“I’d never have believed this; the man who taught me how to fight Dementors – a coward!”
Harry’s voice was still ringing in his ears as Lupin stared into the dark abyss of the night. Then his voice was replaced by the image of Harry flying backwards, slamming into the kitchen wall and then sliding slowly to the floor. He had cursed Harry. He shouldn’t have done that.
But Harry was asking for it!
No he wasn't! He was just telling the truth! You shouldn’t have cursed him!
It had been a long time since he had let his rage take over him like that.
Lupin was lost in thought, conflicted. The battle with Voldemort wasn’t the only thing he was fighting. There was the growing inner battle that was raging more fiercely with each passing day. In Grimmauld Place, he had let it control him, and for the first time, he had become the wolf even without a full moon. Did this make him as bad as Fenrir Greyback?
You should not have cursed him!
Harry was the closest thing Lupin had ever had to a son, and he should not have done that to him. Harry was only telling the truth: Lupin was being a coward.
Lupin flopped onto the bed, and a cloud of dust engulfed him. He looked around the dark, old, creaking house; the place he both hated and loved. His gaze fell on the broken furniture and the claw marks etched into the walls and the floor. They had been made by him all those years ago. Memories flooded back to him of himself locked up, trapped inside this place, attacking and biting anything he could reach, including himself. It was horrible, though he had come a long way since then.
Then other memories flooded back to him. This place had been the headquarters of his adolescent adventures, the four Marauders: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. He remembered sitting on this very bed, waiting excitedly. The room hadn’t changed much since then, except now there was a fine cover of dust on everything, not to mention in the dried blood that stained the wall in the far corner of the room; it was Snape’s blood, from the time Harry, Ron, and Hermione had been a little over-enthusiastic about disarming him.
Lupin smiled to himself. James would have laughed at the very idea of his son knocking Snape unconscious in his eagerness to disarm him. Harry had done James proud, not that Lupin ever approved of the bullying Sirius and James had dished out against Severus, even still, as bad as their bullying was, they always made Lupin laugh, deep down inside, not that he cared to admit it of course.
Lupin suddenly shuddered violently, what would James do to him if had known that one of his best friends had curse his son? Would he and Sirius have strung him upside down and taunted him, like they had done to Severus on countless occasions in the past?
You deserve it, the small voice instead his head reasoned, you shouldn’t have cursed him!
I know! Lupin moaned back, if I could do it all over, I wouldn’t have hurt him, I didn’t mean it.
Yes you would, he insulted you.
No I wouldn’t, he was just telling me what I needed to hear.
You really are a coward, the voice said honestly.
I know, Lupin conceded truthfully.
Suddenly he was aroused from his silent argument with himself by a strange noise. He sat bolt upright. He heard that sound before, many times, as he sat in his very room as a teenager. It was the one that paws made when they came in contact with an old wooden floor. But it couldn’t be ... surely it wasn’t...
Heart racing with dread, and bizarrely excitement; Lupin drew his wand, pointed it at the door, and waited. His stomach was churning with excitement at the thought that maybe, just maybe Sirius had come back. It was either that or it was churning with fear because there was a Death Eater at the other side of the door intent on killing him. He couldn’t be sure.
He shouldn’t have come here, that was for certain. He had needed a place to think, where he could be alone, undisturbed. But the only safe places left now were where the Order was, and he was not ready to face the others yet. He could have gone to countless other places; the old forest near his parents’ house, the sandy beach in Wales where he used to go on holidays or even that Muggle library in London he loved so much. But no, he had chosen here, the Shrieking Shack, the headquarters of his various adolescent adventures, secret-keeper of the happiest time of his life.
But Hogwarts, his house, the grounds, even Hogsmeade Village was tainted now. With Snape now Headmaster up at the school, he would have surely had all the passageways, including the one that led here, to this shack, guarded. Lupin definitely wasn’t safe here, but he had thought that perhaps, being this close to the enemy would be safe, as it was the last place they expected you to be.
Still, the minutes ticked on, and all he was left with was silence. He had imagined the sound surely. He was alone and plagued by his own thoughts, his own guilty conscience and his own ailing heart. He was so alone, in fact, that his own brain had decided to trick him into thinking that Sirius had come back to visit, come back to set him straight, just so he could have a few fleeting minutes excitement, before plunging back into the ‘bad space’ again.
He was stupid to think Sirius had come back. Sirius was dead, died well over a year ago. There was no way on earth he could come back. Lupin still missed him - his best friend - and James too. In a small way, though he felt immensely guilty for thinking it, even missed Peter but he quickly reminded himself of what Peter had done; betrayed Lily and James, framed Sirius, and dooming Lupin to twelve long, isolated and lonely years. A huge rush of hatred swirled inside him, but it was not directed at Peter, it was directed at Lupin; he hated himself for missing the man who was the reason James was dead, the reason Harry had no parents.
