Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and blah blah blah…
Remus Lupin looked and felt sick, nothing unusual on day preceding the full moon. There were exceptions to this general rule but those were few and far between and exceedingly more scarce now that his Hogwarts years were long over. It didn't help much that the two best friends who were largely responsible for those rare occasions were coincidentally quite dead. And while this day proved to be an exception in its own right- it was by no means related to how he looked or felt. Oh no, tonight's exception had to do with a little bottle resting comfortably in the side pocket of his robes and the inquisitive hand searching hopefully for money. Lupin had rented a small motel room within which to transform, and it was on his way there, a scant thirty minutes from dusk, that a foreign hand entered that same pocket and stole the bottle from its resting place.
Well you can imagine what happened next, or at least I assume you can. But for those of us who have come down with a sudden case of laziness or are simply unable to remember what one generally does upon finding a kind soul willing to make your pockets a little lighter for your convenience, I suppose it is my duty as the writer to enlighten you. It's quite simple really- you give chase, and Remus Lupin did just that.
Lupin swore heavily as he glanced at the sky. He had finally stopped running after shadows and now stood in a back ally alone in the growing darkness… without his potion. Somewhere in the back of his mind a voice was crying out to apparate somewhere, anywhere that was far away from the smell of humans, but the wolf in him was already starting to get control. And as the moon's light broke the clouds, a thing of beauty that has been praised and even worshiped throughout the centuries, something of equal beauty, though many would beg to differ, was once again created.
That night the moon's child that was both man and beast roomed the dark back alleys enslaved to the smell of human flesh.
"Find anything yet?" Scott's voice said to loudly into her ear-piece. Rogue winced at the noise, she had enough trouble with voices in her head as it was. She, along with the rest of the X-Men, were spread out searching for yet another new mutant. For once she wasn't wearing the trademark spandex costume as the professor didn't want to draw attention to them in a foreign country, so Rogue was left wearing her usual array of dark cloths that covered her from the neck down. Long sleeved shirt, pants, combat boots, and as always the gloves, never forget the gloves.
"No and I don't expect to," was her tart reply. Rogue switched her communicator off knowing that Jean would contact her when the task was done. Rogue did not appreciate being awoken in the early hours of the morning and then being dragged off to England to help find the new mutant.
True to her words, she really did not expect to be the one to find the mutant. First of all, she was wandering the back allies, where no one in their right mind would want to be. The second reason was that judging from the Professors description of the mutant Rahne Sinclair's powers, she would be able to smell Rogue coming and would no doubt wish to avoid people. Rahne Sinclair was a recently developed mutant with the ability to change into a dog, or if she wanted, stop the transformation halfway through to resemble what many people assume a werewolf would look like. Ironic isn't it?
Rogue stopped as a sound caught her ears. It was a low growling, and given the task at hand, she headed toward the sound, a simple act of friendship that would change her life forever.
She rounded the corner and the growling grew more intense. There was always the hope that it was just a stray dog, but in literature things never seem to be 'just' anything do they?
Rogue's first reaction was to scream, her second; to run. If these thoughts had occurred in reverse order, she may yet have been saved. But in the slight millisecond it took for the latter to take affect it was all ready to late. The beast snarled once more and then attacked.
Rogue was knocked to the ground as she turned to run, claws digging into back forcing yet another scream to rip through her body. She tried to roll away, escape, anything, but teeth closed down on her shoulder, tearing through her skin more effectively then a knife.
This was one of the few times that Rogue would ever be thankful she was a mutant, for as the werewolf tore open her skin her powers kicked in and began draining the life out of her adversary. Even as the creature was reduced into an unconscious state and rolled away from her Rogue felt the blackness closing in. In one last desperate attempt she reached for her communicator, but it slipped easily from her blood soaked glove just as the darkness claimed her.
In the darkness there were memories, but these contained only fleeting images seen through a veil of red gauze and a blinding hunger to kill.
