“Running through the corridors, Lupin! I ought to deduct ten points from Ravenclaw.” Remus laughed at her, while Dumbledore couldn’t help but smile at the joke. They had been hard at it since five o’clock, discussing the delicate diplomacy needed to deal with the goblin problem. Both of them were only too aware of how important the goblins would be as the war intensified, but it would take nothing short of a diplomatic miracle to bring them conclusively to either side.
“And I think I could come up with a reason for putting you in detention,” she parried, her humour quickly restored after her meeting with Severus.
“Are you ready to go, Selene?” Dumbledore asked doubtfully, considering her flustered state. He wanted them to leave as soon as possible so he could depart for London, where he had a meeting at the Ministry. There were a series of trials coming up that had to be arranged as quickly as possible. Azkaban was vulnerable, despite the amount of Aurors and Hit Wizards now guarding it. Dumbledore felt it was only a matter of time before there was a mass breakout or break-in. He also had to organize the recruitment of new Aurors, which would have to be done hurriedly, with the unfortunate consequence that the training wouldn’t be as thorough as he would have perhaps liked. The Ministry was in no position to be overly choosy about whom it accepted given the height of the threat they currently faced. They were even discussing lowering the pass rate for the examinations needed to start Auror training in the face of a possible onslaught from Voldemort’s regrouped forces.
Maeve reassured him that she was indeed ready to go and that her bag was set to be loaded into the car. Remus had a large leather holdall in his hand that, unlike her immaculate one, was battered and well used. His initials were fading and the handle threatened to detach itself at any moment, sending the contents tumbling to the floor.
“I believe Arthur Weasley has managed to procure you something nice by way of a vehicle,” Dumbledore said confidently, although his face betrayed the fact that he had extreme doubts as to the kind of vehicle Arthur Weasley had actually managed to get his hands on. He was only too mindful of the incident with the Ford Anglia a few years previously. “Now then, Remus, if you wouldn’t mind giving me a few moments alone with Selene, I would be most grateful. We have some small, last minute details to discuss.”
“Of course.” Remus turned to Maeve. “Would you like me to collect your bag and meet you at the car?” he asked. She nodded, watching as he gave her one of his gentle smiles before trotting down the stairs and out of sight. Once he was out of earshot, Professor Dumbledore took her by the arm and led her slowly down the corridor.
“You are happy to do this?” he asked, his face becoming grave.
“I wouldn’t have agreed had I not been happy,” she replied firmly.
“I see you have been to see Professor Snape.” He nodded towards the bag that hung from her shoulder. “He has given you adequate instruction?”
Dumbledore’s change of subject made her hesitate for a moment.
“Yes, yes he has.” She recovered herself quickly. “The full moon is ten days away. I know what to do.” Maeve was as confident as she sounded; she had yet to come across a potion that confounded her abilities.
“Your grandmother had a few ideas about werewolves… although she did have ideas about most things,” Dumbledore said gently. He had something he wanted to discuss with her, but he was afraid that talking about her grandmother would re-open wounds that were best left closed.
“Yes she did, she was very opinionated and very wise.” Maeve met his eyes and the memory of the day her grandmother had died passed between them. He placed a hand on her shoulder, as if this simple gesture could bring her comfort and, strangely, it did.
“I believe she had developed a potion,” he dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper, “to help werewolves.”
“Yes, she had.” Maeve was surprised to be discussing this twice in one morning. “It was an experiment though. She said she had tried it out on one once but it was all very vague.” She had no idea why he was bringing this up now and waited for his response, which was slow to come. Eventually he stopped walking and, leaning against a statue of a large lion rampant, he imparted what he knew about her grandmother and the werewolf.
