Written by: Giulia "Kagome" Beta-read by: Lucy, Martin, Gabriel, Luminousmarble, and Daily Prophet Reporting.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Dolores stared at the dim shapes of London's buildings as she walked over Waterloo Bridge. The pale blue sky was painted with violet, and the crescent moon, easily visible between the clouds, told her that it was late. Nonetheless, she stopped and waited, resting her elbows on the reassuring firmness of the stone.
She could have been home already if she had used magic. She could have Apparated in front of her house, or even inside it. But she hadn't wanted to. Fifteen days ago she had moved out of her old house and asked Cornelius for a few months' leave of absence.
After what had happened in the Forbidden Forest, Dolores had needed time to heal. The St. Mungo's Healers had told this to Cornelius, and he had agreed to grant Dolores' request. Dolores had decided to distance herself from anything magical for a while and live in Muggle London. She found it somehow… irksome to use magic at the moment. The solidity and certainty of the distance between her and the wizarding world were helping her to forget her ordeal.
The city began to look murky as the blue and purple of the sky darkened into indigo. Artificial lights switched on, appearing as suddenly as fireflies on a dark lawn, and the light breeze cooled into a chilly evening wind. Shuddering from the cold, Dolores tore herself from the beautiful cityscape. She gave a silent farewell glance to Big Ben, the face of which had just been lit from within.
Dolores quickened her pace and left Waterloo Bridge, walking across Waterloo Road. The sound of her footsteps echoed in the silence as she entered the small alley where she lived. She opened her handbag, searching for her keys.
Looking up, she caught sight of something at her front door that she really didn't like—or rather, someone. Remus Lupin.
What was the filthy werewolf doing in front of her house?
Her heartbeat sped up as her glance rose to the sky, making sure that the moon was not full. She saw the man— if she could consider that thing a ‘man'— smile bitterly.
‘Good evening, Dolores. Don't worry, I won't stay long.'
Dolores' lips tightened into a rigid grimace that was vaguely reminiscent of a smile. ‘What do you want?' she asked, not bothering to be polite. She cast her eyes upwards and saw the crescent moon peek mockingly at her from behind a cloud. Annoyed, she tightened her grip on her keys.
‘It seems that the normal rules of courtesy aren't valid for . . . the likes of me,' said Lupin, giving her an amused smile.
He must have noticed her nervousness and was probably trying to put her at ease. She shrugged.
‘The likes of you shouldn't stand in front of the door to my house at this hour of the night,' she said venomously. ‘In fact, they shouldn't stand there at any time.'
Lupin's sympathetic look irritated Dolores. If she had been feeling more like herself, the bloody werewolf would have already run away as fast as he could. But unfortunately, she was still weak, unmotivated, and unwilling to use magic. Normally she could have discerned Lupin's intentions, but this skill seemed to have deserted her.
Otherwise . . . otherwise . . . .
‘I didn't come because I wanted to harm you,' said Lupin. ‘Nor am I here because I'm masochistic and enjoy being treated like a beast. Dumbledore sent me. When you left Hogwarts, you forgot some of your things, and the Headmaster asked me to bring them back.'
Dolores couldn't help but shudder upon hearing the name of that school, and the glimpse of understanding—of pity—she caught in the eyes of that . . . creature . . . she didn't like at all.
‘And Dumbledore sent you to bring them back?' she asked, giving a quick look at the trunk Lupin was carrying.
‘There was nobody else he trusted enough for this who didn't have other things to do,' said Lupin politely.
Dolores shrugged again. The trunk seemed huge, and she had no intention of using magic to move it. She had promised herself that she wouldn't use magic for a while, and no werewolf would change her mind. She eyed Lupin, noticing how he hugged himself to keep from shivering in the chilly wind. His clothes were old, too thin in the elbows, and patched in a few places. It was no wonder he couldn't suffer the weather, even though it was just an average August evening.
