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In My Time of Dying by Stag Night
Chapter 13 : Captured
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 12


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In My Time of Dying
Disclaimer:
The story title is a song originally recorded (under that title) by Bob Dylan. The world, characters and canon events belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else belongs to me. It is illegal to publish and distribute fanfiction without J.K. Rowling's permission. You may not copy, post elsewhere, change or edit any part of this story. You may not claim it as your own.



C H A P T E R . T H I R T E E N
Captured




Alastor Moody was still an Auror for the Ministry of Magic, although he didn't agree with the way they handled things. He worked in the mornings. When joining the Order of the Phoenix, he had offered to leave his job to commit full time. He wasn't afraid to use an Unforgivable Curse to spare his life in a dangerous situation, but unlike Bartemius Crouch, he disagreed with using it to torture information out of suspects. Suspects that were yet to be proven guilty.


Dumbledore wouldn't have it. The old man didn't want him to lose the job he'd had since leaving Hogwarts as a young man so many years ago. It gave him a surge of pride to admit that, since John Potter had retired, he was the Ministry's top Auror. They still needed him, though it seemed he spent more time helping to train his co-workers than fighting in the field.


Mornings were like that. Never as busy as the evenings, when things got dark. It was all right with him; it fit his new schedule. The Order had breathed new life into his tired body. There was excitement, a sense of belonging, a sense of righteousness. It was raw, it was secretive, it was truth. There were no sneaky curses upon suspects. There was simply quick thinking or risk being killed, fight to stop the terrible things from happening, and always being aware of what was going on in the world around them.


Of course, he still worked the evening shifts often enough. Monday nights, for example. There were never any Order meetings on Monday nights. Dumbledore still wanted him there, in the Ministry. It was good to have an eye on things, to observe any changes in employees, or any odd things happening. They all knew the Ministry was Voldemort's primary target. If any of his Death Eaters managed to get in a position of power, or anything at all, he would see it.


He was the Ministry's top Auror, and he took pride in that.


Alastor had been on his way to see a suspect being held in a courtroom when the message came. Muggles were calling the police - tortured screams had been heard in a dark alley, and weren't stopping.


(The Ministry had personnel working for Muggle public services. They always needed to know if a situation was magical or not.)


Twelve Aurors had been dispatched to the scene, as well as Bartemius Crouch, in the hopes of catching a Death Eater in the act. He had stayed behind, for he already had an engagement to meet with the suspect in the basement courtrooms. Thirteen should be able to handle one, or at the most, two or three, Death Eaters in an alley.


The suspect he had to question hadn't been very cooperative, although Alastor had suspected he wouldn't be. None of them ever were. He didn't resort to the Unforgivables as others did, however. The man had insisted he had nothing to do with a recent attack on a Muggleborn's family. He had insisted he remembered nothing, and if he had been there at all, it was under the effects of the Imperius Curse.


They were all beginning to claim to be under the effects of the Imperius Curse. It was turning into a nightmare.


Moody didn't have time to listen to the same story from yet another suspect. He simply closed his notebook - the one in which he was to record everything the man said - and stood. The man had eyed him in terror, clearly expecting an Unforgivable to come his way. Instead, Moody frowned down at the man.


"You will be held in Azkaban," he began.


The man let loose a wail, and shivers ran up Moody's spine at the noise. He thought he would be used to it by now.


"Until the Ministry can secure a dose of Veritaserum," he continued loudly, trying to be heard over the sound of the man's cries.


"I didn't do it!" screamed the suspect, panicking at the name of the truth potion.


Moody had turned his back and walked out, allowing two guards into the room to take over. The man had screamed after him, asking how long it would take to get the potion. It was the Ministry of Magic, after all; they should have such important potions on hand. He shouldn't have to go to Azkaban, and he shouldn't be forced to take the potion; the Ministry of Magic had failed him as a citizen of the magical community.


