Resigned under a Crescent Moon
Friday 4 July 1975 – Wednesday 20 July 1977
Hogwarts, the Grampians; Old Basford, Nottingham; Ecclesall, Sheffield; Corporation Street, Birmingham.
Rated PG-13 for graphic violence.
On the last day of term, Remus Lupin knocked on the door of Professor Dumbledore’s office and handed in his prefect’s badge.
“Remus,” said Dumbledore in surprise, “I know you’ve had a shock lately – but what makes you think you shouldn’t be a prefect?”
Remus knew at once that he couldn’t tell Dumbledore the whole story. He couldn’t explain that his friends were Animagi, or that they had been letting him out of the Shrieking Shack, or that he had encouraged them. He couldn’t talk about the way they had planned their excursions, had run miles out of bounds, had created that fascinating map. If he started to talk, he wouldn’t stop, and he would end up betraying all of them. If he opened his mouth, Dumbledore would know his utter unworthiness, would be disappointed and hurt that he had ever made Remus a prefect.
Nevertheless, he couldn’t keep the badge.
He laid it quietly on Dumbledore’s desk.
“Remus,” said Dumbledore gently, “is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
No. Remus tried to keep his face neutral as he shook his head. He definitely, definitely did not want Dumbledore to know the particulars of why he was such an unsuitable prefect. He only wanted Dumbledore to accept that he was unsuitable, to authorise his resignation, perhaps to acknowledge that, by facing up to his faults and acting accordingly, Remus had taken one step in the right direction.
“It’s a pity,” said Dumbledore. “There was no question in my mind that you would have made a very fine Head Boy.”
“No!” It had never crossed Remus’s mind that Dumbledore was considering that; he had taken it for granted that Benjy Fenwick or Gaspard Shingleton would be Head Boy, and had hoped against hope that it wouldn’t be Evan Rosier. “Sir, please – no, I would be a terrible Head Boy! I would be the worst Head Boy Hogwarts ever had!”
“Calm down, Remus. I will accept your resignation. But I think we’ll leave the prefecture open for next term, just in case you ever change your mind.”
“I won’t change my mind, Professor. I’m – I suppose I’m just not suited to leadership.”
“It leaves open the question of who is suited,” Dumbledore mused. He did not need to say out loud that Sirius had demonstrated that he was not quite ready for the responsibility. “If you don’t want the badge back after a reasonable time, Remus, I will find someone else. But I shall be keeping it to myself for the time being.”
Lily Evans was disappointed. “Remus, you’re very good with the younger students, and they all like you. What’s gone wrong? All this talk of being ‘unworthy’ – well, isn’t it the people who think they deserve the honour who always turn out to be too swollen-headed to be suitable?”
“But it isn’t talk,” said Remus. “I’m really not good enough… I mean, I don’t see how I can do well in my N.E.W.T.s if I remain prefect.”
He found he had stumbled upon the one irrefutable argument. She nodded, unconvinced, but stopped trying to persuade him. “Well, if this means that Dumbledore gives your badge to James Potter, I think I’ll be giving mine to Emmeline. Unless you can persuade Potter to stop harassing me to go out with him, I just don’t think I can work with him!”
“The fact that I couldn’t stop him,” said Remus, “ought to tell you how inadequate I am as prefect.”
When Remus confessed his resignation to his friends, Sirius was seriously shaken. “Moony,” he said, “you’ve taken it too hard. It was my mistake, not yours.”
Remus had nothing to say. But Sirius, who was steadfastly committed to never upsetting him again, did not try to persuade him.
The next full moon fell in the school holidays; when Remus awoke in the garage at Old Basford, knowing that the wolf had been locked away all night, his conscience felt as light and clean as a unicorn’s.
Hogwarts felt different during their sixth year. Sirius was more relaxed because he had run away from home and spent the summer camping at the Potters’.
“Didn’t your parents order you home?” asked Remus.
“No, they’re glad I’ve gone. My brother says our dear mother has burned my name off the family genealogy – she has no more record that I ever was her son.”
“That’s real freedom!” said Peter, whose mother was a notorious fusser.
