He was slowly limping to his own office, leaning on the real walking stick Madam Pomfrey had forced upon him. The potion she'd given him for his leg took some time to work, and in the meantime he could use it. ("It's not as if those kids will: whenever I give it to one of them, they forget it, or hex it into a false broom!" She had pointed at the trio, who was lying in the beds, still sleeping.)
Remus smiled. He knew that in fourth year, he had been given that same potion, and that Sirius had exactly done what Madame Pomfrey had described on the Slytherins. They had seen it before the match, though, and Sirius was forced to do detention.
Sirius... where would he be right now? Remus hoped he was safe, and that riding a Hippogriff would be as easy for him as riding his old enchanted motorbike. The image of Sirius, presenting that thing so years ago, flashed before his eyes: A maniacal glint in his eyes, not understanding why James, Lily, and Remus weren't quite so thrilled. But the image quickly changed: he saw Sirius' eyes filled with emotion, standing in the Shrieking Shack, whispering: "He is so much like James, Remus."
"Remus! Why, you are back quickly! Here, let me help you!" Minerva was standing in front of him, taking the box full of potions he had had in his free hand, over. She slowly followed him, walking to his office.
"I've just heard the news of your resignation, Remus."
"Wow, news travels fast around here," he smiled.
"Yes, well . . . In the times of the Marauders faster, or maybe I just don't hear everything anymore. Dumbledore just told me about it; he was asking me if I knew what time the Hogwarts Express leaves."
Remus smiled politely, but said nothing back. Suddenly, as if she couldn't hold it in anymore, Minerva blurted out, in a very un-McGonagall-way, "Are you sure you want to do this, Remus? You have safety here, people around you, a steady salary. Do you really want to give that all up, just because you feel too guilty? The students love you, they haven't learned that much since . . . well, I don't know, since ever!"
"It isn't just guilt, Minerva. It's the possibility that it might happen again."
She nodded slowly, still not content with the outcome of his decision.
"Well, I obviously can't change your mind. The train leaves at one o'clock, Remus."
He smiled again, and Minerva returned it with a rare one of her own.
Remus entered his office and saw that it had almost been left in the exact state as he had left it yesterday . . . Almost, because now there was also a full goblet standing on his desk, probably forgotten by Snape.
How much had happen in those fifteen hours . . .
A sudden rage against fate came over him, and he threw the goblet against the opposite wall, where its contents slowly dripped onto the ground. Why did everything have to turn into such a mess? Wasn't he allowed to feel happy? Didn't he deserve to live like a normal human being? To be able to feel the way he had when they had left the Shrieking Shack? His eyes found the Marauder's Map, lying innocently on his desk, and in his rage, he tried to tear it up. No more friendship; it had brought him to nothing! It had brought neither of them to nothing!
It had destroyed him – it had destroyed all of them! His vision was blurred; the corridors, dots and details of the castle were swimming before his eyes. He had one hand at each side already, when he calmed down, threw the Maurauders Map on the ground, and fell, feeling as if he couldn't set another step, on his bed.
The rest of the morning was bittersweet. Remus didn't want to think about how much he was going to miss the castle and all its inhabitants... well, almost all its inhabitants.
Breakfast definitely belonged to the "bitter" part of bittersweet. When Remus was putting marmalade on his second piece of toast, he heard some commotion at the Slytherin table. He looked up to see Snape standing there, looking even more evil than normal.
"I knew it!" screamed a boy. Remus didn't even bother to look up, but when a girl followed with the question "How could they have ever accepted him here?" the commotion got his attention. Draco Malfoy was standing up, saying, "Since my father isn't on the board anymore, Pansy, they just have lower standards for the teachers around here."
Remus felt his hands go cold, and his forehead go sweaty. He noticed that there were a lot of eyes looking in his direction, their mouths moving quickly. His own eyes met Snape's, and he knew that Snape had gotten his revenge, not only for what had happened the previous night, but also for the many pranks they had pulled on him in their school time. Remus bowed his head. If his decision of resigning hadn't already been made, he would have been forced to make it now. Severus Snape had finally broken the promise he had made to Dumbledore.
Since he had gotten some sleep between his visit to the Hospital Wing and breakfast, Remus now had to hurry a bit with packing, but first he looked at the last exams: the third years had done very well.
