Remus Lupin saw the other werewolf coming toward the clearing where he had left Tonks. His actions were deliberate as he took a path up to the next ridge on the cliff and anticipated the point of interception. The sharp teeth glinted in the moonlight as he snarled. The younger wolf was likely to be stronger given his bulk, but Lupin still had the advantage of a longer stride.
There was a yelp as Lupin leapt onto Leeks and immediately locked his jaws on the nape of the other werewolf. He deliberately tore at the fur so that the pain would ensure that Leeks wouldn't get distracted and search for new prey.
Leeks shook off Lupin and turned to get a powerful bite on his left shoulder. The wolves struggled with each other until Lupin dropped into a roll that sent Leeks tumbling over him with his snout sliding across the dirt. Lupin leapt onto the ridge and emitted a challenging howl as Leeks shook himself off. Lupin waited for the attack, again snarling a challenge. Leeks bounded forward, but instead of staying to fight, Lupin took off at a fast lope to lead Leeks away from Tonks.
Lupin raced along the familiar cliffs and kept climbing higher as the paths of his childhood filled his memory. He lost track of time and barely registered the full moon in the sky. He reached the top ledge and could hear Leeks behind him. He put on a burst of energy as he drew the other into the trap.
Tonks took a deep breath after Moody disapparated with his prisoner. She had performed the homorphus charm once more so that Moody could stupefy Leandra Leeks for the trip to the holding cell at the ministry. Tonks touched the werewolf net and chanted, "Reducto."
With the net folded neatly in a pocket of her robes, she now looked at the body of Leandra Leeks' victim. He had been a young man, probably a Muggle given the absence of a wand. She flicked her wand with her right hand while her left hand waved over his mutilated throat.
This body would be found in the morning and the Muggle authorities would rule it an accident. "You poor young bloke. Why'd you go and break your neck? Shouldn't be walking around these cliffs at night all drunk."
Tonks closed the eyes of the young man with a last sigh. She could feel the soreness in her rump and lower back from her slide down to Lupin. She chanted a quick spell to reduce the discomfort, but muttered, "Remus Lupin, you owe me one hell of a massage."
She had no time to waste further on soothing her injuries. She clasped the moonstone and moved it in an arc in front of her until it gleamed. She had to follow them on foot until she could detect their form or their howling. All Aurors had to have rigorous physical training to be able to deal with such circumstances.
"He'd make a better turtle than werewolf," muttered Tonks an hour later as she stopped to take a breath. The wolves were running silently now; there was no way for her to stay on their track beyond the gleam of the moonstone. The wolves were doing a zigzag up the cliffs, but the sudden turns made it impossible to predict their trajectory. Tonks also didn't know who lead, Lupin or Leeks.
The Auror estimated it was about midnight when she stole a glance at the full moon above her and finally caught sight of their silhouettes on the highest ledge above her. The two wolves came together, but Tonks couldn't see the moonstone amulet that identified Lupin. Suddenly, one sprang in a ferocious attack and soon both were rolling on the ground. They withdrew only to spring at each other again with the snarls clearly echoing in the night.
Tonks slapped her wand against her hand in frustration. Not only was she too far to cast the homorphus charm, she also couldn't distinguish the wolves unless she got closer. She had made her decision to apparate when the raucous caw of the Raven joined the snarls.
The next events made her freeze. The Raven flew at the wolves with claws extended. One of the large forms stumbled on the edge of the cliff and tried to regain balance. It was a futile attempt. Tonks watched in horror as the body fell over the edge and struck the cliff side several times before striking the water below.
Tonks looked up the cliff, but now the battleground above was empty of wolf or raven. She wanted to scream; she wanted to blast the edge of the cliff away with the force of her fury. But she was an Auror, not some fledgling out of Hogwarts. She let the cold wall seep in to shield her from her emotional turmoil.
With a sharp crack she apparated above the water where the body had fallen. She floated in the air like some dark angel as the breeze caught her cloak. Only then did she allow herself to call, "Remus!"
The body was still as the waves lapped across the torso and Tonks blinked back her tears and forced herself to do her job. "Wingardium leviosa."
The flick of her wand lifted the form from the water and the absence of the Wolfshadow amulet made her heart race. His amulet had fallen, so she vowed not to leave Holyhead until she found it. Then she looked at her own moonstone and noticed it was dull. Did death cause that? Her grief prevented her from looking at the body closely and drawing the logical conclusion for a moment.
