My heart ached as the weekend drew to a close. I would not see Sirius much outside of lessons, and I had to think of ways to substitute my evenings, since I would not be able to spend them sneaking around the castle or playing intimate games of wizard's chess with him by the firelight. I spent most of my time with the other three boys, nagging at James and Peter to get their homework done as Remus and I finished our last foot of our potions essay. Instead of heeding my intimidating stares, James and Peter slunk down beside us on the sofas and procured a deck of cards between them.
"Exploding snap!" James said excitedly, as if this was not something they played nearly every night. He took the cards and began to pass them to Peter, who had a mousy grin on his face. "Should I deal you in?" He looked over at Remus and me, a hopeful look in his eye that we would oblige his invitation and spend the evening playing cards. Remus shook his head as he stood up, the firelight bathing his back, and covering me in his fragile shadow.
"I'm going to head to the library," he said as he stuffed his parchment and quills into his bag and tossed it over his shoulder. James gave a playful scoff.
"Come on, Moony, you've already finished all the homework for the next two weeks!" He said with a pleading look. Remus shook his head and smiled.
"I've still got a four foot essay on the properties and misuses of monkshood due to Slughorn tomorrow," he said, giving me a small wink. James lowered his head, disappointed that he failed to lure us into his evening of playing cards. I shot off of the couch after Remus.
"Mind if I come? I'm behind on that essay as well." He nodded and we headed out of the portrait hole toward the library. As we walked through the corridor, I gave a small chuckle. "I'm sure it wasn't necessary for you to lie to him, Remus," I said. James got an 'Acceptable' mark on his O.W.L. and Professor Slughorn only accepted students who got at least 'Exceeds Expectations' into his N.E.W.T. potions class. James was unaware that the essay Remus had not yet written was indeed unassigned. But something that he had said set off an alarm in my head and I intended to research it more when we got into the library.
I scanned every shelf for something I had read before called 'Innovative and Ingenious Wizarding Discoveries of the Twentieth Century.' After running my eyes over every spine of every book in the library and not finding it, I decided to open a very old looking book simply entitled 'Guide to Potion Making.' I found Remus sitting in a comfy armchair in a corner, reading a book about dragon breeding. I plopped down beside him and started flipping pages like mad, my mind running in circles. I stopped to read after nearly ripping half the pages I turned. 'Monkshood, also known by the names aconite and wolfsbane, is a plant bearing magical properties, its root used in many potions. A member of the buttercup family, its leaves are highly toxic…' I shot a look at Remus and distorted my face, trying to remember what I had read just a few months ago. I tried to transport myself back there.
Sunshine was spilling onto the stone floor of the library, warming my ankles as I walked through it, searching for an interesting read as I ran my fingers along the dust covering the shelves of the book cases. I could hear a familiar, snide voice entering the library, one that shot a nervous bolt through my stomach. I grabbed a book and retreated to the far end of the room, making myself small as I curled up behind a book case, nearly out of sight to the rest of the library. Confident that Draco Malfoy was unaware of my hiding spot, I opened the book and began to read, disappearing into my nonabusive, safe world of pages and words. I read about discoveries in uses of Shield Charms and many innovations in herbology. Then I came across a potion: Wolfsbane potion. '…minimizes the effects of lycanthropy. In other words, a werewolf will not lose his or her mind or judgment after transformation.' I immediately thought of Professor Lupin, my Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher three years ago. Had he known there was a potion that would keep him sane during his 'time of the month?' The recipe was on the following page. It looked very complex, but I had not scored an 'Outstanding' on my O.W.L. for not having already mastered complicated potions. I studied it, hoping I would retain it, just in case the need for it came along.
"Remus?" I said frantically, recalling the ingredients and instructions in my head. He ripped away from his book and gave me a puzzled look. "May I borrow a quill and parchment, please?" I tried not to sound too panicky, not wanting him to know what I was planning. He handed me the supplies without question as I attempted to write down the recipe for Wolfsbane Potion word for word. When I finished the last line (Stir fifteen times clockwise until grey smoke turns blue, then let cool for forty-eight hours), I smiled and gave a small giggle, excited that I had remembered it. Remus looked up again.
"What's so exciting?" He said, trying to take a peek at my paper as I folded it up and stuck it inside my robes. He looked a bit disappointed that I did not want him to see. He was already halfway through his book. I looked outside and the half moon was high in the sky. It was nearing midnight.
"You'll see," I said, still smiling widely as I stood up. I felt so exhilarated that I gave him a quick peck on the cheek as I strolled off out of the library. I was eager to start on the potion right away, but the promise of early lessons the next day made my Monday night a sleepy one.
