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Chapter 10 : Requests and Responsibilities
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Her jaw closing and opening reflexively, Preia forced a laugh through her awkwardly moving lips. “Wh-what?” she stammered, still forcing a chuckle out. ‘You…no…I mean…Professor, this is not a funny. You can’t possibly…”
“I assure you, Ms. Crescent, I am in no way trying to humor you,” the elderly wizard interjected, his face serious and stern. “What I speak to you is truth. Mr. Lupin is a werewolf.”
Preia took in the professor’s words, mulling them over in her mind as it brought forth memories of one of her Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons. They had been instructed to research and write an essay on the origin of werewolves and currant legislation concerning afflicted persons. Preia had written a very lengthy and thorough response, yet now that she actually had to apply her knowledge of tell-tale werewolf signs, she had to struggle to remember them. Her head snapped toward Remus and she took in his appearance. This had been the second time she had seen him so sickly looking. The scars across his now reddened face were even brighter than before. The thick, puffy lumps beneath his eyes clearly marked the weariness that Preia had assumed was contributed to stress all of the students experienced at the end of the term. His thinning figure and sallow appearance now had a reason. It had all been in front of her.
“Remus,” Preia murmured, reaching up to her lips and covering her mouth as she shook her head. The boy turned his head further away from her.
Professor Dumbledore smiled gently. “Forgive me, Mr. Lupin, if I have caused you any embarrassment. But let me assure you, there is a reason for my divulgement of your secret.” He turned to Preia. “Ms. Crescent, you and Mr. Lupin and your six fellow peers will be traveling for seven weeks across several different countries. Do you know how many times during this period that their will be a full moon?”
Preia was still staring at Remus, her mind in a muddle. “Ah…um…” she stuttered as she turned toward the headmaster. “W-well…there was a full moon just this past week, which means that the next one won’t be for another 28 days. I-I-I guess that only means once.”
“That is correct,” the elderly wizard said with a nod. “I was surprised that you were able to complete such a large batch of Wolfsbane. The medicine, Ms. Crescent, if you could call it that, must be administered to the afflicted—” Remus winced at this word. “—every seven hours for seven days prior to the night of the full moon. The amount that you were able to create was ample for two complete sets of doses. One was used just this past week and, as Mr. Lupin said, was very effective. Professor Slughorn and I were very much surprised to find that you had made enough for another dose. We had planned to have you concoct the Wolfsbane again during your travels in the W.W.A.N.D. program, but this is now unnecessary.
“The reason that we have decided to inform you of Mr. Lupin’s unfortunate affliction despite this,” Dumbledore continued, reading Preia’s thoughts, “is because he will still need someone to help administer the potion. You are obviously knowledgeable about the proper method to brew Wolfsbane, Ms. Crescent, as well as some of its history. The potion, as you know, was only discovered and perfected in the last decade, meaning that it has not yet been spread among Wizarding communities in other countries. Though I am confident in the abilities of the other headmasters of the institutions participating in the W.W.A.N.D. program, I would feel much more at ease—and I’m sure Mr. Lupin would—if one of Hogwarts’ own were in charge of helping him in this matter.”
The headmaster turned toward his desk and removed from one of the drawers a very worn book. “This is a comprehensive and thorough journal concerning lycanthropy, werewolves, and the Wolfsbane potion. It is, in fact, hand written by Damocles Belby himself. Professor Slughorn was able to procure this from him quite easily, but only after assuring that it would be kept with great care.” He gave the book to Preia and the girl took it from him, handling the book as if it would break under her touch. “I think you will find all of the information you will need to assist Mr. Lupin at the time of his transformation and during the week before will be in this book.”
Professor Dumbledore rose from his chair and began to walk along one of the numerous bookcases in his office, absentmindedly viewing the whirring trinkets and devices. “I have arranged with Madame Martine, the headmistress of Beauxbatons, arrangements for Mr. Lupin during your stay there. It is imperative, Ms. Crescent, that you heed the instructions in that journal and follow them most precisely to ensure that Mr. Lupin, yourself, and the other students will be safe during that night.” He smiled at her. “I have no doubts that you will do nothing less.”