Then, with the words Dumbledore had spoken echoing in his mind, Heaven knows what kind of teacher the students will get next term, he grabbed a piece of parchment and his quill, looked at his schedules he had made for every year, and started to write to those next-term-teacher, explaining what the classes had in common, with what they had trouble, and wishing him/her good luck.
He signed it, sealed it, and laid it in the drawer of the desk, having already emptied said drawer of its other contents.
Remus conjured some boxes and started to pack. He made short work of the paperwork on his desk, and he was just about to walk to his closet, when he saw a piece of parchment lying on the floor. Remus grabbed it, and was immediately reminded of his sudden rage this morning. He didn't know if he could have done it, but was glad he hadn't. He looked at the map, and remembered all the good times they'd had . . . maybe his friendship had brought them into trouble. But it had been too good to forget.
Slowly, he emptied the chamber and office. The tank of the grindylow was empty (he had set it free in the lake after his lessons) and stood next to his desk, ready to take it with him. Mundugus would probably want it back, so he could scandalize more people with the price he was asking for its contents.
Out of habit, he glanced at the Marauders Map, lying open and alone on his desk. To his surprise (but not so surprisingly, now he thought about it), a dot marked Harry Potter was approaching his office. The dot was standing in front of the half open door and . . .
"I saw you coming," he said, barely looking up, closing the Map.
"I just saw Hagrid, and he said you'd resigned. It's not true, is it?"
Not wanting to look at Harry, he started to take the contents out of the other drawers.
"I'm afraid it is," he said shortly, not looking up.
"Why? The Ministry of Magic doesn't think you were helping Sirius, does it?"
Remus saw that he couldn't really avoid Harry or his questions. He walked to the door behind Harry, and closed it. Then, he looked at him, and saw the piercing green eyes looking back, a bit accusingly.
"No. Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that I was trying to save your lives." Now that he said it, he realised that Dumbledore might have had great difficulty with that. He sighed and looked back at Harry, who was obviously not pleased with his explanation. Remus continued:
"That was the final straw for Severus. I think the loss of the Order of Merlin hit him hard," he explained, putting his thoughts about the other straws for Severus far away in his mind. When Harry still didn't understand, he added: "So he – er – accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this morning at breakfast."
"You're not leaving just because of that!" Harry blurted.
Remus didn't even wonder anymore how Harry knew that and smiled.
"This time tomorrow, the owls will start arriving from parents – they will not want a werewolf teaching their children, Harry. And after last night, I see their point. I could have bitten any of you . . . that must never happen again."
"You're the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher we've ever had! Don't go!" Harry pleaded. Remus shook his head, hearing the same things as Minerva . . . -no, it was just McGonagall now-, had said. He continued with taking the contents of his drawer and putting them back in his suitcase. Harry was quiet. Maybe he's realised I'm right, a voice in his head thought. But another one argued, maybe he's just thinking of better arguments. The last voice would probably be right. Harry was determined in everything he did . . . just like learning to conjure a Patronus. That suddenly reminded him, and he said:
"From what the Headmaster told me this morning, you saved a lot of lives last night, Harry. If I'm proud of anything, it's how much you've learned. Tell me about your Patronus."
"How d'you know about that?"
"What else could have driven the Dementors back?" he answered simply.
Harry started to tell, and with every second, Remus felt more proud. Not only about Harry, but also a bit about himself: He had helped!
"Well, I had seen my . . . someone that scared the Dementors away. So when I was back in time, with Hermione, I waited around that spot, in the hope I could see that . . . person. But I waited, and waited, and in the meantime, Sirius, Hermione and me were dying at the other side of the lake. So I finally understood that it was me. I . . . thought of a happy thought, and conjured a full Patronus. It was a shining animal form, a stag, and it ran at the other side of the lake, saving . . . us . . . " He got silent for a moment, and then asked: "So I guess that that was the form my dad could transform in? A stag?"
"Yes, your father was always a stag when he transformed. You guessed right . . . that's why we called him Prongs."
Remus grabbed the last book from the shelves, put it in his suitcase, looked around to see if he had everything, and then closed the lid.
Except for the Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder's Map, Remus' office was empty. He looked at Harry, and smiled again.
"Here—" he said, giving Harry the cloak. "I brought this from the Shrieking Shack last night." He looked down at the Map and was suddenly doubtful . . . he had taken it away from Harry . . . was he allowed to give it back? It was clearly a (what was it Filch had termed it?) highly dangerous, object, but certainly precious when it came to breaking rules . . .
