Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
He cannot fall asleep. His mum and daddy went to bed hours ago, but he is still lying awake, tossing and turning. He desperately wants his blanket, but Daddy told him that blankets weren't for big boys, and if he really wanted it, he could get it tomorrow. He knows that Daddy is right, that blankets aren't for six year olds, but he can't fall asleep unless it's with him. At the moment, though, it's outside. And he's not allowed outside after dark. But maybe, if he's quieter than the mouse in the book that he read about just yesterday, they won't hear him.
Quietly, very quietly, he slides out of bed and in the light of the full moon shining through his bedroom window, he slips on his shoes.
After easing his door open, he moves silently down the stairs and out the front door. He knows exactly where he left his blanket, and he heads straight toward the big tree in the backyard.
The silence surrounding him is deafening, and he glances around nervously as he approaches his beloved blue blanket. Snatching it up, he nuzzles it against his cheek, glad to have it back, triumphant that he did it all by himself.
Feeling slightly braver, he starts to skip back to the house, his blanket clutched tightly in his hands.
And then he hears it - the sound of ragged breathing from right behind him. Sure that Daddy has found out that he has disobeyed him, he turns shamefully.
Only to be looking right into the eyes of an enormous werewolf.
He starts to scream.
Ever since he had been a young boy, Remus Lupin had dreaded the full moon. He did not look forward to the transition of his sane mind to the beast within, because it left him with no control. In his human form, Remus could do whatever he pleased. He had complete control over his actions, his thoughts. But once a month, when he was a werewolf, he lost that control. It was as if it had never existed. He became no better than an animal – he was an animal.
But he was not a savage.
In Remus's mind, to kill for the sake of killing was as evil as evil could get. It was the one thought that carried over when he was transformed. While he was in his werewolf form, Remus did not kill unless completely necessary. He would injure quite often, but not kill. Never kill.
To Remus, it wasn't much. It was the least he could do, given that he terrified anyone and anything he did not know simply by being in the same room as them. But to other werewolves, it was enough. It was unnatural, they believed, not to kill when one was a werewolf, and for fighting this natural instinct, they shunned him.
Remus could not honestly tell someone that the harsh judgment of his fellow werewolves had no effect on him. It would be nice, he sometimes thought, to have someone to relate to. But he realized that it was not meant to be, and he tried not to let it bother him. After all, while he was not accepted in their world, he was accepted in the real world, and that was more than any of them could say, he knew.
He doesn't know where he is going, but he is with a strange, tall man who has not spoken a word to him since they left his house. All he knows is that Daddy brought him to this man and said that he would see him in the morning. He doesn't understand what is happening, but since Daddy trusts the man, he should trust him too, and so he hurries to keep up as the stranger strides deeper and deeper into the forest.
His mum told him this morning that it was A Night. He had spent the whole day, it seemed, sleeping. As late afternoon had turned into evening, he had opened the door to the basement, but Daddy had called to him, saying not tonight. And now he is here.
He tries to ask the man where they are going, but he is silenced when the man shoots him a glare.
Finally, after what seems like hours, they come to a large clearing filled with people. Looking around, he sees that he is the only child present among the many adults.
Sensing several pairs of eyes upon him, he mumbles a polite hello. In response, he hears someone roar with laughter. Swiveling his head from side to side, he looks for the source of the noise until his eyes fall upon a huge, dirty looking man with matted brown hair.
"That Lupin's kid?" the laughing man demands, gasping for breath.
The stranger who led him to this odd place grunts.
"Yes… I see that. He's the spitting image of his old man. Even talks like him!" And he doubles over again.
He doesn't understand what is so funny, and from the looks of it, neither does anyone else.
"Shh," someone, a woman this time, says.
The laughing man quiets, glancing up at the sky.
"Just a few seconds…" the woman murmurs to the silent occupants of the clearing.
He gulps as the sun sinks, watches as the moon rises.
Just before they are bathed in the white light, he looks around to see the laughing man watching him.
The laughing man bares yellow teeth in a horrible grin and sticks out a hand.
"The name's Fenrir Greyback."
There had never been a time in Remus's life when he did not want to please his father. Evander Lupin was a kind man filled with a quiet optimism and a good heart. He was a fair man, a gentle man, and there wasn't anyone Remus admired more.
Evander had been disappointed, even ashamed, when his son had become a monster. But he had looked past it, concentrating instead on enforcing that though Remus might look like a monster, he didn't have to act like one.
Armed with this lesson, Remus had attempted to show other werewolves what they were doing, but none of them listened. He knew they were all either afraid of Fenrir Grayback's reaction to their sudden change of heart or they just liked being beasts. Remus guessed that for the majority, it was the former.
