Painting the Town Red

Chapter 2- Sunday Morning

            Remus awoke to dim red light, sunlight through the red hangings of his four-poster.  Somehow, his friends had gotten him back to their dorm.  He wanted to throw the covers over his head and hide, but as he was lying on top of the covers, it would take more effort than he was capable of.

            His head ached, the room was spinning, his mouth tasted like an old sock, his clothes reeked of spilled beer, and worst of all, he was more embarrassed than he had ever been in his life.  "I am never, ever going to be able to face them again.  All these years of trying to prove I'm not a monster—all blown in one night."  He groaned and closed his eyes again.

            "You awake, Remus?"  It was Sirius's voice.  "Groan again if you are.  I've got something here that'll help you feel better."

            "Don't deserve to feel better," he grumbled.

            Sirius threw open the hangings on one side of the bed.  Remus rolled away from Sirius and the light.  Sirius sat on the edge of the bed.

            "Drink this, Moony.  It won't get rid of all your hangover, but it'll help."

            "No."

            "Why not?"

            "Go away."

            "After you drink this."

            "Please go away."

            "I said, after you drink this."

            "Fine."  Remus sat up, carefully, and took the blue bottle that Sirius held out.

            "One big swig," Sirius instructed. 

Remus did so, "Tastes like lemonade," and handed the bottle back to Sirius. 

Sirius smiled and said, "A useful little potion.  I found the recipe in a book of home remedies.  They really should teach it in Potions class, don't you think?  Have a glass of water, too.  You're dehydrated."

            "I wish Sirius would stop pretending things are O.K.  We both know they aren't," Remus thought.  He drank the glass of water as quickly as he could so he could give the glass back to Sirius.  As he held out the glass, he saw dried blood on his sleeve and remembered the red blood pouring from the nose of the man he had attacked. Remus lay down again, turning his back to Sirius.  He didn't want to face him.  He didn't want to face anyone.  Remus heard the door open and the sound of two people entering the room.  Sirius moved off the bed but left the bed hangings open. 

            "He awake yet?"  It was James's voice.

            "Sort of."

            "Did you give him some of that hangover potion?" Peter's voice this time.

            "Um-hm.  He didn't want it though."

            "Why not?" Peter again. 

Silence.  Remus imagined Sirius shrugging his shoulders.

"Brought you two some toast and bacon," James said.

"Thanks.  I'm starving," Sirius replied.

"Great.  Another thing to feel guilty about," Remus thought.  "Sirius stayed here to baby-sit the monster instead of going to breakfast."

"Hey, Remus," Peter called out.  "Do you want something to eat?"

"No, I want to die of starvation and embarrassment," he thought.  "On the other hand, bacon would taste better than old socks."  Before he could decide, there was a knock on the door.

"Come in."  Remus heard the door open.

"McGonagall was just in the common room.  She sent me up to tell you that Dumbledore wants all four—is Remus here?"

"In bed."

"All four of you in his office in twenty minutes."

"Thanks, Matthew."  The door closed again.

"We are so dead," Sirius groaned.

"Maybe not," James said.  "Could be something completely unrelated."

"Do you really think so?" Peter asked hopefully.

"No," James replied.  "Get up, Remus.  Go get cleaned up.  You can't go to Dumbledore's office smelling like stale beer."

Remus rolled out of bed, relieved that the motion neither made his head ache nor set the room spinning again.  He grabbed a towel, shampoo, toothbrush, and toothpaste, and left for the bathroom, all without meeting the eyes of the others.

McGonagall was waiting for them near the gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's office.  Two thin white lines marked where her lips should be.

"Cinnamon hearts," she snapped at the gargoyle.  It leapt out of the way, and McGonagall led the four silent teenagers onto the spiraling stone staircase.  When she stepped off at the top, she opened Professor Dumbledore's office door and pointed at the sofa near one wall.  James entered first and noted that the sofa, usually large enough for two or three, had been stretched to hold four.  He went to the farthest end, nearest to Dumbledore's desk, and was followed by Sirius, Peter, and Remus.

Fawkes, Dumbledore's pet phoenix, seemed disturbed by Remus's proximity to his perch.  He spread his wings, chirped one beautiful note, and flew to the back of Dumbledore's chair.  Dumbledore was reading one of several newspapers on his desk.  He continued to read until McGonagall sat in a chair facing the sofa.  He then selected a different newspaper from his desk, rose, and handed the newspaper to Sirius.

"Read," he commanded.

Sirius hesitated just briefly and began.  "Man injured at the Sword and Shield.  At approximately ten-thirty last night, a fight broke out at the Sword and Shield resulting in one injury.  Mr. Donald MacBane, age 31, of Bray, received a broken nose in a fight with an unidentified person.  His assailant, a teenage boy approximately 18 years of age, with light brown hair, was dragged out of the pub by his companions and has not been identified.  According to witnesses, the fight originally began between Mr. MacBane and his brother-in-law, Mr. Archie Lothian, also of Bray. The unidentified teenager became involved when one of his three companions was injured.  When another patron, Mr. Edmund Dunphy, of Kirkhill, tried to restrain the teenager, the boy began tried to bite Mr. Dunphy.  One witness, who asked not to be identified, said, 'Donald deserved a broken nose, the big bully, but Eddie was only trying to help.  What kind of cra—'"  Sirius broke off, unwilling to read further.  Remus closed his eyes for a few moments.

