|gatewaygirl (gatewaygirl) wrote in harry_mwpp,|
@ 2009-12-15 23:30:00
|Entry tags:||author: gatewaygirl, characters: harry/remus, type: fic|
FIC: In Three Moons by GatewayGirl, Harry/Remus (1 of 2)
This is an old fic, but it was only on The Archive at the End of the Universe, which has been down a lot in the last year, so I thought I'd post it here, as well.
Title: In Three Moons
Notes: Written for elucreh, for merry_smutmas 2006. Thanks to Lore for consulting work on what elucreh would like, and sociofemme for beta reading.
Summary: At the last battle, Harry is saved by a group of werewolves, with some unexpected consequences
Moon the first:
It was supposed to be over when Voldemort died, but that wasn't the way it happened. His Death Eaters were still there, fighting more ferociously, if anything; Harry supposed they had nothing to lose, now. His werewolf supporters, the reason he had launched this confrontation tonight, were still roaming the edges of the battle-torn field. Harry could hear their occasional howls, threatening destruction to those who ventured into the cover of the trees. Harry ran that way anyway. His wand had been shattered by the last exchange of hexes, and he was wounded from a cutting hex that had left one side of his robes trailing. Staying out in the open was certain death. If he could make it into the trees, there was some chance that he could work his way around the edge of the field to the healers' well-protected encampment.
A bolt of blue missed him by a hair's breadth, and he dove and rolled and ran on, ignoring a sharp pain in his ankle and the blood staining his shirt. If he lived, both could be fixed.
Harry made the cover of the trees and zigzagged between them, trying to keep the largest trunks between himself and his pursuer. He was fairly sure it was only one, now. The chaos of Voldemort's death, and the random hexes that flew out of the destruction of the twinned wands, must have covered his retreat. His torn robe caught on branches and underbrush. In a thick patch of something twiggy, it snagged for real, and he wriggled frantically out of it. He was picking up speed and feeling hopeful when the Petrifaction hex hit him. Momentum sent his frozen body tumbling forward and down a slight slope. He ended face up at the edge of a grassy road, staring up at a divided sky, the left side black with trees, the right deep blue with the silver light of the still-ascending moon. The band of trees blocked all of the flashes of spell-light from the battle, and cut its tumult to disconnected, muffled sounds. Harry could distinctly hear the crackle and brush of his pursuer descending the slope.
Suddenly, that progress stopped, first with a wordless cry, then with a thud. Harry's first thought was that someone had killed the man. He would have been holding his breath, had that had any meaning in his current state, as he waited for the silent victor to approach him as friend or foe.
Anticipation faded to frustration, and frustration to boredom. Eventually, it all gave way to cold. The sounds of battle were fewer and fainter, but no one came looking for him. He saw a body rise into the air and zoom away above the trees. The thin clouds scudding across the sky began to let down a light drizzle.
Just my luck. I survive killing Voldemort, only to die of exposure and blood loss.
Movement at the periphery of his vision was immediately welcome. Even when the shape resolved into a wolf, Harry remained resigned. It was a better way to die than freezing, wasn't it? The wolf, however, merely sniffed his wound and moved back out of sight. Harry wondered if he had been recognized. If so, the wolf was on wolfsbane. Remus said we had other sympathizers among the werewolves ... or this one may just not have approval to kill me himself. Or maybe I just smell burnt. The thought was shattered by a rising howl from very close, and he was back to actively waiting.
He didn't hear the wolves approach. He first became aware of them when they were close enough that one breathed, warm and moist, on his forehead. That one -- now that he had a basis for comparison, Harry could see that it was lighter than the previous wolf, with what he considered standard markings -- paced down along his side. Like the first, he lowered his snout to sniff at the wound, but he did so far more slowly and deliberately. Harry had time to think blood and man-eater and helpless, before the wolf did a completely unexpected thing. He turned around and lay down, his coarse fur tickling through the large open triangle of Harry's cut shirt and his body very warm against Harry's cold side, and he began to bathe the wound with long, slow licks. Three other wolves arranged themselves around Harry and settled down as well, forming a living fur blanket that nearly covered him. When they were all in place, warming him, the first wolf stopped his licking and settled his head on Harry's shoulder, so his ruff covered the wound.
