Letter from Severus Snape to Cerridwyn Howard : March 1, 1993
I admit that I was short with you on the occasion of our last meeting. Though I am glad that you're keeping away from this place I would appreciate the occasional note to reassure me that all is well. Considering events that have been taking place at Hogwarts recently I do not think my concern for your wellbeing is unfounded.
There have been no new attacks, no sign at all that anything is amiss. Lockhart seems to think that his presence has frightened the culprit into stopping the assault and his bragging is absolutely nauseating. I admit that I am puzzled as to why the attacks have stopped, but am confident Lockhart is not the reason. The headmaster is similarly baffled, and we at least, have not let down our guard.
In all honesty, I miss having you around to complain about Lockhart to. No one else wants to hear it because the rest of the staff are all similarly besieged and have no sympathy for the torment of others. His most recent assault on me took place on Valentine's ---- and no, it isn't the sick thing that you're thinking.
On Valentine's night I went down to the Three Broomsticks to get away from the hormone drunken teenagers running rampant in the castle. Unfortunately, Lockhart was there too. He got completely innebriated, started ranting about how he felt sorry for me being all alone, and asked out Madam Rosmerta on my behalf. I'm extremely grateful to you for telling me his real name, which proved to be a useful weapon. I called him by it once and it seemed to sober him up immediately. Fortunately, Madam Rosemerta passed it off as a joke. As though I would condescend to invite someone like her out anyway.
The team is doing well this year, despite a few small problems. We have a new seeker who is quite young, but time will remedy that. Warrington is working with him one-on-one to help him improve, and the boy does seem very anxious to prove himself and win glory for Slytherin house. In some ways he reminds me of my myself at that age, only he has the advantage of money and a decent family.
When not patrolling the corridors, which we are still doing despite Lockhart's assurance that his mere presence has frightened the monster away, (which might in fact be true as I think his presence would be enough to frighten almost anyone away) I've been reviewing whatever literature I can find on lycanthropy and treatments for it. I'm beginning to stock up my private laboratory with things we may need and am looking forward to beginning our project.
I trust you are well, though if I do not hear from you soon I shall come to see for myself. Hopefully you've simply taken my advice and devoted yourself to your studies. There are only four months until your graduation when I most certainly will see you as I plan to attend.
Life just seems to be one big crises lately. As if I wasn't anxious enough, waiting for word that someone has been eaten by a giant snake at Hogwarts, Remus's father has died, and now Royal is in Azkaban. I'm not sure who I'm more worried about, Royal or his family. Celestia has no idea how she's going to support four children (two of which are very hungry werewolves) all by herself.
We're all figuring that Fenrir is at the bottom of this. This must be what he was arranging when he was over at the McNairs. It's frustrating beyond belief and it makes you feel so helpless. How can one ugly, mean spirited person manage to cause so much unhappiness? I guess it helps to have friends in high places. It's just unbelievable that someone like him can manage to manipulate the authorities. It really makes you wonder about the government. Talk about corruption.
Word came last night via Mary Ann who had taken Megan up on her dinner invitation. Although she was being very nonchalant about the whole thing and claiming she was only going to take advantage of the food, she did seem a bit nervous. I hoped that this nervousness meant that she was anxious to make a good impression, which seemed to suggest that my plan of getting her to make some decent friends might actually be working. Or at least was not being resisted.
It was nice having her out because it gave Remus and I some time alone together. When he showed up at the door, Tonks conveniently remembered a book that was due back at the library and immediately vacated the house.
Remus is looking much better these days, and is still staying with his mother, though he plans to move out again once the full moon arrives. Even with the full moon approaching, he seems better than he did a week ago when the grief of his father's death was more fresh. Like Sophia, he seems to be making a conscious effort to get back to normal again.
"How's your mother?" I asked.
"Better. She's sorting through things now, deciding what to keep and what to give to charity, that sort of thing. She doesn't seem at all interested in moving to a smaller place." he added with a slight frown. I wondered if they had argued over it. I have the feeling that if Remus's idea of what's best for Sophia doesn't tally with hers that she'll make her feelings known in no uncertain terms.
