The Sugar Quill
Author: Juliane (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Witch Meets Werewolf  Chapter: Chapter Two
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Chapter Two

Remus entered Viviane's room to find her pacing around, randomly banging into the furniture and cursing under her breath. She glared at him as he walked in, saying, "Remus, will you please call off Emma? She won't let me out of here and I'm about to go crazy! I'm fine now, really."

He scrutinized her, and noticed that she was once again moving quickly, her ribs apparently healed from the recent beating. "Hm, you do look better-"

"Good. I have an idea - let's get some food and go for a walk. It's such a beautiful day, and I've been cooped up here for ages. There's a really nice spot down by the creek that I noticed when I was taking the last shipment to Ainsley." She dashed off down the steps, leaving Remus to shake his head and say to himself, "I guess we're going on a walk."

****

As they leaned back against the sloping bank of the creek, dabbling their feet in the water and squinting up at the clouds, Remus ventured a question. "You've mentioned that you have no family. Does that make you an alien or an orphan?"

Viviane laughed. "Orphan."

"May I ask what happened?"

"Oh, the usual. Voldemort had a fit over something and they were in the way. It happened to lots of us. I was away at school when it occurred, and the school wasn't too happy about having a student who might draw Voldemort's attention. So they asked me to leave."

Remus sat up, horrorstruck. "They asked you to leave?"

"Of course. They couldn't endanger the lives of everyone else just because of me. It was different later, in Britain, where Voldemort's modus operandi was well known, whereas we were working in the dark against a power that we did not understand. It didn't matter in the end anyway, because the school was shut down. I had nowhere to go, so I thought Britain as good a place as any in which to disappear. Why stick around to be fodder for Death Eaters?" Her eyebrows slanted towards her nose in a scowl as she hefted a large rock into the water.

"I can't believe they just threw you out. What school was this? Surely not Beauxbatons?"

"Beauxbatons? What a joke, no. My school no longer exists, so it is of no matter; please don't ask where. And you, did you finish Hogwarts?"

Remus fell back against the bank, staring up at the sky as he wondered where to begin and how much to tell her. "I graduated. We were all happy, all ready to begin our lives, when the war started and everything changed. James Potter and his wife, Lily were cut down by Voldemort, leaving their son Harry parentless. Peter Pettigrew was blown to bits in the middle of a street. And Sirius Black is in Azkaban for betraying all of them." Remus paused for a moment. "That's the whole sordid tale, I guess. It was my fault, really; I suspected Sirius but couldn't bring myself to really believe- everything was so chaotic and nobody knew where to turn-"

"Harry Potter? His father was your friend? Oh Remus, I am sorry; I've heard about what happened. And Sirius Bl-"

"I don't want to talk about him."

"Ah. But surely you could have stayed at Hogwarts? As a teacher? Why are you wandering the country with a Frenchwoman of bad temper and dubious reputation? I mean truly, Remus, you don't need to be here, getting mixed up in my problems. You could have a position at the Ministry, or - or anywhere."

Remus bit his lip while viciously tearing chunks off a loaf of bread and hurling them at the ducks sailing by. "Sometimes you just get fed up with everything and everybody. I want nothing to do with the Ministry, and Hogwarts…well, too much occurred for me to be anything but unhappy there." He stared down at the desiccated bread in his hands and quickly set it down, giving Viviane a penetrating stare that made her shift uncomfortably.

"And you, Miss Dubious Reputation, are not all that you seem, or rather, you're more than you seem. Just how wealthy was your family, and how well established? You know far too much about good wine, a fine set of robes, and the niceties of class distinctions, not to mention the odd talent for swordfighting, to be from the average wizard family. What do you think you're doing, working for Mortimer and engaging in various dishonorable-"

Viviane nearly fell into the creek as she jerked herself up on one elbow to glare at him. "Oh, honor!" she scoffed. "To hell with honor. To hell with family. I've seen what a fine sense of honor can do, which is exactly nothing, or worse than nothing. And in the end you're left with your fine sense of honor and the world in ruins." She huffed and settled back down, ripping blades of grass out of the bank.

"So, murdering a man is just a convenient outlet for your overabundant energy? Nothing to do with revenge, or, er, honor?"

Viviane tickled his nose with a long blade of grass. "It gives me satisfaction," she said, her voice nearly a whisper. "What is it to you if I rid the world of some vermin? It was worth every resulting blow I got from Mortimer."

