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Chapter 7 : An Unexpected Night
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At first I thought there might not be anyone home. For all I knew my sister could still be at the office even if she typically tried to leave by four to pick up Remus from Mum’s since that was where he stayed on days she worked. As for Teddy, well he usually wasn’t home for at least another hour at the earliest; it was quarter after five. But as I was turning on my heel the door opened to reveal Victoire, who looked frazzled.
“Louis,” she said. “What are you doing here?”
“What, a guy can’t pop in on his sister?”
Victoire looked at me suspiciously. “Of course, but usually I’m the one who has to invite you over after going weeks without any communication.”
“I know,” I said. I knew she was right and I wasn’t proud of the fact. “I just needed a word with you. A favour if you would.”
“Very well,” Victoire said, though there was a trace of a smile on her tired face. “Come on in. But please keep your voice down; I just managed to put Remus down for a nap. He’s been quite the terror today.”
“I thought you went into the office on Tuesdays?”
“I usually do,” Victoire said. “But Remus was fussy this morning and I didn’t want to saddle Mum with him when he’s in such a craggy mood.”
I followed Victoire down the hall to the kitchen, taking care to keep my steps light on the wooden flooring. If Remus truly was in one of his whinging moods then I didn’t want to be the one to wake my nephew. I loved the kid, but boy did he have a temper when he was having a bad day.
We entered the kitchen and I took a seat at the table as Victoire pulled the kettle down to put on some tea before pulling out a cookie jar that she placed in the centre of the table. I lifted the lid and plucked one from it, taking a bite from the chocolate biscuit. Victoire had inherited our Mum’s cooking abilities.
It doesn’t take but a couple more minutes until the tea was ready and she’s setting two cups on the table before taking the seat across from me.
“So, what brings you here?” her voice lowered. “It’s not often that I get to see my baby brother twice in the span of a week.”
I rolled my eyes. “I was wondering if you could bring Remus up to St. Mungo’s to visit a patient.”
“What type of patient?”
“The most recent victim of a werewolf attack,” I said. “I think it would do the little guy some good if he could see that he’s not alone.”
Victoire frowned, brow creasing from the process. “I don’t know, Louis.”
“Please, Vic,” I said. “The kid really needs a friend that knows what he’s currently experiencing.”
“But Remus was born a werewolf,” Victoire said. “Being turned is different than being born. Remus didn’t experience any trauma that turned him, just the trauma that comes with every day lycanthropy.”
“Which is exactly why it’d be a great idea that Jonah meets Remus.”
“Louis—” she started, but was interrupted by Remus’s cries drifting down the stairs and through the doorway. She sighed tiredly. “I’ll be right back down.”
“Vic,” I said.
She turned around, responding with her piercing blue eyes.
“Just think about it.”
Without any further acknowledgment I was left in the kitchen while Victoire went up to take care of her son. I rarely ever saw Remus cranky because the kid usually was happy, but like all kids he did have his bad days. But when Victoire carried him down, Remus was actually smiling.
“Remus buddy,” I said. “I hear you’ve been fussing at your mummy all day.”
“Have not,” Remus said, bottom lip jutting out.
I just gave him a look and he crumbled, but didn’t say anything.
“Louis, enough of that,” Victoire said. “I don’t need you terrorizing my child into being good.”
“Who said anything about terrorizing?” I said, smirking. “I wouldn’t dream of it. Remus and I are buddies. Aren’t we little man?”
“Yea,” Remus replied, his smile back.
“See, Remus knows I was joking.”
Victoire gave me that look that never failed to make me retreat to safety.
“Look, I should be getting back to my flat now,” I said. “I’m probably going out with the guys tonight, but think about what I asked you.”
“I will, but no promises.”
“No promises; just think about it,” I said. “It’s all I’m asking.”
I started down the hall, but before I reached the front door I was stopped by Remus tackling my legs from behind. I bent to extricate my nephew from my legs before lifting him over my shoulder and spinning around a few times. All that did was cause him to giggle. When I set him back down on the ground he jumped up and down with his arms raised.
“Again, again, again!”
I laughed and mussed his hair. “Next time, buddy, but now I have to go.”
“Aw,” Remus said. “Can’t you stay longer?”
“Not tonight, little buddy.”
“Remus, come help me fix dinner,” Victoire said. “You can be my special helper.”
Remus perked at that and I said one final good bye before leaving. I reached the end of the driveway and Apparated to the flat. Brody and Michael weren’t home yet so I made a couple slices of toast because I was hungry and the only edible food we had in the pantry was bread. We needed to go grocery shopping; I could do that tomorrow since I worked a night shift.
