Chapter 2 : 27 April, 1975
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27 April, 1975
Remus woke suddenly to a sharp, searing pain in the right side of his abdomen. He tried to remain quiet, but an audible gasp of agony escaped his lips as he instinctively reached his left arm across his body to cover the wound. He didn't feel skin, but rather soft, bulky cotton. That wasn't there before; Madam Pomfrey must have bandaged it up while he'd been asleep.
How long had he been asleep, anyway? He remembered half walking, half being carried by James, Peter, and Sirius in the early morning hours just as the sun began to rise. Madam Pomfrey had applied a thick, slimy green paste over all of his wounds that stung immensely upon initial contact. She'd then given him a sleep draught after insisting that he needed rest if he wanted to heal properly.
It was a powerful potion, Remus decided, as it was now pitch black outside the hospital wing's stained glass windows. He even had a roommate now; there was a boy in the bed across from him that Remus was pretty sure wasn't there that morning. He lifted the blanket covering him to reveal his torso, which was covered in white gauze in several places and bruises in a couple of others. It had been a rougher night than he'd imagined, apparently.
Remus leaned back against his pillow and closed his eyes. He couldn't take much more of this. He was sick of hiding who he was and making up lies about why he went missing once a month. So far that school year, he'd claimed to have the flu, a sore throat, a headache, a broken toe, and an ear infection – and he was beginning to run out of excuses. It wouldn't be long until someone caught wind of the timing and discovered his secret. He knew the day would come, and he worried about it constantly. He had friends here; he didn't want to go back to being loathed and feared.
And then there was the toll this was taking on his body. He was only fifteen years old, but on nights like this, he felt at least one hundred. Having James, Peter, and Sirius with him during transformations helped somewhat, but it wasn't always enough. Sometimes the urges grew too powerful and he needed to run off, to hunt, to fight, to be violent. The mornings after those were the worst. He didn't just feel frail and broken – he was frail and broken.
There were whispers about a potion being developed to help people like him, and Remus could only pray the rumors were true. He didn't expect a cure, but something to help make full moons less treacherous would be a gift. At this point, he'd take anything.
He heard light footsteps in the doorway. Remus shifted his head on his pillow, expecting to see Madam Pomfrey heading toward him with with a cup of some nasty medicine to swallow, but he didn't. Instead, it was...
"Emmeline," he said, a hint of surprise in his voice.
"Hello," she responded quietly, remaining in the doorway. "Mind if I come in?"
"Not at all," Remus answered with a smile. Despite his condition, he was quite happy to see her.
His condition. As Emmeline was busy grabbing a chair, Remus quickly checked his arms. Miraculously, his arms and hands were wound-free; all of the damage was covered by the blanket. He breathed a sigh of relief.
When Emmeline sat down beside him, she nodded toward the boy in the bed across the room.
"Any word on how he's doing?"
"No idea. Why? Who is it?" He wanted to ask why she even cared, but he didn't.
"Rory MacDonough," she replied. He was a friend of theirs. "It's kind of my fault he's here."
"Why?" Remus asked, puzzled.
Emmeline allowed a guilty smile to spread across her face. "I may have nailed him in the side of the head with a bludger."
Remus's face fell. "I missed the match! I'm sorry!"
"It's quite alright."
"How'd it go?"
"Well, it was close..."
Emmeline grinned. "We won by twenty."
"Really?" Remus exclaimed, beaming. "Excellent! I mean, we'll never hear the end of it from James, I expect, but that's still great news! We're still in the running for the Cup?"
"Remus, we're in the Cup. Hufflepuff's out. We just don't know who our opponent is yet."
"Wow," he breathed. "That's wonderful. Congratulations, Emmy."
She blushed. "Thanks."
It always amused Remus that Emmeline was a Beater. She was such a humble, quiet girl, not to mention built quite small and slender. At first glance, she was someone one would expect to be a Seeker, or maybe a Chaser. But when she was on the pitch, she became a completely different person. It was no wonder Rory was in the hospital; knowing how tough Emmeline played, the poor bloke was probably still unconscious.
"Anyway," she said after a while, "Sirius mentioned you were down here, so I just wanted to pop in and see how you were doing. I've been stuck here overnight before. It gets boring rather quickly."
