Remus Lupin: a man, a werewolf, a survivor of the war and currently quite broke. He had been half-sure that he ought to refuse Marcia Rune's scribbled, nearly illegible invitation to "com see Harry cause he's bin talking about u and my mighty ship oh yea and we can get pina coladas. pak a nite bag." Part of his reluctance was rooted in the fact that Marcia and Harry had completely and utterly disappeared for two years without word (minus a get-well-soon card that had anonymously appeared in his hospital room where he had been treated for burns incurred from demonic fire) once the adoption was finalized. The other part of his reluctance was because his hospital room was right beside Umbridge and he had heard things that he really didn't want to hear.
The invitation included a bizarre set of directions and a map. After much internal debate that ended with admitting to himself that he needed to know how Harry was doing and how well he was being taken care of (all that, and he was getting tired of sleeping on park benches), Remus set out with the map and directions. It eventually led him to the red clay roof of a random building that he never before noticed. There was no sign of a ship anywhere and he felt like a fool. He skirted the roof's edge counterclockwise twice per Marcia's directions, made his way to the center, waved a white handkerchief, and flatly recited, "Beam me up, Scotty."
A beam of neon-green light surrounded him so suddenly that Remus had dropped his night bag and grabbed his wand from his pocket before he realized that it was somehow pulling him above the ground. He arched backwards and winced when the bright light pierced his eyes. The grip on his wand was clammy as it tightened. He felt his heart pounding within his chest as the light drew him into a metal room filled with bizarre flashing miniature lights and beeps.
Remus found his feet settling on a round, raised platform, and could see something moving in his peripheral vision.
When the light faded, he whipped around and immediately threw a stun spell at the movement.
Marcia collapsed with a soundless twitch.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry," he muttered as he quickly released her. She eyed him suspiciously as she rubbed the spot on her head that had clipped the edge of the platform when she collapsed; he couldn't blame her, really. Even he had to wince at the insincerity of his apology. "I'm not used to this sort of thing," he added lamely. He bent over, hooked his hands beneath her armpits, and set her up straight on her feet. She looked startled.
"S'okay. I shoulda warned you. Now, really quick." She planted both hands on her hips and managed to look stern as she craned her neck to look up at him. "Since you wizards seem to have as much experience with technology as my family does, here's the rules: do not touch anything that I haven't said is okay to touch – this includes blinking buttons, flashing lights, talking voices, the AI challenging you to a game of poker, the vending machines, joysticks, toggle pads, gizmos, gadgets, doohickies, thingamabobbies, and whatchamacallits."
Remus looked around the bizarre room. It was a cool metal with circular angles, almost as if he was enclosed in a bubble. He looked at the platform, with its various wires, buttons, and colored light. It reminded him of some of the sci-fi shows he occasionally watched on the telly when the opportunity presented itself, secretly marveling at the imagination of Muggles and their innocent ignorance in toting science above magic.
It had struck him that perhaps Muggle science was some sort of unconscious desire to make up for the lack of magic in their lives. Because of their constant drive to overcome science, Muggles were constantly moving through a state of change.
The wizarding world, on the other hand, was stagnating.
Disturbed by his dark turn of thoughts, Remus turned his attention back to Marcia, and how she was pointing out the large, heavy tapestries that covered her walls. "These are different doorways to different worlds that I have permanent ties to. This is one," a tapestry of dragons, "is to my Uncle Gabby's islands. It'll open right up to the dragon pens, so if you accidentally stumble or sleepwalk through it, you'll find yourself surrounded by some very big, very mean dragons. I recommend not going there. Especially with the way you smell."
Which could mean many different things, since bathwater and soap were on Remus' list of unaffordable luxury items.
"They're trained to attack and kill anything that smells of moon magic."
Ah. It was because he smelled like a werewolf. He did recall her noticing it almost immediately the first time they met. Somehow, death by dragon was not something that had ever occurred to him, and he also realized that was probably a good idea to avoid just such a fate.
