Disclaimer - I do not own Harry Potter, JK Rowling is the genius behind it - no matter how much I wish it was me, and judging from my pitiful bank balance I am making no profit from this either...gosh-darnit!
Author's Note -
So here is Chapter Two. Sorry that it has taken so long, life got in the way. My step-dad suffered a bad stroke and our family had to rally round to support him both in hospital and at home. Thankfully he is now home and recovered, its now just a case of weekly check-ups to adjust his medication if needed.
I have also, in my limited spare time, been reading nearly every Remus-centric fic I can get my hands on to ensure I have a good grasp on his character and his background. I have slowly become more familiar with the Marauder Era as I have been wading through it, and with the amount I have read it would be pretty difficult not to pick up some hints here and there!
I hope you enjoy this and feel free to give me feedback. Oh and thankyou so much to those who reviewed the last chapter, love to you all!
I'm afraid I don't have a clue when Chapter Three may arrive, I am still in the process of writing it and as college has begun again for me I have to squeeze it in around my enormous piles of coursework (eek) but don't worry I won't forget, it will be up as soon as I can, it's just not at the top of my to do list!
Chapter Two - Excuses
By the time I had escaped the clutches of Madam Pomfrey and begun my journey to the Gryffindor Common Room it was already Sunday evening. I groaned internally as I realised I needed yet another excuse for my prolonged absence. Claiming that my mother was ill again wasn't going to cut it this time - that always required at least a few days work up, an owl bearing news, a worried face and a fake summons home. I rubbed my temples, feeling my headache return, all I really wanted right now was my bed. I was so tired. Despite all the healing and potions I could still feel that god-awful ache deep in my bones - the remnants of the unbearable pain of transformation. The warmth and comfort of my bed would be a blessed relief.
Steeling myself I uttered the password ('valour') to the Fat Lady and walked into the common room hoping, that for once my friends wouldn't be there.
No such luck.
James and Sirius were sprawled out over the couch facing the door and Peter was slumped into an armchair nearby. Wiping my sweaty palms on the material of my trousers, I watched as James and Sirius both sat up simultaneously, eyeing me as I moved closer to them.
It was pretty quiet in the common room, not exactly unusual for a Sunday evening, many were often panic writing in the library by now - Sirius, Peter and James included.
'Where the hell have you been?' Sirius shot at me as soon as I was in front of them. I caught James' disapproving glance at him before Peter spoke.
'Remus, where did you go yesterday?'
I cleared my throat nervously. 'Well..um..I went to the library yesterday to do my essays, like I told you guys I was going to when you were busy playing chess yesterday morning ….' I trailed off.
'Yeah,' said James, 'but you've been gone all night and all day today aswell - and I know you haven't been in the library all that time cause me, Siri and Peter were there this morning!'
I gulped. 'Well..I..erm..I went down to the greenhouses to look at the plants we had to do Sprout's essay on to check I had all the correct attributes and I got bitten by one of the other plants. I went to Madam Pomfrey and she wanted to keep me to check I wasn't allergic or something.' I threw a weak grin on the end to try and make it a little more convincing.
'Oh. You alright now then?' I felt Sirius giving me the once over and shifted my gaze onto him as I replied.
'Yeah, just tired, think I'm going to turn in early.'
'Oh okay then, night Remy.'
'Yeah, see you up there.'
I smiled at James although it felt a little forced. 'See you later guys.'
As I turned and walked away I caught their furrowed brows and exchanged glances - James and Sirius in particular.
Trouble was brewing.
Over the next month I often found James, Sirius or Peter staring at me like I was one of our more complex potions essays. They often played it off once they realised they were caught - gently making fun of my bookish ways, announcing I needed more sun or challenging me to a game of wizards chess or exploding snap. Still as it got closer and closer to the full moon I found them watching me more - for once picking up on my deteriorating health and mood.
It filled me with unease. If they figured this out, I would lose everything.
The morning of the full moon dawned and with it came the realisation I had Potions class first thing. Just what my already overloaded senses didn't need, two-and-a-half hours stuck in a room overflowing with potions, ingredients and people. Not to mention pushing past my exhaustion to concentrate enough to ensure I wont blow up the entire castle. Groaning into awareness I was greeted my the sight of my three best friends perched on the end of James' bed, seemingly waiting for me to awaken. Rolling over to glance at my bedside table I checked the time and confirmed that I wasn't late, which only served to further my confusion. The fact that Peter, James and Sirius were out of bed, dressed and ready for class before I had even risen for the day was so peculiar it bordered on a miracle! Frankly, getting Sirius out of bed before lunchtime was a battle which usually involved cold water and several rounds of coaxing - from all of us.
Dropping my feet to the floor and rolling my shoulders I took note of how quiet the room was - a lack of conversation between the three who had now turned their attention to me did nothing to calm my already fraught nerves. Nodding to them I mumbled a 'good morning' and shuffled off to the shower.
