The Sugar Quill
Author: Chrmisha (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Under the Moonlight  Chapter: Chapter 1
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NEW BEGINNINGS

Under The Moonlight

By Chrmisha

 

Summary: This story takes place after Lord Voldemort is conquered. Remus Lupin is left with the tattered remains of his life. Although the world is a better place for wizards, his world is lonelier. He struggles to find himself worthy of accepting love and living his life in the wake of the numerous losses he has suffered.

 

A/N: Many thanks to Zsenya for her wonderful job of beta-reading this piece.

 

Under The Moonlight: Chapter 1

 

It was a gray and cloudy afternoon as he sat by himself at a corner table in the Leaky Cauldron. He had spent most of the day in Diagon Alley tying up some loose ends and had stopped for a bite to eat before heading home. Rain had started to fall, and in its wake, wizards of all shapes and sizes were scurrying inside. He went back to the Daily Prophet, but there was nothing of interest to him in it. It had been two months since the fall of Voldemort. The Order had suffered heavy casualties. Had the final battle not taken place on a full moon, he might have been one of them. He had received an Order of Merlin First Class for his work; Dumbledore had seen to that. But the Order had since disbanded, Harry had been released from St. Mungo’s, his trio of friends now reduced to two, and life as the wizarding world knew it was returning to normal. For him, though, he couldn’t have felt more alone. Many of his friends had been killed and no one had been left untouched. Sirius was gone, Tonks was gone, Kingsley was gone; the list went on and on. Mad-Eye Moody was still around, but he was so paranoid that no one sought his company. The Weasleys, as well as many other wizarding family, had lost family members. The world was a better place for wizarding folk, but it was a much lonelier place for him now.

 

“Excuse me? May I join you?”

 

A striking woman with dark brown hair stood looking down at him. He glanced around and noticed there were a few open tables scattered throughout the bar.

 

“Um… I really don’t think I’d be good company at the moment,” he said with just a hint of regret.

 

“Well, I certainly know how that feels.” She pulled out the chair across from him and sat down.

 

He blinked, taken aback by her brazenness.

 

“Anything interesting in there?” she asked pointing to the Daily Prophet.

 

“No, nothing new.” He pushed the newspaper towards her. “I’m finished with it.”  He watched as she ruffled through the pages, noticing that she stopped to study a photo of the new Headmistress of Hogwarts. It was another reminder that he didn’t need; a reminder of just how small and lonely his world had become.

 

He stared out the window and sipped his Butterbeer. Two more days.

 

She was thirteen again, attending Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She hadn’t noticed him before––how could she not? His gray eyes glowed behind a seemingly apprehensive, but honest smile. He was slightly taller than her with a thin build. And, of course, he was a year older than her. She was dying to talk to him, but he was always with his friends. Why didn’t he notice her? She perched herself near their little group by the lake in the afternoons, pretending to study while listening in on snatches of their conversation, hoping to learn more about him. Perhaps if she could find something they had in common, she’d be able to find something to talk to him about…

 

A warm hand came to rest upon his shoulder.

 

“Are you okay?” The warmth of her voice beckoned him, concern etched in her eyes.

 

“I’m fine.” He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, the grip around his bottle tightening.

 

“It’s just, you look so… tired.”

 

He was tired, tired of life, tired of fighting, tired of being alive. He shrugged and took another swig of his drink, trying to figure out how he could make a graceful exit then suddenly realizing he didn’t much care about being graceful.

 

She extended her hand, a warm smile on her face. “I’m Raiyna Blotts, by the way.”

 

Remus looked at her with a wary expression on his face, his hands never leaving the bottle in his grasp. This woman couldn’t seem to take a hint.

 

She dropped her hand, but persisted undeterred. “You’re Remus Lupin, aren’t you?”

 

He was a bit surprised that she knew his name, and then remembered that his picture had appeared in the Daily Prophet earlier that week for receiving the Order of Merlin. “Ahhh... Well I’m no hero, if that’s what your thinking.”

 

“Hero?” she looked confused. “We went to school together, I think. I was a year behind you, I was in Ravenclaw. I–” She looked as if she were going to say something else, but changed her mind.

 

“Oh. I thought–– well, never mind.”