Remus had learned not to ask about Sirius’s indifference to his family. “How will you live?” he asked.
“I’m staying on at the Potters’, but I can pay my way because Uncle Alphard gave me some money. Regulus says that Mother nearly died of chagrin and she burned Uncle Alphard off the genealogy too.”
“So you’re still speaking to your brother,” said Peter.
“Only when he’s in the mood to tell me what a disgrace I am…” Sirius’s voice trailed off and his eyes lit up mischievously. “I don’t think Prongs is paying attention any more!”
As usual, James had been distracted by the entry of Lily Evans. She was surrounded by a crowd of girls who were all avidly discussing the latest Voldemort atrocity. Lily took no notice of the boys, although two of her friends waved at Sirius. Sirius was still staring at James, who was yet again marching forward to bar Lily’s way until she spoke to him.
Another boy was quicker. Severus Snape thrust himself in front of the girls and said, “Lily, can you lend me a quill?”
She pulled one out of her bag without looking at him. “Keep it. Mary, I know you think the Crabbes are stupid, but even stupid people…”
Snape tried again. “Lily, will you – ?”
James cut over him, shouting loudly enough to silence the chattering girls. “Evans, will you go out with me?”
Lily, still surrounded by the girls, pushed her way through the courtyard without addressing either of her devoted suitors. Remus didn’t hear what Emmeline said to her, but everyone heard Lily’s answer.
“Snape and I are no longer friends. Let’s go indoors.”
She said nothing at all about James.
That was how it remained all through the autumn. James and Snape both tried to speak to Lily nearly every day, and she ignored both of them. Snape eventually gave up; but James kept trying throughout the year. Meanwhile, Sirius heard nothing at all from his parents and didn’t seem to care.
Although Peter grumbled a little, the four friends did not miss their moonlit capers as much as they had feared. The workload for the N.E.W.T.s had to be taken seriously, even by students as bright as James and Sirius. Remus, having opted to keep Ancient Runes as a sixth subject, felt obliged to score Outstanding in it; and if he had any free time after an evening’s homework, it was usually devoted to tutoring Peter. Peter had ignored all McGonagall’s advice and enrolled himself in a hefty five-subject N.E.W.T. course, and Remus didn’t know how he would handle the stress.
One night Remus awoke feeling that the dormitory was unnaturally quiet. Gentle snores from the next bed told him that Peter was still indoors, but a glance out of the window showed him the distinct outline of a stag and a dog running over the Quidditch pitch. He was glad they had not invited him. A stag and a dog couldn’t do much harm, but his friends were still breaking the law, to say nothing of the school curfew; and, not being an Animagus himself, he wouldn’t have been able to join whatever game they were playing.
Peter was hurt. He cornered James and Sirius the next morning, and protested: “You could have taken me too!”
“Sorry, Wormtail,” said James, “but we’re growing rather large for the invisibility cloak to shelter three of us.”
“You could have taken me Transformed, in your pocket.”
“Sorry, Wormtail,” repeated Sirius, “but I’ve had enough of getting my friends into trouble through my high jinks. I’m not going to lead you astray any more.” He spoke with a finality that told both Peter and Remus that some life events were strictly Potter-and-Black only. The relationship between James and Sirius had always been the closest in the quartet, and this was never going to change.
The following summer, Dumbledore wrote to Remus, again asking if he’d like his badge back.
If you will agree to be prefect again, I will not press you to accept the Head Boyship. While Mr Shingleton has indicated that he does not want the post either, I believe that others are capable of performing very adequately.
That was Dumbledore’s way of reassuring him that the Slytherin prefect, Evan Rosier, was not in the running for the job; Remus need not fear that, by refusing the Head Boyship himself, he had imposed a Death-Eater-in-training on Hogwarts. Remus cracked a smile at the thought of Gaspard Shingleton – mad-professor-Shingleton, who was quite brilliant, quite virtuous and quite out of touch with reality – trying to chair prefects’ meetings and keep the school bullies in order. But Benjy Fenwick really was a much brighter and braver person than most people ever noticed; he was ideal Head Boy material. Remus briefly imagined himself as one of Fenwick’s team of prefects, how productively they might all work together, how rewarding it would be to see Hogwarts run properly even while Death Eaters’ children were swarming in their midst. Nevertheless, within minutes he had sent the owl back to school.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
Thank you for your trust in me and thank you for giving me yet another chance. I hope that this time next year you will look at both my general conduct and my exam results and be glad you took the gamble of admitting a werewolf to Hogwarts. I have been luckier than I deserve.
