The Sugar Quill
Author: Gryffinjack  Story: Another Watchdog  Chapter: Default
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ANOTHER WATCHDOG

ANOTHER WATCHDOG

Even though Remus Lupin had been going to St. Mungo’s to take the wolfsbane potion before his transformation for a week now, it still seemed so strange.

“I’m afraid you’re in for an unusually rough transformation this time, ” the Healer said sadly to him.  “All the stress and pain you’ve been going through since Sirius Black’s death… you’ll feel it tonight. I’m terribly sorry. Even with the painkillers I’ve put in the potion, it’s not going to be enough.”

“I expected that would be the case,” said Remus.  No matter how much he had anticipated this, it was still disappointing to have it confirmed. If his first transformation after the deaths of his parents or James Potter were any indication, this one was going to be much more dangerous than usual.

So here was Remus, back at St. Mungo’s on a fine afternoon for the last dose of the wolfsbane potion before the full moon rose that night. When Remus explained to Healer Monaco that he had been extremely tired earlier than usual that day, she told him that she was not surprised.

 “Now, Remus,” the Healer said after Remus had swallowed the last of the wolfsbane potion, “One thing you can do to help a bit is to stretch about fifteen minutes before moonrise.  Try to stretch all the muscles in your body.  Then try to relax as much as possible.  As I said, you are in for a rather rough go of it.  As I do with all of my patients, I’ll stop by tomorrow morning to check on you to make sure you haven’t done any serious injuries to yourself.  Are we straight on this?”

“Quite,” he smiled wanly.

“Take care and good luck then,” she said, shaking his hand.  “ See you in the morning.”

“Goodbye and thank you,” he said quietly.

Remus Apparated straight away to his old house instead of going back to Twelve Grimmauld Place, where he had been living.  Despite the fact that Headquarters was unplottable, he never wanted to risk transforming in such close proximity to so many people, especially Muggles.  Instead, he went to the house his parents had left to him in the sleepy little town of Devon.  This had been his home ever since he had been a boy; he and Sirius had been coming back here for Remus’ transformations every month for the last year.

Now, he was coming back here to spend the night without Padfoot … all alone … or so he thought … until he opened the front door.

“Arthur… what are you doing here?” asked Remus in alarm before quickly adding in a gruff voice,  “You can’t stay.”

Arthur Weasley got up from the old cherry wooden rocking chair in the lounge and approached Remus.

“You can say what you like, Remus, but I am staying.  I need to make sure my friend is all right tonight,” Arthur said resolutely.

“I appreciate your concern, but you can’t stay,” said Remus firmly. Although Remus and Arthur had talked a great deal since Sirius’ death and had become good friends, it was too great a risk for Arthur to be here.  Nobody had ever seen Remus transform other than Sirius, James, and Peter; and the only ones to even be in a separate room but able to hear him transform were his parents. The risk was simply too great.

Remus took off his thin robes and hung them up on the hall tree in the entryway.  He could feel his muscles tensing already as the rising of the full moon approached.  This was no time for a visitor.

“Molly said it would help relax your muscles,” said Arthur, approaching Remus from the kitchen with two cups of peppermint tea. He handed Remus a cup of the steaming hot beverage.  “Three teaspoons of sugar, just how you like it.”

Arthur looked up at Remus from behind his own cup of tea, which he was sipping.

This was not going to be easy.

“Arthur, I am afraid I must insist…”

“I’m not leaving, Remus,” he interrupted.  “As I said, I need to be with my friend.”

“Look,” said Remus in exasperation, “I am not your friend… not tonight.  Tonight, I am a werewolf … a creature… a monster who wants nothing more than to kill you, all right?  You cannot stay.  You are not an Animagus like Sirius was.  I appreciate what you are trying to do, but you must leave!”

“I’m afraid you’re wrong.  Tonight, of all nights, I must be your friend.  You may be a werewolf, yes, but you are not a monster.” Arthur sat back down in the rocking chair resolutely.  “Look, I won’t stay in the same room as you once the transformation starts.  But I know how difficult this month has been for you since Sirius’ death.  It’s bound to take an enormous toll on your body tonight.  You told me yourself a couple of nights ago that it would be rough.  I need to be here to make sure you are all right.  I need to make sure nothing goes wrong,” Arthur implored.