We ended up meeting up with a few of my cousins at the new Pixies and Fairydust pub that was located in Diagon Alley. It had been a while since I’d seen any of them. Hugo, Roxanne, Fred, and James arrived first, with Rose trailing in shortly after and Albus an hour later. I could tell that Albus was exhausted as soon as he collapsed on a vacant stool at our table because it mirrored exactly how I felt.
“Working overtime again, baby brother?” James asked. He side-punched Albus’s shoulder jokingly. “How is our dear ol’ dad?”
Albus shrugged. We all liked to tease him on account of his following after his father’s footsteps, thus having his dad as his boss since Uncle Harry was still Head Auror. There would be no escaping his dad for Albus.
“Things are hectic,” Albus said. “Dad has all of us on the werewolf case, but we’re not getting anywhere with it since a match still hasn’t been found.”
“What about a pattern?” I asked. “Can’t you figure out possible sites for the next attack?”
“That’s what we’re working on,” Albus said, rubbing a hand through his messy, jet-black hair. “But even that doesn’t guarantee positive results.”
“So I guess there’s nothing you can tell me that might help aid research at the hospital,” I said.
“Are you one of the healers trying to decipher what little DNA we have now?”
“Yeah, just had my first day in the lab earlier today,” I said. “All of the other researchers are just lovely.” I emphasized my sarcasm by reaching up to rub the back of my neck to indicate what a pain they all were. “They definitely would rather someone else instead of someone still fresh out of training.”
“You’ll show them you belong on the team, Louis,” Rose encouraged. “Don’t let them get to you. You’re smart and they’ll see that in due time.”
“Or you could always pull a prank on the morons,” James said.
Fred grinned. “In fact, James and I could stop by and set something up.”
“As tempting as that sounds,” I said, “I’d rather not pull any pranks on my co-workers. They hate me enough as it is; I don’t need any more of their grief.”
“You know,” Hugo said, “I thought the same thing when I got promoted a few months ago and was getting flack for being less experienced. But eventually I caved and pulled a prank on my team and you know what, it made them respect me a whole lot more. To this day my colleagues are still suspicious of drinking coffee at work until they’ve actually seen me drink a cuppa from the pot in the break room myself.” Everyone laughed.
“I’ll consider it,” I said. “Either way, if I do pull a prank than I’ll be setting it up; I want the satisfaction of knowing that I pulled one over them, not my cousins. I’ll get more respect that way.”
“Damn right,” Hugo said, raising his butterbeer.
I chinked my glass with his before taking a drink of my own.
“How’s Jonah doing?” Albus asked. “The other victims have already been released, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “They’re holding Jonah until after his first transformation. He’ll be changing in one of the rooms in the high security psychiatry ward on the basement floor.”
“Poor little guy,” Rose said. “I feel so bad for these children.”
“It won’t take long before the wolf is found now,” Brody chipped in, “it’s already been a few months. How much longer before he gets cocky and slips up big time?”
“Yeah, perhaps,” Albus said with a shrug of his broad shoulders. “But I just don’t know because evidence is just too evading at the moment. I mean, nothing is helping. We need witnesses and so far we have none. This werewolf is covering his tracks quite well, which shows that he isn’t reckless with his actions.”
“Or she,” Rose said.
“Please don’t start with any of your gender equality spiels, Rose,” Albus said. “I really don’t have the patience presently.”
Rose rolled her eyes, but dropped it.
“You know, Albus,” Hugo said, “I did figure out some possible locations that could be the next attack site. We’ve put together some teams to stake each out on the next full moon.”
“Alright, send a report to my dad and I’m sure he’ll assign some Aurors to each site for extra enforcement.”
“Speaking of sites,” I said. “I actually worked out a list of possible sites in the lab when I noticed that there was a specific distance from each of the previous attack sites. I could give them to both of you.”
“That would be great, Louis,” Hugo said. “We’re really strapped with this one.”
The conversation changes and I wind up dosing off only to be woken up by Brody pouring a pitcher of water over my head. Sputtering, I swore while jumping up from where I had been sitting. I guess I was more exhausted than I had originally thought. Looks like I was going to have to sleep the whole day tomorrow before my night shift in the Dai Llewellyn ward.
“I’ll be heading out now,” I said, shaking drops of water from my hair, causing it to stick up in short red spikes.
“Next time we’re getting you drunk,” James said, pointing a finger at me. “You need to cut loose; you’re too strung tight these days. Can’t have you turning into Albus on us, now can we?”
“Hey!” Albus said, glaring at his brother. “I am not uptight.”
But the protest might as well have fallen on deaf ears for all the attention James gave Albus.
“I’ll see you guys another time,” I said. “Try not to kill each other in the mean time.”
I started to make my way out, but as I was leaving Elsie entered, stopping me in my tracks.
