Originally written for the MetamorficMoon's Half Moon Rising fic jumble over at LJ. My prompts were Puffskeins, Dumbledore's Office, a day of realization and humor. How many Star Trek references can you find?
Problems with Puffskeins
Lupin's Log: Date – February Eighteenth, Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Five
Professor Dumbledore has requested, by owl, that Nymphadora Tonks and I meet him in his office at six o'clock in the evening. He stated that the matter is…urgent…
"Wotcher, Remus!" said Tonks brightly as he entered the Headmaster's office. She was sitting in a chair, wearing her powder blue junior Auror robe. Two men, in bright red senior Auror robes, stood behind her.
"Boys," said Tonks mischievously, "this is Remus Lupin. Remus, these are some of my co-workers. Dumbledore asked me to bring a few along."
"Pleased to meet you," said Remus, trying to let a flash of annoyance pass as he sat down. The Headmaster said nothing about other people being involved, let alone wizards not in the Order. He didn't like being kept in the dark like this.
Tonks turned around to speak to one of the Aurors. As he looked at her, Remus scolded himself for noticing how well her black leather knee high boots made her legs look. Especially with the mini-skirt. A little restricting for Auror work, Remus imagined, but right now he didn't have any complaints.
The door opened and Remus and Tonks both stood up as the Headmaster entered, followed closely by Professor Snape. Professor Dumbledore settled behind his desk, interlacing his fingers. "Thank you all for coming at such short notice."
"Not a problem," said Tonks cheerfully, causing her curls to bounce. Remus wondered if it was hard for Tonks to match up colors when she morphed. Right now her hair matched her robe perfectly.
"Did any of you notice anything…out of the ordinary as you walked through the castle?" asked Professor Dumbledore gravely.
Remus thought back to when he entered the castle through the main gate. Several students came up and said hello, remembering him as their professor from two years ago, but he could remember nothing out of the ordinary.
"Not that I recall," said Remus, the timber of his voice matching the seriousness of the Headmasters.
Tonks pointed behind her. "These two blokes fought practically the entire trip, but that's not really unusual for them," she said apologetically.
"Severus, perhaps you can explain?" asked Professor Dumbledore.
"Aurors are trained to be observant, are they not?" sneered Snape.
Tonks stuck her tongue out at him. Remus, finding that highly amusing, held back his laughter by pretending to cough. Loudly.
"Are you alright?" asked Tonks, sounding concerned.
"Never better," said Remus, pushing up the sleeves of his goldenrod colored jumper and trying to look dignified. He wasn't too sure of the color; he normally never strayed from brown, navy or grey. But it had been a Christmas present from Sirius, who was trying to get Remus off the beaten path.
"The castle seems to have been overrun by Puffskeins," said Snape lazily.
"Puffskeins?" asked Remus and Tonks at the same time.
"Puffskeins," repeated Professor Dumbledore. "No matter how many we confiscate, more and more keep appearing. It's becoming a danger to the castle."
"Headmaster," said Snape dryly, "I believe we are well past the 'becoming a danger' stage."
"Very well," sighed Professor Dumbledore. "I'd like the five of you to investigate where the Puffskeins might be coming from."
Remus thought of a hundred different things he'd rather be doing at the moment than roaming the castle on a quest for Puffskeins. But then Tonks beamed at him, and suddenly the idea didn't seem so bad anymore.
"Yes, sir," said Tonks, uncrossing her legs and standing up. Remus chastised himself, again, for staring. They were colleagues, about to go on a mission. Tonks surely wouldn't want him ogling her like an overgrown school boy.
The group of five, Remus, Tonks, Snape and the two Aurors, left the office quickly. Snape led the way.
"We believe this started as a way for someone to make a profit," said Snape curtly. "At first, the entire staff assumed it was the Weasley twins, but they deny any involvement and the other staff members believe them."
"Other staff members?" asked Tonks. "Does that mean you think it's the Weasley twins fault?"