“And what will you do if something does go wrong?  What good can you do then?” asked Remus pointedly.

“Get Minerva.”

As Remus started to object, Arthur cut him off.

“Look, I already discussed it with her.  She’s feeling better.  In her cat form, you won’t attack her.  Even if you did, she said she’s too fast for you and can always Apparate.  Besides, you’ve been taking that potion all week, so nothing should go wrong.”

“Yes, but from a new Healer, and a potion different from the one I have always taken.”

“Even so.  Healer Monaco is a fine Healer.  We’ve been keeping tabs on the werewolves she treats and none of them have had a problem.  Her potion is fine.  But I need to be here anyway, for my own sake.  I promise, I will stay in a different room.”

Remus eyed him warily; he had an uneasy feeling about this, but could sense Arthur’s determination.

“Okay, fine.” Remus said in resignation.  “But when I say to leave, you’d better clear out and go back upstairs.”

“Agreed,” said Arthur with relief.  “So now what?  Anything I can get for you?  Anything I can do?”

“No,” said Remus as he crossed to the sofa and collapsed onto it.  “Right now, I’ll rest for a while and try to stay calm.  Once the sun starts to set, then I’ll get ready.”  He rubbed his temples with his fingers, trying to calm down from this unexpected surprise. 

Arthur eyed Remus carefully again.  “So, er… tell me… anything I should know?  I’m afraid I’ve never been in close proximity to a werewolf on a full moon before.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Remus couldn’t help but chuckle at the ridiculousness of this statement.  He could smell Arthur’s growing apprehension.

“No, I guess you haven’t… fortunately for you,” said Remus.  He forced himself to become clinical as he focussed on answering Arthur’s question.  “Let’s see… as I said, for now, I rest.  Then, a bowl of water and, er... some newspaper… imagine the necessities of a dog kept in the house over night.  I’ll transform down in the basement.

“Back when I was a child, my parents made sure it was werewolf-proof.  Sirius usually set the wards just before it was time.  You’ll have to set them this time.  Obviously, I’ll be wandless,” said Remus matter-of-factly.

Arthur squirmed a little in his chair, but continued to look at Remus with rapt attention.

“Now, for your purposes, you should know that it is normal for me to make some noises when the transformation starts.”

“What, you mean like a … like a …howl?” gulped Arthur.

Remus smiled.  The man really had no idea what he was getting himself into. 

“No, not like a howl.  I’ll still basically be in human form at the time.  The transformation only takes a couple of minutes, during which time, my body is in such a state of shock that it is impossible for me to howl or scream.  By the time the shock wears off, the transformation is complete and I am no longer in pain.”

Arthur’s complexion paled and took on a slightly green tinge as he took a large sip of his tea.

“Right then. Continue, Remus.”

“After the transformation is complete, that’s when you will probably hear me howl.  Not continuously, just a few times… sort of a release from the pain.  After that, I’ll curl up and try to rest.  Oh, if you come near the door while I’m transforming … which I don’t suggest you do, by the way … you may hear some strange noises like the cracking of bones and such, but that’s all to be expected.”

Beads of perspiration dotted Arthur’s ashen coloured face.  Remus handed him a handkerchief.  “Here… I think I need to take care of you just now,” he said with a smile.

Arthur took the handkerchief gratefully and wiped his brow.

“Er… what about… in the morning?” Arthur ventured.

“Oh, well… in the morning, it’s sort of the reverse, isn’t it?” mused Remus lightly.  “A little howling right when it starts, then some bones cracking and muscles pulling, then a little human moaning, and it’s over… are you sure you want to do this?”

“Quite,” said Arthur, as he struggled to regain his composure.  “When do I come to get you?”

“After the sun is up.  Not before.  And if it’s raining, wait until 8:00, just to be safe.  I’ll be fine.  I usually need to rest a little before I can move.”

Arthur nodded his head quickly.  “That’s er… quite understandable.”

“You can sleep in my room, if you’d like.  There are fresh linens in the chest at the foot of the bed.”

Thank you, Remus, but I think I’ll be kipping out here tonight,” said Arthur.

