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Chapter 27 : Chapter 27
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Tonight before practice I went to see Remus. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since becoming aware of these inappropriate feelings for him, and I thought long and hard about it before I actually went over there. I had hoped that these feelings would have gone away by now, but they stubbornly persist. If anything, now that I’m back here, it’s gotten worse because I know he’s within reach. Still, it’s no reason to avoid him. All I have to do is ignore it and just like the common cold it ought to go away on it’s own.
I didn’t go over there on some silly romantic notion. I had that fixed firmly in my mind before I went. I had a business proposition for him….that was all.
I lifted my hand to knock on the door but it opened before I even touched it. “I saw you coming.” said Remus with a smile that made my stomach clench. “Welcome back.”
“Thanks. That drawing of yours is beautiful. I framed it.”
“Did you? You’re lucky it arrived on time. I only finished it on the night before it was posted. I was up all night working on it. Sit down.” He motioned me to the chair with its new cushion. “I have a nice, comfy seat now as you can see.”
“Imagine that.” The chair was by the window and he’d begun another drawing. It was in it’s most rudimentary stage but was obviously a horse. “Did you get to go riding?”
“I did…in the snow.” he pulled a wry face. “Not the brightest thing to do. I’ve only just gotten over the cold and now the full moon is coming up. Not the best timing, I’m afraid.”
Come to think of it, he did look more run down than usual, although he seemed to be in good spirits. “Is Gargantua back?” I asked.
Remus grimaced. “He came back last week. Again, poor timing. Right on top of everything else. He could have had the decency to wait until after the full moon to spring himself on us.”
“I have a business proposal for you”
“Yes. I’m thinking of getting a job delivering Muggle newspapers and I might want a partner. It’s pretty simple but requires some fairly heavy lifting. The hours are bad…early in the morning before dawn…but it doesn’t take more than a couple of hours and you have the rest of the day free. You also have the cold and rain to deal with, but it isn’t like a normal nine to five job. That makes it the perfect situation for someone with your problem. On full moon nights I can do it alone…and when I leave for the summer, you can pay someone to substitute for you. It would just be a couple of hours of work at night and then you could sleep all day.”
“Sleep? Exactly how old do you think I am?” asked Remus in mock offense.
I knew that he was Severus’s age so I said, “Thirty two?”
“Not yet I’m not. Not for three more months, thank you. It’s bad enough that I’m already going gray, but do you have to make me thirty two three months early?”
“What day is your birthday on?” I asked, sidetracked.
“Oh no…Basil is always trying to find that out. If people buy you a birthday present then you’re entitled to buy one for them when their turn comes round. I can barely pay rent. Forget it, I don’t have birthdays any more.”
“I can always ask Dumbledore. If he doesn’t know off the top of his head, I’ll bet it’s on the old rolls.”
“Muggle newspapers?” Remus prompted, changing the subject.
“What do you think?”
”If you’re capable of doing the job on your own during full moons, then why do you need me in the first place? I’m not a charity case quite yet, you know.”
“I didn’t say you were!” I gasped, feeling stung.
“I’m sorry Kerri.” said Remus wearily. “It’s the wolfsbane talking. But it’s a fair question. If you don’t need a partner, why have one?”
“I don’t exactly need help. I’m used to managing on my own, but it would be nice to have help. The papers will be heavy and shifting them around in all weather on my own without magic will be a real pain. I also don’t want to be at it all morning either. I’ll warn you now, that the pay isn’t good, but even if we divide it in half it will still be more than what either of us were making in that hell hole.”
“I won’t deny that I’m interested. The wolfsbane potion alone takes half of what I earn each month.”
“You buy it?” I asked, distracted again.
A vaguely embarrassed expression crossed his features. “My potions grades were always horrendous. The wolfbane potion is ridiculously complex. The herbs have to be picked at the correct stage of the moon, they have to be cut to a specific, uniform size, the potion has to be brought to a boil a certain number of times in a specific way…”
“Stirred thirty six times, changing direction every six stirs, beginning in a counter clockwise direction. It has to be done four times a day at regular intervals.” I recited. “I know. I learned that one last term.”
“Did you? They teach that at university?”
“Because it’s so complex they think it’s a great teaching tool.”