Harry found himself losing focus. He had the dim thought that having a wound licked by a contagious animal wasn't any better than being bitten, but curses didn't work that way, did they? Even the exposed strip down the center of his body was warmed by radiant heat. He drifted off into unconsciousness.
Harry woke abruptly, with the feeling of being suddenly cold. The sky was a predawn grey, and the wolf that had been lying against his right leg was gone, leaving it inadequately covered against the night chill. He wanted to curl up inside the fur pile of the remaining wolves, but he still couldn't move a muscle, even to voice his distress. To make matters worse, the other wolves, even the one that had been so protective the other night, were restless. After shifting several times, the other one on his right stood also. In the growing light, Harry could see that it had average grey wolf coloring, darker on the back, but all shades of grey, like the one on his left that had licked him. Its lofted tail was dark at the tip. In contrast, the wolf by his left legs was darker and browner -- almost black.
The missing wolf, this one a pale cream, trotted back into sight. In his mouth, he held a bundle of sticks -- no, wands. He placed the wands carefully in front of the standing grey and sat back, tongue lolling out. Harry wished he'd lie back down, but instead, the dark one stood up and walked a few steps away. Only the spell was preventing Harry from shaking with cold.
The one wolf remaining stretched out along his body, as if trying to warm him as much as possible. For a minute, Harry thought he was shivering, and maybe the spell was wearing off, but then he realized that it was the wolf that which moved in small tremors. With a sudden twitch, the wolf jerked back and rolled away, whining in chorus with the other three. The whining changed to yelps and unearthly howls, which blended to screams and gasps of pain. Through it, Harry lay helpless, seeing only the occasional high-flung limb.
"Shit, shit." The voice was familiar, but out of context. As Harry tried to identify it, it weakened. "I couldn't carry clothes."
"Shh. I'll summon them if I have the energy left." That was a woman's voice, and he thought a stranger's.
"Can I have a warming charm, at least?
"Tit! Harry Potter comes first."
"Doesn't he always."
The whining tone clicked into place in his memory. Harry might have laughed, had he been able. Malfoy was a werewolf, now? What bitterly ironic justice! The thought became less funny as it sunk in. Harry had watched Voldemort discipline his own, and it was all too easy to imagine Draco being punished, and Fenrir rewarded, in a single sadistic decree.
"Daphne." This voice, though less steady, was immediately familiar, perhaps because Harry knew that Remus Lupin was a werewolf. From his position, Harry suspected Remus was the first wolf who had lain down to warm him. "I'll --"
"Lie back, old man." The woman again. She came over to kneel by Harry, unselfconsciously naked, with the nipples in her scarred, full breasts swollen with chill. "Finite Incantatum."
The petrifaction spell lifted, leaving muscles sore from spending too long still and cold. Harry hissed out a breath and felt the blood start to trickle anew from the gash on his chest. The woman choked out a first aid spell and sagged back panting.
Right. Even with wolfsbane, the moon is rough on werewolves. Harry sat up, pulling his knees in to conserve heat, and saw Remus in a defensive ball, naked and shaking. Malfoy had curled around the exhausted woman, his eyes tightly shut. The third man, a stranger in his twenties, seemed stronger and was attempting a Summoning charm. Harry reached over to the two remaining wands.
"The birch," Remus managed.
Harry picked one, and Remus nodded, a jerky, ill-governed movement.
Using another person's wand was frequently awkward, but Remus Lupin's felt smooth and balanced in Harry's hand, and his Patronus slid out like warmed butter. The little stag pawed triumphantly at the air before leaping away to find help. Harry cast warming spells all round before handing the wand to its exhausted owner. By then, clothes were floating unevenly in towards the male stranger. As the werewolves dressed gratefully, Harry forced himself to his feet. He wished he felt bold enough to hold Remus and warm him, but that seemed too awkward now that they were both human.
"Now the real question," the woman said wryly, as she pulled down her jumper. "Is it better to stay or to disappear?"
