Authors: dramaturgy and thinkatory
Rating: Heavy PG-13, R (for violence)
Word count: 7,556
Era: The First War Against Voldemort (1970-1981)
Characters: Remus Lupin, MWPP/L, Fenrir Greyback, many, many others
Chapter Summary: Jeremy pushed his hair out of his eyes and said, "They're coming. Today. Soon. They didn't want to give you time to prepare. I hope you are."
Author's Note: Please drop us a line if you like it, or you can add the comm for automatic updates to your flist!
Fathers and Sons
Chapter 25: A Pale Horse Riding
War is everywhere, now. It is in the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe. Every heartbeat is a push of hot blood through our bodies that runs the war machine, and every step we take brings us closer to our next battle. The end of the path is nowhere in sight, but that doesn't mean that you stop walking. Joshua Merrythought, Minister for Magic. "Speech to the Wizengamot Assembly, August 31, 1944," also known as "The Red Speech."
Ever since Jeremy Curenton himself came to declare that the unified pack meant to start the war within the week, Hati's pack had been tense and preparing for a fight. Hati herself spent the time deciding what to do with her pack -- who would be fighting, who wouldn't, and where. This was more difficult than it should have been, despite the respect she commanded, because the decisions were next to impossible. Who was she prepared to throw in front of the pack that had conquered all the other major packs in the United Kingdom?
She caught Ben Skoll by the shoulder and tugged him out of the kitchen without further comment. "Ben," she said, "are we ready?"
Ben regarded Hati for a moment. "Well," he started. He wasn't predisposed to the black humour that seemed to have settled over some of the other members of the pack, and so there was no ready answer. "I believe in as much as we can hope to be prepared... we are."
Hati watched her sons dueling outside through the nearby window. "We have more wands," she said, "so long as the Death Eaters don't come in strength. They're not likely to overestimate us." It was half a question.
"But they're not likely to underestimate us, either. Especially since they know how many wands there are," he answered, following her gaze out the window at Adam and David. "Granted, what Fenrir doesn't know is that a number of his own are planning on mutinying against him in the fight."
"We have the element of surprise if nothing else," she had to agree. "So long as people are more courageous than cowardly we'll be ready for them." But it was still Fenrir Greyback's pack, and so many had died. How couldn't she be worried?
The disturbing train of thought ended when both of her sons stopped dueling each other and turned on someone else. Hati strode to the window and shoved it open. "What's going on?" she shouted.
Jeremy dropped his Shield Charm and did his best to keep his footing, though the pressure of the day was definitely taking its toll. "It's me," he called to Hati.
Adam only took his eyes off Curenton to exchange a fast look with his brother. "What're you doing here?" he asked warily, not dropping his wand.
Ben followed Hati to the window and looked out at Jeremy and the two boys. "I'm not sure I like this," he said in a low voice, ignoring the chilly, late October breeze that blew in the open window.
Jeremy pushed his hair out of his eyes and said, "They're coming. Today. Soon. They didn't want to give you time to prepare. I hope you are."
Adam looked back at David. "About time, then. We're as ready as we are ever going to be."
Hati leaned out of the window. "You came yourself. Why?" she called to him.
"Because you need warning," Jeremy said with a dark sort of amusement. "They're coming right to your door, Alecto managed to make Portkeys, and Wesley's armed to the teeth. We're going to win, I just want to minimize the death toll. I have to get back."
"We're not even going to get the chance to keep them out," Ben realised, and called out, "How many Death Eaters besides Alecto? Do you know now?"
"Just her and her brother, unless she's got plans to have others meet them here. That's not the point." Jeremy forced himself calm with a sharp breath. "She brought wands. She taught Fenrir and Wesley. Just be ready for it."
There wasn't time to be properly outraged at the blatant hypocrisy, that the man who would call himself Father to all werewolves was fighting like a wizard. Ben wondered if Fenrir was completely blind to it because he wished to be, or if it just happened. "Wonderful," he said dryly. "Let them come. We will win."
Jeremy nodded to the lot of them and reached for his wand. "It's been an honour fighting with you, mates," he said, and Apparated.
Nothing answered him except the rattle of the trees as they were shaken by the chilly breeze. Adam looked up at the window that framed his mother and Ben. "Orders, generals?" he asked dryly.
Hati looked outside, where a group of children were playing with a football a distance from where her boys had been dueling, and to a group of teens gathered even further than that. "Everyone in the house," she snapped, and shut the window.
Adam took a moment to take in a deep breath, before he whistled through his teeth. "Hey, everyone, let's take it inside! Now!"
David stuck his wand in his pocket and watched the kids race back inside. "This is it," he said to his brother. "We're going to face bloody Death Eaters."