“Between you and me, my dear, that potion worked. I saw it myself. Unfortunately the Ministry refused to authorise its use because it came from an Irish witch who couldn’t be regulated by them and, of course, there are no werewolves in Ireland, so it was never used there.” His eyes narrowed as he remembered the verbal battles he had had in the offices for Werewolf Registration at the Ministry. Their frank refusal to listen to his arguments or consider the potion put before them had led him to believe they didn’t really want to help werewolves; their fear and mistrust ran too deeply.
“I didn’t know anyone had corroborated the fact that it worked.” She was surprised and not a little pleased that her grandmother was proved right in this instance. “It is such a shame we don’t have the formula, I am sure someone at the Ministry could do something with it.”
Whilst Dumbledore was unsure the Ministry had changed their attitude since the possible solution was first put before them, he now cared less about what the Ministry authorised and more about what was the right thing to do. He untucked a book from his robe and handed it to her almost reverentially. It was dark green leather with no outer markings, and as she flicked open the heavy vellum pages she was surprised to see her grandmother’s handwriting.
“She left all her important books with me for safekeeping, to be returned to you when the time was right. I believe the time is right,” Dumbledore announced quietly, his face crinkling with concern as he watched her mouth tremble slightly. She managed to control the emotion and turned the pages until she came to the one headed ‘An aide to the effects of Lycanthropy’. She realised, as she read through the potion, what he was suggesting and she was horrified at the prospect of trying this potion on Remus.
“Oh! I could never! Oh no… that wouldn’t do at all,” she protested vigorously. “I could kill him, and what about the Wolfsbane? Surely there would be a reaction.” She was chilled at the thought of trying a relatively untested potion on a human. Throughout all her potion experiments, she had rarely tested them on humans, especially something as dynamic as this, with its potentially deadly ingredients.
“You could do it and, moreover, Remus wants you to try. I believe you could be the person who can turn Remus’ life around for him by this one act.” His tone became very persuasive as his eyes tried to judge how she could better be cajoled into taking the course of action he wanted her to take. “Irish magic is a closed book to many, which is why I have waited until you were available before I suggested this course of action.”
“No. I will not be manipulated like this, Albus.” She drew herself up, and Dumbledore was suddenly struck by how powerful she could be. “I will not try an untested potion on someone who is undergoing treatment for his condition. Not on my own, without consultation with anyone else.”
Before he had the chance to respond, his attention was caught by a figure hurrying down the corridor towards them and, with a weak smile, he called out a greeting. The figure in question was Professor Trelawney, with her hair flying out in all directions and her wrists jangling from the surfeit of bangles that she wore.
“We weren’t expecting you back until the end of August,” he said absently, his attention still on Maeve, who had quickly snapped the book closed and placed it in the satchel that Severus had given her.
“I know,” she called in a wistful voice, “but the leaves told me I had to return immediately or something disastrous would befall me before the start of term.” She made a waving gesture with her hands as if whipping up the air. “The spirits are never wrong.”
Professor Trelawney finally reached them in a swirl of mulberry-coloured robes that seemed to carry on moving long after she had stopped. She peered at Maeve through impossibly large glasses, which magnified her eyes so that they looked as large as moons beneath the lenses.
“This is Selene Lupin, Professor. She is joining us as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Dumbledore informed the new arrival, reluctantly performing the introductions, not wishing to have Maeve questioned before she had perfected her act. “Selene, this is Professor Trelawney, our Divination teacher. Now if you will excuse us Sybill, we really must get going.” He caught Maeve’s arm and began to steer her past the still-peering professor.
“Wait!” she said sharply to Maeve, who turned to look at her in surprise. Her voice had become deeper and harsher than was usual and when she spoke it was in a husky croak. “Trust only the dark one who brings news of light, for he and he alone knows the truth.”
“I don’t know what...” Maeve began, but she was interrupted again by the other woman, who appeared unaware she had just been speaking.
“Lupin? Would that be any relation to the lovely Professor Lupin who used to teach here?” She said this in her normal light voice and Maeve glanced at Dumbledore, who answered for her.
