time is all she has to kill (lady_moriel) wrote in little_details,
time is all she has to kill

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Curing lycanthropy and related things

Subject: A good part-physical, part-mystical/metaphysical/whatever cure for lycanthropy (the actual turning-into-a-monster-once-a-month thing, not the medical delusion) that somehow works with the overall plot and themes of my werewolf story
Setting: Modern world, as far as I know; might be in Alaska, where I live, or somewhere similar, at least to the extent that wolves should be around in the wild and it would make sense for the family in question to have a semi-remote cabin in the mountains for camping and stuff. I guess it isn't quite our world in that the existence of werewolves is slightly more accepted, maybe the way the existence of ghosts is kind-of-not-really accepted today.
Searches: I have been researching this a lot, because I wanted my character to be able to sift through all the folkloric cures and not find anything that works, and then because this actually turned into my undergrad thesis: part werewolf story, part academic look at folklore and pop culture about lycanthropy. Running water, silver knife, kneeling in one spot for a hundred years, removing the skin/belt that caused the transformation in the first place--none of those are really going to work. Mostly I suppose I need new ideas. The other thing I need is a compelling reason by the werewolf in question wouldn't try to get medical help for his condition.

The protagonist is a young girl named Rae, probably 6 or 7 when the story starts and 12 or 13 by the end, and the story starts when her dad gets bitten by a werewolf when they're up at their summer-cabin-in-the-mountains place. In a lot of ways it's more about how the family deals with this bizarre and devastating illness (answer: badly) and how the girl tries to keep everyone else but especially her brother from self-destructing (mom has to work two jobs because the dad, thanks to regular physical and emotional problems around every full moon--just aside from the one-night-a-month-he's-a-monster thing--can't keep down much in the way of jobs, and older brother attempts to go werewolf-hunting but kind of loses it when he actually does kill a real one and the body turns into, y'know, a human corpse, after which he deals with everything by being drunk most of the time).

Thing is, I want this to end with Rae doing a whole bunch of research on lycanthropy folklore and pop culture and finding a cure. None of the folklore cures she finds (and tries, when she can) will work, largely because those are for people who chose to become werewolves; in this case it's a full transformation, from normal human to a wolf that's essentially normal except that it's most interested in eating humans. It's caused by infection, I suppose, but it's part physical and part mystical since, y'know, it's not physically possible for the body to do that. The transformation does happen under the full moon, though I haven't figured that out entirely (i.e., the full-moon thing only entered pop culture in a sequel to the 1941 movie The Wolf Man and isn't in folklore; is it the same on a cloudy night? If he can't see the moon? Is it the moonlight, gravitational pull, or something else that triggers it? How much can I get from pop culture and from making these "real" werewolves if the moon wasn't in the folklore? Is it only on the one full-moon night or three like in Buffy?). I suppose mostly my werewolves are a lot like Harry Potter werewolves.

ANYWAY. The point is, I want her to figure out how to cure her dad by the end. I don't know what the cure should be, in part because I don't like any of the folklore cures I've found (and that, therefore, Rae will find and try to no effect). I'd also like the Bible verse "The wolf shall lie down with the lamb...and a little child shall lead them" to be the key, but I don't know how...it's important that Rae is still young and innocent enough to fulfill whatever the role of the child is in this case and her brother isn't, but I don't know what that should be exactly. Going to him when he's transformed with the knowledge that he might kill her, maybe, because self-sacrifice is one of my favorite tropes and it's the sort of thing that, mystically speaking, might be effective (or heck, maybe that in combination with allowing him to bite her, which would like...introduce some of her blood into his system?). But that comes awfully close to the Power of Love Will Save Us Omg, and anyway I need to know why and how my cure works. (For what it's worth I think one of the folkloric cures, at least for someone who's been cursed to take on wolf shape, is for the wolf to be captured and for a woman to beg for mercy for him, and another is for someone to love him, I think?)

So ideas on that are useful, as are ideas on why, logically, he would not at any point want to see a doctor about this. There's always the fear of the government making freaks disappear and cutting them up or whatever, but that's easy to say and not hugely realistic if you interrogate it, especially since he really doesn't want to be a danger to anyone and would be kind of okay with it if he were locked up somewhere secret and safe. I mean, if he told a doctor that he turns into a wolf every month, they'd think it's actual clinical lycanthropy and treat it as a mental illness, which would be bad if, like, he actually did wolf out in the hospital or something. And confronted with that, then what? But I want Rae and her family to be very focused on not letting anyone find out about this--in part because this story is about the family and how they deal with this, and bringing in major outside players will ruin that--and I need a really compelling reason for it. It might help if this is slightly more alternate-world where werewolves are the sort of bogeyman that more people actually believe in and there's enough vague awareness that evidence of a real werewolf would prompt a pitchforks-and-torches reaction. It's a little easier in Harry Potter because there's existing prejudice and discriminating laws against werewolves, but I don't want to go quite that far because it still needs to be a "how the heck can this happen, werewolves aren't actually real" thing. I dunno, maybe they're more like ghosts or UFOs in the numbers of people who believe in them?
Tags: ~vampires witches and werewolves oh my

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