The trouble with silver

Disclaimer: J.K.'s, not mine. You get the idea

He lay on his left side, gasping. It came out as more of a panting whimper but he couldn't help that. At least that was the painful part over with for another month. He sat up gently, careful not to make anything ache more than it already did, and stretched the stiffness from his limbs, then lay back down again.

The pain of the transformation was almost certainly the worst part now, Lupin decided. Human bodies just weren't meant to contort that way. Previously the worst part had been the constant fear that he would spend the night as a hideous monster who could easily kill or bite anyone if he got loose. The pain, although it was terrible as it happened, he only remembered briefly when he came round afterwards. As long as he drank that disgusting but very necessary Wolfsbane potion, that fear could now be removed. But that meant the pain lasted longer. He gasped for a little longer until his breathing steadied, then got off the bed.

For the sake of the others he tried to keep quiet while he was changing but it was very difficult. So he had taken to confining himself to the third floor room with Buckbeak on full moon nights, with Sirius joining him occasionally to keep him company, and just in case something went wrong. Naturally he preferred to be alone for a while around full moon and the other members of the Order that also lodged in 12 Grimmauld Place had learned to keep to the lower floors if they heard strange noises from the upper floors and not to mention it afterwards. Sirius didn't mind them being there one little bit. In fact, after his years in Azkaban, he seemed almost desperate to cram as many people into his house as were happy to be there. Consequently, as well as Sirius and Remus, Mad-Eye Moody, Tonks, Kingsley and the entire Weasley family were regular guests.

But Sirius wasn't with him tonight. Remus had snuck off on his own to transform, insisting that he would not spoil the fun the others were having downstairs. In truth he was a little annoyed that they'd noticed him leave.

It was only natural that he be rather self-conscious. His condition was potentially dangerous, it was painful, it was awkward… and it was embarrassing. And there was nothing he could do about it. He sighed a heavy, wolfish sigh, scratching his newly-lengthened snout with a clawed paw. It was strange to finally bring it out in the open, but the change was welcome in some ways. No more hiding and lying; it was refreshing. Besides, if he hadn't made it generally known when full moon was approaching, it would have played havoc with the Order's rota.

He felt unusually restless tonight. He wanted to get out and, - oh, the irony - go for a walk. Normally he resisted the urge and stayed in the room, but… maybe he could manage it tonight. It had been a fine summers evening with a late sunset and an even later moonrise. It would be midnight soon and the house would be in bed. If he kept quiet and stayed inside the house then there was really no reason why he shouldn't. If he was careful.

He settled down to wait for midnight.

When he heard the clock strike twelve he strolled cautiously out and along the landing, clawed feet not making a sound. The house looked different when he saw it this way. Less colour, but more texture. More scents and feelings of things. He could tell exactly who had last walked down these stairs and the whole place seemed to glow slightly in his over-sensitive eyes.

He went downwards first, down the stairs and along the first floor hallway. Past the door of the Weasley boys' shared room, pulled to, with someone's loud snores floating out. Pausing, he heard a brief scuffle and then the THWUMP of a pillow. Someone cried "Ow!" and two other voices moaned sleepily back at him.

"Stop snoring Ron."

"It's like listening to a train." Ron made a "Hmpph!" noise of indignation at the twin's comments and the three of them re-settled themselves. Smiling to himself, Remus wandered on, past the little cupboard room Ginny used and past the bathroom. The door was open and he caught sight of himself in the mirror. He turned away quickly.

It was not his fault, he reminded himself quickly. Not his fault.

When he changed back, he decided, he would need some chocolate. It helped, it really did, especially just after the transformation back to his human form, when he always felt ill for a day or two-

He stiffened, suddenly, wolf-hackles rising involuntarily. He had heard something. A clinking sound, followed by a long, drawn out shhhhhk! And some sort of muttering, coming from downstairs.

Who was it?

He could hear all the Order asleep now; his sharpened ears could even pick them out from each other. There should be no one else in the house. Who had been muttering? The paintings had all been sleeping when he went upstairs alone to transform and Mrs Black would never mutter if she could scream instead. He padded silently down to the ground floor. Unless you knew exactly what you were looking for, no one could find this house now, the Order had seen to that. How could anyone possibly get in without being noticed? Unless they were powerful. And not friendly enough to use the front door. Perhaps a Death Eater, Lupin thought grimly, although he doubted even they could penetrate the houses defences with at little noise as that. He had to investigate it, whatever it turned out to be.

He listened carefully from the dark hall until he heard the noise again, coming from the sitting room. Warily, he slunk over and put his head round the door.

A dark shape sat before the fire, silhouetted against the flames, swaying back and forth and muttering darkly. It was small and hard to make out. Almost accidentally, Lupin let out the smallest of growls. The figure turned sharply, unfolding itself into…

"Kreacher?" Lupin muttered. Of course the name came out as a different type of noise, harsh and rough. The little house elf, thinking he heard something, spun round sharply, raising the object in his hand as a weapon. Lupin almost laughed with relief. It was a massive ladle! Kreacher had been doing some late night cleaning, that was all. And some pilfering too, by the looks of it. There was a pile of the cutlery next to him, stacked as neatly as the house elf could manage. He was probably going to hide it away with all the other things he kept denying he had stolen. Lupin had completely forgotten about him, secretive little creature that he was.

But Kreacher was still suspicious. He turned away for a moment and seemed to be fumbling for something. Remus stepped into the room a little way to try and get a better view, aiming for a hiding place behind the sofa, but Kreacher spun back again before he had time to reach it and stopped short in horror at the sight of the massive beast that stood before him. He almost dropped what he was holding. The firelight glanced off it and hit Lupin in the eyes. He blinked at the sudden pain. It took him less than a second to work out why.

Oh no. He froze in dread.

