The seasons change and the days grow shorter. The deer become skittish, foraging for greens under the freshly fallen snow. Jumping at every sound, or at any movement, the wary animals attempt to keep warm in their harsher environment. Wolves have much the same problem; as their prey becomes scarce, so does their acquiescence to outsiders. In the best of times, wolves are wary of newcomers. In winter, when food is hard to come by and every morsel must go to the pack, there is no room for someone new. So it is with any vulnerable wolf.
There was no doubt that Remus Lupin made both young werewolves nervous, at least until their first class with him. He did not treat them any differently than anyone else, and did not smell suspicious or curious about them. In fact, he seemed more concerned about Harry than anyone else, giving off that odd scent Hermione was beginning to think was guilt.
Despite his oddities as a werewolf, Professor Lupin was an excellent teacher. Hermione was rather disappointed she did not get to fight to boggart. Ylva had shuddered and said she had been glad not to see her worst fears. Neither of the girl's had missed Lupin's boggart: the full moon. The idea that a werewolf was afraid of the thing that gave him power was unnerving for Hermione. She pulled Ylva aside later and asked her about it.
"Alpha has told me about it," she said sadly, "Some werewolves just want to be human, and they ignore their wolf side. I've never seen it, though."
Lupin was a bit of a mystery to the two girls, and they would continue to be wary around him for a time.
As upset as Harry was at being unable to go to Hogsmeade, Hermione knew it was likely for the best, especially with Sirius Black running around. She and Ron left together, promising Harry they would bring back treats for him. Ylva had left early with Ginny and a few of the fourth-year girls. Ron was still upset with her about Crookshanks' attempt to hunt Scabbers earlier in the week, but the irritated smell went away the moment they arrived in Hogsmeade. There were wonderful scents coming from every other shop; from warm, chocolatey scents to baked pastries, to full October-inspired meals. There was a joke shop, and a candy shop, and places to get quills and books. There was so much to see and do that they spent hours exploring the town.
Occasionally, Hermione would catch the familiar scents of Ylva and Ginny and grin. She was glad Ylva was making more friends than just her. There weren't other children in the pack for whatever reasons Fenrir had not explicitly spoken of. Perhaps there was more about werewolf history in the library. The next chance she got, she was going to find out about werewolf legislation.
After a day of traipsing around, and buying way more sweets than they could eat, Ron and Hermione met Ylva and Ginny in The Three Broomsticks. The four settled down over some heavenly-smelling Butterbeer and chatted vigorously about what they had seen that day.
As the month passed and the full moon drew nearer, Lupin began to smell...wrong; clammy and ill. Like something festering. It stung Hermione's nose and made her want to sit further back in his class than normal. Then he began to look even more wearied. As Hermione and Ylva grew more excitable and energetic, Lupin worsened. Until the day he was gone from class completely. In his stead was Professor Snape.
"Page 394." Snape's voice snapped as he entered Lupin's classroom with determination, his dark cloak billowing menacingly as he came to a swift stop.
Hermione did not need to look; that was the chapter on werewolves. Every bit of it was wrong. She had read it before classes had started, curious about what it had to say. She needn't have bothered, all she learned was more prejudiced falsehoods. Sure, the anatomy section was fairly correct, but anyone could see that. She did not protest Snape's demands, not wanting to draw attention to herself. If he wanted them to learn about werewolves, it was because he already knew about them. Her hands shaking slightly, she flipped open the book and glared at her professor. It felt strange to have her classmates discussing her kind like every other textbook monster. She clenched her jaw to keep her emotions in check; it was obvious that no-one in the classroom thought well of them. If it ever got out...Hermione knew they would call her a monster, just like the nameless people in this book.
Snape smelled triumphant, and curious. He did not glance in her direction except to decidedly ignore her hand when it went up to give the 'textbook answer'.
It was not long before she realized he was trying to unmask Lupin, not her and Ylva. For some reason, it appeared that Snape hated him. There was a bitter scent that hovered over the Slytherin Head-of-House whenever Lupin was near. The werewolf only returned it with an odor of guilt and shame.
Fenrir sniffed the chilly fall air, patiently waiting for the two girls to meet him in the forest. He did not like the dementors on the school grounds, but they were not after him or the girls. There were many memories he would rather not have re-lived. He was also not terribly concerned about the Sirius Black character. He may have been a murderer, but he wasn't one of those Death Eater's; Fenrir would have remembered his face, changed as it was.
He could not keep the smile off his face when he saw two small figures walking toward him, arm in arm. That smile immediately turned into a frown when their scents came wafting ahead of their steps. He darted toward them, his closeness confirming his suspicion that there was another werewolf about. It wasn't strong enough for him to pick up the scent of who, but he knew there was someone else in the castle. He let his eyes travel over both girls, inspecting them for injuries, not realizing how still they had become. When he decided that they were indeed fine, he took a step back, though he still sported a heavy frown.
"His name is Remus Lupin, Alpha. He's our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher," Ylva said quietly.
Fenrir closed his eyes and nodded, attempting to keep his appearance calm. The girls were safe, and unless Lupin had made a great change, he would never know there were other werewolves running about.
"He won't hurt you," he said finally. "He likely does not even know. I know Geira has taught Ylva the dangers of Wolfsbane, but I have not told you." He turned to the curly-haired girl, whose eyes were wide with apprehension and curiosity. "And I wish I did not have to. Wolfsbane is a potion taken by those who want to pretend they're human. It dulls the senses and represses instincts."
"Lupin looks sick," she replied, beginning to understand, "He is afraid of the moon."
