I have no idea where this story came from; it just sort of popped into my head and refused to let me be until I had written it. Now that I have I can't say that I'm entirely pleased with it (but I never seem to like any of my stories so that's not saying much… ) but I'm posting it in hopes that at least someone enjoys it. =)
Title: Changes Abound
Author: Erika (firedrake88yahoo.com)
Summary: Werewolves are widely mistrusted in the Wizarding World. Though they are human for all but one night a month they are judged by the "monster" that is revealed only in the light of the full moon. This prejudice makes it difficult for them to find work. Fortunately for Remus Lupin, Dumbledore is not blinded by bigotry.
Timeframe: The summer before PoA.
Spoilers: For PoA
Disclaimers: Hogwarts and all of its characters belong to JK Rowling, I'm only borrowing them to have a little fun and I promise to return them unharmed (well, at least mostly unharmed =0). I'm making no money from this and this is written for entertainment purposes only.
Feedback: Both positive feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated and will be cherished!
Archive: Please ask first. =)
Author's Note: (1)Though PoA is by far my favorite of the HP books, it has been a year since I have read it. If anything I say here contradicts something in PoA (or any other HP book, for that matter), please let me know. I just hope that I haven't somehow managed to make the entire story contradict the books… (2) Also, I'm from the U.S. so please excuse me if Remus and Dumbledore don't sound very British.
What was I going to do? It had been nearly three months since my last paid employment. I had done my best to stretch the meager earnings it had provided me but if I did not find work soon I would be unable to afford the expense of my flat. Or food, for that matter. Already, I was reduced to eating only once a day.
Perhaps it was time to consider an option I had previously always dismissed. Muggles, not believing in magic, had no prejudice against werewolves. Doubtlessly, I could find some sort of job in their world. It would be difficult. It would mean leaving behind everything I had ever known but I had long since accepted the fact that my condition forced me to do many unpleasant things to survive. There was, after all, no forgiveness granted for being a werewolf.
A soft tap on the door interrupted my troubled thoughts. Who could that be? I had few friends, fewer still that knew where I lived. The fact was that I disliked the thought of them seeing this…place. Especially since I had not informed them that I was a werewolf and there really was no other reasonable explanation for my poverty. I did not want their pity and awkward questions when they saw how little I truly owned.
Rising slowly from my bed, I carefully made my way to the door. Last night's transformation had been particularly painful and my muscles were still very tender, making it difficult to move with any semblance of speed.
Somewhat hesitantly, I opened the door. For a moment, my sadness was washed away when I saw who had called on me. "Professor Dumbledore," I smiled warmly, delighted to see the kindest man I had ever known. "I cannot tell you how much it pleases me to see you again after so many years."
"Remus," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled with joy and fondness, "You have not been a student at Hogwarts for quite some time now. Please, call me Albus."
"Albus," I repeated softly, knowing it would take some doing to accustom myself to that.
"You were quite difficult to locate, Remus," he gaze was unintelligible as he regarded me. "I've known phantoms that were easier to find."
Feeling uncomfortable, I broke eye contact. The words had not been spoken unkindly but I still had no proper answer. How was I to explain to him that the reason I took such pains to keep my location secret was because of those that were far less understanding than Dumbledore? How could I tell him that I was attempting to hide from the people that would doubtlessly derive some sort of sadistic pleasure from tormenting the local werewolf?
The sad smile that ghosted Dumbledore's lips told me he understood, perhaps more than I would have liked him to.
Shaking my head, I silently scolded myself. Where were my manners? "Please, come in," I stepped aside rather diffidently and gestured for the aged headmaster to enter.
"Thank you," Dumbledore quickly walked into my flat and I closed the door behind him.
Though he did not make a show of looking around I knew that Dumbledore's keen eyes had no doubt quickly taken note of my sparse living conditions and shabby flat. Truthfully, I almost did not even consider this a flat. It was a rather small studio with a very tiny kitchen, a bathroom, and one room that served as both my bedroom and living room.
Trying not to blush, I kept my eyes lowered. "Please, sit down," I indicated the bed. It was the only piece of furniture I owned. I had sold everything else last month so that I could afford my rent and food. All my personal possessions – mostly books and clothes – were now neatly tucked into a trunk at the foot of my bed.
