A Touch of Moonlight
Written by ilene
story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK
Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury
Books, Scholastic Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made
and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter Two: A Meeting Over Tea
Remus walked down the alley toward Grapple’s establishment again, a few
days after his successful interview. He was going to meet his partner, Silver,
this afternoon. He wondered where the code name had come from, and hoped
it wasn’t a reference to jewelry. Not that merely touching silver had that
much effect on him, beyond a slight sensation of heat as if he’d been splashed
with hot bath water, although it would start to burn his skin if he had prolonged
contact with it. The special protective cream that his mother sent him every
month, which he rubbed onto his hands every day, meant he could handle Sickles
with no ill effects. Still, he wanted as little trouble as possible.
He still felt lucky that the blade in Grapple’s office had contained no
silver; if it had, the simple Remedio Healing
Charm would have had little effect on the wound. Not to mention I’d have
screamed like a cat in heat, he thought, remembering a youthful accident
involving the family silverware. Not exactly a great way to impress your
He knocked on the door, expecting Grapple to meet him again. However, it
was not Grapple’s face that he saw as the door opened. It was a young witch,
barely out of school, it seemed. She had dark, cropped hair, and was dressed
in black robes. Perhaps it was a maid, or the secretary.
“Hello,” he said. “I’m the new…field worker. I think Mr. Grapple is expecting
“Mr. Grapple and I have both been expecting you,” the witch said. “I am
Silver. It is a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her hand. She wore
no rings; in fact, she wore no jewelry at all.
“Nice to meet you, too,” Remus said, shaking her hand. “Please call me…Rouge.”
He felt rather ashamed at his earlier assumption. He could just imagine
what Lily would have said if she’d known about it. Remus J. Lupin,
are you saying women can’t be more than maids or secretaries? He smiled
to himself. The memories were still vivid, but perhaps, ever so slightly
“I have my own office here,” Silver said, as she closed the door behind
them. Remus followed her up a narrow, rather rickety flight of stairs to
the second floor.
“I’ve prepared some tea,” Silver said, as they walked into a small, narrow
room. “Would you prefer cream or lemon?” She gestured toward a round table
at one end of the room. Remus looked at it, hoping it wasn’t a silver tea
service. Unfortunately, it was.
“Well, I hate to sound ungrateful, but…” Remus looked at some books that
were piled on a small desk not that far from the table, as he quickly tried
to think of an excuse. Touching the cups shouldn’t be a problem, but drinking
hot tea brewed in a silver teapot definitely would be. He didn’t particularly
care to volunteer for severe indigestion. “I’m feeling a bit under the weather
today, and I don’t think I should eat anything right now. Or drink anything.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Silver said. “Are you sure you should
be here? I can meet with you another day, you know.”
“No, no, that’s all right,’ Remus said. “I can stay.”
Silver looked at him rather doubtfully. “Well, all right, if you say so.”
Remus realized that he probably did look “a bit under the weather”. It
had been more than a week since the last full moon, but it had taken a lot
out of him, as most of his transformations did, now that
he no longer had his friends to keep him company.
“All right, then, will you at least have a seat?” Silver herself sat down,
and tapped the teapot with her wand. Remus sat down at the table as the
teapot poured tea into her cup. He noticed a plate full of tea sandwiches,
and suddenly felt rather hungry. He hoped his stomach wouldn’t start to
growl at an inopportune moment.
Remus put his hands in his lap, then felt something moist touch one of them. He
looked down, and saw what looked like a pale, pink ribbon, that had wound
around a leg of the table. The ribbon quickly curled away from him, then
snaked up onto the table top, into the sugar bowl, and wrapped around one
of the sugar cubes.
Silver noticed what was happening, and smiled. “Please excuse Muffy. I
suppose she’s feeling a little hungry right now.”
“My Puffskein. She has
somewhat of a sweet tooth,” Silver explained. “Though I’m not sure if she
really has any teeth, come to think of it. Excuse me.” She walked over to
the other end of the room, and bent down next to a large wicker basket near
the fireplace, which had a furry, custard-colored ball, about the size of
a Quaffle, inside it.
“Now, now, Muffykins,” she said, in a high-pitched
tone of voice totally different than the rather coolly polite one she had
been using with Remus. “I have important work to do now. I’ll play with
you later, okay?" As she said this, the Puffskein’s tongue
retracted, moving away from the table, sugar cube still firmly in its grasp.
