Remus's stomach turned again. Two years ago and he hadn't heard anything? He shouldn't be surprised since he mostly lived in the Muggle world for so long, but still. Adeline. Killed by one of her own spells. He tried to keep his composure for Luna, but a few tears leaked out of his eyes. He quickly wiped them away.
“She was wonderful, though,” Luna said, suddenly smiling again. She hadn't noticed Remus's tears. “Most of her spells worked and she helped Dad and I research crumple horned snorkacks and we went on trips overseas to look for them. We never found any but it was so much fun. She was beautiful, too.”
“I know,” Remus said quietly, finally allowing himself to remember Adeline after an hour of attempting not to. “She was beautiful and wonderful.”
Luna looked at him strangely. “How-”
“Your mother and I went to school together,” Remus said quietly.
Luna's eyes grew big. “Can you tell me what she was like in school?”
Remus nodded. He looked into Luna's eyes again and saw Adeline peering out from them. “You look just like her. She was a few years below me and we didn't get to know each other until my seventh year. For many reasons that year was my best and worst year of Hogwarts. Adeline made it my best. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named made it my worst.”
The remainder of September passed quickly and soon the first full moon of the year was upon them. Remus, of course, did not look forward to these nights at all, but his friends, ever since they became animagi, lived for that one night out of twenty-eight. Unfortunately for Remus, while his friends being there during the full moon made a world of difference, they had absolutely no effect on him the day leading up to the moon. In fact, they often irritated him to no end that particular day of the month.
“So, what's the plan for tonight?” Sirius said as he jumped onto Remus's bed that morning. “Exploring the forest? Venturing into Hogsmeade? What's your pleasure, oh furry one?”
Remus groaned. He'd been drifting in and out of sleep since four in the morning, when he woke up with a splitting headache. Eight o'clock had rolled around far too quickly and Sirius's wake-up call was not pleasant. “Shut it, Sirius.”
“A bit cranky today,” Sirius said to James as he hopped off the bed.
“You going to Defense, mate?” James asked.
Remus sat up, his vision going fuzzy as he did so. “I need to. I can't miss morning classes today when I'm going to miss them tomorrow.”
“That's what you get for taking six N.E.W.T.s,” Peter said as he shoved a fresh roll of parchment into his bag. “I told you you were insane to continue Arithmancy.”
“You know I need to take as much as I can,” Remus muttered. The way he saw it, the more N.E.W.T.s he got, the more likely he was to get a job, any job. “I've got a free period this afternoon. I'll be fine.”
“Plus, it's patronuses today,” Sirius pointed out. “He won't want to miss that.”
Sirius was right about that. The seventh years had been learning the theory behind patronuses for the past week and today was finally the day that they would get to try out the charm. There was no way he was going to miss patronuses.
The boys arrived at defense just as the bell was ringing, due to Remus's slow gait that morning. His joints were already aching due to the impending transformation and his leg certainly wasn't helping matters.
“Today we will be practicing patronuses,” Banks announced once he had taken roll. “Keep in mind that producing a patronus in class today will be nothing like facing the real thing. As a professor, I do not have the authority to bring a dementor onto the grounds for you to practice on, but I have arranged for one to be in Hogsmeade this Saturday-”
“A real dementor?” Sabrina Johnson asked. “In Hogsmeade?”
“Yes,” Banks confirmed. “I've set it up with the ministry. I am not requiring anyone to go, but I highly suggest all the Auror hopefuls go.”
“Is it safe?” Alice asked.
“As safe as it could possibly be,” Banks answered. “Two ministry officials will be there if things get out of control, but of course there is a risk. That is why it is not mandatory. You're all overage so there's no need for permission slips. Anyone interested can meet me in the Great Hall at ten in the morning on Saturday.”
Saturday at ten, Remus thought. He would have to owl Healer Smethwyck and push back the time of his weekly spell. There was no way he would miss facing a live dementor. The thought terrified him, of course, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“Remember, the incantation is 'expecto patronum',” Banks said. “You have the class to practice and you'll have next class as well. Remember to think of your strongest memory, along with some back-ups. You never know what's going to work when you face a real dementor.”