Dumbledore did as I bid. His face, usually alight, was a saddened mask. Still, I refused to meet his gaze and instead busied myself with being a 'good host.' "Would you care for some tea or something to eat?"
"No, thank you," he responded in an unusually subdued tone. Intuition told me that he had refused simply because he did not want me to waste what little food and drink I owned on serving him.
Not knowing quite what to do, I floundered uncertainly in the middle of the room. Obviously Dumbledore had visited me with a specific purpose in mind. He had not come to make me feel shamed. I could not help it though. This was the man who had gone to enormous lengths to make it possible for me to attend Hogwarts. I did not want him to feel that all his efforts had been for naught.
"Remus," his voice was firm but gentle, "Look at me."
I raised my gaze to his face but still did not meet his penetrating eyes.
"I am not a basilisk, Remus," he reproached with the slightest touch of humor.
Nodding, I finally looked into his eyes and felt myself relax somewhat. What I saw there was not pity or disappointment. What I saw there was sorrow and understanding. As always. I should not have expected differently. Dumbledore was nothing if not unusually kind to me.
"I know that we have not done well at keeping in touch but…Remus, I told you when we last spoke that you could come to me if you ever needed anything." The reprimand was evident in his tone. "There is no need for you to be living like this."
"You are very kind, Professor…Albus," I corrected myself, smiling slightly, "but even you cannot change the fear and prejudice people have of werewolves."
"That is sadly true," he conceded. "I do, however, own a small cottage that I would have gladly let you–"
Touched by his words, I nonetheless interrupted him. "I earn my keep," I reminded him quietly. I would not take his charity, even if it was offered without pity. I would be no one's burden.
"Yes, of course," he sighed, seeming rather resigned to my pride. "Please, Remus, sit down. I have an offer that might appeal to you."
Curious, I sat next to Dumbledore on the bed. We both turned so that we could face one another. "If I remember correctly, you were quite the apt pupil of Defense Against the Dark Arts."
I nodded. "It was always my favorite subject and one of the few in which I was much more skilled than either James or…Sirius." I nearly choked on his name and my voice turned bitter when I uttered it. Even after all these years it was still hard to think of the man I had once considered my best friend. It was still hard to reconcile the gentle, concerned boy I had known at Hogwarts with the monster he had since become.
"You led several study groups in which you helped struggling classmates to learn the material." It was not a question. "Am I correct in taking that to mean that you have a fondness for teaching?"
Not at all understanding where this was going, I nodded.
"Ah, very good," he smiled brightly. "I do so appreciate proving myself correct."
I chuckled. Dumbledore always had been one to jokingly complement himself. I wanted to question him as to why any of this mattered but forced myself to wait for him to explain. I was well aware that he would only scold me for my impatience if I asked.
"Recently at Hogwarts we have had a rather bad run of luck regarding our Defense Against the Dark Arts professors," Dumbledore continued. "Especially where young Harry Potter is concerned."
I stiffened slightly at the mention of James' and Lily's son. An immense wave of sadness overcame me. There was no greater injustice than the tragedy that ripped the boy's parents from him when he was no more than a baby. How could Sirius have done this? James had been his best friend and he had betrayed him. He had betrayed us all. For the love of God, he was the child's godfather. What he had done…it was simply beyond comprehension. Even after all this time I could begin to grasp it.
"Yes, I have heard of Professors Quirrel and Lockhart," I interjected so as to avoid Dumbledore offering unnecessary explanations.
"This leaves, yet again, an opening for a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor," he concluded pointedly, his eyes harboring a suspicious streak of deviousness.
Puzzled, I leaned back. He wasn't suggesting what I thought he was…was he? "Have you found someone to fill the position?" I asked quietly, cautiously.
Dumbledore did not respond, he simply continued to gaze at me through his half-moon spectacles. If I had to put a name to the emotion that danced in his blue eyes I would say it was conspiratorial amusement.
Not knowing quite what to think, I stood up and walked across the room until I was standing before the window. "Albus," I turned back to look at him, "I appreciate what you are attempting to do but you know as well as I do that parents will never allow their children to be taught by a werewolf."
"The parents need not know," he assured me, giving me a wink that I took to mean that he could keep a secret if I could.