Alastor had turned back with a snarl. The Ministry had failed? he had shouted at the man. There was no way, not yet, for the Ministry to defend itself against the rising terror of Voldemort. The Ministry was doing the best it could just to keep its head above water amidst such chaos. The Muggle Prime Minister was calling every single day, to complain about a collapsed bridge, or tornadoes, or the Dementors and the heavy, never ending fog. And all because Voldemort's scum was walking free. And now this man, who Moody was nearly positive was guilty, wanted to act as if the Ministry had failed him.


He nearly lost it, nearly, and let loose the Cruciatus Curse. Almost.


His face was so close to the man's, he could see his own spittle fleck the suspect's face as he growled.


"It will be at least two months," he raged, leaning over the man, supporting his frame with his arms braced on the man's chair. The man leaned back as far as he could go to get away. "We have had an abundance of little blights like you, claiming the Imperius Curse, and it has used up our stock trying to find out who is guilty. The Ministry is sorry to inconvenience you."


"I refuse to take Veritaserum," snapped the suspect. Alastor smirked. All of the guilty ones refused to take the Veritaserum. It was an empty threat; one that he used often to sort out the guilty. The Ministry wasn't out of Veritaserum at all - only the innocent were willing to submit to it, and very few of the people they captured were innocent.


It was practically a confession. Guilty as sin. Moody smiled at the man.


"Then you shall be tried by the Wizengamot. You will be held in Azkaban until your hearing."


The man had screamed again and again as the guards took hold of him, and Moody left feeling grim and tired.


Now, back in the Auror's offices, many wizards bustled about. Those sent out after the attacker in the alley had already returned, and there was a tingling excitement in the air in the aftermath.


"Mister Crouch wants to see you in his office, Alastor."


Moody nodded, and made his way there. Inside, Crouch was examining a stack of paperwork.


"Did you catch anybody?" growled Moody, taking a seat.


"No," muttered Crouch, setting the paper down. "Two young men were already on the scene even before we received word that it was happening. They put forth what I believe was their best efforts to stop the suspect. The incident occurred at the end of a long alley. The man had Disapparated before they could get to him. But they got his wand."


"Then you can make an identification," said Moody, feeling satisfied.


"I have wizards working on it as we speak."


"Two young men, you say?"


"One was John Potter's boy."


Moody's eyes narrowed. "I'd be willing to bet my wand arm the other was Sirius Black."


"That would be correct," said Crouch, looking up from the papers to eye him. "You know them?"


Moody frowned. The Ministry wasn't aware of the Order of the Phoenix. Nobody was aware. "I know the Potter boy through his father. Never liked that Black kid."


Crouch smiled, bemused, and gave Alastor a bit more of his attention. "No, I don't suppose you would. The apple never falls far from the tree, does it?"


It was strange. Moody felt rage pool within him. He may have disliked Sirius Black, but he now felt the urge to defend the boy. He grunted and shoved it from his mind. He chose to change the subject.


"What of the victim, then?" he growled.


"Dead. By the Killing Curse." Crouch scowled and thumbed through the stack of papers before thumping it with his fist. "More work! And do you know who it was, Alastor? It was Will Brookhouse."


"Brookhouse, of the Leaky Cauldron?" gaped Moody.


"The one and only." Bartemius looked grim. "We are speculating that it was a hate crime, directed at Brookhouse purely because he is the one who allows the Muggleborns into Diagon Alley."


Alastor Moody stoked his chin. He would bet anything that the speculation was exactly right. The murder had most certainly been the work of a Death Eater, or at the very least, a loyal supporter of the Dark Lord who fancied himself doing something noble for the cause. "Hate crimes, indeed," muttered Moody angrily.


It was good that they would be making an identification soon, and as a result, sending forces out in search of whoever the killer was. But there was just one thing that bothered Alastor about the whole business.


He felt the need to tell the boys that they'd done well.






II.

Remus stirred amongst the dirt and sticks and fallen leaves. He was tired, his head ached, and he was incredibly thirsty. He wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to get up and Disapparate away, far away to London and the flat he'd been sharing with Sirius. He was filthy and uncomfortable, and even as he lay there he was becoming increasingly aware of a stick or a rock poking into his back.


