"Bad Moon Rising" by HLB
Disclaimer: Haven't we gotten past this?
A Note: I chose to let an ancillary character be a primary force in the discovery of Remus' secret in order to remain consistent with the Potter Universe (where it
has been stated that the Marauders "worked out" Remus' secret but doesn't say they did so firsthand... something either Remus or Sirius would doubtless have mentioned.)
Remus Lupin was a good kid. In spite of the shyness and social awkwardness that came from his lack of association with other children, something very likable shone through. One might expect that this was why Sirius and James had quite naturally enfolded him in their group. James was attracted to Remus' affable nature and good-heartedness. Sirius appreciated those qualities, too, but it was the darker, secret side of Remus' nature that probably caught his attention. Of course, at the tender age of 11 neither of them could probably have articulated it so neatly.
What drew Sirius is probably what also attracted the attention of the girls... although for entirely different reasons. While Sirius instinctively sensed a kindred spirit in the tortured soul of Lupin; the girls saw a romantic figure... a potential Heathcliff to their Catherines. The girls in Remus' own house were the exception, however. During their first week James and Sirius had pulled Remus in on a rather messy and unpleasant prank involving dung bombs and the girls dormitory. As far as Amy Philos, Ella Figg, and Lily Evans were concerned all three members of the trio were personas non grata. In fact, to Lily and Ella the boys were "the enemy" in an escalating prank war in which the dung bombs had only been the first salvo.
Somewhere along the line, Peter Pettigrew got in on the fun. Mundungus Fletcher, who was eccentric even at age 11, cheered them on but preferred to spend his time doing whatever it was that he was doing at the moment. Amy Philos was from a rather strict family and just didn't have the nerve - a fact she readily admitted to her dorm mates. Besides, Amy tended to spend each spare moment in study. Still, she developed a singular talent for keeping her face straight and expression innocent when she provided Lily and Ella alibis. Of course, as one of the dung bombs had exploded under Amy's bed, she had a strong motivation to assist in Lily and Ella's ongoing quest for revenge.
It had taken Argus Filtch, of all people, to bring the increasingly bitter feud to an end. Filtch did not tolerate the messiness attendant to the pranks very well. The notoriously strict and unforgiving Hogwarts caretaker declared war on both sides openly sharing his determination to catch all the pranksters and, if he had his way, send them straight to Azkaban. With a common enemy, it didn't take long for the two opposing sides to unite. Divided it was probably only a matter of time before Filtch caught them. United, it was all but impossible... especially since the now-unified group turned its attention to Slytherin and thus earned the loyalty and assistance not only of their fellow Gryffindors, but also of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs.
So it was that Remus Lupin, who had never had playmates or friends growing up found himself in a gang of friends with a singular devotion to mischief and an intense loyalty to one another. His new bonds of friendship were marred only by the fact that he was forced to deceive them once a month. It didn't take any of them long to notice that he disappeared for several days once a month and returned pale and spent.
Remus, however, was closed mouthed on the subject, insisting that his mother or his grandmother had been ill... or some such excuse. Looking at him after his return one might suppose he came from a sickly family. In fact, if Remus had merely claimed illness and Madame Pomfrey refused to let anyone try and visit him "in the hospital wing" his friends' suspicions would probably have taken longer to come to head.
It was Lily who realized that, while Remus' disappearances were about a month apart, they occurred at slightly different times each month. If the truth hadn't seemed so unlikely, she probably would have connected this fact with the lunar cycle and hit upon Remus' secret. After all, the fact that one's friend might secretly be a werewolf isn't something that naturally springs to mind. As it was, the five of them would occasionally talk in circles "about Remus" but never get anywhere.
"If only we knew ahead of time, then we could follow him and find out what's up" Sirius complained after lunch one gray January afternoon.
"Yeah, that would be convenient," James noted sarcastically, "Why don't we just ask him to tell us when he's going A.W.O.L. next, you know how he loves to chatter about the subject."
The truth was Remus always looked pained and scared when the topic was brought up. That, more than anything else, fueled his friends' determination to discover the truth.