However, even with Fenwick as Head Boy, I don’t think I could return to being prefect. For one thing, I’d like to put more time into my studies in my final year.
He was proud of that line.
More importantly, I don’t think I have the right temperament to be a leader.
I hope you will find someone else who does have leadership talents and give that person the opportunity to be a much better prefect than I ever was.
Remus knew, of course, who “someone else” would be. But he was still surprised when James appeared in his fireplace two days later, triumphantly crowing, “Guess what, Remus! I’m Head Boy!”
Remus congratulated his friend, then listened to the more serious questions about whether Lily Evans would finally notice him. Then came the news that Sirius’s Uncle Alphard had died.
“The old boy bequeathed him a pile of gold. So Sirius has moved out of Chadlington and he’s gone and bought himself a mansion in Daventry.”
Once their seventh year at Hogwarts began, what with studying for N.E.W.T.s, exchanging news about Voldemort’s latest murders and planning adventures for when they would visit Daventry, there was no time to worry about who was wearing which badge.
The issue of girls was also becoming very serious. James, having stopped feeling clever for cavorting with a werewolf every month, was now approaching all his friends more humbly. The effect on Lily Evans was electric. She grudgingly admitted at the first prefects’ meeting that James had improved. By the end of the month, she seemed to be enjoying working with him (which she had to do, because she was Head Girl). By Christmas she had agreed to be his girlfriend.
“And by Easter they’ll be married,” said Sirius, who had a different girlfriend every six weeks.
Remus was stupefied by the way girls flocked around Sirius. He never had to try; half the girls in the school wanted to go out with him. Lucretia Malfoy hung around the Quidditch pitch, pretending she was interested in the sport and hoping to catch his eye after play.
Sirius confronted her about it: “What makes you think you’re my type, Miss Malfoy?”
Mortified, Lucretia tossed her head and said, “Just because my brother liked your cousin, you needn’t think that you have a chance with the Malfoy fortunes! I’m here to watch the game!”
But she never came to watch again.
Sirius spent nearly two months glued to the side of Remus’s sister Emily, “which is almost commitment for Sirius,” said Peter. The affair came to a messy end when Emily said she “wanted someone steadier”. Sirius complained that he didn’t want to be steady and that girls ought to accept him the way he was, and melodramatically announced that Emily had broken his heart.
The next day Remus was able to assure Emily that Sirius’s heart was on the mend; he had spotted his friend with his arm around Greta Catchlove. A month later, Sirius announced to Greta that They Were Through, but Greta laughed and didn’t believe him. Sirius went through agonies trying to make Greta accept that he had chucked her. When a week of snubbing and ignoring and running away only led to tearful requests from Greta that Sirius would take her back, Sirius was nearly in tears himself.
“Sticky fingers, sticky lips: how do you shake off people who are that sticky?”
“Try a public humiliation,” joked Peter.
So Sirius walked up to Emmeline Vance in full view of the entire Gryffindor common room and asked her to go out with him. Greta burst into hysterical tears, and Emmeline very publicly announced that she didn’t think Sirius was her type, “which was all very humiliating for me, in its way,” said Sirius.
Peter went through agonies because none of the girls seemed to like him. Then he went through more agonies because a Hufflepuff fifth-year did take a fancy to him, and he had no idea how to behave in front of her.
Remus buried himself in his reading, half glad and half envious that the girlfriend issue was one that would never plague his own life. For werewolves, of course, just didn’t.
Most serious of all was the issue of Lord Voldemort. What had been a mere whisper of news undercurrent in their first year was now the main headlines nearly every day in their seventh. The murder of Owen Lamb had seemed an extraordinary tragedy; but by seventh year it was clear that murder was becoming an ordinary tragedy, one that could happen to anybody.