"This one goes to Mama's kingdom," Marcia continued as she pointed at a tapestry that depicted a gentle forest scene with friendly-looking deer (a misconception if Remus ever knew of one, because deer packed a really nasty kick). "You can wander in and out of there if you want, but the frost gremlins might toss you into the dungeons if they thought you're a threat. I know I sometimes have to fetch Harry when he goes wandering off to see Mama. That one," the tapestry was sheer black with no color, no embellishment, and no brocade, "goes to the Realm of Chaos. Actually, it leads right into the Ada Bastion, which is kind of the Lord of Chaos' abode, so don't go there. Ever. At all."
"Why do you even have it?"
Marcia broke out in a cold sweat. "Uh. Because I got loads of family there. I like my mother's grandmother, and it's easy to go see my father."
Remus thought about that for a moment. "And because the Lord of Chaos said you had to?"
Marcia flinched. "It's not like he already can't go anywhere he doesn't want to! He doesn't even have to make the effort like I do." She performed a full-body shake that made Remus think of a bird fluffing up its feathers after being dowsed with water. "Anyway, Harry's in the pilot room. Um." She nibbled her bottom lip and looked with worry at the sliding door across from the platform Remus had arrived on. "Harry's going through this phase. He, uh, thinks Mama is the Universe's coolest person – I think that's the lingo these days – and so he wants to be just like her when he grows up."
Marcia looked disturbed with this idea, and Remus couldn't help but roll his eyes as he thought, Someone is just a little bit jealous.
"I'm not trying to be activity discouraging, per say, 'cause I think that Mama's a good roll model. But, uh, if you can think of anything that could rectify the current situation, I would be so grateful for your help – the child psychiatrist I visited insisted that Harry should figure it all out on his own."
Remus managed to hide his wince.
"I also just want you to know that my brothers are all sadistic bastards and I had nothing to do with this."
Remus had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he remained silent as he followed Marcia over to the door. He watched in fascination (and amusement) as she stood in tiptoes, pried the top plate off the controls beside the door, and bounced up and down to reach the top layers of buttons.
"It's a child-proof lock," Marcia explained between jumps. The panel silently slid open, and they both stepped through the other side. "Doesn't stop Harry though," she muttered.
Remus reached a hand out in wonder to touch the cold metal walls, marveling at their smooth texture. He could feel a faint vibration beneath his palm. "In the future, will all Muggles have this technology?" Marcia looked at him, her face still and eyes shrouded behind those reflective glasses.
"It's available to anyone with the resources."
"Will everything be as advanced as this?" Remus wasn't completely familiar with Muggle technology, but hiding out in their world when trying to avoid the prejudices of being a werewolf gave him more knowledge and experience than most of the wizarding world in general.
"Oh, it already is. There's loads of advanced alien cultures out there, billions of different worlds connected through the System. Earth will eventually make contact with them in about four hundred years."
"Doesn't knowing and telling about the future change it?"
"I technically don't exist, so what's there to change?"
Remus supposed that was a possibility he never considered.
Marcia gave a woeful sigh. "Of all the things that my education neglected to prepare me for just such an occasion of not existing and time-traveling, I never memorized the entire list of every single Kentucky Derby winner in existence."
"Was your education supposed to prepare you for just such an occurrence?"
Marcia finally led them to a different room. It had three large chairs bolted to the floor that faced a long, rectangular screen and consul that was lit up with numerous colors. Something stirred in the chair, and a head peeked over the top. "Oh! Oh! Uncle Remy!" Harry's head disappeared behind the chair. The chair swiveled and rocked a moment as Harry clambered out of it, and then excitedly hurried to Remus with a few stumbles over the hem of his crimson gown.
Remus was speechless as he scooped up the careening Harry, and then cast a dark look at Marcia. She ignored him as she walked over to consul, stood on a small stool that allowed her full reach, flipped a metal square around to reveal a keyboard, and began to type in directions. Mindful of Marcia's commands not to touch anything, Remus gingerly seated himself on the edge of the chair furthest away from Marcia and pulled Harry away.
