Notes: There is some use of Welsh; I did not provide translations because it is explained within context. All Welsh mythology is genuine in source, and only slightly twisted to suit my plot purposes. I was at some times rather free with JK Rowling's explantion of the pre-Harry world.

Disclaimer: The lovely and talented JK Rowling so far surpasses me that I hesitate to post; but one cannot help but imagine.


Part 11



1976 : Christmas


‘What are you doing over here in the corner, Sirius?’

He looked up. His father held out a glass of hot rum, and he accepted it. ‘Just thinking,’ he said.

His father sat beside him. ‘Your mother wants to open presents in a few minutes.’ Already pleasantly tipsy, his father had rosy cheeks and was in a high mood. ‘Don’t you want to see what you’ve got?’

‘A new bike,’ he retorted. ‘It’s what I’ve always dreamed of.’

His father frowned. ‘What’s gotten into you?’

‘Nothing,’ he lied. ‘Tired.’

They sat in silence for a minute, Sirius looking out the window and his father sipping his drink. At last, Sirius offered, ‘Sorry.’

His father seemed relieved. ‘Of course. Well. Want to have one of your chaps over for the New Year?’

‘No one says “chaps” anymore, Dad,’ Sirius said. ‘They’re all busy.’

‘Just making a suggestion,’ said his father, unruffled.

‘Don’t,’ Sirius replied. ‘Thanks, but don’t.’

The man looked at him, for a long time, without much expression. At last he said only, ‘Drink your rum. Presents in five minutes.’

It wasn’t until much later that Sirius was able to escape upstairs to his room. He felt a little badly about having been rude to his father, but something about the forced cheer of the party had put him on edge. His father was only the Deputy Minister of Unnatural Weather Systems, but the parties his wife threw were legendary and not a few people attended. Including that Cornelius Fudge and that insufferable shit of a son of his. Sirius had been in enough classes with Auggie Fudge to know the boy would never follow in his father’s footsteps– Auggie was too busy peeping into girls’ bathrooms and wanking off to be any good with a real wand. He’d already been suspended twice for indecent behaviour. If Sirius were Cornelius Fudge, he’d have had the prat drowned.

He shut the door gratefully on the noise from downstairs, and threw himself onto the bed. They were like to be at it all night. The drunker they were, the louder they got, and it was only an hour past midnight. He stuffed a pillow over his head and lay for a while, trying not to think.

But eventually, he couldn’t help it. He knew James was up to something. He’d been distracted by the end of the term– sometimes Sirius had wondered if he and Lily weren’t getting into a certain sort of trouble. But Lily wasn’t that kind of girl (unlike most of the girls Sirius had been acquainted with). And James generally wasn’t that kind of boy (unlike Sirius). So if that was out, then it only stood to reason that they were up to mischief, and they hadn’t seen fit to include him in whatever it was.

On the other hand, they hadn’t seemed to include Remus or Peter, either. Remus hadn’t even said good-bye to them, and Peter was as whiny as ever about being left out.

Well, there was nothing he could do about it at the moment. He’d just have to corner Jamie when school started and beat it out of him. It was just so irritating; try as he had, Sirius could not even begin to guess what it what they were doing.


The book had some suggestions for choosing what animal to choose to best reflect your nature and intent, but nonetheless, James was having a dickens of a time trying to pick one for himself. There were a great many considerations to make, for one thing. Remus was a wolf, of course, and James rather thought that whatever animal he chose out to be at least as large. Then he had thought that being a tiger or a lion might be excellent (and also a nice way of representing Gryffindor, though perhaps it wasn’t the best circumstance in which to be punning). But once he’d mulled that for a while, he decided that a werewolf might not react well to such a large predator, whatever the literature said about that. Then he left mammals for a while and thought about being a bird– perhaps an eagle or a hawk, something majestic and smart with a considerable wingspan. But he could already fly, more or less, and once he realised that it wasn’t such an appealing idea. Reptiles were out (James had a secret fear of snakes). At last he gave up trying to make the decision without backup, and asked his mother for a book on animals.

‘For a project, mum,’ he said.

His mother looked at him suspiciously as she took a thick encyclopaedia from the bookshelf in her husband’s study. ‘Over Christmas? You’ve never had that before.’

‘Well, not as such.’ Quickly he extemporized. ‘It’s for Charms. The teacher told us it was coming and I just thought I’d get a head start.’ Her expression didn’t change, so he played his trump card. ‘I was hoping to make Head Boy,’ he said, and was relieved when her eyes lit up. ‘It’ll look really good if I’m prepared ahead of time.’

