The Sugar Quill
Author: Chrmisha (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Under the Moonlight  Chapter: Chapter 2
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NEW BEGINNINGS

Under The Moonlight: Chapter 2

 

The next two weeks buzzed by. He was very curious about the part of the job that she hadn’t told him about. Although he loved books and could spend all day in a bookstore sifting through them, he was hoping she had something more interesting in mind than stocking shelves and directing customers to different areas of the store.

 

As he opened the package containing the robes that morning, he’d found she’d also included a box of chocolates. A small smile spread across his face. He put on one of the black robes which fit him surprisingly well. He caught the morning paper in the Leaky Cauldron; not much news today either. As he stepped out into the morning sun, he found it ironic that he had accepted a job at Flourish and Blotts. He’d always found the place clean and well lit, but the help seemed a bit stuffy, at least when he was back in school. Perhaps he’d see them differently as an adult. He walked in the back door as she had instructed and found the staff already gathered. She casually introduced him to everyone and set about giving people their tasks for the morning. After sending them on their way, she hung back with Remus.

 

“I’m so glad you could join us. I do hope you like it here. The staff are really nice and helpful, don’t hesitate to ask them if you have any questions.” She continued on telling him about lunch breaks and where the restrooms were, but he was more focused on her eyes––deep brown, honest, open. “Do you have any questions?”

 

“Ahh–” he said awkwardly, drawn back to the moment. “No, no, not yet. Please continue,” he cleared his throat. Had she caught him staring at her?

 

His assignment for the day was to stack shelves with incoming book (she had given him a couple of books for practically each section of the bookstore––so he could learn his way around he was sure), get familiar with their cataloging system, and

have at least one conversation with all of the staff members.

 

“Does that include you?” he kidded.

 

“Indeed,” she had said, “Be in my office at noon for lunch.”

 

He laughed at her forwardness, not sure if she was serious or not.

 

The staff members were indeed easy to talk to and were helpful in showing him where all of the books went. By noon, he had done as she had asked and stopped by her office.

 

“Ready for lunch?” Her ready smile caught him off guard.

 

“I didn’t think you were serious.”

 

“Of course I was serious.”

 

Her smile was infectious and he found himself returning it. He liked to see her brown eyes light up with laughter, her warm smile coaxing out one of his own. It suddenly dawned on him that the world didn’t seem like such a lonely place with someone like Raiyna in it.

 

***

 

The following Monday morning, she cornered him after the staff meeting. “So how do you feel about your first week at Flourish and Blotts?”

 

“Couldn’t be better,” he said nonchalantly.

 

She glanced at him skeptically, “You’re not bored out of your mind yet?”

 

“Well, truth be known, I do feel a bit underutilized.”

 

“Well, I’m glad to hear it.”

 

The laughter in her voice brought a bemused expression to his face.

 

“Meet me at noon in my office, there’s something I want to show you.”

 

The mysterious ring to her voice left him with a sense of anticipation. After sorting and shelving books, magazines, and newspapers all morning, he was glad to see noon roll around.

 

She led him from her office to a stack of boring, old books about Muggle lifestyles. Arthur Weasley would have loved this section, he thought sadly to himself. But instead of stopping there, she led him behind the shelves. He had now thoroughly learned every nook and cranny of the store, or so he thought. There was a narrow passageway that led, quite unexpectedly, to a curtained off area.

 

“With me so far?” she called back.

 

There was only room enough to transverse this alley single file. “Still here.”

 

She pulled back the curtain and led him into a quite spacious room with comfy-looking, overstuffed chairs, small round tables, and bookshelves and posters lining the walls.

 

“Welcome to The Library,” she said, sweeping her arm around the room in a dramatic gesture that spoke of pride.

 

To his surprise, everything in the room was about werewolves. Books lined the walls: The History of Werewolves, Myths About Werewolves, The Wizarding Community and Its Prejudice Against Werewolves, How to Cope with Lycanthropy, Lycanthropy in the Wizard World, Where the Ministry Went Wrong: Anti-Werewolf Legislation and Registration, Werewolves Past and Present. Posters hung like banners from the ceiling; posters on the signs and symptoms of transformation, the phases of the moon, helpful herbs and home remedies. He couldn’t believe his eyes.

