Written for the QLFC, Season 5, Round Two.

Position: Captain

Position Prompt: Gambol and Japes

Title: In Wolf's Clothing

Word Count: 2,999 at time of posting

Beta(s): MagicalButts, Kage Kitsune, CUtopia, Aelys Althea, DinoDina (Thank you!)

Go Wanderers!

On Remus's eleventh birthday an owl landed on the kitchen window sill. It was an invitation to attend Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a meeting with the Headmaster: Professor Armando Dippet. It was addressed to his parents.

It had been years since Lyall had been to Hogwarts, and it was his first time in the Headmaster's office. He'd never had the opportunity to see the room as a student, and yet ironically this hidden room was as much of the school as his son was ever likely to see.

"I'm sorry Mr. and Mrs. Lupin, it simply can not be allowed. We must consider the safety of the other students, they're only children after all."

Lyall's son Remus sat between his parents attempting to look ineffected.

"He's only a boy."

"Now, Mr. Lupin," he chortled goodnaturedly. "Perhaps that's a bit far."

Remus was crying.

"He's done nothing wrong. He's harmed no one."

His wife, Hope, reached out to comfort their boy.

"Precisely, and what better way to keep it that way than to stay your current course?"

Hope had been against this from the start.

"What course? Moving from one place to another, locking the boy away from his peers? You think it's easier to pretend her doesn't exist? Well perhaps it is easier. Easier for you!"

"Lyall," Hope said, pulling Remus up to stand with her. She'd said time and time again that magic had caused them nothing but hardship. She'd loved it at first, loved nothing more than to wander Wizarding London.

"You'd render my son an outcast?" Lyall asked, his throat tight. It was his fault.

Dippet looked uncomfortable, but to make a long story short: his answer was yes.

"Why can't we have a garden?" Remus asked from his seat beside his Father. The tired teenager stared over the top of his book and out the kitchen window. The square of tarmac beyond was just visible.

Lyall took a slow breath, he was bent over the dining table attempting to mark a batch of History of Magic O.W.L.'s. The work was tedious, but he was grateful for it.

"We have a garden lad, just because there's no grass doesn't mean you can't play out there."

"Is it because we don't have any money?"

Lyall dipped his quill into a pot of watered down ink. "We have a garden."

"You already said. I just… You're always working, but Mum's always asking you to Confund Muggles in Tesco so we can pay less for groceries. Where does all the money go?"

"I don't Confund Muggles, it's not ethical."

"But she's always asking you to. Do you think she's morally bankrupt?" Remus asked, and his tone was tinged with humour now.

"It's alright if a Muggle Confunds another Muggle, it's just unfair when a Wizard does it."

"Do you think she's jealous of you?"

"Wouldn't you be sometimes, if you were a Muggle?"

"I wish I was."

Lyall turned to his son, now a thirteen year old Wizard and no closer to owning a wand than Hope, but he said nothing. Remus held his gaze, smiling sadly.

Then Remus returned to his copy of Charms of Defence and Deterrence. Lyall made some progress on the bundle of papers.

"It's because we have to keep moving isn't it?"

Lyall pushed back his thinning hair with an ink-stained hand.

"Remus, why don't you write down your questions? And I'll answer them when I'm finished working."

Remus closed his book and stood.

"Alright," he said. "But I'm using a biro."

Remus had filled a notebook. The last three pages were especially cramped, questions sharing lines, some lines nearly black with two rows of text. Remus had run out of space, but not curiosity. Lyall's eyes stung. There would never be enough space to contain his son's brilliant mind, there might never be a space willing to try.

Lyall went through every stage of grief right then. He held the notebook to his chest, Hope was sitting up in bed next to him working on some Muggle number game.

He pulled his reading glasses from his face and wiped the fog gathered on the inside on the duvet.

Hope put her puzzlebook down.

"What's upset you, love?" She asked.

"Have you given up on me?" Lyall repeated.

"I'm sorry?"

He passed her the notebook, and pointed with an ink-stained finger to the question Remus had scrawled in tiny letters:

Have you given up on me?

Every stage of grief but one; he could not accept this.

Lyall woke the next morning with heat prickling his cheeks. He'd been grinding his teeth in the night and his jaw was aching. He had woken up angry.

He threw himself to his feet, snatched the notebook off his bedside locker, and thundered downstairs in his best robes. He was standing in the Floo before he'd even noticed Remus sitting in front of the fireplace. He was going to storm the castle.

Remus looked him up and down, his eyes settling on the notebook in Lyall's hand.

"Let me get my coat," he said.

"Hm?" Dippet lifted his chin from his chest at the intrusion. He'd been dozing behind his desk.

