The fork of lightning ripped through the sky illuminating the small white house sat proudly amongst the forest trees at the foot of the large golden hill; covered in the year’s corn harvest. It was a quaint, slightly lop-sided two up two down home with a neatly thatched roof and an exotic purple and red plant winding its way around the front windows and blooming with shockingly pink flowers.
The Lupin house was situated many miles from the bustle and tussle of Oxford City in the quiet, calm countryside with which they thoroughly enjoyed the tranquillity. Well that was the theory anyway, because for nearly two weeks now it had continuously rained hard on the little house, so hard in fact that the Lupins had to make special arrangements to stop the leaking. No longer did the rain pound the house but instead, seemed to bounce off some sort of invisible barrier surrounding the building and scatter in all directions.
With a small ‘CRACK’ and a ‘SPLASH’ a middle-aged man suddenly appeared in a large puddle at the foot of the dirt track that wound its way up the hillside towards the house. He was clutching a rather old, battered briefcase and draped in a large brown travelling cloak that he yanked quickly over his fluffy brown and grey-flecked hair as he jumped backwards out of the puddle. His loud grumbles were lost in the noise of the thunder overhead as he ran quickly up the pebbly path reaching the small iron gate of the house.
His hand grasped the cold metal of the gate before he stopped. A movement in the trees nearby caught his eye and a chilly tingling sensation that had nothing to do with the rain made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He quickly whirled around, squinting his eyes trying to see through the rain and inky darkness of the trees making up the woods around him. But although he couldn’t see anything, he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching him from the shadows, just beyond his vision.
He dismissed the idea abruptly, he was being stupid. This paranoia was starting to drive him mad. It had been this way for weeks since his last encounter with Fenrir’s gang. He’d told him he’d repay the money didn’t he?! He just needed some time....
A roar of thunder shook him back to his senses as he quickly pushed open the gate and stumbled his way briskly through the wooden blue door to the house and into a small, warm living-room where a loud squeak filled the air.
“My God John! You scared the Hippogriffs out of me!” said a short woman emerging from the other side of the room. John dropped his shabby briefcase in the corner and laughed as she started to tuck a small strip of wood back into the straps of her flowery apron and skip towards him, a big smile pulling at the corners of her mouth revealing a perfect set of white teeth. “Good timing! I was just about to start dinner!” She said raising her arms to hug him before he put his hand up to stop her.
“Hold on Tilly,” he said panting, and motioned to his drenched clothes, “Lemme just....” John pulled out his own strip of wood, slightly longer than Tilly’s, from his trouser pocket and waved it like a hairdryer in front of him as blasts of hot air issued from the end and instantly dried his clothes.
“Ahh that’s better”, he chirped merrily when he’d finished as his wife threw her arms around him and kissed him gently on the lips.
“We’ve missed you today”, she cooed, her shoulder-length blonde hair that curled upwards at the ends bounced up and down as her emerald green eyes met his dull brown ones. “That ruddy department of magical games!” She said, slowly releasing him and returning to the stove on the other side of the room, “What is so important that they need you there this late John? It’s nearly 9 o’clock! And don’t tell me the Kenmare Kestrels have lost their licensing forms again......!”
The sky blue front door clinked loudly as John tapped it with his narrow strip of wood and peered out of the small pane of glass in the centre.“I just......I just hate it when they make you stay late. It gets so lonely here without you, I’ve got Remus but he’s always such a handful...” she said as John moaned absentmindedly in agreement.
“I mean.....” Tilly continued, waving her strip of wood over the flame on the stove as it turned bright green, “he’s only six and I caught him pretending to fight Dementors with a stick today! Running round after Max shouting ‘die dementees’ or something, see, I told you not to read him those stories John.......John?.......” She said, turning and watching as her husband stood, staring out of the small window in the door, “John are you listening!?” she snapped as John stopped and turned quickly,
“Of course dear”, he replied feigning a smile at his wife as he moved over to the large armchair in the corner and slumped himself down, snatching at the nearby Daily Prophet on the table and disappearing behind it, “Sorry dear, no.... Boones wanted me to stamp out The Wimbourne Wasps bringing in their new mascots”, he answered quickly, “get this Tilly, their actually trying to use those Brazilian colossal wasps, you know- the ones the size of eagles! Bloody stupid if you ask me, I told that old gargoyle Archibold Polkiss that I don’t care if they can sing the national anthem they’ve got to go!” He said roughly turning the pages, “Anyway, where’s Remus now?”
“I put him to bed about two hours ago”, she replied as a fork of lightning lit up the room.
