Glass crunched like icicles under Kingsley's feet as he walked through the living room, surveying the disaster area before him. He let out a low, awed whistle. The majority of the struggle had obviously taken place in this room - the rest of the house wasn't nearly as bad off. "What's the body count, Mad-Eye?"
The old auror grumbled something unintelligible and nudged a cold, unmoving form with one booted toe. "Three of these are werewolves. Looks like the owners of the house got to them before they were overrun." He motioned over his shoulder to two other bodies, their long blonde hair bloodied and serving to only marginally cover the mortal wounds both had sustained. "Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy." His mouth turned down sharply at the corners. "Both were already dead when we got here. Their house elf alerted us."
Kingsley noticed the shivering creature in the company of two other aurors now for the first time. He was answering questions in a stuttering voice, gesturing erratically with both hands.
"Buggered out as soon as the wolves showed up," Moody muttered with a bit of a smirk. "Not that anyone could blame him. Here, come this way, Shaklebolt." He led Kingsley out of the ruined living area and into an adjacent room, where a healer stood over another figure - smaller than the others, merely a child - lying in the bed there. "That's our other problem."
If Kingsley had not recognised the boy from the couple pictures Lucius had in his office, he would have been readily identifiable as the son of the two deceased Malfoys by his appearance alone. He seemed in hardly better condition than they, but he, at least, was still breathing. Considering the leader of the attack on the Malfoy residence was suspected to be Fenrir Greyback, a wolf notorious for setting his sights on younger children, it came as a bit of a surprise to him that he'd be the survivor.
As he continued glancing over the child's injuries, however, it became apparent that he might not be all that better off for it. Moody spoke his thoughts aloud before he himself could.
"Might be better to simply put the runt out of his misery now," the old man muttered. "He certainly hasn't gotten much to look forward to."
Kingsley glared slightly at the older Auror, even though somewhere in the pit of his stomach he knew there was some truth to what he said. The boy's wakening was sure to be a harsh one, for apart from several large gashes from the claws of wolven feet, he also had a rather large wound in his side - and that one hadn't been caused by any claws.
"Here's to hoping we can find family for him," he sighed. "There aren't many safe havens for young orphaned werewolves."
Scale of Dragon, Tooth of Wolf
an AU Harry Potter fanfic
It was the ninth of May when Remus Lupin found himself summoned to the Werewolf Registry at the Ministry of Magic with no explanation at all. Worried and a bit confused, as he'd been taking extreme caution with everything having to do with his condition, he responded to the summons with due haste. He was met by Dr. Wellington, the head of the Registry, upon his arrival. The man shook his hand and ushered him into a small sitting room, which, while calming some of his original fears, did nothing to sate his curiosity.
"Please make yourself comfortable," the man said, acting far too friendly as far as Remus was concerned.
He hardly had time to dwell on this, however, as the two of them were soon joined by two other men. One of them he didn't recognise, but the other far more imposing figure was Albus Dumbledore, and Remus found himself getting to his feet automatically to greet him properly.
"Sit down, sit down," Dumbledore chuckled with a twinkle in his eye. "You'll be wanting to stay seated for this, I assure you."
This comment didn't settle Remus's nerves any. Mercifully, Dumbledore got straight to the point.
"There has been a recent increase in werewolf activity over the past few weeks. I'm sure you've seen the reports?"
He hadn't, actually. He read the Prophet these days only casually and if he was looking for anything in particular. They had a tendency to end up piling up on his counter before he gave in and read them or tossed them into the bin. He shook his head. Dumbledore didn't appear surprised.
"We're not sure about the cause, but there have been several casualties, many of these involving respected pureblooded families. The matter is being looked into, but..."
Remus paled. "Sir... surely you don't think that I'm -"
Dumbledore laughed, and silenced him with one upheld hand. "No, no, no. That's not why you were asked here at all, Remus. Your loyalties are most assuredly not in question." As Remus relaxed somewhat he went on. "Are you familiar with the Malfoy family?"
"I've heard of them. Yes."