Loneliness addles the mind and the heart, he thought weakly.
Pushing Peter firmly back into the dark recesses of his mind, his thoughts turned back to Sirius. Lupin missed him, missed him so much it even hurt, though he would never admit that. Even now, the pain of losing him still ran through his veins. It would never leave him. He thought he should have perhaps talked to Harry about Sirius. After all, they both felt the same way, but Lupin was never one for talking about his emotions openly with others. It was part of the iron curtain he had placed around himself to protect himself, and those around him, from the wolf within.
But then a horrible thought strayed into his mind: But Sirius, your good friend Sirius, thought you were the traitor, the spy!
Lupin’s squirming insides froze instantly. He had never asked Sirius why he’d thought this, but he already knew the answer. Sirius suspected him because of what he was: a werewolf. Even his best friends didn’t trust him. Even his best friends doubted him, believed him a traitor and a coward, and now Harry did too.
Lupin felt more alone than he had done in years. James was gone, and Lily, along with Sirius, Dumbledore and Mad-Eye. And he could pretty much add Harry to that list too, because the boy most definitely would not want anything to do with the cowardly werewolf who had hexed him, on top of, leaving Tonks. Yes, Lupin was alone and isolated and, what was more; he completely deserved it.
Someone just tell me what to do! he pleaded desperately to the cracked crumbling ceiling above him.
He was lost, so very lost. He needed to some one to talk to, to confide in, but he was not able to do that. He had never been able to do that. But he had come close, closer than he had ever done, back in Grimmauld Place. He had tried to tell Harry, tell him all about the messed up world that was his life; where he had made an outcast of his wife and, almost certainly, doomed his unborn child to a life of misery, fear and prejudice. Yes, he had opened up to Harry more than he had opened up to anyone else in his life, and look where that led.
“The man who taught me how to fight Dementors – a coward!”
Feelings aren’t meant to be shared. They should be repressed and hidden away from all things decent and normal. The scene in Grimmauld Place with Harry had confirmed that. Lupin did not want to ever find himself repeating that situation. In honesty, he was frightened of what might happen the next time he lost control like that. He hadn’t meant to curse Harry; he just did it, like that, without a single conscious thought going through his head. It was done without his volition, without his permission. His anger, fear and pain had consumed him, only to burst forth in the form of a jynx directed at Harry Potter, James’s son, the most honest person Lupin knew. Harry didn’t deserve it. Harry was only telling the truth, a truth Lupin just did not want to hear.
He got up from the bed, without bothering to brush the dust off his robes, they were old anyway, a new layer of dust and dirt did not matter. He crossed the room and peered through a large crack in the boarded up window. He wanted to escape his thoughts, escape himself, and just be anyone other than Remus Lupin, but that was impossible, even with all the magical power in the world.
He looked up at the moon. It was a half-full ghostly apparition floating in the otherwise beautiful starry sky. It floated there, dominating everything, reducing all the stars around it into insignificant specks. It stood in the sky; arrogant and smug, as though it was laughing down at all that dwelled below it. It hung in the sky, its blazing image burning this image onto the retinas of all those who looked at it along enough. But Lupin knew that it was placed in the sky to remind him, once again, of what he was. He hated it, hated the stupid moon and its mocking glare. But as much as he hated to admit it, he feared the moon, feared it more intensely than anything else on this earth, just as he feared himself, feared his own emotions and feared his weakness.
Forcing his eyes away from the ghostly moon, he turned his gaze down onto Hogsmeade village; at all its neat little houses and clean streets. The place was asleep now, frozen in the dream-like state of sleep and awake. It looked at peace. The streets were silent and undisturbed. There was something very quaint about seeing the town like this.
The, his eyes landed on a shadow who’s movement disturbed the otherwise, calm high street. Even still, there was no mistaking that shadow even if it was elongated by the moonlight. Madam Rosmerta was heading toward her pub. Lupin found himself smiling as it watched her. He suddenly remembered something eventful that had happened on a night quite like this one, many years ago.
The teenage Lupin was sitting on the bed, jumping with excitement. The bed-springs were letting out huge groans of protest, but he didn’t care. He heard the sounds of movement in the house. They were close. There were hushed whispers which gradually involved into grunts, pants and squeaks. There was a dreadful pounding on the floor boards, the steps of the stairs began to creak and then the door burst open. Framed in the dwindling sunlight were a magnificent stag, a shaggy dog and a small furry rat. They stood there, frozen in time, larger than life, neither animal nor human, but something in-between.
