Authors: dramaturgy and thinkatory
Rating: Heavy PG-13, R (for violence)
Word count: 12,047
Era: The First War Against Voldemort (1970-1981)
Characters: Remus Lupin, MWPP/L, Fenrir Greyback, many, many others
Chapter Summary: Jeremy shrugged. "Fenrir sent his assassin to Hati's pack to kill some people and we need to know if something happened and warn them if he hasn't made a move yet. Neither Remus nor I can go -- if he's there, he'll recognise us." He glanced at Remus, then said to Julia, "He's being humble. He's Fenrir's named first, his heir."
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Meanwhile, Julia had Apparated to Hati's pack, as usual landing in the woods just beyond the treeline. Unlike last time, however, she unceremoniously dropped to her knees and vomited into a low shrub at the base of a tree. "Ew," she murmured, spraying some water in her mouth with an aguamenti and swishing. She hoped that wouldn't happen again when she returned to the Den. She spat, moved to one side of the tree, and leaned back against it and let her eyes close for one second. A few more seconds, and then she'd pull herself up and go to the house.
Julia's eyes flew open and she looked up, finding Jane staring down at her curiously. "Something like that," she said, and took Jane's outstretched hand for the help up. Her knes were slightly shaky, but not so bad. She had work to do. "I need to see Hati, soon as she'll see me."
Jane raised an eyebrow. "All right," she said warily. "Come on, I'll take you in. Are you sure you're all right?"
"Yeah. Just a rough trip, like you said," she replied, brushing her hair back.
"Never threw up after a rough trip," she answered, but dropped it a second later as she began to lead Julia back to the house.
"Jane!" The door flew open as they reached the porch and David stuck his head out of it. "Get in here! Dad and Mam are dueling, we finally convinced them!"
"Shakespeare the way it's meant to be done!" Adam yelled after him,
"Ooh." Interest undeniably piqued, Jane simply pulled Julia into the house behind her. Julia, despite the urgency put into the message by Jeremy, wasn't sure that she wanted to get in the middle of that, just from how it sounded from the door.
David ducked as he entered the room as he heard his mother send an Electrifying Hex at his dad, which ricocheted off his Shield Charm and hit the wall right where David's head had been. "Julia's here!" he shouted to the assembly. "But keep going!"
"Don't worry, it'll be seconds. Minute, tops," Adam told Julia, and watched as his mother managed to block the Stinging Hex. "Ah. Well, maybe make that minutes," he amended.
Oh, sod it. "I'm sorry to interrupt," she started, feeling slightly ridiculous yelling over the duel going on in their front room, but it was the only way she would be heard. "But I've got a message from Jeremy, and... it's terribly urgent."
Hati lowered her wand, then blocked the last hex and turned to the girl. "Let me see it then," she said, then added to her husband. "Don't worry, Tom, it's not over yet."
"I was just getting warmed up," he joked.
The colour had left Julia's face again, but she pulled the parchment out of her pocket and handed it to Hati. "I'm going to sit," she announced needlessly before she did so, it seemed better manners to just sit before being invited to do so than to fall over because her knees felt like jelly.
Edward immediately took his spot beside Hati again as she unfolded the note. "Longer than before," she announced to everyone, then her eyes widened and she fell silent until she knew how to process what she'd read. "Someone will be here to try to kill the wands here," she said, and handed the note to Edward. "Go on."
Edward cleared his throat and read aloud, "Wesley of the Greyback pack is likely poised outside your borders waiting for night to fall. I hope this gets to you before he arrives so you don't suffer the fate of Conor's pack. If he gets in, if you capture him, you can't let him know that any of you expected him to be there. You can't reveal us for what we are. And if he discovers us -- "
Hati shattered the window with a hex and shouted "Petrificus Totalus!" A body landed with a hard, audible thump outside. "Adam! Go, now, I think we found our spy."
Jane had already started dashing out the door before Adam caught the neck of her shirt. She glared up at him and they had the briefest battle of wills. "Go find Ben," he told her. "You can take a shot later if you're good."
"I wasn't -- ngh," she gave a frustrated noise before she ran to and then up the staircase, calling for Ben, and Adam went in the opposite direction, back out the front door and to see what his mother had managed to petrify.