“Until You-Know-Who has gone,” said James, “I’m not going to do anything with my life except work to get rid of him.”
That was easy for James to say; the Potters were independently wealthy, and Being Useful to Society was James’s only possible motivation for working. The only job that James ever considered was to work for Dumbledore, without pay, in the Order of the Phoenix; he sent off no other applications at all.
James and Sirius sailed through their N.E.W.T.s. They knew every charm, every herb, every star. Remus had to work much harder to achieve the same effect, but when he corked the final potion at the end of his final practical exam, he knew that he had passed everything.
“I’m sure I stirred in the asphodel wrongly!” Peter panicked. “I should have listened to Professor McGonagall – what was the point of sitting five subjects if I fail all of them?”
Exam results would not be published until the middle of August, but the last week of term was dominated by job applications, with students frantically, and often untruthfully, writing that they “expected excellent marks in every subject”. While James sauntered around the school, tossing his Snitch and attending private conferences with Dumbledore, Remus had to apply for paid work everywhere. Ideally, of course, he wanted to teach, but there were no vacancies at Hogwarts. He pushed to the back of his mind the poignant thought that teaching was the privilege of the elect few, and wrote to every department in the Ministry of Magic. Then he sounded out every Spellcrafter and businesswizard for an apprenticeship.
But it was only two weeks into the summer holidays by the time his every application had returned to him blank. No Ministry Department wanted to wait for the exam results; they all regretted that “there were no vacancies at present”, even though most departments were in fact actively recruiting among school-leavers. The Ministry accepted Benjy Fenwick and Evan Rosier, whose N.E.W.T. results turned out to be, as expected, nowhere near as good as Remus’s; but the bottom line was that the Ministry of Magic did not employ a person who was listed on the Werewolf Registry. Remus’s weak Potions skills precluded his becoming a Healer. He knew he was not suited to business or banking, so he was not surprised when his applications there were ignored.
“I would have thought you were highly suited to research, Moony,” said Sirius.
But, as the Spellcrafters bitterly complained, there was no funding for research in the dark days dominated by Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The only student in Remus’s year who found a job in that field was Gaspard Shingleton.
“So you really only have two options left,” said James. “Screwing lids on bottles in the Butterbeer factory. Or joining the Order of the Phoenix.”
“You are not intruding, Remus,” James repeated wearily. “Dumbledore told me to bring you to the meeting. He told me to bring all my friends.”
James took him to a Regency-style house in Sheffield. “The Plumpton place,” he said.
“What, Roderick Plumpton – the Quidditch player?”
“It belongs to his brother. The Order is using it for some meetings because Emmeline Vance is his granddaughter.”
Emmeline opened the door and led them to the meeting in the drawing room. Dumbledore seemed to be expecting them; he welcomed Remus into the Order of the Phoenix and asked if he would like to take over the paperwork of keeping their records and rosters in order.
Remus replied that he would be glad to do anything to help.
“Good. The salary will be twenty-five Galleons a week.”
Remus tried not to feel patronised – he hadn’t realised it would be a paid position. James, Lily and Sirius, who worked for the Order as long and hard as he did, were not being paid at all. Even Peter, who had taken a clerical position at St Mungo’s, Emmeline Vance, who had found a printing and publishing apprenticeship with Obscurus Books, and the indefatigable Benjy Fenwick were pouring all their spare time into the work of the Order for no pay.
The paperwork only took about twenty hours a week, so Remus had no time to feel that his share of the work was too comfortable. Within a week, a colleague named Gideon Prewett was Flooing into Remus’s house, saying they had to go to Birmingham at once.
“Dumbledore had the tip-off that Mulciber is planning a Muggle-baiting attack there,” Gideon explained. “He specialises in Imperius, so there’s no limit to the horrors we might find. Are you sure you want to come?”
Remus flung the Floo powder in the hearth and ordered, “The Crown, Corporation Street!”
When they stepped out of the public Floo in The Crown – a drinking house patronised by both wizards and Muggles – hysterical screams pierced their ears. Gideon stopped, frozen.
