Hair of the Dog
It took significant effort to open my eyes and once I did, I fought to close them again.
White walls, white ceiling, white sheets... too much bright white for my sensitive eyes. The blasted Hospital Wing... again.
"Ah, Remus, my boy," Albus Dumbledore's whispered from next to my cot.
Blasted old codger could not just let me rest a bit more, could he? With a weighty sigh I opened my eyes again. It took less effort that time and my head already felt like the fog was clearing out.
"Albus," I rasped with a half nod.
"How are you feeling?" the old man asked as he conjured a glass of refreshing water and gently helped me sit up.
Fighting back the urge to gulp the cool liquid, I forced myself to take small sips until my throat no longer felt parched. Finally feeling like I could speak again, I let Albus put the glass down.
"I'm feeling much better now, thank you. Where is Hermione?" I asked. Glancing around the empty Hospital Wing, I turned my gaze by to Albus. "Where is she?"
Albus smiled, his blue eyes twinkling behind his spectacles, and patted my shoulder. "Miss Granger left the Hospital Wing two days ago with no injuries and all signs indicate that she is free of the lycanthropy curse."
Relief washed over me the moment Albus said that Hermione was free of the curse. A few seconds later I realized that he said Hermione left two days ago.
"I was unconscious all that time?" I breathed, shocked.
"Yes, unfortunately. Madam Pomfrey and I believe that since you have been inflicted for so long, the ritual potion needed more time to work its magic, as it were. We shall find out momentarily if it was successful."
We sat there in silence for a while as I tried to take it all in. My last memory was of Hermione and I drinking the blood potion after we transformed back to our human forms. Since that time, days have passed. According to Albus, we would find out momentarily if I was cured. Merlin, I hoped it worked!
A few minutes later, Poppy Pomfrey bustled up to my cot with wand in hand, looking chipper and hopeful.
"I am pleased to see that you are finally awake, Remus. I was beginning to worry about you."
"It's nice to finally be awake. Forgive me for worrying you, Poppy. It was not my intention."
"Hush now," Poppy replied as she set about casting numerous diagnostic spells.
In under a minute, Poppy stashed her wand in a hidden pocket of her sleeve and clicked her tongue. Her expression was serious and contemplative. I was on the verge of a panic attack when Poppy finally decided to share my prognosis.
"I am in awe that I am truly about to say this... Remus, you have been cured of lycanthropy."
Dead silence hung in the air as we all tried to absorb the fact that I was really and truly cured. My gaze briefly met Albus' and there was the slightest hint of tears building up in his eyes as he stared at me in wonder. The relief and amazement was overwhelming and my body seemed to just shut down. Blackness overcame me once again.
Waking up after the ritual was... surreal.
I was a werewolf... and then I wasn't. It was over nearly as soon as it started and I slept for more than twenty-four hours before I awoke, refreshed and wholly human again.
The way Madam Pomfrey explained it, which coincided with what I surmised through much research, I was able to recover rather quickly following such a powerful ritual because I was only barely a werewolf. I had been infected for less than an entire calendar month. The poison did not have much time to settle in my veins before it was removed by the ritual.
Poor Remus, on the other hand, had been infected for years - nearly his entire lifetime - and the ritual needed more time to root out the 'evil'.
It was fascinating, really, how complex the entire process turned out to be. To think of how naive I had been when I first looked into the concept! I truly thought it would be an easy thing to just love someone and cure them of a lifetime of infliction... and to think that in some ways it was, but there was no way I would have been able to do all this on my own. If not for Headmaster Dumbledore and Professor Snape, my hope and determination would have been all for naught.
It was odd, the only reminder I had left of the wolf was the strange feeling that came over me when the sun went down and a significant increase in my appetite. Other than that, there was not so much as a remnant left of her presence.
I almost felt sad knowing she was gone. Almost. Mostly, I was relieved that the ritual worked.
The Headmaster excused me from classes for a few days (oh, how I loathed to think about the amount of classes that I have missed this year!) and I spent the next day sitting by Remus' bedside while I caught up on my studies. I hated the thought of leaving him alone when we were so close the finish line.
That morning, I was on my way to visit Remus when Harry and Ron caught up with me.
"Hey, 'Mione," Ron greeted as he loped up to my side.
"Hullo, Hermione," Harry smiled broadly as he came up on my other side.
"Good morning, boys."
"Where are you headed?" Harry asked as I continued down the hall in the direction of the Hospital Wing.
"Where do you think? She's going to see her lover boy, mate," Ron joked before turning serious. "Has Remus woken up yet?"
"Not yet," I replied sadly. "According to Madam Pomfrey, the ritual will take longer for him since he has been infected for so long."
"He'll wake up soon and be right as rain," Harry said encouragingly. "How are you feeling after all of this?"
"Surprisingly well, actually," I admitted. "I feel like none of this ever happened, except for the increase in appetite and the ever so slight change I feel in the evenings. Both are things that I can easily get used to. Especially since the Headmaster thinks those qualities will fade with time."
