Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. I'm just borrowing the characters for a bit of Christmas fun!
SURPRISE! Do you remember me? I wouldn't be shocked if you didn't. You're probably thinking, "Who is this girl?"
Well, if I'm to give an excuse, I might have one this time that's actually good: I graduated from college on the 20th!
Anyway, I attempted to come out with something for anyone who's interested while I try to work on And Thou Shalt Be First. Consider this my Christmas gift to you.
This takes place on Christmas morning during Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Happy Christmas, Remus
Remus Lupin felt very uncomfortable. Everything was stiff. He could sense that any sudden movement—or, rather, any movement at all—was going to hurt. Even so, he felt the urge to move. His neck muscles were starting to throb, which meant that they would get stuck there if he did not move. The last kink he had had made it impossible to turn his head for three days. Fortunately, such a situation had not occurred for a while. He wanted to keep it that way, but he was not even sure if he could move. His joints were sore. Although his body was warmly bundled, he could feel the cold stinging his cheeks and chilling his left ear. Bugger it, he would try. Surely it would not hurt to snuggle a bit deeper into the covers?
Yeah, right. As soon as he tried to scoot himself down, a sharp pain shot through his shoulder. If he was in better condition, he might have cried out in agony, but it seemed that he could not even do that. Instead, he let out a small, muffled groan. He did, however, manage to shift slightly. Only a few more bursts of pain and he would be better situated. If he could just manage a bit more….
A sudden rustle of what sounded like parchment broke him out of his struggle. Someone else was nearby. Come to think of it, the bed and sheets felt slightly different from the ones in his private quarters, which meant he was probably in the Hospital Wing. But why? It had been ages since he had been brought to the Hospital Wing after a full moon. Surely the students would ask? No, they won't, he told himself. Only a few of them have stayed back. It's likely that I'm the only one here.
Having figured that out, the only thing remaining was to find out who was with him. It could not be Madame Pomfrey. She usually did work in her office while she waited for him to come around, and she would cast a spell to alert her when he woke up. The Mediwitch had not bustled over to him and begun a thorough examination, so she had either forgotten to set up an alarm or was not the other person in the room. Curious as to whom it was, Remus opened his eyes the tiniest bit. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately, since his eyes were always extremely sensitive after the full moon—the lights were dim. He could barely make out what he thought looked like long white hair. He tried opening his eyes just a little more. Half-moon spectacles, dark blue robes, and a book.
"Albus?" The weak voice that came from his throat was hoarse and scratchy. Merlin, I sound like shit.
"Awake already, Remus?" asked the headmaster, looking up and shutting his book. "It's still quite early. I did not think you would be up until this afternoon." He put the book in his robes and moved his comfy chintz armchair closer to the other wizard's bed.
"I'm hardly up right now," the werewolf mumbled, letting his left eye fall shut.
"I can see that," chuckled the older wizard softly. "Did I wake you?"
"No," he said faintly. Still sound like shit. What happened last night? He cleared his throat. "No," he said, more loudly this time. "I'm not sure why I'm awake."
"Well, feel free to go back to sleep," said the headmaster as he fixed the cuffs of his robes. "No need to entertain an old man like myself."
"Hmm," Remus mused. The idea of drifting off into slumber was very tempting. He always needed a lot of sleep after the full moon. He tried to pull the covers up higher but s stab of pain erupted in his chest. He inhaled and exhaled deeply in frustration as he waited for it to subside. More sleep was probably going to have to wait. "If I may ask," he murmured, "and forgive me if this sounds rude, but why are you here?"
The headmaster raised an eyebrow but did not seem put off by the comment. "I always come to visit you after the full moon."
"Albus, it's Christmas," he stated bluntly. "You shouldn't be here."
"And why shouldn't I be here?"
"Because you should be celebrating with your family."
At this, the older wizard laughed. "Remus," he said, "the only relative I have left would prefer to have nothing to do with me, especially during the holidays."
The werewolf felt a pang of guilt. Granted, he knew that there were some people that did not really like their families, but it was Christmas! If he had anyone left, he would have wanted to celebrate with them. "I'm sorry."
"It's quite all right," replied the headmaster, his eyes twinkling. "Aberforth and I never got on well, not even as children."
"What about Minerva?" Remus asked. "I'm sure you would like to spend time with her." Despite the lack of any hint of a relationship publicly, the werewolf knew that their bond was much deeper than it appeared.
Dumbledore smiled. "We decided that we would celebrate later on today. She's currently overseeing preparations in the Great Hall; since only a handful of students have stayed back, it makes no sense to have everyone sit at their respective tables."
"I see." Well, at least the headmaster can enjoy Christmas. He opened his eyes a little. "Why am I here? I usually wake up in my own bed after the full moon. What happened?"
"Ah, Poppy wanted to keep an eye on you this time around. She said that when she went to check on you in your office this morning, you seemed to be in a lot of pain. It was likely due to the effect the cold weather has on the castle, so she bundled you up and brought you to the Hospital Wing. She currently has no patients, and you have the ward all to yourself."
"I wasn't hurt?"
"Nothing other than the aches, pains, and bruises that come from the transformation."
"Thank Merlin," he murmured, trying to move again without success. "This is difficult enough."
Dumbledore sighed. "I know."
"Where is Poppy?" Remus asked, flinching as he lifted his head in attempt to look for the Mediwitch. "She is usually fussing over me by now. Not that I want her to."
"Oh, her mother Firecalled this morning and insisted that she come visit the family," replied the headmaster, his eyes twinkling once more. "She had plans to visit them in the evening, but it appears that several of her relatives are visiting this Christmas and they were asking where she was. Poppy, of course, was quite against the idea because she did not want to leave in case you woke up, but luckily I was here at the time and assured her that I would watch over you. Still, she seemed very reluctant to go."
