The Wolf's Bane
When the urge came Remus didn't fight it; he left his rooms to the Castle's
darkness and began to walk. His mind, generally orderly and reliable was as
overgrown and wild as the Forest to which he fled. The Wolfsbane Potion ensured
that he would not transform physically but it could not completely quell the
rising of the wolf.
Feet flew across the well kept lawn, robes billowing behind as the harvest
moon gave sharp relief to the looming forest ahead. Further inward the trees
thinned to a clearing; here Remus sought succor. He would not enter at other
times but now this fear was merely a distant tang. At last he reached the spot
he sought and threw back his head and howled. The creatures which shared the
Forest knew their own and did not interfere.
Remus Lupin no longer hunted this Forest but it was his home when the moon
A lone wolf prowled on two legs until just before sunrise and then loped back
to the castle, his robes more tattered. Remus was making a decent wage again
now that the Ministry had seen fit to lift the ban on non-humans holding down
positions. Dumbledore had been quick to hire him back to his former teaching
post but he still had the air of someone to whom galleons were unfamiliar. With
the waning of the moon he would care more.
Returning to his rooms Remus slept for a few hours, appearing for breakfast
in the Great Hall. Most of the teachers would be going to Hogsmeade to keep
watch on the students but he planned to return to the forest, ostensibly to
gather ingredients for potions. Most knew what he was but assumed that with
the aid of the elixir that he led a normal life. At times it seemed a half-life.
Never human. Always on guard for the time when the potion failed and he would
have to be chained up like a rabid dog.
The children came to see him before they left, they were solicitous and he
did appreciate it. He and his lost friend's son shared a look of unspoken acknowledgment
of the other's grief. He waved them away and sought refuge. While he didn't
transform, his senses were keener than usual during this time; he could sense
someone was there long before he could discern the figure. It was female, human
and wholly familiar. His hunger stirred and with effort was stilled. Until he
Anger flowed over and around him. She stood, unconscious of his presence,
her features contorted in concentration as hair sprouted from her face. She
looked like a Muggle drawing, a sort of she-wolf hybrid with facial hair and
an elongated snout. Remus was familiar with the Muggle lore and their imagery
of what he was. He'd made it his business to be aware of the prejudices and
misconceptions. It had never bothered him until now.
His movements were silent and she didn't hear him approach, yet like the creature
she parodied she sensed that she was no longer alone. When he saw her tense,
Remus moved out to be seen. The look of horror on her face was worthy of the
still photographs he'd seen of humans encountering his ilk.
Remus turned on his heels.
With effort Nymphadora Tonks resumed her normal countenance. For a split second
the hair on her face took on the same pink hue as the spiked hair adorning her
head then faded away. She caught up with him on the Forest's edge, knowing he
could have far outstripped her pace if he'd wished. She tugged at a tattered
"Nymphadora." She winced at his use of every syllable but she didn't pull
away and her eyes focused on his. They were wounded and wary.
"It's not what you think."
"No? Are you an unregistered animagus or just trying on animals for fit?"
He'd seen her watching, wondering if he would turn, if he was safe. He didn't
feel safe. His lips parted to reveal human teeth in a lupine grin.
Fighting the impulse to take a step back, she moved closer instead. "You used
to have friends to share these times with you."
Remus made a sound low in his throat; he'd watched her too. Watched her while
they were at Grimmauld Place, the first time she walked into the staff room,
upsetting the tea things and drenching Snape in scalding Earl Grey; watched
as she blithely apologized, the glower of the Potions Master seemingly lost
upon her. Watched her. "I can see how being one would hold great appeal. Especially
the part where you get to lock me in a cage for my own good."
He'd been ready to pull away and return to the castle but the tone of her
voice, very un-Tonks like in its softness held him in place. Slowly he raised
a hand and touched her now smooth cheek. His fingertip swept away the glistening
tear. His eyes were no longer wary but questing.
"Remus, let me."
In a moment he held her, pink hair tickling his nostrils. "Wolves mate for
life, you know."
"Yes. I know."
A/N: Thanks to MA and Therese for their kind but ruthless editing.