The class soon gave way to excited chatter. Most of the excitement was over what forms the patronuses would take. James, Sirius, and Peter already knew what their patronuses would be due to the fact that patronuses were almost always the same form as one's animagus form. Remus was fairly certain what his would be as well.
Remus's head had stopped pounding after he took a potion with breakfast, but he was still exhausted. He was glad there wasn't an exam that day, or else he would've been in trouble.
“All right, I'm going for it!” Sirius said. The boys, along with Lily and Alice, had taken over one of the back corners of the room for practice. Sirius had dragged a chair over for Remus, and the rest of them were standing around in a circle. “Expecto patronum!”
A silvery wisp appeared out of the tip of Sirius's wand, but it faded within seconds. Sirius cursed under his breath and then tried again. James, Peter, and the girls all had similar luck on their first times.
Remus closed his eyes and thought of his happiest memory. It was the moment his Hogwarts letter arrived, the summer before first year. For years he'd thought he wouldn't be able to attend the school and the Hogwarts letter had by far been the best thing that ever happened to him.
“Expecto patronum!” he shouted. Remus opened his eyes and saw a blob of silver floating in front of him. It wasn't a wisp like everyone else's, but it wasn't a corporeal patronus either.
“Moony!” Sirius exclaimed, “that was practically a real one! Figures, you've always been the best at Defense.”
Remus couldn't help but grin. Still, it wasn't a corporeal patronus so he kept going. Lily was the first of their group to produce a full patronus, about halfway through the class.
“Look!” she exclaimed. “It's a real one! Expecto patronum!”
A silvery doe erupted from the tip of her wand and began to prance around the room. Everyone else stopped what they were doing to watch it.
“Well done, Miss Evans!” Banks shouted.
Remus, James, Sirius, and Peter exchanged glances. James was grinning uncontrollably, although only the four of them knew why. James's animagus form was a stag, which meant that his patronus would most likely be a stag as well. The stag and the doe. Perhaps James wasn't kidding in fifth year when he said the two of them were destined to be together in.
As if on cue, just as Lily's doe patronus was dissipating, James succeeded with his. A huge silvery stag appeared out of his wand and ran through the remains of Lily's patronus. Lily blushed furiously when she saw what shape it was and Alice started giggling uncontrollably. James grinned even wider.
“What do you think, Lils?” James asked.
“You don't look surprised,” Lily said.
“I'm not,” James replied. “Not after I saw yours.”
“You two are disgusting,” Sirius said. “I think you're going to make Snivellus puke.”
Remus glanced over and saw that Snape was looking thoroughly disgusted at James and Lily, but he also noticed just a hint of sadness in his face. Remus watched as Snape conjured his own patronus. The rest of their group had turned away from him, but Remus kept watching. Snape's patronus was a doe, just like Lily's. However, Snape performed another spell and the patronus disappeared on the spot.
Soon, the room was filled with silvery patronuses in all shapes and sizes. Sabrina Johnson's was a beautiful swan. Oliver Huntington's was a tiger. Alice's was a duck. Sirius and Peter's were a dog and rat, respectively. Remus's, however, remained an unformed blob throughout class. He suspected it had to do with his exhaustion. Complicated spells were exhausting in themselves and he wasn't exactly well rested to begin with. That and he was getting antsy, as he usually did the day of the full moon.
“Don't worry, you'll get it on Thursday,” James said as they left the room. “You weren't the only one. Snape didn't even look like he was trying.”
Remus decided not to mention that Snape's patronus was in fact, a doe. He suspected it would upset Lily.
“I'll see you at lunch,” Remus said as they reached the stairs, where Remus would go up to the Arithmancy classroom and the rest would descend to the dungeons.
“You sure you don't want to skip it?” Peter asked, after the rest of the group left for potions. “I've got a free period. We could go to the common room. It's probably empty.”
“No.” Remus shook his head. He had to go to Arithmancy. It was one of the more difficult classes and he really couldn't afford to miss a day of notes.
