"Good morning, Seth," Dorcas said civilly, sitting down next to him on the Hufflepuff table at breakfast.
"Dorcas! You're okay!" Seth exclaimed happily.
It had weighed on his conscience that Lisa's friend got hurt partly because of him, and he was glad the teachers managed to bring her back to normal without much hassle. Suddenly, he felt something sharp against his ribs. Looking down, he saw Dorcas' wand was poking him below the table.
"Let's get something straight," she continued casually, taking a bite out of a piece of toast. "I ate those candies by accident. Which means, you almost killed my best friend. I don't give a toss if you were in on it or not, or if any of your blighter friends are Death Eaters or just idiots. Stay away from Lisa."
"You can't just forbid me to see her!" Seth protested angrily. The tip of her wand pushed painfully at his side, burning a hole through his shirt.
"Don't test me. Come near her again, and you'll be lying in a hospital bed," Dorcas said matter-of-factly and got up.
He ignored that warning only a few hours later.
"I can't believe you just did that!" Lisa said half-amused, half-irritated, as she and Dorcas were arranging their things on the potions table before class.
Dorcas shrugged. "He came too close."
"Did you have to be so excessive about it?"
"He deserved it!"
"You removed the bones in his legs!"
"He should've used them to walk the other way."
At that moment, Slughorn entered the dungeon and effectively ended the argument. He began a long-winded speech on the potion they were making today, Amortentia, an extremely potent love potion.
"The potion needs to be taken regularly, or its effects will eventually wane," he said, lifting the lid from the big cauldron in the middle of the room. An irresistible mixture of aromas filled the dungeon almost immediately. "It smells differently to whoever inhales it. Miss Meadowes, will you tell us what you smell?"
Dorcas screwed up her face in concentration. "Hm... to me it smells of... autumn leaves... Peppermint Toads... what I think is wood smoke, and... I can't tell what the last one is."
Lisa took a deep breath. She recognized immediately the smell of her favorite broom polish and of old library books and... and the smell of Remus Lupin's robes. Her face went beet red and she chanced a look at him. He had been avoiding her gaze lately.
Remus was gripping the edge of his table so hard his knuckles were turning white, and his whole body was shaking.
"Sir, I don't feel so well," he spoke up suddenly. "May I go to Madam Pomfrey?"
He was well aware his friends were giving him concerned looks, but he didn't care. Slughorn regarded him carefully.
"Yes, you do seem quite pale, Lupin. You can go, but you'll be missing out on quite the lesson..."
Remus hurriedly stuffed his things in his bag and almost ran out of the dungeon. He had to get away from there, away from that suffocating smell, away from her. When he put a sufficient distance between himself and the classroom he stopped to catch his breath, leaning against the cold stone wall. And right then and there, it dawned on him. A realization so powerful, yet so simple and obvious, it nearly brought him to tears.
He loved her.
"Hey Sirius," Lisa greeted cheerily, as the dark-haired Gryffindor jogged down the Fifth Floor Corridor towards her on Friday night. After Dorcas got that detention for hexing Seth, his name appeared next to hers on the Defenders' schedule.
"Hi," he said. "Sorry for being a bit late..."
"It's fine." She smiled and they started down their route.
"So, what happened to Meadowes? Her name was off the schedule this afternoon."
"She hexed Seth and got detention. Can't blame her, really, after what he put her through."
Sirius grinned. "So it's safe to say his chances with you went down the drain?"
"He never had a chance," Lisa grumbled. "He begged me for a date, said 'what could it hurt?', so I went for the hell of it."
"I didn't know you went out with blokes 'for the hell of it'."
"You don't know everything about me! And... it's nice to be asked, you know?" She looked down at the floor. "But for the record, that was a huge mistake and I'll only go out with people I have feelings for in the future," she added firmly.
"Good to hear that," he said and smirked. As they passed by the boy's bathroom, he stopped and inclined his head towards the door. "Best peak in there. I had a pig piece of Sheppard's pie at lunch, so try not to be attacked while my pants are down."
Lisa rolled her eyes, but smiled and leaned against the wall to wait. After a couple of minutes, someone came out from behind a painting further down the corridor. Her wand was out and her body straightened, but the other person just slowly approached, showing no sign of hostility. When his face was lit up by the torches, Lisa's eyes narrowed to slits.
"What do you want?" she snarled. The thin smirk on his face made her extremely unsettled.
