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Chapter 36 : Errand Day, Part One
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I had a busy time running all sorts of errands today, some pleasant and some not, but all interesting. First, Tonks, Mary Ann and I went to Diagon Alley. Tonks came by to check the mail this morning and woke me up with all 130 pounds of her crashing onto my bed. "Wake up -- look -- you have to see this!" she squealed, fanning an official looking envelope under my nose. Mary Ann was standing in the doorway looking at her as though she was nuts.
"Mary Ann -- hand me my wand, will you?" I asked casually.
Mary Ann retrieved it from the dressing table and then ducked out of the way, smirking.
"Stupify!" I shouted, pointing my wand at Tonks.
"Protego!" she shot back, deflecting it.
"Well no wonder you're a candidate for Auror training." I told her. "You have good reflexes."
"That's what I'm trying to tell you." said Tonks, unfazed. "I have an interview with Rufus Scrimgeor."
"Head of the Auror office. This interview will decide whether they accept me or not."
"Congratulations. Now get off of me." I said. "When are you telling Gideon this wonderful news?"
"Not until after, I think."
"Good idea. That way you can hang onto him for a little longer."
"If I'm actually accepted there's no way he'd try to get me to turn it down. It's too big an honor. You'll see." said Tonks confidently.
Mary Ann gave a derisive snort, echoing my own opinion. "Just do what you want and tell him to deal."
"We should do something today to celebrate." said Tonks, ignoring her.
"Let's go out to eat." Mary Ann suggested.
"Let's go shopping in Diagon Alley." I vetoed. " A family member gave me money to spend for a new wardrobe to wear to Hogwarts."
"Get dressed and let's go then." said Tonks happily, bouncing up and down on the mattress.
As I threw off the covers I gave her a gentle push, just enough that I knew she'd overbalance and fall off the bed. I had to scramble to get out of the room as she hurled a hex at me. What a way to start a day.
So the morning was spent going to tailors and dress shops in Diagon Alley, not usually one of my favorite pastimes, but then I don't usually have money to spend. I bought some nice white blouses and a couple of skirts in modest colors like brown and black. One of the skirts has drawstrings that gathers it up to create a fancier look if I choose. I also bought some split skirts and sturdier things for working outdoors. Things that will be practical, but still equal to the dignity that a Hogwarts teacher is supposed to have.
And then there's the formal dress. Yes, I'm going to wear it to the Valentine's Ball but I'll need something fancy for special occasions at Hogwarts too. It's the nicest dress I've ever had -- and brand new. I don't actually have it yet because it's being made specially for me, but I have an exact picture of it in my mind. It's red, about the color of garnets. It has an overdress and a chemise. The overdress is made of a sheer, floaty material with lace at the sleeves and hem, and roses embroidered around the v-neckline, and on the front of the skirt. The neckline might be a bit low...maybe...my mother would think so. Remus's mother might too so if we do go see his parents before the ball I'll wear a camisole with strategically placed lace underneath.
While we were in Diagon Alley I took what remained of Severus's money and bought a wand for Mary Ann with it. Poor Mr. Ollivander has probably never had a more trying day. It took the better part of an hour to match Mary Ann with a wand. Usually he seems to enjoy a challenge but apparently not when the customer is irritated and impatient. "This is stupid." she complained, waving around what must have been the fiftieth wand she'd tried. Ollivander whisked it out of her hand and replaced it with another one. "If this one doesn't work, I'm going to take it and shove it up your---" she began.
Where exactly she planned to shove the wand, we thankfully never found out. Tonks had shifted her weight to lean against the wall. As she did, she bumped into a precariously stacked pile of boxes which tilted sideways, taking two others with it. Boxes, wands, and tissue paper all came raining down with an almighty crash, right on top of Mary Ann who added to the chaos by letting loose a long stream of curse words that did credit to Fenrir's teaching.
"I'm sorry !" Tonks gasped.
"My shop!" wailed Olivander, his usually calm demeanor shattered.
"I'm sorry !" Tonks moaned again.
Furious, Mary Ann snatched up the first wand that came to hand and gestured aggressively at Tonks with it. Red sparks arched through the air in it's wake, setting fire to some loose wrapping tissue that had come free of its box during the avalanche. Tonks and I hurried to put it out before the whole place went up in flame and we ended up in Azkaban.
Fortunately, no real damage was done. Ollivander, being a salesman to the core, was actually pretty good about the whole thing after I paid him for Mary Ann's wand, rowan and dragon heartstring, eleven inches. Like Streak had done the year before, she insisted on carrying it out of the shop. Several times she almost poked passing pedestrians with it and once she set fire to an awning. In the end I had to threaten to take it away from her before she grudgingly stopped waving it around like a maniac.
