Disclaimer on first page (first chapter).Oh Dreaded Night!
I felt blood rushing out of my wound. I knew the creature was real.
When I woke next, I found that time had passed but I had not felt it. I woke from a cold darkness that I never wanted to find myself in again. My mother sat by my bedside reading a book; the title of which I couldn't make out, but she had a very serious expression on her face unlike I've ever seen while she was reading. I called out to her and she had been frightened. The book fell to the ground and immediately she stood from her chair to be by my side. She asked how I was, but I didn't know how to answer. She asked me what hurt and I told her that everything ached.
She embraced me, and when doing so, partially lifted me from the bed. I could hear her crying, but I couldn't see her face. "What has happened to my baby? What has happened?" She held me so tight I thought I might burst. I can't remember the last time she held me so closely. I wanted to tell her that it made me uncomfortable, but I let her hold me. I had the feeling that she had been waiting to hold me, to make sure that I was all right. "My child, my only child!" She sobbed again and I cried with her.
I was confused. I knew that something was different. It wasn't just the aches and the trouble sleeping (once I had waken after the incident). I thought at the time that I must be very sick. But what child understands sickness? What child could possibly self-diagnose his symptoms? I wanted to ask my mother what was wrong and why she was crying. I was obviously healing from the bite and I would be back to normal very soon. Couldn't she be happy about that? But no, she looked at me the same way every time I faced her. She looked at me as if there was something horribly wrong with me. Those moments were lived in ignorant bliss. I did not know what I was becoming.
The time came, however, that she would have to tell me. She had that look, always, as if she wanted to tell me but just didn't have the heart to. She didn't. Every time she would open her mouth, tears would stream down her face and she would break down completely. One night, she left the room and sent in my father to do the dirty work, so to speak.
My father attempted to walk into my room bravely, but I saw him nearly break down at the sight of me. He whimpered, but muffled any more that would come from him. He had not seen me since the attack. It had only been my mother here with me up until this point. He sat at the edge of my bed, and patted my leg. He did not get any closer to me. Perhaps this is how he had to go about it. Perhaps he had to distance himself to be able to say the words to me.
"Your mum tells me you are a very strong boy."
"I try to be. I try to be for her and for you, Father."
"That's a good lad. That's a very good lad, indeed. I need you to be strong for us. 'specially your mum."
"I will! I promise."
"A'right, then. I'm glad to hear you say that." He paused for a moment, clearing his throat. "Remus, can you and I talk for a moment about what happened to you last week?"
"Remus, what do you remember happening?"
"I went outside at night. I know I shouldn't have! But I wanted to go out and talk to the forest. The forest never talks back, but I thought that that night it would. It sent a wolf out to me and I thought that the wolf would be my friend. But when I saw the wolf, it wasn't a friend at all. It attacked me. I didn't do anything, though, I swear!"
"I know you didn't do anything, Remus. That was a bad wolf, a very bad wolf. I sent the wolf away from here after he attacked you. That wolf will never ever come back."
"Did you hurt the wolf?"
"Yes, I hurt the wolf. But, that is not your concern."
"Where is the wolf now, Father?"
"The wolf is gone from here. Remus, I need you to know something about that wolf. It wasn't an ordinary wolf."
"It wasn't? What was it?"
My father's eyes filled with tears and he struggled when he tried to start up talking again, but eventually he was able to continue. "It… it… Remus, have you ever heard the term werewolf?"
"That's too long to be our History of Magic essay." Sirius stepped up to Lupin, breaking his concentration.
"Hum, yeah. I'm just working on…"
"Something personal, right?" Sirius watched as Lupin clumsily stashed his parchment under his pile of books.
"Yeah." Lupin admitted. He didn't like that Sirius had watched where he placed his writing.
As if Sirius read his mind, he said, "Oh, you don't have to worry. I'm not going to sneak a peek at it. I learned my lesson the last time. Although I must admit that I'm curious to know what it is you're writing. Seems to be the same thing you were working on that night in the Shack. Is it?"