“She is indeed Professor Lupin’s sister, and he is waiting to take her on a brief holiday before the start of term so if you’ll excuse us.” Dumbledore showed an indecent amount of haste this time in forcing Maeve along the corridor and away from the eyes of the Divination teacher.
“It was nice to meet you, Professor,” Maeve said, smiling back at the confused looking woman.
“Wait!” she said and Dumbledore stopped again, looking at her severely. Her voice dropped once more. “Guard your secret well, Maeve, because there is one who will betray you and it will be a bitter betrayal.”
Maeve didn’t immediately understand why Dumbledore looked thoughtful; all she heard was the promise of a betrayal. He took her arm even more firmly and piloted her well away from Professor Trelawney, muttering further apologies for dashing off to the bewildered Professor. Once safely out of view Dumbledore stopped her and looked very grave.
“When Sybill speaks with that voice you can be sure it is one of the infrequent occasions when she is truly Seeing. She knew your real identity without being told; don’t worry yourself about that, because I doubt she will remember. She rarely remembers her own prophecies. You must heed what she says, my dear, heed it well.” Dumbledore was only too aware that the occasional flashes of prophecy that Sybill showed were profound indeed and he registered her words to be mulled over at a later date. What worried him was their frequency. If Sybill’s ability to see was becoming more pronounced it must surely have some bearing on the strength of Voldemort.
“But who?” she began. However Dumbledore wouldn’t let her finish; he raised a finger to his lips and hushed her.
“There is nothing more to be said. I can’t add any more to her prophecy, nor can I explain it to you. I should let it rest in your mind until such time as you need it,” he said steadily, before once again resuming their walk to the entrance hall.
“It doesn’t sound too promising,” she muttered, as she followed him. “A bitter betrayal sounds profoundly depressing.”
She was still mulling over the prophecies when they finally reached the main hall, thankfully without further interruption. Remus was standing by the door with both of their bags at his feet. He threw Dumbledore a questioning look, but Dumbledore didn’t respond and Remus looked away quickly.
“Now, you have everything you will need?” the headmaster asked, realising that as the time for them to leave neared he was becoming more anxious about their welfare. They nodded eagerly; keen to be going now the time had arrived.
“Very well, the car is waiting at the entrance. Here are the keys.” He handed them to Maeve, who felt rather excited at driving a Muggle car again; it had been a long time since she had been behind the wheel, and she was looking forward to it. They walked together to the main entrance hall, Remus carried both his and Maeve’s bags whilst she kept a tight hold on the satchel that Severus had given her.
Once they reached daylight, Dumbledore put a hand on both their shoulders.
“Enjoy this time,” he said slowly. “It will be a time for relaxation and reflection. I know you will find it easy to assume your new roles, so this is not a concern of mine. If you do suspect that anything about your location is compromised then I want you to return straight away.”
“I’m sure we will be fine,” Maeve said reassuringly.
“You cannot be too careful, both of you. You are both too important to everyone, including Voldemort, to take risks,” Dumbledore said insistently, looking over his glasses in a very serious manner.
“I’ll take care of her, Albus, don’t worry. I’m not about to take any risks with our personal safety.” Remus was confident he could keep them safe from outside influences, but he couldn’t help worrying about the forthcoming full moon.
As they moved towards the opened doors, Maeve looked around, half expecting to see the black-robed figure of Severus, but he was nowhere to be seen. She grudgingly accepted the fact he felt too strongly about this whole situation to make a final, farewell gesture.
They stepped out into the light and found a large, comfortable car waiting for them. Maeve grinned with pleasure as she raced around to the driver’s side and flung open the door. She knew that allowing them to drive was a concern of Dumbledore’s, but she had expressed a desire to travel this way and he had very reluctantly acquiesced. For a selfish moment she had exercised her newfound power of choice, and Albus had found it difficult to refuse her request.
