The Forbidden Forest

Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
A man who's pure of heart and says his prayers by night
May still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright
-Florence and the Machine

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2. Chapter Two

It had felt like an eternity before Elise regained consciousness. She was later told that she had only slept for several days, but to her, it seemed like a lifetime. She couldn’t remember much from the few times she drifted closer to the surface of consciousness. Sometimes she thought she saw faces in the dark or heard voices from far off. Sometimes she saw things she couldn’t explain. The only thing that stood out to her enough to haunt her for the rest of her life was the mention of a name.

“Greyback.”

She wouldn’t know what it meant until much later, but she was certain she had heard that word. She could recall the sound of her mother sobbing and the murmur of unfamiliar voices. And that one voice, softer than the others, as it uttered the name she would never forget.

When she woke for the first time, really woke, she broke through consciousness to the sound of rain. She could hear it pattering against a window and the quiet drip drop as water leaked through a hole in the ceiling. She knew right away that she wasn’t at home in bed. The roof didn’t leak there anymore. Her dad patched it up the summer before.

The bed was chilly, but she could make out the warmth of a heated bottle beneath the springy mattress. Her eyes were hot beneath their lids, and the body seemed to fight between hot and cold, changing every few minutes. She could feel the chill of the air even through the thick, moth-eaten blankets. But her head felt hot and her body felt weakened and shaky as if she’d spent those few days in a constant sweat.

She had to pry her eyes open before she could make sense of the room. Forms and shapes began to appear through the haze as her eyes adjusted to being open. She found herself lying against a soft cotton pillow with a floral pattern. Beyond it, she could see the lace pattern that had been sewn into the edges of the blankets. And just beyond the bed, where the light was brighter and the rain tapped against a single window, stood a man.

He was tall, with a gangly body and clothes that fit too loose around his body. His shoulders were hunched and even from the distance she could see that his hair was messy. As if he hadn’t experienced a full night’s sleep in a very long time. As her eyes adjusted, she could make out the color of the many scars over his face and his bare hands. He held them close to his core as he attempted to rub some warmth into them.

She studied him while she waited for her mind to focus and her voice to return. She memorized the shape of his face and the forlorn expression he carried on his features. A movement caught her attention from the corner of her eyes and she turned to the wall where pictures appeared to be moving. She figured she must be imagining it.

“C-cold,” is the first word that managed to escape from her tangled thoughts. The man turned and gave her a warm smile.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Cold,” she repeated. He nodded and pulled something out from the inner pocket of his jacket. It appeared to be a long and polished stick. He waved it in his hand and the water bottle beneath the mattress began to grow warmer. The warmth seeped in through the sheets and took the chill off of her bones.

“Better?” he asked, as he tucked the stick back away in his pocket. She nodded, not quite understanding what she had seen.

“What was that?” she questioned. He pulled a rickety old chair away from the window and rested it beside the bed, where he took a seat and laced his fingers together beneath his scarred chin.

“Do you believe in magic, Elise?” he asked her then. She watched his face for a moment, unsure of why he would ask her such a silly question at a time like that.

“I don’t—I don’t think so.”

“Have you ever done anything strange? Anything you couldn’t explain? Do you ever make things happen without meaning to?” She blinked several times as she tried to force her mind to focus.

“I once made all the lights in the house burst at breakfast,” she confided, even though she still wasn’t sure what he meant by the question.

“What were you feeling at the time? Right before all the lights burst?” She took another moment to bring up the memory. Her parents had tried to hard to convince her that it hadn’t been her fault. They called it an electrical surge. But she felt it, she remembered. And she remembered exactly how she felt the moment before that feeling burst out of her and all the lights popped at once.

“Angry,” she admitted.

“How old were you?”

“I’m not sure. It wasn’t long ago. I was arguing with my mum.” He nodded and pressed his fingers against his lips. She was confident he was thinking of another question to ask her, but talking about her mum instantly brought her mind back into focus. “Where is she?” she asked him. “Where’s my mum?” His eyes moved back to her again.

“She’s downstairs. Helping your host make lunch. Are you hungry?”

“No—I don’t think I could eat. What about my dad?” He looked away and his eyebrows furrowed in a sad expression.

“I’m afraid he didn’t make it. I am truly sorry.” She felt her eyes get hot again as she sniffed back the tears that began to form.

“It’s alright,” she told him, stretching her fingers to wipe the tears away. “I knew he couldn’t have. I just hoped…”

“Elise—what do you remember about the creature that attacked you?” She sniffed again and he waited patiently for her answer.

“I remember its eyes. They were almost human.”

“Do you have any idea what sort of creature it was?”

“I don’t know. A dog of some kind. But—not a dog.” He nodded solemnly.

“It was a werewolf,” he explained. “A werewolf named Fenrir Greyback.”

“I’ve heard that name before—when I was dreaming.”

“Yes, we were telling your mother.”

“But werewolves aren’t real. They can’t be.”

“I’m afraid they are very real. And I’m so terribly sorry that this happened to you.”

“He bit me, you know? He bit my leg.”

“I know.”

“Does that mean I’m going to be like him?”

“You’re very quick for your age.” He paused. “And I’m afraid so. Yes, you will be like him. But you won’t be alone. Can I tell you a story?” She nodded slowly. So he began.

“When I was a boy,” he told her. “Not much younger than you, my father—my father was a wizard, just like me.”

“A wizard?”

“Yes, that is why I asked if you believed in magic.”

