Authors: dramaturgy and thinkatory
Rating: Heavy PG-13, R (for violence)
Word count: 12,774
Era: The First War Against Voldemort (1970-1981)
Characters: Remus Lupin, MWPP/L, Fenrir Greyback, many, many others
Chapter Summary: Jeremy stormed into the room, an open copy of The Daily Prophet held above his head like it was an explosive. "What the hell is this? Am I the only person who read this, or are people just choosing not to tell me what's going on? I'm fighting a war out there and people don't even have the decency to tell me that the Ministry is practically declaring war on us? And what the fuck is Wolfsbane?"
Author's Note: Sorry about no updates last week, real life caught up to both of us. Please drop us a line if you like it, or you can add the comm for automatic updates to your flist!
Time dragged on at Hati's pack house. Each day seemed longer as minutes wore on and they waited for word from Curenton, or worse. It was as though they half-expected Fenrir and his pack to show up on their doorstep without any kind of warning, so they were always ready. It was an exhausting state of paranoia, but necessary for their preservation. It had never failed them yet, at least.
Tom was not the sort of man to worry until worry came to him. His wife was always busy and thinking forward down every possible path, enough for the both of them. She was in such a heightened state now, although understandably so. She'd retreated to an upper room of the house, as was usual for the afternoon, and he was in the front sitting room in an armchair near a window, reading the most recent edition of the Prophet. Rather, he was ignoring what looked to be a rather obnoxious editorial, What Will The Ministry Do About The Werewolf Problem? Tom personally thought that if ingenuity were frosting, the Ministry wouldn't have enough to cover a teacake, but it was obviously not at the top of their list at the moment -- not that that was a terrible thing.
He'd settled into the serenity of the late July afternoon, the silence for once in the house being calming rather than eerie, when the window beside him shattered with a crash and he felt a hex whiz over him, ruffling his greying hair. Once he'd recovered he looked out the window and perhaps just as he should have expected, saw Adam, David, Edward, and Jane staring back at him with identical looks of sheepish surprise.
David was the first to recover from the surprise, lowered his wand, and gave his father a big wave and cheerful smile. "Hi, Dad!"
"How're things inside?" Adam asked in an identical tone with a big grin.
"Breezy," Tom answered wryly, crossing his arms.
"To be fair, there was good reason for that." Edward stuck his hands in his pockets, grinning.
"Dueling! We're practising in case the Death Eaters show up," David said, gesturing emphatically with his wand.
"Don't think if, think when," Edward said, sounding just as severe as Hati often did. "That's what Hati says and that's what we're going by."
Tom glanced at the mark on the wall behind him. "Ah yes," he said. "Well, your aim could be better," he called back to them. "You could start with that."
Adam looked at Jane, the guilty party. "Well. It usually is," he said.
Jane's cheeks blushed crimson. "Sorry," she called.
David sidled away from Jane before he said, "Apparently her aim is only perfect when she's got a Curenton in her sights."
"At least I can take a Stinging Hex," she shot back, brandishing her wand again.
Adam grinned. "Oh come on, Janie, there's absolutely nothing undignified about rolling around in the grass going, 'Ow, you wee bitch, that hurt -- '"
"She cheated!" David pointed out. "I hadn't quite got my wand out yet but there she was, hexes a-flyin' -- "
They were back in their own world, dueling, defending, and breakneck speed at both. Tom shook his head and calmly Reparo'd the window before turning to see about removing the hex mark from the wall.
"You're not going to get any different treatment from Death Eaters in a duel," Jane returned, easily blocking David's own Stinging Hex. She saw movement out of the corner of her eye and before there could be any further reaction she turned in the direction. "Expelliarmus."
"PROTEGO!" Julia was not used to casting a Shield Charm, and definitely not with that sort of lightning reflex and half-panic. Jane's Disarming charm bounced off the shield harmlessly as the force of it pushed Julia back off her feet and she landed on the ground. Jeremy had been right, keeping prepared had proved better than not. "It's just me," she called back experimentally, hands up.
"It's Julia," Edward said to the other three at the sound of her voice. "Don't kill her, Hati's orders," he added to Jane with a smirk.
"I wasn't going to kill her," Jane returned.
"THAT WAS AWESOME," Adam declared with a laugh as Julia picked herself off the grass and got steady on her feet again. "No vivisection here, Edward, I think we're safe from mam on this one."