"Problem is," Peter said chiming in, "We don't know until he doesn't show for supper and we realize he didn't show for class."
"Duh," said Ella, rolling her eyes, "Way to state the obvious, Peter."
"Ella, give him a break. We're all just brainstorming here," Lily chided
"Look, it's been about a month since the last time Remus 'went away' right?" Sirius asked, determined to stay on topic.
"Pretty much" Lily answered.
"So, he'll probably be slipping off sometime soon." Sirius continued
"And?" James said impatiently
"Next time he fails to show for the last class of the day one of us has got to sneak out and see if we can find him and follow him."
"Terrific plan, Sirius," Peter said sourly, "Just how do you suppose we'll be able to get out of class after it starts?"
"Hospital wing?" Sirius offered hopefully
Lily sighed. "Even if we could hoodwink a professor into sending us, it would probably take Madam Pomfrey about six seconds to see through a fake illness."
"Ok, ok," Sirius said grudgingly, "But following him is probably our best hope so - we've got to think of something.
Ella opened her mouth and Sirius looked at her expectantly. She sneezed in his face.
"Ew, nice one, Ella, thanks a whole lot," Sirius said with a grimace.
"Sorry," Ella offered sheepishly, "Think I'm getting a cold."
"Well then," Lily said in a matronly tone, "you've got a genuine reason to go see Madam Pomfrey."
Ella grimaced, "I just hate that awful Pepperup Potion. It's vile, and smoking at the ears for several hours afterward isn't something I look forward to."
"It's not as bad as living with a cold for a week." Lily countered.
"Or spreading it," Sirius added darkly, "If you get sick you'll probably make us all sick."
"Your concern is touching, Sirius," Ella said irritably
"Well, you know Sirius, he's quite the humanitarian," James said looking at his watch, "So are you going willingly or do we have to carry you? 'Cause if we have to carry you we'd better get on with it or we'll be late for class."
Peter chortled and Ella gave James, Lily, and Sirius each a very black look before rising and heading for the hospital wing with a loud sneeze and a sniffle.
Most students were glad to get a dose of Pepperup Potion because they were excused from class for the rest of the afternoon while their ears smoked. As Ella sat in her dormitory watching wafts of steam from her hears fog the window, she wasn't so sure it was worth it. It will be days before I get the peppery taste out of my mouth, she thought gazing at the empty grounds and brooding.
There wasn't much to see below as the students were all in class but she couldn't seem to motivate herself to do anything else. Besides, finding something more interesting to do might spoil a perfectly good bad mood and she wanted to hang on to this one long enough to inflict it on Sirius. As she idly watched the branches of the Whomping Willow wave back and forth she wondered what would possess the school to obtain such a violent tree.
As she looked at the thing seeming to swing its branches just for the heck of it, something caught her eye. She leaned close to the window and saw two figures, who she could have sworn were Madam Pomfrey and Remus walking toward the willow. To her astonishment, she saw Pomfrey put the end of a long walking stick to the trunk of the tree - which then stood still. Fascinated, Ella watched as both Remus and Pomfrey seemed to disappear into the tree trunk. Some time later, Pomfrey came back out of the tree alone and proceeded to the castle at a brisk walk just as the between-class bell tolled.
So that was where he went! Ella could hardly contain herself. She wanted to tell the gang immediately but there was one more class to which they were undoubtedly already on their way. Should she wait and tell them before supper? If she did they could all sneak down after it got dark. But whatever was going on with Remus, she reasoned, he kept it quiet for a reason and he might not appreciate all five of them bursting in upon him. Besides, she could just see James' and Sirus' jealous faces as she told them that she had solved the entire mystery of where and what and why. It would be much more fun to have the upper hand. Besides, it beat sitting here watching her ears fog up the window.
Ella was careful making her way out of the castle, lest she been seen. She needn't have worried, however, with everyone in class it was a still and silent as a tomb. Not even Argus Filch was around to see her slip out of the front doors and sprint down to the tree. The moment she got near, the willow's moving branches began to swing and punch in her direction with a great deal of determination. Ella tried several times to dart between the branches to the trunk but couldn't get through. She'd have to try something else. Madam Pomfrey had used a stout walking stick. Ella didn't have one of those, but surely there were some good sized fallen branches in the forest.