“Suit yourself,” said Remus with a shrug of his shoulders.  Then a thought occurred to him.  “What about Molly?  I can’t imagine her letting you do this foolhardy stunt of yours.”

Arthur smiled uneasily.

“Arthur?”

“No, she doesn’t know.  I told her I was going to be out all night on Order business … which is really the truth,” he added.

Remus raised an eyebrow at Arthur and laughed softly. “I see where Fred and George get it from.  You would’ve fit right in with us.  Pity you weren’t in our year at Hogwarts.” 

He laid back and closed his eyes.  The nap he had taken earlier in the afternoon seemed a long time ago.

“Were you really that bad, Remus? Certainly, I’ve heard a couple of stories about you lot, but were you really that much of a … challenge?” Arthur asked curiously.

“Yes, we were,” chuckled Remus.  “And then some.  We were incorrigible until sometime in our sixth year… after Christmas… then we started behaving better.  I’ll never understand how I made Prefect.  I must have been the worst Prefect ever.  At least James was better and more responsible by the time he made Head Boy in seventh year.”

“What happened in sixth year to make you lot change?” asked Arthur apprehensively.

Remus’ face fell and became expressionless. 

“We grew up.  One of Sirius’ pranks backfired and I … I almost got to Snape on a full moon.”

Arthur’s face paled.

“I see.”

“No, you don’t see,” Remus replied quickly.  “Snape was baiting Sirius with his brother, Regulus.  I’m neither condoning what Sirius did nor even making excuses for him.  What he did was inexcusable and almost cost all of us dearly.  It’s no wonder Snape feels the way he does about us.

“But Sirius learnt from his mistake.  I was angry and disappointed in him for a long time afterward.  He needed to regain my trust, which he did, but it came at a cost.  Later on, when members of the Order were being picked off one by one, old wounds festered doubt about whom the traitor was.  So in a way, we continued to pay for the prank.  And now the full price has been exacted.”

“I’m sorry, Remus.” Arthur looked down at the cup in his hands.  “I didn’t mean to bring that up.”

“No, it’s all right.  I don’t mind telling you.”  Remus turned onto his side on the sofa so he could face Arthur better.

“I’m trying to accept what’s happened.  I do miss him tonight, though.  No offence, but…”

Arthur cut him off with a wave of his hand.

“No offence taken. I might be a friend, but not a life-long friend like Sirius.  I’m sure he knew how to read your thoughts and feelings without your even telling him, especially when he was in dog form.”

“Absolutely,” sighed Remus.  “They all did.  Even Peter.”

“Let’s not bring him up tonight, shall we?” Arthur said grimly.  “You’re supposed to be relaxing.”

“Right.  I just wish I knew what changed him,” Remus said with a yawn.  “If you had known him back when we were in school… well… last person I would have suspected.  Last person I did suspect. If only we had… then Sirius would still be here… But you’re right… enough about Peter. ”

Remus drifted off to sleep for a little while.  Soon, however, he felt someone gently shaking him awake for the second time that day.

“The sun’s going down.  I’m afraid it’s time, mate,” said Arthur ruefully.

Remus opened his eyes and looked around.  The room was indeed starting to get darker.  Slowly, he raised his aching body into a sitting position and rubbed his eyes as he yawned.

“You know, it’s not too late.  You don’t have to do this.  I’ll understand.”

“Not a chance,” said Arthur, helping Remus to stand up.

Remus soon had the large bowl of water ready, which Arthur carried down into the basement for him while Remus changed into what could barely be described as clothing; it was so tattered and shredded.  Once he had changed, Remus did the stretching exercises that Healer Monaco had suggested. When Remus at last went into the cool, dark basement, he found that Arthur had already spread the newspaper for him.

“I didn’t know exactly where you wanted it, but I found some old papers here, so I…” Arthur began, his ears turning bright red. “Look you just tell me where to put them.”

“No, that’s fine,” said Remus.  Despite the increasing stiffness he felt in his limbs, he also felt a little flush of heat rising in his own neck and ears.  “You figured correctly.  That’s where they belong.”

“It’s been a while since we had to house-train a puppy at Th…” Poor Arthur looked mortified at what he had started saying.  “I’m sorry, Remus!”

