A/N:- First off, thanks to all those who reviewed! I loved the Star Wars references (although it does make me wonder… was there a way he could have said it which wouldn't have brought on such connotations? I know I couldn't think of one). Sorry for the late posting here. That's apparently what happens when I update at 2am - I fail to remember I haven't done so everywhere I should.
Just to answer my recent open challenges to readers - both the birds I mention originated in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' the first was a Diricawl (a Dodo but with the power to disappear... which in fact all Dodos had so we only think we exterminated them because we caught/killed all the ones dumb enough to not use their escape mechanism) and the second was a Jobberknoll (a small blue bird which makes no sound until it's death). More information on both these 'fantastic beasts' can be found in the aforementioned book. As for the thing which pointed inexorably at Remus… Well it is in 'The Gift of Ancestors' (which in itself is a clue within a clue) If anyone's interested I'll let you know what it was when I post the next chapter.
"Why?" Buffy didn't need to say more. They both knew the questions behind the question. There were so many of them; why are you here – who are you to me, why did it take so long – when did you find out, why didn't you come before – how did you find me. But most importantly, and so this was the question he answered first, why didn't you keep me?
"There are rules preventing my… kind… from having children. It is thought it would spread the disease."
"So Buffy might be a Werewolf? Is that something to do with her being a slayer? With her transforming?"
She almost forgotten the boy's presence, and he seemingly had forgotten his promise of silence because there was no remorse in the suspicious look he sent in Buffy's direction, the contempt with which he glared at Remus, so similar to that he had directed at Dumbledore the night before. Like the man was a stranger, unable to believe that he could have done that to his father. Could have gone after the girl James loved.
Before Buffy could deny it Remus cut in. "No, there is no way, we tested her in every way we could; with spells and silver." He could see both mouths open to start to question why they still had to hide her, "But that wouldn't have been good enough for the Ministry. The situation with You-Know-Who was so critical that they would never have risked it. There was huge animosity towards werewolves in general due to the ways they had been used against wizards. Had you been taken… well we couldn't have trusted that you would survive to the next full moon to prove them wrong."
"They would have killed her?" Harry asked, shocked out of his distain for the man by the idea of anyone murdering a newborn child, but with the actions of the Ministry over the last year, not entirely able to dismiss the idea.
Remus shrugged, not wanting to harm even further these children's belief in the goodness of the wizarding world. "I doubt they would have protected her diligently. There are worse creatures that might seek out such prey. The werewolves themselves would probably have heard of it and taken her." And thus proved the rumours true to all who fear them.
"But what made them so scared?"
He momentarily looked to Harry at his question before returning his focus to Buffy, concerned by her silence, uncertain what her lack of reaction meant. Finally Remus answered, responding to Harry but never taking his gaze from Buffy's face. "You think that the situation between Wizards and Werewolves is bad now Harry, but you need to try and understand how it was then. Werewolves were recruited by Voldemort long before he revealed his true intentions, encouraged to incite the anger of wizards against other beings, to come out of hiding, expand their packs."
"There was no Wolfsbane Potion to give us control when we change, they would never have allowed someone who had been bitten to stay on an open ward in St. Mungo's. He would have been caged in some deep dark place, far away from 'normal' patients." Remus sighed, "They probably are being now after what happened at Christmas."
There were so many thoughts blasting through her brain that Buffy couldn't think, couldn't react to what was being said when every sentence just added another voice to the din. Should she give credence to his reasons, believe the excuses? Even that thought seemed strangely abstract, not a part of her.
They had given her away to save her.
That should mean something, should be the answer to questions which had haunted her throughout her life but all it did was make the cascade in her mind fall faster. She was relieved when Harry spoke up, took the attention away from her.
"Does this mean she didn't really… that my parents…"
"Your mother and father were very much in love." he gave Harry a weak smile, trying to reassure, "The girl she was before might have hated the boy he used to be, but after losing," Remus glanced at Buffy, becoming glad that Harry had broken his word, had given him the prompts needed to explain, to go on despite her silence, "The man he had become by then was exactly who she needed."
"But, I saw them in Snape's memory. How do you go from that to love?" As he spoke Harry realised that when he had seen them his mother had probably been with Lupin not his father and his expression changed back to what it had been, closed off from the man he had once embraced as part of his extended family, "Why did you even date her if my Dad liked her?"
