The Diadone Method
Chapter 11 - Interlude
Author's note: I know that this is really not what you all were hoping for (the next chronological chapter), but I felt that I owed you something and this is all I have right now. See the second A/N at the end of the chapter for more of an update. For now, just know that I have NOT abandoned this story and do hope to finish it eventually.
But now, on with the interlude!
July 20th, 1975
Remus Lupin, werewolf and prefect extraordinaire, sat in the kitchen of his mother's house and stared at the official ministry envelope which had just arrived. Laying there on the table was the results of five years of hard work: his OWL results. He had taken as many classes as his schedule would permit and studied in all his free time (when he wasn't doing Marauder-ish stuff).
He and his friends were going to meet up at James' in a half hour and he couldn't decide whether he wanted to know his scores before or after he arrived. If he knew before, he could carefully manipulate the situation so he wouldn't have to say what he got (or didn't get), but if he didn't look, he would be able to exclaim with the others. With a sigh, he decided to look now. He carefully split the seal and slid the two papers out, the first was a letter "Blah blah blah, you took tests, here are your results, blah blah blah." Then he shifted his gaze to the second paper.
Ordinary Wizarding Level Test Scores for Remus Lupin:
Transfiguration: O+ (Second in class)
Defense Against the Dark Arts: O+ (Top of class)
Charms: O+ (Top of class)
History of Magic: O+ (Top of class)
Herbology: O+ (Top of class)
Care of Magical Creatures O+ (Top of class)
Ancient Runes: O+ (Top of class)
Arithmancy: O+ (Top of class)
Potions: O (Third in class)
Class Standing: 1
Remus nearly fainted, he was officially at the top of his class! He even beat James and Sirius! Wow, they aren't going to be happy about that, they always thought they'd be first and second. Ah well, they always tell me I'm the smart one so they'll just have to deal with it.
Twenty minutes later James, Sirius, Remus and Peter were all squashed onto James' bed clutching their various letters.
"Okay guys, who's first?" James asked officially.
"ME!" Sirius yelled as he jumped up and down on the bed, nearly knocking everyone to the floor. "So, I opened it before but...I got the scores! I'm going to Auror school! I've got Os in Transfiguration and CoMC, an O+ in DADA and Es in everything else! Damn, I even got an E in History, thanks Moony!"
Everyone cheered and slapped Sirius on the back, congratulating him on taking the first step towards fulfilling his dream. James went next. "Okay, I got Os in...hold on, I got the exact same as Sirius! Hey mate, I think we're long lost twins or something! Watch out Auror school, here we come!"
Peter fidgeted, "Well, I didn't do quite as well, but I didn't fail anything!" The boys cheered again then looked at Remus expectantly.
"I, um. I got all Os." He carefully didn't mention the +s. Then it sunk in, "Holy fuck I got all Os! I have nine Os!" The truth was that the +s counted as another O, so he actually had 18, but again, he carefully didn't mention that.
"Dear Merlin, Remus is swearing." James said, pretending to have a heart attack.
Sirius jumped up and ran to the window, "Guys, I think I just saw a pig fly!"
They all collapsed in laughter. "So Remus, with marks like that you can do anything. Whats in your future? Going to join us at Auror school?" James asked.
Remus smiled to cover his disappointment, the ministry would never let a werewolf become an Auror (or anything at all really), but he didn't want to bring down the mood. "I'm going to become king of the world!" Everyone laughed, "No, but really guys, I don't have a clue. I guess I'll just wait until NEWTs come around." They seemed to accept that and spent the rest of the afternoon goofing off and acting like idiots.
As soon as he stepped out of the floo and into his house, Remus' smile froze and melted off his face. He walked up to his room as fast as possible without alerting his mother to his actions, and dropped into his desk chair. He sat there looking at his heavily scarred hands holding the paper with his marks on it, his near perfect marks, and it dawned on him that they didn't mean anything. It didn't matter how well he did in school, as soon as someone found out what he was (and it would only take a few months of him asking for regular sick days to do that), he would be fired. Then he would be blacklisted.
He would never be able to get a job worthy of his marks. All these O+s, his class standing, it meant nothing! He lay his head on his desk and cried his heart out. His friends didn't understand, they just saw him as a normal person with a 'furry little problem', but the rest of the world, they were different. They would see the beast and only the beast.