"I'm not ruling anyone out," brooded Snape. He stopped suddenly, putting out his arm to indicate that the group should stop as well. "We're about to enter the most overgrown section of the castle."
The group turned the corner and Remus stopped in his tracks. Puffskeins seemed to be everywhere. They were clinging to the tapestries, peeking out of the suits of amours and one or two even seemed to be dangling from the chandelier.
"Merlin's beard," muttered Tonks. "It's like stepping into one of Lockhart's books. It could be called Puzzles with Puffskeins."
Remus had always respected Tonks as an Auror. But his respect for her person in general went up ten fold when she didn't even flinch as Snape gave her one of the most withering stares Remus had even seen. Snape could have made a first year cry with that look. But Tonks simply smiled back at the Potions Master.
"What?" she asked innocently. "Personally, I preferred his later works, such as Year with a Yeti, but my absolute favorite is Travels with Trolls."
"Gadding with Ghouls wasn't so bad, either," chuckled Remus, enjoying Snape's discomfort.
"Funny. I would have thought Wandering with Werewolves to be your favorite," snapped Snape as he stalked down the hall.
"I particularly enjoyed Holidays with Hags," said one of the red-robed Aurors. "I found the subject matter to be intriguing, while the prose…"
Tonks stopped and stared at her fellow Auror, blinking slowly. After a moment, she said, "Let's keep walking, gents."
They hurried to catch up to Snape. "So how could anyone use the puffskeins to make money?" asked Remus.
"The students enjoy having them as pets, even though they are not allowed," scowled Snape. "But whoever is trying to sell them didn't seem to realize that it is the puffskeins mating season."
At that, Tonks stifled a giggle. Remus grinned, no doubt she was laughing about the thought of her former professor talking about a puffskein's mating season.
"Do you find something amusing, Nymphadora?" asked Snape archly.
"Ooh, I'm Nymphadora, now, am I?" said Tonks, rolling her eyes. "When did I stop being Miss Tonks?"
Remus whirled around, his wand out at the sudden noise. One of the Aurors, not the one who enjoyed Lockhart's book, was rubbing the back of his head. "Something hit me in the back of the head!"
A loud cracking laugh could be heard overhead. Peeves.
"Leave this instant, Peeves," ordered Snape.
Peeves in reply, picked up plenty of puffskeins and proceeded to pitch them at the party. "Presenting a present from pretty, pretty Peevesie! A portrait of problems will be produced by the plethora of pleasing puffskeins!"
Remus, slightly blind sighted by the Poltergeist's ability to alliterate, failed to duck in time and was hit squarely in the chest by one of the many large cream-colored puffskeins.
"I'll show you pleasing, Peeves!" shouted Tonks, bending over to pick up one of the puffskeins.
Remus paused just momentarily, allowing himself to enjoy the view of Tonks' backside. To his dismay, Snape seemed to catch him in watching Tonks and simply raised one solitary eyebrow, clearly saying, "I don't think so."
Tonks threw a puffskein at Peeves, who simply laughed and zoomed around the corridor. Snape tried a spell or two as well, but the Poltergeist wouldn't leave. But then Remus saw that one of the red-robed Aurors was chewing on a piece of gum.
"You!" yelled Remus, not knowing the Auror's name. "Take out your gum!"
The Auror complied and Remus pointed his wand at the gum and shouted, "Waddiwasi!"
The gum shot towards Peeves, who cried, "Not again!" and sped off away from the group.
"Good work, Remus!" beamed Tonks while Snape scowled at him. Remus simply grinned sheepishly.
The group started walking again and Tonks carried one of the puffskeins in her arms. "I feel bad for them," she said to no one in particular. "They seem to like everyone. And here we are, trying to get rid of them."
"They hate Goblins," said Snape suddenly.
"Really?" asked Tonks in surprise. "Why is that, Severus?"