Padfoot sauntered forward, jumped up on Lupin and began licking his face. Lupin laughed and scratched his friend behind the ears. Padfoot’s tail was wagging excitedly. He was jumping up and down. He couldn’t stay still. Prongs, on the other hand, seemed calm. He strode over to Lupin in a dignified manner, casting glances at the dog that was currently chasing its own tail. Lupin patted him lightly on the head, a gesture which was returned with a gentle nudge from the creature’s antlers. Peter scurried over, and ran up Lupin’s leg, tickling him repeatedly. He just laughed and laughed and laughed. He was with his friends, his absolute friends that had gone to so much effort just to be with him. He would never be able to put into words how much the three of them meant to him.
Then the moonlight crept in, and everything changed.
The three creatures suddenly tensed, and backed away against the walls as though a little afraid of what was going to happen. Lupin’s frame went rigid, he was as stiff as a board, unable to move even if he wanted to. Then, suddenly, he began twitching violently. His limbs grew at an agonising pace. Hairs punctured his skin, causing it to bleed, as they pushed their way out, desiring nothing more than to consume his whole body. His face lengthened, causing bones to crack and his brain to swell. A snout protruded, pulling and stretching his face in all directions. He was letting out yells of pain. This half-broken boyish voice grew deeper, reaching a primitive animalistic tone.
The pain was beyond anything he could describe. This transformation was beyond excruciating.
But then the moment passed, the pain receded and the room began to stir into life again. The creatures howled, squeaked and stamped their hooves. They now had a fully-grown werewolf in their mist and they liked it. Padfoot jumped on top of Lupin, or Moony, as they called him. They engaged in one of their playful fights, biting, scratching, and hitting every inch of the other they could reach. Prongs joined in too, his antlers prodding any living limb that would stay still long enough. Wormtail, however, watched from the bed, afraid that if he joined the fray, he might have the life crushed out of him by a hoof or paw.
As the night moved on, they moved from room to room, destroying furniture, pulling wallpaper off the walls and spreading the contents of mattresses everywhere. Soon such reckless vandalism lost its appeal, and proceeded outside into the school grounds. The night air was cool on their faces, the wind rushed through their fur, goading them onwards in their new adventure. They ran through the Forbidden Forest, wrestling, fighting, and playing among the trees. The damp earth smelled nice and the dewy grass tasted sweet.
They reached the far edge of the forest. A stray light or two were blinking in the distance, calling out to them. Hogsmeade looked too inviting. The smell from Honeydukes, the sweet taste of the last dregs of Butterbeer in the empty barrels, and the lure of the risk of being caught were too strong to resist.
The streets were deserted. The four animals darted between the houses, jumping in and out of the moonlight. Lupin felt free. He, felt like himself, as if the wolf was not in control. His friends’ presence had tamed him, made him less wolfish, in his mind at least. He was having fun, enjoying himself. He was happy. And he refused to let his guilty thoughts about betraying Dumbledore’s trust ruin his fun. After all he had been through, he deserved to experience such happy feelings, didn’t he?
But reality was stalking them like an expert hunter, ready to catch them off guard. Lupin should have known that his happiness was only destined to be short lived.
Suddenly he smelt it; that sweet, intoxicating aroma, that clouded his mind and robbed all sense from his brain. It was the smell of human flesh. He closed his eyes and sniffed the air, breathing in the smell, letting it drown his senses and stifle any trace of thought in his head. He sniffed again, this time trying to locate source of the smell. His noise pointed him in the right direction, he opened his eyes and he saw her; Madam Rosmerta, walking up the high street.
- She shouldn’t be out this late. She was endangering herself.
The small thought entered his head, but it was fuzzy and vague. He didn’t understand it. Words were becoming difficult to understand. He thought of James, Peter and Sirius, he thought of them, his friends, his great friends, as he tried to fight it, but the overpowering urge was too strong. The wolf in him once again rearing forward and taking control. His mind grew less complex, less human. He could no longer comprehend words, it was basic actions that ruled him now.
He abandoned his game chasing game with his friends, threw his head back and howled towards the orb-like full moon, then set off in hot pursuit. Padfoot and Prongs sensed danger and charged Lupin down, ushering him back, keeping the hunter from his prey. Lupin fought, scratched, and bit in an attempt to break free, but Padfoot’s claws were pinning him to the cold, cobbled pavement. Prongs’s antlers prevent his frame from attempt to get up.
Pain! Bad pain!
