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Curious Happenings at Number Twelve by Toujours Padfoot
Chapter 3 : The Precautionary Plan
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8


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Nora wanted retribution. She wanted blood splatter on her hands and for the screams of those she hated to reverberate in her eardrums. Nora recalled with painful accuracy the jet of green light – the strike of a cobra from Antonin Dolohov’s short, stump-like wand and his high, reedy laughter. Ultimately, Antonin Dolohov was the one who had sent Gideon Prewett’s soul spinning from his body. The final curse. But as he was not available and the only Death Eater outside of Azkaban she could track down was Alecto Carrow, Nora concentrated on her and promised herself that she would somehow reach the others, someday.

But Alecto was slippery and excelled at the art of evasion. Frustration bubbled up in Nora’s ribcage at the memories of her dashed efforts, anger for not having been able to corner the wicked witch after almost five years of pursuit. That damned Fidelius Charm, she thought bitterly. Besides the case of Grimmauld Place, she found it an evil nuisance.

When Nora bounded down into the kitchen and began slamming items around, preparing for breakfast, Sirius looked a bit startled. “What’s wrong?” he asked apprehensively.

“Oh, sorry,” she apologized, trying to collect herself. “It’s just those Death Eaters out there running round and I can’t bloody well get at them.”

He seemed to relax, the color returning to his flesh again. “Yes, I wish I could stumble into a few. I owe Greyback a nice clawing at, for what he’s done to Remus. And there are others still in prison who I wouldn’t mind killing – Bellatrix for what she did to the Longbottoms, especially. But the vermin I’d most desire dueling are Voldemort and Wormtail. Probably no match for the ‘Dark Lord’, of course, but I could rip that talentless Wormtail limb from limb in a heartbeat...”

Both dwelled for a few sinister moments on their gory fantasies, kindred spirits in the respect that both could be gentle and happy and also simultaneously full of rage, still wanting to tear the throats out of a few select individuals. Neither could let it go and give up. The end goal was to avenge their loved ones and the carefree lives that could have existed for them once upon a time, but were so callously blasted away. Even if it killed them, they had to try.

“Nora!” a voice drifted downstairs, followed by a loud thundering of footsteps. By the way that woman walked, you would think she weighed about as much as an elephant.

A blue-haired Tonks emerged in the kitchen looking winded and giddy, and she grinned at Nora’s stance in front of the tea pot. “Excellent. I could use a spot of tea.”

“You could use the doorbell,” Sirius muttered under his breath.

She smacked him upside the head with a copy of The Quibbler and smiled hugely, pulling out a chair and sticking her feet up on the table. Despite having been in that same position only five seconds earlier, Sirius flicked his wand at Tonks and a series of flabby brown toadstools sprang up all over her shoes. She merely kicked them off and they fell into his lap.

“Nora, love, it is time that I unloaded on you again,” Tonks replied airily as Nora cracked an egg into the frying pan.

“Oh, no.” Nora pretended to groan. “Don’t tell me you still fancy that nephew of Madame Malkin. He was a right pig.”

“Definitely not.” A dreamy expression clouded Tonks’s eyes and then she suddenly narrowed them at Sirius. “Any chance we could get rid of this one?” she wanted to know, jerking her thumb at him. “Is there a collar and leash upstairs you could chain him to?” Clearly, Tonks thought that the idea of a human changing into an animal was a highly comical anomaly. She never ceased to give Nora grief about being an owl in her spare time and Nora wasn’t at all surprised that she highlighted Sirius’s qualities as an Animagus dog as material for poking fun.

“This is my kitchen,” he answered in his sweetest tone, a smirk on his lips. “You’re not kicking me out, Nymphadora.”

She ignored his obvious attempt to annoy her by addressing her by her first name (which Tonks openly despised) and chewed on the inside of her cheek, internally debating whether or not to spill the beans with him present. “Alright then,” she finally spat. “Then you’ve got to swear not to listen and not to repeat anything I say. Absolute secrecy or else I will kill you.”

“Sure,” he responded genially, unable to conceal the laughter in his grey eyes. “Because I am confident that whatever news you’re going to report to Nora is going to be so interesting. Life-changing, even. Blow-your-mind, stellar, positively mind-bending -”

Tonks snorted. “Keep teasing me, fleabag, and I’ll never leave.”