"Yeah, we are," Adam said, glancing sideways at his younger brother. "They're coming to our door, even. No picking them off."
"Should be a good fight," David reasoned, and put his hands in his pockets. "I bet Mam's about to give orders. Who should stay on guard?"
"You go, I'll stay," he replied, jerking his head toward the house. "Shouldn't take her too long. The moment's just finally arrived, that's all."
David nodded and surveyed the area before he finally ducked inside the house in time to see the pack gathering. He gave a brief wave to Edward, who looked more than disturbed at the turn of events, and nudged Jane when he found her. "Has she said anything yet?" he asked.
Jane jumped when she realized David was now standing beside her, and she shook her head. The so-called turn of events had set her on edge, and it took her a moment to find her voice. "No, nothing yet," she answered, but kept her eyes on Hati, who was in turn glancing at each of the assembled members of the pack.
Hati surveyed her pack, only speaking when she felt almost certain that the whole of her pack was gathered. "If you know you can fight, we'll have you," she said. "It's your choice, but don't throw your lives away. Our plans have changed. They're coming directly to our door, and we must be more than prepared to force them back." She paced. "Those who aren't fighting should go upstairs, Edward will guard you. The rest stay with me. Our wands should already be out on patrol at their best stealth. Adam, David, where are you?"
"Adam's on patrol, it's just me, Mam," David spoke up, waving a hand to catch his mother's attention. "And Jane's here, what do you need?"
Hati stopped pacing, and gave David a nod. "Our original plan stands for you. Stealth, close in on them, pick off the Death Eaters or at least draw them away from the thick of the battle, and especially the house."
Jane nodded. She hoped there wouldn't be too many of them to be easily handled. "Strength in numbers," she reminded David with a wry half-smile.
David nodded to her, with a grim smile. "Let's go kick some arse." He Disapparated right from that spot.
Jane exhaled and stepped around the assembly to leave by the front door, uncomfortably warm all of the sudden. She drew her wand and prepared to keep close to the house as the boys circled further out. Their wait was almost over.
The house of the unified pack was surprisingly quiet as those who went to fight prepared themselves. Wesley paced back and forth, looking more like a caged animal than a fighter readying himself for war, though his knives were quickly enough in hand. "Save those for that pack of bastards," Fenrir said, staring at the wand Alecto had given him.
Alecto dragged Amycus into the sitting room, where Fenrir, his first and second were already waiting. "We should go soon," she said to the werewolves. "We're wasting time. Fenrir, where’s that waste of a bastard pack leader?"
"Conor will show his face when he's ready to, Alecto, calm down," Fenrir said absently.
Alecto watched Wesley pace far too close to her, and caught the flash of his knives as well as the glare he gave Amycus. "We're not the wizards you want to kill. Put your knives away," she snapped off.
Amycus regarded Fenrir's second as he paced away again, not overly concerned with the werewolf's apparent bloodlust. As Alecto said, he was not the target tonight. "Well I certainly hope he deigns to show soon, we are losing time." He was, much like the pack but for separate reasons, eager to get this over with.
"He will come," Remus repeated testily, merely irritated with the Death Eaters. He wasn't looking forward to the fight, but at this point in the plot he'd much rather it be over. At least there were only two of them.
"He said he was bringing the others, can’t be much longer." Fenrir was just as tense, but keeping good control on the wolf, because a war was stress enough. "Wesley. Put your knives away and go find him. No distractions." He looked away from his second as he brushed past the Death Eaters, and looked at Amycus and Alecto. "They have five wands. Are you prepared?"
"Fenrir, worry about your own people," Alecto dismissed. "We can handle ourselves and anything they throw at us."
Amycus tried not to feel insulted, and it was easy to brush it off as it was obviously not meant as such. "We're more than ready."
"FENRIR," Conor shouted from outside. It brought a smile to Fenrir's lips. "Looks like he was doing his job after all," he said.
Conor walked into the room, followed by Briony and looking quite unimpressed. "Did you think I was going to run off with half of the unified pack?" he asked, utterly deadpan. "We're ready whenever you want to go, Father." He added a deferent bow.
The corner of Briony's mouth quirked upward briefly, but she quickly stopped it and looked at the floor to keep it from being seen. Remus had seen, but kept a perfectly straight face. "Well. Good," was all he trusted himself to say.
"Indeed," Amycus agreed, much less enthusiastic than he might have.
Alecto stared curiously at Conor, but shrugged and walked up to the box containing the Portkeys she'd created, and leaned on it. "Well, Fenrir?" she asked. "Are we going to delay, or catch them by surprise?"
