This story was
inspired by characters and events created and owned by J.K.
Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended. The idea that Remus Lupin fancies
swing and big band music was taken from the movie version of Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban. This story includes partial song lyrics to the 1944 popular
standard “Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye” by Cole Porter.
In the Department of Mysteries, Albus Dumbledore quotes from the fourth chapter
of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Remus Lupin stumbled down the
stairs to the basement kitchen of Grimmauld Place.
Fatigue from the previous night’s battle at the Ministry mingled with his grief.
He swiped a grimy hand across his brow. He couldn’t deal with that memory now. Just wanted to forget.
He inhaled, expecting the smell of
frying eggs and toast that usually greeted his return from missions for the
Order. Sirius’ sullen, grey eyes would glower at him over a cup of black coffee,
angry that he had been confined to the old house and missed out on all the
action. Remus would fill him in on the details of the mission. Then those haunted
grey eyes would sparkle and glint. Here’s
what we ought to do next…
But that morning Sirius was not in
the kitchen waiting for Remus. Cold, grey ash filled the hearth, the fire
extinguished long ago. Empty bottles and half-drained goblets lay on the table,
just where they’d been left the previous night, when the summons had come to
“Sirius,” Remus called out, more
out of habit than expectation.
His own voice reverberated in the
emptiness of the cavernous kitchen, a mocking echo. Of course, there was no
answer. He’d been foolish to expect one.
His shaking hand pulled the chipped
teapot and cup from its berth in the old dresser. He filled the china pot with
cold water and tapped it with his wand, a mechanical gesture. A few minutes
later, he sank into a nearby chair and sipped the steaming brew. But the tea
brought him no comfort.
Remus’ tired eyes swept the surface
of the worn wooden table. His hand shot out to lay hold of Sirius’ goblet, the
one he’d held less than twelve hours ago. His fingers ran over the tarnished
cup and idly traced the Black family crest etched on the side. He imagined his
friend’s hand, still warm with life, clasped on the goblet. God, he couldn’t be
Upstairs in the hallway, the locks
and bolts clicked and turned. The familiar clunk of Moody’s wooden leg sounded
down the passageway. That magical eye of Moody’s was boring through the
floorboards, watching him. Remus released the goblet with a sudden jerk of his
Of course, Mad-Eye would be watching.
That infernal eye had been staring at Remus since the previous night. No doubt
Dumbledore had sent the old man to keep an eye on him. Constant vigilance was
Moody’s byword. A wry chuckle escaped Remus’ lips. Now that constant vigilance
was trained on him. Damn!
An uncharacteristic anger surged up
through his body. He did not want to be coddled. He wasn’t a child or a
dangerous beast that required tending. The full moon wasn’t due for a couple
more weeks. He glared at the wizened and scarred face of the old man descending
the stairs into the gloomy kitchen.
“How are you
feeling this morning, lad?” Moody inquired, both eyes trained on Remus
with a studied gaze.
“Fine,” Remus snapped. He brushed past
the old man, avoiding the piercing stare of the magical eye that followed his
every movement. “I’ll be in my room.”
What had he just done? He paused at
the top of the staircase. He dropped his head. His fist clenched and unclenched
with his building wrath. Remus could hear his father’s words, advice drilled into
him since childhood. We Lupins do not lose our temper. Unrestrained emotion is a
sign of weakness. We face adversity with unfailing politeness and, if possible,
Should he turn back and apologize? He
couldn’t. His fist slammed into the wall in frustration. He was losing control.
His footsteps hastened down the
hallway, speeding his escape. His shoulder brushed against the tattered
curtains that veiled the portrait of Mrs. Black. The drapes wrenched apart with
a violent jerk. The vitriolic screams of the old crone pierced the silence.
“Mutant! Fiend! Abomination of nature!” the old hag in the portrait
shrieked at him. Her eyes bulged from their sockets. The veins in her temples
pulsed like purple snakes writhing across her forehead. “How dare you besmirch my house with your presence.”
Remus attempted to force the
curtains close, but the portrait would not allow it.
“Remove your filthy paws from me.” The old woman screamed with such fury
that spit flew from the gaping mouth. “Summon
the blood traitor, shame of my flesh.”
“I would gladly oblige,” Remus retorted.
His voice quavered with rage. “But he’s…d-dead.” This last word emerged in a
The old woman blinked and stared,
silenced by the shock of the news. “Then
it is true?”