“So what’s going on, then?” Nora inquired. She turned to look at Tonks, demanding her undivided attention. “Well?”

“I think I’ve found my soulmate,” Tonks responded after a dramatic pause.

“So this would make your twentieth, then,” Nora laughed, pouring a bit of hotcake batter onto a skillet and sprinkling in a few blueberries. “I hope all of you have a very happy ending.”

Tonks waved her hand in a dismissing gesture, rolling her eyes. “This is the real thing, Prewett. And I tell you, I can’t see how I’ve been so blind. He’s been right under my nose. For years!”

Nora was curious now. “Tell me his name. I know you’re planning on dragging this out just to torture me.”

Tonks hesitated for a fraction of a second, eyeing Sirius severely. But then the passion for her unnamed lover seemed too much to bear hiding any longer, and she cried, “Remus Lupin!”

Sirius choked on his tea, and after a rather drawn out fit of coughing and laughter he turned and stared at his cousin incredulously. “What? You fancy Lupin?”

“Wow, Remus.” Nora remarked, busying herself flipping the hotcakes before they burned from her inattention. “Oh, Tonks, I think that’s great. Usually your choices are so…well…your taste is a bit off.” She rushed on before Tonks could take offense to that, asking, “Do you know if he likes you, too?”

Tonks looked pointedly at Sirius.

“What?” he said. “I don’t know anything.”

“You’re his best friend,” Tonks replied flatly. “You must know who he likes.”

Sirius leaned his chair back to rest on its hind legs, his boots crossed on the table directly under Tonks’ nose. “Don’t know a thing,” he said unconvincingly, and flashed a devilish grin.

Tonks scowled, wrenching his boots out of her face. “I knew you’d be useless.”

Nora waved some plates, silverware, and the dishes of food over to the table with her wand and joined them, sliding along the bench next to her presently blue-haired friend. “You know, he did stare at you rather often on Sunday evening while you were busy talking to Mad-Eye,” she scrutinized.

“Here comes the gossiping,” Sirius mused, spreading marmalade on his toast and trying to look vastly superior to the conversation.

“Did you think so?” Tonks talked over him as though he hadn’t said anything. “I thought I might have just been reading into it too much, but I also noticed another good sign: he barely looked at me when he thought I was watching or talked to me unless I talked to him first.”

“How in Merlin’s pants can that be interpreted as a good sign?” Sirius cried. “Are you mad or delusional?”

“Neither, darling, but your opinion doesn’t count because I don’t listen to rabbits. I find them to have very poor judgment.”

Sirius frantically patted at his head, and found he had developed a pair of fluffy white rabbit ears.

“Might want to check your backside, too,” she added wryly. He frowned and must have done a nonverbal incantation with his wand, because the bunny ears shrank back into nonexistence. “And it’s a good sign,” Tonks continued testily, “because he yakked his head off with everyone else. It’s as though he was going overboard in trying to look like he wasn’t interested in me more than the rest of the Order. He talked much more than usual and almost always tried to make sure his attention was fixed on anyone other than me, and he sat very far away from me in the drawing room if you didn’t notice.”

“Perhaps he thinks you smell like cat litter,” Sirius suggested. “He wouldn’t be the first.”

“I think you’re right,” Nora agreed.

“You think I smell like cat litter?” Tonks’s jaw dropped in astonishment, and she lifted her shirt to sniff it.

“No, no, of course not,” Nora chortled. “I meant about Remus not talking to you unless he could help it. He was paying more attention to Mundungus than to you, which is saying something.”

“And Mundungus always has flies zooming about him and never takes a bath, so we know Remus can’t be averse to the way I smell,” Tonks retorted, tossing Sirius a hateful look. “I think this is just Remus’s way of reacting to a woman he likes. He clams up, and doesn’t want to be too obvious. So he ignores me as much as possible because if I don’t know he likes me, I can’t reject him.”

“Perceptive and wise, my friend,” Nora applauded. “Now tell me. Are you going to honeymoon in France or the Caribbean?”