“Come on, Remus! What are you waiting for?” She threw herself into the driver’s seat and waited impatiently as Remus put the other bags into the boot before getting into the front seat beside her. Remus had never really taken to cars; they were a form of transport that gave him nightmares, and he hoped Maeve was a good driver, but as they roared away from the front of the castle he knew he was in for a rough ride.
An hour or so later and Remus could honestly say he had never been so mortally afraid in all his life, although Maeve seemed to be perfectly happy as she bounced the car along the rugged roads. Part of the problem, Remus thought, as they shaved the edges off another bush, was that she had no real concept of braking and took sharp corners with scant regard for slowing down, trusting instead to the tyres to keep them sticking to the road. More than once he had felt the overwhelming urge to be sick, and it was only politeness that kept him from wailing in protest. Hedgerows flashed by, perilously close to the windows, and once she had narrowly avoided a collision with a tense-looking fence that had the misfortune to border a particularly twisting stretch of road.
After what seemed like an eternity of driving across a bleak landscape, the road dropped down into a tree-lined valley that was at odds with the surrounding bare countryside. Here grew lush grass and full, blooming hedges containing all manner of wildlife. Trees overhung the road, dangling green fronds before their car as if in welcome, and from somewhere came the sound of running water. Eventually the road shrank from grey tarmac to little more than a rough, gravely lane, which came to an end at a five-barred gate. The gate swung open as they approached, and Maeve dropped into a low gear to negotiate the potholes and stones of the uneven track that led up to the cottage.
“Thank Merlin!” Remus exclaimed, as she stopped the car in front of the grey building. He almost fell out of the vehicle in his attempt to put some distance between himself and the metal monster. Standing by the cottage’s green door, he clutched at its frame as if life as he knew it was about to end. “Never again!”
“Ah, it wasn’t so bad,” she said cheerfully as she got out of her side. “I thought it was rather fun.”
“Fun!” he gasped incredulously “Fun?”
“Well, I’m glad Dumbledore sent us by car. Actually, I don’t even own a broomstick.” She admitted this almost proudly, never having come to terms with the cold involved when travelling by broom at altitude.
“I’ll buy you one for Christmas,” he said weakly. “And I’ll give you lessons… I am never travelling anywhere by car again… at least not with you at the wheel.”
She feigned indignation as she marched past him and unlocked the front door, pushing it open to reveal a high hallway with a staircase that twisted up to the first floor. She stepped across the threshold and into the coolness of the interior. A stone-floored kitchen lay to one side of the hall whilst to the other was the sitting room, which was large and comfortable. The wooden staircase led to the upper floor that contained two pleasant bedrooms and an immaculate bathroom.
It didn’t take her long to find her bearings in the kitchen, as she put on the kettle and started to rummage around for tea-making things. The fridge and larder had been well stocked for their visit and there was a pile of wood for the fire in the lounge. It wasn’t quite the turf of home, but it would be nice, when the temperature dropped late in the evenings, to light a fire.
Remus had brought in their bags and taken them upstairs, feeling a little uncomfortable now he was actually here. Maeve called him down for a cup of tea and when they were both sitting at the table she couldn’t help but notice his glum face.
“What’s the matter?” she queried. “Don’t you like the cottage?” Maeve also couldn’t help the feeling that perhaps he had realised that he would be spending two weeks with someone he didn’t know very well and was suddenly regretting his eagerness to agree to this plan.
“The cottage is great,” he admitted, “but I still can’t help feeling that I am taking a holiday at the expense of the Order. I am not sure I should be having fun when the rest are still out there and in some danger.” He was frowning as he looked beyond her and through the window.
“But that’s what this is about,” she stated. He looked at her, his frown deepening.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I think we could have achieved the intended aim of this trip in a few days back at Hogwarts. Dumbledore knows the strain you have been under and he probably felt you needed a holiday. By doing it this way, he kills several birds with one stone.” She sat back and observed this idea take root in his mind.