"That was fucking brilliant," David exclaimed, nudging his mother's arm. "You just blew him away, Mam, I haven't seen you do that since the time Ben -- "
Hati raised her hand to silence her son. "David, I need you to only talk when you have something totally necessary to say or if you're questioned specifically. Everyone, quiet," she said urgently to the gathered pack, and turned to see Ben. "Oh, thank God. Ben." She waved him over.
Ben stopped briefly at the doorway and assessed the room, his eyes finally landing on the window. "You didn't throw someone out of the window, did you?" he asked, and heard Adam outside, advancing to look outside.
"No, I just stopped an intruder," Hati said idly, and held Curenton's note out to Ben. "Read. Keep reading after the mad part, it gets better."
"Death Eaters," Edward said under his breath, touching wolves with Hati just for affirmation that they had this handled. "Here he comes."
Hati stepped forward and touched Julia's shoulder. "Julia, you might want to step out," she said softly. "This isn't something Jeremy would want you to see, pregnancy or no."
Julia looked up at Hati like she'd been caught at some wrongdoing. Maybe she really did know things. "I'll... step out," she agreed, a little dumbfounded, but she stood and left the room.
Ben watched her go, wondering. He supposed Hati would know, but it was really not at the top of the list of things to worry about right now. "So we have a guest," he said, he could hear Adam clamoring up the stairs now, dragging a person. Trouble had finally arrived at their door.
Hati gave a short nod and walked past Ben towards where Adam deposited the intruder on the ground. She nudged him with her foot and the wolf came to the front of his eyes, but she stared him down. "You're on my territory," she said. "I don't know who you are, but you're on my territory." She abruptly removed the totalus and Leg-Locked him, pinning his arms to his sides with another easy charm, readying him to speak. "I'm listening whenever you want to confess."
Wesley squirmed until he gave up and shouted at her, "He was right, you're a witch, you're no pack leader at all!"
Ben came forward and glanced down at him. So this was Wesley, Fenrir's infamous assassin and weapon. "Regardless, you're in her territory, not to mention bound and at a terrible disadvantage," he said coolly, matching him wolf with wolf. "So it could possibly be in your favour to cooperate instead of being difficult."
"Release me. You're in no position to make war with us. If you leave a single mark on me you'll regret it for the rest of your life," Wesley snarled, and spat at Ben's feet. "Release me if you know what's good for you!"
“Oh yes, you must be Wesley.” The distaste on Ben's face was clear. "Given that you are an infamous sneak and murderer and in our home, I don't think we'll be doing that," he said, and looked at Adam. "Did you search him?"
"Of course," Adam replied, digging in his pockets. He kicked Wesley's feet out of the way to Ben, and he wielded a wand that had been in Wesley’s pocket, as well as two knives. "Ready to do his business, no doubt."
Hati knelt beside Fenrir's disturbed little boy and patted his face. "We're smarter than you think," she informed him. "We know your tricks, after observing them for the past few years. And we -- " she considered Curenton's plans, his words, and went on, "We are more than ready to face you on our own terms."
Ben couldn't help but smile grimly. "Does your Father really think he could take us down with his lies and whatever power they bring him? We challenge him."
"You're ours! You're not a real pack, you're run by -- women and wizards and unnameds, father-killers!" He spat again in Ben's direction. "You'd do best to give in now, while we'll give you mercy. Once the Death Eaters are by our side, you'll regret ever raising a wand against us."
Ben leaned over and backhanded Wesley across the mouth, remaining on his level. "If I did it in my pack, what makes you think that it would be so difficult to do in yours?" he demanded harshly. "Let Fenrir bring his power to bear. We are ready."
Wesley stared at Ben Skoll, the wolf nearly gaining control, his disdain overwhelming him even as he contemplated his possible death. "Are you going to kill me now?" he asked, straightforward, staring into Ben Skoll's eyes. Because if you don't, I'll kill you the next chance I get.
Hati cleared her throat. "Step back," she demanded to the rest of them, and pressed her wand to Wesley's Adam's apple. "You're going to carry our message to Fenrir," she said calmly. "You're going to tell him that we are ready, Death Eaters or no, whatever he wants to bring, we are ready for him." She slashed open the side of his face with a hex, wounding him deep, and then a second across the other side of his face, but he barely reacted to the pain -- the wolf fed on it, and he simply looked infuriated. Homicidal. Ready to kill her. Exactly what she wanted.
