Author: Regala Electra
Summary: It was the type of name that took a lifetime to accept.
Author’s Notes: WARNING: HBP Spoilers I’d started this before HBP, but I just had to reference HBP elements.
Grinning a mouth of jagged teeth, Fenrir captivated the audience. He did not have to say anything to make them believe, they believed it already.
His namesake was bound by things taken out of the world, the footfalls of a cat, the roots of stones, the breath of fishes, but the magic required, the skill needed to force silence on the barely human mouth, that was impossible. The nonexistent essence of the world that could bind his mouth, it was already taken out of the world and could not be used again.
So Remus Lupin did as he was told. He took care, his years of fading into the background, an art of subtle nature, and performed his mission to the best of his abilities. One or two fellow werewolves at a time, a couple of mild statements, nothing that would incite a mass revolt or spur others against him, just another poor, old werewolf on the fringe of wizarding society, or else he'll reveal his intentions. They mustn’t know he isn’t really one of them – not really.
Problem is, of course, that he’s one of them.
His thoughts are too numerous, yet they are rattled by the violent, raw call ripping across the crowd. Fenrir's howl transmuted in human vocal chords. Power. That's what he offers.
Lupin felt something quite different rising in his throat and used all his self-control to squash it down. He mustn't fail Dumbledore. He's already failed so many.
There’s too many ideas bandied about, too much hatred swelling in the rising crowd’s delighted howls, that yearned-for and forbidden sense of being free offered to them without any consequence, without any sense of propriety. Never drinking a drop of Wolfsbane, not being shackled and padlocked in dark, dank places, not having to bite and rip at your body. Being alive in every sense of the word.
There’s nothing he can do to stop this.
When the plans to systematically attack certain children of powerful wizards and witches are explained, Lupin keeps his face as blank as possible, forcing himself to bleed into one of the many, just another haggard face in the crowd.
None of them had answers for how it had all come to this. Not even Fenrir, a twisted face barely human, hissing out hideous, nightmarish designs for horrors yet to come.
When the boy walked into the woods and mistook a wolf for a dog, he did not become Lupin.
But he soon realized the irony of his entire name.
His father's hands were unsteady as he pressed the foul-smelling salve into the wound, attaching the bandage so poorly on the first attempt that it had to be redone. His mother was so far away, standing by the door, whether looking for the wolf to reappear at their doorstep or just to ignore him, he did not know. Her wand was at the ready and her face was drawn. She'd aged a lifetime in seconds and it showed on her face, new lines emphasized by the brightness of the moon.
He did not know that faces sometimes aged beyond their years or how it was done. Perhaps it was some kind of magic that he had yet to learn.
But all he knew (and said) was, "Bad wolf! Bad wolf!"
His mother looked back at him for only a moment before going back to her vigil. His father's hand briefly touched his shoulder before his father walked off to wash his hands at the sink, his face obscured in a shadow.
He remembered how his father tried to say something, quietly, to his mother. But she had shaken her head, refusing to stray from her spot. She was of a smaller stature than his father; yet from then on, he’d always think her the stronger of his parents.
His father had knelt in front of him, a false, brave smile on his face as he managed, "Now then. Let's see the damage done."
Peeling back the bandage, the boy heard a small gasp from his father, the wound was messy, oozing and the boy was simultaneously fascinated and horrified. When he looked back at his father, he saw something bright and wet shining in those eyes.
His father interrupted, in a terse tone, strangled with emotion, “It was a very bad wolf.”
When McGonagall called out "REMUS LUPIN" and the hat shouted "GRYFFINDOR" - he was Remus from then on.
He would be Remus to several of the boys at the table after all the first years had been sorted out. That's what they called him and that's who he'd be. But that did not happen yet.
The rest of the procession was without much fanfare, several more boys and girls added to his new house, two of them he'd briefly met on the train, a small boy with a slightly nervous disposition, the other one with a comfortable, easy-going personality that bordered on egotism.
But the self-confidence was fascinating to him and he wondered if he hadn't been bitten, if he and James Potter wouldn't have gotten on quite well. There was no chance for friendship, his parents had warned him about that, and he could not dare. But James had flashed his hazel eyes at Remus and said, "here's to the greatest Gryffindors known to Hogwarts!"