"And how are you?"
"Also better. It gets easier every day. What have I missed while I've been preoccupied?"
"Basil and Augustus managed to get themselves hired and fired again." And I gave him the story, trying to make it as entertaining as possible, which I apparently did.
"I shouldn't laugh." he scolded himself.
"Yes you should. It's funny and you know it."
"Well, they should receive credit for tenacity at the very least. I'm sure they'll sort it all out in the end. They're very resourceful and they do know how to take care of themselves."
"I hope they figure it out soon considering how much they eat." I said, dreading the hit and run raids on the kitchen that I knew would come if they didn't find new jobs soon. "Speaking of which --- Mary Ann is over at the Fabian's for dinner."
"Does that mean we're alone for a change?"
Yes, I thought, Remus most definitely was starting to feel better.
So we were together on the sofa, extremely preoccupied, when a breathless Mary Ann burst in the door. "I'm going to puke all over the place." she announced, looking at us.
Avoiding Remus's gaze because I knew it would make me laugh, I said "You came home early."
"Yeah. Obviously you weren't expecting me or you wouldn't have been here swapping spit with him. What? Do you think I'm funny?" Mary Ann demanded, looking at Remus.
Maybe it was something in his eyes that had given him away, because his face was perfectly straight. "Not at all. I take you very seriously."
"Do you want me to leave so you can go back to playing sucky face or do you want to know that Megan's dad just got hauled to Azkaban?"
Remus and I were both immediately on our feet.
"What?" I asked.
"Some guys from the Ministry just showed up and arrested him. They said it was for questioning but you know it was really just because he's a werewolf -- and because of visit my dad had with the McNairs I bet. I figured I'd better go because they might not want me around, considering. What are you going to do?" she asked, watching Remus and I pulling on cloaks.
"Whatever we can." answered Remus grimly.
"Please don't try cooking anything." I begged. "Don't touch the stove, okay?"
"Yeah right. If anyone's going to end up setting a fire here, it's going to be Tonks." came the sarcastic response.
I didn't take the time to answer. Remus and I rushed over to the werewolf commune where every window was alight and the entire building seemed to be buzzing. The foyer was jammed full of people who were talking about the arrest. Dary was there too, and he seemed to be commanding a lot of attention.
"Romney got arrested too." he summed things up for Remus and I, the latecomers.
I knew Romney by sight only. He, like Royal, enjoyed a sort of authority position in Dary's old building.
"What did they arrest him for?" I asked.
"Being a werewolf, of course. But they said it was for questioning. Bet that the questioning lasts for a month or two and involves living in a cell in Azkaban. It sounds like a major raid. If Fenrir Grayback has started this....."
"Then we all better keep our mouths shut before something worse happens." shouted someone from the crowd.
There was a general murmur of agreement.
"Right now it doesn't really matter who started it." said Remus grimly, holding my hand as we made our way up the stairs.
We passed many more people gossiping in halls and on landings. Probably this was the most exciting thing they'd had to talk about since Fenrir and Yestin's ejection. We found Augustus standing outside the Fabian's door, turning away curious neighbors. What is it with people anyway?
Basil was inside, looking extremely sober and as helpless as I felt after Remus's father died. Actually, I was beginning to feel that way again in the presence of Celestia and her children. She was sitting on the old mustard colored sofa, with an arm around Melissa who was crying into her shoulder and another around Matthew who was quietly clinging to her, but otherwise calm. Megan was standing behind the sofa, half leaning over her mother's shoulder, her face very pale. Michael was nowhere to be seen but I assumed that the sobs echoing from the back room were coming from him.
"They didn't even give a real reason." said Celestia blankly. She wasn't crying, but she looked as though she was in shock.
"They just said 'questioning'." said Megan, her tone hopeful. "Maybe they won't keep him long."
"Is there anything we can do to help, Celestia?" asked Remus.
She shook her head. "You can't help me with what I'll need help with. It was just so fast and unexpected. Well, we knew something was coming but we didn't expect it to be this. We kept the children inside to keep them safe from him and now...this." she finished lamely.