"Well. At least you're quick," Julia muttered, red-cheeked and brushing herself off.
"Is this business or pleasure, do you have a message?" David asked, curiously watching the girl approach.
"Business," she answered immediately, showing him the parchment before replacing it in her pocket. "So, ah, if I may..."
Edward hopped onto the porch and opened the door for her. "She'll want to see you. I'll get her," he added.
"Thank you," she said, passing the others (warily, despite the fact that a shot had already been taken at her for this visit) as she entered the house.
He passed by her and ascended the steep stairs without hesitation, giving the slightest indication he could over his tie to Hati that he was on his way.
David entered the house before his brother and Jane, and considered Julia before spotting something in particular. "Is that a ring?"
Julia's attention broke from watching Edward climb the stairs as she had been, to the three who now considered her intently. "Oh." She looked down at the ring she wore on her left hand, the ring that had formerly been Jeremy's grandmother's wedding ring, now hers. "I -- yeah, it is."
"Jesus. Curenton wastes no time," Adam said, peering at it.
"I'm amazed that he has time to get married, let alone find a ring," Jane answered.
"Well, honestly he didn't, it was his grandmother's," Julia said. "And... well, we made time."
"Somehow I'm not surprised," David said wryly. "Trying to take down the unified pack isn't challenge enough, he's got to get married."
Julia gave a small laugh. "Well. They've each got their own little challenges."
"Oh, this is fantastic. Ben needs to hear this," Adam added, and Jane nodded in agreement.
"Er, well, I didn't really mean to interrupt things around here - " Julia started.
"I'll get him," David volunteered, and went to go track Ben down.
"Oh, trust me, it's not just you. You just happen to be something new to focus on, we're just basically sitting on our hands," Jane told Julia.
"Yeah, we get bored of teasing Janie here," Adam agreed, and jumped when Jane poked him in the ribs. "I mean, there's only so many times we can make the jokes about Curenton -- although I have to say you lot take it very well -- "
"I guess it just goes with the name," Julia replied dryly.
"What, the target for your front?" Adam joked.
"The one for my back as well."
Ben came in from the back of the house with David close behind him. "All right," he said in his serious business tone once he spotted Julia, "did David tell me right or is he pulling my leg?"
"Er." Julia was beginning to be overwhelmed, she wasn't used to this much attention from anybody. Not even from her new in-laws. "Depends on what he told you?"
"May I present to you, Mrs Jeremy Curenton," David announced, looking past Ben.
"Last chance to deny the whole thing," Adam grinned at her.
"Oh, no, that part's true," Julia said, and then showed the ring again without another word.
Ben smirked slightly and then shook his head. "I swear, I don't know how he does it," he said.
"A lot of balls and no sleep," she muttered, putting her hand back down.
David grinned. "That's how we do things here, too!"
"Yeah, but I don't remember any of us getting married recently," Ben said.
"Well. Of course not, we're busy people," Adam scoffed.
"Too busy to go to the Ministry, at any rate," David said, but straightened when he heard the distinct sound of someone coming down the stairs.
There was a shift of energy and decorum in the room, and Julia prepared herself mentally for business as she turned to face the stairs again. She lowered her head in a respectful greeting, giving Hati or anyone else the chance to speak to her first.
"You have a message." Hati appraised the girl as she approached. "Yes?"
"Yes," she answered quickly, and pulled the parchment out of her pocket. "With his greetings, etcetera," she added, holding it out to the pack leader.
Hati pulled Edward closer with their tie and had him read the note with her. After a pause, she looked up. "His plans are going well, he says, the unnameds are making a smooth transition from the unified pack into the Den and into the Muggle world."
"Into the Muggle world," Jane said sceptically.
"It's -- it really is working quite well," Julia said. "It's... in simple jobs, but enough that they can be independent." She glanced back at Hati and fell silent, embarrassed. Interrupting and talking too much in general was not usually a problem she had.
Edward's hand flew over his mouth as he read the parchment, but he lowered his hand quickly as Hati struck him with the power of the tie. "He projects that it'll be a few more months before they'll consider having the unified pack declare war, and -- " he stopped, staring at the parchment.
The silence was tense for a moment, and Ben cleared his throat. "And what, Edward?" he prodded calmly.
Edward hesitated, but Hati nudged him to go on. "And two weeks ago, Fenrir executed Laurel," he said, a bit shaky.