There were only five other N.E.W.T. Arithmancy students, four of whom were Ravenclaws. The other was a Hufflepuff named Macie Burden. Remus sat down next to her and hoped he'd be able to stay awake for the duration of the class.
Usually Remus loved Arithmancy. It was calming, the way the numbers and symbols always worked out, the way they always had a definitive answer. It wasn't like potions, where you often had to alter what was in the recipe. But today, it was that calming nature of Arithmancy that caused Remus to nearly fall asleep towards the end of class and not remember a thing the professor said.
Remus elected to skip lunch in favor of a nap and arrived at Charms somewhat more rested than he was earlier in the day. Luckily Flitwick set them a practical lesson (charming each other's hair various colors) and Remus didn't drift off in class. After class Remus set off for his dormitory, his eyebrows still a bright shade of green, to sleep until it was time to go to the Whomping Willow.
Remus awoke to a loud bang what felt like only minutes after his head hit the pillow. He sat up too quickly and his head swam as he tried to figure out what happened. Once his eyes focused he saw Sirius holding up a smoking pile of what looked like a deck of exploding snap cards.
“Sorry,” Sirius said. “These are apparently reactive with armadillo bile.”
“Why do you have armadillo bile in your bag?” Remus asked sleepily.
“Nicked it from potions. We're planning a prank,” Sirius explained. “Guess I'm going to have to get more, though.”
Remus decided not to ask what the prank was about. He'd find out soon enough. “What time is it?”
“Six-thirty. Got back from supper a little while ago,” Sirius answered.
“Almost time!” James announced.
Remus groaned. “I'd better go. It's going to take me longer than usual to get there.” He'd been dreading the long walk to the Shrieking Shack for the past week. It was longer than the walk to the greenhouses, that was for sure.
“We'll meet you there, mate,” James said, offering a pat on the back as he left the dormitory.
Ever since the beginning of his sixth year Remus had taken to walking to the Shrieking Shack by himself. Madam Pomfrey accompanied him before that, but now that he was older, he saw little point in visiting the hospital wing to meet her, only to then walk to the Shrieking Shack. Madam Pomfrey agreed, gave him an invisibility cloak (although not nearly as nice as James's), and trusted him to get there in time.
As he had suspected, the walk was brutal this month. By the time he arrived his leg was throbbing uncontrollably and Remus wondered whether the wolf's leg would be equally injured after he transformed. If it was, his friends were in for a disappointment, as they would not be gallivanting around Hogsmeade.
Remus laid down on the bed and tried to find a position that was comfortable for his leg. A few minutes later he saw the moonlight start to stream through the window and braced himself. His head began to throb harder and his limbs began to twitch with the change. He cried out in pain as the wolf took over his body. As usual, his mind was the last to go, but when it did, no remnants of Remus Lupin remained in the shack. There was only the wolf, and he was lonely. His friends, the dog, the stag, and the rat had yet to arrive. The wolf jumped off the bed, clambered to the window, and howled at the moonlight streaming through.
The Hogwarts grounds were nearly silent. Only the faint hooting of owls could be heard. It was dark, with just the full moon offering light upon the sleeping castle. A wolf, a dog, a stag, and a rat ran quickly across the grass, disappearing into the forest only minutes after they first appeared. A howl broke the silence, followed by a playful bark. Then the grounds were silent once more.
When Remus awoke he was painfully aware of someone shouting. It felt like each shout was someone taking a hammer to his head. He must have hit his head pretty hard the previous night, but he didn't have any recollection of it. He wouldn't know until Sirius, James, and Peter came to visit him during lunch.
“But I have Quidditch practice later!” the person who was shouting shrieked. Remus now recognized it as a girl's voice, although he couldn't place it.
“You sustained second degree burns on that hand,” Madam Pomfrey said. It was clear that she was out of patience. “I will not allow you to go infect them by playing Quidditch in the mud. It's pouring out there!”
“But I have to!” she shouted louder.
