Chapter 13 : Some People Just Can't Be Friends
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“You better sleep with one eye open, Potter!” Remus said, trying to sound like Sirius had done after the jam-incident last night.
“Bring it on, Lupin,” James said, messing up his hair with his right hand, “you’ll have to be extra clever to catch me out!”
Remus grinned, “You don’t know how clever I am, mate!” He was trying talk with the same confidence James had when he made the comment about his Quidditch abilities at the feast.
James smiled and extended his hand to pull Remus up, Remus took it. Then the four of them quickly changed into their school robes. Remus changed behind his hangings because he didn’t want the others to see his thin, scar-covered body, lest they work out what he was, that, and he didn't like people looking at his scars anyway. Once fully dressed, however, he opened the hangings and pinned Plumpton’s badge to the front of his robes. Then, while James, Sirius and Peter threw socks at each other, he opened his trunk, withdrew his poster of Gudgeon and pinned it up beside his bed.
James moaned. “Don’t tell me you support the Tornadoes!”
“Best team in the league!” Remus said proudly.
“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong,” James said with the air of explaining something obvious. “The best team in the league is, in fact, the Montrose Magpies!”
“But the Tornadoes beat them last season, didn’t they?” Remus pointed out, trying to sound cool.
“By ten points!” James replied defensively, as if ten points didn’t matter.
“A win is a win, we’ve the best Seeker in the league!”
“Who cares!” James said angrily. “You have one good player, big deal, the Magpies have seven!”
“Yet who beat the Magpies last season?” Remus said slyly. He liked conversations about Quidditch, if there was one thing in the world he felt confident about, it was Quidditch.
James, however, did not answer with words, instead he threw his pillow at Remus’s head, and without warning, all four of them were resuming the pillow fight from the night before. It was so much fun, but as with last night, the fun was short lived as a loud ripping noise rent the air and Peter’s pillow split, dispelling feathers in all directions. The four looked at each other and fell down on their beds laughing at the fact that every single one of them now bared remarkable resemblances to chickens.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, which caused them all to stifle their laughter. “All first-years come down to the common room immediately!” said a rather pompous voice.
Brushing feathers off themselves and grabbing their bags, the four of them left the dormitory and headed for the common room. Remus hadn’t really seen the common room in all its glory last night, as it had been so dark, but the place looked very cosy and homely as it was bathed in the warm glow of the September sunshine. There was also a large notice-board by the portrait-hole, which Remus had not seen the night before. It had information on school clubs, there was the chess club and the gobstones club, and even a meeting where you could swap chocolate frog cards every Friday. There were also more mundane things like house-keeping rules and a list of all the current prefects.
All the first-years seemed to be gathered around six older students; three boys and three girls, all with prefect’s badges pinned on their chests. Frank waved at the four of them as they joined the group, none the worse for wear after being awoken by their antics last night. Lily was there too, but at the sight of the four of them, she scowled and quickly struck up a conversation with Mary McDonald, just to avoid interacting with them. She hadn’t forgotten James and Sirius’s actions the night before then.
“We, that is, us prefects,” said a very tall boy with dark hair. “Just thought we should – ‘touch-base’ – with you first-years, and introduce ourselves. I’m Robert Downing,” he said importantly, pointing to himself. “And these are my colleagues.”
But Remus missed the names of the other prefects as a conversation between James and Sirius drew his attention. “Merlin, this bloke is a bit full of himself, isn’t he?” James whispered, nodding to Robert.
“Needs to be brought down a peg or two, if you know what I mean,” Sirius whispered back, a slight mischievous grin on his face.
“You in, Remus? Peter?” James added in an undertone.
Peter nodded instantly. Remus, however, hesitated. He did agree, slightly, that the prefect did sound rather pompous, but he was a prefect, an authority figure; was it really a good idea going looking for trouble with him? Then again, no one had ever tried to include Remus in anything before, so he nodded in agreement, ignoring his conscience completely.
“And just to conclude, if any of you have any problems at all, even if it’s something as mundane as not knowing your way around the profound environs that make up our historic school, please don’t hesitate in the slightest to contact me, or one of my associates.”
Frank rolled his eyes at this point, nudged Robert slightly and then added, “Basically guys, any problems, give us a shout, and we’ll sort it out.”