Fenrir shot her a poisonous look and nodded to Wesley, who stood behind the Carrows. "It's time to go," he said, and looked to Remus, giving him an encouraging clap on the shoulder. "We have a war to win."
Remus made himself look back at Fenrir, and nodded. "Portkeys for everyone then," he said.
Alecto levitated the box and followed Conor and his bratty little first outside, and the rest filed out until Fenrir, Remus, and Wesley were left in the room. "I'm going to kill her," Wesley said to Fenrir; the scars were not forgotten. "I'm going to kill her and break her wand."
"I'll love to see it. A female pack leader," Fenrir said with a snort. "Halfway through the fight she'll surrender." He started to leave, but turned back. "This is the beginning of our new order," he told his two sons. "So do me proud."
He had no idea. Remus nodded again, and took a deep breath, checking to make sure his wand was at his side for the hundredth time that day. He looked around as groups accepted Portkeys as they were handed to them. He barely remembered to put a hand to one himself, as group after group disappeared, one by one.
Two hundred feet away a group of people appeared, and then another, and David cast a Disillusionment Charm over himself and quickly climbed the nearest tree to perch on the first sturdy branch. A quick glance-over showed that the Death Eaters were near the front, flanking the huge werewolf that had to be Greyback. He steadied himself and as they headed up the hill, shot sparks into the air so Jane and Adam would come if they hadn't seen already, and shot a few Stunning Spells in the direction of the Death Eaters from where he stood.
Jane saw David's sparks, and relayed the sparks in case Adam had not seen. He had, she knew that once she could see him running towards her in the near-twilight. He nodded, and she nodded in return, before they both went running for the front of the house.
They weren't the only ones who had seen the sparks. They caught Amycus's eye, and he saw the Stunning Spell in enough time to take the back of his sister's robes and bodily pull her out of the way, and cast a fast Shield Charm to deflect the other two. "They've got snipers, that's quaint," he remarked.
Alecto turned and pushed some werewolves out of her way. "Oh just let me see about our sniper," she said, and shot a curse into a tree when she saw its leaves shaking. The flash of a Shield Charm gave it away. "I've got him," she shouted to Amycus, and shoved through the werewolves.
Adam and Jane were running at full speed from the far edge of the house. She could see the witch going from the approaching pack towards the trees, where David was meant to be. Just a few more yards, and they'd be close enough. "GO," Adam shouted, and they both sent their strongest Electrifying Hexes at the witch.
"ALECTO," Amycus shouted in warning from several feet behind her. Without thinking he put up another Shield Charm, and just in time. The hexes ricocheted off, but it was quickly becoming apparent that they'd been waiting.
Shaken, Alecto stumbled but caught sight of a witch, ducked another hex from the sniper wizard behind her, and lashed out with her wand. "Sectumsempra!"
There was too much speed to do things the way they'd practised until they drew the Death Eaters further away from the house, into the trees. Jane ran ahead of Adam and slid into the wet grass to avoid the hex instead of setting up a Shield Charm, and took a shot at the wizard.
This was annoying, Amycus decided, as he quickly blocked the girl's Bat Bogey Hex. He'd kill her nice and slowly for using such a juvenile tactic in the midst of serious business. He blocked another, unidentifiable hex that the older man with her had sent.
As the door of Hati's house opened, Wesley was ready with his knives and the throwing knife missed Hati, but hit Edward square in the chest. "A fine start," Fenrir said with a snort.
Keith caught Edward as he stumbled backward, mostly in shock, he hoped. Wrong side for the heart, at the very least. "Cowards," he yelled at the advancing Unified Pack.
"Stop wasting our time with your toys," Ben added in a snarl. "Come and fight."
Wesley put his knives away and was the first to land a punch directly on the nearest werewolf, and the unified pack followed, pouring towards the porch and then crawling on top of it to get at Hati's pack. Hati couldn't believe Fenrir's poor planning until she heard the shatter of broken glass and a shout of surprise from her pack members who were still inside. With a Reducto the werewolf crawling into the window hit the ground, but that wasn't enough. A unified pack werewolf touched her and she didn't hesitate to react with a punch.
Alecto blocked another curse and sniggered, twirling her wand arrogantly. "Come out to play," she called to anyone who'd listen, and caught a movement out of her eye. "Ah, Crucio!"
David hit the ground and his stomach turned as he watched the curse fly over him, but he returned a curse to take her out at her feet as he saw Adam behind her.
"Go, Jane," Adam said urgently, and nodded at David. Jane ran ahead into the trees, and the two boys backed closer to the treeline -- the balance was going to be found between drawing them away and appearing to run away. He ducked to miss a Reductor Curse from the wizard, and the tree behind him splintered.
