A stag and a dog flanked either side of an unusually calm and docile werewolf. They walked beside it in such a way that it made it apparent that they were keeping the wolf in check. A rat scurried along the cobblestone street behind the three animals in front of him, carefully avoiding getting stepped on. It was very late at night, nearly midnight, and the streets were only lit by the glow of the full moon. There was not a single soul out on the streets of Hogsmeade. This suited the four animals just fine; they would rather not be spotted on this night. They had never attempted this before – leaving the Shrieking Shack on the night of a full moon with a full grown werewolf that was capable of taking down several villagers. Yet the werewolf was not dangerous under the strong influence of the stag, dog and rat. In fact, with these three animals, the werewolf was able to retain his human thoughts. The wolf was able to realise that he could not hurt a person out on the street. Somewhere inside the fur and the claws, Remus Lupin still existed.
The white glow of the full moon reflected off the darkened glass windows of the different buildings the group prowled past. The paws, hooves and miniscule feet of the animals padded and clicked lightly on the cobblestones, resulting in a rhythmic air to the night. With the street completely deserted, the four animals felt they could do anything they like and not be caught. The only thing holding them back was that this was the first time they had ventured past the confining walls of the Shrieking Shack. They had hardly perfected their prowl through Hogsmeade on the nights of a full moon. They would save whatever they had in mind for next month.
So instead the group settled for taking in the sights. They trotted past the empty Three Broomsticks, Honeydukes, the post office, and Zonko’s Joke Shop. The black Labrador made a mental note of an idea to propose to his friends as he passed these shops. If there was a secret passage under the Whomping Willow, even if it was manmade, who was to say there weren’t others leading to Hogsmeade? Hogwarts was full of secrets; the Room of Requirement was the perfect example. There had to be more. They would have to scour the castle meticulously, however, and who knew how long that would take? Thankfully, there were no terrifying and life-determining exams waiting for them in June. They had the whole year to do this.
A growl suddenly ripped from the throat of the werewolf and almost at once the dog and stag were on guard. The last thing they needed was for their werewolf friend to get agitated in the middle of a Hogsmeade street and scramble out of their reach. But the werewolf didn’t spring at them and run off. His front right paw twitched and the stag, dog and rat saw the wolf had merely stepped on a particularly sharp rock. The wolf shook it out and continued on his way as though nothing had happened. The dog and stag relaxed and fell back into place with the werewolf, ready to help again if the need arose. The dog barked happily and ran forward, carefully avoiding trampling on the rat. He wheeled around and gazed at his companions in a way that suggested he wanted them to run with him.
The werewolf and stag quickened their pace and the rat scurried along behind the group. The night was theirs.
“He’s Crane come back to haunt us!”
“He’s Crane trying to get revenge on us for what we did when we were eleven!”
“For Crane to come back and haunt us, he’d have to be dead first.”
“Merlin, Moony, do you always have to be the realist?”
“When I see you two becoming hysterical, yes I have to be.”
Sirius and James slammed their bags angrily onto the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall and rounded on Remus, who was a few steps behind them with Peter at his side. They had just come out of their Defence Against the Dark Arts class with the new professor, Professor Finely. They had only been in his class three times and it took only that short amount of time to convince them that this man was a second version of Professor Crane, except, unbelievably, much worse. He was not teaching them to protect themselves against the Dark Arts; he was teaching them to embrace the Dark Arts. Worst of all, he was holding personal vendettas against each student. He had already made up his vendettas against Remus, Sirius and James. James was a blood traitor. Sirius ran away from the prominent Black Family. Remus was a bloodthirsty monster once a month.
Who knew how long it would take before he held something against Lily, Peter, Alice and Frank? Well, it would take almost no time at all for him to despise Lily, as she was a Muggle-born.
“And it doesn’t bother you when he looks at you like you’re going to sink your teeth into him?” Sirius questioned doubtfully. Remus disliked any stereotype thrown at him because of his Lycanthropy. Sirius knew it had to bother him.
Remus set his bag down on the table and calmly sat down. “Personally, I think he would taste disgusting, so I would never do it. So, no, it doesn’t bother me.”
“I still think he’s pure evil,” Sirius lamented stubbornly, dropping into his seat and glaring crossly at the empty golden platter in front of him.