She stood. "We have drawn first blood," she said. "Now we escort him from our territory and prepare for the possibility that the snake might try to slither back into our house. Jane, take him as far as you please and release him, and all wands will patrol. First blood was drawn tonight and it wasn't from ours. Go," she ordered Jane, and stared down at Wesley. "We're not afraid of you. Bring your worst."
Jane would just as soon leave him in the woods for dead, but she stepped forward and Levitated Wesley without a word besides the incantation. She maneuvered him out the door with as much care as she could manage to give, which wasn't to say much. His head barely cleared the lintel.
Hati walked after them to the door, watching until they were a safe distance away before returning to her pack. "I like to think that we might have handled that without warning, but I doubt it," she said. "It would have been a very different scene. Where is Julia?"
"Here," a faint voice called from the short hallway to the back part of the house. She sat on the floor and leaned her head against the door jamb. She hadn't made it any further than that and while she mightn't have seen the exchange, she'd heard it all. That was Wesley. That was one of her nightmares that didn’t have a face to disturb her sleep, and it had been less than twenty feet away.
Hati gestured her back. "Come back. Edward, something to write with, we're sending Curenton a message back. Will he still be there?" she asked Julia, now that Edward was off in a hurry.
She pushed herself up. "He was... yes. I'll see him tonight, if not when I get back right away," she answered.
"Good." Hati looked to Tom, reparo'd the window, and said to Julia, "You're free to go whenever you like. If you'd like some help getting home, my sons can help."
She felt ridiculous for blushing -- again, always and forever -- but she had the feeling if Hati could see right through her, it probably wouldn't be long before Brighid would, or Owen, even Jeremy. "I'll just wait for the note. I'm sure I can manage otherwise, thank you," she said.
Edward set the writing supplies down on the table and sat down beside them to watch what Hati would write. Hati nodded to Julia and scribbled out a quick note regarding exactly what had happened, and folded it in half. Edward. When he took it to her, she sighed and said, "Tell him what you heard, if he has any questions. I trust you to give an honest account. Also... best of luck to you, Julia, as this may be the last time I see you. Be careful."
She tucked the note back in her pocket. "You too," she said, clearing her throat. "All of you," she added, although she hoped it worked out that most of the people in the room would still be breathing after what was to come. She left the room, and the house, bracing herself to Apparate as soon as she could.
Her feet touched the grass in front of the Den again, and she stood still for a moment, until she was sure that she wasn't going to be ill again. She scaled the stairs and entered the house. "Jeremy? Are you here?"
Jeremy jerked awake from the half-doze he'd fallen into and looked over at Remus after a moment, only then asking aloud, "Was that my wife, or did I dream that?"
Remus looked up at him over the edge of the newspaper that he'd been devouring, and glanced at the doorway. "I think that it was your wife," he confirmed calmly.
She heard the voices responding, and she looked into the front room. "There you are," she said, with a bit more relief than she meant to give away, and collapsed onto the couch before she did anything else. "I -- I have a return note..." she added, reaching into her pocket.
"All right, let's see it, no one died, right?" How could he be so stupid as to doze right on the couch like it was any day? There was a war on. Guilt washed over him and he forced himself to shake it off, touching Julia's arm and just being patient.
She laughed, although there wasn't really anything funny about it. It was just one of the cry-or-laugh days, she supposed, although she felt dangerously close to the former. "Not this time," she said, pulling the parchment out, and handed it off to Jeremy. Remus sat up, paying attention as well.
"'Thank you for the warning,'" he read aloud softly. "'We caught Wesley lurking outside our house and disarmed him. I drew first blood myself, and Ben and I both declared war in so many words. Your plan is working to perfection, and we will be prepared.'" He lowered the note and sank into the couch with an unmistakable sound of relief.
"It was. Fast," Julia offered, now reclined back into the opposite corner of the couch.
Remus was silent for a long moment. "Well. It looks as though things still run in our favour, so far," he said.
"We have to get back to the pack with news before we can pat ourselves on the back too much." Jeremy opened his eyes and pushed himself up and out of the inviting warmth of the couch. "Julia, I'll be back. And we'll talk at my next trip, when you're feeling better."
Remus folded the newspaper and set it back on the chair. "Goodbye," he tactfully told Julia and sidled out of the room, giving them another moment.