"Mel was downstairs when they showed up." said Basil, speaking for the first time. He was more subdued than I've seen him in a long time. "He heard who they were after and gave them wrong directions to buy some time. Then he ran up here to warn Royal."
"He would have had time to sneak out, but what good would that have done?" asked Celestia, though her tone suggested that she was still not sure it had been the right decision. "If he'd run, he'd have become a wanted man. At least this way he'll just have to spend a couple of months or so in prison and then he can come back to us and things can go back to normal. Nothing would have been normal ever again if he'd gone on the run. Everything he built, his home and family...I was just telling you the other day how important it is to him." said Celestia, looking at me. "With the arrests that were going on over the summer he had decided that if they ever came for him, he'd just go without a struggle. When Mel told us they were coming he went out in the hall to wait for them because he didn't want his children to see him arrested."
"I wish I was a werewolf." said Melissa savagely. "I'd go bite them all. I'd fix the Minister of Magic."
"Don't say that." snapped Megan, sounding uncharacteristically angry. More calmly she said, "Maybe they won't want to keep him through the full moon."
"I expect it will be at least a month." said Celestia dully. "Though they kept Marcus for several. They never keep anyone for less than a month. I'll have to get another job and even then --- and how selfish am I worrying about money when Royal is locked up in Azkaban with the dementors?" she asked, sounding close to tears.
"No, it's natural for you to worry about that." said Remus. "You do have four children."
"I'm going to have to ask my parents for help. There's no way we can make it with just me working."
"Dementors." murmured Megan, who did not seem to be listening to her mother's financial worries.
"Your father is healthy and strong. He's emotionally stable. Those things will help." Remus comforted.
"The Ministry is such a joke." I spat.
"Celestia, if there's anything we can do to help, please tell us." said Remus.
Celestia shook her head. "Nothing can be done. All we can do is wait. I should go check on Michael."
Melissa trailed after her, clinging to her hand. Megan took Celestia's place on the sofa and pulled Mathew close. "My grandparents will help us if things get bad. And let's hope that my dad isn't gone too long."
"Let's hope." I mechanically agreed, unable to think of anything more helpful to say. First the thing with Remus's father and now this. These things have a way of making a person feel completely useless.
"Brand was locked up in there for pretty much the same reason one time." said Basil bracingly. "He could hear me sometimes when I'd go up on the roof to play. It's to do with the way the wind blows sometimes -- you know the prison is straight out to sea from here. Anyway, he told me later that it helped him deal with it better, stay sane. So tell you what -- we'll start going to practice up there from now on, no matter how cold it is. Maybe he'll be able to hear."
Was caught between annoyance and admiration. Annoyance because I supposed that my fingers would freeze to my guitar strings, admiration because I could see that Matthew looked very cheered by the idea.
In the end, there was not much Remus and I could do to help, and we went back home, sober and deep in thought.
"That's exactly why werewolves should not have children." he said as we entered the house where Mary Ann was lounging in front of the television. She'd poured what looked like an entire box of cereal into a serving bowl and was working her way through it.
"Good thing I came in when I did then." she said, not taking her eyes off of the television. "Or nine months from now Kerri might have had puppies."
"We did have all our clothes on." I reminded her in annoyance.
"Yeah --- but he was starting to get ideas."
"Royal resents the Ministry for passing out free birth control in the communes but I think they have the right idea." said Remus, ignoring Mary Ann.
"Are you on birth control, Kerri?" Mary Ann wanted to know.
"Look at the mess Celestia is in now." Remus implacably continued as though Mary Ann had not interrupted. "She can't afford to support her family."
"Well you just remember that." said Mary Ann. "If Kerri has puppies, she won't be able to support them either. And what will they think at Hogwarts? They'll be too little for wolfsbane potion and what if they get loose some time and eat the students?"
"Full body bind." I threatened sweetly. "It all comes back to the Ministry, Remus. They act like it's a mercy to give werewolves birth control since they can't afford to have children when it's their laws that make it impossible for werewolves to get decent jobs. It all goes around in a circle."
"It's not just the money. It's the disease too. Who wants to condemn their child to that? That's the main reason I never want children -- of course my mother doesn't agree." Remus added reluctantly.
