(A/N: This story is a crossover between two AU universes. The one written by me is made up, at the present moment, of the stories "Living with Danger" and "Living without Danger", plus various one-shots. The one written by a lovely lady named Michelle, penname of Neurotica, is made up, again at the moment, of the stories "Truths", "Lies", and "Consequences", plus one or two one-shots.
The main setting of the story is the Truths universe. We begin shortly before the opening of Chapter Twenty-Three of "Consequences". Thus, there are spoilers for all of Neurotica's stories up to that point. I have tried to make this story intelligible to people who have not read her series, but I very much recommend them. They're believable, enjoyable, and low on OC's, though I don't think anyone who enjoys LwD minds OC's too much.
Anyway. Off we go! Thanks to Neurotica for agreeing to this!)
Remus Lupin jerked awake in the darkness of his bedroom at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, his face and various other body parts tingling. He got up, felt around on the bedside table until he located his wand, pointed it at himself, and muttered an incantation. Cold water shot from the tip, soaking him and making him swear under his breath.
But I needed that.
He hadn't been surprised by the other person in his dream. Hermione Granger had been much on his mind over the past three days. He'd been the one to find her parents dead in their home, murdered by Death Eaters – her father blasted apart by Bellatrix Lestrange's Reductor curse, her mother's throat torn out by Fenrir Grayback...
Rage and disgust threatened to sweep Remus away. He carefully put his wand down on the nightstand, so as not to snap it in half, and took a firm hold of a length of soaking bedsheet, beginning to twist it in his hands, wishing it were Grayback's neck. He knew, in the small portion of his mind which was still rational, that he would never actually do such a thing, but at the moment, he didn't care.
And I can't even have a decent nightmare about Hermione. That would be too easy. No, I have to have... what was that, anyway? Wish-fulfillment? But I've never felt anything for her that I can recall, not like this. I like her, she's a good student, and a good friend to Harry, and certainly I would have stopped her parents' deaths if I could, but what does that have to do with this?
For the dream had been utterly, and unexpectedly, erotic. Remus had desired the woman in his dream, and her actions had left him in very little doubt that the desire was mutual. He hadn't even been able to claim that she was too young for him, since this dream version of Hermione had been not sixteen years old, but closer to Remus' own age of thirty-six, a little younger perhaps. Very close, in fact, to the age of Remus' current girlfriend, Emmeline Vance.
Remus smiled, thinking of the black-haired witch who'd calmly walked into his life as a fellow member of the Order of the Phoenix and Harry's teacher in Occlumency, and stayed to become so much more. It was a great relief to realize that he hadn't lost all feeling for her – in fact, the thought of her was starting to clear away his leftover feelings from the dream. He might like to have a dream like that with her in a starring role. Even better, he'd like the dream to come true.
He picked up his wand and began to dry his sheets. People did sometimes have dreams for no good reason. He wasn't falling hopelessly in love with his surrogate son's best friend. Everything was going to be all right.
Well, the first two were true, anyway. He wasn't so sure about the last one.
And speaking of Harry...
"No," moaned a voice Remus had no trouble recognizing. He was on his feet and moving as the cries continued. "No, no, no... Sirius! Pearl, no! Remus, Hermione, danger! No! No!"
Remus entered Harry's room, crossing to his bed. He could see Harry thrashing around, obviously having a bad dream. In the other bed, Ron Weasley slept undisturbed; apparently, Harry's cries had not yet escalated to a level that would wake him.
Let's see if we can keep it that way.
Remus shook Harry's shoulder firmly. "Harry," he called. "Harry, wake up. It's all right."
Harry shuddered all over. His eyes flew open, darted around wildly, and finally fixed on Remus' face. "Moony?"
"I'm here, Harry. You were just having a bad dream. It's all right now."
Harry stared first at Remus, then down at his own hands, then back up. "Is Padfoot – Sirius – is he all right?"
"He's fine. He's asleep."
"Please can I see him?"
Remus hesitated. Sirius hadn't been sleeping well recently, and he was a little loath to disturb his best friend. On the other hand, Harry had obviously been very frightened by his dream, and if seeing Sirius alive and well, though a bit sleepy, would help him...
"Will you be all right here by yourself for a minute?"
Harry nodded, sitting up and reaching for his glasses. Remus laid a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then stood and went back out into the hallway.