His mother gave him the book without a single other question. She smiled and hugged him around the shoulders proudly, and murmured something about inviting that new girlfriend he’d told them so much about over for New Year’s. He assured her he’d proffer an invitation, and harried back upstairs to his room.

By tea, he was sure of his choice. The stag on page four- hundred- thirty- seven was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. He actually spent a good amount of time just staring at the prancing illustration, a little mesmerized by the flow of muscles beneath the deep, shiny brown coat, by the way the animal tossed his horns boldly. Not only would he be considerably larger than Remus’s wolf form, he’d bet that there hadn’t been a single animagus in all of England who had ever been a stag. It was perfect.

It was no trouble to sneak out after supper. It was the day after Christmas, and his mother was busy cleaning, and his father was parked before the fire place with no intention of moving til New Year. The disadvantage to living on the outskirts of a Muggle town was that there was always a risk of someone seeing something they shouldn’t. Fortunately for his purposes, however, there was a sandlot several blocks away, and it was usually empty at night. He hugged the book to his side, and his sack full of carefully readied casting ingredients, and walked there, keeping out an eye for nosy boys and girls who might be inclined to disrupt him.

Luck was with him. It was a cloudy night, and more than cold enough to keep away unwary children. James knew he was risking a punishment for using magic outside the school, but he knew beyond doubt that Dumbledore would not expel one of his best students. Whatever the detention was, he would take it. It would probably keep him from becoming Head Boy, but if he didn’t get it for their year, it would be no great loss to anyone except his mother. So he took out his wand from his jacket, and he cast a spell for light, and took a jar out of his sack and opened it carefully. The smell was horrific, and he held his breath as he sat back on his heels.

Following the book’s directions, he took off all his clothes and, shivering mightily, set about covering himself with the paste he had brewed from the ingredients he had collected. The paste was gloppy and runny all to once, as he followed the book’s instructions and stood naked and cold and dripping with his wand raised. Then he cast the spell that would change everything he’d ever known.

Nothing happened.

Annoyed and a little embarrassed, James knelt beside the book and tried to figure out what had gone wrong. He read over the spell twice, three times, and was sure he’d said all the words correctly. ‘Bollocks,’ he muttered. ‘Bollocks.’

Then he did something he ought to have done before, and read ahead.

Congratulations, gentle Reader! Now that You have come this Far, you will Be ready for the next steP– transfiguring yourself Into the animal of your Choice!’

James felt suddenly very foolish, and was very glad that no one was near to witness his mistake. Lily especially. Clearly, it wasn’t as easy as he’d thought.


1977 : Spring


Remus– despite long association with Sirius Black and James Potter– was not in the habit of breaking into rooms in which he was not supposed to be. But on the whole, he did not think it ranked very high among crimes that he *might* commit, left almost entirely alone in a castle waiting for school to start.

So eight o’clock on the second of January found him using a bit of wire to pick the lock on Lucius Darling Malfoy’s dormitory. No one was around to catch him but the house elves, who could be talked out of reporting anything. He only wanted one thing– he wouldn’t even touch any of the rest of Lucius’s stuff. It wasn’t really stealing. He’d even helped to water it. And if Lucius had known what he wanted, it was possible that he’d have shared. Unlikely. But possible.

There– at the back of Lucius’s closet, nestled between a pair of old robes and summer shoes. Remus knelt and touched a finger lightly to the packed soil in the little clay planter. He was a little afraid, he realised, to touch the plant itself. He’d never done it before, though he’d watched Lucius several times. He sighed, and reached behind the plant to a small brown paper bag. He took out one joint; then he changed his mind, and took two. There were enough that it wouldn’t necessarily be noticed. And Goyle and Crabbe could always be blamed. He set the bag back in its spot, and locked the room up behind him.

Now that he had the joints in his hand, Remus was starting to feel as guilty as if he’d already smoked them. He stuffed them under his jumper and debated where to go with them. He had free run of the school; the teachers who had stayed behind were retired to their rooms by now, and James had left him the map as his lookout. He wasn’t feeling up to going outside, which knocked the Astronomy Tower out of the running. Maybe the kitchens. The elves had holiday, too, when they could be persuaded to take it, and it was late enough that none would be in there.

Mind made up, Remus took an extra blanket for warmth, and the map for good luck, and set off across the school. A quarter hour later found him wrapped tightly and lying on his back on a bench beside one of the great ovens, lighting the first joint with his matches. He did what Lucius always did– inhale deeply, and hold it there. The smoke tickled his lungs and made him cough, but after the second try the result wasn’t too unpleasant.