Slumping into my seat at the Gryffindor table, I picked up my fork and poked dispassionately at the food. Potions had been gruelling and I still had an afternoon of classes to go through, I'd sooner skip lunch for a nap but appearances must be maintained. Don't get me wrong, I loved the food at Hogwarts, the elves truly were culinary geniuses but all I really needed right now was a very light meal and a stick of chocolate, certainly not the hot and loaded jacket potato that was currently situated on my plate. I poked it again as I gave the pretence of eating and turned half an ear to the conversation currently throwing James and Sirius into a fit of plotting. I didn't really need to listen in judging from the smirks Sirius sent in the general direction of the Slytherin table, and the vicious glares that were returned, it was obvious that Severus Snape was yet again the subject of some yet to be determined prank. To be perfectly honest, I didn't approve of many of the targets of the so called 'harmless pranks' but I could hardly call them out. I was far too grateful at even having friends to risk upsetting the balance and possibly expose myself as a new target or even worse enlighten them to my werewolf status - Azkaban here I come! I'm not stupid, I realise I'm going to get caught out at some point, I just prayed my friends wouldn't discover it anytime soon although their recent quietness unnerved me. It wasn't different enough to be really noticed but I sensed change was in the air.
'Remus, hey Remus..' I registered Peters elbow nudging at my side and turned to look at him.
'Come on Remus, it's the end of lunch - classes remember?' There was a pause before he added; 'are you alright?'
I nodded at him. 'Yeah Peter, just tired, I think I might go see Madam Pomfrey after History of Magic, think I'm coming down with something.'
Peter seemed to accept this and we continued on to class, meeting James and Sirius outside the door. Severus Snape was conspicuously absent and I dreaded to think what had happened this time.
History of Magic, I decided, was my saving grace. After securing a seat next to Lily Evans - much to the disappointment of James, he'd had a crush on her for ages - I whispered to ask her if she would mind me copying up her notes tomorrow as I wasn't feeling well. I was shocked when she took one look at me and nodded, suggesting I sleep and go to Madam Pomfrey afterwards. I was torn between thankfulness at her willingness to help me and consternation that I obviously appeared a wreck today. Sighing, I thanked her profusely and settled my arms upon the desk, pillowing my head upon them, I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep.
Two hours later Lily shook me gently, waking me from my slumber. Sitting up, I glanced blearily around the classroom before a soft voice reached my ears.
'You have 10 minutes till we have to pack up,' Lily whispered to me. 'I figured you could use that time to wake up enough to walk in a straight line.' She smiled softly at me before turning back to her notes.
Stretching my arms above my head I grimaced as I felt my spine click before bending to retrieve my bag from under the desk and moving to shuffle my way out of the room. I nearly jumped a foot when I felt a hand grab my elbow. I turned to face my attacker, (half expecting an overzealous Sirius or James) I was surprised again when Lily pressed a set of notes into my hands. At my bewildered look she began to explain;
'I copied my notes for you Remus, you look so tired I don't really want to make you copy them up later.'
I stared at her, hoping my gratitude showed in my eyes. 'Thank you , Lily, thank you so much, you're too kind!'
She smiled at me before replying, 'don't mention it! Now go see Madam Pomfrey before I have to carry you there!'
I chuckled softly, tucked the notes into my bag and turned to head in the direction of the stairs. I hadn't taken more than five steps, however, before I was joined by James, Peter and Sirius.
'So…' started Sirius.
'How come you were sat with Evans and talking to her after class?' James rushed out.
I mentally rolled my eyes. 'You already know we-re friends and study together sometimes in the library…'
'Yeah, yeah,' Sirius made a dismissive gesture, 'regular little bookworms blah-de-blah. What about after class?'
'She just asked me if I was going to Madam Pomfrey cause she thought I looked sick and I told her I was going.'
'That's all?' questioned Peter.
'But what did she give you?' asked James.
'A copy of her notes.'
There was a collective gasp before James and Sirius asked if they could have a copy.
'Nope' I replied. ' You know the rules - if I have anyone elses notes you're on your own…actually the same with most of mine too!'
'Well I'm off to the Infirmary - I don't want to fall asleep in my dinner. Knowing Madam Pomfrey she'll keep me in so I'll see you tomorrow. Bye guys.'
I walked a few steps before turning and waving at the three who were still stood in the corridor, watching me leave. They waved back, smiling, and mouthed 'feel better' then turned down the corridor to the Great Hall. As I continued my way to the Infirmary I couldn't help thinking that their smiles didn't quite reach their eyes.
Trying to ignore the beginning of the moon's pull upon by body I hurried across the lawns of the castle, doing my best to stick to the shadows. The last thing I needed was some self-righteous prefect catching me and stopping my progress to the only remotely safe place I had to transform. Raising my and I whispered 'Immobulus' at the Whomping Willow again thanking my lucky stars that the tunnel was created, it was essential for the times when Madam Pomfrey had to come and heal me when I was too weak to move.