The tears kept coming for hours, even after he lay in bed, he was still crying. It was unfair! Remus didn't often dwell on his lot in life, he usually looked at the bright side of things and tried his hardest not to sink into the depression that accompanied thinking about his condition. But right now he couldn't help feeling that the world had screwed him over. He didn't ask to be bitten, he didn't ask to turn into a raving monster on the full moon, he didn't ask to be ostracized, he didn't ask to be a danger to those around him, he just did. And it WASN'T FAIR! He pounded his fists into his pillow and finally cried himself to sleep.
The next morning, Remus woke up and decided that the wizarding world could go screw itself, if they didn't want him, then he didn't need them, he would finish school and then leave. He dressed in his best Muggle clothes (he gave them a quick Reparo to try to make them look better), stole some of his mother's make up (she was a Muggle) to cover the scars on his face, and apparated (illegally, but hey, he's a Marauder), to Muggle London. He found a pay phone with a directory, flipping through it he looked for a job agency, he jotted down a few of the closest ones and headed off to find a better future.
After talking with the brisk woman at the first job agency he realized that this was a bit more complicated than just walking up and getting a job, he needed papers; an ID, school records, birth certificate, medical evaluation. Well, what was magic for if not to make life easier? He stunned the woman and looked through her drawers until he found examples of all the different papers he would need. After copying them he woke the woman and left.
That evening Remus created himself a Muggle identity, his name was Charles Johnson, age seventeen, born in Bristol who went to a small private school in Scotland where he was top of his class in chemistry, math and English, and mediocre at everything else. He had never worked before but his teachers and counselor gave glowing recommendations.
On July 22nd, Remus registered with two different job agencies. He was satisfied with his work and proud of his fake identity, no one would equate Remus Lupin the genius werewolf with Charles Johnson the intelligent young man from Bristol.
To celebrate this new chapter in his life, Remus treated himself to a mocha and a brownie at a small Muggle coffee shop. He was just finishing his brownie when his sensitive werewolf ears caught part of an interesting whispered conversation.
"I can't believe they put my name on that list!" A woman said.
"Yeah, it's not like you did anything wrong." A man chimed in. "Okay, so maybe it was kinda your fault but still, it didn't warrant that!"
The woman spoke again, "Fuck, how am I supposed to get a job with that on my record? And now I find out that Peterson has moved to France! I can't afford Big Billy!"
"Peterson went to France? What the hell is he doing over there?" The guy asked.
"I don't know, something about girls, wine and more money." The woman said with a sigh. "Do you reckon I can get Christie to help out?"
"You do not want to get Christie involved in this." The guy said sharply, "Believe me, she's more trouble than she's worth. I supposed you could have Francis make you one." He said.
"Francis? Do you want me in jail? His stuff is crap." The woman said with a huff. "Damn it! Why did Peterson have to run off? Fuck, I'm screwed."
By now, Remus had a pretty good idea of what they were talking about, and the Marauder in him saw an opportunity. He finished his brownie, grabbed his half drunk mocha and looked around to see who was having that conversation. He spotted a young woman and a man who looked a bit like her – possibly a brother – sitting in the far back corner of the shop. He walked over, swung a chair around and sat on it backwards, tipping it forward a bit.
"Hey guys, I couldn't help overhearing your conversation." He said with a smirk, nearly laughing at the shocked expressions on their faces.
"How the hell could you hear us? You were on the other side of the room!" The woman hissed.
Remus shrugged and tapped his ear, "What can I say? I've got good hearing. Now, I think I might be able to help you out."
The man scowled at him, "Oh really? And how's that? You don't even know what we're talking about."
"Well, I have a pretty good guess." Remus said, dropping all four legs of the chair back on the floor. "You," He pointed at the woman, "Got involved in something that probably wasn't the most legal of situations, and you got caught. It wasn't bad enough for you to do time, but they wrote you name on some sort of blacklist and now you can't get a job. Peterson, Big Billy, Christie and Francis have the ability to help you out, but Peterson is in France, Big Billy is expensive, Christie is trouble, and Francis is shitty at whatever it is. How am I doing so far?"
They both nodded dumbly, jaws hanging wide open.
"Okay...now, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you need a new name. Am I right?" Remus finished.
"Um. Yeah." The woman said, "How did you figure that out?"