Greyback had a threatening way about him. He knew which strings to pull, which buttons to press, that would make anyone follow him. As he was quite loyal to Voldemort, most of the werewolf population was as well.
Remus had been shocked when he had found out that it had been Greyback who had bitten him. For a time, he placed no blame on him, knowing that when one was in his transformed state, he would do things that he normal wouldn't think of doing. However, once he realized that Greyback would purposely position himself in a place where he could easily ruin someone's life, he was disgusted.
What kind of person did that? What kind of person killed someone for enjoyment?
He closed his eyes, trying not to remember that he had, once. Trying to remember that he had not known at the time. Trying to remember that had he known the lesson that his father would soon give to him, he never would have gone through with it.
Every time there is A Night now, he goes with the tall man, who he has learned is named Hel, and who used to live next door to his father as a child. Recently, though, Hel has taken to dropping him off with the man Fenrir. Fenrir likes to take him places and teach him how to be a werewolf.
Tonight, he follows Hel into a small town into a thick cluster of trees behind a cottage where Fenrir is waiting. Hel grunts in response to Fenrir's greeting and then turns and disappears.
A few moments pass in silence, then Fenrir asks with one of his sickening grins, "Ever read those story books, boy?"
He nods. Of course he's read them.
"The ones where werewolves are bad guys?" the elder man pauses to pick his teeth with a grubby finger, then continues, "bet you don't believe that, do you?"
He shakes his head.
"That's what they all say in the beginning." With a smirk, Fenrir walks away toward the cottage, leaving him with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
After catching up with Fenrir, he asks what they will be doing tonight. Fenrir turns to look at him with a grin and says,
"Your final, most important lesson. Now, listen to me…"
He pays close attention to his teacher, and when Fenrir is done explaining, he nods, understanding the process, but not the reasoning behind it. Fenrir seems to see this from the look upon his face.
"It's what we do , boy," he says in the gentlest tone he has ever heard him use. "It's your time now."
And the moon rises.
He clenches his teeth against the pain and squeezes his eyes shut. He feels himself changing – his nose lengthening into a snout, thick brown hair covering his body.
And then it's over. Curled on the ground, he looks up to see Fenrir watching him.
He scrambles to his feet and moves so that he is next to the more experienced wolf.
Neither he nor Fenrir make a sound for over an hour, until a movement causes them both to stiffen.
It's the girl and her mother.
The little girl, who looks to be about five, is holding her mother's hand tightly, hopping along with her doll under her arm. As they pass the thick trees where the werewolves are hidden, Fenrir jumps into action, and he follows suit.
Knowing instinctively that the woman is stronger than he, he heads straight for the girl. She barely has time to scream before he is at her throat….
The next thing he knows, it is light out and he and Fenrir are no longer in their transformed state.
"You did good, boy," Fenrir pants, clapping him on the shoulder. He beams, for this is the highest praise he has ever received from his teacher.
As he follows Fenrir home, he examines his hands. They are tinged red with blood, and a small piece of fabric from the girl's clothing is caught on his fingernail. He picks it off and throws it into the wind.
When they reach home, Fenrir's lips curl into a cruel smile and he knocks three times on the door. It is thrown open at once by Daddy, and he is about to greet them when he notices that it is not Hel who has brought his son home, but Fenrir Grayback. His eyes take in his son's appearance – his chin, covered in blood, scratches on his cheeks, hair unkempt.
"Daddy," Remus says, grinning proudly, blood staining his teeth, "I did good."
That day, Remus mused, he had learned the most important lesson of his life. He had learned that to take a life was evil, to give into temptation was not right.
He had never quite forgiven himself for killing that little girl. He found out later on that her name had been Monifa.
From that day on, Remus had never killed again, knowing that to take a life was to owe a life. He had killed that little girl, Monifa, and someday, somehow, he would pay… And he would do it gladly. He looked forward to the day when he could cleanse himself of that sin, be free again.
Though Remus had shared his story with many other werewolves, their view remained unchanged. He would keep trying. He had to keep trying. He owed it to Monifa, to all the other innocent lives that had been lost due to temptation.
He owed it to himself.
Author's Note: This was written for a one-shot challenge. The prompt was 'Lessons Learned'. A note about the names... 'Evander' means 'a good man' in Roman mythology. 'Hel', in Scandinavian mythology, was a sibling of Fenrir and the queen of the underworld. For the sake of the story, Hel is a male. 'Monifa' in the language of Yaruba, means 'I am lucky.' Thanks go out to my friend Luna for looking this over for me.