Remus caught her wrist and took away the annoying blade of grass, regarding her with puzzlement. "What the hell happened to you, to freeze you at the core like this? I've seen people emotionally and physically destroyed by the war, but you are-"

"I'm what? I'm just a royally angry woman who isn't afraid to act on it and besides, you have no right to call me frozen. How much more anger can you possibly store away in that underfed body before you go mad? All right, final question. Where do you run off to every month? Got a mistress stashed somewhere?" Viviane quirked an eyebrow at him.

"No. And it's none of your business. Viviane, I want you to promise me that you won't try to follow me, or find out where I go. This is something personal, and it's important to me. Please don't argue."

Struck by Remus' solemn tone, Viviane said, "Of course, Remus. I won't pry." She got to her feet, brushing off the grass she'd torn out of the earth. "I need to go find Mort and find out if I still have a job." She gave Remus a hand to help him up, but retained it once he was upright. "What we've said today goes no further, right? Friend to friend?"

"Friend to friend," answered Remus, giving her hand a slight squeeze before letting go and turning back to the road.

****

When they got back to their lodgings, Viviane headed for the offices behind the bar to talk to Mortimer and Emma detained Remus, who was on his way upstairs, by way of pleasantries and a large glass of ale. As Viviane reached for the handle on Mortimer's door, Damon, his bodyguard, caught her arm. "I see you've recovered, Miss Chance," he said with a grin. "Let me see if Mortimer wants to talk to you."

She removed her arm from his grasp and stood aside with a slight snarl. Damon reappeared and with exaggerated courtesy ushered her into the office where Mortimer sat behind a massive desk piled high with parchment and bags of illicit potions ingredients.

"So my dear, are you back for more? I must admit, I was almost convinced that I wouldn't see you again." He appraised her critically, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms. "You're even tougher than I thought."

Viviane smiled. "It never hurts to be underestimated." She walked slowly along the front of the desk, trailing her fingers on the top, finally stopping to tap them thoughtfully against the surface. "I'm useful to you, am I, Mort?"

"Quite so, when you're not leaving a corpse behind for me to deal with. Is this the beginning of a request for a raise?"

"No. But I want more….latitude in dealing with certain people." Her fingers began to trace the inlaid pattern on the desk. "I must admit, dearest Godfrey took me by surprise; I wasn't expecting a former Ministry official to be a Death Eater as well as an embezzler-"

"You're lucky that he was what he was. The Ministry didn't ask many questions and the matter blew over without too much inconvenience and minimal amounts of Galleons on my part."

"-but if I take more care next time, I want to be able to dispose of people in my own fashion, without a Cruciatus Curse waiting for me later." She finally stared directly into his eyes, and Mortimer, hard man that he was, gave an involuntary shiver.

He got up and walked around to sit on the edge of his desk and, taking her shoulders, held her at arm's length. "Viviane, to survive in this business, you can't indulge in the luxury of personal scores. It's business, not an excuse to run around waving your sword and wiping out whomever pisses you off. Emotion has no place here and it will only get you killed in the end. Choose your fights wisely, and make sure they're about the right things." She continued to stare at him, unimpressed, until he dropped his hands from her shoulders in exasperation. "Whatever world spawned your unlikely self is destroyed; let it go, girl. I'd hate to lose you to your unfortunate yen for trouble."

"I've renounced luxury, Mortimer, and I know quite well that there's nothing left of the person I was and the world I came from. The only thing that remains is a cache of unsettled personal scores, and I'll keep those to remember myself by. But if you give me enough information beforehand on the people I will be working with, I can let you know if they'll be disappearing. Deal?"

Mortimer stood up, surveying her through narrowed eyes. "You drive a deadly bargain, Viviane Chance. I'll agree, on two conditions. If I say no to one of your assassination attempts, you will abide by my decision. Secondly, you're in charge of cleaning up any resulting mess from your murders. I'll not get mixed up in them, and if you get caught I won't know you."

Viviane shrugged. "I accept your terms. Any jobs for me?"

He rifled through some parchment on the desk, frowning as he studied a set of documents. "Not at the moment, but come back early Wednesday. I'll have a package to be delivered to a client in Liverpool. He looked back up at her with a wry smile. "I must say, if nothing else, the mess Voldmort left behind has created some very strange bedfellows. See you Wednesday, my lady."

****

Remus was still chatting with Emma when Anthony Scipio strode into the bar and took a chair next to him. "Remus, I've been looking for you. How about dinner and a look at some new books I've received? The moon is too bright for any stargazing."