Remus smirked again, "I'm pretty smart, and have ID creation on the mind today. Just made my own, see." He dropped his new driver's license on the table for them to look at. "What do you think?"
The woman looked at Remus' ID, "This is a fake? Really?"
"Yup. Made it yesterday actually." Remus said proudly. "Nice, eh?"
"Nice?" The man said in astonishment, "This is fucking amazing!" Then he frowned at Remus, aren't you a bit young to be doing all this? How old are you? You can't be more than sixteen."
"Hey!" Remus said. "I'll have you know that age means nothing here! We're not talking about how old, or rather, young, I am, we're talking about making fake IDs and how mine is, and I quote, "fucking amazing!" So, would you like one?" He asked.
Their eyes brightened, and they faded a bit. "How much do you charge?" The woman asked softly. "We can't afford much."
Remus frowned, "I don't know, like I said, that's my first one. How much would the others have charged?"
"Well, for a National Insurance number and photo ID, Big Billy would probably charge somewhere between £40 and £60, Peterson £30 or £40, Christie £30, and Francis, whose work is pretty shitty probably £25. I guess it depends on what you're willing to work for."
Remus would have liked to charge the higher price, but seeing as how he would make it in probably less than ten minutes, he thought that would be rather unfair, especially because these guys didn't have much to spare. "Um...how does £20 sound?"
"That's all?" You'll do a NI and ID for £20?" The man asked with a slack jaw.
"If that's what you want. I could other stuff if you want. I don't know, say, an extra £5 for each paper?" Remus said. "I can also do a birth certificate, different records, haven't tried a passport yet but I could give it a go."
"Um." The woman swallowed. "So, I could have a new NI, ID, birth certificate and medical records for £30?"
Remus shrugged, "Sure. Don't see why not."
"I don't know who you are but you must be a fucking genius if you can do that." The guy said.
"Something like that." Remus said smugly. "Now, are we going to do this?"
They decided to meet up at the coffee shop again the next day to sort out the details and Remus promised to have the new ID done by the end of the week. As they were leaving, the woman turned to Remus.
"Hey, would you mind if we passed your name along? This stuff is good and I can think of a few people who would like to know about you."
"Um. Sure but I'd like to keep my name out of it, even if it is a new one." Remus said.
"Okay. What would you like us to call you? And how should be have them contact you?" The man asked.
"Well, don't tell them the actual price, I might raise it later and I don't want people to feel cheated. But you two can always come for more at the original price. I guess you can call me John Doe and I'll figure out a way to contact people. I'll let you know tomorrow." Remus said, his mind going into overdrive, How do I set up a Muggle to wizarding world communication system?
"John Doe? Seriously?" The woman asked skeptically. "Isn't that a bit obvious?"
Remus grinned, "That's the point, no one will bother trying to figure out John Doe's history when it's obviously fake."
"Okay." The guy said. "That's pretty smart.
"Thanks. I thought of it just now." Remus replied as they parted ways, agreeing to meet at two the next day.
Once he had finally realized that this was actually happening, Remus started trying to figure out how to contact the Muggle world from the wizarding one, without anyone the wiser. He remembered his mother saying something about phones that could send messages as well. (A/N: assume modern technology.) He obviously couldn't have people call him, not only would that be suspicious but it wouldn't work in Hogwarts.
Maybe he could find a way to get the messages to go to a parchment thing? Maybe he could modify the charm that allows parchment-to-parchment conversations? Hmm, that would be complicated, but not impossible. Or, he could modify the Gringotts mailbox idea! He could get a Muggle mailbox and charm it to send stuff to a pouch or box that he kept with him. That would be much easier. Then he could have another to send stuff to an outgoing post box. Yes, that will work.
So, later that afternoon, Remus went to a PO box office and rented a small box in the name of 'John X. Doe'. He charmed it to deliver any mail put in it to a pouch he carried around with him, he also connected another pouch to an outgoing mail box. He then apparated to Honeydukes and sneaked into the Hogwarts library to grab any books on magical communication and charm creation he could find.
The next afternoon, Remus met up with the man and woman again. He gave them the address of his post box so other people could contact him, and said that he would have a cell number by the time he finished the woman's ID. They gave him the information he needed; name, age etc. and agreed to meet, same place, same time, in a week.
Remus bought two cell phones on the way home, he felt bad that he had transfigured the money, but he did make sure it was a permanent transfiguration. It wasn't cheating if they got to keep it, right? Anyway, it's not like a few extra pounds is going to ruin the entire British economy...