Silver wasn’t that tall a witch, and Remus thought she looked very young
as she bent beside her pet. For some reason, that thought made him slightly
uneasy, and Remus found himself suddenly becoming very interested in a small
green pennant hanging on the mantle. It had some gold writing on it, but
he couldn’t quite make out the words. The moon was a mere crescent now,
and his eyesight was as weak as those of other wizards, as were his other
senses. In a few days it would be a new moon, and he would actually feel
normal – as normal as he ever could be.
“Now, then, let us get down to business,” Curie said, as she returned to
the table. She hoped Rouge wouldn’t suddenly collapse on her, or worse. The
sunlight pouring through the windows made him look even paler than when she
had seen him on the night of his interview.
She again wondered what had made her uncle choose him. Sure, she’d heard
him speak that name, of the One-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named, and calmly pierce
his thumb with the point of a dagger. Her uncle had definitely seemed impressed by his bravery. But
she wasn’t sure how much all of that counted, if he was too sickly to work. She
supposed that might be why he was satisfied with a part-time position.
“Since you’re not going to eat, let me clear these away.” She picked up
the plate of tea sandwiches and placed them on her desk, being careful not
to knock any books over in the process. She couldn’t help feeling a little
annoyed, though she supposed Rouge couldn’t help being sick. If she’d known,
she’d have used the time she’d spent making those sandwiches to catch up
on reading about Magical Pest Control. If I were him, she thought, I’d
be polite enough to at least take a few sips of the tea. It’s not like I
poisoned it or anything. She stifled a sigh as she picked up a roll
of parchment that had her week’s schedule written on it.
Curie managed to summon a polite expression by the time she sat down at
the table. “So, Rouge,” she said, “I understand Mr. Grapple has told you
about how jobs are assigned.”
“Yes,” Rouge said, “All of the cases that come in by owl are read into the
main fireplace at sunset, and anyone who’s free can take whatever jobs are
“Have you met Madam Nichols?”
“I haven’t had the chance to meet her, unfortunately…but I know she’s in
charge of giving out all the jobs.”
“She is in charge of the cases that are read at sunset.” Curie corrected. “But
there are many cases that are not. Mr. Grapple himself reviews the most
serious cases, especially those that are brought to him in person. There
are also emergency cases that require an immediate response.”
“Serious cases…I suppose those cases involve Ministry of Magic Class Five
“Known wizard killer, impossible to domesticate? More or less,” Curie said. “Class
Four cases too, depending on the circumstances. Class Four and Class Five
require at least two wizards…sometimes more. A few months ago we had a case
of a Gringotts guard dragon that escaped into the
“But the Gringotts vaults are underground already…”
“Not that kind of underground, Rouge,” Curie said. “The Muggle Underground…where the Muggle trains run in tunnels under London. That case had to be handled by ten of us, including Mr.
“Ah,” said Rouge. He seemed to look at her with newfound respect. Curie
wasn’t sure if that was for her knowledge of Muggle trains, or because of
her involvement in the dragon case. She supposed it was just as well that
he didn’t know that all she’d done was guard the tunnel the dragon had escaped
into, to make sure no Muggles wandered into it. She hadn’t even seen the dragon
“So, Mr. Grapple personally assigns the most serious cases. He also usually
reads the emergency cases that come in at night, when Madam Nichols is not
“So Madam Nichols gives out emergency cases that come in the day?”
“Yes, Rouge,” Curie said, trying hard not to sound impatient. “She reads
those into the fire, of course. Let me demonstrate.” She took a small bottle
out of her pocket, shook out a bit of Floo powder
onto her palm, and flicked it toward the fireplace.
The fire flickered for a few moments, then with
a slight “pop” the head of a middle-aged witch in a mobcap appeared in the
midst of the flames.
“Oh, hello, Miss Cu…er, Miss Silver.” Madam Nichols
said, speaking very quickly. “I have a case that just came in over Floo, if you’d like. Young Danny Baddeley just
saw his Muggle neighbor put out a dish of food for a Knarl,
wants someone to come catch it quick, before it can rip up her prize tomatoes
again. Seems the last time it happened, he wound up being taken away by
the Muggle please-men, who thought he was the culprit.”
“Sorry, Madam Nichols.” Curie said, cutting her
off before she could go on further, “I’m not looking for any cases right
now. I just opened the fire to demonstrate our system to my new partner.”
