Chances were, when someone got up the guts to come looking for him, the first person they'd after him would be the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He snorted in contempt.
Adults were so predictable.
Any time there was any sort of problem that involved him, the first person all his other professors ran to was Professor Longbottom. He wondered idly if some of them didn't think it was more prudent to get the one man on campus who knew sixteen ways to kill a werewolf in less than five minutes. Longbottom had to be a more appealing choice than getting the headmaster, who had obviously lost his mind when he'd admitted Remus to Hogwarts in the first place.
With the exception of Professor Longbottom and the headmaster, all of the professors were scared of him. They were wary of being in the same room with him, afraid to get close enough to hear his voice, unwilling to listen when he tried to find the time to explain to them about being a werewolf. He could smell the fear on them, see it in their eyes, but it was most noticeable in their actions. After all, if Professor Baum had bothered to meet with him the first time he'd tentatively asked for help, then he could have flat out told her that the reason he was failing potions was because he literally couldn't see where he was going wrong.
Oh, but of course she couldn't do that. Mentally, he rolled his eyes. If she got to close to him, he might bite her before he had the chance to tell her that he was colorblind. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor that she'd had growing up must have really stunk because, for a teacher, she seemed to know next to nothing about werewolves. He caught her sometimes watching him guardedly in class. What did she think he was going to do? Transform in the middle of potion making and go on a mad biting spree?
Still, she was better than Professor Vanacker. That man just hated him on sight. Despite the fact that he'd been the first and only person in his Transfiguration class that first day to transform their pincushion into an apple, the man had still deducted points from him because the apple had been grey. He'd been pulled aside at the end of class too so that the man could tell him that, unlike the headmaster, he wouldn't be mollycoddling Remus. Remus was a dark creature, a dangerous creature, and that was all there was to it.
"Thought I might find you here."
He looked up to see Professor Longbottom sliding down to the floor beside him. It wasn't that he didn't like Professor Longbottom. The man was, hands down, his favorite teacher in this whole crazy school. He was also the youngest and the most popular among the students. Remus had heard somewhere that it was the man's first year teaching. Which just made him wonder if teachers simply got worse with age, because Professor Vanacker was by far the oldest and the crankiest.
"Professor Baum had kittens when I dumped that cauldron on Black, didn't she," he managed in a morose, monotone voice. For his part, Professor Longbottom looked like he was holding back laughter.
"It did seem a bit extreme to her," the professor trailed off as he nudged Remus with an elbow. "Wanna talk about it?"
"Not really," he muttered, unhelpfully. But Professor Longbottom nudged him again, and this time with a huge put-upon sigh, Remus decided to talk. "Okay, so she's my professor and all, but she's just dumb when it comes to werewolves."
"Remus," the word held a note of reprimand.
"Well she is! I tried talking to her about this. I've tried five times to tell her that I'm having problems in class," he huffed.
"If it's because you miss the class once a month-"
"Oh please. I miss all my other classes, and you don't see me failing Defense Against the Dark Arts, do you?" He snapped back, causing the good natured professor beside him to sigh wearily, so Remus took pity on him. "I keep trying to tell her that I'm colorblind. But she won't let me. I've tried staying after class so I can do it privately, and she orders me out of the room before I can say a word. I've tried finding her after dinner or during her office hours, and have lost my house twenty points in the last month because of it. And Black," Remus let out a frustrated sigh. "I just lost it," he finished miserably, knowing that most of what he'd said probably hadn't made that much sense.
Remus blinked and looked over at the Professor, incredulously. This was supposed to be the man who knew everything about werewolves, right? "Yes," he started carefully, "I'm a werewolf. All werewolves are colorblind. It's like my sense of smell. It's something I get from the wolf in me."
Professor Longbottom seemed to take a moment to think on what Remus had said, and for one horrible moment, he was almost certain that the professor was going to say he was lying. In the end though, Professor Longbottom just grinned at him ruefully.
"Remus, you know, just because we're professors doesn't mean we know everything or that we don't make mistakes. I know you're having a hard time of it, and you have every right to be upset sometimes. But none of us here on the staff have ever dealt with a werewolf before. And we certainly have never tried to teach one before. We're going to make mistakes."
Remus couldn't help but feel a little guilty for his uncharitable thoughts as he looked over at Professor Longbottom's earnest face. "I'm sick of being the guinea pig, though. Maybe," he paused, "I don't know. I just-" he scowled at his own inability to spit it out, and then took a deep breath, determined to say the one thing that had been increasingly nagging at the back of his mind since he'd started the school year. "I just don't belong here, do I? I mean, it was really nice of the headmaster to at least let me try, but maybe everyone's right, you know. Maybe he is a bit crazy. Maybe it would just be better if I went home." He knew for a fact that most of his professors would jump for joy if he decided to run home with his tail between his legs.
"Remus, you listen to me." Professor Longbottom bit into his thoughts with his fierce voice. "You belong here just as much as any other student does. It's criminal the way that werewolves are often denied simple things like an education. You are by far exceptional for your age when it comes to your mastery of magic, and you have a responsibility to yourself to see how far you can go and how much you can learn to do."