We continued chatting as the boys walked with me to the Hospital Wing. The three of us did not spend as much time together as we used to – between class schedules, Quidditch, Head Girl duties, girlfriends (or manfriend for me), and dealing with the ritual, it was hard to find spare moments that were not being devoted to something else. It was great to spend some time with them, especially when we talked about 'normal' things! It reminded me of our first few years at Hogwarts, back when we were inseparable.
It was also nice to know that the boys were interested in the goings on of my life. Sometimes, Harry and Ron could be so aloof or just plain self-absorbed. Still, they were my best friends for so long that it just felt right to have them by my side through all of these recent trials and tribulations.
As we approached the double doors to the Hospital Wing, the Headmaster walked out of the wing, a pleased smile alighting his wrinkled face. "Ah, children. It is a quite amazing when miracles happen, as I'm sure Miss Granger can attest."
"That is true, sir," I replied. "I take that to mean that Professor Lupin has finally awoken?"
"Indeed, Miss Granger. He woke briefly and Madam Pomfrey confirmed that the ritual was successful. Unfortunately, his wakened state did not last long as he his asleep once again. Madam Pomfrey indicated that he will need to rest often as his body recovers."
I barely heard anything the Headmaster said after he stated that Remus finally woke up. I wanted to burst into the Hospital Wing to see for myself that he was actually cured. If not for the steady weight of the Headmaster's bony hand on my shoulder, I would have. He knew that I wanted to be by Remus' side, but his hand was a silent way of telling me that now was not the right time.
"Since Professor Lupin will be napping for at least the next hour, perhaps you three will accompany me to the Great Hall for breakfast," the Headmaster requested as he gently nudged me in the direction opposite the Hospital Wing. Albus Dumbledore was anything but subtle, sometimes.
"Of course, sir," Harry replied, shooting me a knowing look as the Headmaster lead the way down the corridor. Once the old wizard was a few feet out of hearing range, Harry whispered, "I guess he did not want you to see Remus just yet. Is he mad at you for something?"
"I haven't the slightest clue," I whispered back. "Although it seems odd, I think the Headmaster is protecting Remus from overdoing anything. He is afraid that something will go wrong if Remus doesn't let himself fully recover."
As much as I ached to see Remus, I understood the Headmaster's concern. I was equally terrified that the ritual would not fully cure Remus and that he would still change into a werewolf during the next full moon. If the Headmaster believed allowing Remus to rest undisturbed would ensure his full recovery, then who was I to argue? More often than not, Albus Dumbledore knew what he was doing.
After breakfast, I went straight back to the Hospital Wing to wait at Remus' bedside under Madam Pomfrey's watchful gaze until he roused from his nap. It was not long before Remus shifted and his eyes blinked open.
"Morning, sleepyhead," I greet, my hand automatically reaching out to touch his stubbled cheek.
"Mmmm," he mumbled back, leaning his face against my hand. "Morning, love."
We stared into each others eyes for a long time until the sound of approaching footsteps shattered the peaceful moment. Sitting up straight in the hard back chair, I nodded to Madam Pomfrey as she came up on the other side of the bed.
"How was your nap, Remus?" the mediwitch asked as she cast a diagnostic spell on her patient.
"Very refreshing," Remus replied. "I feel much better now." His voice hinted at his hope of leaving the Hospital Wing soon, but Madam Pomfrey clicked her tongue.
"That is good to hear. Your body is still recovering, so your energy and stamina will be very low for the next day or two. I am going to keep you here for observation until I am certain that your body can manage your return to normal life."
Remus opened his mouth to argue as I looked back and forth between him and Madam Pomfrey. He snapped his mouth shut at the stern look Madam Pomfrey gave him. She would brook no arguments from him and rightfully so. Even I could see the exhaustion in his face - there were large bags under his bloodshot eyes and he blinked often as if his eyelids might shut for good at any moment.
"Very well," he finally conceded. "I could probably use another nap soon anyway."
Smiling at his sheer stubbornness, Madam Pomfrey gave a gentle pat on his right shoulder before retreating back to her office.
Remus turned back to me with a sigh. "I just want to sleep in my own bed, is that too much to ask?"
With a reassuring smile, I nodded. "That would make it a little harder for Madam Pomfrey to do her rounds and keep a watchful eye on you. Besides, I've spent enough time in these cots to know that they aren't the worst beds in the world."
"You're supposed to be on my side, you know," Remus whined, jutting his bottom lip out enticingly. It was too bad that we were still in the Hospital Wing with almost no privacy whatsoever.
"I know, dear."
"I am relieved that you are back to normal," he replied. "I don't know that I could have handled it if the ritual did not work on you. Having lived with the curse for so long, it would have been bearable if it did not work for me."
With his heart in his eyes, I knew that Remus would have survived without having been cured. He even doubted that it would actually work in the beginning. Admittedly, I was also glad that the ritual worked out... for both of us.
After a few more minutes of chatting, Remus fell asleep again. I watched him as he slept. He looked so young and carefree while slumbering. His slow, steady breathing lulled me until I leant forward, placing my head on his bed, and fell asleep too.