Julia, however, was very nearly beside herself, overwhelmed at the speed of which things were happening and how much she just wanted him there. She would have him forever, eventually. But she wanted now. She swallowed and gave herself another few seconds before she could speak. "Hurry it back, then."
Jeremy kissed her briefly. "I'll see you. Soon I'll be back. Soon this'll be over. October," he added, standing. "Should be October."
October was not very far off. She nodded. "I love you. Be careful, please," she added hurriedly.
"I will. Don't worry," he called to her as he went to meet Remus at the door.
Remus looked up at Jeremy's entrance. "Ready?" he asked. He had to admire the kind of resolve it took to walk away from her all the time, and choose this until it was over.
For his part, Jeremy was tired, and for the first time he wondered if he could make it through. "Ready as I'll ever be," he said before Disapparating.
Ready as he'll ever be. "Nicely put," Remus sighed and shifted back into 'privileged first' mode before following him.
As much as Remus had been avoiding it, he was coming face to face with his mortality. The Order had been one thing, a battle with the unified pack, even if he had a wand, promised to be bloody and relentless. Even if it was going to be seven wands and all of Hati's wolves against the pack and whatever Death Eaters showed up, it was still an outcome that they could only predict so far and it certainly wasn't one that they could fix. So it was crashing in on him like it never had before.
Not that there was much to it other than thinking about it. It wasn't as though he had any worldly possessions to write a will over, even an informal one. He just had his friends. Or the people who were once his friends, anyway. It was pretty clear as to what he'd made himself in their eyes - or at least Sirius and Peter's. He hadn't seen any of them since July, in Godric's Hollow. He took his chance to visit - maybe one last time - long before his absence would become especially notable at the pack. He Disapparated directly from his room (he still found it odd, not a single Apparation ward on the place) and reappeared in front of the cottage in Godric's Hollow.
He was waiting for some signal of disapproval or annoyance from the wolf, but it didn't come. It wasn't a good sign, for things to come either at the full moon or immediately. If it was showing some sign of being present, at least he knew and could control it, sort of - when it went silent was when it was its most dangerous. Before he could reevaluate it or give a second thought to any of this, he let himself in the front gate and knocked on the door.
James had just put Harry down, and as he went back to the front room, he heard a knock on the door. He doubled back and asked, "Password?" He could only hope it was any of his mates, because being in hiding was getting old really fast.
"Some are living and some are dead," he replied quickly. "It's Remus," he added in a tone that sounded pleading to his ears.
James opened the door without hesitation and looked at Remus. "You look like hell," he said, lost for any other words.
The greeting caught him slightly off guard, but he managed a tight smile. "Well. Better than I thought I looked, then," he said, running a hand over his hair self-consciously.
"Sorry, no offence, but you do. Get your arse in here, Moony." James laughed and ushered him in.
If he only looked like hell, he supposed he was doing something right, then. He stepped in to the house, and tried not to feel uncomfortable. But he did. "I -- I'm sorry, not that I'm not glad to see you, but is Lily here as well?"
"No, she's on Order business, it's just me here." And not Peter or Sirius. He never thought he'd be happy to not have all three of his friends in the house at once. "If you want, you can wait for her."
"I think I'd like to, thank you." If the pack war did it for him, he didn't want to think he'd gone without seeing Lily – either of them, really, they both deserved a better friend than he. "Is Harry well? He must be growing at an alarming rate."
James grinned at that. "You just missed him, he's down for a nap. Come on, sit, you want a drink?"
"I would, thank you," he said with a nod.
He poured them both straight alcohol -- Remus looked like he needed it. "Things are getting bad, Remus."
"I've -- " I've heard was coming out of his mouth, although he wasn't going to lie to people he never saw. It was bad enough he was away, and the things that had come between them because of it. "I've only managed to get my hands on a copy of the newspaper very recently," he said. "But I suppose their story is hardly the half of it."
"Not half of what's really going on. I don't think I could even explain everything if you stayed here all night," James said with a short laugh. "We're fighting on a lot of fronts and we're losing on a lot of fronts. Benjy's dead," he added abruptly, as it occurred to him. "Funeral was yesterday."
It jarred Remus, badly. Another of the Order was dead. "Dead," he said shortly, and swallowed. "How?"
