19 July: Broken Packs & Werewolf Futures Who: Remus Lupin & Florinda McGonagall What: Remus needs someone with a bit more healing knowledge for body and mind. In seeking that healing, Florinda learns the whole truth about Remus and his friends. When: 19 July Where: Order Safehouse Warnings: Healing injuries. Standard Remus’s childhood warning. Discussion of murder.
“That was just one of the worst fulls since…” Since school, or more specifically since summer holidays after fifth year. Except Remus couldn’t say that. Those were not yet his secrets to tell. “Well, a very, very long time.” He rubbed his face. His whole body was still raw, sore in places he didn’t know that he had muscles. “I think I’ve forgotten…”
Remus swallowed, looking across the room. She had seen his scars before. Florrie saw to his wounds. This still felt different. It was dangerous and stupid, but what wasn’t? “Florrie, I can’t go through another one like that. I need a better solution, or I’m going to rip myself to pieces.” He sighed, leaning back on the sofa and pressing his eyes closed. “I think I need to pursue the Belby Trials.”
"I willnae discourage you," Florrie answered, her brow furrowing in concern, "but this is a bit of a turnaround in thinking." She hadn't had all the details of what had happened from her aunt, but given that she had been Peter's yearmate and a friend to all of the Marauders and Lily, it had been necessary to tell her about the breach. It hadn't devastated her but Peter was one of Remus' closest friends. She wondered if the Dark curse wasn't eating at Remus about this.
"Do you want to talk about what happened? Remember I'm bound to secrecy. And I've honoured it," she reassured Remus.
“World turned upside down, Florrie. Specifically my microcosm.” Peter was his first friend, his only friend really before they became the Marauders. “And then it’s never so much about my secrets, or even your honor, but rather not wanting to further burden.” It wasn’t meant to be an excuse, but a veiled warning that going down this path wouldn’t be easy. Not that his life was, but she would need to choose it. “And I know you want to help, that you’re offering, but I’d feel better if you’re sure.”
Florrie nodded. She was sure. "I know who it was. I had to be told because of the implications for my own safety. Moody's been seeing to my wards. Peter hae been there and knew where I live and could have given that information over. Probably did." She said the last with flat resignation; there was nothing to be done about it. She could move or go home, but if someone else were killed in her place, she'd never be able to live with that either. So she would go on as she was, not without hysterical disagreement from her mother and Merc, to the extent that they understood what was happening (Merc more than Mum).
Remus shook his head. “Right, safety.” Which lead him down a path of darker thought, of trust and friendship, and his stomach flipped. “It’s more complicated than that. Peter is -- or was pack. Quite literally. Up until now I have had a rather...unique solution to not tearing myself apart on the full. Thanks in large part to my idiot friends wanting to and actually finding a way to help me, regardless of their own safety.”
It was so incredibly stupid when the idea was first pitched. There was no guarantee that he wouldn’t hurt or attack them. That he wouldn’t turn them. Not even to mention how much he still worried over every single scratch Moony accidentally left on his pack. Remus ran a hand through his hair, full disclosure kind of sucked.
“Sirius, James, Peter...they all learned to become animagi for me.”
"They did what?" Florrie asked, incredulous, but her mind was already working through a number of things she'd known and hadn't understood that this made sense of, and the implications for lycanthropy. "When?"
“End of fourth year?”
Florrie rocked back in her chair. "Merlin's bloody bollocks!"
Remus laughed, unsure of how else to respond just then. He knew well how brilliant his friends were. Still it was always strange to see other people figure it out too. “It probably saved my life, has been saving my life. But they … stay with me, distract the wolf during the full. It’s easier with them. All of them. Except that’s going away now.”
"James and Sirius aren't leaving you," Florrie managed. "Are they not enough?"
“I don’t know. Maybe. But James has Harry now.” Remus hoped Sirius wasn’t going anywhere,. Remus didn’t think Sirius would leave him, but he didn’t dare voice that. “We’re all growing up. And now man down. And I need a back up plan that isn’t a box of chains.”
"If you lot were going to break up, collectively, you'd've done it already." It wasn't that Florrie had missed the careful omission of Sirius. But she hadn't missed the snogging and jealousy when they'd gone to test for the dragon flight either. "I don't think you're in as much trouble that way as you think. But of course I'll see what I can do about getting you into the Belby trials." She pondered and came up with the next question: "How much does Lily know? I mean presumably her husband did mention he can turn into a--something with prongs."
“Stag,” he said before he could think better. “Sirius is a dog. And Lily knows everything.” Snape as well, but Remus really didn’t need to bring that up right now. “And I still don’t trust or exactly like the Belby trials, but they seem better than most and if it works…” Hope was a dangerous thing. Remus knew that all too well, but he needed to grasp onto something in the aftermath. “I want...I want to live, to have other options.” Really he needed some sense of control again.
Of course James was a stag. And that explained Padfoot too. Florrie could guess at Wormtail later, but that wasn't important right now.
"All right. Lily and I will work out a way to get you into the trials. She's a brilliant potioneer and she's had no trouble getting Belby's attention, so between the two of us it should be simple enough." She sighed. "It's not a definitive answer, but you know that. And Lily and James and Sirius and I will all support you through this. You're not alone, even if some of us can't turn into dogs and stags and sleep with you."
Despite all else he found himself smiling at the thought of sleeping with Padfoot. A nap didn’t sound horrible for this afternoon. “I know I’m not alone.” For all their broken parts, Sirius, James, Lily, and yes even Peter stood by him and it went both ways. Well, that was until now. “Not that any of it makes the Peter of it all any better.”