Over the next week Remus barely slept, he was too busy trying to figure out how to connect a cell phone to a communication parchment. It was infuriating but he knew it should be possible. Finally, at three am on the day he was going to meet with the woman again, he did it. Any message sent to his phone would automatically copy itself onto a page in an indestructible notebook, he could then reply on the same page and it would be sent to the phone and then back to the sender.
Remus set the phone to not accept incoming calls, silenced and disillusioned it, and stuck it to the top of his post box. Then he connected the same number to his second phone (which had previously been using to test the message system) and hid that in his room, keeping it on silent.
Perfect! I'm a genius. Was his thought as he traded money for IDs. He then gave Miss. Helena Anderson (who used to be known as Stephanie McNally) a stack of cards which read;
John X. Doe
PO Box 9653
On the front, and on the back it said:
On the right hand side there was a drawing of a fountain pen whose tip ended over a full moon, the nib had a tiny design of a quill and ink pot on it. You wouldn't really be able to tell that it was a quill unless you were looking but Remus thought it looked nice.
"Okay, go ahead and give these to whomever you like. I'm not bothered who, just no murderers or rapists please. Have them text me and we'll go from there."
Helena grinned, "Sounds great, thanks again!" She gave him her cell number, "Text if you need anything, you really saved my ass."
Just one week after he had made Helena's ID, 'John Doe' got a message on his parchment. (A/N: italics are the costumer and bold italics are Remus)
'Mr. Doe, I got this number from a friend. I find myself in need of your services. How does this work?'
'First of all, please tell me about why you need me to make you these. What is your situation?'
'I'm an illegal immigrant from the Sudan, I've been here for the last five years but the government found me out.'
'What did you do to draw their attention?'
'I managed to rent an apartment from a guy who didn't run things legally, they thought I was working with him.'
'What sort of papers etc. would you like me to make?'
'How much would a Citizen Card and driving license cost?'
'Okay. What do you need?'
'Send a paper with your desired name (first and last), birthday (day-month-year), birthplace, hair and eye color, height, weight, and three copies of your signature, as well as a head shot, to PO Box 9653, Trafalgar Square, WC2 4DL. Include your address. I will send a picture of the completed ID in no more than a week and when I receive £30, I will send the actual items to you.'
'Thank you very much. I will post it to you today.'
'One last thing. I will need your original information as well.'
'For security reasons. Don't worry, I will keep it to myself. I just like to know who I'm dealing with. And don't bother putting in someone else's or a fake, I will find out and the results won't be nice.'
'I look forward to doing business with you. Cheers, X.'
Remus thought for a moment, If I'm going to make a business of this I need to keep some records. That was why he asked the person to include their original information. First, it would make sure they didn't come after him, he would never resort to blackmail, but they didn't know that. And second, it might be useful for future reference, ie. someone keeps coming back for new IDs over and over again with different pictures or something.
So Remus got a second notebook, put every single security and privacy charm he could think of on it and charmed it to be like a form. At the top was a spot for a copy of the picture he would get and next to it their signature, phone number, type of IDs and address. Under that there was a list of dates; the date of contact, when he received the information, created the ID, sent the pictures, got the money and posted the finished product. The rest of the form was divided into two columns and would change depending on the type of ID required; this started simple and became more and more complex and detailed. Remus grinned, this was going to be fun.
A few months later, Remus' notebook was filling up quite nicely and he was back at Hogwarts for his sixth year, he threw himself into his school work, determined to get as much out of the wizarding world as possible before leaving.
Remus was lying on his bed with his History of Magic text book propped up next to him and his cellphone notebook in its pages. For all intents and purposes he looked like he was studying; in actuality, he was negotiating the price of new identities for a whole family. The dad had stolen a car and then he and his wife had held up and robbed a bank, the man ended up shooting a Copper (very poor form) and being shot in return.
The dad was in jail and the mum was on the run with her three kids. Remus wasn't fond of helping people who shot others (he'd heard that they were temperamental and were more likely to shoot you sometime in the future), but this time there were kids involved. Also, the mum still had all the money they stole and Remus wasn't an idiot, he knew that she had gotten away with well over a million pounds, and he wanted some.