It was much easier to respect Frank than it was to respect Robert, Remus thought, just because Frank didn’t go around thinking he was better than you were. Frank saw himself as a student just like you, whereas Robert ignored that fact and instead thought himself as more of a teacher.
“I’ve a question, Robert!” James exclaimed. Robert smiled encouragingly, clearly relishing the fact that he thought he was about to share some of his superior wisdom. “Do all prefects talk like prats or is it just you?”
Everyone laughed, even Frank, though he tried to disguise it as a rather violent cough. Robert turned red. Then he glared at a James and said in a dignified voice, “Unless you want Gryffindor to lose House Points, I suggest you keep your cheek-”
But James yawned very loudly and very elaborately, cutting him off mid-sentence. “Oh, don’t stop, I always yawn when I’m really interested.”
“I’m warning you!” Robert said, his colour rising. “I’ll take House Points, mark my words!”
“I know you’re lying – your lips are moving!” James said brightly.
Everyone laughed again, and even the other prefects didn’t try to disguise it this time. It was clear that even they, like James, found Robert a bit insufferable.
“I’m deducting five points from Gryffindor for that!” Robert snapped.
“From what I can gather,” Sirius mused, joining the fun and imitating Robert’s pompous voice, “you appear to me to have some sort of inferiority complex and in my professional opinion it is fully justified!”
Laughter roared around the common room. Robert was bright red and he could do nothing more than open and close his mouth like a fish. Frank decided to step in to defuse the situation before Gryffindor lost more points as Robert tried to gather the vestiges of his shattered dignity.
“If you follow us, we’ll bring you down to breakfast,” said Frank, still trying to suppress laughter.
They all left Robert behind, still fuming, and followed Frank and one of the girl prefects out the door.
“That was brilliant!” Peter said, staring at James and Sirius in wide-eyed awe.
“How do you come up with such clever comments on the spot?” Remus asked. In truth he did admire what James and Sirius had just done. Remus couldn’t be that funny on demand, in fact, he couldn’t really be funny, full-stop.
“It’s a gift!” James said shrugging.
As they followed Frank down to the Great Hall, Remus noticed that Lily was deliberately trying to avoid his eye. He would have to do something soon or else he would lose her as a friend, and she was the first person his own age that had been nice to him in a long time. Friends meant a lot to him. He had had no proper friends in his life, so he was just keen to hold onto the ones he did have.
“Lily?” he asked tentatively, as he slowed down to catch her on the stairs behind a tapestry Frank had led them through.
“What do you want?” she said angrily.
“I...” Remus began. If truth be told he didn’t know what to say, so he decided to be honest. “I just wanted to say that I don’t think Severus is the enemy.”
“Your friends seem to disagree with you on that point,” she said, her voice stern as she glared at the back of James and Sirius’s heads.
Remus didn’t know what to say to this.
“Why do you hang around with them, if you don’t agree with them?” Lily continued.
“Because they’re fun to be around,” Remus said without thinking.
“You think insulting people in fun, like Potter did to that prefect? Like he did to Sev last night?”
“No, I don’t mean that,” Remus said. He felt himself growing hot all over. “We had a pillow fight last night, and James poured water over me this morning.”
“That doesn’t sound like fun, that sounds like bullying.”
“It was only a joke, it was game, I’m going to get him back, because it’s a game,” Remus explained, though Lily didn’t seemed to see his point of view.
“Well if you’re such great friends with them, what do you need me for?”
Remus was torn, he could either say nothing or tell her the truth as lame and pathetic as it sounded and completely embarrass himself. Lily was fixing him with the glaring stare, he went with the latter choice, because instead of offering a certainty that he would lose her friendship, it only offered a near-certain chance.
“Because – because,” he began, looking at his shoes. “Because no one ever wanted to be my friend before, and – and you were the first person who was nice to me and – and I’ve never had any real friends before, so – so I just want to hold onto the ones I do have...”
He couldn’t look at her, he just couldn’t. All that sounded more stupid aloud than he had done in his head. Lily didn’t say anything, so Remus chanced a glance at her. Her expression had softened.
“Okay,” she said, kindly. “If it really means that much to you, we can still be friends.”