Jane clapped a hand over her mouth, and Adam's eyebrows jumped into his hairline. Julia swallowed but said nothing. The silence was shocked. Ben shook his head. "I can't believe it."
"He -- he said he would," Jane recovered.
"He wouldn't lie?" Hati said shortly to Ben.
He shook his head. "Not about something like that," he said. "Certainly not to you, and not with -- his wife delivering the message for him."
Hati looked back at the parchment and reread the words a few times; the blood rushed from her face and she said, "Well. He's proven himself and I'll no longer doubt him. That's all, everyone go back to what you were doing, girl, you're free to go when you like."
"Julia," Edward said softly, urgently to Hati. "Her name is Julia, you might do best to -- "
"Julia," Hati said tersely, cutting Edward off as she looked at Julia. "Your -- ah -- husband is a cunning man. You should be proud."
Her cheeks warmed. She might get used to the word one day, but it wasn't going to be today. "I am, thank you."
Hati gave her a stiff nod and put her hand on Edward's shoulder, leading him to the front room to find her husband. "Have to keep an eye on Curenton," she murmured to him.
"Never let him stay overnight," Edward muttered in response, amused to draw a smile from her.
"Aw, she likes you," Adam winked at Julia.
"Stop teasing her," Jane said. "She tied the knot with Curenton, I think that qualifies her as 'passed' for whatever messed up initiation ritual you boys come up with."
"So he really got Laurel killed," David repeated, still a bit surprised. "It's a good thing he's on our side."
"A man like him with all the knowledge he has is a dangerous man," Ben acknowledged, "and he actually bloody well did it." There was a part of him that still couldn't believe it. He shook his head again and looked at Julia. "Will you be staying?"
"No, I... should really be going," Julia answered. "It's been a busy couple of days and... well, I'll have to go back to work and things'll be back to -- where they were." Not normal. Things wouldn't be normal until she could have Jeremy with her all the time.
"Whenever you're ready, Jane will give you thirty seconds to reach the perimeter," Adam deadpanned.
"That joke is never going to get old," David said, giving a contented sigh.
"I'll give you two five seconds to get out of the house," Jane said, drawing her wand, and before she finished 'one-one thousand,' Adam took his brother by the wrist and dashed back out through the front door.
Ben looked as Jane sprinted after them and the door banged shut. "Just duck when you're leaving if you need to. They won't even notice you've gone if the duel gets heated as it usually does."
"All right," she said, a little amused, but grew serious again. "He was -- " She searched for the words that she wanted to use, and he waited patiently for her. "He said he was going to bring more people, more often. I'll... I guess I'll come when he sends me," she finished lamely.
He searched her face for a few more telltale signs to what she might have been thinking, but found nothing that was not already apparent. "We look forward to more visits from you, Mrs Curenton."
Julia gave a small laugh. "I... goodbye, Ben. I hope I have more good news next time."
"As do we." Especially since good news was going to come increasingly hard to come by. "Goodbye."
She nodded and left by the front door and stopped just short of being run over by Adam, who was chased by Jane and David ran to catch up. She left the house behind her, relaxed since her first visit had been a success (or at least not a dismal failure). She Disapparated once she could, leaving them behind.
Hati watched the girl leave their territory as she leaned against her husband on the couch, breaking the silence only when she went out of sight. "Tom," she said, "I'm beginning to wonder if my allies are more dangerous than my enemies."
"Well," he sighed, considering it and glancing at the spot on the wall from earlier that had not quite managed to come off. "In that case, I suppose you should thank god they are your allies."
"If they are in fact my allies, and remain so," she returned, idly playing with the hair at the back of his neck.
He kissed the top of her head. "Ben trusts him implicitly; he's a good judge of character, Ben," he started. "And really, what other choice is there?"
"I was afraid you'd say that," Hati said wryly, and kissed his cheek. "If he can kill her," she added, reflecting, "he could kill me. That's all."
"Then the last thing he'd see is the business end of my wand," he promised, and thought it through. "Doubt you could keep Adam and David away from him, either…" It was also doubtful that if that were to happen, there would be enough of Curenton left for his pretty young wife to bury. Fortunately, it didn’t seem as though things would go that way.
She nodded, and sat up. "I have to talk to Ben about this. I'll see you later."
"See you," he echoed, squeezing her hand.
