The Sugar Quill
Author: Alkari (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Jigsaw  Chapter: Chapter 2 - Return of an Old Friend
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Jigsaw (2)

JIGSAW

 

 

Disclaimer: Naturally I do not own JK Rowling’s characters. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> </span>She invented them and the wonderful world of Hogwarts.  I am just happily visiting her world for a while.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Return of an Old Friend

 

I knew there had been strong mutual dislike between Severus Snape and Remus, James, Sirius and Peter.   But that was when they were schoolboys, and I had certainly not expected Severus to maintain those feelings nearly twenty years later.  

 

Yet maintain them he did: no one in the staff-room was more vehement in their opposition to Remus’ employment at Hogwarts.  Severus is certainly not noted for his pleasant nature, but the intensity of his feeling – I could almost call it hatred – was rather startling.   I wondered what Remus could possibly have done to incur such lasting enmity.  Albus’ disclosure about our new professor’s ‘condition’ had naturally been greeted with varying degrees of shock, dismay and incredulity by those staff members not already in the know; but for the most part their opposition abated as first Albus, then Minerva, Filius and I, had quietly discussed his time here as a student.   True, Sybill Trelawney had carried on in her usual fashion, but Minerva quickly put a stop to that.

 

“Really, Sybill,” she said briskly, “surely even you can foresee the full moon each month.   Or would you like Professor Sinistra to provide you with a chart?  You will be quite safe in your rooms.  I doubt werewolves can climb silver ladders.”   Sybill sniffed loudly into a lacy, lavender-scented handkerchief and shrank back into her armchair, but made no further comment.

 

Despite various insinuations by Severus, the fact that Remus had known Sirius so well as a student was generally accepted to be a point in his favour.  Remus’ grief over the Potters’ deaths was known to all of us who’d been at Hogwarts during those years, and although Severus bitterly and continually insisted that any friend of Sirius Black’s could not be trusted, he soon found himself outvoted.   Remus Lupin would join the Hogwarts staff as the new Professor in Defence Against the Dark Arts.

 

The news about Sirius was not good.  Well, the problem was that there was no news, and despite their most desperate efforts, the Ministry hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the infamous escaped convict.   To all intents and purposes, Sirius Black had vanished from Azkaban into thin air.  Only the knowledge of his fixation on Hogwarts remained, and Albus reluctantly made preparations for the squad of Dementors to take up station at the gates and patrol the school’s perimeter.   Werewolf or not, Remus’ presence on the Hogwarts’ Express with the students was a great comfort to those of us who waited anxiously for the train’s arrival.

 

Even the weather seemed to echo our moods.  The sky darkened early and rain pelted down: I set about making another batch of Pepperup Potion, which would surely be needed for the first years who’d have to cross the lake with Hagrid. 

 

I thought I heard the sound of student arrivals, and just then a tiny house elf put his head round my door.

 

“Mistress Pomfrey, Mistress Pomfrey.   If you’d please be seeing Professor McGonagall now. I to tell you a student is becoming ill.  You please to come and see them in her office.  Now if you please.”

 

Heavens!  What had happened? I gathered my medical kit and hurried towards Minerva’s office, shoving my way through the throng of students still surging through the entrance on their way to the Great Hall.   I pushed open the door, and saw Hermione Granger standing with Minerva, both looking down at a familiar black-haired figure in a chair.   Harry Potter.

 

“Oh, it’s you, is it?” I said, marching across to examine him and ignoring his protests about being fine.  Just like his father: James Potter would tell you he was fine even if he’d fallen off his broom and broken both legs - just as long as he could go on flying. 

 

“It was a Dementor, Poppy,” said Minerva, looking at me grimly.  Just what we’d both been afraid of.  Voldemort may have disappeared for twelve years, but there were many students at Hogwarts who had lost family members during those dreadful days, and their memories would make them particularly vulnerable.  I’d sometimes wondered whether Harry remembered anything – though of course he’d been just over a year old at the time.  I wished my question had not been answered.

