Chapter 10 : Hogwarts, January 1976
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Near a bookcase of rarely used books, Althea glimpsed Remus—alone—sitting with his back turned to her feverishly writing. Althea quietly sat down next to him, and took out her homework. Remus, unaware of her presence, was intently writing—two rolls of written parchment rested by his hand.
“That can’t be your homework.”
“No, it isn’t,” Remus said quietly, not taking his quill or his eyes off the parchment.
Althea peered over his hand, but Remus quickly turned to shield her from the parchment. It was the first day of school after the Christmas Holiday, and it was the first exchange the couple had the entire day. Remus kept his distance from her: avoiding her at mealtime, in class, in the hallways, and in the common room. Althea reached for his quill and gradually pulled it from his hand—Remus did not resist. On his writing hand, she saw the healing wounds of the last full moon and was overcome by a brief feeling of nausea. She gulped.
“I received your letters,” he said and produced the worn letters from his robe pocket. “I was writing to you…to explain everything.”
“Everything?” she repeated quietly. “About you?”
Remus nodded solemnly. “Dumbledore told me of what happened,” he said, looking to the parchment before him. “Madam Pomfrey found me that morning in the Forbidden Forest—”
“Outside?” she said, sitting forward. “You could’ve died!”
Remus smiled a small, bitter smile. “I would’ve chosen death over what I could’ve done to you.”
“Kill me,” she said and swallowed.
An odd shiver passed across Remus’s face. “Yes,” he said hoarsely. Refusing to look at her, he murmured, “I can’t be with you anymore.”
Althea’s heart sank into her stomach. It was impossible for their relationship to continue and Althea knew this—the specter of that night would loom in their romantic relationship. It could not be overcome—Althea’s life and health were at stake. There was always that chance no matter how careful that it could happen again and Althea might not be so lucky. She swallowed hard to suppress the small tears collected in the corners of her eyes. It had been dangerous to think his lycanthropy did not matter…when it was just a romantic notion of her imagination. She was, after all, Daniel Morrigan’s daughter—a man, whose hobby was the study of werewolves. She, like her father, believed werewolves to be misunderstood…but she wondered if a transformed werewolf had ever chased her father.
“It’s for your own good.”
“I’ll decide what is good for me,” she said and sniffed.
Remus vigorously shook his head. “You don’t understand—”
“No,” he said—his voice strained and urgent, “you have no idea. I should’ve told you what I am. What I did to you…my kind don’t—”
“I knew before,” she said and caught her breath.
Remus paled. “You knew before...?”
“It doesn’t change anything,” he said, and swallowed with a look of dread. “I’ve ruined you. I’ve just as good as bitten you, Althea.”
Althea surveyed her surroundings before she replied, “I knew and I could’ve said no—”
“Don’t,” he said through clenched teeth—his lips thin.
Althea leaned forward, within inches of his face. “I know you are a werewolf,” she whispered.
Remus looked as if she had used an Unforgivable Curse against him. “H—how did you know?”
“My father,” she sighed.
“Your father?” he asked, furrowing his eyebrows. “You—you didn’t tell him?”
“No, of course not,” she replied, vigorously shaking her head. “I would never tell, I swear to you. I’ve told no one.”
Remus’s fearful expression softened.
Althea opened her bag. “You see, he wrote a book about werewolves two years ago or so, and he sent me a copy,” she explained, rummaging through her bag. “Here we are,” she said quietly, pulling the book from her bag.
Althea placed the copy of her father’s book on the table and pushed the brown leather-bound book with gold lettering toward Remus. He shyly took the book in his hands and flipped through its pages. Althea bit her bottom lip out of nervousness and waited for Remus’s response.
“I didn’t want to believe it,” she explained, watching as Remus flipped through the pages. “You hid—I mean you hide it so well,” she continued and gently bit her bottom lip.
Remus closed the book. “I didn’t know this Daniel Morrigan was your father,” he said, staring at the book.