 

 “So what brings you here today?”

 

Her desperate attempts at making conversation made him groan inwardly. “Just running some errands,” he said noncommittally, looking again towards the door.

 

“I see. So, what have you been doing since school?”

 

Remus wondered why in Merlin’s name she had chosen to sit with him of all people. He certainly was not good company and her conversation was both unwarranted and strained. “Oh, odds and ends. I taught at Hogwarts for a year. And, of course, up until two months ago, I was working for the Order.”

 

“I was very sorry to hear that the Order took some pretty heavy losses.” Her voice rang with sincerity.

 

“Yeah, me too,” he said before gritting his teeth at the unwelcome sympathy she’d extended towards him. He had said decidedly more than he’d ever intended to this stranger. She seemed to have an odd way of getting him to talk when no one else could. Granted, there weren’t a whole lot of people left who were interested in trying.

 

“Well, I work at one of the shops in Diagon Alley and I’m looking for some help. Do you know anyone who needs a job?”

 

Remus eyed her carefully. Why was she asking him?

 

As if she picked up on his thoughts she continued, “It’s hard to find good help these days. I’ve been posting signs for the last month, but haven’t gotten any takers. It never hurts to spread the word around, you know?”

 

Remus nodded absently.

 

“You wouldn’t happen to be looking for a job now that the Order is, well, no longer needed I guess, would you?”

 

Remus laughed humorlessly as she looked a mixture of desperate and hopeful. “No. I’ve got a funny schedule. I’m sure it wouldn’t work out.” He finished his Butterbeer one deep swallow. “It’s been nice talking to you, but I have to be on my way.”

 

“Perhaps we’ll meet again sometime.”

 

“Sure,” he said, leaving abruptly. He couldn’t help but think of the strange people he ran into whenever he stopped at the Leaky Cauldron. He also couldn’t help but notice the odd tone of her voice with that last statement; it was if she was hoping she would run into him again. He shook his head. He was tired and restless, just two more days.

 

***

 

An owl came to his house a couple of weeks later. He couldn’t fathom who would be calling for him.

 

Dear Mr. Lupin,

 

I have, so far, been unsuccessful in finding a suitable candidate for the job opening I have. I was wondering if you would be so kind as to meet me for dinner next Friday evening. I have spoken to a friend of mine at Hogwarts and she thinks you’d be perfect for the job. The work schedule is quite flexible. If you find that are not interested, perhaps after hearing me out, you could refer me to another suitable candidate.

 

I do look forward to meeting you again. I’ll await your owl.

 

Sincerely,

 

Raiyna Blotts

 

He read the letter twice. After his last chance meeting with her, he couldn’t imagine why she’d want to see him again. He was intrigued, however, by whom she’d spoken with at Hogwarts and why they thought he would be perfect for the job. Although he’d received the letter on Monday, he didn’t respond until late Thursday. He’d gone back and forth in his mind as to whether or not he felt up to having dinner with a friend, much less a complete stranger.

 

The return owl came early Friday morning.

 

Remus,

 

I have reservations at the Winging Park Inn in London for 7pm tonight.

 

See you then,

 

Raiyna

 

Remus had no idea what or where the Winging Park Inn was. Much to his dismay, it turned out to be an upscale restaurant in a hidden wizarding section on the outskirts of London. Although he had selected his best set of robes, they were still tattered on the edges and looked very worn. Raiyna, on the other hand, was wearing crushed velvet burgundy robes and looked absolutely radiant. They were seated immediately, and one look at the menu told him he was in the wrong place. He couldn’t afford to dine here alone, much less with a guest.

 

As if she’d read his mind, she said, “Oh, it’s one of the great things about owning a business, you know. I have the luxury of taking people out to dinner on the shop. So, order whatever you like! I hear the dragon stew with beef medallion is wonderful, although I must admit, I haven’t had the courage to try it yet.” Her ready smile had an uncanny way of making him feel at ease. He still didn’t like the atmosphere; much too rich for his tastes. He’d have much preferred something just slightly above the Leaky Cauldron.

 

“I think I’ll try the duck basted in meddleberry wine with a hint of sage myself.”

