Man in St. Mungo's
characters and setting of this story are borrowed from J.K. Rowling, with
thanks for the pleasure she's given by creating the whole Harry Potter
universe. This story is being written solely for the enjoyment of other HP
& RJL fans, not for sale of any kind.
Dittel stared glumly at the ceiling above his hospital bed. Visiting hours had
started, and people were entering the ward, but none of the visitors would be
for Albert. No one visits a werewolf, he thought. Well, almost no one. His
sister might be up in two more days, if she could find people to tend the small
farm and watch her two young children. Albert wondered if he'd ever see his
niece and nephew again, or if his sister would keep them out of his way, to protect
them. He found the thought of his relatives disheartening--surely a pall would
hang over any future visits, wouldn't it?
are you feeling?" A man was looking down at him, and had asked him a
question. Not a Healer, either, to judge from his shabby clothes. A man in
early middle age, with rather a lot of gray in his brown hair, and with two
narrow, parallel scars slanting across his face. Just a bloke, Albert thought,
quickly looking away from the stranger's gaze--was that pity he'd seen? Yes,
damn it, surely it was. He grunted savagely, hoping the stranger would get the
message to move on.
expect you're feeling bloody awful," said the stranger, sitting down in
the chair next to Albert's bed. "It usually goes that way."
would you know about it?" muttered Albert, bitterly.
you'd be surprised," said his unwanted visitor. "You've seen the big,
red W on your hospital chart? They make it hard to miss, don't they? Well, if
you pulled my old chart out of this hospital's files, you'd see another W just
like it. My file would probably be thicker than yours. It happened a long time
ago, for me, and I've been back here more than once, since."
frowned suspiciously at the visitor's slightly smiling face. "You're
a--you aren't the bastard that did this to me, are you?" The stranger's
smile went away.
he said, quietly, but with great intensity. "In thirty years, I've managed
never to pass on our condition to anyone else, and I take considerable pride in
that." The stranger took in a deep breath and let it out again. "Not
that it hasn't been a near thing, a time or two."
stranger looked across the ward for a moment, his mouth twisting into something
too wry to be called a smile. What was he seeing, Albert wondered--the visitors
grouped around the snakebite victim's bed, or some bitter memory?
years?" said Albert, letting a note of doubt creep into his voice.
"You don't look old enough for that. Were you a babe in arms, or
quite," said the visitor, in matter-of-fact tones. "I might have been
four, or perhaps six; I don't recall." How could anyone forget something
like that, thought Albert? "A long time ago, in any case," the
visitor went on. "Are you still in your first month ... since it
said Albert. "It's a right kick in the bollocks."
it is," said the visitor, quietly. "That it is. I expect you've
had Healers giving you speeches about how it's not the end of the world, have
you?" Albert nodded sourly. "Well, they're right, in a way--but I
have yet to meet one of them who has, shall we say, sufficient personal
experience to know how that sounds to the newly bitten." He sighed.
"I suppose they do their best. It's better than some manage--I'll give
them credit for that."
winced. "Better than some? You've had trouble?"
yes," said the stranger, quietly. "I've had some trouble. One just
has to get toughened up for it. I'm lucky, though. Some people have stuck by me
very well--far better than I ever expected. I hope that will be true for you,
won't be," said Albert, gloomily. "I remember one time, my mates and
I were having a pint or two, and the talk got round to werewolves, I forget
why. I've been lying here remembering the things they said. The things I said,
myself, come to that."
just it, though," said the stranger. "I imagine none of you had ever
seen a werewolf outside the pages of the Daily Prophet, right? No idea a
werewolf might be worth talking to, might be a good enough friend for 27 days
in every month to make risking the 28th day worthwhile?"
guess we never thought of that. Hard to think that many people would. Most
people just want werewolves kept out of their way, and they don't much care how
it's done, as long as they don't have to worry about where the wolves' teeth
people? I'm afraid you're right, there--most people don't care, or are
too afraid to care. Some do, though. Most people have never heard of Wolfsbane
Potion, and they wouldn't trust it to make things safe if they did hear.
But if you're lucky enough to find a few people who do care, the
Wolfsbane Potion can be a big help. They've told you about Wolfsbane, haven't
told me," said Albert. "Didn't sound like much good, frankly."
me, it makes a difference," said the stranger. "Even if you only take
it to keep from doing yourself an injury." The stranger crooked the
fingers of one hand into claws, and briefly gestured toward his own face.
