You're too old to lose it, too young to choose it
And the clock waits so patiently on your song
You walk past a café, but you don't eat when you've lived too long
Oh, no, no, no, you're a rock 'n' roll suicide.
Friday 28th June, 1974
Unsurprisingly, Sirius achieved obscenely high marks in everything except Astronomy without lifting so much as a finger to study. By this point, Remus wasn’t sure if Sirius genuinely did have some strange pureblood gift, or if he was just an unrecognised genius. Remus didn’t mind either way – he himself came top in Care of Magical Creatures, Runes and History of Magic – second highest in Arithmancy, after Sirius.
“Nicely done, kid!” Ferox slapped him on the back at breakfast, the morning after results came out. “My best student.”
“Thanks, professor,” Remus grinned, feeling dizzy with pleasure.
“I’ve a few books you might like to borrow over the summer – pop up to my office before you leave, eh?”
“Teacher’s pet!” Sirius teased, as the tall, jovial man walked away, whistling a jaunty tune. Remus didn’t respond – he was too pleased with himself.
“Can’t believe that’s it ‘til fourth year now.” James said, cleaning his glasses on his robes.
“Do you have to keep reminding me?” Sirius moaned, setting down his knife and fork.
“Plenty to do over the summer,” James replied, “It’ll fly by.”
“What are you doing over the summer?” Remus asked, suspiciously.
“Planning next year’s pranks, obviously,” Sirius said, a little bit too quickly. “Got to keep ahead of the curve, Remu my boy, we’ve a reputation to maintain.”
It was the last official day of term, so Remus decided ignore the fact that this was clearly a lie. He had all summer to be paranoid about the other three leaving him out; there was no need to worry yet.
After breakfast, he wanted to go straight to see Professor Ferox, but thought that might come across a bit too eager – plus, the other three would surely want to come with him, and Remus couldn’t stand the thought of Ferox meeting Sirius and James. He would no doubt be charmed by their natural born charisma, and wonder why he’d ever thought Remus was special at all.
The foursome went upstairs and packed – that is, James, Remus and Peter packed. Sirius bounced around the room trying to distract them, sending books and clothes flying, flicking his record player on and off.
“It’s getting done whether you like it or not,” James chastised, hands on his hips in a very good imitation of his mother.
“You’ll do it for me, like last year,” Sirius replied, standing on his bed and attempting to do pull-ups hanging off the bed frame. The ancient wooden beams creaked.
Remus closed his own trunk. His corner of the room looked very bare without the usual chaos of books, papers, quills and clothes strewn about it. He went over to the record player to have one last fond caress of his favourite album covers. Summers were so quiet, without Sirius’s music. Matron only ever liked to have the radio on once a week – for the Radio 3 Choral Evensong.
“Moony,” James said, suddenly, “Don’t you have to go and see Madam Pomfrey?”
“Er… yeah, but not right now…” Remus looked up, surprised.
“Well, I mean if you’ve finished packing, you may as well, right? When I’ve done Sirius’s stuff I was going to suggest we all go out for a go on our brooms, and you hate flying, so…”
“Oh, really? Ok then.” Remus nodded, feeling unaccountably hurt. It wasn’t at all like James to chase you out of the room.
“We’ll see you at dinner, right Moony?” Sirius asked, swinging forward and landing on his feet with the agility of a gymnast.
“Yeah, I s’pose…” Remus left the room, feeling as if he was being escorted from a party to which he was not invited. Fair enough, he didn’t like flying much. But that didn’t usually matter – often he’d sit in the stands and read his book while the others mucked about in the air. He wouldn’t have minded doing that this time.
He did have to see Madam Pomfrey, anyway, so he went to the hospital wing, struggling to shake off the nasty feeling of exile.
* * *
“You’re very quiet, dear,” the medi-witch commented as she completed his end of year checks. “Not looking forward to your holidays?”
“No, not really,” he replied.
“You’ll miss your friends,” she clucked her tongue sympathetically. “It’s a shame, I know. Still, I expect you’ve got lots of muggle pals to play with.”
