Chapter 13 : Revelation
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"Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?"
To say Remus was shocked would have been an understatement. Then again to say Sirius was pissed off would have been an even bigger understatement.
James and Willow quickly agreed that she would meet Remus in the Great Hall for breakfast Monday morning and with that decided, Willow turned her back on them all and stalked off in the opposite direction along the side of the Lake; it was pretty clear she did not want company. The rest of them just looked at each other not really sure of what to say and not comfortable with the idea of discussing what had just happened. So with a shrug James lead the way back into the castle.
When they reached the doors Remus turned around and realised that Sirius hadn’t followed them. He stood there for a moment gazing down at the brooding figure of his friend, who sat hunched down beside the Lake; he was staring at the quickly disappearing figure of Willow. He sighed and turned back into the castle; Sirius was unreachable when he got into one these quietly aggressive moods.
Sirius followed Willow with his eyes until she slipped out of his range of sight and then he turned his glare onto the waters beside him. They were as black as his name and current mood and held his gaze as his mind whirred. He was angry, so very angry, all the more so because he couldn’t quite identify why he was in such a foul temper. Admitting that to himself though was easier said than done though and so he quickly decided that his fury was directed at Willow because she had essentially shared nothing with them.
She had told them Rosier had made her angry and that was why she had gone mental; not to put too fine a point on it but that was beyond obvious! He had assumed that she hadn’t just decided to almost kill a fellow student on a whim! He didn’t know why, but he felt like he had deserved more then what she had shared. After all she had cried on his bloody shoulder! Surely that indicated some kind of connection?!
Sirius sighed heavily, his anger slowly fading to be replaced with frustrated confusion. He didn’t know why Willow was so closed off, he didn’t know how Rosier had managed to break through her shield and above all he didn’t understand why he cared so much. Eventually he gave up and decided to put it down to understandable curiosity and the guilt at how he had treated the girl for the past 6 years.
Dragging himself to his feet at his stomach’s grumbling he realised he had been sitting out there for hours and he headed into the castle for lunch. As he went his mind continued to work and his last thought before entering the Great Hall was that he couldn’t wait for his week with Willow and a chance to, at last, try and figure out this enigma.
Monday morning dawned overcast and sullen, and Willow’s temper matched the clouds that she was glaring moodily at, as she sat waiting for Remus in the Great Hall. She had woken up that morning feeling nervous and gloomy and the ordeal ahead of her this week and indeed the weeks following. She knew she was being dramatic and ridiculous but she was unsure about the strength of the casket she’d placed her heart in, given recent events and she was fearful of the cracks that had appeared being exploited before she had a chance to reseal them. It had been a hasty and rash decision to agree to this; she should have waited, given herself time to regain her full composure and then set about proving to James and the others that she was immovable.
She looked down to see all six of them coming towards her and sighed. It was too late for sensible thoughts alas, and she would simply have to endure for the next few weeks. As agreed down at the Lake, the rest of them stopped short of actually joining her and instead sat down a few places away; Remus detached himself from his friends and came to sit opposite her. His eyes were cautious and wary, and she smiled inwardly at the effect she had on him. He was evidently fearful of provoking her and they spent the first few moments of their time together eating in an uneasy silence. Eventually he decided that he had being chewing the one piece of toast long enough and cleared his throat to address her;
“I guess we should head off; what’s your first class?”
“Double Transfiguration; you’re in the same class, and so are Sirius, James and Lily’’ Willow replied standing up.
He had the grace to look guilty and with a sigh Willow sat back down and shared the details of her timetable with him. By the time they had sorted that out the Great Hall had steadily emptied and there was only a few minutes until classes began. Sirius, James and Lily headed off to the classroom whilst Remus and Willow hung back a little.
‘’Well, guess this will be an interesting week’’ Remus said with a bright smile as he waited for Willow to gather up her bag and cloak.
Willow glanced up at him, and felt that strange feeling of hope she’d felt that night she returned from the funeral. With a monumental effort she quashed it sternly and turned an impassive face to Remus’ cheerful expression before replying in a carefully even and emotionless tone:
“I doubt that.”
When they entered Transfiguration the room was mostly full and Remus began to head towards his usual seat in the middle of the room, before realising that Willow wasn’t beside him anymore. He turned around and searched the room for her, eventually spotting her in the far corner of the room at the very back. Sirius and James were in the other corner at the back where they always sat and James was frantically gesturing to Remus to sit beside Willow. Slightly ashamed that he’d forgotten already, he made his way over to the seat beside Willow. She made no acknowledgement of his presence and merely continued to take her parchment and quill out of her bag. Prof McGonagall entered the room then and the class immediately quietened, she was well-known for her lack of tolerance for talk or disturbance in her class. She began to write notes on the board whilst telling them about the details of the spell they would be learning that day.