Althea raised her eyebrow. “You’ve read my daddy’s books?” she asked and laughed shyly. “I didn’t know people actually read them.”
“Yeah, all of them…so far,” he said, with a tinge of embarrassment. He placed the book upon the table—it rested between them.
“See, what you are doesn’t matter to me,” she said, pointing to the book, “and no one else knows—believe me.”
“Althea,” he said, pushing the book toward her, “it matters to me. I can’t be with you.”
“Althea, I could have killed you. I wanted to kill you,” he said, his expression of one who longs to vomit. “I would die if I ever hurt you.”
“Please don’t talk like that.”
“I can’t help it,” he whispered and sniffed. “I couldn’t live if I hurt you, Althea. You deserve better.”
“What do you mean ‘deserve better,’ Remus?” she asked, jerking her head back. “That is a terrible thing to say, Remus—look at me,” she continued earnestly, gently turning his head to face her.
Remus smiled weakly.
“Any girl would be exceedingly lucky to have you as a boyfriend. Don’t think that I don’t notice other girls fancying you—Remus, I’m serious.”
Remus shook his head. “I don’t doubt that you are, Althea, but listen to me,” he said, a small crease between his eyebrows. “There is someone who loves you more than I do.”
“Never mind who, Althea, just know, all right?” replied Remus and forced a pleasant smile. “You’ll meet him soon enough and forget all about me.”
Althea frowned. “Right, but you can’t lose me as a friend.”
Remus smiled a small, genuine smile. “I wouldn’t think of it.” He cocked his head to the side and laughed quietly. “Is it true Sirius saved you?” he asked, the amusement palpable in his voice.
Althea threw her head back and groaned. “He’s such an idiot,” she murmured, staring at the ceiling. She lifted her head and answered, “He lied to Dumbledore.”
Remus laughed quietly. “Of course,” he murmured to himself and smoothed the hair away from his face. “He said you fainted at the sight of me—”
Remus nodded and flicked at the edge of the book cover. He frowned quizzically. “How did you escape?”
Althea inhaled a shaky breath. She was unsure of how she transformed, and had attempted over the Christmas Holiday but to no avail. She spent an afternoon flinging herself from her bed much to Gran’s confusion. Althea licked her lips as she leaned forward. She rested the side of her face against Remus’s cheek.
“Do you swear that you will never tell?” she whispered and felt Remus nod. “Don’t think I’m mad, please.”
Althea quietly exhaled. “I…transformed…into a bird,” she explained barely audible. “I’d done it once before when I was eleven, and I don’t know how I did it…it just happened.”
“A bird,” she nodded.
Remus was quiet for a few moments before he asked, “Oh…you—you can’t control it?”
“Unfortunately not,” she whispered. “I wish I could. Could you imagine if it happened in class?”
“If it occurred in Transfiguration, we’d win the House Cup for sure,” he remarked, slowly pulling away. Remus stared at his scarred hands and smiled sadly. “I wish you knew. If you knew, you could’ve helped us. James and Sirius want to do what—what you did, but I think Sirius just wants to be a Hungarian Horntail—”
“They’re attempting to become Animagi?” she asked and wrinkled her nose. She imagined Sirius Black—fully transformed as a dragon—terrorizing the students upon the Hogwarts grounds…more specifically, terrorizing her.
“Isn’t that what you are?”
“Well…no,” she whispered and frowned. “At least I don’t think so.”
“Oh,” he murmured. “They’ve worked on it for two years now, but it is very difficult…want to spend the full moon with me.”