Remus smiled. “Really?”
Lily nodded, “Yeah, you seem alright, as long are you don’t start insulting people, and you do have the cutest owl I’ve ever seen.”
So they spent the rest of the journey talking together. Lily even introduced Remus to Mary McDonald. She was small, like Remus and had a kind face and brown hair. They mostly talked about the castle and Remus told them both some of the funny anecdotes Dumbledore had entertained him with last night.
When they reached the Great Hall, Remus sat with James, Sirius and Peter, while Mary sat down with the other Gryffindor girls and Lily went off to find Severus.
“What were you talking to Evans for?” James asked, as Remus sat down. Remus didn’t know what to say. “Were you trying to get her to ditch Snivellus, and get herself some decent friends?”
“Snivellus?” Remus repeated.
“That Snape bloke,” James said, nodding in Severus’s direction.
But before Remus could respond, the post arrived. He stared up in amazement as the dull-cloudy ceiling of the Great Hall was littered with hundreds of owls swooping and diving as they dropped letters and packages to their various owners. He searched for Gawain, but didn’t see him in the pack of owls overhead.
A large brown owl descended to their part of the table and landed in front of James, giving him a newspaper and a large package from home.
“Brilliant!” James said, pulling the parcel towards himself. It contained about a week’s supply of sweets.
“Thanks, Amble,” he said, stroking the owl’s feathers. “And give this to Mum and Dad for me, will you?” he added in an undertone as he took a letter from his pocket and gave it to the owl.
“When did you write that?” Sirius asked, raising an eye-brow.
“Last night, when you lot were asleep,” James said brightly, as he dug his hand into the package his parents had sent him and threw several chocolate frogs to Sirius, Peter and Remus.
“Thank you,” Remus and Peter said at the same time.
“Not poisoned, are they?” Sirius asked sceptically.
“Nope,” James replied.
“So what put you in such a charitable mood?”
“Friends share, don’t they?” James said shrugging.
Remus stared down at the small pile of chocolate frogs in front of him, hardly believing his eyes. James, his friend James, had given him these sweets for no other reason than the fact that they were friends. James may be a bit of a smart aleck, to use Mum’s phrase, but he was a nice smart aleck and Remus couldn’t help liking him.
Then another owl landed on the table, a large eagle owl, and it dropped a bright-red envelope in front of Sirius, before taking off again. He stared at the letter in horror as the edges began to smoke.
“Run for it, mate!” James said seriously.
Sirius didn’t need telling twice, he seized the letter and ran. A few seconds later, they heard a very loud female voice bellow in the entrance hall. The voice was so loud that it even made very walls of the castle shake. They couldn’t hear what was being said exactly, because the echo distorted everything, but they did make out odd words: blood-traitor, Gryffindor-scum, disappointment, Noble House of Black, and disgrace.
The Slytherin table roared with laughter, while other students mostly covered their ears. Remus looked at James and Peter. Neither said anything. Remus thought he knew what a Howler was now. It was then that he noticed Narcissa sitting proudly at the Slytherin table, with a sort of triumphant and smug look on her face. Remus knew she was the one who had ratted Sirius out to his parents. It wasn’t a very nice thing to do at all.
Sirius made the walk of shame back into the Great Hall once it was over. All the Slytherins laughed and hissed in his direction, Narcissa leading the jeers. Sirius sat down beside James and looked like he wanted nothing more than for the ground to swallow him up.
“Your mum is delighted you got into Gryffindor, then?” James said, trying to brighten the mood.
"Yeah, she's over the moon," Sirius replied with a small smile, but Remus noticed that he had begun moving the food around on his plate, no longer hungry. Remus had no idea what to say. He looked at Peter and Peter just stared helplessly back. A slightly awkward silence descended upon the four of them, made all the worse by the fact that almost everyone in the hall was looking at Sirius. It was a relief, therefore, when McGonagall came down the table, handing timetables to older students and informing the first-year Gryffindors that they were all to wait here in the hall after breakfast, at which point she would bring them up to her classroom for a meeting.
Remus’s eyes landed on James’s untouched newspaper. “Can I take a look?” he asked.
