A/N: Portions of the dialogue are
taken directly from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. A big “Thank
you!” to Zsenya, for helping to keep Remus in character.
When he arrived at
King’s Cross Station, Remus Lupin had to admit that he felt a bit ridiculous.
He would be the only adult on the train, aside from the driver and the plump
witch who pushed the food trolley. He wondered
vaguely if it was the same witch from his own time at Hogwarts. “Anything off
the trolley, dears?” and the subsequent sugar rush had been the birth of many
great adventures in his youth.
He smiled to himself and threaded through the
Muggle crowd towards the Platform nine and three quarters. Those had been the
best days of his life. For those few years, he had felt like a normal boy; not
a freak, not a dangerous creature, but a person. He sighed a little as he
stepped casually through the barrier between Platforms nine and ten.
When Remus caught sight
of the red steam engine, he was glad that he had decided to arrive so early.
Memories came flooding back with a fierceness that brought tears to his eyes.
He remembered the first time he had seen the Hogwarts Express as a shy, mousy
eleven-year-old. That mix of joy at the chance to be normal and fear that
someone would discover his dark secret rose up with perfect clarity. Not
surprising. After all, he was coming back to Hogwarts and he would have to hide
things from the others just as he used to.
The thought made
him feel slightly ill, but he reminded himself that it was worth it. After
years of sporadic, menial employment, he would be teaching again. He would
have his dignity, as long as he could keep the wolf inside. As much respect as
Dumbledore commanded, Remus knew that once his condition became public there
would be nothing the Headmaster could do for him. The wizarding world was
simply not ready to accept werewolves.
Walking slowly along
the train from front to back, he cursed his Lycanthropy. The timing of the full
moon had been all wrong. It happened to fall on August 31, and with the
preparations for the beginning of term, it had been deemed best that Remus make
this last transformation at home. He had told Dumbledore that he would be able
to Apparate to Hogsmeade, but Dumbledore had seen right through him. The Headmaster
had insisted that he come on the Hogwarts Express. Probably for the best, Remus
thought ruefully, feeling the way he did he would definitely have managed to
splinch himself rather nastily.
Merlin, he felt
awful. The transformation had been particularly taxing, even with the Wolfsbane
potion. It was odd, and slightly frightening to think that next month, Severus
Snape would be preparing his Wolfsbane. He always did have a gift for potions.
Hard to imagine him as a professor, he couldn’t possibly have the patience or
sensitivity for such an occupation. Then again, Remus himself was an unlikely
professor, considering the number of rules he had broken during his time at
Hogwarts. A lopsided smile played upon his lips at the thought, then faded.
Severus had been a
slimy git in their school days, but Remus couldn’t help feeling that he hadn’t
deserved all he had gotten at the hands of the Marauders. James had come up
with that horrible name- Snivellus. They had taunted him mercilessly and Remus
never said anything to stop it, even when he had wanted to. Wolfsbane was a
notoriously difficult potion to brew; if Severus wanted to he could make things
very uncomfortable for Remus and there would be no way to prove it was
intentional. But they were adults now, and many things had happened since their
school days. They had turned out to be on the same side after all, and he was
fairly certain that the Potions master wouldn’t poison him.
battered case, he boarded the train and breathed in the familiar smells.
Wonderful- like coming home after a long journey. He stood in the corridor for
a few minutes, drinking it all in. The students would be coming soon, he
realized. He shook himself and walked down the corridor. Best to stay out of
sight. He slipped into the very last compartment and slung his case up on the
Someone was bound
to wonder why a professor was on the train, he thought again. No teacher had
ever traveled with the students, at least that he could remember. Dumbledore
had implied that it was safer for the students, what with Sirius Black’s escape
from Azkaban. Sirius’ face came into his mind, suddenly very clear. Sirius as
he had been, not that gaunt stranger from the Daily Prophet. He pushed the
thoughts away and sat down heavily, leaning his head against the window. That
image, in this place, brought back nearly more than Remus could bear. His head
pounded and he closed his eyes. Tonight he would be back at Hogwarts, and he
had to keep himself together. There would be things, and people, he needed to
face. For now it was quiet, and in the familiar discomfort of the train, he let
sleep overtake him.
whistling noise drew Remus from his slumber. His senses were still heightened
from the transformation, and before he was fully awake, he knew that he was no
longer alone. He kept his eyes closed and his breathing as even as he could,
“Is that a
Sneakoscope?” asked a girl’s voice.
it’s a very cheap one,” replied a boy. “It went haywire just as I was tying it
to Errol’s leg to send it to Harry.”
quickened. Harry? Surely the boy didn't mean that Harry. Hogwarts was a
large enough school to have more than one Harry at a time. Then, an eerily
familiar voice broke into his thoughts.
