In this fic, I again introduce a theory about Hermione's lineage that almost always comes into play in my werewolf fics. It's something I've always contended, because it makes sense, hence why it appears in so many of my works.
"He's not here," Harry said, his voice echoing in the brick and mortar enclosure of the Tonks House's fireplace. "No sign of him there, either, hmm?"
Andromeda and Hermione exchanged a glance before returning their attention to the wizard's face in the flames. "We'd have said so, don't you think?"
He nodded in reply to Hermione's question. "Yes, you're right. Sorry, I'm just . . . ."
When he didn't seem to know how to finish his sentence, Hermione sighed. "We know, Harry. We're all a little out of sorts about this."
"Right, well, Ron's going to stay here in case he does show. Are you okay with staying there and I'll go check out Remus'? I can't think of any other spot he'd return to if not one of these places."
"If he's even gone of his own volition," Andromeda tossed in with a frown. She let the 'if he's still actually alive' bit slide—none of them needed the reminder.
Hermione looked from Andromeda to the sleeping child she still cradled, and then back to Harry. "Wait, no. I should go to Remus'."
Arching a brow, he asked, "Why?"
"Well, for starters, I'm really not good with infants—evidence to the contrary aside—second, you've even said it yourself that Remus and I are alike." She shrugged, ignoring that in his slumber, Teddy'd latched onto one of her fingers and had yet to relinquish his hold. She sincerely wasn't good with infants, but Teddy clearly didn't seem to take such nonsensical grownup logic into account. "If there's any clues as to somewhere else he might've gone that we simply don't know to check, I'd be the one most likely to know where to look for them. Also . . . ."
As her voice trailed off, she turned her gaze on the other witch.
Andromeda nodded. "It's okay. If it'll help, I think he should know."
Frowning, Hermione had to force a gulp down her throat before she went on. "Andromeda was telling me something about Remus. Um, she said when she last saw him on the day he accompanied Tonks and Teddy to stay here, he seemed . . . despondent. I mean, yes, with everything going on at that time, perhaps that was only natural, but Remus was always a pensive man. She said this seemed . . . ." She winced, looking to Andromeda, again. She was uncertain quite how to explain.
"This was something different," the older woman said with a weighted sigh. "He wouldn't talk to either of us about it, but you could tell there was something troubling him, greatly. I even felt—it's terrible to say, now—I even felt that perhaps he suspected he wasn't going to come back from the War."
"Worse." Hermione had to press herself to get the words out, as her throat seemed to tighten, as though attempting to keep what she was trying to say locked inside her. "Tonks said it seemed like he maybe didn't WANT to come back. And so, if there was something that was bothering him, we need to know. And he's not the sort of person who would carelessly leave such a thing lying about. Therefore—"
"If anyone will know where to look, right," Harry said, raking his fingers through his hair in frustration. "Right. Okay. I'll come there to relieve you, and you go to his flat. I'll be there soon."
Hermione tried for a smile as they bid goodbye, but she could feel that the expression fell flat. He returned the gesture, regardless, and then was gone from the flames.
"Okay." She turned toward Andromeda. "I suppose you should take little sir, then."
Her shoulders sloping a bit, Andromeda grinned at her sleeping grandchild and crossed the floor. The witches were incredibly careful in transferring such a delicate parcel, but still, Teddy seemed to notice the difference the moment he was parted from Hermione. His tiny face creased in a silent cry, but Andromeda acted before any noise escaped, rocking the child and singing softly to him.
Hermione thought she might collapse in relief on the spot when the elder witch managed to settle him back down. As Andromeda's lilting voice melted into a sweet hum, an idea struck the other woman.
"This might be asking a bit much, and I'm so sorry if I'm overstepping, but this was the last place Tonks was before she left to join Remus at the Battle of Hogwarts. I was wondering—"
"If you could go through her things and see if there's anything there that might help?"
Her jaw dropping, Hermione averted her gaze, suddenly feeling incredibly awkward. "I know how it sounds, and I'm so sorry, but—"
"I understand, Hermione. It's fine. The room beside the nursery. I've not touched a thing."
Patting Andromeda's arm, she murmured a quick thank you and started for the staircase. As she moved, another thought occurred to her.
What if it wasn't a coincidence that she'd glimpsed Fenrir Greyback in the wee hours of that morning? She couldn't know his destination, or his purpose, but there was a strange inkling coiling through her.