"That's so nice of you. And least you didn't come by just to bring me homework. That's what the guys do a lot."
"Good thing it's Saturday, or I might have had to," Emmeline said. "Though seeing as I don't know how long you'll be staying here, I did consider bringing you a book or two."
"I get to go back to Gryffindor Tower in the morning, thank goodness."
"Oh, good," she said. "Sirius didn't say what was wrong, so I was worried it might be something awful and you'd be here for a while..."
Emmeline's voice trailed off. She looked down at her hands in her lap, and Remus could only smile sadly. He could tell she wanted to know what was wrong, but was too polite to ask, so she was instead attempting to get him to volunteer the information. The only other students who knew of his condition were James, Peter, and Sirius. Emmeline was a dear friend and he was closer to her than any of the other fourth-year Gryffindor girls, but Remus still wasn't ready to share his secret with her just yet.
And he didn't have to. At that very moment, Madam Pomfrey walked in carrying the dreaded cup of medicine.
"Good evening, Mr. Lupin," she said as she approached his bed side. "Oh, and Miss Vance. I didn't see you walk in, dear."
"Sorry," Emmeline mumbled quietly.
"Not to worry, though I daresay it's getting late," Madam Pomfrey said casually as she placed the medicine on the table beside his bed. "You don't have to take this right away, Mr. Lupin, but you must before you go to sleep. Every drop. No cheating."
"Yes, ma'am," he said reluctantly. He hated that damn healing potion.
"Good evening to you both," Madam Pomfrey said with a nod. She quickly checked on the motionless Rory before leaving the room.
"I should probably go," Emmeline said. "She didn't seem too happy that I was here. Probably because of Rory."
Remus knew perfectly well that Madam Pomfrey didn't mind he had company, and that she mentioned the lateness simply because she was a staff member and had to uphold the rules. He suspected that she felt sorry for him, seeing that he spent so much time in her care. During one of his several recoveries the previous year, James, Peter, and Sirius each took it upon themselves to claim a bed in the hospital wing even though they were all perfectly healthy. Remus was the only one awake when Madam Pomfrey came into the room the following morning to check on him. James was snoring like a bear, Peter was tightly twisted in his blanket, and Sirius had fallen on the floor sometime during the night but was still dead to the world. She'd simply shook her head, told him not to get used to having hospital parties, and proceeded to tend to his wounds. The four of them never got in trouble for it.
Even though Emmeline was a girl and not one of his frequent visitors, Remus had a feeling Madam Pomfrey would have allowed her to stay – not for the whole night, but just for a little while. He actually wanted Emmeline to hang around a bit longer, even if just to rant about homework or to let her tell him all the details of Gryffindor's match against Hufflepuff that afternoon. But he didn't press the issue; she probably wanted to get into some cozy pajamas and relax after her long day. As such, he nodded at her suggestion.
"I suppose so," Remus said. "Thanks a lot for coming to visit, though. It was good to see you."
"Of course. I really hope you get better soon. Don't forget to take your medicine." She smirked. "No cheating, remember?"
Remus chuckled. "I won't. Promise."
Emmeline reached over and gave him a friendly squeeze on the shoulder, accompanied by a sympathetic smile, before pushing her chair back against the wall and leaving the room. He stared at the doorway for a while after she left, then looked at the vacant spot where her chair had been. Even though Emmeline had only been gone for a few moments, he already felt a bit lonely.
But he smiled. Someone other than James, Peter, or Sirius had cared enough to come all the way down to the hospital wing to see if he was okay. It was a nice feeling, knowing he was in someone's thoughts.
Then he wondered if Emmeline would still care about him once she inevitably learned he was a monster.
Shaking the thoughts away, Remus grabbed the cup from his bedside table and drank the horrible medicine. He resisted the urge to spit it out, grimacing at the murky texture and hating the way it burned his throat on the way down. Still, he drank every last drop, just as he'd been instructed. Remus would've much rather been miserable for a few seconds than still have the reminders of his condition in the morning; he wanted to forget until the next full moon.
He felt the sleep draught that had been mixed into the medicine start to kick in, and within moments, Remus was away in a dream. Or maybe it was a nightmare. He never did remember either way.
Author's Note: I didn't think I'd find crafting this story so fun, but there's just something about it. I hope you're all enjoying reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it!
Thanks for reading! :)
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