Even if they did not ever become friends, that moment was quite enough.
The toast called for a hearty laugh and some jokes from older students seated around James.
A taller, older boy, more a man than boy, clapped him on the back and welcomed him to Gryffindor, "It's Ruben, right?"
"Remus actually," he said and it was comfortable, the name.
The boy nodded but said no more as a feast, more food than Remus had ever seen in his life, appeared right in front of their eyes, and everyone proceeded to happily tuck into the food.
Only one person had seemed to be at odds with the merriment. There was a complicated look of dismay, shock, and hidden pleasure on one of the boy's face. Black, Black was his name.
As Remus was being slightly crushed between a couple of students (who seemed more interested in talking to each other), he switched places, sitting next to Black. He’d been so isolated from different sorts of people and Black was something else, something he had never wanted to know, but needed to understand.
He picked out the best Yorkshire pudding, putting it on Black's plate. Black didn't notice at first, his eyes cast towards the Slytherin table.
Something was decided in those cool grey eyes just then, a smile forming on his face that was both as pleasing as an early spring day and crueler than winter. Black noticed the pudding and took a large bite, a different, more welcoming smile curving round a very stuffed mouth. "Phanks," the boy managed, impressively not spitting at food at Remus.
"Oi, it's Black, isn't it?" Potter shouted this, while he was chatting in the midst of several students, a look of either respect or amusement in his face, Remus wasn't sure which it was.
Black looked steadily at James, a look of cool distain. "And if it is?"
"Welcome to Gryffindor, prat."
Black hadn't expected the spoonful of mashed potatoes to hit him directly in the face, neither had Remus. Nor did Remus expect Black would smile yet another smile as though he had an arsenal of them, all equally dangerous and fascinating. This one was a different one from the pudding-stuffed smile, sharply crafted and more thoughtful. The boy had too many expressions and Remus had been warned to be wary of such people. Their temperaments changed too easily. "You'll regret that tomorrow morning when your arse is on backwards."
James had laughed heartily and even Remus had to laugh, however he did it mildly. Best not to make a spectacle of himself, he’d been warned of that as well.
"By the way," Black said, as if he was offering up a very important message delivered on high, "Call me Sirius."
James had nodded and got up from his spot, barely noticing Remus and sitting next to Black (Sirius) on the other side, "I'm James Potter."
"I'm not deaf or daft, I heard your name shouted," Black said, knocking over his pumpkin juice so that it spilled over James's right sleeve.
And so Remus witnessed how Black and Potter became best friends.
Remus slipped away discreetly and liked to pretend that Sirius had glanced just for a second to see where he had gone to, but Remus was quite sure that didn't happen.
After all, soon there would be a room in the dormitory shared by him, Sirius, James, and another boy (Peter Pettigrew), and he'd curl up in the four poster and think of bad wolves and try to sleep despite the sinking feeling in his stomach combating with the excitement fluttering somewhere just above the stomach.
This will be confusing, he was sure of that, but at least he'd be plain old Remus. He fell asleep thinking of all the lies he would have to keep track off once the full moon came.
Remus became Moony when they found out and it was Sirius who applied it, "Always out and about during the moon, ay moony-Lupin?"
He'd jokingly punched him in the shoulder, but Remus was sore all over and he made sure not to wince when it connected against a bruise. Not that it mattered if Sirius saw him react; Sirius probably would have laughed. His laughter went off at the most ill-opportune times.
James was wide-eyed in his seriousness, trying to convince Remus that there wasn't a problem, with his usual self-effacing humor. "Besides, it's just a little problem. Your furry little problem. Nothing to get your pants in a twist about."
"Unless you like that sort of thing, " Sirius had added with a charming wink. Never had puberty been kinder to another boy.
Peter had just repeated what Sirius and James said, only in a slightly scattered way, as though he was scurrying around, picking up the best words and tossing them in somewhat confusing statements, "Absolutely, not a problem, perfectly normal - not normal! No, it's weird, but cool, fine, perfectly...furry."
Sirius's arm snaked around Remus's shoulders and he declared, "You have here several of the finest minds of Hogwarts, god help us all, and if there is anyone who'd be delighted in the company of a werewolf, it would be us, Moony."
