I do not own, or receive any benefit, from the Harry Potter properties.
Remus Lupin P.I. Part 20-It's what you think you know…
By Larry Huss
Lupin couldn't find it in his heart to blame Harry. The girls would have to get their mental defenses up to snuff, but he doubted that would be anything they would have trouble with, considering their demonstrated mental acuity and willpower. The fact that they had evidently already sealed their lips with a Wizard's Oath (whatever this "Perfect Form" of it was) meant that a lovers' quarrel was unlikely to expose the boy to attacks by his enemies, or abuse by his friends. Lupin had no doubt that Harry Potter would have to deal with both, if he ever showed up. The fact that both girls were looking after Harry with such a fierce possessiveness amused and comforted him.
It was Hermione, who was speaking at the moment; Cesar was glad it was on a practical and very unemotional topic. As soon as he had followed Remus into the heavily secured empty classroom he had had a very bad moment. Seeing Harry standing there, his arms around the waists of a brunette cutie, and raven-haired beauty, had immediately sent his mind down into an adolescent gutter of speculation. Hearing the cutie (who was familiar with the topic from hearing her parents hash out things of that nature around the supper table) discuss something he had always found irredeemably boring gave him a chance to slowly claw his way back up to god-fatherly adulthood.
"So, Harry's assets have been transferred into a mix of conservatively orientated Muggle mutual funds, as well as part ownerships in several well capitalized Magical firms that deal in essential services?"
Lupin replied, "With Harry's agreement we've put about 25% of his Muggle funds into some diversified IT and electronics, with the expectations of dividends and growth. Microsoft, Toshiba, and Cisco. He also has, beyond the funds needed for completing his education, about G 15,000 in available cash at Gringotts, and about £20,000 at Barclays, mostly in short term securities. I can have his balance sheets sent up to you, under personal-spelled security. The Potters, not being considered nobility, had no entailed properties or estates, so all the real properties associated with the family have been disposed off. With, it must be admitted, some small losses at the time due to the need for secrecy. Since then the monies received have more than recouped the losses."
Padma was relieved to hear that, though exactly what a Toshiba (etc.) was would have to be cleared up. In fact, a good deal of the financial stuff was currently in her "what's that?" zone, but she was confident that her ignorance wouldn't last long with 'Mione to pump for information. In any case, the sums she had heard indicated that Harry should have no problem buying a share of Patil and Sons, Import/Export. That would clear up almost all of the tricky bits at her end. But after all, they had always realized the real difficulty would be on the Granger side of the equation. It wasn't that they didn't have three good alternatives if problems surfaced, but it would be better not to have to pull any surprise power plays out of their sleeves when confronting parents.
From there on everything went very smoothly, except for the part where Hermione had dragged Romanescu off into a corner, whispered something into his ear, and helped catch him before his sagging knees deposited him on the ground. People had a tendency to do that around Hermione, when her brain was working at full tilt.
When they were done, Padma had gone to the door, and carefully opened it so that Luna didn't fall in when suddenly bereft of support. It wasn't that she was nosy, exactly. Nor was it about her trying to gain some particular advantage or power over anyone. It was more about the challenge of breaking through some top notch privacy spell-work, and none of those who knew her were either surprised at her attempt, or worried about how she would have used the information if she had been successful in gaining it.
After they left the quartet to resolve their points of discussion, Lupin and Romanescu went to hunt down Flitwick, who had agreed to meet them between classes. Not everything that been discovered in the last few days had been in Lupin's note, and Tom Riddle being incarnate, and making some rather odd requests in the potion line, was certainly worthy of discussion.
It was only after several minutes into their meeting that Lupin could pin down exactly what was annoying him. While he was certainly not at his olfactory best while in human form, someone in the vicinity had evidently opened a fresh tin of lemon drops recently, and been indulging themselves freely thereof. A quick process of elimination allowed him to reach a conclusion.