James nodded, handing the newspaper to Remus. He scanned the front page. He decided that if James was right about a war coming, he wanted to be better informed about what was going on in the world. But as he scanned the paper’s contents he didn’t see any strange disasters or odd disappearances. There were just long, rather boring articles, complaining about the increase in the fare on the Knight Bus, or the high cost of Floo Powder. There were articles attacking various Heads of departments in the Ministry, as well as the fight between the English Quidditch captain, and the French captain at last week’s World Cup Qualifier. There was nothing out of the ordinary here to suggest that there was a war coming.
Slowly the hall began to empty, until the only students remaining were the first-years. The respective Heads of House descended from the staff table to look after their group of students. McGonagall led them from the hall towards the marble staircase, while a large-bellied man with an enormous walrus moustache led the Slytherins to the dungeon.
“Oi, Black!” shouted Severus with glee. “How does it feel to be a disgrace to your family name and a pathetic little slug at the same time?”
All the Slytherins laughed. Lily stared at her best friend in disbelief. Remus just felt angry. Severus’s jibe was below the belt. There were some things you just didn’t say, regardless of what insults were thrown at you the night before. Sirius clearly felt the same way too, as his fists were shaking with rage.
“Shut it, Snivellus!” James snapped, as he grabbed Sirius by the robes and dragged him up the stairs, to prevent him attacking Severus in full view of two teachers.
James and Peter then spent the intervening time between the entrance hall and McGonagall’s classroom abusing Severus and his comment, but Sirius still looked glum. Remus knew full well that calling Severus names would do nothing to quell the horrible feeling of letting your family down, but they didn’t know what else to do.
They filed into a classroom after McGonagall a few minutes later. It was an interesting room to say the least, with cages full of different animals, from mice to iguanas to ravens. Once they had taken their seats, McGonagall handed them each their timetables and explained the school rules. She also gave them each a map, which had their various classrooms marked clearly on it in emerald-green ink, as well as other rooms such as the Owlery, the Great Hall and various bathrooms. Remus stared at his map. Hogwarts was far bigger than he had first perceived. He let his eyes feast on the parchment, taking in every room and corridor, as McGonagall droned on about how Gryffindors must uphold their house’s noble history with the upmost integrity both inside and outside the classroom. It was only once she had finished her spiel that James raised his hand.
“Professor?” he said excitedly.
“Potter,” James continued. “Just wondering, when do we sign up for Quidditch trials?”
“I will put your name down now,” she said, removing parchment and quill from a drawer in her desk.
“Thanks, Professor,” James said delightedly. “It’s James Potter.”
“Does anyone else want to give me their name?” McGonagall asked, surveying the class. “But I do feel that I should add that no first-year student has made it onto a Hogwarts House team for nearly eighty-years.”
That statement seemed to drain the Quidditch enthusiasm from the room, but a few hands rose tentatively into the air, nonetheless, including Remus’s. He had been flying for a while and decided to try and get on the team, and you never know, he might get lucky. But Sirius and Peter had kept theirs down, uninterested in Quidditch.
McGonagall went around the room, taking down the names and came to Remus last, and once she finished added, “Mr Lupin, I would like to see you for a moment before you attend your next class.”
Remus swallowed and nodded, knowing what this meeting was about, but still feeling very nervous. James, Sirius and Peter all stared at him with puzzled looks on their faces. Remus shrugged, pretending not to know what was going on.
As the class poured out, twenty minutes later, Remus approached the teacher’s desk, his stomach in knots. He kept his gaze on his shoes.
“Professor Dumbledore, Madam Pomfrey and I would like you come to my office at six o’clock this evening,” McGonagall began once they were alone, “so we can discuss matters regarding the full-moon.”
Remus nodded, “Yes, Professor,” still looking at his shoes.
“There is no need to worry, Mr Lupin,” she added pityingly.
“Yes, Professor,” Remus repeated, pulling his gaze from his shoes and looking at his teacher.
She gave him a small smile, before adding, “You should hurry, or you will be late for your Charms lesson.”
Remus nodded and made for the door, and to his surprise found James, Sirius and Peter waiting for him. The sight made him smile.
“What did Professor McGonagall want?” Peter asked.
“I have to meet her and Dumbledore at six tonight.”
