Chapter 4 : Letters
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Remus was distracted by thoughts of Adeline throughout the entire class. It was almost a relief when the bell rang. The students packed up quickly, immediately returning to the conversations they had suspended in order to sit through the lesson. All but Luna, who packed her things slowly and seemed utterly nonplussed about the fact that none of her classmates had waited for her.
“I'm very happy Professor Dumbledore has found us a good Defense teacher this year,” Luna said offhandedly as she picked up her bag. “Professor Lockhart was vile.”
Remus was slightly stunned at her complete honesty, especially with him, a professor. Nor did he quite know what to say to her comment.
“Dad says I'm a good judge of character,” Luna continued, “and I can tell you'll be a wonderful teacher. I disliked Professor Lockhart from the start.”
Remus chuckled. “Thanks. I'll do my best.” In the span of an hour, Remus could already tell she truly was Adeline's daughter.
Remus awoke the next morning with a searing pain in his leg and silently cursed Bulstrode as he slowly sat up in bed. Upon arriving at the hospital wing after meeting Dumbledore, Remus discovered that getting shoved into the desk had re-opened a large, healing wound from the August full moon. Madame Pomfrey had re-sealed it, but it was a deep wound that already had a risk of permanent damage.
“You okay, Moony?” James asked as he exited the bathroom.
“Not really,” Remus replied. “You were off with Lily last night, so I didn't get to tell you. One of the fifth year prefects and I found Bulstrode and Crabbe in an empty classroom talking about joining the Death Eaters. Bulstrode shoved me into a desk and it re-opened a really nasty cut from August.”
James dropped his towel, which he had been using to dry his hair, on his bed and walked over to Remus's, sitting down next to him. “You told Dumbledore, right?”
“Yeah, of course, but Dumbledore should be more concerned with the fact that they're Death Eaters. They're getting detention for it anyway,” Remus explained, as he attempted to get up. “I'm going to go to the hospital wing and get some more potion before class.”
“I'll help you,” James said, throwing one of Remus's arms over his shoulder. “You'd take three months to get there on your own.”
A half hour later Remus was in bed in the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey having diagnosed his leg as severely infected. Only the second day back and he was laid up with no chance of getting to class. And all because of Bulstrode and his stupid desire to be a Death Eater. This was just another clear indicator to Remus that he will never lead a normal life. No matter what Professor Banks said, his lycnathropy did hold him back.
“We'll visit at lunch,” James said. “And I've got a free period this afternoon.”
Remus shook his head. “No, spend your free period with Lily. The weather's nice. Take her for a walk around the lake or something.”
“Remus, if you're stuck here, I'm going to be here to visit you. Lily will understand.”
“I'll be out by tonight,” Remus assured him.
“Maybe,” Madam Pomfrey said as she handed him another potion. “You need to stay off that leg. You've got tissue damage and that's never going to heal if you're walking on it.”
“It's the second day of classes!” Remus protested. “And N.E.W.T. level at that!”
“I'm sure you'll catch up,” Madam Pomfrey said dryly. “Mr. Potter, the bell's going to be ringing shortly, so I suggest you get to class.”
James glanced at the clock and sighed. “I guess I should get going. I'll let you know what you miss in Transfiguration.”
“Thanks,” Remus muttered.
The pain potion kicked in a short while later which Remus was thankful for. But at the same time it made him feel that being in the hospital wing was utterly pointless. Eventually he fell asleep, but more out of boredom than exhaustion.
At lunchtime James returned, followed by Lily, Sirius, Peter, and Alice. Madame Pomfrey looked slightly peeved that all of them came at once, but didn't say a word.
“I'll kill him, I swear,” Sirius muttered as he sat down in a chair next to Remus's bed. “Bloody Bulstrode.”
“It wasn't completely his fault,” Remus pointed out. “If he'd pushed anyone else into that desk they would've been fine.”
