The Sugar Quill
Author: Thing1 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: On Flying  Chapter: Chapter 1
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This is a continuation of This Was Falling

***

Part 1

Katie was very happy to finally make it back to the shop. November was turning out to be particularly wet and dreadfully cold. She had spent all morning making rounds, on foot, which in retrospect was not the wisest thing to do. God, I hope I left some shoes here. These will take hours to dry, magic or no magic. She sneezed. Oh, good. With any luck Iíll have picked up something reasonably dreadful. Thank God Remus is away right now. Heíd just fuss and make me stay in bed. She had to smile though. Remus could certainly be bit a of a worrywart, but it was rather nice to know how much you meant to someone. Of course, Sirius was still here, and he would probably fuss worse than Remus now that she thought about it.

Katie pulled off her soaking cloak and shoes, and sat by the fire; Mrs. Noyes still seemed to be out. Katie looked around the room and smiled. Oh, I did like living here. It was such a fun place to be. But I certainly didnít mind moving out. She laughed to herself. I didnít move a thing, actually. Remus did it all. Wouldnít let me lift a finger to help.

Remus and Katie had been married for a few weeks now. She was still surprised at how new everything had seemed after they were married. She had thought that after knowing each other for four years, they had everything pretty well down. But this was very, very different. Itís so wonderful. I guess I was a little naïve thinking that nothing would really change Ö.

She heard the door open, and looked up from the fire to see Mrs. Noyes coming in.

"Hello! Let me help you with your things. Ugh. Can we get any wetter, do you wonder?"

"This is the worst November Iíve seen in years; thank youÖ." They hung her things up by the fire to dry, and Mrs. Noyes turned and gave Katie a hug.

"Well, Mrs. Lupin, how were rounds?"

Katie laughed. She was still unused to that title, even though Mrs. Noyes and Sirius both said it constantly to her. I think in retrospect re- introducing them may have been dangerousÖ.

"Fine. A lot of colds and flu, of course. I must have seen 12 sneezing, wheezing children at least. Too bad we donít have a potion for fretting mothers. They do get in the way."

Mrs. Noyes clucked a bit at that as she started to pour them tea. "Yes that would be a best seller. But youíll sympathise a bit more with them when you have your own children to worry about." She turned to hand Katie a cup, but stopped when she saw the expression on Katieís face.

"Goodness dear, whatís wrong?" She laughed, and just put the cup next to Katie on the table. "Hadnít thought about that one, had you? Yes, these things take on a very different perspective from the other side of the wall, I can tell you from experience. Still, theyíre worth the fuss and worry, wouldnít you say?"

Katie didnít say anything, but just sat there with the same odd expression on her face. I never ever thought aboutÖ.

"Katie?"

Katie looked slowly at Mrs. Noyes. "Iíve never really thought about having any children. It was something I never thought would, well, happen, I guess."

"I can understand that. But itís different now, isnít it? You two will make lovely parents." Will we indeed? Mrs. Noyes has no idea some of the things that haunt us, I suspect. Would Remus everÖThen another thought occurred to her.

"Mrs. Noyes? Can Ö," she stopped and sighed, giving Mrs. Noyes a small weak smile. "Thereís no way to ask this without sounding like an idiot, Iím afraid."

"Out with it dear. You are the last person on this earth I would ever consider an idiot. Tied with your husband, of course."

"Well, Ö. Can Remus even have children? Is the lycanthropyÖ hereditary?" Katie had turned red as she said this. I canít believe I donít know this. Youíd think by now I knew all there was to know. But Mrs. Noyes just smiled and shook her head.

"I had thought you might look this up for yourself. I knew it would never stop you marrying the boy, no matter what, but I guess you just never did think about it, did you? Of course Remus can have children. Perfectly normal children. We understand very little, really, about lycanthropy. But it is only ever passed on by the bite. Children of werewolves do not themselves become werewolves just because of the parent. Only if they get bit. Interesting, donít you think?"