Jane retaliated from her place behind another tree, disappointed when her own Reductor Cuse was blocked. Come on, she swore silently. The faster they got into the woods, the better chance there was of a longer, safer chase.
"AMYCUS," Alecto shouted, and upon catching his eye she gestured at the trees and just went for it, setting the trees surrounding the girl on fire. "Incendio!"
"Shit," David swore, and put one mostly out, taking a nasty hex to his non-wand arm shoulder for his trouble. As the Death Eaters approached he shot a Hotfoot Curse at the wizard and ran for it.
Amycus jumped to avoid the Curse, sending damp earth and a hapless fern flying. "Fire. Really, Alecto?" he asked, irritated, quickly blocking another hex from the elder of the two boys -- he looked familiar, although he couldn't quite place the face. Not that it really mattered, he and his sister should be able to take the three of them easily... if she would stop using fire.
Jane didn't take a second longer to think about it before she leapt past one of the trees David had put out, working on a second of the three that were now burning. "Ten seconds, Adam!" she yelled. They could contain it in that time.
"It stopped them," Alecto said with a reasonable tone and a little shrug. "And they're distracted!" She took the moment to Apparate the few feet into the fire, shade her eyes, and point her wand at the nearest body to shout "Avada Kedavra!"
Jane shrieked and dove behind another tree, narrowly missing the Killing Curse. Her heart pounded in her ears and she scrambled to her feet before she ran to the next tree, shooting her Electrifying Hex at the wizard.
Amycus didn't have time to block it. He cried out as it took him off his feet and he hit the ground. Alecto's fire put out, their adversaries had disappeared into the trees. "Come out, pretty, you can't hide forever," he sneered, climbing back to his feet, blocking another hex.
Alecto blocked a hex from one of the wizards, ducked another and tried to pick off the younger wizard who was already injured. She tripped him, and although he didn't fall, he was slowed down and she prepared to take him down with another hex.
Adam checked Jane ahead, and behind him for David. It was apparent to him very quickly that David was in trouble. He ran back, and lifted his wand, prepared to cover his brother long enough for him to recover his footing on the ground. He shouted "Reducto!" in order to hit the witch a split second before the wizard yelled, "Avada Kedavra." Adam stopped in midstride and fell to the forest floor, landing heavily. His wand was still clutched in his hand, and his eyes were open but hollow and unfocused with the glassy sheen of death.
David shot a few Stunning Spells back again, not sure what he could possibly use to counter Unforgivables, and stopped instantly when he saw Adam awkwardly sprawled on the ground. "Adam," he shouted. "Adam! Get up!"
Jane held on to the tree to remain upright, and it took her only a few precious seconds to recover enough to throw a Stunning Spell of her own. He wasn't getting up. But she'd seen the Unforgivable hit him and now he was just laying there, no movement. No, please no. She swallowed hard. "DAVID," she yelled. "David, come ON."
"ADAM," David shouted, in a panic, then was forced back towards Jane as the witch kept on him. He blocked and dueled, eventually blasting the witch off of her feet with a well-timed Reductor and making a run for it before the wizard killed him too.
Jane sent a hex at the wizard, covering David's back. Amycus blocked it and in that half second, the kid had covered a lot of ground. By the time he glanced down at his sister, she was already getting back to her feet. "One down," he told her wryly. With that they were back in hot pursuit, leaving Adam's body behind.
The body count was starting to rise, Wesley and Fenrir were already in the pack house fighting, and it was high time the tide turned. Jeremy grabbed Remus by the back of the robes, and hissed, "Now," before striding into the now wrecked sitting room, approaching Wesley, whose knife was poised at a teen boy's throat. He raised his wand and pointedly Stunned him right in the back of the head.
Jeremy took the knife after it hit the ground and looked up at a few people who were watching. "Now," he repeated, and the moment of confusion ended abruptly as Caleb turned on a unified pack werewolf with a punch that broke his nose.
But it was the beginning of a new confusion. Remus went in the opposite direction, towards the back of the house. A flash of blonde hair on the stairs caught his eye. "Bri! Now!" he called.
She ducked another swing from the wolf she was half-heartedly fighting -- only because they thought she was fighting them. She nodded that she understood. With that signal given, she neatly sidestepped them again and pushed them into the stairs. "'Scuse me," she said, jumping down the couple of stairs, reaching a unified pack wolf and unceremoniously shoving him down the stairs.
Jeremy tested the weight of the knife, looked down at Wesley, and honestly considered it for a moment -- but a moment was too long, so he shoved the knife into his belt and gave Wesley a few sound kicks in the side before grabbing his wand to fight again.