 

Raiyna pulled a small silver book with a picture of the full moon on the cover from one of the shelves. “My aunt wrote this shortly after Ben got bit.” She flipped through the pages so he could see the pictures: a full transformation from boy to wolf and back. “It’s a bit out of date now, but we are working on updating it.” She placed the book back on the shelf. “Over here,” she pointed to a shelf full of small boxes, trinkets, glass bottles, and food mixes, “is Aunt Ameranda’s collection of items she’s developed.” She pointed out the Lemon-AID mix and the Morning After Rejuvenation Stew. “Along with the old standbys like the Wolfsbane Potion and Lunar-Ease tea of course.”

 

Remus scanned the shelves amazed. “I had no idea all of this stuff existed.”

 

“Well, we keep it pretty hush-hush. There’s just not a lot of support out there for the werewolf community and my aunt used to catch a lot of flack for helping people with this medical condition.”

 

It was one of the few times that he had heard lycanthropy referred to as a medical condition. He was more used to things like “dangerous creature,” “monster,” “half-breed,” or other more derogatory terms.

 

“Emily, who you haven’t met yet, works this room around the full moon. Ben, of course, had your schedule.”

 

Remus caught the tentative, questioning look on her face but he was too stunned by what he saw to respond.

 

“Please, have a seat. I’ve brought lunch so we can talk.”

 

He sat in one of the overstuffed chairs and picked up a sandwich from the platter.

 

“Florean Fortescue’s finest,” Raiyna added.

 

“I thought they only sold ice cream.”

 

“Oh, they’ve branched out, but I couldn’t pass up the ice cream drinks to go with our sandwiches,” she smiled. “One is strawberry, one is chocolate. Take your pick. I like them both.”

 

He reached for the chocolate one; it tasted as good as he remembered from his school days.

 

“So, what I really wanted to hire you for was this. You see, word travels fast, and people come here from all over the wizarding world to check out our supplies. We have owl-order as well. Aunt Ameranda isn’t making a fortune on any of this, she sells it just above cost, but it’s her life’s calling she says,” she paused, chewing a bit of sandwich. “And she’s more committed now than ever since Ben’s passed on. She reckons she might have been able to save him with a spirit-lifting potion or something if she’d had more time.”

 

Remus watched her intently. The more he got to know her, the more amazed and intrigued he was by her.

 

“Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The real reason I brought you in is this. Plenty of bite victims don’t have anywhere to go. The information they get from the Ministry is very negative and hopeless.”

 

“Downright harmful if you ask me,” Remus said, a touch of anger in his voice.

 

She nodded in agreement. “As I’m sure you are aware,” she said gravely, “the suicide rate among werewolves is outpaced only by Azkaban inmates. However, in the last five years or so, Barney Mingstrom has been covertly working from within the Ministry to direct anyone requesting information on lycanthropy to “The Community”––a network of witches and wizards who are tied in with better, more up-to-date information. In the end, many of those bite victims end up here, looking for hope, understanding, support, and most of all, solace. Many of them are children whose parents are frightened. Some are adults who grew up with the negative images so prevalent in the wizarding world. All of them are in need of good, accurate information.”

 

Remus looked on in awe at how much things had changed since he had been bitten so long ago.

 

“My hope is,” she continued, now looking at him both intently and with anticipation, “that you will be willing to work with these people and see them through this difficult time. You have all the resources here at your fingertips, and any others you can find I’d be more than happy to stock. If you are up to the challenge, I’d like you to spend this week learning everything you can about what’s in this room––reading the books, studying the potions, learning which concoctions are used for what, reading owl mail order so you get a feel for our clientele. Emily, the woman who works this room during the full moon, is very nice. You’ll like her, she’s the motherly type. She’ll be in on Monday and Tuesday to show you the ropes. I haven’t told her anything about you; I leave that to your discretion.”

 

After a short while, Remus found his voice. “Raiyna, this is incredible! I wish there had been resources like this when I was a child––it would have made things so much easier...” He looked into her eager brown eyes, and said with determination, “I would be honored to carry on the tradition.” Raiyna’s smile was radiant. If he didn’t know better, he’d have thought she’d lit up her eyes with her wand.