"Stay," Harry said firmly. "You're all under my protection, now, and that damn well better mean something."
"Something, of course, but enough?" Despite her soft words, the woman moved closer, although Malfoy, now under her arm, required a tug. He was looking at Harry with tired horror.
"I'll protect you," Harry repeated. "And I'll do my best to get you a pardon, Malfoy." He beckoned to Remus, who approached slowly. Remus settled a hand on his shoulder in a way that might look supportive, but from the weight he leaned into it, Harry could tell he was using the contact to stay upright.
"Thanks," Harry said. He lifted a hand to the heavy touch at his shoulder. "All of you," he added, but it was Remus whose hand he clasped in his own.
The weeks that followed were a frantic, unreal mix of celebrations, mourning, and arguments, both public and private in all cases, but all things considered, they went well. The day Remus was pardoned -- his time as a spy having made him an accessory to several crimes -- Harry met him outside the door.
"Welcome back to the real world."
Remus's grip was firm as they shook hands, but his eyes cut from Harry to the Aurors to the crowd, all without quite focusing. Conscious of the cameras aimed at them, Harry nonetheless threw an arm around his old teacher and thumped him on the back, only to feel Remus suddenly holding on with desperate force. "Come back to Hermione's," Harry urged quietly. "There's all sorts of good food and a lot of people waiting to see you."
For several seconds, Remus was silent, still but for a tremor that Harry could only feel, not see.
"Daphne and Craig...." he began finally, stepping back and turning his head. Harry followed his gaze and saw the two werewolves from the night of the battle.
"They can come along," he offered.
Hermione was surprised, but welcomed the new guests graciously, and Ron, with a ready grin, nearly took Craig's hand off with a vigorous shake. He was gentler, but no less friendly, with Daphne. The werewolves looked surprised, and Harry shared a glance with Remus, who winked and headed for the kitchen, leaving Harry to follow.
"Could have knocked Daphne over with a feather," he confided, once they were safely over by the window.
"Why? They may never have seen Ron, but Hermione's been helping with the hearings--"
"But that's politics, safely on the other side of the room. They'd never believe me when I said she truly had no prejudice."
Harry rolled his eyes. "They do know that we consider you a friend, right?"
Remus looked uneasy. "Do you?"
"Of course! Well...." Harry wasn't certain if Remus had expected to be less than that, or if he was uneasy with being implicitly classified as a peer. He tried to put the complexities in words. "Well, a teacher first, and then ... well, you got paternal on me briefly, because Sirius was pants at it, in retrospect." He still felt disloyal saying that, but it was true. "Great at other things, but..." He shrugged. "Then you were mostly away, but the last few times I saw you, it was more .... I'm an adult now, so yeah, I think 'friend.' I suppose if you'd stayed around, you might be more of an uncle, but you didn't -- couldn't."
And as things are, looking at you now, I see less an old teacher, and more a kind man whose last few years have been as bad as mine.
Remus nodded. "You grew up anyway. I approve."
"How can you tell? You've barely seen me."
"Thus my surprise at being considered a friend. Still, I've seen you in public, wielding power with care. I've seen you help Draco, whom you once couldn't look at without blind hate."
"He's still whiny."
Relaxation added grace to Remus's posture, and took years from his face. He smiled. "He is. Daphne likes that image of having a pet, though."
"Are they lovers?"
"Yes." Remus gave him a sly grin. "And so much for werewolf social structures mapping to wolven ones. She's definitely alpha -- a real alpha wolf would have an alpha mate."
"But you do say 'alpha.'" Harry cocked his head, regarding Remus curiously. "What are you? Beta?"
"God no! Sirius was --" Remus stopped himself. "Craig is the beta," he said more quietly. "I'm one of those unranked ones -- not the bottom of the heap, not interested in holding authority."
Harry moved restlessly. There was nowhere he'd rather be than here, talking to Remus and strengthening a connection gone far too tenuous, but the brief mention of Sirius had made him uneasy. "Most people are, I think." He took two rolls from a plate on the table and handed one over. "Here. You look slightly less starved than before your twelve days in prison, and that, in itself, is frightening."