“Stick it back in
the trunk, or it’ll wake him up.”
The second boy’s
voice was enough to convince Remus that he needed a look at the other occupants
of the compartment. He waited until the first boy’s voice launched into
rhapsodies over the sweets at Honeydukes, then opened his eyes just enough that
he could peer through his lashes. Sitting at the other end of the compartment
were a lanky boy with red hair and freckles, a girl with bushy brown hair, and
a boy with a mop of unruly black hair. The black-haired boy said something
dejectedly to the others and turned his face towards Remus.
It was all he could do not to cry out in shock.
There, before him, was the spitting image of a youthful James Potter. Remus
closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on the pretense of sleep. No, he told
himself, it was not James. But it had to be Harry. He hazarded another quick
peek at the boy. Oh yes, it was him. Harry had James’ features, but Lily’s
eyes. Those startling green eyes.
compartment the redhead and the girl were beginning to argue, but for Remus
there was only one other person in the world. Harry, the son of two of his old
friends. Harry, who he had held as a baby, for whom he had imagined such
adventures- adventures featuring his three doting “uncles” of course. Remus
made a sound in his throat, and then froze. Had the others noticed? Certainly,
because he could now feel eyes on him. Trying to look as natural as possible he
shifted and turned his face towards the window. The others seemed satisfied and
after a moment they went on with their conversation.
Remus’ mind was beginning to churn. Seeing Harry
had shaken him. He had known he would have to see him, but hadn’t expected it
to be so soon. Remus had intended to put off meeting Harry until he was settled
in at Hogwarts. The way he had imagined it, he would get a look at Harry at the
Start of Term Feast, but wouldn’t actually
have to speak to him until classes began. Not that he knew what he would say.
Dumbledore had explained that Harry knew almost nothing about his parents, a
fact that both infuriated and comforted Remus. At least Harry had not spent the
last twelve years with the ache of betrayal always in his gut.
The headmaster had
left it up to him how much to tell Harry about his connection to James and
Lily. He had briefly entertained the idea of befriending Harry, or at least
telling him about his relationship with his parents and letting the boy decide
whether he wanted Remus in his life. He had since thought better of it, knowing
that there was far too much to explain. To tell about the four of them and Lily
would eventually mean telling how their little band had ceased to be, and Remus
was not sure that it was his place. After all, he had not been the closest to
James; that was always Sirius. They had been as close as brothers, so naturally
Sirius had been Best Man, and the boy’s godfather, and Secret Keeper. But it
was senseless to feel hurt about those things now, since he knew how it had all
Harry was at such
a difficult age. The story of the betrayal might even prove dangerous for him
to know, now. Remus remembered only too well the adolescent impulse for
revenge. The Marauders had thrived on it, in fact. He felt the throb in his
heart intensify at the thought of his old friends in better times. Why? He
silently asked the question of the universe. Why am I the only one left? Too
weary to even believe there was an answer, Remus drifted off.
He woke, some time later, to the sound of the
compartment door opening. His eyes opened automatically, but fortunately he was
facing the window and it went unnoticed by the others. In the glass, he could
see the reflection of three people standing in the doorway- a thin blond boy
between two large, burly boys. The blond was a carbon copy of a certain nasty
Slytherin from his own school days.
“Well, look who it
is,” drawled the carbon copy, “Potty and the Weasel.”
The two goons
laughed and Remus cringed inwardly. There was no mistaking that tone of voice,
this one had to be a Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy had been a few years ahead of him at
Hogwarts, and his pureblood reputation and vast wealth had given him near-god
status with the Slytherins. It had been the opinion of pretty much all of the
non-Slytherin population that he was a poncy, arrogant prat, and the blond in
the doorway sounded much the same. If this was, in fact, Lucius’ son then Remus
would have to do his part to shrink his inevitably over-inflated ego- as a
service to the boy, of course. The thought gave Remus a little surge of amusement.