Lupin didn't need the feeling of dread that spread over him when he opened his eyes in the thin morning light to tell him something was wrong. No the sight of a blood soaked ground was more than enough to tell him that. The dread was replaced with a pang of urgency as he saw the motionless figure lying a few feet away from him, a figure who bore his teeth marks and now his curse.
'If she's still alive,' the thought came to him. He should be up moving, but he seemed frozen, almost drained as if during the night something had come and sucked some of his life away. The girl, for he now saw that it was indeed a girl, moaned slightly making him forget his weariness.
"Oh God," he whispered, "Please stay alive, please," he felt tears threatening to come but now was not the time to lose control over his emotions. Right now he had to get her to Dumbledore if there was any chance at all for her survival. Picking up the girl in his arms he held her as tight as he dared and apparated with a loud crack, right to the door of the Black Manor.
"LET ME IN!" he screamed kicking the door in his hurry to get in. He barely noticed who opened the door, let alone their shocked look. "Where's Dumbledore?" He demanded, Ron just pointed silently to the main meeting room. He ran past without a word of thanks and burst through the door finally coming to a stop as he painted and clutched the girl to his chest.
Dumbledore took charge instantly, clearing the table with a sweep of his wand and beckoning Lupin to place her down.
"What happened?" He asked in that cool collected tone of his.
Lupin wanted to scream, but he only managed an out of breath rasp, "Tell you later, help her!"
Dumbledore turned to Tonks and Mrs. Weasly, but before he could say anything Mrs. Weasly was already pushing him and all the other males in the room out the door. "Remember to where gloves, in her weakened state, her body is more prone to infection," He managed to say before the door was closed behind him.
"Now Lupin," He said leading him to a chair, Harry, Ron, Hermione had now entered the room and were looking on with interest, "Tell us what happened."
"I can't find her, that means she's either unconscious, or…" Jeans voice trailed off. They had found Rahne a few hours ago and everyone had met back at the plane except Rogue. Jean had tried to locate her with her mind but it hadn't worked.
"Um, I might be able to help." A timid voice said behind her, "If you give me something with her smell on it I should be able to trace her down." No sooner had Rahne spoken than Kitty thrust a CD player into her hands, "This is hers, I was just borrowing it." Wolfsbane led the X-Men into the back streets of the town, following the scent that had been given to her. It didn't take her long to find where the trail ended, but when it did it was a sight that all of them would remember.
The ground was covered with fresh blood, just starting to dry into a brownish paste, and lying in the center was a communicator, the only thing left of Rogue besides her life's red flow.
That thing in the alley, running, pain, biting…
A man carrying her through a doorway…
Something hard under her, pain ebbing away…
These were all the things that flashed through Rogue's mind as she stirred into wakefulness. Fleeting memories of what had happened to her over the last few hours.
Rogue opened her eyes to see a pair of half-moon spectacles hovering over her, attached to the spectacles was an elderly man with long silver hair and beard that cascaded down a good few feet to end near his waist.
"Ah, good to see you're awake, my names Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. How are you feeling this afternoon?" he spoke to her in a voice not unlike that of the professors.
"I'm fine," Rogue said, then noticing how he was looking at her expectantly she added, "Rogue, my names Rogue."
She struggled to sit up and look around. Rogue was lying on a bed in a small room surrounded by people. Besides Dumbledore there was a middle-aged woman with flaming red hair, though it wasn't without a rare gray strand here and there. Next to her stood three teens of about Rogue's age, a girl with bushy brown hair, a boy with messy black hair and green eyes almost as vivid as her own, and the lastly another boy who was slightly taller that the others. She could only assume he was the woman's son as his hair was also shone with the same dancing fire, though without the gray. The last occupant of the room was the man she recognized as the one who had brought her here, and also the werewolf who had bitten her.
Lupin looked down unable to meet her eyes, " I suppose you want to know what happened?" he asked fearing the explanation he would have to give.
He was startled by her reply, "I know what happened, but what I don't know is who the rest of you are and where am I? Oh and what on earth is Hogwarts?"
