"An English Werewolf In New York"
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Nope, the Harry Potter characters STILL aren't mine. They still belong to J.K.Rowling and I'm still not making any money from this. The song Thank You belongs to Dido.
So the little prince tamed the fox…
"And now, here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember...
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed..."
- From The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry
Amanda grabbed the phone before the first ring had even subsided.
"Remus?" she asked without preamble.
"Yes, it's me," he said, sounding tired and weak. "I hope I didn't wake you."
"Are you kidding? I've been up for hours. I couldn't sleep."
"Really?" he asked, concerned. "Why not?"
"Because I was worried about YOU, you goose!" He was silent for a moment. "Remus? Are you still there?"
"Yes," he assured her. "Still here."
"Are you feeling better?"
"I suppose so."
"Look, I went out last night and bought you some stuff. Can I come over?"
"I'd like that," he replied. His voiced sounded strangely thick, as though he was trying to keep from crying.
"All right. I'll be right over."
A moment later, she was knocking on his door.
"Alohomora!" she heard Remus say, and the door swung open. She walked into his apartment, where she found him sitting on his sofa, wrapped in his blanket and clutching his wand. Oh my God, he looks even worse today, she thought. Is it my imagination, or does his hair have more gray in it this morning? He looked like he hadn't slept at all the previous night; those unusual eyes had ugly dark circles under them. He had a cut on his temple that was still oozing blood. He looked up at her and gave her a weak smile. "I read in your eyes that I look absolutely frightful," he told her.
"Oh RJ," she said softly, setting down the brown paper bag she was carrying. "What happened to you? You cut yourself somehow. There's blood - " She leaned over to wipe it away. Horrified, he grabbed her wrist just as her fingers were about to make contact.
"No, don't!" he exclaimed, still holding her wrist. "You mustn't…" He released her wrist and looked down at his lap. He sighed heavily, his shoulders slumping. That was too close, he thought.
"I'm sorry," she was saying. "I didn't mean…" He ran a hand through his hair and she saw that it was shaking.
"It's all right," he said finally, looking up at her. "Just be careful, you know? You shouldn't wipe blood off people like that - it's dangerous!" he scolded, sounding shaken. Amanda recalled the references he'd made to his "condition" every once in awhile. She suddenly knew exactly what was wrong with him, why he was so pale and thin, why he didn't want her to come into contact with his blood. She turned away so he wouldn't see the tears that had sprung to her eyes. She would not burden Remus with the grief she felt for him.
"You're right," she said when she could trust her voice not to break when she spoke. "It's just not safe in this day and age, is it?"
"I suppose not," he agreed, though he had no idea what she meant. He watched her rummage in the brown sack she'd brought. She pulled out a bottle and dumped three orange pills into her hand.
"Here," she said, handing them to him.
"What's this?" he asked curiously.
"Motrin," she replied. "Last night you said your bones ached, right? Well, they should help. If not, I bought aspirin too." She went into his kitchen and returned, carrying a glass of water. "Drink up," she instructed. He tossed the pills in his mouth and took a sip of water. "Want some tea?" she asked.
"That would be wonderful," he replied. She surprised him by picking up his wand off the sofa. She went over to the teapot on his desk and tapped it as she'd seen him do countless times, but nothing happened. He smiled, watching her. "That's not going to work, you know," he told her mildly as she continued to tap the teapot.
"Stupid wand," she said. A spray of sparks suddenly shot out of the end. "Arrrgh!" she yelled. Remus laughed.
"I told you so!" he said. She threw the wand down on the desk, snatched up the teapot and stormed into the kitchen, muttering darkly under her breath.
"Hey," she called from the kitchen. "Did you hear some weird noises last night?"
"What sort of weird noises?" he asked, already knowing what she was going to say. He heard water running in the sink.
"I dunno, like some kind of animal. And this isn't the first time I've heard it, either." She walked back into the living room. "It sounded like howling. I think some nutjob on our floor has a wolf or something. You didn't hear it?"
"I don't remember hearing anything like that," he replied truthfully. Remus had long ago discovered that wolf memories don't fit into human brains very well, causing him to have only hazy, vague memories of his activities on the nights of his transformation.
