Chapter 5 : Hinkypunks and Grindylows
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Ginny did come home for Christmas but all she that brought with her were horrible stories involving the Carrows and their discipline techniques, which varied from using the Unforgivable Curses to hanging students by their thumbs in the dungeons. It shook Lupin to hear about stuff like that. When he had been at Hogwarts it was the best seven years of his life. He loved the castle and its grounds, the smell that would waft around the school from the kitchens, all the floating candles in the Great Hall and its enchanted ceiling that reflected the night sky above. You couldn’t help but feel at home there, feel safe there even in dark times. It was like a little safe haven. But that had been when Dumbledore was headmaster but Dumbledore was dead and it seemed the last safe place in the world had died with him. Hogwarts was no longer a sanctuary. It had become infected with an evil malice just like the rest of the world.
Each day there were more and more disappearances. The Dark Mark had now it seemed become part of the night sky. Bodies were being found every hour, bodies of Muggles and of witches and wizards and even of children. Also werewolf attacks were on the rise. Lupin couldn’t explain it but he felt some how responsible for this. He felt a sort of horrible connection with all the werewolves. He was after all one of them. He may not run around each full moon biting children but he still felt horribly guilty when he heard of people being bitten.
He thought that perhaps if he had succeeded in the mission Dumbledore had given him last year these things wouldn’t be happening. He had tried his best but he could not compete with Fenrir Greyback and his idea that werewolves deserved blood. In the end Greyback had turned all the werewolves on him. Lupin just managed to get away. They had never accepted him in the first place as he bared the unmistakable signs of having tried to live among normal people.
There was still no word from Harry, Ron and Hermione. There wasn’t even a whisper of them anywhere. He checked the Daily Prophet and the Quibbler everyday for the smallest hint of them but he had found nothing.
The snow had melted now and spring had come however a dark mist lingered even during the day. The Dementors were breeding and spreading despair around the place, which just made things a hundred times worse. It now seemed that happiness had become an illusion. These dark times were affecting everyone. You didn’t know who to trust and you just stopped talking to the neighbours for fear that they were under the Imperius Curse or worse still, that they had joined the Death Eaters.
Even the Burrow had lost its warm safe feeling. It no longer seemed like a home anymore. Lupin didn’t know how Molly and Arthur could stick it, having Death Eaters patrol around their house, listening to their conversations and watching their every move. Bill had been badgering his father for a while now to move the family out of the Burrow and into Auntie Muriel’s but Arthur thought it would be too risky.
Fred and George’s shop had been broken into and ransacked three times in the last month. They were forced to close it, for the time being anyway, since no one was coming to Diagon Alley anymore and the Order had decided that it was not a good idea for Death Eaters to get their hands on Instant Darkness Powder or Decoy Detonators.
They were met with bad news last week, which had only confirmed Lupin’s theory about a Taboo being placed on Voldemort’s name. Kingsley had to leave his post guarding the Muggle Prime Minister. He accidentally said Voldemort’s name out loud and was instantly confronted by about a dozen masked Death Eaters. He had to fight his way out but now they knew he was working for the Order and he had to go into hiding. This was a real blow as they no longer had anyone to tell them what was going on in the Ministry. Lupin had refused to let Tonks go to work after that incident with the Dark Mark and both Bill and Arthur’s every move was being watched. They were being followed everywhere.
Also things were not going that well with Potterwatch either. Their broadcasts had become shorter and less frequent as the risk of them being discovered was increasing. They couldn’t risk staying at a location longer than two hours. Times were getting darker and the world seemed to be plunging into a pool of death and despair. Lupin thought that things were a lot worse this time round since they no longer had Dumbledore.
Lupin himself was being tracked. He was starting to feel the strain of everything. He too seemed to be spiralling into despair. He tried to fight it and would always think of Harry and this provided him with a strong source of hope. Even still Lupin felt like he was being stalked constantly by a Dementor.
He was also becoming increasingly worried about Tonks. The baby was due in little over a month. Whenever he had to leave the house on Order business, he was so worried about her that he could scarcely keep his mind on what he was doing. He would come home each day and fear gripped him because he was terrified that he would see the Dark Mark set over the house and Tonks’s dead body lying on the floor
Lupin’s birthday was approaching and Tonks had thought of having some sort of celebration or something, if only for an hour, an hour in which they could have freedom from the world around them. However her idea was dropped when he reminded her that this year his birthday fell on the full moon.