"Missed you." Harry frowned unhappily, and touched Remus' unshaven cheek. "You're rough." He didn't speak with a lisp, but there was a characteristic slur of his words that Remus suspected had more to do with Marcia's speech than Harry's current level of development.
"And you're…" Remus fingered the material of Harry's dress. "Silky." The dress was a bright monstrosity, really, with too many yards of white eyelet lace and – were those crystals sewn along the ribbon that graced Harry's waist?!
"It's very pretty!" Harry wriggled free of Remus' grasp and twirled on the floor, the hem of his dress flaring outward. Remus shot a look of askance at Marcia, who did a wiggling dance with her arms and legs that seemed to say, Why are you looking at me? I said I had nothing to do with this! "Uncle Rufus said I look just like Nanna."
Remus couldn't remember if the Queen of Winter was given to wearing lacy monstrosities – he didn't think so. The few, brief encounters he had with her (a dainty, pale woman with water red eyes who had kindly brought him a large bouquet of daffodils during his hospital stay, and a picture of Harry wrapped in furs as he rolled around in a bank of snow) gave Remus the impression that she was a subdued woman who relied on subtle grace, rather than silly gaudiness.
Unable to think of how to respond to Harry's… feminine side… Remus opted to change the subject. "How's your training?"
Harry pressed a finger against his lip and frowned in thought. "Papa says I'm getting better at dodging." He smiled, and Remus forgot to breathe at the sight of such brightness on a face that still made his chest ache when he tried to recall his friends before they died. "I can control my fire, now!"
"Boy, can he ever," Marcia muttered darkly from where she was fiddling with a… doohickey.
"That's nice." Remus had the sense to be horrified at the idea of Harry controlling the very same fire he had seen consume the Ministry. That had certainly taken a lot of officials an awful lot of time and effort to clean up. He was told some rooms, used for storing valuable information and artifacts, were unharmed. But other rooms had suffered. For instance, the records room that contained lists and numbers of crossbreeds or dangerously cursed people – his name included, since he was a werewolf – had been burned so thoroughly that the Ministry could only hope to manually document everyone all over again, and they hoped (mostly in vain) that people would be honest and forthright about their status. And that, Remus believed, was one of those cases where honesty was probably not the best policy. "What can you make the fire do?"
Smiling proudly, Harry lifted his arms above his head, and the lacy sleeves fell around his shoulders to reveal arms that seemed too heavily muscled to belong to a three-year-old boy.
"Not by the consul!" Marcia declared firmly. "George is in sleep mode and he's going to stay in sleep mode!"
Harry blinked at that. "Oh yeah. Come on, Uncle Remy." Harry gave his adopted mother a wary look. "Can we do it in the bedroom?"
Marcia was carefully scrutinizing something on a flashed screen. "Don't trigger the oxygen stat's alarm, 'kay?" She waved them away. Harry eagerly grabbed Remus' hand and tugged him along, out of the room and down a hall. Just as they rounded the corner, Remus heard Marcia mutter, "I don't remember the British Air Force having this radar."
Harry led Remus to the left, activated the door panel with a skilled wave and flick of the heavy beads around his neck, and rushed in. Remus carefully studied his surroundings before stepping forward. It was a much smaller room than the other two he had been in; the walls were lined with different sized drawers and cabinet doors, and two small pallets lay on the floor next to the far left wall. One was an unruly nest of blankets and pillows, and the other slightly rumpled with two skewed pillows and a wrinkled quilt. Harry sat on the latter pallet and patted the spot beside him as he craned his neck upward.
Remus gingerly sat down, suddenly self-conscious of how his clothes hadn't been washed for four days and how the quilt smelled clean. Sure, there were charms to keep clothes well-maintained and clean, but even the best of spells couldn't replace good old fashioned soap and water. He also didn't like the direction his thoughts were taking him; Remus then decided that he simply would refuse to mope so long as he was with Harry. "I'm surprised you remember me, Harry."