Outside of the Magical Menagerie Tonks was hailed by a young man, about our age. Something about him struck me as a wizard version of a hippie. He had long, not very well kept hair and beard. His clothing was somewhat scruffy, and a cord around his neck upon which a hippogriff talon was dangling, looked to me as though it was made of hemp.
"Wotcher, August." said Tonks cheerfully. "This is my room mate Kerri, and Mary Ann. You lot, this is August Day."
"Your name is August Day?" Mary Ann snickered.
"You think that's bad? One of my sisters is named June and the other is May." answered August Day, not sounding at all offended. Probably he'd heard it before anyway.
"I've wanted you two to meet." said Tonks, looking at me disapprovingly "You're always so busy, August works for the Magical Animals Defense Fund. They ---"
"I've heard of them. They raise money to protect endangered magical animals and conduct research."
"And we work to protect habitats where endangered animals live." August Day added. "I do a lot of lobbying up at the Ministry."
"You two are both animal nuts." Tonks told me.
"Well, I would be seeing as I grew up in a zoo." said August Day.
"So did I." laughed Mary Ann.
"No, I'm serious. My parents own a zoo. I grew up right alongside all sorts of wild animals."
"So did I." Mary Ann insisted.
"Guess what --" said Tonks excitedly. "I have an interview with Scrimgeor."
"That's great." said August. "Good luck. Want to come to the Leakey Cauldron to celebrate?"
"Yeah -- I could use a beer." Mary Ann piped up.
Tonks rolled her eyes. "Actually, I haven't even told my parents yet and I want to go do that. Maybe another time."
"Sure. See you later then."
"He seems nice." I commented as we walked away.
"Yeah. He and Gideon have known each other for a long time. The Elmcrofts donate to his parent's zoo or something. He doesn't look like much really, Gideon says he looks like homeless person, but he's really brilliant. You ought to hear him talk. He's a good speaker and that's why they send him to lobby the Ministry. He organizes protests and things too. He's really good at getting whatever he wants. He never went to Hogwarts -- his parents taught him at home -- but he's really well educated. Every bit as brainy as you are."
"I think you like him." said Mary Ann slyly.
Tonks rolled her eyes again. "Oh -- and that letter you sent me over Christmas. What was with that comment about there being little Gideons crawling around soon? Everyone seems to be under the impression that he proposed to me over the holidays. He didn't."
"Good." said Mary Ann firmly.
Sometimes I really appreciate her. She says the things that I want to but wouldn't dare.
Tonks took Mary Ann with her to her parent's house to visit Leo and I went on to my next errand of the day, stopping in to see Remus. He had asked me to come by to discuss new lessons for the boys. I needed to warn him that Mary Ann had a wand and I was ready to start teaching her to use it anyway. For one thing, it would distract me from working with the boys. For another, I wouldn't put it past her to try to set fire to his robes with it.
Remus was working on making a Hybrid poster when I arrived. A Hybrid poster without my image in it since I'll be dropping out of the band once I begin teaching. "You could stay on in a managerial capacity." Remus told me, noticing my regret. "Keeping them out of trouble is really a job for two anyway. What are you doing tonight?"
"I'm doing a job for Dumbledore." I answered, even more regretfully. "In fact, I'll be busy with it from now until school starts back. I'm sorry -- it seems like I'm always busy with something. Here I am out of school when I ought to have more time for you, and still don't. I can't catch a break."
"That's all right." said Remus, lowering his pencil and turning to look at me directly. "A job at Hogwarts? At night? Not teaching, obviously."
"No. He called me in as a consultant with a pest problem they're having. I have to track down an animal that's been getting into the castle somehow."
"This is good news. Dumbledore clearly has confidence in you."
"Or he's testing me." I said flatly. Somehow I wondered if this were not at least part of the reason he'd sent for me.
"You'll do just fine."
"Guess what? I bought a dress today -- for the Valentine's Ball." I changed the subject. Thinking about the Hogwarts situation made me feel guilty about not telling Remus the whole truth.
"Did you?" asked Remus politely.
"Don't worry. I won't bore you by describing it. Are we going to go visit your parents before the ball?" I asked, my tone carefully casual.
"Would you mind?" he asked, his tone equally casual.
"I'll tell my mother we're coming, then. She'll be thrilled. Thank you."
"Well, while you're happy with me I guess it's a good time to tell you that I bought Mary Ann a wand today. I'm going to start bringing her to lessons with the others." I warned him.
"Then I'll confess that I want to start teaching the rest of them defensive magic."
I couldn't help laughing, imagining the chaos this would create.
"Well, I'm not suggesting that we should teach them curses and hexes. I don't trust them that far. I think we should begin teaching them spells that could be used defensively but aren't necessarily designed for that purpose. If they don't abuse it then we'll move on to real defensive spells."