Need to bite!
Rosmerta must have heard the noise because she stopped suddenly. Wormtail had disappeared, not that a rat could do anything against a bloodthirsty, angry werewolf anyway. Suddenly, he could be seen sprinting towards Rosmerta, and she stopped dead. The rat and the woman seized each other up for a single moment, each holding his or her breath. Then Wormtail ran up the hem of Rosmerta’s robes. She screamed and tried hysterically to extract him by banging her legs and pounding her feet. Wormtail scurried frantically, trying to find an exit. After ten very dark and panicky seconds, he managed to remove himself. Rosmerta screamed, dropped her belongings, and ran with Wormtail scurrying after her, making sure that she got inside, out of harm’s way.
When they heard the door slam, the three animagi Marauders knew the night’s adventures were over. Lupin was angry, furious beyond reason that his prey had gotten away. He attacked the two, pinning him down, biting slashing it and gnawing every inch of them he could reach. With great difficulty, Prongs and Padfoot managed to lure him back into the Shrieking Shack just as the sun was rising. The full-moon’s power broke, being overpowered and overwhelmed by the first dazzling rays of sunshine at done. It was beaten back, gone, unable to unleash its terror for another month.
“Did you see her face?” laughed Sirius, on their way down from their dormitory the following morning. “That was brilliant, Wormtail!” The four of them laughed hysterically at Peter’s encounter with Rosmerta.
“Honestly, where do you get your ideas from, Wormtail? Was it just a spark of sudden inspiration or the giving in to some dark, secret desire?” laughed James.
The Gryffindor common room was bright and buzzing with chattering students. Lupin, on the other hand, did not feel bright and buzzing. He felt guilty. Rosmerta had no idea about how much danger she had been in. But all he could do was laugh at the thought of Peter scurrying up her robes. He hated himself for enjoying it, for betraying Dumbledore. But he could not help letting the smile creep across his face every time he thought of that night’s adventure.
Pulled back from the wondrous sea of memory, Lupin smiled to himself. Even after all these years, he could not help it. He should tell that story to Harry some time. He should tell Harry a lot of things, but would Harry ever want to look at him again?
After all, he thinks you’re a coward.
But he doesn’t understand. No one understands. Lupin was an outcast, not meant to be loved. Sirius understood, after all, the whole world believed him to be a mass murderer. Sirius was just as big an outcast. Maybe he had been worse off; at least Lupin could go outside. Sirius had to stay imprisoned in the house he hated so much, tormented at not being able to help the Order.
Then another voice entered Lupin’s mind: “I don’t care! I’ve told you a million times!”
But you will care, Tonks. You will care when you realise what I have done to you and the child. I care about you too much to destroy your life like that. You would be better off without me, without this old, poor werewolf. You deserve someone young and whole. I shouldn’t have married you; it was against my better judgement. But I was selfish. I loved you, and I wanted you, and I put my own happiness above your safety. Now as a result of my weakness, you’re an outcast, and that innocent child will be like me. I just know it.
But you love her! That’s all that matters.
No, I don’t! I don’t! Lupin told himself.
He was totally losing it. Trapped alone in that cold, dark, isolated world he had created for himself. He did not want this. He did not. He wanted a family, people to hold, people who love him, but that illusion could never become reality. Werewolves can’t have that. Werewolves can’t feel that.
It was for Tonks’s own good. Why doesn’t anyone see that? Why doesn’t anyone understand?
Why do you always have to be noble, Remus? She loves you, and you love her. You are throwing away the best thing that has ever happened to you. You don’t have to be miserable all your life.
That was the inner battle inside him. He did not know what side he was on. He did not know which side was the good one. He was truly lost, alone, and did not know what to do.
An icy chill descended upon him now. It seemed to spread through him, chilling the blood in his veins. The cold even seemed to be inside his heart, compressing it, clamping it in a vice. He was drowning in cold and despair. He felt as if happiness could no longer exist; it was a lost idea, just an echo in the past.
Scenes flashed before his eyes. The true horror in his past that he had repressed for so long was streaming back to him. He could not escape it. All those old wounds re-opened, spilling blood once again on his soul. He was surrounded in white mist, lost in it.
There was only one thing that could do this to him. With great effort, he slowly turned around, knowing what to expect.
There, in front of him, were seven hooded Dementors. Each was drawing slow rattling breaths, sucking the very essence of life out of the room. Lupin should not have come here tonight. He was too close to the danger, to the enemy.
He whipped out his wand and thought of his happy memory: the four Marauders, the masters of mischief, united, running around Hogwarts.
“Expecto Patronum!” he cried.