"It's not too late."

"What?" The Headmaster squinted at Lyall from behind thin, drooping eyelids.

Lyall tossed the notebook on the desk between them. Lyall had never seen Remus stand so straight, he looked like a man.

"You could change your mind. Find a way. Don't you see that you must!"

Dippet lifted up the offending article with a fat-veined hand. He glanced at it, and then at the two men in front of him.

"I see that despite your impeccable performance as a student Mr. Lupin; you never learnt when to quit," he said. He placed it back on the table, unopened.

"Quit? Quit on my boy?"

Dippet sighed deeply; the sound was wet, and laboured, but that was to be expected. Armando Dippet was more than three hundred years old. He was a relic: a backwards, archaically-minded relic. He looked at Lyall, pity etched in every line of his face.

"On a wolf in sheep's clothing."

If Remus had been any slower; Lyall would've been on his way to Azkaban. As it was, he lost his job with the Ministry and the Lupins were forced to move again.

This time Remus knew for sure that they didn't have a garden because of him.

Hope leant against the doorjamb in Remus's with a small sack in her hand.

Remus lowered the off-brand Rubik's cube he'd found on the bus, and tilted his head in a silent question.

"I want to show you something," she said. His mother's accent was the strangest combination of Welsh and Indian as a result of her mixed parentage, and she was beautiful when she was up to something.

Remus was able to use Floo powder, although he wasn't completely clear on the legality of him travelling with it. He had been taken to Wizarding London so rarely he wasn't even completely sure he was allowed, let alone while escorting a Muggle.

They'd waited at the back of the Leaky Cauldron for a passing Wizard to open the arch into Diagon Alley, and then they'd stepped out. They walked along briskly with the other shoppers, but neither could keep from gawking.

Often it felt like Lyall was the only Wizard in the world, it was hard for Remus to see that wasn't the case.

"I'm not sure this was such a good idea," Remus said.

"Try to relax, it's always strange at first."

"I should be used to this."

She smiled up at him, he'd taken a growth spurt since the move.

"You're my son too, so you should feel at least half-baffled."

A bitter part of him wanted to ask what fraction of him belonged to Greyback, but he was through with questions.

Remus hadn't expected to recognise anyone, but up ahead he saw a tall Wizard with a long white beard tucked into his belt.

"Mum, we need to get out of sight. There's a Professor from the school over there."

Hope didn't need any further instruction, if they worked at the school it was possible that they knew.

"Come on," she said, and pulled him nearer to the danger.

"Not this way, that's him in the starry cloak!"

"In here," she replied, dragging him into a shop. It stank of burning inside. Together they moved far from the door, taking cover among the shelves.

"Can I help you?" A young Witch asked. He shook his head.

"We're here about the job," Hope said, and Remus's head whipped around.

Remus wanted to question her, but instead he just stared at her with wide eyes as she pushed him forward.

"Oh good!" The Witch's shoulders sagged with relief. "I'm Skip Gambol." She held out her plump, black hand, and God help him Remus shook it. "I hope you have a sense of humour."

He was loath to admit it, but his mother knew him well. He loved his job, and being able to help at home made it a little easier to look in the mirror.

"Isn't he a bit young to be out of Hogwarts?" A soft-spoken Witch asked her husband as they perused the shelves. They were looking for a gift for their son.

Remus ignored her, if he had been anyone else he wouldn't have been able to hear her. Remus watched her husband snickering to himself as he read the backs of a shining box. The man ruffled his already messy hair absentmindedly; it stuck up in all directions.

"You know ol'Japes. He's always happy to employ squibs. He's married to one after all."

He brought the box toward Skip at the counter.

"I think you're right, he's been stacking that shelf since we came in. He mustn't have a wand, how awful."

Her husband didn't reply, distracted by Skip's chatter as she rang them up.

He overheard conversations like this often. It was rare to hear a woman who was clearly a Pureblood be so sympathetic, but then that wouldn't be the case if she knew the truth.

Remus stood in the small staff room at the back of Gambol and Japes', taking an unnecessary amount of time to put on his apron. It was always harder to face the day when the school was off-term.

"Hey Oscar Wilde, any chance of you coming to work today?" Skip called from the shop floor. Remus sighed and went to join her.

"Did you like the book?" He asked, she was holding his copy of Wilde's biography between her teeth and putting a cheap clip in her fuzzy, black hair.

"Punctuality is the thief of time, very clever. I didn't realise it was a prophecy." She smacked him playfully over the head before passing it to him.

"My shift doesn't start for five minutes."