John’s heart skipped as he heard a noise from outside. His first thought was a voice, but dismissed it quickly, he had to keep it together otherwise Tilly would suspect something. He realised that he’d suddenly shot forwards in his seat and she was giving him a rather peculiar look.
“What was that about?” She asked a surprised look on her face.
“Oh nothing. Scared by the lightning you know....” he said, slowly leaning back into his chair, ears straining for the sound of any more noises. It had sounded high pitched, maybe a woman’s voice? He yanked at the newspaper again and raised it to hide his face.
“Do you know John I think you’re keeping something from me...” Tilly’s voice floated over the paper in his hands.
An awkward silence filled the air.
“What?! No, not at all Tilly! What makes you say that?” he said flicking through the pages without taking in a word.
“Because that’s yesterdays paper”, she replied coolly. John’s eyes drifted off the paper and fell upon his wife, her hands on her hips and a tiny blonde eyebrow travelling its way up her face. This wasn’t easy, lying to Tilly. But he had to hide it all from her; his gambling addiction, the deal with Fenrir and his gang, the fact that they were over two hundred galleons in debt.
He looked into the eyes of his beautiful wife. She wouldn’t be able to handle the truth; she was too delicate, better to let her live in this dream world than burst her happy bubble with the inescapable devastating truth. His cheeks began to grow hot as his wife fixed him with a scanning stare.
“Hmmm, so it is”, he replied, and hastily threw it on the table and reached in his pockets, pulling out a small brown smoking pipe. Tilly stood impatiently tapping her foot as grey smoke began to rise and swirl behind her from the stove.
“Well!?” she said eventually, “What’s on your mind? I know you Jonathan Lupin, better than you realise!”
“Nothing dear”, he replied quickly, thrusting the pipe in his mouth as a large roar of thunder shook the house. Tilly jumped then steadied herself on the kitchen counter as John choked and spluttered on his pipe. “My god! This bloody weather! I swear it’s getting worse”, he grumbled angrily sweeping ash of his trouser leg and shooting angry looks out of the window.
“Good thing Remus loves these thunderstorms”, said Tilly shakily, it was clear from her uneasy expression that she share her son’s enthusiasm, “I mean, I don’t know what we’d do if......”
At first John didn’t know why Tilly had stopped talking but then he heard it too; a long harrowing howl erupted from somewhere outside. It seemed to last for ages as Tilly’s horrified expression met John’s before it eventually faded out, replaced by the continuing sound of the rain pelting the ground. Tilly and John simply looked at each other, too afraid to move.
“John.....what....what the hell was....” but then her hushed voice was suddenly interrupted by a burst of howls that seemed to come from all round the house, echoing loudly off the walls and sending chills down John’s back. He tossed his pipe to one side and jumped to his feet, his face had turned chalk white.
“I don’t know Tilly”, he replied, voice trembling slightly as she clutched his arm in fear.
“John, you don’t think....” but she mouthed the last word; werewolves and waited for her husband to reassure her. But he just stood there with a mad look in his eye,
“I don’t know. Just get Remus and.......and...” suddenly something fell in to place in his mind and John realised who the voice had belonged too. His heart sunk into his stomach as his whole body went rigid. His eyes had become strained as he looked at his wife horrified, “Tilly. Are you sure Remus is in bed?”
Tilly’s lip was trembling as yet another two howls shrieked from somewhere in the distance. They sounded closer.
“Y..y...y..yes I t...t...think so,” she replied but John had already shot passed her, seizing the banister on the stairs and throwing himself up the steps two at a time before crashing open Remus’s bedroom door. He looked wildly around the messy room, throwing off the duvet and frantically searching the cupboards but soon he had to accept it; there was no sign of his son.
“NO! NO! JOHN, JOHN! COME DOWN HERE QUICK! REMUS IS IN THE CORNFIELD WITH THE DOG!” Tilly shrieked, her voice was racked with panic and hysteria and as John reached the last step and burst out through the back door he shouted back to her,
“TILLY STAY INSIDE! LOCK THE DOOR! GET READY TO DISAPPARATE WHEN I GET BACK, DON’T WORRY I’VE GOT MY WAND!”
And with that John sprinted through the back garden and was instantly bombarded with the swirling mass of rain and wind that thrashed his face and body as the sounds of Tilly’s yelling was blown away. His brown hair flecked with grey was instantly stuck to his face as he frantically tried to brush it out of his eyes. He could just about make out Remus with their family dog just up the hill, so far away. That’s when he saw the tops of the corn; bending in the fields up ahead as heavy panting shapes were hurling their way towards something up ahead. Suddenly it dawned on him, they were going for Remus.