Remus help back a snigger as Snape's eyes narrowed at Tonks' casual use of his first name. "I believe that it is not so much hate as fear," said Snape formally. Remus recognized that Snape was in his 'professor mode.' "It is a genetic trait that is passed down from parent to offspring."
"Have you ever heard a puffskein around a Goblin?" asked Remus, shivering at the thought. "Fingernails on a chalkboard."
"We're near the kitchens now, aren't we?" asked Tonks, looking around curiously. A House-Elf or two could be seen scurrying down the corridors. The puffskeins were everywhere; the noise they made was getting quite loud.
"This could be serious," mumbled one of the Aurors, trailing behind them.
Tonks froze and looked back, wide-eyed. "There has been no indication that Sirius Black has been seen anywhere near Hogwarts," she said quickly. "Don't be so quick to accuse him."
"Tonks, I, I think he meant that the situation is serious," said Remus softly.
"Of course," said Tonks awkwardly. She held her chin up high and tried to look dignified, which is harder than it looks when one sports powder blue hair. "As you were, gentlemen."
Just as the group made it to the entrance of the kitchens, close to ten to twelve House-Elves ran out. They all had a look of terror on their faces.
"We better investigate," said Remus quickly, taking out his wand. He walked inside, ready for anything that might come his way.
"The service entrance!" yelled Tonks.
Remus looked quickly and saw five or six masked men holding crates, talking to a House-Elf. The men immediately started firing curses at the group. One of the masked men cast a severing charm above them. Before anyone had the chance to react, pots and pans fell wildly down from the ceiling.
Within the next moment, the masked men were gone. But the problems were only just beginning.
"He's under there!" cried Tonks. Remus looked and saw that one of the red-robed Aurors seemed to be under the pile of pots and pans. Together, Remus, Tonks, Snape and the other Auror were all removing the kitchenware.
Once the ruble was cleared, Tonks knelt next to the Auror, the one that liked Holiday with Hags. She glanced him over, a look of horror on her face. Tonks placed her fingers on his neck, looking for a pulse.
No one could mistake the shock in her voice. "He's dead, Remus."
"Dead?" asked Remus, not quite believing it. "Impossible."
"This really is serious," said the other Auror.
Tonks looked up frustratedly. "So Sirius Black has access to Polyjuice Potion now? Come on, man-" Remus put his hand on Tonks' shoulder. She looked up and met his eyes. "Right. This is very serious business, indeed."
Remus looked at the red-robed Auror who was still alive. "Take his body up to the Hospital Wing. We'll try to sort this out."
"Were those Death Eaters?" Tonks asked Snape as the other two Aurors disappeared.
Snape shook his head. "No, the masks were different. Not the same design or color."
Tonks stamped her foot in frustration. "I don't believe this!"
"I think since the altercation occurred in the kitchens, perhaps we should assume that a House-Elf is behind this," said Snape, crossing his arms over his chest.
"You don't mean to tell me that you actually think that this is a House-Elf's fault?" asked Tonks in disbelief. Her hands were on her hips and at the moment, Remus couldn't help but think that she looked like an angry little blue pixie.
"Let's get the possibility out of the way," said Remus quickly. Tonks looked outraged for a moment, but then mumbled a consent.
"There are two free House-Elves currently employed by Hogwarts," said Snape, looking around, most likely for the two House-Elves. "Perhaps we should start with them."
"What are their names?" asked Remus.
"Dobby and Winky," said Snape matter-of-factly.
"You in the habit of knowing all of the House-Elves by their names?" asked Tonks mischievously.
Snape raised his chin, trying to look dignified. "I happen to need House-Elves to assist me in my duties as Potions Master of this school."
"Of course," said Tonks in an exaggerated manner. "I understand completely now."
"Is there a House-Elf named Dobby or Winky here?" asked Remus, loud enough for all of the House-Elves to hear. A few shook their heads, while even more pointed to a House-Elf in the corner.
Remus looked at the House-Elf in surprise. He didn't look like any House-Elf he had ever seen before and that was saying something, considering he lived with a House-Elf like Kreacher.