"Anthony, that sounds perfect. Do you know Emma? Emma, this is Anthony Scipio, a Healer."

Looking somewhat uncomfortable, he shook her hand and declined the ale she offered him. "Look, Remus, why don't we go now? We can sit in the garden with some wine and the books-"

Viviane, returning from Mortimer's office, interrupted him as she stopped at Remus' chair and looked inquiringly at Anthony.

"Anthony, another introduction. This is Viviane-"

Anthony stood up, looking at Viviane with disdain. "I know who she is. Did you have a productive day? Commit a murder? Or was it your day for extortion?"

Embarrassed, Remus turned to look at Viviane and caught the last flicker of hurt in her eyes before she shrugged her shoulders and said, "I'll leave you and your overly scrupulous friend to your conversation. Goodnight, Remus." She walked to the other end of the bar and Remus looked back at Anthony, who was edging towards the door. "Shall we, and I'll try to explain my rudeness."

As the two men walked through Shipley to Anthony's house, he gestured at the many cheap pubs lining the street, as well as at the rows of empty buildings that were quickly falling into disrepair. "Look at this mess. It used to be a thriving center of commerce, with wand shops, bookstores, a wonderful potions ingredients trader. All gone, now. It breaks my heart, to see what's happened here. First, Death Eaters either recruited the long-established wizard families, or killed them off. Then that bastard Mortimer moved in, and ever since we've been overrun with con men, thieves, and witches and wizards like your friend, who specialize in the murder and extortion of those of us who remain. Remus, do you know what Viviane does? The damage she inflicts?"

Remus, who'd been staring at the ground as he walked, looked up at Anthony and gave him a half-smile. "I've had trouble reconciling myself to many of Viviane's actions. But believe it or not, we're a lot alike. We're both refugees from Voldemort, making do with what we were left. I can't condemn her, Anthony, I'm sorry. Can we just agree not to discuss her?"

"I suppose. But Remus, she can only involve you in serious trouble. You're so much better than that-"

"Please."

Anthony sighed. "All right. Here we are - ready for some decent wine and new books?"

"Always."

****

Viviane was trying to get her emotions back under control as Remus left with Anthony, and Emma came over to pat Viviane's hand. "My dear, Dr. Scipio dislikes all of us. We're part of what he hates happened to Shipley as the result of the war. But he had no right to take it out on you."

"Thanks Emma, but he's of no moment to me. I-" She broke off, turning so pale that Emma stretched out a hand to her, afraid she was going to faint.

"Viviane? Viv, what is it? Are your ribs still hurting-"

"No," Viviane whispered. "No, they're fine. I- I just had a dizzy fit, thanks." Emma gave her an indulgent smile. "You've tried to do too much too soon. You should listen to Remus and slow down, luv."

Viviane made sure Emma was at the other end of the bar before she slipped behind one of the wooden pillars that were scattered around the room. It's one of them, I know it. I remember that face, she thought, staring at the wizard dressed in exquisitely tailored robes of fine wool as he argued with a waiter over the quality of the ale. Visions of him with his wand raised, blasting through the ancient walls of Aquitaine, cutting down terrified professors and students with the Killing Curse erupted in Viviane's mind, the details she tried so hard to suppress on a daily basis careening across her mind's eye in a riotous parade. Viviane caught herself staring at her boots, waiting for the blood from bodies crushed by rubble to start pooling around them, then gave a start and retreated to her seat in the corner of the bar.

Picking up a Daily Prophet lying on the seat next to her, she continued to watch her target from behind its pages. He made short work of his meal, and pulled on his cloak with a bit of a flourish. Yes, just as you seemed to enjoy orchestrating death, she thought, recalling his elaborate gestures as he'd aimed his wand at his victims. Viviane smiled grimly behind her book. We'll see how he likes death, unorchestrated.

As he left the building and started down the road leading out of Shipley, Viviane shadowed him, noting that the few people he passed did not greet him. He's a stranger here. Nobody will miss him for some time, probably. He came upon the most desolate section of the road, shadowed closely by trees on both sides, but before he got too far Viviane quietly slipped alongside of him and, pressing her sword against his side, divested him of his wand while hissing a warning about keeping silent.

When they reached a small clearing, Viviane pointed her wand at the ground and lit a small fire, then turned to look at her captive.

"So, Monsieur, do you know who I am?"