This was why he didn't have a set rate, he would find out who they were, what they did, why they needed the ID and then he would give them a price. (There was copious amounts of magic and research involved in verifying their stories.) Remus finally got her to agree on £10,000, each; he had to try really hard to keep himself from rubbing his hands together in glee, that was a lot of money. He grinned and closed his book with a sharp snap.
"Whats up Remus? Finished your preemptive study already?" James asked lazily from across the dorm.
Remus rolled his eyes, "Yes, James, I'm finished." For now... "It's never too early to start studying, it's the first year of NEWTs and it's extremely important to do well."
"We know, but classes don't start until tomorrow!" Sirius called from behind his Quidditch magazine.
"Hey, I happen to have a full schedule this year. I need to keep ahead of all the work the professors are bound to dump on us." Remus said with a frown.
James laughed, "'Full schedule', that's the understatement of the year, you're taking seven NEWTs. No one takes seven. You're supposed to specialize this year, no work yourself to death."
"Shut up." Remus said, "I like learning, okay? And anyway, I couldn't decided what to take. I just dropped CoMC and Herbology."
"Yeah, you were also the only one stupid enough to take nine OWLs. I still don't know how you did that." James said.
Remus smirked, "Hard work and perseverance...and not a lot of sleep."
"No shit." Sirius murmured.
Three nights later, when he had received the pertinent information from the mum, Remus placed very light sleeping charms, more like sleeping suggestions, on his roommates and headed off to the Room of Requirement. He spent the next two hours carefully copying different documents (that the room kindly provided) and filled them in with information for the 'Fillmore' family, a widow and her three children who lived in Wales. Because they were children, he also had school and medical records to fill out which meant he had to ask the room for examples of different aged documents to make sure he didn't screw it up.
All in all, it was a very productive night; £40,000 in three hours. Damn, I love my job. He thought as he took a picture of the documents and sent it through the cell phone notebook (he had managed to get it to sort of 'scan' the picture and send it through the paper and to the cell phone, if the other phone had picture receiving capabilities). Then he went back to bed, taking the sleeping suggestions off his roommates.
Life went on at Hogwarts, the Marauders pulled pranks, James pined after Lily, Sirius chatted up everyone in a skirt (and some not), Peter hung around doing whatever Peter does, and Remus studied hard, got top marks, tried to keep some semblance of order in the Gryffindor common room. And made rather large sums of money at night. but we don't talk about that...much.
During the summer between sixth and seventh year, Remus felt the need to branch out from simple ID creation. Sure, it was a lucrative job and it was a great feeling, knowing that he was; a) making things difficult for official people (the Marauder in him cheered every time he got a new order) and b) completely circumnavigating the entire ministry and throwing all those stupid werewolf laws back in their faces. But he was getting bored, it was too monotonous, he wanted more. So, he asked around (subtly, of course) in his new little world and found out that successfully forging money was considered quite the achievement.
After looking into it, Remus found that there was more to money than he thought; instead of being made completely of paper, they were also made of cotton fiber, they used special inks, and a finishing layer thingy. Then there was the texture and printing process, there were three steps in the creation of a bank note.
Remus rubbed his face, it was complicated, but it was also a challenge, and he hadn't had one of those for a while. He had no idea where to start because he knew that with this three layer process he wouldn't be able to just copy the notes, the spell would only copy the size, color and texture of the outside, it would look correct but if someone really analyzed it, it would fall apart. Then Remus had a brilliant idea, he wouldn't try to copy it, he would get all the materials, duplicate them, and then put the notes together himself!
That night, Remus apparated to the warehouse for the Royal Mint and took a sample of every material used in the printing of pound notes. He spent a great part of his free time that summer looking at how those materials were created and trying to replicate the process himself; it helped that he could use magic to try and try again.
When he was halfway through breaking down the ink – he was using the same process he would to break down a potion – it occurred to him that it might be fun to try art as well. It wouldn't be too much more difficult to break down different types of paint, maybe he could figure out a way to age the paint... He filed those thoughts away for now.
It took him until mid-July to isolate each of the components of a £20 note to the point where he could duplicate and/or replicate them. Remus sighed, a month and a half and he still hadn't even tried to start putting the notes back together; he equated his situation to having a finished, unknown potion and a table of ingredients. Now he had to make the potion, but it was worse than that, he still had to figure out how to get the patterns right.