Fenrir broke the neck of a struggling werewolf of Hati's pack and shouted for his second. "WESLEY!" No answer; he was probably distracted. "REMUS." Nothing. He stopped at the foot of the stairs, where one of his werewolves laid crumpled, feebly crawling away, and looked up to see Conor's precious first fighting her own side. Without hesitation, he ascended the few stairs left to grab her by the hair. "I knew we couldn't trust you," he spat.
Briony lost her footing and slid painfully to her knees, and she winced as Fenrir's grip in her hair remained firm even as she began twisting and clawing at his hand. "Let me go," she yelped, ignoring the tears that sprang to her eyes.
Conor's little bitch wouldn't waste his time. Fenrir threw her down the stairs as hard as he could and walked down afterward, pressing his shoe to her neck. "I'm killing you myself and I'm going to enjoy it," he said with a wide grin.
When Remus came back through the door to the entryway, he had Skylar and Ben close behind, although they nearly ran him over as he stopped in his tracks. At the foot of the stairs, he saw that Fenrir had Briony at his mercy, although it was clear that he intended to give her none. He lifted his wand and cast, "Reducto!" without another thought, sending Fenrir crashing into the opposite wall.
"Holy shit, mate," Jeremy exclaimed when he stumbled upon the scene, and covered his mouth as Fenrir stirred. The brief show of humility cost him, as a dazed Wesley nevertheless managed to put a knife to his throat. "Traitors," he snapped.
Remus leveled his wand at Wesley, nervously glancing back at Fenrir. He didn't have a clear shot at Wesley but he would take it if he had to. "Back off, Wesley," he said calmly.
"Traitors," Wesley repeated, vitriol practically dripping from the words. "You turned on your own Father, Remus!"
"If your problem's with Remus maybe you could let me go," Jeremy suggested, leaning his head carefully away from the knife.
Wesley replaced the knife at Jeremy's throat. "You stole my knife, bastard, I've killed for less."
"How about you fight someone that you didn't have to sneak up on," Ben snapped, advancing slowly. "If you even know what a fair fight looks like."
Wesley looked at Jeremy and shoved him aside, looking instead at Ben Skoll. "A father-killer is talking to me about honour and fairness?" he asked.
Ben gave a humourless grin, more a baring of teeth than anything else. "Kind of annoying, isn't it?"
"Then let's see how you do in a fair fight, Ben Skoll," Wesley said with nothing but contempt.
"Well, you will find," he snapped, before springing into action. He remained mindful of the knife in Wesley's hand, but still with every intention of showing Fenrir's brainwashed cub what was what.
Jeremy snuck past the two and stopped by Remus. He looked down at Fenrir, who stirred but didn't move. "We could kill him," he said, utterly frank.
Remus looked at Fenrir with Jeremy, an absurdly calm moment in the chaos about them. "We could," he said. He'll be deposed, he won't have anything. Never mind the onslaught of disgust that the wolf felt at the idea. "Doesn't mean we should."
Jeremy stared at the huge werewolf, the hated werewolf who he'd spent years of his life trying to get to this very place, slumped and weak. He pulled the knife from his belt. "He killed my sister," he said. "He had perfect control and he killed her, and we had to close the casket -- " but the wolf stayed his hand. "He doesn't deserve to live," he said finally, raising his head to look at Remus directly, his expression flat again. "It'll bite us in the arse later if we don't."
"Don't," Conor said from where he leaned on the wall not far from them. "Without the unified pack he's nothing." He held the wound at his side, though his clothes were already darkening with blood, and knelt by his first with a cringe. "Briony," he whispered to her, and pulled at their tie gently, the wolf seeking out hers by nature. Briony. Wake up.
Briony felt herself being pulled out of the blissful oblivion she'd allowed herself to sink into as she thought she was about to die; it was like she had immersed herself in warm water and was resurfacing into cold air. Her eyes slid open, with the immediate knowledge that something wasn't right. Something was, in fact, completely wrong. Images swam before her eyes as she tried to focus them, but one remained. Conor. She tried to speak but no words came.
Conor rested against her then straightened, refusing to give in quite yet to the pain or the exhaustion. No. Not yet. "I'm hurt," he said. I need you, the wolf said. "If I die, I love you. And tell Jane that I love her, and all the others. This is an order, Briony." He kissed her forehead.
Jeremy returned the knife to his belt and looked at Remus. "We have to do something," he said, lowering his voice. "You're just going to let him go?"
Remus didn't answer him right away. He didn't know if he could live with the idea that he let Fenrir Greyback walk if Jeremy turned out to be right and it did come back to bite them - figuratively, he reflected wryly. But he knew that his conscience wasn't going to let him kill someone defenseless, no matter what their crime. "Reckon I might," he said hoarsely. "Conor's right. Without his unified pack, he won't have anything. That might be worse than death."