He clapped his hands. “Now, I believe that there are celebrations underway that I am completely unaware of. I thank you for your time and wish you luck. I shall see you back at Hogwarts within two weeks.”
“Good evening, Professor…” Remus murmured under his breath as he stood abruptly and turned to leave.
Preia turned toward the elderly wizard. “Professor,” she spoke gravely, wringing her trembling hands as she gulped. “This is a lot to ask of me…I-I-I really don’t know if I could…”
“Ms. Crescent,” the man said with a small smile. “I do believe that if there were anyone that would take upon such a task for a friend, it would be you.” He turned away from her, humming softly as he stroked his beard thoughtfully.
Preia stood there for a moment in the silence of the office, clutching the book to her chest. She wasn’t quite sure what to do or what to think. Remus…a werewolf? And she was the one that had to take care of him? The concept of such a thing was unbelievable. Surely, this was all a joke…a trial that Dumbledore and Slughorn had fabricated to test her? No, she thought as Remus’ appearance came to her mind. He was telling the truth. Remus Lupin was a werewolf.
Preia turned and ran quickly down the stairs, barely making it out of the small tower as the stone gargoyle began to close behind Remus, who was swiftly walking down the darkened hallway. “Remus!” Preia panted as she tried to catch up with him. “Remus, please wait!”
The boy stopped, but did not turn toward her. Preia could tell that he was breathing somewhat haggardly as his robes were quivering slightly. Preia stopped a few feet behind him, approaching slowly. “Remus,” she spoke softly, “I…I’m sorry…I didn’t know. I…”
“Preia.” The voice that spoke was nervous, stricken with sorrow, and filled with guilt. The confidence, the maturity, the collectiveness that Preia always heard when Remus talked was gone. He had never sounded more vulnerable and young. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to be dragged into this…my…affliction.”
“Remus,” Preia said again as she stepped forward. “I want to help. I mean…I can’t say I’m not a little startled, but I want to be here for you. I’m glad Dumbledore told me. I want to…”
Remus spun around, his chest heaving as he panted. “Stop lying,” he rasped in the quiet and dark of the corridor. “You’re scared. You’re scared of me just like the rest of them are!”
“No,” Preia whispered, a tremble in her voice. “I mean, I…I…”
“Please, don’t lie to me, Preia,” moaned the boy as lowered his head. “Don’t look at me and tell me that you have no fears. I’m a werewolf! A dark creature. A…monster.”
“You aren’t a monster!” the girl cried out as she ran to Remus and grabbed his robes, dropping the book to the floor. The boy tried to pull away from her, but she held on. “I know you now! I know who you are! I didn’t even know you were a werewolf until Dumbledore told me! You aren’t anything else but yourself!”
“You don’t know me!” he shouted. The anger in his voice ricocheted off the walls and seemed to spread throughout Hogwarts. He stared at Preia and she could see that his golden eyes were brimming with tears. “You don’t know…what I’m capable of.” Shoving her hands roughly away, Remus released her grip from his clothes and ran.
“Remus!” Preia shouted after him, but he had quickly disappeared around the corner. All she could hear was his quick footsteps reverberating off the stone floor.
After wandering aimlessly around the quiet halls of Hogwarts for what seemed like hours, Preia finally began to make her way back to the Slytherin common room. Though she had walked through every hall of the accessible floors, she found herself repeatedly returning to the entrance of the Gryffindor common room. Even outside the portrait hole, she could hear the jovial, boisterous noises of the students’ celebration. She wondered if Lily and the girls were looking for her, waiting to see if she would arrive, or if Sirius, James, and Peter were acting as carefree as they usually did. She wondered if Remus had decided to join in the festivities even though Preia was quite sure that, from his demeanor outside of Dumbledore’s office, he would not be in the mood for frivolity.