What would dear old Lucius say? He snorted aloud at the thought, then stilled,
mentally kicking himself for drawing attention again.
The drawling voice
said, “Who’s that?”
replied Harry’s voice. “What were you saying, Malfoy?”
Ah yes, it was a
little Malfoy’s voice, and there was the sound of footsteps, then the
compartment door closed.
The red-haired boy
said angrily, “I’m not going to take any crap from Malfoy this year. I mean it.
If he makes one more crack about my family, I’m going to get hold of his head
“Ron,” hissed the
girl’s voice, “be careful…”
meant to be careful in front of him, the teacher, but Remus was not thinking
about that. Instead, listening to them face off with the bully had made him
think of three Hogwarts students from his memory- a brave, noble, messy-haired
boy, a fiercely loyal boy with the quick temper, and a bookish boy who had
always tried to be the voice of reason. Somehow, though, they always managed to
put his intelligence to bad use. Well, good use with bad intent. Then there was
Peter. Poor quiet Peter, who had turned out to be so strong in the end. Where
was the Peter of this little group? Remus could feel his throat tighten at the
thought and willed himself to relax. He would not think of that. He would not
think of them. He would sleep. And he did.
A sudden sense of
uneasiness brought Remus out of sleep once more. There were confused voices and
something about the compartment felt wrong. Remus opened his eyes and blinked.
He blinked again. The room was pitch black. He heard the compartment door
opening and then a thud that sounded like a body hitting the floor.
“Sorry,” said a
new voice- male, “d’you know what’s going on? – Ouch- sorry-“
said Harry’s voice. Something in Remus was relieved to hear that Harry was
okay. There was some more talking and shuffling around and Remus tried to
think. He did not like this; the hairs on the back of his neck were beginning
to stand on end. The compartment door opened again and there was a smacking
sound followed by two female voices crying out.
demanded one of them. Remus recognized it as belonging to the bushy-haired
countered a new girl’s voice.
“What are you
“I was looking for
They kept on, but
Remus was no longer listening. He could feel a faint coldness at the edges of
his senses and a quickening of his blood that was uncomfortably like what he
experienced with the waxing of the moon. There was a dark creature near.
“Quiet!” he said.
His voice was hoarse from howling and thick with sleep. It probably sounded
rather scary, but Remus couldn’t worry about that now. In the silence that
followed, he conjured a small flame in the palm of his hand. He could now see
the faces of the two people who had entered the compartment in the dark- a very
frightened looking boy about Harry’s age and a smaller, red-haired girl who had
to be related to the boy called Ron. “Stay where you are,” Remus told them as
he got up from his seat. He felt colder now, and ill, and he had a sinking
feeling that he knew what was coming.
The door slid open
before Remus made it across the compartment. A Dementor, massive and cloaked in
black, stood in the doorway. For a moment all thought of the others was gone as
his vision began to cloud with white fog and his head filled with sound. He knew where the voices came from- twelve years in the
past. There were dozens of people there, their voices a cacophony shouting at
him to keep back. He could hear his own screams as he struggled, feeling the
animal inside him fighting to break out and not even caring because he had to
get to James and Lily. They couldn’t possibly be gone.
Remus knew that it was not real, but he was too
exhausted to fight it off. Then he saw Harry out of the corner of his eye. He
was closer to the Dementor than Remus was and he seemed to be having a fit of
some kind. He fell to the floor and his body twitched. In a second, the world
seemed to come into focus. Harry was in trouble. Remus forced the chaos out of
his head and concentrated. Dumbledore had said that some Dementors had been
sent out from Azkaban. It had to be looking for Sirius. He stepped over the
trembling boy and said, as coolly as he could, “None of us is hiding Sirius
Black under our cloaks. Go.” The Dementor did not retreat.
Remus took a deep
breath and willed his happiest memory to surface. Perhaps it was this place, or
Harry’s wild mop of hair, but the memory that came was one he had kept out of
his mind for years because it was so hard to think of the good times now. He
was young, they were all young, and they were running wild under the full moon.
The wolf and the big black dog wrestled playfully in the dirt, while the stag
trotted around them gleefully with the rat clinging to him with squeaks of
terror or excitement- it didn’t matter which. He had a pack, a family, and for
the first time since he had been bitten, he knew what it was like to feel
whole. Remus’ heart swelled.