The only problem with getting high, Remus thought, staring up at the ceiling, is doing it alone. So far it wasn’t all that great. A kind of nice feeling, like when he had a butterbeer after being really cold. But not really terribly exciting. It was too dark to really see anything, and he was getting cold. Maybe it wasn’t really working. Maybe the pot had gone bad. Were those peanuts? He stood to investigate, and found he was a little lightheaded. Was that a good sign?

‘Down for a bit of a snack, Mr Lupin?’

Remus whirled. Albus Dumbledore had entered the kitchens unnoticed, and stood in a plum-coloured brocade dressing gown and cap watching him. Belatedly, Remus hid the joint behind his back and waved away the smoke.

Dumbledore smiled slightly. ‘I see,’ he said only.

Remus fumbled to explain. ‘It’s just– I know that perhaps it isn’t wise, sir, but you see– that is– it’s just that everyone does it, Professor, and I sort of wondered what it was like, and I thought no one was here, and...’

The Headmaster held up a hand to silence him. Then he held that hand out, palm up. Remus swallowed hard and handed him the paper roll.

Dumbledore lifted it between two fingers beneath his long nose, and sniffed. One grey eyebrow climbed the lined forehead. ‘I see,’ he repeated, this time in an entirely different tone.

Remus felt light-headed once again, and wondered desperately how many detentions he would get for smoking weed on holiday in the kitchens when he had been sick just a week ago. Thousands, his mind supplied. You’ll be waxing floors for the rest of your life.

Then, while he stared, astonished, Dumbledore held the joint to his lips and inhaled. A moment later he released a thin stream of smoke– smoothly– and solemnly held it back out to Remus.

‘Care to sit down?’ he asked.

With their backs to the stove, Remus sat beside the Headmaster, trying not to think about what he was doing. Wouldn’t James just die? I’m smoking grass with Professor Dumbledore! They passed the joint between them slowly, and Remus was beginning to feel rather funny. He cradled the jar of peanuts between his knees, occasionally sharing a handful with the old man beside him. He began to lose track of how much he’d eaten, but it was good and then Dumbledore sighed and tossed the bit of blackened and curled paper that was left of the joint into a nearby waste bin. For a long time, they sat in mutual silence, eating the nuts and thinking their own thoughts.

At last Dumbledore spoke. ‘I understand that Professor Asper has asked you to be his apprentice?’

Remus paused with a handful at his lips. He lowered his hand. ‘Yes. Well, sort of. He said I could come talk to him after I graduated.’

‘He has spoken at some length with me about arrangements.’ Dumbledore rubbed a hand over his beard, and took off his cap. ‘You are amenable, Remus?’

‘Sir?’ Remus dropped his nuts back into the jar. ‘Yes. We... that is, we get on, sir. I can talk to him.’

‘And I believe that he enjoys your company, though I doubt I could drag such an admission from him with a team of giants.’ Dumbledore smiled his little half-smile again. ‘It is a good thing, Remus, to have a friend like Professor Asper. Understand that I am not displeased with either of you. And I believe that we shall have need of special talents, in times to come.’

He rubbed his eyes. They were suddenly so hard to keep open. He didn’t feel sleepy, but at the same time, he wanted to curl up on his bed and drift away. ‘Sir?’

‘Indeed.’ Dumbledore’s thoughts seemed far away. ‘I suppose... no. The name “Voldemort” must mean very little to you, if anything.’

Remus licked his lips. ‘Was he a goblin king?’ he asked, trying to please the Headmaster. He got a laugh for his effort.

‘No, no.’ Dumbledore smiled a real smile, and took the nut jar from him. ‘Well, we’ll leave that for later. Remember that name, Remus. I think we will all have cause to know that name, in the future.’ He stood, and placed the jar and its lid on a countertop, and placed his cap back on his head. ‘I suggest you drink several glasses of water and lie down. And Remus, don’t let me catch you doing this again. If nothing else, it will only encourage Mr Malfoy, and that is a young man who needs no encouragement in such things.’

Remus climbed to his feet, and wobbled only a little. ‘Professor?’

Dumbledore turned at the door. He waved a hand in permission.

‘Am I in trouble?’

Blue eyes twinkled at him. ‘Good night, Remus.’

He dreamt that night. The dreams were wild, flighty, and disturbing. But when he was catapulted into wakefulness by them, he could barely remember the strange images. Wings, maybe, or– no. His racing heart began to calm. A huge black cloak. Though his room was warm, he shivered.