“Going to blame your lunch on your problems, are you?” James chided, sitting down beside Sirius and looking for something to eat and take his mind off the horrific class they had just experienced.
“Possibly.” Sirius grabbed a chicken leg off the nearest platter and ripped a large piece off. “Ebil mab.”
“Would I be redundant if I told him he was revolting?” James asked Remus and Peter.
“No,” the two replied at once. They were both looking pointedly away from the chicken coming through Sirius’s teeth.
James looked as if he was seriously considering reminding Sirius of his disgusting habit of talking with his mouth full, but refrained from doing so, even though Remus and Peter assured him he was not being repetitive.
Sirius swallowed his chicken with immense difficulty and turned to Peter. He needed a third opinion. “So, Pete, do you hate Finely too?”
Peter shrugged as he filled his goblet to the brim with pumpkin juice. “He doesn’t seem so bad.”
Even Remus could not stop his jaw from dropping open in shock. “Are you bloody serious?” Sirius questioned disbelievingly.
“I don’t think he’s that bad,” Peter repeated, focusing his attention on his lunch so he could pretend not to see the unbelieving stares of his friends. He was speaking the truth, he didn’t believe Finely was as evil as they were claiming.
“That’s only because he doesn’t think you’re barking mad for running out on the Black family,” Sirius remarked bitterly, stabbing his chicken savagely with his fork. “How does he know that anyway?”
James shook his head helplessly. “Maybe he heard Dumbledore say you were living with me and he worked it out.” He didn’t know who Dumbledore would talk to that about, but it was a possibility. James groaned in disgust. “What did we do to deserve him? It wasn’t us who ran Kern out of school last year.”
“Not that we’re sorry it happened,” Remus threw in. “But we’ve driven other professors out of school.”
“But Crane was six years ago! You’d think if the fates wanted to get us back, they’d have done it by now.”
“I guess the fates had other plans for us,” Sirius groaned.
“He doesn’t seem so bad,” Peter insisted in a small voice.
James scoffed. “Okay, Wormtail, but when he suddenly has it in for your blood, don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
Remus swallowed his sip of pumpkin juice and tried to direct the conversation away from their evil, life-sucking Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. “How’s Potions?” With only an Acceptable in the class, Remus was not eligible to carry on with it. He could not honestly say that he was sorry. It was a heavy burden lifted off his shoulders.
“Same as usual,” Sirius replied airily, glad to be rid of the subject of Professor Finely. “Slughorn was acting like he wanted to marry Snivellus and Lily right there, or at least have them marry each other for their alleged brilliance in the subject.” He shuddered at the thought of the products of a marriage between Snape and Lily. It would only result on dozens of little boys and girls with greasy black hair and green eyes.
James glanced over his shoulder at the Slytherin table, where Snape sat, flanked on either side by Avery and Mulciber. They were talking in what appeared to be quiet voices, their heads together. “I doubt Lily would accept the offer,” he said, trying to insert some confidence into his voice. “She hates the people he hangs out with. I would bet all my gold that Snape would have one of those idiots as his best man.”
“Probably,” Sirius agreed.
Remus stood up and pulled his bag over his shoulder. “I’ve got to get to Arithmancy,” he told his friends, all three of which had a free period after lunch.
James nodded. “See you in Transfiguration, then.”
Remus left the Great Hall and made his way to the Arithmancy classroom. He actually wanted to get there a bit early, as he had had some difficulty with the homework and wanted to ask Professor Vector about it. NEWT level Arithmancy was nothing like what he had taken before. Professor McGonagall said it would be best for him to continue with the subject, as he enjoyed it and had received an Exceeds Expectations in it. The Transfiguration professor said that he might be eligible to teach it come graduation. Remus rolled his eyes at the thought, they were only humouring him. Who would allow a werewolf to teach students?
Professor Dumbledore would, he supposed. But he didn’t want to ask any more of the Headmaster than he already had.
He stepped onto one of the moving staircases and got off at the third floor.
As he walked down the empty third floor corridor, he thought he heard someone call his name. Wheeling around on the spot, he could see no one. Shrugging, sure he had just imagined it, he continued on his way. But after just a few more steps, he swore he heard his name again. He shook his head, trying to clear it. He was tired, that had to be it. He was imagining things. He gained his bearings, hoping that there, indeed, was someone calling his name so he would know that he was not losing it.