Instead of being upset, however, Remus laughed out loud.  “It’s all right, Arthur.  Actually, when Sirius used to transform and stay with me on full moons, we both used the newspaper, if necessary.  So, you see, it’s exactly as it is with a puppy!”

Arthur nodded, smiled nervously, and then looked around.

“Is that where you … er…” he asked, pointing to some crumpled rounded blankets on the floor.

“Yes. That’s where I curl up and spend the night.  On the tartan one over there.  A gift from Minerva when I joined the staff at Hogwarts a couple of years ago.”  A small smile creased Remus’ face at the memory.  “The poor thing had heard that I intended to curl up in my study to spend the night and couldn’t stand the thought of me sleeping on the cold floor.  One day, she knocked on my door after classes and presented me with an old blanket of hers.”

“And the other one?” asked Arthur, motioning with his finger.

“The other blanket I also received that year.  A going away gift from Madam Pomfrey that she used to cover a hamper of foods and tonics.”  An odd expression crossed Remus’ face.  “That’s the one Sirius used to sleep on.”

A deafening silence filled the room.  All of a sudden, Remus’ body stiffened and he began to shake.

“Leave… now,” Remus barely managed to say between gritted teeth.  “And… thanks.”

Arthur’s horrified gaze was fixed on Remus for a moment before he nodded.  Turning quickly, he sprinted up the steps before turning around to take one last look at Remus before leaving and closing the door tightly behind him.

                                                      *******************

With an effort, Remus lifted his head slightly off the warm blanket and squinted through the early morning light at the black shape of the man before him.

“Sorry to disturb … I mean … look … are you all right?” Arthur Weasley asked hesitantly.

Remus tried to nod his head, but the movement was too much for him just now.  Instead, he managed to crack his dry lips open and whisper, his voice raspy, “I’m fine.  Thank you,” before the world went black again.

                                                      *****************

The first thing he noticed … peppermint tea… gradually growing stronger, more definite.  Then something…. muffled footfalls.  He huddled back into his blankets, the calm, comfortable blackness gave way to the ache and weariness of another day.  Perhaps he could avoid this day, if he pulled the blanket over his face. 

His fingertips purposefully reached for the blanket, but instead grasped something much softer.  Something much softer … his grandmother’s quilt that his father had given him all those years ago when he was a little boy.

Remus opened his eyes to the familiar sight of his old bedroom.  The same moving photographs of the four of them at Hogwarts laughing at some long forgotten joke, his old broom leaning in the corner. The same dresser he’d had since he was a boy. 

Arthur must have brought me up here from the basement.

“Ah, you’re awake I see,” said Arthur cheerily.  Remus winced; Arthur’s usual quiet voice seemed far too hearty … and loud.  “Good, good.” Arthur said as he placed the heavy tea service he had been carrying on the dresser and reached to help Remus sit up. 

Every single one of Remus’ muscles was screaming in pain and each slight movement seemed to take an eternity.  His entire body felt like lead.  His very skin ached with a prickly feeling as his body rubbed against the bed when he changed positions.  Soft as he knew the bed was, today it felt like stone.  Even Arthur’s gentle fingers on his shoulders helping him into a sitting position felt like fire.

At last Remus was sitting upright, leaning his head back against a set of fluffy pillows.  He forced himself to raise his hands and accept the warm cup of tea Arthur held before him.

“Thanks,” he managed.  The warm tea soothed his dry, scratchy throat.

“Anything I can get you?” Arthur asked.  “Should you eat something? Perhaps that would help give you your strength back,” he suggested.

“Just some toast, please,” Remus whispered in a raspy voice.

Soon, Remus was carefully chewing a bit of toast with orange marmalade.  It did feel better to have something in his stomach.  Sirius always used to make …

“Arthur, I appreciate all that you’ve done for me.  Not many would have done what you did.  It couldn’t have been very pleasant for you last night.  I … thank you.”

The familiar Weasley blush stained Arthur’s face red as he fidgeted with the tea tray.  He looked at Remus and opened his mouth as if to speak, but apparently thought better of it and closed his mouth.  Instead, he busied himself with adjusting the angle of the teapot.  Finally, he said softly, “I did what I had to do, Remus.”  Still looking at the tea service, Arthur continued.  “I am … ashamed to admit that up until now, I have been one of those foolish wizards who thought werewolves were … lesser beings… something to be feared and to avoid ... and not just on full moons.”