 

He checked the menu; the dragon stew was the most expensive item, with the basted duck falling in step right behind it. He had the feeling she was ordering on the high end so that he didn’t pick the cheapest thing on the menu. He settled for a mid-priced item.

 

Remus was relieved to find that Raiyna had a gift for speaking since he tended to be a bit quiet to begin with and in the past weeks, mourning the loss of his friends, he’d become even more reserved. He didn’t feel all that hungry, but when dinner arrived, the aroma of high quality cooking was unmistakable.

 

“Would you like to try some of mine?” she offered. “It’s absolutely incredible.”

 

Without waiting for him to answer, she used her wand to transfer a bit of duck to his plate. Covering his surprise, he followed suit.

 

“Wonderful,” she muttered, her mouth still full of food.

 

He had to admit, the food was very good, better than anything he’d had in ages.

 

“This is one of my favorite restaurants,” she added after swallowing her last bite of food. “A bit pricey though, I don’t think I’d eat out here as much if I couldn’t write it off against the business. But it does have great food, don’t you think?”

 

He couldn’t help notice her deep brown eyes. He’d always been attracted to a person’s eyes––windows to their soul. She seemed open, honest, sincere. As much as he tried to find an ulterior motive, he could not. She seemed genuinely interested in getting to know more about him, although he’d hardly told her anything worthwhile. Yet there was an uneasy feeling settling in his stomach that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

 

“How about we take a walk?” Her voice broke through his thoughts.

 

He looked at her inquisitively. What was it about women? Why couldn’t they just get to the point?

 

“Well, it just seems a bit stuffy in here, and it’s always good to take a brisk walk after a meal.”

 

Reluctantly, he agreed. As he’d never been to this area of London before, she pointed out many interesting things along the way. Finally, they settled on a bench overlooking a stream.

 

“You know,” Remus observed, “you haven’t yet mentioned a thing about this job you have in mind for me.”

 

She looked over at him. “Yes, of course, but pleasure before business, don’t you think?”

 

He noticed the way her soft brown hair swirled easily over her shoulders, how the shadows bouncing off her high cheekbones made her face look even younger. She was very pretty in the dim light of the lamps along the waterfront. “Perhaps, but I don’t even know what business you work at in Diagon Alley.”

 

“Oh, you don’t? I’m sorry, I assumed it was obvious,” she blushed, laughing at herself. “Flourish and Blotts, the bookstore.”

 

She quickly switched from casual conversation to all business in a fashion that even Remus found impressive. The parts of the job she explained in detail sounded rather mundane; the other parts seemed more intriguing, but she was quite vague about them. When Remus questioned her further, she would only say things like, “Ahh, trade secrets, I can’t tell you more unless you come to work for me,” which was always followed by a wink and a smile.

 

“Here,” she said enthusiastically, “let me show you the schedule.” She pulled out a long scroll that had boxes for each day of the year. She tapped it with her wand and some of the boxes turned yellow. About two consecutive weeks out of every month were highlighted, but the dates shifted slightly depending on the month. What struck him as most odd was that the weeks highlighted were always centered around a new moon. There were no highlighted sections at all one week on either side of a full moon.

 

“This is quite an odd schedule,” he said, looking at her suspiciously.

 

She merely gazed back at him and said, “Yes, well, my brother did keep strange hours come to think of it. Anyway, Emily, as you can see there,” she said, pointing to the name in the squares, “worked opposite my brother, and since you’d be replacing him, those are the time slots I am looking to fill.”

 

Not looking at her, he uttered, “Why does your brother need replacing?”

 

His voice had come out harsher than he intended. He watched as she bit her lip and looked off into the distance glassy-eyed.

 

“Are you all right?” he asked, feeling oddly concerned over her sudden change of mood.

 

“Oh, yes, sorry,” she replied, looking slightly embarrassed while blinking rapidly. “My brother died about six weeks ago. I still haven’t gotten over it,” she glanced at him for a moment. “I’m sure you understand,” her eyes searched his imploringly. For recognition of the pain and sorrow that losing someone brings, he assumed. He nodding, understanding her feelings perfectly well.

 

He wanted to know more about her brother, but now was not the time to ask. He looked again at the schedule. In all reality, he was desperate for work. The Order had paid him a stipend to live off of, but it wasn’t much. And, considering his situation, he had a great deal of difficulty finding work.