"Well, most unfortunately, they were the latest victims, and in the wake of the destruction I'm afraid the only survivor was their son, who has been recently bitten himself." He paused to glance at Remus over his half-moon spectacles. "This was where Mr. Wellington and I were hoping you would be able to help us."
This... didn't bode well. "What is it you're asking of me?" Remus asked cautiously, afraid he might already know the answer.
"The child is currently going through the stages of Preparation," Dumbledore continued. "As the most trustworthy werewolf I have the pleasure of knowing, I was... we were hoping that you might be able to find it in your heart to care for the lad as he goes through this."
Preparation was what a werewolf went through after he or she was bitten for the first time, as their body adjusted to the changes the full moon would now afflict on them. It was an extremely painful and delicate time for a young child.
Yes. That was definitely the answer he was afraid of.
"If you recall," Remus's voice had an edge to it now that he couldn't help. "I was deemed 'unfit' to care for a child back when I asked about Harry --"
"Harry Potter was not a werewolf, Mr. Lupin."
Remus could only stand and glare at Wellington as Dumbledore took over. "And aside from this," he said as gently as possible, "we must take into consideration that you were not in the best mental health at the time."
The words stung a bit, but they were the truth, and Remus said nothing to refute them. He'd had a difficult enough time caring for himself after the incidents with James, Lily, Sirius and Peter. He doubted he would have been the best person to look to as a father figure.
"You were recommended specifically by the good Professor here, Mr. Lupin," Mr. Wellington's smile seemed pasted on. "He has no family that will or can legally take him. The orphanage is unequipped to deal with his condition. We're trying our best to find him a suitable living situation. Your service may need only be temporary."
"I think... you should go ahead and bring the child in, Xavier," Dumbledore said to Mr. Wellington. The man nodded and exited to an adjoining room, returning moments later with a young, blond-headed boy.
The boy gave Remus a glance over and sniffed, but said nothing.
"This is Draco. He's seven years old." Dumbledore placed both hands on either side of Draco's shoulders, causing him to squirm. "For the time being, I hope you will allow us to place him in your care."
"Professor Dumbledore..." Remus looked strained. "Sir. I'm afraid I couldn't even begin to afford to..."
"You will be given money to pay for his expenses." This came from the last man, the one he didn't recognise and who had said nothing until now. He was dark-haired and wearing an expensive set of ovular spectacles. His whole manner reeked of what Sirius would have referred to as "that upper class snobbery."
Wellington introduced him. "Oh, Mr. Lupin... this is Julian Rosier. He works in tandem with Gringotts, and is in charge of the Malfoy's financial advisory."
"Young Mr. Malfoy here has inherited quite a sum in both money and property with the death of his parents." Rosier went on. "As his temporary guardian you're not entitled to any of this, but the boy will receive a monthly sum until he's old enough to be trusted with the care of his own finances." The man might as well have been reading from a pamphlet with all the inflection he gave to his voice. "And of course it is my duty to remind you that any use of his inheritance by you without his direct permission is a crime and will be treated as theft."
Brilliant. "I have no intention of borrowing any of young Draco's money, Mr. Rosier," Remus muttered. "In fact, I don't believe you have the right person for this job at all."
At about that moment, Draco suddenly gave a pained sob, and curled his arms around his waist, falling back into Dumbledore's hands. Rosier and Wellington watched the scene dispassionately.
"About five more days, isn't it, Mr. Lupin?" The latter asked him with a raised eyebrow.
Two hours later, a weary and somewhat aggravated Remus Lupin left the Ministry of Magic with a young boy following at his heels and wondering who he'd angered over his lifetime for him to be put in so many unfavourable situations.
For the moment, he had but a small bag of clothing for his new ward. The rest of the boy's things would be sent to his flat once more of the investigation into the murders was complete. He'd been told that his current duties (sentence he felt was the more appropriate term) should only last for about two months - three at the most.
And perhaps things wouldn't be so bad. Perhaps the boy had a reasonably calm temperament. He'd been quiet so far. Wasn't that promising?
"I don't like you," Draco said suddenly.