Remus didn’t bother answering. Madam Pomfrey was very kind, and hadn’t a bad bone in her body, but she – like most adults – could be incredibly dense. He was privately hoping that the coming summer would be just as lucrative as the last – if Craig was still about then perhaps he could make a bit of cash. He’d proved himself capable, he might even ask for more than just cigarettes.
She gave him the same instructions as the year before – eat well, exercise and rest.
“I’ll see you in early July,” she smiled serenely, and he was comforted with the thought that at least he wouldn’t be completely isolated from the wizarding community.
That being dealt with, Remus considered returning to the dormitory. Perhaps they were all finished talking about him, or whatever it was they needed him out of the way for. Perhaps they’d gone flying already. He didn’t begrudge them that; James was of the opinion that if Sirius was in a temper, or too wound up, then a good hour’s exercise was the best thing (and it generally was). Plus, it was one of the few times Peter did not get left out. Despite his clumsiness on land, Pettigrew was a surprisingly good flyer. No doubt a result of James’s relentless drilling.
It was really the perfect time to go and see Professor Ferox, of course, but Remus dawdled. He felt suddenly quite shy, never having been to see a teacher alone before – unless he was in trouble, of course. Walking slowly, he eventually had to make a directional choice at a particular corridor, and decided he may as well get it over with.
He knocked tentatively on Ferox’s office door, even though it was slightly ajar. His heart hammered in his chest and he found himself half hoping that his teacher wasn’t there after all. Remus couldn’t help but recall with some embarrassment how only a few weeks ago he had almost come running to Ferox in a moment of panic, only to recognise that it was a terrible idea at the very last minute.
“Come in!” Ferox’s cheery voice echoed from inside the room. Remus squared his shoulders and entered. “Mr Lupin!” Ferox boomed.
He was not sitting at his desk – Remus didn’t think he’d ever seen Ferox seated, except at mealtimes, he was always moving. Just now, he was packing a small trunk, Achilles the kneazle watching quietly from the windowsill. Even after a year of lessons with Ferox, Remus was still somewhat in awe of his teacher. His gigantic presence had not diminished, his mane of sandy curls was still as glorious, his face still heroic with decisively carved features.
“Hello, sir,” Remus smiled as he entered, closing the door behind himself. “You asked to see me?”
“Indeed I did,” Ferox smiled broadly, nodding to a pile of five books on his desk, “Those are for you, if you’ve room in your trunk. Next year’s set text and a few other things I thought might interest you.”
Remus approached the desk and fingered the leather-bound tomes carefully,
“Thank you, professor,” he said, quietly. He’d never received such an enormous gift before. Ferox nodded, sitting down, finally, gesturing that Remus do the same.
“Butterbeer?” He withdrew some bottles from the bottom draw of his desk.
“Thank you, professor,” Remus repeated, accepting the bottle and sitting down.
Achilles, on the window ledge, stretched, yawned, then curled up to sleep, peacefully. Remus felt he ought to say something else. “Dumbledore normally sends me my books and stuff.” He offered, “You didn’t have to.”
“Well, I know you’re a bit out of the loop during the holidays, so I thought you might appreciate a head start.” Ferox continued to smile his big easy smile.
Remus felt a strange kind of warmth fizzing in his abdomen. Which was odd, because he hadn’t so much as sipped his butterbeer yet.
“Kind of you.” He said, looking down at the books again, uncomfortable with too much eye contact.
“I’m not being charitable, Remus, I promise,” Ferox said, reassuringly, “I know what it’s like, y’see. I came to Hogwarts with almost as little as you did. Muggleborn – raised by my Nan. ‘Course, she never understood anything I did here. Bless her heart.”
Remus blinked. This was interesting news – he had assumed that most of the teachers at Hogwarts – in fact, most of the adults he respected – were all purebloods. It was an immense relief to learn that this wasn’t the case.
“Us rough kids have to stick together, eh?” Ferox winked at him.