She turned around after a few minutes it this and observed as they all diligently took notes. Her eyes widened slightly when she noticed Remus sitting beside Willow and she also noted that James, Sirius and Lily kept turning at different times to watch the two in the corner and she allowed herself a slight smile. So they were going to try after all. She was as well-aware of the details of Willow’s life as Dumbledore, but didn’t share his unfailing belief that she could be helped. Watching the attentions of four of her students though she sincerely hoped she was wrong.
The rest of the day was spent mostly the same way; Remus was in almost all of Willow’s classes, with the exception of Care of Magical Creatures and Muggle Studies and in those she had Peter and Sirius. She said a few words to Remus throughout the day, mostly in response to questions he asked, she, surprisingly enough, spoke quite a bit to Peter in Care of Magical Creatures but that was more than likely because they were partnered together to answer a questionnaire on the habits of Kappas. She mostly ignored Sirius in Muggle Studies which was easy enough to do seeing as they were assigned seats in this class and he was across the room from her. For lunch and dinner everyone kept their word and she ate with just Remus. She had expected it to be awkward, but strangely it wasn’t really, mostly because Remus was one of those rare people who are comfortable with silence and don’t feel the need to ramble about anything at all to fill it.
They chatted about meaningless stuff mostly to do with schoolwork and school gossip and although Willow couldn’t honestly say she had enjoyed talking more in one day then she had in almost 6 years at Hogwarts, neither could she say it had been particularly unpleasant. When she was getting ready for bed Lily and Alice made a point of saying goodnight to her and as she cast the silencing charm on her curtains, she realised that perhaps this wouldn’t be as hard as she thought, after all talking to someone didn’t automatically mean she would start caring about them and she could handle small talk for the next week.
The next day and the day after and the day after that were all similar and Willow began to relax slightly. Remus had posed no threat to her self-imposed isolation and she could honestly say that it would make no difference to her when his turn was over and she stopped hanging out with him.
Whilst Willow was congratulating herself for managing to stay emotionally aloof Remus was cursing her for the same reason. He didn’t know what to do to get her to come out of herself, to get her to care. They didn’t talk about anything motivating or important; it was all banal everyday stuff and he was fit to scream with frustration. It didn’t help that the full moon was approaching on Friday and he was feeling haggard and feeble anyway. He just couldn’t figure out how to draw her out and he was afraid to try anything dramatic for fear of forcing her to close up completely.
Thursday started out like every other day that week had and Remus had no hope that anything was about to happen. The day slipped slowly by as he and Willow continued their ridiculously pointless discussion on the homework they had been set from yesterday’s classes. It wasn’t until they were walking from Transfiguration to Potions that everything changed. They were on almost opposite sides of the corridor, not really talking; he was just offering up random observations on various portraits that lined the walls and she was politely answering. Remus was frantically searching his mind for something to say when he suddenly found himself face-first on the ground and no idea how he’d ended up there. Groaning he dragged himself and half turned to see what he’d tripped on. His gaze was quickly caught by the figure at the opposite end of the corridor and suddenly his unexpected tumble made sense. Severus Snape was standing in front of him, with his wand outstretched and a malicious smirk on his face. Willow had stopped also and was standing to the side, her face was expressionless and in a rare fit of anger, Remus doubted if she cared that he had just been attacked. He went to take out his own wand but Snape had anticipated that move and he quickly disarmed him.
“Now, now Lupin no need for any unpleasantness. I’ve just come to have a little chat.” Snape taunted.
“I have no idea what you think we could possibly have to talk about Severus and personally I found that little Trip jinx rather unpleasant.” Remus retorted.
“Your ego almost matches that of your idiot friend Potter; who said it was you I wanted to have a chat with?” with those mocking words Snape stepped towards Willow.
Remus moved, unthinking, in the same direction until he was standing between her and the Slytherin. Snape stopped annoyance clear on his face and he raised the wand in his hand. Before he could cast any spell however, Willow stepped out from behind Remus and after giving him a cool, hard stare she turned to Snape and spoke;
“What do you want to say to me Severus? I highly doubt I’m any Slytherin’s favourite person at the moment.”
Snape’s eyes glittered maliciously and a sneer played across his lips.
“This is true, but then again I was never very fond of Rosier and I find myself simply compelled to warn you of the danger you’re in.” He announced casually, glancing up at Remus as he spoke.