"Well, if some whacko has a pet wolf, the super's gonna be pissed. We're not even allowed to have goldfish in this building!" She sat down on the arm of the sofa and put her arms around, him blanket and all. She waited for him to stiffen and pull away as he usually did whenever she tried to show him affection, but this time he was unresisting, allowing her to draw him against her. She sighed. "Oh, Wiz what are we going to do about you, huh?" She rested her cheek on the top of his head, noting that his hair carried the faint but unmistakable odor of a dog in need of a bath.
Remus closed his eyes, savoring the closeness, the human contact. For most of his life, everyone including his family had treated him like a walking disease, a tainted creature that could infect others just by looking at them, and he'd come to believe it himself. He knew he should pull away from Amanda, that a monster like he was unworthy of such affection, but he simply couldn't bring himself to do it. Lily Potter had been the last woman to hold him, and she certainly hadn't held him like this; Remus could hear Amanda's heart, he could feel the softness of her breast under his cheek His head was filled with the heady scent of her perfume, a spicy Oriental scent called Opium that came in a little red bottle with painted gold lettering. He could picture it sitting on her dresser.
"Don't worry, Amanda," he finally said. "I'll be fine."
"Yeah, you sure look fine," she agreed sarcastically. "You're about ten country miles from fine. I know you don't think a doctor could do anything for you, but if you'd just let me - "
"No." he said, quietly but firmly. "There is no cure for what I have, nothing that can be done - "
"You can't give up hope!" she said adamantly. "They're making new progress every day with this disease!" He pulled away from her and looked up at her sharply.
"What disease?" he asked. From the kitchen, the teakettle began to whistle.
"Hang on," she said, rising. "I'll be right back." Remus watched her go into the kitchen, his thoughts in turmoil. How could she know? Is it possible that lycanthropy is known to Muggle doctors, that they really are doing research, that there could really be a cure someday? From the kitchen, he heard cupboards opening and closing, mugs being taken down and filled with water.
"Stalked in the forest, too close to hide," He heard Amanda sing. "I'll be upon you by the moonlight side." She returned to the living room, carrying two mugs of steaming tea. "Do-do do do, do do do, do do do, do do do, do do," she sang, catching Remus's eye and seeing him smile. Still holding the mugs of tea, she began to dance along as she continued to sing. "Strut on a line, it's discord and rhyme, I howl and I whine I'm after YOU! Mouth is alive with juices like wine, and I'm hungry like the wolf! Burning the ground, I - " Amanda stopped singing when she realized his smile had vanished. "What?" she asked. "Don't you like Duran Duran?" He looked down at his lap and shook his head, his lips pressed together in a thin line. "I'll have you know I was madly in love with Simon Le Bon when I was thirteen," she said lightly, wondering what she'd done to upset him.
"Why did you sing that song to me?" he asked quietly. Holy non sequitur, Batman! She thought. When am I ever going to figure this guy out?
"Welllll" she said slowly, "I was thinking about the wolf or whatever it was that I heard last night, and that song just popped into my head."
"Really?" he asked, looking up at her.
"Yeeaaahhh." She said, nodding in emphasis. "Reeealllllllly." She sat down next to him and held out one of the mugs. "Would you like your tea now, Mister Bizarre?" He took the mug from her and sipped the steaming liquid.
"Amanda," he began.
"Yes?" He struggled for a moment to free his arm from the blanket, and then shocked her by putting it around her shoulders and pulling her against him.
"Thank you for being my friend." She felt her eyes fill with tears.
"Any time," she choked out.
Text of a letter to Remus Lupin, confiscated from Harry Potter in the middle of Potions class by Professor Severus Snape:
Dear Professor Lupin,
Thanks for the picture of you and your friend Amanda. Is that Central Park? I guess I'm used to wizarding stuff now because it was weird to see a picture that doesn't move! Hermione went into a snit because I said Amanda's pretty. Girls! Then George kept saying "it's all right, she's just jealous" and she got really mad. She got even madder when Fred wrote "Mrs. Hermione Lupin" on the inside of all her books - in indelible marker! I think it's funny. Snape didn't, though. He happened to see it in her Potions book and went completely bananas. Called her into his office and gave her a long lecture. She tried to tell him that Fred did it, but she just ended up getting detention with the stinkslugs again and now she's not talking to any of us anymore, including Snape.