"I doubt you’d like to be torn to pieces, " Remus had said, trying to work it in his head. They still wanted to be friends with him. It was a complete antithesis to what he’d thought would happen.
James and Sirius had shared conspiratorial looks when they thought Remus hadn’t noticed, but he was too weary to call them on it.
Unfortunately Peeves had overhead the name soon after and loopy Lupin, loony Moony soon became a regular song heard in the corridors. Choruses began to informally start without warning and Remus had to listen to slightly off-tune renditions as he made his way to classes.
The most vociferous singer was Sirius.
He learned to sing along.
Remus was still Remus when he was Moony though and sometimes he was more.
A shudder of breath, a clenching of teeth, struggling not to talk, a look that passed quietly, only understood by two people - an unspoken name. Yes. That's who he was.
He dared not to give this a name - he knew already the burdens that came with naming. Once the name was given, it would only be a matter of time. Let him be selfish, just for once. Let him just have this.
Salt mingling sweet with stolen treats and heated skin barely tinged with perspiration. Real things, secret things, things that belonged only to him.
He sealed his mouth over Sirius's, keeping the whisper of his name from sneaking past Sirius's lips.
Remus became Remus again and stopped listening to Moony, please and Remus, I'm sorry for quite a while. But Remus was always Remus and he had to forgive. And he was Moony too, and all the names under the stars, even the muttered insults spoken under Snape's breath.
But all his names were spoken now.
Remus became Remus J. Lupin when he graduated. Remus was Remus still. Remus was Remus when James and Lily finally got married, as in, too bad Remus couldn't make it.
Remus had to be An Adult and there was business that he had to do and couldn't explain away.
Remus was Remus when Sirius fought with him in bitter fights that couldn't be slept (or fucked) away, as in, where the fuck were you and why can't you tell me, Remus?
Remus accepted not being called anything and deserving of the silence as bodies made hurried unions in the darkened flat, less and less about comfort and more about need.
Moony had become just another tattered memory of better times. He watched the rain come down from his new, cramped little flat, looking down at the dodgy street. Pressed a hand against the grimy window, making a temporary print.
This was not a time when the names mattered. Everyone was living this now, whether or not their names were as cursed as his.
Remus was sometimes Mr. Lupin when he was a student and the professors were strict. He was Professor Lupin when Sirius and James were tetchy about his few and far between admonishments of their behavior when he was a prefect. He'd sometimes had a laugh about that, after Sirius and James had cooled off, he, a teacher? Next thing, James would become a father, the idea was that ridiculous.
Such formalities could never be a part of his life. Not really.
Mr. Lupin, that wasn't him, that was his father.
Please call me Remus, he said, at his father's funeral, and it was a cold grey day, but it had been such a long stretch of cold grey days that he'd scarcely believed in there being color in the world.
His mother had been the last person to stand by the coffin, strands of grey hair hanging limply around her face. He'd put an arm around her and ignored her flinch. Afterwards, she'd walk away from him as though he too had become a ghost of her past.
He locked himself up, making sure there was no way for him to escape, later that night. He wouldn't know the reason why she purposely arranged for the funeral on a full moon until years later.
It would take years to forgive her and it would be too late when he finally did.
Remus was always his own person but then, after the fallout, after Peter's misguided attempt to capture Black (Sirius no longer, that monster, that was a Black, through and through), he was alone.
The next day, he started thinking of how he'd pay the rent, if there were any job prospects and he pretended that he’d be fine with the world as it was now.
Remus was working in Bulgaria, clearing out pesky creatures attacking the local populace when one of his fellow wizards said, good show, Lupin.
It stuck and soon after, he was always addressed by his surname.
Remus became Lupin easily, after all, he'd been that name all along. Impersonal, just another person, a man of no consequence. When he was finally discharged, after someone discreetly stated the unease the person dealt with in regards to working with a werewolf, he'd paid his ticket back to England working under the name Lupin. The first name had lost much of its meaning.
When Dumbledore sent him the offer of the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, he addressed the letter to Mr. R.J. Lupin. The handwriting was elegant, spidery, and confident, a rich green on the perfectly folded parchment.
He put it on the table, using a tin of biscuits as a paperweight as he considered the offer. It only took two hours.
When he accepted, he signed it R.J. Lupin.
