Luna Lovegood had taken to talking with Remus at the end of every lesson. Remus wasn't entirely sure why, but he suspected it had something to do with her being lonely. During his first week he never saw her interacting with other students.
“I overheard Ginny Weasley say that the defense against the dark arts position is cursed,” Luna said, after the bell rang. “Her brothers have had a different professor every year. I think Dad should write an article about it for the Quibbler. If he did would you give an interview? It would probably bring in readers, to have an interview with an actual defense professor.”
“Your father works for the Quibbler?” Remus asked. He had never read an issue of the Quibbler but it was common knowledge that the articles in it were awful.
“My father owns the Quibbler,” Luna stated.
Remus was very glad he hadn't insulted the publication aloud, but he was very curious about whether Adeline was involved with its production. Adeline certainly had her eccentricities, but he would never have pegged her as the type of person to publish false articles.
“Does your mother work on the Quibbler, too?” Remus asked.
Luna's smile faded and she glanced away. “My mother is dead.”
By the time Friday rolled around Remus had gotten used to walking around Hogwarts with his cane and most of his fellow students stopped staring. Madam Pomfrey figured out a sufficient dose of pain potion for him, so his leg only hurt during the long walks to the greenhouses and Care of Magical Creatures, when it was held on the grounds. Lily graciously took his prefect duty the previous night, although he insisted that he would be ready to resume his duties next week.
True to his word, James met Remus at the hospital wing at 10:30 on Friday morning. Remus's mum was going to meet him at St. Mungo's, but James still insisted upon going. Remus didn't bother to argue. He didn't have the energy for it and his nerves were shot. After 12 years of appointments at St. Mungo's he would've thought he'd be used to it and not be as nervous, but no. Even just being at the hospital made him nervous.
Madam Pomfrey gave him a hug before holding out her sack of floo powder. He smiled weakly as he took a handful and tossed it into the flames. Thirty seconds later he was stepping out of the fire in the waiting room at St. Mungo's. James climbed out after. Remus's mum was already there, sitting on a couch across the room. She immediately rushed over when she saw her son and James.
Mrs. Lupin wrapped Remus in a tight hug that was a little longer than necessary. She was a short woman, a head shorter than Remus despite his small stature, with a head of curly sandy hair the exact shade of Remus's. However, Mrs. Lupin's was partially grey.
“Oh, Remus,” she said, finally letting him go. “How is your leg?”
Remus shrugged. “It hurts every so often, but it's okay.”
“And James,” she continued, giving James a hug, “thank you for coming. Remus, I've already checked you in, so we just have to wait.”
Mrs. Lupin kept up a healthy chatter of lighthearted news from home while they were waiting. She told funny stories from the wizarding library where she worked as well as of the chickens the Lupins kept at home. Remus and James nodded as she spoke, never able to get a word in edgewise. Remus knew this all too well. When his mother was nervous, she talked continuously. He was very happy to let her continue, though, because, like his father, when Remus got nervous, he got quiet.
“Remus Lupin?” a nurse called a short while later.
Remus stood, his leg twinging as he did so. Apparently flooing did not agree with his particular injury.
“Would you like me to go with you?” his mother asked.
“No.” Remus shook his head. “It's okay.”
Remus followed the nurse to the lift and then to the Dai Llewellyn ward. She showed him into an exam room to the left of the ward, took his vitals, and then left. Waiting for the healer in the exam room was always Remus's least favorite part of going to St. Mungo's.
By some stroke of luck he only had to wait fifteen minutes before Healer Smethwyck showed up. Remus had been seeing Healer Smethwyck ever since he was bitten at the age of five. The man was older, with a very kind face, and possibly one of the nicest people Remus had ever seen.
“Remus!” Smethwyck greeted him. “Wasn't expecting you to be back so soon.”
“Me either,” Remus agreed. He'd only seen Smethwyck a month ago, for his annual appointment.
“Madam Pomfrey already told me what happened and she owled me her notes, so no need to rehash that,” Smethwyck said as he leafed through Remus's chart. “Although I do hope Bulstrode got a horrible detention for this.”