Anyway, I've been studying really hard. I'm trying to learn a Summoning Spell but it never seems to work right. I thought I was getting the hang of it when some books flew out and hit me in the head, but it turned out to be just Peeves throwing things at me. I bet you don't miss having Peeves around. Hermione just walked in and -
Hello Professor Lupin,
This is Hermione. I'm not speaking to Harry but I wanted to tell you that I'm still working on researching the Wolfsbane Potion for you. I haven't been able to make much progress because Snape won't let me borrow the books with the recipe in them. He has this funny idea that well it's a long and embarrassing story that you don't need to worry about. But I did find out that you wouldn't be able to make the potion yourself, because some of the ingredients by themselves are harmful to werewolves. If it doesn't have to be made fresh, maybe I'll try making it for you and sending to you FedEx (ask your friend Amanda what that is). Hopefully Snape will cool off soon and I'll be able to take a peek at his books.
PS Harry showed me the picture of your friend Amanda - she's very pretty. Did you tell her about your lycanthropy yet?
It's Harry again. How do you like that? She just burst in, grabbed the quill and parchment right out of my hands, and started
writing. Now I don't have time to finish this because I'll be late for Potions. Maybe I'll tell Snape that Hermione made me late because she wanted to write you a note serve her right if I did. Him too - his head would probably explode!
Amanda sat at Remus's desk, staring intently at the computer screen. She glanced at the clock in the upper corner of the screen. We're going to be late... what on Earth is taking him so long?
"Hey, Speedball," she called. "Want to get moving? The movie starts at eight!"
"All right," Remus called back. "I'll just be a few minutes." Amanda turned her attention back to her computer art. It just needs a bit more color... maybe some purple -
"Well," a soft, silky, English-accented voice said from behind her. She spun in her chair and let out a little shriek. Standing before her was one of the ugliest men she'd ever seen. He was tall, imposing, with a large hooked nose and long, greasy black hair. "You must be Amanda," he purred.
"That's me," she agreed. "And YOU must be another wizard who thinks it's really funny to sneak up on someone by Apparating, right? Well, I don't think it's funny when Remus does it either!" The visitor looked taken aback; clearly, this was not the reception he'd anticipated.
"I am Severus Snape," he told her with great dignity. "Surely Lupin has mentioned me?"
"Yeah, unfortunately. You know, you really look like a Snape." He put his head to one side, regarded her carefully for a moment, and finally decided that she hadn't meant her words as a compliment.
"And where is your pet werewolf this evening?" he asked softly.
"I keep him chained up in the back," she replied sarcastically.
"This is no joking matter," he told her ominously. "I am only thinking of your safety." She sighed, exasperated.
"OK, I'll bite. What werewolf?"
"Ohhh, do you mean he hasn't told you?" Snape asked in mock surprise. Remus walked into the living room looking just as Snape remembered him; thin, pale, cheerful. Why does he always look so insufferably happy? Snape wondered. Remus saw Snape and stopped dead in his tracks, the slight smile he usually wore vanishing from his lips. That's better, Snape thought with satisfaction.
"Severus," Remus said in an odd voice, his face going even paler. Snape gave him a malicious grin, then turned back to Amanda.
"My dear, you are in great danger. I would feel terrible if I didn't warn you that your good friend Lupin is a werewolf." He watched in satisfaction as Amanda's mouth fell open in astonishment. She was silent for a long moment. Remus closed his eyes, knowing what would happen next, steeling himself for the rejection he knew was coming. Finally, Amanda found her voice.
"Are you on GLUE??" she demanded incredulously, staring at Snape like he'd just stepped off the spaceship from Jupiter. Both men looked shocked, Snape even more so than Remus. Snape's words were clearly not having the impact he'd hoped to achieve. He decided to try a different tack.