Hati kissed him quickly and sent him a fleeting smile, which quickly vanished into her usual formidable look as she went to go look for her counterpart pack leader. There was far too much to discuss, grim things and good things, and even more plans to make with the now steadily approaching war.
Anyone who knew Newt Scamander knew that he did things his own way, without apology. But it wasn't as though he'd been trained for this sort of thing -- he wasn't a politician of any kind, he was a magizoologist who had followed his philosophy of "If You Want Something Done Right..." right into the Magical Creatures office of the Ministry, eventually rising to the top as their Head. Even with all that, there were certain things that were not his strongest points. Speaking to the press, for instance.
Normally, he avoided it. To him, the press was like a swarm of gnats. Very large gnats that talked and sniped and had low standards, but gnats nonetheless. He'd hired a very smart press secretary who managed to take no crap but give none, and usually he let her handle them. But he somehow managed to wind up with Mary Brookstanton on his schedule for the day, anyway. Nettie had taken his cricket bat for safekeeping and he was doing busy work while he waited.
Mary Brookstanton laughed as she left the office of Dolores Umbridge, giving her assistant Kenneth a playful nudge before she checked her watch. She would be a few minutes early to her appointment with Newt Scamander, but the extra time would likely be needed to get him off of the defensive.
Upon being allowed into his office, she tucked her hands behind her back and smiled. "Mr Scamander, good afternoon, it's a pleasure as always."
"Miss Brookstanton, good afternoon," he replied, signing a parchment quickly before looking up, warily. "Please, sit."
She took a seat across from him and within an instant had her quill, parchment, and polite smile ready to go. "I hope that this isn't an inconvenience to you, sir, but the wizarding public is very curious to hear from you, Mr Scamander, and I'm grateful that you allowed me this opportunity."
"I'm sure they are," he deadpanned, sitting back in his chair. The sooner she asked her questions and got flippant, insistent answers from him, the sooner she could get out of there and tell everyone at the newspaper what they already knew about him.
She tapped her quill on the page, looked thoughtful, then asked, "More than any conflict the wizarding world has seen before -- besides the clashes with goblins, of course -- this war against You-Know-Who and the Death Eaters has seen activity and aid from magical creatures. Why do you think that is?"
"Well," he said, looking for an answer that wasn't going to be considered boorish. "While I'm not privy to the inner workings of You-Know-Who's machinations, I would guess that it's going by the adage of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'"
"You think the magical creatures view the people of the wizarding world as their enemies?"
"I think that our history of rocky relations and no real inclination as a whole to change or remedy that has left them feeling some animosity, yes," he said calmly.
"And what have you done or plan to do to bridge that gap?" she asked promptly.
"The Department is finding our hands tied because... certain personnel in other certain Departments are making our jobs impossible to do by doing them for us," he said.
"Oh? What would you be doing, if that wasn't posing a problem for you?"
It doesn't much matter, everyone would be too busy trying to replace Crouch, because he'd be dead or removed. "It's hard to say," he admitted. "The fact is that our offices are finding ourselves understaffed and underfunded. If there weren't a war going on, I'm sure that would be different. Ideally, we would like to make it so siding with Death Eaters wouldn’t be the more attractive option for them."
"You're... underfunded," Mary repeated from her notes. "One would think you would receive any funding you asked for, Mr Scamander, if I may be so frank."
"One would think," he repeated wryly.
"Couldn't you have done something about this before the war? Isn't it the concern of your Department to, well... control and regulate the magical creatures, to make sure that the wizarding public is safe from any magical creature who strays, and to make those magical creatures content with the wizarding world? One would think a decorated, educated man like yourself would have seen a problem like this coming."
"We were controlling and regulating," he said flatly.
She finished what she was writing and had an immediate answer. "Not very effectively, if they can be so easily led to turn against the wizarding world, I must say. What do you have to say to the people of wizarding Britain, who cower in fear at every full moon in case Fenrir Greyback turns his rage on them next?"
Lock your doors and hope that you didn't do anything to piss off a Death Eater this month. "At the request of and in conjunction with Magical Law Enforcement, we've sent out pamphlets to the public detailing how to protect themselves and what to do in case of a werewolf attack," Newt answered blandly. "And I would just add that living in fear has never helped anyone -- doing something to overcome the fear or prevent the dreaded outcome is the best way to handle it."