“But you’ve never treated me that way,” Remus said incredulously despite his exhaustion.  “I would never have thought … Arthur, you’re too hard on yourself.”

“No, no,” continued Arthur, shaking his head slightly.  “I always told myself you were different, that you didn’t really turn into a … creature.  Even after Ron told me … I … that is, after I met you at the Order’s meetings, you seemed normal, not at all like I had pictured a werewolf. So I convinced myself that you were not… that you did not … that you were different, and that that is why you were so intelligent and kind.”

Remus grimaced as he straightened himself up and picked up the cup of tea.

“And now?” he asked, eyeing Arthur as he sipped the warm liquid.

Arthur fidgeted a bit more before finally dropping his hand and looking squarely at Remus.  “Now I have seen what you are …and … I know … well, as much as I can ever know… what you … and others like you … really are.” A pause as Arthur took a gulp of air.  “You are not human.”

“No.” Remus put his cup down firmly, wiping his lips with a napkin, his eyes never leaving Arthur. “I’m not.”

“Do you really go through that much pain and torment every month?  The only time I’ve ever heard someone in pain like that was just after the first war against You-Know-Who when I saw Frank and Alice … and that was just once.”  Arthur screwed his face up in emphasis.  “You have to go through that twelve times a year.  Last night, I watched as my friend, someone I feel I’ve got much closer to lately, literally changed into a monster before my eyes.  No, not the whole thing, but I saw enough,” Arthur added hastily.

Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, Remus averted looking at Arthur any longer by fidgeting with his teacup.  This was not the state anyone would ever wish a friend to see one in.  It must have been quite a traumatic evening for Arthur.

“Sorry you had to see that.”

Arthur stared resolutely at Remus.

“I’m not.  Had I not seen that, I never would have learnt to accept you for who you really are.  You are a werewolf.  I know, it sounds foolish to say, but the full import of that has finally hit me.  There you are sitting before me now, as I’ve always known you. I said earlier that you are not human, yet to me, you will always be one of the most human people I know. You are not a creature but one night in twenty-eight.  I will always consider you my friend.”

“Just a friend to avoid once a month,” quipped Remus.

“Oh, not at all,” said Arthur, folding his arms determinedly.  “Without fail, that is the one time a month you can depend upon seeing me from now on.”

It was a good thing Remus had already put his teacup down.  How could Arthur feel that way after last night?

“Are you mad?” cried Remus.  “You want to see that again?  Madness, sheer madness, that’s what it is.  What would Molly say?”

“Molly be hanged!  It’s not that I want to see it.  I’d rather not, but not because it’s too gruesome, but because I don’t want you to have to go through that horrible ordeal ever again.  But you will … Now I know you will,” Arthur swallowed hard.  “And you need… I will be there for you … like they were.”

Arthur nodded to a picture of James, Sirius, and Peter laughing and howling by turns.  It was taken shortly after their first excursion into Hogsmeade as animagi with Remus on a full moon.  How foolish they had all been.

“I know I can’t transform like they did, but … I saw you earlier this morning.  You need help; you shouldn’t be alone.  Not then.”

“Yes, I remember that,” said Remus tersely.  “I distinctly recall telling you not to get me until 8:00 if it were still dark outside.”

“I knew the danger had passed,” Arthur replied simply.

“You knew… Arthur, this was the first time you were near a transformed werewolf; I must insist you abide by my rules.  No taking of unnecessary risks.  The consequences…”

Arthur interrupted him with a wave of his hand.  “… could be quite detrimental to my health; yes I know.  Very well, fair enough.  Next time, I will wait.”

There was a pause.  Remus sighed and scrutinised Arthur’s face.  Arthur was looking resolutely back at him, determined to continue this madness.  There was nothing for it.

“Shouldn’t you be at work?” Remus suggested.

“I took the morning off to be with a sick friend …as I will be doing every month from now on.”

“Great … another watchdog,” Remus replied.

Arthur smiled.  “Woof.”

//
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