 

“Oh, I forgot to mention. Take any of the potions or food and try it, free of charge. I want you to be knowledgeable about our products so you can describe their effects to our customers, tell them what works best for you, things like that.”

 

The second week passed much quicker than the first as he immersed himself in all of the literature and concoctions filling the shelves. I definitely have to meet this Aunt Ameranda woman, he thought to himself.

 

At the end of the day on Friday she swept into what she affectionately called “The Library.” Remus was intently studying a potion that was supposed to relieve muscle aches after transformation. “Are you free tonight?” she asked. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

 

Remus was a bit apprehensive about dinner that evening. He wasn’t keen on spending time with people he didn’t know. To make matters worse, Raiyna wouldn’t tell him who they were meeting. A surprise and you’ll be pleased were the only hints she would give him.

 

They wound their way up the cobblestone path of a tiny cottage. Raiyna knocked gently on the door, and let herself in. A small witch with white curly hair came bounding out of the kitchen, “Wonderful, dears, you’re here! I was so excited when you owled to let me know you were coming for dinner. You must be Mr. Lupin. I’m Ameranda. It is a pleasure to meet you!” Remus extended his hand to the woman who was practically bouncing up and down when she shook it. “Please, please, come in! Sit down! Have some tea!”

 

Remus watched the woman buzz around the kitchen, singing merrily and charming the china to fill themselves with tea. She must have been at least seventy years old, but she acted like an energetic teenager.

 

Raiyna leaned over and whispered in his ear, “Isn’t she great?”

 

He nodded, a smile involuntarily crossing his face as he watched her.

 

“I think she’s developed some secret energizing potion for herself, but she’d never admit it.”

 

They both laughed.

 

After spending the evening with Raiyna’s energetic aunt, Remus had an idea where Raiyna got her vivaciousness from. As they left the cottage together, he was still laughing at Ameranda’s antics. If he didn’t know better, he’d have sworn she was trying to play matchmaker between the two of them. He had the urge to put his arm around Raiyna as they walked, but he resisted. As they turned to go their separate ways, there eyes met for a moment as they bid each other farewell.

 

Her and Remus, together, alone. Her heart was racing.

 

“I think we better get you to the hospital wing. That wrist looks sprained if not broken.”

 

His words were warm and comforting and he was talking to her of all people. She was still gazing speechlessly into his eyes.

 

Just then Peeves appeared out of nowhere, “Skipping class, skipping class, I’m going to tell.”

 

“Peeves, we are NOT skipping class. Why don’t you go tell Madam Pomfrey we’re on our way to see her.”

 

“Ooohh… somebody’s hurt. That’s always jolly good fun!”

 

Remus rolled his eyes as Peeves zoomed off, and not in the direction of the hospital wing either.

 

She watched in awe as he picked up her books and parchment, packed them back into her bag, and swung it over his shoulder.

 

“Aren’t you supposed to be in class?” she finally asked.

 

“Yes and no. I was on my way to see Madam Pomfrey as well.”

 

She noticed for the first time just how tired and ill he looked. “For what?” she asked.

 

“Oh, just to pick something up.”

 

He put his hand on her back to motion her toward the hospital wing. His touch, although brief, sent shivers up and down her spine. The weakness in her knees returned.

 

***

 

When Remus arrived for work on Monday, he was surprised to find a plump, older woman dressed in hot pink robes in the werewolf section. “Can I help you?” he asked as he walked in.

 

“Oh! Goodness gracious you startled me, child!” She looked at him for a moment and then stuck out her hand. “You must be Mr. Lupin, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Emily Eaton. I was just tidying up. Have you had a chance to look through our collection?” she smiled proudly.

 

“Indeed, it’s excellent,” he said with sincerity.

 

“Thank you!” Her eyes beamed as if he’d given her a direct complement, “I do think so myself.”