“But I don’t need a holiday!” he said, almost angrily.
“Yes, you do, Remus,” she insisted, leaning across the table and touching his hand gently. “Albus has told me everything that happened over the past few months, and you really do need some time away. You have been through more than most, not least the death of your best friend.”
A cloud passed across his face and she knew she had shifted the mood in the wrong direction. Quickly she crossed to the larder, pulled out a bottle of wine and rattled in the drawer for a corkscrew. Remus got up from the table, left his tea untouched, and walked out of the kitchen. She followed him a few minutes later clutching glasses and the now open wine bottle. He was slumped on the comfortable-looking sofa with his head in his hands. He had taken off his robe and thrown it to the floor and sat there in a badly darned shirt that made him look even more dejected than he clearly was. The glasses clinked as she set them down on the table and he looked up bleakly.
“I think you should go back,” he said quietly. “This isn’t going to be fun for you. I’d be better alone.”
He hadn’t had time to grieve over the events of early summer because he had made sure he hadn’t had the time, throwing himself into whatever Dumbledore had suggested as a way of fending off the moment when he would have to deal with it all. Now he knew why he was here. Dumbledore wanted him to grieve and he had sent along Maeve to keep an eye on him.
“Oh, I don’t think I can go anywhere.” She poured wine into both the glasses and handed one to him with a wry smile on her face. “Dumbledore would disown me and I do want to help you.”
“Help me?” he asked in confusion.
She flopped down on the sofa beside him and took a sip from her glass. With her head on one side, she looked at his lined face and tired eyes.
“What you need is what the Muggles call tender loving care.” She moved her hand across his forehead, brushing his hair back gently. “Has anyone ever taken care of you, Remus?”
“My parents did… and Sirius… James…” he trailed off.
“No, I mean really looked after you, looked after your health as well as your entertainment. You have spent so long looking after yourself and others you have forgotten what it is like to be cared for.” She watched him carefully as he wallowed for a second or two in self-absorption before he reverted to himself and immediately expressed his concern for her.
“I don’t think I am alone in that though, am I? You have hardly been the contented soul yourself of late.” He looked at her with a mixture of sorrow and consternation. “What a pair of hopeless cases we are.”
“Well, we may as well be hopeless together,” she said conspiratorially. “Who better than your beloved older sister to take care of you?”
“Older?” he raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Who said anything about older?”
“Well, one of us has to be and it may as well be me.” She sat back, satisfied that the moment of melancholy had passed. There would be time enough for grief and emotion during the forthcoming fortnight, but just for today she felt the atmosphere needed to be light and happy.
“Well, you do look older, I suppose,” he said slyly, ducking as a she playfully flung a cushion at him. After a few minutes of pounding cushions and much giggling they fell back on the sofa breathless. She glanced at the clock and saw it was not even midday yet. Flushed from the sudden cushion fight and the effects of the wine, she swept her hair back from her face. Remus looked much more relaxed as he settled back and flung his feet up onto the coffee table. She looked at him from the corner of her eye and wondered if he had the ability to grieve. Perhaps he was one of those people who just couldn’t give in to negative emotion for fear it would overwhelm them. He had certainly shifted from morose introspection to carefree playfulness with amazing speed. She slapped his legs away from the table and leapt up energetically.
“Come on then,” she announced loudly. “If you think you’re spending your time loafing around with your feet up, drinking wine at an unreasonably early hour, and hitting me about the head with cushions then you are sorely mistaken.”
He groaned as she grabbed his hand and pulled him to a standing position with an enthusiastic grin on her face. He looked half amused and half bewildered as she hauled him towards the door, grabbing the keys on the way.
“We are going to explore for a bit before lunch,” she explained. “Then after lunch we can explore even more, and when we are done exploring we can get down to work.”
“Sounds good to me, if a little energetic,” he cautioned, but her enthusiasm was infectious and by the time they were out in the open air he found he was looking forward to the prospect with relish.
