Excerpt from the Journal of Cerridwyn Howard : August 20, 1991
It’s a miracle I had a place to move into yesterday. I had just let myself in with my new key when I heard a panicked sort of screech in what proved to be the kitchen. Heading in the direction of the sound, I found Tonks standing horror stricken in front of a microwave full of sparks. Swiftly, I pulled the plug, tore open the door, and hit the interior with a quick freezing charm.
“Some Auror I’m going to make.” said Tonks in a shaking voice.
“Never put aluminum foil in the microwave….that’s the shiny stuff it was covered with.”
“I know what foil is!” she snapped, then looking shamefaced, added “I’m sorry. I’m just stressed, that’s all.”
Her face was white as a sheet. “Want a chocolate frog?” I offered.
“I have a five pound bag that the Weasleys gave me -- don’t make me eat them all myself.”
“All right then.” she said with a smile.
“I’ll be right back.” I ran out to the car to retrieve the bag, which was wriggling a bit from the charm on the candy.
“I’ve never seen so many all at once.” said Tonks, looking at the writhing bag in amazement. “How do you open it without them all escaping?”
“Well you do it. I botch up everything I touch. I’ll never pass my coordination and dexterity tests.”
I freed two chocolates without mishap and we sat down on the sofa to eat them.
“Well….welcome home.” said Tonks wryly. “I wanted to have lunch warmed up when you got here, but so much for that.”
“You didn’t know.”
“I’m not touching any more gadgets in this house unless I have you show me how first.”
“Do we have any more food in the house, or was that it?” I asked.
“That was it. My parents sent it to us. It was a casserole before it went up in flames.”
“Let’s get a pizza then. Do we have a phone?”
“Yes.” said Tonks, her tone dubious.
“Is it working?”
“I suppose…I haven’t broken it yet, at least.”
“I’ll order if you can pay. I’m pretty short just now.”
“Now that I can do.”
So I ordered a pizza and mercifully, Tonks already knows a bit about Muggle money so that part went smoothly.
I started unpacking while she watched for the pizza to come. “It was just one bed, but I transfigured it into twins.” she told me from the hall.
“You did a good job. I’d never have guessed.”
“You take the bed furthest from the door. I’ll come in late from parties a lot and I don’t want to bother you. You don’t mind if I throw a party here now and then, do you?”
“No. But I’d appreciate a warning first.”
“No problem. I know you and are going to get along here just fine.”
And I think so to.
The house is indeed quite small. There are four rooms; living, bed, kitchen, and bath. I can stand in the middle of the bathroom and touch the opposite walls with my fingertips. The living room has space for a t.v., two chairs, a sofa, and not much else. Don’t get me started on the bedroom -- its so close in there that we’ll be banging our shins trying to walk around.
But I don’t mind. It’s a cozy little place, a bit out of the way and set back from the street down a long drive. As Tonks said, it backs up to the ocean on one side and a wooded area on the other, so there are no prying neighbors to worry about. I think that the privacy is owed to the nearby werewolf commune which has anti-muggle protective spells surrounding it for a specified radius. We’ve also gone around the property and cast a few similar spells of our own. All in all, I’m quite satisfied with the place.
This will, however, be a busy week for me. I have to report to Merlin and set up my classes. I also need to apply for a job --- I have to be able to chip in on the next pizza.
August 21, 1991
Well, today I went over to Merlin and registered for classes. Tonks came with me to show me around. It’s nothing like Hogwarts, it’s smaller and has a snobbily exclusive feel that I don’t think I like.
My classes this semester are : Educational Techniques 101, Classroom Management, Advanced Care of Magical Creatures, Healing Techniques for Magical Creatures, Advanced Potions, Advanced Charms, Advanced Herbology, and Advanced Defense Against the Dark arts.
“You’re mental.” said Tonks, noting the double schedule. “You’ll kill yourself.”
“I can manage. Academics are my strong point,”
“Well, you were a Ravenclaw.” she said thoughtfully. “I was a Gryffindor…parties are my strong suit.”
We stopped by the Muggle post office where I opened a P.O. box account so my mother can keep in touch with me. When she walked away from the magical world, it meant nothing but.
“I thought you were pureblood.” said Tonks.
“I am. My mother is a witch, but she lives as a Muggle.”
“It started back during You-Know-Who’s heyday. She…the family…had apparently rebelled against him. Things turned ugly and she fled the country and walked away from the magical world altogether.”