Once the body was on the sand, she glided over until she could kneel by him and forced herself to inspect the body. Her voice was soft as she said, "Homorphum lupus."
The body shifted form and as the face became clear, she put her face in her hands in relief. "Not Remus, not Remus, not Remus."
But her relief was short-lived. If this was Leeks, where was Remus?
The Raven swooped into the shaft where Lupin fell and transformed as soon as she touched the floor. The skin was old and withered and she had long since avoided wasting her magic on her gray hair. She had used Lupin's own trap against him and cackled softly in delight. It was no matter that her own kin had fallen; the younger generation had merely been a means to her end.
She had waited so long! And now the last of his line was at her mercy. She clapped her hands in almost childish delight. The wolf was unconscious now and could easily be killed. She didn't notice the moonstone around his neck.
Instead she remembered how this one looked so much like Seneca Lupin in his human form. It would make killing him even more rewarding if she waited until she transformed. Her energy was waning of late, but she would make sure the last Lupin went with her into death. She made her decision and removed her wand from the folds of her dress. The Raven disapparated and took the wolf with her.
Moody and Tonks walked along the cliff's edge with the illumination of their wands adding to the full moon above them. An hour had passed since Tonks had lost Lupin. Moody had seen to Leeks, while muttering something about turning into an ambulance apparation service, but Tonks had been stymied in her attempts to find a clue as to where Lupin was now.
"The trap's like the classic wolf pit of old," said Moody. Lupin had told them he had several to access depending on the turn of the chase. The old Auror peered down to make sure he could scan the cavern with his magic eye.
"One falls off the cliff and the other falls into the shaft." Tonks looked around, but couldn't see a moonstone lying anywhere. Lupin should still be wearing his amulet unless the Raven removed it. "Damn Raven! He's been a lot of trouble."
"The Raven is a witch," said Moody as he stood back up. He turned to his young partner and added, "I couldn't see it before. The body's pretty well lost its sense of sex, mind you, but she transformed for a moment here and the imprint is fresh enough to be clear."
"I should have known it'd be a woman! No wonder Lupin's a bachelor, he only attracts the loonies." Tonks noted the way Moody was about to comment, but added, "And don't say a word about present company being included, Mad-Eye."
"I was going to suggest you use your bauble to get a bearing on him. You said it worked to track him before."
"I've tried already, but I get nothing. I don't think he's in the immediate vicinity anymore," said Tonks in frustration. "It's going to take too long to search--"
The sound of a familiar squawk interrupted Tonks and made both Aurors turn their heads up. They repeated an incantation that allowed the creature to be revealed as he swooped down to land beside them.
"Buckbeak!" Tonks was about to run toward him when she remembered herself. She stopped and bowed and noticed Moody was doing the same thing.
The hippogriff landed by the woman he thought of as his Parrot. Buckbeak knew that his Black Dog liked her; she made him smile whenever she would visit. His Werewolf also enjoyed the Parrot's company and would abandon his conversations with Buckbeak if he heard her voice in the house. He returned her bow and wondered if she could help him find his Werewolf. The hippogriff could play roughly with his Werewolf during full moon unlike the more fragile Black Dog or the humans.
"Buckbeak, I need to find Remus Lupin. You know, the Werewolf?" said Tonks. Moody might call her insane, but Sirius always asserted that Buckbeak could understand him.
Buckbeak cocked his head and knelt. He seemed to be looking at her expectantly. Tonks then turned to Moody and said, "I can monitor the moonstone to look for Remus while I ride Buckbeak."
Moody looked at the hippogriff carefully, but his magic eye seemed placid as it fell upon the creature. "It'll be one hell of a joyride, Tonks. Use the standard signals for search and rescue. I'll go back to the Skinner mansion. We might have missed a secret passage."
"Right then," said Tonks as she leapt onto Buckbeak. Before she took off, she turned to Moody and said, "Mad-Eye, I think this witch might be Drusilla Skinner. She was supposed to have died in childbirth 200 hundred years ago."
"Lupin's baby?" asked Moody.
"According to her, Seneca Lupin was the father. It's the source of the feud. There's a room on the third floor with a portrait of her and her mother. Maybe you'll find some clues there that I missed."
Moody merely waved as Buckbeak took to the sky. For a moment he was envious of his young partner. The disillusionment charm soon lost them to his sight.