Conscious of the passing of the precious minutes before the end of classes, Ella quickly ran to the edge of the forest and began casting about for a long sturdy stick. Fortunately, it didn't take long to find one. With a glance up toward the castle Ella ran back to the willow dragging the long branch behind her. She swung it around and toward the trunk. Now, where had Pomfrey nudged the thing? Ella spent ten fruitless minutes poking at the trunk and expecting to be caught at any moment. Finally, her branch connected with a knot and the tree froze.
Ella looked up at the still willow with a grin and dropped the branch she had been using. Once close to the tree she could see an opening among the roots. She took a deep breath and lowered herself down. She stumbled on the rough steps leading down and found herself pitching forward in the darkness and landing on cold, damp earth. The opening above her closed quietly and Ella was plunged into darkness. "Bloody H!" she said fumbling in her robes for her wand. Finally she found it and managed to pull it out, snapping out the word "Lumos!" with rather more force than was strictly necessary. Now that she was here some of the excitement was giving way to anxiousness. She didn't like being all alone in a dark, clammy, underground tunnel. Still, she had come this far and she was NOT going back and telling the guys that she had gotten into the tunnel and chickened out.
She walked down the tunnel by the light of her wand for what seemed like an eternity. The path was rough and her wand didn't provide enough light to save her from tripping and stumbling several times leaving her hands and knees bruised. Some portions of the tunnel had such a low ceiling that she was obliged to walk bent over for several stretches. Finally, with an aching back and sore hands she noticed the a faint gray light ahead.
"Nox!" she whispered to put out the light from her wand. Slowly, she moved forward trying to keep her legs from shaking. The rational part of her mind told her that since Madam Pomfrey had apparently escorted Remus to the end of the tunnel it must be safe. But she kept remembering the look of fear and dread that crossed Remus' face every time someone brought up his monthly absences. Whatever was at the end of this tunnel it was something of which her friend was frightened. For the life of her, Ella couldn't imagine what it was but she was sure it wasn't good.
The thrill of being the "one" to discover the secret was gone. Ella now wished that she had waited to at least bring Lily along. Done is done, she told herself sternly and forced her legs to take her the last few steps to the end of the tunnel. Cautiously she looked around the corner. It was a house. A fairly ordinary house if you considered one this dark and seemingly deserted ordinary. And then there was the fact that all the windows were boarded up...
Holding her breath and listening for all she was worth, Ella crept forward looking anxiously left and right. Ahead was what was undoubtedly the parlor and a staircase with a hallway leading away on its right. Carefully, Ella crept forward and looked into the parlor. It was empty save for a jumble of furniture, some of which was rather the worse for wear. Ella turned back and crept past the stairs, making her way down the hall. Kitchen, bathroom, study. All of them were empty except for a large amount of disarranged mis-matched furniture.
Ella began to wonder why Remus would be here of all places. It was also beginning to occur to her that he might not be here at all. She was tempted to throw caution to the wind and re-light her wand to dispel some of the darkness that had gathered steadily since she entered the house. She had opened her mouth to say the incantation when the floorboards above her head creaked and whined. Someone was moving up there. In for a penny, in for a pound she thought and, heart in her throat, began to creep quietly up the stairs.
As she moved upward she could hear the creaking going back and forth. Remus - or whoever it was - was pacing. Finally Ella was at the top of the stairs. Holding her breath she carefully leaned forward and looked into the room from which she had heard the sound of pacing.
At first all she could see was the dark shapes of yet more bulky mis-matched furniture. Then she saw the figure in front of yet another boarded up window. This one, had a gap near the top and it was to this that the figure was directing his attention. A detached part of Ella's mind noted that it had begun to grow dark since she'd entered the tunnel. The rest of her scrutinized the figure until she recognized it. It WAS Remus.
Ella let out her breath in relief and Remus whirled at the sound.
"Who's there?" he said sharply
"Lumos" Ella said lighting her wand and pointing it at herself, "It's just me, Remus."