Sirius, too, was making noises in his sleep, but these weren't the kind of noises Harry had been making. In fact, if Remus was any judge, Sirius was having something along the lines of the dream he himself had been having only a few moments before.
He leaned over Sirius and shook him. "Padfoot, wake up," he said.
Sirius flung an arm up, dragged Remus down to him, and kissed him on the lips.
Remus quickly extracted himself before Sirius could go any farther than that.
I'm going to want to hear about this, I suspect.
He pulled his wand out of his pajamas and repeated the incantation he'd used earlier on himself, after first shutting the door and putting an Imperturbable Charm on it, so as not to wake the entire house.
Sirius yelled as a stream of cold water struck him in the face, and jerked upright, spluttering. Remus kept the water coming for a moment or two, just to ensure Sirius was really awake, then shut it off.
"What the hell?" was the cleanest thing out of Sirius' mouth for the next thirty seconds. When he paused for breath, Remus said, "Harry had a nightmare."
"And another thing–" Sirius stopped. "He did?"
"Yes. And he's asking for you."
"So you felt a need to douse me with cold water?"
"Well, I tried waking you up more traditionally, but you seemed to think I was part of your dream."
"You kissed me, Sirius. Not that I'm not flattered, but I don't swing that way."
"What – I – ew!" Sirius got out of bed, shuddering artistically. "Neither do I, and you know it, you little wanker. I'm sorry. I had no idea that was you."
"Obviously. Who did you think it was?"
Sirius found his own wand and began drying himself off. "Honestly, I have no idea. I've never seen her before, as far as I know. A black woman, about our age or a little younger, totally gorgeous. And she sure acted like she knew me." He stopped and looked at Remus, a little shamefaced. "Did I... say anything?"
"Nothing intelligible," said Remus with a straight face. "Come on, Harry's waiting."
Harry was staring out the window when they arrived in his bedroom. He jerked around at the sound of their footsteps, and nearly ran across the room to them, hugging them both hard. Remus and Sirius exchanged a look over Harry's head. "Butterbeer and chocolate," said Remus under his breath.
Sirius nodded and led Harry out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen, where he got his godson settled at the table while Remus rummaged in the pantry. Three bottles of butterbeer weren't hard to come by, and his secret stash of Honeydukes chocolate bars was untouched. He pulled out a peanut butter bar for himself, one with walnuts for Harry, and almonds for Sirius, and brought his selections to the table.
Harry accepted the food and gave Remus a wan smile. "Thanks," he said.
"Bad dream?" said Sirius, unwrapping his chocolate.
"Voldemort?" asked Remus quietly.
Harry frowned. "I don't think so. It was too weird. And I didn't see him in it anywhere." He took a bite of his chocolate. "Lot of other people, though," he said indistinctly around it.
"Don't talk with your mouth full," said Remus automatically. "Other people like who?"
Harry swallowed. "You two," he said. "And Hermione. Draco Malfoy, for some reason. And a couple of women, and a little girl, looked like a second year. I don't think I know them. I mean, I knew them in the dream, but I don't know them now that I'm awake."
Sirius hadn't paid attention to the end of this at all. "You dreamed of Draco Malfoy? No wonder you were screaming. What did he do?"
"That's just it. He didn't do anything. He was walking with us and talking, and laughing, like we were friends or something. He even poked Hermione, and she didn't make a big fuss over it. She just poked him back."
"Kind of like you do to her?" asked Sirius.
"Kind of. And he piggybacked the girl a little ways, and so did I. We were near Hogsmeade, just walking, not really going anywhere, I don't think. Like we used to go out for walks in the woods near the cottage. Not walking to go anywhere, but just to walk. And to be together. You know."
"Like a family," said Remus.
"I guess. We got to this one place, and all of a sudden light flashed up all around us. It was this nasty green color like swamp water, and everyone was screaming and holding onto everyone else, and then it went away, and nothing was different. We were still where we had been, no one was gone, and we were just starting to laugh about being all afraid of nothing..." Harry stopped, staring down at his hands, which were starting to shake.
"What happened?" asked Sirius very quietly.
"We... we started... I don't know. I guess... dissolving."
"Dissolving?" Remus saw his own confusion mirrored in Sirius' face. "How do you mean?"
"I don't know. It was like we were made of sand, dry sand, and this wind came out of nowhere and started blowing us away, little by little. I could feel it – it didn't hurt, not like pain, but I was losing little pieces of myself, losing everything that makes me me, and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it. Not for me, not for anyone." Harry pulled his glasses off and set them on the table, pressing his arm against his face. Sirius moved a little closer to him and started rubbing his back gently. Remus laid a hand on his shoulder again.