"It is. It's just…" He hesitated. If he told Sirius what he was really writing then there was a chance that he would want to read it. If he read it, he might ask questions, and truth be told, Lupin was not quite ready to answer any questions about this particular time in his past. "I'm just writing a story. It's not finished though, and not really good enough to share."
"Maybe one day, then?"
Snape looked at the nicely wrapped box as if it were something foreign or poisonous. He placed the tips of his fingers atop the package and tapped them. "What is this, then?" He scowled at the bright green paper and the red ribbon wrapped around it.
"It's a Christmas present." Lupin grinned.
"A Christmas present? Did we agree on exchanging gifts?" The boy asked, looking frightened that he may have forgotten something.
"No. No. We didn't agree on anything. I just… I just wanted to get you something."
Snape eyed the package suspiciously again. "This isn't your idea of a prank is it? This reeks of Potter. Did he touch this? Did he wrap this?"
"No, it's my own wrapping job."
"You did a fine job, then." Snape lowered his voice as if he couldn't let anyone hear him speak a compliment. "What… what is it?"
"Open it. That's the idea, I wrap the gift so you can't tell what it is when I present it to you…"
"I know what the purpose of wrapping a gift is, Lupin. I just have trouble trusting you."
"The others had nothing to do with it. They don't even know that I'm giving you a gift."
"Do you give presents out to everyone?" Snape picked up the box and leaned in towards it as he gently shook it. He placed it back on the table shortly afterwards.
"No, just to my friends."
"I'm your friend, then?"
"I don't know… are you?"
Snape looked at the package and then at Remus. "Yes. I suppose so, if you want to call it friendship."
"Let's call it friendship. Let's open your present, then."
"What about your other friends?" Snape frowned, still hesitating to open the gift.
"They are still my friends."
"Very well." The frown did not escape from Snape's face. "Well, Lupin… even though it is nice you bought this gift for me you make me feel absolutely horrible that I have nothing in return."
"How very like you to find something negative in gift giving."
"Well, how would you feel if I got you a gift and you didn't have one in return?"
"I'd feel surprised, for one thing. And I suppose I would feel weird about not having something."
"So then, we'll have to agree on gift exchanges in the future to escape any… awkward moments such as these. Agreed?"
"Gift exchanges for what then? Christmas? Birthdays?"
"That sounds about right." Snape nodded.
Lupin nodded in return. "So, we're agreed. Now, open your present!"
Snape grumbled and began to unwrap the gift. He took his time unwrapping, gently peeling the tape from the paper, making sure there were no rips or tears caused from his hands.
"Just open it! There's no need to be careful about it!"
"But you did such a nice job wrapping it…" Snape looked up at Lupin to find him with a huge smile across his face. "Very well." He huffed and continued tearing the paper apart, although Lupin could tell it nearly gave him a heart attack to have disrespect for the paper. "It's a box."
"Yes," Remus laughed, "it's a box… but you need to open it."
"All right." Snape opened the box and smiled. "Sweets!" Lupin was certain he had never seen the boy with such a large smile.
"Yes, an entire box full. Should last you through the holiday, anyway. I know you'll be staying here, so it should make your stay a bit more pleasant. You'll get treats on Christmas I'm sure, but for all the other days…"
Snape picked through the small box at the different assortment of candies. Remus had included a small block of chocolate, a pack of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, a few packs of Droobles Best Blowing Gum, and a few Licorice Wands.
"I don't know what to say, Lupin." The look on the boy's face confirmed that this statement was true.
