20. Werewolves and Whispers
The next three days were rough for me, especially once Remus had returned. I slowly realized that it was one thing to say that werewolves were just people like the rest of us, but something completely different realizing you were friends with one. Casual touches from Remus that I normally found reassuring and comfortable were now a test of my skills not to flinch away or act weird around him. As my time started to run out on what to decide, I found thoughts of him consuming my mind, even during lessons I usually enjoyed.
During potions, I nearly burned a simple aging potion because of the distractions. During Transfiguration, I earned myself a detention for daydreaming. During said detention, I decided it was time to make a final decision.
I just couldn't wrap my head around what I'd figured out. Remus Lupin, sweet Remus with the scars and the love for chocolate, was a werewolf.
I thought about everything I had learned about werewolves during lessons and from books over the years. I thought about the essay I had just finished. I thought of the beating I'd gotten a few years ago when I'd gone for a walk on the night of the full moon. I thought about teeth and fur and claws and blood. I thought of uncontrollable monsters and dangerous beasts. I thought of terrifying howls and growls. I thought of mindless snapping jaws.
Then, I thought of Remus. I thought of the boy who had given me chocolate on the train back in first year when I was so nervous. Remus, the boy who was fiercely loyal to his friends. I thought of Remus, who had lied to McGonagall for me. Remus who had brought me dinner from the kitchens when I'd missed dinner because I was in detention with Sirius. I thought of poor, tired-looking Remus with his shabby robes and soulful, amber eyes. I couldn't see him as a dangerous, mindless monster. I couldn't see him as a dark creature, no matter how hard I tried.
Somehow, in the course of the six months, I had taken to Remus Lupin, and not even my newfound knowledge was enough to discourage my developing crush on him. I couldn't see Remus as a monster, so I decided to see werewolves as people instead. With that decided, I finished my work with Professor McGonagall and headed straight to the Room of Requirement where the boys would be waiting.
When I walked in, the boys were crowded together, helping Remus finish his homework from the days he'd missed. As the door swung shut behind me, Sirius looked up at me with surprise in his eyes. My guess was he thought he'd seen the last of me.
"Remus, can I talk to you for a sec?" I asked softly, opening a door that lead to an adjoining room inside the RoR.
Remus gave me a confused look but set down his quill and went into the room. I followed him after a brief moment collecting my thoughts. I knew that there was no delicate way to spring this on someone, and I had run out of time. My three days would expire at curfew tonight. I bit my lip and jumped inelegantly in. "Remus, I know you're a werewolf. I won't tell a soul and I'm not going anywhere."
Remus stared dumbly at me for several long moments that seemed to stretch for hours. Eventually, I heard Sirius sigh and stomp away from the door where he'd evidently been standing and eavesdropping on us.
"James and Pete are still listening, aren't they?" I asked softly.
Remus couldn't help the smile that crept across his face as he nodded. "Yep, they're both hoping to hear something interesting, I guess."
I smiled back. "Are we okay then, Remus?"
Remus sighed. "Yeah, we're good. Just one thing… How?"
I sighed and thought about it. "Well, Remus, I just… notice things, I guess. You guys always use the same two excuses and after six months of funerals and sick mothers, I knew you were lying. Plus, three of those were the full moon, I remember because I love drawing the moon, especially when it's full. That and my essay about werewolves for class. Your scars… your eyes… the heat of your skin…" I shrugged and leaned against the wall.
"We're going to have to be more careful. If you noticed in six months other people will start noticing too." He frowned.
"I'll help. You guys just need some new material, besides the fact that you need someone who lies well." I winked at him, smiling.
The rest of the night seemed to fly by for the four of us. I told them everything about my father and my mother's accident, knowing that I could trust them now. The shared secrets brought us all closer together and within a week I was truly a marauder, inside jokes and all.
As I grew closer with the Gryffindors, my housemates began to take notice. I heard them talking about me as the days flew by and soon rumours filled the entire school. Evidently, according to Bella Black and her gang, I was sleeping with all four marauders and that was why I was always with them. Someone else had decided I was a lesbian and spread that one around too, which was a bigger deal to the muggleborns than anyone else. Another person, my guess was Regulus Black, had told the school that my father had sold my hand in marriage to Sirius Black and now I was his slave.
As the rumours got worse, I withdrew into my studies more and more. None of my friends believed any of it, of course, but that didn't stop the hexes and taunts from the other students. Within a month I had become a social pariah and no one but the marauders, Severus, and Lily would even talk to me. Sirius and James made it their personal vendetta to find a way to make me laugh by pulling ill-advised and childish pranks like stink bombs in the dungeons. Remus and Peter stayed by my side at all times, trying to protect me from the worst of them. Even Severus and Lily began to worry about me.
When my grades began to slip and I started hiding in my dorm more, the others agreed to put their differences aside temporarily to help me find a way out of this, even James and Severus. One day, in the library, the six of them ambushed me and forced me to listen to them.
"This is getting out of hand, Dez." Severus scolded.
"And we only see one way out." Sirius agreed with a wicked smile. "You have to let us make a public joke of all this."
"What do you suggest?" I sighed wearily setting my Potions work aside to listen to them. The seven of us spent the evening scheming as a group for the first and probably last time. By the time Severus and I headed down to the dorms, we had a plan.
The next morning, I sat at the Slytherin table with Severus as we had agreed. When the end of breakfast neared and everyone in the school was present, Sirius stood on the bench of the Gryffindor table and faced me. "Desari Malfoy, I know this is just a formality at this point, since everyone already knows, but will you marry me?" He called across the hall in mock-adoration.
I smiled and pretended to swoon. "Oh, my dear Sirius, I thought you'd never ask!" I called back sarcastically. "But alas, I can't, because I'm evidently also a lesbian. On that note, Lily Evans, will you go out with me?"
Lily laughed loudly. "Sorry, Malfoy, but I could never commit myself to someone such as you. Perhaps if you didn't have so many boyfriends!"
My friends and I all burst out laughing and I could see Dumbledore and McGonagall both trying to hide their amusement as well.
As the day went on, our plan seemed to have worked. Now that my friends and I had made the rumours into jokes, no one seemed to bother with it. I still got plenty of hostile glares, but no one taunted or hexed me. The alliance between my friends dissolved and everyone went back to hating one another like normal. The rumours became nothing more than inside jokes between close friends and everyone was happy again.