"Oh, you're easy to remember! But watch, Uncle Remy! Watch!" Harry raised his hands in the air again, and Remus winced as he watched Harry's sleeves fall back. It was disturbing to see the spitting image of James Potter dressed in something even Lily wouldn't consider wearing. And then he noticed something different.
The last time he had seen that stretch of skin on the inside of Harry's elbow, it had been raw and weeping blood from the fresh tattooed number magically etched into his fragile skin. It had been a requirement shortly enacted just after the War peaked, when all captured dark creatures and their offspring were numbered like prisoners. Without thinking, Remus snatched at the arm for a closer look, and then dropped it when a whoosh of flames immediately blossomed into being between Harry's extended hands.
Well, there goes any eyebrows I might have had before now.
Harry flashed a bright smile at Remus, and then turned back to his fire. He frowned thoughtfully and studied the suspended flames for a moment before they began to twist and change shape. Remus watched in silent awe as Harry wordlessly manipulated the fire into different spiraling shapes. A square; a heart; a rose; a diamond; a pinwheel. Each was constructed of different colors and varied levels of heat. Sweat beaded Harry's forehead when he finally released his fire; the pinwheel evaporated as if it never existed. "I can't hold it for very long, but Papa says that I'm doing really good." Harry shyly peeked at Remus from beneath his fringe.
Remus felt a slow smile inch across his face. Those last moments he remembered of Harry, clutching him close and trying to stifle blood flowing down the chubby arm from the newly carved numbers, he remembered the fire that surrounded them, that grew with each passing scream of pain and terror. Fire that had engulfed the room, that dragged unsuspecting bodies into its flaming depths, fire that had even attacked Remus – it was now controlled, just as wizarding children eventually learned to control their accidental magic.
Remus's relief was so palatable that Harry touched his sleeve, his little brow wrinkling in concern. "I'm proud of you," Remus whispered as he gathered Harry – silly silken dress and ribbons and all – into his arms and gave him a big hug. Oh James, to see your son now! Okay, maybe not now, as he was sure that James might have a word or two about the crossdressing, but in general… "Um, Harry? Your dress is-"
"I don't usually wear it when I'm working with my fire, 'cause I don't want it to get ruined." Harry smoothed the fabric out with one of his hands.
That was a start, Remus supposed. (Goodness, was Marcia raising a hedonist?) He wondered what the best way of broaching the argument of how it was inappropriate for a fine young man – or boy – to be wearing dresses his grandmother might approve for her granddaughter. He was saved from trying to make another attempt by Marcia's entrance.
"I gave them the slip, so we're on our way to a little cantina just on the other side of the galaxy. We'll arrive in a few hours. Here." She held something out to him – a square piece of plastic, sort of like a Muggle ID.
Remus gingerly accepted the ID and held it pinched between his two fingers. Unreadable text scrawled across its surface, like the way he remembered runes crawling across the pages of his Ancient Runes textbook. "What's it for?"
"That's your visitor's pass. It'll keep the both of us out the can because you're a terrestrial resident from a non-licensed planet. Not that they would be able to hold me in the can anyway, 'cause I'm a D-Hopper, but that's 'sides the point. Anyway, are we having fun yet?"
Harry nodded his head vigorously. "I showed him my fire!"
"Dressed like that?"
Harry stuck his lower lip out in a pout. "I didn't singe it."
Marcia frowned and looked as though she wanted to say more, but Harry twisted around in Remus's lap and firmly placed his hand on the middle of Remus's chest. "You don't care, do you?"
Oh no; there was no way he was going to be pitted between a toddler-aged wizard demon, and a toddler-sized demon (okay, a prepubescent-sized demon…)! "Marcia, what happened to the numbers?" He traced his fingers along Harry's forearm.
