1) This is a post-war AU.
2) Chapter lengths may vary.
3) I frequently use the concept of Knockturn Alley being abandoned after Voldemort's defeat in my stories. I'm not claiming any sort of ownership over the concept, just bringing it up before anyone can go "You do that a lot." I'm aware, I just really happen to adore the idea of someone sulking around that area that was already so twisted and dark after it's been devoid of people for a bit. Makes it a touch creepier of a setting. 😉
Updates will be sporadic, chapter lengths may vary (some will be over 4k words, some may be under 2k).
FANCASTS: Tom Hiddleston as Remus Lupin; Jason Momoa as Fenrir Greyback; Idris Elba as Kingsley Shacklebolt (if a featured character is not mentioned in my Fancast list, it is because I accept the film actor in that role, thus no fancast is needed for them).
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters, and make no profit, in any form, from this story.
She drifted awake slowly . . . still in the grip of the dreamed feel of teeth raking her throat. Still aware of her body shuddering at his hands moving over her skin.
Hermione bolted upright in her bed, breathing heavily as she snapped fully into consciousness.
Swallowing hard, she pressed a hand to her forehead. Her skin was slick with sweat . . . and it wasn't cold sweat, either. Damn, not again. She shifted beneath the covers only to cringe. Yes, she thought with mild exasperation, there it was again. Her knickers were damp.
"Bloody hell . . . ."
Throwing back her blankets, she climbed out of bed and padded quietly to the en-suite bathroom of the room Harry'd lent her at 12 Grimmauld Place while all the tedium that came with the end of a war was sorted by official means. It was still the middle of the night, and she did not want to wake Harry or Ron, what with their constant fussing over her as it was. She didn't know exactly why she'd lost it the way she had when she'd seen Remus' body, she simply . . . .
Shaking her head at herself, she switched on the faucet to splash some cold water on her face. But that was not the worst of it, of course—losing her friend was terrible, absolutely—the worst of it were the dreams.
The ones that had plagued her since her encounter with Fenrir Greyback in Malfoy Manor. She hated him. Feared him. Wanted to run from anywhere he might be as fast and as far as her legs could carry her. She heard his voice in her ear so many times, that rumbling growl that edged his words as he'd talked about wanting to take bites of her.
He was monster, and yet . . . .
Bracing her palms on the edge of the sink, she bowed her head. She couldn't even meet the gaze of her own reflection in these moments. Ever since that day, she'd been plagued by the most shamefully sinful dreams of that deplorable creature. In her waking hours, she loathed the very thought of him.
But in her sleep, she responded to his touch. She adored the feel of him gripping her tight and dragging her away to do with her as he liked. So many images flashed through her mind then, like a map of these woefully inappropriate dreams.
His hand cupping roughly between her legs as he pulled her back against him . . . . Him stripping every stitch of fabric from her body before throwing her down on the staircase and sinking into her. That one when he'd dropped to his knees in front of her, parting her thighs to bury his mouth against her.
The way she begged for more without a word, in pleading whimpers and ecstatic, screaming moans.
"Dammit, Hermione," she said in a hissing whisper, shaking her head once more. "He's a vile beast, what the hell is wrong with you?"
A knock at her door roused her from her thoughts. Her shoulders slumping, she dried her face and went back through her room. What could be wrong at this time of night?
"Hermione, open up."
She rushed the last few steps at the sound of panic in Harry's voice. Pulling open the door, she met his wide, exhausted but startled green eyes. "Harry, what's—?"
"Get dressed, Kingsley and Arthur need our help, now."
"Dammit, Harry! Tell me what's—"
Her heart shuddered at the mention. "Remus?"
"His body's missing."
With that, her heart plummeted into her stomach. Nodding numbly, uncertain just what she felt at those words, she closed the door, rushing to change her clothes with quick, mechanical movements.
Charms had been used to preserve the battlefield at Hogwarts, and the bodies of the fallen, since there had been so much mayhem and destruction, that tending to everything was proving a long, arduous task, even with volunteers and the full force of what was left of the Ministry. When the three arrived at the castle grounds, none of them expected the place to look nearly exactly as it had when Voldemort had fallen.
Though it was dark, the area was illuminated by magic. Hermione didn't wait for the new Minister—in all but official title, yet—and Ron's father to cross the war-torn courtyard toward them. She could hear Ron and Harry calling her name as she made a beeline for where she'd recalled Remus' body being.
Those working with the scene had the decency to cover the fallen, that was something she supposed, though it was decidedly morbid to have to keep the place intact in this moment of sorrow and ruin for days on end. There, Tonks' shrouded form was exactly where it had been. But Remus?
