Chapter 5 : Early Morning Meeting
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While James, Sirius and Peter stayed up late talking and laughing, Remus climbed straight into bed claiming he’d hardly slept the night before and that the day’s excitement had worn him out. He didn’t fall to sleep for a long while though, instead he lay in his bed listening to the others and wondering what would be said at his meeting with Dumbledore the following morning. He still fell asleep long before the other boys though, and when he awoke early the following morning he was not surprised to find them still fast asleep.
Being careful not to wake the others, not wanting to have to make up an excuse as to where he was going this morning, Remus quietly climbed out of bed and got dressed. He was glad he’d had the sense to unpack and lay out his school robes the night before – it would have been a lot harder to keep quiet if he’d had to rummage through his trunk.
He slipped on his shoes, crept out of the dormitory, down the staircase and into the common room. Unsurprisingly considering the early hour, the common room was deserted. The golden glow of the tree tops outside caught Remus’s eye as he glanced round the room. Navigating his way around the squashy armchairs and the tables, he made his way over to the window to get a better look at the view.
The sun was just beginning to rise, leaving most of the grounds in shadow. Smoke was billowing from a cabin on the edge of the forest and in the middle of the grounds a lone tree stood swaying slightly in the breeze. Remus stayed at the window for a moment, taking in the view – a view he thought he would never see.
A few moments later, as he watched a bird fly across the grounds and come to rest on the roof of the cabin, Remus sprang round in surprise hearing the portrait hole swing open and footsteps entering the room.
Just inside the entrance stood Professor McGonagall looking as stern as she had the night before.
‘Professor Dumbledore requested that I came to meet you to make sure you found his office with no difficulties. I take it you are ready?’
It took Remus a moment to find his voice, he hadn’t expected anyone to be meeting him and he hadn’t thought anyone but Dumbledore would know about his condition. ‘Yes, Professor.’
Seeing the nervous look on Remus’s face, Professor McGonagall’s face softened slightly. ‘You have nothing to worry about Mr Lupin. Follow me.’
They remained silent as they walked to Professor Dumbledores office. Every now and then Remus would glance at Professor McGonagall but never caught her eye; she kept her gaze facing in front of her, not once looking down at Remus. He wondered whether she did, in fact, know about his condition, or whether Dumbledore had just asked her to collect him with no explanation. But, he thought, why else would she have told him he had nothing to worry about? No, he decided, she definitely knew all about him, but this left him wondering why she would not look at him. Was she scared of him? Repulsed by him? Did she disagree with Dumbledore’s decision to let him into Hogwarts? He began to feel more and more nervous.
By the time they reached the stone gargoyle - which stepped aside revealing a revolving staircase when McGonagall said ‘Chocoballs’ – Remus’s hands felt clammy and he could feel himself getting hot. He wasn’t sure why he felt like this, after all, Dumbledore wasn’t about to send him home again.
Remus stepped onto the staircase behind Professor McGonagall who, when they reached the top, knocked on the large oak door and opened it as they heard a muffled ‘come in, come in’ from inside.
In the middle of the circular room was an enormous claw-footed desk, behind which sat Professor Dumbledore and a kindly looking witch with greying hair whom Remus did not recognise – she had not been at the staff table the night before.
‘Good morning Mr Lupin, Professor McGonagall,’ Professor Dumbledore greeted them with a nod, and then with a flick of his wand, conjured two more chairs. ‘Please, take a seat.’
Professor McGonagall joined Dumbledore behind the desk and Remus took the seat in front of it, feeling a little like he was on trial. As if he could read his mind, Dumbledore spoke again.
‘Relax, Mr Lupin,’ he said kindly, his eyes twinkling. ‘Let me introduce Madam Pomfrey.’
The greying haired witch next to Dumbledore smiled gently at Dumbledore’s introduction. Remus managed a weak smile in return, wondering just how many staff members knew of his condition.
‘I have asked Madam Pomfrey to our meeting this morning as she will be taking care of you after each full moon. She is a highly accomplished Healer and is more than qualified to tend to you. I thought it best for you to meet before your first full moon at Hogwarts.
‘As your head of house, Professor McGonagall has also been informed of your condition. I consider it best that no other staff members be enlightened at this time. There is no need for them to know.’
Remus smiled gratefully. He’d been a bit concerned that he would be discriminated against in classes; he knew how most people felt about werewolves, there were not many who would agree with Dumbledore’s decision to allow one to attend Hogwarts.
‘It might be sensible to keep it between the four of us here.’ Dumbledore continued.
Remus knew what Dumbledore was suggesting and full heartedly agreed. He nodded his agreement.