Tonks had begged him to come down stairs but he wouldn’t. He had of course been careful to take the Wolfsbane potion every day on the week coming up to the full moon, so he was safe. Even still he did not want company while he was transformed. He didn’t want anyone to see him like that. Tonks had never seen him in that state before and he wanted to keep it that way. He did not want her to see him like that, to see him like a monster.
So he had locked himself in the share room about an hour before sundown. He sat down on the bed and waited for the moon to unleash its horror yet again. Even though he had taken the potion and knew that he would be safe he still feared what he was turning into. What if something goes wrong? What if the animal instincts took over?
He tried to think of happier things but it was hard to find them. He thought about the Potterwatch broadcasts and that no matter how miserable he was feeling Fred and George had always managed to get to him laugh. The twins didn’t usually go on the air. They preferred just to pass jokes to Lee. There were two occasions on which Lee was not available to broadcast and then George had taken the helm but Fred hadn’t been on the air yet.
He now thought of Harry and how these dark times would soon be over because after all nothing can last forever. He also had a ray of light ahead of him now, in about a month he would be a father. Initially this thought had scared him, as he was afraid that his child would be ashamed of him but this thought no longer haunted him thanks to Tonks’s reassurance. The thought of it had never really occurred to him before, the idea of being a father; that was James’s thing. Lupin remembered the day that Harry was born and how excited and happy everyone had felt. Those had been dark times too but he had remembered how Harry’s birth had taken them out of themselves when they happily raised their glass to Harry James Potter.
The clouds sifted and the first rays of moonlight seeped into the room. Lupin closed his eyes waiting for the wolf to take him. The potion did, after all, take most of the pain out of the transformation so it was more than bearable now, but he still hated every second of it.
His whole body went rigid and then began to jolt violently. He fell off the bed. His limbs began to grow stretching his skin and he felt a dull blunt pain run through him as he sprouted hair all over his body. His head throbbed as a snout protruded and in less than a minute the whole thing was over.
He found himself lying on the floor panting heavily. All his senses had increased. He could hear every detail of what was going on down stairs and he could smell the scent of human flesh on the air. He now had excellent night vision even despite the fact of only being able to see in black and white.
He got up and moved on all fours under the bed and curled up there. He didn’t know why he always did this. He presumed it was because he felt safer under there than on the bed or in the middle of the room where he could be seen. When he was teaching at Hogwarts he used to curl up in the gap under his desk again feeling more protected there than ouin plain view. He felt a like a child playing hide and seek, only this was no game, he was hiding from the rest of the world, ashamed of what he was.
He closed his eyes and waited for the moon to wane and began to drift off into an uneasy sleep.
It was nearly sun set and he was walking through a wood with Tonks. Everything was quiet and peaceful. It would have been a pretty romantic scene with the gentle breeze ruffling their hair, blowing blossoms down from the trees, coupled with the sound of a stream gurgling in the distance, but an ominous shadow appeared to be stalking them, the shadow of the moon.
He had not taken his potion! He was not safe! He had to get away from there, get away from Tonks before he hurt her!
He turned and ran off in the opposite direction catching one last glimpse of her as he ran into the darkness. The moonlight was catching up on him. He did not know where he was going only that he had to get away from there, as far away from Tonks as was possible.
Suddenly his foot sank down into the grass. He appeared to have walked straight into a bog. An icy mist came down upon the landscape. He could not even see his own feet. There was no hope of navigating his way safely through all this but he had to try, the moonlight was gaining.
In front of him he saw a light bobbing in the darkness. It was his only hope. He followed it, avoiding the pools of bog water along the way. He was catching up with the light now. The mist seemed to have slowed down the moonlight as it fought to penetrate it. The mist was growing denser and he could now see nothing but the light. He thought it was coming from a lantern and that some one was watching over him, guiding him through the mist and the bog.
He kept running until suddenly he plunged into icy-cold murky water. It was as if the ground had simply disappeared out from under his feet. He looked up and realised what had been holding the lantern – a Hinkypunk. Its ghostly eyes smirked at him, delighted with itself for leading him into this mess.
He tried to stay calm and to get out of the water but something was pulling him down deeper into the muddy murky depths. Creatures were surrounding him now. He could feel their scaly hands grab him, pulling him down, drowning him. He knew what they were – Grindylows. He couldn’t last much longer. His head was screaming, his lungs bursting, longing for air, longing to breathe.
He tried to find his wand but his robes were whirling around him. With each passing second he was sinking lower and lower into the depths as more and more Grindylows joined the fray, all intent on drowning him. The light from the lantern rippled above him now, growing fainter and fainter.
Then darkness took him. He was falling through it. Faces flickered though the blackness flashing in front of his eyes playing with his subconscious tearing it apart from the inside.