Hermione swallowed hard, feeling her throat tighten as she walked passed the other witch's body and saw Remus' shroud . . . cast aside. Had someone pulled it off? Had he been affected by some spell that had put him into a near-death state, and he'd come to and thrown it off, himself?
No, no. It made no sense that such a thing could happen if he hadn't reached out to anyone to let them know he'd survived.
Harry and Ron exchanged a troubled look with the elder wizards as they all crossed the courtyard to stand with her. They could tell by her expression, by the way her gaze was touching upon everything in the vicinity, that she was processing the possibilities of what might've gone on here.
And she wished their concern was only that she might make some observation that they didn't want to hear, but she knew that after her outburst just days ago on this very same spot, they were concerned she'd have another meltdown.
She couldn't fathom how such a response would be possible this time with even the notion that he could be alive.
"Hermione?" Arthur Weasley started in that gentle-dad voice he affected so easily. "Do you notice anything?"
"Nothing you probably haven't already realized, I'm sure," she said with a shrug and a shake of her head. "He was taken, or got up and walked away."
Kingsley ran a hand down his face. They wanted to keep this quiet until they knew where the hell the body'd gotten to, and Merlin knew that meant hoping she—with that blistering intellect of hers—might be able to confirm one or the other for them. "Here's the problem. There's perimeter markers to let us know if anyone enters this scene. We can't exactly have wands and artifacts turning up missing at the hands of scavengers, now can we? No one entered the battlefield since the volunteers and Ministry workers left at sundown. But they did detect someone leaving the area. That was what alerted us."
"So . . . Remus isn't dead, or someone used some sort of enchantment to cover themselves as they stole the body?" Ron asked, his expression just this side of horrified.
Harry was trying hard to contain himself. He wasn't certain if he should be happy that Remus might be alive, or furious someone would do this to the man. Hermione couldn't say she didn't understand.
But for all their sakes, someone had to look at this logically. And the only way to keep herself from getting happy or angry without evidence to support either feeling was to pursue that logical path.
"What about the werewolves who fought for the Dark?"
Kingsley and Arthur shared a glance before returning their attention to her. "We haven't checked them recently. You think this is part of some larger . . . scheme?" Mr. Weasely asked, looking incredibly like Ron just now as he made exactly the same face as his son had.
"Well, there are some Dark spells and magics that call for all manner of morbid things. Body parts, vampire saliva, who knows. What if someone needs a werewolf's corpse for something . . . nefarious?"
Harry scowled, shaking his head. "Gee, I don't imagine someone needing a corpse—werewolf or otherwise—for a non-nefarious purpose, Hermione."
She narrowed her eyes and met his gaze, answering with a headshake of her own. "Well, that would sort of be my point. We can't dismiss the possibility that Remus seeming to get up and leave the scene on his own might be someone simply . . . dragging his body across the perimeter with magic. I hope he's somehow alive, too, but until we know more, it's . . . it's wisest for all of us to operate under the assumption that someone took him."
"That is the wisest, yes," Kingsley agreed with a nod. "However, the best way to handle this is to pursue both avenues. Arthur and I will handle investigating this as theft of a corpse. You, Harry, and Ron have my authority to investigate this as a missing persons case."
The Golden Trio exchanged a look before all speaking in unison. "You're sure?"
His eyebrows shooting up, the Minister nodded. "One of the most helpful things in finding information in a situation like this is a familiarity with the missing party. At this moment, the only living people who knew Remus that well are all standing right here. That aside, you're not children anymore, and your efforts leading up to, and during, the Second War have more than earned you my trust in your ability to handle this."
"Of course," Hermione said, painfully aware that she was speaking for the three of them, just then. She looked to Harry and Ron before nodding. "We'll start right away."
"Bugger," Ron murmured under his breath as they turned as one and started back across the courtyard. "There goes any sleep for the next few days."
Hermione grabbed Harry's shoulder by instinct, stopping him from turning and having a go at Ron for being his usual Ron-self. She knew ginger-haired wizard was only trying to bring levity to the situation, and not actually being selfish, and she knew, too—or hoped, at least—that in a moment, when Harry'd decided what he was really feeling about all this, he'd realize it, too.
Fenrir was on pins and needles. For days he'd eluded capture, easily. But now? Now someone was very clearly dogging his tracks—canine pun unintended.
He should've known hiding out in Knockturn Alley, abandoned as it was from the moment the War ended, was going to bite him on the arse. But, really, he'd thought a setting like this was the last place anyone would look for a werewolf hiding out, that was why he hadn't retreated to the tranquil comfort of a forest, instead.
He had no idea who might've followed him here . . . until a few moments ago. Then he'd caught a familiar scent.
Ducking into an open storefront, he waited.
Fenrir found himself impressed this one had managed to follow him, as it could've only been by scent. It was more than he'd have given him credit for, previously, being that he was raised by a vehement hater of werewolves who'd probably been the one who taught him to hate himself.