"Yes, mother," Remus joked, but Harry, watching his fingers tear a bite from the roll with eager quickness, didn't take offense. "So -- what have I missed?"
"Don't know what you've heard. Oh -- I found out why the Death Eater who was chasing me suddenly dropped, leaving me to the wolves, as it were."
"Turns out Snape was on our side, after all, at least in his Slytherin sort of way. He had added time-delayed paralysis and floating effects to the night-vision potion he had brewed for the Death Eaters for the battle. Once it worked, he went to Kingsley Shacklebolt and Accio'ed the lot of them. That was enough to get him a trial."
Remus looked pensive. "Still, Dumbledore...."
"Apparently told him to go ahead and kill him, if it would enhance his credibility. He had decided he was dying. Snape's such a crafty bastard that I wouldn't have believed it if someone saw it with Legilimency, or if he had it in a pensieve. But he knew where Dumbledore had stored a memory, in his office, and there's no way he could get back in there, right? And Hermione said there's no way to make a memory that really looks like it's from someone else. He's offered to take Veritaserum too, but he's so clever with potions that half the Wizengamot is afraid he's invented an antidote, so they recessed the trial for a month, and have him on some sort of magical purification regime." Harry rolled his eyes. "Not exactly flogging and salt, but it's the best I'm going to get. I'll probably have to support his release when it comes up; the evidence is convincing, and Dumbledore would want me to be fair to him."
"You sound so gloomy about it."
"Well, I still can't stand him." Harry tossed his bun in the air and caught it. "Which I'm sure is still entirely mutual."
"But, as I noted before, you're no longer a child." Remus looked away to smile. "Even if you do play with your food. What do you think of Draco's prospects?"
"Fairly good, I'm told."
"Close to none without you."
Harry shrugged. It was true, but not comfortable. "Do you care?"
Remus hesitated. "He came to me for protection. That I later ceded that to Daphne makes him no less...."
"Ah." Harry understood all about people who were under one's protection.
"Yes." Remus looked amused. "Your father would have found that sufficient explanation, as well."
"I am not my father."
"No, you're not." Remus studied him for a minute. "But you're like him in certain ways, and used to be more so. I like to think he would have grown up to be like you."
Harry blinked. "But he was older -- a few years --"
"But you've matured more -- partially your life, and partially Lily's spirit coming through." Remus shrugged. "Also, I didn't see much of him after you were born. He may have grown up some as a father, but they were in hiding, and they suspected that I was the spy, you know."
"I don't know how anyone could!"
"I was quiet, and good at keeping secrets," Remus said mildly. "And I had, perhaps, talked a little too stridently in support of werewolf rights, when I was first trying to earn a living, and realizing how hard it would be to survive. James always had money; he believed implicitly in the corruptive dangers of poverty."
"Who did you think it was?"
Remus hesitated. The piece of bun that he had been about to put in his mouth, he worried into two pieces, and then three. "I thought Lily was--"
"Precisely. Recall, I did not realize that you were the target; I thought it was James. And Lily had very strong protective instincts as a mother. I thought that if she had been offered safety for you, she might betray the rest of us, even him."
"Oh." Harry tried to wrap his mind around that. Remus looked embarrassed.
"I did not want to think that anything that mattered less could tempt any of us. I wanted it to be love wickedly used, not fear or gain."
"I guess I can understand that."
"Good. Now please blather about Quidditch or something -- light gossip about your friends, perhaps." Remus focused on him with stark honesty. "I'm utterly sick of the past."
"Well, let me get us something to drink then. We can have a toast to the future."
Remus looked down at the crumbled mess in his hands. "Half a bun won't do?"
Harry hit him, almost gently, on the arm.
Moon the second
Harry put his hand across the top of the beer that Hermione had handed him and turned the glass one quarter turn left. He couldn't drink the beer; it smelled musky. The whole flat smelled strange, and it wasn't like Hermione to leave messes. He wondered if he was getting some sort of flu.
"Harry? You there, mate?"
Harry flinched. "Sorry. Just thinking."