Remus facepalmed, it was obvious; he just needed to get one of the printing presses from the Mint. Rolling his eyes at his own stupidity, Remus waited until three in the morning before apparating back to the Royal Mint. He duplicated one of each of the machines for each step in the printing process, shrunk them and tucked them in his bag. By the end of the week Remus could make as many £20 notes as he wanted. It was fun, but once he perfected it, the whole money forgery thing lost it's appeal, it also felt too much like cheating, just printing the money.
Lovely, I had a month and a half of frustration and fun, and now I'm back to being bored. Great. So he decided that he would look into art forgery next, that would take work and wouldn't feel like cheating. Remus vanished all the notes he'd printed and shrunk and locked away the equipment and supplies before turning his attention to art.
Remus knew from reading one of his mother's Muggle crime novels that there were all sorts of tests that official people would run on a piece of art in order to verify its authenticity. Failing one of these tests was how forgeries were identified. So he deduced that when forging them, the hardest part would be to get the paint, canvas etc. to be the proper age and composition. This also meant no duplicating charms, which meant he would have to apply the paint himself, which meant a skill charm.
However, Remus had never heard of a skill charm that would tailor the skill towards a specific style, a charm for painting skills would only mean that the artist would be able to paint very good. It didn't mean he would be able to get it to emulate a famous artist's style, maybe he could change it? He had read a little about spell creation and modification, it might be worth looking into, it would certainly be a challenge. And it would definitely be fun.
It's not like I have to worry about money... Remus hadn't actually counted up how much he had by now, but he knew it was a sizable amount. Hey, maybe I'll become an art forger extraordinaire after graduation. Ah, graduation; that day when boys become men. Except Sirius, I don't think he'll grow up. Ever.
Towards the end of summer, Remus finally got around to counting up his savings. Somehow, he had managed to accumulate more than £200,000. He hadn't noticed it growing because he always had it shrunk as small as possible and stashed in various locations, the main one being the underside of his bed.
Damn, I have a LOT of money! Remus thought. Now, what to do with it? Well, I know I'm going to be leaving the wizarding world after I graduate, and if I'm going to do that without raising questions then I need to first become independent in the wizarding world...does that even make sense? Remus asked himself, then he shook his head and continued his train of thought.
So, independent, I can't have my parents watching over me...a house! I need a house.
Remus got really excited as he thought about the kind of place he could get with a down-payment of £200,000 but then he remembered that he was supposed to be poor. I'm not sure what people – the ministry especially – would do if they found out there was a rich werewolf running around, and I'm not keen on finding out.
Remus scrubbed his face, this was complicated, it was like he was living a double life...Scratch that, I AM living a double life. Remus J. Lupin and John X. Smith. No, scratch THAT, a triple life, can't forget about Charles M. Johnson. Well, I supposed at least two of us should have a house... Remus grinned, he would get a small place for 'Remus Lupin' that wouldn't raise too many eyebrows and another for Charles Johnson that could be as lavish as he wanted. John Smith didn't need a house.
After some calculations, Remus figured that if he had had a job every summer since fourth year, worked exactly half time, and earned just over minimum wage, then he could probably have over £4,000 by now. That wouldn't have bought him much on the wizarding market (which required you to pay almost half the sum upfront), so he turned to the Muggle world, again. When he actually went looking, he struck gold.
An old lady had passed away a few years ago and her children were only just now dividing up her estate which consisted of quite a lot of money, some rare heirlooms, a luxurious townhouse and a small country cottage. While he was sitting in the real estate agent's office he heard a loud argument coming from behind the agent's door. Apparently the agency refused to list the old lady's cottage - even though they were listing the townhouse already - because it was too difficult to get to and just "wasn't worth it".
Remus' enhanced ears perked up, it didn't really matter if it was hard to get to, that's what apparition is for. Drawing on his Gryffindor courage, Remus walked up and knocked on the door. Twenty minutes later, Remus was holding the deed, yes, the deed for a tiny, sparsely furnished cottage in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. After looking over the pictures (which both the agent and the siblings assured him had been taken the day before), Remus said he had £4000 right now and was willing to buy it, no strings, no viewings, nothing. The siblings jumped at the offer because they really didn't have anything else to do with the cottage and were more focused on getting as much money from the townhouse as they could.