As Lupin began to regain consciousness, he remembered the Raven distracting him from his attack and falling into his own trap. He remained still as he took his bearings. He wasn't tied or shackled, but there was a feeling of danger in this cave. He knew the Raven was perched on an upper ledge watching him intently. What could be the danger here?
The Raven cawed and cocked her head as she noticed the steady breathing of the wolf. It was time to see if Lupin was awake. She transformed into the hag and withdrew her wand from her robes. A flick of her wand rolled away the boulder from her pet's cage. Lupin heard the sound and tensed, especially when the leathery slithering immediately followed.
The Welsh green was described as the least aggressive of dragons, a species that preferred sheep to humans. But like any juvenile creature, inflicting abuse could create a real monster. Lupin crouched into position to leap away from the dragon as it moved toward him. The witch known in her time as Drusilla Skinner cackled in delight as her game began.
Tonks knew she had to make a deliberate scan of the island in order to find Lupin. She stopped at the designated intervals to signal to Moody, but her frustration was growing. It had been hours since her ride began, but Lupin was still missing.
"He could be in Ireland for all I know," muttered Tonks to Buckbeak as she indicated another turn.
For his part, Buckbeak seemed to find no burden flying in such a tedious pattern. The fact that he was stretching his wings at all was sufficient to please him. He flew closer to the old copper mines below him when he heard his Parrot yell.
"Wait, go lower. I think I have something," said Tonks. The hippogriff did an elegant swoop in a zigzag pattern and again heard the woman. "He's here somewhere. Let me off, please."
Buckbeak landed and blinked as the Auror slid off him emitting several Ouches along the way. The moonstone in her hand was gleaming now and she pinpointed the direction. After signaling Moody on her find, she turned to Buckbeak. "I need to go, Buckbeak, and you need to get back to Sirius before dawn."
Buckbeak reared his head back, but Tonks insisted. "I'll find your Werewolf and bring him home. Go on."
The hippogriff stepped back and took flight just as Moody apparated to her side. "You've got Lupin?"
"In that cave ahead, I think."
"It's an abandoned copper mine," said Moody. "And there's something alive in there."
"Oh, good, I was so worried we'd be too late--"
"I don't mean Lupin. I mean there's something else, very big, alive in there." The blue eye was practically glowing. "Can't quite make it out. Well, be prepared for the worst, Tonks."
Tonks took a deep breath and nodded. She was an Auror on a mission, not a woman trying to help her--she couldn't even call him her lover. No, tonight she was a Wolf Hunter searching for her partner. The moonstone gleamed as she walked alongside Moody.
They finally got close enough to hear the whimpering voice of the madwoman. "I loved you, Seneca. Why did you use me so badly? I gave myself to you and you laughed at me, Seneca. I was nothing more than a wager you had with your mates."
The wolf in the chamber had many wounds from the regular attacks from the dragon. There were crevices where he could hide momentarily, but he would have been dead if the witch had completely unleashed the dragon. The hag wanted to be amused and so kept the dragon in check. In the meantime, Lupin had sustained a lot of injuries and now felt light headed from the blood loss.
But this time as he looked down, he saw his moonstone glowing softly and looked toward the entry. He was puzzled by the gleam, but knew it could only mean the other moonstone of another Hunter was near.
"Bloody hell, not a dragon! Whatever happened the mission that only called for standard protocols?" muttered Tonks as she and Moody heard the distinctive honk of the dragon.
Moody and Tonks burst onto the scene as they both called in the direction of the dragon, "Stupefy!"
The Welsh Green turned from his attack of Lupin and shook his head to look for the new intruders. The Aurors barely had time to defend against the stream of fire that came their way. The hag had finally unleashed her dragon.
Lupin felt a measure of relief and horror at seeing Tonks and Moody in this cavern. He jumped forward to bite into the hind leg of the dragon sharply to give the Aurors time to recover. The Welsh Green kicked back his leg to send the Werewolf against the stone wall in response. The wolf slid down the wall in a stupor.
The Raven now flew in a circle above the fray and landed next to Lupin as the old crone. It would soon be dawn and she wouldn't need any help in killing him. She grabbed the wolf and disapparated with loud crack once again as the Aurors dealt with the dragon.
The sound made the pit of Tonks' stomach turn. "The witch took Lupin!"
"Follow them, Tonks. I'll deal with this overgrown lizard," said Moody.