“The Caribbean, I think,” Tonks replied seriously. “The French don’t take too kindly to werewolves and I think some tropical sunshine would do him good. Now the only thing to do is start checking out wedding cakes and discovering for sure whether or not he likes me,” she lamented, a crease forming between her eyes. She unleashed her most winning smile on Sirius.

He stretched his arms in the air and then took a bite of his breakfast, chewing with a glazed look in his eyes and successfully making himself seem vaguely bored. “So how ‘bout those Chudley Cannons?”

“Sirius!” she implored, her hair growing a few inches and turning a seaweed-green shade. “Men talk just as much as women do and I know you could tell me who Remus fancies; and maybe you could put in a decent word for me…tell him I like roses…”

“Not getting involved,” he sang. “Just grow a pair and talk to him yourself.”

Tonks was emphatic. “But you know!” she yelled. “I know that you know!”

“I have no idea what you think I may know,” he said loftily, his gaze drifting over her head. “But if I did know, you would never know it. And if you knew what I knew, maybe you would wish you didn’t know. Or maybe you would know that I never really knew in the first place.”

Tonks chucked a fried egg at Sirius, which missed and slapped against the wall behind him, a yellow ooze trickling down the peeling paint. “This is going to be tricky, trying to decipher whether or not he really does,” Nora stated after using ‘Scourgify’ on the mess.

Sirius shook his head in amazement, the tips of his dark hair swinging. “Why don’t you just go up to him and say, “Moony, I think you might be my soulmate. You are truly the Fizzing to my Whizbee.”

“Oh, sure,” Tonks remarked sardonically, her hair now deepening to a magenta hue. “Why don’t I just throw all my cards on the table and declare my undying love for him right to his face!”

“That would certainly make your sentiments plain,” Sirius observed. “You women are always trying to be crafty. Makes it all terribly confusing and it’s your own fault when relationships get delayed for years because you were so busy trying to look indifferent and he ended up believing you. Taking a woman’s words and actions at face value! Imagine that!”

“Only a fool would think I was indifferent,” Tonks scoffed. “I saw him just a few short hours ago after his shift keeping watch in the Department of Mysteries and offered him a Licorice Snap. Everyone knows I love Licorice Snaps. Why would I share them if I don’t have an invested interest in the proposed Licorice Snap eater?”

“You’re getting hysterical,” Nora warned, popping a shred of raisin bread in her mouth. “We’ll find out one way or another if Remus likes you, Tonks. Don’t fret.”

“Probably because he’s going to go telling everyone,” Tonks said, glaring accusingly at her cousin.

“He won’t,” Nora assured her.

Tonks looked deeply skeptical. “Hound him night and day, then. Make sure he doesn’t get a moment alone so he can’t expose me.”

Nora rolled her eyes, but Sirius’s lips quivered with a smile. “By all means, Nora, don’t give me a second’s peace,” he murmured. “You never know when something might slip after too much butterbeer, after all…”

 

*

 

That following Thursday evening, Nora and Sirius were playing a game of Wizard’s Chess when they were interrupted with a visit from Severus Snape. “Nobody knows how to knock around here,” Sirius grumbled.

“Dumbledore asked me to send a message to Prewett,” Severus explained stiffly, trying not to look at them and tightly clasping his robes over his front so that they wouldn’t brush against anything in Sirius’s house. “As he is currently detained elsewhere and does not trust owl post.”

“Dunno why he’d trust you over an owl,” Sirius muttered.

“Yes?” Nora edged. “What’s the message? I haven’t forgotten about my watch at the Ministry tomorrow night, if that’s what he was worried about.”

“No, that is not the issue,” he breathed in a nasally voice. “We suspect that Potter is dreaming about the Dark Lord’s plans more than he is letting on. Not that he knows exactly what the dreams mean, but we can deduce fairly accurately that a portal between the Dark Lord’s mind and Potter’s could be…catastrophic. And as you well know, Dolores Umbridge is fouling up Defense against the Dark Arts and maintaining a close eye on Potter, hoping to provide Fudge with condemning information on him. Dumbledore does not want to draw her attention even closer to him by speaking often with the boy, but he believes it is crucial for you to begin checking up on Potter, Prewett.”