He whipped out his wand and ran flat out towards where his son was playing in the puddles with the small Yorkshire terrier,
“REMUS! REMUS QUICK, COME HERE NOW! COME TO DADDY!” but the boy carried on jumping in the puddles and splashing the dog. His feet pounded on through the torrential rain. Cursing loudly John tried again;
“REMUS! STOP SON COME BACK TO THE HOUSE QUICKLY!” He screamed, the rainwater pouring of his face, the thunder tearing the sky above. This time however Remus gave a little start and swiftly turned his head towards his dad,
“Daddy!” he squeaked in surprise, “Come play with us......”
Then the world seemed to slow down as a huge black dog-like creature with dirty white fangs and yellow coloured eyes leapt from the depths of the large corn patch on Remus’s right and before he could stop it, there was a flash of teeth and claws as John watched as the huge beast sunk his large rotten teeth into the shoulder of the little boy before pinning him roughly to the ground. The air seemed to leave John’s lungs as he saw his son’s small body thrown to the floor like a ragdoll, bleeding profusely from the shoulder that dripped and tainted the large puddle he had fallen in.
“NOOOOOOOOO, REMUSSSS!!” He screamed, pointing his wand at the were-wolf and shouting, “STUPEFY!” The red bolt of light erupted from the wand hitting the creature right between the eyes as it was blown backwards, bouncing roughly on the ground. John skidded in the mud and bent down to see his son. Remus’s little face had gone very pale and was slashed with three large grotesque cuts down his face streaming with blood, but what made John’s heart explode with pity were the huge tears in the shoulder of the small duffle coat where the werewolf had sunk his teeth. The coat was practically ripped to shreds and Remus’s eyes were starting to roll backwards in his head,
“Remus! Remus listen to me”, said John clutching his son’s head in his hands. His voice was trembling, “Stay awake mate, c’mon stay with me!”
Remus’s eyes focused on his father as he started to shake, “Daddy.........Daddy I wanted to........I wanted to play in the puddles.........” he muttered faintly as Max started yapping wildly behind them.
“That’s okay Remus, you’re not in trouble. We’re going to take you to the healers and then......and then.....we’ll get some ice cream okay?”
But suddenly loud snarls and growls erupted from the corn around him. Max was barking at something just beyond the nearest corn patch and as John peered frantically through the thicket he could just make out a pair of murderous yellow eyes staring back at him. His eyes frantically darted around the field, watching in panic as more and more of the werewolves’ shocking yellow eyes shone out at him from every angle. He counted; four, five, six! John slowly pulled out his wand again as he suddenly realised; he was surrounded.
The small Yorkshire terrier; Max, yapped at the beasts from behind John’s legs as he swiftly rose to his feet shielding Remus with his body and waved his wand in the air in a complicated little movement; conjuring a huge ball of fire that erupted from the end of it and fixed there like a giant torch of fire that instantly illuminated everything around it. Immediately the creatures reacted badly, howling and snarling even more menacingly than before, John even noticed how the werewolf that he hit with his stunning spell was starting to get back to his feet.
“GET BACK! GET OUT OF HERE YOU VILE CREATURES!!” he roared, raising the torch even higher and swiping it wildly through the air causing a few of the creatures to jump back in surprise. He continued to do this whilst muttering supportive words to his son;
“Stay with me Remus”, he said looking down at the chalk white boy whose eyes had started to roll again, “We’ll be home soon son don’t worry, you’re Mother will make you your favourite dinner, what do you want for dinner Remus?” He didn’t really have a plan, he just had to keep Remus talking, to keep him conscious.
Remus started to mutter something quietly and as John turned around to face him the huge figure of the werewolf he’d hit with his stunner had started to rear back onto his hind legs, covered from head to toe in huge sheets of black matted fur and standing with the physique of a very muscular man. He was much bigger than the others now prowling around their prey in a circle. He flexed his long, dirty sharp claws as his yellow eyes watched the huge dancing ball of fire that John was now brandishing through the air, unaffected by the still pounding rain.
Something about this particular werewolf caught John’s attention and he was quite sure why because unless he was pretty much mistaken, he was looking at the leader of the pack; into the eyes of Fenrir Greyback.
“FENRIR!” He pleaded swinging the ball of fire down on top of one of the werewolves heads that made an attempt to snap at his arm. “STOP THIS! PLEASE! HE’S ONLY A LITTLE BOY! I PROMISED TO PAY YOU AND I WILL! KILL ME IF YOU MUST BUT LET THE BOY GO!” He screamed, but his voice was buffeted in the wind. His eyes met Fenrir’s for what seemed like an eternity before the werewolf’s mouth slowly started to part, revealing his long canines into what seemed like a very twisted smile.
