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November 10th, 2004 -

 

Dear Journal,


That darn wolf has written to me again. It is hard to know what he is thinking, surely taking the Wolfbane potion for so long must have damaged his brain dramatically. Presumptuous Gryffindor! Always out to act nicely and be a goodie-goodie two shoes. Well, might as well open the stupid letter anyway. I have charmed a quill to take note of my comments while reading, I would not want to waste time going from you to his letter. I won't give him that joy, though of course he has no idea I have been writing this.  Anyhow!

Dear Severus,

if this owl will reach you while you are sitting at my desk in the Defence classroom, waiting for the students, that means Albus, the old cunning fox, convinced you once again to cover for me while I’m staying in St. Mungo’s for my annual check-up.

 

You know, the Healers still think it wise for me to spend a few days in hospital once a year, though they say the solution you monthly brew for my lycanthropy condition has been working miracles during the years.

 

I’m so grateful you never forgot to concoct the Wolfsbane Potion regularly, even when you were far from Hogwarts, and don’t try to hide your generosity behind a fake excuse like the fact you acted on Dumbledore’s orders: this might be true, but you could have easily dismissed the Headmaster’s request when you were so busy working in that research lab: after all it is you and not Albus himself who spend a whole day about a cauldron mixing one of the most complicated potions ever invented, and all of this for a Marauder’s health, no less! Therefore I think it only fair to express my thankfulness to you, in first place.

I’m sorry I did not inform you of my being off teaching this week: actually, even I did not know I was due to St. Mungo’s, they owled me two nights ago telling they had finally found a room in the Dangerous Half-Creatures’ Ward, so I just rushed to Albus’s office, fixed things up with him, then quickly packed and left. Anyway, “this time” I wrote you down some notes about the subjects I’ve already covered in my lessons, so you can’t complain about my forgetfulness, though there is no doubt you will find something to criticize about my imprecision, disorganization, lack of details and logic. And all of this sneering in front of the whole class, of course. Thanks Mr. Perfect, always so nice of you.

It’s not bad here, they’re treating me very kindly though I’m getting a bit bored doing nothing all day, just watching the healers and their trainees in and out of my room. Fortunately Neville Longbottom came to visit me yesterday, he’s trainee to Healer Augustus Pye (perhaps you remember him, he took care of Arthur Weasley the night he was attacked by the snake in Harry’s fifth year), it seems he’s doing pretty good, though potions making remains his Achille’s heel, or so he says.

Why don’t you show up in the week-end if you are not too busy, Healer Pye suggested to change an ingredient of my potion and though he seems a competent medi-wizard I’d prefer you had yourself a word with him, I’ve never been much of a brewer, remember? Definitely, my opinion is not the most trustable in that field. Besides, you could bring me those long essays I’m sure you’ll have meanwhile assigned the students taking advantage of my absence, so I could kill time grading them and relieve you of part of the extra-work you are overloaded with thanks to my being here. And in case you are thinking I’m volunteering in paper grading to spare the students your “D”s .....well, you guessed right. Whoops! Sorry! You Slytherins never “guess”, always “deduce”, don’t you?

Now, please, don’t retrieve in your typical suspicious mood about such “invitation”, this is not a naive Gryffindor offer for friendship (not yet! *annoying goody-goody smile*) and it’s not like Albus asked me to check on you and cheer you up from time to time: stay reassured I would not comply with such request of our Headmaster’s in case he did one, for you are not exactly the type one looks forward to babysit, you know. Therefore, let’s say it’s not your solitude I am concerned with, just mine and I, unlike you, become mad about being alone for more than a couple of days. I just thought we could tolerate each other for an hour or two and have some civil conversation. For your knowledge, Neville is not in charge next week-end, Harry is abroad until the end of month, so you are not risking to ruin your day meeting them and no one else is planning to visit me: as you know, Albus is going to the Wizengamot Convention and Minerva will obviously be stuck at Hogwarts attending her Deputy Headmistress duties. And I solemnly swear I did not extend my invitation to Trelawney.