It was a very pleased Remus Lupin who apparated to a tiny cottage tucked away in the Scottish Highlands, he had seen the pictures and gotten a rough idea of what the interior looked and knew that the small amount of furniture in it would need some heavy transfiguration. After all, this was an old lady's cottage, and Remus wasn't too fond of lace doilies and pink wallpaper.
Some of the nice features of the house – beyond the fact that he had paid a pittance for it and that it was furnished – was that the fireplace was massive and there was an expansive cellar; perfect for flooing and full moons. He didn't plan on having to lock himself away on full moons because he now had enough money to buy a lifetime supply of Wolfsbane ingredients, but he did need to keep up appearances; a few cutting curses here, some dried blood there and viola! Perfect werewolf transformation cage.
There was also a little stone shed out back, in a small cove of trees that would be perfect for his illegal activities and for brewing the Wolfsbane until he had a nice place of his own. Remus was going to buy a Muggle apartment at the same time so that he wouldn't have to live in the cottage at all but decided to wait, by the end of this year, he would have a lot more money and he would be able to afford any place he wanted. And he didn't know exactly what he wanted yet so he didn't go looking.
Remus spent a lot of his free time during seventh year learning all about art and art history, he was fascinated by the different masters, styles, mediums etc. He then decided that yes, he wanted to try his hand at art forgery, it would be difficult, he would either need to be able to draw and paint well himself or he would need to improve on the skill spells already out there. He decided to do both, it was a challenge worthy of a Marauder. He also studied the ways in which people tested art and how to trick it, this made him do a lot of independent study in potion and spell creation. He wouldn't be able to rely on the advanced forms of the copying spell any more.
His other extra curricular activities included Marauder-ish escapades and his John X. Doe forgery business. In fact, he got so good at these that a lot of people in the less-than-legal world had heard about him and knew that he was the one to go to for whatever you might need.
Graduation came and went, James and Sirius worked their asses off in Auror school, Peter did...something and Remus quietly moved into his cottage and continued earning thousands of pounds on the sly.
Then the war interfered. All four friends were drafted into the Order of the Phoenix and they started fighting for their lives and the lives of those they loved. Remus relaxed at the end of each day by working with more and more important people...in the Muggle world.
The summer after he turned nineteen, Remus gathered all his money from it's various hidey holes around the cottage and went to find a house in the Muggle world.
While deciding what sort of place to look for he decided that he wanted the complete opposite of what he was expected to have in the wizarding world. He was expected to have a simple, secluded house where he wouldn't be able to harm anyone when he became a bloodthirsty monster. That was taken care of; now, for the opposite. That would mean in the middle of a city, lots of people around, large, lavish, and expensive.
Remus grinned, a penthouse. A huge apartment/home at the very top of a building, yes, that would do quite nicely. He looked around but soon realized that places like that weren't exactly common and there wasn't one that he liked enough to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on. Many of the ones available were 'modern' apartments; they had weird angles, sharp corners and funny furniture. Then he saw a new building going up, it was a massive office building for some company Remus had never heard of (not that that meant much).
The building was currently only a bit more than a skeleton but Remus could see a potential spot up at the top, it looked like it might be for a penthouse or maybe a set of important peoples' offices. He grinned, he was a smooth talker (unlike Sirius he didn't use it to get girls) and could be fairly convincing when he wanted to be, maybe he could use his negotiating skills and large reserves of money to convince whoever owned the building to let him move in...
Remus approached one of the workers who directed him to the manager, who directed him to the overseer, who directed him to the contractor, who directed him to the company manager, who directed him to the CEO.
Remus found out that the top floor of the building was planned to be the offices for the CEO and the higher level managers, when Remus said that he was willing to pay half a million pounds to buy the unfinished space and turn it into a penthouse, they thought he was joking. It was only when Remus asked if he would be allowed to talk with the contractor about a few adjustments that they finally realized he was serious.
The head of the company decided that having an anonymous rich man living in the building really wouldn't be that bad an idea, so he agreed to move the offices of all his managers one floor down. They agreed that Remus could have three quarters of the top floor (which was double tall) for his house and the company head would have the fourth quarter. The final reason they let Remus have the space was that he offered to pay £5,000 a month to the company for the first year and then it would be his, free and clear. Remus thought that £60,000 was a bit much on top of his £500,000 but decided it wasn't worth the time to negotiate it.