"A teenage delinquent who'll be brought before the courts fairly soon, no doubt. What do you want, money? Here, take a few Galleons and let me be on my way like a good girl." He tossed some coins at her feet with a sneer and continued, "The sword's a nice touch, dear. Gives you a bit of style."

Viviane whipped her sword up and backed the man against a tree, the point pressing into his throat, her hand and her voice steady but her body shaking in anger. "You never found what you were looking for that day, did you, you and your Lord Voldemort? When you tore Aquitaine apart looking for a girl, and the secret to immortality? I cannot tell you if the secret exists, but the girl does, and she remembers you quite well, Reginald, I believe you were called?

"Merlin's beard," the man breathed, sheet-white, his hands grasping the bark of the tree. "Viviane Devereux. But how-? We thought you must be dead, accidentally killed with the rest-"

"Ah, the rest. Yes, the bodies I waded through to escape from the ruins, those you left as food for carrion at Voldemort's pleasure. I was in a hidden room, you see, but only three of us made it in there before the destruction began, and though you could not see us, I saw you, and how thoroughly you relished your actions."

As he opened his mouth to reply, Viviane, with careless grace, swept her sword across his throat and bent over him as he fell among the leaves and underbrush to make sure he was dead. Finding him so, she heaved a sigh of satisfaction and headed back to her lodging.

****

Late that evening, Remus walked back to the inn, enjoying the unusually warm November weather and trying to decide which Defense technique to start with for his next class. Anthony had expressed interest in learning some of the ways to try and detect the Imperious Curse, and the book he'd just lent to Remus cast some fascinating new light on the subject. "Time to start reading up on my specialty again," he remarked happily to a gnome that scurried out of his way in the road.

He was surprised to find Viviane still reading by the fire in the common room, but noted the faint look of unease on her face and paused. He pulled up a chair and gently took the book from her hands, saying, "I'm so sorry about the incident with Anthony. Viviane, he's angry at what's happened to Shipley. It's a long list of things, and you're only the last item-"

Viviane got up and snatched the book back from him. "And I should care because? He survived the war with his wife and his house and his profession intact. That gives him every right to look down upon me, a piece of garbage washed up from the shores of France to sully his precious town." She took a deep breath, and started again. "Remus, I'm glad you've found a friend that you can talk with, about all the subjects most of us can't begin to understand. I really am. I'm just tired, I guess. Still not quite recovered from Mort's little lesson, so I'm going to bed."

Remus smiled at her and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. "You must be tired, to admit that. I'm off on my usual little vacation, so I'll see you in a week or so. Until then, take care, Viviane."

****

That Wednesday, as agreed upon, Viviane reported to Mortimer to pick up the items she was to smuggle into Liverpool. "Here. This needs to be dropped off by mid-afternoon tomorrow. There isn't much happening afterwards, but be around next week because I'll need you for some security work. Got that?"

"Sure thing, Mortimer. Can you tell me what's in this? Just in case I need to hide it or something?"

"Consignment of Boomslang skin."

"Ooh. Expensive."

"Yes, they paid handsomely for it, so you'd best be careful and deliver as planned." He gave her a keen look. "Yes, despite your appearance, you're useful. Taken to this business better than I thought you would."

"Investment paid off, did it?"

"You were more like a gamble. Off you go, now."

Viviane took off through the forest to the next town, avoiding the path and striking deep into the trees to escape detection. Her destination wasn't a wizard town, so Apparating was not an option. But she was enjoying her walk, and the calming effect the isolation of the deep forest had on her, until she heard faint screams that sounded almost, but not quite, human. Taking out her wand, she quietly slipped through the trees, the screams becoming louder and more tormented, sometimes ending in a howl that seemed wrenched from whatever was making them. Are Death Eaters torturing some poor creature? Viviane thought. I'll make sure they answer for it, and silently drew her sword out of its scabbard. After several moments of tracking the direction of the sounds she found the old, boarded up shack from which the unearthly screams were issuing.

