Title: The Secret's In The Telling
Summary: Draco Malfoy, pureblood and Slytherin prince, suffers the unthinkable when he is attacked and bitten by Remus Lupin. How is he supposed to live any kind of life afterwards, especially when Potter continues to stick his unwanted nose into things? DMHP, SSRL
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one
Chapter 1: It Begins
Draco Malfoy was spoilt – and happily aware of that fact.
Currently, the self-proclaimed Prince of Slytherin lay sprawled on the couch closest to the fireplace, his head resting in Pansy Parkinson's lap as she obediently stroked his hair. He'd had the house elves bring them chocolate, and Blaise had managed to smuggle in Butterbeer.
Sixth Year was off to a better start than he'd hoped. For one, there was the new member of staff, Professor Slughorn, of whom he entirely approved. An individual who appreciated a good background in students had to be admired. He was so unlike most other fool teachers – McGonagall, for instance, who all but flaunted her Gryffindorish love of Mudbloods. Yes, Slughorn was definitely worthy to teach a Malfoy.
Another good thing about this year was that Professor Snape had finally gotten his place as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Admittedly, his head of house was certainly better suited to the role than others – the werewolf, for example – but the main reason this pleased Draco so much was that now Severus had what he wanted, he was even nicer to his Slytherins than usual. Draco was quite amazed that Dumbledore was making so many right decisions all of a sudden. The only thing wrong with the upcoming year was that Lupin was back, this time teaching Care of Magical Creatures – which was appropriate, considering. But that was okay, as it was a class Draco definitely wasn't taking, and the meek little man would be fun to taunt every now and then.
And finally, probably the best thing yet, Harry Potter had never been so miserable!
Oh, it was a brilliant state of affairs at this moment in time for Draco. His Potions Professor loved him because he was a pureblood and rich, his Defence Professor was his very own godfather, who had always favoured him, and Harry sodding Potter was spending his days looking damn near suicidal. This, of course, came with the added bonus of getting to watch Weasel and the Mudblood walk around on knife edges, looking as if they either wanted to cry or start running in the opposite direction to the precious saviour of the Wizarding World.
"Draco, we're taking another trip to the kitchens. Heard they're making pancakes for the morning down there. You coming?"
Yep. Life was good.
Hermione Granger knew very well what was wrong with her best friend – she just had no idea what to do about it. What did one do or say to comfort someone like Harry? Harry, who at the best of times was reclusive and secretive, but who had now withdrawn so totally it was hard to know how to act around him anymore…
She knew he had every right to act this way, really. Harry'd never had a very happy life, after all. From the Dursleys to Voldemort, his parents to Cedric… and now Sirius. She knew it had all had to catch up to him sometime. Sirius had been the final blow, especially since he'd had the summer to brood over it.
But what did that leave her with? A sixteen year old boy that neither she nor Ron knew how to deal with. How were they supposed to figure out how to heal somebody like Harry? This was out of even her depth. She would have gone to either McGonagall or even Dumbledore, but surely they would have done something by now if they thought it was really necessary…? Besides, now that Lupin was back at the school, she'd been hoping that he'd be able to talk to Harry, especially since Hagrid was absent on some mission given to him by Dumbledore.
Hermione knew that her friend wasn't so far gone that he'd go and do something stupid. He just had to get this out of his system, was all. Of course he was going to be depressed! He'd just lost the one parental figure he'd ever known and loved. How could he be anything but, really?
They'd just have to weather this out with him, was all.
Harry Potter stared into the lake, watched as something from below rippled its surface, and tried to think about nothing.
A light touch made the Firebolt he rode dip until his feet dangled a few inches from the water. Another gesture and the broom rocketed forward, sending up a path of spray in his wake. He flew instinctively, remembering the time he'd ridden Buckbeak across the lake, when he'd had no control over the hippogriff's direction. It was a pity flying didn't feel the same anymore.
He rose another few inches before spinning himself sideways, so that he hung upside down from the speeding Firebolt. It was a move he'd practiced until he could do it in his sleep. When he righted himself, his hair was damp with lake water, but still he felt little excitement.
And by now, unwanted thoughts were starting to creep up on him again. He turned his mind to his movements, to his Transfiguration homework, to the Potions practical tomorrow morning, all the while trying to fight off the inevitable.
As always, though, he failed, and had to land before he fell.
Standing by the lakeside, Firebolt in hand, trainers sinking softly into the muddy ground and robes clinging cold and wet against his skin, he stared intently into the darkening sky and tried desperately to think about nothing.
Remus Lupin could feel the change coming, approaching like some beast in the distance. It howled in his ears and snapped at his heels, making him pace restlessly. Sweat trickled down his neck and back, and he twisted his head jerkily to one side as if trying to shake off a twitch.
He cast a glance at the ornate goblet resting on his bedside table, filled with the slightly bubbling potion Severus had concocted for him earlier that evening, before rushing off to tend to whatever cauldron he'd left brewing. Wolfsbane. He needed to take it soon. Now, in fact. The moon was already rising.
Nevertheless, he whirled away from it yet again, snarling. The wolf inside him was fighting against it more strongly than ever, its ferocity fuelled by his own vicious emotions. He wanted to scream and rage and cry and do nothing more. The wolf wanted all that as well, and it wanted to hunt. They both wanted to mourn.