"When your mother and I first started" He smiled; the first truly open, she had seen since meeting him. All the years of pain etched into his features washed away by that one memory, "Well, uh… Sirius and James, they were always the ones to get the girls… and I knew that if they found out one or both would try to coax her away." He shrugged, accepting that his best friends would have done their to sabotage his relationship in a boyish game of one-up-man-ship. "We were prefects together and…" He broke into another grin before seeing Harry's belligerent expression and continuing, "By the end of spring term in the year we got together, my best friend had set his sights firmly on my girlfriend."
"We all thought it was a passing phase; that James was just after the unobtainable, the one girl in the school who didn't fall over herself at the sight of a rich, pure-blooded Quiditch star. So we waited again, planning to tell him when he moved on." He sighed, "But it went on for too long for it to be just that."
"At first my relationship with Lily had been a secret just because it was new, then to wait for James to get over his infatuation. But by the time they found out we had been going out for well over a year and James had almost completely changed in order to fit what he thought she wanted. He had changed, enough that in the summer it was James that got the 'Headboy' badge in his Hogwarts letter."
He looked at Harry, pointedly holding his gaze, "Enough that it was him she went to for comfort after a hospital stay became the worst either of us could remember. She blamed me for what happened. And rightly so." Remus' eyes flicked to Buffy, "It was all my fault."
She saw in Remus, in her Father's eyes that same longing for someone to trust, to love them and in so doing absolve them of their sins, that Angel had when he spoke to her of Darla and Drusilla, of the monster he had been before the curse.
It wasn't something she had anticipated in any of her thoughts about her parentage. She expected to have been abandoned for a simple reason. That she had been unwanted or unloved. None of her wildest hypothesising had prepared Buffy for this level of need from her estranged parent, for his desire to be loved despite an overt acceptance that he did not deserve to be.
How could she respond to that when she couldn't even collect her own thoughts. When everything she thought she knew was changing with each word he uttered.
"When… When I first told her about my condition, long before the others found out about our relationship and Sirius tried to use it to break us up, she was understanding. But accepting that your boyfriend isn't fun to be about on the full moon is different to having to give up your child because of it. She hadn't known, what having my child would mean."
"We had a plan. It seems so childish now that I look back on it. Naive to believe we could get away with it." His bitter smile was directed at himself, at their obliviousness, "It seemed like fate. We had hidden our relationship from the school to keep James from finding out but it also meant that no one would suspect that the baby was mine. We thought it meant we could keep you. Even if we'd always have to hide who I was to you, to her, that I could never be anything more than a friend."
"So what happened?"
"Someone found out and told the Ministry, or they detected the spells we used to check that you were what we had hoped for. A perfectly healthy baby. Our little girl. We thought we could get away with it… hadn't even considered…. Hadn't thought that we might have to give you up until there was no time left to think."
"We had finally stopped arguing about what to name you when we heard they were coming to take you away. My mother took you, hid you near the Hellmouth. She helped Muggle-borns escape during the war so we knew she could get you away from them, but even knowing there was nothing else to do, Lily didn't want to let you go. Neither of us did. "
"But… How did you trick the Ministry?"
"My father." Remus was visibly sickened by what he was about to say, "He always was an expert at transfiguration."
"He made it seem as if our baby had died." He said hollowly, "The Ministry insisted on taking charge of the remains."
Remus took a moment to steady himself before continuing, trying to use the rest of the story to drive away haunting thoughts of what might have been done to the image of his infant daughter, "In the following months, Lily and I grew apart and she got to know James better. The rest as they say… is history. She needed someone, and we both understood why it couldn't be me."
There it was again, his acceptance that without his curse none of this would have happened. That it was all his fault. Was this why he had taken in the other werewolf, come to help her before he could have known who she was to him. Some attempt at atonement, to balance out the damage his power had done by using his understanding of it to help others.
"I'm not sure James ever really trusted me again after he found out about me and Lily. We were never as close as we had been. It's probably what caused him to change their secret keeper." His words were heavy with guilt, with this extra link he had only recently added to the chain which weighed him down, "And Lily… the day she gave me that letter... she probably spoke more words to me the day she went into hiding than she had in the three years since you were born. Since she lost you."