"Actually, my throat's quite dry, perhaps if I could have one of your ever-plentiful lemon drops, Headmaster?" Lupin said, and put out his hand. There was a pregnant pause, and then Albus Dumbledore allowed his Disillusionment Charm to dissipate. After a moment of fumbling around to find the right pocket in his robe, the Headmaster was able to find a lozenge and give it to the detective.
It was slightly tacky, and there were some miscellaneous pieces of lint on it, but after making such a big deal out of discovering they were spied on (Lupin honestly didn't remember half so much sneaking around when he had been in school), he felt obligated to pop it into his mouth anyway. Luckily the lint on it didn't make him start to cough.
Dumbledore found the news about the excavations extremely interesting, and was eager to see the rough chart that Lupin had drawn of the most likely direction and extent of the work. He was, however, very dismissive of the importance of the other major topic of the meeting, and said that he had received the information from a different source and that it was being taken care with all the importance it deserved. How much importance was left more than a little vague, and the abrupt way he took charge and terminated the meeting shortly thereafter was less than satisfying to the visitors. The Headmaster dragged Flitwick out with him, and when Lupin and Romanescu left the Charms classroom they saw that a large poster had been put on the door saying that Charms classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, signed by the Headmaster. Good work, and very fast, as it hadn't been on the door when they had gone in a half-hour earlier. It must have literally been done as Dumbledore and Flitwick had been trotting down the hallway.
"You know, I have a load of really good torture schemes we never got to use on Peter. I'm sure we could have Snivellus up on a rack in no time. I doubt he'd delay telling us what was up with his Death Eater friends if you asked him nicely; with a growl, say." Romanescu was not someone to let a feud a mere fifteen or twenty years old die of neglect.
"After he did everything but put up fireworks to have Harry grab the note? And do you believe he hasn't already told Dumbledore what it means? I'd be surprised if he didn't break out the good booze to celebrate if we gave him a nice chance to confess all his sins," Lupin replied. "I just wonder why the Headmaster had to dash off with Filius all of sudden. I have such a nasty suspicion that the leading light of virtue in Wizarding Britain is about to engage in some more work for the Greater Good. I wonder whose ancestral silverware is going to get nicked for the most noble of purposes this time?"
"As a modern wizard about town I've discovered that there are a number of fine quality Muggle plastic-ware lines available for those who never really got cleaning spells down exactly right. You know, getting into those fiddly bits between the tines of the forks?"
By the time Cesar had finished that they had arrived at the entrance to Snape's well-buried apartment, so he reverted to his role as the quietly menacing man of back-up. Or perhaps the back-up man of quiet menace. He was certainly going to be quiet in any case; he didn't want Snape to have a chance to have an inspired leap of memory, and identify his voice as that of Sirius Black. There might not be (or perhaps there were) outstanding warrants for the ex-Lord Black, but to be revealed now would be awkward and embarrassing, especially for Andy and Dora.
By the time Snape had answered the knock at his study door, Lupin had his opening verbal gambit prepared. "Nine gallons, Professor? Why would you need nine gallons?"
The sheer relief that Timmons hadn't sat on information he had had handed to him acted as an amazing improver of Snape's usually erratic cordiality. True, Lupin was without official status (and he was also, after all, Lupin the Werewolf), but that was not necessarily a negative thing. Especially when it turned out that Lupin and his stoic friend were far more concerned (when it had been explained exactly what Fluunt Lenis in that quantity implied) than Albus had ever seemed to be. He even showed them the delaying order that had come in the day before, which had allowed him more time to sweat over things, or perhaps even to prepare something special.
When the two left, with a scheduled meeting for the next evening to more thoroughly go over their options with Snape, they tried to figure out what Dumbledore had thought more important than the imminent murder by exsanguinations of between seventy-five and ninety children in the next two weeks or so. Doing so showed that they had no real idea of why Albus Dumbledore was still the leading Light of British Wizardry. While their imaginations (or perhaps their morality) had kept them from attempting that great work, it was Albus Dumbledore (with the assistance of someone who could key into Goblin spells) who had put in a permanent, secret, back door into the vaults of Gringotts Bank, London branch.
