I do not own, or receive any benefit, from the Harry Potter properties.
Remus Lupin, P.I. Part 1: The Lingering Scent of Blood
By Larry Huss
Born to be a wizard, cursed to be a werewolf: a life that might make anyone into a confirmed cynic. Add in a lunar-based inability to handle most regular jobs (and no inherited wealth), and having one of your three best friends kill the other two… a person could get bitter.
Getting nine N.E.W.T.S. with EE or better, and still having the prospect of life-long magical unemployment would tend to make you think that the wizarding world had pretty much screwed you. Being a werewolf meant that living in the mainstream of the Muggle world was a no-go also. If you were smart though, smart enough to get those nine N.E.W.T.S. in the first place, you might just be able to find a place in the shadow world. Where people don't talk too much of their private lives, or about going to their kid's dance recital. The place where Law and Crime, Truth and Lies, the day-to-day and the inexplicable meet each other like converging streams, causing currents and rapids. The place where results mean everything, and if you're discrete (and don't bite your clients) you just might be able to make a go of it.
Six months out of Hogwarts and Lupin couldn't even get hired peddling wart cream at a Hags' Convention. (Bournemouth, December 19th, 1978). He loved Sirius, Peter, and James like brothers, but he was sick of having them support him. Lupin knew he needed a job where he could make his own hours, and people didn't ask too many questions. It came to him one night as he sat in a cheap art-house cinema watching a poor-condition print of The Maltese Falcon. Two things actually: the first was simple; he wanted to get into Mary Astor's knickers. Aside from that he realized that Sam Spade's main qualifications for being a Private Investigator were having a driver's license and having his name on the door of an insanely dingy office. He could do that! The office bit; Mary Astor was probably too old for him now.
The next six months came close to killing him. Finding books on skip-tracing, tailing, basic detective work, disguises, photography, Muggle and Magical government Bureaucracy and how to use them was easy enough in London. Studying them while holding down a succession of dead-end jobs took twenty hours a day. Except for the times when he had to chain himself up when the moon was full; those were the days he could do nothing but suffer.
He tried to explain himself to his friends, but James and Sirius and Peter couldn't see why he couldn't just work the magic side of the street, if not just live off of their generosity indefinitely. They drew a little apart. When the other three joined the Order of the Phoenix he had to beg off; he had just gotten hired at a Muggle agency, and was studying for a driver's license. Sirius and James just shook their heads uncomprehendingly: "How you've changed Remus," they said, "It's like we don't know you at all, anymore." Peter was more accepting; with Remus floating to the outside of their Marauder circle, he was drifting inwards toward its center.
Working at the Agency was when he really learned the job. It was a low-rent bureau in a low-rent area. The pay was poor and the hours worse. Since he only took two days or so off a month they made allowances for him, as nobody was better doing a tail. How he traced who were raiding the petty cash drawer in one store after another was uncanny; it was like he could see the money being lifted at night. No one ever suggested he was putting a Tracking Charm on the money each night and following it. Yes, that was usually the key. That was one of the first lessons the Old Man who ran the place taught him; follow the money.
James and Lily married; Sirius was the best man and Peter was one of the groomsmen. Lupin made it to the wedding, but had to skip the reception afterwards; he had work as a bouncer/surveillance man that night. That was the night that a man two thirds his size, without an ounce of the extra strength that being a werewolf gives even a human form, threw him around like a rag doll. It was an important night for him; it taught him skill beats strength nine out of ten times. He learned that, and he learned skill.
Lily had a baby, a real little charmer. Lupin visited whenever he had a chance, though he could tell that they (James especially) had developed certain… reservations about him. Still, he could set them laughing, even the baby, with stories of stakeouts, pursuits through trashcan strewn alleys, and the incredible optimism of Muggle shoplifters who came into store dressing rooms slender, and tried to leave the place wearing twelve or more pairs of pants at once. Of course, the baby was mainly amused by his ability to do an elegant pratfall; still, for that age it was a sign of intelligence.
It was the week he quit the Agency that things really fell apart for him. The Old Man had been a bit of a bastard, but a fairly passive one who just wanted his agents to do their job so he could underpay them. When he retired his son took over, a far more active bastard who harassed the secretaries, screamed at those doing the dirty work, and demanded everyone take a pay-cut. Within two days the firms overhead was slashed, and half those employed quit or managed to get fired. Lupin was considering hitting James up for a loan (if he could find him; he was in hiding) when the news came. Sirius had sold them out to the Death Eaters.
