Chapter 3 : 22 October, 1975
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22 October, 1975
Nothing, in Remus's opinion, was more beautiful than the moon beginning to wane. He looked to the sky with a small smile as he walked up the path from the greenhouses to the castle, knowing that he had a little more than three weeks until his next transformation. Given, the last couple of nights of recovery had been hell, but seeing the moon start to shrink made up for it.
The atmosphere the evening brought only made it better. It was Remus's favorite sort of weather: cool, crisp, and just breezy enough to rustle the browning leaves and ripple the water of the lake below. The rapidly setting sun cast a slim, glowing ribbon of auburn and rose behind the castle, while the sky behind him grew darker and darker with every passing second. The stars were coming out and glittering wildly, almost as if they were sharing Remus's glee with him.
Three weeks of peace lay ahead. It was worthy of joy.
Missed homework from Professor Sprout in hand, he continued his blissful ascent up the path. When he saw Emmeline far up ahead, jogging down the hill with her broomstick in hand and a bag on her shoulder, his smile widened. It had been a few days since he'd seen her. She hadn't visited him while he'd been in the hospital wing, but that was okay. Remus never expected anyone to visit; it made it that much more of a pleasant surprise when someone did. He did wonder why she hadn't, though, as Emmeline had stopped by during each of his recoveries since April even though she never knew the real reason he was there. He wasn't angry, but curious.
He waved at her as she drew nearer.
“Hi, Emmy!” he chanted.
“Hi, Remus,” she returned. She continued walking at a steady pace down the path.
“Where you headed?”
“Quidditch practice,” Emmeline replied, holding up her broom slightly. “James is insisting on a bit extra to prepare. We play Slytherin next weekend.”
Instead of stopping to talk like she usually did, Emmeline kept walking as she approached Remus. She breezed right past him and kept her head down. Remus frowned.
“Emmy?” he queried. “Is everything alright?”
Emmeline turned around, but didn't stop.
“Everything's fine,” she said as she walked backwards. “I'm just late is all.”
“Are you sure? You just seem-”
“I'm fine,” Emmeline snapped, finally stopping. “What do you want me to say?”
Remus was taken aback. She sounded angry, but her face said otherwise; she looked worried. Nonetheless, he took her tone to heart.
“Did...did I do something wrong, Emmeline?”
“No,” she scowled. “Look, I'm sorry I didn't visit you in the hospital, alright?”
“I-” he tried to say, but she kept talking.
“It wasn't anything personal, I promise. I just really had to work on that assignment for McGonagall. It's due on Friday, remember?”
Remus's face fell. He was such an arse. He and Emmeline were paired to work on that assignment together, and last week he'd agreed to meet with her on Monday in the library. What had he been thinking, planning a study session on a full moon day? He hadn't been thinking, that's what, and now one of his best friends thought he'd intentionally blown her off.
“Shit, Emmy, I'm sorry,” he sighed. “I didn't mean to not show up. I was-”
“Sick, I know,” she said. “It's okay. I'm not mad. It's just...”
He raised an eyebrow. “It's just what?”
“Nothing. Forget it.”
“What is it?” Remus urged.
Emmeline nibbled nervously on her lip and looked at the ground.
“You get sick a lot, Remus,” she said quietly.
He nodded. “I know. I'm sorry.”
“There's no need to be sorry. I'm just worried about you.”
“Don't worry about me. I'm okay, really.” It wasn't a lie. Professor Slughorn had informed him that something called the Wolfsbane Potion was nearly ready for distribution. In a few months, transformations wouldn't be so painful. There wouldn't be a need for so much recovery time after each full moon. He could almost live a normal life. Almost.
Emmeline's question was barely audible, but her eyes were locked on his as she said it. There was concern on her face, and even a bit of... apprehension.
She knows, Remus thought. He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes. He'd known this day would come, and it didn't shock him that Emmeline figured it out. Aside from the guys, she was his closest friend and he spent quite a bit of time with her. She'd seen the scars on his hands, wrists, and forearms. She always visited him in the hospital wing when she heard he was there, and it was only a matter of time when she noticed it was every four weeks.
The curiosity was etched on her face, but as always, Emmeline was too polite to inquire.
“What do you want to know?” Remus's question wasn't condescending or rude, but rather an invitation for her to get what she really wanted to say off her chest. He knew what she was going to ask and he swore to himself he'd be honest. What worried him was how she'd react. Would she fear him? Be appalled by him? Hate him, even?
Emmeline swallowed hard before speaking, and when she finally did, it came out as barely a whisper.
“Remus, are... are you a werewolf?”
Yes, he thought, though the word itself refused to come out of his mouth. He did not break his eye contact with Emmeline as he pursed his lips and nodded.
Her reaction was unexpected. Remus had assumed she would run, hex him, or maybe even give him a good smack across the face. He'd anticipated chastising and yelling. Emmeline did none of those things. She stayed quietly rooted on the spot, though a small gasp did escape her lips.
“How long have you known?” Remus wondered aloud after a while. He knew perfectly well her asking about his lycanthropy had been nothing more than a formality, and that she'd actually known the truth all along.