“Do call me Nora,” she answered pleasantly. “And I was planning on stopping by Hogwarts tomorrow, as a matter of fact. I can fly to the Owlery and wait until breakfast to come in with the other owls while they deliver mail, and follow him for awhile before I journey over to the Ministry.”

“Dumbledore will be satisfied,” he told her. “I imagine you are eager to get out of this suffocating blemish of a house and away from Black. I could hardly censure you for it.”

“I am certainly not looking forward to spending tomorrow night awake in a cold building where if caught I would be sent to Azkaban,” she informed him, shifting her knight two spaces. “This house is very comfortable to me and I daresay I’ll miss it. And I’m definitely not trying to get away from Sirius. He opened his home to me. He’s exceedingly kind and I couldn’t ask for a better companion.”

At the mention of his name, Sirius glanced up at her through his midnight-black eyelashes and erringly slid a pawn into the path of her bishop. “Not tired of me yet?”

“Never.”

Nora scrutinized the chessboard, listening to the advice of her king while Sirius smirked at Snape in an arrogant, smug sort of way. The triumphant leer, however, faded when Nora asked, “Severus, would you like to join us for tea? The game is nearly finished and you must be a bit weary after all your trouble of coming here.”

Severus had fully intended to say no, but when he spotted the annoyed expression on Sirius’s face, he couldn’t resist. “That would be lovely,” he said in his silkiest voice. Sirius, who was so sidetracked by now that he led his queen to her demise (Don’t put me there! What are you doing, you stupid man? Pay attention, that pawn is going to take me!’) and lost the game.

“Hooray!” Nora exclaimed, joining in the cheers from her chess mates. “I never win.”

Sirius cursed to himself and sulked into the kitchen. Severus and Nora followed. She made to retrieve three china cups from the cabinet, but Severus conjured his own and refused to drink out of Sirius’s dinnerware.

“So, how are things at Hogwarts?” Nora wanted to know.

“Most of my students are insufferable,” he spoke placidly, “but the living quarters are better there than on Spinner’s End…or Grimmauld Place, for that matter.”

“I would be an insufferable student as well if I had a pinhead for a professor,” Sirius quipped.

“It is unfortunate that you did not have a professor like me, or you would have failed all of your exams, as you should have,” Severus shot back frostily, his nostrils flaring. "I worked ten times harder than you, but you were the one flaunting awards; you were the ignorant fool who somehow weaseled through exams by being charming."

"Jealous because exams were all you had?" Sirius retorted. "Not my fault you didn't have friends, you ignorant swine. Unless you count all those Death Eaters you used to run around with, trying to curse off people's limbs. Feeling reminiscent lately? How many people have you gotten killed, just for the fun of it?"

There was a nasty silence where both men sat glowering at each other, and then Remus Lupin appeared around the corner, causing everyone to jump in surprise. “Ah, there you are!” he chimed. As it was a few days after the full moon, he had obviously taken his Wolfsbane Potion because he looked better than usual, albeit a bit drained. His eyes, however, were bright and cheerful. “Thought I’d pop by for a chat.”

Severus stood to his feet, a sour expression twisting his already-sneering features, and fastened his cloak. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?” Nora questioned. “I wanted to ask a few questions about a potion I came across in a book..."

“Forgive me, Nora, but I don’t think I could stomach two Marauders at once,” Severus replied, skimming his gaze over her for as long as he dared. She was admittedly somewhat pleasing to look at, and seemed intent on being unwaveringly nice no matter how he objected. He pitied her for choosing such a horrid place to live, but supposed she didn’t know Black well enough to see how vile he was. Nora looked to be intelligent. More intelligent than the swarms of people who had been besotted by Black’s charm, at least. Soon enough she would come to her senses. "Perhaps another time."

Severus entertained thoughts of Nora developing into something like a friend as he passed Lupin and fled from the house as though it were contaminated with a soul-sucking disease.

Remus didn’t seem surprised by Snape’s presence and unceremonious departure, and plopped down into the same chair that the bitter Potions professor had just vacated. “You look tired,” he mentioned to Nora, who quite plainly did not look tired at all. “Don’t let me keep you.”