He looked at the letter, the darkened parchment and faded letters spelling out the name of a girl long declared dead and buried, remembering it being presented to him, the last time he had seen the woman the girl he once loved had become. Remus looked up from Buffy's hands to her face and saw that girl in the face of her, of their daughter.
"I can't believe I didn't know the moment I saw you." His voice was filled momentarily with warmth, love, before descending back into less happy memories, "You look so much like she did then. When we were… when she was… "
His words sparked something in Buffy, a memory of those last weeks in Sunnydale when Angel had lost his soul. Of how hard she had worked to try and separate what he had become from what he had been. How she had disassociated the man she loved from the man she fought so much that it took a moment for her to realise it was him when he came back. When he died.
It was easier to think about that than what he was telling her. To think about her friend's lost love rather than her father losing her mother. To see how they had both buried the image of the one they loved in a futile effort to move on.
"When she was yours" She finished, allowing herself to dig up that picture of Angel and feeling only affection, the desperate longing and guilt which had haunted her memories of him for so long had faded into pleasant reminders of the support and trust he had given so freely.
Remus nodded with a proud smile, relieved that Buffy was finally talking. "Perhaps that was it; the Lily I picture now is the woman I saw not long before her death, not the girl I loved. I've spent years trying not to think about her. But Buffy, I've never stopped thinking about you."
Though she hated to admit it, neither had she, never able to forget an event which occurred long before she had the capacity to remember. However little she wanted to know them, however much she told herself they were not a part of her life, her true parentage had influenced her so much.
The actions of others should have changed that, should have mattered more.
She had been given away but she was also chosen. Chosen not to be a slayer but to be loved by the woman who raised her. That should at least canceled out the initial event but somehow it never did. That whispered act of rejection inescapable even with loud statements of love attempting to drown it out, resounding through everything she was with the only question that mattered. Why?
Now she had an answer to that question, an answer which, like the words of love, should succeed in destroying the pain of rejection and yet didn't manage to. Buffy could see the sincerity in his eyes, his belief in what he was telling them and perhaps it was true. Maybe she would have been poked and prodded, wouldn't have survived. That didn't stop being discarded influencing everything she did.
Buffy had been abandoned by those who should have cared for her, and then repeatedly abandoned her own responsibilities, running away from her duty, her friends, the family that had taken her in.
Was it genetic, she had once wondered, sitting in that social worker's office with a key held so tightly in her hand it was beginning to break skin. She hadn't known before the extent to which her parents had discarded their child, ignored their responsibility to the life they had created, and yet she followed so readily in their wake. Running from L.A. in the hopes of escaping her calling, trying to avoid facing the Master and her death. How could these things be abandonment issues if at the time she hadn't known that she had truly been abandoned.
Remus had been abandoned too, she realised with a start; his hopes for a family destroyed when he lost his child and then slowly losing Lily, the girl he loved, too as she looked elsewhere for the help they should have given one another.
Had her running away to L.A. just been an acceptance of the inevitability of this failure that dwelt somewhere within her, that had caused the abandoned to become the abandoner. She had chosen to abandon Harry, wilfully ignoring a boy who was so in need of a family's support. Had tried to abandon Faith, pushing the watchers to intervene when she knew with everything she was that the girl needed her support to survive this.
This sea of abandonment centred on her, ripples reverberating out from that initial act where Lily and Remus made the impossible decision to let her go. Was it who she was, was it in her genes or was it just what they had let her become.
Remus' passive acceptance of blame while his words seemed to try and absolve him of guilt lit a spark which was quickly strengthened by the roaring winds within her mind, inflamed into something she couldn't control. Coalesced into a single furious thought which wouldn't be restrained. They hadn't had a choice, he had argued, but what was it that had prevented them from going into hiding along with their child.
"You say you had no choice, but you did." He flinched away from her gaze, unable to cope with the level of emotion any more than he had been able to her silence, "If your mother could secretly take me to America you all could have gone. If being that close to the Hellmouth hid my powers it would have concealed yours as well. You had choices, but you chose to let me go, to not fight for me, and you chose not to come with me."
"I… I'm sorry."