Dumbledore sighed before starting to explain, first giving names and then telling her she was currently resting in the Black Manor. As he began to explain about the Magical world, about the Order, and about Voldemort, Rogue remained silent. She would have thought this was all a very organized hoax like for one of those TV shows, but for the fact that Lupin's memories were telling her different.
"And last, well you already said you know what happened, but as to what happens now, that will be up to you. As a werewolf bit you, you have now become one yourself. But furthermore, you are now a creature of magical being and therefore have magic flowing through you. You are free to go back to your home, or you can stay here and learn to control your new gift by attending Hogwarts." Dumbledore finished. The room remained quite as they waited for her reply.
'To be a freak of both worlds, both magical and 'muggle', someone up there must really hate you.' Sneered Magneto.
'Didn't know you believed in God, Bucket-head, thought you found yourself greater,' she replied in the same hateful tone, 'Funny that even a god ended up trapped in here unable to do anything about it.'
'You don't belong here child, come home to the X-Men.' Storm's voice this time.
Other voices joined the first ones arguing among themselves, Kitty and Kurt, stayed oddly quite for once, whispering together in the back of her mind.
'Everybody just shut up, Kitty, Kurt what do you think?'
'Well, the other me will miss you a lot, but I don't think you should like totally pass this up. You can't stop being a werewolf now but you can live where no one like, knows you're a mutant. Just make sure to write us and come visit, my real self would hate to lose you.'
'Ya, and being a vitch sounds so cool! You get to do magic and live in a castle, and have a vand, and …' Kurt's voice trailed off as he continued muttering to himself.
'And have yet another power to lose control of,' Rogue ignored this last voice, Mystique was not high on her consultant list.
'But how can I leave you guys all behind? I mean I know you, Kitty, Kurt, will be the only one's to miss me but still-'
She was cut off as the voices of the other X-Men argued telling her how much their real selves would miss her. Rogue just rolled her eyes and waited for them to quite down.
'It really doesn't matter in the end I guess, I would be to much of a danger to everyone if I went back now.'
Her last statement brought on silence, then Kurt's voice spoke hesitantly in her head, 'You are planning to let our doubles know what happened aren't you?'
That's when Rogue noticed what she was wearing, a short sleeved hospital gown, and no gloves.
"Um, I'll stay but, one thing first, where are my clothes?"
Of all the things Lupin had expected her to say, 'where are my clothes?' was not one of them. He had expected her to ask to talk to her family, or demand that he leave the room. The common reaction upon being told that you had been turned into a werewolf was to rant and scream in denial. But this girl, Rogue she had said her name was, an odd name for a muggle he mused, she had accepted it with hardly any show of emotion whatsoever.
"Tonks is fixing them now, dear," Mrs. Weasly's voice broke him out of his reverie.
"Ahem," Dumbledore said gathering all eyes to him once again, "There is one more matter at hand, you see, I would like to personally inform your family of your choice. You are free to come with me if you feel up to it, but if you give me your address I'll just set up a temporary floo connection." He hurriedly explained what a 'floo' was.
Lupin was surprised to see a flash of pain cross those emerald green eyes of hers, but it was gone at second glance. Her voice was steady when she spoke, though see seemed to be almost split between two conversations, her mind keeping track of an inner turmoil.
"I don't want them to know about this. I'm already to great a danger to them, it's better to let them think me dead." The other faces in the room mirrored his own stunned expression. He supposed it was lucky that Tonk's stumbled in at that point, carrying a pile of Rogue's clothes.
"Couldn't get that folding spell to work Molly," She said cheerfully as she placed the misshapen pile on the foot of Rogue's bed. Looking up Tonks caught Rogue's eyes and she froze momentarily. "Your eyes…" she whispered, automatically changing her own eyes to mirror the emerald green of Rogue's own, "I though I was the only one who could get them that green…".
Rogue, for her part, was transfixed by the young woman standing in front of her. Tonks was beautiful, there was no denying that, but there seemed to be an almost fake element to her. Just as her eyes changed colors, the memories in her mind informed her that physical appearance was a temporary thing for Tonks, no one knew what she really looked like.