“That’s why I want to be an Auror.” said Tonks, nodding her head emphatically. “To make a difference in the world. All the families that were torn apart back then…that should never happen again, and I want to help make sure that it doesn’t. What about your father?”
“He was a wizard, but I never knew him.”
“I’ve been lucky, I guess. My parents have a mixed marriage, my dad being a Muggle, but they’re still together.”
I was not especially comfortable with this subject so I changed it at that point. We picked up some groceries, which interested Tonks immensely. “My father has taken me in stores like this before, but I haven’t been in one since I was a kid.”
When we got home, I taught her how to use the stove -- something simple -- grilled cheese. We got though it without disaster but I’m not sure I’d trust her on her own.
Saturday, August 24, 1991
What a busy week! I hadn’t planned to start working right away -- I’d expected more time to settle in.
Thursday morning I went to the workhouse to apply for a job. The place is un-plottable, a wizard’s only realm. Most of the workers are not permitted wands and have to walk to work though, so they dress in Muggle clothing with various degrees of success.
Quite frankly, the place is a hell hole, the likes of which I’ve never seen or imagined. The front office is quite nice though, a false front to conceal the festering cesspool behind.
Personnel is a tiny office, not much larger than our bathroom at home. The desk takes up a full half of the room, and one corner is occupied by a working toilet of all things. The walls are papered with winking, smiling, hair flipping witches in various states of undress, posed on brooms and with cauldrons.
The man behind the desk was a short, fat fellow with a deep voice and not much hair. “Yes?”
“I’d like to apply for a job.” I said, trying to ignore the posters on the walls.
“Fill this out.” he said, handing me a form.
I had to sit on the toilet lid to fill it out. I was stumped at a question toward the end that asked :
Please check one. Are you a :
2. Half troll
6 Other ( Specify)
“This question here --- I’m a student at Merlin.”
He gave me an appraising look. “You are aware of the nature of this establishment?”
“I have a double course load and I need a flexible schedule.”
He scratched his jaw thoughtfully. “We need someone we can trust with a wand in the duplication office. We have a werewolf in there who has a bit of education, but the workload is out of control lately and he can’t keep up. If you don’t mind working in close confines with a werewolf, the job is yours. What hours do you want?”
I named them, and to my surprise he said. “You can start now.”
I hadn’t come prepared to stay the afternoon, but I didn’t dare refuse. He led me through the factory, a hot, loud place that belches fire and smoke -- a cauldron factory to be precise. Most of the workers were shirtless men who openly stared at me as we passed by.
We turned into an office that has a huge glass window in front that looks out into a packing area. It has a climate control spell on it or I don’t think I’d be able to take the heat. A man was inside working, his back to us. An arching ribbon of blank instructions zoomed past him from left to right and he tapped each one quickly with his wand to print it as they dropped neatly into a waiting tray.
“New assistant.” said my escort without preamble. His voice made the man lose his rhythm and instructions went flying in all directions. My escort beat a hasty retreat while the other man slumped his shoulders in weariness before turning around to face me.
He was handsome, perhaps about thirty years old but with the haggard look of a much older man. Dark circles were under his hazel eyes and his light brown hair, which was shoulder length, was just beginning to show signs of gray. Nevertheless he smiled a very warm, sincere smile, and said, “I’m Remus Lupin.”
“Oh?” I asked, in surprise. “I’m Kerri Howard. Professsor Dumbledore sends his regards.”
Now Remus looked surprised. “You know Professor Dumbledore? How is he?”
“Yes -- he’s fine. He let me attend Hogwarts for free and paid for Merlin in exchange for an equal number of years service as a teacher. I saw him the other week and he told me I might meet you here. He said you were a former student.”
“More years ago than I care to admit. I’m glad to hear he’s well. He was very good to me.”
“Well…how can I help you?” I asked, looking at the mess on the floor.
“Oh this is easy enough to fix. Wingardium Leviosa….Accio instructions.” Two quick waves of his wand and they all levitated off the floor, neatly zooming into his hand. “The work in here isn’t hard, but there is a lot of it, at least up until the day shift leaves. This office stays open two hours after that and that’s when things actually slow down to a crawl. Later on if you don’t mind, I ‘d like to hear about Hogwarts. You don’t look as if you could have left very long ago.”