"The worst part was watching it happen to everyone else," said a choked-up voice from behind the arm. "And listening. Malfoy and Hermione were holding onto each other, even while the wind was blowing them apart, and he kept saying something about them never really being apart. And you were holding onto one of the women, Remus. She looked kind of like a grown-up Hermione."
Remus jumped. Sirius looked at him oddly and mouthed, What?
Tell you later, Remus answered the same way.
"And you were holding the other woman and the little girl, Sirius. And me. You and the woman were trying to shield us, but the wind got past you, and the little girl just blew away out of my arms like a ghost, or like she was never there to begin with..."
Sirius nodded slowly. "That sounds like one nasty dream," he said. "What did they look like? The woman, and the girl?"
"They were pretty, I guess. They were black. The girl had lighter skin than the woman. And grey eyes. I saw that while I was holding her."
"And she was a second year, you said?"
"Yeah, I guess. She was really small, but she looked more grown-up than a first year. She was... more womanly."
Remus grinned at a discomfited-looking Sirius, who made a very rude gesture in his direction. "It sounds like you just had a nightmare, Harry," he said soothingly. "Dreams usually don't make much sense, and this one sounds like a prime example. Do you think you can go back to sleep?"
"Can I finish my butterbeer first?"
Both men laughed. "No, I'll do it for you," teased Sirius. "Of course you can."
Harry made a fist in his godfather's direction and took a defiant gulp of his butterbeer, then choked on it. Remus thumped him on the back.
When Harry was back in bed, the Marauders, by common consent, drifted back down to the kitchen.
"So you want to tell me what was up?" asked Sirius, sitting on the floor by the fireplace.
Remus put his elbows on the table and sighed. "I was having the same kind of dream you were having," he admitted.
"Not with the same woman, I hope. If you were, I'll have to kill you."
Remus threw a butterbeer cap at Sirius. "No. She looked... like Harry said. Like Hermione, but our age. And like you said, she wasn't acting like a stranger."
"An 'oh, hi, how are you' kind of not a stranger, or a 'cold shower needed' kind of not a stranger?"
Remus worked through this. "Cold shower needed," he said finally. "I had to give myself one as soon as I woke up. And that was the most convoluted sentence I've ever heard at three o'clock in the morning."
"So sue me."
"Why should I bother? I can just blackmail you. It's easier."
"Blackmail me? With what?"
"Those recordings of you singing in the shower ought to do."
"But you've overlooked a vital fact, my dear Mr. Moony."
"What might that be, my dear Mr. Padfoot?"
"For any dirt you have on me, I have an equal or greater amount on you."
"Oh, I'm sure I could think of a few things you don't want Emmeline to know."
"That's just nasty."
"You know it."
Domestic harmony was thus reestablished, and the men eventually returned to bed, each bidding the other a sleepy good night at the top of the stairs. And if their sleep was not untroubled, at least it brought them no more dreams of strangers.
The next day, after the Grangers' funeral, the living room of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was nearly full. Arthur Weasley held Molly while Bill sat nearby, twiddling his wand between his fingers. Tonks was sitting in an armchair, staring into space. Sirius and Remus occupied opposite ends of the sofa, with Emmeline between them, her head on Remus' shoulder, his arms around her.
"What's going to happen to Hermione?" Bill asked quietly, watching his mother sob into his father's chest.
"She has a sister, doesn't she?" Remus asked hoarsely.
Molly lifted her head from Arthur's chest. "No, she's an only child," she said before bursting into tears again.
"Oh," Remus said. "I thought she had a sister…" he muttered. He looked to the floor with a furrowed brow before shaking himself from his thoughtful daze.
"Glad she doesn't," said Sirius. "That'd be another orphaned kid."
"No, I was thinking an older sister," said Remus. "Much older. Possibly even in a position to take care of her. But I guess I'm just imagining things."
"She can stay with us," said Sirius. "We'll take care of her. Most of her family's in France, Harry says. The last thing she needs is a move and a new school on top of everything else. I mean, it's her decision, of course, but I'd think she'd rather stay with people she knows."