The moment the other werewolf's shadow came into view, Fenrir lunged from his hiding place. Claws out, his fanged jaw gaping in a murderous expression, he latched his fingers around his stalker's throat and smashed him backward into the nearest wall.
No sooner had he paused, deliberately and in mid-attack, than did he feel the point of a wand pressing into his side, just beneath his ribs. That was only further proof of the injustice Lyall Lupin had done his own son—the man before him thought more like a wizard than a wolf.
But something had changed. As Remus Lupin glared him, Fenrir found amber eyes blinking back at him. Eyes much more like his own, now.
And yet, Remus didn't strike him down. He was being given the opportunity, but he wasn't taking it.
Curious as to his purpose here—and wasn't this pup supposed to be dead, now that Fenrir thought on it?—he backed up just enough to ease the press of the weapon against his side. "What are you doing here, little Lupin?"
"Did my father lie?"
Sputtering out a surprised chuckle, Fenrir actually dropped his hold on Remus and backpedaled a step. "Oh! Oh, you're funny! That question could be about so many things!"
"You know exactly what I'm talking about!"
"Do I?" Fenrir growled under his breath. "Half the Wars' slogans were based on things that man said!"
Remus' features pinched in anger, those newly-amber eyes flaring with his simmering rage. "Don't toy with me, Greyback!" He lifted his wand, aiming it square between Fenrir's eyes. "The night I was bitten! Did he lie about how it happened?"
"Of course he did," Fenrir snapped.
"No, that can't be true."
Fenrir's wickedly arched brows shot up. "He was one of the 'good guys,' remember?"
Now a father himself, Remus couldn't stomach the thought. "That means nothing in this!"
"Doesn't it?" Uttering an angry chuckle, Fenrir bared his teeth as he said, "How else was he to explain that he used his own son as a shield?!"
Feeling as though he'd been punched in the gut—yes, yes, that was exactly the terrible revelation in his own father's handwriting on the crumpled pages in his pocket, but he couldn't bring himself to believe it.
"I don't—I don't believe you," Remus said, his voice trembling.
Shaking his head, Fenrir sighed, forcing his anger to subside. "Yes, you do. Otherwise, you'd have done something with that wand besides wave it at me."
Remus felt the wind rush out of his lungs as though he'd been struck. His own father, his father . . . such a . . . .
"That bloody coward," he said, a glittering sheen filling his eyes as his wandarm fell lifeless to his side.
Fenrir stepped back a moment, nodding as he watched the other man's bereft expression. For what seemed minutes, Remus' gaze darted about, but he clearly wasn't able to register a single thing upon which his attention landed.
When he clamped his hand over Remus' shoulder, he wasn't at all surprised that Remus nearly jumped out of his skin. "You could use a drink, I think. Now that you're willing to listen, we've got a shitload to talk about, pup."
Remus looked up, miserably meeting Fenrir's gaze, his logic winning out even in a crushing moment like this. "You can hardly go into the Leaky Cauldron and sit down for a pint, now can you?"
Once more clapping the other werewolf on his shoulder, Fenrir wagged the forefinger of his free hand in Remus' face. "Now you just wait right here and leave that to me."
Hermione, Harry, and Ron had stopped into Diagon Alley on their way to check in with Andromeda. There was every chance Remus had gone straight to the Tonks house to see Teddy. As she stepped from the Leaky Cauldron—just a moment, a quick stop off for a bite to eat, as it was the only place open at this hour—she could swear she spotted Fenrir from the corner of her eye.
In a terrible flash, those damned dreams shot through her mind. Swallowing hard, she gave herself a shake and snapped her eyes shut. That was just her imagination, she reprimanded herself, willing her body to calm, despite how the memories sent a sweet, heated curl through her.
"Hermione, you okay?"
Looking up at Ron's question, she nodded. "Yes, sorry. I think I'm just tired. Maybe we should pop back in real quick for some coffees, yeah?"
In that moment, Harry and Ron both appeared to think this was the most amazing idea they'd ever heard. Nodding, they all trooped back inside, though Hermione could not help casting a quick glance over her shoulder—back to the spot where she was so sure she'd seen him—as she went.
He watched her disappear back into the establishment with her little friends. She'd seen him, he knew she had. But that wasn't the interesting part, no.
The interesting part was the scent that had wound off of her just then. An inviting smell—one of arousal, for certain—before she made that obvious effort to get ahold of herself. And it had only happened a heartbeat after her gaze had skittered over him.
He made no attempt to stifle the wicked grin curving his lips. "Looks like someone's missed me," he said, sinking his teeth into his lower lip as he turned and started back down Knockturn Alley, wondering if he could somehow plan for them to cross paths again, sometime soon.