 

“Setting Dementors around a school,” I muttered crossly, examining Harry despite his squirming.  “He won’t be the first one who collapses.”  I felt his forehead – hmmm, he’d certainly had a turn of some sort. “Yes, he’s all clammy,” I continued.  “Terrible things, they are, and the effect they have on people who are already delicate –“

 

“I’m not delicate!” he protested angrily. 

 

“Of course you’re not,” I said automatically, seizing his wrist and taking his pulse.   Strong enough, though a little fast.

 

“What does he need?” said Minerva briskly.  “Bed rest?  Should he perhaps spend the night in the hospital wing?”  

 

“I’m fine!” protested Harry at once, shooting to his feet.  Oh dear, he was like James!  I shoved him back into his chair, and tilted his head back to examine his eyes.  Hmm – pupils a little too dilated …

 

“Well, he should have some chocolate, at the very least,” I said firmly, gripping Harry’s shoulder to stop him squirming again.

 

“I’ve already had some,” he said.  “Professor Lupin gave me some.  He gave it to all of us.”

 

 “Did he now?” I said thankfully.  Merlin!  Without Remus on the train, those children could have been in a terrible way.  “So we’ve finally got a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who knows his remedies.”    And so he should - especially if those remedies required chocolate.

 

Minerva gave Harry a piercing look. “Are you sure you feel all right, Potter?” she asked. 

 

“Yes,” said Harry, clearly desperate to be gone.

 

Minerva nodded, then motioned us outside, instructing him to wait while she talked to Hermione Granger.   At least she didn’t look ill, I thought, setting off for the hospital wing.

 

Dementors at Hogwarts!  Honestly, no wonder Potter had been taken ill.  Damn Albus for agreeing to it.  I’d have more than Potter to attend to if those – things – stayed around the school.  Well, at least Remus knew what to do, and had even come prepared with a supply of chocolate.  Though of course I’d expect nothing less from him.   But Dementors - I knew there were defences that could be used, but how many children would be capable of those?  A Patronus, I vaguely remembered from my Defence classes; advanced magic, only taught to seventh years; and I knew most of them would have great difficulty with it.  Many wizards never managed the charm at all, but then how many wizards would normally encounter things that needed the charm – like Dementors?  I realised I’d been stupidly muttering to myself as I hurried back to the hospital wing: I replaced my medical kit in the dispensary and hastily tidied my hair before making my way back to the Great Hall for dinner.

 

The Sorting was over, and I slipped into a vacant seat at one end of the table.  Even as I sat down next to Harriet Hooch, I found myself looking for Remus.

 

There he was! sitting far away at the other end of the table, between Ivy Sprout and Diana Sinistra.  I was torn between joy at seeing him, and dismay at his worn, exhausted appearance.   His robes looked quite shabby too – oh Remus! Clearly he had not recovered fully from the recent full moon, and I resolved to do something about that before the evening was out.   And of course there was the shadow Sirius Black …  

 

Albus stood up and welcomed the students, warning them about the new security precautions, and then he introduced the two new teachers.  Remus received only scattered applause, though Harry Potter and his friends appeared to welcome him warmly enough.  And so they should.  I suppose I was biased in Remus’ favour – after all, none of the students knew his history, and he certainly didn’t look the part of a Hogwarts professor.  Though they’d soon find out that looks were deceiving, I thought, just as we all did with Gilderoy Lockhart.  Fine looks don’t make the man, after all.

 

Hagrid of course was greeted far more warmly.  Despite his size and forbidding appearance, Hagrid was a dear, and I was delighted for the man.   His heart was in the right place, and his loyalty to the Headmaster and the school was unquestioned.  Well, by most people: I thought of that incident last year when Lucius Malfoy had arranged for Hagrid to be sent to Azkaban, on some fool pretext that he had been responsible for the strange goings on.  Nasty man, Lucius Malfoy.  I’d never liked him as a student.