Remus frowned. Well, he supposed the professor had a point. But he was only eleven for Pete's sake. He cared more about making friends, having fun and not being the 'weird' one than he cared about learning stuff.
"Look, Potter, this really is for your own good," Remus announced as he sat on the black haired boy's chest. He realized that this was probably going to get him into a great deal of trouble, that Potter ultimately would probably be horribly ungrateful, and that in the grand scheme of things it was only going to bring the wrath of his professors down on him.
But what could he say? Boredom had gotten the best of him. Someone had foolishly left him to his own devices the weekend before the full moon, and now they were just going to have to pay the consequences. He had so much pent up energy that he'd already driven himself nuts.
And really, Potter needed the haircut. Remus was beginning to think that the Forbidden Forest had started to sprout out of his dormmate's head. "Now see, Potter," he started off with a delighted smile. It was just his luck that he'd managed to catch Potter off guard with his Petrificus Totalis. "We call this a comb." He waved the object in front of Potter's face. "Now, I know you have no idea what its uses are, but I'm going to show you once we cut off some of this hair. You look like Sasquatch. Peter's even having nightmares about your mop crawling off your head and eating him in his sleep."
For his part, Potter couldn't talk, but if looks could kill, Remus would have been dead the moment he'd started waving the comb around. As it was though, he grinned cheerfully back at Potter as he started snipping away thatches of snarled hair. He knew that he was going to have to run like hell when he finally took the charm off Potter, but really, no harm was being done. Although, when he stopped to think of it in his more rational moments, he realized that he didn't know Potter even remotely well enough to be carrying on like this with him.
Maybe that was part of the appeal though. If he wasn't going to belong, and if he wasn't going to be able to make friends, then he might as well be able to make a spectacle of himself. He wasn't going to be ignored.
He frowned to himself as he continued to snip away. He wasn't going to let them ignore him. Most of the professors, the exceptions of course being Professor Longbottom and Professor Vanacker, tried to pretend that he didn't exist in their classes. They ignored him when he raised his hand, they glanced over him when asking for volunteers, and they deliberately went out of their way to avoid making any contact with him whatsoever. A perverse part of him wanted to go up to a few of them and just sneeze on them to see what they'd do.
Idiots. As if you could catch lycanthropy the way you caught a cold. He rolled his eyes. And his professors complained about Peter being thick as a brick. Remus figured it took one to know one.
He almost snipped off Potter's ear as the yelp startled him out of his daydreams. Snapping his head up, he caught sight of Black staring at him completely dumbfound. Since Black so rarely looked that speechless, Remus found himself laughing at the sight as he put the scissors down, much to Potter's relief probably. Not that it mattered anyway, he was pretty much finished.
And now he had a new victim. The imp in him rejoiced, as he turned to address Black and climbed off of Potter. It was so good to have dormmates. Even if they had a nasty habit of excluding him. He'd heard Black and Potter sneak down to the kitchens last night. Bastards hadn't even bothered to invite him or Peter. Granted, Peter made lots of noise and was about as sneaky as a herd of stampeding elephants, but still, it had been awful rude of them.
"Black! Hey! How've you been, I haven't seen you all afternoon, whatcha been up to?" He all but bounced over to the astonished boy, biting back a laugh at the utterly perplexed expression on Black's face.
"Er…I was watching the teams practicing on the pitch, and then I went to get something to eat from the kitchens because I missed lunch." Black held up the apple in his hand as proof, and Remus almost felt himself salivate at the sight of it. "What's the matter with James?" Black asked then, almost cautiously.
Remus gave a careless shrug as he sidled up to Black, who backed away warily. The other boy really hadn't trusted him much since the cauldron incident two weeks ago, Remus reflected. But then again, Remus hadn't been the one burping up caterpillars for three hours either, so maybe Black was a bit justified in being cautious around him.
"He was bored, so we decided to play a game," Remus lied smoothly, grabbing his wand from under the folds of his robes.
"What kind of a crummy game is this? He's not moving," Black pointed out, thrusting out the hand with the apple towards Potter for emphasis. Remus' eyes followed the apple.
"Little Red Riding Hood," he answered matter-of-factly, getting an even odder look out of Black as a result.
"You heard me," Remus calmly returned, before flashing Black a toothy smile. "With all that hair, we decided he should be the girl and I would be the big bad wolf. And now the wolf is demanding a toll."
"A what?" Black looked so confused that Remus burst into laughter as he snatched the apple, whispered the charm reversal for the Petrificus and then took off running like a bat out of hell down the dorm steps and out of the tower. He knew they'd never catch him, although he had to repeatedly remind himself not to lope through the hallways on all fours.
Wouldn't do to prove all his teachers' fears valid by turning in the middle of the day. Who knew what would happen next. Time might reverse itself. Cats would give birth to puppies. Werewolves would be allowed to go to school.
It wasn't until hours later, long after the spurt of lupine energy had worn off, that Professor Longbottom found him curled up in a ball in the corner of the Defense Against the Dark Arts room, fast asleep with an apple clutched loosely in his hands, and dried tears tracked down his cheeks.