"Dobby is wanted?" asked the House-Elf as he ran over towards the group. As he came closer, he tripped over a hat that had fallen from his head and landed face first. Tonks was the first to kneel down and help him. Remus could only assume that was because she was so used to tripping and falling herself.
"Hello, Dobby," said Remus kindly, not wanting to intimidate the House-Elf. "You know Professor Snape. I'm Remus Lupin and this is-"
"The clumsy one!" squeaked Dobby.
Tonks looked taken back. "How do you know I'm clumsy?" she asked in a horrified whisper.
"Dobby was there! At Malfoy Manner when the Ministry come to look for bad, evil wizard things!" said Dobby excitedly.
Tonks suddenly looked like she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her hole.
"What's this?" asked Snape with a hint of a sneer.
"The clumsy one was at the Malfoy Manor! She tripped and-"
"I really don't think we have time for this," said Tonks quickly.
"I see no need to rush," grinned Remus. He couldn't help but be curious.
"I was on a training mission and we went to Malfoy Manner because of a tip and I swear to Merlin that a suit of amour tripped me and I fell and ended up ripping a huge hole into a family portrait of the Malfoys and Malfoy threatened to sue me which I really don't think was fair because it was the suit of amour's fault not mine," said Tonks in one breath.
"Of course it was," said Snape, raising his eyebrows.
Remus realized that they were completely off of the subject now. "Dobby, do you know anything about the puffskeins that have been taking over Hogwarts?"
Dobby shook his head. "Everybody thinks it is Winky's fault! Winky gots nothing to do with it!"
"And how would you know?" asked Snape archly.
"Not Winky's fault!" cried Dobby. "There are bad noises coming from the storage room! No House-Elf likes to go there now!"
"What kind of bad noises?" asked Remus.
Dobby shook his head violently. "Bad noises!"
Just as Remus was going to ask the House-Elf to be more specific, the Headmaster's Patronus appeared asking them to come back to his office.
Remus, Tonks and Snape all walked quickly through the corridors, wands out, in case there was another confrontation with Peeves. It took longer than they anticipated, seeing how the corridor leading up to the kitchens were now ankle-high in Puffskeins.
Finally, they made it up to Professor Dumbledore's office. Remus wondered how they would explain that an Auror was killed in the kitchen by cutlery. But as soon as Remus tried to elaborate, the Headmaster brushed the words aside.
"What have you learned?" he asked, looking serious over his half-moon glasses.
"The House-Elves believe Winky is too blame," said Snape.
"A House-Elf!" said Tonks dramatically, ungracefully sitting in one of the chairs. "A bloody House-Elf!"
"Do you have any better ideas?" asked Snape sarcastically.
"Anything idea is better than a House-Elf," shot back Tonks.
Professor Dumbledore held up his hand. "There is no room for arguing. See what else you can find out."
Lupin's Log: Later that Day
Professor Snape seems content to believe that the House-Elf named Winky is to blame. Tonks disagrees completely. Perhaps only time will tell…
The group first stopped by the storage room that Dobby spoke about. Immediately they heard the 'bad' noises. When Remus tried to open the door, it was locked. Tonks and Snape both tried every unlocking spell they knew, which was a lot of unlocking spells, and still the door wouldn't budge.
"May I help you?" asked a low voice.
Remus looked down and saw an odd looking House-Elf. He was wearing the Hogwarts House-Elf uniform and had included some type of bandana on his head, covering his ears completely.
"We'd like to look inside," said Tonks eagerly. "Could you open the door for us?"
Two House-Elves walked by and glared angrily at the House-Elf talking to them. "Gobly! Don't be talking to these nice people!" one yelled out.
Remus desperately tried not to snigger at the House-Elf calling Snape 'nice.'
"Please don't mind Gobly," said the House-Elf. "He's a bad House-Elf. Badder than Dobby!"