"Oh that's why his mother likes you, Kerri." said Mary Ann. "You can make some babies for her to play with."
"Petrificus totalus. I warned you." I said, standing over Mary Ann where she lay completely stiff on the sofa, cereal spilling everywhere. "Remus, I say we roll her into the other room and go back to what we were doing before she showed up."
Remus laughed. "Another time. It's getting late and my mother may worry. I'll see you tomorrow."
Although Mary Ann couldn't move, I could just sense the bad words she was thinking at me in her mind. Even after Remus left, I didn't bother removing the spell for quite some time.
....."Puppies" getting loose and eating my students.....give me a break....
Celestia and her children have moved away. It was a sudden decision brought about by financial desperation. Her parents have agreed to take the children, but not being a werewolf herself, Celestia could not legally stay in the werewolf commune without them, so she's moving in with her parents too. Besides, her parents were nervous about going through a full moon with Megan and Michael in the house anyway.
"I think my parents are actually a bit glad this has happened." Celestia softly confessed as I helped her pack. "They never approved of Royal -- you can guess why. I know they're hoping this leads to divorce; which it obviously won't. And although I know they love Megan and Michael I also know they're a bit afraid of them too. I hate moving in with them but I can't support the family by myself. I need another job and if I have two jobs who will stay with the kids while I'm gone? I won't have them running wild by themselves the way some children do around here. At least this way someone will be there to take care of them."
Royal, of course, locked away in Azkaban has no idea this is going on. When he does get out of prison he'll come home to find his family moved away. Assuming that he does come back. And assuming that he's still sane after prolonged exposure to dementors. Everyone is supposed to be on the lookout for him to tell him where Celestia has gone, but I think it's still going to come across as a shock. And it's going to be awkward when he shows up at her parent's house, fresh from prison with no job and nowhere else to go. The whole thing just makes me furious.
Oh --- and it isn't only Royal, and Romney from Dary's old building that were arrested the other night. It seems that the Ministry decided to take the opportunity to round up all of the known leaders from the other werewolf communes around the country. I know it's evil of me, and that I shouldn't be glad, but Vashti was one of them.
"Couldn't happen to a nicer jerk."
"Kerri." said Remus, his tone disapproving. "I know she's frustrating but she doesn't deserve Azkaban."
"She doesn't deserve me feeling sorry for her either. What?" I asked, in response to Remus's disappointed gaze. "She's been nothing but horrible to me."
Nevertheless, I stopped gloating about it...around Remus at least. The boys and I have never forgotten the Howl Off sabotage and think that maybe this visit to Azkaban will do wonders for Vashti's bad attitude. "And Full Moon Rising has no lead singer!" Basil keeps exulting.
For the most part, the rest of the werewolf community is taking these arrests in stride. Such roundups have taken place before and certainly will again. Like death and taxes, they can't be avoided. Some people are actually finding them advantageous. Six different people have applied for Vashti's spot in her band and already there has been some vying to step into the shoes of authority figures like Royal. Brand and Jennifer have taken over the Fabian's old apartment which is larger than their old one was and has a better view. Well, at least someone friendly will be there to break the news to Royal that he has to move in with his in-laws.
Speaking of in-laws (potential ones at least) Sophia sent me a jar of homemade jelly today.
Authors Note : Reviews and chocolate are always appreciated.
Next Chapter : Kerri and Franklin McNair have another clash
Franklin took the cloak as I thrust it at him. That might have been the end of it right then and there. I really don't know what got into me, other than the fact that I knew he'd probably just go right back to harassing werewolves with it again. As if there haven't been enough injustices against them lately.
"Incendio." I said, pointing my wand at the cloak.
Whatever they make invisibility cloaks with, it's very flammable. The thing incinerated almost instantly, Franklin dropping it with a startled yelp as fire licked at his fingers. It was disintigrated before it even hit the ground, a mess of purple ash.
"Oh you rock!" Mary Ann exulted, half strangling me with a hug.
Franklin, for once, looked as though he couldn't think of anything to say. He opened his mouth but no words came.
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