Chapter 160: A Werewolf's Counsel
"Where are they off to in such a hurry?" Gloria asked as she found Remus watching from a window in the master's study.
"The Forest Cottage, I assume," Remus answered as they watched the gentlemen gallop away from Willow House and out of sight. "And what brings you here?" He asked.
"I was looking for some solitude," she answered.
"And instead you found me," Remus commented. "I suppose, however, that I am in the wrong, for Severus would like to see me studying the very great collection in the library and here you find me in his study. I am sorry. I will leave you now."
"No need to apologize, and please don't go on my account. You'll find much of his personal collection is in here and perhaps that is the best place to start your studies. What does he wish to have you look in to, and can I assist in any way?"
"This and that," he answered with a laugh. "And no need to worry about me, I'm sure I can manage on my own, that is unless you have something you are interested in that I might look into for you."
"I do not, but what could he possibly need you to look into?" Gloria asked suspiciously.
"He wants to know more, I suppose about the house and the estate, and the magic within it," Remus answered as vaguely as he could.
"As it pertains to me?" She asked sadly.
"Yes and no," Remus responded. "But enough about that. Are you quite all right, I should not want to leave you alone if you are not."
"I will be, if everyone would just stop asking. I just needed to get away from the doting questions after my health and my mental state from my family."
"I am sorry, but they have only just arrived home and already they are driving you crazy?" He asked with a laugh. "Surely you knew this was coming."
"Sort of, I would prefer some solitude in times like these, and they know that, but I understand their concern. It is why I fled in the first place and locked myself away. I don't want to hurt anyone else and the more they ask and dote, the more my anxiety gets the better of me. They are all dear people to me, and they mean well, but I just need calm for a moment," she explained.
"I understand you perfectly. It is in those quiet moments when we learn to control what is happening within ourselves. You were born this way, with very great powers, and I believe you have tried very hard to suppress it all your life."
"I am a monster," she said. "Powerful beyond what so many of our kind could ever imagine. So yes, I have been suppressing it as long as I can remember. Underage magic was forbidden and I was in trouble a great deal because I couldn't always control my emotions."
"You are not a monster," Remus said when she had finished. "An anomaly yes, to be sure, but not a monster. I am the monster, changed and bitten in my childhood, and classified as such by many, even though I couldn't help it. It is my will to control it as best as I can with the help of potions and meditation, and my own knowledge of magic, but that can't always be the case. For me it is a disease. Incurable. For you, it was within you from the moment you were conceived. The magic chose you for greatness."
"I have never felt great. I have never wanted anything more than simple and normal. I do not have the ego for such power," she spoke in retort.
"And that is why you deserve it, because it will not corrupt you, though people have tried to corrupt it for you, your will is beyond that. I admire that in you Gloria," he said.
"You don't really know all that much about me and what I have done," she said.
"I understand that you saved the Longbottoms today," Remus said. "And by that I can deduce that you were very good in a time before you gave up on magic. I saw the paper this morning. I now know of your trials and tribulations with Carthridge and will say that there was a time, early in my affliction, when I was familiar with that man and his evil ways. And so, I have an idea, unlike many, as to the kinds of horrors you would have witnessed or been the victim of at that mad man's hands, and now knowing what I know of your powers, I can see why you would have been of great interest to him. He exploited you, didn't he?"
"Exploited seems to tame a term when I think back on it," she confessed.
"Indeed, he was the true monster," Remus said and turned to the window deep in thought and regret.
"What did he do to you?" She asked.
"He forced the transformation beyond the moon cycles and tried to control the demon I became for his own gains. I was but a child back then, and sick beyond anything I'd experienced before, and he had me kill for him."
"Kill?" She gasped.
"Yes, there was no turning others into werewolves or casting spells to kill on his own. No, he'd inject an elixir of his own creation into my blood once he'd cornered an enemy or a victim who would not submit to his experiments and when, even through their fears they would not be complacent or submissive to him and give him what he wanted, he'd force my hand. That's when he'd let me loose on them and I tore them to shreds. I'd wake up from the ordeal in a great stupor of side effects and memory loss but I could ascertain what I'd done from the blood. I did not remember it until I'd read it all in his journals."
"How did you escape him?" She asked fearfully.
"Albus. Same as you," he confessed. "But even he is not all that he seems and we couldn't prove what Hannibal had done because he burned the journals."
"I know that now," she said sadly.
"But I am under the impression that Carthridge can never hurt either of us ever again. So there is cause for cheer."
"Yes. I hope this is the end of that nightmarish time and all the fear of his powers," she said as a commotion in the hall caught her attention. "What could that be?"
"They cannot be back already," Remus said suspiciously.
"No indeed," Gloria said with a shake of her head.
"Shall we investigate?" He asked slyly and moved past her to the door. "Or would you prefer to stay hidden?"
"Would you be so kind as to investigate without me?" She asked.
"Of course," he answered and moved out into the hall. A moment later he stepped back. "It is Euphegenia Dunmeyer and Rita Skeeter. They have arrived with a multitude of books and boxes," he said.
"Why would they come here?" She asked sceptically.
"Because Hannibal Carthridge is dead," he announced and Gloria gasped.