“That's not the point,” James said. “It's what it means. Prefects used to be respected and now they're not. Even Dumbledore isn't respected anymore. That's the scary part. These Death Eaters are answering to this mysterious bloke and won't listen to anyone else.”
“And, just the fact that he did land you in the hospital wing,” Lily said. “Pushing you into a desk like you're both in primary school.”
“Did you see him in Transfiguration?” Peter asked. “Looked ready to murder someone. Bet he got awful detention from Dumbledore.”
“Scrubbing cauldrons with Slughorn,” Madam Pomfrey whispered as she walked past. “Every night this week and then doing lines with Dumbledore himself Saturday afternoon. But you didn't hear that from me.”
“You really are her favorite student,” Lily said after the nurse returned to her study. “But seriously, Remus, you're going to have to watch your back around him from now on. He's going to blame the detention on you. Don't go anywhere alone.”
“None of us should be going anywhere alone,” Remus said. “You lot should get down to lunch. I'm fine, I swear.”
James looked skeptical, but still followed the others out of the hospital wing. Remus sighed and rolled over in bed. Lily was right, of course, that Bulstrode was going to be after revenge. Yet somehow that didn't scare Remus, at least not as much as thinking about what he was going to do next year when he didn't have Madam Pomfrey around to help him.
Two days later, Remus was still in the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey and Dumbledore were having an intense conversation across the room and they were just far away enough so that was unable to eavesdrop. A Gryffindor first year lay in one of the beds, recovering from a curse sent by a Slytherin fifth year. Remus assumed that the nurse and the headmaster were discussing the fifth year's motives and he had a bad feeling about it.
A few minutes later Dumbledore left and Madam Pomfrey administered a potion to the poor girl, who was moaning in her sleep. Madam Pomfrey then made her way over to Remus's bed.
“What were you and Dumbledore talking about?” Remus asked.
“Afraid I can't tell you, Remus,” she replied and rolled up Remus's pants leg to examine the injury. “Your leg still hurt?”
Remus nodded, even though it pained him to admit it. The wound looked much better, having healed leaving all but a nasty looking bruise and a faint scar. He had tried walking on it earlier but it hurt, even with pain potion.
“While it is too soon to tell whether there is permanent damage, my suspicions tell me that there is,” she said quietly. “It would have healed properly had it not been for the incident the other night. I'm afraid there isn't much we can do now, although I would like to have it looked over by a healer.”
Remus's heart sped up. Permanent damage? Despite his many years transforming into a werewolf he had never gotten permanent damage before. It was one thing to basically get sick and injured once a month and then recover. It was a completely different story to never be able to walk normally again.
“But I can't walk on it,” Remus said quietly, his voice cracking. “It hurts every time I put weight on it.”
“I'm going to put you on a pain management regimen, at least until you see a healer. And you'll have to walk with a cane,” she told him.
Madam Pomfrey sighed. “I hope not, Remus, but at this point I cannot say.” She turned and went to her study for a moment and then returned with a wooden cane and a bottle of potion. “Take two tablespoons every four hours. I'm going to owl St. Mungo's and set you up with a specialist. They'll owl you with the day and time.”
Remus nodded. All he wanted to do was return to his dormitory and crawl into bed, despite the fact that he'd been in bed all weekend. Any last remaining hope of becoming an Auror, if by some slim chance the Ministry changed their stance on werewolves, was now gone. In twenty years the Ministry may take a werewolf, but they would never take someone with a permanent leg injury.
On his way back to Gryffindor tower Remus received many strange looks from his fellow students. However, word had obviously gotten around about his altercation with Bulstrode since he heard both his and Bulstrode's names whispered by these students as he passed. By the time he finally made it to Gryffindor, he was cursing the fact that the tower was so far away from everything else.
“I swear, Remus, I'll murder him Muggle style,” Sirius growled as soon as Remus sat down in one of the comfy armchairs in front of the fire. As seventh years, the group had permanently taken over this area.
“Is it permanent?” Alice asked.
“Probably,” Remus answered. “I have to go to St. Mungo's, though.”