Twenty minutes later Healer Smethwyck had thoroughly examined Remus's leg, taken an X-ray, and performed a few other tests. X-rays in the wizarding world were far easier than those in the Muggle world, as all they required was a simple spell.
“Well, Remus,” Smethwyck said after looking over the results, “the good news is that there isn't any actual tissue damage. That bruise will take at least two weeks to heal properly, but the muscle, tendons, and ligaments are fine.”
“But I've had bruises before and none of them made me unable to walk properly,” Remus pointed out.
“That's the bad news,” Smethwyck said quietly. “There's nerve damage, which is actually more difficult than tissue damage-”
Remus's heart sank into his stomach. “Can it be fixed?”
“There are spells for it, yes,” Smethwyck said, “but they aren't a guarantee. Nerve damage is trickier and everyone responds differently. You're young, so you have that on your side. However, the lycanthropy is always a factor. It's possible that the spells will work but you could re-damage it during the full moon.”
Remus relaxed slightly. There was a chance that it wouldn't be permanent, a chance that he would walk normally again. Having been a lycanthrope for twelve years, Remus knew that nothing was guaranteed. “Okay, let's do the spells.”
“I need to explain them first,” Smethwyck said. “They're not your normal healing spells. They're powerful and at first they seem to do more damage than good. I'm long past sugarcoating things for you, Remus. I guarantee you'll be in bed all day after this first one. They'll get better after that, but the first few are not pleasant.”
“How many do I have to have?” Remus asked.
“Once a week for two months,” Smethwyck answered. “We'll re-evaluate after that. I'm going to come to Hogwarts and give them to you at the hospital wing as I don't want you flooing after you've had them. I'll give them to you on Saturdays, except for today's, so you won't miss any classes.”
“Okay,” Remus agreed. He didn't care how awful the spells were. They'd be worth it if he didn't need the cane in the end.
“I'll have the nurse get your mum and James from the waiting room and we can floo from my study.”
Remus explained the situation to his mum and James once they were in Smethwyck's study, and then once again to Madam Pomfrey when they returned to Hogwarts. Mrs. Lupin took the whole thing in stride, although Remus could tell from her eyes that she was upset.
“Want me to go find Sirius and Peter?” James asked once Remus was set up in a bed in the hospital wing.
“No,” Remus replied. “They're in class. You can go to class, too, if you want.”
“Not a chance,” James answered.
“All right,” Smethwyck said. “It will only take about thirty seconds. Poppy, give him a sleeping draught after so he can sleep through the effects of the spell.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded and bustled off to find a sleeping draught. When she returned Smethwyck pointed his wand at Remus's leg and muttered an incantation.
Smethwyck had been right when he said the spell was awful. It was a stinging, burning sensation that started at the entry point and radiated up and down his entire leg. He was grateful for the sleeping draught, which took effect ten seconds after he took it.
When Remus awoke it was dark outside. He tentatively moved his leg, but the burning and stinging was gone. Instead it just felt stiff. James was gone, but his mum was still sitting next to the bed.
“Oh, you're awake,” she said. “How do you feel?”
“Better,” Remus answered.
“Madam Pomfrey said you can leave tomorrow morning.”
“What time is it?”
“Just after seven,” she replied. “I need to get home to get dinner on for your father and I, but I wanted to wait until you were awake to say goodbye.”
She reached down and gave him another very long hug. “I love you, Remus. You'll get through this, just like you've gotten through everything else. You're strong. Owl if you need anything.”
Remus didn't notice much of a difference in his leg after the first spell, but he hadn't expected to. Yet, despite his now weekly stay in the hospital wing, Remus's life at Hogwarts returned blissfully to normal. As normal as life at Hogwarts ever gets, that is.
If anything came of Sirius's discovery of Bulstrode's tattoo, nothing was mentioned in the Prophet and Bulstrode seemed unchanged. He continued to try and get revenge on Remus for his detentions, but these were unsuccessful. Both him and Sirius served detention for fighting Muggle style in the corridor, Sirius more willingly than Bulstrode. No other suspicious activity was reported through prefect duty, either. For whatever reason, Hogwarts was strangely normal for an entire week.