"Me? I want to help you," Severus Snape drawled, circling her slowly.
"Because we're such good friends?" Lisa said sarcastically, keeping her back close to the wall so he couldn’t get behind her.
"How was your little excursion to Hogsmeade?" he said out of nowhere.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Really? If I am not mistaken, you made the potion to wake up Meadowes... and Moondew can only be picked at a full moon... you didn't run into anyone... or anything out there?"
He knew, Lisa realized in horror. Somehow, he knew what happened in the woods that night.
"What are you playing at?"
"Come on, Fawley, even your dried up brain should've seen the patterns by now. You ran into a dear friend out there, didn't you?"
She glared at him. "Say what you've come here to say and sod off!"
"Fine then. I will speak plainly, so even you can understand." He came uncomfortably close to her, so close she could feel his breath on her skin and whispered, "You saw Lupin."
She gave him a skeptical look. "If you're going to make up lies, you should really try better than that."
"You really are a twat!" he snapped, the self-satisfied smirk giving way to his usual scowl. "Didn't it ever seem strange to you how he always disappears when the moon starts to get full? How he becomes pale and irritable as it gets closer?"
"He's just sick!" she spat. "A lot of sicknesses resurface often!"
"Always at the full moon?! Rub together what few brain cells you have!"
The door to the bathroom swung open and Snape quickly disappeared into whatever passage he used before.
"Yep, no Death Eaters in there," Sirius said jokingly. "You okay? They didn't pass while I was in there, did they?"
"No," Lisa said slowly and the two of them continued down the corridor. She debated with himself whether she should tell him what just happened. She opened her mouth to do just that, but some twisted instinct made her say something different at the last second. "So, erm... how's Remus? He was absent again on Monday, and he seems a bit out of it lately. Was he sick again?"
"No, he was visiting his mother," Sirius shot quickly. "She has the same thing, poor woman. He has to go home sometimes to look after her, with his dad being so busy and all."
"His mother, huh? What's wrong with her?" Lisa asked, trying to keep her voice even.
"Oh, you don't want to know the grisly details. Suffice it to say she's sick most of the time. Almost an invalid, actually."
Lisa's hands balled into fists to stop them from shaking. Hope Lupin was in excellent health, and according to Grandma Fawley, was a very able-bodied woman, walking the whole distance between the Lupin's cottage and the town of Low Row at least a few times a week.
Sirius was lying.
Lisa was trying to do her homework with Lily, Marlene and Mary in the Common Room on Saturday, but her eyes were just sliding over the words. She kept glancing at the Marauders, who were probably planning some sort of prank in front of the fireplace. Her gaze fluttered to Remus' eyes and it suddenly struck her how similar they were to that... monster that attacked her. She had tried to tell herself it was only Snape spewing vile just to spite her, still sore that Lisa crushed his last chance with Lily, a chance he didn't even know existed. Not to mention that the whole Death Eater pack had wised up to the fact students seemed to randomly catch them in the act of torturing muggle-borns lately, and she and Remus were the only ones they knew for sure to be involved. So the thought did occur to her that Snape was just trying to drive a wedge between them, but last night, after everyone was asleep, she pulled out her lunar calendar. The Slytherin was right, every instance of him being gone she could remember aligned itself with the full moon. He was pale, his friends lied for him, he avoided meeting her glance since that night, and his own eyes were so similar to the beast... She didn't want to believe it, but everything lined up too perfectly...
"May I borrow that for a moment?"
Lisa turned around to see that Remus had tapped her on the shoulder and was asking for her quill. She nodded quickly and handed him the one she was holding. As he took it, their hands touched and she felt a spark going through her, sending her flying to her feet. It wasn't the usual pleasant sensation she got whenever they touched.
It was fear. And it was disgust.
She quickly mumbled something about the Library and ran out through the portrait. She was ashamed of feeling this way, but the simple truth was that she'd never look at him the same way again.
Turning a corner, Lisa stopped her run and leaned against the wall to collect her mangled thoughts. She tried to remember that it was still him, that he was still the person he had always been, tried to remember the winter break and how kind he was after she was tortured, and how he held her hand as she lay in the Hospital Wing after that Quaffle exploded... but every time she recalled looking at him now, all she saw staring back were two feral yellow eyes. The kind boy that fed bread to the birds was now replaced by a bloodthirsty beast.