"And what of the rest of the professors?" I continued, not willing to let hope creep into my heart. Never in my entire life had I received a decent paying job. What was more, teaching had always been a secret dream of mine. I had long since learned that as a werewolf it did not do to dwell on dreams. I had to be pragmatic. To acquire a teaching position at Hogwarts would be practically impossible.
"Allow me to deal with them, Remus. I do, after all, have some pull with my own staff," he smiled.
"But Albus, they will have more than valid concerns regarding the safety of the children on the nights of the full moon," I reminded him, wondering how he could even make this offer to me.
Dumbledore frowned. "Did I not make adequate arrangements for that when you were a student there?" He did not wait for me to respond. "Besides, things have changed since you were a boy. The Wolfsbane Potion will see to it that you do not pose a threat."
Ah, yes. The Wolfsbane Potion. "I have heard of its enormous success in taming werewolves during the full moon but have never had the opportunity to try it myself."
He looked surprised, a rather unusual occurrence. "You have not been taking it?"
I lowered my eyes. "No, I have not. It is too expensive for me to be able to afford and I lack the skill and supplies to make it myself."
My guest remained silent for a moment before answering, rather animatedly. "I will instruct Severus to make it for you."
"And he will agree?" I questioned skeptically. Severus had all but loathed me ever since 'the Prank.' Every time we saw each other – which, thankfully, was not often – it seemed to take a supreme effort on his part to even behave civilly towards me.
"Certainly not willingly but he will do it nonetheless." I could not help but smile. It was apparent that Dumbledore was looking forward to finding some way of maneuvering Snape into brewing the potion.
"The Wolfsbane Potion not withstanding, the Ministry–"
"Remus, Remus," Dumbledore raised his hands into the air as an exasperated smile flitted across his lips. "If you say you would like to accept the position I will sort everything out myself."
He paused. "I observed several of your Defense Against the Dark Arts study groups when you were attending Hogwarts. It is evident that you have a love of and gift for teaching."
I frowned. "I do not recall ever seeing you at any of the study group's meetings."
"An invisibility cloak isn't the only way to remain unseen. You know that."
Feeling slightly foolish, I nodded. "Of course."
"I would like nothing more than to welcome you back to the school as a professor. I believe you would enjoy your time there as well." His words were marked by the sincerity in his calm tone.
I sighed, leaning back against the window. A stab of pain shot through my stiff muscles at the contact and I winced and immediately straightened my posture. Silently, I continued to look at the headmaster. No, not at him, past him. When lost in thought I rarely ever focused on my surroundings.
I did not understand my reaction to this. Dumbledore would not have paid me this visit and raised my hopes if he was not certain that he could arrange for the teaching position to be mine. Why was I not ecstatic? Why was I telling myself not to hope or even consider the possibility of this working? Dumbledore would not, after all, deceive me or play some sort of cruel prank on me. I could teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. I could have the job I had always wanted. All I had to do was say 'yes'.
So why was I filled with such uncertainty and doubt?
I had lost every job I had ever been given due to my being a werewolf. Even though I was used to it, it was always difficult. And those jobs had never been ones that I had actually wanted. I had taken them purely out of necessity. This would be different though. I would enjoy this. Perhaps I was simply hesitant because I knew that losing this job due to intolerance would fall as a greater blow than all the other jobs I had lost for the same reason?
No. That was not it. It was not in my nature to not make the attempt simply because something might go wrong. It was something else entirely. It was…Harry Potter, I realized. I had loved James and Lily. They, along with Peter and yes, even Sirius, had been my beloved friends. They had told me during Lily's pregnancy that I would be named godfather of their second child. I had been present for Harry's birth, had visited him several times as a baby. In a sense, I had felt like the child's uncle. I had loved him.
Then the unthinkable had had happened. We had been betrayed by one of our own. I had reluctantly suspected Sirius for some time before James and Lily went into hiding but that did not lessen the impact of the blow. I could still remember how I had felt upon hearing the news that the Potters were dead because of Sirius having turned traitor, upon hearing that he had murdered Peter and twelve other people. Revulsion. Pain. Grief. I had felt like vomiting. But I hadn't. Instead, I had sunk into a corner of my room and simply stayed there, lost in a thoughtless haze of misery. I had not even wept. No, the tears had come later. Much later.