Remus nodded. His throat seemed to
constrict shut. He had said the words that he could not even bring himself to
think moments ago.
The old woman threw back her head
and cackled with insane mirth. Her tormenting laughter caused his blood to
boil. The blood-lust of the wolf buried deep within him bubbled up through his
“Vile, demented, old hag, shut up!”
he roared. “How can you laugh at your own son’s—”
“He is not my son,” she shrieked. “My only son, my good son, died fifteen years ago. And now that the
blood traitor is gone, I rule this house once more!”
Remus’ hand whipped the wand from
his belt. He panted, his breath coming in shallow gasps. Before he could stop
himself, he had uttered an Incendiary Curse.
flew from the end of the wand in a rush of heat. The tattered, threadbare
drapes caught fire. Flames licked at the flakes of pigment on the canvas,
charring the linen underneath. The old hag in the portrait emitted a
blood-curdling scream of terror and pain and shrunk from the fire.
Remus stared at the flames that
licked the portrait. Uneven footsteps and the curses of an old man reverberated
in the hallway. A stream of water shot from Moody’s wand, dousing the fire in a
hiss of steam and ash. Remus turned his head away and shielded his eyes that
now stung and burned. God, what had he done?
When the smoke cleared, he turned
to see the limp body of the old woman, snoring against the charred remains of
the carved frame. Moody’s gnarled hands closed the tattered drapes, now
blackened with soot and smoke. Then those same scarred hands came to rest on Remus’
“Could’ve set the whole house on
fire,” Moody said, in a low growl that Remus knew was meant to sound
affectionate. “All right, lad?”
The magical eye was now trained on
Remus’ face. His rage had receded, leaving only pain and shame. His sleeve
swiped away the tears that had collected in the corners of his eyes. Damned
tears betraying his weakness.
“Smoke,” he whispered. “It bothers
my eyes.” He turned his head away. “I think I need to rest.”
He staggered up the stairs to his
room and pulled the door closed behind him. He walked toward his old gramophone
perched on a little table in the corner. His fingers searched through the dusty
cardboard record jackets of swing and big band music. He selected a collection
of Cole Porter tunes, placed the record on the turntable, and positioned the
needle into the groove. At first, only crackles erupted from the old bell. Then
the expressive voice of Ella Fitzgerald’s singing filled the room.
Every time we say
goodbye, I die a little,
Every time we say
goodbye, I wonder why a little,
Why the gods above me,
who must be in the know,
Think so little of me,
they allow you to go.
Remus stretched out on the top of
the bed and listened. Swing tunes and old jazz normally calmed and cheered him
whenever he felt troubled. Focus on the music. Block everything else out. Don’t
Moody’s ungainly stride sounded in
the hallway outside his room. That penetrating gaze was watching him once more.
He rolled over onto his side, closed his weary eyes, and pretended to sleep. He
lay in silence and allowed the music to wash over him, waiting for the
forgetfulness of slumber.
* * *
Moody drifted off to sleep down by
the fire in the old kitchen at Grimmauld Place.
The scarred and wrinkled head lolled on the old man’s chest. Remus fingered the
small phial in his pocket, a sedative potion that Madam Pomfrey had given him
earlier that week to help him sleep. He had dribbled some into Moody’s dinner
that evening. How clever he had been. The suspicious old man had eaten his meal
without detecting the presence of the drug.
Remus crept to the corner, snatched
up Moody’s invisibility cloak, and strode to the door. At the stairs, he
glanced behind him for one last reassuring look. The watchful glass eye was hidden
under closed lids. His plan had worked. He donned the cloak and disappeared
into the night.
Remus appeared in the halls of the
Ministry of Magic, his Apparition Charm shattering the silence with an alarming
CRACK! Shrouded by the cloak, he slipped into the shadows and made his way to
the deserted Death Chamber. Once there, he allowed the invisibility cloak to
slip from his shoulders. Only his footsteps echoed in the eerie silence. He
picked his way through the rubble down the steep steps, descending to the
raised dais some twenty feet below. He paused at the bottom, glanced behind
him, then approached the ancient, crumbling stone
archway that seemed to defy the laws of gravity. A black veil hanging across
the opening of the archway fluttered, beckoning to him.
“Sirius,” he whispered into the
His voice rebounded off the stone
benches that rose in tiers all around him. The black veil shook with a seductive
tremor. Was someone hiding just on the other side, daring him to venture through
the curtain to find them?