 

Dinner over, I left immediately for the hospital again, knowing there would always be a few students attending Clinic.   I’d been half expecting to see more students with after-effects of the Dementors, but the excellent dinner seemed to have had restorative powers, and the four who did turn up were merely returning their routine medications. 

 

Minerva smiled at me as I hurried past her up to the staff quarters, carrying a small tray laden with tonics and medications.  And a plate of shortbread biscuits.

 

“No prizes for guessing your next patient, Poppy!” she chuckled. 

 

“Judging by his appearance at dinner, someone needs to look after him,” I said firmly.

 

I reached his rooms, and rapped briskly with the ancient bronze doorknocker, shaped like a dog’s head.   There were faint sounds of movement, then soft footsteps; the door opened slightly.

 

“Poppy!”

 

Next minute I was in the room, the tray was swept from my hands onto a table, and I was engulfed in a wonderful, warm hug.

 

“Remus!  Oh it’s so good to see you, dear!” I said, when I recovered my breath.  “Welcome back!”

 

He laughed and released me, and for a long moment we just stood there at arm’s length, studying each other in the way old friends do, measuring the passage of time, the passing of the years, the marks of life since we’d last met. 

 

“Sorry for the mess,” he said finally, moving some books from a velvet-covered armchair. “I’m trying to sort out lessons for tomorrow.  Wish I could’ve arrived earlier and got organised.   Do sit down - I know I’ve got some tea here somewhere …” and he rummaged around in a cupboard.

 

“No tea, thank you, Remus - I won’t keep you,” I said, taking the proffered seat nevertheless.  “I know you’re busy, and there’ll be plenty of time to talk later.  I just wanted to make sure you were – all right.”

 

He eyed the items on the tray.  “So you’ve brought me a welcoming nightcap, have you?” he said lightly, recognising the distinctively-shaped green bottle.

 

 “I suggest you drink it now, Professor,” I said, trying to hide my smile.   “I’m sorry the taste has not improved – but I remember you always liked a biscuit afterwards.”

 

He chuckled, taking the small glass of murky liquid I handed him and downing it with a grimace.  “At least that other stuff you’ve brought tastes better!” he said, accepting a biscuit gratefully and sitting down opposite.

 

“Just as long as you understand that I AM going to dose you up with potions and tonics,” I said sternly.  “I’m glad I don’t have to argue with you.”

 

Remus burst out laughing.  “My dear Madam Pomfrey,” he said, grinning wickedly – the old Remus grin.  “What chance did we ever have, arguing with YOU?  I even remember you swatting me once with your slipper when I tried to sneak out of bed when I shouldn’t.”

 

Hmmm – I remembered that.  He’d been twelve or thirteen, decidedly cheeky, and I’d found him trying to creep down the ward to visit James, who was spending the night in hospital after getting a nasty knock to the head in Quidditch practice.  James needed complete rest! I’d scolded Remus, brandishing a slipper and walloping him across his bottom as I chased him back to his own bed.

 

“And I’d do it again, young man!  Just because you’re now a professor, don’t think you’re going to escape.  My duties include looking after staff as well as students, you know.”  

 

He shook his head, smiling, and we fell silent. 

 

“Severus Snape is making the Wolfsbane potion for me this year,” he said suddenly.  “Did he tell you about that?”

 

“Yes – or rather, Albus Dumbledore told me.”  I frowned.   “Does it really work, Remus?  Have you taken it before?   Does it have any side effects?”

 

He sighed, taking another biscuit.  “I’ve taken it several times before – the Registry asked if I would try it earlier this year.   It makes me – well, I don’t feel like a hungry wolf any more, Poppy.  I just feel – rather sleepy I suppose.   I know I’m not human, but I’m not a violent wolf, so I just curl up quietly and sleep.  I still transform – it doesn’t stop that of course – but it stops me getting angry and hurting myself.”