Interesting? This isnít some detached clinical discussion. Only if they get bitÖI think, maybe, that this is not something Remus can face. All heíll think about is if he would hurt them somehow. I never even considered any of this. Do I even want children? How could I possibly bring this up with RemusÖ.

"Katie?"

"Oh, Mrs. Noyes. This really isnít something I ever gave much thought to. Remus and I never discussed it, and Iím not really sure that I have any desire to have any children."

Mrs. Noyes gave her a look. "That will change, dear. You didnít let yourself think about it before because you didnít think it was a possibility. Now it is a very real possibility. Instinct will kick in, I suspect. Itís just a question of when. And, maybe you never discussed it because Remus thought you didnít want to talk about it."

"We talk about everythingÖ."

"Do you now? For years there were a lot of things you two could never discuss. You told me yourself, youíve just discovered a rather interesting little phenomenon that happens after you get married. Suddenly, everything is very different. And there are a lot more things to talk about, arenít there?" Well, yes, Iím going to have to agree with that. But stillÖ.

"Do you think Remus would want children? I mean, you understand how difficult things are for him with what he has to live with."

Mrs. Noyes looked at the fire. "I honestly couldnít say, dear. I know that Remus likes children, and that heís very good with them. Itís his patience, of course, and the fact that he is such a nice, good man. Children instinctively know who they can and canít trust. Ironic, donít you think?"

"What?"

"Here Remus is supposed to be some creature who haunts their nightmares. But heís not. And with the Wolfsbane, that part of him that he cannot control can no longer do any damage. So how does he differ from any other man?"

Katie gave her a look and rolled her eyes.

"Yes," laughed Mrs. Noyes, "but itís our sense of self that sets us all apart, isnít it? You should think about this. And talk to Remus about it. I think you may find that you do want a family."

Katie stood up, picked up her wet things, and made to return to the house by the fire. "Well, at the very least, we have Sirius to keep an eye on." She could hear Mrs. Noyes laughing as she stepped into the fireplace and vanished.

***

Katie stepped out of the fireplace in Remusí study. She had laughed when she discovered he had reset up his connection to the network so that whenever she returned it would be here, the most likely place he would be when he was home. That was sweet. But Remus was away just now helping the Aurors track some Death Eaters who were accused of something particularly upsetting that Remus refused to tell her, and he had also forbade Sirius to tell her. Katie was still struggling a bit with this newly discovered over-protective streak in Remus, but decided that it wasnít worth getting upset over. Sheíd just have to quietly figure out a way to break the habit. He only does it because he hates seeing you upset, not because he thinks you canít deal with it. That makes all the difference.

She walked down the hallway to the other end of the floor where Sirius had his own study. Occasionally Sirius, in his animagus form, would go with Remus, but only when Remus was working on his own. This time, a group had gone out together so Sirius stayed at home. He had busied himself with writing long letters to Harry and following up any new leads about where Peter Pettigrew might be. The story of what had really happened was known, and believed, by a few more people now, but it would never really mean anything unless they found Pettigrew.

Katie stopped outside the door. Maybe Remus has discussed the idea of children with him. Katie knew, from hearing various stories, that Remus had been particularly attached to Harry when he had been a baby. And he had truly loved being a teacher, whatever the reason Dumbledore had brought him to Hogwarts for in the first place. Katie knew that if Remus had ever said anything at all on the subject, he probably would have said it to Sirius. But she still hesitated before knocking. Maybe I should just go mull over this on my own for a while. Iím sure heís busy. But now that Mrs. Noyes had brought up this idea, she found she was curious. She wasnít ready to say anything to Remus, but it might be a good idea to see what Sirius thought first.

She knocked. After a moment, the door swung open and she stepped in. Sirius was sitting at the desk, leaning over some rather musty looking old book, and holding his wand absently. He looked up briefly, and then let his attention go back to the book.

"Hello. Still raining?"

"Have you tried to look out the window?" She saw him smile, but he didnít look up.

