Disclaimer: I do in no way own any of the world of Harry Potter, nor do I claim to.
Two men sat down at the table. One was tall, wore his longish red hair in a ponytail, and had an earring. The other was older, would have been tall as well if it were not for his slouch, and had short brown hair that was streaked with grey. The younger man sat nervously , continually scanning the area. The other watched him, his seeming utter calm causing the first man to seem almost panicky. Neither seemed to notice the young lady as she approached the table.
"Hi," She said cheerfully, and the red head jumped, "I'll be serving you tonight. Can I get you anything to drink?"
"I'll take a butterbeer." Said the younger man. "What do you want, Remus?" He asked the other.
"I'm fine, thank you, Bill." The other replied with a smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"Come on, my treat." The first urged.
"Nothing, thank you." He said to the lady, who nodded and left to get a butterbeer. To his companion he said, "I don't drink."
Bill seemed surprised. "You're kidding, right?"
"No, I'm not. I don't drink. It's dulls the mind, slows the reflexes, and destroys the liver." He said this easily, as if he didn't care if anyone else drank.
"You've never drank any type of alchohol."
Remus sighed. "I did once." He offered no further explanation.
"But you aren't going to tell me about it?" Bill teased.
Remus smiled again, that same smile that never reached his eyes, that seemed real unless you knew him, the smile that held no emotion. It was practiced, precise, controlled, used for the benefit of others. "It's a long story."
Bill looked around. "We've got plenty of time, it would seem. Our guest hasn't showed up yet." He was, of course, referring to their reason for coming.
The Order had received word that Voldemort was now trying to recruit mainly werewolves. Supposedly he had an offer that was likely to make them accept. Bill and Remus had come to a not-very-well-known tavern to meet with someone who would tell them more. Bill and Remus had volunteered, saying that if it were a trap, they would most likely be able to handle themselves.
As Remus considered his companion's last statement, the lady returned with their drinks.
"Thank you." Bill said with a smile.
"Thank you." Remus echoed quietly. After she had left, Bill took a drink, then leaned back expectantly.
He didn't have to wait long. "Fine." He said pleasantly. "I was 19. James Potter had just proposed to Lilly Evans, and wanted to celebrate with the group, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and myself." Bill nodded. There wasn't anyone in the Order who hadn't heard from somewhere about the four and how one would scarcely be seen without the others, even for some years after leaving Hogwarts. "So we went to The Three Broomsticks, for old time's sake, even though Peter wasn't much of a drinker, and I didn't drink at all."
"Well, James and Sirius knew that I didn't drink, and Sirius had bet James that he could get me to. I didn't find that out till later, of course. Anyway, James ordered Firewhisky for all four of us. I mean, he usually did that, and Peter would stay on the same drink all night, and mine would just sit there. Then Sirius proposed a toast, saying all this stuff about how it's our last night together and after tonight everything will be different. Then, of course, he wished James 'best of luck, good health, long life, and all that jazz.' Then he drained his glass."
"He drained it?" Bill asked skeptically. "Firewhisky's some strong stuff."
"And Sirius could certainly hold his liquor." Remus countered. "Anyway, James follows suit, and Peter, shooting a nervous look at Sirius, does the same, and goes into a coughing fit. Once he recovers, they all start staring at me.
"So you drank it." Bill supplied.
"After twenty minutes of begging, whining, needling, and attempted guilt trips on how selfish I was being to ruin Sirius' toast and how it would bring bad luck upon James' and Lilly's marriage, yeah." He shook his head. "Drained, set the glass down, and lost it." He said grimly. "Self-control gone out the window. Which can be a very dangerous thing if you're a werewolf."
"So what did you do?" Bill asked.
Remus shrugged. "The rest of the night was all a blur. Think the four of us got thrown out of the Three Broomsticks, and I remember something about Sirius wanting McDonalds, and I think I got hit by a car."
"You're kidding." Bill said incredulously.
"No. I woke up the next morning in one of the guestrooms at James' house with a severe headache, a guilty conscience, a black eye, a fractured wrist and bruised ribs. When I staggered downstairs Amy, James' sister, said I was the first one up, was lucky I hadn't been killed by that car, and that there was aspirin and a glass of water in the kitchen on the counter. The others couldn't remember much either when they woke up. Decided never to touch it again."
Bill was silent for a minute. "That makes sense, I guess." He conceded, taking another drink of butterbeer.
The two sat in silence for a while, until someone tapped Bill on the shoulder.
He turned around to see the owner of the tavern. He was tall, large, tough-looking, and unpleasant. Remus kept his back to the man. "May I help you?" Bill asked the man, who was staring nervously at his face.
"I seen you're face when you come in." The man said with a scowl. "You get attacked by something?"
Bill looked the man up and down. The way he had spoken struck Bill ask hostile, but he answered good-naturedly. "Yes, in fact I was. An animal." No point in specifying that it had been a werewolf and he had been lucky not to have become one himself.
"A werewolf." It wasn't a question.
"Yes, sir." Bill said, not knowing what else to say. In the next few seconds, several things happened at once.
The owner pull out a gun and aimed it directly at Bill's heart.
All noise in the tavern ceased, and people began to stare.
"I beg your pardon-" Bill started to say, but was cut off.