Marcia's expression darkened. "Oh. Took care of those almost immediately." She tapped a finger firmly against her skull, just below her ear. "Due to some miscommunication and magic, my language chip got scrambled and I was forced to listen to Christmas carols for the next couple of days. Anyway, I went to see a specialist to get it fixed, and there was a plastic surgeon's office located in the same building. Harry and I just nipped right on over, the surgeon surgically removed the skin containing the numbers, spliced and replicated the skin cells, and then reattached the new growth. Viola, no scar and no number!"
Remus imagined a whooshing sound to accompany Marcia's explanation as it flew right over his head. "Speaking of language, Harry seems very advanced for a three year old."
"Benefits of a language chip – he's got one like mine. It's almost a requirement for interUniversal travel." They both fell silent then, and Remus allowed Harry to wiggle free of his grip to dash out the room ("Show you more stuff, Uncle Remy!"). Both adults followed at a more leisurely pace.
"Say, can I ask you a personal question?" Marcia glanced sideways at Remus as she spoke, not quite directly meeting his gaze. "Not that I'm trying to be nosy about you, but more about certain considerations in general, 'kay?"
"I can't guarantee I'll be able to answer it, but you may."
"Your curse and it's interaction with moon magic-" Marcia was silent a moment, her lips shaping silent words before she continued on in a breathless rush, "-do you suppose it has anything or everything to do with your moon? Because there's a lot of moons out there, and I wonder about the implications of their effects on you if we happen to land on one. Would you turn into a wolf then, or is it just your Earth's moon? And is your curse connected with how much light the moon sheds when it's full, or with its position with the earth's equator and subsequent effects on gravity that causes the trigger?"
"I… I don't know." Remus was stunned with all the different ideas jammed into her questions. He felt embarrassed to admit that he didn't know anything more about why the full moon triggered the werewolf's curse, other than it being, well, magic. "I don't know." His voice dropped into a whisper. "All that anyone knows is that the full moon itself is what triggers the curse."
Marcia's eyebrows shot up. Something akin to a sly curiosity and glee was creeping across her face and into her voice, and it was making Remus start to sweat in worry. "Maybe it's got something to do with the particular energy wavelengths between your sun, moon, and earth that connect with your own energy wavelengths, so maybe other moons won't have the effect. Kinda like sister or child auras."
"Ooooh, there's so many different avenues to explore!"
"Is that safe?" Remus demanded hurriedly. Marcia was taken back from his irritation. "What about Harry? I cannot bite him, Marcia. I will not risk him for your curiosity!"
"Oh please." Marcia dismissed his worries with a flutter of her hand, and Remus felt the sudden urge to snarl and snap at her. "I move faster than time itself. Make one threatening move towards Harry, and I'll personally drop you off the Ada Bastion, and - Harry! Put that back!"
Harry hid whatever he had behind his back, out of view of the adults. "No!" He stamped his foot, and little sparks flew up from the floor before they died out into nothing.
"George personally said that he's scramble the molecules in those straws if you so much as thought of flying in the ship again when it's in motion, and I'm already fighting him over his hacking into Russian military files this morning. Gimmee."
Remus quickly sidestepped the wave of searing heat, and thought it best for now if he allowed Harry and Harry's adopted mother settle their conflict. Besides, his thoughts kept straying back to Marcia's different questions of what, exactly, about the full moon had such an effect on the were curse.
Remus Lupin: a man, a werewolf, a survivor of the war, currently quite broke, and, apparently, Guinea pig extraordinaire.
He supposed it could be much worse, but he didn't really want to follow that line of thought because, with his run of bad luck, things would get worse.
The Lord of Chaos perked up.
What fools these mortals (and technically-don't-exist immortals) be!
author's note: I do apologize for the long wait in updating. I've been busy with nursing school once again, but I have been working on a general outline for events and ideas, so the chapters probably won't take so many months to write. Thanks for your patience, everyone! Comments and reviews are always appreciated.