The words caught in his throat. “I…I just came to say goodbye.”
Remus shifted his weight uneasily.
He stared at the floor and ran a hand through his hair. The veil fluttered
again. How? No breeze blew in the cold dampness of the chamber. Was it Sirius?
“I wish that things had ended
differently. It should have been me, instead of you. How I regret that I did
A shuddering sob shook his body. Thoughts
of self-reproach dogged him. Why had he been so quick to believe in Sirius’
guilt all those years ago? Peter had been his best friend. How could he not
have known that Peter was the traitor? Did Sirius know how much his friendship
meant…how much he meant to Remus? If
only he had been bolder. Perhaps if he had stood up for Sirius, this would not
have happened. If only...
He brushed the sleeve of his threadbare cloak over his face and collected
himself. “I…I will miss you, old friend.”
His hand fumbled in the pockets of
his robes and extracted a small flask and the chalice engraved with the Black
family crest. With trembling grasp, he poured some of the liquor into the
goblet. Half the liquid splashed down the side of the cup and spattered his
worn robes. Then he faced the curtain once more and raised the chalice in
“The Marauders salute Padfoot on this…his final mission.” The words came hard. His
voice dissolved to the merest whisper. “Mischief managed.”
He tossed down the liquor in a
single gulp. The alcohol burned down the length of his esophagus. He grimaced.
Then he set the chalice down with reverence at the foot of the archway.
The soft folds of the curtain caressed
his ear. Whispered voices seemed to come from just behind the diaphanous
fabric, summoning him. Was Sirius still there, waiting just on the other side?
If only he could hear that voice once more.
The siren song lured him forward.
The liquor, his grief, and lack of sleep clouded his judgment. He stepped
toward the curtain. It would all be over in a moment. He would be reunited with
his friends. The adventures were not over, they were just beginning. Just let go. Fall.
commanding voice filled the chamber.
Remus stopped and spun around to
face the newcomer. His eyes shot open wide in surprise. “Headmaster?”
Albus Dumbledore stared down at
Remus from the heights of the Death Chamber. The hoary head and snowy beard of
the ancient wizard glistened in the torchlight, encircling the wizened face in a
halo. Light glinted from the half-moon spectacles perched on the end of the
long crooked nose.
“You are no doubt wondering how I
found you,” Dumbledore said, his voice full of tenderness. “Alastor
informed me of your disappearance the moment that you left Grimmauld
Place. I thought that I might find you here.”
Why that old fox! He hadn’t been
asleep after all. How did he avoid that sedative? The old man cleaned his
plate, every last bit. Remus stared up at Dumbledore in disbelief.
“Come away from the curtain,
Remus,” Dumbledore urged, holding out his hand.
Remus shook his head. His pain had
become a crushing weight, anchoring him to the spot. The voices still whispered
in his ear, their enchantments ensnaring his thoughts. Come away with us. Fall through the curtain.
“Of course, I would not blame you,
if you chose that path.” Dumbledore descended a step or two, a consoling smile
on the old face. “I daresay you have endured more suffering at your young age
than most men experience in a lifetime. And the shock of losing a dear friend,
not once, but twice, that is difficult indeed. But…”
Here it comes! With Dumbledore,
there was always a counter argument to challenge what you had already decided
to do. Remus glanced from the archway to the headmaster with a questioning
“I ask you to consider that if you
take your own life, you would be handing Voldemort a victory.” Dumbledore
descended a few more steps, never removing his piercing gaze from Remus’ face. “One of my best generals taken out, without him having to lift a
finger. The Order needs you, Remus.”
An appeal to
duty. A wry smile worked on the corner of Remus’ lips. He had expected
that. He was nothing if not loyal to Dumbledore. But his fatigue was too great.
He was weary of fighting, so tired of losing friend after friend to this cause.
He did not speak, but Dumbledore seemed to read his thoughts.
“Yes, it is hard to lose those we
love.” Dumbledore sighed and moved closer. “Think of Harry and the losses that
he has endured. Without you, Harry would lose the last connection to his
parents that he has left in this world. And, I daresay, he is as broken-hearted
about the loss of his godfather as you are.”
Dumbledore’s trump card. He should have known the old warlock would play
that hand. Remus would do anything for Harry. He hung his head in shame. Sorrow
swept over him in waves. His shoulders sank. His hand swiped away the tear that
trickled unbidden down his cheek.