"Out!" The owner snarled. "We don't want your kind here."
"My kind?" Bill asked, confused.
"Werwolves." He spat. "You're one of them."
"Actually-" Remus put a hand on Bill's arm, causing him to stop talking.
The owner noticed, and switched his target to Remus' back. "You're with him? Stand up. Turn around. Slowly."
Remus slowly stood up, placed his hands carefully behind his neck, and turned around.
"You." The man hissed. "I warned you about coming around here."
Remus shrugged. "Sorry to have intruded, sir. We were just on our way out."
The owner glared at him suspiciously then nodded sharply. "Out then, both of you, and don't come back. We don't serve your kind here."
"Fine." Remus said to the owner. "Come on." He said to Bill as he slowly headed for the door.
Bill followed him, not completely understanding what had just happened. As he reached the door he had to step around the lady who had served them.
His eyes met hers. All friendliness was gone, replaced with hatred and anger. "Monster." She spat.
It wasn't until they were well away from the bar that Remus put his hands down. "I guess we won't be meeting with anyone tonight." He said matter-of-factly, unfazed by what had just happened.
"What was that?" Bill asked. What did he mean, 'one of them'?"
Remus sighed. "He meant a werewolf. He assumed that since you had been attacked by one that you are one."
Bill was still confused. "So? What difference does that make?"
Remus sighed again. "It's not an easy thing to explain. And in the mean time, it isn't exactly safe here. Why don't we apparate to my house?"
"I've never been there before." Bill wasn't sure why they wouldn't want to go back to Grimmuald place.
"I'll direct you, just don't fight me. Ready?" Remus took his hand, and Bill felt an image appearing in his mind. Clearing his mind of all else, Bill focused on the image.
Bill found himself in the living room of Remus' house, Remus beside him. He looked around.
The living room was shabby and sparsely decorated. There was a shabby couch against one wall, a bookshelf only partly filled with old-looking books, an ancient rocking chair in a corner, and an old, battered lamp on and equally old, battered end table beside the couch. The curtains were thick, dark, and musty, and the carpet was threadbare. The fireplace was the only thing suggesting that someone still lived there, ready for a fire to be lit.
Remus headed into the dining and kitchen area, which wasn't much better. "Tea?" He asked, as he prepared himself a cup.
"Yes, thank you." Bill said, and continued his study of the house as Remus prepared it.
The table had at one time been a very nice piece of furniture, but over time had become…old. The chairs were the same, and the curtains in the kitchen area matched those in the living room. There was a muggle light overhead that had been installed quite a few years ago. The rest of the house was rather bare, other than the kitchen, which also had a muggle sink, stove, refrigerator, and of course, counters, drawers, and cabinets. There were no pictures anywhere.
"It is rather empty, isn't it?" Remus said as if reading his thoughts. He handed Bill a steaming cup of tea.
Bill blushed, embarrassed for noticing, and mumbled a hesitant "Yes."
"It happens when you have trouble keeping a job." Remus said dismissively. Bill wondered if he were used to this. The Weasleys had never been rich, but this was absurd. Of course, nobody really knew a whole lot about anybody else's personal life in the Order, but it had never occurred to Bill to wonder what Remus' life was like before. Maybe his mum was right when she grumbled about him being half-starved all the time.
"Why wouldn't you be able to keep a job?" He asked curiously.
Remus gave him a look that clearly said he hadn't been expecting the question. "I'm a werewolf." He said matter-of-factly, as if that explained everything.
"Okay." Bill said, back to the question, "Why would that make any difference?"
"Bill, most people don't see werewolves the way those in the Order do. They see them as something dangerous, something to fear, something to hate. And werewolves are dangerous. On the full moon we transform into bloodthirsty creatures that are well equipped for killing. And we instinctively enjoy it. We are somewhat faster and stronger than 'normal' people, and tend to be more violent. We have, in the past, and even in present times, ruined a lot of lives, caused a lot of problems. We have injured and killed-or worse, made others like us. And usually, we enjoy, feel no sorrow for, in fact look forward to this. People think we are creatures, monsters, dark creatures, evil. In some case they're right. And most people find it safer for them to keep us far away from them."
Bill was silent for a moment, trying to piece all this together. This was what the man at the tavern had thought about him, based on nothing but scars from an injury. They had affected him, in some ways, but not in the ways the man had thought they had. "But just because a person is a werewolf, doesn't make all that true. It doesn't make him evil."
"No," Agreed Remus, "but it doesn't matter. People see what they want to see and believe what they want."
"It isn't right." Bill countered angrily.
"No, it isn't. But that's the way it is."
"Can't someone change it?" Bill asked gloomily.
At that, Remus sighed and looked almost hopeless. "I''ve spent my whole life trying to prove them wrong." He said quietly. "Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. Sometimes it seems as if it's been a waste of time. But there's always hope, I suppose." He didn't look like he believed it, though.
With a start, Bill realized he had seen a part of Remus Lupin that very few people saw, and realized that the man who he and many others looked to as a sort of anchor during their storms sometimes had problems and weaknesses of his own. Bill looked the older man square in the eye.
"There's always hope." He said. Remus nodded slowly. As long as there was life, there was hope, whether it was hope for a better future or just hope for a better day. There would always be hope.