The Order meeting that night was fairly quiet. All the people who would have made it otherwise were either still in shock from the Grangers' deaths or not present. Remus was thinking especially of the Order's spy inside the ranks of the Death Eaters, Naomi Watts, who had once been his fiancée. She had broken his heart pretty thoroughly by joining Voldemort just before the Potters had been killed, and telling him a week afterwards. It had taken him all this time to get up the courage to be interested in anyone else.
But I'm so glad I did. He cast a sidelong look at Emmeline, who was reporting on unauthorized Portkey usage (she worked in the Department of Magical Transportation). She was everything he'd ever wanted in a woman...
For an instant, his mysterious dream woman smiled at him again, but he banished her firmly from his mind. Hermione was not his own age, and Emmeline was beautiful the way she was.
Sirius was now talking about the mysterious man he'd run into in Diagon Alley, literally, who had been hugged by Narcissa Malfoy. "He's no relative of hers," he said. "I know them all. And you know pureblood marriage vows. There's no way she's got herself a boyfriend, unless Lucius died and we didn't hear about it."
"And if that's happened, you're going to be pissed that you weren't there," said Remus lightly.
"Hell with there, I'm going to be pissed I wasn't the cause," retorted Sirius. He had several scores to settle with Lucius Malfoy, most of them involving harm to Remus, Harry, and himself.
"If we may continue," said Dumbledore, but Remus could see his eyes, twinkly as ever, and knew Dumbledore didn't really mean it. "It is always possible that Lucius Malfoy, being a fugitive from justice, has chosen to disguise himself via Polyjuice Potion."
Sirius groaned. "I'm such a moron."
"Tell me something I don't know," said Remus under his breath, making Emmeline giggle and even Tonks, still mourning her boyfriend Kingsley Shacklebolt, crack a smile.
Just then, a door slammed at the top of the stairs. Naomi came charging down, gasping for breath. "Giants," she panted out. "Giants in Diagon Alley... headed for Muggle London..."
Sirius swore and jumped to his feet, dragging Tonks up with him and heading for the fire. Arthur Weasley and his two eldest sons, Dedalus Diggle, Elphias Doge, and Sturgis Podmore were right behind him. Remus started to follow, but Dumbledore motioned for him to sit before bringing up the rear of the little parade.
"Sirius already almost lost you once," whispered Emmeline as Molly Weasley brought the coughing Naomi a cup of water. "He'll fight better if he knows you're safe."
Remus rolled his eyes but didn't complain. His leg still hadn't entirely healed from his three-month ordeal through continental Europe – he'd been ambushed during a mission for the Order, lost his wand, and been chased all over France by Death Eaters, being captured several times and tortured badly once before finally being found by Olympe Maxime near the border of Spain. As if that weren't bad enough, three months meant three full moons, and Remus had gotten used to the double boon of Padfoot's company and his Wolfsbane Potion during his monthly transformations. He considered it something on the order of a miracle that he'd survived at all.
Naomi got her breathing under control and sipped at the water. "Anything interesting going on here?" she quipped.
"No," said Remus shortly. "Did you know about the Grangers?"
"No, and you have no idea how sorry I am," said Naomi without looking at him. "Bellatrix has been laughing about it for days. I want to curse her sorry little head off and kick it across the English Channel."
"Hell with the English Channel, I'd kick it across the Atlantic," muttered Emmeline. She and Hermione had a lot in common, and had gotten along well from the moment they'd met. "And drop Grayback right in the middle of the ocean."
Why do I attract vindictive women? Remus wondered whimsically.
"Lucius Malfoy thought it was a laugh too," Naomi went on. "He's back in England, you know. Using Polyjuice to get around. He's been home a few times, but I wouldn't recommend staking the place out. I think he may have a contact in the Ministry."
Remus filed that under "tell Padfoot as soon as he gets back". It was the kind of thing Sirius Black, Head of the Auror Office, would be very interested in.
"But he's got something to deal with he didn't count on." Naomi looked as though she couldn't decide whether to be glad or sorry. "His son's gone insane."
"Insane?" repeated Remus in astonishment. "Draco Malfoy?"
Naomi nodded. "Narcissa's been trying to keep it quiet, but Nott was at their house for something or other and heard him upstairs, shouting about a voice in his head, begging for someone to get it out. And then he started screaming about danger and the color black, and calling for people. It was that, who he was calling for, that convinced Nott he'd really gone out of his mind."
"Why?" asked Molly. "Who was he calling for?"
