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"Lines of Descent" epilogue fic for jiminyc - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
"Lines of Descent" epilogue fic for jiminyc
Well, after going through page upon page of werewolf lore, I decided to check Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for the Potterverse version, which says in no uncertain terms that only bites spread lycanthropy, and that's meant to be the basic school textbook in the wizarding world. That said, I'm willing to bet that people believe lots of weird things no matter what the book says.

None of them, however, seem to be based on werewolf graves. Still, I'd bet it's not a pleasant experience. And since Rowling ignored all those other means of becoming a werewolf, I'll go ahead and add a superstition. It's been used in movies, right? :p

Start 9:53



Remus wasn't sure if it was less painful to return to his human form, or if his wolf form was better able to handle the pain of the initial transformation than his human form was. He was hardly in a state to give it any analytical thought while it was happening. Too much of the wolf, at first. Too much sensation, not enough self.

He remembered. As the wolf, he always fought it. It was a sensation of draining at first, of losing hold of a scent. There was passion and hunger and desire, and then there was confusion. At this point, Remus remembered, every month, biting at the air, trying to capture whatever was slipping away. But it always remained out of his reach. Then, lethargy, weariness. This was when his human mind started to assert itself, to look forward to the end of the night. Oh, not greatly--he wasn't very present until sunrise--but enough to start thinking, I am Remus Lupin.

He'd read once of a medieval belief that if you called a werewolf by his baptismal name three times, he would transform back to human form. Stupid, from the point of view of the person doing it. But by the time a werewolf felt his name, understood his name, three times, perhaps...

No. Elizabeth had said that she'd known her name when Maddoc had spoken it.

Elizabeth.

Remus opened his eyes.

The lines of the ward at St. Mungo's were still preternaturally sharp, the smells still pungent. The other werewolves were slumped in their beds, some still fully transformed, others beginning to show their human limbs. Remus's claws were still extended, but he could see his arm through the wolf's hair, and he could feel that his face was shifting, falling back into itself. Whatever happened on the inside was done--his innards felt like cold, trembling gelatin, but he knew that they had fallen back into their human positions. That part was over.

His mouth was still deep with teeth, but he could feel them beginning to retract. There were cuts on the insides of his lips, where his mouth had shrunk too quickly and caught on their sharp edges, but it was passing. The curious sense of shrinking physically while growing mentally took all of his attention, and he let it.

Soon enough, his attention would have to be directed at the still form on the bed, the one his eyes refused to look at directly.

One of the other werewolves groaned as he came up from his transformation, and the groan was cut short by a kind of strangled yell. "Hey!" he said. "She's dead!"

Remus turned his head carefully. The man was almost fully transformed back, the chains loose around him. He was older than Elizabeth and looked frailer. At some point in the night, he'd dislocated his shoulder, and sweat was pouring down his face from the pain of it.

"Last moon," Remus said.

The man looked the bed Remus wasn't looking at, his eyes solemn and deep.

"What is it?" a younger voice, a girl's voice, piped up. "What's--oh!"

The girl was perhaps in her early twenties, with stringy brown hair and late-blooming acne. She was fully human again, and looked only a little the worse for wear. She bit her lip. "Who is she?"

"Elizabeth Phelan," Remus said.

The door high in the wall opened, and a Healer looked down. "Is everyone back?" she called carefully.

"We're back!" the young woman called. "Except for..." She stopped.

The Healer muttered something, then waved her wand. The stairs appeared. "Is anyone hurt?" she asked when she came into the room.

No one answered. Remus tilted his head toward the older man. "Dislocated shoulder," he said. "And Mrs. Phelan..."

"Yes. I'm so sorry."

She waved her wand, and the chains that were wound around all of the werewolves unlocked and began to snake their way back to their positions. The young woman sat up and bounded up the stairs, seemingly unfazed. The Healer helped the man with the dislocated shoulder, and he limped out.

Remus Lupin slumped forward in the chair where he'd been chained, took a deep breath, and looked up.

Elizabeth had not transformed back to her human shape. She was still halfway through the original transformation, her mouth misshapen, her eyes wild, her claws spread on the bedsheet. There were deep scratches in Remus's fingers, from where they had clasped paws at the end, but he didn't ask the Healer to take care of them. He would let them heal naturally. Perhaps to scar, as her long ago bite had.

Carefully, he stood up, the bones in his legs feeling like they'd been shattered and glued back together by a careless child. He went to the bed, leaned over it, and kissed her forehead. "Good morning, Elizabeth," he said, then whispered, somewhat desperately, "Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth."

The superstition held no power. She remained in her grotesque, half-transformed state.

"Has she any family to be notified?" the Healer asked, appearing at his elbow.

"No. Just me."

"You're her... son?"

"Yes. No. I..." He shook his head. "Her husband died five years ago. She has no other family."

The Healer looked at him oddly. "Well... will you... were you planning to see to her burial? The Ministry generally sees to these things. They often have no family." She caught herself. "Those who die here, at any rate. I'm sure that those whose last moon is at home--" She bit her lip. "I'm very sorry," she said. "Do you need help?"

"I've buried other friends," Remus said. "Her husband has a plot in his family graveyard. I need to get her a..." He rubbed his eyes. "A coffin."