Briony half-felt Skylar carefully checking her head, and heard her say that she wasn't bleeding. She'd be fine. He's not fine, I'm not fine. Her distress was rising in her throat. "No. You can't," she protested dazedly, ignoring Skylar.
"You're fine. You'll be fine," Conor assured her, and now rested against the floor next to her. "You don't need me now, I've shown you all I can." Don't hold on, there's no point. The wolf nudged hers, almost playfully.
The absurdity of the tone struck her harder than she wanted it to, and her laugh came out mixed with a cry. She knew he was right, the wolf knew he was right, it was like when Geoffrey had laid with her on the floor, dying. She wasn’t ready to lose her father. Years more wouldn't be enough. "I love you." I'd be nothing if you hadn't saved me.
"I'm not dead yet." Conor raised his head to look up at the pair of saboteurs and their Father, and spoke up painfully, "Remus, put that wand of yours to use, eh? Help out a mate."
Remus looked to Conor, his glance softening. There was a dreadful amount of blood. "Of course," he answered.
Well, Jeremy was useless here. "I should see if anyone's dead in that fair fight," he said, backing up. "Keep an eye on Fenrir." He glanced at Conor and Briony, and left in a hurry.
Nobody was dead yet, but Ben's nose was broken and the evidence leaked down the front of his shirt. He ignored it. He'd long since gotten the knife out of Wesley's hand, but he was no less relentless. He shoved the younger man into the opposite wall for a couple seconds of reprieve.
Wesley wasn't having any of that. "Coward," he snarled, going right back to the fight.
Jeremy cleared his throat to catch Ben's attention for a second and pointed at the nearby window as discreetly as he could.
Ben gave the slightest nod and held his ground to the last second. When Wesley was close enough, Ben grabbed him by the shirt front and used the inertia to throw him head first through the window -- the very same window Hati had hexed Wesley through during his first visit to the house.
Jeremy wasn't about to waste any time looking after Wesley or any of the fighting, this was about his people. "Conor's in trouble," he said, and that made it real. In trouble, what a nice way to gloss over it. Agitated, the wolf pressed him. "Conor's dying," he said.
Ben spat -- bloody, he could still taste it -- and contemplated it. David, Adam, and Jane should be leading the Death Eaters back. Tom had run out the back to send up the sparks when he and Sky had followed Remus to the front. "Our other wands will bring them back. We have them on the run, they'll be gone soon. Then we can take care of them. " All the same he moved past Jeremy and back into the entryway, not bothering to check Wesley.
Jeremy followed and looked down at where Remus knelt next to Conor, his expression automatically going grim. "Fucking hell," he said, and gingerly stepped past them to cast a Mobilocorpus on Fenrir. He pulled the knife from his belt again. "I'll be right back."
Eyes went to him; although Remus felt compelled to speak, he doubted Jeremy would pay him mind. "Jeremy..."
Jeremy rolled his eyes. "I'm not going to kill him," he said, a bit exasperated. "I'm ending the fighting." He let Fenrir's head whack against the door as he pulled his Father outside, where more of the fighting was actually taking place. "HEY," he shouted, and when that wasn't effective, he cast a Sonorus charm on his throat and put the knife to Fenrir's. "Hey!"
Well, now there were even more eyes on him. Stares. He spoke without hesitation, but not without obvious weariness. "The war is over. Fenrir Greyback is at our mercy as are all loyal to him. The unified pack is now disbanded; go home, if you still have one. Everyone... just go home. And those loyal to Fenrir had better get the fuck out of here before we get to them." He lowered the knife and with a flick of his wand sent Fenrir flying into a heap on the grass. "Take him, we don't want him."
He took the Sonorus charm off and entered the house again, leaning heavily against the door. "There," he said. "Happy?"
Remus couldn't really say that he was. So he said nothing. Ben touched Jeremy's wolf briefly, before extending the same courtesy to Conor. "I have to say that I was hoping our next meeting was going to be under better circumstances, friend," he told him.
Conor smiled thinly, returning the gesture though his wolf was already growing weak. "Busy few years," he said. "Have you been taking care of my niece?"
Ben returned the smile. "Trust me when I say she's more than capable of taking care of herself -- Sky, what are you -- "
“Your nose,” she said pointedly, moving her hands away from his face. He made a face at her and she gave him a look of her own in return. “Set it or let me, or it’s going to heal crooked.”