Naomi smiled. "Remus," she said, pointing at him. "Sirius. Harry and Hermione. A couple of other names, women's names, that Nott couldn't recall. But those were the ones that stuck with him."
"For good reason," said Emmeline. "Why would a little snot like Draco Malfoy be calling for people he's hated for years?"
Remus didn't answer. From the moment Naomi had begun to tell them about Draco Malfoy's madness, he'd been struck with the most peculiar feeling that he ought to do something about it, and more, that he ought to know exactly what to do, or who to talk to so that it would get done.
But what can I do? I can't exactly go to Malfoy Manor – Narcissa would slam the door in my face, if she didn't curse me out of existence. And why should I do anything, anyway? Draco Malfoy is none of my concern anymore. All he ever was to me was my student, and I quit teaching at Hogwarts after Harry's third year.
But the nagging feeling wouldn't go away. On the contrary, it was starting to get stronger, and other feelings were creeping in with it, feelings which insisted that Draco Malfoy was very much his concern, that he had been for a long time and would always continue to be, that he was every bit as much to Remus as Harry was...
That's impossible. I'm overtired. I need to go to bed.
But bed was out of the question, at least until Sirius got home safely.
"I have an idea," said Emmeline in his ear, startling him slightly. "Why don't we see if we can get that map working properly."
"Good idea," agreed Remus hastily.
They went up the stairs together, hand in hand.
Nearly an hour later, Sirius staggered in the front door of Number Twelve supported by Albus Dumbledore, very pale, bleeding from two or three cuts across his chest and shoulder, and looking highly confused. Molly got him onto a sofa immediately, then handed him a Blood Replenishment Potion and began sealing the gashes.
"Can't I let you go anywhere?" asked Remus reproachfully.
"You should see the other bloke," whispered Sirius.
"Har har. What was it, anyway?"
"Car door. Damn giant kicked it at just the wrong angle. These were a lot worse at first."
"Worse at first?" Remus frowned. Something wasn't adding up. "All right, start at the beginning."
"And go on until I reach the end, then stop?"
"Yes, that would be nice."
"I can try." Sirius took a deep breath and let it out. "I'd given the orders. Confund them first, then go for a Trip Jinx. And it was working. Two of them – there were three – went down. But the third one stayed up somehow. Then I got nailed with the car door just as I was about to get everyone organized to Stun it, and it was about to step on me. I couldn't move, there wasn't anyone nearby..."
I swear he practices where to put significant pauses.
"It was a horse, Moony. A winged horse. Black, but not a thestral. Beautiful thing. Think it was a mare. It was flying around the giant's head, whinnying and screaming and making a racket, and the giant turned to look at it and put its foot somewhere else. And then the deer showed up."
"The dear what?"
"No, a deer. You know, like Prongs. But this was a doe. No antlers, and even a few spots left. A yearling, I guess. It put its head down on my chest, and I must have blacked out for a while. When I woke up, it was gone, so was the horse, the giant was down, and Dumbledore was getting me up to help me Apparate back here. But I swear I was hurt a lot worse before it showed up." Sirius looked down at his blood-smeared chest. "I could have been imagining it, I guess. But I didn't imagine the horse. Plenty of people saw that."
"And you had to Obliviate most of them."
"Not my job." Sirius flashed him a small smile, then closed his eyes. "Think I'm going to sleep now," he muttered. "Tell Harry I'm all right?"
"Will do. Glad it's the truth. See you in the morning, Padfoot."
Deer and winged horses in London. Draco Malfoy losing his mind. Harry having nightmares. And my dreams and Sirius'... not quite nightmares, but not the kind you want, either.
What else can go wrong, here?
Somewhere far away, a being groaned to herself, the sound coming out as a low howl.
No, no, no. You NEVER ask that question. That is a very bad question to ask.
Because it is exactly the kind of question the universe delights in answering.
(A/N: Thanks to all the people who voted that they didn't care! With that, I was able to at least partially rationalize writing this! Plus, there will be hints along the way of this story as to the future of the LwD universe!
Michelle, if you see any major boo-boos, or have suggestions, please feel free to point out or suggest! I'm on your turf here, after all... Oh, I disclaim the four lines in the middle of this chapter that I borrowed from you. You know the ones... the ones that made me threaten to write this thing in the first place...
As usual, I plead for reviews, and also as usual, it's time to play "Find Those Characters"! Can you figure out what is going on and who is where? Hint: something that didn't happen in one of my AU's has happened here. Good luck!)