Lupin went to his basement apartment, chained himself up (it was that time of the month), and spent the time waiting for the moon to rise getting totally smashed on cheap Irish whiskey. Oddest thing, his wolf form was actually a cheerful drunk, and didn't even fight the chains or bite itself. Still, the next morning the hangover was immense, he was unemployed, and the best part of his world… the part that had always given him comfort… was destroyed. James and Peter and Lily were dead, Sirius a traitor. Little Harry, where ever he was, an orphan.
It took him two months, but Lupin managed to shake himself out of his fugue. A middle aged secretary at his old place, who had been mother-henning him, managed to get him a good set of references out of the new boss. The man's short attention span and tendency to sign anything placed in front of him made that possible. Seeing how easy it was, and knowing just when to strike, she then proceeded to get sterling references for all of her many favorites (she was a kindly person), and finally herself as she went out the door for the last time. That was a lesson or two for Lupin in that too. He learned it as she joked about her last day at work, at a luncheon he had bought for her. Staff makes or breaks a business that deals in personal services, so get them on your side!
Times were tough; he certainly didn't build up any Patronus-class memories for the next half year. He did freelance magical bodyguarding and worked at a dueling academy. The last, even though he was little more than an animated target dummy, taught him dodging, blocking, and targeting skills way beyond those the ever-changing DADA teachers at Hogwarts had ever done.
It was a messy and unpleasant divorce case that got him a break. No one really liked doing that sort of job, but it's the bread and butter of the PI profession. When a Muggle acquaintance with a too-full case load recommended him for it, he accepted it as a rent-payer, nothing more. When the Spanish Ambassador's Squib cousin, the unexpected bodies in the basement, and the deep-cover agent from Grindewald's War got into the picture Lupin had to improvise quickly. His old Marauder instincts kicked in, and he played one end against the other against the other. He learned how much of the wolf leaked through into his day-to-day, and how to use it. In the end the Squib was safe, the basement-filler turned over to the Aurors, and the Agent was allowed to return to obscurity. The Husband, saved 12,000 pounds alimony a month, gave Lupin a bonus, and spread his name wide.
Lupin got his dingy office with his name on the door, a service to clean it, and another to handle his telephone and mail. He upgraded his clothing from tattered to shabby, and as business picked up went all the way to out-of-style. He managed to afford an auto but going for a firearms permit just wasn't worth the trouble or expense. He now and then, here and there, started to date.
He rented a small house in an unfashionable neighborhood. One night the girl he had picked up at a bar wandered into the basement, saw all the chains and other werewolf handling equipment, and decided he was excitingly kinky. She became his experimental-minded girlfriend for the next three weeks, and proved to him: 1) He liked girlfriends. 2) He was not kinky. 3) She was, and they split up.
It was on July 28th, 1983 that he remembered that Harry Potter had a birthday coming up, and that he had already skipped a year sending James' kid a present. In a hurry he sent a Muggle Children's Art Set, and a Wizarding Card, to Harry Potter. Lupin knew how good the Owl Post was about sending things with incomplete addresses. That's why he was a little irritated when it came back to him, "Address Unknown." He didn't need the art kit, or the card, so he decided to take an afternoon off and go down to the Ministry and ask a few people he knew there how to get something to Harry. The wizarding world was small enough that whoever was taking care of the child should be easy to trace.
Three days later he hadn't used up his patience, but he had used up all his government contacts. The best of them were also puzzled about the Boy-Who-Lived having disappeared off the face of the world, and asked him to let them know when he was located. Even Gringotts wouldn't take a fee for the information; either they didn't know, or someone big was leaning on them. Lupin decided to take a break for the weekend.
In fact, he took two weeks off from the Potter Problem, and used it to clean up five cases ranging from the mundane (someone was trying to poison the old lady for her estate), to the esoteric (how the ghost exorcised the Exorcist). After that last one he treated himself to a night out. The next morning, as he lay in bed listening to the girl he had scored with the night before rustling around preparing breakfast something she had said came back into his mind. Schools, especially those that were big into Legacy students, kept track of addresses with a passion. Among other things they were always hinting that a donation to some building fund or scholarship would guarantee admission for the next generation. Yeah, Lupin knew Hogwarts was like that; he received some solicitation or other from them at least once a month. He got up and rewarded her for the idea.
Breakfast was very late that day.