“No, what you have to do is stay here and quiet down!” Madam Pomfrey exclaimed. Her own voice was rising now. “I have other patients who need quiet! I'll be back to change those bandages later.”
The girl started muttering to herself, but thankfully stopped shouting. Remus sighed and tried to roll over. A twinge of pain shot up his leg and he thought better of the idea.
Madam Pomfrey opened the curtains and set down a goblet of potion on Remus's night stand. She still looked exasperated about the girl with the burns, but her voice was calm again.
“Remus, dear, how are you feeling?” she asked as she examined his head.
“My head hurts and so does my leg,” Remus told her.
“You're lucky that's all the damage you did. You've hardly any scratches or bites. Honestly, the past year and a half...I'm not sure why you're not getting hurt as much. Of course, I'm very pleased, but it is puzzling...”
Remus had to stop himself from grinning. The reason of course was his friends. Ever since they started spending full moons with him the wolf was distracted enough not to bite itself.
“As for that leg, well, there's no visible damage so I imagine the wolf strained it a bit. Rest and the spell on Saturday will help.”
“How long do you think I'll have to be here?” Remus asked.
“Tomorrow morning, in time for class I think,” she answered. “So no longer than usual.”
Remus was relieved. He had been very worried that he'd damage his leg so much that he'd have to be in the hospital wing longer. It was a big relief that that was not the case.
Remus had drifted off for most of the morning and was feeling much better by the time James, Sirius, and Peter arrived. Madam Pomfrey was in her study and the girl with the burns was asleep, so they were able to talk freely.
“Great night!” Sirius said as he shut the curtains around Remus's bed. “Walked all of the forest before you started limping.”
“That would explain why my leg hurts so much,” Remus said.
“Yeah, well, we had to leave the forest anyway,” Peter pointed out. “Those two centaurs were following us.”
“They weren't going to do anything,” James said.
“Because there's nothing suspicious about a werewolf, stag, dog, and rat hanging out,” Remus said sarcastically.
“We were fine,” James insisted.
“Never mind,” Remus replied. “But why does my head hurt so much?”
Sirius and James exchanged looks and Peter sighed loudly. “Sorry about that,” Sirius muttered. “I may or may not have slammed you into a tree.”
“Tell him how many times,” James said.
“Multiple times?” Remus groaned.
“Hey, you did it right back!” Sirius said.
“Just tell him,” Peter insisted.
“Three,” Sirius muttered. “I'm sorry, mate.”
“It's okay.” Remus grinned. “I'll be fine by tomorrow. I'll be back in class in the morning.”
“Good,” James said. “You'll be back in time to get your patronus right.”
Remus nodded. He'd argue with Madam Pomfrey in order to get out of the hospital wing for that, although she'd sooner let him practice the patronus charm there than let him leave.
By the next morning Remus was feeling much better, save for his leg. It was twinging more than it had been before the full moon, but he was able to ignore it as he made his way to Defense. Everyone else was already there when he arrived, so Remus hurried to the table he shared with Sirius, James, and Peter.
Remus's friends immediately started conjuring their own patronuses just to watch them prance about the room. He noticed James and Lily's patronuses actually interacted rather than just floated near each other. Whether that was normal patronus behavior, Remus didn't know.
“Let's see it, Remus,” Sirius said after conjuring his fifth scruffy dog.
“Expecto patronum!” Remus shouted.
An enormous, even larger than Sirius's dog, silvery wolf burst out of the tip of Remus's wand. It ran around the room and then sat down in mid air, pausing to howl at a non-existent moon. His friends all stopped to watch it, but none of the other students seemed to notice. Professor Banks glanced at it and gave Remus a knowing smile.
Remus watched as the huge, silvery wolf glided around the room. It made sense on the surface that his patronus was a wolf, but when he thought about it it was kind of odd. A patronus was a protective charm, something that was supposed to keep its conjurer safe. Werewolves were most certainly not safe and the wolf in him caused him pain every single month. It was a bizarre contradiction. The wolf in him didn't keep him safe, yet it was the exact form that his patronus took. A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!
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