The ancient wizard was on the dais
with him. The arm of the old man clasped around his shoulder, surprisingly
powerful for one so aged. Before Remus realized what was happening, Dumbledore had
led him from the dais and up the tiers of stone benches.
“‘Though one may be overpowered,’”
Dumbledore mused, “‘two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not
quickly broken.’ Wise words to live by. There is
strength in numbers, Remus. You are not alone.”
Dumbledore led Remus out into a
circular room with many doors. Blue lights cast a melancholy glow over the rows
of portals. The long fingers of the warlock pointed to another door.
“Come,” the old man beckoned. “Let
me show you another mystery, perhaps the greatest mystery of all.”
Dumbledore waved his hand before
the portal. The door glowed with a warm red light, then creaked open. Remus
peered inside. Bookshelves stretched from floor to ceiling, bulging to capacity
with dusty, leather-bound tomes. The room appeared to be a large library.
“What is this place?” Remus
“A place for the
study of the most terrible and awesome of all powers.” A twinkle
glistened in Dumbledore’s kind blue eyes. He gestured for Remus to follow.
Remus followed Dumbledore into the
room and down one of the aisles. The ancient mage scanned the titles, pulled a
tome from the shelf, and handed it to the younger man. Remus blew the dust from
the leather cover of the book and stared at the title printed in glistening
gold lettering. Remus
“This is about me?” Remus asked,
casting the headmaster a quizzical look.
“Yes,” Dumbledore nodded. “There is
a volume in here for each person that has ever lived.” Dumbledore nodded again.
The old wizard conjured a
comfortable squashy chair, covered in red chintz. Remus sank into the cushions,
not taking his eyes off of the book. His shaking hand opened the first page.
Inside were photographs of the people in his life.
The first was a picture of his
parents in sepia tones: his Muggle father, an
eccentric professor in full academic garb, flanked by his doting mother. There
were still photos of his fraternal grandparents and relatives captured in
sienna shades. On the next pages were wizard photographs of his maternal
grandparents in which the occupants smiled and waved. All his family was preserved
in the memories on those pages.
He turned another page to find
pictures of his friends. Sirius, with his black hair and wily grin, waved out
of a photograph from his Hogwarts years. James, in his Quidditch uniform,
played with the golden snitch. Peter, a small boy with watery eyes, darted in
and out of the same picture. Remus remembered the friendships of his youth. The best years of his life.
Then there were photographs from
James and Lily’s wedding. Sirius thrust his shaggy head between the bride and
groom, his face lit with mirth. Remus could still hear the familiar barking
Another page contained pictures of
people from the old Order, including a much younger Mad-Eye Moody, with far
fewer scars and his nose still intact. On the bottom of the page was a picture
of James, Lily, one-year-old Harry…and Sirius. It had been taken just days
before the attack. The last time he’d seen James and Lily alive.
Remus swallowed hard. His hand
brushed back a tear that he had been unable to suppress. Another dropped on the
page before he could check its progress.
Remus asked, glancing up at Dumbledore.
“This is a record of all those who
love you and whom you love,” Dumbledore explained, tears trailing down the
snowy beard. “Past, present, and future. Our loved
ones never leave us. We carry them with us whether we realize it or not.”
Remus flipped ahead several pages
until he found pictures that he did not recognize. He stared at a photograph of
an older Harry Potter, no longer a boy, but now a young man. In Harry’s arms
was a lovely young woman with long, red hair. He smiled, noting the identity of
the young lady.
Then his gaze flicked to another
photograph taken on the same occasion. What was this? He was the subject,
dancing a slow dance with someone. Grey strands streaked his brown hair in
greater numbers and his dress robes looked a bit worse for wear. But his cheek
lay nuzzled against a mass of golden brown curls, his face the picture of
contented bliss. Could this be his future?
“Is this Harry’s wedding?” he
“I see nothing but blank pages.”
Dumbledore’s blue eyes twinkled behind the half-moon spectacles. “Only the
owner of the book can read its contents.”
Remus turned back to the
photograph, hoping for a better glimpse of the woman. She swayed in his arms and
turned in rhythm to a silent tune. He could almost see her face. An enchanting, crooked smile. A rosy blush
creeping across a lovely cheek. Then the picture faded from the page.