"I assure you, once a month your friend turns into a vicious, ravening, voracious, uncontrollable beast!"
"So do I," she said, shrugging. "It's called PMS." Despite himself, Remus laughed out loud at this. Snape blinked. "Anyway," she went on, rising to her feet, "even if it were true, what business is it of yours? How DARE you come Apparating in here to tell me this stuff?" She was really getting angry now; she began to move towards him as she continued, gradually backing him across the room. "If Remus had wanted me to know, he would have told me! It sure as hell wasn't YOUR job to tell me. I saw that smug smirk on your face - you thought I was going freak out on him and tell him to take a hike. You came all the way to New York just to try to ruin our friendship. What the hell is WRONG with you, anyway?" Snape was goggling at her in astonishment. So was Remus. "What a sick, sad, lonely, pitiful life you must have!" she continued. "But I guess I shouldn't expect someone with such a hateful, vindictive mind to have any other kind of life, should I? I think you need to Disapparate right on out of here before I pick up the phone and report you to the INS as a foreigner who's entered this country illegally! Then we'll all sit here and wait for them to show up and deport your sorry ass back to England!"
"Foolish Muggle," Snape said softly. "You'll be singing a different tune when he bites you."
"You know what? I WISH he'd bite me… might spice up our friendship a little!" She raised her eyebrows and peered suggestively at Remus, whose pale cheeks flushed with color. Snape looked shocked. "Now," Amanda continued, turning back to Snape. "Get the hell out of here, or I swear I really WILL call Immigration!" Snape shook his head, then fixed his gaze on Remus.
"You know, Lupin, if you cared at all for her you'd leave her alone," he said. He got a bit of satisfaction when Remus looked at the floor, biting his lip. Smiling slightly, Snape raised his wand and disappeared. There was a moment of silence.
"That was - " Remus began.
"And YOU," Amanda said, rounding on him. "What's with this werewolf stuff?" Remus sighed. "C'mon, RJ - spill."
"We're going to be late for the movie," he pointed out.
"Forget about the movie." She went to the phone and picked it up. "I'm going to do my Amazing Pizza Summoning Spell, and then we're going to sit here and talk about werewolves."
"But you don't believe in werewolves," he reminded her.
"MAKE me believe."
And so, sitting a little ways apart from her on his sofa, he told her. Without ever looking up or meeting her eye, he told her his secrets, all the while waiting for her to recoil in revulsion from the horrible monster he knew he was. He told her about the terror of being chased by a werewolf, the searing pain of the bite. He told her how his parents had sat and coolly discussed the merits of "calling the proper authorities" and "having him put down" right in front of him, as though he were no even longer human, let alone their son. His voice dripping with shame and self-loathing, he told her about the agony of the transformation, how he would lose his humanity, his self-control. How he was ill for days afterwards, his bones aching in protest at being reshaped into wolf form. And then he told her how he'd resigned himself to living a life alone, friendless. It was a lonely, less rewarding life, but it was also less painful than the constant rejection. He told her how he'd chosen celibacy rather than risking infecting someone else with his "disease".
"No one knows exactly how it's transmitted," he explained. "It's the bite that does it, yes, but does the infectious agent lay dormant everywhere inside me? The fear that I will inadvertently infect someone haunts me, Amanda. I would never knowingly doom another person to live like this."
Amanda's heart ached for him; she longed to slide closer to him, put her arms around him, tell him that it was OK, that she didn't care that he was a werewolf. But she could tell from the way he was sitting with his head down, not looking at her, that all of his defenses were up. Instead, she asked, "And there's no cure?" He shook his head.
"Not as such," he replied, and then he told her about the Wolfsbane Potion. For a long moment, Amanda didn't speak.
"Know what, Wiz?" she finally asked. Without looking at her, he shook his head. "I can understand how your old pal Snape there figured I'd run out on you once I knew the truth; he doesn't know me. But YOU do. I can't understand how you'd think I would reject you."
"I'm a monster," he said quietly.