“What for?” asked Sirius, incredulous. “You haven’t done anything.”
“No idea,” Remus lied.
“Better you than me, mate,” Sirius said consolingly.
They began walking to Charms class, following James, who was reading his map. Suddenly, he stopped so abruptly they all nearly walked into him. “Give me your map,” he said to Sirius.
“Just give it to me.”
“Here,” said Peter, handing James his map.
James began comparing it to the one in his hand, flitting back and forth between the two as though looking for mistakes. “They’re both the same...” he said slowly.
“Shouldn’t they be?” asked Peter.
“Yeah, but they’re incomplete,” James said, still pouring over the maps.
“How?” Peter asked, taking his back and looking at it.
“They don’t show the kitchens or any of the secret passageways,” James explained.
“But aren’t the secret passageways a myth?” Peter asked.
“No, they’re real, my dad said so,” James replied defensively.
“But wouldn’t they be on the map then?” Peter said fairly.
“If they were, they wouldn’t be secret, would they?” James replied. “We’ll just have to find them and then make our own more accurate map, that’s all.”
“Whatever you say, mate,” Sirius said, a little sarcastically, as he clapped James on the back.
“We better go to Charms,” Remus injected, glancing at his watch and getting alarmed, he didn’t want to be late, especially on the first day.
Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was the smallest person Remus had never seen. He had to stand on a large pile of books in order to see over his desk. James, Sirius and Peter even amused themselves by joking about getting Flitwick and Hagrid to stand side-by-side, just to see how mad they would look together. But as the class progressed, jokes like that became obsolete, as Flitwick proved more than anything else that size was no indication of strength. He astounded them all by levitating various objects in the air, by changing the colour of his own hair to bright purple and by making a pineapple tap-dance across his desk top. They were all eager to start, but soon found out that it would years yet until they reached that level of magic. For now they just had to try and make little toys that resembled Muggle cars move across their desks with their wands. Try as he might though, Remus couldn’t get his car to move. After about ten minutes, however, both James and Sirius had managed to move their cars an inch or two, making Flitwick award them five points to Gryffindor a piece.
Potions was their next class, and it was taught by the Head of Slytherin House, Professor Slughorn, the teacher they had seen leading the Slytherins to the dungeons that morning. Unfortunately, however, Gryffindors had potions classes with the Slytherins, which meant that James, Sirius and Severus were in close proximity. Thankfully, both sides ignored each other for that particular lesson. Potions was fun nevertheless, despite the tension in the air between the two houses. Slughorn let them try the various potions on his desk to hilarious effect. Some changed the tone of your voice; others made your hair grow really fast, and there was another that made you speak only in rhymes. Peter, unfortunately, tried that last one, and had the class in fits of laughter as he said things like: Professor Slughorn, please tell me there’s a cure, I can’t go on like this, that’s for sure; and this really isn’t funny anymore, speaking in rhymes is making my head sore.
They left Potions an hour later, their voices and hair returned to normal and Peter no longer speaking in verse, though James and Sirius took to doing it as they walked along the corridors, just for a laugh. History of Magic was next, taught by the only ghost teacher, Professor Binns. Remus had really been looking forward to this class, but within five minutes he forgot why. Binns had without a doubt the most boring voice in the world. He could make the most interesting content, like witch-burnings and goblin rebellions, very dull. This droning hum, coupled with the heat from the fire, lulled them all into a dreary, sleepy state. James, Sirius and Peter passed the time playing hangman in the margins of A History of Magic. Remus wanted to play too, but his conscience wouldn’t let him. He had to fight the dullness of the teacher and try to take notes, but mostly he found himself day-dreaming about King Arthur and his adventures.
They had lunch next, which was a welcome relief from lessons. Remus felt more tired than he expected. As they sat down at the Gryffindor table, James threw an open copy of the Standard Book of Spells at Remus. “That’s the idea I have for getting revenge on Peeves for you,” he said coolly.
Remus had almost forgotten about his run in with the poltergeist the night before, so much had happened since then that had pushed it from his mind. He stared down at the book. The spell looked complex.
“It might take a while before we could do that,” Remus said, looking up from the book.
“We best start practicing then,” James replied, winking. “I reckon me and Sirius could have it mastered by next week!”