He’d put the other joint back in the morning, he thought. On the whole, he didn’t think he wanted to do this again.


Lily idly picked up an undershirt that could have belonged to any of the messy boys in the dorm, and laid it on James’s bed. They were real slobs, she thought. At home she’d never have gotten away with leaving her space filthy like this. She nudged a single shoe under Sirius’s bed, and sat at Peter’s desk.

He had the animagus journal sitting out. She didn’t agree with dragging the other boys into it, if only because trouble-making multiplied by three was inevitably worse than what any of them could get into on their own. Lily had been surprised by how quickly Sirius and Peter had agreed to experiment with the transfiguration. It wasn’t so much that she questioned their loyalty to Lupin, but she had a suspicion that Remus was only the excuse to try something new and dangerous. The notoriously mischievous gang had been forced into a few years of tame behaviour, and it was clear that they were bored with it. It all gave her a bad feeling.

Lily turned over the journal and read the page Peter had left it on. The only positive side to the whole affair was that the boys were struggling. James was the smartest boy she knew, but he had large blind spots, and Sirius was no better. Poor Peter just wasn’t ready to be trying magic meant for a full-fledged wizard. They were no closer in February to figuring out how to transform themselves than they had been last month, despite each having successfully– so they thought– performing the original casting.

Do not become Frustrated, dear wizard,’ Lily read. ‘Difficulty is Not unexpected in the initial Phase.’

She skimmed back a few pages and re-read, for at least the fifteenth time, what the writer had to say about transforming oneself into an animal. They were all so confident in their abilities that it had been a real blow encounter such a trial. And yet Lily could understand, for every time she read the passage that described the process, it just didn’t sound that hard.

Dame Valle once described It as “forming a Mental picture and Merely shoving myself Into It.” While this is a Somewhat inaccurate description of The procedure, it is Indeed helpful to have a Clear image-focus. The Human body must flow smoothly, evenly into the Body of the animal, while Retaining its Essential distinction from the Animal– the mind. Great knowledge Of the particular animal is Not necessary; in ages Past animagi were unequipped With detailed anatomical Resources. Contrary to intuitIon, judging by statistical information, In recent centuries the number Of educated wizards who Succeed in transfiguring themselves Has declined, as opposed To wizards of unpredictably Young ages who merely Stumble into the trick.’

James had given up stumbling and started to stare at bone structures and blood vessel charts anyway. He seemed unwilling to attempt a less complicated animal, as Peter had chosen to do. Lily privately believed his stubbornness was more harmful than his ignorance. Aside from which, Lily was fairly sure Jamie’d never seen a stag in his life. Peter had at least seen plenty of rats.

Maybe that was the problem, Lily mused. The boys were aiming too high. Lily replaced the book, and sighed, looking back across the empty room. They were off somewhere practising; she had declined to join, but found she couldn’t think of much else. She no longer worried about the danger of it. She’d watched them enough to know that a failure resulted in no harm to anyone; the boys did a lot of standing still. There had to be a better way. It had to be a simpler solution than they realised. James had missed his mark of the January moon; and the February full moon was approaching rapidly. They weren’t going to make it by then, either.

‘Maybe I’ll try it,’ Lily whispered. Probably it wouldn’t work for her either, but... well, if she could determine what was going wrong, it would help the boys. She’d helped all three of them with their initial casting, and there were still plenty of the supplies left. In fact, if she slipped off, she could try the whole thing that very night. ‘Their sense of adventure must be rubbing off on me,’ she said aloud, and smiled. All right, then. She hunted under James’s bed until she found the crate that contained the leftovers from Sirius and Peter’s spells, and Lily took it knowing it wouldn’t be missed. They had the map, so if James wanted to find her, he’d be able to– which meant she had to move quickly, before they came back. Her own room was out– Minerva, her most studious roommate, was sure to be there and was too nosy to allow Lily privacy.

Lily left the Gryffindor dorms and headed for the Shrieking Shack.

James had told her about it, though he hadn’t show it to her. She didn’t think Lupin would mind, or even know. It wasn’t like he was ever there when it wasn’t full moon. She found the branch, just like James had described, and used it to smack the little knot of wood on the trunk. When the tree limbs stopped waving, she darted under the canopy and headed down the dark little tunnel into the Shack.