The anger bubbled up again and this time she managed to restrain it, to not destroy the remains of a tentative friendship, attack a man who was already weighed down by regret, who felt his guilt so acutely. Buffy closed her eyes and took a deep breath. There was more she needed to say, to ask. So many of those questions still unanswered, but right now with her head whirling she couldn't do it. Couldn't take any more of Remus' deafening remorse. Couldn't stand the look in Harry's eyes somewhere between hope and betrayal.
"Just… go." Both Harry and Remus seemed about to respond and she quickly continued, "Please." She asked desperately, barely able to contain her tumultuous thoughts, "Give me… time."
Even a training session with Camilla once Remus had pulled Harry out of the office hadn't been able to ease the chaos in her mind. After exhausting herself fighting the statue, she found herself meandering back down through the empty corridors. Buffy couldn't return to the Ravenclaw Tower. They might expect that, might seek her out. Or worse she could be left alone with only thoughts of this to focus on. Instead she kept moving, avoiding any place she thought the members of D.A. might have gone, the grounds, the library, the Great Hall.
Somehow she found herself at the door to the Hospital Wing and knew that this was where she needed to be. Buffy warily peered around the door, worried that she would find Harry and his friends holding court within. The room was quiet, and had returned to it's usual size now that the vast influx of patients had dispersed. Only two beds at the far end of the room remained occupied, and Buffy took a step towards them before realising that neither was the girl she had come to visit.
Had she mistaken the decisions made the night before? Did Matthew change his mind and take Faith away to the watchers. To somewhere Buffy wouldn't be able to reach, to help her.
She checked the room again but there was no other patients there. The Hogwarts High Inquisitor was no longer stretched but retained her greenish tinge and was muttering inaudibly, the regular huffs cutting across the room and in the bed beside her with curls splayed across the pillow was the sleeping form of Marietta. The girl who had betrayed D.A.
"Poor dear." Madame Pomfrey's voice came from behind Buffy as the muttering grew in volume, "I think one of the spells muddled her mind, she can't even accept that You-Know-Who is back."
"What will happen to her?" Buffy asked politely, unable to summon any emotion regarding the woman's fate.
"Professor Umbridge is being transferred to St Mungos. They have the facilities for long term care."
The Healer sighed, "Nothing we have done has helped her regain her voice."
She frowned, "But you're not sending her to St Mungos?"
"No. The Headmaster believes that as the jinx was enacted here we have a better chance of breaking it. Was it your Housemate that you came to see?" the woman swept her eyes with clinical precision over Buffy, "Or have you had any other repercussions of the other night?"
Before she could say anything Buffy was manoeuvred back onto a nearby bed, the witch waving her wand purposefully over her. "No… I came to see Faith. Is she-"
"She's in a private room." at her words Buffy let out the breath she hadn't realised she was holding, "I was asked to ensure she would have some privacy."
Madam Pomfrey lead Buffy to a new door off the ward which opened onto a room with a single bed. Faith's torso was swathed in bandages, raising up and down as she took in shuddering breaths. Buffy rushed from the doorway to her side, grasping her hand. She expected to feel something, that like when she had taken Harry's hand in Dumbledore's office, that the connection they had would help ease Faith's distress, but nothing seemed to change.
"What's wrong with her?"
She bustled across the room and took a potion out of a cupboard at the head of the bed, "She goes through periods of agitation. This should help to ease it."
Buffy watched as the healer poured the potion down her throat and tapped her wand on Faith's throat to make the unresponsive girl swallow. She waited for the potion to take effect but it didn't seem to change anything, her breathing remained laboured. Faith seemed to flinch back suddenly, her hand reflexively gripping onto Buffy's. She waited for the impact of Faith's turmoil to hit like the visions of her actions had before but it didn't come.
No sense that she was connected to this girl, no insight into the demons she was fighting. There was nothing but the slight chill her hand was absorbing on from Faith's.
"What can I do to help her?"
"Just be here."
~ to be continued... ~
A/N:- So before I get a slew of reviews telling me that it's fine for werewolves to have children please remember that this tale (and the decision of who her parents were) was contrived months before HBP was out... and long before we had any idea about DH and all that was contained within. What we did know at that point was that there was a Ban on Experimental Breeding and Werewolves were classed in many ways by wizards as beasts.
As always any questions, queries or comments are greatly appreciated.