I saw Sirius the next afternoon in Defense Against the Dark Arts. He looked tired, but greeted me cheerfully through a yawn. "Hey there, beautiful," he said as we sat down at our usual table. I smiled at him and gave him a quick peck.
"I have something very important to discuss with you," I said quietly as the room started to quiet down, the day's lesson beginning with the professor welcoming the class. Sirius gave me a look of surprise. "It's about Remus." He stared in front of him, his eyes widening. I knew he could tell where this was going. "I know, Sirius. I know about his," I paused, lowering my head and my voice so barely even he could hear me, "condition." He placed his fist under his chin, his jaw tightening. He did not say anything for a moment.
"Condition?" he whispered, suddenly changing his expression as if he had no idea what I was referring to. He still kept his gaze forward. I did not want to utter the words in a class room full of people who could possibly overhear. I pulled out a piece of paper and drew a moon and stars on it, pointing to the fact that the moon was full. Sirius sighed heavily, tightening his jaw again. His face looked very stony as he tried not to look at me.
"Sirius, I know that—"
"How did you find out? Did you follow us? Eavesdrop on our conversations?" He snapped at me. I nearly jumped at his accusations. I just shook my head.
"No no no," I said, trying to calm him down. "It's nothing like that," I tried to explain.
"I expect you think he's vile now, right? A half-breed learning amongst the rest of us normal people?" He had a disgusted look on his face.
"No, Sirius. That's not what I'm trying to say!"
"You probably feel unsafe with him sleeping just a few feet away from you, right?"
"That's not true!" I said, our tones growing a little bit louder, drawing the attention of a few people sitting near us. Sirius looked around at the others who were looking at us. He lowered his voice again.
"If you don't want to be in Gryffindor because a werewolf is always around, then how about you join daddy dearest in the dungeons?" My mouth hung open. I could not believe Sirius was acting this way.
"Is there a problem, Miss Horsefeather? Mister Black?" called the professor from the front of the class, as he brandished his wand as if he were just about to demonstrate a spell. Sirius gazed forward again, his forehead furrowed in anger. My eyes welled up with tears.
"Yes sir, I'm feeling a bit ill," I said wetly, realizing the color had probably already gone from my face. "May I be excused, please?" The professor nodded and continued on with his demonstration as I scooped up my books and ran from the room, barely hiding the tears now dripping from my eyes.
I headed for the seventh floor, deciding that I did not need Sirius's help or support in making this potion. The full moon was a week and a half away, just enough to time to make the Wolfsbane potion and give it to Remus. My face burned as I walked past the bare wall, aching to hear the door conjure itself. When it did, it was nothing more than a small door, with a wooden handle. It looked no different from the doors to the broom closets around the castle. I opened it up and found that it opened into a small room, its walls lined with shelves which were covered in glass phials and jars filled with different ingredients. In the middle of the room was a copper cauldron sitting on top of what looked like a small stove. 'This is exactly what I need,' I said as I pulled the hand written recipe out of my bag and began to pull ingredients off the shelves. The Room of Requirement had amazed me once more.
I spent the majority of the weeknights tending to the potion. Sirius refused to talk to me in class, but I knew he would come around once he understood what I was trying to do for one of his best friends. It took until Thursday for the potion to be complete. Blue smoke billowed from the top of the cauldron as I filled numerous phials with the thick liquid. I stuffed my bag to the brim and headed back to the common room, excited to give Remus his first dose of what could be the very thing that changed his life. I found him sitting in the common room writing an essay. Luckily, hardly anyone was around to witness me giving him some unknown potion that could very well kill him.
"Remus," I said meekly as I strode over to him. He looked up, his face very much pale as the full moon drew closer. "Will you do me a huge favor?" I said, trying to come up with something that would not suggest anything about his being a werewolf, or my knowing about it. He nodded hesitantly as I pulled out a phial of a dark, thick liquid. "This is something I came up with," I hesitated, "for extra credit for Slughorn." Remus looked skeptical. "That last Draught of Living Death really brought my grade down." He took the potion from my hand and started examining it in the light.
"What exactly is this?" he asked as he unstoppered it and smell it.
"It's a type of brain elixir," I lied, thinking this was the most believable story I could come up with. "It's supposed to boost your cognitive function." Remus still looked skeptical as I bounced on my toes.
"I know about these. I haven't seen one like this before," he said skeptically, looking at me as though I was trying to give him poison.
"I came up with it myself. It's obviously not very strong, so it has to be taken over a week's time. That's when you'll notice a real change!" I said smiling. "So will you take it so I can observe you and take notes and such?" Remus smelled the potion again, making sure he did not smell anything toxic within it. Then he nodded his head. I lunged at him and hugged him. "I promise you won't regret it!" I said as he emptied the phial in his mouth and scrunched his face in utter distaste.