"Yes I had noticed it is rather dark for the early afternoon. Have a good morning? Do you need some lunch or something?"

"No, Iím fine. Just wanted to drop by and let you know I was back." She stood in front of his fire, tracing the pattern in the bricks in the mantelpiece. "What are you reading there?"

"Old book on charms. Some dandy things in here, I can tell you. Did you know you could charm an arrow to pierce any particular body part you choose? Nasty."

Oh, thatís delightful. Now I have something new to worry about whenever Remus goes off.

"Sirius? Has Remus ever talked to you aboutÖ."she trailed off. Iím not sure how I feel about this, why should I be bothering Sirius and trying to figure this out?

"About what?" he asked, absently, still absorbed in the charm text.

We donít need to do this right now. Thereís too much happening anyway to think about these things. Itís not safe; we canít possibly think about this until all the trouble dies down anyway. If it dies downÖ.

"Oh, nothing. Go back to work."

Sirius gave a snort, but didnít look up. "Mrs. Lupin, donít be a prat. You wouldnít have come in here if it were nothing. Out with it."

What the hell.

"Has Remus ever talked to you about children? Well, about having them, I mean?"

Sirius didnít say anything for a moment. He seemed not to have heard her. Thatís it, Iím out of here. I canít believe Mrs. Noyes gave me such a stupid idea. Suddenly Sirius threw the book aside and jumped up, utterly startling her as he hugged her and laughed.

"Youíre pregnant! Thatís fantastic! Why are you standing here telling me? Letís see if we can track down RemusÖ."

Katie grabbed him as he went for the door. "NO! No, Sirius. Wrong. Iím not pregnant. Not."

Sirius stopped, and seemed a little crestfallen. That rather surprised her. "I was just wondering", she went on, "if the subject has ever come up. Weíve certainly never talked about it, but I thought maybe you might have."

Sirius looked at her and shook his head. "I think that this is one of those "no go" zones for Remus. He never really thought heíd get married and all that. But things change, right?"

She smiled at him and sat on the chair next to Siriusí desk. Sirius sat back down and watched her. He seemed lost in thought. Then he asked, "What do you think about having children?"

Katie had to smile at this. "This was pretty much a "no go" zone for me, too. Same reason. I couldnít stand to let myself dream about something that was pretty much never going to happen."

Sirius nodded.

They sat there for a little bit, before Katie looked back at him.

"What do you think he might say to the idea," she asked him quietly. Iím not certain he would be overly keen on it. Iíd bet he thinksÖhe thinks it would be too dangerous. And that he couldnít do right by any children, because heís been shunned and struggled so much in his life. Everything has been so hard for him.

Sirius thought about that for a few minutes. Finally, with a sigh, he looked back at her and shrugged.

"Katie, I honestly donít know. I can think of any number reasons why he would love the idea, and any number of reasons why he would hate it. This will be a probably be a sticky subject with him. I can tell you that I do remember how much he loved Harry when he was a baby. Remus is so patient and good with children. Thatís why to this day I understand that any number of his former students at Hogwarts still miss him. But, those werenít his own children. Those were children who would be safely away from him when the wolf came. A child of his would be living in the house. And a child of his would have a werewolf as a father." Sirius shook his head, and then sighed again.

"Any child would be damn lucky to have a parent such as Remus. But Iím not sure Remus would agree with me."

Katie nodded, and chewed on a fingernail absently. "I think weíre in total agreement on all of this."

"So what are you going to say to Remus?"

Katie shook her head and stood up to leave. "Nothing."

Sirius frowned. "KatieÖ."

"Nothing just yet, Sirius. Iím still not sure what I feel about all this. Things are bad enough right now without my giving him one more thing to feel bad about, I think."

"Alright, Iíll let it go for now. But I can assure you that my New Yearís resolution will be to bring it back up if nothing has been said by then. With both of you."

Katie looked at him sharply. "Donít you dare go saying anything to Remus to upset him."