‘Then do come in,' she said, opening the door. ‘I will show you how I host my guests. Carry that; it's too heavy for me.' She tried to give the last sentence an offhand tone, but when she met Lupin's gaze, she realized that he hadn't believed a word of what she had said. However, he muttered a simple spell, took hold of the trunk, and entered the house.
Dolores made Dumbledore's emissary follow her up to the living room, feeling utterly nervous now that she was alone with a werewolf inside her own home. She knew it was a foolish fear; the moon wasn't full, and therefore Remus Lupin was no threat to her. But she couldn't help it; her fear was instinctive. She started to twist and scratch at the skin of her fingers.
As soon as they entered the house, Lupin let go of the trunk and allowed it to float in the air behind him. He no longer had to disguise the charm now that there were no questioning Muggle eyes to see. ‘Where can I put it down?' he asked. Dolores indicated a corner of the living room, and he directed the trunk to it with his wand.
‘May I offer you a cup of tea?' Dolores cursed herself; her voice was shaking a bit, and she didn't want the werewolf to know how much he frightened her.
‘You don't need to do this, you know,' said Lupin. ‘I've done my duty; I can leave now.'
Lupin gave Dolores a serious look, and this calmed her down. She didn't want him to go back to Hogwarts and say how weak and frightened she looked.
‘No,' she spat, ‘I said I would show you how I treat my guests, and you're my guest. Sit down; I'll be back with some tea.'
‘As you wish,' was Lupin's quiet reply. He sat in one of the armchairs and crossed his legs, waiting as she made her way to the kitchen.
Dolores filled a kettle with water and put it on the stove to heat. While waiting for the water to boil, she prepared the infuser basket, counting out three spoonfuls of loose tea. Now and then she peeked into the living room, but Lupin hadn't moved at all. He was still sitting in the armchair and looking around.
As the water began to boil, Dolores realized that she was calming down. Going back to a normal activity like brewing tea had helped her regain her normal self. She put the infuser basket into a teapot, added the hot water, and prepared a tray with two mugs and a few biscuits.
McVitie's or Norfolks? Dolores decided that she would never waste Norfolk biscuits on a werewolf. He might be her guest, but she liked Norfolks too much.
Dolores fussed over the arrangement of the biscuits in their dish, trying to arrange them in a neat pattern. Finally she stirred the tea, added milk and the sugar bowl to the tray, and took everything into the living room. Surprisingly, Lupin was in the same place where she had left him, still glancing around.
‘Do you like the furniture?' she asked. Lupin moved his eyes from the crystal objects on the sideboard and looked at her pointedly. Only at that moment did she notice what he had been staring at— a crystal dog, the largest of her collection.
‘I was just looking around,' he muttered, smiling softly.
‘How many lumps?' Dolores asked, but Lupin beckoned for her to stop. He took the mug, added some milk, but no sugar. Dolores took her own mug and prepared her tea in the usual way— two lumps of sugar and just a drop of milk.
Lupin took a biscuit, bit into it, and sipped his tea. He glanced at Dolores, and she noticed with disappointment that her hands were shaking. Only when she rested the mug on her lap did she discover that she hadn't yet taken off the light cyan jacket she used to camouflage herself among the Muggles. Not that it worked much, though; she had caught many of them shooting her odd looks. Who knew why?
As Dolores stood to take the jacket off, she saw that Lupin was laughing softly. She glared at him and he immediately stopped, hiding a few last chuckles by taking bites of his biscuit.
‘Sorry about that, but you must admit that it's funny,' he said, reaching out to take another biscuit.
‘What is funny?' Dolores picked up her mug again and nervously sipped her tea.
‘Here we are, having a cup of tea together as if we were dear friends. We of all people—anti-halfbreed Dolores Umbridge and Remus Lupin, a werewolf,' said Lupin, the last two words coming out in a whisper. He chuckled again and added, ‘Do you know how much trouble the laws you wrote gave me?'
‘I'm glad they did,' Dolores muttered, and the man's eyes hardened. Since when had she started thinking of him as a man?
‘There's something I've always wanted to know,' said Lupin. ‘Why do you hate half-breeds so much?'