Ben assented. Do it. She lifted her hands again as Ben braced himself on her shoulders. She gave a silent countdown, after Remus hesitantly spoke, “I could -- “
But before he could finish his sentence, Skylar’s fingers deftly put Ben’s nose back in place with a slight crunch. Ben winced and held his sleeve under his nose to keep it from bleeding more. He turned his attention back to Conor. "Jane's been nothing but a credit and a compliment since the minute she showed up at our door."
Said credit and compliment was currently racing out of the woods and across the lawn, narrowly in front of David. They were some twenty feet in front of the two Death Eaters, and behind them even were Hati and Tom. Her lungs burned with the oxygen intake. It was over. They'd won. The Death Eaters needed to stop chasing them and get the hell out.
Alecto stopped as the house came in sight, and a familiar heap of old clothes and long hair was in front of it. She felt her breath catch in her lungs. "Amycus," she got out. "Amycus!" She grabbed his sleeve and pointed.
"I see," he snapped. "You heard him, things are finished here." He could not make himself care about the werewolves and whatever little tiff they were sorting out here to make it worth his life, or hers.
"I'm not leaving him here," Alecto insisted, frantic, her heartbeat loud in her ears. "We can't leave him here!"
Adorable. "Then I suggest you muster your considerable reserves of energy and side-along him the hell out of here." A hex caught Amycus and he tripped and slid a considerable distance. He grasped, but his wand had fallen from his hand.
Tom caught up to the Death Eaters, and he put his foot solidly on the man’s chest, keeping his wand trained on the woman. "You are going to gather whatever wolves want to go with you - if any would be so crazy -- and you are going to leave. None of you are going to come back, ever, otherwise you will not be leaving again. I'm understood, amn't I?" he concluded sharply, leaving no room for disagreement or discussion.
Alecto had never hated someone, perfect strangers or otherwise, quite so much in her life as much as the man who stood in front of her now. "When we return, we won't lose," she spat at him. "Release my brother, now."
His contempt was more than equal to hers. He lifted his foot from Amycus's chest and nudged his shoulder. "Go, get out of here."
Alecto glared contemptuously at the wizard before going to check on Fenrir. She levitated him to his feet and brought him over. "All of the werewolves loyal to the unified pack, come now, this is your chance," she shouted. Much to her surprise -- though she would never admit it -- some came forward to back their fallen leader.
"What the hell," Jeremy said under his breath, watching a small group of werewolves gather around the Death Eaters.
"It's the old ways, Curenton," Conor laughed weakly, and rested his head against the ground once more.
"You're good. But you're not that good," Ben joked dryly, and looked out the open door at the group - and others running back towards the house, Jane in the lead.
Jane took the steps up to the door two at a time. "They're going," she announced, stating the obvious out of relief. If she said it, it was real. But at the same time, she knew it wasn't over.
Conor sat up immediately at the sound of his niece's voice, winced, but pushed past the pain though the wolf protested. Accept it. Stop. "Jane." Briony winced through the pain that radiated over their tie. She too looked up at Jane; she wasn't sure that there would have ever been a day when she was glad to see her, but today seemed to be the day.
Jane couldn't breathe, couldn't speak. They hadn't seen each other in years, and now he was hurt. Her wand dropped from her hand as she scrambled to him, falling to her knees somewhere in the space between and threw her arms around him, a distressed noise escaping her throat. She wasn't too careful, it didn't seem to matter, not now. She could feel the blood staining her shirt front, he was soaked with it.
There was no tie; he had to speak. "I love you," Conor whispered to her, his hand loosely on her back in comfort.
"I love you," she answered automatically, but no less heartfelt. "How -- how bad is it?" She hated how little and young she sounded, a person who'd witnessed the things she had and done what she'd done had no right to such a thing.
"We'll see, I wager," he said, as wry as ever. You're dying, the wolf told him, and he closed his eyes.
Jane chortled; being mortally wounded didn't change some things, she supposed. "I'm glad I got to see you again." Even like this, she'd take it.
He looked up at her, serious and pale for once. "I thought I might not."
"Proved you wrong, didn't I," she said, returning his wry tone. She touched a hand to his forehead.
Briony could feel the tie slacken, almost fade. She momentarily panicked and wordlessly pulled again. She picked her head up off the floor and laid it back down on Conor’s chest; something she hadn’t done since she was much smaller. She had never wanted to do this again.
Conor looked between his two girls and smiled a bit, and kept a brief grip on his tie with Briony, giving her wolf a gentle nudge before finally closing his eyes.
Jane chewed on her fingernail. The silence was downright oppressive. "Bri?" she asked, hardly able to stand it.
The older girl shook her head. She didn't trust herself to say anything. That would make it real.