“It's crap, Remus, utter crap,” Sirius said.
“I know it is,” Remus said shortly. “But there's really nothing I can do about it. I think I'm going to go to bed.”
Remus heard his friends whispering as he left, but he really didn't care. All he wanted was sleep, and dreams that were free of Death Eaters and Aurors and everything else that was happening.
By Wednesday it became old news that Remus was walking around Hogwarts with a cane and a limp, to everyone except Remus, that is. He was regretting doing Care of Magical Creatures and Herbology due to their lack of proximity in the castle. Walking on the grounds was much more difficult than walking inside the castle. Luckily the pain potion he was on worked wonders.
“James, JAMES!” Sirius shouted at breakfast. Remus looked up from his eggs and saw that Sirius was holding an official looking letter. Similar letters were sitting in front of James, Lily, and Alice.
James turned away from Lily, to Sirius, and then to his own letter. “Merlin! D'you reckon?”
“Open them!” Peter shouted.
James, Sirius, Lily, and Alice ripped their letters open. Remus leaned over Sirius's shoulder and read his, although he didn't need to since Sirius read it aloud.
“Dear Mr. Black,
We have received your application into the Auror Academy, U.K.
Based on your application you have been initially accepted, pending
an in-person interview to be conducted by Alastor Moody, Head
Auror. Please report to the Ministry of Magic on September 19th
at 10 a.m. You will need to bring your wand and Apparition license.
Head of Admissions
Auror Academy, U.K.
Ministry of Magic”
“I'm in!” James exclaimed. “Are you lot all in?”
“Yes!” Lily and Alice said together.
“When are your interviews?” Sirius asked.
“September 20th,” James answered.
“Me, too,” Lily said.
“Mine is September 21st,” Alice said.
“I'm first,” Sirius replied. “Merlin, I'm first!”
Remus couldn't help but grin as he saw how excited his friends were. It was true that he would never, ever become an Auror, but the next best thing was having all his friends become Aurors, Remus thought.
“Hey, look, you're getting a letter, too, Remus,” James said as he pointed to an unfamiliar owl.
James was right. It landed on Remus's plate and dropped a letter into the remains of his eggs. Remus opened it and saw that it was informing him of his appointment at St. Mungo's. Not nearly as exciting as his friends' letters.
“I've got my appointment at St. Mungo's on Friday,” Remus told them. “Eleven in the morning. I'm to floo from the hospital wing.”
“I'll go with you,” James said immediately.
“You have class,” Remus pointed out.
“I don't care,” James said.
Remus was secretly happy that James insisted. He hated going to St. Mungo's. At least this time he was pretty sure he wouldn't have to stay the night.
“We'd better get to Transfiguration,” Peter said.
Transfiguration, along with Charms, had become incredibly awkward since Remus's incident with Bulstrode. The Slytherin was in both of those classes with Remus and he hated it. Bulstrode stared at him the entire time, making it very difficult for Remus to concentrate. Unfortunately, Remus wasn't very good at making a quick escape after class was over and he knew it was only a matter of time until Bulstrode managed to corner him.
That day happened to be the day. A number of unfortunate events led to the encounter. The first being the fact that McGonagall hurried out of the classroom as soon as the bell rang, having mentioned an urgent meeting with Dumbledore. The second being the fact that Remus knocked his ink over as he shoved his notes back into his bag, resulting in nearly else leaving far before him. Bulstrode was waiting for him outside the room, long after everyone else, save for Sirius, James, and Peter had left.
“Lupin,” Bulstrode growled, blocking Remus's exit. “How's the leg?”
“Get out of the way,” Remus said.
“I don't think so. Because of you I've got a week of detention,” Bulstrode said. “What do you say I get your other leg, just to make things even?”
“I said, move!” Remus shouted.
“You'd better leave, Bulstrode,” James said, stepping closer to the Slytherin.
“Oh, yeah?” Bulstrode laughed. “It's none of your business what I do.”