Prying loose one of the boards from a window, she peered in, and as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, Viviane saw what seemed to be a man, or almost a man, kneeling on the ground, his head bent down as his body twisted in pain, bones elongating and coarse fur starting to cover his body. She sheathed her sword and nearly walked to the front of the shack, thinking of attempting to help, but her instincts took over and shouted, Werewolf! Viviane you idiot, stay out of there. Her knees grew weak and she clung to the sill, horrified, but unable look away as his screams became more desperate while claws sprouted from what were once fingers. As the now more-creature-than-man lifted his head for a last, piercing howl while the transformation became complete, Vivane caught sight of a pair of terrified brown eyes flecked with gold and a face with sharp cheekbones just before they disappeared into the head of a wolf. Sliding away from the window, she buried her face against the rough planks of the shack and dug her fingernails into the wood as she gasped for air. Remus, no, not you, not the sane one, the learned one, the compassionate one. "Unfair. Unfair," she whispered, and beat her palms in frustration against the side of the building, thinking bitterly that this was one instance where she could do nothing to help.

She stumbled away from the shack and back to her original pathway, trying not to think about how devastating such a transformation must be to the fastidious man she knew. If he knows you know, it's the end of your friendship. You must complete this job. Get to Liverpool. Complete the transaction. This is the end of your friendship because I can't possibly hide what I've seen from him. "Damnation. What a mess. What a mess. The only person I trust is a werewolf. What now?" she whispered, and forced herself to keep walking and keep alert, despite the confusion in her mind. Should I just leave, without telling him? Spare him the ordeal of facing me? He obviously is terribly shamed, barricading himself in that shack to tear at himself. Mortimer could send me to another town, and I'd leave some money for him to get on with. There's nothing I can do for him, except be there when he becomes human again, and what would that do? Oh Remus, you could have told me.

Her debate continued through the handoff and her journey back to Shipley. Once in her room, she sat down and tried to make a decision about what to do. The bitter truth is, she thought, that I wouldn't have made it this far without him. Yet if I decide to help him now, I've pledged myself to help him out later, and it means concealment and lost time and far too many complications. That is, if he doesn't renounce our friendship altogether when he finds out I know.

Feeling trapped, she threw open the window and took some deep breaths before she realized just how cold it had become. Quickly closing it again, she leaned her forehead against the glass and thought of Remus waking alone and bloody and freezing, and what would happen should someone else discover him. His arms will be a bloody mess, and will have to be bound up to keep him from bleeding to death, probably. He must be inflicting some awful wounds on himself, with those claws. She shivered at the memory of them, and momentarily lost courage at the thought of being their target, and of the fangs she'd seen pushing through Remus' gums. Finally she threw on a cloak, put some rags, food, and another cloak in a bag and set back out for the shack, steeling herself for several days of guarding Remus from intruders, and possibly the other way around, she thought in despair.

Remus was still in his wolf stage, howling and raging and tearing at his arms as he careened into the walls, seeking a way out. Viviane took one peek at him through the loosened board but as she did, Remus sensed her there and lunged at the opening, snarling and trying to bite through. Viviane let out a screech and threw herself backwards, using her wand to refasten the board as she fell, then curled up in a ball, trying to control an onslaught of nausea and holding her ears against the howls. After she got hold of herself and settled down within sight of the shack, she wondered if she would be able to stand the noise without losing her mind.

She thought she was doing well after the first day, managing to block out the noise through reading and an Aural Charm that dissipated the worst of it, but at night, as she sat huddled over a small fire, she began to imagine that she could hear Remus' voice through the shuddering howls emanating from the shack, tortured and aware of his loss of control. Unable to take it any longer, she doused the fire and ran deeper into the woods, blindly running into branches and tearing her robes on the underbrush as she attempted to get away from the noise. At last, out of hearing and out of breath, she stopped and took out her wand. "Lumos," she whispered, and tried to breath quietly in the stillness of the woods and clear her mind of the images left from observing the transformation. Using one of her sleeves, she wiped off tears and the blood from scratches off of her face, and recoiled her hair. Squaring her shoulders and taking a deep breath, she returned to her post, whispering, "Until morning. If I can only stand it for that much longer," and walked slowly back to wait for Remus to retransform.

In the morning Viviane woke from a slight doze, sensing something was different and realized that Remus was silent. Viviane cautiously looked in again. He was back to human form, lying face down on the floor, motionless and bloodied. Viviane blasted through the locks on the door and stood with her back against it, terribly frightened even though she knew Remus was no longer dangerous. She slowly approached him and began to bind up the wounds on his arms, which were deep and jagged, some catching on former scars and re-opening them. Staunching the blood took longer than it should have, because Viviane kept flinching and even jumping backwards in fright if he moved. "He can't hurt you now," she kept whispering to herself.

