Chapter 2 : Letters
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Ted remained stationary for a split-second in the wake of Harry’s departure. Then he dived onto his knees beside the box and tore through the Packing Spellotape. Parting the box flaps, he peered inside to find: a neatly packed collection of little black books, which took up most of the box, but wedged perfectly in the bit of empty space left over was a big cardboard shoebox.
Excitement roared through his veins. Quickly he pulled the shoebox out, but as he did so his hands shook so badly that he dropped it and it fell open. Half the contents slid out of it. Ted reached out to slide it all back in, his hand falling on a clipping from The Daily Prophet on top of the pile. The photo distracted him from cleaning up the mess: it was the photo of a woman and a wizard standing together. The woman was seated, holding a newborn baby, while the wizard stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders. Both of them were beaming proudly.
Ted picked up the clipping and examined it more closely. The woman was very beautiful, with long hair (the picture wasn’t in color, but Ted guessed that it was blonde), and the wizard highly resembled his father, minus the scars and the premature signs of aging. Beneath the clipping was the caption: (clockwise from left) Mr John Lupin, his wife Joanne, and their newborn son, Remus. Ted looked at the infant in the photo. He wasn’t fussing much. He was no bigger than a small loaf of bread, and he blinked in sheer wonder at his surroundings. He looked perfectly healthy, nothing old about him at all. And he didn’t have any scars on him anywhere, which ruled out the small possibility that he’d been born with them. The clipping was dated 11 March 1960, and according to the brief story below, Remus had been born the day before, on the 10th. Also, according to the clipping, the woman, Joanne—John Lupin’s wife, and Remus’ mother—was a Muggle.
He returned the clipping to the box, and slid everything else back in with it. He righted the box, setting it before him on the floor where he sat cross-legged. He riffled through it and found another clipping. This one was dated 30 June 1967. There was no picture, and the headline read: WATCHMAKER’S SON PAYS PRICE FOR FOLLY. He scanned the article, and discovered that John Lupin had had a row with a man in his watch shop one day over something that John had considered very trivial, but the man in question had considered it of great importance—and not only that, but he was also a werewolf. The nameless werewolf got John so worked up that John outright insulted him and booted him from the premises of his shop. Little did John know that he would pay dearly for offending the lycanthrope. On the night of the following full moon, John’s seven-year old son Remus had allegedly gone outside after dinner (here Ted’s heart began to beat a little faster) to stargaze. It wasn’t long before the same werewolf Remus’ father had offended emerged in his monstrous full-moon form without warning from the darkness. It tore open the screaming young Remus’ shirt to expose the shoulder just as John and Joanne burst from the house with John shooting spells at the beast. The werewolf was quick, and in the blink of an eye he nipped Remus’ exposed shoulder and disappeared into the night. In less than a millisecond, Remus had gone from normal young wizard to cursed, deranged monster.
The immediate effect of the bite was pain, and a dizziness that caused Remus to fall into a state of unconsciousness. Joanne wept over him as if he’d been killed, and then she carried him as she and John went back into the house. They summoned a healer—although of course nothing could be done—but they couldn’t face the horrible truth that their son had been turned into a werewolf right before their very eyes, before they even had the chance to prevent it.
Ted allowed this discovery to sink in. So he’d been right…his father had been a werewolf…. His grandmother had lied to him…. The resentment only lasted for a second. He realized that he shouldn’t at all be surprised: he knew the reputation werewolves held in wizarding society, and so it would only be natural for parents to disapprove of their daughter marrying a werewolf, for the mother to deny the truth that her son-in-law was a werewolf if she could help it. So this was probably the reason his grandmother had not cared much for his father, if at all: because of what he was, because her daughter had married him into the family.
A shiver went through Ted’s spine as another thought struck him: it was lucky that he himself was not a werewolf, that whatever genetic curse had flowed in his father’s veins for the rest of his life had not been passed on to him. However, he was certain that it had been a close call.