 

“I know it’s not as exciting as teaching, but I really hope you’ll consider it.”

 

When he made no move to accept or deny the position, she added, “Perhaps– perhaps you could just try it, for a couple of months, or until I can find someone else– if you don’t like the job, that is.”

 

He looked into those begging brown eyes and found her hard to refuse. Reluctantly, he agreed. She looked as if she were about to hug him, but refrained herself at the last minute.

 

As he left London that evening, he couldn’t help feeling a sense of foreboding. This had all come on too quickly, and out of nowhere. It made him rather uncomfortable. He didn’t like when he felt like things were out of his control. On the other hand, he laughed at himself; when was that last time he was wined and dined? When was the last time he spent a mostly pleasant evening with a beautiful woman? She was so unlike other women he’d met; she was outgoing, brazen, not afraid to state her opinions. She was unique. Something about her made him feel like he could trust her, but a part of him found her a bit dangerous, a bit too…. He shook his head; he couldn’t put his finger on it.

 

As he drifted off to sleep, he dreamed of a woman with dark brown curly hair. She was sitting across from a dinner companion, laughing. But it wasn’t a jovial laugh, it was high pitched, more like cackling. As she shifted, he saw Severus Snape sitting opposite her. Severus was sneering at Lupin and saying something in his cold, contemptuous voice. The woman pointed maliciously at Lupin, still laughing wickedly, “So that’s him, is it?”

 

He snapped awake. It suddenly occurred to him that he had never asked her whom she had spoken with at Hogwarts. Supposedly, someone thought he’d be perfect for the job. It must have been a professor, and no professor there would reveal his secret. No one, except Snape. A wave of dread passed over him. What if Snape was playing a cruel joke on him? What if this job was in some way meant to make him suffer? He shook his head. This line of thinking was ludicrous. He drifted back to sleep with an uneasy feeling settling heavily on his chest.

 

An owl arrived the next morning with a large package and a note.

 

Remus,

 

Thank you for accompanying me to dinner. I had a thoroughly pleasant evening. I am very excited that you have decided to join our team.

 

Your start date will be two weeks from this Monday. Please return the enclosed forms at your earliest convenience.

 

Raiyna

 

Remus opened the brown paper package and found two new black robes with the Flourish and Blotts logo embroidered on them. He couldn’t remember the last time he had new robes.

 

He sat down at the table to fill out the forms. The last time he’d filled out an official application was when he taught at Hogwarts. He suddenly realized that things had changed––drastically––thanks to the Dangerous Creatures Act that that evil Umbridge woman had put through. He tore up the application form and shook his head, furious at the injustice of it all. Carefully, he wrapped back up the robes, wrote a short note that he would need to respectfully decline her generous offer, and sent them back.

 

Two days later, the owl was back on his windowsill carrying a very similar package and another note.

 

Remus,

 

My owl must have gotten lost, he returned yesterday with the robes I had sent for you. I apologize for the delay. I have taken the liberty of filling out part of your forms for you. I look very forward to seeing you two weeks from today.

 

Sincerely,

 

Raiyna

 

He set the package aside and looked at the forms. His name had been filled in at the top. About half way down the page, he saw her handwriting again. He looked at it with a mix of shock and horror. The section labeled “Dangerous Creatures,” which had a statement below detailing the new statutes of the Ministry of Magic, was crossed out and instead she had written in “Medical Conditions.” In the box attached, she had written, “Werewolf, Registry #158”. In the “Restrictions” section, she had noted the following, “Requires one week off prior to and one week off following the full moon for rest and recuperation.” Below that was a section with a disclaimer stating, “If the above listed restrictions are strictly followed, this individual is” followed by a SAFE/UNSAFE checkbox and associated statements such as “to be around other people, to be around children, to be around other animals, etc.” Next to all of those statements, she had checked the SAFE box.

 

He placed the application on the table, his hands still shaking. How long had she known? Why hadn’t she told him? He felt anger rising inside of him as if he’d been tricked. But the more rational side of him said, she’s just trying to help. That didn’t feel much better though, he didn’t need her pity. He left the room, ignoring the wrapped parcel. Five more days, he thought to himself.