He had to admit that Avery had done very well indeed with his selection. The Death Eater had earned full forgiveness. He had been sent on the important errand of selecting someone suitable for greasing the wheels (so to speak) of making Merlin's Staff into the Dark Lord Voldemort's seventh (and final possible) Horcrux. Macnair had managed to wiggle that bit of essential trivia from a lady Unspeakable at a little informal Valentine's party earlier in the year. Knowing the lady in question, Tom Riddle could only marvel at old Walden Macnair's dedication to the cause. Still, looks aside, the old hag (but not in the technical sense) knew her stuff, and splitting the soul more than seven times meant a great increase in the chance of it becoming fractured beyond repair. So the mystic number eight remained a limiter, even for the most powerful and skilled of the practitioners of the more forbidden arts. Seven Horcruxes and the living, embodied soul itself. Well, he could live with that.
Of course the pretty, bound, and panic-stricken brunette Sloan Ranger (1) wouldn't.
She had been whisked out of an alley she had gone into to get out of the wind; to light a cigarette. Avery was a bit old fashioned that way, and greatly disapproved of women smoking, leading to her selection. The friends who had gone ahead to hail a cab to take them all to dinner must have been mystified when she never rejoined them. Ah, life is full of mysteries, especially if you were a Muggle, and had your memory carefully ripped out if you ever actually did discover what had happened.
Riddle fancied he saw a family resemblance in her eyes and high cheekbones. She probably looked much as his granddaughter would have, if he had ever gone in for things like that. Should that make him go slower, or faster he wondered? Slower, he finally decided; killing the Riddle family had been his greatest joy, after all. Things like that were to be savored.
He came to her, removed the only spell on her (a silencing one) and flashed what was once a charming smile, so many murders ago. He took his time, and enjoyed his work. And at the perfect moment, when her spirit could no longer stay in her slaughtered body, he used the soul-splitting spell to chip off the fragment of him that would exist in the Staff forever, and keep him alive forever. He used the spell, powered by his might and will, and shattered into a thousand unthinking shards.
The Staff in his body's hand acted as Merlin had created it to, fifteen centuries before. To power its many protective spells it reacted to the sudden flood of unorganized magical energy that surrounded it, and drank up all the necromantic debris and converted it to raw Magic. No personality, no will, no identity. The body that Tom M. Riddle Jr. had occupied slowly toppled over, and fell across the slowly cooling corpse of his last direct victim.
At last the screams had stopped. He had the most powerful privacy spells he could find throughout the house, but when the Dark Lord was having fun they seemed to all be turned off, and everyone got a chance to endure along with the poor sod that was getting punished. Lucius Malfoy took a deep breath, and went to the door of the tile-covered room where Voldemort had evidently completed whatever (though Malfoy had a strong suspicion) perversion of magic he was working on this time. If he survived the Second Coming of Lord Voldemort, Malfoy promised himself that he would never again get into the hands-on (sometimes up to the elbows) parts of politics. He diffidently knocked, waited… and knocked again.
After several minutes with no response, he repeated the cycle. Perhaps Voldemort had left the room? If so, Malfoy thought he should at least peek in and see if he should have the House-Elves start the clean-up. At least this time the Dark Lord had agreed to use the tile room; getting blood out of wool carpets was the devil's own work, even with magic.
On seeing the piled bodies, Malfoy was both startled and bewildered. Voldemort's homunculus was sprawled across the splayed corpse of the Muggle woman. From his lack of motion it did not appear that it was engaged in violating the body. Which, for sparing him a nightmare or two, Malfoy was duly grateful. It didn't seem to be vital at all, to appearances. No help for it then, a closer inspection was needed.