Dolores' hold on her mug tightened. She sipped the last of her tea with her lips clenched so tightly that they were starting to hurt. She put the empty mug back on the tray and stared down at her fingers. ‘You're asking about things that you really don't want to know about,' Dolores warned. Her voice was shaking again. She cursed herself once more.
Lupin put his own mug back on the tray. ‘I want to know why you like making the werewolves' lives so difficult,' he said harshly.
Dolores glared her guest. She took off her glasses and started to clean them with a dry handkerchief. She didn't need them, but was using them recently as a shield to protect herself from the others. When she put them on again, she tried her best to feign a calm that she didn't feel at all.
‘I don't know what has happened to you, Dolores, but werewolves aren't beasts all the time,' said Lupin. ‘I understand that the centaurs were—'
‘You can't even imagine how the centaurs were,' Dolores shouted, her voice rising with each word.
Lupin fell silent, looking paler than ever.
‘You can't dream of what it was like for me,' said Dolores. ‘Your kind—creatures like you—are monsters. Monsters with no trace of humanity. Real people ought to be protected. Real people ought not to be contaminated by the likes of you.' She stood, all five feet and four inches of her quivering imperiously over Lupin.
Lupin stood as well, his eyes showing a pity that Dolores didn't want to see. ‘Can you hear yourself, Dolores?' he said, putting his coat back on and walking out of the living room.
‘Where are you going?' she said from the door.
‘I'm leaving. No civilised conversation is possible between us. I was a fool for thinking it could be.'
‘I said that you are my guest,' Dolores countered, but Lupin's eyes didn't lose their pitying look.
‘Do you throw unsolicited crap at all your guests, then, or am I the only fortunate one?' he said, in a level voice.
Dolores' glare hardened as her hands started to shake again. ‘Unsolicited crap?' she muttered disdainfully.
‘What would you call it?' said Lupin. ‘I was insulted, and I don't even know why.'
‘Very well, then. I'll tell you why, since you're dying to know.' Dolores' voice cracked. Merlin's beard, would she never be able to handle the subject in a detached way? ‘Come back and I'll explain,' she added.
Lupin hesitated, but he eventually came back and sat down in the same armchair as before. He rested his elbows on his thighs, watching Dolores closely as she sat down in her own chair.
It was difficult to think of that day—or rather, of that night. She had tried so hard to banish it from her memory that recalling it now made her want to shiver. Lupin's eyes, light brown, almost amber-coloured, were making her feel intensely self-conscious, too. They were … feral, like those of a wolf.
‘Well?' Lupin urged.
‘It's not easy,' Dolores said gravely. Lupin nodded, and she supposed he must have realised that already.
* * *
Remus stared as Dolores Umbridge began to wring her hands again. He hadn't understood why Dumbledore had sent him, of all people, to bring Dolores' belongings back to her. But as he talked to her, he began to see. He had wanted to know the reason for her relentless persecution of his kind for so long that he must have been blind not to realise Dumbledore's intentions.
And now, here he was, in front of his natural enemy, about to learn why he had needlessly suffered all these years. He and all the other werewolves of Britain— which made a lot of people, as much as Dolores didn't want to admit it.
But Dolores looked doubtful. She had proposed this course of action, and now she couldn't speak. Remus supposed that the memory of whatever had happened to her was painful, and her experience in the Forbidden Forest probably only made things harder for her. However, Remus had reached a point of no return; he couldn't leave without an explanation.
His gaze bore into her small, brown eyes, which her thick glasses covered like a shell. Did she used to wear glasses? He didn't remember the detail. Maybe she really used them to protect herself from the others; he couldn't be sure of that, though.
As time passed and Dolores still remained silent, he stopped paying attention to her and listened to the harsh, rhythmic click-clack of the pendulum clock. It wasn't until the cuckoo signalled nine o'clock that he noticed any change in Dolores. She seemed to have found her courage, as her eyes had hardened and her posture had stiffened.