"And . . ." he hesitated no longer. He wasn't Harry's teacher anymore; he was now a friend. "I am no longer your teacher, so I don't feel guilty about giving you this back as well." When he spoke those words, he forced himself to indeed not feel guilty. "It's no use to me, and I daresay you, Ron and Hermione will find uses for it."
Harry grinned and took the map.
"You told me Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would've wanted to lure me out of school . . . you said they'd have thought it was funny," he reminded Remus.
"And so we would have done. I have no hesitation in saying that James would have been highly disappointed if his son had never found any of the secret passages out of the castle." Harry grinned widely, and for that second, Remus saw James again.
Then, there was a knock on the door, and Harry hastily stowed away the cloak and map as Dumbledore entered.
"Your carriage is at the gates, Remus."
"Thank you, Headmaster."
Remus picked up the grindylow basin up, and held his suitcase in the other hand. Then, he looked once more at the green eyes.
"Well— goodbye, Harry. It has been a real pleasure teaching you. I feel sure we'll meet again some time." Then turning to Dumbledore, who looked as though he wanted to escort Remus to the waiting carriage (probably discussing what Snape had said during breakfast), he said: "Headmaster, there is no need to see me at the gates, I can manage."
"Goodbye then, Remus."
He shifted the basin higher, and shook Dumbledore's outstretched hand. He gave a nod to Harry, and a smile to the both of them, and then turned around, feeling a lump rising in his throat.
When he got out of his carriage, he saw the steaming red train was already at the platform, and limped, just like last time, towards the train. He entered, and without even thinking about another option, he walked to the last compartment, and stepped in. With a deep breath and a last gasp of strength, he pushed his suitcase in the luggage rack and sat down, rubbing his eyes. Soon, a whistle was blown. A few people from Hogsmeade entered the train, and with a last sound of a whistle, the doors closed and the train started moving. Remus shifted into a more comfortable position and began to think over the events of last night.
With Peter on the loose, everything would be . . . he couldn't even put the thought into words. Nobody would believe Sirius, who would still be forced to live the life of a fugitive. Where would he be now, anyway? Hippogriffs could fly enormous distances without getting tired. Maybe he had planned to go on a vacation for a while . . . he deserved one, after all those years in a cell. Would Sirius keep contact with him? Probably not. Maybe with Dumbledore . . .
And what about himself? What was he going to do? He would never find such a great job as he had had this year and now that he was in trouble with the Ministry, his job options were reduced to zero. Snape telling every Hogwarts student what he was, and the fact that there were probably going to be a few more laws pushed through that would make his life harder wasn't helping either. He sighed. Maybe he could do something in the muggle world for a while, or at least go away until the news about him was a bit less fresh.
Everything was messed up, maybe even more messed up than the last time he had sat here. He remembered that the trio had walked in, and Ron and Hermione had started what seemed to be their usual bickering. Wasn't it about Pettigrew and Chrookshanks? Probably. An ironic smile played around his lips. He hadn't been the only Marauder in the compartment last time . . .
He wondered what Harry had thought about the whole situation. If he had known that Sirius was his godfather, and if he now knew he was innocent, he probably would feel very frustrated. Maybe Sirius would write to him also . . . The train was making him sleepy, and his eyes slowly fell.
He was woken up by a sharp tapping on the glass. Slowly, opening his eyes, he looked around, and saw a tiny owl sitting at the edge of the window that had been opened. When the owl saw that he was finally awake, it entered the cabin and landed on Remus' knee.
Remus was surprised and untied the owl from the letter. The owl started hooting and flying like mad in the compartment. Remus smiled and watched it for a few seconds, but then his attention and curiosity was back at the little parchment he now had in his hands. He unrolled it and read:
I hope you are alright after the events of last night. I am fine and, as you would have heard by now, exploring the places furthest from any Dementors. I hope my appearance yesterday hasn't given you any trouble, but I'm almost sure it did, seeing as I both Snivellus and the Ministry left behind there. Sorry. Please write back to let me know what's going on: I had hardly time to speak to you, and a bit of contact wouldn't hurt after twelve years.
It was written with the same wit and joy as Remus knew from Sirius. He decided that he would write back immediately. Standing up, and ignoring the owl, he opened his briefcase in the luggage rack and searched for a piece of parchment and a quill. Then, with his tongue between his teeth, he started writing. It was hard to find the right words he could use in the letter, but after half an hour, he had something on parchment:
Thank you for your letter! I hadn't expected it, and by the bird's hooting, he didn't expect it either that I would get it.