"Here, use this," called Tonks as she withdrew the werewolf net and expanded it to proper size. Moody caught it with a flick of his wand and sent it soaring over the dragon's head. The odds were much better now.
Tonks looked to her moonstone which was still glowing and turned in a circle. No change! Wait. She held it above her head and the gleam practically filled the cavern. Right above them. She disapparated and hoped she wouldn't land between layers of rock if she miscalculated the distance.
Tonks apparated onto the top ledge to find Drusilla Skinner kneeling by the wolf. The first rays of light were upon them now.
Lupin was on all fours shaking off his stupor only to feel the pain of transformation hitting him. He felt the sunlight striking his body and vaguely thought that he was now out of the cavern. He fell onto his stomach because his hours of evading the dragon had spent his energy. The transformation now would leave him weaker than a babe. He and Drusilla remained unaware of Tonks apparation as they focused on the end of their game.
"It had to be this way, Seneca," said the hag as she reached forward and touched Lupin's face while she held her wand on him. "I knew you'd come back. I knew you'd be angry when you found out I killed our baby, your son. I couldn't let you think I was still alive."
"Drusilla, what are you doing?" A woman emerged from the outcroppings and spoke sternly to the hag.
"Mother?" Drusilla seemed confused for a moment, but didn't remove her wand from Lupin.
"Come here right now, Drusilla." Tonks couldn't bear to glance at Lupin. She could see he was still breathing, but there were numerous wounds on his body and lying in the dirt would not be good for his recovery. She had to get Drusilla to aim her wand away from Lupin before she could cast a stupefy spell.
"But, Mother, this is Seneca," said Drusilla, now jabbing the wand into Lupin's neck. "He laughed at me when I told him I loved him."
Her breathing seemed to be coming in sharp gasps now. The energy she had expended had caught up to her, too.
"Then come away from him now, Drusilla. He's not worth your time," said Tonks as she moved closer. She watched as Lupin's hand began moving slowing toward the wand at his neck. "Leave him here, Drusilla, just like he left you. Now let's go home so I can take care of you."
Drusilla blinked at the image of her mother as she felt her vision begin to blur. Then she frowned for a moment as she had trouble creating thought. Mother was never this forgiving. But before she could make the connections, her wand was taken from her grasp and she heard Lupin calling, "Immobilus."
The body should have remained frozen in position, but instead, the hag collapsed by his side. Tonks dropped her disguise and practically slid to a halt beside them. Lupin's eyes were closed again, but she heard him ask, "Did I kill her?"
Tonks felt for the pulse at the witch's neck and shook her head. "She was dead before your spell reached her or her body would have remained standing even in death."
Tonks drew off her robe and wrapped Lupin in it as she helped him sit up. He felt so fragile. As she began the incantations to staunch the blood flow, clean the wounds and ease the pain, she blinked back tears. She chided him saying, "You know it's a bunch of hooey about men not crying?"
Lupin could only offer a light smile at her taunt. "I learned not to cry by the time I was seven, Tonks. I'm not quite normal in case you haven't noticed."
Tonks merely touched her forehead to his for a moment and agreed. "Yes, I've noticed."
They heard a sharp crack behind them and turned to see Moody with wafts of smoke drifting from his robe.
"Nasty sneeze on those Greens," he said. Moody looked at the body of Drusilla Skinner and scanned her with his magic eye. "Natural causes, I see. Well, good, I hate having to fill out reports justifying excessive force."
"How are you, Mad-Eye? Can I help?" asked Tonks while she still held an arm around Lupin's shoulders.
"Ach, get away from me. You're no good at household spells, Tonks, and what I need is a good smoke repellant charm." Moody looked at the washed out Lupin and added, "You see to Lupin while I take care of the body. I'm nothing but a delivery boy lately."
"What about the dragon?" asked Tonks.
"Out cold. He'll be safe until I contact the fellows at the preserve. I'll tell the office that you need a few days to recover from the mission. Here, this belongs to Lupin."
Tonks took the metal net from Moody, once a gain shrunken, and leaned into Lupin's ear. "We best get to your house first."
Fifteen minutes later Lupin still looked very weak as he left his room and walked into the living room. He had showered and dressed, but instead of his usual tweeds, he wore a t-shirt and light slacks under his robes as if heavier clothing would be a burden. He looked around the room to find Tonks standing by the mantle with one hand clutching the moonstone around her neck.