 

He didn’t respond to the application, but he hadn’t sent back the parcel either. He wasn’t sure what he was waiting for. It was Thursday night, the moon was waxing. He was getting restless and edgy. Waiting was the hardest part. He just wanted it to be over with. One more day.

 

Friday night at dusk, he prowled the house. His skin felt like it was crawling. He hated the intense feeling of unease, apprehension, and anxiety that preceded his transformations. He had taken the Wolfsbane Potion and was pacing his living room. He’d put an Imperturbable Charm on the house so no one could hear the wolf. He locked and charmed the doors so that he couldn’t get out, should the urge come over him. As his skin started to prickle more intensely, he took off his robes. Soon, it would all be over and he would be human again for another month. Soon, but not soon enough.

 

Saturday dawned and he was exhausted. The pain in his limbs kept him from sleeping. He knew he should eat, but he couldn’t bring himself to get off the couch. He was feeling sick and shaky. He dozed on and off throughout the day. As evening dawned, he heard a knock at the door. He hesitated, he wasn’t expecting anyone. He couldn’t imagine who it could be. Grudgingly, he dragged his body off the couch, pulled on his robes, and stumbled to the door. He unlocked it, and, taking a deep breath, leaned heavily against the wall as he opened the door.

 

She stood in the bright light of the waning moon.

 

A wave of anger came over him before he knew what hit him. “What are you doing here!” he demanded “This is not a good time!”

 

“I know exactly what time it is,” she said steadily, a mixture of fear and determination resonating in her voice.

 

His legs weakened and he was overcome by exhaustion.

 

“Come now, you need to lie down.” She put her arm around him and helped him to the couch.

 

He lay there and tried to steady his breath and stem the tide of nausea sweeping over him. Even with the Wolfsbane Potion, transformations were not getting any easier with age. He watched wearily as she took off her cloak and opened the brown sack she was carrying. He was too weak and too sick to argue with her.

 

She pulled out a small cauldron full of brown liquid and with a swish of her wand, it was bubbling softly. She propped him up slightly on pillows and, with a spoon full of the bubbling stew, she said encouragingly, “Here, try some, it will make you feel better.”

 

He looked over at her, his eyes half open. She was kneeling next to him.

 

“Go on, you’ll feel better, I promise.”

 

For all he knew, she was poisoning him. Suddenly that didn’t sound so bad. He obliged. It didn’t taste half bad, actually, and after several more spoonfuls, he felt his body regaining some of its strength. She helped him to sit up and then sat on the couch next to him, pouring him a glass of yellow colored liquid.

 

“Here, this will help too.”

 

He swallowed as much of the juice as he dared and leaned back, laying his head against the wall. Gradually, he felt the exhaustion beginning to lift.

 

“I’m sorry to come so unexpectedly,” she said. “But, well, I didn’t hear back from you. I thought you might be upset. I was hoping after you saw the schedule that first night you’d just accept my offer.” Averting her eyes, she said with such honesty he thought he sensed regret, “I’d forgotten about the forms.” He followed her gaze to the threadbare rug on the floor which was still littered with gray fur.

 

“How long have you known?” he asked, his voice hoarse, as he sipped some more of the bright yellow liquid.

 

“Since I first saw you in the Leaky Cauldron, but I didn’t realize it at the time.”

 

He practically choked on his drink at her surprising admission.

 

“Something about you reminded me of my brother. It wasn’t until I got home that night that it dawned on me,” she said, offering him a weak smile.

 

“Your brother?” he inquired.

 

“Ben, yes, of course. He was a werewolf too. That’s how I knew. You reminded me so much of him; that tired look in your eyes, the edginess, the lack of trust for your fellow man.” She sighed, looking away briefly before continuing. “I looked you up on the registry the next morning. You know, not many people would want to work that strange of a schedule. They want more regular hours. Ben was a big help, I was desperate to replace him––with the right person of course. And then I saw you. I knew your admirable work with the Order had finished. I’d read about all you’d done in the Daily Prophet. And Professor McGonagall, well you must know she thinks very highly of you. It seemed like the perfect fit. And there’s more to the job then I’ve told you, as I’m sure you’ve guessed.”

 

Remus looked at her with curiosity but didn’t comment.