It was in front of the central clock tower that Filch the caretaker found Preia starring dreamily into the gears of the massive structure and threatened to throw her into one of the dungeon rooms on the lower floor for being out past curfew. However, upon seeing the official Ministry of Magic seal gleaming on the parchment grasped in the girl’s hand, decided to pardon her if she returned to her room. Preia complied and left for the Slytherin dormitory.
Preia, though she was still excited about the exchange program, felt some hesitation. She had been certain her experience in the program would be perfect: learning about the various countries she would be visiting, enjoying enriching classes that she had only dreamed of studying, and meeting students from other cultures. Yet now, she had been charged with something that she could have never fathomed. She felt somewhat foolish that she did not see the clues—Slughorn’s strange assignment, Remus’ constantly changing appearance—it was right in front of her eyes, but she had not seen it. As baffled and anxious as she felt, she couldn’t imagine what Remus was experiencing.
The hall containing the passageway to the dormitory was nearly black. The lamps had been extinguished and there were no windows to allow the glow of the night into the dreary corridor. However, floating next to the tall, gothic suit of armor that guarded the entrance was a tiny flickering flame. The small light, which seemed feeble against the heavy curtain of shadows, barely illuminated a shrouded, hunched figure sitting on the floor.
“W-who’s there?” Preia called out nervously, hiding the old book beneath her robes.
The figure moved jerkily at the sound of her voice, rising from its sitting place as it held the candle. “P-Preia?” it replied into dark.
“Severus!” the girl exclaimed, nervously moving the book deeper into her pockets. “What are you doing out here? It’s after midnight!”
“I was waiting for you.” Preia could barely see Severus’ form in the hall. Yellow light made the features of his face appear eerie and grotesque. “I didn’t think you would be back so late.”
“Um,” the girl murmured as she looked away from him. “Professor Dumbledore wanted to meet with me in his office. I went walking around afterwards…I guess I just lost track of time.”
“Oh.” The tone in Severus’ voice showed that he was not completely convinced. Preia was technically telling the truth, though not all of it. There was no way she would ever divulge Remus’ secret to anyone, especially Severus. As much as he hated James and his lot, Preia could see him using the information to humiliate and ostracize Remus. It could be assumed that no other students knew about the boy who was a werewolf among them, perhaps not even his best friends.
The awkward silence between the two was as heavy as the blackness of the Slytherin corridor. Preia nervously shuffled her feet as she rubbed her chilled arms and Severus fidgeted with his candle.
They both spoke at the same time and then silenced themselves quickly. Severus looked up at the girl and sighed. “Preia…I’m…I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have said such hateful words to you. It’s just…” He ran a shaking hand through his greasy black hair and sighed again. “You know how I feel about James and his lot. It…hurts to see you around them. And with those mud...I mean, those Gryffindor girls…well, we always talked about how shallow they were. I’d never thought you’d be friends with them.”
Preia gathered her robes about her and looked at Severus’ barely illuminated face. She knew he had been wrong. He had said terrible, evil words to her that she had never dreamt he would say. Yet his face, which looked honestly remorseful, made her feel guilty. “I know it must have been hard for you, Severus,” she spoke as she approached him. “Seeing me with people I know you aren’t particularly fond of made you really mad. But I was very hurt by the things you said to me. I don’t feel like I deserved any of those words. But…being so angry with you made me realize how much you matter to me. I couldn’t stand all of that tension between us.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” he muttered. “I am very sorry, Preia. I have been since that night in the dungeon, but I didn’t know what to say to you. I didn’t even think you would want to talk to me again.” He gave her a soft smile. “I’m glad to see you are still wearing the necklace I gave you. I thought…you might have thrown it away.”