Fenrir nodded, "He takes Wolfsbane because he does not wish to be a wolf."
"But he can't change that, why would he wish for something than cannot be?"
Fenrir knew she knew the answer, but he admired her for asking anyway. It was unfathomable to the young werewolf. Only fourteen changes later, she had learned to love and accept who she was; and it was nearing unfathomable to her that someone could hate themselves.
"Your parents were much more understanding than Lupin's were. No wizarding parent wants their child to be a monster," he said, allowing bitterness to fill his words.
Ylva looked angry; while the younger girl shook slightly. With tears at the corners of her brown eyes, she spoke, "I am not a monster."
Fenrir quickly pulled both girls into a firm hug, "No, you aren't; neither of you are. But I know you understand that's how wizards will see you."
"I want to change that," the bushy-haired girl countered confidently.
"I hope you can, little one," Fenrir said gently, "The moon is rising, we need to move further into the forest."
The next month passed with little change; the threat of Sirius Black was always there, but he had not been seen since his attack on The Fat Lady. Harry and Ron were both quite concerned with the current Quidditch standings and spoke of it more often than anything else.
Hermione, however, was starting to feel the strain from all her extra classes and was spending her spare hours in the library. Not abnormal by itself, she had also managed to get ahold of a few texts that had tidbits on Britain's werewolf laws, but there was nothing in there she did not already know. There was nothing in these books that mentioned the rounding up that Fenrir spoke of when he was younger. He wasn't that old, so they couldn't have happened much further back than the 70's; but Hermione found nothing, not at the school library.
She resolved to delve further into the records. There had to be something about what happened to the werewolves. She looked even further back in time, but still found no trace of what the wizards had done to her kind. She remembered the pained scent that came off of Fenrir when he had recounted bits of the story to her. It was real. She knew the muggle government was not above hiding things that had happened in the past, why would the Ministry be any different?
"Miss Granger," Remus Lupin called to her after class one day.
Hermione shooed her friends on ahead, at ease with the man now that he did not seem to know anything about her. It was odd that he was pulling her aside, he had rarely taken special interest in her aside from the fact that she was bright. For some reason, his commanding tone irritated her. Her skin crawled slightly and she wanted to snap at him. All of a sudden, she wasn't a student and he wasn't a professor. She saw him for the packless wolf that he was, and as his eyes met hers she let out a snarl.
Lupin dropped his eyes, if only for a moment, then he steeled himself and gave Hermione a heavy frown. "I can help you, Hermione."
"I don't want anything from you," she said, an angry rumble in her throat. "You are afraid of your own magic. It's pathetic, and everyone who knows can see it. I do not want to be like you."
The man's scent filled with a combination of fear and pained fury. No matter how his scent changed, however, he remained calm in demeanor and tone. It was almost infuriating. "You do want to be a respected member of society, Miss Granger. I know you."
"You know nothing about me, and you know nothing about what I am."
"I knew someone once who spoke like you; he cannot even enter a town without being attacked by regular wizards. They all know who he is."
"If you are trying to scare me into taking your Wolfsbane poison, I am not interested. I am not cowed by the moon, unlike you, Omega." Hermione could smell the heat rising in his scent. It was three days until the full moon and he had chosen a bad time to pick a fight.
"Miss Granger, I expect to be spoken to in a respectful manner!"
She snarled at him once more, "I'll give you respect where it is due, Omega. Right now, this is not your classroom. I know you don't like it, but I am stronger than you."
Hermione could not hold in her smirk at the inference of an order that quickly turned into a plea.
She growled as she left, only truly realizing what she had done once she had left the room; bumping into Snape and his foul potion as she stormed out of the room. The scent of Lupin's Wolfsbane left her nose burning.
She said those things to her professor! She was going to be in so much trouble. She shook her head. When it had just been the two of them, she had somehow lost her human sense of order. She knew Lupin was beneath her, and had acted accordingly. She still felt that way, but it was lessened now that he was not near her. It also hit her that he had always known she was a werewolf. He wanted to help her? She clenched her jaw at the thought; she meant what she said, she did not want to be like him. He thought he was a monster as much as the rest of them.
Lupin slammed a hand down onto his desk as Hermione left. He had only wanted her to trust him, and it seemed he never had a chance. She had been taught already, perhaps from the moment she had been bitten, to be distrustful of humans and other wolves. The way she snarled at him sent shivers down his spine; she was right, she was stronger than him. Being strong was not something Lupin had ever aspired to, he just wanted to be normal.
The door opened once more to admit Snape, who was carrying his Wolfsbane potion.
Remus sighed quietly, "Thank you, Severus."
"You upset Granger quite thoroughly, Remus," he said with a sneer. "She clearly wants nothing to do with...whatever it was you had to say."
"That child is a mess— " Remus eyed his collegue with suspicion. "How do you know?"
"Once you've seen one wolf, it's easy to find the rest. She's more careful than you were, but she's not perfect. She never shuts up, except for in your class, about werewolves. The Headmaster assured me you had things under control, but it seems to me it is the other way around."
"What do you want, Snape?" Lupin tried not to growl out. He could feel the change in himself as the full moon drew nearer. He knew his temper was running high and he could feel himself itching to get outside. Without waiting for an answer, he took the Wolfsbane potion and downed it. It burned fiercely on the way down, but it immediately settled his inhuman urges.
"I am quite happy to watch this all play out, Remus. Tread carefully, or history will repeat itself."
"Thank you for the potion, Severus," Remus managed, now feeling much calmer. "I am under control."
"We will see."