The Healer didn't respond for a moment. She stood with her eyes downcast.

"What is it?"

"It's simply... er... it's traditional... that is to say, it's the law..."

Remus felt something cold slide over his mind. "What is the law?"

"We cremate werewolves. It's outdated, of course, people know that cursed graves..."

"Cursed graves?"

"We know they aren't the cause of lycanthrophy, but it's been in the law for years and no one has changed it. Werewolves are to be cremated, and interred aboveground, in a crypt. So nothing can grow above them." She winced. "I'm sorry. I know this is difficult anyway, and I don't want to make it moreso, but..."

"The bloody werewolf laws."

"Yes. The bloody werewolf laws."

"It doesn't have to be some particular crypt, does it? Some nameless vault under Gringotts or whatnot?"

"No. No, they just need to know--"

"Yes, of course. She's going home," he said. "I'll see to a... crypt."

"I am sorry."

"Everyone's sorry." He sighed. "It's not your fault. I shouldn't take this out on you. I... It's close to the moon. I'm still angry."

"I understand," she said, too quickly.

Remus remained in the underground ward while Elizabeth's poor, malformed body was reduced to ashes. He had nowhere else to go, not yet. Elizabeth had not been allowed to inherit Maddoc's family property. To the best of Remus's knowledge, it was held in trust at Gringott's. But no one was going to prevent him from taking her to him there. If anyone tried...

He clenched his teeth.

Close to noon, the Healer came back down. She was holding a plain stone urn carefully against her chest. Remus reached out and took it.

Elizabeth. All she had been, now here, in a nameless stone jar. He thought of her in Hogsmeade, laughing at James's flirting, at Sirius's affected naughtiness, at Peter's magazines. All of them, gone. James, buried on a hillside beside his beloved Lily. Peter, reduced to a single finger in a pile of ash. Sirius, dead in every way that really mattered. And now Elizabeth.

"I've been given permission to accompany you," the Healer said. "To make sure..."

"That I follow the law."

"Yes. And... to help, if I can."

Remus looked at her, really looked for the first time. She looked frightened and terribly guilty. "I would appreciate that," he said. "My name is Remus Lupin."

"Mehadi Patil," she said. "I'm glad to meet you."

They walked together to the lobby, and Remus gave her the apparition coordinates for Maddoc's place. She smiled, and they both disappeared.

The world swam back into focus on the windswept hill by the sea, where generations of Phelans had been buried. Elizabeth and Maddoc had given space for Remus's parents here, as well, and his mother had been laid to rest under an oak tree. He would speak to her later. Dad's spot--still empty, thank heaven--was waiting beside her. Remus's was to have been near them, but of course...

Above ground. If anyone would be there to take the trouble.

Remus gathered several large stones and tapped them with his wand to make them malleable. Mehadi let him work alone, sensing that it was something he needed to do. She chatted nervously about her husband and her twin daughters, all of three years old and apparently the brightest children ever to walk the face of the Earth. By the time he had finished, she'd run out of words, and just sat quietly on the ground, watching him.

The crypt would stand alone. It was only slightly larger than the urn, and when he'd sealed it with magic, it would be as secure from desecration as any grave. He placed it beside the stone on Maddoc's tomb, and whispered an engorgment charm on the stone spike at the bottom. It dug into the Earth and became secure.

"Is it in accordance with the werewolf laws?" he asked.

Mehadi looked at it cursorily. "Yes."

Remus took the urn and placed it inside the crypt, letting his fingers linger on it. The cuts had opened up again as he worked, and he left smears of blood on the surface. He thought about cleaning it off, but didn't. The wolf would understand.

He sealed the crypt.

"Are you ready?" Mehadi asked.

He shook his head. "You go on," he said. "I promise not to move her."

"All right."

Remus waited for her to disappear, then took a deep breath. "Goodbye, Elizabeth," he said. "I'll miss you."

He tapped the plain stone crypt with his wand, and gray roses and strawberry vines grew out from the point. They curled around the shape, leaving a blank square on the front, where Remus wrote "Elizabeth Phelan, who is not alone."




End 10:57

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Comments
jiminyc From: jiminyc Date: April 18th, 2004 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was really beautiful, although I must admit I gave my husband quite a start when I started crying quite suddenly at the computer. (Remus saying her name three times was the push over the cliff for me.)

This is very poignant and sad, but with a real sense of closure. Like Remus, I felt so angry at the "bloody werewolf laws" but he (of course) managed to work it out on his own. You write him so wonderfully.

Thank you for writing this!!
pauraque From: pauraque Date: April 18th, 2004 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was wonderful. Heavy with sadness, and very in-character for Remus.
myf From: myf Date: April 18th, 2004 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sniff* You got me with the last line.

Thanks.
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: April 19th, 2004 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh I should have known better than to read this at work *sniff*

Fantastic, as always, Fern. You write one of the best fanfic Remus Lupins that I know of.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: April 20th, 2004 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
*sniffs*

Elizabeth *is* a canon character. JKR just hasn't felt the need to write about her! ;)
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: September 19th, 2004 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Mind if I don't leave a comment? I'm too busy crying.
6 comments or Leave a comment