Their afternoon classes followed the same line as their morning ones had. In Herbology they were brought into Greenhouse One in the school grounds. That class was full of drama, considering a plant grabbed Lily around the middle with its vines and seemed intent on squeezing the life out of her, that is, until Professor Sprout, the Herbology teacher, came to the rescue, fighting the plant back by causing flames to erupt out of her wand-tip. Lily sat very close to Remus and Mary McDonald after that, still shaking from her encounter with the plant. She even forgot she was still angry with James and Sirius. In fact most of the class was spent gripped in intense feelings of fear, where everyone was glancing around themselves every few seconds, lest the other plants got ideas about grabbing them too.
An hour later, Transfiguration started with a bang, when McGonagall turned her desk into a pig and back again. The gesture was met with a round of applause; however, it went severely downhill from that point on as they spent the remainder of class turning match-sticks into needles. James and Sirius again were the only ones to make any progress by the time the bell rang, earning them more points for Gryffindor. It seemed James was secretly trying to make up for losing points to Robert the prefect that morning, though he wouldn’t admit it.
The last class of the day, Defence Against the Dark Arts, was nothing short of a joke. The new teacher, Professor Newlyn, had absolutely no clue what he was doing. He was so hopeless that Remus began to feel sorry for him. It took him ten minutes to settle the class down when they arrived, and then every time he turned his back to write something on the black-board, most people would swap places with their neighbour. When Newlyn turned around, he knew something was wrong but could not figure out what it was, to hilarious effect. Remus and Lily, however, decided against partaking in that joke though, just because they both felt so bad for Newlyn. Severus, on the other hand, sat beside Lily reading a large leather-bound book under his desk. Some of the pages were stained and there were scary pictures in it of people growing extra limbs or having their arms chopped off. Remus didn’t like this book, it made him very uneasy, it was full of dark magic and he did not like to think how Severus got it or why he wanted to read it.
Newlyn, however, did not notice Severus and his Dark-Arts book. He finished the class near tears, with his hat smoking from when he set it on alight to try and get the class’s attention. Upon leaving the room, none of them knew anything more about defending themselves against dark forces than they had when they had entered.
After dinner, Remus bid good-bye to his friends and took out his map and made his way up to McGonagall’s office. It took him ten minutes to find it, and when he did, he knocked on the door.
“Enter,” said a voice he recognised, it was Dumbledore.
When he opened the door, he found McGonagall and Dumbledore sitting behind a large desk. The room had a big welcoming fire-place, as well as a few Gryffindor banners and bookcases full of books. There was also another person in the room, a witch he didn’t recognise, but who he presumed was Madam Pomfrey, the school matron.
“Ah, Remus, do sit down,” said the headmaster brightly, indicating the lone chair on the near side of the desk. Remus sat, feeling nervous.
“You’re the werewolf, then?” the witch he presumed was Madam Pomfrey said briskly. Remus nodded, as the matron looked him up and down.
“This is Madam Pomfrey, Remus,” Dumbledore explained kindly, confirming what Remus had already suspected.
The matron continued to look him over, she bent her face very close to his, as Ollivander had done in Diagon Alley so long ago. “He’s very thin,” she concluded.
Remus felt himself go bright red at this comment and he began twisting the ends of his robes around and around, just avoid looking at any of them.
“It’s a side-effect of the transformation, Poppy,” Dumbledore injected.
“Still,” Madam Pomfrey said, frowning. “We’ll have to build you up, and maybe give you some Strengthening Solution the week preceding the full-moon too, the stronger you are when the transformation occurs the better your recovery.”
Remus felt himself grow very hot. He didn’t even bother to tell her that wouldn’t work, she wouldn’t believe him anyway. He was just skinny and was always going to be. Nothing could be done about it, just like nothing could be doing about him being a werewolf.
“Now, Remus,” McGonagall began. “We have worked out a procedure for the full-moon, and we are telling you now because we want all parties well-aware of it well in advance.”
“So, what we have worked out is this,” Dumbledore continued. “Two hours before nightfall you will report to Madam Pomfrey in the hospital wing, she will then sneak you out of the castle to the place we have constructed for your transformation.”
