He joined his friends in the Great Hall in time to watch the first year students file in for the sorting ceremony. One girl, who had a long braid of bright red hair and wore glasses, was watching Remus so intently that she almost walked into the girl in front of her.
Remus couldn’t help wondering what she was thinking and why she was looking at him that way.
Sirius, who was sitting across the table from him and had noticed the girl’s behavior, teased Remus.
“Looks like you’ve got a girlfriend.”
“Oh please…she was probably just staring at the scar on my face. Or maybe I’ve got something on my shirt.”
“I don’t think so, Remus. That didn’t look like staring, but more like admiring. I bet she thinks you’re good looking.”
“If she does, then she needs new glasses. Now be quiet so I can hear the sorting ceremony.”
Even though Remus had blown off the girl’s behavior, he found himself thinking that she was pretty, and wondering what she might look like in a few years. Though he’d told himself many times over the last year that he shouldn’t even think about dating, it didn’t stop him from appreciating a pretty girl when he saw one.
He focused on the sorting ceremony in time to hear her name- Holly Williams- and hear that she was placed in Gryffindor house. She took a seat at the end of the table near the girl she’d nearly walked into, and the two faced the front of the hall to watch the last few students be sorted.
After the ceremony was over, Professor Dumbledore made his usual welcome speech and announcements, then the feast began. Remus ate quickly, because he knew he needed to be ready when it was time for him and Lily to lead the first year students to the dorms.
Once the feast was finished and all of his other duties finally completed, Remus climbed the stairs to his own dorm, glad to be able to get ready for bed. As he and his friends were changing into their pajamas, Sirius said
“We’re going to join you tomorrow night.”
It took Remus a second to remember that the next night was the first full moon of the school year. He then asked
“Do you really think it’s a good idea to try this so early in the year? All the prefects will be working hard the first few days to try to make a good impression on the teachers.”
“You’ve forgotten about James’ invisibility cloak, I guess. It’s big enough for the three of us. If we use it- and we will- they won’t see us.”
“I didn’t forget about it, I just wasn’t sure if he’d brought it to school. I guess that will work. Just be careful, I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“We won’t. If you try to do anything you shouldn’t, we’ll stop you.”
“I hope you’re right about that. I need to get in bed now- tomorrow’s gonna be a long day.”
He climbed into bed and pulled the curtains closed around him. As he lie there trying to fall asleep, he thought about the next night, and wondered if his friends’ plan would work.
The following day went by so quickly it seemed to have ended before it began. Remus followed his usual routine of having dinner with the headmaster, then being escorted to the “whomping willow” tree. Though he could now perform the charm to immobilize the tree on his own, Professor Dumbledore still preferred to escort him, in case anything went wrong.
A few minutes after he made it into the cottage, he transformed. He would not know if his friends had visited him until after he returned to normal the next day.
After his usual eight-hour stay in the hospital wing, he went to the dorms to stow the supplies Madam Pomfrey had provided him to care for this month’s wounds. James, Sirius and Peter were waiting for him there, as they had done most months since learning of his condition. Once he had assured them he was okay, and in fact had fewer wounds than usual, Sirius launched into an account of their visit.
“I know you don’t remember us being with you, but we managed to sneak in just after 9 p.m. and we stayed with you until about 1:30 a.m. James’ cloak is really good for hiding us- no one noticed a thing. We walked within about three feet of a couple of prefects and they couldn’t tell we were there. I think our presence might have helped you some, because when we first got there, you were restless- pacing and clawing at the walls, but after a little while you calmed down. You even slept a little bit.”
“Tell him specifically how he slept, Sirius.” interjected James.
“I laid down on the floor and curled up, then you sniffed me a bit and curled up behind me, with your head on my back. You slept for about three hours that way. It wasn’t anything weird, like James is trying to make it seem. I think you just responded to the way I smelled. Since I was a dog, I probably smelled familiar or something, and you were comfortable with it. I didn’t mind, and I’m glad you were able to sleep.” explained Sirius.
“I did feel more rested this morning than I usually do, so I’m glad that part worked out so well. How did you keep me from clawing myself? I didn’t bite or scratch any of you, did I?” asked Remus.
“No, you didn’t. I’m not sure exactly why you didn’t claw yourself. We didn’t do anything that I can say for sure stopped you. You seemed curious about us, maybe puzzled by us being there, and you sniffed us all, but you didn’t hurt any of us. It seemed more like our presence calmed you somehow.” said Sirius.
“Did you guys get enough sleep to do okay in your classes? I don’t want anyone failing because of me.”