"Ella?" he asked incredulous, "What are you- How?"
Suddenly Ella felt sheepish. The one thing she hadn't really considered is how she intended to explain to one of her best friends that she had been sneaking around and spying on him. "I, er-, we all were, really. Worried, I mean. You keep disappearing and-"
"Bloody Hell, Ella, what do you think you're doing?! Do you have any idea what you've gotten yourself into?!" Remus exploded
Ella recoiled in shock. She opened her mouth to try and say something but no words came.
"Get out, Get out now! Go!"
"I'm, I'm so sorry!" Ella said feeling a rush of shame and hurt. She backed up, stumbling from the room
Remus could see the shock and hurt on her face but he didn't have the luxury of worrying about it. He had long feared that if his friends knew the truth about him all of the acceptance and friendship would dissolve into disgust and revulsion. He had dreaded that possibility perhaps even more than he dreaded the agonizing transformation into werewolf.
But never, in his grimmest nightmares had he imagined one of his friends would stumble upon him just before a transformation. Now it wasn't just a matter of someone knowing the truth about him. It was now a race to keep her from knowing the truth from firsthand experience that had a good chance of turning her into a werewolf, too. For years he lived with the terror and dread of biting someone, anyone. The thought of biting one of his friends was too much to contemplate. Ella needed to MOVE... she needed to get out of the house and the tunnel before he transformed.
The horrifying fear and the urgency all came to head as he screamed at her to go. Better that she run away in fear than stay and be bitten. Perhaps if he was very lucky Dumbledore would let him write a letter of explanation before sending him home. But now he just needed her to go.
"Go!" he screamed as a wide-eyed, white-faced Ella stumbled backward out of the room toward the stairs. Just as she disappeared from sight she made an inarticulate sound that was followed by the sickening crash of someone falling down the stairs. Remus sprinted out of the room and looked down the stairs to see Ella lying at the bottom, limbs splayed like a rag doll. He fought rising panic as he sprinted down the stairs. Ella was knocked out and her left foot stuck out at an odd angle from her ankle.
For a moment Remus couldn't think at all. It was only with a great deal of effort he got hold of himself and began to reason aloud.
"O.k., o.k., She's hurt, she's unconscious. I need to get help but -Dammit! I can't get back to Hogwarts with her before I transform. But if she's still here when I do... Merlin's Ghost, what am I supposed to do!?"
He looked around desperately for some idea, some inspiration but all that met his gaze was that ridiculous collection of heavy, mismatched furniture. Maybe... It was worth a try, it might be his only chance.
Remus dragged Ella into the tunnel, propping her up against the wall. Then he began to drag every piece of large and heavy furniture he could find to the opening. He stacked and piled them over the entrance to the tunnel... hoping that if he put enough furniture between himself and Ella the wolf wouldn't be able to get through... at least not until Ella had a chance to wake up and get the hell away.
After a time, Remus finally shoved the last piece, an upended desk, against the rest of the barricade, and leaned against it - exhuasted. There were some small openings through which he could see into the tunnel but the entrance was covered floor to ceiling and several heavy furniture pieces deep. As a wolf he should neither be able to get through nor move the barricade.
Suddenly Remus felt his body stiffen as each cell and molecule cried out in familiar agony. He let out a soundless scream as every nerve in his body protested the
unwilling transformation of its human form into wolf. He fought. He always fought trying to somehow stop the change, but it was useless. He always lost.
Even as he bones and muscles ground and twisted into those of a wolf he felt his human consciousness dissolving in a primal haze.
The morning after the moon waned Remus awoke, his body in the vise-like grip of an all-too familiar dull ache. It was over. Remus turned to see if how much daylight was coming through the gap at the top of the boarded up window. Then, suddenly, he sat up the memories rushing back.
He scrambled, stumbling toward the top of the stairs... how did I get up to the bedroom? He wondered even as he pelted down the stairs toward the barricade he had set up before his transformation. When he saw it he was went weak kneed with relief. It was clearly worse for wear, but intact. Stumbling over to it, he peered through one of the gaps into the tunnel. It was empty. Again, his knees went weak with relief and he found himself sitting on the floor.