 

“I just thought, well, maybe it was presumptuous of me, but I thought you’d feel more comfortable if you thought I didn’t know, if you were the one to tell me. I know about the stupid prejudices people have, they just don’t understand. My brother was a wonderful man, and he suffered because of other peoples’ ignorance.”

 

Remus saw the fear of his reprisal in her eyes as she waited for him to respond. Indeed, he was feeling bitter about being led astray, as if he was too naïve to see she had ulterior motives. Feeling emboldened by this, he watched her intently as he said, “Tell me about your brother.” He sensed her reluctance but he was not willing to relent.

 

She bit her lower lip, dread spreading across her face. She closed her eyes momentarily and swallowed. “Well, I guess I’ll start from the beginning. Ben was six years older than I. After his last year at Hogwarts, we went on a family trip to Brazil. My parents were back at the camp, and Ben and I had ventured off into the rain forest in the late afternoon. My aunt has a knack for making potions and home remedies and we were off searching for unique plants for her. We were pretty deep in the forest when the sun started to set. We headed back for camp, but in the waning sunlight, we got lost. The moon was very bright, though, and as we were nearing the clearing, we heard a strange noise––like a dog growling. I had no idea what it was. Ben saw it first, its golden eyes glowing eerily at us. The next thing I knew, it was lunging at me,” she sighed, “but Ben knew what it was, and he sacrificed himself instead. He dove at it just in time, and knocked it to the ground. He screamed for me to run for help. I didn’t want to leave him, but I didn’t know what else to do.” She paused, shaking her head, remembering. “He got tore up pretty badly. Of course, they patched him up at the wizarding hospital down there, but, as I’m sure you know, the worst was yet to come.” She gazed at a shabby tapestry hanging across the room and noticed the claw marks and the pulled out threads. Tears filled her eyes. 

 

“The next several years were very difficult. We had to learn as a family how to help Ben, how to protect him and protect ourselves. Wolfsbane Potion was just coming out then, and my aunt got a hold of it as soon as it was available. She was the most appalled at how Ben was treated by outsiders. The rest of us were all so busy trying to figure out how to live our lives that we hadn’t had much time to notice. Although my brother had always wanted to be a healer, after my aunt in a fashion, his condition made that unattainable, so he started working at the family bookstore. The staff noticed his strange work schedule, but my father and uncle just said he had another job elsewhere. When my father and uncle finally passed away, I took over the management of the business while my brother, and another woman, Emily, who you’ll meet, ran the front end. It worked quite well for several years.”

 

Remus nodded, listening intently.

 

“Then, about two years ago, my brother started getting restless. Physically, he was feeling better than he’d ever felt––with my aunt’s remedies and all. But emotionally, and spiritually, he was feeling rather stuck, I guess. I think deep down he really wanted a family of his own––a wife and kids––but he would never let himself get close to anyone. It broke my heart. Anyway, the last couple of months he seemed to be really down. When I’d ask him about it, he’d say he was tired, or that the transformations were really taxing on his body. I’d told him to talk to Aunt Ameranda about it, and he promised me he would, but I don’t think he ever did.” She barely paused to catch her breath. The worst was yet to come and she wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. She sighed heavily and continued.

 

“I usually made Ben a good dinner the afternoon before a full moon so that he was well nourished for his transformation. But it was end of the month inventory and he told me not to worry about it. I sent food to him by owl instead,” she shook her head, trembling. “He never ate it. The next morning I went early to check on him, but––”

 

Remus watched as the tears in her eyes threatened to spill onto her cheeks. She seemed a million miles away, as if reliving what she was telling him. Remus moved closer to her on the couch and rubbed her shoulder softly. 

 

“But he’d already gone,” she stifled a sob, and continued, clearing her throat, her voice creaking. “Everyone thought it was so tragic:  his body finally gave out, it just couldn’t take it anymore. But I really don’t think that was it. Not that it’s easy on a body, mind you I know, but I think his spirit is what gave out. I think he mixed something in with the Wolfsbane Potion so that he wouldn’t have to wake up again.”

 

Can’t say as I haven’t thought about doing that myself a time or two, Remus thought to himself.