“Yeah,” Remus continued to nod, emphatically. “So, you never had a problem getting a job or stuff like that? After school?”
“Well, there are always going to be folks who can’t see past your blood status, no matter who you are,” Ferox said, a wry smirk in his voice, “But you learn pretty quick how to prove ‘em wrong. Well; I don’t need to tell you.”
“No.” Remus agreed. He took a swig of his butterbeer. “So… are you an orphan too, professor?”
“I am. Common as muck, too, you wouldn’t believe the flack I got for this accent back then.”
“Mary and Marlene think you sound like Paul McCartney.” Remus said. Ferox laughed, a great, joyful, wheezing laugh,
“I’ll have to remember that one next time I’m on the pull.”
Remus felt himself blushing, hearing Ferox talk like that.
“Just goes to show,” Ferox said, “You never know how other people are going to see you. So never assume, eh?”
Remus looked up at him, curiously, but gave a smll nod of understanding. The professor’s expression softened. “Remus,” Ferox said, so gently that it was unnerving, “I… there’s something else I wanted to talk to you about.”
Remus winced – he thought he knew what was coming. He’d been waiting for it since before Christmas. “Perfectly fine if you don’t want to talk about it,” the teacher said.
“Is it about… my problem?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Ferox said, in a measured tone. “I don’t know if you know this, but I knew your father, Lyall, quite well.”
Remus almost choked on his butterbeer. He hadn’t quite expected that. Ferox continued, “Our work often overlapped, you see – I was young, hadn’t long started in the Control of Magical Creatures department. I knew him by reputation, of course, so I tried to learn what I could, though I never did master boggarts quite like he did.”
“Ok.” Remus didn’t know what else to say.
“Do you know much about him?”
“I…” Remus looked away, out of the window. He didn’t think he could talk and look at Ferox at the same time. “He was a Ravenclaw,” he started, as if ticking off items on a list, “He was good at duelling. He was good at boggarts and dementors and poltergeists, and he hated werewolves, he wanted them all dead and he…” Remus choked, wanting to stand up and leave the room.
“Where did you hear all of that?” Ferox looked shocked. Remus looked at him, though everything was swimming in tears now. It felt as though all of the nasty, spiteful thoughts he’d been having since December had come pouring out like poison.
“Darius Barebones.” He said, rubbing his eyes roughly on the sleeves of his robes, forcing himself under control. “Met him at the Potter’s Christmas party.”
“That old pisshead.” Ferox snapped, gruffly. He looked annoyed, but not at Remus. “I’m so sorry, Lupin, what a thing to hear. It’s not true, you know.”
“He didn’t hate… them?”
“Well,” Ferox tilted his head, as if trying to be diplomatic, “He was concerned about the danger werewolves pose to society. But he was a sensible man, too sensible for hatred. You’re a lot like him.”
Remus snorted bitterly at that.
“It’s true.” Ferox said, firmly. “He was a good man. He’d do anything for anyone.”
“Darius said he thought Lyall was bitten by Greyback, that’s why he killed himself.”
“You know about Greyback, then?”
Remus nodded. Ferox looked very serious indeed. “I’ve heard that rumour. Wouldn’t be surprised if Dumbledore started it to protect you, to be honest. Personally, I never believed it. Then I met you of course, and it all became clear.”
“Is it that obvious?” Remus asked, raising his fingers to the scar on his face, over a year old now, but still stark and red.
“No,” Ferox shook his head, “Most wizards wouldn’t know a werewolf if it…”
“Jumped up and bit them?”
Ferox laughed, lifting the dark mood that had settled over the bright little office.
“Your father’s sense of humour, too.”
Remus smiled, weakly.
“What happened to Greyback?”
Ferox instantly turned serious again.
“I’m afraid we don’t know for certain. He’s still alive, as far as the ministry is concerned, and still wanted for his crimes. I don’t know if they’ll ever catch him, to be honest, the man’s a maniac, by all accounts.”
“Could he… find me?”
Remus was startled by Ferox’s honesty. He didn’t seem as concerned as most adults about protecting him from the harsher truths. “Does that frighten you?” The teacher asked.
