The Midnight Club
Remus sat quietly, in silence, his thoughts torn between two sides. On one side was his duty to the Order and all his responsibilities, yet on the other side was what Gustav had just told him. He couldn't help feeling curiosity. Also, he wanted an explanation. He would hear what this man had to say. "I'm listening," Remus said, trying to hide his desire for this to be over so he could go home to Sirius.
Gustav smiled pleasantly at the acceptance and went straight to business. "I'm sure you're familiar with how the Muggle world sees our kind, Mr. Lupin: not wizards, but werewolves, vampires, goblins and all those beings."
"But you're not a werewolf or a vampire."
"No… My father was a werewolf; we lived in Russia in a small community with others like us. We didn't have Wolfsbane back then, and one night my father escaped from his shackles and ended up in a nearby Muggle town. He killed someone… and they killed him, hunted him. Then they went after us. Our town was burned, and we fled. Our numbers rounded the hundreds when we left, among them werewolves, vampires, fairies and goblins. But the townsmen wanted revenge, they wanted us dead. They started hunting us."
"Hunting?" Remus asked, horrified by the concept.
Gustav nodded. "We traveled all of Russia, trying to escape them, but they always caught up to us somehow. We killed in order to protect ourselves, and sometimes we even had years were nothing would happen. Then they would return and hunt us once more, passing their hatred through the generations. Mikael, Mara and I are the only ones left."
"Three? Out of more than a hundred?"
Gustav nodded again. "Their parents and older brother were killed last year. It's been hard for them, they're only teenagers. Impulsive, they often forget to plan ahead."
"Why didn't you seek help?" Remus asked.
"All those who lived in the town were already banned from the wizarding world, either for having committed a crime or just for being alive. Either way, we grew out of the wizarding world; it's really never been a choice of going back for help."
Remus blinked and frowned a bit. Gustav noticed the manner and smiled softly. "I don't expect you to completely understand how we've lived so far, Mr. Lupin, but I assure you that all I have told you is true."
Remus sat still. It sounded true; it was too an elaborate story not to be true. "I still don't understand where I fit in all this," he said, and the smile disappeared from Gustav's face.
"Excuse me," Remus blinked.
"Luka is another survivor of our community. He was kidnapped by our pursuers two weeks ago. He's just thirteen years old; he was born after our town was burned, and he's a werewolf."
"At such a young age?"
"He was born a werewolf; a pureblood; and the last of his family."
Remus let the information sink in. Indeed he had been very young when he was bitten, but his was a rare accident. To be born a werewolf… He thought once more what role he played in this little war he had been dragged into, all the pieces connecting in his mind. Gustav said that Luka had been taken two weeks earlier, the full moon was a little more than a week away. "You want me to help you find him, don't you?" Remus asked with assurance.
"Yes, Mr. Lupin. We need your aid in tracking him down."
Gustav seemed embarrassed at the question, and Remus waited for his answer. "We were keeping tabs on shops that sold ingredients specified only for the Wolfsbane potion, and you were the only patron who bought them." Remus mouth formed a silent 'oh'. Ingenious method; a complete invasion of privacy, but ingenious nonetheless. Gustav continued, "These people, they will want to make sure they're not killing a human, I know they will wait until the full moon to see if Luka turns and he will… He's just a child and they are going to kill him just for what he is."
Remus' stomach did a small flip, and he made a face, instantly disgusted and horrified by the whole thing.
"Please, Mr. Lupin… help me get my son back."
When Gustav said 'son,' Remus knew it wasn't on biological terms. He connected the dots from Gustav's story and assumed the man had raised that child from the moment he had lost his parents. Luka was by all means his son. The first thought out of Remus' head was that he wanted to help, to save this child, but then thoughts of his duty to the Order and Sirius popped up. Remus' eyes widened, "Sirius!" He must be worried sick and most likely searching for him and completely ignoring his own safety. Remus sighed loudly and wished he could tell his lover that he was fine.
Sirius got to the supermarket in less than two hours.
"Mikael Sokolov," he read the nametag aloud. Coming up with a quick disguise which consisted of tying his hair back, a hat and sunglasses, he walked into the supermarket and asked for the man. The girl at the front told him Mikael was due at work in an hour.
Sirius said his thanks with a slight grin on his face and returned to the darkness of the alley. Now he just had to wait.
An hour passed, and there was no sign of the vampire. Sirius waited patiently. Another hour later, and still nothing. Now Sirius was getting restless. He finally spotted the vampire after midnight, an hour late for his shift. Switching back to his dog form, he lay down in a corner where he could keep a close eye to the market's exit and waited. An hour before dawn Mikael left his job and headed down the street. The vampire had arrived on foot to his job and apparently was leaving in the same way. Sirius followed him discreetly, making sure he wasn't detected and praying that the being didn't decide to fly home.
"I have to think about it," Remus answered Gustav in response to his plea for help. "Could you give me half an hour?"
