What Rough Beast (Burning Bright Remix)
by Rana Eros
This one was written for the Remus Remix, though it ended up being much more about Lily than Remus. I started out writing something that was more of an expansion of the original drabble (which is excellent), but it was seriously like pulling teeth. I was contemplating what else I could do when Paula Cole's "Tiger" came up on my playlist. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I wrote in a frenzy after that. Betaed by Eliza, Emerald, and Boni. Title and remix title shamelessly stolen from W. B. Yeats and William Blake, respectively. This one is for Gwyn, who first introduced me to HP.
He didn't expect to see her when he woke. It was usually James or Sirius. Lily wasn't supposed to know.
She sat next to his bed reading, all coltish limbs and awkward angles. He swallowed with difficulty. "So you found me out."
She glanced up sharply. "Remus. You're awake. I'll call the doctor."
"Wait. Doctor? Where are we?"
"St. Mungo's," she said kindly. "Professor Dumbledore thought it best you weren't in the same room as Snape."
It hit him all over again, horror and a vast sense of betrayal.
"Snape's okay. You almost got James, but he's okay, too."
"So that explains you."
"Professor Dumbledore told me. Though you might have, too."
He sighed. "I'm sorry. I was afraid."
"Because I wouldn't know what it's like to be hated for what you are?" He looked at her, startled. She raised her eyebrows.
Remus couldn't help but laugh, just a little.
When Lily was small, her parents took Petunia and her to the zoo. She didn't remember much about that earliest visit, but she remembered the tiger. It paced back and forth behind the glass, rippling orange and black, and she made her father lift her up onto his shoulders so she could see it better. It was enormous and sleek, and it stopped pacing to look straight at her and open its mouth in a roar that revealed its white, white teeth. Petunia screamed. Lily laughed. The tiger stretched and flashed its claws, and began pacing again.
Claws and teeth, Lily thought, loving it. Claws and teeth.
Her parents bought her a stuffed tiger which she carried with her everywhere, making roaring noises and throwing it so that it "pounced" on people. She wished it could really roar and pounce, and then Petunia made her angry enough one day that it did. Petunia ran screaming to their mother and Lily was left contemplating the tiger, which had fallen still and silent as soon as Petunia was out of sight. She wasn't quite sure what had happened, except that she'd felt fury pushing out of her and thought claws and teeth, and then the tiger sprang from her hands.
She wanted to see if she could make it happen again, but then her mother appeared with a crying and bleeding Petunia. The tiger was confiscated and Lily was sent to bed without supper and with a lecture on how she was a little girl, not a wild animal, and so should behave better. Petunia got the back of her hand bandaged and her own lecture on telling tales. Lily could hear her proclaiming very loudly that she wasn't telling tales, she never told tales, and that Lily could kill her in her sleep and Mum wouldn't care, because Lily was her favorite.
That got Petunia sent to bed without supper, too. Petunia kicked up a fuss because she didn't want to sleep in the same room as Lily, but she certainly didn't feel she should be the one to sleep on the sofa, as she was not the one who had attacked her sister. Lily lay there listening to her hysterics for a few moments, then finally got up, grabbed her pillow and quilt, and went downstairs to arrange herself on the sofa. It might be lumpy, but at least she wouldn't have to listen to Petunia sniffling ostentatiously over her scratches all night.
After a few weeks and a promise not to attack people with it anymore, Lily got her tiger back. Petunia had a fit over it, of course, insisting the tiger would come to life again and eat her. Lily thought claws and teeth, but she was careful to keep the anger inside, and so the tiger remained lifeless and Petunia was told not to let her imagination run away with her.
The first thing Petunia said when Lily got her Hogwarts letter was, "I told you I wasn't telling tales." The second was, "You little freak," hissed into Lily's ear when their parents were in the other room, poring over the list of school supplies Lily would need and laughing that Great Aunt Hyacinth had an heiress, after all.
"Careful, or I'll make Tiger pounce you again," Lily said back to her, and bared her own teeth for good measure.
The letter from Hogwarts said Lily could bring a pet, if she wished. Her mother suggested a cat, but Lily didn't like cats, pale imitations of tigers that they were. She requested an owl instead, and stuffed Tiger in the bottom of her trunk when she was packing. Maybe she could learn how to bring it to life on purpose, and no one would call her a freak for it.