That inspection, followed by cautious spell work (casting spells on a Dark Lord is often discouraged. By the Dark Lord) confirmed Malfoy's suspicions. Dead or not, Voldemort was certainly not present. There was no note, no residuum of a spell of transportation or exorcism. Even after using a ritual of Darkest Magic Malfoy could only detect that there had been a death and a half in the room. A death and a half? The Staff of Merlin, lying in a pool of blood, but completely unstained or spotted seemed to…glow a bit. There was a feeling in the room of an appetite that had been satisfied. Lucius Malfoy knew creepy when he ran into it; this was creepy.
He left the room and summoned a House-Elf, leaving instructions that the room was not to be entered or tampered with until he gave further orders. He went up to Narcissa (after all, a good marriage is always a partnership) and told her of his discoveries down at the first basement level.
It hardly took her a minute to turn from teary-eyed dread to having one of those looks in her eyes. Well, it wasn't as if another half-hour wait alerting the others would really matter under the current conditions, would it?
Somehow, one way or another, the half-hour stretched out into the next morning.
Two days later three men were admitted to Malfoy Manor, to be met by the Master himself with all courtesy. Lucius recognized Lupin of course; the detective had done some fine work for the family some years ago, and when Romanescu was introduced enough of Narcissa's table-chat about the social scene came back to Malfoy that he could identify him. Severus, of course, was an old friend.
To Severus Snape, Lucius seemed remarkably relaxed, considering how stressed out he had been in all their communications over the last few months. His affability and lack of concern at strangers being brought in to help deliver Voldemort's very special delivery seemed a tad out of character. That was disturbing, if one of his companions had leaked anything… at least a Potions Master was always equipped to take the quick way out. "Which one?" he wondered as Lucius lead them not into the some subterranean grotto or cave, but out past the Back Terrace to a slope overlooking a reed-fringed pond. There, under the eaves of a small stand of beech trees, there were two fresh mounds dug, one with a small boulder at its head, engraved with an inscription: "Generous Stranger."
It was then, in a voice as solemn and sad as any paid mourner's, Lucius Malfoy recounted the tale of some two nights earlier. The hideous screams, the hesitant entry, the startling revelation.
"I've been slowly informing the others that the big show is off, unless He shows up again," at which Lucius couldn't control a quick swivel of his head to see if some nasty surprise was being set in motion, "House-Elves, so sentimental. They insisted on putting up the little memorial when they buried the bodies. She gave her life, after all… and other things. Very generous. Least we could do."
Asking for a few moments to be alone with the victim/martyr, Snape stood with his traveling companions for a moment in silence. Then, certain that Malfoy was far off, and they were alone, he commented, "He had no barriers up, and no sign of memory alteration. It's true, as far as he knows, and the way the wards of this place are set up it would be hard to fake.
"The Second Rising of Voldemort wasn't very high at all. And we should have a respite from that direction at least, for this generation. Now would you gentlemen help me carefully dispose of nine gallons of Tri-Nitro-Glycerin? It is a task that should be done with all care, and I personally would be thankful to no longer be carrying it, shrunken in my pockets."
The motion passed, unanimously.
In the Lestrange vault at Gringotts, an ancient cup rested, secured by spells all around, and curses of awesome fury bound in itself. It also held the last spiritual remnant of Tom Marvolo Riddle, Jr., Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. An anchor for a ship that had sailed, or perhaps better yet, shattered. All the Horcrux lore was true; as long as it existed there was something of Tom Riddle left in the world. Not that it was doing much of anything, or liable to. Still, like a broken statue in the sand, it was a reminder of a once great power and will, no longer of concern to any but historians. "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
A week and a half later Abhik Patil stood on Platform 9 ¾, King's Cross Station, his wife at his side. They had just finished a rather nice conversation on the Other Side platform with the Grangers, whom they had met several times before over the last few school years and summers. Priyal Patil was usually at home, preparing a Welcome Home feast for her two student daughters, but this time she wanted to get an early look at this Harry Timmons fellow that her mother's instincts told her was going to be Padma's greatest temptation and greatest opportunity. Hermione she already knew well enough; when it had become clear that the twins would never be able to get along without skirmishing (around when they were three or so) Priyal had felt sad that they'd never have a relationship as close as the one she had had with her sister. Now she had no worries on that score, just the faintest suspicion that the two girls were not only thicker than thieves, but up to something outrageous and potentially embarrassing.
