Sequel to The Most Beautiful Mendacity. Part Three of the C'est la Vie series.
I'm sorry for the long delay. I got a little caught up in the other story I'm writing xD Now finally I upload this story. I hope you like it! Once again, to quickly clear up my Alternate Universe:
Sirius is freed because Peter Pettigrew is in jail.
Sirius is married to Silvia White, an auror and they're expecting a baby.
Tonks has a cousin named Alexis who is an Unspeakable.
Voldemort is revived by Barty Crouch Jr. who escaped and isn't dead or kissed by a dementor.
There are several other characters completely of my own making. And the rest is self-explanatory...hopefully. If you have any questions, do feel free to ask me and I will try to answer them xD
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the brilliant J.K. Rowling. Several characters are of my own invention. Thank you!
Now on with the story and sorry for the long note :)
Chapter 01 – The Daily Prophet
The sweltering heat of the hot summer day placed a drowsy silence over the usually cold and gloomy interior of number 12 Grimmauld Place, London. The grimy windows of the house sat wide open, hoping to tempt in an inexistent breath of cold air. The main living room at the front of the house overlooked an empty and quiet street, watching a near perfect sunset over the darkening treetops as the burning day drew to a close under vermillion skies.
The faint buzzing sound of an electric fan was mingling with the monotone voices expelling from an old wireless radio which was tuned into the Wizarding Wireless Network. The noise echoed through the black and empty halls of the ancient house. A soft ruffle of papers interrupted the sleepy tune. Bony hands with long slender fingers turned the page of a magical newspaper that read The Daily Prophet while by wandless and nonverbal magic the reader turned the volume of the wireless on a little louder.
Hot air grazed his fingers as he turned to yet another page of the Prophet. His bony hand raked through his light brown hair. Oceanic blue eyes pierced the black inked words on the grey paper while his thin lips muttered the word "Lies," under his warm breath. His scattered mind weakly registered the scent of flowers in the room but he could not identify which kind. The scent was soon drowned by the smell of ink and parchment from the paper in front of him.
"…and we'd like to remind everyone to keep alert of the escaped werewolves currently on the loose in London. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement is quickly rounding up these individuals but it is wise to be warned that werewolves are dangerous creatures and even if not under the full moon's transformation, will still attack…" the urgent but emotionless voice of a man sounded from the wireless sitting on the side table.
"Werewolves," his gentle voice sighed. He was speaking to himself again and it was becoming a bad habit. "Werewolves again." As his eyes grazed over familiar names and faces of wanted werewolves in the pages of the Daily Prophet's Monday Edition, the voice of the speaker on the wireless continued on—he was now listing names of known and dangerous werewolves.
"…Bartol Fell, Fenrir Greyback, Lucian Hart, Selene Hawkins, Ralph Martin…"
His eyes looked up and instantly, gentle blue eyes found piercing grey ones. "Hello Sirius," Remus replied, turning to another page of the paper.
Sirius hopped gracefully upon an old but admittedly comfortable sofa across from the overstuffed armchair Remus was occupying. He lay on his belly and turned his head towards his best friend while pushing back his fringe of raven black hair from his darkly handsome face. "I can't find where Lexi's put the alcohol," said Sirius.
"That's because she doesn't want you to find it, Padfoot," Remus said placidly.
"Twat," Sirius snorted.
"Silvia threatened to hex Lexi with dancing legs if she gave you any alcohol." Finally, Remus folded his paper back and peered overtop the print at Sirius. "You remember what happened at your wedding?"
"How come dear Nymphadora got some yesterday? She was taunting me with it!"
Remus shrugged, hiding a smile behind his newspaper.
"Why didn't you tell Lexi not to give her any like Silvia did for me?" Sirius demanded. "Tonks was just as wild at my wedding! She thought she was a hippogriff for god's sake!"
It was a miracle Remus wasn't laughing hysterically from the fond memory. "Because I am not married to her and therefore have no authority to tell her what she can and cannot drink."
"Marriage," Sirius groaned. "When will you tie the knot with my cousin anyways? Technically speaking, you two have dated longer than Silvia and I before we got together."
A vibrant blush crept onto Remus's cheeks and he remained quiet behind his paper. Strangely, Sirius had grown tactful and considerate after getting married and simply smiled, as he decided to tread onto a new topic. He pushed himself up and looked around the dark and gloomy living room where cobwebs served as decorations and peeling wallpaper was a norm. His eyes then fell upon the Daily Prophet in Remus's hands where on the front cover was a massive picture of Sirius's godson, Harry Potter, and a bold, moving title:
BOY WHO LIES? The title shifted by magic saying: FUDGE: "ALL IS WELL"
"What's the Prophet saying these days anyways?" Sirius asked.