A silver wolf shot
out of Remus’ wand. It bared it gleaming teeth and charged, forcing the
Dementor out of the compartment. The wolf, at once his demon and his guardian.
The cold began to recede as the silver light faded, going off in the direction of
the door at the end of the train. Closing his eyes, Remus concentrated on his
body, trying to sense if there were any other Dementors, but he felt nothing.
He held his wand at the ready for a moment longer, making sure that the
creature was truly gone, then turned his attention back to the others.
Ron and the girl,
Hermione, were kneeling over Harry and slapping his face lightly. Remus nearly
gasped. With his eyes closed, the boy was James. Remus felt his heart
lurch. He wanted to throw his arms around the boy on the floor but he held
back. It was not James, and he was no one to Harry. No one but a strange man on
A flood of relief
washed over Remus when Harry’s eyes fluttered open. Trying to think of
something useful to do, he edged by the students and pulled a gigantic slab of
chocolate out of his case. It was supposed to be part of his Defense Against
the Dark Arts stores, but it also served to satisfy his ravenous sweet tooth.
He began to break it up and the first crack resounded in the quiet compartment,
making them all jump. Remus handed the first, large chunk to Harry.
“Here. Eat it.
It’ll help.” He wished he could say more, but what? “I’m and old mate of your
dad’s” hardly seemed appropriate.
Harry spoke to him
for the first time. “What was that thing?”
Remus replied, doling out chocolate to the rest of the group. “One of the
Dementors of Azkaban.” He fidgeted a bit with the chocolate wrapper. Now that
he was speaking to him, Remus found he couldn’t stop staring at Harry. He
needed to get a hold of himself before he said or did something stupid. Looking
around, he noticed that no one had touched their chocolate. “Eat,” he said
again, “It’ll help.” No one moved and the silence grew awkward. After a moment
Remus made up his mind, “I need to speak to the driver, excuse me.” He strode
out into the corridor.
beginning to emerge- some looking frightened, others merely curious. Remus
walked past them without a word, studying their faces as he made for the engine
car. From the condition of the students
it appeared that the Dementor had not entered any other compartments. That
seemed odd, but then again perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps it had simply been drawn
to the compartment where it could sense the most misery.
When he got to the
door of the engine car, he knocked, and a gruff voice demanded his identity. “I
am Remus Lupin, the new Defense professor.” The door opened a crack and he
could see that the driver was looking at him warily with his wand in his hand.
“If I were going to hurt you I wouldn’t have bothered knocking,” Remus said
“Beg pardon, sir,” said the driver a little
sheepishly, “Just, we had a bit of queer feeling a moment ago. Thought there
might be trouble.”
Remus felt a flash of anger. This man should have
been protecting the students, not hiding behind a locked door. “There was,” he
said shortly. “I need to contact the school.”
The driver stepped back and allowed Remus into the car. “We’ve got a couple of
owls for emergencies.”
The food trolley witch was in the corner, looking
nervous, and Remus gave her a tight smile and a nod of greeting. The driver waved
him over to a small desk at one end of the compartment and opened a side drawer
to reveal rolls of parchment. Remus sat, took up the quill from a stand on the
desk, and began writing to Dumbledore.
After a bit of
uncomfortable silence, the driver said tentatively, “Er, Professor, sorry to
disturb you, but, could you tell us what happened out there?”
“A Dementor was on
The driver swore
and the witch gave a little shriek. Remus looked up, meaning to glare at the
both of them, but they looked so pale and frightened that he couldn’t help
feeling bad for them. It was probably best that they had hidden, in a likelihood
they had never attempted to conjure a Patronus in their lives.
“I’ve taken care
of it,” Remus said soothingly. “It has gone and I do not believe it will come
back.” He finished his letter to Dumbledore and pulled out another sheet of
parchment to write a brief note to Professor McGonagall. She was Harry’s head
of house, she would want to know what had happened. When he was done
writing, he rolled up the letters, tied one each to the leg of the two tawny
owls in the large cage hanging above the desk and sent them out of the
“We, er, we ought
to be reaching the school in ten minutes or thereabouts,” commented the driver,
looking somewhat relieved.
“Thank you,” Remus
replied, turning to go.