‘Well then?' he asked again.
Dolores stood. ‘I won't tell you. It's too painful for me.'
Remus looked at her, feeling very annoyed. He had wasted too much time staring at that toad-like face only to be told that he would not be satisfied. But when he tried to stand up, Dolores raised a hand to stop him.
‘It's not the full moon, Dolores, but this doesn't mean I have all night to talk to you, you know,' he said scathingly.
‘I won't tell you, but I will show you.'
Dolores moved to reach the trunk he had carried there, and Remus stood to help her.
‘Don't move. I don't need your bloody help. Don't you dare put your filthy werewolf's paws on me.'
Remus' blood boiled at her words. He was never a violent person— except when the beast took him over, of course. However, he felt that if he had to be near Dolores Umbridge for one more moment, he would hit her. He was feeling so sick from being in the same room with her that he seriously considered leaving without hearing her explanation. ‘I thought you were having a rest from work because of your delicate condition,' he growled, shooting her a furious glare.
‘The wounds that must heal are those of the soul and not those of the body,' said Dolores as she pulled something from her trunk. Remus had thought that it was just another of her silly knick-knacks, but as she approached he realised that it was a Pensieve.
Remus stared as Dolores put the bowl on the table. She reluctantly took hold of her wand and moved a thought into the tiny vessel. The Pensieve was very odd, edged in lace and made of crystal like the figurines on the sideboard. What a silly thing to hold your memories in, Remus mused.
‘You can watch whenever you're ready,' she said, and stepped back. Remus approached the Pensieve.
* * *
He found himself standing on a dark street in the mid-spring. Or at least, he thought it was mid-spring, because the cherry trees that lined the street were blooming. Who knew where he was at the moment?
It was night—a full moon, no less. Remus' heartbeat sped up when he caught a glimpse of the round, white circle that lit up the night sky. He knew he wouldn't need to worry about it this time. He was in a Pensieve; what he looked at wasn't the real moon, only a memory of it. His true body wasn't even there. Nonetheless, he couldn't help but tense instinctively.
He took a deep breath and relaxed, giving another longing look at the circle in the sky. The moon shone back, grinning warmly, the mountains and lowlands on its surface looking like eyes and a smiling mouth on a pearly white face.
Remus remembered the painful nights he had spent as a child when his parents had locked him in a room charmed to prevent him from escaping. The beast had always won over his childish self and, finding no food, had ripped its own flesh apart in a mad frenzy of desperation. He remembered the countless nights after the full moon when he'd lain on his bed while his mum told him legends from far away, where people thought the moon hid rabbits that were brought there as a reward for their bravery. The moon had always been the subject of his favourite nighttime tales.
How many times had he dreamed of such a thing— walking under the moonlight like a normal person, enjoying the sight of a full moon rising in the sky?
He soon snapped out of his reverie, though, remembering that he wasn't there to have fun, but to observe Dolores' thoughts. This was her memory; she had to be there, somewhere, to see it.
Remus' eyes darted around, getting used to the darkness after having stared at the moon for so long. And then he saw her. She was younger, probably in her thirties, but very easy to recognise. She had the same toad-like face and short, thickset figure, although she was a bit more slender because of her younger age. She walked quickly through the street, wrapped in her odd pink cardigan. She wore it even then?It must be really old.
Dolores stopped in front of one of the houses, looking as if she was searching for something. And searching she was, for her keys soon emerged from her handbag. She opened the door and Remus quickly followed, entering the house with her. He didn't want to lose contact; if he did, he'd find himself in an empty space and would have a hard time finding his way back.
He looked around, realising with surprise that the furniture was very similar to that of the house where he had just been moments before. In fact, it was probably the same.
He saw the young Dolores take off her cardigan and walk a few steps into the corridor. He followed.
‘Mum, I'm back,' she said, but no one replied. She went into the kitchen—a pretty, ordered room with oak furniture, white decorations, and a simple terracotta-tiled floor.