In fact, in the distance, he could see someone, but he was not sure who it was. As he drew nearer, he recognised the figure as Professor Finely. Remus grimaced. The last thing he wanted was to be alone in a hallway with that frightening man and with no witnesses around. But he couldn’t pretend that he hadn’t heard the man. From the way Remus had turned to look, Finely would know his voice had been heard. Bracing himself for whatever hell was coming, Remus approached the man, his hand drifting towards his pocket with his wand in it. He wasn’t being ridiculous; he truly did feel unsafe around his professor.
“Did you call me, Professor?” Remus asked in what he hoped was a casual tone. His hand still hovered near his pocket. What he had told Sirius and James before had been true – it did not bother him when Finely looked at him as if he was about to morph into a wolf. Yet Finely did bother him, there was something wrong with this man.
“Yes, Lupin, I did,” Finely replied in his eternally cold voice.
Remus waited a few beats, expecting the man to go on without being prompted. But he didn’t. “Was there anything you wanted?”
Finely dropped the volume of his voice drastically forcing Remus to lean forward so he could hear him. “I’m sure you’ve noticed the disappearances being reported in the newspapers.”
This was not what Remus had been expecting to hear. He had been expecting a threat of some sort, not a chat about newspaper reports. “Yes… I’ve read about some of them.”
“And I believe I am also correct in assuming that you have an idea of who is behind them.”
Remus thought it best not to answer that question, affirmatively or negatively. He hadn’t the faintest idea of how Finely knew this. This man was too clever.
“I’m sure you’ve heard of the Dark Lord.”
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about, Professor.” Remus was feeling uneasy. He just wanted to go to class and get away from this man.
“Oh, Lupin, you don’t fool me. You’re a smart boy, you know about things you shouldn’t know about.”
Remus’s hand twitched. He wanted to pull out his wand, but knew he couldn’t. How would it look for Professor McGonagall to catch him with his wand held out at a professor? But he felt very uncomfortable and wanted a chance to defend himself if the need arose. What was going on? Why was Finely talking to him about this? “I…”
“So then you must know that the Dark Lord is very interested in people like you.”
Remus said nothing. He did know this; he had known it for years. The Dark Lord could only be Voldemort. Lucius Malfoy had said that Voldemort was looking for people who were shunned from society – vampires, giants, and werewolves.
“You should think about it,” Finely advised him sternly. “The Dark Lord can give you things regular wizards are going to deny you. You can’t honestly expect to be accepted once you leave school.”
So this was what the man wanted. He wanted to persuade Remus to join those horrible people he had seen three years ago in the Forbidden Forest. Remus wasn’t going to hear any of it; he had made up his mind about this a long time ago. He wasn’t going to be one of those werewolves who felt that he needed to take revenge on innocent people for his lot in life. Remus stepped away from the professor and tried to get away. But Finely merely stepped on the hem of Remus’s robe.
He dropped his voice menacingly. “You can’t avoid him, Lupin. Your identity may be secret for now, but that won’t last when you leave this castle. There may be… ah… some who will make sure others know what you are. You’ll never be able to keep a job; no one will rent a flat to you. You won’t be able to make anything of your life.”
Remus’s teeth clenched. Didn’t Finely realise Remus already knew everything he was being told? He knew that life outside Hogwarts was going to be hard and he was ready to face it. He didn’t have to fall back on a madman who was only going to use him and kill him when the opportunity presented itself.
“The Dark Lord can help you, Lupin. He can give you everything you ever wanted. All you have to do is say the word.”
Remus backed away from the man, shaking his head. Students were beginning to fill the hall, on their way to their next class. Remus couldn’t listen to this anymore. He had sworn to himself that he was above everything Finely was saying. He couldn’t hear it, he wouldn’t hear it.
Finely grinned maliciously. “Think about it, Lupin.”
“Is everything alright, Remus? You’re quiet tonight.”
“Hmm? Yeah, I’m fine, Lily.” Remus moved his wand to the left, trying to spot any troublemakers out of bed. Luckily, he found none hiding in the shadows. He was in no mood to deal with loud, arrogant students who believed they were within their rights to be out of their common rooms after curfew.