By the way, I hope you are not still holding a grudge to her for what happened that “lovely” meeting last August: honestly, I don’t even remember the reason why Sybill and you started that argument, probably our dear fortune-teller had done one of her foolish remarks and our master of logic wanted to prove her wrong. I was doubtful whether to take sides and whose because, as it mostly happens to me, I saw both reasons and flaws on each side of you two: I mean, Sybill can be a truly appalling co-worker, yet your harsh reply seemed to me a bit over-reaction and, in my opinion, the fact you were right in principle did not allow you to insult her, so I remained silent (“sheepish”, you would say).

Of course  the others’ remarks about your having a horrible temper and your deserving to be left alone were totally uncalled for, however I wonder why they were so important to you that you left the party in such a foul mood. It’s not like it was Albus to say those things, they came from people whom you don’t usually regard for their wit. Then  why do you mind, whatever you do in your life you should know people always find something to criticize, whether you are alone or have a partner, you opt for a career change or refuse it, you move to a new apartment or keep your dwelling in the same place for years and I’m afraid the list could be endless. You are far better than them, so don’t let yourself be their “easy prey”. I wish you could answer them back and retort their stupidity with a laugh, it would soothe your anger and disarm your opponents far more effectively than an Expelliarmus. Sorry, meddling again, bad Gryffindor habit.

Perhaps you’d have learned to take such silly tauntings more lightly had you not been left to struggle all alone since you were a boy and, you would add with a smirk, had “those” who could try to stop the offenders not chosen to sit down and let things happen. Touché.

Minerva has just owled me, I’m awfully sorry and disappointed to hear that last night another infamous prank took place at Hogwarts, another stupid and cruel joke like the one we both remember far too well. Minerva did not explain me what it was about, she just sent me a short note telling that all of you are sleep-deprived for the Heads of Houses spent nearly the whole night in Dumbledore’s office, working out a decision. I can see from her shaky handwriting that she is still shocked. She wrote something about a Slytherin student endangering one of our Gryffindors and how only by a miracle everyone were rescued alive and safe. She added how later, in the Headmaster’s study, in an outburst of anger she claimed for your student to be expelled at once because that’s what a reckless, irresponsible young criminal deserves. Yet, she had not finished uttering such words that she was already regretting them. Just a quick look at the expression on your face and she knew what was coming. In your more dangerous and low voice you told Albus that though you were disgusted by your student’s behaviour, you saw no reason for the culprit to be treated in a different way rather than Sirius was years ago, unless, of course, the Headmaster was biased towards Slytherins. So, a golden Gryffindor playing a trick is just a rambunctious, alive boy, while a Slytherin doing the same is a hopeless would-be Death Eater?

Right to the score. Minerva had to give in. Albus had to agree with you and let go of your student with nothing more than a detention and points deduction.

I’m terribly sorry you had to re-live such a terrible experience and once again to face the “ghosts” of your youth in the shape of Sirius’s impunity. I can’t even imagine how miserable you felt when Sirius was allowed to return to Gryffindor Tower without exemplary punishment.

I’ve never told anyone, but that nasty day my friendly relation with Sirius came to a turning point, though this went probably unnoticed to you: seeing that I continued to be part of the Marauders you probably infered that nothing had changed between Sirius and me. But it had. You see, before the prank I used to admire him so much, for he was many things I was not: handsome, daring, brilliant, also he was blessed with a casual elegance which I never possessed, thanks, I suppose, to his belonging to one of the most noble and aristocratic families in the wizarding world. And then there was my thankfulness to him and James for accepting me in spite of my condition, for keeping my secret and helping me through my difficult life. I wanted to be loyal to them because they were the only ones who actually did some good to me at school. I don’t blame this on you, Severus, I perfectly understand you had your troubles to cope with and your own wound-licking, but you have to admit you never showed me any sympathy.  Plus, the neverending rivalry between Slytherin and Gryffindor did not help between the two of us.