What if he was searching for Remus, as well?
With a sobering shake of her head, she picked up her pace, rushing up the stairs in hopes of finding some clue amongst Tonks' things.
Remus furrowed his brow, pulling himself to sit up, finally. It nearly seemed as though he hadn't the strength to do so while he's spoken in the wake of, well, in the wake of what Fenrir had done to him. But now, as Fenrir's logic bounced about in his skull, he couldn't help himself.
"She doesn't have werewolf blood, she can't. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
Fenrir had since folded his hands behind his head, staring up at the ceiling, still, while he'd listened to the other wolf reminisce aloud about his history with the witch. He rolled his eyes, holding in a sigh. Would Remus Lupin's naiveté about his own kind never cease to surprise him?
"Think about this . . . when you're transformed, you know the difference between the sounds of a human and the sounds of a wolf, yeah?"
"And they sound completely different, don't they?"
Fenrir turned his head, meeting Remus' expectant gaze. "So, if you mistook the sound of her faking a howl for the cry of another werewolf—convincing enough that it lured you away from potential kill—then she must have something of the wolf in her, already. Human vocal cords can imitate us, enough to fool other humans, but they'd never actually sound like another of our kind to us."
His face falling, Remus shook his head, but he knew there was truth in Fenrir's words. "How didn't I see that?"
With a headshake of his own, Fenrir finally sat up. Resting his elbows over his knees, he shrugged. "Because you didn't want to. You said it yourself." He adopted a high-pitched tone as he said, "Oh, no, she's my friend, I'm just protective of her."
"No need for snark, Greyback." Remus frowned, shaking his head. He didn't bother mentioning that he didn't sound like that, aware it would only make the other man laugh at him.
"My point is valid, though. Now that you've thought on it, you know I'm right. And, if she went through the same thing you did with Dolohov's curse, well, considering what happened to you, maybe it strengthened whatever wolf blood's in her veins, too, when she survived it."
Climbing to his feet, Remus paced as he let that sink it. He . . . he did feel closer with Hermione after that night in the Department of Mysteries. He'd originally thought it was merely the lot of them bonding, as a whole, in the wake of losing Sirius.
But what if it wasn't? What if recovering from that only masked his connection to her strengthening all on its own?
"Would explain why I was willing to risk Bellatrix's bat-shit mad wrath to try and claim her, too," Fenrir said, a thoughtful look on his face.
Fenrir shrugged. "You have any idea how rare a female werewolf is? I could count on one hand the number I've come across in my entire life and still have fingers left over. That she's not a true werewolf, but someone with werewolf blood, would explain why she doesn't smell quite like one of us."
"Wait . . . ." Remus spun on his heel, locking his attention on Fenrir's face. "If something like Dolohov's curse could strengthen werewolf blood, what's to say enough trauma couldn't push her into actually becoming one of us?"
Fenrir shrugged again, grinning suggestively. "All the better for us, wouldn't you say?"
Baring his teeth, Remus couldn't help himself from taking a menacing step closer to the other werewolf. "Dammit, Greyback, this isn't a joke! If the potency of the wolf's blood in her increases after bodily trauma as, I dunno, some sort of defense mechanism, would it be possible?"
"I suppose. How much bodily trauma are we talking?"
Remus rolled his eyes as he thought, shifting his weight. "I don't know, exactly. But Dolohov's curse, Bellatrix torturing her, who knows what she went through during the Battle of Hogwarts. Hell, the woman was petrified by a bloody Basilisk when she was thirteen years old, from what I was told . . . . What's to say she's not on the brink of becoming a werewolf, herself, after all that?"
Fenrir frowned, darting his gaze about as he climbed to his feet. "And first full moon following War's End hasn't risen, yet, but it is only a few days away. If what we're talking about is even possible, she could very well have her first shift."
"And she'd never know it was coming. She wouldn't know to get herself away from everyone."
His broad shoulders slumping, Fenrir uttered a growl under his breath. "It'd be a slaughter, and she'd end up locked away."
"We've got to find her." Remus tamped down on a sudden rush of anger as he thought on Hermione caught, vulnerable and alone in the wake of a first shift with no understanding of how she'd changed in the first place. "Now."
"All right, Pup." His hands out in a placating gesture, Fenrir nodded. "Settle yourself and think. Where do we start?"