No one ever did call her a freak at Hogwarts, but Bellatrix Black was the first to call her "mudblood," and the first she hexed successfully. Detention was worth it, even if she did have to serve it with Black's cousin and that annoying Potter boy, who kept baiting Black's cousin and trying to talk to her and doing anything except cleaning the owl droppings from the owlery, which was what they were supposed to be doing. Even the owls seemed exasperated with him, and finally one of the school owls pecked him right on the crown of his messy head.
That made Lily laugh. It made Black's cousin laugh, too, which caused a row with Potter, which was why they were in detention in the first place. McGonagall put a stop to it before it descended into outright brawling, but the boys continued to give each other nasty looks the rest of the time they were in the owlery, and then Black tripped Potter going down the stairs to the main part of the castle. Potter tackled Black when he'd regained his balance, which caused Black to careen into Lily, nearly sending her plunging down the stairs. She put her own hand out to steady herself, then grabbed whichever part of each boy was nearest and shook. Hard.
"Wait until you're back in your dormitory to kill each other!" she shouted. "I want to go to bed, and you're in my way!"
"All right!" Potter snapped back, pulling his collar out of her grasp. "There's no need to deafen us."
"Yeah," Black said, "no need for bloody pulling my ear off, either."
"Just you see that there never is." And she released the ear in question and marched past them, down the stairs.
Behind her, she thought she heard one of them say, "Yes, Tiger Lily."
She didn't look back, but she bared her teeth in a grin. When they learned about Animagus later that year, she thought claws and teeth, and wondered if she really would be a tiger, should she master the transformation.
Third year, she experienced a transformation of a different kind. The Wizarding World called it menses and the Muggle World called it a period. The girls of Gryffindor House called it "red moon rage," in honor of Molly MacPherson, now Weasley, who had apparently been an utter terror one week out of every month. Lily thought she knew how Molly felt. Even with a potion to ease the pain, she found herself thinking claws and teeth almost constantly.
They learned about werewolves in Defense Against the Dark Arts during her monthly cycle, and she felt complete sympathy, for all they were Dark creatures. Black's cousin, who was now Potter's best mate, called her a Dark creature often enough, when her rage was running high and he'd got in her way. She wished they were allowed to study Animagus so she really could have claws and teeth and maybe bite Sirius Black, just once, to make him stop behaving like a git. She really didn't understand how Remus Lupin, who was a perfectly nice boy, with a wonderful name besides, put up with him and Potter.
Remus had his own monthly affliction. Namely, bad luck. Every month, without fail, a relative died or his mother fell ill or his father fell ill or Remus himself fell ill. Every month, without fail, he had to go home, and he'd always come back looking grey and exhausted. Lily didn't think the company he kept helped the situation any, but she mostly bit her tongue on the subject and brought him Sugar Quills and chocolate when he missed a Hogsmeade weekend, and copied out her notes for him when he missed classes.
She was copying out her notes from Transfigurations one night in sixth year when Peter Pettigrew came to fetch her to Dumbledore's office, and she learned just how bad Remus' luck was. And just how very much she wanted claws and teeth, so she could tear Sirius Black and Severus Snape both limb from limb.
At least Potter had shown himself a true friend to Remus, though he'd got a broken ankle from the Whomping Willow for his efforts.
Which was how she found herself sitting beside Remus' bed in St. Mungo's, waiting for him to wake up. James couldn't sit with him, and the Headmaster seemed fairly certain Remus would not want to see either Black, who'd betrayed him, or Pettigrew, who hadn't stopped it. Lily agreed. So she made herself as comfortable as possible in the visitor's chair, and tried to read the book on Animagus Dumbledore had left with her. It was from the Restricted Section, and she knew it would be fascinating as well as useful, but her attention kept being caught by Remus' still, pale face, his bandaged cheek and hand, the grey in his hair that made her wonder what color he was when he was a wolf.
Claws and teeth, she thought. And pain and rage and transformations, and people who didn't understand what you changed into and hated you for it. She knew why Remus hadn't told her, but she wished he had. She would have understood, and loved him all the same. She would have transformed with him, and maybe that was why Dumbledore had given her the book.
With that thought, she bent her will to reading, and learning what could be done. She didn't know what she'd transform into, but she thought it might help Remus, and she thought it might have claws and teeth, and if it did--
If it did, she thought she might take her red moon rage, and transform the world with it.
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