‘Now, I wish to explain our plans for your transformations. Obviously, I have taken every precaution to ensure your safety, and that of the castles inhabitants. To provide such safety, on the night of the full moon you will not be able to stay in the castle.
‘Fortunately I have managed to acquire a building in Hogsmeade which will provide adequate safety and seclusion for your transformations. It has been vacant for some time and from the outside appears to be dilapidated and hazardous, it is my belief that no-one should wish to approach the building, especially at night. Of course, I have taken precautions in case my beliefs are wrong.
‘The building has been put under a number of spells and enchantments to ensure no-one can enter the building from Hogsmeade, and you cannot exit once transformed.’
Remus shifted slightly in his seat. ‘Professor Dumbledore… um, how will I get to Hogsmeade without being noticed?’ he asked quietly, not feeling right questioning his headmaster.
Dumbledore leaned back in his seat, placing his fingertips together and smiling at Remus. ‘That has been taken into consideration, Mr Lupin. You will be travelling to Hogsmeade via a secret passageway. This passageway leads straight into the building, no-one will see you enter or leave.’
Again Remus felt the need to question Professor Dumbledore. ‘What… what if…’
‘What if someone should come across the passageway?’ Dumbledore said, finishing Remus’s question. ‘That has also been taken into consideration, Mr Lupin. The entrance to the passageway has been cleverly concealed. During the summer a very valuable tree was planted in the grounds of the school; a Whomping Willow. Should anyone discover the passageway they will be unable to reach it, the Whomping Willow will guarantee that.’
Remus felt ashamed for doubting Dumbledore. He should have known that he would not leave anything to chance; that he would have everything planned meticulously. But he still wondered how a tree would guarantee that no-one would reach the passageway. He decided he shouldn’t doubt Dumbledore’s plan and so said nothing.
‘Do not feel shame for questioning me, Remus. I am rather glad that you did!’ Dumbledore smiled at Remus’s quizzical expression. ‘I believe you to be a sensible and cautious young man, Mr Lupin, your questions prove that. I have every faith that you will not let me down.’
After a short pause, Dumbledore continued. ‘On the night of the full moon you are to meet Professor McGonagall in her office before sunset. She will make sure you arrive at the abandoned house before the moon rises. I am afraid that on the night of the full moon you will be unable to dine in the Great Hall with your friends; it is more important to have you in the house in time for your transformation.’
‘I will provide food for you once we are in the house, Mr Lupin.’ Professor McGonagall stated, speaking for the first time since Remus had entered Dumbledore’s office.
Remus didn’t feel the need to tell them that eating would be the last thing on his mind on that particular night of the month, and simply nodded his gratitude instead.
‘The following morning, Madam Pomfrey will collect you from the house, bringing you up to the hospital wing where she will assist you in your recovery. Do you have any questions or concerns?’
‘Just one, Professor,’ Remus said quietly. ‘What should I say to the other boys in my dormitory? They will notice if I am absent once a month.’
‘Ah, yes. I will leave that for you to decide, Mr Lupin. I would not like to give you an alibi you are not comfortable with. I am sure you are more than capable of coming up with a believable excuse.’
Remus wasn’t sure he agreed with Dumbledore; he had never been good at lying, and he only had a few days to think up a convincing one.
‘Well, I do believe that is all we need to discuss. I fear we have taken longer than I predicted, you may just make it in time for some breakfast.’ Dumbledore smiled kindly at Remus. ‘Remember to enjoy your time here, Mr Lupin!’
‘I will, Professor, thank you.’ Remus replied, getting up from his chair and taking the timetable Professor McGonagall had conjured.
He left the office quickly, but rather than heading down to breakfast he took a look at his timetable and made his way straight to the first lesson, not feeling remotely hungry. He didn’t feel he could face the other Gryffindor boys just yet and wanted some time alone to start thinking up a believable excuse for his upcoming absences.
‘I still can’t believe the pictures actually move,’ Lily said, giggling at a portrait of a young wizard who had just blown her and her friends a kiss as they made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. ‘This place is amazing!’
‘Yes, it is amazing, but can we stop dawdling to stare at the pictures, I’m starving,’ Abigail said rubbing her stomach as if to prove it.
‘We’re not dawdling, just taking in the sights as we walk,’ Lily giggled. ‘And we would have been in the Great Hall by now if you hadn’t led us in the wrong direction to start with!’
Abigail muttered something about the extra walking making her feel faint, at which the others rolled their eyes at her dramatics. But they carried on walking, at a slightly quicker pace now, and were soon in the Great Hall.
James, Sirius and Peter were already at the Gryffindor table when the girls sat down.
