Author's Note: After thinking the other day about the fact that Remus has seen so much injustice, I thought I'd write about some human decency he's experienced. I don't think Remus could be the strong person that he is without recognizing some goodness in the world and experiencing it firsthand. So here are some small moments that made a big difference in his life. If people enjoy them, I'll write about ten, in chronological order.
"Every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action."
Remus bit his tongue to fight back a cry lodged in his throat. His arms bled freely and blood pulled upward in his lungs, wet and strung out with every breath. He leaned against a tree. The bark hurt. He hurt.
If he were a normal boy, people would come to help him – so small and so wounded. But he wasn't normal. And for a year now, he hadn't even been a boy, really. What was he?
And why did his dry mouth taste of raw flesh? Remus wiped at the blood on his body and realized some of it wasn't his, saw the remnants of fur pasted to his hands with dried gore. He ate last night. The farmers knew.
What'd I do? I've been bad…I'm bad…
"MUM!" he screamed in terror, the cry catching in his chest and sending a small trail of bloody sputum down his chin.
The hunting party prowled nearby, voices sharp and separated, and Remus shook at the cacophonic yelping of their frantic dogs, goaded forward by traces of his scent. The people sounded angry. The dogs desperate. They wanted to kill the thing that stole from them. Kill him..But he had to cross the field to get home. "Too far," he whispered, letting his legs collapse beneath him and felt immediate relief from the pain of standing. Too far to cross the field.
Where would his family go now? The city? Maybe things would be better there. Maybe people would understand. And he could have friends. And play in the park. Or maybe we would die here, at the hands of the hunters. Maybe it was better this way.
Remus turned his head, legs sprawled weakly and awkwardly below, and hid his nakedness by thrusting a bloody arm between his thighs. A tall, wild-haird man in dirty clothes emerged from the woods. He trained his rifle on Remus and walked forward, eyes full of warning and mouth aggressively set.
"It's you, ain' it? Got in the pastures last night, didn' ya! Over here!" The man called over his shoulder.
Remus wrapped his arms tightly around himself and trained his eyes on the gun barrel's black hole. He pictured the bullet pounding into his skin and tearing through, drawing blood he couldn't stop. Flowing blood…like after his first transformation…..and the nightmares that came in its wake.
"I wanna go home……I hurt all over…people hurt me….here…" He looked down numbly and splayed a red hand across his side then looked up at the man, dazed.
As the man drew near, Remus fell the rest of the way to the ground, too overcome with shock to try and run. He saw the gun shift downward in the man's hand, dirt in the creases of his knuckles. The farmer smelled of burned wood and unwashed skin, and Remus shook his head weakly as he felt cold mud soaking into his hair, practically burning him with chill.
But the man just squatted down and studied the caked pellet punctures in the child's side where the shotgun blast peppered him - too distant to kill him but enough to ravage his young skin. The boy could die of lead poisoning if the pellets weren't removed.
"They're looking for you. The little werewolf who took two sheep last night. They'll kill you, son…..Sheep are our livelihood, do you understand me?"
Remus opened his eyes wide, his heart pounding.
"Aye," he whispered.
"You have family or are you feral?"
"I-I…I've got a mum and dah," he said shakily and managed to sit up and scratch backwards, away from the man.
"And they let you just run about when you're the wolf? Just let you run wild?"
"They keep me in the barn. I musta got out. I…don' wanna hurt anyone. I jus wan' my Mum….MUM!" He looked around desperately and whined as the tears began to fall, leaving clean trails down his blood-smeared cheeks.
The farmer suddenly realized how helpless the boy was - just a little lad, lanky and small, caked with gore and dirt, his hair plastered down from sweat and morning dew and now screaming for his mother. Werewolf or not, this was too much to take.
Remus moaned when the farmer picked him up under the arms and took him to the back of his small mule. He pulled out a wooden canteen and poured water on Remus' shoulders and face, dabbed some of the blood away hastily then took off his dirty overshirt and wrapped it around the boy.
Remus held still as sounds of the search party edged closer, and his breath quickened in fear. Would this man take him to the others?
"It's alright," the farmer said quietly. "Take Tirnanog home. Ride her home then let her loose. She'll come back to me. But you best not get out agan', understand?"
"Aye," Remus nodded quickly, and wondered for a moment if he were dreaming.
"Now go! Quickly!" The man swatted his mule's behind, and Remus guided Tirnanog into a trot and across the field. He turned once to see the man, just a speck in the distance with his face fixed on the mule and the small werewolf. And just as Remus edged into the trees, the man greeted the encroaching hunting party with a shrug, the raise of his arms barely discernable from so far away.
Once home, Remus' distraught parents made him comfortable and called for a healer. His father fed Tirnanog a good meal of oats and tied a bag of galleons to the animal's saddle with a note that some were for the man's kindness and the rest for replacing any sheep the werewolf had killed. (Never Remus…the werewolf.)
Soon after, they moved to London. Away from the green meadows where he almost met his death save an impoverished farmer who had probably seen little solace in his life but had provided it for a small boy when it mattered most.
In later years, especially when his ability to see the good in man failed him, Remus would remember the farmer and vow to show courtesy and compassion to others, even when it failed to come his way. And it would fail many times…