“Well, lets get to business then.”
For the next couple hours I was too preoccupied with what I was learning to pay attention to much else. People came and went, but I barely noticed.
“You’re good with a wand.” said Remus, watching me. “Very accurate…what I’d expect of a Hogwarts graduate. You learn quickly too.”
“You’re a good teacher.”
“I’m a tutor by trade, I just can’t use my credentials. People get nervous about people like me teaching their children . They did tell you, didn’t they?”
So he’d figured out that I was none of the things listed in the question on the application. “About the lycanthropy? Yes. And if I were you I’d go to the states -- less prejudice.”
“It isn’t just that --- it’s the laws. I can’t tutor in a private home unless I have another tutor to supervise me. Well, having two tutors just defeats the purpose of hiring the first. Are you American?”
“I was born over there, but both my parents are Brits.”
“You have the accent.” he said with a smile.
“I don’t have an accent -- - all you people over here have accents.”
We both looked up as a trio of young men passed by the window for the umpteenth time. Even I’d begun to notice their frequent treks. One of them, a platinum blonde with one ear full of multiple piercings, stuck his head in the door. “Nice partner you have there, Remus, Well done.” He gave the thumbs up sign and left.
Remus shook his head, but he was laughing. “Don’t pay them any attention. They’re annoying, but harmless.”
“Your pack?” I hazarded.
“Not technically. I’m independent at the moment, but they seem to think I need adopting.”
Another hour passed, during which the young men walked by several more times, gazing in the window with great interest. “What a ham.” said Remus, watching the blonde flexing his muscles at me through the glass.
“I can’t imagine why on earth you wouldn’t want to live in the commune with him.” I laughed.
It was about then that a newcomer walked into the office. He was built like a barrel and had thick, matted gray hair and beard. His teeth seemed abnormally sharp, as if he’d filed them that way, and he brought with him the rank smell of unwashed flesh. Remus’s smile faded and his attitude was suddenly very guarded.
His voice was still pleasantly polite as he said, “What can I do for you Fenrir?”
“Hello there son.” the words were friendly, but the tone made the words a joke. His very presence put me on edge. “I heard you had a new assistant. Very nice.”
“Is there something you need?” asked Remus, a definite touch of frost in his voice this time.
“Need copies of this.” he said, passing a single sheet of paper to Remus, his eyes on me.
It took Remus two seconds to complete the task. “Anything else?”
“Nah. That’ll do it. I’ll let you know if I think of anything else though. See you later son. You two sweetie.”
Remus gave an exhalation of relief when the man left. “Avoid him like the plague.” he said soberly. “He’s very dangerous. Most of us are okay, but he, and a few people who adhere to him, are positively evil. He infected me.”
“How old were you?” I asked in horror.
“Eight. I can scarcely remember a time when I wasn’t …like this. Whatever you do, stay away from Fenrir Grayback. Now let me teach you how to do invoices.”
I wanted to ask why the man was running loose instead of sitting in Azkaban, but the change in subject was pointedly final. At four, the night shift arrived and most of the day crew went home. The platinum blonde poked his head in the door to say goodbye and voice a few obscene opinions about Fenrir.
“Watch yourself.” Remus warned. “The walls have ears.”
“What’s he gonna do? He can bite my hairy werewolf ass.” With a wink at me, he was gone.
“Fenrir is apparently not very popular.” I ventured.
“No. I’m not the only person here because of him.”
“Why isn’t he in prison?”
“Because he’s useful to some people…the owners of this place for example. You can convince people to your way of thinking more easily if you have an attack happy werewolf at your disposal.”
“That’s how it is. So…how is Dumbledore?”
“Fine. He speaks highly of you. He told me you were a brilliant student.”
Remus smiled the first genuine smile since Fenrir had been in earlier. It changed his whole appearance, making the years just fall off him. “I made reasonably good grades…I even made prefect…a very long time ago of course. I was a Gryffindor.” He showed me his class ring, gold with a red stone inlaid with the Gryffindor lion.
“Ravenclaw.” I said, flashing mine, the twin of his, but with a blue stone and a Ravenclaw eagle.
Remus finished the last invoice with a wave of his wand and let it fall into the waiting tray. “There. We should be mostly through for the next hour unless the night shift needs anything. We can do hardware for collapsible cauldrons to keep busy. Have a seat. Now --- tell me all about Hogwarts. McGonagall is still there?’