The week went fast and somehow, Sirius's Auror Academy interview snuck up on him, much to his dismay.
“It's today, Moony,” Sirius anguished the morning of the nineteenth. “Today! And I haven't even figured out what I'm going to say!”
“I imagine you'll just answer the questions they give you,” Remus said as he shoved his Transfiguration book into his bag.
“But the answers determine my whole future as an Auror, or even if I'll have one!” Sirius exclaimed. “Merlin, I don't even know what to wear!”
“Sirius, I didn't know you had a fashionable side,” James said as he exited the bathroom, “or did I miss the first part of this conversation?”
“To my Auror interview, Prongs,” Sirius said flatly. “If I wear Hogwarts robes I'll look like a kid.”
“Wear dress robes,” Remus told him. “I assume someone from the noble and most ancient house of Black owns a pair of fine dress robes.”
“Shut up, Moony!” Sirius said as he pulled a set of wrinkled dress robes from his trunk. “Merlin, I wish I could change my last name for this.”
“They're not going to refuse you just because you're a Black,” James assured him.
“Every member of my family, save for my cousin Andromeda, is involved with the Dark Arts,” Sirius said quietly. “You think Lily knows an ironing charm?”
“If you ask her that she'll hex you, thinking you are only asking her because she's a girl,” James told him.
“Give them here,” Peter said as he got out of bed. “I'll do it.”
“You know ironing charms?” Sirius asked as he handed them over.
“My mum taught me all the domestic spells a few summers ago. Claimed that no son of hers is going to grow up without knowing how to sew properly.”
Sirius laughed. “Comes in handy now, though.”
Fifteen minutes later Sirius looked like an adult. His robes were neat and smooth, his hair trimmed and not unruly. In fact, he looked just like an Auror.
“Remus, Peter, if I don't get in, can I join you in whatever you're going to do with your lives?” Sirius asked as they walked down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
“Somehow I can't see you working in a shop, Sirius,” Peter said.
“Then I'll do whatever Moony's going to do. Merlin, I can't eat; why am I going to breakfast?”
Remus didn't bother mentioning that he didn't know what he was going to do after Hogwarts. Food soon distracted the others anyway. After they had all eaten their fill, Sirius left for Hogsmeade, where he was to floo from the Three Broomsticks to the Ministry.
Remus, James, and Peter were distracted all through Transfiguration. None of them paid attention to McGonagall's lecture on human transfiguration and even James didn't know the answer to a question when McGonagall asked. Sirius had not returned by the time the class was over, so their distraction continued throughout Herbology. However, they did spend the whole class watching the path from Hogsmeade to the castle. It wasn't until they were making their way back to the castle for lunch that they saw Sirius, making his way back from Hogsmeade.
Sirius waited for them by the front doors since it took Remus quite a bit longer to walk back to the castle than everyone else. James and Peter had slowed their pace to walk with him.
“Merlin, I'm glad that's over,” Sirius said.
He looked absolutely exhausted, almost as if he had run a marathon. Very odd for having just returned from an interview.
“What did you do, run from Hogsmeade?” James asked.
“It wasn't just an interview,” Sirius explained as they walked to the Great Hall. “It was a test, too. Well, multiple tests. One on paper about defensive spells. Then I had to do a physical test. Running, jumping, climbing, that sort of thing. Then I had to duel against a dummy.”
“Wow, and they didn't mention that in the letters?” Remus asked.
“Nope,” Sirius said. “It's supposed to be a surprise. They don't want you studying or practicing or anything. Spur of the moment type of thing. Technically I wasn't even supposed to tell you, so James, you'd better act surprised.”
“I will,” James assured him as they sat down at the Gryffindor table. “But how did it go?”
“I think it went well. They do these sessions with two of us at a time. I was there with Sabrina Johnson, you know, that really smart girl from Ravenclaw?”
“All the girls from Ravenclaw are really smart,” Remus pointed out.
“The blonde one, you know who she is, she's been in our classes for seven years,” Sirius said. “Anyway, I beat her on the physical test. It was an obstacle course thing. No idea about the other parts, though.”
“What about the interview with Moody?” Peter asked while spooning carrots onto his plate. “I hear he's terrifying.”