With an exasperated sigh, Hermione sat next to Ron. "Remus has been managing full moons since before you were born, Harry. He'll be fine."
"Yeah." Harry gave up on fiddling with the beer. The more he moved it, the more scent it gave off. "Still, I wish he'd let me stay with him. He's on Wolfsbane potion. There's no reason I can't."
"Just because it's safe doesn't mean he wants to be seen that way."
"He let my father see him that way! I saw him that way last moon."
"But that was necessity."
"I know. Just...." Harry couldn't think what to say. Ron covered for the awkward pause by re-entering the conversation.
"You've been getting along with those werewolves, haven't you?"
"I suppose." For some reason he couldn't pin down, Harry found himself drawn to the werewolves whenever they were present at a gathering he attended. He wasn't sure that Malfoy would have tolerated that if it wasn't for Daphne, but she treated him as a peer, in an oddly formal way, as if they were leaders of allied countries. The five of them would stand and chat for a few minutes, and then she would excuse herself and Malfoy, Craig would wander away to make friends, which he did quite readily, and Remus and Harry would withdraw someplace more private and talk. Harry enjoyed the last part most. He didn't think that there was any question that they were friends, now.
"Are they a pack?" Ron asked. "Remus doesn't seem like that much of a wolf, if you know what I mean."
"Ron!" Hermione scolded. "It's his social group, that's all."
Harry wasn't sure that was quite true. "Pack" seemed appropriate, since Remus called Daphne the alpha. On the other hand, Remus had implied that his father was alpha of the Marauders, so perhaps that said more about how Remus thought of groups of people than of the social structure of the werewolves. "They are a pack, just the same," he said, "but like the Marauders were. Still, he's not spending tonight with them."
"And if he's not spending it with them, you certainly can't expect him to spend it with you!" Hermione said triumphantly.
"So, what's the worry, mate?"
"Remus was odd on Wednesday. Like I'd offended him, or something, or like I was suddenly a kid. I'd asked him about his wolf form licking my wound clean--"
"Harry, I've told you, it has to be violent to transmit the curse. You're applying Muggle rules to a magical disease, and the logic is really distinct when--"
A slow surge of feeling, like a potion taking effect, bloomed in Harry's head and flowed out to every other part of his body. The light in the room flared. It was so disorienting that he cried out.
Harry covered his ears at the sudden onslaught of sound, and curled forwards, eyes shut tight. Voices babbled, hands caught at his arm, and it felt so much like a hangover that he was expecting the room to swim when he opened his eyes, but it was just bright and strange looking.
Turning to Hermione, Harry's first thought was that there was a mist around her. He shook his head with irritation and blinked his eyes. The brightness was receding, but she still looked grey, as if he'd fallen into an old photograph. The smell of beer had worsened -- he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to drink beer again -- but now he could also smell the charred wood from last night's fire, and Hermione, clinging to him, smelled like girl, and of something flat over that, which might be fear.
"Harry," Ron said with artificial steadiness, "say something."
"I ..." Harry was slightly surprised that the sound came out normally. He shifted slightly, just a ripple of motion down his limbs to make sure they were still under his control. He looked down and saw a normal arm -- normal but for the lack of blue in the sleeve of his blue shirt -- with Hermione's fingers pressed along the curve of it. "I think the moon rose." I wonder if this is how a wolf sees?
"You're not a wolf." Ron sounded uncertain. Harry turned his head to look directly at him, and Ron flinched back.
"No, but I'm not normal, either." He wrinkled his nose. "I had no idea that the world was so smelly."
Hermione got to her feet. "You don't feel inclined to attack us, I gather?"
"No." Harry rose also, and shifted back, trying to get Ron more at his side and less at his back. More like running away. "I ... I need to get to Remus."
After studying him for a moment, Hermione nodded. "Remus, then. Let me find you some sunglasses first."
"Sunglasses? It's night."
"Your eyes are the wrong color, and not even a human shape. You probably shouldn't be seen like that, or you'll be asked questions that we don't have the answers to, yet."
