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Chapter 1 : Introduction: It Only Takes A Moment
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It only takes a moment for the course of one's life to be determined forever. For John Lupin, however, it was not simply his own life that would be decided this day.
The pile of paperwork on his desk was stacked high in a semi-circle of looming towers, a stale cup of tea perched dangerously on a teetering pillar to his right. Regardless of the many hours of meticulous preparation John had taken beforehand, the first day of interviews for his newest trial on behalf of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures had been nearly more than he could keep up with. The only thing that had truly kept him going throughout the entire ordeal (besides the never-ending caffeine refills in his favorite Appleby Arrows mug) was the knowledge that if he ran the trial at a high performance level he was sure to be up for a promotion, especially now that Anderson Davies, soon to be former head of the Being Division, was stepping down. But as the clock ticked ever closer to seven, even thoughts of said promotion couldn't drive away the groggy discontent that filled his mind with a great longing to be home at the dinner table with his wife and young son, rather than stuck behind piles of paperwork and a cramped desk.
The day had truly been a long and unforgiving one, so when an unexpected knock at his small office door rang through, he let out a rather frustrated sigh before calling, "Yes, yes, come in!"
The door swung open (with a bit more force than was perhaps necessary) to reveal a tall, broad man with a rather foreboding aura about him. He was wearing a raggedy old beige trench coat with an even less impressive grey and patchy suit underneath. His dark hair was matted and stringy, though it gave the impression that perhaps a comb had made a poor attempt at rectifying the situation, and his entire being was covered in a thin sheen of water.
Must be raining, he thought.
Of course John knew why Fenrir Greyback had entered his office, and he regretted the fact that there was nothing more he'd be able to do for him. It had already been a long shot when he'd first offered Greyback a time slot for the interviews today, knowing how greatly his less-than-stellar reputation preceded him and how the trial called for the most well-mannered and, well, human werewolves in order to qualify. But now that he was a full six hours late, it was safe to say that there was nothing left that John could do for him now.
"Fenrir," he greeted as neutrally as he could manage and, with a small nod, encouraged the man before him to enter further.
Taking a step inward and closing the door behind him, Greyback roughly announced the reason for his late night appearance. "Lupin, I want to be in the trial."
John let out another deep sigh and offered the only words he felt held any weight: "You're late."
"I know, but I was held up! There was... business to attend to. I couldn't get away," Greyback countered vaguely. However, his accompanying shuffling feet and refusal to make eye contact gave away what John had already suspected. Word traveled fast at the Ministry and John had heard the rumor that had been circulating only a few hours ago, all to do with Greyback's so-called 'business' from earlier that day. From what he understood, this 'business' had involved harassing a shop owner down at Diagon Alley who had refused service to a werewolf buddy of Greyback's. Apparently the other werewolf had tried to steal over 100 galleons worth of products during his previous visit and was no longer a welcome customer. The less than gracious greeting he received upon his return visit had been enough to spark him and all of his friends to hex the shop owner straight to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. His shop was then robbed and wrecked, with little more than a pile of stones and wood left in its wake. There was meant to be a court hearing next month, apparently.
"From what I hear," John began, "you've gotten yourself into a trial all on your own."
"Now you listen here, Lupin, I-"
"No, Fenrir, it's you that needs to do the listening." Greyback had practically snarled at the remark, but John had no interest in drawing out this particular conversation for any longer than was necessary. "You and I both knew from the start that even if I did get the board to agree to an interview with you, your chances of moving further in the trial were slim at best. Your actions and track record left very little for me to work with. Now I pushed for the others to give you a chance because when you first came to me about the trial you told me you would change, that you would behave and stop stirring up trouble, and God forgive me, but I wanted to believe it. After today's actions, however, both your own with the shop keeper and the other werewolves who were interviewed earlier, I think my co-workers had the right idea all along in dismissing you, and that I was being a hopeful fool."
Greyback looked affronted, but kept quiet.
"I believe you're acquainted with Marius Dracul?" John pressed on, noting the immediate clenching of Fenrir's jaw at the name. From what he understood, Greyback and Dracul went back a long way, having teamed up on occasion in order to stir up trouble. He wasn't sure whether they were so close as to call one another friends, but he did know that they weren't enemies of any sort, which made John question whether Greyback's lockjaw was because he had already heard about Dracul's terrible interview earlier that day, straight from the horses mouth.
Greyback glared relentlessly, but remained silent, so John continued of his own accord. "By question three of the interview, he had turned the conference table over and spit in the director of the Beast Divisions face. I've spent the last two and a half hours reorganizing all of my files! And your track record outside of these walls is much worse than his own! So it calls into question how exactly you might have handled the same situation with a temper that runs on an even shorter fuse. It took a lot of talking to a lot of people to get you that interview, Fenrir, because no one wanted to waste their time on the least likely candidate. And then you didn't show because your priority stood in hospitalizing a innocent shopkeeper."
Greyback's temper flared and he slammed his fists down on John's desk, knocking the teacup to the ground, as well as a few other small trinkets (luckily no files went flying this time). "Well you're head of the project! There must more you can do-"
"I will not compromise this entire trial on your behalf, Greyback!"
John had had enough. It was late, the day had been exhausting, and he was not prepared to argue in circles over this issue any longer. "It's over, you messed up. This is on you. I gave you the best chance you had, which wasn't much of one to start with, but I did my part and you didn't do yours. There is nothing left to be done. You blew it."
John watched the clenching and unclenching of Greyback's fists and wondered if he was in danger of being hexed into oblivion, or possibly even on the receiving end of a Muggle-esque punch. To his surprise, however, Greyback took a deep breathe and bent over to pick up the items he'd knocked down in his earlier rage. Somehow the snow globe of Venice, where he and his wife had honeymooned years ago, had managed not to break, and Greyback set it lightly on the desk beside a toy model of the Hogwarts Express that his mother had given him on his eleventh birthday, shortly before passing away the following month. The glass from a picture frame had not been so lucky as to remain unscathed, however, but a simple Reparo charm from Greyback fixed it right up. Instead of setting the picture back onto the desk, though, John watched as Greyback studied the photo beneath the frame. It was one of John's favorite moments; a memory made last year at an Appleby Arrows game with his favorite company.
"My son," John said.
My son. He gave a small smile of pride every time his kid was mentioned. John had never expected to have children when he was younger; he didn't think he'd make a great father and wasn't sure he even wanted to be one... but then Remus happened. His boy was born and he would never be the same. And somehow, through all of his mistakes as a father who had no idea how to raise a child, his son had turned out smart and kind and good. He'd raised a good kid.
Still staring intently at the photo in his hand, Greyback slowly pocketed his wand and adjusted his trench coat, pulling it tighter as he prepared to make his departure. Before finally placing the picture back down on the desk, Greyback spoke in barely more than a whisper:
"Spitting image of his father."
John beamed with pride at the words and straightened the frame back into its original position.
Without another word, Greyback gave a small nod and turned toward the door, the floorboards beneath his feet creaking lightly at the shifting weight. The handle twisted with a brassy pop and the door was opened much more calmly than when he'd entered. Greyback had nearly made it out the door when John called out to him a final time, "I'm sorry again, Fenrir."
Greyback hesitated for only a brief moment at the words, gave the same small nod as before, and disappeared behind the closing door.
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