 

If only we’d had that potion when he was at school – how much easier for us all his life would have been!   But the potion was very, very complex, and I remembered reports of some disastrous early experiments during its development. 

 

“I had a look at the recipe, Remus – it’s horribly complicated.   I’ll have to learn to make it … you and Severus never got along at school, did you?”

 

“No.  Mutual dislike for all of us – especially James.”

 

James.  James Potter.  Lily Potter.  Peter.  Poor little Peter.  And Sirius …  There was so much unspoken, just hanging in the air between us, so many emotions, so much that still – somehow – didn’t make sense.   Sirius Black, escaped convict … Dementors round the castle, guarding the gates, patrolling Hogsmeade …

 

“I’m glad you were on the train, Remus,” I said quietly.  “I saw young Harry Potter when he got here.  Horrible things, those Dementors.  But he should be all right after a good night’s sleep.”

 

He nodded, eyes distant, sad.  “He looks so much like James,” he said finally.  “It almost seems – well, it’s going to be hard teaching him at first.  It’s like looking back at a part of yourself twenty years ago.”

 

“I know.  We’ve all felt that occasionally.  Minerva says even some of his mannerisms are like James.”

 

“When I first saw him on the train – I almost expected to see Sirius right there next to him.”

 

Sirius.  Sirius and James.  Once again there was an uncomfortable silence. Neither of us wanted to speak of these things.   I looked across at his old/young face, at the lines which had not been there when I’d seen him last, nor the grey hairs.   He was far too thin and pale, and his robes – I hadn’t realised that times had been quite so hard for him.  And he looked very tired.

 

“Remus dear, we have lots to talk about, but we’ll be here half the night if we start.”  I rose to my feet and picked up the tray.  “I know you have to prepare for classes, so I mustn’t keep you.  We’ll have plenty of time to chat as term goes on.  Now,” I placed a blue bottle on the table, “a large spoonful every morning and night for the next four days – that will get you back on your feet. And here is some of your old liniment,” I went on, handing him a small black jar, “so if you’re still feeling stiff and sore after the other night, then use that.  Are there any cuts or other injuries you need me to heal right now?”

 

“No thanks Poppy, I’m all right – just a bit tired after the trip,” he said gently.  “But thank you for asking.  I’m quite good at healing myself these days.  After all, you taught me, remember?”

 

Oh yes, I remembered.  In his sixth year at Hogwarts, Remus had asked if I would teach him some more specialised healing spells, so he’d be able to manage on his own when he left school.  The other three boys had asked to join in, so we had gradually worked through some of the more useful ones they’d need.   I remembered how, after about fifth year, Remus had seemed to manage the transformations better.  Perhaps he’d managed to heal himself, perhaps he somehow got more control over his feelings: he never said very much, but at least he hadn’t been so badly torn and bitten as before when I got to him in the mornings.

 

I leant up and kissed him on the cheek.  “Good night then, dear.  Don’t stay up too long, you need to get some sleep.   I’ll see you at breakfast – and mind you start eating properly.  At least I’m going to see we get some weight on you this year!”   As I shut the door I saw him smile, then turn back to the pile of books and parchments.

 

__________________

 

 

Author’s notes:  Many, many thanks to all of you who reviewed Chapter 1.  I am so pleased – and relieved! – that you enjoy yet another view of PoA.   Yes Cas, I did wonder whether it would be ‘too much’ after seeing fics from Remus’ and Sirius’ POVs.  I’m sorry I can’t respond personally to many of you because I don’t have contact details.   Thanks to Mincot for her comments on this latest chapter.

 

Fear not, StereoM, The Good Doctor Monaco, Karie, VJ, and J Catz – I’m delighted you enjoy “Student” and I assure you that am definitely going to continue with it!  I’m part way through the next chapter now, though it will be a little while before it is ready for posting.

 

BTW Poppy, ‘defence’ is the UK (canon) spelling – ‘defense’ is American.

 

_________

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