"What kind of spells are you thinking of, exactly?" I asked.
"Take the silencing charm, for example. It's not considered defensive but it can be used in that capacity if cast at an enemy. It would prevent the enemy from using verbal spells at least."
"They'll love it. They'll hit Vashti with it while she's onstage."
"Probably." Remus agreed. "People may not be happy with us after this, but it's important that they know how to defend themselves. Every wizard has that right."
"It's going to be interesting."
"So will working with Mary Ann."
"You're going to have to let me do that." I warned him.
"What a pity." said Remus, his tone innocent.
I raised an eyebrow.
"I'm serious. I regret getting off on the wrong foot with her. I hope that you bringing her to lessons will give me a chance to make up for it."
I didn't want to throw cold water on this idea so I changed the subject. The issue of meeting his parents, now that it was official, was very much on my mind. "What are your parents like?"
"Average, I suppose. You'd never guess that..." Remus let his voice trail off as he leaned closer to the poster to concentrate on a detail.
I knew what he'd been about to say. Something like, "...they had a monster for a son."
"I'm sure you'll like them. They're animal people too." said Remus, echoing Tonks's earlier 'animal nut' comment.
"They have horses, don't they?"
"Not as many as they used to. When I was a boy they made their living breeding them."
"That seems like an odd occupation for wizards." I commented.
"Yes, but my mother was Muggleborn and she convinced my father to go into business with my grandfather, her father. Her parents raised horses, his parents raised hippogriffs, so love of equine type animals was something that they shared. My parents did the actual work raising them and my grandfather sold them to Muggle buyers. I was very close to my grandfather."
"Other than your parents do you have any family left?"
"After my grandfather died I lost contact with that side of the family." answered Remus. "Well, I've more or less cut myself off from most of the family anyway. You know why. I don't have brothers or sisters. My parents had me late in life. You know I was a twin, but my brother died at birth. My parents had tried to have children for years and had virtually given up when we came along. It was quite a surprise, to say the least."
While Remus was talking freely about his past I thought I'd ask him a question that I'd always been afraid to before. "You've never told me exactly why Fenrir went for you. You don't have to if you don't want to." I added quickly.
Remus took a deep breath. "Fenrir has always been homeless, setting up camps wherever he can find a place. When I was a boy he lived near us and his camp was encroaching onto our lands. My father tried to turn him out and that's when horses began dying. Actually, we would get up in the morning to find them so badly injured that they'd have to be destroyed. My parents knew Fenrir was at the bottom of it and my father reported it to the Ministry. Well, you don't turn Fenrir into the authorities without something terrible happening to you in retaliation. The first opportunity he found after the report was made..." Remus's voice trailed off significantly. "I'd probably have died if that mother horse hadn't defended me. It's a miracle she didn't get killed."
"Why was nothing ever done?"
"Because there was no way to definitively prove that Fenrir was the culprit."
"But they knew that he and your father had been having an altercation." I said in frustration.
"Circumstantial evidence. It proved nothing. And at the time Fenrir had protection from certain families who found him useful. Voldemort was beginning his ascent and he and his followers were known to take advantage of Fenrir's fondness for attacking people. Believe me, my parents tried to have him prosecuted but only encountered brick walls."
"It's not fair. It's bad enough that it had to happen, but for the law to essentially protect Fenrir like that... They're supposed to protect victims -- not criminals."
Remus just smiled ironically. If he'd been Severus he'd have told me I was young and naive and had no idea how the world really works.
"I'm sorry that happened to you." I told him. "But it doesn't make any difference to me that you're a werewolf."
"I know." he answered, looking faintly puzzled by the fact.
"And this reminds me -- I'm going to start a research project when I settle into Hogwarts."
"I'm going to cure lycanthropy."
"I wish you luck." said Remus without a trace of sarcasm.
"You think it's possible?" I asked, curious.
"Far be it from me to stamp on your dreams. If you want to search for a cure for a seemingly incurable disease, you have my complete support."
Once again I wondered what I'd done to be so lucky to have Remus and was reminded anew that I didn't deserve him. "I'm going to cure lycanthropy." I told him again. And this time it was a promise.
Another Author's Note : Still sorry about the missing centaurs....
Next Chapter : Kerri goes into the forest to question the centaurs about possible basilisk sightings and stops in to see how Hagrid is responding to the recent attacks on students. (Centaurs this time --- really --- I promise. And a familiar car too)
You won't believe this but I saw your father's car the other day. I was in the forest at Hogwarts and it came driving across my path. Totally bizarre. I have so many questions like, what is it running on? How does it just go around by itself? You know these things are not normal in the Muggle world. I'm glad your father doesn't want it back because I think the teenage centaurs are using it for target practice.
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