Remus mumbled the password to enter the staff room─ he even wondered how the gargoyle had heard it considering it was nothing more than an unintelligible whisper─ and went in.
Surprisingly, almost every other teacher was already seated there. He hadn’t thought he would be among the last ones to arrive, because he’d hurried out of class and walked as quickly as possible.
Mc Gonagall was seated at the far end of the table, alongside Professor Sprout. There was also Snape, who cast him a look that could have frozen water as soon as he entered; the Potions Master was seated on the right. Then, from right to left, Flitwick; Hagrid, who turned and smiled slightly when he saw him; Binns, transparent as ever; then Vector, Trelawney, and finally Sinistra.
Lupin went to sit aside Mc Gonagall, and noticed on the way that she wasn’t talking to Professor Sprout as she usually did. In fact, everyone was waiting, abnormally quiet. It lasted for a few minutes; an odd, pretty uncomfortable silence during which they didn’t look at each other.
Then Dumbledore arrived, motioned for every teacher to stay seated, and started talking without preamble.
“The hour is grave” he said calmly. “I assume by now you are all aware of what has happened” he didn’t wait for them to answer. “Voldemort is back.”
Most teachers winced; among them, Lupin saw Snape make a very convulsive gesture of the arm as the name of the Dark Wizard was announced. Personally, he stayed still.
“Now, the safety of all the students at Hogwarts has to be assured” Dumbledore continued. “Therefore, I will assign patrols to each of you in turns, every night. You are to pair up with a school prefect, and if anything unusual seems to be happening you will report it to me immediately. I will give you your watch hours in the evening. Is that clear?”
There was no contestation.
“Very well. Any questions?”
Hesitantly, Mc Gongall straightened her hat. “What of the Weasley children?”
“They are with their family,” the Headmaster answered.
What’s left of the their family Remus thought dryly.
“Wasn’t Weasley a prefect?” Snape hissed. He didn’t show the slightest trace of emotion.
Lupin felt like hitting him.
For god’s sake, Snivellus. You could at least show respect, for once in your life. Their father’sdead.
“Yes, he was,” Dumbledore said. “I have thought of Harry Potter to replace him. Temporarily, of course.”
That silenced Snape, who tried as best as he could to hide his irritation at the idea. He disliked Ron, but it was nothing compared to his hatred towards Harry.
“Meanwhile, the announcement to the students of the recent events will be made this evening during dinner. No words to them before.”
The discussion had been short, and it was over, Lupin could feel it. He was tempted to ask more about the attacks, what exactly had happened, what the Ministry was doing, etc. But if Dumbledore hadn’t told them more than he probably wouldn’t anyway.
Lupin saw Flitwick and Snape get up, then Mc. Gonagall, Sprout, and every one else. He didn’t feel like going down to the Great Hall to have lunch at all. This afternoon, he had Harry’s class to teach. And in the evening─ maybe he’d be the first one on patrol. That would be a long day.
Dumbledore was getting back to his office. Lupin quickly crossed the space between them; there was something he needed to do… Something still bothering him…
“Professor Dumbledore?” he asked hesitantly. “Could I have a word?”
Dumbledore eyed him carefully, as though he already had a pretty good idea of what Lupin wanted.
Snape and Mc Gonagall, on the other hand, were both staring at him strangely from the other side of the room. Remus knew it was unusual for a teacher to ask permission to speak privately to Dumbledore, and even more now after the brief announcement, but at the moment, it was the least of his worries.
“Of course,” the Headmaster nodded. “Follow me” he started to climb the stairs, and Lupin soon disappeared from Snape’s view.
“Have a seat.” Dumbledore showed him a beautiful chair in front of his desk as soon as they had entered his office and closed the door. The Headmaster walked behind his desk and waited for him to sit.
Lupin took the chair and sat, feeling suddenly awkward. It was as if he was a child again and needed to say something to someone infinitely wiser and more mature as him; but didn’t quite know how to explain it.
“What can I do for you?” Dumbledore gestured for him to talk.
Lupin stayed quiet. Maybe that was foolish after all. Maybe he was being stupid. Dumbledore had probably more urgent matters on his mind with everything that had happened than that…
Yes, that was it. He’d made a mistake in asking to speak to Dumbledore.
“I’m sorry,” he started. “I─ I didn’t mean to waste your time. I’ll just get back down─”
Stupid, stupid you. Of course you want to talk to him… And what’s he going to think now?
But it’s too late, isn’t it? You’ve already apologized…
Lupin meant to get up.
Dumbledore reached out a hand, as though to grab his sleeve.
“Remus, you’re not wasting my time. If you have something on your mind, I strongly suggest you say it.”
Remus. Even years after, it still felt strange being addressed as Remus. For seven years, he’d been Mr Lupin. And now, Remus… from the Headmaster, it gave an uncomfortable feeling, somehow. An odd peculiar sensation.
Dumbledore, with that persuasive voice he had always had, had once again guessed he needed to speak...
Lupin remembered a day when he’d been called to Dumbledore’s office in sixth grade. The Headmaster had asked him─ oh, that had been so silly…─ he’d asked him whether it had been Sirius and James and himself who had stolen Snape’s whole set of books…
Remus hadn’t known back then. He’d stammered like a guilty boy─ but the truth was, he hadn’t thought it had been his friends. He hadn’t heard about the stolen books, and even though a part of him had strongly suspected Sirius and James had had something to do with it─ he wasn’t sure of it, so he had said it wasn’t them.
Only weeks after would they tell him about that one.
“Remus,” Dumbledore said more quietly. “You know if there’s anything I have in my power to help you, I will.”
You know he will, don’t you, Remus? You’re just sorry you always bother him. He already did much for you… so much…
“You know the patrols,” Remus said brusquely.
Dumbledore didn’t answer and eyed him more sharply than ever.
“I have a problem with being─”
“With Harry,” Dumbledore finished for him, as if reading his thoughts. “I understand."
Do you? Remus fet like replying, but he restrained himself.
"I shall take care of it." Dumbledore said. "He will be put with another teacher.”
Remus sighed. “Thank you, Headmaster.”
“If you need anything else─” Dumbledore replied “just come and find me.”
He had a note of understanding in his eyes that Remus hated. Of course, it felt good knowing he could count on someone for help, now that he had no more friends to talk to.
But in a way, he didn’t like people pitying him. It was simply too hard to bear… seeing in their eyes the pain, the need to protect him, the need to─ was it a need to comfort him?
That was it. They wanted to help.
Yet they have no idea how it feels like, do they?
None at all.
Maybe he needed to accept Dumbledore’s offered hand. Perhaps, just perhaps, things would get better after.
But the truth is, you can’t do that, can you, Remus? You can’t resign yourself to accept help, or someone to talk to, or someone to care for you. You simply can’t, because you’ve been hurt too much.
Yes. The pain is too deep. It will never go away.
And both Dumbledore and you know it.
A/N: I'm writing this story from Harry's point of view in parallel... Please check it out!!! (maybe waiting to be validated)
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