The days passed quickly in sunshine and laughter and the occasional tear. They grew closer, and as Maeve explored what was supposed to be their shared history she felt a bond growing between herself and Remus that even she wouldn’t have thought possible. It was as if the physical transformation was extending to become an emotional one. They sensed each other’s moods and thoughts intuitively and found each other easy company. She knew when to question him about the past and when to leave well alone, and he in turn was able to induce her to talk about her father and her time alone in her grand house. She learnt a great deal about the Order of the Phoenix and its members, and more about the work he did, which was for the most part tedious but which also involved a constant degree of danger.
One of the most interesting conversations they had was about Harry Potter, and the person Remus described was completely different from the one Severus talked about. Remus clearly had great affection for the boy, and his face frequently displayed discomfort when he told her about Harry’s aunt and uncle, his trials at school and the amount of distrust and dislike he had frequently endured from others. She was aware that Remus’ perception was coloured by his love and respect for James Potter, but even so, she began to get the feeling that Harry was someone she would like. He told her about Harry’s relationship with Sirius and how Sirius had sometimes seen Harry as a second chance to have James in his life, which Remus had tried to caution him about. Maeve built up a picture of Sirius Black that wasn’t far removed from the boy she remembered from school. That young boy had been forever frozen by his years at Azkaban and was still the same hothead when he escaped. How pointless his life seemed in the face of everything else that was going on, the ultimate waste of a wizarding life.
The impending full moon was a constant shadow over their time together though. She knew in both her heart and mind that she would be safe and Remus would not forget to take the potion, which she had started to make for him on the Wednesday of the first week there. Even so, it was an inconvenience they could well have done without and there was always the faint possibility that something could go wrong. And then there was Dumbledore’s suggestion that she make her grandmother’s potion.
As she took a walk in the garden late one evening, she took the book with her and pored over it by the light of her wand. No matter how she looked at the problem, she still felt it was too dangerous to attempt and despite assurances that Remus was willing to go ahead with it, she really didn’t think he had thought it through. She glanced towards the waxing moon and smiled ruefully, whispering admonitions to her grandmother for leaving her this cumbersome legacy. There was only one person she would have trusted to help her with the problem, but he wasn’t here and no doubt would have had nothing to do with it anyway. There was no glory in helping werewolves, and so Severus would probably have passed up the opportunity.
On the evening of the full moon they ate a late dinner before sharing a bottle of wine in the sitting room with the Wizarding Wireless on quietly in the background. The late evening sun blazed orange through the window, yellowing the walls and bringing a golden glow to the room.
“I think it’s time I went to my room,” Remus said, uncurling himself from the chair. Maeve watched him cross to the door with questions still on her lips.
“Will you need anything?” she asked.
“No. You may hear a few howls but please ignore them, it’s just a part of the transformation.” He opened the door and hesitated.
“And in the morning?” She made the question deliberately open.
“I’ll be tired, but it won’t last long. I’ll emerge when the effects have passed. Don’t worry, Maeve, I’m used to this.”
You may be, she thought, but I’m not. She fervently hoped she could resist the urge to go in and see him. He closed the door with a firm click, leaving her to the final rays of the sun and its golden silence. She nodded off on the sofa and was woken in the early hours of the morning by the first howl; it ripped through the cottage, shattering the peace. She sat up, her heart thudding, and tried to balance her thoughts, but before she could the next howl tore through her. She sat in abject misery for the next twenty minutes as the howls and moans came at frequent intervals; it was continuing for longer than she had imagined it would and it was heartbreaking.
Her thoughts returned to the green book in the satchel and the potion that she had left unused. She knew had she heard these howls before she heard about the potion she would have made it without hesitation. She should have listened to what Dumbledore had told her, but then she thought back to what Severus had said. He had warned her there were things even Dumbledore did not understand. And then as a particularly loud howl rent the air her head cleared. Severus, she should call on Severus; he would help her through this. She quickly opened the window and gave a low hoot. Almost instantly an owl flew in and perched upon the sofa, watching her with an inscrutable look in its eye. Hurriedly she scribbled a note on a piece of paper and tied it to the owl’s leg.