Snape had a quizzical look on his face. "Considering being free is the worst thing to a House-Elf, how can he be worse than Dobby?" he asked.
Both of the House-Elves looked around, as if trying to see if anyone might over hear them. "He's wants us to…He's wants us to…"
The other closed his eyes and spoke like he was saying the worst of swear words. "Unionize."
"Fascinating," said Snape, raising an eyebrow.
"He wants the House-Elves to unionize?" asked Remus. He then noticed Gobly holding a copy of 'Unionizing for Fun and Profit' "Gobly, is this true?"
"Don't talks to Gobly!" said the House-Elf somewhat angrily.
"Can we helps you, Misses and Misters?" the other House-Elf cried eagerly.
"Can we take a look inside this room?" asked Tonks.
"Of course, Misses," said the House-Elf happily. Remus noticed Gobly moving quickly down a different corridor.
Remus and Tonks stood in front of the door while Snape stood besides it. The House-Elf circled his hands once and tapped the door, which opened quickly.
Thousands of puffskeins came tumbling out of the door. Remus and Tonks had to turn and run as fast as possible, or they would be engulfed in a pile of puffskeins.
"Faster, Remus!" cried Tonks. She waved her wand and the door of a broom cupboard opened. She jumped inside and Remus immediately followed, closing the door behind him. The cupboard was rocked by the force of the puffskeins, causing Tonks to be launched into Remus' arms. He held onto her tightly, in case the cupboard tipped over.
"I thought we were going to lose it there for a moment," said Tonks breathlessly. Her eyes went wide. "What if we can't get out?"
In the darkness, her pale face seemed to almost glow, surrounded by those beautiful, blue curls. "We'll make it of here alive," said Remus seriously, tightening the grip on her waist.
"Promise?" asked Tonks.
"Promise," said Remus.
"What ever should we do to pass the time until we're rescued?" asked Tonks flirtatiously.
Not able to help himself, Remus started to lower his head to kiss her. She simply looked so beautiful…
But then the door opened, completely ruining the moment. "The Professor needs your help!" cried a House-Elf.
Remus and Tonks let go of each other immediately. She gave him a pointed look, which Remus realized meant, 'later.' Feeling quite pleased with himself, he followed the House-Elf, wading through the puffskeins, which were now thigh-high.
"There!" yelled the House-Elf.
Remus looked and saw that Snape was practically buried in the puffskeins. He could only just make out the top of his greasy head.
"We'll get you out of there, Snape!" cried Tonks.
"No!" said Snape, his voice muffled through the puffskeins. "It's too late! You must find out who did this!"
"We can get you out of there!" exclaimed Remus.
"The needs…of the…many…outweigh the needs…of the one…"
"Do you want to die, Snape?" asked Tonks frustratedly. She took her wand and started moving as many puffskeins as she could. Remus quickly joined in. With ten minutes, with the help of some House-Elves, they were able to get Snape out of there. He was very weak.
"Winky!" a voice cried behind them.
Remus turned as quickly as he could to see what the commotion was. Apparently, the House-Elf named Winky was lying on the floor of the room that the avalanche of puffskeins came out of. She was holding two butterbeers, one in each hand.
Tonks looked shocked; Remus almost wanted to put his arm around her to help support her. It looked like Winky might have been their culprit after all.
"We should question her," said Tonks sadly.
"Snape, do you have any Veritaserum?" asked Remus.
"I have the ingredients, but not the potion," said Snape weakly. "Nymphadora, please run down to the dungeons and make a quick batch of Veritaserum. Your potion skills are adequate. It will not take you long."
"Damnit, Snape! I'm an Auror, not a Potions Mistress," said Tonks rebelliously.
Remus found that his mind was working at a hundred miles an hour. Something just wasn't adding up. "Hold off for a minute," said Remus slowly.
"Lupin-" started Snape, but Remus waved him off.
He picked up a puffskein and casually walked into the kitchens. He saw Gobly standing on a stool, giving a rousing speech. The other House-Elves seemed to just be ignoring him or shooting him angry looks.