“We did okay…we were in bed by about 1:45 a.m., and asleep very soon after that. So we got about five hours sleep. We were a little drowsy, but it wasn’t too bad. We took turns taking notes for class, but were also hoping you’d share the notes the teachers give you with us. I don’t really think one day a month of being a little bit off is gonna cause any of us to fail; our grades are all pretty good right now and if we keep studying the way we usually do, I don’t think it will be a problem.” said James.
“Hopefully you’re right. I will share my notes with you, but if the full moon falls the night before a test, I want you guys to stay here and study. The teachers let me take my test later on, but they won’t do that for you unless you have a good reason.”
“We thought about that, and agree that any time there is a test right after the full moon, we’ll have to visit you for a shorter time or not at all, but I don’t think that will happen often.” agreed James.
“You’re probably right. Even though I have a few other questions, I’m also hungry, so let’s go to the Great Hall for dinner, and I’ll ask you the rest later.” said Remus.
They agreed and went downstairs for their evening meal. Remus would later find out the answer to a question that he’d had since they first chose their animal forms- how big James and Sirius were in comparison to his werewolf form. They revealed to him that when he was changed, he gained almost a foot in height, so Sirius was a bit over half his size when he was on all fours. James, however, was bigger when he changed- nearly three quarters the size of Remus’ werewolf form. This put his mind at ease a bit; since they were that large, he felt more confident that they would be able to handle him, should the need arise.
He was pleased with the success of his friends’ plans to help him, and most months their presence did result in fewer wounds on his body, and less exhaustion when his transformation was over.
Though Remus’ life was in less turmoil this year than it had been the previous year, as time passed, he found himself feeling a bit isolated from his friends, in spite of the time they spent together.
James, who had always been somewhat arrogant, had grown worse this year since he had been appointed captain of the quidditch team. This attitude was not improved by the fact that so many of the fans adored him, and treated him like a celebrity.
Sirius had begun to change as well. Over the last year, he’d grown several inches, and his voice, which had been changing since spring had finally settled during the summer. As a result of this, he had quite a few girls vying for his attention, and he did his best to accommodate them…he had a date almost every weekend.
Only Peter seemed not to have changed much. He’d gone through many of the same changes they all had- he’d grown a bit, though he was still shorter and heavier than they all were and his voice had changed somewhat. But in many ways he was still the same average guy he’d been, who followed James and Sirius around like a little puppy everywhere they went.
Even Lily had changed a bit over the summer. She was beautiful as always, and had begun dressing a bit differently on weekends. Her usual look of blue jeans and t-shirts with a long braid was often replaced by casual dresses or skirts, her red hair loose and softly curled. He was not surprised that she was dating, and like Sirius, had a date most weekends.
Seeing his friends’ successes caused Remus to wonder about his own life. In the last couple of years, he had resigned himself to the idea of being single, so he believed he would never have a family. He knew that his condition would also likely make it difficult for him to get, and keep a job. After all, if his dad could be fired simply for having a son that was a werewolf, why should he, the werewolf, expect any better treatment? Even if he hid his condition, no one would be fooled for long- a few months of him being absent on the full moon would be enough to rouse suspicion in even the most forgiving wizard or witch.
He considered the idea of talking to James and Sirius about his feelings, but realized that would be a bad idea. Though he knew they would encourage him, they wouldn’t have any solutions to his problems, because there weren’t any easy answers. He knew his worries about the future couldn’t be addressed so far ahead of time- after all, it would be years before he needed to get a job. His feelings about his friends, and he had to admit more than a little of it was jealousy, were something only he could resolve. He knew his friends’ behavior was normal; they were just growing up, not trying to hurt him.
So he decided the best thing he could do was put the journal Professor Dumbledore had bought him for Christmas the previous year to good use. There was still almost half of it left, so there was plenty of space to write. He knew from prior experience that writing his feelings out on paper often made him feel better, even if it didn’t solve his problems.
One Sunday afternoon in late November, after listening to James entertain a group of students with details of the previous day’s quidditch match, Remus decided to go to the library to study for an upcoming Charms test. He scanned the common room to see if perhaps Sirius or Peter might want to join him, but he didn’t see Sirius, and Peter was in the crowd of students gathered around James, paying rapt attention to every word James said. He didn’t see Lily either, and hoped he might be lucky enough to find her in the library. On his way to the dorm to gather his books, he saw Sirius in a corner, snuggling with a pretty, brunette girl from their year.
When he arrived in the library, he sought out his favorite table near the back. He found it was occupied- by Lily, who to his surprise, was alone. He tapped her gently on the shoulder and asked
“Mind if I join you?”