‘Good morning girls,’ Sirius grinned, scooping another spoonful of beans onto his plate. ‘You took your time, you’re lucky there’s any food left, James was obviously hungry.’
Corinne looked down at Sirius’s plate which was piled high with sausages, bacon, mushrooms and beans. Raising her eyebrows she said, ‘As were you by the looks of it!’
‘Yep, I’m a boy with a healthy appetite, nothing wrong with that.’ Sirius replied, and as Peter reached out for his goblet, added, ‘Careful, Peter, we don’t want any more little accidents!’
Peter pushed his goblet a little bit further away from himself and went back to his plate of food as James and Sirius sniggered quietly.
‘Where’s Remus?’ Lily asked as she buttered her toast.
James shrugged. ‘Dunno, we haven’t seen him all morning. His bed was empty when we got up.’
‘I’m not surprised! He went to bed so early last night,’ Sirius scoffed, his mouth full of food. ‘Seems like a bundle of fun, he does!’
‘I think he seems really nice,’ Lily stated.
‘Maybe he is, but nice doesn’t equal fun!’ Sirius retorted. ‘Isn’t that right, James?’
‘Well, I disagree with-‘
Lily was cut off as the hall filled with owls swooping overhead, letters and packages in their beaks.
‘Ah, the post,’ James said looking upwards, obviously expecting something.
A small parchment envelope landed in front of James, right on top of his plate of food.
‘Aw, is mummy missing you already, James,’ Sirius teased.
James replied by nudging Sirius in the side. A second later another envelope landed on the table, this time in front of Sirius.
‘Aw, is your mummy missing you, Sirius?’ Corinne asked in a mocking voice.
‘Doubt it,’ Sirius replied bluntly without looking up.
He ripped the letter open and scanned the letter that fell out.
‘What did I tell you, James? Narcissa has already written home to my parents.’ Sirius said screwing the letter up and shoving it into the pocket of his robes. ‘Apparently I have brought shame to the family and I should be disgusted with myself for breaking such a long standing tradition! Well, I personally feel rather proud of myself!’
At his last comment, he shot a grin across the hall to Narcissa who had been watching Sirius eagerly as he read his letter. She leered back at him before turning to the blonde haired boy next to her.
‘Let her try and get me into trouble, doesn’t bother me!’ Sirius stated.
James slapped Sirius on the back saying, ‘That’s the attitude!’ then turned back to his breakfast, mopping up the sauce from his beans with a slice of toast.
A short while later Professor McGonagall appeared and handed them all a timetable. Lily was about to ask if she should take one for Remus but Professor McGonagall swept off up the table before she’d had a chance.
After looking at their timetable, they all left the Great Hall heading back up to the dormitories to get their books and then onto their first lesson.
The first lesson was Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall, which they were to take with the Ravenclaws. As they turned the corner into the corridor which held Professor McGonagall’s classroom, they spotted Remus leaning up against the wall.
‘Where have you been?’ Sirius asked bluntly.
‘Oh… hi, er, I was up early so I thought I’d explore for a bit,’ Remus lied, surprising himself with how quickly and easily it had come.
‘You went exploring and didn’t invite us? Tut tut, Remus!’ James laughed. ‘Wake us up next time.’
Remus forced a smile onto his face, ‘Okay, I will.’
‘Hey, when did you get your timetable?’ Sirius asked, suddenly realising that Remus had one in his hand but hadn’t been there when they’d been handed out.
Before Remus could think up another lie, Professor McGonagall opened her classroom door and beckoned them in, silencing them all. They all filed in and found seats. The Ravenclaws took the seats at the front, leaving Sirius, James, Peter, and Remus to sit at the back with the Gryffindor girls in the row in front. As soon as they had settled, before they had a chance to talk, Professor McGonagall addressed them.
‘Good morning class. Before we begin you should all know that I will not tolerate misbehaviour of any kind in my classroom. I expect my students to work hard and to the best of their abilities, this cannot happen if students are late to lessons, talk unnecessarily or fool around during class. Transfiguration is one of the most complicated branches of magic, and the skill cannot be acquired without concentration and a lot of hard work.’
Professor McGonagall peered over her glasses at the class, who were now sitting in rapt attention, hardly daring to breathe let alone talk.
‘Now that is out of the way, we can begin the lesson.’
After making a copious amount of complicated notes, Professor McGonagall handed everyone a matchstick and instructed them to turn them into needles. She strode up and down the rows of tables watching each of them attempt to transfigure their matchstick.
Each student had a look of immense concentration on their face, finding the practical part of the lesson much harder than they had imagined.
James was very pleased with himself when he became the first student in the class to make any change to his matchstick – it had become shiny and silvery with a point at one end, but the other end still had the round bulge of the matchstick instead of an eyehole.