Ben felt as though the rest of them were intruding, but it couldn't be helped. It was undoubtedly the most peaceful end anyone would be going to that particular day. He hugged Sky closer to him, and she squeezed in return as he looked around. David and Jane were both there, but… "Has anyone seen Adam?" he asked quietly.
"Adam's dead," Hati said from the doorway, her voice flat, her gaze set on the ground. "They got him."
"He's in the woods. Not very far in," Jane echoed numbly.
Keith stopped halfway down the stairs, taking in the scene, but more to the point wondering if he'd heard right. He reached to Ben, questioning, Adam? Ben wordlessly touched back to his son and nodded. Keith cleared his throat. "Edward is upstairs, Hati. He wanted me to find you," he told her gently, respectfully.
Jeremy finally spoke up from where he stood, arms crossed tensely over his chest. "We need to start helping the injured," he said. "Remus. Let's do what we can."
Hati looked down at Conor, her stony facade lowering for just a moment before she stepped over his body. He wasn't there any longer, just as Adam no longer was, and she hadn't lost Edward.
Remus nodded to Jeremy, but didn't move until he attempted to touch wolves with Briony. She reacted hardly at all. "Yes, let’s," he responded verbally, but didn’t move.
"Most are out the front," Tom cleared his throat, feeling as though he could do little else but make an attempt at being in control. "If there are dead, line them up along the side of the house. We'll bury them all regardless." He stopped at David, uncharacteristically silent -- not that he was to be blamed for that. "Let's find your brother," he said quietly.
David looked around at the others, then nodded to his father, stuck his hands in his pockets, and started down the steps of the porch.
Ben cleared his throat. "Keith. Let's take him out," he said quietly. Keith nodded and began down the rest of the stairs.
"Not now," Briony said before she could stop herself. She knew how things should be, what she should and shouldn't do, but none of the rules seemed to apply anymore.
Ben kneeled on the opposite side of Conor's body from Briony, next to Jane. "Briony, listen to me. It won't be any easier if we do it later rather than now. You just got thrown down the stairs, you have to rest -- "
"I said no." She lifted her head only enough so that she could look Ben Skoll in the eye, still clinging to Conor's chest, with the wolf at the front of her gaze. Neither of them flinched or even moved.
With a silent push for help from Ben, Skylar knelt behind Briony and touched her back. "Bri," she said gently. "He's not there anymore. You know that. Let them take the body outside."
Briony sighed painfully, and after a long moment, she nodded. Still, she could not bring herself to move. She closed her eyes against everything else, so that it was her and the wolf. He wasn’t breathing. He was dead. It didn’t make any more sense and it wasn’t any less real. She fed everything she was feeling to the wolf, not wanting to feel any of it. It seemed like it threatened to kill her, too, from the inside, without bleeding or loss of breath, and she almost wanted it to. The wolf chastised its girl for the thought, and she whimpered at it. She didn’t want a reminder in how pack worked, or to be reminded of all the reasons she should be okay. Conor was dead.
Skylar touched her shoulders, and when she wasn’t met with any resistance, she pulled the younger woman up by her shoulders. Briony wasn’t quite ready to be upright, her head still whirled and throbbed when she moved, and she began to fall backwards. Skylar artfully caught her by the shoulders again, and eased her back into an embrace. She touched her wolf to the girl’s; it seemed to be in a similar condition to Briony herself. “It’s okay,” she murmured, brushing her hair back and holding her like she would have done with Gemma.
Jane was watching blankly, and Ben caught her attention. "More people might need healing or help, Jane, if you can," he said gently, and nodded to her. She nodded in return with the same look, blinking and swiping at her eyes with the sleeve of her jumper before she went for the back door.
Without further delay, Ben nodded at Keith. "On three," he said, preparing to lift Conor's body from the floor.
Ben and Keith carried Conor's body past, and Remus released the breath he didn't know he'd been holding. He tried to be philosophical about it all -- everything that had happened, to have a way to process it. But he was coming up with nothing. He glanced at Jeremy.
Jeremy felt Remus looking at him. "I'm going to stay here and fix it," he said. "Do what I can to help settle things." The war was over and all he could think about was his kid. But it couldn't be over, just like that. He couldn't leave the job half-done just because he missed Julia. "We can help heal them. We... we could take them to St Mungo's, even."
"We could. If they'll go," he replied, pushing his hair back. "Some of them we might not have any choice."
"Well. Let's go clean up the mess we caused," Jeremy said, wry, and drew his wand. "Wish I hadn't had to use this."
Remus looked at his own wand. "Seems to me you use what you have available to you," he said idly. "Let's go, out front's a good a place as any to start."
Jeremy nodded and left before he could think twice about what had just happened. The war was over, but the problems had only just begun.