As she crossed to the bed, her sympathy for Remus suddenly increased. The Shack was anything but welcoming. For a moment, she forgot why she had come, caught up in thinking of ways to fix the room up a bit. A new blanket on the bed, maybe, or some regular sweeping. But she drew her mind back to the task at hand, and lay the crate on the bed, and slowly took off her shirt. The journal called for total nakedness, but as far as Lily could tell, there wasn’t a good reason for it, and even though she was alone she wasn’t quite ready to strip. So she left on her underclothes, and found there was just enough paste to cover her. She had the spell memorized by now, and she recited it carefully.

When it was done, she used an old, ripped pillow case to clean herself, and dumped it into the crate to dispose of later. So far, it was just as it had been for James and Sirius and Peter. Lily, shivering, drew her shirt back on and her tights and skirt, and curled up in the dusty covers of the bed to think.

The boys had agonised over their animal choices, but it seemed to her not to matter a great deal. There was nothing saying that you couldn’t transform into a different animal every time. She didn’t plan to do this a lot, anyway, and so it wouldn’t matter what her preference was.

Minerva had an owl named Ganymede. A barn owl. Well, that would be easy enough; the damn thing was always hooting or nesting in someone’s clothes. Lily was certainly familiar with the bird.

Mental focus– Lily pictured Ganymede as clearly as she could. Transfigure– she held out her wand and gave it a little flick. Pour yourself into the image.

The first few tries, nothing happened. Lily hadn’t really expected anything to, so she kept on doggedly. The fourth try, she felt something start– a tingle in her brain, a strange stretching itch in her foot– she looked down and yelped to see a claw where her foot had been. When her concentration broke, it returned to normal, and the itch vanished.

But it was a partial triumph. She’d been gone at least two hours now, and the boys might have given up and be looking for her. She didn’t want them to see, just yet. So she put on her shoes and packed up the crate. Before she left, she gave into the urge to tidy up the bed and use the clean edge of the used pillow case to wipe away old spider’s webs that hung from the ceiling. And then, with one last look behind her, Lily left the Shack and headed back to her room.


Remus knew as soon as he entered the Shack that something was different.

At first he couldn’t pinpoint it. The cramps were worse than normal, and all he wanted to do was lie down. But he could smell it. She had been here.

She? he wondered blearily, laying down on the bed. When had a girl been here? It wasn’t Madam Pomfrey, he knew her scent as well as his own and she hadn’t been in the Shack for years. It was worse on the bed.

I’ll have to tell Dumbledore, he thought, closing his eyes and curling into a ball. Have to move. Can’t come back here if some girl made this her play-place.

The familiar change was beginning. He wrung his hands, then scratched them. Features were disappearing into a grey fog that crept in on his sight from the edges. It always disturbed him, though he could no longer remember how many times he’d undergone it. He fought it, trying to force his eyes to focus, to stay clear just another moment longer. He lifted a hand to scratch his face, and split a crack on his lip. The first taste of blood was enough to submerge whatever was left of his human mind, and the world tilted crazily as his senses became wolfish.

The air current brought her scent. He left off gnawing his paw and looked up to the owl. She ghosted in on silent brown wings, and her fear came to him. She landed awkwardly on the ground, and his ears pricked up at the scratching of her talons on the wood. He licked blood from his muzzle and stood to sniff her. She was still, trembling, beneath his study, and fluttered her wings in his eyes when he poked her with his wet nose. Deciding she was not worth further consideration, the wolf backed away, and forgot her. The unbearable pain of the itch began to consume him again, and he twisted to bite his back leg, then rolled and writhed to try and ease the one on his spine. He let out a whine.

The owl hopped closer gracelessly. He spared her a glance, and flipped back onto his stomach and growled at her. Her beak snapped, and she ruffled her feathers. Her fear was still great, but he spared little time to puzzle it. Quickly the owl became an annoyance. She would not leave him in peace. He finally attempted to bite her, but he was not hungry and did not want to kill. She screeched angrily at him and batted his head with her wings, so that he used a paw to knock her away. And then suddenly it was a game; he would dance toward her and allow himself to be driven back by her cries and her wings, and then she would hop at him, and he would jump away. When he stopped to try and bite the itch on his flanks or to scratch his muzzle with his forepaws, she would leap to stop him.

Dawn came quickly that night.

He wearied suddenly, and crawled on his belly beneath the smelly man-shelter, away from the hooting owl, and lay on his side exhausted and panting dry-mouthed. The itch returned, worse, and with the owl’s eyes gleaming at him in the darkness he scratched and bit and scratched and bit, and then he could no longer move. He lay shuddering, and resisting the darkening of his vision.