"More lies about Dumbledore and Harry," Remus sighed. He folded the paper and tossed it aside onto another pile beside the unused fireplace where previous days' papers were stacking high. "They're trying to make them look like lunatics."
Sirius shook his head. "Wankers," he grumbled.
They lapsed into a comfortable silence. Sirius continued to look around the room and Remus began actually listening to the pointless babble on the wireless sitting upon a side table.
"Strange, I never noticed how much Silvia tries to brighten the place up."
Remus looked up and immediately noticed Sirius picking up a small vase of daisies. He too had been seeing them around the house very often lately. They'd only been living in Grimmauld Place for a few days but already the drear and gloom was becoming too much. A vase of daisies here and there really did help.
"Daisies," Sirius smiled, thinking about his lovely wife. He poked gently at the yellow and white flower, glowing amidst the all-black room. "It means…beauty, doesn't it?"
"It means simplicity and innocence, Sirius," Remus smiled, shifting to the edge of his seat. "Goodness man, learn the meaning of flowers for your wife's sake!" he teased.
Sirius shrugged. "Just because she's a flower expert doesn't mean I should be."
"How are you two anyways?" Remus asked. "Doing all right?"
Pensive for a brief moment, Sirius nodded. "Wonderful, yes," he said. "I asked her to take a desk job, pregnant, you know?" Sirius made a hand gesture around his midriff of a pregnant belly that made Remus laugh. "She told me she's got it sorted out." He smiled. "You and Tonksie all right then? I heard your little spat a few nights ago."
Shaking his head dismissively, Remus shifted again. "She doesn't like the place."
"No surprise there," Sirius agreed. "Lexi's been in a perpetually foul mood since we moved in here." He paused to look around at the black curtains and decaying state of his old living room. "Can't say I'm fond of it myself…but it's safe…." He cleared his throat and nodded for a moment. "What about you? You look thoughtful; something on your mind, Moony?"
"How do you know?"
"I had to sleep in the same dorm as you for seven years. I think I'd know."
Stifling a soft laugh, Remus shook his head. "The Prophet," he began. "And the wireless, are both reporting an increase in werewolf activities and crimes."
"Ah, the never ending werewolf problem," Sirius sighed, kicking back and listening.
Remus continued undisturbed. "I'm worried," he admitted. "You recall the last war, what Voldemort was trying to accomplish with the werewolves?"
He rested his chin on his hand and Sirius nodded contemplatively. "And you think that this time around, he may have already succeeded in convincing them to join his fight."
"I know he convinced Greyback a long time ago," said Remus in a low voice.
"So what do you think they're here in London for? They can't be waiting—"
The sound of the front door bursting open caught their attention. Apprehensively, Remus and Sirius shot up to their feet, their wand in hand and they were carefully heading towards the hallway. Remus briefly wondered who had come by. His question was answered when he saw a blur of raven black hair in front of him. Quickly, his blue eyes followed and he found Alexis Black, pixie-like and darkly beautiful like the other women in her family, quickly ascending the staircase, stomping with each step she took. She was fuming and livid.
"Alexis! Alexis!" her worried boyfriend, Marrick Kingston, tall and muscular with disheveled dark brown hair and a deep, rich voice was calling after her. "Wait!"
Stunned, Remus could only watch. He looked up at the staircase just like Sirius was doing with his mouth agape. Alexis had halted her ascension and glared down at Marrick. "Just because you love your job doesn't mean I should love mine! What did you expect me to do?" she exclaimed. "Turn away and pretend nothing happened?"
"It didn't give you the right to hex him!" Marrick called to her.
"Rookwood is a bloody idiot! He deserved it!"
"Don't be so childish," Marrick sighed.
"That was a mistake," Remus heard Sirius say beside him.
As if she was flying, Alexis glided down the staircase, her eyes holding a gaze that bordered malevolence. "ROOKWOOD SENT MY BEST UNSPEAKABLE TO THE BLOODY HOSPITAL! HE'S LUCKY I DIDN'T SEND HIM TO AZKABAN AND BELIEVE ME, I HAVE ENOUGH DIRT ON HIM TO DO SO IF I WANTED TO!" Alexis was shrieking at the top of her lungs. The sheer volume of her voice had even drowned out the insults Walburga Black's portrait was screaming at them upon her arousal. "I CAN'T BE A SAINT LIKE YOU AND PEACEFULLY SORT EVERY BLOODY THING OUT!" Before Sirius or Remus could realize what just happened, Alexis was flying up the stairs again, Marrick close in pursuit, trying to calm her down. "SHUT UP WOMAN!" she screamed at Sirius's mother and as if by magic, all the screaming came to an abrupt end at the sound of another slamming door.