“I think… I think maybe I’ve always known that. That I’m going to meet him again.”
“You mustn’t go looking…”
“I won’t.” Remus knew that was a lie, but he also knew that there was nothing Ferox could do to stop him.
“If you have more questions, I want you to feel comfortable asking me.” Ferox said, “There are some old newspaper clippings inside that top book,” he nodded at the pile he’d gifted Remus, “I thought you ought to have them. Things like that oughtn’t to be kept from people, and you’re old enough.”
“Thank you, professor.”
“I haven’t upset you?”
“Good lad.” Ferox stood up, leaned over the desk and squeezed Remus’s shoulder in a friendly sort of way. “Try and have a good summer, eh? I’ll see you in September.”
Remus nodded, feeling a bit dazed by the events of the past half an hour. Nonetheless, he was quite grateful to be dismissed, and quietly left, carrying the heavy pile of books back upstairs to the common room.
It was very quiet in Gryffindor tower now. Most of the students had finished their packing and were no doubt outside enjoying the grounds. Remus’s thoughts turned to Davy Gudgeon, and he squashed that down. One emotional crisis at a time.
The marauders were gone too, Sirius’s things now neatly packed away in his serpent chest. The room was stuffy and hot, Remus flicked his wand to swing the windows open, then went to sit on his bed and open the first book.
Sure enough, pressed like dead leaves between the inside cover and the front page, three yellowing newspaper clippings:
The Daily Prophet, April 1964
WEREWOLF ATTACKS ON THE RISE – could your children be next?
The Ministry of Magic has today confirmed that the recent spate of murders both in the muggle and wizarding communities is the work of dark creatures – namely werewolves. Ministry officials are particularly concerned that in many cases the victims of the attacks have been children under the age of ten.
One official, respected dark creatures expert Lyall Lupin, has spoken out and criticised the ministry for “Lax and wilfully neglectful safety measures”. Lupin claims that the ministry’s current werewolf registry is poorly managed and maintained, enabling certain anti-ministry factions to use these loopholes to their advantage.
The current number of victims is suspected to be seventeen, but set to rise as the investigation continues, and the perpetrators continue to allude capture. A statement from the Auror’s office is expected later today.
The Daily Prophet, Obituaries, January 1965
Lyall Lupin, who has died aged 36, will be remembered as a world-renowned expert on non-human spirituous apparitions, for his extensive work with boggarts and poltergeists, dementor liaisons, and, more recently, his efforts to reform the national werewolf registry.
Lupin is survived by his wife, muggle Hope Lupin, who he married in Cardiff in 1959. The couple have a young son, Remus John Lupin, born in 1960. The family has requested privacy during their time of grief.
The Daily Prophet, February 1965
AURORS ON LOOKOUT FOR GREYBACK
The Auror’s Office is appealing to the wizarding public for any information pertaining to the whereabouts of Fenrir Greyback, werewolf and suspected child murderer.
Greyback is described as 6’3, very strong, and unclean, with the appearance of a vagrant. Wizards and witches are warned not to approach him, and to consider Greyback extremely dangerous, even in human form. Auror Alastor Moody today made a statement indicating that the ministry believe Greyback to be travelling with a pack of werewolves, making him all the more dangerous. Greyback is known to have a preference for small children, but Moody declined to comment on speculation that the werewolves plan to raise an army.
The ministry also declined to respond to allegations that they had Greyback in their custody last spring, and failed to recognise the threat.
Since the death of Lyall Lupin, an outspoken advocate for harsher sanctions on werewolves, there have been numerous efforts to improve recognition and registration of dark creatures.
The first time he read them, Remus didn’t even use his reading aid. The second, third and fourth times, he did. And over and over, as if there was something more in them, as if he could suck the truth right out. He had no more answers than before, and a hot, angry ball of rage had begun growing inside his chest, burning brighter as he re-read and re-read.
Hours passed, the room grew dark, and in the end he never went down to the feast.