This made Remus stop in his tracks, and he turned on his new flatmate, trying to look amused instead of offended. "Oh, you don't, do you?"
The boy shook his head in the negative. "No, I don't." A finger went up briefly to rub at his nose. "You're dirty, and you smell."
"What! I don't..." Remus caught himself from arguing back with the boy. After all, he was most likely just trying to get him aggravated. And perhaps I do smell to him, he thought. He is going through Preparation after all. It had been so long since Remus had gone through that stage himself that wasn't sure he remembered any of the side effects that went along with it.
Draco didn't seem as determined to drop the issue as he did, however. "Yeah, you do!" he whined. "You smell like dirt."
Remus laughed and continued walking. "Oh, is that all?"
He'd gone a few steps more when he realised that the boy was no longer following him. Turning around, he saw him standing with his arms folded and a hideous pout on his face. He stopped too, then, and crossed his own arms over his chest in annoyance. "Are you just going to stand there? I've heard living on the sidewalk isn't very comfortable."
"I. Don't. Want. To. Go. With. You." Draco huffed, and with that said proceeded to sit down on the pavement.
Remus let his gaze drift skyward and groaned. Striding back over to the boy, he then wrapped an arm around his waist and proceeded to toss the child over his shoulder. When Draco began screaming in protest, a quick charm from his new guardian silenced him completely, leaving him to open and close his mouth like a fish out of water. He resisted the temptation to knock the boy out completely as he then began pounding out his frustration with his fists and knees.
Not wanting to risk side-along apparation with the boy going through what he was, Remus made for the floo hub, and it took far too long to get there in his opinion.
The first evening Draco spent in Remus's flat was about as far away from "promising" as it was possible to get.
At first, after Remus removed the silencing charm, Draco refused to talk to him at all. Unfortunately for Remus he eventually got bored of this and began with the questions. It was then one question after another and a continuous stream of whining and complaints. When was supper? When was he going to be getting all of his things? Was he going to be told to go to bed early? Well he wouldn't if he was told to. What were they having for supper? Did the house always smell like apple cider and dust?
Remus put up with all of this with a patience he didn't realise he had, and the complaints faded somewhat after he finally had supper cooked and on the table. As he'd assumed from his current state, Draco was starving, and the young boy had nearly three full helpings of everything. Food seemed to pacify him a bit, and Remus felt he could talk to him without him throwing as much of a fit afterwards.
"Your things will be brought here as soon as the investigation on your home is complete," he said, sliding a wrapped peppermint candy across the table to his charge, who grabbed for it immediately. "I know it's a mess, but you'll have them soon enough."
Draco took a moment to think about this. "They going to kill that guys that did it?" he asked, voice slightly garbled around the sweet now in his mouth.
"They'll try and find them, yes," Remus answered. "Some of them have already been taken care of." Three werewolves had been found dead at the estate, if he remembered the report correctly.
The boy nodded absently. "Good. I hope they take care of the others, too." He then hopped down from the chair. "Where's my room?"
Baffled by the change of subject, Remus raised an eyebrow. "I thought you said you didn't want to go to bed early?"
"I said I didn't want to go if you told me to," Draco corrected, as if this made all the sense in the world. "I'm tired, and I want to go to bed."
His guardian pointed a finger down the hallway, and Draco followed where it led. Shortly after, he returned again. "There's only one room that way."
Remus nodded. "Yes. Until I have time to clean out the other room you're going to have to stay with me."
"I don't want to sleep in the same room as you!" the boy whined piteously. "You probably snore. And besides, it smells in there!"
Once again slightly offended, Remus made a note to have all of his sheets and robes thoroughly cleaned the following day. "Well, it's either that or you sleep on the couch. Those are your only options."
"But how am I supposed to sleep on the couch if you're still up?" Draco looked close to tears. "I won't be able to sleep at all!"
This is why people buy kittens, Remus mused as the boy continued to whine. So they don't have to deal with something that's already been taught certain habits.
As he resigned himself to the sofa for the night, he had a sickening feeling that things were only going to get worse before they got better.