“And you remember how to do it?” he asked, sounding impressed.
“I was always good at potions. Where do you buy wolfsbane potion?” I asked curiously.
“Knockturn Alley.” he answered disgustedly. “I hate going down there, but it’s the only place you can buy it ready made. It’s the absolute last place I want to be seen, but it’s either that or move into the commune where I can get it for free. That’s not an option either.”
“I could make it for you. I wouldn’t even charge you -- I can get the ingredients from the stock at school.”
“Please don’t be offended but it’s too important to risk getting wrong. I prefer to keep buying it to be on the safe side. I haven’t gone mad during the full moon in five years…’ his eyes went dark and he shivered slightly. “I don’t ever want to again.”
“I understand, but if you change your mind, let me know.” Then because I felt I should steer the topic away from dangerous waters, I said, “There’s something else I wanted to run by you. I’ve saved up enough money for three wands.”
“You must have a very generous half brother.”
“He is. I visited him before I went home -- we’re getting along really well. I never thought we would.”
“That’s good. You don’t have any other family here do you? You should have someone.” Remus glanced at the clock. “It’s about time to go to practice.”
“Were your parents glad to see you?” I asked as he shrugged into his coat and reached for a scarf.
‘Yes. My mother fussed over me worse than Molly. They invited me to move back home, but really…I’m a grown man. I should be on my own.” He yawned as we stepped out into the snow, looking excruciatingly tired. “So do you think you could pass me off as a Muggle to do that job?”
“You dress convincingly. You might have problems with the culture, your words and actions might give you away, but you never know until you try. Have you ever interacted with Muggles much?’
“No.” Remus answered as he paused to lock the door. “I’ld probably end up drawing attention to myself.”
“You’re a likable person and that would make people overlook anything that seems odd. Over time you’d start to fit in better. Really, it’s a solitary job. You do most of it in the car. It might be a way to get your feet wet in the Muggle world. If you can’t get jobs in the magical world then why not work in the Muggle world? I would.’
“You have a lot of big ideas.” he said as we got in the car.
“You say it like it’s a bad thing.”
“Again, it’s the wolfsbane talking. I’m tired. Right now I don’t have the energy for big ideas, either coming up with them myself or listening to those of other people. I’m sorry. I’ll give you an answer after the full moon. I won’t be thinking very clearly this week.”
“Take your time.” I told him. “There’s no rush. I’m definitely taking the job. Just come and ride the route with me sometime and see what it’s like.”
I pulled up in the courtyard of the commune where we found Royal lurking in a dark corner, gazing up thoughtfully at the almost full moon. He looked restless and irate, as though he had a problem that he wanted to get off his chest.
“What are you doing out here in the cold?” asked Remus.
“The Ministry was here. It’s wolfsbane and contraceptive day again…let’s all pass around the party hats.” said Royal bitterly, his voice fairly trembling with rage. "They took Megan…my twelve year old…” he clarified, his gaze shifting to me. “They took her into a room with all the other twelve year olds and proceeded to explain about birth control and how werewolves should not reproduce, and gave her a month’s supply. Twelve years old ! My little girl was told by the government that she is not fit to have children of her own once she grows up. She was told that the best service she can do for her country is to be sterile and die.”
Remus looked sympathetic, and I felt disgusted. What comforting thing can you say to someone in Royal’s situation?
“Celestia is up there now having a woman to woman talk with her.” said Royal, glancing up toward the window of his flat. “Well, woman to girl. She isn’t even interested in boys yet, thank God. I’d like to break Cornelius Fudge’s neck. You raise your kids to be good citizens and this is how the government repays you.”
“It’s possible to love your country and not your government.” I quietly pointed out. “The Ministry is wrong. Their policies on werewolves are barbaric and against basic human rights.”
“Ah, there’s the problem.” said Royal with an ironic smile. “They’ve classified us as part human. I might see their point if they’d ever met Basil and his merry men in person. I suppose you’re going up to see them?”
“I’m afraid so.” said Remus.
“Yestin Plunkett is on the warpath again.”
Royal’s chest heaved with silent laughter. “ Brand, Mel and Streak put a sack full of droppings outside his door, set it on fire, yelled ‘fire’ and well…you know. Brand set the fire by magic, by the way.”