"Don't you see? They don't care about you here! Your work truly won't be appreciated until they have to give you Galleons! Who's with me!" cried Gobly.
Remus narrowed his eyes. House-Elves don't use proper grammar. Something was very wrong. He walked closer and felt the puffskein he was holding begin to shake. When Remus was only a foot or so away, the puffskein let out a horrific cry.
A flash of fear crossed Gobly's face and he jumped off the stool and started running towards the door. Luckily, Tonks and Snape were standing there, blocking his path. Gobly tried to skirt pas the two of them but Snape reached down and seemed to grab Gobly's shoulder. Gobly passed out immediately.
"Did you just kill a House-Elf?" asked Tonks, covering her mouth with her hand.
"He's only unconscious," said Snape, sounding bored. "Besides, this is no House-Elf."
"Let's just see who you really are," said Remus, kneeling next to the unconscious House-Elf. He took off Gobly's bandana and saw that he wasn't a House-Elf at all. Gobly was a Goblin.
Tonks knelt next to Remus and took out her wand. "Rennervate," she said quietly.
Gobly's eyelids fluttered and moment later, he was awake. Tonks quickly put his hands behind his back and bound his wrists with invisible rope.
"Unhand me!" cried Gobly. "I'm on official business with Gringotts!"
"Gringotts?" asked Remus. "What do they want with Hogwarts' kitchens?"
Gobly was kicking his feet angrily. "We wanted to get them to want wages…to unionize…" Gobly's eyes glazed over just a bit. "Think of the union dues alone..."
"So you were the ones to bring in all the puffskeins!" accused Tonks.
"We wanted to make them overworked, so they would demand to be paid!" cried Gobly. "And we would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling wizards!"
"Dobby!" Remus yelled out.
"Yes, sirs?" asked Dobby, at his side in an instant.
"Please escort 'Mister Gobly,' from the castle," said Remus, standing up.
"Very happily, sirs!" said Dobby eagerly, poking Gobly in the back.
"Tonks, Snape, let's give the Headmaster a report," said Remus. Together, the group walked slowly to Professor Dumbledore's office. Slowly, because Snape was still weak from the puffskein avalanche that almost killed him.
Professor Dumbledore was delighted with the news. Just as they were finishing the story, Dobby burst into the office, holding his head up high.
"Sorry to be bothering, sirs," said Dobby, blushing somewhat. "The House-Elves have put it to a vote!"
"A vote for what?" asked Tonks curiously.
"What to do with the puffskeins!" said Dobby. "We's decided to send them to Gringotts as a present for tryings to help us!"
Both Remus and Tonks burst out laughing at the very thought. Professor Dumbledore smiled as well as he stood up. "Severus, I'd like to take you to the Hospital Wing so Madam Pomfrey can take a look at you."
Snape nodded and walked out of the room, accompanied by Dobby. Professor Dumbledore started to follow but stopped at the door. "Remus, that was very good work down there," said the Headmaster with a twinkle in his eye.
Remus felt himself blushing. "It wasn't me at all, sir," said Remus embarrassedly.
"Still unable to accept praise, are we, Remus?" asked Professor Dumbledore.
"Between us, maybe we can get him to change that," said Tonks mischievously.
Professor Dumbledore held out his hands helplessly. "I'm not a miracle worker, you know." He shook his head and left the office.
Remus looked at Tonks, and she seemed intent on resuming the conversation that had started in the broom cupboard and Remus was more than willing to let her.
She took a step towards him and promptly tripped on a rug. Remus rushed forward and caught her just before she hit the ground.
"My hero," she said teasingly and Remus helped her up.
"Glad to be of service," grinned Remus. His heart seemed to be too big for his chest. He couldn't quite believe this was happening.
"Just think, Remus," smiled Tonks as she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close. "Somehow you managed to both save the day and get the girl!"
A breathtaking realization, indeed.