Summary: Remus Lupin meets with Albus Dumbledore to discuss the role of Dark creatures in the war against Voldemort. But the meeting turns into something more personal to Remus' heart. A one-shot OotP spoiler. NO SLASH!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. I'm just borrowing Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin. Rowling is the one who deserves all the credit!
Mucada: I've also seen very few stories like this published on FFN, and maybe even less on Sugar Quill! I guess that's why I decided to write this story...
flyinghigh: Thank you for your comments! I put a lot of effort into building up the kind of "father-son" relationship that is seen in this story. I'm glad you liked it!
catgirl80: Yes, this is a sad story, but it also has a...well...glint of hope for the future too...I think that's what I like about it!
Ghost of Allknowing: Yes, very few authors try to potray the "hidden" side of Remus in this type of situation, butI've seen some other works that were kind of similar. As for your comment about you thinking slash was going to pop up, I can understand your concern (I sometimes have to use disgression with the stories I read), but I thought the NO SLASH! warning in my badsummary was an indicator that the story did indeed contain no slash...
My thanks to all who reviewed The Burdens of an Old Headmaster...your comments were greatly appreciated! Also, if you have time, please check out A Blissful Sleep and To Carry You Home...
I hope you all enjoy this one!
My Poor Werewolf Child
"Custard Creams," said Remus Lupin to the stone gargoyle that guarded the headmaster's office. The gargoyle promptly jumped aside as the wall behind it split open. The wizard walked forward and stepped onto the stone escalator that would take him to Dumbledore. Upon reaching the landing, he sighed and knocked on the grand oak doors.
"Come in," he heard the headmaster say.
Remus slid the door open silently and peeked in. "Headmaster?"
Dumbledore looked up from the paper he was reading. "Ah, Remus! Thank you for coming. I trust that your travels were pleasant?"
Remus smiled. "Oh yes. The thestrals have always been very graceful fliers. Very smooth trip."
The headmaster returned the smile and motioned for Remus to follow him to the lounge. Dumbledore sat in a squashy chintz armchair, and Remus sat across from him on the couch. Tea instantly appeared and was poured for both men. "So, how are things as of late? I know that Kingsley and Nymphadora are currently involved in business at the Auror Office, and Alastor is working on the Azkaban situation, but how are things with you and Arthur in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures?"
"Things are going pretty well. Amos Diggory has seen the good in our cause, and he agreed to help gather up the werewolves to see if they will side with us."
"Excellent! That only leaves the centaur, but I think they've already taken sides."
"I believe you are right. The centaur stayed clear of either side during the first war, but I believe they will side with us this time. I don't think they've taken too well to what Voldemort's offering them."
"I agree. I've sent a request to the vampires to meet with Therastella – "
"Who?" asked Remus.
"The vampire empress," said Dumbledore simply. "I was never fond of her, and I am sure that the feeling is mutual, but I know that she does not sympathize with Voldemort, and we know that it is essential that we get as many allies on our side as possible."
"I see. Well, we've also got the support of the merpeople. It wasn't easy, but I think we've finally convinced them. They remembered the colony that Voldemort had destroyed off the coast of Scotland, and they were not too pleased to hear that it could happen again. Not that we expected them to be pleased, of course."
"And Hagrid's already told us that the giants have sided with Voldemort. And we know that the Dementors will join Voldemort in a few weeks."
"It's a shame that Hagrid and Madame Maxime couldn't get through to the giants."
"Yes, it's a pity," said Dumbledore. "They would have been a big help. The giants may unfortunately give Voldemort a slight upper hand in the present situation."
"Well, contrary to popular belief, the giants would be very good decoys. They're big enough to start up pandemonium in any town, magic or Muggle, without being too vulnerable, they're easily accessible, and their allegiance will not waver if any of their number are killed because Voldemort will give them what they want."
"And that is?"
"Blood," said Dumbledore simply.
"But weren't the giants killing up in the mountains anyway?"
"The giants thirst for human blood. They enjoy wreaking havoc just to hear the blood-curling screams of their victims."
"Well, then there's not much we can do, I guess. And I know the trolls would be unable to convince them. We could barely convince them to join us."
"I'd like to see that," said Dumbledore suddenly.
"See what?" asked Remus, confused by the older wizard's statement.
"See the trolls try to convince the giants to join our side. Or try to convince them of anything, for that matter."
"They would probably just get themselves killed."
"You're probably right. "The headmaster sighed. "Now then, Remus, I'm going to have to have to ask something else of you."
"Would you consider taking up the Defense Against the Dark Arts post again?"
"But Professor, you know what happened last time; the students and their parents know that I am a werewolf. They won't want me teaching at Hogwarts!"
"Many of them are willing to overlook that fact because you are a very good teacher. Besides, they have all agreed to let you come back and teach without complaint as long as you continue to take the Wolfsbane Potion, and I'm sure that Severus would be more than willing to make it for you."