‘How did you manage that?’ Sirius asked in amazement looking from James’s matchstick to his own, which had not changed at all.
‘Concentration and a lot of hard work,’ James answered in a hushed voice, ‘Oh, and natural talent of course.’
‘Idiot!’ Sirius whispered, stifling a giggle as Professor McGonagall approached their desk.
‘Very good, Mr Potter,’ Professor McGonagall said examining James’s matchstick/needle. ‘Five points to Gryffindor.’
She strolled back through the rows of desks to the front of the classroom, glancing at each desk as she passed.
Lily, along with Abigail, Isabel and Corinne, turned round in her seat to look at James’s matchstick.
‘Well done, James.’ Abigail said flashing him a smile before turning back to her own matchstick with a look of determination, starting to realise that magic was a bit harder than she’d thought it would be.
Despite the best effort of the Gryffindors, the only other student to make any change to their needle by the end of the lesson was Melissa Hutchinson in the front row, earning Ravenclaw five points. Lily felt slightly dejected that she’d failed to perform her first bit of magic, but noticing the similar glum looks on Remus and Peter’s faces she decided she shouldn’t feel too bad, she wasn’t the only one and it wasn’t because she was muggle-born.
As they packed away their things at the sound of the bell and started edging out of the classroom, Professor McGonagall turned back to the class as she wiped the board with a swish of her wand.
‘Potter, Black, I would like a word.’
As the rest of the class filed out of the room in silence, James and Sirius swung their bags onto their shoulders and made their way to the front of the classroom, wondering what on earth Professor McGonagall could want with them. They found out once the last student had left the room and closed the door behind them.
‘Would either of you care to explain what happened on the train yesterday?’ Professor McGonagall asked, her lips pursed and her eyebrows raised, looking sterner than ever.
James and Sirius looked at each other, a puzzled look on their faces, wondering how on earth Professor McGonagall had found out about the dung-bomb, and how is was them that had set it off. After a brief pause, Sirius answered Professor McGonagall.
‘We don’t know what you are talking about, Professor, nothing happened on the train yesterday… at least not as far as we know,’ he lied.
‘Really? Let me refresh your memory!’ Professor McGonagall said scanning their faces. ‘A dung-bomb was let off in one of the carriages and Mildred, the witch with the tea trolley, was left injured and highly shaken after a student careered into her trolley. You have both been identified as the culprits; Narcissa Black, your cousin I do believe, Sirius, witnessed the incident and informed Professor Slughorn after Mildred reported the incident. Now, I ask again, would you care to explain?’
A flash of anger crossed Sirius’s face. Despite his statement at breakfast, he was very bothered by Narcissa’s interference; she was not just trying to get him in trouble with his parents, but at school too. She’d gone too far. He stopped himself from saying anything, knowing that if he did his tone would be angry and hostile, and he did not think that would do him any favours.
‘It was an accident, Professor,’ James said quietly, looking suitably remorseful. ‘We never meant to hurt the witch with the tea trolley. We’re very sorry.’
Sirius continued to stare at his shoes, quietly seething.
‘And what about the dung-bomb, was that an accident? Are you sorry about that?’
Both Sirius and James nodded.
‘Both of you will be serving detention with me on Friday. I expect better from Gryffindor’s, and now that you are in my house you will conduct yourselves in an appropriate manner. I do not want to have to speak to you two about your behaviour again. Do you understand?’ Again James and Sirius nodded, looking shamefaced. ‘You better hurry to your next class; you don’t want another detention in your first week!’
They left the classroom as quickly as they could, not talking until they were well out of earshot of Professor McGonagall.
‘Can you believe her?’ Sirius said angrily, kicking the wall as they walked.
‘Come on mate, to be fair, she could have been a lot harder on us. One detention isn’t so bad, and at least we’ll be doing it together,’ James replied, trying to sooth Sirius’s temper.
‘Not McGonagall, Narcissa! I knew she’d be determined to get me in trouble at home but I didn’t think she’d try it at school. I bet she wouldn’t have said anything to Slughorn if I’d been in Slytherin.’
‘Maybe not,’ James said, rummaging through his bag for his timetable. ‘But she’ll get bored of trying to get you into trouble soon.’
‘Yeah, maybe,’ Sirius shrugged. Then more enthusiastically, said, ‘I will get my revenge though!’
‘I’m sure you will,’ James grinned. ‘Come on, we better get to charms, we don’t want to be in trouble twice in one day.’
With Sirius in a slightly better mood than when he’d left McGonagall’s classroom, they raced off to find the charms classroom.
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