It didn't take him long to discover Hogwarts current staff set up. Imagine, Snape teaching! The important thing was that McGonagall was still Deputy Headmistress and Head of Gryffindor. He could work with her. When they were in school Lupin had been the Marauder's diplomat and contact with the Powers That Be. It was mostly because he wouldn't snivel and break down crying like Peter, or try to prank them while he was in their office trying to get forgiveness for the last prank, like Sirius.
He wrote McGonagall a letter. He meant it to be short, but it grew as he discovered more and more things he wanted to tell her. His recent Great Harry Hunt was gone into in full and comedic detail, as well as a request that she help him get rid of the birthday gift currently cluttering up the hallway. He expected her response would be short and no-nonsense; that's the way she was. Either "Sorry, no forwarding address, delighted to hear how well you are doing," or else "Address the package to Harry Potter at such and such a street and town. Delighted to hear how well you are doing."
When a Phoenix dropped off a gracious note from Albus Dumbledore, requesting the pleasure of his presence at Hogwarts at his earliest convenience, but preferably tomorrow PM, Lupin was a trifle surprised.
Lupin managed to get up to Hogwarts by 2 PM the next day. After working in a far more security-conscious world he noticed a certain sloppiness about things; doors not locked and half the windows uncloseable. How he remembered those gloriously chilly breezes going through the corridors during Winter of Seventh Year. He supposed he was just suffering from the normal disappointment people have, coming back to a remembered impressive place, and finding the reality diminished. Still, it was Hogwarts and would always be impressive to him to some extent.
He didn't do any checking of the school wards; as an official Dark Creature he was pretty certain it wouldn't be appreciated. As he went through the corridors leading to the Headmaster's office he saw what he considered another Dark Creature striding away from it.
"Hello Snape. Congratulations on your employment here. It will be quite a bonus for your resume when you leave here."
"Ah, the wolf. Yes it will be, if I ever get to leave here. Congratulations to you, on not being eliminated by overeager Aurors during the late unpleasantness. Now you must excuse me; I have many preparations to make, and social engagements to attend. I'm Lucius Malfoy's son's Godfather, did you know?"
"I'm sure that will work out splendidly for both of you. Give them my regards." Lupin said the last part with as fang-baring a tone as he could do on a bright day.
Snape didn't really seem all that happy with teaching at the school. He appeared to doubt that he was as cleared of a Death Eater reputation as he'd like. That would certainly limit his job opportunities, though not as much as being a werewolf.
At the gargoyle Lupin announced himself. It being summer with no children about, and he not being from the Ministry, that was good enough to get him admitted. The Headmaster was in and gracious as ever.
After having refused a lemon candy (his nose had identified the potion it contained) and some tea, the business at hand was quickly brought up.
"Young Harry is being taken care of in a loving environment. His security being of paramount importance his location is known only to a restricted few, of which you, despite your past history with his parents, are not one." Dumbledore had the nicest way of saying that you were a untrustworthy beast.
"Well, Headmaster, assuming you're one of those privileged could you just give him one last present from his Uncle Moony, the last of the Marauders? I'm not asking for his address; just give him the paint kit and card, and I'll promise to not do this again next year." With this Lupin took the shrunken package from his pocket and expanded it to its original size.
Dumbledore checked for tracking spells, including on the card, and finally gave a nod of agreement. He took it from Lupin and placed it on his desk, promising to have it properly dealt with within the week. He then allowed the detective to see that he was a terribly kind and courteous man with far too much to do, and who would (politely) appreciate the unwanted guest leaving with all dispatch. As Lupin was used to this treatment when he dealt with the Wizarding clients he made his farewells and managed to get the last Express back to London.
Lupin was fairly sure that Dumbledore had not kept up certain recent trends in current Wizarding manners. Everyone wanted to know that that those they had gotten gifts for appreciated all the cost and effort. Accordingly, at the finer stores (and Lupin wouldn't have gone to anything less, for James and Lilly's kid) when the gift was first used or the card read, the receipt turned red. He hadn't put any tracking spells on his gifts, but he had gotten the best animated card that Flourishes & Blots had in stock. A month later the receipt was still not red. Somehow Lupin wasn't surprised, though he wasn't able to do anything about it right now.
He decided it was time that he put away childish things and memories away. It was time to finally kill the Marauders. Or at least his last illusions about them. He was going to confront Sirius, spit in his eye, and tell him that rotting in Hell was too good for him. Then just turn away and close that chapter in the Life and Times of Remus Lupin, forever.