"Don't put it back," said Lupin as he approached her. She looked up in surprise.
"I--I have to. I don't want to, you know," whispered Tonks with a shrug.
Lupin stepped back. Had the recent events convinced Tonks that they should just remain friends? He looked down as he considered all she knew about him now.
The woman had suffered through Dark Wizards, werewolves, a dragon and a crazed Raven on his account. She had seen him turn into a monster, acting like a base creature in his response to the she-wolf let alone the way he had attacked both wolf and dragon. And now he could only present a man with barely the strength to walk. What woman could want him as he was?
"I see," he said softly. He put his hands in his pockets and looked out the window. The sunshine couldn't lighten his mood.
Tonks bit her lip at his silence and forced herself to speak. "I don't want to take an heirloom you're supposed to give to--to your future wife." Not until you're ready, she thought. "I don't want to keep this just because you're feeling grateful that I helped you last night."
Lupin looked at her and frowned. "The amulets aren't love tokens. They've been passed down from father to son, not husband to wife. They were created for the hunt."
He approached her, rather pleased he could remain on his own two feet at the moment and added, "The Wolfshadow amulet marked you as my equal, but I understand if you don't want any reminders of what happened here."
Tonks turned to stare at him. "You know, you have the most bizarre way of making me feel like a person and not a sex object."
He wasn't sure that was a good thing, but didn't know how to respond to her comment. He settled for saying, "Please, keep the amulet safe for me. It claimed you, Nymphadora Tonks."
"All right, I accept custody of the Wolfshadow amulet," agreed Tonks. "You're still rather peaky, Remus. I can apparate us back to London, but you need to rest."
"I don't look forward to Molly's coddling me at Grimmauld Place. I probably won't get much rest with that lot around checking up on me," admitted Lupin.
"Fine, you'll stay with me for a couple of days until you feel better," said Tonks with a firm nod of her head.
Say yes you clueless git, he could almost hear Sirius telling him. Lupin settled for, "Are you sure? I don't want to--"
"Rule number one: don't argue with me. Rule number two: ignore the mess. Rule number three:..."
They apparated at Tonks flat with a loud crack. "...Don't hog the pillows."
Lupin glanced around for a moment then felt himself being lightly tipped over only to land on a firm but comfortable bed. His only problem was the way his feet extended over the edge.
He felt his shoes and socks being removed as Tonks muttered, "You've got boats, Remus."
But she waved her wand so that the bed extended in length and gave another flick of her wand to unwrap his robe so he would sleep comfortably. As Tonks tucked him under the covers, he settled his head against the pillow so generously allocated to him and murmured, "Thank you, Nymphadora."
"Rule number four: don't call me Nymphadora!" Tonks noticed the slight quirk to his mouth as she gave her directive.
A few minutes later she stumbled out of the shower into her own t-shirt and pajama pants. She walked into the bedroom to find Remus sleeping on his side, so she crawled on top of the covers and spooned him with an arm wrapping around his waist. She heard him murmur something as he moved his arm so he could clasp her hand.
"What was that?" asked Tonks with half a yawn.
"Better than chocolate," he murmured a bit louder. His steady breathing immediately followed.
Tonks chuckled as she settled comfortably against him. Definitely better than chocolate.
Before you let your imaginations wander, no, Tonks and Lupin still aren't doing the deed yet (hence the description of her sleeping on top of the covers). Remus has some hangups he still needs to deal with.
I wanted to end this story here because it brings the Action/Adventure genre to a close for the moment, but the next one sets up what happens during the recovery and will go back to focusing on Lupin/Tonks interactions.
And, as pointed out, although the Wolfshadow amulets weren't created as love tokens, there's always a first. Lupin still has to figure a few things out, though, and I wanted to establish how Lupin could see Tonks as an equal given how well they seemed to work together when the Advanced Guard retrieves Harry.
The Welsh Green is from the Magical Beasts book. In case it wasn't clear, Drusilla was the witch betrayed by Seneca Lupin. Although I see Lupin as very noble, his ancestors aren't quite up to his standards.
About the homorphus charm. No details are really given, so I made them up, including the incantation.
Thanks for your generous reviews. I hope I was able to keep the characters consistent throughout the story.
If you want to "talk" sometime, I'm currently hanging out at in the Remus/Tonks thread in the forum Under the Invisibility Cloak. It can get lonely. I'll probably be on the David Thewlis Online forum if I get my gumption up.