“The stick you had then. Is that your magic wand?” He smiled as if he found her response impressive.

“Yes, excellent. It’s a wand.” He reached into his pocket and pulled it out. He held it on both of his hands and looked it over. “Would you like to see it?” She nodded and he set it down in her small exposed hand. The wood felt heavier than she expected but smooth beneath her fingers.

“It’s just a piece of wood,” she said. He smiled and lifted the wand.

“A very powerful piece of wood. For the wizard it is intended for. In this case, me. But someday you will get your own.” Her eyes widened in surprise.

“I can do magic too?” He slid the wand back into his pocket and nodded once.

“Yes,” he told her. “And that’s the only reason you’re still alive.”

“I don’t understand,” she said.

“You see.” He leaned his elbows on his knees. “When a muggle—that’s what we call non-magical people—when a muggle is bitten by a werewolf, the bite kills them. Werewolves are magical and the curse we suffer from is magical too. It only affects magical people. Like you and I.”

“You’re one too?”

“Yes, that is the story I was going to tell you.”

“Oh, forgive me for interrupting.”

“No, no. Ask as many questions as you need.”

“You never even told me your name,” she pointed out.

“Remus,” he told her. “Remus Lupin.”

“I’m Elise. Elise Mills.” He smiled.

“Yes, your mother told me.”

“Please continue with your story?”

“Yes. Right. Where were we? As I said, my father was a wizard. And in our world we have a ministry, much like your ministry, only it caters to the magical world. My father worked for the ministry and once offended a werewolf by the name of Fenrir Greyback.” She nodded to show him that she was following along. “You see, in our world werewolves are treated rather unfairly, and sometimes people lash out violently because of it. This particular werewolf—is very dark and very unkind. And when he heard my father say such terrible things about his kind, he decided to seek revenge—through me.”

“So—he bit you? The same one who bit me?” she asked. He nodded.

“He came in through my bedroom window when I was just a boy. He wanted my parents to have to raise a werewolf, just like the ones my father swore he hated.”

“So then why did he bite me? If my family isn’t magical.”

“Because our world is at war, Elise. It is a war between dark wizards and light wizards. And many werewolves have chosen the side where they feel the most accepted.”

“The bad guys.”

“Yes, and—recently—they have been placing themselves as close to muggle villages just as often as magical villages. They are attempting to build—well an army of werewolves. Or eradicate muggles completely. Greyback has a particular fondness for children. He placed himself within your village and within your reach on purpose.” He took a deep breath and looked at her again. “But—if you had been a muggle, you would have died the first night you were brought here. But you pushed through, which means there is magic in you. And that means you are just like me.”

“So—are you on the good side or the bad side?” she asked him.

“Every side believes that they are the right side,” he told her. “The difference is what we believe good to mean. And I happen to believe that all people, regardless of magic or blood or any other such things, deserve to live.”

“Then why have you chosen this side if everyone else has chosen the other? You said they treat you badly.”

“Because I was lucky enough to find my place in this world. I made friends. I have a family and people that I love. I was lucky to find people who put so much faith in me, and to find support. I expect that’s exactly why they brought you here instead of taking you to a healer.” He sighed heavily. “There’s a school in our world for witches and wizards and every year a handful of them are chosen from muggle families who did not know they had magical children. No one knows why it happens, exactly.

“The other night when you were brought here, I had an idea that you might be a witch too. Your wound was quite large and it should have killed you. So I had an affiliate at that school search for your name—and you were there. Which means you are a witch.”

“I’ve always been told that witchcraft is bad.” He gave a soft chuckle.

“Witchcraft can be used for bad things. All things have the ability to be good or bad. A flower, for instance. Sometimes they are good are bad. They can poison you or feed you. They can smell pleasant or unpleasant. They can be pretty or unusual. People are like that too. All people are capable of good or bad and some of those people can use magic. And one particular wizard has done dreadful things. He does not like muggles like your parents, and he doesn’t like muggle born witches like you. He has gained a very large following of werewolves who thought they were alone and unaccepted.”

“And now I’m one of them?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. And there will be times in your life when you will think that you are unlucky to be who you are. This curse—that has afflicted you will decide everything you do for the rest of your life. The only advice I can give you is,” he paused for a long moment as he stared at the wall beyond her, “is just to live. To the best of your ability. Make friends, fall in love, live. Because when you find yourself in those dark places—where you feel like death is better than being what you are, you will need memories like those to keep you going. Can you do that for me, Elise?”

Her face was still wet with tears and she didn’t fully grasp what he was asking of her. But she nodded anyway.

“I’ll try,” she promised.

He gave her another smile and stood to leave the room. She could tell that the conversation had been difficult for him. He left in a hurry, not wanting to share whatever pain he felt with a child who was destined to experience much the same. She felt sad for him. And when she was older, she would understand why it had been so hard for him to look at her, knowing all of the troubles he had faced, and all of those that still lay ahead of her.

 

 

Random fact time: Her name was originally supposed to be Eloise. But somewhere along the line I misspelled it and just continued to misspell it and by the time I figured it out I was just like "Alright, this is her name then, I guess."

Also, I said in the last chapter that some HP characters would have cameos. This obviously seems larger than just a cameo. But I did mention that Lupin would be a very influential person to her, for this very reason. Because he gave her the advice that ends up shaping her life. "To live to the best of her ability."

But there will also be a couple of Weasley's and teachers.

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