Yet, even now, after I had grieved, shed my tears, and tried to come to terms with what had happened as best I could, it was painfully difficult to remember James and Lily. If they had died in some sort of accident it would have been easier. Or at least simpler. But they hadn't. They had been killed by Voldemort. Thanks to Sirius. And I couldn't help but blame myself, at least partially. I had suspected Sirius, albeit unwillingly, and I had never warned James and Lily. If I had spoken with them, convinced them to use Peter as their Secret-Keeper instead of Sirius, they would, in all likelihood, still be alive. Harry Potter would still have his parents. How could I ever face the boy?
"Guilt can be the deadliest of foes. The 'what ifs' will destroy you, if you let them." I did not focus my eyes on Dumbledore but my ears picked up his every whispered word. "Harry has so little left of his parents. They were killed when he was too young to remember them. Being such a close friend of James and Lily, you could offer him some of what he's lost.
"Do not let your guilt – guilt, which I might add, is entirely baseless – rob you of the opportunity of helping Harry discover some of what was stolen from him. And certainly do not let it rob you of a chance at happiness."
Dumbledore was right. I could help Harry. It would be hard to even look at him. I had heard how uncanny his resemblance to James was. But despite the pain that would bring, I could still help Harry and, in so doing, help myself. Help myself to think of James and Lily and remember them for who they had been and not for how they had died. For too long now their names had only conjured memories of the night they had been betrayed and murdered. It was time for me to remember the devious boy and the kind girl they had been at Hogwarts, the boy and girl that had fallen in love.
It was time to go back to Hogwarts. Perhaps there I could truly learn to accept the past. The memories would be difficult to face, considering the dark times that had followed my graduation, and so would Harry. In time, though, it would become easier. When it did, I would offer Harry a glimpse of his parents through my own knowledge of them. First though, I would be his teacher. Then later, when I was ready, I would try to be his friend.
"I would like to…" I shook my head and cleared my throat. "I would like to know Harry. He's all I have left of James and Lily and–"
"And you're all he has left of them," Dumbledore interrupted me, filling in words that I had not planned to say.
I understood. Though by no means was I the only person left who had known James and Lily, I was the only one who had been a close friend. "Perhaps."
"Then you will accept the position?" he inquired, rising and coming to stand before me.
"Yes, I will." My voice was firm but excited.
"Wonderful!" Dumbledore beamed, sounding delighted. "The term does not begin for another two months. Until that time, you will stay in a cottage I own. It is isolated and located near a small forest, which should prove ideal for your Wolfsbane aided transformations."
Immediately, I opened my mouth to protest.
"Do not worry, there is plenty of time between now and the next full moon for me to convince Severus to make the potion for you," Dumbledore cut me off, knowing perfectly well that he had not addressed the issue I was concerned with.
"Yes, yes, I know. You earn your keep. That is why you will be spending the next two months conducting some very important research for me. You may consider the home and food as your payment. I will hear no further protests from you regarding this matter as I now consider it entirely settled." Having said this, he turned towards the door, apparently intending to leave before I could argue.
Shaking my head, I laughed. Dumbledore would never change.
"Albus," I spoke his name softly, causing him to stop and turn. "Thank you." Knowing that mere words could not express my gratitude towards this man who had given me so much, I decided simplicity was best. He would understand.
Dumbledore smiled. "You are quite welcome, Remus." He paused then and cocked his head to the side. "You are a good man. Others would curse their inability to find decent employment and turn to bitterness and anger. You calmly accept it and do your best to fashion a decent life for yourself. In spite of all the hatred that has been spewed at you, you do what is necessary and persevere. The staff and students at Hogwarts will benefit greatly from your presence."
I could not help but blush.
"I will return tomorrow morning to take you to my cottage. Goodbye until then, Remus," Dumbledore continued, mercifully not making me think of some sort of adequate response to his praise.
"Goodbye, Albus," I inclined my head.
The soft click of the door shutting told me he was gone.
Feeling slightly numb and shocked at what had just transpired, I returned to my bed and sat down. Less than an hour earlier I had been contemplating the possibility of moving to the Muggle world. My, how quickly things could change. And change they had. A persistent flutter in my heart told me that I had no idea of just how much. All I knew for certain was that next year promised to be very, very interesting.