Althea let out a small gasp of surprise. Althea had read extensively on the subject of Animagi, and she believed that title was the closest to what she was. She read every book in the library, hoping one would give her the answer of why she was able to transform that night in Bermuda. Sadly, the books were not complete in their descriptions. According to the literature, a complex set of incantations (the number of incantations was never given) was the key to the Animagus transformation. Moreover, none of the books explained what order the incantations were said or how they were performed. She even searched Diagon Alley for books, but the Ministry of Magic regulated the books she needed. Only witches of age could receive permission to purchase those highly regulated books and then begin the process of Animagus transformation—each steps closely monitored. Over Christmas Holiday, she wrote her to father to explain that the transformation happened again and hoped her father would explain how it happened. Unfortunately, her father did not ease her mind and offered little help. His only encouragement was for her revise for her O.W.L.s. Did he not understand how important this answer was to her? What would happen if it happened again? What would happen if it happened again in the presence of students or faculty?
“Do you know how far they’ve gotten?”
“They’ve read the books in the Restricted Section and the rest of the library,” he said and frowned. “They haven’t had any luck.”
Althea sighed with disappointment—they were no farther in their search. “Tell them not to bother looking in Diagon Alley. The books they need are restricted by the Ministry of Magic, and the Ministry won’t give the books to underage wizards.”
“What about your father?” he asked, pointing to the book on the table. “He wrote about them and he’s one himself—I saw his name in the register. He must have the books somewhere…. Haven’t you tried to find them?”
“I’ve already tried. He won’t give me any answers,” she responded, playing with the hem of skirt.
Remus ran his fingers through his hair. “Well this is hopeless.”
Althea let the hem of her skirt fall. “No, no, it’s not hopeless.” Suddenly, Althea’s eyes grew wide and she snapped her fingers. “McGonagall! Have they searched McGonagall’s office?”
Remus shook his head. “I’d hate for it to come to that,” he said and chewed his bottom lip. “They’d be expelled.”
Althea sighed with mild disappointment.
“Right,” he laughed, looking at her strangely. “I’m surprised at you.”
“You, enthusiastically supporting Sirius?” he remarked, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, that,” Althea shrugged.
“Yeah, that,” he remarked, smiling. “I clearly remember you telling me that ever since Sirius—my good mate, mind—joined the House team, you wished a Bludger would hit his big fat head,” he explained, as he placed his books and papers in his bag.
“Of course, and I still do. He flies round on his broom, thinking he’s the greatest thing that ever happened to the game of Quidditch,” she said, folding her arms. “What’s so amazing about the ability to hit a Bludger with a bat? I bet my Gran can do it.”
Remus frowned. “You know, you don’t hide your jealously very well.”
“Me? Jealous?” she scoffed, sitting upright. “I’m not jealous. How can I be jealous of such an unthinking, arrogant—”
“Althea,” Remus admonished.
Berk, she finished to herself, an unthinking, arrogant, berk.
“Sorry,” she whispered, frowning slightly. “Sometimes I forget to mind my mouth.”
“That time, however, you didn’t forget,” he replied and winked “Maybe if you knew him like I do—”
“Maybe,” she scoffed, rolling her eyes.
“You still haven’t forgiven him for your hair falling out—have you?” he asked, playfully narrowing his eyes.
“No, I haven’t,” she said through gritted teeth, “that arrogant berk.”
“Miss Morrigan, what unbecoming language,” Sirius said teasingly behind her.
Althea sighed angrily and folded her arms as she roughly threw herself back in her chair.
“Where is your House loyalty?”
Sirius chuckled, leaning against the bookcase. He haughtily folded his arms, a smug smile exposed his gleaming white teeth, and to himself a prime specimen of the male sex. Althea felt contempt bubbling from her chest. Ugh, you didn’t save me, you awful boy! Now you’ve gone and told all your friends!
“I reckon I best go,” Althea said, collecting her things.
“Oh, please don’t leave on my account,” Sirius said, placing his hand on his chest.
“Oh, but I must,” she said and stood from the table. “Bye Remus.”
“Bye,” Remus replied, as Sirius sat next to him.
Althea quickly walked through the library and out into the hallway. I’m only helping them for Remus, she thought as she walked around the corner, only for Remus.
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