He groaned and rolled onto his side, and that was when he saw them.


"Oh," said Remus, abruptly sitting up and backing away, as far away as he could get until he hit a tree and could go no further. He stared up at them, his heart hammering in his throat. "Bugger," he breathed, feeling suddenly ill.


There were three of them - all men, all standing around the spot where he'd lain, staring menacingly at him. Two of them clutched handmade spears in their hands. The third sank to a crouch before Remus, so as to observe him from the same eye level.


"Good morning, Sunshine," said he, who's voice was quite hoarse and gravelly, and the smile he offered Remus wasn't the least bit reassuring.


They all looked feral and furious, all with stubble on their chins and cold eyes, and Remus struggled to swallow his fear as he nodded, in what he hoped was a pleasant manner, at the man who'd addressed him.


"Good morning," he responded quietly, for he could think of nothing better to say and felt it rude not to respond at all. The three men laughed cruelly, not expecting a response in the first place.


All of them wore clothing that looked to be made of animal skins, roughly stitched together. With dread, Remus realised that he'd dressed all wrong -that no amount of dirt, and not even the shabbiest of robes, would look convincing besides these wild, outcast werewolves.


One of the men, tall and muscular with curly, light brown hair, stepped forward and spit on the ground. Then he raised his spear high above his head, his eyes fixed menacingly on Remus.


"Oh, sh... shit," uttered Remus, scrambling to back away once more, and once more failing because of the blasted tree. He closed his eyes and waited, and had never felt more trapped in his life.


(Remus wasn't normally one to swear, aside from the occasional bugger. It was usually his other three friends that did the swearing, and whenever Remus did utter a curse, he was brutally teased by Sirius and James, who claimed he only sounded like an idiot whenever he tried.


And even now, as he faced his death and swore in fear, this thought scurried through his head.)


"Wait, Bertulf," commanded one of the other men. Remus's eyes flew open hopefully - it was the one who sat crouched, studying Remus. He held up a suntanned hand to halt the spear. This man had dark brown hair, straight and short. It looked like it had been cut with a pocket knife, and could rival James's for its messiness.


(Remus instantly liked this man a small bit more than the others, not only for delaying his own death, but also for the familiarity of his ridiculous hair.)


His eyes were light blue, almost pale, and they narrowed as he studied Remus closely. He kept his hand raised, as if warding off the attack. Remus's eyes flickered between the three men, waiting for something else to happen, for one of them to strike suddenly. He wished he'd kept his wand on him.


Bertulf lowered the spear and stared evenly at his companion. "It's a wizard," he snarled. "Look at how he's dressed," and he spat again, the wad of saliva nearly hitting Remus's foot.


"Surely, he is," muttered the blue eyed man, almost in surprise as he seemed to realise something. "But he's also one of us." He pointed at Remus's cheek, which bore very faint scars of his transformations, and then his hand travelled down to Remus's neck, where could be found the top part of the scar, barely visible above the collar of his robes, from when he was first bitten.


The man tugged Remus's collar aside to see the scar in full, to confirm his suspicion, and then looked up at Bertulf to be sure he was seeing it as well.


Bertulf shook his head and chuckled, clearly not caring. "Perhaps. But not anymore," he growled, stepping towards Remus again. And Remus, for his part, thought he might pass out. He was already becoming dizzy from the non-stop, heavy hammering of blood in his veins, mixed with his terror.


"I said no, Bertulf!" commanded the man once more, clearly becoming irritated and impatient. This time he snatched the spear from Bertulf and broke it against his knee in one swift movement. He handed the broken, useless spear back, looking icy.


Bertulf accepted his broken weapon grimly, looking more angry than ever.


"Ulfric," said the third man quietly. "What are you doing? He's clearly a wizard. He comes from a society that banished us. He's probably a spy or something."


At this point, Remus felt nothing but despair. It was his very first mission, and it was a pretty important one, and he was the only person who could have successfully pulled it off. And yet, before he ever even got the chance, he'd been caught, captured, and they already suspected him of the very thing he'd been sent to do. And now he might die.