So that was how Charles M. Johnson got his dream house at the top of a building in the center of London, it wouldn't be finished for another three months and even then it would be completely empty, but Remus decided that was a good thing. He could decorate it how ever he liked (there was only electricity and plumbing), he got to choose everything, it would be perfect.
By the time James and Lily finally got married, Remus' penthouse was finished being built and he started furnishing it in his spare time, not that he had much spare time with the war and his job. But pretty soon the war took over his life and he was forced to go 'on holiday' from his Muggle job. He might not really be part of the Wizarding World, but his friends were and he knew that Voldemort needed to be stopped.
By the time Harry was born, things were going great in the Muggle world but his friends in the wizarding world were having small doubts about his loyalty. He spent so much time away from them that when they realized there was a leak in the Order, they suspected him.
When Remus heard of the attack against the Potters and Sirius Black's treachery, he just upped and left, he couldn't stand the reminders of the good times he'd had with his friends.
Over the years, Remus worked his way up in the criminal underworld, forging documents and art for more and more influential people. However, his work was not without its risks.
March 4th, 1983
Remus scowled at the slightly pudgy man in front of him, "I'm sorry but no money means no papers. I don't even have them with me so there's no point in searching. I run a business here Mr. Frederick, and you should know by now that I show evidence of completion, then you give me the money, and only then do I give you the passports. It's how I've always worked and how I will continue to work.
"I have never once taken money and not delivered, that's why people come to me. So, if you don't have the money, you don't get your passports, I don't care how important, rich or influential you are. Good day." With his speech concluded, Remus gave the man a curt nod and turned to leave the office.
Mr. Frederick was not pleased that he hadn't been able to cheat this 'John Doe' out of his money, he cheated everyone. If he couldn't have his passports then neither could anyone else, he pulled a small gun out of his desk and leveled it at Mr. Doe.
It was a really good thing that Frederick was a terrible shot because instead of hitting him in the back of the head like he wanted, Frederick's bullet went clean through Remus' shoulder.
Being no stranger to shifting muscle and bone, Remus was able to ignore the excruciating pain of a shattered shoulder blade. Instead, he whipped around and was infinitely grateful that he usually insisted on dealing with clients without the presence of anyone's bodyguards, because that could have been ugly. He also always put a locking charm on the door after someone else locked it, better safe than sorry, this was one of those, 'safe' situations. But Remus had still be shot.
"You shot me!" Remus yelled in surprise, he'd never been shot before. He went out of his way not to get shot. "You fucking SHOT me!"
Mr. Frederick laughed as he saw the copious amounts of blood pouring out of John's shoulder, that sort of wound would cause him to bleed out in just a few minutes. "That's what you get for messing with me. No one messes with me!" He said triumphantly.
Remus growled low in his throat, "I do not appreciate being shot! Now, I am a rather well-known person in this community, and respected by many people, especially my fellow forgers. I will make sure that you never get anything from anyone from now on. I do not make a good enemy." Then Remus grabbed the gun and ripped the entire barrel off, scaring the pants off Mr. Frederick.
"Just remember, that could have been your head." Were Remus' parting words.
When Remus got back to his home he swore, he had been shot and bullets fucking hurt. So, he spent the next month turning down any requests that were big enough to require a meeting, holed up in his study and worked on a new type of shield.
He finally developed a small series of runes that would simply vanish any solid object smaller than a sickle coming at it at high speeds. It had to be touching skin and the shield would only extend a few millimeters from his body so it would be as inconspicuous as possible.
Remus was quite proud of his work but had to decide what to carve it on, he finally decided on a small, flat, river stone that he would hang around his neck on a leather string. He made sure to make it long enough to be able to tuck beneath his shirt and also carved the runes small enough that if he wanted to, he could add more later.
With his growing reputation as an expert forger - documents, art, whatever - and his personal protection, Remus soon became a force to be reckoned with in the Muggle criminal world. In fact, he even gained a certain rapport with the biggest family in crime; the Diadones.
However, Remus' predictable (sometimes...maybe) life was pleasantly interrupted when he first became involved in the life of Antonio Dominick Diadone. But you already know how that goes.
Author's note (#2): There, I hope you enjoyed that small interlude...I am working (extremely slowly) on the next actual chapter. However, because it has been so long since I last worked on this story, I am going to read and edit what I already have so that I can avoid any continuity errors. I also need to get back into the mindset of the Diadones.
Sorry for the wait,