He stuck the clipping inside the box and the next thing he picked up was an unopened envelope that looked as though it had gone through the Muggle post, rather than the wizarding one. He ripped it open to find a letter written by Joanne:
3 August 1967
I know you and I have had this issue between us since I married John, and I really don’t want you to say I told you so. I knew there’d be adjustments to marrying a wizard, especially since you never knew such a world existed until I first introduced you to him. I realise that what I’m about to tell you is what you’d call a risk in marrying one.
Things have been just awful. Your grandson, Remus (whom you still have not met because of your continued refusal to have anything to do with ME anymore), has been made the innocent victim of a werewolf’s bite, and now he himself is a werewolf! Do you even believe me? Oh you must, because it has left me quite distraught, especially now when I feel you’ll send this letter straight back to me after you’ve read it—if you even bother.
This past full moon was the first one where Remus underwent his transformation. It was terrible. In the evening we took him outside and told him that he had to stay out. He’d been told what was going to happen. When the full moon rose, he was going to turn into a werewolf, just like the one that bit him a month ago. I don’t know how I did it. He was frightened, and he begged me and John to stay with him, but we couldn’t, we knew we didn’t want him waking up after it was over and finding out he’d killed one of us—or BOTH of us even—in his werewolf state! It’d tear him apart.
He broke down in tears, and I couldn’t stop sobbing as John and I barred his way into the house, bolting the front door, and then John placed protective spells around it. The whole time I had my ear pressed to the front door and it wasn’t long before the moon rose and we heard Remus’ first strangled yell. Why did it have to be such a painful ordeal? Why did it have to be such a violent agony for him? For ANY werewolf? As he continued to scream and yell, I lost my nerve and started to unbolt the door so I could run out to him and help him—I didn’t know how—but I had to ease his suffering somehow. I couldn’t stand that my baby was out there dealing with this torture all on his own.
Luckily John held me back and rebolted the door just as we heard the screams turn to growls, and soon the sound of a werewolf’s howl filled the air and echoed through the hills. We spent the night with our backs to the door, and John held me while I slept. I don’t know whether he slept or not. He hasn’t been sleeping well at all. He can’t stop kicking himself, he blames himself for this, because he insulted the werewolf that bit Remus in the first place. Although it pains me, I think I’ll have to accept that John may NEVER forgive himself.
In the morning we had to look for Remus. We had no idea where he might be, and I began to fear we’d never find him. When we finally found him he was lying naked and unconscious beside a stream. He was half-frozen, and he had blood on his lips and hands. John wrapped him up in a blanket and we carried him home. For the next couple of days he was sicker than I’ve ever seen him, and I think I did everything right—administered all the right potions at the right time—not bad for a non-magical, eh?—but at the time I was in hysterics that I’d do it all wrong and maybe even kill him. And when I looked in his eyes, I could see a change in him. He seemed a little older than he is. Traumatic experiences can do that to a person, I know.
I got him to talk to me about it some. He said that the moment the moon rose and its light hit his eyes, he’d heard a great roaring in his ears, and his entire body was plunged into agony, like it was all slowly starting to rip itself apart, and his limbs shook uncontrollably. He said he thought he was going to explode, that it was all so painful he believed he was going to die. Just when the pain had reached its peak, he recalled falling into darkness, and that was the last he could remember before waking up in his bed. BUT HE COULDN’T EVEN CRY. I know my little boy, and he’d cry about anything frightening that had happened to him. But this frightening thing, becoming a werewolf, he did NOT shed a single tear over that. He’s only seven, and I’m afraid he’s already had a loss of innocence.
I don’t know how we’ll be able to keep doing this once every month. But we’re going to do it somehow. As for school, I fear he may not be able to go. People in the wizarding world are highly prejudiced against werewolves. You probably wouldn’t blame them, would you, Mother?
Anyhow, I hope you are well, and I’d appreciate it so much if you’d just write back to me and tell me…anything. I miss you—all of you—Daddy, and Florence, and everybody else. It hurts me that none of you will talk to me anymore. Mother, I beg you, at least drop a line so I know you’re safe. I can’t say anymore, except that times at the moment are very dangerous, especially for Muggles: Muggles like our family! So, please. You don’t even have to talk to me. Just let me know you’re still alive. Please.
