The next morning, when Lupin got down to reach the Great Hall for breakfast, he heard a dim clamor in a corridor nearby. At first he thought he had misheard; after all, he’d slept bad, the nightmares coming back once again, but then─.
His ears were unmistakably hearing shouts and insults.
Now what? he thought.
Then there was the sound of someone being blasted away by a spell; a couple of gasps, then another body fell…
Changing this direction, Lupin momentarily forgot his worries to investigate the source of the commotion.
Surely, around the corner of the next corridor, Harry and Malfoy were facing each other, each one with their wands raised. Malfoy’s nose was bleeding, Harry’s hand was scratched, and he was just getting up from the floor. A few students were watching; among them, Ron, Hermione, Crabbe and Goyle.
Lupin’s thoughts raced as Malfoy opened his mouth to shout another spell.
Two blasts. Harry’s getting up, he got the second one.
Meaning he started it.
No. Harry wouldn’t have done that─
“Malfoy!” Lupin yelled. Draco’s eyes widened with panic as he saw a teacher coming forward, but then an innocent smile formed on his mouth as he lowered his wand.
“Potter attacked me, Professor” he said in an impertinent tone.
Lupin could see Harry’s face turning very red from a corner of his eyes.
“That’s twenty points from Slytherin, Mr. Malfoy” Lupin said, getting in between the two of them before Harry let his anger out.
“But─” Malfoy’s smile vanished. “Potter started it! Why don’t you ever take points from him?”
Lupin bit his lip.
Because I can’t do that.
Now wasn’t the time to show his weakness.
“It is in your best interests to leave now, Mr. Malfoy” he then said menacingly.
Draco turned around, fuming, Crabbe and Goyle imitating him; then he stopped after a couple of steps and turned back to Harry.
“At least I don’t need a teacher to watch after me. Teacher’s pet─”
“Enough, Malfoy” Lupin spat. “Unless you want more points taken on your behalf. Draco stared at him in the eyes insolently but Lupin didn’t reply to the provocation. He waited for him to disappear into another corridor.
“You okay, Harry?” he then managed to ask, though not fully facing him. Instead, he carefully fixed his gaze on Ron and Hermione. But Harry didn’t answer; he was apparently trying to control himself.
Calm down Remus thought. Come on, Harry, I just saved you from getting into trouble after attacking Malfoy there─
“I don’t need your help” Harry said, his voice full of defiance. He was trembling. “I don’t want your help.”
Then he wheeled around determinedly and went past him. Ron and Hermione looked at each other and then followed him.
“Wait, Harry” Hermione ran after him. Her voice soon vanished into the depths of the castle.
Lupin breathed in deeply, shutting his eyes and leaning against the wall. He didn’t care if someone found him there, student or teacher. He didn’t care if they saw he was feeling sick; in fact, he didn’t care about anything anymore.
It took him an immense effort to get down to the Great Hall. He went to sit at the Staff table beside McGonagall and helped himself to some eggs in a very tired manner. Down the Hall, students were eating breakfast at their tables and preparing themselves for a whole day of lessons.
“Good Morning, Remus” she gave him a slight smile.
He simply nodded back and stared down at his eggs, not really seeing them.
She stared at him uncertainly. “Are you all right?”
Why is she asking? Is it so evident that I can’t teach here anymore?
“What do you mean?” he chose to reply.
“You look quite─ sick”
That’s because I am sick.
“Full moon in two days” he muttered, and she nodded in understanding.
Then things got even worse as Snape showed up for breakfast too. He walked directly to Lupin, who wondered an instant why.
“I heard you witnessed a fight ten minutes ago” Snape hissed, seating himself to his left but not taking anything to eat.
Great. Exactly what I needed. Lupin’s feeling of nausea increased.
“That’s right Severus” he said, putting his fork down in a clatter. He turned to the greasy-haired professor.
“How dare you take points from my house?” Snape went on. “You know Potter started that fight” he growled.
“Malfoy started it.”
That’s a lie, Remus. You know perfectly that it was Harry who started it.
“We’re going to have a little discussion, you and I,” Snape got up quickly, and only then Lupin realized that more and more students were starting to stare at them with interest. Ron and Hermione were muttering together while looking at Snape and he.
Lupin got up with rage and let his heavy chair fall loudly on the floor. Then he followed Snape outside of the Great Hall and into an empty classroom.
I’ll just tell him I have had enough, Lupin thought as he walked behind Snape. He was calming down. This is stupid, we’re not kids any longer…
“Severus” Lupin said slowly as soon as the door was closed. He really didn’t feel like fighting with another teacher. He was just so tired of it all. So tired. “How about we start acting like grown-ups?”
Snape eyed him as though he was asking for something impossible.
“Don’t change the subject” he replied guardedly. “Now I’m asking you, once and for all, to leave Malfoy alone.”
“If he leaves Harry alone”
“Harry? Harry? Why not little baby Harry who I’m looking after while you’re at it?!”
Snape took a step back and put on a grimace at least as insolent as Malfoy’s had been.
“It hurts to hear this, doesn’t it, Remus? That’s the only thing you can do now, isn’t it? Look after the only one who’s not dead, right?”
Now Remus felt a surge of anger rise back again. And, mixed with it, disgust. At Snape’s words. At himself.
“I shall consider that no answer acknowledges the truth then” Snape cut in deeper.
“The time for taking pleasure in insulting me shall end sooner than you think” Lupin’s jaw was clenched. “Severus” he added, then turned around and walked out the door.
He wished he could disappear into the ground. It was so hard to see the students climb up the stairs happily, chatting, when he himself felt tears reaching his eyes.
Tomorrow, he’d have to face Harry in class again. As if nothing had ever happened to his parents, as if they didn’t know each other personally.
Lupin got back down to the Great Hall, not checking behind to see if Snape was following or not, then took his seat back at the staff table and frowned at his cold eggs. McGonagall had looked upon him when he’d arrived, but not commented. She knew Snape and he still didn’t get on along.
Then it was time for the owls to arrive. For a minute, colored wings flew in all directions, delivering mails, packages, etc.
Lupin grabbed the Daily Prophet that was brought every morning at the staff table. He didn’t think any student received it; it was way too boring to read if you weren’t interested in politics. And Death Eaters had been quiet for weeks. Even the teachers usually left it aside now.
He was precisely looking for an excuse to be left alone; so Lupin opened the paper and stared at it.
There was a bold title that stood out clearly; in fact, it was unusually bold.
At first Lupin froze. Then it felt as though someone had poured a bucket of cold water over his head, and the blood left his cheeks.
His hands started to tremble, and he quickly laid the paper over the table. “Minerva” he muttered. She was halfway into a conversation with Flitwick. “Minerva” he called louder.
With an almost annoyed look she turned to him, staring at his horrified expression with puzzlement. Then she lowered her eyes on the paper, and stared at it in disbelief.
The list went on and on in a sickening way.
Lupin turned to Mc Gonagall, and Dumbledore arrived in that moment. He walked to them, a note of surprise in his eyes when he saw Mc Gonagall raise terrified eyes to him, grabbed the newspaper, and quickly turned to the staff. “Follow me” he said quietly. Every teacher heard it and got up; most of them not understanding.
Then Dumbledore turned to Mc Gonagall and Lupin. “No words to the students. They’ll hear it soon enough”.
The teachers left the Great Hall, and Lupin, still frozen, found himself walking behind beside the headmaster.
“Remus” Dumbledore said calmly. “Would you please go down and bring the Weasley children to my office?”
A/N Here it is for now! What'd ya think? Please review!
Next chapter: Remus and Harry will have to talk to each other eventually
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