“Oh…sorry about that, Miss Cu…Miss Silver, I mean. Of course, your new
partner, Mr…Rouge, I believe? Please, have him come over! I’d love
to meet him.”
Rouge shot Curie a quick look, of something like amusement, before stepping
over to the fireplace.
“Yes, I do see him now, quite a handsome young man, I see! Very pleased
to meet you, Mr. Rouge. Mr. Grapple is quite keen on you, you know. Please,
stop by my hearthside later when you have time.”
“Pleased to meet you too, Madam Nichols,” Rouge said politely.
“Oh, please call me Hetty, everyone else does.”
I don’t, Curie thought. She supposed that she was the only worker
who called her Madam Nichols. Childhood habits die hard, I guess.
“Thank you,” said Rouge. “I’m in a meeting with Miss Silver right now,
but I’d be happy to meet with you afterwards.”
“All right, then, Mr. Rouge,” Madam Nichols said, “I look forward to seeing
you!” There was another “pop”, and Madam Nichols’s head disappeared, though
her voice remained connected to the network. Curie could hear her offering
the Knarl job to a witch named Pearl.
“So, that’s how it works,” Curie said, flicking another bit of Floo powder
to silence the fireplace, then turning back to Rouge. “With the cases that come by Owl,
Madam Nichols Floos the letter to whoever accepts
“I see,” said Rouge.
“For non-urgent cases, Madam Nichols contacts the client and tells them
to either owl or Floo us. For
emergency cases, we usually Floo to the scene right
“Not every wizard can Apparate, Rouge,” Curie
said, trying to sound as polite as possible. “And with Floo,
Madam Nichols can quickly send us through.”
“Of course, I understand that,” Rouge said.
“I suppose that is about all. We collect the payments from the clients
ourselves, and drop the company’s share
into the large cauldron in Madam Nichols’s office. Did Mr. Grapple give
you the sheet for calculating the amount of payment?”
“Yes,” Rouge said. “Two Galleons for Ministry of Magic Class One; Five
for Class Two; Ten for Class Three; Twenty-Five for Class Four; and Fifty
for Class Five.”
“That’s per worker, of course. Minus any damage to client property…”
“Damage?” Rouge asked.
“Well, of course, sometimes it’s very hard to properly dispose of dangerous
creatures without, uh, some degree of damage to surrounding objects…”
“What kind of damage?” Rouge asked.
“Oh, you know, sometimes a misdirected spell can cause, say, a brick or
two to fall out of place…” She could feel her cheeks warming.
“Yes, I suppose,” said Rouge.
“When do you start work?” Curie asked, hoping to change the subject.
“Mr. Grapple said I could set my hours after consulting with you,” Rouge
“Oh?” Curie said, feeling a little better. “Well…my schedule is rather full
this week, but if you want you can come along and observe a case or two this
week. Then we could start accepting two-worker cases next week.”
She pushed the teapot out of the way, and unfurled her parchment schedule
on the table.
“It’s mostly Magical Pest Control work,” she said. “Here’s one: tomorrow,
at noon. Job: Chizpurfle infestation of Crup and...hmm…various
magical objects. Client: Fabrianne Grant. That should be fun. Here’s another one.
Job: Gnomes and Jarveys invading Muggle neighbor’s
garden. Client: Mrs. Baddeley. Honestly, why don’t they just put up an invisible
“Well, if they did, then we wouldn’t have any more work from them, right?” Rouge
“Actually, you are right,” Curie said, smiling. At least he has a sense
of humor. “As you may have guessed, we do get a lot of work from the Baddeleys. They
have this huge garden, but they’re not exactly skilled at pest control...their
pests keep invading their Muggle neighbor’s prized tomato patch. That
should make for a lot of exercise. Why don’t you come along on that one? It’s
a case of two species, so we’ll be charging double anyway. The Chizpurfle case,
“But we’re not out to defeat the Crup, are we? So
it’s actually only one species, the Chizpurfle…”
“Honestly, Rouge, have you ever tried to catch a bunch of Chizpurfles?”
“I wouldn’t say a bunch of them, but I have handled Chizpurfles, yes.”
“Well, were they at full strength? Because when they are, Class Two does
not begin to cover it. I’d want to charge double anyway. They swell up to
the size of golf balls!”