"No!" she flared. "I know all about monsters - I was married to one, remember? You're no monster, believe me. You're one of the kindest people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. You didn't choose to get bitten by a werewolf, and you sure as hell don't choose to turn into one every month, do you?" He shook his head. "All right then. And I'll tell you something else - I'm actually relieved you're a werewolf."
"Relieved?" he echoed incredulously, finally turning to look her in the eye.
"Yeah. I thought you had AIDS." The doorbell rang. "Pizza's here," she said, standing and pulling money out of her pocket.
Text of a letter to Remus Lupin, delivered by Hedwig the owl:
Dear Professor Lupin,
I hope you're not mad, but I shared your last letter with everyone. You don't know how many people wish they could've been there to see your friend Amanda take the mickey out of Snape! She's a real hero around here now! Neville has been walking around with a big smile on his face for three days, just thinking about it. Snape is in a fouler mood than ever, especially after Fred offered him some glue. He got detention but he said it was worth it to see the look on Snape's face.
I'm happy that Amanda took the news so well. I figured she wouldn't get as upset as a witch would, but you never know how someone's going to react, do you? I think you're right not to let her stay with you this month when you transform - that's just asking for trouble. If she knew what a transformed werewolf was like, she wouldn't want to stay anyway. Try telling her that, see what she says.
Well, I'm going to let Hermione add something before I send this off with Hedwig. Yeah, Hermione is talking to me again - she HAD to talk to me to find out what everyone was laughing over in your last letter!
Hello Professor Lupin,
I'm still working on the Wolfsbane Potion project for you, but now that Snape's so ticked off I doubt I'll get much done. I mentioned wanting to borrow one of his books about it and he went into a rage like I've never seen. His face turned all purple and everything! Even Peeves left him alone for a while after that. I agree with you and Harry that letting Amanda stay with you when you transform is not even to be thought of - but it's sweet that she wants to do that for you. It sounds like she really cares a lot about you.
Amanda slipped the key into the lock and opened the door, feeling a momentary pang of guilt at how she'd deceived Remus. He had been adamant in his refusal to allow her to remain with him in his apartment when he transformed, even though she insisted she would be perfectly safe as long as she didn't let him out of the spare room where he locked himself on full moon nights.
"I won't even know you," he'd protested.
"I don't care," she'd replied. "I just want to be here for you."
However, he'd gotten so upset that she'd finally relented, agreeing to go back to her apartment and return to see him in the morning when it was safe. He hadn't noticed her pocketing the keys off his desk right before she left; he had been feeling too ill to notice much of anything at that point. Now she stood in the darkness of his empty living room. From up the hall, she could hear the werewolf, his claws scratching on the bare hardwood floor of his self-imposed prison. Undeterred, she started up the hallway. She reached the spare bedroom and sank down onto the floor in front of the door. She heard snuffling sounds from the other side of the door, and then the werewolf growled low in his throat.
"Remus," she called softly. "It's me." The growl became a snarl. "Don't be angry," she pleaded. But the werewolf was becoming more and more agitated. She could hear him pacing the floor, growling. And then he howled; a chilling sound that turned her spine to ice water. That's not some dangerous animal, she firmly reminded herself. That's Remus. Remus would never hurt me. Meanwhile, the werewolf had begun to hurl himself against the door, anxious to get to the prey he sensed on the other side. "Remus, you've got to calm down! You're going to hurt yourself!" At the sound of her voice, the werewolf only became more frantic. A thought popped into her mind. "Music to soothe the savage beast," she said out loud, more to herself than the werewolf who was still trying to bash down the door. She opened her mouth and began to sing, not knowing what would come out until she'd actually begun. The song sprung unbidden to her lips, the lyrics she didn't even realize she knew forming in her mind as she sang.
My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why
I got out of bed at all.
The morning rain clouds up my window
And I can't see at all
And even if I could it'll all be gray
But your picture on my wall
It reminds me that it's not so bad, it's not so bad.
She felt tears in her eyes and her throat began to constrict, but still she sang on.
I drank too much last night, got bills to pay
My head just feels in pain.
I missed the bus and there'll be hell today
I'm late for work again.
And even if I'm there they'll imply
That I might not last the day
And then you call me, and it's not so bad, it's not so bad.