Of course, I had already noticed Sirius was often reckless and his jokes were somewhat distasteful, but I hoped adulthood would soon deflate his arrogance and would turn his irresponsibility into maturity, as it happend with James.

But the night he sent you to the Shrieking Shack he showed not only utter disrespect for your life, he also proved to not care much for a friend’s feelings. My feelings. Had James not arrived in time to help you and had I actually killed you in my werewolf form, how would I have felt in the aftermath, when told that during my transformation I had taken your life?

Suddenly I realised I was stronger than him, in spite of my pale, sick look and my quiet, reserved mood. For the first time I saw how hopelessly immature he was, a strong contender to Peter Pan. I began to fear his irresponsible behaviour would endanger his and others’ lives in future. God knows how sad I am that facts proved me right.

When I met him after his break-out from Azkaban I hoped a twelve-year prison had made a man out of the childish prankster he was, but the moment we recalled the joke he had played to you at school and I heard him saying that it “served you right”, I was dumbfounded and realised he was almost a desperate cause. Merlin, I thought, how can an adult of nearly forty years talk like that? Still, I stayed by his side because I knew in spite of his being reckless, immature and irresponsible he had a generous good heart. Also, he had suffered a lot in Azkaban and I am not speaking just of physical pain but especially of his mind, he never forgave himself for his having been so blind about Peter’s loyalties and such a remorse was always eating him from inside.

I am not saying these things to make you pity Sirius or to give reasons that you should have liked him, of course not, you two were too distant in character to befriend each other: I just wish you to understand why I was friend to Sirius and kept my affection to him, though I was aware of his big flaws. Because that’s what friends are for, not to believe you flawless but to take you in as you are. With your qualities and faults as well. Especially with your faults, I daresay, and the mistakes you make.

Sirius was very far from being perfect but I never search for perfection in a friend. So, as far as I could suffer his arrogance it would be easy for me to tolerate your sarcasm and snide remarks as well because I know you are deeply good-hearted and your nasty mood is kind of a mask you wear to protect yourself. What from, I haven’t figured out yet, maybe I’ll understand one day.

I only wonder whether you could do the same towards me, I mean accept me in spite of my flaws: my goody-goody smiles, my weakness, my obsession for mutual agreement, my sheepish attitude and foolish optimism.

With these last words I’ve probably crossed any line of Gryffindor sentimentality you could ever bear, but, please, resist the urge of throwing this parchment into the fire and read till the end.

I haven’t told you yet how glad I am you’ve come back to Hogwarts: I will not repeat myself saying that you should be proud of what you’ve been doing, both as a professor and a researcher, just let me add it’s not you who should feel ashamed for quitting but those who keep their employees under such bad conditions to force them give up. Also, I’m happy you’ve quickly replaced your dreadful reputation, for I was getting jealous of so many people missing you here. Unbelievable yet true: last month some seven years confided me they were seriously worried for their NEWTS next June, for they realised they were learning very little at Potions with that supply teacher.

And then one evening I was having a cup of tea with Minerva and I let the subject of our conversation fall on the new Captain of Gryffindor Quidditch team and all of a sudden she sighed and confessed me that, without your challenges, she had lost much of her usual interest in winning House Cup and Quidditch matches.

Not to mention the countless times Albus openly stated how much he missed you: he was so fervently hoping for you to return that he refused to appoint a new Head of Slytherin House, though the Department for Education at the Ministry reiterated such request several times.

Merlin! If you had delayed your return for another week, I would have found myself dethroned from my usual first rank in Hogwarts’ top of the teachers!

However, since you were back, it only took us a couple of days to regret such warm feelings, don’t you worry. At least, the world is turning again the right way.

Oh, I was forgetting.....don’t waste your time and energy putting your most sour expression on your face if you will come down here, I am not one of your students, so I am simply not scared by your “performances”.

After all, what do you think I was given a Gryffindor lion-heart for, if not to stand a poisonous Slytherin friend? Sincerely,

                                            Remus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Severus