Albert shuddered as he realized how the two long scars had been made. Could
something like that happen to him?
stranger went on, "I recommend always taking Wolfsbane. Learn how
to make the potion yourself, if you can, or find a good apothecary to bottle it
for you, ahead of time. The apothecary in Diagon Alley will do it, and there are
others. The Change is always hard, but without Wolfsbane Potion, it's worse.
Believe me, I know--I've had years of experience with both ways. And if you
find that you have some friends who want to stick with you, the
Wolfsbane makes it a hell of a lot easier and safer for them, as well."
potion can even make a talking point with employers... Not always a conclusive
point, unfortunately, but it does increase your chances of getting or keeping a
position." A look of sadness passed across the man's face, just for a
moment. Then the wry smile was back.
the taste of the stuff is disgusting. One just has to drink it down and get it
over with. After all, the taste of the potion isn't very important, compared to
its effects. But taking the potion is important! Will you ask them about
it again, and give it a try?" The stranger fixed his gaze on Albert,
eyebrows lifted inquiringly, half smiling.
was still frowning. He said, "Well, I'll ask them, and I'll listen better, this time.
I'm not such an arse as to want to make things worse for myself."
The stranger let out a breath, smiled a little wider, and said, "That's a start--thank you for considering it."
spoke slowly, thinking things out as he went. "And I don't want to pass on this sodding curse to anyone, either. You said the potion makes it safer for those around you?"
The stranger nodded. "Much safer."
was still frowning. He said, "Then I'd better take it if I can. I've no wife or kids to think about, but I do have a sister and a niece and a nephew. I'll tell Anne about the potion, if she comes to visit. Maybe I'll still be able to see them, sometimes."
stranger's smile became broad and warm, and a hand was extended for Albert to shake.
"Well done! I guess I should have thought of family first of all, but my friends
have been my only family for so long-- Well. My name's Lupin--Remus Lupin.
Pleased to make your
Dittel. I mostly ask people to call me Bert. Dittel rhymes with all the wrong
me Remus, then. Or, if you like, there are a few people who call me
laughed for the first time in two weeks. It sounded rather hollow, but it was
a laugh. "You're having me on! Moony?!
yes, Moony--it's a long story, though, and it looks as though visiting hours
are almost over. I need to have at least a quick word with Arthur," he
said, nodding towards the snakebite victim, "before the whole menagerie I
came with gets kicked out of here. Maybe I can tell you the story another
said Bert. "Come by again, if you have time. Or I'll buy you a pint when I
get out. I owe you one for the advice, and
I can't call you Moony 'til I hear the story, can I?"
on--though I have to warn you that there are parts of the story I still can't
tell. I don't want to get one of my friends into ... trouble."
just say that no one got bitten. Not seriously." Lupin smiled and stood
up. "Well! I hope I'll see you again soon. If you get out before I get
back to St. Mungo's, Owl Post will find me, and let's have that pint
Lupin, you said? Can I ask you one more thing?" Lupin nodded. "Those
people over there, visiting--are they your friends? Do they know?"
I'm a werewolf? Yes, they all know. And they are my friends." Lupin
smiled warmly, rested his hand on Bert's shoulder for a moment, and then turned
toward the snakebite victim's bed. Bert saw them exchange a few low words and a
friendly-looking handclasp, before a Healer shooed "the whole
menagerie" of visitors out the door.
Bert raised himself onto one elbow, and then sat up in his bed. He looked at
his neighbor, the snakebite victim. The man looked a little tired, but
cheerful. "Mind if I ask you something?" Bert said. "What do you
think of that bloke who was talking to me? He said you were friends."
So we are," said his neighbor. "A very fine fellow. Sensible and
big-hearted--I wish I knew more people like him. He's a good teacher, too, from
what my four youngest children tell me. My name's Arthur Weasley, by the way. Are
these beds close enough for a handshake?"
were, just barely. "Bert Dittel. Sorry I've been sulking over here."
problem. This isn't the easiest place to meet new people, eh?" A Healer
approached, bringing Arthur's hourly dose of Blood-Replenishing Potion.
said Bert, "not the easiest place, but it's time I made an effort."
he said, "Tell me again about Wolfsbane Potion?"