“You know, those little white balls Muggles use
when they play golf,” Curie said, tracing a circle in the air with her finger
to indicate the size.
“It’s a game Muggles play,” Curie said, rather
exasperated. He really knows nothing about Muggles,
does he? “They take these long sticks and hit the golf ball with it.
They hit it into a hole at the end of a field. The fewer number of times
you have to hit the ball to get it into the hole, the better your score is. My fa-” Curie suddenly cut herself off. No, I’m not going to
talk about him. Not with this wizard I just met.
“Anyway, my point was, Chizpurfle infestations
can be really hard to fight. So, if you wouldn’t mind helping me with this
case, I’d appreciate it. I’ll even split the money with you, okay? Same
goes for the wonderful garden menagerie at the Baddeleys.”
“Well, then…okay,” Rouge said.
Curie noticed for the first time that Rouge’s robes were patched at the
elbows, and seemed a little small for him. He probably needs the money, she
thought. And from the way he looks, he might have Mediwizard bills
“Good, then. Did Mr. Grapple give you a schedule sheet?”
“Yes,” said Rouge, pulling out another roll of parchment, and a quill. He
licked the end of it, and started reading the cases from her paper, as the
quill began to write.
“Ah, you have a Quick-Quotes Quill? I’ve heard they come in pretty handy. Rather
“Yes,” said Rouge. “A…friend of mine gave me a set.”
“You write a lot, then?”
“No, it’s not that. I…injured my writing hand once, and my…friend thought
they would help me in class…I was still at Hogwarts, then.”
“Oh, so it’s not like you got hurt fighting some terrible monster?”
Curie was quite surprised to see Rouge’s face turn even paler; she hadn’t
thought that was possible. “No, of course not. Not
too many terrible monsters run around inside Hogwarts, you know.” He suddenly
grabbed the quill off the parchment, as if he’d just realized that it was
still writing, and quickly rolled up the parchment.
Maybe it was some kind of beast, she thought. After all,
that Forbidden Forest is pretty notorious for
having everything from centaurs to werewolves running around in it. But
she supposed that whatever it was, Rouge wasn’t in a mood to discuss it.
“So,” said Rouge, “Is that all?”
“Yes,” said Curie, “I suppose that’s all for now. Let’s say we meet here
again tomorrow…around fifteen minutes before noon? Then we can just Floo over
to the Grants’ fireplace. ”
“All right, then.” Rouge tucked his quill and parchment away. “I suppose
I’ll be going, then.”
“You really should stop over at Madam Nichols’s office,” Curie said. “She
might have more to tell you…and her hearth-baked bread is delicious. You
can take it home, if you don’t feel like eating now.”
“Sure,” said Rouge. “Thank you.”
It seemed to Curie that, for whatever reason, Rouge wanted to get out of
her office as quickly as possible. She was too perplexed, though, to feel
that insulted. Strange, she thought.
Remus left the Grapple establishment a few minutes later, a loaf of Hetty Nichols’s
banana bread tucked under his arm. He was painfully aware of the parchment
in his pocket, as if it was burning a hole in it. You’re an absolute
idiot, he thought. Like you didn’t think Sirius wouldn’t get you
the most top-of-the-line Quick Quotes Quills out there? Of course it would
write down what you were really thinking. He was pretty sure Silver
hadn’t read the parchment, and he was quite relieved. He definitely didn’t
feel like explaining to her what the quill had written…
I bit myself on my
writing hand once when the moon was full, and Sirius thought they would
help me when taking notes in History of Magic, especially since I tended
to fall asleep in that class anyway…
At least he’d managed to stop the Quill before it wrote down that soon after
that, his friends had finally succeeded in becoming Animagi. He’d have to copy the schedule again when he got
home, by hand this time. At least he had something extra to eat, to tide
him over until tomorrow.
He dipped his hand in his pocket and clutched the Quick-Quotes Quill in
his fingers. He’d almost thrown it away, once, along with everything Sirius
had ever given to him, but somehow, he hadn’t been able to go through with
it. When did you turn, Sirius? I know you weren’t always what
they all say you were. Questions came to his mind, unbidden, questions
that had plagued him for three years. What did Voldemort promise you? Or
did he trick you? Did you blurt out the secret without even realizing what
would happen, like you did with Snape…but then,
why kill Peter, Sirius? Why?
Stifling a sigh, he Disapparated.