It still amazed me that she was willing to treat me - a werewolf, a monster. I waited until the willow had completely frozen before taking a step forward, ready to hurry over to the tunnel. I wasn't expecting a hand to land on my shoulder and I spun, heart on my throat, only to come face to face with my three best friends.
'Hello Remus.' There was a careful measuredness in James' tone that immediately put me on edge as to what was coming next.
Sirius stepped forward and thrust a book at me. Fumbling with it I turned it over and hastily dropped it to the floor. On the cover was an image of a snarling beast and in bold print 'Werewolves', the word screamed at me even from it's position face down in the grass. I could feel my heartbeat pounding in my ears as I rapidly turned and made hurried strides away from the three before I knew I had to run. I was panicking and I knew it but running was my only option, explaining would never work, I was a monster. I didn't make it more than a few steps before I was stopped by James appearing in front of me. A slight nod of his head and I was enclose on a triangle of mild glares. Fleetingly the thought crossed my mind that I was glad I had made it to third year before I was discovered. I had been given the gift of friendship for two entire years, something I never believed would happen, not to me.
Peter, Sirius and James all took a step forward, closer to me and a breathed in sharply. Maybe I was wrong; maybe they would beat me, or even kill me instead - rid the world of my disgusting presence. My hands shook as I tucked them against my sides. My gaze returned to the ground, I didn't think I could handle the hatred I knew had to be burning in my friends eyes. I focused upon a dark twisted leaf that lay on the ground near my feet, funny really, it would have started out green and flat and somewhat normal. I couldn't help but draw comparisons - I was a dark creature, my image twisted in the minds of others as soon as my 'status' was revealed.
A sigh brought my attention to the boy standing in front of me. Glancing up I took in the weary expression on James' face and just for a second my conviction in a beating wavered.
'Remus…..' James' voice reached my ears and I flinched, ready to accept the abuse I was certain would be hurled my way.
'Remus, look at me.'
There was an undertone to James' voice that made me raise my head. Unless I was mistaken it almost sounded like he was pleading with me. I didn't understand, he hated me right?
'Remus why did you lie? '
'Remy, why didn't you tell us?'
'Remus, we know you're a Werewolf, but, well, we were, are, first and foremost, your friends.'
My breath hitched and I searched his face as I processed what he was saying, looking for sincerity.
'F…friends?' I stuttered, 'you still want to be friends?'
James nodded. 'Remy, you will always be our friend, we just wish you had told us, we could have helped you.'
'Helped me?' I repeated in a quiet voice. James nodded again and I turned to see both Sirius and Peter nodding along with him. Their eyes did not show fear or disgust, just the friendship that I had basked in and an acceptance of me that warmed my very soul. Seeing that acceptance was all I needed for the dam to break and I was crying, great heaving sobs.
It can't have been more than a few seconds before James, Sirius and Peter surged forward as one, enveloping me in a hug, whispering their understanding and support.
I was loved.
Even as a monster, they cared for me. I must have said this out loud because Sirius stepped back and glared at me half-heartedly.
'You aren't a monster.'
Peter and James nodded emphatically.
'You are Remus John Lupin, our friend. We will always love you because even as a werewolf, there is a part of you that will always be our bookish little Remy. Super swot when exam time comes around and always ready to kick our hides into shape when we're seriously slacking!'
I offered them all a watery smile.
'Thank you.' I whispered, 'thank you.'
'Never a problem Remy,' James answered. 'Remember that will you?!'
I smiled again and nodded and they pulled me into another hug. A short time later Sirius cleared his throat.
'Not to break up our little love fest….but I do believe somewhere around here there is a shockingly scary young werewolf scheduled to appear tonight and I do believe we may possibly be out after curfew…'
James snorted. 'Sirius be serious, when have you ever cared about curfew?' He turned to me, 'but I do agree, we all have to go.'
I smiled at them. 'I guess I'll be off then. Night guys.' I turned and for the second time began moving towards the Whomping Willow, raising my wand to whisper the spell allowing me access to the secret tunnel that lay beneath. A hand landed on my shoulder and I held my breath as I turned, flooding me with a sense of déjà vu.
'Remy, you didn't think we'd let you get away that easy did you?'
I could barely hear James' voice over the blood rushing in my ears.
My heart pounded as I completed my turn to face James, Sirius and Peter once again. They came towards me, arms outstretched and I closed my eyes, praying that they had meant what they said before, that they weren't going to hurt me.
I flinched as they surrounded me… in yet another hug.
'Go on silly. We'll see you in the morning.' I smiled weakly at Sirius as he ruffled my hair and watched for a few seconds as they turned and left, unconsciously letting out the breath I forgot I was holding.
They melted into the darkness, headed towards the castle and I sighed.
Raising my wand I spun on my heel and pointed it at the Whomping Willow.
And I was gone.