But only a small shimmer of silver came from the tip of his wand.
“Expecto … Expecto Patronum!” he shouted again, fighting to stay conscious.
But only the same frail shimmer appeared in front of him.
What was happening? It was as if that memory was not powerful enough, but that could not be. That memory had produced hundreds of powerful, corporeal Patronuses. What was happening to him? He tried to search for another memory, but it was so difficult. He was drowning in despair. His life seemed to be just one long, sad story.
White mist was clouding his vision. His head was swimming in icy cold. He heard screaming, yells of pain.
Fenrir Greyback was chasing him, hunting him. He had never been more terrified in his life. He was running, just running. It didn’t matter where. All that mattered was that he kept running; the second he stopped, he would be lost. Then there was the swiping of claws, and bared teeth, and a pain like none he had ever felt.
“Expect…Ex…Expecto…” he whispered weakly.
Lupin truly admired Harry. He had gone through this horrible, unearthly torture so many times. He was only thirteen at the time, and yet he stayed determined. Harry never gave up.
The Dementors were inches from Lupin now. He saw the one in front lower its hood.
Confused pictures were flashing before his eyes: scared faces. His mind was less complex, less human. He was the wolf once more. He saw the teenage Snape emerging out of the shadows into the Shrieking Shack, a look of pure terror on his face at what he saw. Lupin wanted to attack. Other faces flickered in the darkness. Some he knew, others he didn’t. Then there were Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a petrified look etched on each of their faces. Lupin was going to attack them… he was going to bite them…
Lupin saw two scabby, rotting, decaying hands seize him around the neck. The Dementor was pulling him up so it could unleash its last and most deadly weapon.
Harry was slamming into the kitchen wall. Then there was Harry’s dead body lying sprawled on the floor, his eyes reflecting the dull, dead blackness of the room, and Molly weeping uncontrollably.
It was a Boggart! It was not real! Don’t think about it! Don’t think about it! Lupin told himself.
Sirius was falling backward, evading both time and space. It seemed to take him an age to fall, his body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backwards through the ragged veil hanging from the arch. Harry was screaming his name with every fibre of this being. He was pleading with Lily’s green eyes for Sirius to lift up the veil and rejoin the fray, but he did not reappear. Lupin grabbed Harry, holding him back, stopping him from going through the veil after Sirius to pull him back, just as James would have done. He heard Harry’s searing gasps of pain as he tried to fight his own grief. It was torture. There was the intense pain now growing in Lupin’s chest as the grief took hold. His eyes stung. His frame trembled. Everything inside him screamed. Then, Lupin’s own words, which still haunted him even to this day, “There’s nothing you can do, Harry… nothing… He’s gone.”
“Ex… Ex…” Lupin murmured beginning to accept that it was the end.
The Dementor’s decomposing face was level with his now. He could see the hollow, empty eye sockets and the round hole that served as a mouth.
“Dumbledore’s dead…” Ginny’s voice was now echoing in his ears. The one man who had trusted him, the one man who had shown him kindness when others shunned him, the one man who saw beyond the wolf to the man within, was gone… dead…
The Dementor drew a slow, rasping breath, preparing for its final move, the end of Remus Lupin.
Dumbledore’s gone… Lupin was grieving, lost and alone in pain. Dumbledore’s dead… the funeral had brought no comfort. The pain searing in his heart ever since Sirius died was intensifying. It seemed nothing could comfort him, nothing could stop the pain. Then suddenly, a warm, soft hand touched his and grasped it tight. Lupin was drawn from his despair, his grief, by the smiling face of the pink-haired Nymphadora Tonks. The warmth of her hand flooded through him, soothing the pain and the grief. She rested her head on his shoulder, the sweet smell of her hair wafting around him. He could feel her warmth spreading through him, melting the ice in his heart, taking down the iron curtain he had hidden behind for so many years. The grief and the pain were leaving him. He squeezed her hand, never wanting to let go, never wanting this perfect happy moment to end.
“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Lupin roared.
The familiar gigantic, silver wolf erupted out of his wand, charging down the Dementors. All seven turned and fled, unable to stand the presence of his Patronus, his happiest memory.
The wolf returned and looked squarely back at Lupin. For a moment their eyes met before it faded away into the air like vapour. Lupin stared back at where it had stood. Although he was weak and shaking, warmth flooded through him once more as a wonderful euphoria descended upon him. He loved Nymphadora Tonks, and werewolf or not, he loved her with all his heart, and that was all that ever really mattered.
Quotes and references are taken from the UK versions of the books.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 Behind the Veil Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Chapter 29 The Phoenix Lament Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 The Bribe
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