Silver. The best silver cutlery was what Kreacher was cleaning and in his hand had been clutched a large, newly-sharpened carving knife. The wetting stone on the blade had been the strange shhhk noise he had heard from upstairs. In his wolf form even the sight of it was enough to make him back away. Silver could kill a werewolf, whatever its form at the time, or at least cause far worse damage than any normal weapon.

He backed off faster. Kreacher knew what he was. Sirius had expressly forbidden the house elf to enter Remus' room or tamper with anything of his - for the safety of the whole group - but Kreacher's service to Sirius had always been grudging and unfaithful. He had disobeyed him before, under the instruction of Mrs Black's portrait, but surely never…

"AAAIIIIIIIIIAAGH!" Kreacher shrieked. Remus clamped his ears down to his head to block out the painfully piercing scream.

… surely he would never try and actually harm…

Kreacher pointed the knife at him began to walk forward unsteadily. Remus, beginning to get seriously worried, snarled a warning at him, baring his fangs menacingly as only a werewolf could, still backing away. Kreacher hesitated; that snarl would have stopped a rabid dog - then began to advance again, muttering dementedly to himself, his eyes large and staring.

"Half-blooded creatures in the noble House of Black! Abomination! Abominable beast, it is. The mistress would never allow it!" The thought of Mrs Black's disapproval seemed to spur him on and he broke into a run, wielding the long knife like a berserkers axe.

Remus could have fought back but as long as his mind was human, he would do his utmost to avoid killing this pathetic creature and if he bit it and didn't finish the job there would be two werewolves for the Order to worry about. So he waited until the last minute, praying that Kreacher would stop, and then turned and ran, his long legs bounding across the hall and up the stairs three at a time. Cursed silver! Cursed house elf!

He could hear voices. Kreacher's scream had woken someone. He ran along the landing, dodging doors as they opened, threatening to knock him in the face. It slowed him down dangerously and he could hear Kreacher and the silver blade behind him and what sounded like Moody calling out. "What in the-"

Two shapes appeared on the landing, coming from opposite rooms. Tonks and Mrs Weasley, dressed in their nightwear. With a frustrated snarl he bounded between them, flattening his wolfish ears to his head to try and muffle the cries he heard behind him.

"Remus? Is that-"

"What in Merlin's beard is going on here?"

"Kreacher, what are you doing with that-"

"It's silver! That knife's silver, Molly! Remus wait!"

But Remus wouldn't wait. He could hear the determined Kreacher still behind him, taking advantage of the lead Remus had lost trying not to get his head pounded by doors, and Moody's voice further back, taking charge.

"Someone catch that stupid elf!" There were a few yells and a scramble of bodies as people leapt to help and then some higher pitched shouts as Ron and Ginny woke up and joined the fray.

"I've got him!"

"No, I've got him."

"Hold still, you little beast."

"Kreacher, you get back here this minute!"

"Remus, come back!"

"Get off me, Fred!"

"Get that knife off him!"

"Somebody grab the monster!"

Remus paused at the top of the third floor staircase to look back. They had been fast but they were still dazed from sleep and Kreacher's thin body had slipped through their fingers like oil. He made the stairs and raced up them with a ferocity powering his tiny frame that shocked the werewolf waiting at the top so much that for a split second he froze again in pure disbelief before twisting away and running towards his room on the upper floor. He left his room once, just once and this is what happened!

Kreacher reached the landing as he reached the door and Arthur Weasley was hot on the house elf's heels. He threw himself forward and grabbed Kreacher around the knees, knocking him down. With a scream of rage Kreacher sent the knife skittering across the floor. Remus' door was now closed and the wizard safely inside again but Arthur watched in helpless horror as the knife went spinning through the gap between the door and the floor. He heard the sudden silence as the knife struck something inside the roomand the beginning of what could have been a moan of pain. Then silence.

"Did you get him?" It was Mad-Eye Moody coming up the stairs behind him.

"I got him," said Arthur grimly, "but he may have done some damage. He threw the knife under the door and I think Remus might be hurt." Moody went straight to Lupin's door.

"Lupin, you in there? Are you alright?" There was no answer. "If you don't give some sort of answer I'm coming in there, wolf or not." There was a pause, then a very low growl.

"Best leave him," conceded Moody. "And as for you," he snarled, turning to the whimpering Kreacher Mr Weasley held aloft. "You know you're in trouble, don't you?"

"There was a werewolf in the house!" Kreacher shrieked. "An abominable creature! The mistress would not allow it."

"That was Lupin, you shrivelled imbecile." Kreachers eyes widened.

"But the ferocious beast was in the house, sir!"

"Don't you 'sir' me!" Moody warned him.

"He sounds like he genuinely didn't know," said Arthur. "Surely he must have been told."

"I'm not sure. I know Sirius warned him to leave Lupin's room be but… He must have told him. It was so he wouldn't get near the Wolfsbane." He grabbed Kreacher by the scruff of his dirty clothes.

"Did you know?" he asked sternly. "If you knew that Lupin was a werewolf say so now. Or I will force the truth out of you!"

"Kreacher never knew a thing, sir! It was an abominable beast invading the house," Kreacher replied hysterically, looking Moody in the non-magical eye. "Kreacher never knew!" Moody lowered him to the ground.

"If you are lying to me-"

"Oh no, sir!" cried Kreacher.

"What'll we do about Remus," asked Mr Weasley.

"I would imagine he'd rather be left alone for a while," Moody said, letting Kreacher go and glancing at the door. The little house elf checked himself over to make sure all his limbs were still attached. "I'll call on him first thing in the morning. Let's send the others back to bed."

They left the upper landing, followed by the seemingly dejected Kreacher. Occasionally, the little house elf would look back at Lupin's closed door and, once, smiled an evil little smirk.