I am currently on the Hogwarts Express: realising that what has happened last night was too dangerous for the students and should never happen again, I have resigned. I tend to think that if I hadn't, Snape might have committed murder, although I'm not sure if the victim would have been me for staying and helping you or Dumbledore for allowing both.
I also heard from Dumbledore what exactly happened last night after I transformed. I was sad to hear that Peter got away: Do you have any clues whereto?
Both Harry and Hermione made it back safely after they freed you. You were right, Sirius, when you said last night that he looks so much like James: I have been amazed by it the whole year. He even has the map and cloak in his possession, and tried to sneak out of the castle this year, because he never got the permission from his guardians to go to Hogsmeade!
As far as I know, most of the Dementors are still at Hogwarts, although probably not for long, as Dumbledore finds their presence awful, but you are safe for now.
Please write back soon. Twelve years is far too long.
Remus sighed and rolled up the letter. He then realised that the letter was twice as big as the owl (which was still hooting, bouncing from wall to wall). He didn't want to shorten his letter, though: he had already cut out most of the thousand things he had wanted to say in the interest of not using an entire roll of parchment. When the owl made a dive near his left ear, he caught it, and said to it: "Do you think you can take a letter this big?"
The owl hooted happily, and Remus started to attach it to one of its feet.
"Now, there is no hurry to bring it, take your time. Just make sure you bring it to the right person, it's very important."
With one last hoot, the owl jumped off his hand, dropped a few centimetres, and then flew towards the open window, to disappear from view.
Remus sat back down, feeling quite a bit happier. He remembered his own owl, a plain brown one, and hoped that this little one would be just as dependable.
Staring into nothing, there was no way to avoid thinking about all the times he had sat here with his friends. There was the time in first year, when they had just stumbled in the last compartment, there had been the time Peter had told them about his holiday to Spain and the time Sirius had told them he was saving money for a flying motorbike, trying to get James just as crazy to buy one too. If Remus recalled correctly, that was sixth year. James had just nodded and stared out of the compartment, obviously not listening, but looking at a red-haired girl prefect who was patrolling the corridors and trying hard to ignore him. And the last time they had sat here talking about their plans for the future. Sirius was going to work full time for the Order, just as James and Lily would, while he would have a job in the Ministry, and Peter hadn't known yet. It had probably been one of the last worry-free talks they had had together.
Quickly, the landscape outside the window became more civilised, and much faster than Remus would have liked, the train stopped at the platform.
He stood up, grabbed his suitcase, and went to pull it from the rack above him. But something caught his attention. Above the luggage rack, so small that you almost couldn't see it, was a bit of carved text. How could Remus have forgotten! This had been their last prank, although Sirius had said that it didn't count, because they had tricked no one. Standing on his toes, he read:
Though Hogwarts was our actual home,
We didn't enter each on our own.
The friendship started actually when we met here,
Meaning that this compartment holds more than it appears.
Mischief and trouble was what we were longing for,
Seven years long, and now nevermore.
Look out, big world, here we come,
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.
It had been carved by James, and to make it even more James-like, there was a circle under the text ( by the looks of it had the circle been a poor attempt from James to draw a heart,) and in it were the initials JP + LE.
With one last look at the scribbling, Remus left the compartment and the train. He felt a sudden new hope grow. Not everything was gone. True, Peter might be a traitor, James might be dead, but he and Sirius were still here!
He grinned at the steaming train and walked to the oh-so-familiar wall that separated the red train from the prying eyes of Muggles. This had been definitely an interesting year . . .
and there it was: the last chapter of a werewolf's tale:(
If you didn't notice, the story ends a bit in the same way as the first chapter did begin... maybe a good reason to read that chapter again (A)
I hope you all enjoyed reading it, as much as I loved to write it...
HUGE thanks to LEAD, or just Lisa, who has edited every chapter and has saved me from some great mistakes, both grammar-wise as story- and charcter-wise...
and then also a thanks to all the reviewers, especially the ones who have reviewed every chapter!!
ps: I will write some more whole stories, with chapters and everything, and maybe about another book seen through a character other than Harry...it will take some time to come up with one, though...you can leave your suggestions to me in a review!