"Which makes you five minutes late on Lupin-time. Are you alright? You're not ill again, are you? These Muggle disorders can be harder to shift than Stinksap. You've been doing so well these last few weeks."

"It's not that it's just…" He didn't want to say it, but Skip always worried about him. She truly cared for him, even if it was only because she thought he was a Squib with lupus rather than a monster. "Hogwarts," he explained, and she nodded.

"Oh, of course. I know you don't like crowds, but at least it makes the day go faster, right? Plus, we could really do with the business. Listen, I can man the register for today. You go keep the shelves in order and see if you can persuade someone to buy something."

"Do you recognise him?"

"No. He can't be a Muggle, can he?"

Honestly, Pureblood teenagers talking about him in stage whispers were the bane of Remus's life. There were three of them: all of them boys who looked to be fairly well off. Remus tried to appear focussed on arranging a display of Dr. Filibuster's Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Fireworks.

"I'd know if someone our age had been expelled, my Father's on the Board of Governors."

"We know."

Remus cast around for something to distract himself and noticed another kid about his age in the store. A tall boy, his clothes were expensive too but rumpled. His whole appearance was rumpled, like he'd dressed in a hurry after a day at the beach.

"Merlin, you don't think he's a Squib? He's had his hands all over the shop."

It would've bothered him less if there hadn't been other people there, throwing him glances ranging from pity to disgust. The kid looked his way briefly, but he seemed to be checking for something. It was then Remus noticed him slip a small item into his pocket.

"Then who're his parents? Squibs have magical parents."

Remus knew he had to wait for the boy to try to leave before he called Skip over, although this was his first time having to confront a thief.

"Do you think anyone would hear from your parents again if you'd turned out to be bloody Muggle filth?"

"Oi!" The thief cut-in. "If you're not going to spend some of your daddy's money, why don't you get out? You bloody partisans."

"What did you call me Black?" One of the group snapped.

The thief laughed, and Remus was at a loss for what to do other than watch.

"You heard me Carrow. You're a bunch of curse fodder in the making, mark my words."

"Couldn't resist the opportunity to align yourself with scum could you? You're a bloody abomination!"

"Mother?" Black asked, placing a hand over his heart and stepping toward Carrow. "Is that you?"

Remus couldn't help it, the corners of his mouth turned up with amusement.

"Something funny, Squib?"

"Right." It was Skip. "Out!" She snapped, and jostled the three 'partisans' out the door. She turned to the thief and pointed into the alley. "You too."

Remus was about to protest, he even took a step forward, but the thief gave no indication of expecting defense or condemnation.

Black walked passed Remus with a casual grace that gave away nothing, but when he stepped out into the street; the shop was filled a piercing whistle that made Remus's hair stand on end.

Remus clapped his hands over his ears as the Sneakoscope over the entrance alerted Skip in time to clap her hand down on Black's shoulder. He struggled for a moment, but Skip held firm.

"Don't bother lad, you've been nicked," she told him, and Remus felt his stomach sink.

Through the window, Remus saw Carrow and his two friends looking on in exultation. One of them directed the member of the M.L.E.P. who had approached at the sound of the alarm toward Gambol and Japes'.

Even with the whistling Remus's hearing was good for him to know what was coming when the familiar officer reached the door. Carrow had had just enough time to accuse Remus of being involved as the Patrol member passed him. Carrow couldn't know that this particular officer would as soon take Remus in for existing if he had the chance. Chang was there when he was registered. Chang knew.

"Madam, my name's Li Jie Chang I'm with the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol. I can take it from here," the man told Skip, who cleared her throat and let go of Black's robes. Chang pulled his wand from his robes and the screech of the Sneakoscope was abruptly halted.

"Fine by me." Skip flexed her fingers. Remus lowered his hands.

"Right son, return the goods and we'll take you down to the Ministry," Chang said, stowing his wand.

Black looked pale but otherwise unaffected as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver box. He passed it to Skip.

"Forgot my wallet," he mumbled.

She snickered. "Is that it?" She asked. "That Sneakoscope is ruddy sensitive, sounded like you'd hidden a dead body."

Black shrugged.

"Is that it?" Chang asked. "If you've anything else, it'd be best to declare it."

"That's it," he confirmed.

"If you're sure, then we can take you to the office and get you processed." Chang took Sirius's arm, preparing to Apparate.

"Is that really necessary?" Skip asked. "I mean." She held up the box. "I crushed a dozen products yesterday when I fell into a crate, and they were worth twice what this is."

"It's the law Ms…?"


"Ms. Gambol, it's the law and it's my job to enforce it. Now, Lupin," Chang addressed him by name and Remus flinched. "You witnessed the crime taking place?"