Professor Lupin. It fit, really, quite nicely. The impossibility of him, he a teacher, he quite wondered if this was a sign that he had gone quite mad. So naturally he had to accept.
When he began teaching Harry, he could see that in Harry's eyes, he was always Professor or merely Lupin. He was a source, a resource guide, if he was honest to himself, to a life that Harry could not remember, save those horrific memories Harry experienced in the thrall of the dementors.
So strange, to barely know a child, all those missed opportunities when Harry was just an infant and then to have to speak about the history of his friendship with James and carefully omit the story of - him.
And then the truth came out and the damned moon followed soon after, and with a forgotten drink, so much was ruined.
When he quit, he knew he'd always be Lupin forevermore.
The new registration act required that before you even signed your name on a job application, you cited whether or not you're a wizard or one of the 'restricted' creatures.
Before he wrote down his name, he had to check the box 'werewolf.' There was then a helpful instruction to go to 'page seven, and complete line six-b before completing the application." He had to write on the line just what kind of 'restricted' creature he was, with a brief summation of his past history (how long has he been 'restricted,' has he ever been convicted or suspected of a crime because of this 'restricted' status).
Once that was completed, he had to send in the form, before even writing his name and wait for a new application to be sent back to him along with a handy booklet on what positions a 'restricted' creature of his nature were available. Also included in the booklet were the jobs that a creature of his restriction level was denied access. The use of creature was clearly a ministry tactic to deflect the crueler term 'beast.'
The new form and booklet arrived a day later. After scanning the list of jobs denied to werewolves, he learned there was no way he'd be hired for anything he was justifiably able to perform. The accepted jobs for a werewolf were barely a quarter of a page long, with helpful little notes after nearly every job saying, "unfortunately this position has been filled to maximum capacity."
When he climbed up the stairs at Grimmauld Place, making sure to place a charm on the door so that no one could hear him, he began his latest abuse against Umbridge to Sirius, one so vehement that Sirius had to break in with, "Moony, I never knew you had it in you."
Sirius had later charmed his application to say If you are one of those damnable wolfy monsters, please do us all a favor and don't bother filling this out.
"You like it, then?" There was an anxious glint in Sirius's eyes that was so unfamiliar. They didn’t' quite know how to behave around each other. There was too much unspoken and they couldn’t mend whatever had broken between them.
"At least I don't have to bother hoping that I'd be treated as an equal." He folded the application in half, tapping his fingers on top of it. "I'm going to have to trespass further on your good hospitality, Sirius."
Sirius grinned, displaying yellowed teeth and heavy lines marring the few remnants of good looks. "Moony, you'd be the first person invited to dance on my bones."
They'd laughed then, gallows’s humor for the condemned.
But he wasn't Moony. He was Werewolf That's what he'd been reduced to, and once they'd finished laughing, Sirius had suggested several spells that would be just perfect for that nightmare, Umbridge. Remus had nodded, grateful for at least this small token of kinship.
Tonks had approached him with a stumble and he'd smiled despite himself.
"Remus," she began, her behavior causing his suspicions to rise, and the smile faded though he kept his countenance as friendly as possible. "Care for a cup of coffee?"
He'd been so startled that he'd agreed before he'd even thought of the implications. Though he’d recognize later on, it was the tone she’d used in naming him. Such a tone had been long absent in recent years.
Fenrir hadn't even known Lupin's name when he spoke to him. His eyes were barely human and utterly mad.
Hairs stood up on the back of his neck, but Lupin would not let himself show any emotion, other than the false respect, a pale mimic of the other expressions of adoration on his fellow werewolves' faces.
"I'll tell you a story," Fenrir's gaping maw began, lips twisting into something that was supposed to show supreme amusement. "Nasty wizard by the name of Lupin, the righteous sort, refused the Dark Lord, tried to be noble. Well, he had a son, tasty little boy, pity I hadn't gotten a bigger bite."
The scarring on Lupin's body had ached but Lupin was used to such pain. It barely registered. Fenrir had gone on, talking in disgust about Lupin's father, his tone becoming revoltingly reminiscent about his revenge, how he made the son a werewolf.
"So that night, I brought the boy into the fold. Best of all was the kid's name, little monster was named Remus." He'd laughed then, as though it was an old, practiced joke.
Lupin may have laughed, out of politeness.