Remus-the-wolf was pacing his living room, not a mindless beast, but clearly not at ease. When Harry entered, he attempted to look menacing, lowering his head and baring his teeth, but as Harry continued to walk forward, he drooped.
"Hi, Remus ... Moony." Harry wasn't sure he would have been able to do this before last moon. As it was, he approached Remus slowly, careful to not look aggressive. To his benefit, the scent of wolf was oddly calming. "Sorry. I had to come. I felt the moon rise, you see." The wolf was directly in front of him, now, but turned slightly sideways. Harry reached out his hand and hesitated with it just above that coarse-looking fur. It was warm. I remember warmth. When Remus whined and leaned against him, his hand descended of its own accord. The long, thick fur was softer near the skin. In the release of tension, Harry sank to the floor and sat there, leaning back against the side of the couch.
He watched the wolf. Why aren't I a wolf? He clearly passed on something to me -- not the full curse, but something. I've never heard of anything like that, and apparently Hermione hasn't either. As Harry was thinking, the wolf whined again and lay beside him, his head on Harry's knee. Harry stroked behind his ears and turned to wondering what it would have been like to grow up with a dog around. Of course, this wasn't really like a dog, even a big, dangerous dog, because Remus could understand him, and if he told him secrets, would be able to repeat them after moonset. It took him a moment to realize that he had thought this without missing Sirius, and then, of course, he missed Sirius. Without thinking, he said so aloud, and the wolf pressed his head down and let out a soft huff of breath.
"Yes, I expect you do too," Harry said softly.
That sat for a while, until it started to feel normal to have a great wolf with its heavy jaw resting on his thigh. Harry was just wondering how to best say that he needed to stretch out his leg when the wolf got to his feet, crossed the room, and stood by the front door, looking expectantly back.
Harry stood unsteadily, waiting for the blood to start moving in his foot, again. "Really? You want to go outside?"
The wolf stretched up along the door in unmistakable agreement. Harry winced at the scrape of claws in the wood. The marks left were above his eye level.
"All right," he agreed. "You seem sane enough." And with that, he opened the door, and they stepped out into the black and silver night.
The world outside smelled better -- and more interesting -- than the house. Harry couldn't keep up with the wolf, but he could run faster than he would have expected to. He had no trouble seeing the thin branches that stretched into their path. Moony would run ahead, and then cut back, and he never got so far away that Harry couldn't hear him.
He was starting to get cold when the wolf led him out of the woods and into the back garden of Remus's little cottage. A quick opening charm, and they were back in the cozy sitting room. Harry built up the banked fire, stretched out on the rug to watch it, and promptly fell asleep.
When he woke, it was to the repressed sounds of pain. The low fire swam in front of his eyes as it filled with color again, and although the smoke was still acrid in his nose and lungs, it was less overwhelming with each breath. He rolled over and levered his upper body up to look around.
Remus was curled up in a ball, clutching at his legs. Naked, his body was almost gaunt. Harry could see a raised white scar angling over the parallel ridges of several ribs. Moved by some basic impulse, he shifted forward and wrapped an arm around Remus.
"Shh," he soothed at the strangled sound that Remus made at this contact. "It's all right. I'll take care of you."
Awkwardly, Remus reached up, groping towards the sofa. Seeing a dressing gown draped there, Harry sat up and grabbed it. He pulled the thin garment down, and helped Remus tuck it around himself.
"Just -- I need bed -- sleep -- that's all."
"I can do that," Harry answered. "Lie still." Knowing how disorienting it was to be floated, he placed a hand under Remus as his Mobilicorpus charm floated him into the air. Carefully, he navigated them down the corridor and into Remus's bedroom. The bed was neatly made. As he pulled the covers back, Harry started to scan the row of vials lined up neatly on the bedside table for a pain potion, but when he recognized the first as a common lubricant, pretended to not have noticed them instead.
"May I cast a charm for pain?" he asked. "It doesn't interfere, does it?"
Remus shook his head, which was now all of him that was visible, except for the tips of four fingers, where his hand clutched the duvet. "No. Please do."
"I think it's more effective with exposed skin."
