Disclaimer: I do not own The Whomping Willow, Teddy Lupin, James Potter, Albus Potter, Remus Lupin or any other characters that may appear. This story was written purely for entertainment purposes and no profit is being made.
Warnings: Character Death. Slightly maudlin in places.
The Taming of the Whomping Willow
If love remains
though everything is lost
We will pay the price
but we will not count the cost
Have you heard?
They say Teddy Lupin tamed the Whomping Willow.
When I was in school the headmaster planted the great tree to keep my secret in the underground tunnels where they belonged. Where they were safe. Where no one could touch it and it couldn't touch anyone. I don't know where he found the tree, where it came from, but I certainly have never seen another one like it.
It did its job. Kept the other children away. Kept them ignorant.
For a while, during the day between classes, groups of boys would gather around the tree and play a game. Rooting and hollering, disturbing the poor thing when it was just trying to soak up some sun. Whoever managed to touch the trunk was the winner.
No one ever won that game. The headmaster finally forbid all the students from getting close to it. He told them to leave it alone. Most of them learned that lesson on their own when they were rushed to madam Pomfrey with black eyes or broken bones. They left it alone.
Left me alone.
Stayed away from my secret. Didn't laugh, didn't poke fun, didn't turn away. Just let me be. It was my greatest fear to be discovered. My greatest shame.
But of course I was discovered. And it was the best gift to ever be given. For the three who knew did not turn away. They stayed.
And they took risks for me. Big risks, not small ones. Risks that I wasn't sure I would have taken for anyone. They made me feel unworthy, blessed.
They made me happy. Gave me childhood memories to smile about. And yet, sometimes, I still needed a few moments of solitude. Those few moments between being human and being the monster.
The tree understood that and always let me in. I never needed a way to prod the knot. There was no persuasion required to get close.
When I came the branches would slow and clam. Sometimes they would brush my shoulder comfortingly as I walked past, leaves softer than they looked.
And even though I knew it was just a tree I felt a kinship with it. And I could tell it knew me.
Trees have long memories.
When I came back, years later, to teach at the school, it would still let me in. Not that I needed the hiding place anymore. The potion allowed me to stay inside, to curl up and be a monster with no risk. But I think the tree liked it when I visited.
I would go out to it, when I couldn't sleep, and pet the slender branches. And I would miss my younger days because then things had been so much simpler. And the moon would be overhead, safely slender and partial.
The day I left again I paid it one last visit. It trembled and bent toward me, away from the sun. I got the feeling that if it could it would have uprooted itself and come with me.
I told it goodbye and then I left.
Four years later I died. It was on that very field, on the same dirt my beloved tree sprang from. The darkness came easily even though I wasn't ready for it. I had a son after all, and a wife. For the first time in many years I had things to be living for. Things that allowed me to live well. Live happy.
I had a moment of intense grief that hurt me more than the pain of the curse and then I started to slip away. It wasn't a gradual thing, like going down a slide. It was abrupt and quick. Like slipping suddenly down a bank I hadn't seen coming.
I never found a bottom, if there was one I didn't reach it. Something grabbed a hold of me and held on. Something didn't want me to go. It wrapped around like vine and pulled me away from the cold darkness into sinewy warmth.
I was alive. Death slithered away. I was grand. I stretched up to the sky, feeling the stars. I was reaching deep into the earth. I felt ageless. There were no walls anymore. Nothing constrained my consciousness. No tissue, no blood, no skull. Only me. Only.
Across the field, face down in the grass, already getting cold, was a body that was very familiar. I didn't see it, there was no seeing anymore. Everything merely was. I had only to turn my attention anywhere and everything was there in the radiant hues of existence. Greens and yellows more brilliant and clear than they had ever been before.
I was free. I swung wildly in the night. Before any memory of morals could slide I lashed out at men. My fading human mind labeled as them 'bad' and they flung left and right like water reeds. Thin and weak.
And when that was done. When the grass was clean. When the air was fresh again, I still swayed. I danced and never grew tired.
And I kept anyone from getting too close. I made them leave me alone. I wasn't a monster anymore. I wasn't human. I wasn't anything in-between. I was life and I knew life. Real life. Not the silly imitation that had consumed me before.
People stayed away, stood off to the side. Allowed me my peace.
Then a boy came. He was small. Two friends trailed behind him, brothers of each other. One tall with messy black hair and another tiny and frail with glasses.
"Teddy be careful!" the taller one called.
"Maybe this is a bad idea." said the smaller one.
"Shut it Albus he needs closure."
Tiny Albus shook his head. "But that's not his dad, it's a tree."
The tall boy shrugged. "Pretend it's one of your weirdo metaphors."
The boy called Teddy was coming closer. I swung in a circle. Wanting him to know that I wanted to be left alone. He paused briefly but kept coming forward. I could feel his human smell, the natural oil of his skin, the sandy scent of his hair.
I knew him.
Trees have very long memories.
He was something of what had been the human part of me. And I loved him. I stayed my wild swaying, stopped dancing, took my limbs under careful control. Then I held still while he approached, waited until he reached out his fragile human fingers to my branches. He flinched slightly when I moved. I made sure to be slow, I brushed my leaves across the top of his head.
He smiled, beamed. And it was warmer than the sunlight that showered from above.
I remembered about humanity. What it had been like. There was good and evil and places in between. I didn't fall anywhere on that spectrum. I wasn't innocent and I wasn't corrupt. But for this boys sake I wouldn't be wild anymore.
I would be tame.
I straightened my trunk, and lifted my leaves and waved them at the sun instead of at the world around me. I let the other boys walk forward and hold their hands against my bark. And I never made a move against them. I pulled deep inside myself, calming, stilling, comfortable.
I do not dance now. I sleep. I twist in the breeze and I soak in the rain and the sun.
Other children come. They try to get me to dance again. To thrash or grow wild. I feel their rocks. I hear their calls.
Oh yes I hear them.
But I'm not listening.
And I'm not moving.