“For Professor Snape at Hogwarts. As quickly as you can.” She watched as the owl flapped its wings and it was out of the window in a flash, beating its way to the school. She opened the front door to watch its progress but it was already gone; there was nothing moving over the trees. She was about to turn and go back into the cottage when the faintest disturbance in the sky caught her eye. A bat was moving swiftly towards her, but then she blinked and realised it was further away than she had first thought. It wasn’t a bat at all but someone on a broomstick. Her throat constricted with sudden fear and she was about to go back inside, but she looked more carefully at the swooping figure. It couldn’t be…could it? Swirling above her for a few moments, the figure slowly dropped to the ground and landed a few feet from where she stood.
“How did you get the owl so quickly?” she asked, bemused but grateful to see him.
“Owl? What owl?” Severus looked even more bemused than she did.
“I sent you an owl, just a few moments ago.”
“Did you really? Well, I am afraid I have missed your missive, which I am sure is a shame.” He smirked slightly.
“What are you doing here then?”
“I came,” and here he gave a huge exasperated sigh, “because, unlike the rest of the world, I don’t think it’s a very good idea to leave you alone with a werewolf, sane or not.”
As he said this, yet another howl came from the cottage and he raised his eyebrow. “And it seems I was right,” he concluded.
“I wanted your advice on a potion,” she said. Despite his frosty manner, she was pleased to see him; she would have been pleased to see anyone just for the company.
“Tonight?” He looked incredulous. “You wanted to ask me tonight? Could it not have waited until the morning at least?”
“No… I mean yes, I suppose so.” She looked embarrassed now, aware that in some way she had failed the test.
“Well, at the very least you could invite me in,” he prompted, nodding towards the open door. Without giving her the chance to issue any such invitation, he strode across the gravel and into the cottage. She followed him slowly and with a heavy sensation in her chest, as she anticipated the lecture that was sure to come.
“Cosy,” he said as he looked around the lounge, “although not quite my style.” He flicked at the chintz curtains with distaste.
Another howl came from above and he withdrew his wand with a scowl; swirling it above his head he said, “Silencio!” in a very firm voice and suddenly all sound ceased. “I’m surprised that didn’t occur to you,” he said, looking at her accusingly. “It would have saved you hearing all that nonsense.”
“I didn’t want to do that,” she said sullenly. “He might have needed me.”
“Sit down and stop deluding yourself, I’ll get you something to drink… have you any Firewhisky?” he asked, changing the subject.
He looked thoroughly infuriated now and stood frowning at her.
“Had fun?” he asked.
“Yes, we have actually, it’s been great fun.”
He watched her for a few minutes wondering how she had expected to get through this night alone. She looked tired, as if the effort of making Lupin’s life happy had cost her some of her own happiness…or maybe that was just wishful thinking. Did he want her to be happy here with another man, was it mere jealousy that made him so acerbic?
“So why did you really come, Severus? I can’t believe you came all the way down here on a whim.” She looked at his harsh face. “Why do I deserve special treatment?”
“I was worried about you,” he said simply. “Am I not allowed to worry about you now?”
“I’m sorry, today has been stressful.”
“Well, what did you expect, Maeve? REALLY, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?” His voice rose alarmingly. “I WARNED YOU NOT TO COME HERE!”
She flinched, stung by his sudden anger.
“Please, Severus, I just wanted your company tonight, not your condemnation. I have had a good time with Remus.” She stressed the word good and watched him respond with a grimace. “He is a gentle, kind man who has had a hard life. You know he wasn’t to blame for what nearly happened to you… you know that.” She shook her head, annoyed that they were returning to old ground.