"I'm cold. It will work. "
"'kay." Harry cast the charm he knew best. Remus did seem to relax slightly, but he was still holding on to the duvet desperately, and he turned on his side as if trying to conserve heat. Harry lay down behind him again, curling an arm over his chest.
His senses were nearly back to normal, but not quite. Remus was giving off a noticeable scent -- one that Harry couldn't remember picking up from the wolf, or even right after the change. He shifted closer, wanting to take in more of it. After all, he needed to figure out what it was. Remus was holding himself unnaturally still.
"You kept me warm, right?"
"Yes, but ..." Remus hesitated. "I'm ... sensitive, after the change. Er, to pressure. I'd rather not be touched."
"Oh!" Harry moved away and sat up again, his feet hanging off the edge of the bed. "Sorry." It suddenly penetrated that he was not usually this physical. It must be a holdover from the moon. He laughed nervously. "Stupid of me, anyway. I can cast a charm for that, can't I?" Quickly, he cast a warming charm. Remus relaxed, but didn't throw off the duvet.
"Shall I.... Do you want me to leave?"
"Yes!" Remus winced. "The room, I mean. You can sleep here, if you're tired, but I'd like to be alone, please."
Harry couldn't have said why he felt disappointed. There was no reason for him to stay in the room. Perhaps it was the mystery; he thought he might understand that scent at any moment, but the added sense had faded enough that he couldn't even pick it up once he stood.
"All right. We can talk when you've rested." And maybe then, we'll both make more sense.
When Harry woke again, he was lying on the sofa, his senses were normal, and he could hear faint sounds from the kitchen. He sat up, and amended normal. He felt like he had a bad head cold. His nose and mouth and throat and ears all hurt. Even the area behind his eyes ached, with a feeling that resembled the after-effects of a truly excessive night of drinking. Furthermore, his legs were sore from running in the woods. He stood, wobbling slightly, and went to investigate the kitchen.
"Morning." Remus, not surprisingly, looked worse than Harry felt. He raised his hand to cut off any reprimand from Harry. "I know I should be in bed, but I can't sleep. Sometimes it's better to sit in the kitchen for an hour than to lie in bed for several of them, with your brain churning." As he spoke, he sat down at the table. "I made tea. There are cups on the shelf, there."
Harry examined the selection. He felt uncomfortable about using a "Brilliant Teacher!" mug, and picked up the one next to it which he thought was plain black, except where chips bared the white under the glaze. On the other side, it turned out to say "DARK CREATURE (may be placated with TEA)."
"Sirius thought it was funny," Remus volunteered. "I have a tin which says the same thing, but with chocolate, instead of tea."
From the look of the mug, Harry thought that must have been Sirius before Azkaban. Shrugging, he brought the mug with him and sat down. As soon as he had poured his tea, Remus cleared his throat.
"So, Harry... why are you here? I gather there was some reason beyond waiting until I couldn't throw you out?"
Harry shrugged. He hadn't really explained anything the night before, after saying that he had felt the moon rise. His head ached. "Apparently, biting isn't as necessary as you thought."
Remus stiffened. "You were human."
"Mostly." Harry bit his lip. "And I didn't want to kill them -- Ron and Hermione, I mean -- I was with them when the moon rose. But your licking must have transmitted something. Everything was smelly and loud and bright and mostly colorless -- like by moonlight. And I think I had more endurance than usual -- we must have been roaming around most of the night. And it all hurts, now."
"Dear god." Remus shuddered. "Harry, I'm sorry! You were injured; it was instinct. Even with the wolfsbane...."
"It's okay. Except for the headache I have now, it was nothing bad. I expect that once I'm used to the change, people won't even be able to tell." He grinned, remembering Hermione's reaction and his own look in the mirror. "Well, as long as I have sunglasses. I had wolf eyes."
"There hasn't been proper testing, of course," Remus muttered, as if reviewing notes, "but the curse should require violence. Perhaps since you had been wounded in violence...."
Harry had been thinking about this while they roamed the forest. "Maybe, but the contact was sort of the opposite of violence, wasn't it? You were trying to heal me, wolf-style. I think you kind of turned it around, and transmitted the curse as a blessing."