Ulfric shook his head and chuckled. "He's a werewolf, Conan," he said confidently. "Let's just bring him back to the den, and we can decide what to do with him from there. Whatever he is, the Alpha might like to know about him. Especially if he is a spy."


That, Remus didn't like the sound of at all.


"Up you get," grunted Ulfric, standing up and grabbing Remus's arm, hauling him to his feet with ease.






III.

"Why did you bring him here?" demanded a large, grizzly looking wolf, circling Ulfric angrily. "He's clearly a wizard. They've already banished us from society, kicked us out of our homes and separated us from our families! What more do they want from us?"


After the werewolves had found Remus in the forest, he'd been searched for a wand (he told them the Ministry took it and snapped it, though in reality it was buried with the mirror and cloak) and then his hands had been tied behind his back. The three men had lead him through the dark forest, until they had come to a series of caves - all of them looked manmade. The largest one was the one Remus had been lead into moments before, and he'd nearly been ill as he'd heard all the wolfish voices before even entering the room.


He was stunned upon his arrival - there were at least twenty-five others in the room, aside from his captors. All of them had burning eyes, all pointed directly at him. Many looked ready to pounce and Remus shied away as Ulfric prodded him along.


Ulfric had walked him right to the center of the room, which seemed to be a gathering place for the wolves. And then he had left, left Remus standing alone and bound and frightened, with everyone staring.


Behind him, a fire flickered and burned and cast the room in dim, orange light. Remus didn't like it, for the harsh shadows made the werewolves look even more vicious. Smoke escaped through a small hole in the earthen ceiling. He wished they would put the fire out - the cave was sweltering, and sweat poured from his hairline. But then, he thought, if they did put it out, he would probably find it terrifying given his present company.


"Rolff," sighed Ulfric, almost pleadingly, though Remus wouldn't allow himself to think even for an instant that Ulfric pled on his part. Ulfric pled for himself, not wanting to be in trouble, punished or looked down upon for what he'd done - bringing an obvious wizard into the den. The man's broad shoulders slumped slightly, and his voice was quiet as he insisted, "He's one of us."


Rolff, whom Remus took to be the pack's leader, turned at that, grinding his teeth irritably. "Is that so?" he growled, advancing on Ulfric. "And what makes you say that? Because he told you so, is it?"


Ulfric's face twitched and he stared unhappily at Rolff, but didn't react to the jeer. "Because he has the scars that all of us have. Or at least the scars of those who once lived among humanity. The scars of somebody locked up."


Rolff didn't respond to that, although his yellow eyes flickered towards Remus. But Remus didn't return the glare - he had eyes only for the hungry group surrounding him, and his gaze jumped around, taking in every face. Some of those in the group weren't even adults yet, and to his surprise, though he may very well have been staring at the face of his own death, his heart ached for them.


Ulfric hung his head, as if ashamed.


An older man, who'd been standing near Rolff, stepped forward. He reached a hand out to grasp Remus's face, and Remus instinctively flinched away. "I won't hurt you," the man reassured him quickly. And he reached out again. Remus saw no other option - he didn't want to resist too much, and warrant his death out of impatience and irritation because he refused to cooperate. And so he let the big rough hands touch his face, run fingers down the faint scars.


Madame Pomfrey had always done a spectacular job of fixing him up after his transformations. He'd often sport his cuts and bruises for a day or two after the full moon, but they rarely scarred, and when they did, it was hardly noticeable.


"Who's been helping you, son?" asked the man curiously, after observing the marks.


Remus's voice was hoarse, more hoarse than it had ever been, from lack of use, and fear and smoke from the fire. "My parents," he lied, hoping it couldn't be seen in his eyes. Many people had helped him over the years, but he thought he should limit it if he wanted to appear as unwanted as they were.


Rolff snarled, regardless. "Kill him," he snapped irritably, and then he turned his back on the scene and retreated down the tunnel.