This was his polite way of hinting he wanted to speak privately to Sirius, but Nora wasn’t swallowing the request. She remained at the table partially because he might be ready to spill knowledge about the Order and partially because Sirius had not left when Tonks wanted to chat in secrecy with Nora and this was his comeuppance. Sirius seemed to sense that, because he chuckled when Nora smiled gloatingly at him.

“Not the least bit tired, thank you,” she purred.

Remus shrugged, undaunted, and he turned to his old friend. “Just got back from Mad-Eye’s,” he replied. “Tonks was there, too.”

Sirius and Nora’s gaze met briefly. “Is that so?” Sirius murmured, a hint of laughter in his voice. Nora narrowed her eyes at him as if to say don’t you dare. His sharp grey irises flashed and his lips curved into a devious smile, as if accepting that as a challenge.

“Yes,” Remus went on. “Mad-Eye said that Dung was out in his witch’s garb this morning and heard something slip in The Leaky Cauldron about the Malfoys.”

“And how was Tonks?” Sirius inquired nonchalantly.

Remus looked Confunded for a moment, puzzled as to why Sirius was inquiring about Tonks when he was on the brink of telling them something pivotal. “Offered me some Licorice Snaps and Ice Mice – made my teeth chatter for ten minutes and I couldn’t string two words together. Looked like a bloody fool.”

“Reckon she did it on purpose?” Sirius mused, cocking his head sideways to observe Nora’s reaction. “Maybe she’s angry with you. Do anything to upset her?”

Remus frowned. “No, I don’t believe so. Tonks is always asking me if I want a bit of something sweet, knows I’m rather fond of chocolate frogs and brings me some every time she comes back from a trip to Honeydukes. I can’t very well show my face in there these days – people don’t want to be around werewolves.”

“Wonder why she wants you to have sweets so much,” Sirius cut in just as Remus was about to regress to his intended discussion. “Maybe she thinks you’re too thin.”

“I’m sure Tonks thinks he’s just fine,” Nora said curtly.

“You couldn’t possibly know that,” Sirius argued. “Unless you and Tonks have been gossiping about dear Moony here. Has Tonks said something to you?” Phony shock dramatized his features. “Does Tonks have a secret, perhaps?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Nora replied forcefully, aiming a stinging hex at his leg with her wand from under the table. “And neither would you.”

“Aargh!” he yelped, but quickly recovered, looking miraculously unfazed. “You know, secrets don’t make friends. I have a feeling that you know something about Tonks that we don’t. Do tell.”

“I know a lot of things that you don’t, apparently,” Nora noted through her teeth. “Like how to keep my mouth shut.”

“But why would you want to?” he probed, eyes wide and innocent. “Go ahead and get it off your chest, whatever it is. I promise you’ll feel better.”

“I think I might feel better if I aimed a bit higher with my next stinging hex,” Nora hissed.

“Ah, anyway,” Remus continued rapidly, his eyes darting between the two of them with evident perplexity. “Lucius Malfoy seems to be under the impression that he’ll soon be joined by his wife’s sister and her brother-in-law – Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange.”

“How do you know?” Sirius hedged, instantly sober at the mention of Bellatrix – who was his cousin and one of Voldemort’s most devoted servants.

“His new house-elf, Gormey, was spotted stocking up on spare robes over at Madam Malkin’s. A fellow house-elf called Krimp who’s owned by Travers saw her and recognized her as belonging to the Malfoys, and asked why she was getting robes in the wrong sizes. Krimp used to belong to Narcissa, you see, but was given to Mrs. Travers as a birthday present. So she knew all about what sizes the Malfoy family wears.”

“And what did Gormey say?” Sirius asked, his pupils dilated with intensity.

Remus sipped some tea and then slowly brought it down onto the table again. Sirius was on the edge of his chair by now, hanging onto every word. “Gormey said that her Mistress’s sister and the sister’s husband would need something to wear when they arrived. She acted very pleased with herself for following directions from her masters, proud of her own importance. I imagine she was brutally punished for it…” Remus shook his head sorrowfully. “But Krimp relayed this to Travers and Mundungus overheard Travers talking about it to Rowle. One can easily guess that Rowle is the reason why Dung was wearing a disguise in the first place…”

“They want nothing to do with Andromeda and Ted…the only sister and brother-in-law Narcissa claim are Bellatrix and Rodolphus.”