"Just say you'll try to make the best of your holiday, all right?" Lupin knew that the boy would be lonely here at the school. Not a lot of students were staying over the holiday, and although Snape expressed his relief for the lack of students, Lupin knew that it would be hard on him. It would be hard on Lupin as well. Although he desperately wanted to get home, he couldn't imagine how quiet his home would be when he is there alone with his mother, no one around for miles, and the forest looking back at him, threatening him. He had already given his room mates his address to send letters, and promised each other to write, but wasn't Snape his friend, too? Remus took his quill back in his hand and wrote his address at the upper corner of the parchment. He ripped the piece off, but hesitated in giving it to Snape. He kept it in hand for the right moment to come.
"I will try." Snape looked down at the box of candies, attempting to conceal the expression on his face. "Thank you, Lupin." He reached his hand out across the table and Lupin returned his action and met the boy's hand with his in a handshake. When Snape brought his hand back, he noticed in his hand a crumpled piece of paper. He opened it, read it quickly, and looked back at Lupin.
"Send me an owl during the break. That can be your Christmas present to me, all right?"
Snape looked at the crumpled paper in the palm of his hand again, and nodded.
"Pettigrew! What is taking you so long?!" Sirius called from the doorway.
"I dropped my satchel… and everything inside it."
Sirius over exaggerated a sigh. "We are going to miss the train ride out of this place if we wait for you to pick up your things!"
"You go ahead, then! But… you won't let the train leave without me, will you?" A nervous boy asked from the bedroom.
Sirius and James had already tapped into the box of candy that Lupin bought each and every one of them. James was contemplating the actual flavour of the bean he held in his hand and Sirius wiped his sleeve across his mouth, getting rid of any sign of gobbled-down chocolate. Remus almost had trouble carrying the huge block of chocolate that the boys had chipped in together to get him, but the trouble was worth it for his favorite type of sweet.
"I just might! Hurry it up, Peter!"
"We're not leaving without you, Peter!" James called from the sofa.
Remus set his things down on the couch next to James and ran into the boys' room to help his friend out. When he entered the room, he witnessed Peter picking up various items that had dropped from his bag. He immediately joined Peter on the ground picking up small candies and quills and small toys.
"Thank you, so much Remus! I thought I might be here forever picking all of this up. I'm so sorry I'm holding you all back. I didn't mean to, I'm just clumsy."
"I can't tell you how many times I've done the same thing. James and Sirius won't admit to it, but they've overturned their bags more times than I have."
"Find anything interesting from it?"
"Not really. Many of the same things you have in your own bag. They never carry anything too fancy with them."
"They're giving out the last call to clear out of rooms, boys!" Sirius called out.
"We're coming!" Lupin shouted over, picking up the last item and placing it in Peter's bag. "Just be sure to tie it up." He recommended quietly to Peter.
"Thanks again, Remus."
"I'll have the chance to look over a lot more Transfiguration books while I'm home. Those books are just waiting to be cracked open again! No one ever uses the books in the library!" James said, excitedly. In addition to the sweets he got from his friends, he purchased some Pumpkin Pasties from the cart that came by earlier for everyone. They snacked on them as the train ride proceeded, in their own private compartment.
"I should take a look at our library as well." Sirius added. "I'm sure there's something to be found; if I can sweep through all the dust and cobwebs growing on the books. I am not looking forward to going home at all. I wonder if this train goes directly back to Hogwarts… maybe I'm not too late after all."
"If you go back, you go back to Snivellus. He's staying over break, you know. You'd have to eat at the same table as he." James remarked.
"To tell the truth, I don't know what would be worse, sitting with a greasy git at Christmas dinner or my family. At least there's just one of him…"
"It can't be that bad, can it?" Peter asked.
"Why don't we switch families this holiday? You can find out for yourself first hand, then."
Peter frowned. "Er, no thanks. I like my family just fine."
"Countdown, one hour to go. I wonder who will be there waiting at the platform for me. I wonder if it will be anyone at all. I wouldn't be surprised if they sent someone in their place. That would be like them." Sirius scowled.
"Next time we should arrange for my parents to bring you home." James suggested.
"Oh, that would be tops! That's a brilliant idea. Your parents wouldn't mind?"