Hermione felt bizarre, like she was intruding when she stepped from the Floo into Remus' flat. Of course, she was intruding if he was still alive, but at least she could apologize for the disrespect when she found him. If he wasn't—she gave herself a shake as she forced a gulp down her throat—if he wasn't, then she was invading the privacy of a dead man.
"Get it together, Hermione! There might not be time for standing about like useless little lump."
Nodding to her own words, she turned in a slow circle. Despite what she'd told Harry, she had no idea where to start looking for clues.
Stepping over to a nearby bookcase, she ran her fingers along the spines of some volumes. She'd read quite a few of these, but some of the titles weren't familiar to her. Maybe when they were reunited and all the hysteria of how and why quieted down, he'd let her borrow them.
"Books," she said in a thoughtful whisper. "Remus Lupin, d'you by chance have a journal?"
But no. If he did have one—which she had no way of knowing for sure—he wouldn't keep it out here in the open. She knew when she was in her journaling phase, she'd kept hers in a drawer of the desk in her bedroom.
Oh, if she felt weird simply being in his flat without him here, entering the man's bedroom was going to be awkward. Not . . . not that she imagined being in Remus' bedroom with him. Because that wasn't what she meant, at all.
Scowling at the ridiculous direction of her own thoughts—where the bloody hell had that even come from?—she poked about, looking for which doorway was the room in question. Perhaps he didn't even have a desk in there and she was entirely off-base about that. She'd just have to pop her head through the entryway and see for certain.
Yet, as she peered into his bedroom, trying to reserve judgement on what a mess it was, she did spy a desk in one corner. Her shoulders drooped a little as she stepped inside and crossed the floor. She picked her way across strewn clothes and rumpled bedclothes. Clearly, he'd been in a hurry the last time he was here. And so much had happened the past year, he could've ducked in and made this mess in his rush to grab a few things at any point before he'd . . . .
Sighing, she pulled out his desk chair and took a seat. "I'm sorry, Remus," she said as she started opening drawers and rifling through their contents.
Bills . . . some old scrollwork left over from his teaching days . . . a few photographs of him and Sirius with the rest of 'the Marauders.' Smiling sadly, she ran her fingers over his smiling face in one of the pictures. Harry's mum was with them, and from the look of the scene, she'd been telling a joke, perhaps. Something that made them laugh while James beamed proudly with his arm around her.
She swallowed hard and set them aside. If Remus was really dead, those pictures should go to Harry.
Pulling at the handle of the last drawer on the right side, she found it locked. Her brow furrowing—none of the others had been—she pulled out her wand. With another whispered apology to her hopefully-only-missing friend, she tapped the drawer and uttered a quick Alohomora.
The witch drew a steadying breath as she put down her wand atop the desk and opened the drawer. Inside, she found a pair of aged, leather-bound books. Journals, as she suspected, but they seemed too aged to belong to Remus.
Frowning, she removed them from the drawer and flipped open the cover of the first. The name on the inside caused her to gasp. Just a small, quick sound, but still . . . .
"Lyall Lupin?" Of course it made sense that Remus might have his father's journals, but why keep them locked up? Hadn't the elder wizard's life been an—she hated herself for the pun—open book?
There was every chance this had nothing to do with his vanishing from the battlefield, but she couldn't discount it, either. And there was that damn feeling in her gut, again. Telling her she was on the right track, even if she couldn't see how, yet.
With a shake of her head, she thumbed through both books, looking initially for anything glaring that stood out. In the second, she came across a few torn out pages.
A puzzled expression colouring her features, she ran her fingertip along the ragged edges. They didn't feel like old tears. This was . . . . "Recent?" Setting down the books, she looked around.
Getting out of the chair, she rifled through the room. The desk, under the bed, the small rubbish bin tucked beneath the desk. Made more of a mess by tossing aside everything that had been on the floor. She even looked for ash residue—if there was something in this book Remus didn't want anyone to read, she couldn't think burning the pages would be out of the question.
But no. Wherever this missing information was, it wasn't here.
She opened the journal and flipped back to the section of missing pages. Lyall Lupin's life had been an open book, whatever dates were missing had to matter. Whatever events were missing had to do with Remus' disappearance, she could feel it.
Hermione almost didn't trust her eyes. The dates before and after the missing section were around the time Remus had been bitten as a child. But Remus knew the story better than anyone else, of course. Why would he need to—?
She cut off her own thought, turning her head slow as she heard the unmistakable creak of a footfall against the floorboards somewhere behind her.