At first it was the same old nightmare he had been experiencing for a few months.
"Are you sure you want to take this shift alone, Wilkins? I can stay with you if you want…"
Everything is dark and quiet. The smell of alcohol and blood fills the air but nobody is screaming in pain.
There is a light, coming from a door at the end of the room.
Remus walks towards the door and quietly opens it.
It is an office. Sort of.
The walls are hidden behind large metallic cupboards filled with what seem to be Muggle medicines.
The light is cold and falters slightly every couple of seconds.
There is a desk in the middle of the office. In front of it stands a woman. She is tall and has a dark complexion. She is wearing a strange uniform.
Behind the desks stands another woman. She is giving her back to the door, Remus can't see her face. She's taller than the other one, and is wearing a long white coat. She's scanning through the shelves, apparently searching for some kind of medications. Her hair is dark blond and is gathered in a low bun.
She speaks. Her voice is sweet and musical.
"Don't worry Kate. Go to the party and have fun… You deserve some rest, after all"
The woman in that strange uniform, Kate, rolls her eyes in exasperation.
"You could use some rest too, you know. How many hours have you slept this week? Ten? Eight?"
The blond woman turns around, smiling tiredly.
"Six. And I'm perfectly fine. Sleep is highly overrated"
Kate mutters something and finally exits the room, but Remus doesn't care. He's too busy staring at the girl in front of him.
Her eyes. His eyes.
Her skin is strained and her jaw looks badly bruised. Her cheeks are sunken and her complexion is so pale that she looks dead.
But those eyes. He could recognize them everywhere.
She is smiling. She always smiles. But she isn't happy.
She was happy. He saw her.
An explosion echoes in the distance, and the floor trembles slightly. Cassandra, however, isn't worried by the little earthquake. She just keeps scanning through the shelves, eventually picking up a small white box. She sits at the desks and starts scribbling something on one of those Muggle notebooks.
After a while she takes off her white coat, showing her own uniform. It's different from Kate's one… it looks like the Aurors' one, but it's green, and the trousers are full of pockets.
Cassandra rubs her face with her hands. She's tired, despite what she has told Kate.
However, something happens that wakes her up from her numbness.
A thud. A growl. A crash.
Remus knows that growl so well. He has heard it coming from his own mouth so many times.
He wants to grab Cassandra and hold her close. He wants to take her away from that danger.
But he isn't there. And Cassandra jumps up from her chair, looking warily at a plastic curtain on her right.
Her tone is harsh and threatening, but she doesn't know. Oh, if only she knew.
Slowly Cassandra approaches the curtain, drawing a gun out of her left pocket.
A thud. A growl. A crash. A whimper.
Don't go through that curtain, Cassandra. Please. I'll find you and I'll take you with me. No more guns, no more explosions. But please, please… Don't go through that curtain.
Before Remus notices him, Cassandra is already holding a little boy close, pressing a hand on his mouth.
She murmurs something in a language Remus doesn't understand, but the boy nods and crawls out of the office as silently as he can.
As soon as he is out of the room, Cassandra lays her back on the door and closes it quietly, wincing every time she makes a sound.
She locks it.
From the inside.
"CASSANDRA WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING! OPEN THAT DAMN DOOR AND RUN"
But she can't hear him.
A growl. A crash. A howl.
It is coming. Closer and closer.
Cassandra is terrified. Her yes are wide and wild.
Her hold on the gun tightens.
With a hand she reaches for a strange black thing in her right pocket.
It's a muggle object… A walkie-talkie.
She turns it on. She is sweating and trembling.
" Roberts, come in. Over"
She is breathing heavily, waiting for someone to hear her.
A buzzing voice comes from that strange device. The sound is disturbed, but Remus can hear everything.
"Wilkins, this is Roberts. Go ahead."
A growl. A thud. Another thud.
It is coming closer.
Cassandra's voice is urgent, worried. She speaks fast but keeps her tone low.
"There is a wolf in the emergency Room. Break. It's… it's in the stocking section, it hasn't reached the patients yet. Break. I… I'll try to bring it outside the building, but you have to call for help ASAP. How copy? Over."
"Wilkins, I copy. We'll come ASAP. Over."
Don't do that.
You can't do anything. It's too strong.
But Cassandra doesn't listen to him. She approaches the curtain slowly, silently.
She murmurs something under her breath.
"Apollinem medicum et Aesculapium Hygeamque ac Panaceam iuro deosque omnes itemque deas testes facio me hoc iusiurandum et hanc contestationem conscriptam pro viribus et iudicio meo integre servaturum esse: …."
With her right hand she lifts the curtain, careful not to make a sound.