How Peter Pettigrew had had the will and strength to become an animagus but had failed to resist the Death Eaters wasn't something Florrie could quite wrap her mind around. "I still can't blame him for what he did under duress, under torture," Florrie said, low. "But it was, in the end, his choice. Even if the other choice was to die. And that's not on anyone but Peter."
“I defended him. Both times. I just thought he was dealing with trauma…” That bothered him the most. Remus trusted Peter completely and without hesitation. He thought he knew him. Now, he didn’t even want to see him. “Am I really so naive to not have seen it? To never once question it? I never thought he would, because I could never.”
Florrie had to think about it for a long time. "For a long time I would have said the same," she finally said. "But then I think of his face when he saw you and Sirius, the day we all flew trials for my brother. And it wasn't kind or happy. It was ugly and jealous. But even if he felt that way, it was still his choice."
“But Sirius and I are…” Except that was it, wasn’t it? Or at least part of it. Too many times there was an exchange with Peter about being left behind. Left out. And Remus went out of his way to make sure that didn’t happen, which apparently didn’t matter. “Peter made his choices long before we became…” he waved his hand, “boyfriends. Who also readily volunteered to kill him, and I can see the argument there, but even after it all... He’s still Peter.”
"But he's also gone over to the other side. He doesn't stop being Peter, but it's not the same." That Sirius and Remus were boyfriends now wasn't shocking, but Florrie hadn't expected him to be so open about it. "What did he say to you lot? Or did he? I mean, did he tell you and Sirius and James it was on you for--finding other people? Or each other? Because it's not."
Remus didn’t need to hear that, but it was reassuring. It echoed one of the last fights he had with Peter. The last time he spoke to Peter really. “I haven’t gone to see him since the truth came out on Monday.” The full moon did make a convenient excuse. “I’m not sure I want to.”
"Then don't," Florrie sid emphatically. "You don't owe him that. Not to the detriment of your mental health. If you lot are angry enough to threaten to kill him, and I can imagine that you were--" especially Sirius, who held on to grudges as he did almost nothing else "--he's done enough. You don't need to put yourself through any more."
“I heard that Moody wants him dead.” Remus swallowed. Peter might have betrayed them, gone to the Dark Side, which all things being equal even Darth Vader came around at the end, he didn’t think he deserved to die.
"Moody doesn't want to kill anybody!" Florrie couldn't imagine the blustery Auror killing anyone in cold blood, and it showed. "Moody probably wants him thrown under Azkaban for his crimes. He hates Death Eating but he tries not to kill. To the extent that anyone deserves it, that's what he deserves. Certainly gaol for life."
And Remus thought death was the worst outcome here. “That would mean a trial, wouldn’t it? And any manner of things coming out. Then a lifetime of dementors…” He rubbed his neck, rolling his head. Empathy sucked. “There has to be another option, some other way that’s not death or never being happy again.”
"I don't know," Florrie said, because she didn't, "But if there's a better way, Aunt Minerva will come up with it." This was uttered with whole-hearted faith. But it didn't exactly solve Remus' problem. "But whatever happens to him is not on your head, and it's not like it's--it's the same for you, whether he goes to gaol or something else, or if he dies because the Death Eaters are angry he betrayed their cause and hunt him down." Also a possibility. "He chose to betray the Order to the Death Eaters, and he's not coming back. Which is just as well, because you can't trust him any more," she emphasised.
Remus stood up and almost instantly regretted it, but he needed to do something. He needed something physical to occupy him as she spoke.
"And honestly, Remus, if he made that decision, and then complained you lot weren't as close as you might be, maybe we're putting the cart before the horse. Maybe he was treating you and James and Sirius badly so he could justify to himself what he'd done. Saying that you weren't as close as you ought to be as if that made turning to the Death Eaters all right."
Florrie wanted to give him a hug, despite it being bad practice. She was as much his friend whom he needed comfort from as a mediwitch here. But she was still a mediwitch.
“Nothing makes this all right!” He snapped. He didn’t mean to snap. He winced before dropping his voice to calmer speaking tones. “Florrie, what he did turns my stomach in knots. Worse is that even if he betrayed me, betrayed all of us, he’s still Wormtail. He will always be my first friend. Who I trusted. We all trusted. And chose as family.” Sirius had mentioned something about a second lifetime of trust issues. Remus sighed, again deflating further. “Maybe it would be better if we could just erase it all.”
Florrie understood that impulse. If she could erase time and undo things, her father would still be alive. But it wasn't possible, and everything that had ever happened to her made her who she was now. And if she changed that, she wouldn't be who she was. The same was true of Remus, even if he couldn't see that.
"That's not so," she finally said, "because if you erased it all, you wouldn't have Sirius and James and Lily. And me." She did stretch out her hand to him then, in case he needed it.
“Please don’t next tell me that everything happens for a reason.” Remus reached out and took the hand, leaning into Florrie. He might not ever be at the level of sleeping in piles with her, but this was okay, quiet and timid as it was. “Because I could go without this one. Not to say I’m not grateful for you lot. I just wish things were different.”
Florrie shook her head. "I don't believe that. Somebody killed my father for a reason, but it wasn't to do with me, even though it's had a big effect on my life. And the same is true for Peter." She tightened her fingers around Remus' hand. "What he did is about himself. We're just left to deal with the damage in his wake."
Remus chuckled. “I’m really hoping this isn’t going to be a recurring theme in my life. Forever altered by the actions of other men.” It was exhausting. Maybe that was why he was ready for the Belby Trials. It offered him a sense of control. “I try so hard. Every single day. And even knowing how easy the other option might seem... I want my friends and my family to be better. I want to be better.”
"Then that's what we'll work toward," Florrie told him, and squeezed his hand again. "Together."