Remus's heart stopped and leapt into his throat. He turned his eyes back to the ravenous pack that surrounded him, and it seemed like an eternity went by as they each grinned in delight. In that second, Remus also caught sight of his captor, Ulfric. The man looked strangely tortured.


But then a jagged voice rang out. "Hold it."


And remarkably, everyone did, and some of them even cowered at the demanding voice - it filled Remus with dread, for the owner of the voice was clearly not one to be messed with.


Out of the crowd rose a man that looked like a wolf even in human form. He was filthy and greasy and dirty, so terrible that Remus had a hard time even looking his new saviour in the face. The man stepped forward, roughly shoving his pack mates aside, and it was clear that he held some sort of important position and authority in the group.


"You look familiar," growled the man. His breath was rancid, and Remus tried not to breath it in. "You're John Lupin's boy. You look just like him." There was a brief pause, and then, "I would know."


Remus wanted to die on the spot, and he prayed his parents wouldn't be killed or murdered now that his identity was guessed.


"Do you know who I am?"


Remus's voice was barely a whisper in his terror as he forced himself to respond. "No."


The foul man smiled and pointed to the scar peeking out of Remus's collar. "It was me wot gave you that scar."


There was a name that Remus had heard again and again when he was a very young boy, right after he'd first been attacked and bitten. It was a name his father moaned with his head in his hands, or growled in anger, or cried out at Remus's bedside after transformations. It was a name his mother said with fear and whispers, afraid that saying it aloud would cause the beast to suddenly appear. It was a name that, over the years, had faded away, and Remus had never given much thought to it, and his parents soon lost reason to speak of it.


It was a name that hit him like a ton of bricks now, as he looked into awful golden eyes. The name was Fenrir Greyback.


Remus's breath hitched in his throat as he took a step backwards and stumbled, hitting the wall. It upset his balance, and the jarring impact left him suddenly dizzy. His legs felt weak; he felt himself slipping towards the ground with only the wall for support.


Vaguely, he heard Greyback give another order. "Leave him. He's my creation, and it is I alone who can claim his fate."


And the only thing he was aware of after that moment was the room getting steadily darker.






IV.

Remus Lupin had two thoughts when he woke up. The first was that he was very, very hungry. And the second was that he had a splitting headache, and for a moment, he couldn’t figure out why.


It was dark, and it was only when he reached out for his wand on his bedside table and it wasn’t there that he remembered what had happened. He remembered being in the forest, remembered being followed and attacked and struck in the head. He remembered meeting Fenrir Greyback, his very enemy halting his death.


Greyback, he knew, enjoyed preying on children. He wanted them. He wanted to raise them as his own, turn them against their wizarding backgrounds and families. He wanted them to hate the wizarding world as he did, and he wanted their families - every wizard, every one who had turned their back on his kind and banished them - to suffer.


Remus didn't have to wonder why Fenrir spared him. Perhaps the werewolf thought that Remus's parents had finally had enough. Perhaps he thought that Remus had left them, choosing to embrace the monster within rather than try and fit in where he didn't belong. Greyback probably thought that Remus had turned on his father, probably felt his revenge on the man was more complete now. He was probably amused; it was a game to Greyback.


Vaguely, he reached a hand up to his temple and quickly jerked it away again after it made contact. It hurt, and the spot felt rough and sticky and warm. It was only when the metallic smell reached his nostrils that he realized he’d been bleeding. He groaned and shifted his weight, feeling distinctively sore and uncomfortable after sleeping on what he could only assume was cold, hard earth.


He felt around in the dark for a moment. There was a wall behind him. On all sides, he soon came to realise, except for one opening. And somebody was in the opening. He could hear them breathing and sense their presence in the pitch black dark.






V.

The remaining Marauders were beginning to feel more at ease during the Order meetings. By now, after weeks of practise, they had mastered such things as Occlumency and Patronuses.


Unsurprisingly, when their Patronuses finally began to take on forms, they were the same forms as their Animagi. They enjoyed joking about Peter’s tiny ghostly rat chasing off the big bad Dementors.