Sirius smiled. "No, Katie-girl. I heed your warning and will do no such thing. For now. And Katie? You can always come and talk to me about it yourself, you know. To work things out before you decide what you want to say to Remus."

***

When Remus returned the next day, he looked exhausted and troubled. He confessed to Katie that they had had a bad run in with some rather dangerous Death Eaters. It was clearer than ever that Voldemort was back, practically to his full strength, and was busy aligning forces everywhere. There had been a confrontation that resulted in one of the Death eaters being very severely injured, and who was most likely going to die.

"But youíre not hurt, are you?"

Remus shook his head, and sank down on their bed with a groan. "No, exhausted, thatís all. And Iím starting to ache from the full moon already. Itíll be rising early tomorrow, and itís so damn dark from the rain thatÖ."

But Katie had shushed him, and tucked him in to bed. "Rest. Try not to think about it."

Remus fell asleep and did not move again until next morning. When he woke up, he looked worse than Katie had seen him in a long time. Thatís what days of chasing lunatics will get you. I better see if I can do anything. "Remus, love, do you want any breakfast?"

"No," he said in a hoarse voice. "Just let me drink the potion, then Iím going back to sleep. Oh Katie, this is just like it wasÖ." He lay there staring at the ceiling, looking angry and anxious at the same time. "Iím not going to let this happen again."

And somehow I thought that this would be a good time to bring up the idea of having children? Not a chance.

***

Three days later, Remus was back to his old self. He looked healthy, he spent the better part of breakfast trading friendly barbs with Sirius, and he fussed when Katie sneezed. Twice.

"Katie, youíre a healer. Do something for that and stop my worrying," he teased, as he held her loosely and nuzzled her neck. The rain had finally stopped and sun was actually coming in through the windows, but it was still bitterly cold. Itís going to snow soon. Then you have to worry about him being outside for days in the snow. Great.

"Things look a little better today, do they?" she said in a teasing tone. He laughed quietly, but said nothing and kissed her cheek.

"I might be contagious, you know."

He still just smiled. Heís in a good mood, at least. But I know this look Iím getting now. He knows somethingís up, and heís about to play the "we swore weíd never hold anything back" card. And yes, he can now see that Iíve figured that out.

"So, what is it?" Canít we ever just sit and talk about the weather?

"Okay, Remus, I know we promised. Give me a minute to think of how to start this conversation without giving you a heart attack."

Remus raised his eyebrows at this. "I think that comment there might do it alone. What are you trying to do, give me more grey hair?" He was still laughing as he teased her, so that at least was good.

Katie considered the best way to start this conversation. Nope, canít think of any. Just go for it.

"Remus, Mrs. Noyes asked me an interesting question."

"Which was what?"

"She askedÖif you and I wereÖ."

Remus grinned and leaned in to kiss her again. "You and are a lot of things, love; what exactly was she asking?"

Katie smiled, but pushed him back so she could look in his eyes. Okay, he just figured out that this is serious at least.

"She asked if we had given any thought to having children," she said calmly. She watched his face change from the happy, open expression he had had to quiet, closed expression. I knew it. This is not a good thing to bring up, damn it.

"Remus, love, we donít need to discuss this now. I personally never gave it much thought. I was just keeping in good faith with the promises we made not toÖ." She stopped as he held up a hand to silence her.

"Katie, donít you want children?"

"Are you saying you do?" she was very surprised by his question. But he didnít respond, just went to stand by the window.

Remus sighed, and leaned against the window frame, staring out across the garden. His face had taken on the familiar stony expression he wore when he was struggling to keep everything very controlled.

"Katie, do you remember the first day we met?"

Despite everything, Katie had to smile warmly at this. Oh, yes. Very well. Young Mr. Lupin and his beautiful eyes. "Yes. I fell in love with you then, you know? You were just soÖI canít explain it. You took my breath away."

She could see Remus smiling, but his face was still ashen.

"Yes," he whispered. "I know the feeling." He stopped for a moment, then continued in his normal tone. "You asked me if I would stay and have tea while you worked."