“I do… but it doesn’t stop me being angry. I get irritated when I see people take stupid risks and put themselves in danger for honour… or valour, or whatever it is you justify your actions with. Upstairs is a dangerous beast who could kill you or condemn you to a life of hell and you stand there saying you have had FUN!” His voice now had a hysterical edge to it.
“Severus, it has been fun. I have enjoyed his company immensely. This is just one night. You can’t just write someone off because of one facet of their lives…life isn’t all or nothing, you know.”
But Severus didn’t know. He had always seen things in black and white and as far as he was concerned this was a very black situation indeed.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” she said, getting up from the sofa.
“Well, I think you should. I think you should leave here right now,” he insisted.
Neither of them had noticed the shadow that crouched in the doorway and was listening to their conversation with interest.
“Severus, I am not coming back with you tonight. I made a promise to Dumbledore, and to Remus, and I will keep my promise. I will take care of Remus and bring him home at the end of this week.” Her face was hardening now to match Severus’.
“Albus would understand if you felt you couldn’t see it through. I am sure you have enough material now to work your little scheme back at the school,” he said disdainfully.
“I don’t WANT to leave.” She was losing patience with him now. “I WANT to stay here with Remus and help him through the next few days and I WANT to drive him home on Sunday. I WANT to do it because I care for him greatly… Do you understand that Severus… can you understand that?”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT CARE!” His voice rose again and he made a very sudden move towards her, as if to grab her arms and forcibly take her from the house, but he didn’t get the chance. A huge brown body suddenly hurled itself into the room and threw itself between Severus and Maeve, baring its huge fangs at Severus, who immediately reached for his wand.
“NO!” Maeve yelled, simultaneously grabbing her wand and shouting, “Expelliarmus!” causing Severus’ wand to fly from his hand. She knew he would have killed Remus there and then if she had not intervened, and despite Severus’ horrified look she took hold of the wolf by the neck and gently pulled him back away from him.
“Just go, Severus, please just go,” she pleaded desperately.
“ARE-YOU-MAD!” he shouted, his eyes almost popping out of his head. “You want to stay with this - this creature?” he spat.
“It’s Remus. It’s not a creature. It’s Remus!” She cried forlornly.
“Now I know you are mad.” He retrieved his wand from behind the sofa and backed towards the door. “Did you mean to choose tonight?”
“What?” she asked.
“Did you mean to choose between him and me tonight? Was that what the summons was about?” His black eyes were blazing.
“Severus, this was never about a CHOICE! Why do you have to make everything one thing or the other? I will never choose between two people I love. It’s not possible, but right now you have put me in an impossible situation so please go back and leave us alone. There will be a time for this but not now, please?” Her eyes begged him to let it go and he finally seemed to understand.
“I wouldn’t be leaving if I didn’t think you were perfectly safe. I am well aware he knows what he is doing… but even so, he nearly got himself killed. I don’t know what you are thinking, Maeve. Perhaps I never did.” And with that he reeled from the cottage, slamming the door behind him.
She sank to the floor by the huge wolf that looked at her through questioning brown eyes. Burying her face in his fur she began to cry. She cried huge gulping sobs that wouldn’t stop once they had started and she felt that all the grief of the past seventeen years was pouring out of her and it covered everything, tainting the very air with her sorrow.
Remus could do nothing but wait until her tears had subsided. He watched her as she stood up and gently stroked his coat before leaving the room with her head bowed and vulture-like defeat circling round her. What she had done that night had been courageous. Had it not been for her, he would have been dead, courtesy of Severus Snape’s wand. He had been rash putting himself between the two of them, but he had genuinely believed Severus was going to hurt her, or at the very least force her back to Hogwarts. He curled by the door and, tucking his snout between his front paws, he slept off the effects of the moon, wondering as he slipped into unconsciousness just how this event would manifest itself in Severus’ behaviour when they next met.