He sat there for some time just breathing deeply and feeling grateful he hadn't bitten anyone, let alone one of his new friends. But eventually, relief gave way to dread. He had a pretty good idea of what was in store for him. There was no way Dumbledore would let him stay after this. He would be headed home of the first train from Hogsmeade. A dull feeling of despair began to replace the relief at this thought.
Still, he noted bitterly to himself, it was probably just as well. Now that his friends knew the truth they could hardly be expected to look upon him with anything
but mistrust and disgust. The last few months had been like a wonderful dream, but the dream was over. Remus rose wearily and began to move the furniture.
It was time to go and face the music.
It was a Hogsmeade weekend and the campus was fairly quiet when Remus emerged from the roots of the Willow. Not that it mattered who saw him now, he thought. Still, no one did. He made his way slowly toward the castle knowing this would probably be the last time he did so. He hadn't gotten very far when he heard a shout and saw several figures jogging toward him. Sirius. Peter. James. Lily. Remus winced. He wasn't looking forward to this confrontation. Would their words be of anger? revulsion? both? He stood still and took a deep breath bracing himself and waiting.
When his friends reached him they were breathing heavily and no one spoke for a moment. Finally after what seemed an eternity but was probably only thirty seconds, Lily threw herself on a very stunned Remus pulling him into an anxious hug.
"Remus! We were so worried!" she said pulling back.
Remus' mouth opened in surprise but he could form no words. Did he dare hope?
"My God, Remus," James said, gravely, "why didn't you tell us? It must have been horrible trying to keep it a secret from us."
"Damn, if you couldn't tell us..." Sirius started then trailed off.
Finally Remus found his voice, "So you know? You know I'm a- a werewolf?"
His friends nodded.
"And you're still speaking to me?" he finished weakly.
"Damn right we are"
"Duh, what did you think we'd do?"
"Sure looks like it, doesn't it?"
They all answered at once and Remus felt a surreal sense of wonder. How could this be?
"Don't look so shocked, you idiot," Lily said.
"You didn't think we'd let a little thing like this get in the way of a perfectly good friendship, did you?" James asked with a grin.
Remus hardly dared believe what he was hearing, "But-"
"Oh,'but' yourself. This is what being a friend means, you git." Sirius growled irritably.
"You know, Sirius, when you speak it's like poem" Lily said dryly.
"Yeah, enough of this warm fuzzy stuff. It's almost time for lunch." Peter added, "Lets get up to the castle."
Suddenly Remus' smile faded. Incredibly, he still had his friends but what did it matter when he would surely be sent to Dumbledore's office and expelled the moment he crossed the threshold? With a sigh he asked the question he had been avoiding, "Where's Ella?"
Lily looked at him sympathetically, while the guys shifted a bit.
With a thrill of horror Remus considered that the worst may have happened. He felt his knees going weak again and felt Sirius' steadying hand. He grabbed his arm and looked at him intently.
"Please tell me she's not..."
"Not what? Oh Cassandra's Ghost, no!" Sirius said
"She's fine, Sirius," Lily assured him, "She was a little banged up... she broke her ankle and had a concussion but you know Madam Pomfrey, she fixed her right up."
"Yeah, we think the only reason Pomfrey's still keeping her up there is that she refuses to tell her how she got hurt," James said with a scowl.
"She refuses?? You mean nobody knows?" Remus asked unable to believe his good fortune.
"No one but us." Peter said with some satisfaction.
"Right, and she asked us to bring you to see her as soon as you turned up. She wants to apologize." James continued.
"She wants to apologize... to me?"
"We're all sorry, Remus," Lily said, "We shouldn't have spied on you. As it was, Ella said she put you in a terrible position."
"Comon', we can let her make her own apologies." James said pulling them both along toward the castle.
Remus saw Ella before she saw him. She was sitting, fully clothed, on top of the bedcovers of a bed in the hospital wing.
"I'm perfectly fine, and you know it!" she called toward Madam Pomfrey who was carrying a small tray toward her office.