“Exactly.”

“But they’re in Azkaban,” Sirius whispered hoarsely.

Remus’s face was grim. “Yes. Let us hope that the dementors don’t cross entirely over to the dark side. We need them guarding the prison.”

Sirius exhaled through his nose and sat back, his eyes murky and fathomless in the waning candlelight. “Has Dumbledore been notified?”

“Tonks informed him directly. Mad-Eye doesn’t trust the dementors and believes they’ll turncoat soon. But there’s just no telling. Kingsley’s trying to get the Ministry to step up security over there; put in a few dragons. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that one will pan out. And Mad-Eye’s got something up his sleeve but he’s not solid on the particulars yet…” Remus glanced awkwardly at Nora and then at Sirius. It was quite clear that he did not want her present for whatever he was going to say.

“Out with it, Remus,” Nora pressed.

Remus swallowed and looked at the fire, twisting his wand idly with his fingers. “He wasn’t going to suggest it yet – especially so prematurely when there is no evidence that a breakout could ever occur – but Mad-Eye is wondering about…..the idea of bait.”

“What do you mean?” Nora asked, but Remus wouldn’t look at her.

“Bait.” Sirius repeated in a hollow voice.

Remus drew a shaky breath. “The likelihood that it would ever happen is so miniscule that it’s not even worth bringing up. But Moody was thinking, just as a mere possibility, that if Death Eaters were to break out of Azkaban, Nora would be a good candidate for baiting them. Drawing one of them, at least, into a trap in order to gather more vital information about the others.”

“Moody wants Nora to offer herself up as a sacrifice?” Sirius replied tonelessly, his eyes hard and muscles rigid.

“She would never be in any real danger,” Remus said gently, still avoiding Nora’s gaze. “But according to Kingsley, who visits Azkaban about once every six months, there is a Death Eater inside the fortress of Azkaban who is obsessed with Lenora Prewett.”

Nora’s jaw dropped. “Who? How? I don’t know any of them…I was a child when most of them were sentenced…”

“Your picture has appeared in different papers over the years,” he explained. “In The Daily Prophet, in The Quibbler, Witch Weekly – you get my drift. How prisoners in Azkaban manage to get their hands on them, I have no idea. But it happens, and often. Your Quidditch team picture was spotlighted a few times for winning Cups, and your Gobstones Team for its awards and another for the contest where you translated six scrolls of runes in under twenty minutes.”

“How do you know about those?” Nora was beginning to feel a queasy sensation in her stomach. This could not be going somewhere pleasant.

“An article was written about you when you showed up out of the blue two years ago, having been virtually off the map since leaving Hogwarts, about what they suspected you were up to. And then there was a photograph of you attending Muriel’s gardening gala just a few short weeks ago.”

“Who has been following her steps?” Sirius asked, a razor-sharp edge to his voice.

Remus cautiously met Sirius’s angry eyes. “Fenrir Greyback.”

“Greyback?” Nora was more befuddled than frightened. She had been expecting her pursuer to be one of the Lestranges, Dolohov, or Carrow – someone who would be vindictive because Nora had personally been an eyewitness in her father’s and uncle’s murders and gave their names to the Ministry. But Greyback had not been there when her father died…she could not recall having ever crossed paths with him in her life. “Why?”

“One can only assume that he saw your picture and took a shine to you,” Remus said, his words sounding garbled and increasingly fainter under Sirius’s heavy, menacing stare. “He’s got a giant wad of your photos and articles in his cell. They get confiscated, but he always somehow obtains more.”

“And what does Moody expect me to do? Invite him over for tea if he breaks out of Azkaban?” Nora felt violated. “He’s never going to tell me where the others are heading.”

“If Fenrir Greyback breaks out of prison, it’s not certain whether he’s not going to be satisfied with talking,” Remus responded. “He’ll be…hungry... That's the closest I can get to describing it - his desire to maim and kill.”

Nora’s eyes widened.