"I think that's enough, Mr. Black," Dumbledore said as he took the newspaper and put it back on his desk.  "The article goes on to describe each of you with reasonable accuracy."

"Completely my fault, Professor," James said immediately.  "I thought it would be fun to take Remus to a pub for his birthday.  The others had no idea where we were going."

"And yet, they all went willingly, didn't they?" Dumbledore asked.  Four heads nodded.  "Thus, you are all equally guilty.  Let's see, leaving the school grounds without permission, being out after curfew, and drinking."  He counted off the three offenses on his fingers.  "I'd say three nights of detention, wouldn't you, Professor?"

"Yes, and fifty points from Gryffindor, each.  I will, of course, be writing to your parents and guardians," she added.

"We can't have detention on Wednesday night," Sirius thought quickly,  "or Remus will be alone for the full moon."

"Can we start detention tonight?" Sirius asked McGonagall.  "If we have detention tonight and the next two nights, Remus won't have it hanging over his head after the full moon on Wednesday."

"Of course," she said.

Remus looked directly at Dumbledore.  "And the fight?  I deserve punishment for the fight."

"Ah, yes—the fight," Dumbledore said with a slight smile.  He returned to his seat.  "According to the newspaper, you were defending one of your friends.  Punishing a Gryffindor for that would be like punishing a Ravenclaw for studying too much."  McGonagall looked momentarily surprised, but said nothing.

Remus shook his head.  "No, I lost control."

"And did you learn from the experience?" Dumbledore asked.

"Yeah.  Never get a werewolf drunk," Sirius replied.  McGonagall managed, somehow, to look even angrier.  Dumbledore smirked and then cleared his throat.

"Yes, that is the obvious lesson, and a very worthwhile lesson indeed. And you, Mr. Lupin, tell me.  In retrospect, what was your first warning that you were losing control?"

"When I became claustrophobic," he answered without hesitation.  "I needed to get out, but I was too stubborn to give into—" he couldn't say the wolf,  "—the feeling.  I should've given in and gotten away from people."

"And next time, you'll know better."  Dumbledore picked up a parchment from his desk and held it out toward James.  James rose and took it.  "This is the name and address of the man who was injured.  Some money to cover his medical bills would not be amiss.  I'm certain Miss Evans can assist you in using the muggle postal system."

"Yes, Sir," James replied.  He glanced at the parchment and put it in his pocket.  Remus would try to get it from James, but he knew he wouldn't succeed. 

Dumbledore's expression suddenly softened.  All traces of the stern Headmaster were gone; he was the kindly grandfather now.  He looked at Remus and asked, "Did you bite anyone?" 

Remus could remember trying to bite, but he suddenly realized that he couldn't remember with any accuracy if he had succeeded.  He looked to his left at his three friends.  "They would've told me, wouldn't they?"

"No, he didn't," Sirius said firmly.  Dumbledore returned to reading a newspaper article.

McGonagall rose and said, "Meet Mr. Filch in the entrance hall at eight o'clock tonight.  You're dismissed."

Remus led the others out of the office and down the moving staircase—the best way to avoid looking the others in the eyes.  They were in an otherwise empty hallway halfway back to Gryffindor tower when they finally began to speak.

"Three nights of detention—it's not too bad," Sirius commented.

"Yeah, but we lost 200 points!" James groaned.  "Puts Slytherin in first place."

"You can win some points back in Quidditch," Peter said.  "Gryffindor versus Slytherin next month."

"Not enough."

Remus halted and turned to face the others.  "Look, I'm really, really sorry for everything I did.  There's no excuse for my losing control like that.  If you don't feel safe around me anymore, I'll understand completely.  I can ask McGonagall to move me out of your dorm.  She told me years ago that she could move me to a room by myself if you didn't feel safe around me."

All three stared at him in surprise and then Sirius burst out laughing.  Peter's and James's faces broke into wide grins.

"Are you afraid of Remus?" James asked Peter.

Peter shook his head emphatically.  "No."

"How about you, Sirius?"

"Not bloody likely."

"There you are—three of us not afraid."

Remus still looked worried.  "But I was trying to bite you," he said.

"Trying?" Sirius laughed and rubbed his upper arm.  "I have a very interesting looking bruise."  Remus's eyes grew wide.  "You didn't break the skin; I'm fine."

"But—"  Remus couldn't understand their amusement.  "I was acting like a monster."

James ruffled Remus's hair and said, "It's not like we haven't seen you like that before, except usually you're furry."

"And have sharper teeth," Sirius added with a wry smile.  "I'm very glad your teeth weren't sharper."

"Actually," Peter said, still smiling, "it was kind of interesting."

"Yeah, now we know the wolf likes to swear," Sirius managed to say before bursting into laughter again.
           

PLEASE review!  I love to know what you like/dislike.  I was a little out of my element setting a story in a pub, so any constructive criticism would be appreciated.

Disclaimer:  Hogwarts and all characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and her publishers.  I'm just borrowing them because I'm obsessed.