“I'm Head Boy,” James said, crossing his arms across his chest. “And you're asking for another detention.”
“I've already got enough detention thanks to Lupin!” Bulstrode shouted. He reached into his bag for his wand.
James pulled his own wand out of his robes and aimed it at Bulstrode, who had his wand aimed at Remus. Before Remus could even set down his bag to get his own wand, Sirius lunged forward and punched Bulstrode in the nose. Bulstrode, not expecting a physical fight, fell over in surprise. Sirius was on top of him and the two were dueling, Muggle-style. Remus stepped back to get out of the way and James bent forward to try and pull Sirius off of Bulstrode.
“You bloody. Evil. Lousy. Git!” Sirius shouted.
“Blood traitor!” Bulstrode replied as he got Sirius square in the jaw. “You could've been on our side, Black!”
“I'm going to be the one putting you lot all in Azkaban!” Sirius exclaimed. “You and my bloody family and whoever the hell you're working for!”
Remus was beginning to think that this was about more than just the fact that Bulstrode threatened him.
“You idiots will never find him,” Bulstrode said, suddenly calm.
“Just you watch,” Sirius seethed.
By this point a crowd had formed. James was still trying to pull Sirius off of Bulstrode, but didn't succeed until a Ravenclaw broke away from the on-lookers and helped. After that, the crowd started to disperse.
“Sirius, what the hell?” James exclaimed. “You could've just disarmed him!”
Sirius was breathing hard. Blood was flowing freely from his nose and his jaw looked bizarrely out of place. “They're killing people, James. All of them. Did you see his arm?”
“His arm?” James exclaimed. “I was too busy trying to keep you from killing him!”
“He's got a snake and a skull tattooed on his arm,” Sirius whispered. “I know that tattoo.”
Sirius was turning pale now and Remus wasn't sure whether it was from the loss of blood or noticing the tattoo. James looked as confused as Remus felt. What difference did his tattoo make?
“How do you know it?” Remus asked quietly.
“Lucius Malfoy has one just like it,” Sirius explained. “I'd bet my right arm it's some sort of Death Eater symbol.”
Remus didn't bother to ask how Sirius knew Lucius Malfoy had one and James didn't, either.
“Dumbledore. I need to tell Dumbledore,” Sirius said weakly.
“You need to go to the hospital wing first,” James said.
Remus skipped Herbology in order to go to the hospital wing with James and Sirius. At that point he would have missed more than half the class anyway, with the time it would have taken him to walk down to the green houses.
Dumbledore was in the hospital wing, speaking with Bulstrode. Madam Pomfrey immediately got Sirius into bed and began to heal his various injuries. James and Remus sat down on the adjacent bed and Dumbledore strode over to them five minutes later.
“Well, I've heard Mr. Bulstrode's side of things and now I'll hear yours,” Dumbledore said.
“I'd rather speak in private,” Sirius said.
“You aren't to speak right now,” Madam Pomfrey replied. “And Mr. Bulstrode is asleep so this might as well be private.”
“He threatened Remus, sir,” James said immediately. “He drew his wand first, but Sirius did start the physical fight.”
“Is that true, Mr. Black?” Dumbledore asked.
Sirius nodded. “But that doesn't matter! He's got a tattoo, it's a skull and a snake intertwined. Lucius Malfoy has one, too.”
Dumbledore's face hardened. He stood and strode over to Bulstrode, where he examined the boy's arm. He returned to Sirius's bed and nodded to Madam Pomfrey.
“Mr. Black, you will serve detention tomorrow night. I'll arrange it with Professor McGonagall and owl you the details. For now, I need to be returning to my study.”
“But what about the mark?” Sirius asked. “It's the Death Eater mark, isn't it?”
“I cannot say at this point, Mr. Black.”
Dumbledore didn't need to say it. The look in his eyes was enough to confirm the detail. The intertwined skull and snake tattoo was the mark signifying a person's allegiance to this mysterious evil wizard, and Nathan Bulstrode was indeed a Death Eater.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!
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