“Shut up,” said Peter ruefully, but he couldn’t help but smile. It was slightly pathetic. “You’ll see, won’t you?” he said defiantly. They’d made fun of him when his Animagus form turned out to be a rat as well, but then it ended up being undeniably useful for things such as sneaking around. He was the only one who could usually go anywhere he pleased unnoticed, for one. He was also the only one, aside from Remus in his werewolf form, who could fully see in the dark.


Because Lily was now the newest Order member, and was terribly behind compared to all that James and his friends had learned, they took it upon themselves to teach her. She spent nearly as much time in Sirius's flat now as the rest of them, and they worked with her tirelessly.


And then one day, while sitting around in the Hog's Head during a more relaxed Order meeting, Lily’s Patronus emerged as a gentle doe. She blushed madly when Sirius whistled and James looked smug.


“Imagine that,” said James, running his hands through his hair and stretching luxuriously. He tried to fight off a yawn.


Frank Longbottom shook his head. “Who’d have thought,” he mused, and he earned a slap upside the head from Alice. (Frank and Alice produced a lion and a lamb, respectively.)


“Don’t listen to them, Lily,” Alice told her firmly. “They’re just idiots, the lot of them. Boys!”


Men,” corrected Peter, looking scandalized.


And so they continued, learning even more new things, becoming better friends with their fellow Order members with each meeting, until one day Dumbledore pulled the four of them aside after a meeting had ended.


“Please sit down,” he said as four chairs zoomed at them from across the room, and they all obeyed. Dumbledore sighed. “A difficulty has arisen,” he told them gravely.


There was no twinkle in his eye as he spoke. It was something that Sirius had learned to start looking for when he spoke to Dumbledore - it usually gave away whether something had gone seriously wrong or not. His heart sank and he glanced at James, who looked grim, for he had learned to look for the exact same thing.


“I’m afraid that misfortune has befallen some very dear friends of mine,” continued the old man gravely. “The Lupin family, to be precise.”


Sirius stood up quickly and his chair toppled over backwards. “What?” he snarled. He couldn’t bear it if something had happened to Remus while he was out there. James stood up behind him, cautiously, and Lily and Peter looked frightened.


Dumbledore held a hand up to stop Sirius. “Sirius, please sit down, I must insist.”


Sirius was right up in Dumbledore’s face almost, glaring, searching. He didn’t move, and after a moment James up righted the chair and put a hand on Sirius’s shoulder, shoving him back into his seat.


“Now,” said Dumbledore, when everyone appeared calm again (though Sirius had his head in his hands and was biting his lower lip anxiously). “It is not Remus who is in trouble, at least as far as I know. However, I am afraid his father has run into bad company.”


“What do you mean?” asked James, concerned.


“You are aware, of course, of Mr Lupin’s profession?” asked Dumbledore gently.


“He hunts magical creatures for the Ministry,” confirmed Peter. “That’s how Remus was attacked in the first place. One of the werewolves was quite offended to find out he was being hunted, and decided to get revenge.”


“A entirely separate matter, Peter,” said Dumbledore. “John Lupin was sent after a clan of vampires three days ago. He has not been seen or heard from since.”


“No,” said Lily faintly, with her hand over her mouth. She felt a surge of sympathy for Remus, who wasn’t even aware of what was going on right now, and they would have no way of letting him know.


Dumbledore looked grim. “There is little chance that Lupin has survived the encounter. Yet there is always hope. Often, the vampires will preserve their prisoners. Sometimes they decide to change them, to add to their family. And sometimes, they decide to kill them immediately.”


James shook his head in disgust. “Two members of the Lupin family turned,” he muttered.


“Quite,” said Dumbledore with a slight sigh. “Unfortunately, I am positive that Lupin has not survived. Or, perhaps in his eyes, it is very fortunate indeed, for he is one who would loathe becoming the very thing he hunts.” Dumbledore seemed to trail away in thought before asking, “You are aware that Lord Voldemort has been recruiting dark magical creatures to his side, are you not?”