“I've suspected,” she answered. “I have for a while. I just didn't... it didn't feel proper to... you know...” her voice trailed off.
Emmeline surprised him further by tossing her broom and bag gently to the side. She sat down on the slightly raised ground off the side of the beaten trail. When Remus cautiously crouched down in front of her so they were face to face, she didn't attempt to move away from him.
“I'm sorry,” she said, looking at her hands in her lap. “I just don't know what to say.”
Remus nodded in understanding. He could tell she felt awkward and perhaps even a bit nervous, so he asked, “Is there anything you'd like to know?”
Emmeline was quiet for a moment. He reckoned there were several things she wanted to know.
“How... how long have you been like this?” she finally asked, raising her eyes to meet his.
Remus sighed. “A long time. Since I was four.”
She gasped. “Four? Remus...”
“It's alright, honestly.”
“May I ask what happened?”
Emmeline listened intently as Remus told her all about his condition. He told her about Greyback and how he didn't remember much of his attack. He told her about the way he had to stay hidden until Dumbledore invited him to Hogwarts. He told her about the Shrieking Shack and how, thanks to his friends, he no longer had to spend full moons alone.
By the end of his tale, Emmeline's eyes became two small ponds, though no tears fell. He couldn't tell if it was due to sadness or fear. Perhaps it was a mix of both.
“Does it hurt?” she choked out after a few moments. “Transforming?”
He offered her a sad smile and nodded.
“Yeah,” he answered. “Every time.”
Emmeline kept her gaze locked on Remus, even as a lone tear finally rolled down her face. She didn't bother to wipe it away. In fact, she didn't do anything. Emmeline remained motionless, and he wondered if it was because she was too scared to move. He wouldn't have blamed her in the slightest if she was terrified of him. She was face-to-face with a wretched beast who ran wild and untamed once a month; who wouldn't be scared of such a thing?
“Are you afraid of me?” he asked in a dejected whisper. The question had been burning within him since their conversation began, and it had been one he'd been worried to ask but knew he had to. Remus stared at the ground between his feet, taking a heavy breath while bracing himself for the inevitable loss of a dear friend. His chest was tight with worry and heartache.
Emmeline's admission came out as barely a squeak, but it was enough to make Remus raise his head in cautious surprise. He was certain he'd heard her wrong.
“You're... you're not?”
“No,” she repeated, shaking her head slightly as confirmation.
Remus could do nothing but stare at her incredulously. How could she not be afraid of him? Merlin, even his own parents had been afraid of him for so many years when the moon was at its brightest. Emmeline, while a sweet girl and a wonderful friend, had only known him for a few years. If his parents didn't even feel safe around him, why should she?
Then she said something he'd never forget.
“Once a month, you're different, and I'll admit the thought of it is a bit unsettling,” Emmeline said. “But every other day, you're Remus, and there's nothing for me to be frightened about. You're the same boy I've known since first year. You're still you. You're still my friend.”
Friend. Emmeline still considered him a friend. She wasn't sickened by the mere sight of him. She didn't want to run. She didn't label him as what he turned into twelve, sometimes thirteen times a year, but instead as what she'd always known him to be. Remus never expected sympathy from anyone, much less acceptance, but to have it was such a soothing thought that he felt himself relax and even smile.
“Thanks for that,” was all he could muster.
Emmeline smiled and reached over to take his hand, which she squeezed reassuringly. They sat in silence for another minute, and all Remus could think about was how lucky he'd been to acquire a friend like her. James, Peter, and Sirius were all fantastic in their own right and he felt blessed to have them in his life, but there was something different about Emmeline. What it was, he didn't know, but he felt like he could be more open around her than anyone else and not feel the least bit ashamed.
“I should be going,” Emmeline finally said. “James will murder me if I don't get there soon.”
Remus smiled. “Yeah, alright.”
“We... we can talk about this again, you know,” Emmeline said. “I mean, if you want to.”
“Thanks, Emmy. That means a lot.”
“And I'm sorry for snapping at you earlier. I didn't mean-”
Remus held up a hand. “It's alright. I kind of deserved it, didn't I?”
“Yeah, maybe a little,” Emmeline said with a grin. “I'll see you in the common room later?”
“Count on it.”
Emmeline grabbed her broom and bag from the ground and half-walked, half-skipped her way down the dirt path toward the Quidditch pitch. Remus wished she didn't have to go. He wanted to sit with her under those trees and talk all night long. He wanted to share the secret about how the guys had become Animagi. He wanted to express his excitement about the Wolfsbane Potion. He wanted to confess his growing fear that even with the help of the potion, he may hurt someone he cared about.
The last one in particular struck him. As Remus watched Emmeline's figure get smaller and eventually disappear as she turned near the trees, it deeply concerned him that she could very well be one of those people he accidentally hurt. Even though James, Peter, and Sirius were with him during his transformations, he wasn't as worried about hurting them not because he cared about them less, but because they had some form of protection being Animagi. Emmeline didn't, and on top of that, she trusted him.
Remus closed his eyes. He'd always told himself to never get close to anyone; doing so would only cause trouble. He desperately hoped he was wrong.
Author's Note: Thanks so much for reading! See you soon for Chapter four! :D
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