‘Mum? You know, I met that person from the Ministry today. That Cornelius Fudge, the up-and-coming deputy. He asked me if I wanted to help him. He said I could suggest some proposals for new laws to use in his campaign. Isn't it wonderful?' she said, her voice growing louder with each word. She waited for a moment, but no answer came. The house seemed silent, as if nobody else was there.
Young Dolores sighed, rolled her eyes, and took a glass of milk, muttering something about how deaf her mother had become. She walked around the corner and into the living room. Remus followed, but before he caught up to Dolores, he heard the sound of a glass crashing to the floor.
He quickened his pace and reached the living room as another muffled sound reached his ears. The moment he burst through the doorway, he understood why Dolores had dropped her glass. A woman, presumably Dolores' mother, was lying on the floor in her own blood. Her body had been pitilessly butchered, and Remus had no doubt whatsoever as to where her wounds had come from.
His blood froze at the sight. Dolores sobbed heartbrokenly at his side.
Suddenly, a sound coming from the garden outside caught his attention. He immediately noticed that the panes of the windows were broken, and the nearby pawprints marked the beast's escape route.
But Dolores didn't seem to have noticed. She was standing still with her eyes wide and her hands clenched over her mouth, unaware of the danger that she was in.
At first Remus' instincts told him to do something to help Dolores, but then he remembered where he was. The shock of the tragedy had made him forget. It was Dolores' memory; therefore, she must have managed to save herself somehow. He couldn't do anything to help her. In fact, if he had really been there when the event had occurred, he would have been the killer.
Remus felt a shiver run down his spine at this thought. Just imagine if he really had been that werewolf! He would never have been able to forgive himself. In the long years he had spent living with his curse, he had always tried to minimise the danger that he posed to the rest of humanity. He had preferred to stay in a charmed cellar and hurt himself rather than run free outdoors and risk killing somebody.
However, there had been times when he hadn't been able to find a hiding place, times when he'd been forced to let the beast run free in the city. Who knew if, during those times, he had let the monster kill? He'd never been able to remember anything of his nights as a werewolf unless James, Sirius, and Peter had been with him. Or until he'd started drinking the Wolfsbane potion.
Remus quickly glanced into the garden, trying to ascertain whether the werewolf was still around, but soon realised that it was useless. Since he was in a Pensieve, he would never be able to notice something that Dolores hadn't noticed herself. It simply wasn't a part of her memory.
Dolores eventually overcame her state of shock and approached the mauled body of her mother. She reluctantly put two fingers to her mother's throat, as if she didn't really want to touch her, as if touching the body made the death real. As she did so, Remus heard another sound— a whimper, a faint whine, like that of a wounded puppy. Could it be the werewolf? Was the beast wounded?
The sound didn't come from the garden, though; it came from inside the room. Dolores' eyes darted from her mother's body to a far corner of the room that was hidden by the sofa.
‘Sorrow,' she muttered, rushing over to the source of the sound, ‘it's you.'
Remus followed Dolores to the corner. A white bitch lay there whimpering, her slowly wagging tail covering Dolores' skirt with blood. Remus didn't know how he knew that the dog was female; it had to be the sixth sense he got from the beast. Dolores knelt before the wounded animal and started to pet her, indifferent to the blood that spotted her clothes and hands.
‘You tried to save her, didn't you? You good girl, good girl,' Dolores repeated in a monotone. The dog whimpered louder, and Remus couldn't stop his eyes from filling with tears. The animal was trying to stand up, but couldn't quite manage it. Then, out of the blue, she tensed and started to growl. Remus knew why. The werewolf was coming.
‘What is it, Sorrow?' Dolores muttered, her face turning pale.
She stood, firmly beckoning the dog to stay silent. When she finally looked towards the window, the blood rushed from her face. She slowly started to draw back, her frown deepening, her eyes fixed on the window from which Remus knew the werewolf would soon come. He could feel the beast; he could sense its unquenchable thirst for blood. It had already eaten, but its hunger couldn't be satisfied that easily. It needed more prey; it always needed more prey until the first greys of dawn freed it from its curse.