She raised her eyebrows at him, expression purposefully blank. "Isn't that your responsibility, Mr Scamander?"
He needed his cricket bat. Damn Nettie for taking it. "If I could be everywhere at all times, I suppose that it would be," he replied. "Good day, Miss Brookstanton."
Mary stood, tucking all but one sheet of parchment back into her bag. "Thank you for the interview, sir, I appreciate the time."
I appreciate the yellow journalism. "I trust you can find your way out from here," he told her.
"I know my way around," she said wryly, and left.
Newt closed the door to his office with a curt flick of his wand and put up his feet on the edge of his desk for a moment, reflecting that it could have gone a whole lot worse.
The kitchen in the Den was too small, Brighid knew, but that didn't matter. By sheer force of will, she could teach all of these werewolves how to cook. This was the Plan, as she and Melinda had taken to calling it, and it was working, even if the kitchen was too small and one of the girls had been burned by a saucepan. "We're going to make three basic meals," she began, her tone as bright and friendly as her smile. "The three most basic meals that any restaurant in the United King -- "
There was a sudden crash, and Brighid had the presence of mind to duck as a rock with a note tied to it flew through the window. It landed next to one of the unnameds, who jumped, and Melinda -- who sat nearby -- said serenely, "Please pick that up, Christopher, and don't read the note."
"OWEN!" Brighid shouted at the top of her lungs, stepping over one of the werewolves to find her husband.
Owen had heard something that could be loosely defined as a commotion from his office, and was already on his way to investigate. "Brighid?" he answered back questioningly.
Brighid nearly ran into him attempting to turn a corner. "Owen," she said, a bit breathless, then reminded herself of the situation. She immediately frowned. "We have another rock to add to the collection."
His look immediately changed to match hers as he grimaced. "Honestly? That's the third one this month already, just like clockwork."
She gestured impatiently. "Right through the kitchen window this time! I'm trying to do some good, I'm standing there like Professor Binns droning on and thank heavens I knew it was coming, it would've hit me right in the back of my head. Three just this month and it won't be the last, Owen. Gutless thugs, all of them!"
Christopher held it up. "I didn't read it," he said immediately, as though he was about to be accused of such a heinous crime.
"They don't get to read the rocks," Melinda said, with an affirming nod, and took the rock from Christopher. "Here you are, Owen. The spectacle's over," she added. "Go on, Brighid, I have it handled."
Brighid's eyebrows reached for her hairline. "Are you sure?" she asked. "It's not as easy as it looks -- "
"I've seen you do it a thousand times, no worries," Melinda said, flashing a smile. "Go on, talk to Owen, we'll still be here -- don't touch anything yet!" she added firmly to one of the unnameds, who immediately withdrew her hand from reaching for the pot, and turned back to the Curentons with a smile.
"Just as well, only one of us needs to be righteously angry at a time. Thank you, Christopher," Owen sighed, taking the rock. "Come on, B, you heard the woman. She's got things handled."
Brighid appraised Melinda, who was already continuing the lecture expertly, and only then chose to walk away. "I'm being usurped," she said to Owen.
"Only in the kitchen, darling," he said, already in the hallway and looking at the note. "Curentons," he read in a half-murmured deadpan. "Take your Dark Creatures and get out, you bleeding heart -- oh dear, there's a word that's not fit for mixed company..."
"Is it anything like what you've called Ministry officials?' she asked, amused, as she followed him.
"I have to admit, I've not used this one. I might have to steal it, though," he said, reading it again. "Terrible sentence structure, though."
"It's hate speech, not editorial," Brighid reminded him, and looked up at the sound of a slamming door. "Oh no, what now -- "
Jeremy stormed into the room, an open copy of The Daily Prophet held above his head like it was an explosive. "What the hell is this? Am I the only person who read this, or are people just choosing not to tell me what's going on? I'm fighting a war out there and people don't even have the decency to tell me that the Ministry is practically declaring war on us? And what the fuck is Wolfsbane?"
He stopped, finally took a breath, and said, "Hi, Mum, Dad."
Owen stared at Jeremy for a moment, rock in his hand, openly bewildered. "I'm sorry, you lost me in your tirade. Good evening, Jeremy."
Jeremy exhaled, looked at the rock, then turned back to the unnameds who were still just standing at the door. "Come on, go find somewhere to sit or something, we'll have someone in to talk to you soon enough," he said as patiently as he could manage, and waited for them to leave before he spoke again.