“No, of course not. Have a seat. What are you studying for?”
“The Charms test that is coming up at the end of the week. How about you?”
“The same one, and I’m finishing up the essay for Potions class. It’s due this week too.”
“I finished that Friday. If you want, I’ll look over yours for you.”
“Thanks, I’d appreciate that.” she said.
There was a long pause as Remus got his books spread out on the table and Lily moved her things around so that they would both have enough space to work. When she spoke again, there was concern in her voice.
“I know we haven’t spent as much time together as we usually do, but I have been watching you, and you seem to be worrying over something, or trying to figure something out. Would you like to talk about it?”
He thought for a moment about it, and decided if there was anyone he could trust to be compassionate and maybe have some ideas that might help him, it was Lily. So he told her
“Actually, I would like to talk about it, if you have time. I’ve got a lot on my mind and could use an opinion.”
“I’ve always got time for you, Remus. You’re one of my best friends. What’s on your mind?”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about my future lately. With the teachers reminding us about our OWLs every few days, it’s hard not to think about it. But I wonder if I should really try to make plans, if there’s any reason to believe that I’ll have a future in normal wizard society. I know my grades are decent, but to be honest, I can’t imagine anyone hiring me; and even if they did, sooner or later they’d figure out the nature of my condition and fire me. It reminds me of what my dad said about how it would have been better for me to have stayed home and taken care of mom or for me to leave and live with my own kind. I wonder sometimes if he was right.”
“No, Remus, I don’t think he was right, and you don’t need to believe that either. You are one of the most intelligent people I know. There must be options available for you; they just might not be obvious. It might be difficult for you to get a job- I’m sure it probably will, but you shouldn’t give up before you even try. As far as living among ‘your kind’, it’s a foolish idea…something your dad probably said just to hurt you. You don’t belong with them.”
“Don’t I though? I’m the same as they are.”
“Only because you change form each month. You are a caring, decent young man, Remus. You are not like them. You wouldn’t hurt anyone or anything deliberately; many of them do. Just think of your own story- you could never do that. You belong exactly where you are- at school, with your friends who care about you, learning what you need to prepare for your future.” she said firmly.
“I guess you might be right, but what if you’re not? What if I can’t get a job? I’ll just end up being a burden on society, or living off whatever I can find.”
“No, you won’t…if you can’t get a job, or have trouble keeping a job, I’m sure one of your friends will help you- I know I certainly would. But I’m sure if you talk to Professor Dumbledore or Professor McGonagall when they do career counseling in the spring, they will have some ideas for you…things you or I might not know about or think of right now.”
“I hope you’re right about that, and even though I appreciate the idea of you helping me, I hope I never have to take you up on it. As far as the guys helping me- I’m not so sure…things between us just seem different this year.” he said
“Well, James’ ego has gotten worse since he was made quidditch captain. He’s always got his fans around him, and that certainly doesn’t help any. Sirius seems to be attracting the attention of every girl in school. I know it’s just growing up, and they aren’t behaving that way to hurt me, but I feel left out because I know I can never have those things. I’m not an athlete- and not really interested in being one, and I know I can’t have a relationship with a girl either.”
“I have to say I agree that they’re just being typical guys…they aren’t trying to be mean to you. But you say you can’t be in a relationship with a girl…are you sure? Have you asked a healer about this?”
“No, but if biting someone can infect them, I’m sure kissing probably could too. It’s not a risk I’m willing to take, even if someone were interested. But there aren’t exactly dozens of girls interested in me anyway. I’m not much to look at and don’t have anything to offer.”
“I have to disagree with you there, Remus. You’re not bad looking at all…sure, you have a few scars, but they don’t take away from your bright blue eyes and warm smile. I’m sure I’m not the only girl who sees those things.” she said, smiling at him.
“I appreciate you trying to make me feel better, Lily, but I think you might be saying that just because you’re my friend.” he said
“No, I’m really not. I do really see you that way. But you have more to offer a girl than just good looks. Aside from being kind and intelligent, you’re thoughtful, creative and more mature than most guys your age. For that matter, you’re more mature than some guys older than you. I also suspect you’re one of those guys that understands girls- you know how to listen and learn what a girl likes and wants. You could probably have a girlfriend very easily.”
“Hmm…maybe, but it’s just not a risk I’m willing to take. I don’t want to have to deal with the guilt of accidentally infecting someone…that’s why I isolate myself. Even though being single is lonely, it’s better than guilt.”
“I’m sure that’s true, but I think you really need to see a healer about this. You might be surprised at the answer.”