He now found himself on a grassy hill. The moonlight was nearly upon him now and he ran. The moon itself seemed to be laughing at him, laughing at his futile attempts at trying to escape its terror.
He kept running for fear of what was going to happen the second the moonlight covered him. Up ahead of him he saw a house with the Dark Mark set aloft. The colossal skull was leering at him. Moonlight was closing in on him now, steering him into the house and he had no choice but to enter.
He stumbled through the threshold. He knew this house, it was oddly familiar. He walked into the sitting room and his soul was wrenched apart. There lying on the floor was Tonks, her eyes reflecting the gaunt green glow from the Dark Mark outside. She was dead.
He began to breathe very heavily as a pain spread though him like none he had ever felt. His eyes burned with tears. Tonks was dead. The pain of losing her was beyond excruciating. It was ripping his soul apart as he felt only this unbearable pain. He felt as if he had lost everything and that nothing seemed to matter anymore. It was not fair that she had to die and that he had to remain behind without her. As far as he could see it there was no life without Tonks. She meant everything to him. He felt as if he had left his body. His head was screaming at him and his heart was beating furiously as if trying to tear itself from his chest. Grief took hold of him as his thoughts were spiralling into death and despair. His heart broke as the incomprehensible truth swept over him, Tonks, his Tonks was gone and there was nothing he could do to bring her back.
He tore his eyes from his wife's body and then his gaze fell on what was lying beside her. It was a baby and it was crying loudly. Those petrified agonizing cries. He noticed that the child had turquoise hair and Lupin recognized the eyes, they were his eyes. This was his child.
He then heard the sound of cold triumphant laughter. He slowly turned and saw the face of Lord Voldemort. His snake like eyes fixed on the baby, there was a flash of green light and the crying stopped.
Lupin jerked his eyes open and the scene lingered around him for a moment before it was replaced with the sight of the underside of the mattress. He was back in human form. His breathing was heavy and his heart was beating rapidly. He was drenched in cold sweat.
“Wotcher Remus,” said Tonks smiling at him hiding under the bed like a child. Her face was upside-down as she was peering at him from on top of the bed.
Lupin had gone into a state of shock. Tonks knew immediately that something was wrong. She whipped out her wand and pulled him out from under the bed only to find him breathing in short sharp gasps. She placed her hand on his chest and his heart was pounding rapidly.
Lupin heard some one call his name and he began to calm down when he saw Tonks’s heart shaped face staring down at him.
“Are you alright?” she asked. She looked terribly pale, like a ghost.
He didn’t answer. He just stared up at her. He was trembling from head to foot. It’s OK! It’s OK! He told himself. She’s OK. It was just a dream, just a nightmare.
It took him a full ten minutes to calm down enough to sit up off the floor.
“What happened?” asked Tonks her face etched with worry.
“Bad dream,” he replied getting to his feet.
He was still trembling. The full effects of the moon were descending upon him now. He felt weak and exhausted. He needed to sleep, to rest and regain the strength the moon had taken out of him.
He helped Tonks to her feet and she kept giving him odd looks as if she half expected him to faint at any moment. Tiredness was taking hold of him now but before he could sleep he needed a cup or tea or something stronger, anything that would calm him down. He couldn’t get the image of Tonks’s dead body out of his mind.
He walked into the kitchen and found Bill Weasley sitting at the table beside Andromeda.
“What’s wrong?” he asked looking at Lupin.
“Nightmare,” Lupin replied trying to take a glass from the cupboard but his hand was trembling so badly that he dropped it and it shattered.
“Don’t worry,” said Bill kindly, “I’ll get that. You sit down.”
He sat down opposite Tonks and then Bill handed him a glass of Firewhiskey. Lupin drank it, it soothed him, calmed him down and brought some warmth back to the tips of his fingers.
“That must have been a pretty bad nightmare,” said Bill.
“Yes…” said Lupin quietly shuddering as he remembered it.
“Remus I actually came to have a word with you but I don’t think now’s really the best time,” Bill began.
“It’s OK. I’m fine,” Lupin injected.
“OK then,” said Bill then hesitating slightly, “could I – er – talk to you in private?”
Lupin nodded, abandoning his Firewhiskey he brought Bill into the sitting room then closed the door behind them leaving Tonks in the kitchen with her mother.
He wasn’t trembling anymore the drink had settled him. He stared at Bill and the look on his face was grim. Lupin knew he was about to hear bad news and he had a feeling that he already knew what it was.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this Remus,” sighed Bill gravely, “but I thought you ought to break it to them. We found Ted’s body last night. He’s dead.”
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