"I'm sure they wouldn't. I mean, we have to go by your home anyway. I'll ask them over the holiday and owl you to let you know. Maybe we can pick you up on the way, when we have to go back to Hogwarts."
"You don't know what trouble that would save me. I could just leave them at home and they wouldn't have to go through all the trouble of leaving the house… it's such a chore you know."
Lupin imagined Sirius' parents as angered and scowling. He imagined the Potters as much more happy people. He imagined the Pettigrews along the same lines, although it was hard to tell since Peter talked about them very little. Then, he imagined his own parents. He was looking forward to seeing their faces. It seemed like a very very long time since he saw them last, even though it had only been a couple of months. He imagined that they missed him just the same as he had missed them. He wanted so badly to hear his parent's voices as they asked him how his time away from home was going. He wanted to hug his mother and even his father, even though he was at the age where a lot of children felt awkward about such affections.
Lupin sat back and closed his eyes, even though there was only a short way to go. He listened to the other three as they described their typical Christmas day at home. They may have been curious as to his own holiday traditions, but they did not want to bother him since he appeared to be sleeping. It was these moments that he treasured most with his friends. Just hearing them talking amongst each other, with mostly positive things to say, eliminating all the hostility they might have towards something or someone else. These moments they got along the best. These moments actually held Lupin to believe that nothing could go wrong with their friendship. Moments like these, he felt like he actually belonged… even if he was faking sleep.
He must have drifted for real for a few moments, though, because before he knew it, they were arriving at platform nine and three-quarters. Before the train came to a complete stop, he opened his eyes and tried to bring himself back into the moment. He put on his coat and scarf and gloves, as did his friends, and let out a long yawn.
"Finally!" Sirius announced. "That seemed like the never ending train ride."
"It wasn't that bad." Peter disagreed.
"No, it wasn't." Lupin added.
"You were sleeping for most it!" Sirius laughed. Lupin nodded in agreement.
"That's the best way to pass the time." Lupin smiled. The train, now at the platform, opened its doors to let out the anxious students. The boys took their time walking out of the train, letting most people in their car go before them. While he waited, Lupin dug out a piece of parchment, already neatly folded and kept it in his hand, too nervous at this point to hand it over to the boy he wanted to give it to. (At least, in front of everyone else)
When they were off the train, they said their goodbyes, but not quite as sappy as he thought they might be. They said their goodbyes knowing that they would be seeing each other in a few weeks, perhaps a bit more refreshed than how they were feeling now. Peter was the first to skip off, noticing his family at the platform even before they exited the train. He seemed happy to see them. James and Sirius nearly made it off at the same time, but Lupin stopped Sirius before he went. He handed the boy the piece of parchment he had been anxiously holding.
"This is your story, then?" Sirius asked. Lupin nodded. "Thank you." he paused. He held the piece of paper up, as if letting Lupin know that he appreciated it, and smiled. "Merry Christmas, Remus." Sirius nodded and hesitantly went off to greet his parents.
"Merry Christmas, Sirius."
A/N: While I might consider this the end of this story, I still have more things in store for it. In other words, I have some extra things that I would like to add that go along with the story… so check back for it in the near future. ALSO: Chapter Ten has a few paragraphs at the end added. Originally, it was going to be the beginning of Chapter Eleven, but it didn't seem to go with the flow as much as it did with Chapter ten… so please take a look at the addition. I have another story on called Here at Dark Corners. It's separate from this story, actually. Sirius and Remus will be main characters in a story that takes place after their time at Hogwarts, but it also contains some original characters. Most people don't like original characters much, so I don't blame them for not reading it but I ask for my readers to at least give it one chance. Okay, I'm nearly begging. haha. To my reviewers: Thank you to those who continue to read the story and let me know that they are doing so. You are much appreciated! To those new readers, I hope you stick around through all eleven chapters. I know it's a bit to get through all in one sitting. ;)