"…Ceterum quod ad aegros attinet sanandos, diaetam ipsis constitutam pro facultate et iudicio meo commodam, omneque detrimentum et iniuriam ab eis prohibebo…"
A growl. A whimper. A crash.
Cassandra jerks backwards, leaning against the wall. She lifts her eyes to the ceiling, keeping murmuring those latin words.
" Neque vero ullius preces apud me adeo validae fuerint, ut cuipiam venenum sim propinaturus, neque etiam ad hanc rem consilium dabo..."
She crouches and lifts the curtain again.
No. Cassandra, please. Run away…
Her murmuring becomes more frantic and desperate. Her breath is ragged. She notices that her shoes echo loudly on the office floor. She takes them off.
"Porro praeterea et sancte vitam et artem meam conservabo... "
Please, Cassandra. Run away.
" In quascumque autem domos ingrediar…
…. ob utilitatem aegrotantium intrabo…"
She doesn't listen to him. She goes past the curtain. She crawls. Quiet, careful, silent.
It's right in front of her, hidden in the darkness.
It's huge, stuck between two muggle machines.
It growls, and twitches, and snaps, and howls.
Its yellow eyes are bright and wild.
Its fangs glisten in the dull light of the full moon.
It's stuck. But it's getting closer.
"…. ab omnique iniuria voluntaria inferenda…
… et corruptione cum alia…"
It doesn't notice Cassandra. Not immediately.
She crawls in the darkness, lips moving almost imperceptibly, the gun safely stuffed in her left pocket.
"tum praesertim operum venereorum abstinebo…
…. sive muliebria sive virilia…
…. liberorumve hominum aut servorum corpora…
… mihi contigerint curanda."
She stops. She is right behind the monster. It still hasn't noticed her.
Don't do that..
She gets up from the floor. She draws the gun out of her pocket. She points it to the ceiling.
Bangs echo in the silence.
The monster stops growling.
There is no fear in Cassandra's eyes. Just resignation.
She points the gun to the window. Pieces of glass shatter on the floor.
Just in time.
The monster is free.
It growls and snaps its jaws, pushing and throwing heavy machines on the floor.
The monster wants her.
She jumps out of the window, ignoring the sharp pain of the glasses ripping her flesh.
The monster gets stuck in the window, it growls and howls and shows its fangs.
Cassandra runs in the forest. She is fast and agile. She doesn't trip on a root, she doesn't bump into low branches.
Remus runs with her.
The monster runs after her.
She turns back, she shots at the monster.
She hits it.
But it isn't enough.
She just makes it angrier. And hungrier.
She is fast. But the monster is faster.
The firs bite comes to her left side. She doesn't have the time to scream or cry, because the monster throws her against a tree.
Remus wants to help her, but he can't. He wants to look away, but he can't.
Cassandra tries to crawl away from the monster, holding her bitten side.
The second bite comes to her shoulder. It throws her backwards, under the monster.
The monster pins her to the ground, sinking its massive claws into her arms.
She struggles to get away, but it's too strong.
This time she screams. And sharp claws hit her in the face, in the neck, in the chest.
Her left arm is free now. She is fast, despite the pain. She gets away. She crawls towards her gun.
Something stops her. The third bite. The worst one.
Remus knows there's nothing he can do, but he screams anyway. He screams and shouts and cries while strong jaws close around Cassandra's leg.
She can't move. The monster's paws are on her back, cutting her skin into shreds.
Remus cries, and shouts and screams. But she doesn't. She just stares in the distance with her wide green eyes, a cheek pressed to the soft soil of the forest.
The monster is busy, it doesn't pay attention. A paw shifts. Cassandra's left arm is free.
She is weak, her eyes are duller and duller. But her hand moves nonetheless.
She grabs a small, round thing.
Another paw shifts.
She brings the thing to her mouth. She bites and pulls. Then she turns and throws the thing over her.
The monster is busy, it doesn't pay attention. The only thing that keeps Cassandra in place is its mouth on the remains of her leg.
So she pulls.
She gets free.
The monster wants to reach her, finish her, but it's too late. The small round thing explodes. The monster is gone with a last pained howl.
The silence is deafening.
What have you done.
What have I done.
She is lying on the ground, her eyes still open, her mouth still moving.
"Hoc igitur iusiurandum mihi integre servanti, et non confundenti, contingat et vita et arte feliciter frui, et apud omnes homines in perpetuum gloriam meam celebrari. Transgredienti autem et peieranti, his contraria eveniant".*
And her heart stops.
Usually, at this point Remus Lupin woke up covered in cold sweat ant tears, calling for her daughter in vain. The night after McGonagall's visit, however, something different happened.
His nose, powerful but weakened by years of muggle cigarettes, sniffed a peculiar scent.
Cinnamon, Orange, Mint and Lemon.