“I’m glad to see that our teaching has been put to such good use.’ said Remus dryly, but he looked amused. “Thanks for the warning, Royal.”
“Well don’t freeze to death out here. Celestia will sort it out.”
I shot Royal a look of sympathy and followed Remus inside. We took the stairs together in companionable silence. I could tell he was thinking about twelve year old Megan. There was an angry jut to his chin and his jaw was bunched tight. I caught myself wondering if a kiss would relax it and then mentally kicked myself in the butt.
Yestin Plunkett suddenly stepped out onto the nearest landing blocking our path with a hand on each rail. He looked absolutely furious, his scowl made more prominent by the downward droop of his thick mustache. “Lupin.”
“Those damned pups of yours…look what they did.” he held out a soiled shoe for us to see.
“I heard. You’ll have to take it up with them, Yestin. I have no authority over them. They are adults…well…technically.”
“You’ve been teaching them magic. You and her.” growled Yestin, jabbing a finger at me. “They’re horrible enough as it is without that.”
“We could teach you too if you like.” said Remus pleasantly.
Yestin stared at him suspiciously for a few moments before turning to me. “You need to go back home where you belong. You too, Lupin. You’re too good to live here, you should stay out of here. One of these days you might get hurt.”
“Let us pass Yestin.” came Remus’s calm response.
I saw Yestin’s eyes wander over Remus, searching for the wand that he knew Remus carried. Then he glanced at me and I knew he was wondering if I was armed too. Apparently he decided it wasn’t worth the risk. “Fenrir should have severed your spine, Lupin.” he spat as he retreated into his flat and slammed the door.
Remus’s expression was inscrutable but his jaw was bunched again. “Good night to you too.” he said into the silence.
We continued upstairs. Halfway down the hallway that led to Basil’s room we could hear a chorus of voices chanting, “Chug, chug, chug, chug….”
“Great. Just great.” said Remus dryly. “First the cold, then the full moon, now this.”
We entered the room to find Basil, Mel and Streak quickly downing steaming goblets of wolfsbane potion wile the others egged them on. This included Tonks (tonight with spiked, pink hair) who was pumping her fist in time to the chant.
Mel finished first, throwing up his hands in triumph. Tonks was clapping and laughing, and her eyes (blue tonight) widened when she saw me. “Kerri! You’re back!” she exclaimed, and jumped up to throw her arms around me. She slipped on an empty pretzel bag on the floor and I had to steady her.
“Hey ! Me!” Mel exclaimed in annoyance. “Not her! Me! You promised to kiss whoever won, and that was me!”
“Oh fine, come here.” He puckered up at her but she turned his face away and pecked him on the cheek. “It’s good to have you back, Kerri.” she said, while Mel threw his hands up in despair.
“Say Remus, you look like hell.” said Basil. “Want some pepperup potion?”
“I’d prefer you guys get Yestin Plunkett off my back.” Remus shot back.
“Next time we’re going to write your name on a firework and throw it in his room.” laughed Streak.
“Anyway…” said Basil, speaking directly to me. “Now you’re back, I want us to just sit down and pick out songs for the concert at Scarlet Dawn…the vampire club that Lorcan manages. They should be dark, smooth…what were the words you used, Tonks?”
“Sensuous and eclectic.”
“Yeah, that. This is what we have so far…hang on.” said Basil, rooting through an explosion of papers that had been stuffed in the space behind the door. “Here.”
I took the page he handed me and sat down on the bed by Tonks, who was flopped across it on her stomach. Mel sat down on her other side and gave her a friendly swat on the bottom, which resulted in him being thrown head first on the floor. “Do that again and it will be the curse of the bogies.” she threatened.
“That sounds like it might be a fun one to know.” said Brand hopefully.
“Forget it.” said Remus. “We had to have been out of our minds to teach you ‘incendio’.”
It took a couple hours but we got all our songs picked and sorted out. “Great. “ said Basil cheerfully, reaching under the bed and coming up with a bottle of amber liquid. “Let’s party.”
“Before you all get yourselves trashed I want to tell you something.” I cut in. “I’ve saved up enough money to buy wands for the rest of you. If you pay me back from that ten percent we’ve been setting aside anyway, we can go to Diagon Alley on Saturday.”