As Ted skimmed through the letter again, he felt a great upsurge of pity for his father and what he’d had to learn to accept. He also felt one for his father’s mother: it appeared as though from the day the Muggle woman Joanne had announced her marriage to a wizard, and introduced him to her own mother, her own mother had not at all been pleased. Like Harry’s Muggle relatives, the Dursleys, Joanne’s family’s impression of this wizard John Lupin and the wizarding world from which he’d come was nothing more than an insane freak show, and since then had estranged itself from Joanne completely. What was even worse was that this kept Joanne from knowing whether or not her family was safe (Ted had a hunch that by Joanne’s description of the times then being “very dangerous” indicated that by then, Lord Voldemort had already been burning a horrible mark on the world, both Muggle and magical alike).
He checked the letter’s envelope, and sure enough, it was marked to be returned to its original address. Apparently Remus’ Muggle grandmother had returned it without even opening it, just as Joanne thought she might. He returned the letter to the shoebox and found another one, this one sent through the wizarding post, and written by John, and much shorter:
1 May 1971
Dear Professor Albus Dumbledore:
I am writing on behalf of my son, Remus, who is eleven this year, and of the age to begin his magical education. I do not know if you recall reading it in the papers a few years ago, but my son was bit by a werewolf at the age of seven, and is now one himself, obviously. I know you haven’t sent out your acceptance letters yet to incoming students, but I thought I’d write before then because my wife and I are concerned that Remus will not be able to attend Hogwarts at all because of his condition.
We have hope, however, now that you are the new Headmaster. We were quite sure that the one whom you succeeded would have disapproved point blank of the idea of sending Remus to school. But you, sir, are a different matter. You are not like most wizards. You are open-minded and are willing to give everyone at least a first chance instead of dismissing someone just because there’s something about them perhaps to fear or despise or ridicule.
Remus so wants to go: he doesn’t have any friends, and I think friends would do him a world of good. Please take this situation into consideration, and send us a reply as soon as you can.
Thank you, and hoping you are well,
Ted smiled. He was sure that Dumbledore would have come through. He had learned all too well from Harry and many others about the greatness—and the not-so-greatness-but-then-he’s-only-human—of Albus Dumbledore. He returned to the letter and picked up the next one, and sure enough, it was from Dumbledore himself:
5 May 1971
Dear Mr John Lupin,
First of all, please do forgive the lateness of my reply! Actually, I had made my decision almost as soon as I’d finished reading your letter, but then being headmaster has its responsibilities, of course, if you catch my drift.
Anyway, as to your son, Remus, I certainly see no reason why he cannot attend Hogwarts, but I appreciate that you informed me first before acceptance letters were sent to new students. It is possible that because of your son’s condition, he might not have received one. I can assure that he would have anyway, however, but I’m sure you just wanted to check.
However, I appreciate you told me, full stop. It would have been a rather nasty shock if you hadn’t, and during the full moon in September he transformed in his dormitory and ate everyone in his House. (Please also forgive me if you found that last bit of dry, dark humour in any way offensive.).
I will of course need to speak with your son in private about what precautions we will take, and what special arrangements shall be made, but I assure you that I can easily find some way to deal with this without endangering your son, or others.
So, I eagerly expect to see him and all other new students at the start-of-term feast on the first of September!
With warm regards,
“I knew it,” Ted muttered under his breath. “Knew he’d come through.” He stuck the letter back in the shoebox, and then rummaged around to see what else he could find. He found a lot of drawings, all of them done by his father. It appeared Remus had had a talent for sketching. The ones from his early youth were beautiful, but then he came across ones that illustrated abstract images that resembled shards of broken glass, or savage beasts with burning red eyes peering from dark abysses. Ted had a feeling that these darker drawings were drawn after Remus had been condemned to life as a werewolf.
Ted jumped inside his skin at the sound. It came from the window, and Ted looked to see that it was just an owl delivering him a letter. He stowed his father’s drawings away in the shoebox and crossed to the window. When he opened it a regal snowy owl swooped inside, dropping the letter on Ted’s desk before looping once around the room and coming to land on the windowsill, where it perched and sat. Ted recognized it as Victoire Weasley’s owl, Mercutio. Why on earth she’d named him that, Ted didn’t have a clue.