He didn't recognize that scent, but apparently Moony did, because he started howling in glee and hope.
Now, there had been a time in which Remus Lupin would have listened to the Wolf. In fact, when he was at Hogwarst he had learned to accept his feral side, enjoying the strength and the power that this implied.
Nobody had noticed the difference between old shy Remus and dangerous, dominant Moony, apart from the Marauders, because he hadn't felt the need to show off his strength and power using violence and growls. He liked being kind and patient, he liked expressing his dominance through his genius mind and pranks.
Cassandra appearance had been the only occasion in which Remus had shown his fangs. Literally. How could they even think to hide her from him, hurting her, letting her starve and die? She was his Cub, his daughter, and he was one of the most powerful Alphas the magical world had ever seen. Not even Fenrir Greyback stood a chance against his wrath, it didn't matter that, at the time, Remus was only fifteen years old.
He had never felt more alive. Burying his sharp teeth in the other wolf's limbs, ripping the flesh, feeling the blood flowing in his wolfish mouth. He still remembered the glorious morning after that full moon. Dumbledore was furious with Madame Pomfrey for having left the Shack open, giving him the opportunity to escape. He didn't know that a couple of magical shields couldn't compete with the strength of an enraged father. That, and the wand of the above-mentioned father's spectacled friend.
When the werewolf had marched into the Hospital wing, oh, what a show! The nurse was ready to faint and even the Headmaster blanched visibly. He was half-naked, covered in blood and sweat, his eyes glowing dangerously and his mouth stretched into a feral, murderous grin. And he was holding a two-year-old child. His two-year-old child.
The one who shines upon men. That was the meaning of the name, and it was true.
She was perfect. She was beautiful, sweet, intelligent... She was his treasure, his pride and glory. He practically glowed when he was with her.
With Cassandra, however, old doubts and fears came back with full force. She had been hurt by other werewolves. People like him. He didn't want her to suffer again, he didn't want his inner wolf to put her into trouble. So he had started fighting Moony. Again. It was painful and he felt awful for a while, but his little angel was worth it.
But it hadn't been enough.
She had disappeared anyway.
And now she was gone.
Gone for good.
Killed by a werewolf.
Despite having been raised by muggles.
Oh, the irony of fate.
He had tried to ignore the Wolf.
He had ignored Moony, he had ignored his howls of outrage when he had turned his back to the window of the restaurant.
He had chosen to abandon his feral side for good.
But the Wolf kept howling. And now, in the dazed atmosphere of that unusual dream, despite the almost automatic tendency to overlook him, Remus couldn't help but ask himself if there was still a point in pretending Moony didn't exist.
Soon enough, it became clear that there wasn't a point at all.
The idea was appealing. Abandon any kind of resistance, embrace his old furry friend.
Cassandra would have been happy to see her father finally reconciled with Moony.
Remus could practically see the Wolf jumping up and down, wiggling his tail hopefully.
And then, that scent hit them again.
Cinnamon, orange, mint and lemon.
A laugh. Sweet and musical, even if a bit hoarse.
"Agh, Doggie, stop!..."
"…Dad once told me something regarding being in the middle of a war…"
"…So? Do I look like a witch?"
Voices filled the darkness, leaving Remus dazed and confused. Moony, instead, howled happily and… smugly?
The voices became louder and more chaotic, creating a pretty unpleasant cacophony in Remus' mind.
Suddenly, something appeared in the darkness, far away.
Moony was almost hyperventilating with excitement.
Remus squinted his eyes to catch more details about that strange figure.
It was a man. He had his knees on the floor and was staring at the horizon, completely still.
Walking slowly, Remus went closer and closer to the man, the Wolf running a few feet ahead of him.
The man was hidden in the shadows and didn't seem to notice his presence.
Remus kneeled in front of him, only to fall backwards with a shout.
His grey eyes were dull and he looked skinny and ill, but it was still him. The traitor. The murderer.
Remus wanted to tackle him and strangle him, but a low growl distracted him.
Moony was angry. Not with Black. With Remus.
If you want to be friends with me again, Human, you have to help the Dog.
Maybe that reconciliation thing wasn't a great idea, after all. Moony was delusional.
Sighing, Remus complied, muttering under his breath something about mad mangy wolves.
Suddenly the cacophony stopped, and Remus could clearly hear a musical, sweet voice whispering:
"We'll find him, Sirius. We'll find the rat. You'll be free, and the family reunited…
… You paid for any possible crime you could commit in the future. Sorry is not your word to say".
Translation of the text in Latin (quote from the Hippocrate's Oath):
I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygiea, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:(...)I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; (...)But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.(...)In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or men, be they free or slaves.(...)If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practise my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.