 

Tears started to trickle down her face. Almost as an afterthought, she added, “I found a note he’d left for me in his writing desk. It was dated two years prior, but I’m not really sure if it was that old, or if he’d just put that date on it so I wouldn’t know he’d had a hand in his own death.”

 

Remus pulled her into his arms. All the anger he’d felt toward her had long since drained away. She sobbed softly into his chest. He held her firmly as her body shook against his. He felt bad for asking her, as if he was intruding in some private place he didn’t belong.

 

When she finally straightened up, she said, “So, that was Ben. Great man, he was. I miss him,” she sniffed, wiping her tears away. She refilled his glass with yellow liquid. “Drink some more, it’s good for you.”

 

After a long pause, Remus asked, “What is it anyway?”

 

“My aunt makes it, it’s called Lemon-AID, get it? Nevermind, it’s a Muggle joke. It’s an energizing drink. The brown stew, that’s called Rejuvenate. It took her many years to perfect the recipe, but now she sells it as the Morning After Rejuvenation Stew. It helps the recovery process after transformation.”

 

She said this all so matter-of-factly that Remus had to laugh. “You do know your werewolves, don’t you?”

 

“I have one more thing for you,” she said, a little more timidly. “These drops are chocolate flavored. They help balance out your energy and moods throughout the month. My brother swore by them.”

 

Remus could Raiyna struggle to hold back her emotions.

 

“My aunt always gives the first month free so her customers can try them and see what they think.” Her eyes darted around nervously. He could see the worry on her face. He laughed to himself. She’d practically burst into his home uninvited, took care of him, told him her life story, and now she was worried she’d gone too far?

 

Just then, their eyes met. He felt something warm rising inside of him. He hadn’t realized how close she was. He could smell her soft, feminine scent and felt his heart beat a little faster. The mutual gazed lingered awkwardly for a moment longer before she glanced away.

 

“Have you tried on the robes yet?” she said, shifting backwards to put some distance between them.

 

“Ah, no, I–– I haven’t unwrapped them yet.”

 

“Well, I think they will fit okay. They were my brothers. I had them freshly laundered of course before I sent them to you. I thought you could use them while you decided if you liked the job.”

 

He noticed that whenever she mentioned her brother, something dark flickered behind her eyes as she receded into what he could only imagine was a well of loneliness. He knew the feeling.

 

“Listen, you need to get some sleep. Is there anything I can do for you before I go?”

 

Remus studied her closely, intrigued by what he saw. “You’ve been very kind, thank you. I can’t think of anything else.”

 

“Alright, get some rest then?”

 

He nodded.

 

“And I will see you at work then the Monday after next?”

 

He noticed that she was holding her breath. “I’ll be there.”

 

“Great! Well, I’ll see you soon then.”

 

Remus started to get up, but she put a hand on his shoulder, “Don’t be silly. I can see myself out. Take care of yourself, Remus. Good night.”

 

Her heart was pounding as she ran down the stairs. She was late for class, again. If she hurried, she could make it before the professor finished role call. But she missed the last stair and lunged forward, landing on her hands and knees as her books and parchment scattered across the floor. “Ouch!” she cried, rubbing her painfully throbbing wrist. She shook her head at her own stupidity; the only good thing was that everyone else was in class so no one saw her fall.

 

“Here, let me help you.” The warm voice came out of nowhere. 

 

She whipped her head around and saw him hurrying towards her. Her breath caught in her chest––oh no, not him, not now. I look so stupid! But he took her gently by the arm and helped her to her feet. She couldn’t help but notice those eyes; those gray eyes made him look so mysterious, so alluring. She’d never been this close to him before, never felt the warmth of his smile spread over her. She was smiling back like an idiot; she couldn’t help herself. It was as if she was caught in a trance.

 

“I’m Remus, Remus Lupin. It’s nice to meet you.” He offered her his hand, but when she didn’t take it, he said, “Oh, of course,” withdrawing his hand as he looked down at the way she was holding her wrist. “And you are?”

 

“Oh, sorry! I’m Raiyna Blotts.” Blotts, what an awful name. Hi, I’m a big, fat ink blot.

 

But he just smiled and nodded. “It’s nice to meet you Raiyna.”

 

Ooh, his voice made her feel weak in the knees.

 

//
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