'She's fake… just like me' Rogue realized, while she had a fake mind, Tonks had a fake body. 'It's like we compete each other' she realized, before mentally laughing at the awkwardness of that last thought.
Molly cleared her throat, pulling both women out of their inner thoughts and bringing them back to reality. Tonks eyes shifted back to a more normal color, a soft hazel, and she quickly left the room, looking back one last time to see Rogue's green eyes still following her.
Lupin had also watched Tonks leave, confused by her odd behavior. He looked back at Rogue just in time to see her slipping her gloves on before her hands disappeared once again beneath the sheets of her bed. Rogue's personality and behavior baffled him, and with growing up in the magical world, that was saying something. He remembered how he had felt when he had awoken that morning to find her lying a few feet away in a messy pool of her own blood. The strange weak feeling was gone now but he was still left to wonder if it was at all connected to his odd collapse when he had attacked her the night before.
As he got up to follow the others out, Rogue's eyes met his. It was only for a second, but as he met her green eyes, her inhumanely green eyes, he once again saw that flash of pain before they congealed into their original emotionless mask. He recognized that look, he himself had worn it for many years, afraid to let anyone see who he really was, afraid to let anyone close, afraid because they might get hurt, and he would be the one hurting them.
"Ah good morning dear, I've brought you some breakfast," Mrs. Weasly said kindly the next morning as she placed a tray in front of Rogue. Rogue was once again wearing her own clothes, which had been cleaned and fixed by magic. Looking at the contents of the tray Rogue raised an inquisitive eyebrow. Not only was there enough food for several people but their was also some leafs of parchment and a quill. "I thought Harry, Ron, and Hermione would like to join you, you will be going into the 6th year with them at Hogwarts after all-"
'She expects me to want friends, but I can't, I won't. No one can be allowed in, no one!' Even as Rogue thought this however, the image of Tonks rose up in her mind unbidden. 'NO!' Rogue thought, pushing the picture away before the other people in her head became aware of it.
'You let us in Rogue, me and Kitty. You let us see you without your mask and we never got hurt,' Kurt argued.
'That was a mistake, you could have been hurt number's of times, but I'm fixing that now. You'll all think I'm dead, and you'll be safe. I'm an even greater danger to people now, but I have to stay. If I don't I'll never be able to control this magic. If I let anyone in everything will be ruined.'
'There were times when we could have gotten hurt, but the thing is, we never did,' Kitty said.
"But won't I have to start at the bottom?" Rogue coming back to the real world, trying to purge Kitty's words from her mind.
"No of course not dear, you'll have Hermione to help you," She said this as if there was no going wrong with this Hermione girl, Rogue just shrugged and asked about the parchment.
"Well I thought you might change your mind about telling your family and…" Mrs. Weasly's voice trailed of as a hint of pain appeared in Rogue's eyes.
"As I already said, it's better not to, I don't want them in to be put in anymore danger," Rogue said, her voice suddenly cold.
'They wouldn't take you back if they knew,' Mystique's harsh voice broke the surface of her mind.
Logan snarled and pulled Mystique back into the dark corners of her mind before the woman had a chance to do any damage.
"Great, food!" Exclaimed Ron, breaking what had been an uncomfortable silence as he entered the room.
"Oh really Ron," Hermione said, following him in and sounding exasperated, though a slight smile played across her lips.
Harry just grinned and sat down on a chair that had not been there a second ago. "Thanks Mrs. Weasly," He said taking a bite of sausage.
She nodded and exited the room hurriedly, taking the parchment with her. Rogue's eyes lingered for a second longer on the parchment before the door closed obscuring it from view.
Rogue watched the three of them eat, every now and then reaching out and grabbing a sausage or a piece of bacon for herself. She waited for them to ask, everyone always did. But these people didn't, they didn't even glance at her gloves or long sleeves.
'No, they probably think it's the new muggle fashion, ignore them, don't let them in!'