"We'll talk about Wolfsbane some other time," Brighid said before he could start another tirade. "What are you talking about, Ministrywise? I haven't read today's Prophet yet."
Jeremy held out the copy he'd found abandoned in the street, folded to the right article. "Here, where Bartemius Crouch goes on one of his usual impressive rampages, except instead of Death Eaters -- well, he might as well have replaced every reference to You-Know-Who to Fenrir Greyback and every reference to Death Eaters to werewolves. That's right -- we're now a Law Enforcement priority," he completed, and threw the paper onto the ground. "I need a fucking drink."
Owen gave his son a severe look, and continued into the front room. "You should know we don't keep alcohol in the house, and please watch your mouth." He stopped in front of the fireplace mantle and contemplated the rock in his hand before detaching the note and adding it to their collection of rocks previously thrown through their windows or otherwise at them. "Much good may it do them. They don't have any resources, they don't have any personnel, and they certainly don't have any sort of reliable tracking system."
"It doesn't matter, they're sure as hell going to try, and the last thing I need right now is for Fenrir to be laying low. It's not that I want him out there biting people the Death Eaters don't like, but I can't do what I'm supposed to be doing if he's got the MLE leash around his neck. It's not going to end if they arrest Fenrir," Jeremy insisted. "If it was as simple as that we could've just killed him and that'd be it. This is Barty Crouch, he's speaking out against werewolves, he'll find something." He paced, infuriated, too much so to think straight, then stopped on his way back and looked at the rocks. "They're attacking you," he realised.
"They always have been, Jeremy, even in Pembrokeshire, you know that," Brighid said, keeping her tone low and reasonable. "And we established ourselves in a city, we had to expect it -- "
"But since the attacks, there are more, am I right?" Jeremy asked, and snatched a rock from the mantle, tossing it into the air and catching it to feel its weight. "I would get the victims out if I thought anyone would take them."
And you're preaching to the choir. "May," Owen said, putting his finger on one of the rocks. "A note in June. Two more in July," he added, pointing them out in turn, "and three this month."
Jeremy replaced the rock and stared at the collection for a long moment, and brushed his mother's hand off when she tried to touch him. "Terribly ironic," he said. "They turn on all of us when we need them most. Typical, I think. Isn't someone going to tell me what the Ministry's doing with wolfsbane? I can't possibly be more disappointed than I am now."
"You say that now," Owen replied dryly, wondering where to start with the subject of the wolfsbane potion to his son. His understandably irate son. "The wolfsbane potion... was developed by St. Mungo's with Ministry funding with the idea that they could use a combination of wolfsbane and neutralising ingredients and variables to keep werewolves supposedly in their 'right minds' during full moon transformations. It poisons the wolf, essentially."
Jeremy looked at his father in nothing less than shock, and felt the anger of the out-of-control wolf hit him full-force like one of Wesley's kicks to the ribs. "I need to sit down," he said, choosing to be halfway dignified about this as he took a seat and tried to breathe. "Let me get this straight, they're marketing Wolfsbane as a substance to help werewolves be nonviolent during the full moon. Well, let's practise this on Death Eaters, feed them some belladonna drops, see how violent they're feeling." He winced and sat forward, head in his hands. "Christ."
"Yes, precisely," he said, neatly leaving out the part about the man who had died, and who the hospital administration, in their infinite wisdom, had seen fit to name head of the project. He was temporarily spared more questions as he heard the front door open and close.
Julia, as she ever did, first looked into Owen's office and then the front room. She took a breath and said, "Hi. ... What's going on?"
Owen gave her a small smile in greeting. "Jeremy's just heard about the wonder that is the wolfsbane potion, and we got a new rock through the kitchen window."
"Another one?" She frowned, dropping her bag near the chair where Jeremy was seated, where she now routinely left it.
"Barty Crouch promised to deliver up some werewolves, so no doubt he will," Jeremy said, lifting his head. "I know the Werewolf Registry is all but defunct, but they might just come looking for us, I'm not underestimating the importance of this. It's going to stop Fenrir right in his tracks, and that's the last thing I need." With that out of his system, he looked up at his wife. "Hi."
"Hi," she replied, tenderly pushing some hair back off his face.