"What just happened?" Remus questioned, still staring at the empty staircase.
"I don't know," said Sirius softly. "But she's going to bring the whole house down if she keeps closing doors like that."
Remus turned to his best friend and shook his head. "Your cousin is angry and you're worried about your doors?" he asked and felt a strange temptation to laugh. Remus distracted his thoughts with something else soon after. Alexis kept mentioning the name Rookwood lately and she was always getting mad at Rookwood….
Sirius was laughing and shaking his head saying, "Marrick is so whipped."
"Now what do you think Rookwood is up to?" Remus asked, catching Sirius by surprise. "Before, we don't often hear Alexis speak of him. She rarely gets mad. Now, she's always coming home angry at something Rookwood did wrong. Do you think something's up?"
Falling back onto his sofa, Sirius made a face. "Now that you mention it…"
He was interrupted by the wireless which had somehow increased in volume, causing Remus to jump slightly. Their attention turned to the old rectangular box sitting on top of the side table while a wizard's voice sounded.
"We interrupt this broadcast to bring you breaking news. Two aurors, females by what we can see, are currently in pursuit of a dangerous and armed werewolf—"
"Oh not this again," Sirius groaned. "Honestly Remus, you're already afraid of yourself enough. Why must you always listen to this rubbish?"
"Wait, hush," said Remus quickly. He strode across the space of the living room and came down to his knees beside the wireless, listening with rapt attention. "Werewolves have been active in London lately. If we listen we might come across more information."
The entire right side of her body felt like it had gone numb—she'd just tackled a massive dumpster out of the way after all. But yet, despite the numbness that was spreading from her arm to her back, she was still running, her feet stamping hard on the concrete ground, propelling her forward with each step.
A gasp, a sharp turn, and an ungainly dive, it was her only option. Under the setting sun casting shadows over the city of London, her bubblegum pink hair glistened and swept by in a blur behind her as she ran. She grunted and drew in a sharp breath to make herself continue running. Her right hand was gripping her wand so tightly it was a miracle it didn't snap under the pressure. She grinded her teeth as she felt her legs pleading for her to stop and her lungs were gasping for air desperately. She couldn't stop yet, not until she catch the ruddy git who'd put her on a foot chase through London city for the past half hour.
"Silv!" said Tonks, turning to the side to look for her partner. "All right?" She was more worried about Silvia's safety than her own. Tonks wasn't the one running with a pregnant belly.
"Fine," her friend, breathed in a rich Spanish accent and a blur of dark brown hair.
"Stop! You're under arrest!" Tonks shouted as if her words could stop the criminal.
In front of the two aurors, a man was running. His shabby and torn robes several sizes too big were billowing behind him. It was fortunate for them that he had no wand because he'd just made a sharp turn into an alley on the side of the street where he'd be able to disapparate without drawing any more attention to himself. Tonks's emerald green eyes glistened at the opportunity. She body slammed the opposite wall of the alley as she turned and smiled when she saw that Silvia had gracefully swerved on her feet and was still right beside her. Tonks wished she had coordination that good.
"Round him," said Silvia and she made another turn into an intersecting alley.
Not wasting any time, Tonks whirled her wand in a circle and inhaled a deep breath. The next moment, she was floating in a cloud of glowing white smoke, her bodily appearance only faintly visible—she was in her half apparition state. It was easier for her to maneuver in that state, oddly, as it was a challenge to most people. Tonks swept through the alley, felt her feet running upon the walls as she made another turn, her eyes on her target, a balding man with brown hair and scars everywhere skin was visible. She agilely leapt over another dumpster only to fall into a pile of black plastic trash bags. Fortunately, in her glowing white state, it was easy for her to disentangle herself from the mess.
Soon, Tonks was on her feet again, running with a revived burst of energy. She knew Silvia was near. The Spanish auror knew her way around London better than most. "Fell!" Tonks yelled, skidding to a halt at the turn of an alley. Her target kept running.
On the other side of the narrow alley where Fell was running to, Tonks saw a blur of dark brown hair and a darkly beautiful face glitter with sweat under the moonlight.
"STUPEFY!" the two women roared.
From the ends of their wands on the two sides of the alley, a jet of brilliant red light exploded and created the sound of a gunshot. The light struck the man in the middle directly in the front and back, a clear attack. There was a scream and he fell to the side, flopping against the brick wall like a rag doll and slid onto the ground, unconscious. Tonks and Silvia exchanged glances and apprehensively made their way over to him.