 

Raiyna was right, she was quite motherly. She fussed over the cuff of Remus’s robes which had turned upward; he would never have noticed. She insisted he try some of the mulberry muffins she’d made, after all, a skinny boy like him needed to eat more! She blushed easily and never stopped talking, not because she liked to hear herself talk, but because she was so friendly and bubbly she couldn’t stand to see another person looking uncomfortable. After listening to her most of the morning, he decided she was perfect for this job. She could put anyone’s mind at easy, even a horror-struck mother bringing in a child who’d just been bitten.

 

They had lunch together and Remus asked casually, “So, how is it that you came to work here?” For the first time, he saw a glint of sadness in her eyes. He suddenly realized what an intrusive question he’d just asked. “Mrs. Eaton, I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking––”

 

Emily regained her composure with record speed, “Oh, dear child, don’t be sorry! I just thought Raiyna would have told you. But I should have known better, she is very respectful of people’s privacy. And please, call me Emily.”

 

Remus watched as Emily sat back and closed her eyes a minute as if remembering. When she leaned forward again, she looked eager to tell her story. “Well, my son and his son, my grandson, were hiking in the woods near dusk. Little Billy, my grandson, was at that age where he liked to play hide and seek in the woods. He’d run just slightly off the trail and Bill, my son, would chase him. Billy ran behind some trees to hide when Bill heard him scream. He ran after him, and found Billy crouched down holding his bloody arm and crying. ‘I tried to pet the doggy.’ ‘What doggy?’ ‘That doggy,’ he said, pointing to a wolf that had slunk up behind Bill and had started growling. Bill grabbed Billy and tried to run, but the wolf lunged at him and sank his teeth into Bill’s shoulder. Luckily, they were able to get out of the forest after that.”

 

“They outran the wolf?” Remus asked in disbelief.

 

“No, it turns out the wolf had taken ill. If he hadn’t been, I dare say my son and grandson probably wouldn’t be here today. Sadly, they found the wolf, then man, dead the next morning. They think he was attacked by another animal due to his weakened state.”

 

Sadly? he thought to himself. She was sad that the werewolf had died?

 

“It was a frightful state of affairs. The information they got from the Ministry was terrifying and very discouraging. His wife stayed for awhile, but I think she just couldn’t stand to see them in such pain. It is very painful, transformation that is, and I think it drove her slightly mad to see what her husband and son went through each month. I think she was scared too. At any rate, she left. So now it’s just the two of them.”

 

Remus watched her intently. He sat perfectly still, his hands clasped in his lap, trying to maintain his composure, trying not to give anything away. He was paying particular attention to his breathing, willing it to stay even and calm.

 

“You know,” she remarked, looking thoughtful, “It’s a good thing it happened to both of them.”

 

A good thing? Is this woman insane? Remus was relieved that she hadn’t seemed to notice the appalled look that crossed his face at this comment.

 

“It is remarkable, actually. They have each other. Each month they transform together, their own little pack of sorts. They play and frolic together. And like the rest of the month, father still protects son. In the early morning hours before sunrise, they curl up together and sleep, awaiting their transformation back.”

 

That he understood. He remembered running wild with Padfoot, Prongs, and Wormtail. He remembered bounding through the Forbidden Forest, playing under the full moon, Prongs and Padfoot keeping him in order, keeping him safe. There had been no greater feeling of companionship and acceptance than having his friends with him when he was a wolf.

 

“How do you know all of this?” he asked cautiously. “Surely you can’t be with them when they transform.”

 

“Oh, no, but Bill charmed a crystal ball to record one of their transformations. They wanted to see it for themselves. They wanted to see what happened to their bodies and how they acted as wolves. Especially little Billy. You know, boys his age are so curious, so full of wonder. Afterwards, they showed me some of the parts of them together as wolves. It was incredible to see them like that, so close, so bonded.”

 

Emily went on to tell him how it had become her goal in life to educate people about werewolves and to disseminate positive, enlightened information to the werewolf community in hopes of making the world a better place for people like her son and grandson.

 

Remus sat back amazed. This was the first time he’d ever heard anyone speak about his kind in such a generous and loving way. She found their condition intriguing and remarkable, not monstrous and horrifying. She accepted her son and grandson for who and what they were, and remained a part of their lives, every party of their lives, including the wolf parts.

 

//
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