Remus felt the beast's hunger as if he were the beast himself. But he also felt something else—the prey's fright. The terror he saw in Dolores' eyes was heart wrenching, but it was exciting as well. And Remus knew that the excitement wasn't human.
Dolores had just begun to retreat when Remus caught a glimpse of a brown paw entering through the broken window. Dolores dashed to the staircase and began to run upstairs as quickly as she could. Remus followed, hurtling after her into a room just before she slammed the door shut. A loud growl and a sudden whimper from downstairs left Remus with no doubts as to Sorrow's end. She had died to protect her owner.
Dolores uttered a sob at the sound of Sorrow's death, but a moment later she was rushing to the window and closing the curtains. She jumped when a growl resounded from behind the closed door.
The beast started to ram the door with its head and claws, and as it did so, Remus began to feel an odd sensation. It was almost as if he saw the scene from a dual perspective. He sensed Dolores' fear, and the werewolf's hunger became his own hunger. His pitiful look turned into that of a predator that had smelled its prey and was trying everything to reach it.
The door eventually smashed, and when the brown paw lunged through the hole in the wood, Dolores screamed with all her might. But nobody would come to help her, and Remus knew it well.
He knew it far too well for his own taste.
The shock of this realisation dragged him away from his sudden identification with the werewolf and brought him back to reality. He frowned. Why did he feel as if he already knew what would happen—as if he was seeing the room from both the inside and the outside at the same time?
Dolores screamed again, as Remus already knew she would. The beast finally broke through the last bit wood and prowled into the room. A low growl rumbled from its throat and saliva dripped from its teeth. Dolores gave another high-pitched yell and started throwing everything within reach at the beast: a nightlight, a bedside table, her books, and even her chair and desk. But the beast seemed invulnerable and unwilling to stop. With a bloodcurdling howl, it shook off the clothes that Dolores had ripped from a drawer and flung at it, and Remus finally got a good look at the beast.
His heart stopped.
Those scars on the nose and all over the body, that brown fur, those amber eyes . . . . He knew that beast well and couldn't possibly be wrong. The blood drained from his face.
Remus saw Dolores, with a strength he would never have imagined she had, trying desperately to move her wardrobe. Her eyes were locked onto those of the beast—his eyes. He saw the scene in his own memory from a different point of view; his prey was before him, and he was hungry—so hungry that he wanted to scream.
The beast roared and leapt towards Dolores. Remus remembered the wardrobe falling right on top of him, stopping him in mid-jump. He heard the werewolf whimpering and reflexively massaged one of his ribs. Now he knew how he'd broken it.
He saw Dolores running away, and he immediately went after her. Remus knew that the beast would soon follow, and he didn't want to lose contact with Dolores. It wasn't that hard to reach her; she wasn't very speedy, after all.
Remus' feet raced after Dolores, but his heart raced more quickly, pounding in his chest. Of course, Dolores didn't know the identity of the werewolf that had killed her mother. She couldn't know and, Remus mused as a shiver ran down his spine, she would never have to know. But he couldn't be fooled; he could recognise himself well enough. And now as he ran through the silent, moonlit streets, he also recognised the city. It was York. How could he have been so blind as to not have known it?
He now knew perfectly well when this event had occurred. His grandmother had just died. He had still been a Hogwarts student at the time, but he had been allowed to leave school to attend Gran's funeral. It was one of the only times in his youth, after his fifth year, that he had had to endure his transformation alone. And it was also one of the rare times that his hiding place hadn't been able to contain the beast.
Remus had always thought that he didn't remember what happened when he was a werewolf and was without his friends, but now he understood that it wasn't true. His subconscious had never forgotten. Remus knew now how the thing would finish, how Padfoot and Prongs would reach him at last, stopping him and allowing his prey to escape.
He couldn't bear to stay any longer. He wouldn't be able to endure seeing his friends when they inevitably came to stop him—not Prongs, but above all, not Padfoot.