A hand on his arm
stopped him. “Thank you, dear,” said the food trolley
witch, pressing a chocolate frog into his hand. Remus gave her a small smile
and a nod, then left the compartment. As he headed back down the train, he
popped the chocolate frog in his mouth and savored the feeling of warmth that
spread through his body.
When he slid open the door to the last compartment,
he could see that everyone was still holding uneaten chocolate. He supposed he
didn’t blame them. He probably would have been as wary of taking candy from a
strange wizard, at their age. Smiling a bit he said, “I haven’t poisoned that
chocolate, you know…”
Harry was the first to take a bite and Remus could
see the surprise and relief on his face as it took effect. The others eyed his
reaction, and then began on their own slabs. Not quite sure what to say, Remus
announced, “We’ll be at Hogwarts in ten minutes,” then he asked “Are you all
right, Harry?” He couldn’t help himself.
“Fine” and looked embarrassed. Remus noted Harry’s reaction and felt a little
bad for asking. The boy was what, thirteen? He probably wanted to ignore what
happened. He must have felt incredibly foolish passing out in front of his
friends because of some monster. None of the others had experienced such a
wondered why Harry had reacted so violently. The Dementors stripped away
happiness and left their victims with only the worst things that had happened
to them. Did Harry have so little happiness in him? And what was the worst
moment of his life? What did hear when the Dementor came near? Did he go back
to the same night that Remus did, the night when the world had come crashing
He shook his head
and settled back into his seat by the window, staring out into the black.
Impossible, Harry had been too young to remember. He probably did not even
remember James’ rakish smile or Lily’s tinkling laugh. It was better that way,
Remus thought. He remembered, and they haunted his quiet moments, along with
Peter’s silent presence and Sirius Black’s dark eyes.
The final minutes
of the journey passed quickly, and Remus watched Harry and the others get off
the train and meet up with Rubeus Hagrid. He took his case and made his way
through the throng of excited students, feeling so very much older than his
years. He climbed into the carriage that was waiting for him and set off for
He thought, again,
about why he had accepted Dumbledore’s offer. Dumbledore had a mysterious way
of getting what he wanted, and his urgings had overcome the younger man’s
protestations. It had been impossible for him to refuse, really. To teach
again, and at Hogwarts! It was an honor even to be asked. Remus wondered, for
the thousandth time, whether he had made a mistake. Even ignoring the fact that
he had faced a Dementor, things did not seem to be going too well do far.
Everything he saw brought back painful memories, and it would only be worse
once he got to the castle. What if he could not do it?
Then he thought of
Harry. Harry, who was so much like James. He thought of the protective feeling
that had surged through him when Harry was in trouble. Harry had needed him,
and he had been there. He couldn’t deny that it had felt satisfying to be able
to help. Many years ago, the Marauders had sworn undying loyalty to one
another, and Remus now admitted to himself that he had not held up his end of
While Harry was
with the Muggles it would not have been safe to contact him, Remus knew that,
but Harry had been two whole years in the wizarding
world and he had never reached out to the boy. He had heard rumors of
Harry’s brushes with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and Dumbledore had mentioned
that he had his father’s knack for trouble. Now a Dementor had come after him,
and if Remus hadn’t been there- he sucked in a breath. It did not bear
He looked out the
window as they were passing through the gates. Two Dementors stood guard, and
the events of that long-ago night echoed faintly in his mind. As they faded, it
struck Remus that he was the last one left to keep his promise. He would do it,
he must. He would protect Harry for James’ sake. The boy would never even have
to know, but Remus would be there to watch over him as long as it was in his
power to do so. Suddenly, and for the first time in a very long while, he felt
like his life had direction. He would protect Harry, and he would teach.
Stepping out of
the carriage in front of the castle, Remus noticed Harry and his friends facing
off with little Malfoy once again. So much like his father, Remus thought. He
checked the smile that was threatening to emerge and stepped a little closer.
“ Is there a
problem?” he asked, mildly. The little blond prat eyed him with disdain.
“Oh no, -er-
Professor,” replied Malfoy, with the hint of a sneer in his voice. He herded
his goons into the castle without further comment.
even manage irritation at the boy’s insolence, not tonight. He watched Harry
and his friends go inside, and allowed himself a slight upturn of the lips.
Then, he mounted the steps and entered the castle with the mass of excited
students. Remus’ head ached dully and his body was exhausted, but as he made
his way into the Great Hall, his heart was lighter than it had been in very