"What about Fudge and the Ministry? I know they'll protest against such an idea!"
"I think not. I have recently acquired Cornelius' favor again. I believe he has seen the error of his ways, and is willing to cooperate with me again. He's just not telling anyone yet."
Remus immediately opened his mouth to protest, but Dumbledore held up his hand. "Ah, ah, ah; before you say anything else, just think about it, all right? I know you're a great teacher; the students and staff know you are a great teacher. Do not rush your answer."
They sat in silence for a few moments until Remus nodded. "All right," he said softly.
"Thank you. Now, what of Harry? I believe you visited him a few days ago? How is he coping?"
Remus sighed. "Harry is a well as he can be expected to be. We didn't do much. He wasn't ready to talk about what happened yet; all he was able to do was cry into my shoulder. I comforted him as best I could. It sounded like his uncle was going to burst into the room a few times to try and kick me out, but put a Locking Charm on the door and a Sound Charm on the room so no one could hear from the outside. Do you think I was right to do that?"
"I think you did everything right, both in charming the room and comforting Harry."
"I just hope it was enough. The latter, I mean."
"Oh, I'm sure you lifted a great burden off his shoulders. I know that he wants to talk to you. Just give him time; he will need someone like you to confide in."
"I could never replace him," said Remus softly, placing his tea cup and saucer on the coffee table.
"You are your own special person. Harry needs you to talk. Only you can relate to how he feels. I'm sure he can help you, too."
"Yes, I suppose you're right." Remus sighed again, showing exhaustion that had obviously accumulated over a long period of sleepless nights.
Well, thought Dumbledore, wasn't that interesting? I wonder how he's coping. We'll just have to find out, shall we? Dumbledore placed his teacup and saucer on the coffee table. "And what about you, Remus? How are you coping without Sirius?"
Sirius. Just the thought of his best friend's name made his throat burn. He stared down at his knees, and he could feel hot tears begin to well up in his eyes. He sat in silence, willing the tears to not fall. I shouldn't be crying, he thought. I've dealt with loss before. Come on Lupin, snap out of it!
But no matter what he told himself, the tears did not go away. He could feel the small droplets cling to his eyelashes as tears rolled down his cheeks and splashed onto his jeans. Then he heard the soft clatter of something on wood and footsteps coming towards him. He felt the couch sink in next to him slightly, and an arm wrapped around his shoulders, pulling him into the headmaster's side.
Something broke in Remus Lupin at that moment, something that had been kept balled inside ever since he had seen Sirius fall through the veil. The silent tears were falling faster. Remus began to cry hard, his face streaked with lonely tears, pain-filled tears, hurt tears, bitter tears. His lean figure began to tremble, and Dumbledore pulled him in closer.
"Yes, my child," whispered Dumbledore softly, "it hurts, doesn't it? I know you loved him; he was like your brother. It will be all right." The headmaster continued to whisper soothing words as Remus' breathing became more ragged. When the younger wizard's trembling did not cease, Dumbledore put his other arm around Remus and pulled him into a firm hug. The headmaster let Remus find comfort in his strong arms, and although the effect was only slight, the younger man's trembling began to decrease and his bitter sobs began to quiet down.
"I'm sorry," whispered Remus weakly.
Dumbledore grasped both of Remus' shoulders and pulled out of the hug. Remus was still looking down, apparently very interested in the design on the couch cushions. "Do not be sorry, my child," said the headmaster, taking his right hand off Remus' shoulder and lifting the younger wizard's chin. Golden amber eyes that were sad, tired, and empty looked back at Dumbledore from a tired, tear-stained face. "It is not your fault." It's my fault, thought the headmaster. It's my fault that you are suffering now.
"It's not your fault either, sir," said Remus quietly, as if he could read the headmaster's mind.
Dumbledore sighed. If only it were true. "Just know that I will always be here for you, my child. Always."
The headmaster pulled Remus back into a hug, and the younger wizard leaned into him, putting his head on Dumbledore's chest and closing his eyes. The headmaster began to stroke Remus' soft light brown, grey-streaked hair as a few more silent tears streamed down the younger wizard's cheeks. My poor werewolf child, thought the headmaster. You've worn yourself past the breaking point, yet you still try to be strong for everyone else, not even thinking about yourself. Dumbledore discreetly slipped his wand out of his robes and waved a simple Sleeping Charm over the tired wizard encased in the his embrace. He laid the sleeping wizard on the couch, using his own lap for Remus' pillow. Dumbledore summoned a blanket from his room and draped it over the thin figure that was Remus Lupin. Oh dear, he's much too skinny again. I'll have to make sure that the house-elves bring up a good breakfast for him, or Poppy will have my head. As he stroked the sleeping wizard's hair, Dumbledore found he was beginning to doze off. He fell asleep on the couch, but not before hoping that, whatever happened in the war, his werewolf child would someday be able to find happiness.
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