"I, uhm." Remus looked at Skip and grimaced apologetically. "I did, but there just wasn't time to-"

"And did you instigate a confrontation to facilitate the theif's escape?"

"What?! No," Remus protested.

"You're a bloody conspiracy theorist," Sirius said, looking up at Chang.

"Mr. Chang, I'd be gratified if you left my staff out of your justice rampage. It's a bloody three Knut gag gift! Take your petty thief and write him up so his parents can come bail him out. Remus is just a stockboy."

"Don't let appearances fool you, he's not as innocent as he looks. Lupin, come here," Chang said, and Remus stepped forward.

"No, just stay where you are! He's done nothing wrong, and if you insist on taking him with you; I'll report you for prejudice!"

Remus froze, bracing himself for what was to come. Chang stared at Skip for a moment, his eyebrow raised in shock.

"You know what Lupin is?" Chang asked. The onlookers who had been watching the scene hungrily seemed to breathe in as one at the oncoming revelation.

Remus wanted nothing more than to run, but they were blocking the exit.

"Of course I know, he's worked for me over two years."

"You've knowingly employed a Werewolf for all that time?" Chang asked, incredulous.

Every muscle in Skip's body seemed to go rigid. The crowd erupted with noise, and Remus felt his eyes well with tears. His face was hot. People scrambled down the aisle, attempting to create some distance between them and the monster.

Skip still didn't move, she looked to be completely petrified.

Remus walked over to Chang like someone walking to the gallows.

"He's gonna kill him!" One of costumer shrieked. In that moment Remus would've admitted anything just to get out of the shop.

He glanced at Black who looked stricken, clearly horrified to have to interact with him at such close quarters. Appalled to realise he had defended a dark creature. He looked Remus dead in the eye, looking paler than ever as Chang took Remus's arm.

"I'm so sorry," he said, and Remus narrowed his eyes. Wondering how he could've misheard the boy when he was standing so close.

"What?" He asked, but the reply was interrupted by the nauseating tug of Apparition.

"You have to send him home! This is all my fault, he didn't do anything," Black insisted.

"Name?" The officer repeated. Remus was sat on a bench outside the department with his head in his hands. Chang stood with his arms folded across the hall and watched him.

Black was shouting at the registrar in the next room on Remus's behalf.

A spell had been cast to block noise from escaping into the hall, but to Remus the sound was only dulled.

Remus couldn't understand Black's motives. Maybe he was hoping to keep Remus as a pet, or he had a powerful enemy he wanted taken care of.

"If you find him so repulsive, why don't you get him out of here before he eats your bloody homework? It's two o'clock in the bloody afternoon, what bloody harm is he going to do to anyone?!"

"If you tell me your name, I can get him in here and find out."

"He's not coming in here, he's not a bloody criminal!"

"We already know this is Sirius Black, can't we just call his parents and be done with it?" A third voice cut in, apparently sick of waiting.

"Oh sure," said the Registrar. "You want to call Orion Black down here to collect his son, and then learn the hard way that we've got some Muggleborn lookalike."

"At this point, I am willing to take that risk. My head is killing me, and if I have to here one more reprise from the bleeding heart blood traitor choir I'll curse my own ears off!"

"Alright Digby, but it's your funeral," the registrar said, sounding relieved. "Take him through."

Chang brought Remus in a moment later. The registrar was standing on the other side of a high counter, and he wouldn't look at Remus.

"Put your apron, and your shoes up on the counter."

Remus untied his apron and toed-off his shoes, the Registrar's quill scratched over a flattened piece of parchment just out of sight.


"Remus Lupin."

"Speak up."

"Remus Lupin."

"Yes, I got that. Dark Creature Registration Number?"


The scratching of the quill paused for a moment.

"Date of birth?"

"The 10th of March, 1960."

The registrar looked up then, and he looked sad.

"But then you couldn't have been older than five when-"

"He was four," Chang said.

The registrar rubbed his brow.

"You were caught shoplifting."

"I didn't take anything."

"But you helped the boy."

"I was just there!"

"A creature like you should know better than most: if you fly with crows, you get shot with them."

They took his parent's details, and moved him into a holding cell.

A Werewolf with even the slightest criminal record had a one-way ticket to being interned in a Dangerous Creatures Camp. It was something which Remus kept realising over and over. He attempted each minute to at once swallow the truth of it, and spit it out like so much poison.

He could hear Sirius arguing with his parents when they came to collect him.

"Give it up, you're making a show of yourself. You're nothing but an embarrassment. A stain on your heritage."

"Me? I'm an embarrassment? Look in a mirror Orion, you're a bloody caricature. They've locked an innocent kid in here because of you, and I'm not leaving until he walks out that door."