"Yes, I think that subconsciously I didnít want you to leave. Not just yet."

"I very consciously wanted to stay. I almost did. IÖI forgot myself. You had such a pretty smile and the loveliest eyes I had ever seen. It was like Öyou werenít just being polite; you looked like you meant it, when you asked me to stay, and I thought how wonderful that was." He paused again.

Katie looked at him closely. "I did mean it. But you left, after you saw that witch and her children across the street."

He nodded, but made no reply. I knew there was something then. He did look like he was going to stay, he wanted to. But he left so quickly, and he looked so hurt. Why? Is it something about the witch, or was it something about the children?

"Remus, love," she said quietly, "why did you leave like that?"

Remus didnít speak for a long time. Finally he stepped back from the window, took her hand and sat her on the couch. Then he told her.

***

Remus had finally come back to his parentís house. He simply had nowhere else to go. After his father had passed, Remus couldnít bear being in the house, and had stayed away for years. But, being what he was, he had a very difficult time. He could never hold a job very long, not without disclosing why he was absent so often. It had been different, before Voldemort was defeated. He had worked as an Auror, with James and Sirius. Not exactly a standard job, and his absences were not really noticed. Especially with James and Sirius to cover for him.

But then everything was gone. Worse, he had been forced to admit to his superior what he was, because of the investigation as to what had happened that night. She was shocked, but didnít say anything. Sheíd just excused him, telling him to take a few more days off, because she knew how deeply he was grieving everything that had just happened. She never said anything, but when the Aurors had started to disband and get on with their lives, she had made certain that Remus was one of the first to go. Nothing was ever said, but there was no need. Remus felt oddly grateful that she didnít say anything to anyone about it, and had left without a further word.

Remus just went on trying to get through his life as best he could. He had come to see his father after that, to spend some time at the house and try to decide what to do next. His father was all he had left. But Mr. Lupin was so angry over everything that had happened that it made it difficult. Remus knew that his father was grieving for James and Lily, and especially for Remus.

Finally, one night, it was too much. Remus had made the mistake of saying Siriusí name. They had not, up to that point, said anything about that, but now Mr. Lupin flew into a rage. Remus had sat there, stunned, as his normally quiet, patient, controlled father, the one who had loved Sirius more than any other of Remusí friends, cursed Siriusí name and cried that Sirius was lucky he was sent to Azkaban before Mr. Lupin had found him.

"How could he? How could he have done this? Iíd kill him myself if they let me near himÖ."

"Dad, pleaseÖ."

"NO! No; he betrayed all of you. He justÖhow could he have lied to us? How could he have done these things! All I ever heard from that miserable boy was how much he loved you all, how much you meant to him. And look what he did. To betray that love and that trust so utterly. To condemn James and Lily; to orphan his own godson! What has Harry got left now? And to just stand there, and kill poor Peter, and all those other innocents. And what he did to you."

"DadÖ."

But his father was not listening to him. "He told me, he told me he loved you and he would never hurt you. I believed him! I wanted so much to believe himÖ. I wanted everything for you, everything, and that bastard took it all. He would have killed you too, had you been there. I couldnít take it if he had done that; if he took you from me. Thank god you wereÖ"

"I was useless! I was locked away, a thing, a monster, utterly helpless. Some wretched animal that could think about nothing but killing myself!"

Mr. Lupin slammed his fist on the table so hard Remus thought he heard a crack.

"Donít you ever, ever, say those things. They are not true; you are you, youíre my boy, my Remus. You are not a monster. SiriusÖ." But he had choked to a stop. Remus stared at the table for a few moments, then stood up and left. They never spoke of it again, and a few years later Mr. Lupin had died, still believing that Sirius Black had destroyed Remusí sense of self and happiness.

***

Katie stared at the fire. That must have been so terrible for him then, but itís probably worse now. His father never knew what happened.