The girl shook her head and smiled, taking the silver amulet in her hand and admiring it. “This is a very special gift to me, just as you are a very special friend. Even though I’m still angry with you, I forgive you. You and I have been best friends for four years now.” She placed a hand on his arm. Severus grew rigid and flustered underneath her touch, nearly dropping the candle. The girl’s warm gaze, however, instantly transformed his body into some strange furry creature that rumbled pleasingly in his stomach. “I really like Lily, Clarissa, and Leah. I wouldn’t call Remus and Sirius my friends, but they are nice people when you get to know them. I’m not going to stop talking to them for your sake, but I promise…they would never come in the way of our relationship.”
Severus flushed a deep red when Preia spoke that last word. He pulled the candle away from his face to hide himself in the darkness. “Well, I-I-I promise that I won’t let anyone come in the way of our r-r-relationship either, Preia.”
Preia smiled. “I can’t say I approve of your new friends either, Severus. Their families have too much dark speculation around them and they’re always being connected to Voldemort and his followers. But I’m not going to tell you to stop hanging out with them. If you really do enjoy their company, then I’m glad. I wanted you to make new friends. Just promise me you will be careful.”
Severus nodded. “I promise.”
The girl nodded in reply. “I’m sorry you weren’t selected to go on the exchange program. I was really hoping we could go together.”
Severus shook his head. “It’s ok. I didn’t even submit my application.”
“What? Why? I thought you wanted to go!”
“I did…I really did want to. I knew you would get selected and I would have loved to be with you all summer, but…” He lowered his head and his black eyes seemed to become even more inset in the hollows of his face. “…I didn’t want to leave her alone with him. Not after what he did to her…”
Sympathy filled her chest and Preia placed a hand on Severus’ shoulder. “It’s alright, Sev. I promise I’ll write you every day and send you lots of souvenirs and postcards! I’ll send them with Habrok so your father won’t even have to know.” She gave him a warm smile. “I promise!”
The boy looked up at her, his cheeks still flushed in the darkness. “O-ok, Preia. I’d like that.”
The girl giggled and hooked her arm into his. “I think I still hear music playing in the common room. I guess the party is still going!”
Severus nodded as he slightly leaned closer her. “Y-yes. Everyone’s wanted to congratulate you.”
Preia smiled at her friend and laughed. “Then let’s not keep them waiting!”
The creature in Severus seemed to grow more content and he couldn’t help but return the smile as he felt Preia’s warmth radiate onto his body. “Yeah…ok.”
The two friends talked jovially as they entered the Slytherin common room together, all negative feelings between them dispersed and forgotten.
The June sun was warm and pleasant on the morning of Preia’s final day at Hogwarts as a fourth year. She and Severus had eaten a hearty breakfast together in the Great Hall, which was boisterous with the sounds of students bidding their farewells. Preia actually enjoyed the noise on the final morning at the end of the year. Hearing the seventh year students talking for a final time with their professors and friends, discussing their new career paths, and laughing about all of the memories they had at Hogwarts made Preia yearn for the time when she would experience those events. One day, I’ll graduate from Hogwarts and begin my Auror training, she thought with a grin as the seventh year Slytherin students toasted one last time at their table.
After breakfast, Preia left Severus to spend some time with Clarissa, Leah, and Lily. They were relaxing by the edge of the large lake outside of the castle with a group that Preia had not met before. Lily introduced Preia to several other girls, including Laurel Towler, the pretty dark haired Scottish Gryffindor, and Elrica Edwards, a somewhat shy, but amiable Hufflepuff. Both girls would be attending the W.W.A.N.D. program with Preia and they seemed excited about getting to know the young Slytherin on their trip.
Her bags already taken by the house elves to the Hogwarts Express, Preia did one last check of her room before leaving the Slytherin dormitory and walking up to the main hall. The corridors were thick with the students of Hogwarts, all eagerly loading into the horseless carriages that would take them to Hogsmeade. Preia smoothed down her teal green sundress, a gift from her mother that she had never worn, and tussled her long crimpy hair that was flowing freely behind her. She felt a bit self conscious about wearing a dress, but the weather was just right and the sunlight felt good on her bare brown skin.