“Is it a shed, like the one my dad made?” Remus asked. As much as he hated the shed in his garden, he did feel safe in there, because he knew he couldn’t hurt anyone while he was inside.
“Not exactly a shed, no,” Dumbledore replied, “more of a house, I think. I thought that if you had more space to move around in while transformed, you would be less inclined to bite and attack yourself.”
This suggestion made Remus smile slightly, to know that Dumbledore cared about his well-being that much to go to such lengths to ease Remus’s suffering meant a great deal.
“Where is this house, sir?”
“It is on the out-skirts of Hogsmeade village.”
Remus started to panic slightly, he didn’t like this idea. “Em, what if I escape and bite one of the villagers?” he asked, shuddering at the thought.
“You’ll find that I have covered every inch of the building in the strongest of spells. No one will get in and you will not be able to get out.”
Remus felt reassured at this, Dumbledore was a very powerful wizard after all, but he still had more worries eating away at him. “If no one can get in, sir, how am I supposed to get in to transform?”
“There is only one way in and out,” Dumbledore explained. “Remember the Whomping Willow I mentioned at the start of term feast?” Remus nodded. “Well, it was planted on the grounds with deliberate intent, as it hides a passageway, a passageway designed for you, Remus. It will bring you from the grounds to the house for you to transform. The tree itself is designed to attack any who approach it, so you’ll find that no one will stumble across you while you are dangerous. Also, I will ask you to close the trapdoor at the other end, to ensure that your wolf-form does not enter the passage to the Whomping Willow either, as an extra precaution.”
“What happens if the villagers hear me inside the house, sir?” Remus asked, deciding it best to voice all his worries instead of bottling them up where they would eat away at him for the next month or so.
“I intend to encourage a rumour in the village that the house is haunted, blaming the noises you make on violent spirits and poltergeists.”
“That’s very clever, sir,” Remus replied. Dumbledore chuckled. “But what happens to me the day after the full-moon?” Remus added, not liking the idea of having to try and drag his tired and injured body all the way from Hogsmeade back to Hogwarts, the walk from his back-garden to his room was just about all he could endure.
“You do not need to worry about that in the slightest,” Dumbledore said kindly. “Someone will come and fetch you once the moon has waned and Madam Pomfrey will look after you in the Hospital Wing until you are well enough to return to school.”
Remus’s mind calmed slightly. The plan sounded like a good one, he couldn’t see any flaws in it at all. Dumbledore, it appeared, had thought of everything.
“Now, Mr Lupin,” McGonagall said sternly. “It is of the upmost importance that you not only keep the nature of your condition to yourself, but that you also tell no one else about the passageway into Hogsmeade. No one must know where you go each month, if word got out that there was a werewolf at Hogwarts, parents would not take it with good grace.”
“I understand, Professor,” Remus replied. He liked having friends, he wasn’t going to jeopardise that by informing the whole castle that he was a werewolf who snuck out of school to visit Hogsmeade every full-moon. He was properly happy for the first time in his life and he wanted it to stay that way.
“Good,” she continued, “now, if you have no other questions, you may go.”
Remus thanked each of the three adults in turn and left. James, Sirius and Peter had agreed to meet him in the common room, so as Remus walked down the corridor, lined with suits of armour, he pulled out his map and tried to work out the best route back to Gryffindor Tower.
“Lost are you, Lupin?” said a rather harsh voice.
“Oh, hi, Severus,” Remus said brightly.
“Severus?” the boy repeated. “What happened to Snivellus? Not so confident now without your gang of friends, are you?”
“I never once called you Snivellus!” Remus replied stung by this comment. “You’re my friend, I wouldn’t ever call you names.”
Severus laughed. “What on earth gave you the idea that we were friends?”
“We played Exploding Snap on the train, and you saved me from falling in the lake,” Remus replied, starting to feel small again.
“Well, looking back I should’ve let you drown.”
“But you didn’t,” Remus pointed out.
“It was a reaction, nothing more. We are not friends. I don’t care about you, Exploding Snap, your stupid gang or your annoying owl. I want you to stay away from me and stay away from Lily.”
“I will stay away from Lily when she tells me to,” Remus replied, wondering what had prompted Severus to make this statement.