The werewolf had stopped hurling himself against the door. She heard him lie down, whining, tail thumping against the hardwood floor. And still she sang on.
And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life.
Tears ran down her cheeks. She could hear the werewolf whining, and without thinking, she reached up, put her hand on the doorknob, and opened the door. Oh God oh God oh God, she thought. What have I just done? The werewolf crept out into the hall. He was a marvelous golden and gray creature, peering at her with those stunning blue-on-blue eyes that looked so odd on a human being, but looked perfect on the werewolf. He approached her slowly, tail wagging and head down in submission. And still she sang on.
Push the door, I'm home at last
And I'm soaking through and through.
And then you handed me a towel
And all I see is you.
And even if my house falls down now
I wouldn't have a clue
Because you're near me.
The werewolf looked up at her - was it her imagination, or was there recognition in those inscrutable eyes? The werewolf crept closer. Finally, he lay down next to her, resting his chin in her lap. He looked up at her as she sang, his tail thumping on the floor.
And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life.
She suddenly realized that she'd run out of song. The werewolf continued to stare up at her.
"Remus?" she asked. "Do you recognize me? Do you remember who I am?" Thump, thump, thump, went the werewolf's tail. "OK," she said thoughtfully. "You shouldn't lie on this cold floor - your bones will REALLY hurt tomorrow." She eased his head off his lap and stood. "Come on," she told him. "I'll put you in bed and tuck you in." She led him into the bedroom. "Go on," she said, indicating the bed. He jumped up, turned around three times, settled down, and then looked up at her, whining. "What is it, Remus? What's wrong?" He put his head to one side and gave her that imploring look that all dogs seem to know. She walked over to the bed. "What?" she asked, fighting down the natural impulse to talk to him like he was a dog. What is it, boy? she thought with a flash of humor. Did Timmy fall down the well again? The werewolf's tail thumped on the bed. Suddenly, it came to her what he wanted. "Don't worry, I'm not leaving," she said softly, slipping her shoes off and climbing into the bed. The werewolf shifted in the bed, curling up next to her. Soon she felt his warm tongue licking her face. She smiled, put an arm around him, and drifted off to sleep.
Partial text of a recent article published in the Journal for the Study and Control of Dangerous Magical Creatures:
The average researcher in the field will have a difficult time finding a werewolf on whom to test new advances. For obvious reasons, few werewolves are prepared to come forward and offer themselves for experimental purposes, and so there has been little advancement in the study of lycanthropy.
While the Wolfsbane Potion is highly effective for keeping werewolves in their right minds during the period they spend in lupine form every month, it is an inconvenient method for controlling lycanthropy, as it must be prepared by an accredited Potions Master and taken at specific times each month. It cannot be prepared in advance, for it loses its effectiveness if stored for long periods.
A new and more effective method for the control of lycanthropy has recently been discovered. This method relies more on psychological conditioning than on potions or other types of medicinal remedies. It has recently been established that if the lycanthropy sufferer is given security and affection at the time of his transformation, he will retain all of his faculties while in lupine form. It is not certain why this has phenomenon has not been noted before; it is likely that most lycanthropy sufferers never experience these conditions due to the hunted lives they generally lead.
It is hoped that this new information about lycanthropy sufferers will lead to greater understanding among the wizard community. Lycanthropy is not a disease of moral failing or divine judgment; it is merely a medical condition like any other and should be treated as such, without the hysteria and blind prejudice that usually accompanies the subject.
It should be noted that further experimentation has established that the long-held belief that lycanthropy may be transmitted through sexual contact is false. Further studies are being conducted in this area, the results of which will be published at a later date, perhaps as soon as eight months from now
Remus J. Lupin, Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Amanda R. Lupin, Professor of Muggle Studies, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
PS If you liked this fic, read the sequels - Life Just Isn't Fair!, where you'll find out what Professor Snape thinks about the new additions to the Hogwarts staff (It's a humorous fic, in case you're wondering) and An Academic Question, in which Hermione has a question about the paper written by Remus and Amanda for the Journal for the Study and Control of Dangerous Magical Creatures (it's also fairly humorous in places).