"Katie? You are never to say any of this to Sirius. Sirius and my father were very close. My father truly loved him, and thatís why he was so heartbroken over what happened. I know that if my dad had had the chance to know the truth, to know that it was Peter who had caused everything, he would have taken Sirius back in a second, and begged him to forgive all the things he said and thought."

Katie nodded, but didnít look at him. "I think that Sirius alreadyÖ."

"I know that Sirius grieves to think that my dad died believing all those terrible things. But itís just not something we can ever change. Please, never speak to Sirius about this. I donít like asking this, but itís too important."

"Of course. But that still doesnít explain about that day we met. Or about our other discussionÖ."

Remus stroked her cheek, and gave a thin smile.

"Iím getting to that."

***

Remus finally returned to the house he grew up in when he had nowhere else left to go. The house was in bad shape, and the garden had gone wild. As he had so little money, there was nothing he could really do for the house. But he had set about putting the garden right immediately. And he could use the garden to make a modest living, at least.

The first month back, he never went beyond the garden. He stayed carefully away from everyone. As very few people ever came out that way, he wasnít noticed. His parents had of course chosen the house for that reason, when they needed to take care of him as a child.

Finally, he had needed a few things, so he went to the village to find Mrs. Noyes. She knew all about him, and it was because of her that his parents had chosen this village. The Lupins had been desperately trying to find any healer who could help them do anything for Remus. Most of the people they had talked to were just horrified, and told them there was nothing to do and sent them on their way. But Mrs. Noyes felt deeply for them, and had said she would do everything she could.

Remus had felt humiliated, walking back into Mrs. Noyesí store in his ragged robes. He simply had no place else to go. She had recognised him instantly, and he was stunned when she dropped what she was doing and came over to embrace him.

"Young Remus Lupin! Back at last! Oh, I have missed you, boy. Sit down, let me get you some tea and something to eat."

"No, really, I justÖ."

"Sit down, Remus. Now, what are you up to?"

Remus looked down, unwilling to tell Mrs. Noyes how bad things had been for him. Not sure what to say, he told her that he was back at his house, and was replanting the garden. "I thought that perhaps I could growÖ."

"Wonderful! Oh, to have your mothersí wonderful herbs and flowers back will be a godsend. Thereís no one here for miles who has such a selection, or such quality."

Remus had flushed at this. "Mrs. Noyes, Iím not sure my skills are quite that of my mothers."

"Nonsense. This is me, Remus, and Iíve known you since you were little. You helped her with that garden all your life. Yes, this is going to be very good. When will you start having things ready for me?"

"Not for a while, at least. Iíve just finished clearing away everything really. Thatís why I came to talk to you. IÖ."

"Youíll be needing something in advance, of course. Not a problem. Will you need and seeds and stocks, too? Or is there enough left there to get going properly? Oh, Iíll give you a list of the things that would really make the difference to me, wait here." She jumped up and went into the back room.

Remus sat there, still feeling slightly off over everything, but he was starting to relax. This was going to be okay, really. It will be nice to be back here. Suddenly the door to the shop opened, and a young witch came in with two small children. She looked distracted and a little upset.

"Hello. Is Mrs. Noyes in?"

"Yes, sheís just gone round back to get something, and will be right back." Remus noticed one of the little girls looking at him, and smiled at her. She smiled back and walked over to him, in that casual and open manner children always seem to have.

"Hello. Who are you then?"

"Iím Remus."

"Hello Remus. Iím Emma. Thatís Gwen," she added, pointing to her sister.

"Nice to meet you, Emma."

She smiled again, and Mrs. Noyes came back.

"Here we are RemusÖoh hello Mrs. Ferris. And hello to you two. Care for some chocolate?"

Remus had laughed at this, as the girls quickly rushed over to Mrs. Noyes. He had had more than his fair share of chocolate at that age from Mrs. Noyes, too.

"Mrs. Noyes, I think that thereís a dreadful problem in the close." Their mother said in a strained voice.

"Why do you think that, sweetie?"