At last the crimson train shuddered to a stop, and the students began to pour out with shrieks of joy and many promises to get together during the summer. Three figures came directly up to the Patils, arm in arm in arm, while further off Parvati and Lavender realized they had mixed up half of their things when they had hurriedly packed that morning, and opened up their trunks to sort things out.
Harry Timmons was firmly held between the members of Team Cute (while Luna Lovegood rapidly scooted around to get a good photograph for the historical record), a smile on his face, but also with a look of great apprehension.
"Mother, Father," said Padma,"This is Harry Timmons, the man Hermione and I are going to marry."
The elder Patils gave a sigh of relief. A bit willful and precocious Padma might be, deciding things like this so young, but everyone knew a three legged stool was more stable than balancing on two stilts. And since Padma and Parvati never seemed to be able to get along (Unlike how Priyal and her sister Preeti had) they had been worried that the girls would be both be forced into unbalanced marriages. They had been worried that going to a progressive school like Hogwarts would fill their girls' heads with all sorts of modern rubbish, but it seemed that their native good sense had prevailed. Preeti would be over the moon when they got home and told her the news. She couldn't come today, being busy with their children Aapt (aged seven) and Abhirup (aged four), but with news like this there was definitely going to be a party tonight!
It was on a Friday toward the end of July when it happened. Remus was thinking of taking off a bit early and getting the family to someplace on the beach for the weekend. The magical au pair, a girl just graduated from Beauxbatons, would come along and watch the kids and give Phyllidia a bit of extra time for fun' she was set to start handling court cases again starting in September.
That was when Marcia McCartny came into his office, a little wobbly looking.
"Boss, I wonder if you can get a message to Professor Flitwick for me; he doesn't seem to be in the office rolodex."
It was then he noticed something loosely held in her right hand, something he had become familiar with last spring; a strip of paper from an Early Pregnancy Test, with the color indicating positive.
1-Sloan Ranger- Roughly equivalent to an American Preppy, but tending to a bit more rural and traditional lifestyle minded.
We attempted to add Chapter 20, the Final Chapter, several days ago, but difficulties ensued, and it did not show up properly. I offer my sincere apology to my readers.
If, to some, it seems that there are still unresolved threads, so it is in life in general. But I will give some basic hints of what will come, though not be written.
The Timmons-Patil-Granger nuptials go off with only moderate protests from the Grangers, who face the possibility of alienating the only source, after all, of their grandchildren. Patil & Timmons Import/Export becomes a major force in the international Magical economic community. Hermione prefers to engage in research and Housewifery, both of which she is extremely successful at. All told, for a decade it is a rare class at Hogwarts that doesn't have a Timmons added to the rolls.
Miss McCartny delivers a bouncing and healthy, if somewhat small, child who enters Hogwarts in the Class of 2007 or so. He is sorted into Ravenclaw, and becomes a celebrated Chaser.
Lucius Malfoy impresses on his son the benefits of staying out of both politics, and the Dark Lord Business.
While he does not become involved in events of quite such moment, Remus Lupin continues to provide service, and frequently justice, to those in need.
Phyllida Lupin returns to her legal career, and rises swiftly through the ranks. The children grow up happy and talented, and love animals.
Cesar Romanescu eventually marries, and has a quiet, and successful life of domesticity and journalism.
Albus Dumbledore wonders to his dying day what happened to Harry Potter, and why Tom Riddle continues to not show his hand. He finally retires full of years and honors, but still he wonders.