He started slowly forwards towards the man, his huge chest rising and falling with morbid anticipation; relishing the kill. John’s legs started to give way as a flash of lightning illuminated the devilish creature now slowly bearing down on them. He started to walk backwards closer to Remus as the sweat and rain dribbled down his face. Max whined loudly his tail hidden beneath his legs as the werewolves either side of Fenrir slunk away into the shadows allowing their master first choice of the pickings. The fire John had summoned started to flicker.
This is it, John thought despairingly as his courage began to fade; this is the end.
Suddenly ‘CRACKS’ and ‘WOOSHES’ filled the air as about twenty wizards in blue and green cloaks started materialising around them.
“GET DOWN!” someone yelled as a hand grasped the neck of his drenched cloak and yanked him into the mud on the floor. The air was suddenly filled with large howls, red bolts of light and the cries of “STUPEFY!” John heard something heavy crashing to the floor to the right of him as he crawled through the mud where his son lay trembling from the cold. He pulled Remus up and into his arms as the boy’s face lit up into a weak smile.
“Remus I’m so sorry, this was all my fault! They wanted to get back at me. I....I promise I’ll fix this, I’ll make you better!” choked John as the tears stung his eyes. Remus looked up at him blankly, and slowly lifted his hand up to touch his father’s face.
John felt a hand clasp his shoulder, “Sir! Step back please we’re emergency Healers from St Mungo’s, we got your wife’s urgent Floo message”, said a voice from above him as two wizards dressed in lime green robes knelt down beside them. John lowered Remus gently back down on the ground where the Healer’s started their work immediately. The one in the front had short black hair and a big moustache that was dripping from the rain. He flicked his wand and Remus’s coat tore completely in half and fell open allowing him to get to the wounds.
“Okay, the boy’s not stable enough for side-along-apparation so we’re going to have to patch him up here. Hand me the Draught of Peace please Terry”, he ordered loudly to the younger of the two whose long blonde ponytail blew in the wind as he rummaged in his large brown belt around his waist. Quickly he produced a small phial of turquoise blue liquid which he thrust into the waiting hand of the moustached man.
“Okay Remus” he said pleasantly as he lowered the small phial to the boy’s lips, “Drink this and all the pain will go away”. Remus looked reassuringly at his father who looked back into his eyes and held his tiny hand.
“It’s okay Remus, I’m here with you. I’ll be there when you wake up and we can for that ice cream yeah?” He said fighting back the tears. Remus smiled weakly in return and allowed the moustached man to tip the turquoise liquid down his throat. John winced at how weak Remus was and wondered if you could die from guilt.
“That’s definitely a bite Boris!” said the blonde man Terry, worryingly pointing to Remus’s shoulder. The moustached man named Boris didn’t reply at first but lowered Remus’s head as he started to drift peacefully off to sleep. When he had done that he picked up his wand again, sighed loudly and replied,
“Yes thank you Terry I can see that! The Bellenuit Charm won’t close these curse wounds permanently so get ready to apply the essence of dittany!” he cried through the loud wind.
John watched helplessly as Boris waved his wand gently over the slashes on Remus’s face muttering something that sounded like a song. Terry was there in an instant rubbing a brown liquid carefully over the wounds. Slowly they began to seal, but didn’t vanish completely, leaving long scars now inhabiting his son’s face and shoulder,
“Is he.....Is he going to be okay?” John stammered, getting to his feet as Boris summoned Remus into a stretcher that hovered at waist height and Terry started siphoning off the blood with his wand. “I mean, will.....will he become one of.....one of them?”
Boris rushed around to one side of the stretcher, his feet squelching in the mud, the rain still continuing its downfall.
“We’re not sure at the moment Mr Lupin, but he is stable for side-along-apparation now” He replied grasping one end of the wooden stretcher as Terry grabbed the other side, “we’re taking him to St Mungo’s now, you can find him in the Dai Llewellyn ward on the first floor” he said loudly before they both turned on the spot and disapparated into thin air leaving John stood in the bloody clearing alone, the guilt swirling through him as he fought back the sick in his throat.
This was his fault, he thought as the blood drained from his legs and he collapsed into the mud. He’d done this too his son. His addiction, his lies had destroyed his innocent little boy’s life.
He looked up at the bright full moon above him penetrating the dark clouds rumbling with thunder and vowed to himself, that he’d fix this.
He’d never let Remus down again.
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