Pomfrey turned with a patient smile. "Indeed, you certainly seem to be. But," she sighed in mock concern, "Until we know exactly what caused your injuries I can't be confident we've given you all the treatment you need."
"That's blackmail!" Ella shouted at Pomfrey's retreating back. Pompfrey said nothing, merely entering her office and closing the door behind her. Ella crossed her arms and glowered.
Lily giggled and Ella's head whipped around toward the door where the group of five stood. When she caught sight of Remus a variety of expressions passed quickly over her features. Remus was pretty sure he recognized relief and embarrassment. Come to that, Remus was feeling a bit sheepish himself (as it were). Ella colored and looked at her friends and then down at her crossed arms.
"Comon' you guys," Lily said pointedly, "an audience doesn't usually help an apology." and with that she turned on her heel and gave Peter and James (who were closest) a shove toward the corridor.
"Well, I guess we can take a hint" Remus heard James muttering as their voices fell away in the corridor.
Slowly Remus walked over and sat on the bed beside Ella's. "I, er- wanted to thank you," he said, "You know, for not saying anything. I mean, that's really too much to-"
"You're kidding, right?" Ella asked.
If it were possible, Remus felt more confused at this point than he had so far that day.
"You saved my life-"
"Yeah, from me, Ella"
"Maybe, but if I hadn't been so nosy... If I had trusted you instead of snooping this never would have happened. Remus, don't you think I know what I did? I've had a couple of days to think about it. I put you in a position where you could have bitten someone," Remus opened his mouth to say something but Ella plunged on, "That it was me is my own fault."
"Ella, would you please pinch me?"
"Pinch me because this can't be real."
"Why can't it be?"
"Well, because when people find out you're a werewolf they don't react well."
Suddenly, Ella went from apologetic to angry. "What kind of creeps do you think we are? Besides we're not 'people' we're your friends, you jerk!"
For a second Remus didn't know what to say, until he found himself sputtering with laughter, "let me get this straight, the whole werewolf thing doesn't bother you but you're upset that I'm a jerk?"
"Right. By the way I'm thinking of upgrading you to Ass."
"You're too kind."
"I know. Now get the hell out of here before I get so 'kind' I start using words that proper young ladies shouldn't know."
Remus rose but stopped before turning to go.
"What about Pomfrey?" he asked.
"She'll let me go eventually, she has to. She's probably waiting to do it just in time for class on Monday."
Remus shook his head, "Probably will. Hey, I'm sorry you're stuck here."
"Don't worry, Sirius gave me all sorts of ideas of how to make my time here just as special for Madam Pomfrey as it is for me." Ella said with a glint in her eye.
Remus raised his eyebrows and grinned but said nothing as he turned to go. He felt Ellas' hand grasp his arm and he turned back. She looked quite serious.
"Rem, I'm sorry."
"You already said that."
"No, I mean I'm sorry. It stinks."
Remus couldn't think what to say when both he and Ella were startled by Dumbledore's voice,
"Indeed, Miss Figg it does, as you say, 'stink'." he said wryly
Remus and Ella both froze looking, wide-eyed, at the headmaster and wondering how much he had heard.
"Still, I imagine it will be easier to bear with the understanding of friends. Miss Figg, I will tell Madam Pomfrey that we don't need to know anything further from you and give her your regards."
"You may go and, if you would, deliver a message to your and Remus' other friends. Please tell them that I rely on their discretion."
"Um, yes sir." Ella said scrambling out of bed, "Thank you."
Both Ella and Remus moved quickly to leave the Hospital wing, as Dumbledore shook his head and looked after them.
"You know, Albus," Madam Pomfrey said walking up behind him, "You really shouldn't discharge my patients without my permission... especially when they haven't come clean."
Dumbledore chuckled, "Poppy, you know she would never have done so."
"Too true, but I was going to make her sweat it out a bit longer, just on the principle of the thing."
"You surprise me sometimes, Poppy."
"Albus, sometimes I surprise myself. That's part of the joy in life... finding the unexpected in yourself and in others."
Dumbledore smiled, looking toward the door through which Remus and Ella had just left. "Indeed, Poppy, it is."