“Head of Gryffindor.”
“Still? She must be seventy by now. She’s quite a lady. Flitwick?”
“Head of Ravenclaw.”
“My mentor.” I said fondly. “He inspired me to specialize in Care of Magical Creatures.”
“I always liked him.”
“I’m sure he was fascinated by you.”
“No. He never knew about it. The only people who did were Dumbledore, Madam Pomfrey, and a few close friends. It isn’t the sort of thing you bandy about. Madam Pomfrey is still there?”
“Batwing? He was head of Slytherin.”
“No. It’s Snape now.”
“Snape?” asked Remus, looking up at me from his work with sudden interest. “Not Severus Snape?”
“Yes. You know him?”
“We were in the same year.”
Now it was my turn to be interested. “You were friends?” I asked eagerly.
“Not exactly. He was Slytherin, I was Gryffindor…you know how that goes. What does he teach?”
“Of course. It was his best subject. Good for him -- it sounds as if he’s made something of himself. Is he a good teacher?”
“He’s…tough.” was all I could trust himself to say.
Remus smiled knowingly, hazel eyes bright. He is truly handsome when he smiles that way because it lights up his whole face. Then, quite suddenly, the door opened and his smile faded to be replaced by a look of calm impassivity. I didn’t need to turn around to see who had walked in.
“Hello son.” came Fenrir’s grating voice. He dropped an armload of papers on the table between Remus and I. “I need copies of these. Not tonight --- first thing in the morning.”
“Of course.” said Remus, his voice expressionless. “I’ll have them ready then.”
“Have a good night. You too sweetie.”
Neither of us replied.
“Ten minutes to quitting time.” said Remus after he had left. “We’ll have to do it today in order to have it ready in the morning. Which he knew of course. He does this a lot.”
“I’ll help. Show me what to do.” I said, getting to my feet.
“These are a bit more complicated so I’d better do them myself to save time. If you’d just tidy up the room it would be a big help.”
We sprang into action and managed to be done with one minute to spare. “I’ll walk you out.” said Remus as he locked the office door. “The night shift are all vampires. Again…most of them are harmless…but still.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“If you graduated from Hogwarts then I don’t doubt it, but humor me. It’s a Gryffindor thing….we’re supposed to be honorable and gallant and all that. Old habits die hard I guess.”
So we headed out together. “You can’t apparate inside the complex.” he explained. “Security is tight considering the…nature of the place. They aren’t very trusting of their employees.”
“With people like Fenrir loose, I don’t blame them.”
“You have to apparate from the alley outside. Well…you can”
“There is a law now that forbids people like me from apparating to or from public land.”
“When did they pass that one?” I asked, sure I hadn’t heard it before.
“I was home with my mother for the past year. You know, you really should consider going over there if things are that bad. Werewolves have completely equal rights.”
“Old traditions die hard here.” said Remus thoughtfully. “Epecially with Fudge in power. It takes money to go overseas and I wouldn’t anyway. I was born here. I couldn’t imagine leaving.”
We paused in the alley. “Well, good night.” I said.
“You don’t belong here, you know.”
“I’m making honest money. There’s no shame in that.”
“I’ll warn you that they’re taking bets on how long you’ll last.”
“They’ll be surprised then.
“Well. Good night Kerri.
“Good night Remus. See you tomorrow.”
So I apparated home and left him to walk, feeling a bit guilty about it. Just when you think your life is bad….Spending one day in that place has been enough to make me resolve to quite whining about my father and not having money and things like that. At least I have opportunities….people like Remus are just stuck in dead ends. It really makes you appreciate what you have.
Author’s Note : As always, comments, criticism and even complaints are highly encouraged.
Next Chapter : Letters to Charlie and Hagrid. Kerri meets her boss, an old enemy from Hogwarts who likes to bully his employess. Consequently she gains great respect for Remus' seemingly endless supply of patience and self control.
“She’s pretty isn’t she Lupin?” asked Gustav suddenly, breaking the silence. “Prettier than anything you’ll ever have. When was the last time you had a woman who didn’t go rabid and howl at the moon once a month?”
Remus didn’t answer and his face was coolly impassive. I felt a surge of fury on his behalf, knowing that he had to keep quiet if he wanted to keep his job. Gargantua knew it too, and it seemed to empower him, giving him license to say and do anything that popped into his head.
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