Remus froze. He knew what Snape was trying to say and what he intended to tell Willow. His mind was panicking and he didn’t know what to do.
Willow’s expression hadn’t changed and she merely stared at Snape;
“How kind” she commented flatly, “excuse me if I don’t believe in your touching concern for my safety and just tell me what you seem to be bursting to say.”
Snape lost his smirk as he leaned forwards and muttered spitefully;
“I merely thought you deserved to know the kind of bestial friends you’ve been making lately.”
He leaned back and tossing Remus’ wand to the side he walked past them, pausing to call out at the end of the corridor;
“Ask Lupin what he does every month at the full moon. I’m sure you’ll get an interesting response. And if you don’t understand what I mean then perhaps you should take a stroll out on the grounds this full moon, and then maybe all will be made clear.”
With that barely concealed threat, he turned the corner and left their sight.
Remus was seriously panicking at this stage and was frantically attempting to come up with some kind of damage-control. A small part of this mind was bitterly remarking how clever Snape had been. He had avoided breaking the agreement he’d made with Dumbledore forbidding him from revealing Remus’ condition and instead had laid so many hints that it wouldn’t have taken a hippogriff long to figure out what he was suggesting.
Willow stood staring after Snape, her eyes narrowed in dislike. She had been raised to feel sympathy for werewolves and even if that had not been the case her intellect could have told her quite easily about the foolishness of judging a person because of one night a month. When she had figured out Remus’ condition years before, even at the age of 13 she had felt no fear; rather she had unwillingly developed an admiration for the boy for even considering coming to Hogwarts. She couldn’t imagine the pain and suffering he went through every month and continuing with his studies in the days after transformations was, in her mind, brave. The crippling fear of discovery must also weigh heavily on him too, and with a start she realised that he must be having heart palpitations at that very moment, in anticipation of her reaction.
She turned to him and all of a sudden her shield crumbled for a moment. It was just one moment and she had it back up again quickly, but the damage had been done. The sight of the fearful, wan and oh so weary face looking back at her had managed to reach her and her mask of indifference fell. She crossed the gap between them and he flinched as she came closer, no doubt expecting an attack and currently wand less as it still lay on the floor where Snape had thrown it.
Instead Willow did something entirely unexpected, even to her. She hesitantly raised her hand and gently laid it on his cheek. She kept it there for only a moment but that was long enough to throw Remus into complete confusion. She looked at him, her eyes fierce and then she spoke;
“I already knew. I’ve known for years; since 3rd year to be exact. I figured it out with all your disappearances and of course the nickname Mooney isn’t exactly subtle. It has never, ever affected the way I’ve thought about you. When I touch you I feel human flesh and blood and just because that changes once a month, makes no difference to the person you are inside. I have never disliked, feared or hated you for being a werewolf Remus and in case you’re worried it is not the cause of my attitude towards you and your friends.” Willow let all of that out in one single breath and immediately stepped back, unused to speaking so much.
However Remus grabbed her arm before she could go any further and pulled her into a hug. She instantly tensed; apart from Sirius the last person to hold her had been her brother, before he left. Remus didn’t let go though and she gradually relaxed a little. It wasn’t the same as being in Sirius’ arms; there she had felt more safe and secure than she had in six years, but it was comforting and she gently rested her head on his shoulder.
Remus hadn’t known how else to convey to her the gratitude and relief he felt. To hear her say that she had known for years and it had never affected her opinion of him had caused a burst of emotion within him. There were only three other people, excluding his parents, who had ever reacted that way and they were now his best friends.
Slowly Willow drew her head back, and taking the hint Remus released her from the embrace. They looked at each other for a moment and throwing caution to the wind Remus quietly spoke;
“I don’t understand how someone capable of such compassion and empathy feels like she should be alone. You’re depriving people of the opportunity and privilege of being friends with you.”
Willow merely gazed at the floor and Remus decided he wasn’t going to get a response. He smiled sadly at her and bent down to pick up his wand, and then began to head back down the hallway;
“We’d better hurry we’re going we’re dead late for Potions”
Willow glanced up as he walked away and before she followed him she whispered a response to a deserted hallway;
“But I am also depriving them of the chance to hurt me”
A/N: The guilt and LOVELY reviews combined to motivate me and here is another chapter that DIDN'T take months to come :) See that box below does have magical powers ;) Oh and I just want to make it very clear that this won't be a story of a love triangle between Remus, Willow and Sirius. No matter how friendly Remus and Willow may become it is never romantic. Never.
Thoughts??? Is Willow being annoying in her persistance? Was her reassurance of Remus believable? :)
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