"Yes, of course," Gustav replied kindly as he stood. "I'll be back then," he said, leaving Remus to the silence of the empty basement.
The first thing Remus did once alone was to fall on the bed on which he was sitting. He was exhausted, his body constantly demanding sleep from him, since apparently unconsciousness wasn't a replacement for real sleep. Remus considered the pros and the cons of helping Gustav. He thought of the child, Luka, and imagined how scared he must be, having been taken away from his family. He wanted to help, he really did, but there were other things right now that took priority over helping strangers.
And what about Sirius? Did Sirius even know what had happened? Remus tried thinking back to earlier that night when the vampires had taken him, and all he could recollect was screaming Sirius' name before he was knocked unconscious. He had to call home, whether Sirius had heard him or not. He glanced at his watch. Past five in the morning; it would be dawn soon.
Remus walked to the door and found it open. He blinked at the spiral staircase before him, finding it unusual, and as he headed up it, he couldn't help but feel slightly claustrophobic. The walls were painted a tone of red that resembled wine, and at the end of the staircase there was another door that was also unlocked. The door gave access to a hall, and Remus blinked in surprise when he saw the vampire girl sitting in the middle of it. She blinked her green eyes at him and grinned, exposing her fangs on purpose. Remus frowned at her. She rose from the floor swiftly, the movement barely noticeable.
"I guess you're ready to tell Gustav your decision," she said. "Please stay here-" her grin broadened-"it's not like you can go very far even if you run away." Remus' frown deepened, the girl already settling on his dislike. The second she was out of sight, he followed her steps. He reached the main foyer and spotted the door which he presumed led outside, then he found a chair and sat on it. He wasn't just leaving like that.
Gustav appeared moments after, clutching a frame in his hands and tagging Mara after him. "Mr. Lupin, we were searching for you."
Remus stood. "I was just looking for someplace to sit," he lied.
"I assume you've reached a decision?" the aged wizard spoke.
Remus nodded slowly. "I'm sorry, but I-"
The front door opened, and everyone looked over as a reflex. Mikael entered the house and closed the door behind him, putting the bag of groceries aside. His eyes looked surprised at the scene before him, but he soon relaxed after spotting Gustav.
"Where's dinner? I'm starving," Mara declared as she went over to her brother.
"Oops," Mikael voiced under his breath.
"You forgot?" Mara yelled. "Mikael," she groaned.
"Look, I'm sorry. We'll just have to eat what's left on the fridge."
"But I want something warm!" she huffed as she opened the front door.
Mikael blocked her path instantly. "Did you see what time it is? It will be dawn in less than an hour!"
Gustav sighed loudly enough to catch Remus' attention. "Excuse me for a moment, Mr. Lupin. Could you please hold this for a second?" He handed Remus the frame he'd been clutching and walked over to where the siblings were having their discussion. Remus blinked slowly then looked at what the man had given him. It was a Muggle picture, so it didn't move. The frame held a picture of a smiling child. The boy had brown hair and sat smiling in the middle of a mass of brown leaves; the picture had most likely been taken the previous fall season. Remus knew the child was Luka.
The noise from the door caught his attention again, then suddenly there was a growl, and Mikael stumbled into the house and fell to the floor, a huge black dog on top of him. Sirius growled and bit down on Mikael's shoulder, forcing a scream from the vampire. There was a second growl, but this one came from Mara, who had been thrown back by Sirius's sudden entrance but who was now hissing at him. She made her hand look like a claw with her sharp nails and wasted no time in slashing at Sirius.
"Stop!" Remus screamed, dropping the frame in his hands and running toward his lover.
But Mara's attack never connected as she was thrown back by a charm. She landed against a near wall and tried to stand once more until Gustav stopped before her, a serious look in his eyes as he clutched his wand. She remained still.
"Sirius!" Remus yelled. The dog's eyes widen in recognition, and he released his hold on the vampire immediately as he ran to Remus. Halfway across the distance he transformed back and wrapped his arms around him.
"You're all right," he whispered against his ear.
"I'm fine," Remus said softly, smiling.
Someone cleared his throat, and Sirius instantly stepped away from Remus and pushed him behind as he glared at Gustav and the pair of vampires who now stood behind him. The man just looked at them with what Remus assumed was understanding. Mara's eyes looked surprised, and her brother just stood there, his face blank.
"It's all right, Sirius," Remus said, putting a hand on his lover's shoulder. Sirius glanced at him and they exchanged looks for a moment. Sirius then nodded and moved to Remus' side, but not before grabbing his hand and holding it tight, making it clear to those in the room with whom it was that Remus belonged.
"I believe I owe you an answer, Mr. Reid," Remus said seriously as he squeezed Sirius's hand in reassurance. "I want to help."
Gustav smiled gratefully at Remus. "Thank you," he said, his voice reflecting that a huge load had been lifted from his chest. The surprise left Mara's face, and she smiled, too. Mikael walked over to Remus, extending his hand in a formal greeting.
"Welcome to the Midnight Club."