"Reductor Curse." James set the glass in front of Remus and sat down beside him. "A strong one. They didn't have a body to bury."
"Merlin," Remus breathed. He twinged and hid it with a drink of the alcohol. You weren't nearly so upset at the death of your unnamed sister. Laurel, Benjy, they hardly equated, for many reasons.
"Yeah." James took a long drink and set down his glass hard. "I haven't seen you in months, Remus."
He rubbed his eyes. "I know," he said quietly. "I know, nobody's seen me." The tension was already beginning to mount behind his eyes in anticipation, and he pushed it down. You're not ruining this.
James stayed leaned forward, not looking at Remus. "Well, someone's seen you. Werewolves have seen you. Your best mates -- the ones who became Animagi to help you out -- we haven't seen you, have we?"
No, of course the wolf wouldn't be ruining this. Remus did a great job of doing that sort of thing alone. "No. You haven't. Please, James," he said, quite sure it wouldn't end with him just asking like that.
"I don't care what you have there. Honestly, I don't care," James admitted, grabbing his glass again to refill it. "We need you here. We needed you here, and you weren't here to help us. We've been facing an entire war without you."
"I've been facing an entire war without you lot," he snapped quickly, and immediately taking a mental step back. See, he doesn't understand and he doesn't care -- shut UP. "You may not care, but we've been on our own front," he said, a bit closer to his normal calm.
"I'd care if I knew! That's the closest you've come to telling anyone anything in years, I'm no Legelimens, I can't just read your mind!" James exclaimed, then lowered his voice when he recalled Harry was upstairs. "How was I supposed to know? I would've tried to help!"
"It's not something that you could just jump into in your normal style, James," he said. "The only reason I'm -- " He stopped himself. 'I'm only on the inside of everything because I'm supposed to be Fenrir Greyback's right hand' did not do much for his credibility, nor was it even what he wanted.
"Forget it," James said, dismissing it with a wave of his glass. "No really, forget it. I know the drill. Tell us enough to keep us from throwing you out on your arse, but never enough so we actually know what's going on."
Remus closed his eyes, subtly rubbing his temple. He wasn't angry, no, this wasn't anger. It was desperation to be heard when he wasn't sure what to say, to be understood when he didn't understand. The wolf lashed out, wounded from being ignored and pushed out of the way for what the man wanted. Not for the first time, he really wished that being a werewolf was what most of the wizarding population thought it was, because their perception did not include this.
God. His head hurt. But nobody would believe the half of it. "Is that what you'd like to do then? Toss me out?"
"Sirius and Peter wouldn't have even let you in, Lily and I are the last ones that even trust you," James retorted. "I don't want to have to, but you're making it really difficult to trust you."
It was catching, the laugh-or-cry mentality, but being mentally stretched as thin as he was, Remus could understand it. In the Order, amongst his friends, he was not trusted and in the unified pack where he was trusted completely he was working to undermine the entire system. It was ironic in an awful way. "No, of course I am. I realise that," he said, nearly hysterical.
"Then do something, anything, so we can trust you again. Anything," James stressed, and grabbed Remus's shoulder to give him a slight shove. "Do something! Lily's out of her mind trying to fend off everything the Order is saying and all the looks they're exchanging, can't you do anything?"
He kept a tight hold on the wolf, keeping it away from the surface when James shoved him. He forced himself to not react more than pressing his fingernails in the heels of his hands. Lily would never stop. "I'm sorry," he said, pushing himself back into a forced calm. "I know none of you will see any of it, but -- " He stopped. He could talk all day, but he'd never be able to tell James or fully convey exactly what it is they were doing. It wasn't going to change anything.
James stood and picked up his glass, distancing himself from Remus as far as he could without leaving the room. "Go," he said. "Go, unless you have something to tell me, go. This is my house, where my son and my wife live, and I -- " I can't trust you here.
James didn't need to complete the sentence, Remus understood perfectly. He stood up and silently began to walk out, and stopped at the door. "Something's going to happen. Soon. If this is the last time, I'm sorry, and thank you. Please tell Lily that."
Without waiting for acknowledgement or answer, he left by the front door and pulled the door shut tight behind him, something ready to burst either from his chest or his head, neither sensation was exactly welcome or pleasant. He pushed open the front gate and surrendered control for once to the impatient and angry wolf just before he Disapparated.