He flipped back and forth through
the book. All the pictures from the past remained, but all the futures pages
were now empty. He stared up at Dumbledore in panic.
“They’re turning blank,” he
whispered. “What does it mean?”
“It may be that even the subject of
the book is not permitted more than a glimpse of the future.” Dumbledore
appeared pensive. “Or it may simply mean that we have run out of time.”
Pounding footsteps sounded in the
hallway outside. Dumbledore tossed Remus the invisibility cloak and flicked his
wand. The book flew back to its place on the shelf. Remus jumped to his feet
and pulled the cloak back over his head. The chintz chair disappeared.
Then the door to the room blasted
open. Two Aurors rushed in with their wands drawn, aimed at Dumbledore.
Kingsley Shacklebolt and his muscular associate Dawlish blocked the doorway.
Dumbledore raised his hand to stay the attack.
“No need to be alarmed,” Dumbledore
explained. “Just doing a bit of after-hours research.”
Kingsley was the first to lower his
wand. “Sorry, sir,” he intoned in his rumbling bass voice. “Alarms went off at Auror’s Headquarters. This door is supposed to be kept
locked. We’ve been on high alert, since the break-in last week.”
“As well you should,” Dumbledore
nodded, approaching the two Aurors. “On my way down here, I noticed that the
stairwells are not being monitored. Nor is the second fireplace to the left in
the Atrium.” Dumbledore turned and winked at no one in particular.
“Thank you, sir,” Dawlish replied.
“We’ll file a report first thing in the morning.”
A grateful smile worked across
Remus’ face. He nodded to the headmaster under the invisibility cloak, certain
that the old man’s piercing gaze had somehow noticed.
* * *
More than a month had passed since
his adventure in the Department of Mysteries. Remus still felt the pain of his
friend’s loss, but he was faring better now. He had just come off of a shift
guarding Harry, when the summons from Dumbledore arrived. The portrait of
Phineas Nigellus delivered the message.
“Dumbledore wishes to see you in
his office immediately,” the aged Nigellus drawled with a lazy yawn. “You’ve
been assigned a new recruit.”
“Someone new to
the Order?” Remus inquired. “Anyone I know?”
“How should I know?” the portrait
replied casting him an arch look. “I simply relay the messages.” Nigellus
shrugged and reclined against the frame of the portrait. “But if I were you, I
would hurry along. The interview started an hour ago.”
Remus leapt to his feet and
sprinted to the massive stone fireplace in the basement kitchen at Grimmauld
Place. His hand grabbed a fistful of a glistening
powdery substance from a nearby cauldron and threw the powder into the fire.
Moments later, Remus disappeared amidst the column of green flames flaring in
He stepped out into the
well-appointed office of the Hogwarts headmaster. A meeting was already in
progress. Several members of the Order had gathered in the room to participate
in the interview. Remus could not see the candidate from his vantage point
behind the row of spectators. But he could hear an unfamiliar female voice
The muscular form of Kingsley
Shacklebolt, with a single, shiny gold earring dangling from his earlobe, stood
in front of him and blocked his view.
Next to the Auror stood Severus Snape, his black academic robes wrapped
around his angular body. The two were engaged in a whispered conversation with
their backs to Remus.
Remus stepped up behind them. Since
when was Snape friendly with Shacklebolt? Or anyone, come to
think of it?
“Why does he get all the plum
assignments?” Kingsley whispered in deep base tones that were audible to Remus’
“Because he is and has always been
Dumbledore’s pet,” came Snape’s acid reply with a pronounced emphasis on the last
“What did I miss?” Remus asked.
head whipped around to face Remus with his usual look of loathing. “Speak of
the devil,” he spat. Then his mouth twisted into a sneer. “You really shouldn’t
sneak up on people like that. It is almost predatory. By the way, you’re an
hour late. The interview is almost over.”
Ah! So Remus himself was the topic
of conversation. That explained a lot. Although he hardly considered guarding
Harry from Aunt Marge’s vicious bulldog a plum
assignment. Both the mutt and its mistress had been in belligerent spirits. He’d
had his hands full keeping Harry calm, and even had to hex the pesky pup.
Though he’d administered only a mild shock, the prospect of cruelty to any
animal, even one as deserving as Aunt Marge’s prize pet, was troubling enough
to his conscience. He furrowed his brow. But he wasn’t about to rise to Snape’s bait.