After she finished with his arms, she rolled Remus onto his back and out of the blood that had pooled around his body, and managed to pull on the remains of his robe and fasten it. Taking the cloak she'd brought, she tucked it around him and subsided to a corner of the shack, hugging her knees and trying to keep down the fear. "He can't hurt you," she kept whispering.

Viviane stayed huddled in her corner of the shack, occasionally checking on Remus and his injuries and trying to get some sleep, but she found that impossible. Finally, after two days, Remus' eyelids began to flutter, and soon he blinked and tried vainly to sit up. He stared at amazement at the cloak that covered him, and then caught sight of Viviane looking apprehensively at him from her corner.

"You- you followed me. You broke your promise. I trusted you-" The pain in his raspy voice and his struggle to free himself from the robe caused Viviane to crawl to his side so she could look him in the eyes. "No, no I didn't. I heard you as I was on my way to Liverpool and found the shack. Oh Remus, I arrived just as you were- were- turning. So I've come to get you out of here and back into your room. If anyone finds out, they'll run you out of town, or even kill you."

Remus narrowed his eyes at her. "Why would you want to do that? I can see how afraid you are of me, how disgusted at the werewolf, the gross, slavering beast I become."

Viviane sat back on her heels. "I've met far more beastly humans than your werewolf seems to be, including myself on occasion. And you want me to say it. All right, I will. You saved my life. Maybe a couple of times. I owe you one. Or two." She resumed her slouch against the wall. "And you're the only person I trust, or feel I can rely on. Hell, I even know when you'll be turning into a wolf. How's that for reliability?"

"This is no joke, Viv. You may trust me, but I can't trust myself around you. Knowing you, you'll burst in at the wrong time and be hurt or killed. I can't take that chance."

"It's a little late for your tender conscience to awaken, Remus. Between the two of us, we should be able to keep your secret, and keep you safe during your transformations. As Remus began a protest, Viviane interrupted. "Stop it. I'm being selfish about this, because I've enjoyed having you as a companion. I've been lonely since I left school, and the crowd I hang with isn't the most refined bunch. You remind me of what I wanted to be, once, and the people I knew." She looked down at her hands, embarrassed.

Remus sat up with an effort, and leaned against the wall beside her. Taking her hand, he grasped it as tightly as he was able. "All right. I can't believe I'm saying this, but maybe it would be a better plan to stick together. You don't exactly remind me of the people I used to know, but I like the way you're valiantly fighting whatever strange obstacles you find in your path, as they did." He gave a short laugh. "I almost envy your singleminded determination to wrest what you can out of this damned wasteland that we exist in."

Viviane looked over at him, then looked away and tried surreptitiously to wipe off her tearstained face. Remus sighed and felt in his tattered robes, pulling out a handkerchief that had miraculously survived destruction. "Here. I'm going to chain one of these to you at some point."

"Thanks." Viviane wiped her eyes and blew her nose. "When were you bitten?"

"When I was a child. My parents tried to make do with the situation as best they could. Then I went to Hogwarts, and after a while my friends found out. I was terrified that I'd become an outcast, that they'd tell everybody, but they did so much to help - became unregistered Animagi, kept me company during my transformations and made life more bearable than I ever thought possible. More than bearable - wonderful." The muscles of his face tightened. "But they're all dead now - or as good as dead, and life has become more than unbearable at times." He closed his eyes and willed himself to continue. "With all of the fear Voldemort caused and Death Eaters still about, my condition has gotten harder to conceal and makes it more difficult to escape if someone finds out."

"I know. Hiding what you are consumes your soul. I thought it would be easy-" Viviane began, but the shock and her exhaustion from watching for three days made her finally break down. She leaned her forehead on her knees and shook with sobs. Remus carefully placed his injured arm over her shoulders. "My brave girl. You've had quite a week, haven't you?"

"Nothing like yours," gasped Viviane, trying to get herself back under control. "I don't know about you, but I'm too exhausted to make it back to the inn right now. I think we could both use some sleep."

"Agreed. Sorry about the accommodations. When you're a werewolf you take what you can get."

Viviane stretched out on the dirt floor, propping her head on the bag she'd brought and held out a hand to Remus. "Come on, you can use me as a pillow. There's some food left if you're hungry."

Remus lay down with a sigh and curled into a ball, his head on Viviane's stomach. "No, I just need rest," he murmured, barely finishing the sentence before he was asleep. Viviane spent a few moments staring at the ceiling before she, too, fell asleep and slipped into a series of nightmares that seemed to have no end.

//
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