Shakily, he wiped his face with the back of his hand, brushing away the tears he'd already shed. The motion brought his fingers into his line of sight. The nails were already darkening, growing longer. By now, his eyes would be flashing amber and fangs forming. There were minutes left.
It took an effort to force himself to turn around and walk to the table, dropping to his knees before it and reaching out a trembling hand toward the potion. His fingers gripped it too tightly, sharp nails scraping at the gold metal.
"Do it," he ordered himself, his voice little more than a growl. "Do it!"
That was when the wolf gave a final, howling protest, surging up within him with jaws snapping and claws unleashed.
The goblet was hurled away from him and the potion splashed across the carpeted floor and the nearby curtains, instantly soaking into the soft fibres of both. Desperately, Remus threw himself after it, scrambling across the damp, stained carpet, but it was far too late.
"No!" The cramps were beginning, starting in his torso as muscles contracted and bones shifted. He collapsed, twitching and shivering, trying to curl up on himself. "Oh God, no… No, no, NO!"
The scream that escaped him after that came out as a howl.
"C'mon, seriously, if you had to pick one – if you had to! – which would it be?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Blaise, this is disgusting. Would you stop?"
But for once he was ignored as the other Slytherins laughed and sniggered at each other as the group of five made their way toward the kitchens. Pansy Parkinson shoved Blaise playfully, her expression amused but carefully superior. "Honestly, where do you come up with these things? As if any of us would ever even look at a Gryffindor…"
The black haired teen grinned and shook his head. "And if you think I believe that for one moment, you're insulting my intelligence. I'm not saying you have to like them, I'm just saying that every one of us must have at least… looked,at one time or another."
The scandalised blond threw his friend a look of plain horror. "I certainly haven't! And I never will, I can promise you that." The youngest Malfoy sniffed haughtily, his raised eyebrows making his expression aloof. He seemed to consider for a moment, then frowned. "Wait, who have you been looking at?"
Pansy elbowed the other boy in the ribs. "Yeah, go on, tell us." Her encouragement was backed by the guffaws of Crabbe and Goyle.
Blaise smiled secretively. "A gentleman doesn't look and tell."
"Good job you're not a gentleman, then, isn't it?"
"True, true," Blaise muttered, examining his nails. "In that case, I suppose it wouldn't be a crime to tell you that I have, on occasion, noticed the good side of one Ginny Weasley."
"What?" Draco almost stopped in his tracks as his voice rose several pitches. "The Weaselette? What good side?"
Blaise chuckled. "The backside."
Pansy tutted disdainfully, shaking her head at the crude humour. She took Draco's arm and patted it soothingly. "Come on darling, don't listen to him. He's only trying to creep us all out, I'm sure."
"I am not!" the other Slytherin protested, though his expression was still mischievous. "Honestly, you take a look next time she walks up a staircase ahead of you!"
"I'd rather not," Pansy drawled over her shoulder, while Draco remained wordless and horrified.
The playful bickering continued as they went. They'd made it past the dungeons now, and were just stepping off a staircase when they heard it.
Something growled in the shadows ahead of them. Blaise and Pansy went for their wands, while Draco automatically stepped back behind Crabbe and Goyle, all expressions alarmed. In the confined space of the corridor, there was very little light. There was a window at the very end, but only the pale silver glow of the full moon entered, doing nothing to illuminate what was hiding just ahead of them.
In the darkness, crouched at the foot of the window, something large stirred.
"What is it?" Pansy hissed.
"Light," Draco snapped behind her. "Someone give us light!"
"Lumos!" Blaise intoned swiftly. A flare of light immediately surrounded them – which, it would seem, was a big mistake.
Alerted by the flash, the creature turned sharply, amber eyes flashing. A long muzzle was covered in red substance, and canine lips were drawn back to reveal a terrifying amount of teeth.
"Oh God…" Draco breathed, recognising the creature.
The thing continued to uncurl itself, its bulk seeming to grow and grow. Having been hunched over something before, now it stood, and was massive beyond expectation.
Then, without warning, Remus Lupin in his werewolf form was racing towards them, murder in his eyes.
Their screams were simultaneous. Frantic, Blaise raised his wand and fired off a spiel of curses – all of which bounced harmlessly off the onrushing wolf. Pansy clutched at him and pulled, urging him in the opposite direction, back toward the staircase.
"Run!" she yelled, turning to follow Crabbe and Goyle, who had needed no instruction this time. Panic all over his face, Blaise obeyed and pelted after his companions, still firing curses wildly over his shoulder.
No one noticed that the Prince of Slytherin hadn't moved, and was in fact quite frozen by his own terror.
Time slowed for Draco. Ahead of him, the wolf's eyes flared with fire, coming ever closer. Everything in him urged him to run, to escape, to do something – but he couldn't. Couldn't move, couldn't breathe. He was going to die. Oh God, he was going to die – killed by that pathetic snivelling man in a cardigan! He was going to–!
And then it was too late to do anything, as it was upon him. Screaming senselessly, he raised his arms and fell backwards.
As if from a great distance away, he could hear Pansy shrieking his name over and over again. Someone else as well, someone shouting something. Someone shouting a spell. A great bang followed that, breaking the bubble of quiet and slow-motion that seemed to have enveloped him.
The wolf crashing down upon him, its mouth agape, was the last thing he remembered.