Lily didn’t believe Remus and inquired further. “Is it your mum?”
“You’re always quiet when you’re going to go and visit your mum. But you just went to see her a few days ago, didn’t you?”
Remus paused, stooping down to tie his shoelace. He was glad the corridor was dark except for the lights of their wands; Lily had a difficult time trying to see the preoccupied look on his face. “Yeah… I did.”
Lily leaned against the wall while she waited for Remus to stand up. She was concerned; she wanted to know if everything was alright in her fellow Prefect’s home. “Is she getting better?” Mrs. Lupin must have been getting better. She had been sick ever since Lily had known Remus. She couldn’t possibly get any worse. If she was getting worse, the only option left was for her to die. She knew Remus wouldn’t be able to take it if that happened.
Remus straightened up and started walking again. “I think so…” He wanted more than anything to talk to his friends, but he had been unable to the entire day. When he met them in Transfiguration, Professor McGonagall had made sure to split them up and sat them in different ends of the room. When class ended, he discovered the three had been given detention for the whole afternoon. He had no chance to talk to them tonight when he returned from Prefect duties; they would most likely be sleeping. He knew they would want to know what had occurred in the hallway after lunch.
A professor was persuading him to join Voldemort. Remus didn’t think that could ever happen. Not even Professor Crane would have done that. Professor Finely was a new kind of evil.
“Do you want me to finish up here?” Lily suddenly offered.
“You don’t look well; you should go on to bed.” Remus began to shake his head, but Lily stopped him. “I don’t mind, really. There’s only a little way to go.”
“Are you sure, Lily?”
“Go on, I won’t tell Heinz you skipped off on your duty.”
“Maybe she’ll go and whine to Dumbledore about it.”
“Yes and have her badge revoked. I’m surprised Dumbledore didn’t do that to Cooper.” Lily placed a hand on Remus’s shoulder and gently pushed him in the opposite direction. “Get to bed, Remus.”
Remus thanked Lily and made his way to Gryffindor Tower. He hoped one of his friends might still be awake. James, Sirius and Peter might not be able to do anything about it, but they would want to know that Finely was trying to convince him to do something he would never dream of doing. Remus didn’t want revenge on society; he didn’t think his lot in life was so bad. Naturally there were rough parts, every time someone learned of his Lycanthropy when he was a child, the period in second year when he had been abandoned after his friends discovered the truth, and of course his fourth year when Fenrir Greyback found him in the Shrieking Shack. But he would never think of hurting others or joining a person who liked hurting others because of it.
That wasn’t the kind of person he was.
The Fat Lady was not happy about being woken up and it took a great deal of begging on Remus’s part for her to admit him into the common room. He was just about to get on his knees and wring his folded hands when she consented. The fire was still crackling in the hearth and Remus could see the darkened staircase leading up to his dormitory. He hurried up the stairs and into the sixth year dormitory.
“What’s the incantation for the Shield Charm?”
Remus nearly jumped out of his shoes at the sound of Sirius’s voice. Sirius was sitting up on his bed, the tip of his wand illuminated, and his notebook open in his lap. Sirius was scratching his chin with his quill, blotting himself with scarlet ink. “Why are you doing homework at midnight?” Remus hissed, not wanting to wake his other roommates.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Sirius answered, his eyes lighting up as he remembered the answer to another question he hadn’t answered yet. He hastily scrawled it down on his homework sheet.
Remus nodded distractedly, pulling his shoes and socks off. He sat down on his bed and turned his left shoe over in his hand, observing it through narrowed eyes.
“Okay, Remus, what’s up?” Sirius asked, setting his homework aside and focusing on his friend. Any time Remus found something such as his shoe worthy of attention, there was something else going on.
Remus flinched. He wanted to talk about what Finely had done, but he didn’t know how to broach the subject. Luckily, Sirius had given him a bit of an opening. “Finely,” he muttered, dropping his shoe on the floor.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. That was not the reply he had been expecting. “What’s he done?”
Remus opened and closed his mouth several times. “He… he talked to me when I was going to Arithmancy earlier.”
“So…?” They all hated their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, but he was permitted to speak to them.