It was surprisingly easy to get in to see a prisoner in Azkaban. The request to do so was so rare, and the inconvenience so great that it was an unusual event, and a welcome diversion for the Staff. While they had some protection even they were constantly depressed by the Dementors, and appreciated a diversion from the routine once in a while. True, they treated him like garbage, but he was used to that.
He was searched before being let in the stinking and filthy cell, of course. He might have been smuggling in a wand, or food, or worst of all a poison pill to allow the only real escape anyone ever had from Azkaban.
The guard let him in, then locked the door behind him and left. Lupin wasn't sure if there were listeners or not. This was supposed to be a private conversation, but realistically…
"Hello Sirius, long time no see."
"It that you Moony? Really? How long have I been in here?"
"A few years. Not long enough really. How could you do it?" At the end Lupin's voice was a roar.
Black's reply was almost a broken whisper: "I didn't, it was Peter."
"Blaming the dead is easy. He couldn't: you held the secret, there's no getting around it."
Black began to laugh softly. "We were so clever, Peter and I. Dumbledore said there was a secret traitor among us. We were worried the traitor was you, so we switched Keepers. That way if you led the Death Eater's to me, James and Lily would still be safe. The news that Lord Black was taken would have spread fast enough that Peter would have had a chance to run. Perfect plan, or at least good enough. If you were the traitor, not Peter."
"The Prosecutor must have had a field day with that story at your trial! You were never good at lying at School; I doubt even Voldemort was able to teach you how do it under Veritaserum. Merlin! You were never this pitiable before."
"Check the trial record for what I said, if you can. That should convince you."
"Warder! I'm done here." Lupin shouted out.
Damn Black. He had always known how to get under Lupin's skin and get him to do more than his fair share of assignments and research. He had known that after a challenge like that the trial record had to be checked, each word gone over with repeated care. What Black didn't know was how good Lupin and gotten at interpreting the bald, written statements of testimony and records. Once the transcript was read it would all be over, and Lupin wouldn't have to think about the prisoner ever again.
The trial transcript was illuminating. Not only wasn't it on public record, but it wasn't even recorded as a sealed document. There was no trouble getting hold of the arresting Auror notes. The problem was the active duty logs for the members of the team that brought Black in showed them to have had their normal patrol duties during the period when any trial would have had to take place, they had never been called in to give witness. Since the newspapers hadn't been coy about reporting him being sent to Azkaban it wasn't as if there had been anything secret about him being in custody. It was almost as if there had never been a trial, just three days from the Potter killings to Sirius getting put in Azkaban for… there actually was no record of what his sentence was. Twenty years? Life? Why not the Kiss, if he was guilty of multiple murders? It was if he was just grabbed and shoved into a cell without any involvement of the legal system at all. It smelled more and more political.
Lupin knew he could always ask a member of the Wizengamot if they had tried Black sub rosa in that small space of time. Hell, he could even ask the Chief Warlock, but he doubted that Dumbledore would be all that forthcoming. Still, you don't flourish in the PI trade without learning a bit about how to trace things from unpromising leads. Family was supposed to be notified when justice was done on those who had harmed them. Lily had surviving family, a sister with another flower name. Petunia, yes, that was it.
Lupin did his personal investigation on a time-available basis. If he didn't have a decent case to pursue, or a decent bird, he slowly traced records back. The Potter wedding announcements in the wizarding papers; that led to Lily's home town. Local Evans weren't related, but the Muggle newspaper there led to the sister's wedding to someone named Dursley. Dursley was a junior executive for a drill company, Grunnings.
Getting the Dursley's home address from a bored secretary in the Grunnings HR department only required a salad bar lunch. The night out and morning after were a tribute to her other talents. Her name went into his book, for later consideration.
The more he thought about, and remembered talking with Lily back at school, the more he became convinced that Petunia had not been a great admirer of Wizarding Britain. Getting her to open up about the death of, and vengeance for, her sister might be a delicate operation. He decided to observe a bit; preparation is hardly ever wasted. Also, it gave him an excuse to come around a bit and chat up Bev in Human Resources.
By now it was October; people were back from vacation and infidelity was in the air. Also, shoplifting and an interesting little case of insurance fraud that completely slipped past the regular investigator. Not a surprise, that, as she had been in on it from the start.
After the full moon (he still kept to a locked room, though he had discovered vodka and Prozac made for a very mellow Wolf) Lupin decided to finish off the Dursley connection, find it a final dead end, and call it all quits. Except for Bev, who made him laugh. She was curious about his interest in "the Boar," as Vernon was not-too affectionately known in the company. Having the credentials, and an innocent motive, he pretty much told her the truth. He just left out the parts about magic, werewolves, terrorist murder, and suspected government cover up. Hardly anything important, really.