“I just got off my last shift,”
Remus replied. “I came as soon as I heard.” He glimpsed the back of the
candidate from between the two men. “So who is she?”
“A clerk from the Office of
Wizengamot Administration Services,” Snape said. “Recruited
by Arthur Weasley.”
“Pity we didn’t have her last
year,” Kingsley added. “We could have used a spy in Wizengamot affairs when
Fudge ousted Dumbledore from the High Court. She’s in an ideal position to keep
tabs on the court cases of all those Death Eaters imprisoned last month.” Kingsley
nudged Remus with his elbow and winked. “And she’s an expert in Muggle martial arts. Got high marks – a black belt. You
missed a cracking demo. McGonagall conjured an opponent.”
Kingsley pointed toward a pile of
cushions, arranged to resemble a human form, slouching in the corner of the
room. Fluffy wads of stuffing protruded from burst seams. Remus’ eyebrows shot
He shouldered his way forward to
get a better look. The woman sat erect in a low-backed chair before the
Headmaster’s desk. Baggy trousers and a loose-fitting blouse covered her petite
build. A wand handle stuck out from a pocket along her right thigh. She wore
her chestnut hair pulled back in a ponytail at the nape of her neck. Remus
craned his head to get a look at her face, but could not from his position
behind her chair. That’s odd. She didn’t look all that intimidating.
“…Dolores Umbridge,” the woman said.
Remus’ eyes remained fixed on her.
Her conversation with the headmaster had captured his attention. He remembered Umbridge’s condescending toad-like smile and great budging
eyes, when she had announced her latest round of anti-werewolf legislation. The despicable hag. His jaw clenched.
Malfoy has been a daily visitor to Ms. Umbridge’s
office,” the woman said. “Peddling her influence to win
freedom for her husband.”
“Her attentions were not confined
to Ms. Umbridge alone, no doubt?” Dumbledore responded, training those piercing
blue eyes on her.
“No, sir,” she replied. “She has
applied to every member of the Wizengamot, except you.”
“Ah, yes.” A familiar twinkle
glistened in Dumbledore’s eyes behind the half-moon spectacles. “And would you
happen to know the nature of these discussions?”
“Not first hand, sir,” she replied.
“But there are rumors aplenty. Narcissa insists that
her husband was victim of injustice, wrongly imprisoned. She claims that he’d
heard rumors of children at the Ministry that evening and that he’d come to
help, when the Imperious curse was used on him. Mrs.
Malfoy has enjoined Umbridge to champion her husband’s cause. Gold has changed
“Ah, that is not unexpected.” The
snowy head nodded. “But it is good to have confirmation.” Dumbledore’s gaze
scanned the parchment on his desk, then faced the
woman once more. “We can’t have too many spies in the Ministry. I am certain
that you’ll be useful to us.”
The woman leaned forward. “But I want to do more than spy on the Wizengamot.
I’m willing to fight.”
Dumbledore’s face softened. A
knowing glint twinkled in his eyes. “Any weaknesses?”
The woman hesitated. “The Dark
Arts,” she whispered, dropping her head. “I never was very good at…”
“If I may,” Snape said in his silkiest
tones. “I have considerable expertise in this area.” He shot Remus a challenging
look. “I would be delighted to coach our new recruit.”
The woman spun around in her chair
to face Snape. The Potions master inclined his head in a slight nod. She nodded
Remus’ mouth dropped open. The
woman before him was the same one that he had seen in that photograph in the
Department of Mysteries. He’d only caught a momentary glimpse of her face in
that photograph, but he was certain. She was his dance partner.
“Ah, Remus, you’ve arrived,” said
Dumbledore, rising to his feet. The headmaster gestured to the young woman.
“Allow me to introduce Angela Hawkins.” Dumbledore turned to the woman. “This
is Remus Lupin. I have asked him to be your mentor in the Order. He can explain
our procedures to you and answer your questions.”
Angela rose to her feet, turned to
face Remus, and extended her hand. In her haste, her foot caught on the leg of
the chair. With a gasp of surprise, she pitched forward and grabbed Remus’ arm
to check her fall. Then she released his arm and took a step backward. A blush
of chagrin crept over her cheeks.
“I’m terribly sorry,” she said. “So clumsy of me.” She swiped a brown curl from the path of
her sea-green eyes and extended her hand to Remus once more. “Pleased
to meet you.”
Remus could not move. He stared, at
a complete loss for words. His knees had gone weak.