He looked at her as though seriously considering talking to her or just snogging her senseless, but he went on, "And if I were Newt Scamander, this is the time I'd take to put more funding into the Werewolf Registry before Madam Umbridge and her worshippers could get in my way. I hope I'm wrong, but this -- it matters, Dad." He looked at Julia's left hand and ended up with a bit of a grin.
Even though Jeremy was clearly not checked in anymore but somewhere else with his wife, Owen answered. "I know, Jeremy," he said. "I'm not counting on it happening, but I do know. As for what Crouch promises and what Crouch can actually deliver and put resources into, we'll see. We'll be keeping him honest."
"Always better to be prepared for the worst, is what I say," Jeremy said, calming the wolf with a slow breath and only then taking Julia's hand. "I'll. Yeah. I'll be back. Tell Melinda this'll be a stubborn lot," he added, standing very carefully, a bit shaky.
"Oh, I'm sure she's more than ready for them," Owen said. "But I shall." Brighid took his hand and gently pulled him from the room, not leaving without casting a worried look in her son's direction.
As Owen and Brighid left, Julia gave him a similar look. "Are you okay?" she asked, squeezing the one hand she had in hers.
"I'm -- I'm just starting to wonder if this is a world worth trying to save, that's all," he said. "Barty Crouch, Madam Umbridge, Isabelle Davis, they're busy tearing us down because of Fenrir while I'm doing my best to make sure we even survive Fenrir, what's the point, I could be here with you for all it's really going to mean."
"Come on, sit down," she said, taking him to the couch and literally pulling him down next to her. "It's going to mean something."
He let himself be pulled down. "We'll struggle back to the status quo," he said. "Not an inspiring battle cry, that." His mouth opened, closed, and he added, "Wolfsbane, do you believe it? I wonder how many werewolves died to make that potion work, I wonder how many self-loathing werewolves do die from overdosing -- it's just typical Ministry bollocks, I shouldn't be surprised."
"Just the one, from what I understand," she said, running a finger over the back of his hand. "I don't know much about it, just what your dad's said." She contemplated it for a moment. "Obviously, they tried to shut it up, but it still got out. Your dad was... angry, to put it mildly."
"I don't doubt it." Jeremy could've kept talking about politics, but -- no, he couldn't, not when they were this close. "It won't be long now, I'll be back soon," he said, before kissing her.
"I know," she said, and she could be patient. She could. "Don't worry about it."
He wanted to tell her about the sickening façade he’d taken on, the lies, the murder. He didn't, and just took her hand. "I love you. I really do." The corners of his mouth tugged into a slight smile. "Julia Curenton."
She just smiled, and curled up against him. She could feel everything that still bothered him, it was in his muscles and how she fit against him. She ignored it. "Love you," she answered.
He kissed her forehead, brushed her hair away from it, and went on. "I'm sorry, I just like the way it sounds." He considered that, and added, "Your family may not, but I do."
"They'll get used to it." She hadn't even told them about the actual marriage yet. There had been so little time between when she finally announced the engagement to them and when they'd gotten married, that she hadn't been able to stand the thought of handling another reaction in that amount of time. It had, predictably, not gone very well.
"I don't get any less of a werewolf each year," Jeremy reminded her, "and I definitely won't get any quieter. If they hate me now it's not going to get any better."
"And I don't get any less sure of what I want," she said, not moving a bit. "They don't hate you. If anything, they hate me."
He smiled a little. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"Fine. They can hate both of us."
"They probably wouldn't hate you if you weren't with me," he reminded her. "If you were running around with a Quidditch player..."
She didn't answer for a long time, unsure of why she was even participating in this conversation. "If I were running around with a Quidditch player, I'd probably also be doing something incredibly stupid and self-destructive," she said, absently twisting her ring, as had become her habit.
"At least they wouldn't be throwing rocks at you," he concluded, kissing the top of her head. "It doesn't matter. Soon I'll be able to yell at them myself."
Frobishers don't yell. We are quietly stubborn until our sisters flip out, our mothers cry, and the men get silently contemplative. "Yeah. You will, I'm sure," she answered.
"I don't yell that much," he added. "Only when it matters."
"You don't," she conceded.
He looked at her for a moment, then said, "I'm going upstairs. You can come with me, if you like."
She sat up and straightened herself out, before leaning back over to him and lightly kissing his cheek, jaw, throat... "Can't think of any place else I want to be."