Remus stopped running and voluntarily dragged himself out of the Pensieve. The last thing he saw was the round, shining circle hanging in the black sky.
* * *
Dolores stared while the werewolf's mind got lost in her Pensieve. At first she had thought she could stand the wait. After all, she had proposed this course of action because she really hadn't the heart to tell the story herself.
However, as the minutes ticked inexorably by, her mind started to wander. She caught flickers of many different emotions on Lupin's face, and she was curious as to what he was thinking. Did he understand the horror she'd had to endure? Or did he view it with cool detachment, as if it were a normal part of life? After all, he had been a werewolf for a long time, if she remembered correctly. He had to be used to the violence of his kind.
Nevertheless, Dolores was doubtful. At one point, she'd seen Lupin's eyes fill with tears and his face grow pale while his hand clutched at his ribs. Why had he had a reaction of this kind? Wasn't it normal for him to behold this sort of scene? Or was it something else, perhaps?
Curiosity consumed Dolores, curiosity as strong as the fear she had felt upon seeing the feral light in Lupin's eyes. He had seen her sorrow, and now she would know what he thought of it. Yes, she had a right to know, didn't she?
She quickly returned to the kitchen, peering at the shelves and rummaging through drawers until she found what she was looking for—the Veritaserum. She knew its use was forbidden, especially for such a petty, personal reason, but she really didn't give a damn. She had lost too much by following the rules. Now it was her turn. Now she would get some answers.
Dolores boiled another kettle of water and hurried back into the living room, just in time to see Lupin break away from her memory. He looked around in confusion as if he had just awoken from a nightmare.
‘Are you feeling well?' she asked, trying to give her voice the same confident, maternal tone she had used so many times at Hogwarts.
Lupin gave her a look of utter horror. Dolores found herself taken aback by the irrational fear she saw in those amber-coloured eyes. They showed terror, desperation, and pain . . . but there was something else there too, something Dolores couldn't quite identify.
Her interest grew stronger.
‘Y-yes, thank you. I really think I should go,' Lupin muttered, growing even paler than before, his hand still clenched on his rib as if something had hit him there. But Dolores knew that nothing could have harmed him in her memory.
‘A-ha, not so quickly,' she said, still using her motherly voice. ‘You're still my guest, and I won't allow you to leave my house in such a state. Would you like a glass of water or a cup of tea?'
Her tone seemed to calm the werewolf down a little. She chuckled under her breath. She was very close. If he accepted something to drink, she could put the Veritaserum in it and force him to talk.
‘A glass of water . . . yes, that would be . . . wonderful,' Lupin whispered.
Dolores' smile grew wider. Now that she had acquired a new target, her fear had magically faded away. She noticed how Lupin was trying to avoid her gaze, as if . . . yes, as if he were guilty. Of course! He wore the same expression the members of that ridiculous Dumbledore's Army had worn the day she had caught them red-handed. It was the sort of guilty countenance that the Potter boy had never shown, even after hours of her painful detentions.
Remus Lupin was guilty . . . but of what?
‘I told you that wasn't something you would enjoy watching,' she reminded him gently, keeping her motherly tone. ‘Do wait a moment, and I'll be back with some fresh water.'
She rushed to the kitchen, filled a glass with water, and added a few drops of Veritaserum. It would be so easy to question the man if he drank it. He surely wasn't in any condition to suspect anything.
But when she returned to the living room, Remus Lupin was gone. Dolores' eyes hardened when she saw a message on her table, written in what would have been fine, elegant handwriting had it not been written with shaking hands. It read, ‘Thank you for everything.'
She went to the kitchen and angrily dumped the water into the sink.
He had escaped.
‘Bugger,' Dolores muttered. The edges of her lips turned up in a smirk. He had won the battle, but not the war. Like the animal she had always thought him to be, he had put his tail between his legs and run away.
But she would ensnare Remus Lupin yet. She was no longer the prey, and knowing that she was the predator had replenished all her strength.
Next time, she wouldn't fail. Next time, she would know.