“I can’t afford to right now…and I’d be embarrassed to ask Professor Dumbledore if the school would pay for a visit just to ask them about that. If I have to go later for another reason, I’ll ask.”
“I hope you do; you need to know for sure about these things. You’re a great guy, Remus, and you deserve a happy life. You deserve to have someone in your life that loves you and that you love. I believe someday that will be possible.”
“I hope you’re right. Thank you for helping me, for listening to me grumble and complain…you always know how to encourage me when I need it. I appreciate that I can count on you whenever I have a problem. We may not always solve it, but you always make me feel better.”
“I don’t mind at all…that’s what friends are for.”
“That reminds me, I promised I’d look at your essay. I’ve spent enough time talking about myself…we’ve both got work to do.”
She handed him her essay, which he proofread. After that was done, they spent another hour studying for the Charms test.
As the remaining weeks before the Christmas holidays sped by, Remus kept Lily’s advice and assurances close to his heart. Whenever he felt down, they served as a reminder that she believed in him, and wanted to see him have a bright future.
Soon it was the Christmas holidays, and the castle was abuzz with students making plans. Remus had not heard from his father, which did not surprise him. He had received a letter from the Potters inviting him to come to their home for Christmas, and he had accepted their invitation as soon as he’d seen that there would not be a full moon during the break. He was excited to be going, since he would be joined by Sirius and, of course, James.
The day before he left school, Professor Dumbledore escorted him to the cemetery, as Remus had requested. As he had done the previous year, he spent a few minutes talking, then conjured flowers and left them propped against her headstone. When they returned to school, Professor Dumbledore gave him the Christmas gift he’d selected for him. It was a book, but it was not a journal- it was a book of advice for teenagers who had questions they didn’t feel comfortable discussing with their parents. It surprised him that the headmaster had chosen that particular book- it seemed almost as if he knew some of the things that were bothering Remus. He thanked Professor Dumbledore for it, and tucked it into his trunk to read whenever he had time.
Christmas at the Potters’ home was warm and festive. They seemed as glad to have Remus and Sirius there as they were to have James at home. On the second day of their holiday, the boys spent the day helping Mr. and Mrs. Potter decorate the Christmas tree. It was a rather large tree, about seven feet tall, that Mr. Potter had bought from a nearby tree farm and had delivered the day before the boys arrived. James climbed into the attic and pulled out boxes of beautiful, delicate glass ornaments, some of which had belonged to his grandparents. In place of shiny garland, Mrs. Potter wanted red velvet ribbons and bows on the tree, and they decided they wanted a few fairies on the tree as well. That evening, Mr. Potter helped them locate a few fairies in some bushes in the backyard, then he showed them how to capture them without hurting them. They placed the fairies on the tree, where they would remain until Christmas day, when they would be returned to the area where they’d been found.
The holidays also provided them with the time and opportunity to discuss the uses for their animagus abilities and make plans for when they returned to school. The night after Christmas, they were in the den, listening to the wireless, when James said
“I’ve been wondering if, now that we’ve been spending time with Remus in the cottage for a while, we might be able to handle him away from it.”
“I don’t know. He gets pretty big, but there’s no way to guess how fast he is. Maybe between the two of us, we could do it. Why are you wondering?” asked Sirius.
“Because I’m curious about exploring the school grounds, and some of the area around Hogsmeade. I know we’d have to be careful; we talked about that when we first came up with this idea, but I still would like to try.”
“Why are you so interested in exploring the school grounds? If we pass our classes, we’ll be finished in two and a half years.” said Remus.
“We can have a lot of fun during that time if we know our way around school better. I just wish there was a way to make a really good map of what we find….but I don’t draw very well.” said James.
“I’m sure there’s a way. People who make maps have spells that help them in different ways, we just have to try to find out what they use. We could probably find something like that in the library.” offered Sirius.
“If we try this, would you be willing to go along with it, Remus? I know you can’t make a decision when you’re transformed, so I thought I’d ask you now. If you aren’t comfortable with it, we won’t try to lead you out of the cottage. But if you want to try, we will.” said James.
“I guess it would be okay as long as you make sure I don’t hurt anyone.” said Remus.
“We will. I know how important it is to you to be safe. I wouldn’t let you hurt anyone if I could stop it, and neither would Sirius.” assured James.
“Then I say we try it. When is the next full moon? I know I should know this, but I’m not sure.” asked Sirius.
“The night after we return to Hogwarts.” answered Remus.
“I guess we’ll start then. We need to do some reading on mapmaking as soon as possible.” suggested Sirius.
They spent much of the remainder of the holidays looking through the books in the Potters’ library. However, they found nothing helpful.
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