When he woke, he was cold. He opened his eyes, and saw an owl staring back at him. He was too numb to be startled; they watched each other for a long time. Then it chirped softly, and with a great bound of its wings, leapt into the air and flew away.

Remus crept out from under the bed, wondering how he’d managed to get himself there. He’d ruined one hand; it ached sharply, and he couldn’t use it. He managed to pull his shirt over his head, swaying dizzily. He felt painfully empty. He couldn’t manage the button on his trousers, and left it. Cradling his shoes to his chest, he left the shack.

Lily Simms was standing just beyond the edge of the Whomping Willow. At first sight of her, he ducked back into the tunnel, shaking.

‘It’s all right,’ she called anxiously. ‘Come out, Lupin. Come out, please.’

It was weakness that made him leave the shelter of the tunnel. He dropped a shoe, and she braved the Willow to dart forward and grab it up. He still had a bit of the wolf in him; he smelt her before she got beside him, and the scent made him flinch back.

‘You’re the owl,’ he hissed.

Lily cringed. ‘Don’t be angry.’

‘Don’t be angry?’ He stumbled on the words, not quite remembering how to make them in his mouth. ‘I could have– I could have killed you! What the hell were you thinking!’

Lily licked her lips. ‘Look,’ she said. ‘Calm down. You’re bleeding, you need help...’ Her eyes slid away from his. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘How could you be so–‘ He growled helplessly. His teeth were chattering. Lily was saying soothing things, and she put her arms around him and took the shoe from him and helped him walk away from the Willow toward the castle. When the nausea of standing upright overwhelmed him and he fell to one knee to retch, she rubbed his hair and held his broken hand.

‘I’m so sorry, Remus,’ she repeated.

If Madam Pomfrey thought anything strange of Lily Simms accompanying him to the infirmary at break of light, she said nothing. Lily was made to wait outside while the nurse saw to Remus’s hand and lesser wounds; then Madam Pomfrey made herself scarce, and Lily came to sit beside Remus’s bed.

‘You look better,’ she ventured.

Remus ignored that. ‘Tell me how you did it,’ he demanded, sitting up. The words came more easily now, and the smell of her was almost gone.

Lily was as pale as he. She said, ‘I didn’t know what it would be like. If I had I’d have told you first. I’m sorry.’

‘How,’ he repeated, and his voice cracked. ‘And who else knows?’

White and strained, Lily told him everything, from James’s discovery of the book to her own decision to privately attempt it. He listened in silence, a little amazed at her daring, and trying to keep hold of his sense of fury. But he was so very tired, and it was hard to, especially in the face of his own wonderment at her success.

‘You’ll be in trouble,’ he said only, at the end of it.

Lily looked up. She was silent for a moment; then she answered, ‘Only if you tell.’

For a moment he could almost imagine she was Lucius. ‘All right,’ he replied, and left it at that.

She looked at his hand, now clean and bandaged. Then she told him, ‘I’m coming back.’

There was the fury that had been fading. ‘Don’t you dare,’ he whispered hotly. ‘Simms, don’t you dare!’

Just as charged, she retorted, ‘And you may not recall, but my being there with you helped! James was right, it could mean a lot of difference for you. I don’t see why you’re turning it down! Don’t be ungrateful.’

‘I’m not ungrateful,’ he said, stung. ‘I’m thinking of your safety. As any friend ought to!’

‘Well, you’ll be outvoted, as soon as I tell the boys how to do it.’ Lily stood, pushing her red hair back from her face. ‘As any friend ought to. And you’re not in a position to stop me.’

Very close to hating her in that moment, Remus could only glare.

Then she softened. She touched his hand so lightly he barely felt it. ‘Lupin,’ she said. ‘Let us help. You were– you were chewing off your own fingers. I can’t let that happen, not when I know I can help.’

He played the only card he had left. ‘James won’t let you,’ he told her. ‘You know he won’t.’

Her mouth tightened, and he knew the point had been made. ‘We’ll see,’ she said. ‘Sleep. You can finish yelling at me later.’ She didn’t give him a chance to get in a last word; she turned her back smartly and left the infirmary. A moment later, Madam Pomfrey was there, holding out a tonic and gazing at him imperturbably.

He drank the potion, and gave her back the cup. ‘Please don’t tell,’ he begged her softly. ‘Please, ma’am.’

She said nothing, but he knew she wouldn’t. Warmth spread through his limbs, and his eyelids became heavy. He closed his eyes, and he slept.

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