He picked up the letter, addressed to him in Victoire’s beautiful, fluid handwriting. He found that he trembled slightly as he opened it—she had never written him a letter before. In fact, he and she hadn't actually spoken in a few years, until four days ago, when they’d both coincidentally ended up in the hospital wing at the same time, but for different reasons (his case had been awful scratches across his face caused by the pricking spines of a particularly viscous tentacula during herbology, and her case had been an accident in defense against the dark arts involving a Teeth-Enlarging Hex). The only reason he recognized her handwriting was because he often watched her while she studied—but without her knowing it, of course. He had basically crushed on her since his fourth year, but he could never pluck up the courage to talk to her. Not since they'd become distant from each other for various reasons over the past few years. His heart began to hammer in his chest as he read:
15 April 2015
Happy Birthday, Ted! Or as my dear maman would say, Bon Anniversaire!
Anyway, I heard that it was your birthday today, so I hope it’s been a good one, and I hope the rest of your Easter holidays are going well too. I know that we haven’t actually spoken to each other before a few days ago when school let out, but when we HAD spoken to each other it was very enjoyable. I really hope we can get to know each other better. Since I started Hogwarts I’ve seen you from afar—like in the Gryffindor common room and all—but since you’re two years ahead of me, I suppose it was a bit of a barrier. Yet I swear that you were looking at me too, sometimes, but maybe I was wrong.
Really, it’s been so long since we've spoken until four days ago! And it was only because we both just happened to need to go the hospital wing at the exact same time (I was really glad when those awful scratches disappeared from your face, I suppose herbology isn’t your best subject?)!
I really look forward to seeing you again when we get back to Hogwarts; perhaps even before then, on the train. After talking to you again, it’s now my personal opinion that Metamorphmagi are VERY interesting people.
Ted hardly dared to breathe. Did this mean that…she fancied him? Like he fancied her? He looked up from the letter at Mercutio still perched on the windowsill, and realized that he was staying because Victoire expected a reply. But what should he say? Should he just let loose and tell her how he felt about her? No, that was moving rather quickly. Yet, hadn’t she just told him how she felt? He couldn’t be sure. She was being awfully tantalizing with him. She hadn’t said it right out. In fact, if he didn’t know better, he’d say she was daring him to admit his feelings for her.
Then what if she was just leading him on? What if she didn’t really fancy him, and she was just playing with him because in reality her impression of him after their first conversation in the hospital wing was that he was an idiot and a freak. Not that he’d given her any reason to think that, but when he was around her he always felt like he was suddenly in the middle of doing something stupid.
But she expected a reply from him, so she couldn’t be just playing a trick on him, right? Then again, maybe she expected a reply so she could laugh at him even more.
He yawned and glanced at the clock, which read: 9:40pm. It was getting rather late, and it sounded as though the Potters had already taken their leave, and his grandmother had gone to bed for the night. He supposed he ought to as well, and decided he would think of a reply tomorrow and that in the meantime, Mercutio would have to kip with Luna—his own owl—a barn owl that Ted had grown quite fond of. She had been his present for his eleventh birthday. Harry was the one who’d given her to him. As he coaxed Mercutio to join Luna in her cage, he remembered Harry telling him that his first owl, Hedwig, had also been a snowy owl. Sadly he recalled Harry’s tale of how Hedwig had been killed during an escape from pursuing Death Eaters.
Luna was not too pleased with her guest, but Ted promised her he’d make it up to her after Mercutio had gone. Once he’d made sure that Mercutio was set for the night, he packed up the ANSWERS box and transfigured it back into a gold Gobstone. He sat that on his bedside table beside his wand, his father’s watch, and the picture of his parents. As he crawled into bed, Ted thought about talking to Harry about what he should write in reply to Victoire’s letter. He’d never really talked to his godfather about girls—except when he’d given Ted the Talk a few years ago. Then remembering that made Ted shiver.
Why did this whole romance business have to be so complicated? he wondered as he extinguished the lamps in his room and drifted off to sleep in the dark.
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