“Oh, he is,” Sirius said. “Wouldn't even let me into his study until I proved I was actually Sirius Black.”
“How'd you do that?” James asked.
“Told him my mum's got a stash of Dark objects hidden in her basement,” Sirius said. “He was quite interested in that, actually. Mum's going to love getting the house raided.”
“What did he ask you?” Remus said.
“Weird stuff,” Sirius said. “The usual 'why you want to be an Auror' type thing, but he kept going with it until I explained myself enough for him. Then he wanted to know whether I'm in contact with parents and other assorted family members. Seemed really interested in the fact that I didn't put number twelve Grimmauld Place down as my address. Once I told him I left home and haven't talked to my parents since, he smiled. It was odd.”
“Very,” James agreed.
“Sabrina's interview was about half the time of mine,” Sirius said.
“Don't worry about it,” Remus said. “You've got just as good a chance as everyone else. Look, you're already ahead of where I'd be. I wouldn't have even finished the physical test.”
“Yeah, and I would've failed the dueling part,” Peter pointed out.
“Just don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do at this point,” James told him.
Sirius didn't say anything. What James said was true, but Remus knew more than anyone that it was impossible not to worry about something, especially if you had no control over it.
The following day was James's interview. He didn't seem nervous at all, which didn't surprise Remus. James took everything in stride, whether it was a huge exam or an interview for the Auror Academy. Granted, he was fortunate enough not to have a family deep in the Dark Arts. In fact, if Sirius's last name was his downfall in the Auror Academy, James's last name would lead to his success.
James returned from his interview as confident as ever, with a big grin on his face and a slight arrogance about him.
“What are you so happy about?” Sirius asked as they ate lunch after James's return. “Did they automatically let you in once they saw you were a Potter?”
“No, I just think I did rather well on the exams. Completely destroyed that one Slytherin who applied. He finished a full five minutes after me.”
“You're not competing for spots, though, are you?” Remus asked.
“Not technically, but the Academy hasn't ever accepted more than ten a year. And ten was a record at that. Usually it's just two or three,” James said.
“So it's really unlikely we'll all get in,” Lily muttered as she shredded her roll to pieces.
“Lils, calm down,” James said. “You've still got a whole day to go.”
If Sirius was nervous about his interview, Lily was going to have a breakdown. When she and Alice departed for Hogsmeade the following morning Remus thought she was going to cry. Her eyes were slightly damp when she broke her embrace with James before she left, but she managed not to break down completely. Remus hoped she would calm down before she arrived, or there was no way they would accept her. The Ministry didn't want nervous Aurors.
That night Remus and his friends sat around the fire in the common room, listening to the chatter of their younger schoolmates, and talking about their Auror Academy interviews. Everyone was significantly more calm on this side of the interviews, even Sirius, who had reached a bizarre state of indifference over the past two days. It was strange. For some of them, namely Sirius and James, they had spent their entire Hogwarts careers working up to this point and now, it was out of their hands. All there was left to do was wait.
“We'll still fight,” Lily said, “even if we don't make it into the Academy. Look at Dumbledore. He's not an Auror but he's practically in charge of the investigation of the Death Eaters and whoever they're working for.”
“We're going to get in, Lily,” Sirius replied. “And then we'll be ready to fight.”
“It's weird,” Alice said. “We've done our interviews, we've decided what we want to do with our lives. Ever since fifth year it's been all about this. Now, there's nothing, until we find out whether we're in. I just wonder, what do we do?”
Remus toyed with his cane. He pushed a stray gobstone under Sirius's chair with it and knocked it back out again. Then back under, over and over. He didn't know what he was going to do after Hogwarts. Even Peter, who didn't get the best marks, at least knew what he was going to do. Not Remus; he had no idea.
“Now, we wait,” James said quietly. “There's nothing else to do but wait.”
Remus gave the gobstone a hard shove and it rolled out from behind the chair and into the middle of the common room, out of reach. It was the same for him. There was nothing he could do but wait, wait and see if something came up, something he could do after he graduated. A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this! I have a few chapters pre-written, so updates should come weekly now.
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