“We’re too late,” he said quietly. “They’re already here. That’s Brandon Mulciber; I’ve known him all my life.”
A large man was sprawled lazily over the bar, a tankard of – tomato juice? – a tankard near his left hand. His right fingers were loosely playing with a smooth stick, an object that no Muggle would think of associating with a magic wand and no wizard would associate with anything else. In front of Mulciber, a pale-faced man was holding the screaming man to the ground, while a vacant-eyed man stropped a razor down this man’s arm.
A few customers were also screaming, and one woman tried to run towards the scene of the violence, but she tripped over some invisible barrier when she was about an arm’s reach from the crime. Most of the customers, however, were not doing anything; they were just sitting, vacant-eyed, as if it weren’t happening.
“Imperio,” said Mulciber, pointing his wand at the woman. “Hold the Mudblood down. Lestoat, let her take your place, while you break his wand.”
He gulped at his scarlet drink, while the woman, zombie-like, pressed her hands down on the victim’s shoulders. She wasn’t as strong as the man she was trying to hold, but when Mulciber sternly ordered, “Keep holding!” she forced her weight down, and the victim – presumably a Muggle-born wizard – struggled in vain.
The man with the razor kept mindlessly scratching while blood poured into the floor, and the pale man named Lestoat stood up and reached for the victim’s wand. Remus knew he had heard the name Lestoat before… but where?
Crack. The wand snapped. Lestoat walked over to another customer and said, “Mulciber, I know this one’s just a Muggle – but can I have him?”
He had an American accent. Was Lestoat a famous writer? Suddenly Remus remembered the title of his autobiography. “I’ll go first as he doesn’t know me,” he said. Gideon, with his flaming hair, was as recognisable as Remus was overlookable.
Remus raised his wand, moved to the doorway of the bar – just out of sight of the Death Eaters – and threw a Stunner at Mulciber. Mulciber toppled, unconscious, which immediately broke his Imperius spell. As Lestoat whipped his head around, the woman sprang to her feet, and the man with the razor – who had also been acting under Imperius – stared at his weapon in horror.
Before Lestoat could work out the direction from which the attack on Mulciber had originated, Gideon had Stunned him. He sprinted towards the bar, throwing Finite Incantatem spells around the bar as he went, while the bleeding wizard’s screams dropped to groans.
Remus checked swiftly for more Death Eaters, but no one else was making any attempt to attack Gideon or himself, so he had time to scan the bar and snatch up a long-legged stool. The moment he had it in his hand, he plunged one of the legs through the unconscious Lestoat’s chest. Then he turned his attention to the man with the razor, who was in tears.
“I suppose we’d better take all of them to St Mungo’s,” he said.
Gideon, having staunched some of the victim’s bleeding with a Pulpa charm and thrown a Petrificus Totalus at Mulciber for good measure, nodded.
With the help of a few persuasion charms, the two wizards herded the Muggles back into the Floo and levitated the body-bound Death Eaters after them. It was a tricky operation, but finally they were all standing in the foyer of St Mungo’s, and the Aurors were on their way.
“We were lucky,” said Gideon. “I was certain the American – was his name Stoat? – I took it for granted he would throw a curse at you the second he saw Mulciber down. I don’t know how I had time to Stun him.”
“Lestoat couldn’t have cursed you,” said Remus, “because he wasn’t a wizard. He wasn’t even human.”
“Lestoat?” Gideon tried out the name. “Not Amarillo Lestoat? The vampire?”
Remus nodded. “I don’t know what he was doing in Mulciber’s pay, but we shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that Voldemort uses Dark creatures.”
He reflected for a moment on the fact that he had destroyed the creature – a creature who, like himself, had begun as human until he had received a bite. But Lestoat had a long record of deliberate vampire-making as well as murder; and, technically, Remus’s oak stake hadn’t killed him because Lestoat had been already dead.
It was just luck that Remus happened to have read that very boring book, A Vampire’s Monologue, and that the pub furniture was built mainly from oak. He wouldn’t always be so lucky in knowing his enemy.
It looked like being a long and violent war.