Except… the Remus Lupin she knew would never look at her like that, let alone attack her. Was he pretending all this time? Six years seemed an awfully long time to keep up such an act. Then was he just hiding his violent tendencies? Or did he simply lose his mind during a full moon? They had covered werewolves in class, but it was always about the beast, how to identify it, how to stop it, what it was capable of, never what happened when the moon wasn't full. What was the human side of things? Did they keep their mental faculties while transformed? Did they just get slightly more aggressive? Was it a split personality thing? Did they even remember what they did? There were so many questions! Lisa got up and walked briskly down the hallway. When there was some problem she couldn't solve, one place usually helped.
She was almost running by the time she made it to the Library and went straight to Madam Pince.
"I have an essay to write about werewolves. What books would you recommend?"
After about half an hour of following the enthusiastic Librarian, Lisa sat down with a whole pile of dusty books. Unfortunately, a lot of them weren't very helpful. Lupine Lawlessness: Why Lycanthropes Don't Deserve to Live for example, stated on the very first page that all werewolves lose their sense of morality even in human form, which was complete rubbish. The Werewolf Registry was also one of the most useless endeavors she had ever heard of. Who in their right mind would walk in the Ministry and declare they're a werewolf? Hunting Werewolves she missed entirely, because she had no intention of harming him, werewolf or not. The Werewolf Code of Conduct was a bit more helpful, in that it was a set of rules all werewolves should strive to follow, but seeing as most of them revolved around locking themselves up during a full moon, Remus obviously hadn't read it (or at least didn't regard it as important). This was another strange thing. Why would a sensible person like him not lock himself somewhere?
Lisa spent the whole weekend like that, leafing through the wide array of books, careful not to attract unnecessary attention to what she was doing. By the next Monday she still had nothing to help her understand the human side of things, save a single sentence in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, saying that 'the otherwise sane and normal' wizard becomes a beast on the full moon, capable of killing his best friend if they happened to be within reach. That didn't sound very encouraging, but... it was something, at least.
One Wednesday morning two whole weeks later, she made her way tiredly to the Gryffindor table for breakfast and nearly collapsed next to Lily.
"You'd feel better if you weren't reading all night," the redhead pointed out.
Lisa gave her an incoherent groan as a response and spread some marmalade on her toast.
"Is everything okay with you?" Lily asked again, this time with concern in her voice.
"Yeah, why?" Lisa said absentmindedly, as she made space for the Daily Prophet owl to land.
"You've been... a bit strange around Remus lately. Are things alright between you two?"
"Why wouldn't they be?" Lisa said elusively, hiding behind the newspaper. Lily had probably noticed that she couldn't meet his eyes anymore. She knew it was irrational, but she was afraid it would be the wolf that stared back at her.
"Are you sure you don't want to talk about it? I could talk to him, if you want..."
Lisa's eyes slid over the paper and she dropped her toast. There was movement at the teacher's table and Lily saw McGonagall making her way over with a tense face.
"Lisa?" Lily reached out and gently lowered her friend's hands, which were gripping the paper so hard it wrinkled in her fingers. Her face was pale and she was staring unseeingly in front of her.
"That's my house," she said shakily, and Lily finally noticed the picture on the front page. A burning, half-destroyed manor, with the Dark Mark floating menacingly above it.
Lisa walked in a trance-like state back to the common room. Dumbledore had just called her into his office and told her the news. Her father leaked a list with confirmed Death Eaters the Auror Office had compiled in the Prophet, and they had retaliated. She didn't cry. She knew McGonagall expected her to, but she didn't. It seemed so unreal, so unbelievable...
As she walked through the seventh floor, she could hear people talk. They knew, she thought. They knew her home had been destroyed. They knew her whole family was now hunted by the Death Eaters. They knew a little ten-year-old girl had died.
She climbed through the portrait hole and the whole room went quiet. Remus stood up from his seat as soon as he saw her, his face paler than usual, complete sadness etched across it. Their eyes met for the first time in days, and what she saw wasn't a monster, but the person she loved. Everything from the past few weeks was washed away in an instant, as her vision finally became smudged with tears and she ran straight into his arms. This time, there wasn't even the slightest hesitation in his movements, and he embraced her tightly and just held her as she broke down.
"I was going... t-to... give her... Filtch's... ch-chains," she sobbed into his chest, barely drawing breath. "She was... coming... to H-Hogwarts next year! She... w-would've been... s-safe!"
His arms wrapped closer around her and he buried his face in her hair. Neither of them gave a damn that the whole house was staring.