"Three days ago those two decided to sneak out and go to the meadow. They wanted to see if they could see the faeries in the full moon. I had told them that this wasnít true, that only people with the gift for seeing faeries would ever spot one, but they decided to go anyway."

Mrs. Noyes chuckled and patted Gwen on the head.

"Natural curiosity. Very healthy in children."

"Yes, well, they came home very frightened and upset. It seems that they were almost to the meadow when they heard something."

Remus froze in his seat.

"What did you hear girls?" asked Mrs. Noyes.

"I sounded like a dog, ," said Emma. "It was a horrible howling noise. And we thought we heard something breaking, too. Like, like wood or something."

"And what did you do then?"

"We ran back home, and told mummy, and she locked all the windows and doors and said we were to stay in our room and not move until the next day, then she locked that door too."

Mrs. Noyes looked up at Mrs. Ferris and said, "That seems a bit much for two little girls thinking they heard a dog."

Mrs. Ferris didnít say anything, but then grabbed both girls and shoved them out the front door, telling them to go to the sweet shop where she would meet them. Then she turned back to Mrs. Noyes.

"You know it wasnít a dog! Itís back, I just know it! Nobodyís heard anything for years, but I still rememberÖ."

"Dear, you are making no sense. Now calm down."

"Calm down! When thereís a werewolf in the close? Are you mad?"

Mrs. Noyes gave her a sharp look. Remus felt ill, and continued to keep his gaze fixed on his hands.

"You know no such thing. Honestly. And all those rumours years ago were just that. Stop it, or youíll frighten your children."

Mrs. Ferris was now turning a dangerous shade of red. "I will do no such thing. Just because they never found out who it was, doesnít mean it wasnít real. I saw it. I saw it myself when I was little. How can someone do this? Come into a nice respectable place and live like it was nothing? Think of the children, think what this thing could do? Your children may have grown and moved on, Mrs. Noyes, but mine are right here, and I will not sit by and wait for them to be killed by some monster." She stopped, and seemed to suddenly notice Remus.

"Who are you?" she snapped.

Mrs. Noyes stepped forward. "You may not remember Mr. Remus Lupin, I think he was away at school most of the year by the time you came here."

"Lupin? I know that name."

"No doubt you remember his parents. They lived at the house at the end of the road leading to the meadow. Young Remus has just moved back there himself."

Mrs. Ferris thought a moment, then stepped forward and offered her hand. "Yes, I do remember now. I knew your parents, but you were away at Hogwarts by the time I came, so I donít think I ever did meet you. How do you do?"

Remus took her hand, and kept his face in a tight mask. He managed a smile and said hello, but did not look her in the eye.

"Wait, you live near the close, then, donít you?" Mrs. Ferris said suddenly.

"Yes, I do actually". Remus felt like he was going to faint, but still stood very still.

"Did you hear anything then? The other night I mean. Have you heard this monster?"

Remus finally looked at her. "No. No, I havenít heard anything. There are any number of foxes out there and I seem to remember from my own childhood running about in the dark that the noises we hear can often seem at lot worse than they are. I suspect what they heard was a fox close by, running through the undergrowth, no doubt after his dinner." Remus cringed at how easily this lie came out. But Mrs. Ferris seemed to have calm down a bit.

"Perhaps youíre right about that. That hadnít occurred to me. Well, maybe." She looked at Remus sharply. "But you will tell us if you ever hear anything? I know Mrs. Noyes may think Iím an alarmist, but I remember the rumours, as no doubt you will as well, from when I was younger. I even saw it once, I just know it, out in the meadow. I will not let anything happen to my children if I can prevent it."

"Of course not. And, if I do see or hear anything, I will let you know."

She smiled at him, then turned to Mrs. Noyes. "I did need some things, actually."

They went to collect what she needed, and Remus sank back down into his chair. He felt ill and exhausted, and totally disgusted with himself. Mrs. Ferris left a little while later, and Mrs. Noyes came back to where Remus was sitting.

"Were you outside then?"