"That sounds exactly like her," the younger wizard chuckled softly. "It's a miracle you managed to get her to—augh, bloody hell!"
It was at that moment that Remus had moved his leg. The pain that had suddenly shot from his hip went all the way up his back. He immediately scrunched his eyes shut.
Dumbledore winced sympathetically. "Does the Wolfsbane help at all?" he asked, attempting to divert the other wizard's attention away from the agony.
"It…does," replied the werewolf as he breathed heavily. "I'm able to control the wolf's desire to hunt, so I no longer bite or scratch myself." He sighed deeply as the pain ebbed. "It doesn't do anything for the pain during the transformation, but I'm sure that cannot be helped. And I think Severus has tried to improve the taste."
"Yes," said Remus, opening his eyes. "I'm sorry to say that the Wolfsbane Potion is probably the foulest-tasting potion that I have ever taken, but it seems like the…distinct flavor…is becoming more tolerable bit by bit. The batch I had this time was nowhere near as disgusting as the first time I ever had it. I'm very grateful."
"Severus was always one to challenge the traditional potions recipes," said the headmaster, smiling fondly.
The younger wizard chuckled. "That and he's actually quite a nice person even though he probably hates me and pretends otherwise."
Dumbledore laughed. "I agree that he can be less than friendly. But I also know for a fact that he does excellent work and takes pride in his brewing. He's doing everything he can that is contrary to his past actions."
"Mmm," he replied before cringing at a painful throbbing in his knee. Bugger, I didn't even do anything that time!
"Don't you want to move into a more comfortable position?" asked the headmaster. "The current one doesn't seem to be working out for you."
"I'm trying to," Remus moaned, "but any way I lay is going to hurt—ahh!" There, he finally managed it. He was almost on his stomach. This would have to do.
Dumbledore frowned. If the younger wizard had opened his eyes, he would have seen the worry etched on the headmaster's face. "Do you mind if I try something, Remus?"
"Hmm?" he asked, squinting.
The older wizard leaned forward. "It might help."
Remus sighed tiredly. "As long as it doesn't hurt."
"Of course," replied the headmaster, laying his fingertips gently over the side of the other wizard's face. Is he going to read my mind? thought the werewolf.
Slowly, a gentle warm feeling began spreading across his face. It ran down his neck and over his shoulders. It continued to broaden across his chest and wrap around to his back. The warmth further crept down his limbs and twisted down to his palms and heels before reaching the tips of his fingers and toes. The pounding in his joints gradually began to dissipate, and the aches in his muscles were dissolving. His body was feeling pleasantly heavier. When had he closed his eyes? "Whatever that is, Albus," he managed to mumble, "it's amazing."
Dumbledore smiled. "I'm glad you think so."
"How are you doing that?" he asked.
"During the first war, I had a Healer teach me how to transfer energy," he said, shifting his hand and resting his palm on the werewolf's cheek. "Just in case. As you probably remember, the battlefields were terrible back then."
"Mmmhmm," he replied. "This is a nice surprise. I wish I would have know about this sooner."
The headmaster laughed. "I've previously thought about it, but I wasn't sure if it would have any effect since most of the typical wizarding remedies don't work on werewolves. It looks like I will be continuing to visit you after the full moon."
"Yes, please do," he sighed happily. "I must warn you, though, I'm going to…." He yawned widely. "I'm going to fall asleep if you don't stop."
"No harm in that," said Dumbledore lightly, moving his fingers again.
"Hmm," breathed the werewolf. "Happy…Christmas."
The headmaster smiled. "Happy Christmas, Remus." He placed a Warming Charm on the bed sheets and pillows. After that, Remus could not resist slumber. His breathing slowed, and he sighed happily once more before he finally dozed off.
Dumbledore looked up as he heard footsteps coming towards the Hospital Wing. He stood up just as the door swung open to reveal a somewhat frazzled Madame Pomfrey. "That is the last time I ever let you talk me into leaving, Albus Dumbledore!" she exclaimed.
The headmaster glanced over at the younger wizard, who was still sleeping soundly. Smiling, he walked over to her. "Surely it wasn't so bad, Poppy?" he said softly, indicating that she should lower her voice.
The Mediwitch saw the sleeping wizard and instantly became quiet. "Well," she whispered, "I suppose it wasn't, but I have more important things to do than catch up with my third cousin twice removed or play 'Healer' with my nieces and nephews."
"Were you the Healer or the patient?" asked Dumbledore, raising his eyebrows.
"The patient," she replied, glaring at the older wizard. "Do you know what it's like to have children poke you with a stick?"
He tried to suppress the grin that was no doubt creeping up his face. "No, I don't."
"How is Remus?" she asked, looking over the headmaster's shoulder. "Is he awake?"
"He came around about an hour ago, and he just dozed off not a minute before you returned," he replied, his eyes twinkling.
"Oh Albus, you should have called me as soon as he woke up!" she said, rushing over to Remus' bed.
"Poppy," he said, following after her, "he's as well as expected. He simply needs to rest. You'll have plenty of time to check him over after he sleeps." He steered her away from the bed and into her office where he gently pushed her into the seat behind her desk. "Now then, if you no longer require my assistance, I will be heading down to the Great Hall to see if Minerva and Filius have finished setting up. Feel free to join us for lunch. Happy Christmas!" With that, he walked out of the Hospital Wing and quietly shut the door.
A.N. Thank you for taking the time to read! If you haven't read it already, please let me direct your attention to my other story, Happy Christmas, Severus, for your Christmas enjoyment. Although it is unrelated to this story, it's quite humorous if I may say so. And, of course, reviews are ALWAYS appreciated!
Thank you again, and Merry Christmas!