It was on the third day of his little working vacation that he noticed that Petunia was going to the market with two children in tow. Or rather, one large child in a stroller, and a smaller one being dragged wrenchingly hard behind her as she went at a pace far too swift for his short legs. Lupin shadowed her on foot into the market, saw the large child being given candy (never to be paid for), and the smaller one a good shot behind the ear. A small skinny child with wild black hair, green eyes, scarred forehead, skinned knees, bruised shins, and the name Harry.
Lupin hardly paused; no one without a trained eye would have noticed his sudden hesitation, and continued to follow them up the aisles. He noticed how Petunia addressed the two children, and who was cuffed behind the ear for no particular reason. The approach plan was simplicity itself.
Changing aisles he grabbed a candy bar, at the next aisle a high protein (and moderately tasteless) granola bar. Then, tracking the bickering trio by their high audio level, he came up their aisles to their front, opening the candy bar as if it was going to be his next snack. Going up to about six feet in front of them Lupin stopped, looked at a shelf, then lets his head turn toward the slowly advancing group and let a big smile cover his face. He hoped it looked sentimental and fond, psychopathic and ravenous really what was needed in this case.
"Well, well. I hope you don't mind Ma'am? It's just… my girlfriend and I have been getting serious lately, and there I see the kind of family we'd been talking about. I guess she's getting me a bit mushy about things. Do you mind if I give him this?" Lupin gestured with the candy bar.
The child in the stroller immediately started making such a clamor that Petunia didn't have the heart to deny it to him, or the opportunity to berate the stranger for speaking without being introduced.
"I suppose the other… child should get something also, it would look mean otherwise, wouldn't it?" Lupin said and tossed the granola bar to the walking disgrace. Then it was time for chatting up Mother P. Telling her how obvious it was she knowledgeable about child raising: did she have recommendations about books on the subject, did she know any good but affordable catering places in the area for the inevitable happy event he and his sweetheart were probably going to be having sometime in the next year. All the warmth and kindness in Lupin's naturally friendly nature flowed out, making Petunia forgive his familiar manners. As they say, when you can sincerely fake sincerity you have it made.
While "Duddykins" smeared his face with the hastily eaten chocolate, Harry carefully unwrapped his bar and slowly savored each small bite he took, a look of pleasure slowly filling his face as his day-long hunger was dealt with.
Finally Lupin took his leave of a smiling and ego-stroked Petunia, shaking the dirty hand of "manly" little Dudley, and absent-mindedly ruffling the wild hair (snagging a few strands) of the "other one."
It was only later that Lupin realized he had never gotten around to asking her about Sirius Black, or if she had been told that her sister's death had ever been avenged. Looking at it again he knew that even if she had been informed that the killer was in prison, the ins and outs of wizarding legal system wouldn't have been explained to a Muggle anyway. The only way of confirming if Black had been tried would be to ask Dumbledore and that would not only bring no real answer, but it would put Lupin on a "watch list" of some sort. He also realized that innocent or guilty there was too much evidence that Black had never been given his day in court. No matter how guilty… in fact the guiltier the better… his trial would have been a feather in the cap for the Aurors, showing how hard and effectively they worked and getting them a second day's headlines to match the ones they got when they had first caught him. The lack of records, the lack of column-inches, the endless litany of "He must have been tried, funny I don't remember it" all told everything that had to be said about that matter.
Lupin took out an old photo of the Marauders from school and took a Muggle photograph of it. He cut out James' picture, and put it in the proper place alphabetically in an old "mug-shot" album he had gotten from the trash behind a local police station when they had gotten rid of it as being out-moded. On the shelf of his office it had given things a fine look of professionalism.
He suspended the book on a cord with the spine up, and the pages all slightly separated, and cast a minor identification and matching spell on the hairs he had gotten from "the other one." They hopped up into the book like a scared sparrow. He then carefully put the book down on his desk, and page by page went through it. There, on the Pi-Ra page all the hairs were attached to the Muggle photograph of James Potter. Identity confirmed: Harry Potter.
Remus is about five years out of Hogwarts; Harry is three and a bit. There are still odd reports of Death Eater sightings in the Wizarding Press, and Remus agrees that Harry would be dangerously exposed if treated as a regular wizarding child.