"No! I was locked in the shed. I must haveÖI forgotÖ" he was fighting back tears now. "I didnít think anyone would be nearby, so I must have forgotten to put silencing charms on the shed. I justÖmy father used to do that, whenever I was here, so I think I just sort of expected them to be there. How could I have done something so stupid!"

"Shhh, dear. Itís alright. Now, that woman is a gossip and an alarmist, but I think youíve taken care of her nicely." Remus made a face, thinking about the lies he had just told. "Donít look like that. Just do be more careful in the future. Now, hereís what I need from youÖ."

But Remus shook his head and stood up.

"This was a terrible idea. Iíll just sell the house and hope the money can last a while."

"You will do no such thing. You will stay right here and get on with your life. Think about your mum and dad, will you? They knew you knew were no monster, and goodness, boy, so do I. Weíll just do what we can, like we always did. I forbid you to leave."

Remus looked very surprised, and Mrs. Noyes laughed. "Yes, I forbid it. Now letís get on with it."

***

Remus stopped talking and looked at Katie. She was crying softly, and wrapped her arms around him when he had finished. He held her quietly but did not speak again. This suddenly makes sense. Every time he looks at a child, he hears what that woman said. All he thinks about are the Ďwhat ifsí.

"You didnít want to have to talk to her again. You didnít want to have to lie, and think about all those things she said. But Remus sheís just oneÖ."

"Katie, thatís just one of a hundred versions of that story I could tell you. This isnít just one overly protective parent. This isÖeveryone. And they have a right to be frightened, and scared. I wouldnít want my child in danger either. I would do anything to protect that child."

She tried to stop crying, but she couldnít. She suddenly realised that she really did want to have a family, but was equally certain that Remus would never allow it. This is too unfairÖ. Remus turned her face to look at him. She was very, very surprised to see that he was smiling.

"You didnít answer my question earlier, you know. I asked you if you wanted to have children. Do you?"

She knew she had no choice but to answer him, and truthfully. But she couldnít speak, so she just nodded. And Remus smiled a little more.

"Good. So do I. Weíll just have to figure out how we can pull it off. I think weíll manage, donít you?"

I canít believe Iím hearing this. Iíve fallen asleep on the couch or something.

"Katie, you were so sure Iíd say no, werenít you?" he asked her, still smiling. Then he looked out of the window in to the garden, and absently ran his hands across her back. "A while ago, I probably would have. But Iíve come to realise a few things over the last year. Mainly that some risks are worth taking."

"You always knew that, Remus." He looked back at her and smiled.

"I said realise, not know." He sighed. "This wonít be easy, and even talking about it when things are so uncertain seems irresponsible to the welfare of the child, butÖ.James and Lily had Harry, despite everything that was happening. And he brought more joy and hope and just plain normalcy than you can imagine. Doesnít matter to a hungry 4 month old where the Death Eaters are meeting, or how far theyíve got, or where they might strike tonight. The baby just needs to be cared for. And you drop everything, and you do it. So, why shouldnít we do this?" he winked at her, "Bet itíll be fun."

Katie just had to laugh at this. This is definitely going to be fun. "We better tell Sirius about this before he bursts."

"Oh, is this why heís been so jumpy the past few days?"

"Yes. When I first came back after seeing Mrs. Noyes and all this started, I thought I might talk to him to see if maybe you two had ever discussed any of this. I made him swear he would say nothing to you on the subject."

Remus chuckled. "No wonder heís been so twitchy. This is a big subject. And I can just guess his opinions on the matter." He kissed Katie and stood up. "Iíll just go have a chat with him, shall I?"

"Yes, but do me a favour, would you? String him along a bit to pay him back for making me fret he was going to spill the beans."

"You know he wouldnít."

"No, but he was trying damn hard to make me do it, I can tell you."

Remus laughed and left the room. She heard him call out for Sirius as he went down the hall. Still bellowing at each other like this is school. Imagine what the noise level will be like with a few kids running about. And, finally, she let herself lay on the couch and dream about what it might be like.

 

//
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