“Hullo, Louis,” Elsie said.
I paused, standing just inside the entrance to the pub. If only I had left sooner perhaps I wouldn’t have gotten recognized by a colleague. She must think of me as a slacker now since I was spending my Tuesday night in a pub.
“Relax,” Elsie said, obviously noticing my wide eyes. “Everyone deserves to have a wind down after a long day at work and I know you had to work a split-double. You had been my relief last night, remember?” The last was said as a reminder since I had furrowed my brow before realizing she had gotten off right before my shift had started on the Accidental floor the previous night. “Were you just on your way out?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m still knackered despite the nap I had between shifts.”
“Welcome to the sporadic schedule of a fully qualified healer,” Elsie said, voice dipped with sarcasm. “Of course, it has its perks, too. The main one being that you get to watch people’s moods improve as you heal them.”
“Yeah, I guess I’m still getting used to the lack of sleep,” I said, rubbing a hand down the length of my face. “It wasn’t as bad when I was training and being supervised.”
Elsie smiled. “I’ll let you in on a secret: at the end of my first week of being fully qualified, I ended up falling asleep on the job. I had been checking a chart that was hanging on a door outside of a patient’s room before going in to check up on him when I just fell asleep standing up, right there in the hallway. Another healer found me an hour later and shook me back awake; I was so disoriented that I couldn’t even tell him what I was supposed to be doing let alone what floor I was on.”
“How old are you?” the question popped out of my mouth before I could stop the words from escaping. She looked more like she was my age than older.
“How old do you think I am?”
I didn’t respond for fear I would anger her if I guessed wrong.
“No, really, I want to know how old you think I am,” Elsie said. “I always find it amusing when people guess, especially watching their reaction when I tell them how old I really am.”
“I dunno,” I said, already regretting my answer before I actually gave it. “Mid-twenties?”
Elsie smirked. “Try late twenties.”
“Seriously,” I said, blinking.
“Yep,” Elsie said. “I’m twenty-eight and as my mother still reminds me, I’m painfully single. She’s been trying to set me up with blind date after blind date for the past couple months in an attempt to marry me off.”
“Uh,” I nervously laughed, unsure of how to respond.
“I’m also socially awkward,” Elsie said. “Can’t seem to learn when I should shut my mouth.”
I laughed nervously.
“Well, since we’re both here we might as well grab at least one drink together,” Elsie said. “We can discuss your long day, or not discuss it. Your choice.”
“Uh,” I said. “I was actually on my way out. As you’ve said, it’s been a long day and all I want to do is get back to my flat so that I can sleep.”
“That was before you ran into me,” Elsie said. “Now you’re stuck.”
I studied her determined expression. Clearly I wouldn’t be able to get out of having a drink with her. I only hoped my cousins and friends where too drunk to notice that I was still in the pub. Let alone the fact that I was standing next to an attractive blonde; or rather I supposed she was pretty if you liked the girl next door types. It didn’t matter to me since I wasn’t looking to date a woman that I worked with. I had a lot on my plate without adding a girlfriend to the pile. It would just be a drink between two co-workers; comrades, so to speak.
Needless to say, I followed Elsie over to the bar. We ordered our drinks and before long we were ordering another and I had completely forgotten how exhausted I had been. The alcohol was driving the fatigue from my mind in a foggy haze. I wasn’t even aware of the words that were floating out of my mouth.
The next thing I knew I was waking up disorientated on a couch in a living room that I didn’t recognize. Squinting, my eyes slowly adjusted to the stream of light that stabbed in through a window with light blue curtains that were partially opened. I brought my hands up to my head. I hadn’t experienced a hangover since I had graduated from training to supervision. I went to sit up and let out a groan as my head felt like it was being cleaved in half.
“He lives,” a disembodied female voice said. It sounded familiar, too familiar for my liking. What mess had I gotten myself into last night? I tried to recall the events of last night, but to no avail. The last thing I could remember was drinking with Elsie. What we had talked about or even did was evading me. But none of that explained where I was.
I hastened as I again attempted, and succeeded that time, to sit up and look around for the owner of the voice. Then she walked in: Elsie. I was in Elsie’s house. Oh hell.
Author's Note: I'm sorry for disappearing for almost two months. After I graduated from university I just did very little writing (fanfiction-wise, since I was still writing short fiction) and decided to take a break from fanfiction. But now I'm back in the game. I just needed to take a step away for a while (I did more reading than writing, catching up on all the books I had wanted to read since I now have the time to read what I want). Have no worries now as I fully intend on getting back to updating this story once every other week.
Thanks for being patient with me and I hope you enjoyed this chapter; and I'd love it if you'd leave me a review, too.
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