“It was about… d'you remember in our third year, when we went into the Forbidden Forest?”
Sirius nodded grimly. How could he forget that day? The four of them had been knocked unconscious by those blokes they had seen in the forest. It wasn’t a day he could easily push out of his mind. Surely Professor Finely couldn’t know about what happened that afternoon. The only one who did was Professor Handlin, and even he didn’t know what they had found out in the forest. Besides, no one knew where Professor Handlin was anymore.
“He… he was telling me how people… people could use people like me.”
Sirius’s initially curious face turned into one of anger. It was one thing to hear gits like Lucius Malfoy say that, but for a professor to tell his student that? That wasn’t right. The professors had to know one of their students was a werewolf, and they respected Remus enough to accept that. Never had a professor, aside from Crane, taken advantage of it. Sirius got up from his bed and paced furiously in front of Remus, who mutely watched his progress. “Am I hearing you right?”
“Well, what did you say to him?”
“I… I didn’t say anything, everyone started coming into the hallway.”
Sirius moaned. “You should have just said ‘no!’”
“But I didn’t say ‘yes’ to him.”
“Remus, if you didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’ll look like you’re considering it.”
“But I’m not!”
“I know you’re not. You’d never dream of doing anything like what they’ve got planned. But Finely might think that you’re considering it because you never said either way. It makes you sound like you’re not sure.”
“But I am sure!”
“Then tell him that! Don’t just tell me, tell that man because he’s not going to give up.”
“And what happens when I tell him I’m not interested?”
Sirius halted his pacing and stared at Remus. His friend had a good point. He doubted Professor Finely would be pleased to hear that one of his students was denying the chance to be a part of Lord Voldemort’s reign of terror. If anything, he would take it as a personal offense and use this information against Remus for the remainder of the school year. “Good point,” Sirius admitted.
“I thought so.”
“I don’t care if he thinks I’m considering it. If he thinks that, it stops him from thinking that I’m saying no.”
Sirius sat down on his bed. “So, what are you going to do?”
Remus shrugged. “I dunno… I guess it would be stupid to say that Finely would forget about it by our next class.”
“Yeah, it would.”
Remus glanced around the dormitory, trying to find another topic of conversation. He couldn’t take about Finely and his plans anymore. “Er… have you heard from your parents lately?” he asked tentatively. Remus knew Sirius had received some letters from his parents over the holiday. He didn’t know what the letters said; only that Sirius had burned each one after reading it.
Sirius’s face darkened. “Yeah… my dad sent me a letter yesterday at breakfast.” Remus would not have seen the letter, as he was in the Hospital Wing recovering from the full moon. The letter was the same rubbish Sirius had been getting for weeks now - his parents begging him to reconsider his ways. What hit Sirius the hardest was that the letters were not asking him to come home; the letters were asking him to change in a way he did not want to change.
“Was… was it a good one?” Remus asked cautiously. Sirius shook his head. Remus nodded and his eyes darted around the room before resting again on Sirius. “At least you have James’s parents to look after you.”
“Yeah… I do.” No one would ever know how grateful Sirius truly was for all of the help Mr. and Mrs. Potter had given him. Anyone else could have told him to just go home, even though he knew he was not wanted at his home. But the Potters took him in, gave him a room, food and clothes. He could never fully express his gratitude, but he knew that they knew that it was there. He would be forever indebted to them. Sirius shifted in his seat and smirked. “So… what’s the incantation for the Shield Charm?”
Excerpt from Chapter Fifty Five: The Marauder's Map Begins
Sirius rolled his eyes at the drip of sarcasm in Remus’s voice. Trust Remus to put a downer on his good mood. “No… that would take too long. Besides, they won’t be under statues. They’ll be in other places.”
Remus balled up his socks and dropped them unceremoniously on the floor beside his bed. He pulled back his covers and got under them. “Whatever you say, Sirius. Good night.” He rolled over so his back was facing his friends and shut his eyes.
“You two know what this means, don’t you?” Sirius continued, glancing from James to Peter.
“You were just telling Remus you weren’t going to run around pushing over statues when you really are?” James said, grinning broadly.
“Stuff it, Potter.” Sirius crossed the room and sat down on his own bed. “We’re about to find out more about this castle than anyone else has before.”
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