I had expected some sarcastic, lewd, or silly responses, because that’s usually how they respond to everything. Instead, the room went deadly quiet.
Then Streak said with uncharacteristic seriousness, “You’d do that for us?”
“Of course. I agreed to teach you, didn’t I? I was there one night to see what you go through with those dementors, remember?”
“How did you get that kind of money?” asked Augustus. “It’s going to cost a fortune.”
“From a relative.”
“We knew you liked us, but we didn’t know you liked us that much.” said Streak.
“You’ve been holding out on me, Kerri.” Tonks teased. “I’m going to make you buy more groceries.”
“You’re really willing to spend that kind of money on a bunch of worthless werewolves?” asked Brand.
“If I thought you were worthless I wouldn’t bother.”
Streak threw an arm around my shoulders. “Thanks. We aren’t going to forget it.”
“You ever need anything, you let us know.” Augustus agreed.
“Unless it requires money or brains.” laughed Mel.
“But if you ever need a date…” said Augusuts.
“Or a cheap thrill…” Streak suggested.
“Or someone to kick someone else’s ass for you...” Mel added.
“Okay, okay, I get it.” I told them. “Just pay me back, okay?”
“See our accountant about that.” said Brand in a posh accent, gesturing grandly at Remus who had been watching the scene with a look of amusement.
“Can me and Brand come to Diagon Alley too?” asked Basil.
“We don’t want to miss this.” Brand agreed.
“I’ll bet you all turn out to be squibs….none of the wands will want you.” said Basil.
“Don’t be stupid.” I told him in annoyance.
“She likes us better than you.” Streak told Basil, giving me a squeeze.
“Well, let’s celebrate.” said Basil, waving the bottle of what I now recognized as Ogdens’.
“I bet I can out drink all of you.” said Tonks.
“You’re on. How about you, Remus?”
“Maybe one before I go out into the cold.”
“Kerri?” asked Basil. “Maybe some milk in a sippy cup?”
“Shut up, dumbass.” said Augustus scathingly. “Just because she has better things to do with her time than get wasted…we’re going to have to find something you will drink, Kerri. I’ll bring you up your own pot of tea from now on; how’s that?”
“Thank you.” I said, feeling slightly flustered by the attention.
Basil had thrown a friendly arm around Tonks and was pouring her a drink. “I think we should get rid of Kerri and keep you. You’re more fun.”
“No way.” said Tonks “It was fun, but I’d never be able to keep up in school if I had to do this all the time. I’ll be happy to substitute again though. Let me know.”
“Thanks Basil.” said Remus, setting down his glass. “Ready to go?” he asked, looking at me.
I untangled myself from Streak and followed him out.
“Well, congratulations. You’ve won three friends for life. They’ll never forget that you bought them wands and they really will do about anything for you.”
“I’ll be happy if they just buckle down and learn.”
“This trip to Ollivander’s should be interesting. I hope Streak keeps his clothes on.”
“Are you coming too?” I asked, more excited by the prospect than I care to admit.
“Of course. I wouldn’t feel right leaving you at their mercy.”
But I think it will go alright. The boys can behave when they want to. I just hope I can behave in Remus’s presence, as my feelings for him grow warmer by the day. I have got to put a stop to it somehow, but the problem is I don’t know how. It’ll just go away eventually, won’t it?
Author's Note : Thank you for the kind reviews.
Next Chapter : The trip to Diagon Alley --- I do love playing with Lockhart.
The rest of us watched while the two of them headed into the bookstore, opening the door without setting off the bell with a skill that indicated they’d done it before.
“There’s talent for you.” Augustus snorted. “Oh yeah -- they grew up in werewolf-land.”
“I don’t know you people.” said Remus as Streak crawled into the window while Mel made sure no one inside was watching. Streak removed something from his pocket and proceeded to deface the poster of Lockhart. Just as Lockhart turned to face the camera, Streak scrawled an untidy mustache and horns on him. Above that, he began altering the letters in Lockhart’s name so that it now read, “Gilderoy Farhart.”
“My God. We’re all going to Azkaban.” said Remus, with a cautious glance up and down the street. “Let’s get out of here.”
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