It went on like that for a while, until there was the unmistakable crack of Apparition and Sirius's protests were abruptly silenced. He must have really needed a Werewolf for something.

Not long after, Remus heard his parents being refused entry. Lyall appealed to one of his old colleagues for help to no avail.

"That's not your son in there Lyall, let it go. It's over now. He'll be relocated in the morning."

"That's not possible, you can't do that Digby, please. He's my son. There must be something."

Remus loved his father very much, but he knew there was no going back now. His borrowed time among the flock had run out and he was to be cast among the wolves.

He was ready to hear it said for the umpteenth time. He was braced for Digbys response. What he wasn't prepared for was Digby to speak in the finest whisper.

"We can't talk here."

Albus Dumbledore had arrived too late at Gambol and Japes, he found Skip Gambol crying at the register holding a worn paperback.

She looked up at him with wide eyes as he entered.

"Professor." She swiped at her tears. "I hope you didn't come looking for a laugh."

"No Skippia, I've come for a Master Lupin."

Her face creased up.

"A Mr. Chang took him to the Ministry."

"Ah, then I must go to the Ministry."

"What'll they do to him Professor? He lent me this book, and he underlined some of it. I never thought…"

Albus paused and made his way to the desk. He tipped his head a little to see the page his former student had been reading.

There were two lines, neatly underlined in pencil.

"He may be bad, without ever doing anything bad. He may commit a sin against society, and yet realise through that sin his true perfection," Albus read aloud. "Fine words."

"I let them take him," she sobbed. "I let them, over a bloody trinket. Tell me, is he even a Squib? Or did they just refuse him a wand?"

Albus stepped away from the counter and prepared to Disapparate.

"It may not be too late."

Albus Dumbledore had a list of tasks which needed to be complete once he'd assumed the position of Headmaster at Hogwarts. The first few were administrative. He raised the wages for the Keeper of the Keys, and moved into his office.

Items 7 through to 237 on his list were questions which needed answering. Questions which he had found handwritten in a notebook in Armando's junk drawer.

Remus Lupin wanted to know why all people had to suffer, he wanted to know how Wizards in India practiced religion, and he wanted to know how likely it was that he would ever have a chance at a normal life. Albus wanted to give Remus the opportunity to learn.

"Mr. Lupin? My name is Professor Albus Dumbledore, would it be possible for me to talk with you?"

"This is a joke, isn't it?" A hoarse voice replied, and amber eyes appeared in the open slot of the cell door.

"I'm afraid jokes are your trade, not mine."

"I heard you speaking to my family."

"Did you, really? Through all those enchantments? How extraordinary."

"Why did you do that to them? They believed you."

"I should hope so, I was telling the truth."

"Let's just get this over with. I promise you my condition is it's own punishment."

"You know, you're a very articulate young man."

"What did you call me?"

"I said you're very articulate, what happened to that impeccable hearing of yours?" Albus smiled at the narrowed, blood-shot eyes. The child's brow was prematurely wrinkled with a furrow of worry, and a scar ran across his nose.

"I know you know what I am, and I know that whatever you might've told my parents that you can't get me out of here. So why are you doing this?"

"I'm afraid that's not the question I came to answer," Albus said, and he opened the notebook he'd been carrying and read aloud: "If I'm really human 353 days out of the year, then why am I treated like an animal for all of them? Are Werewolves human? Explain.

"Stop it."

"Why can't I have a wand? What does the law say about Werewolves living alone?"

"Would you stop talking."

"Am I allowed to get married? Am I allowed to own a house? Is Divination viable? Explain."

"You don't have to mock me!"

"Mr. Lupin, I wanted to help you answer these questions. I wish I knew how to convince you."

"They say that I'm a wolf in sheep's clothing. Appearing vulnerable is part of a Werewolf's natural defense, did you know that? That the more vulnerable I appear, the more dangerous I am?"

"You've been listening to the staff."

"And in you walk Professor like a dog with a limp, promising the world. Do you understand why I'm not convinced?"

Albus frowned, nodding.

"It's not a time for words then."

"No, I'm afraid that time has quite passed." Albus reached out and pushed up the heavy latch on the cell. "Step back please."

And Albus was unsurprised that this was the first instruction Remus followed.

The door swung open to reveal a boy more weary than his years could justify.

"I didn't write those questions because I wanted the answers."

Albus smiled genially; his curiosity peaked. "Why then?"

"Because I wanted my Dad to talk to me. Because I was alone, and I had no one else."

That was something Albus could definitely help with.

"Come with me," he said, and he brought him back to the start.