A smirk of perverse pleasure
twisted across the Potions master’s face. “Close your mouth, Lupin,” Snape
hissed in a whisper. “You’re drooling.” Then Snape turned to Angela, took her
hand in his own, and kissed it. “You must excuse my colleague. He is not
accustomed to beautiful women. I believe he prefers a canine companion.”
“Did you say something, Severus?”
Remus asked, recovering and finding his voice at last.
“I was just telling Miss Hawkins
about that mangy, ill-tempered cur that you kept company with last year.” Snape
sneered, still cradling Angela’s hand in his own.
“I love animals,” Angela said. She
withdrew her hand from Snape’s and cast a shy glance
at Remus. “Dogs are such intelligent and loyal creatures. I would love to meet
“Actually, Snuffles had a rather
sweet disposition,” Remus replied evenly. Then he shot a glance at Snape and
added, “Toward most people.”
Kingsley snorted. Snape glared at
Remus with a look that did little to disguise his hatred. Angela did not seem
to notice. Those lovely eyes, deep as the ocean, were still locked on Remus.
“Had?” she said.
“Yes, he’s…he’s dead.” Those words
still stuck in his throat.
“I’m so sorry.” Angela dropped her
“Thank you.” Remus averted his
eyes, then looked up again. “Where are my manners? I’m
Lupus Reemin, I…I mean, Remus Lupin.”
Had he just said that? Warmth flushed up through his cheeks. He felt like a
flustered school boy. A conversation from his Hogwarts days flooded back into
his memory. A sixteen-year-old Sirius whispered in his ear. Oy! Really suave, Moony. Way to chat up a bird.
Weren’t you paying attention?
“What did you say your name was?”
Remus asked. He smiled and held out his hand.
“Please, call me Angela,” she
That charming lopsided grin
appeared on her face. She took hold of his outstretched hand. A barking laugh
echoed in Remus’ head. You always were a
lucky dog, Moony. Snog her for me. And just look at old Snivelly.
Remus glanced over at the Potions
master. Snape’s lip quivered and twitched with
spasms. His sallow face had turned green with envy. Remus did not want to
appear ungentlemanly, but he could not suppress the wide grin that overcame his
From behind his desk, Dumbledore
watched the interchange. His eyes twinkled with merriment behind the half-moon
spectacles. He appeared most pleased with himself.
Minerva McGonagall approached his
desk, a stern look of disapproval on those thin, pursed lips. She studied the
headmaster’s expression, then glanced in the direction
of Remus and Angela. Remus caught the look out of the corner of his eye. His ears
tuned to the conversation.
“Albus, I sincerely hope that you
have not been dabbling in matchmaking again,” the deputy headmistress scolded,
arching a thin brow.
“Whatever makes you say that,
Minerva?” The bushy white brows of the ancient warlock shot up in surprise.
“Curiously, Griselda Marchbanks asked me to give you this.” McGonagall plunked a
large, leather-bound book on his desk. “This photo album was found among the
stacks in the library of the Department of Mysteries the other day. Records
show that you were the last registered user of the library. Madam Marchbanks keeps meticulous accounts of all the books. And
she thought that you might know the owner of this particular tome.”
“Yes, indeed,” Dumbledore replied,
eyeing the book. His hand quickly slid the volume under a stack of parchments
on his desk. “Ah, yes, I may have left that behind. Do thank her for me,
McGonagall’s eyes narrowed with
suspicion. “Albus, you meddlesome old fool, you didn’t?”
“In truth, I cannot deny it.” A
smile twitched under the snowy beard. “After all, without my assistance, there
would have been no Lily and James or Alice and Frank or …”
The library at
the Department of Mysteries?
Remus could hardly contain his surprise. He’d been pranked
by the old headmaster himself. Sirius’ voice intruded on his thoughts. You’re not going to stand for that are you,
Remus glanced over at Angela. A
worthy plan would require some thought. In the meantime, he had a job to do,
one that promised to be very enjoyable. He extended his arm to Angela and gave
a courtly bow.
“Shall I escort you to
headquarters?” he said. “Show you around?”
“That sounds delightful.” Angela
looped her arm in his and flashed him a smile.
Remus glimpsed the deepening scowl
on Snape’s face. He chuckled. The strains of another
Cole Porter tune hummed in his head. Ella Fitzgerald sang that jazzy swing
again in his heart.