“I’m telling you to stay away from her. She’s my best friend, not yours!”
“I’m not trying to stop her being your best friend. I only want her to be my friend, that’s all.”
“Well, she’s my friend, not yours, so stay away from her.”
“She doesn’t want a weedy little git like you for a friend anyway,” Severus shouted viciously, “she told me so.”
“That’s not true,” Remus replied, though he didn’t sound confident. Did Lily really say that?
“It is, she only said she’d be your friend because she felt sorry for you, because you’re pathetic.”
“I’m not pathetic!” Remus replied angrily, but nevertheless his insides appeared to be shaking with the hurt Severus’s words had caused.
Severus laughed again. Remus didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do. He just stood there caught in the void between anger and hurt.
“Just leave Lily and me alone! Stop trying to be friends with us, stop trying to talk to us, just stay away from us,” he roared, advancing towards Remus, his face inches from his, “you got that, you piece of scum?”
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a memory pushed to the surface of Remus’s mind. Stay away from me, you piece of scum, don’t come near me again! Those were the words Paul had said to him; Paul his best-mate who abandoned him the moment he found out what he was. The repressed pain of the memory of that day attacked Remus. A fierce hurt rose up inside his chest, forming a lump in this throat. Remus just wanted the pain to stop. He wanted to forget that day in the woods, forget the words that had been said. He knew then that he and Severus Snape couldn’t be friends. After those words Severus had used, after what he had said to Sirius that morning, Remus didn’t think he wanted to be friends with Severus anyway. There were some friends you just couldn’t keep, some people whose paths were destined to cross, but not in a way that led to friendship.
“He’d much rather be a piece of scum than a slimeball like you, Snivellus!” said a voice from the other end of the corridor, taking Remus out of the painful world of memory Severus had just plunged him in.
Severus scowled as James, Sirius and Peter arrived on the scene. “You get one pass, Snivellus, you got that?” Sirius said boldly. “Call Remus a piece of scum again, and I swear I won’t rest until I’ve learned that bat-bogie hex and used it on you!”
“You never know,” James added, “it’ll probably be a vast improvement on his appearance.”
“Take that back, Potter!” Severus shouted.
“No,” James said simply. “I don’t follow orders from gits who insult my mates.”
Remus couldn’t believe it. James, Sirius and Peter were here defending him, defending him as his parents had done all his life. It was then that a warm, rather fuzzy feeling gripped his heart, making him feel ten feet tall.
Severus merely glowered at the four of them, then drew his wand from the folds of his robes and pointed it at James.
James laughed, “What are you going to do, send sparks at me?”
“Petrificus Totalus!” Severus bellowed.
Nothing happened, aside from James’s arms twitching, but whether or not that was due to the spell was debatable.
“Bit more study won’t go a-miss, Snivellus,” Peter added bravely. Then he shut his mouth rather abruptly, as if he couldn’t believe those words had come from him.
“Go back to the dungeon, Snivellus,” Sirius said, “don’t embarrass yourself further.”
Severus glared at the four of them, then wisely concluded that in a four-on-one duel, Muggle or wizard, he didn’t stand much of a chance, so he turned on his heel and left, leering at them as he did so.
James turned to Remus. “What, did he do corner you when you left McGonagall’s office?”
“Git,” Sirius said, staring after Severus. “You don’t pick on people smaller than you, unless they’re your little brother.”
“I’m not small!” Remus said, affronted. He was sick of people always seeing him as the small, skinny boy, or as they dangerous werewolf. He was so much more than that, so much more.
“You are now,” Sirius said fairly, “but you won’t be forever.”
This comment quelled Remus’s feelings of inadequacy slightly. He watched as Severus turned the corner and vanished from view. It was true that some people were just not destined to be friends, but it was also true that some people were. He looked at James, Sirius and Peter; at his friends, his friends who had defended him against Severus; his friends who came looking for him when he didn’t show up in the common room. As they walked back up to Gryffindor Tower together, laughing and joking and making fun of Severus, Remus couldn’t believe how lucky he was to have these three boys as his friends. And the more Remus thought about it, the more he knew that it didn’t matter in the slightest that he had had no friends during his childhood, because these three boys here walking up the stairs beside him, had been worth waiting for.
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