“Of course,” said James. “That’s the whole reason why Remus is out there right now,” he reminded the old man with a hint of bitterness.


“You must also be aware then, that Lupin was a distinguished hunter for the Ministry, one of the best, and that his line of work removes potential supporters of Voldemort? In fact, it was Fenrir Greyback who bit young Remus many years ago. And it is Fenrir Greyback who is leading the rebellion against humans on Voldemort’s orders. John Lupin’s prey can sometimes be very powerful creatures.”


“Then you think Voldemort ordered him taken out,” snapped Sirius impatiently.


“I think it is a very good possibility that Voldemort will work on eliminating as much threat as he can before he goes after the Ministry,” confirmed Dumbledore.


He allowed that to sink in for a moment. The four former students who sat in front of him all appeared disturbed and saddened. Sirius wouldn’t even look away from the ground; he was leaning forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his hands clasped uncomfortably. And James was squeezing Lily’s hand reassuringly, as she had tears in her eyes. Peter’s chin was trembling and he stubbornly stared at a wall.


“Now,” said Dumbledore. “I would like to send you on your first mission. I have chosen you because of the sensitivity of the matter, and it is somewhat personal to all of you in Remus’s absence. I also believe you are now ready to go into the field.”


At that, James’s head snapped up alertly. Sirius eyed Dumbledore under his brow, but he couldn’t be as eager as James was. His eyes wandered vaguely down to his clasped hands again and he pursed his lips.


“These vampires do need to be removed,” said Dumbledore. “I do not enjoy killing people or creatures simply for what they are. I find it rather unfortunate, and I would like you to understand that we are not taking them out simply because they are vampires. However, we cannot allow dangerous magical creatures to kill innocents for Voldemort's gain. If they can not be persuaded to join us, and I feel that for this particular group, it is already too late - then they need to be eliminated before Lord Voldemort can unleash their wrath on society.”


The old man looked grim. James thought of Hagrid and of Remus, both of whom Dumbledore had accepted and given chances (he was quite sure Hagrid was part giant, even if nobody agreed with him) and neither of whom would have had a prayer had the Ministry known. He understood then that it wasn't easy for Dumbledore to ask them to kill, even in war. Dumbledore liked to try to see the best in all creatures, human or not.


“Do your research,” the headmaster advised them now. “And don’t be too confident. Vampires are very difficult to deal with and can be very dangerous. Your lives will be very much in danger, but I have every ounce of confidence that you are perfectly capable of dealing with the issue.


“In the process,” Dumbledore continued. “I would like you to search for John Lupin. It would be a wonderful thing to find him alive and well. But even if he is not, he deserves a proper burial.”


They all paled at this. Nobody was quite prepared for the possibility of coming into contact with a dead body. Especially not the body of somebody they all knew personally (with the exception of Lily, who had never been to Remus’s house.) Sirius swallowed loudly and grimaced at the dirty floor.


“It would be an honour,” said James finally, for all of them because nobody else could find words. And he meant it, because John Lupin had been a wonderful person. He could remember having dinner at Remus’s house one summer, all four of the Marauders, and John playing his guitar at the table and Remus’s mother, Grace, laughing. Remus had looked entirely embarrassed, but Peter had laughed uncontrollably and James had felt accepted and comfortable, and Sirius seemed cautious yet delighted all at once. Nobody had mentioned werewolves or laws or bloodlines.


“Very good,” said Dumbledore. “You will leave tomorrow evening. I shall await your arrival at the Shrieking Shack no later than eight o'clock.”


Sirius still stared at the floor and never once looked up. All that he could think of was the look that John Lupin had given him in Dumbledore’s office, after he had sent Snape into the willow. He hadn’t told anyone about it, but after that, he never went to Remus’s house again. He had loved it there, but he felt horrible and guilty and rotten, even though Remus had assured him he was more than welcome many times.


He hoped that John Lupin had, at least, understood that Sirius hadn’t meant it, and that if he could, he would give anything to take it back.


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What is the name of the Harry Potter character seen in the image on the left?


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