Remus looked startled for a moment, but then snorted. "Won't be a blessing if the papers get wind of it."
"Seems likely. I'm going to keep it a secret for now."
After he left the cottage, Harry didn't see Remus for nearly three weeks. He tried Flooing more than once, ostensibly to ask some questions about symptoms around the change, but Remus was out or too busy to talk. Harry had few opportunities to make the attempt, as Hermione had managed, somehow, to drag him into brokering causes with the altered Ministry.
It was one of those causes -- Ministry-subsidized wolfsbane for low-income werewolves -- that finally brought him back together with Remus. From the look on the man's face as he lingered near the wall at the lobbying gathering, Harry suspected that he wasn't comfortable in this environment either.
He approached, if not exactly stealthily, inconspicuously, until he was too close to be ignored.
"Remus! How have you been?"
Remus jumped almost guiltily before turning to greet him. "Harry. What a pleasant surprise."
Harry narrowed his eyes at the stock greeting. "What, it isn't obvious that even if I didn't support this -- which I do -- that Hermione would rope me into it?"
"Well, I...." Remus grimaced. "Sorry. I feel similarly obligated, and I expect similarly unattracted to the experience." He gave Harry a pat on the back, but then, with a visible twitch, pulled away again. Harry tried not to feel insulted.
"I ... Look, I'd really like to talk, and someplace a bit more private than here. Come home with me after it ends?"
Remus looked positively alarmed for a moment, before his expression steadied into polite regret. "I'm afraid I can't. I've been feeling a bit under the weather, and I'd rather--"
"Then come for a walk in the garden with me."
"No!" Remus rubbed a hand across his eyes as Harry scowled. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean -- I'm not up to company, right now--"
"As if you ever are," Daphne said cheerily, as she and Malfoy joined them. She nodded graciously at Harry. "Good evening, Harry."
"Good evening, Daphne. Made any progress tonight?"
"A possibly productive conversation with Nicholas Finebrittel. He started out on guard, and relaxed to merely neutral, but his wife moved from nearly hiding behind him to genuine sympathy -- she actually touched my arm, at one point -- and I think she'll work on him at home. And you?"
"Endlessly repeating that if we reduce the werewolf threat to only those werewolves that intend harm as people, it will be a substantial improvement."
"I made an unexpected gain with Cartsbane," Remus contributed.
"Cartsbane?" Harry exclaimed.
"But he favors killing werewolves!" Malfoy shrugged as they all looked at him. "Not in so many words, in public, but I've heard him in private."
Remus shrugged. "I suspected as much. No, I pointed out that with universal wolfsbane, any crimes committed by werewolves during the moon -- at least after their first moon -- could be considered deliberate. He clearly liked that idea."
Malfoy laughed. "Are you sure you were a Gryffindor? That's quite crafty."
Harry glanced around. Unless someone was using a spying spell, they were out of earshot of anyone. "He's rather good at avoidance, too. I was hoping to make plans for next moon."
Remus shifted back. "Yes, you should. Perhaps we could all get together?"
Daphne frowned. "Sorry, but no. I'm not comfortable having a possibly infectable human present. "
Harry looked questioningly at her. "You realize my position?" He had given Remus permission to tell her.
"Yes, but it is unclear if that makes you immune. Without intent, one of us might still harm you, in any case. Remus, being emotionally closer, is less likely to lose track of you. Even with wolfsbane, the sensory input can be distracting -- you may have some idea, on that."
Harry didn't object. He had never intended to spend the moon with all of them; he would far rather be with just Remus. He looked pointedly at him. "Do you agree? You said before that I should be with--"
"Yes, yes, I know! You can visit, but this isn't the place to discuss it."
"You wouldn't come away."
"I'm not feeling well," Remus retorted. "Speaking of which, I'm going to Floo home now. All I'll do here is convince people that werewolves are just as unbalanced as they thought. Have a pleasant evening, all of you."
With that, he departed. Harry looked questioningly at Daphne, but she seemed as mystified as he was.