Hoisting her small bag over her shoulder, Preia descended the steps toward the coaches, making her way leisurely through the crowd of young people. At the bottom of the stairs, she recognized the familiar figure of James Potter. He was laughing heartily, ruffling his wild dark hair as he talked with Peter Pettigrew. Standing next to them was Sirius. Oddly, Preia felt her heart swell and she called out to young man before she even realized it.
The three friends turned at the sound of his name. Sirius had been chuckling loudly, but when he realized who had called for him, his voice seemed to become caught in his throat. His jaw dropped and he made a small choking sound as if he were struggling to speak, watching as Preia smiled at him and began to walk further down the stairs.
“Blimey,” Peter whispered. “She cleans up pretty good, Sirius.”
James made a low whistle and grinned slyly toward his mate. “You sure you want to give up on that, mate?” he muttered under his breath. “I’d have to say you’re a bit mad…”
“Shut up,” Sirius rasped as he left his snickering friends and walked up to the girl. He grinned nervously, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Preia responded as she gave him a small smile. “I…well, I just wanted to apologize to you for the way I had been acting toward you this past week. I was really upset about what happened with Severus and, well, I guess it just really got to me. I shouldn’t have been so aloof to you when you were just trying to help.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it,” Sirius replied as he shook his head. “I’m just glad to see that you’re better. I wouldn’t want you going off to travel across the world all forlorn and crabby.”
Chuckling, the girl smoothed back her hair. “Well, you can thank your friend Remus for that. He really helped me come out of it.” She looked behind him, realizing he wasn’t with James and Peter. “Do you know where he is? I haven’t seen him since last night.”
Sirius’ expression slightly changed and he looked down at his feet with a sigh. “Uh, yeah…earlier. He’s a bit, well, embarrassed about what happened with Dumbledore.”
“Oh.” Preia was surprised. “So you know about…well…” She glanced furtively around to make sure no one was listening.
“Yeah, we’ve known for a while,” Sirius said with a nod back toward his mates. “Ever since our second year.”
“I’m so stupid, I didn’t even realize it,” Preia sighed. “I had no idea.”
“It’s ok. Remus isn’t too keen about letting people know what he is. He’s really secretive about it. James, Peter, and I just happened to find out on accident. I guess it’s one of the reasons we are such good friends. It’s like we are his Secret Keepers.” He grinned. “I am glad you know and that Dumbledore chose you to take care of him. We were worried about him going overseas knowing what would happen to him. But I think he feels like he dragged you into something you didn’t want.”
Preia shook her head. “Oh no, not at all! I’m glad I know! I’m looking forward to going on this trip with him. I want him to enjoy it as well, so I’m glad Dumbledore chose me. I promise to take care of him.” She blushed and twirled the sash of her dress around her finger. “I really do admire him and I wouldn’t want him to have a bad experience.”
Sirius looked off into the sky, his brows slightly furrowed. “Yeah…” He turned toward her again and smiled weakly. “You look really pretty, Preia. Green looks really nice on you.”
Preia scoffed and lightly hit Sirius on the shoulder. “Oh stop teasing! I swear, Sirius, you are a git!” She crossed her arms and walked further down the stairs, but then turned around and gave him a grin. “Have a nice summer!”
“You too…” Sirius muttered as he watched Preia move through the crowd of Hogwarts students, her green dress billowing behind her. He gingerly touched his shoulder, feeling waning warmth where the young girl had hit him. A smile crossed his lips, one that was both pleased and slightly morose.
The W.W.A.N.D. program has begun and Preia returns to Hogwarts for the first week. What will the students from the other schools be like? And how will Remus and Preia’s relationship change now that she knows his secret? Find out in Chapter 11!
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