“But if we strategically placed you somewhere exposed – like a field, and made sure he was certain of your whereabouts, the rest of the Order could hide somewhere in the trees around you and attack him the second he showed up.” Remus’s eyes were frenzied. “We could pump him for knowledge – Greyback isn’t clever and isn’t devoted to Voldemort and the other Death Eaters. He’s just in it for the free food, so to speak. He’ll be very easy to get secrets from. We could find out where the others were headed and then track them down. And then we could kill Greyback himself.” The prospect of taking revenge on the creature who marred Remus for life seemed to be growing inside his mind like a living organism. The expression on his face was manic and driven – a lot like the monster within that could unearth during every full moon unless he took precautions to tame it.

“So hypothetically speaking, I would never be alone, then?” Nora wondered aloud.

“Not even for a second,” Remus promised, sounding relieved that she was considering the idea. “We’d be right there, waiting for him. If a breakout were to somehow occur and Greyback slipped out, he wouldn’t go with the other Death Eaters immediately. They’ve gotten wind of enough wizard news to know the old crowd is getting together again, and would flock to Voldemort overnight. But Greyback…it’s a sure bet that he’d come after you, Nora. And if we were ready and waiting for him with a plan in motion, we could capture the damned beast. And even though he’s not with the others, he’ll have listened to them in Azkaban. He’ll know what they’d be plotting next.”

Sirius had not spoken for several minutes. Nora turned to gauge his reaction and found him immobile with rage, eyes black as the night sky and piercing through Lupin, who stole one swift peek at him and tightened his jaw, bracing himself for the monsoon.

“If we don’t catch him first, he’ll find a way to get Nora,” Remus told him in a steady voice. “He’s obsessed. He won’t stop until he’s got her.” Nora wondered if Tonks knew about all this, and why she never told her.

“And you thought we would just put her on a silver platter and see if the wolf smells blood?” Sirius’s calm voice was low and deadly.

“I told you, we would all be right there behind her; Greyback would receive ten Stunning spells to the chest before stepping forward even an inch,” Remus insisted. Nora had to admit that as terrifying as it sounded, the plan would be very effective if they were right about Greyback’s fascination with her. “And it’s all so unlikely to happen, anyway,” he rushed on. “The odds of it all…” he drifted off, hushed into silence by his friend’s expression.

“YOU OF ALL PEOPLE!” Sirius roared, flying out of his chair and slamming both fists onto the table. “Greyback himself attacked you and you suffer to this day, will suffer from it until the day you die. And yet you’re willing to bait an innocent person, just to get revenge on him? She could get killed…he could tear her eyes out or bite her or just curse her with his wand. But you don’t care, so long as you think you might get revenge on him after he’s finished Nora off and settles down for a nice nap.”

Lupin stood up, the color flooding to his cheeks. “This is not about revenge!” he countered. “Sirius, this is about stopping Death Eaters. This is about not giving Greyback the opportunity to run off and attack more people. We could have him in one easy stroke. We could have access to everything he knows with one dose of Veritaserum. He’s not in the very inner circle, but he’s around those who are. He won’t be given the opportunity to touch her, aren’t you listening?”

“Remus is right,” Nora spoke. “It’s smart to have a plan in place just in case any of this ever happens, in case Azkaban falls into Voldemort’s power.”

Sirius did not tear his eyes from Lupin’s face. “Nora, could I please have a private word with Remus?” he asked. And his voice was so murderous that she did not object, and did not try to eavesdrop once she closed the door behind her and stepped lightly upstairs.

Once she was gone, the two men were still facing each other heatedly, the tension thick and almost tangible. Remus could not see a way to convince his friend, but wasn’t planning on asking for permission. He was a man with a plan and if Nora was agreeable, then it would happen. If it needed to happen, it would. After all, Nora Prewett was an adult and fully capable of making her own choices.

“You must see reason,” Remus entreated. “Mad-Eye is an expert. He knows this would work.”

“No.” Sirius was livid.

Remus threw his hands into the air in exasperation. “Have you got any better ideas? This probably won’t ever even happen, anyway It's just a precautionary plan!”

“Not Nora,” Sirius said with a ringing finality. "It's been too long since I've seen something that I wanted, and I'm not giving up easily."

“But you would be fine with Kingsley as bait? With Tonks or Hestia? What about me?”

“Any of them. You, me, anyone, I don’t care,” Sirius spat. “Anyone else but her.”
 


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Curious Happenings at Number Twelve: The Precautionary Plan

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