"Incarcerous," said Tonks and from the tip of her sword-like wand, a set of ropes appeared which then magically bounded the man lying unconscious on the dirty ground.
"Oh that was a workout," Silvia sighed and leaned back against the other side of the wall, her right hand twirling her wand while her left wiped the sweat off her forehead and then rested protectively upon her pregnant belly.
"I don't like running," Tonks groaned and sloppily mopped up her own face of sweat.
"Shacklebolt!" Silvia called.
They waited for a short moment. The unconscious man twitched slightly, his face wearing an eternal expression of pain. Looking at him, Tonks couldn't help but notice the traits he shared with Remus Lupin, her own lover and a werewolf himself. The man on the ground had scars, jagged, painful scars that were old but gleamed under the light of the moon. Tonks drew a long sigh. Remus had many scars as well.
"Bloody hell," a deep and reassuring voice breathed. Tonks looked up and found Kingsley Shacklebolt, bald, black, and breathless, doubled over as he gasped for air. His gold loop earring twinkled like a star under the cold silver moon. "You two run fast!"
"Where's Dawlish?" Silvia asked, looking around.
"He probably got lost," said Kingsley. "I had a hard time finding where you'd run off to myself! Luckily I could follow the sound of Tonks crashing."
Tonks snorted indignantly and ran a hand through her bubblegum pink mane. "We caught Bartol Fell," she smiled. "Finally got a lead."
"Two homicides and one disappearance, we better wrap up this case quickly—"
Bartol Fell suddenly stirred awake, his eyes barely open. Without warning, he began screaming at the top of his lungs, growling and struggling against the ropes that bound him. "Where is she?" he cried. "Where is that bitch?"
Silvia turned to Tonks asking, "Is he talking about you or me?"
"I don't think it's either of us," said Tonks. "Bloody hell the muggles are going to here." She pointed her wand at him and said, "Silencio." Tonks turned sharply back to Kingsley. "You're going to have to interrogate him thoroughly. He's talking about a woman I think. Silvia and I heard him calling after someone as we were chasing him."
"What's her name?" Kingsley asked.
"I'm pretty sure it's Selene Hawkins. She's the only female werewolf we have on the list," said Silvia pensively. "I wonder what all these werewolves are doing in London."
Kingsley leaned in closer to the two of them, whispering, "I think you should ask Remus. He keeps an eye out for these things and is familiar with werewolf activities. He might know."
Tonks nodded. "I'm planning on asking him when we get back to Grimmauld."
John Dawlish suddenly showed up, huffing and wheezing. A tough-looking wizard with very short, wiry grey hair; most would think he was very capable. However, having worked with him for many cases, Tonks and Silvia both found the thought rather deceiving.
"You got him," said Dawlish. "We should take him back to the Ministry, Shacklebolt."
"Of course," Kingsley nodded. "Silvia, you all right?" She nodded and he continued. "You and Tonks should head home. Tonks, owl me if Silvia gets anything." He walked over with Dawlish to where Bartol Fell laid, struggling silently. There was a loud crack and they disapparated on the spot.
"John looks rather pale," said Silvia softly.
"You look rather pale," Tonks replied. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"Goodness Tonks, I'm pregnant, not injured," Silvia smiled and they began walking out of the alley. "I know when I can't take it anymore."
"How long are you going to keep lying to Sirius about that desk job anyways?"
"Oh bugger!" Silvia exclaimed. She suddenly unsheathed her wand again and began charming up several stacks of papers and folders for herself. "Guess I better clean myself up too, right?" she laughed and with another wave of her wand, cleaned up her face and removed the blush. Tonks was staring at her, her mouth agape.
"I need to learn how to do that," she said. "I've been blushing too much lately."
"That's because we keep teasing you and Remus," Silvia smiled. "Don't take it personally. We all just need a little more laughter as of late. Grimmauld Place is so…"
Tonks didn't have time to explain. She was running again, her eyes on a woman who had been watching them. Had that young woman been there the entire time, listening to their conversation after the arrest? Tonks drew her wand but she was unable to do anything. The other woman also had a wand and with a faint pop in the night, she disapparated. All that Tonks could really see of her was a frail, slim and slender figure with dark blonde hair and faded scars that glistened under the moonlight marring a pretty face.
Silvia hurried up to her side as Tonks stopped again. "Who was that?" her friend asked.
"I think she may have been Hawkins," said Tonks. "Selene Hawkins."
"And she has a wand. That's new information—we should tell Kingsley of that soon."
Blankly nodding, Tonks said, "Yeah, we should." Her mind remained on the woman. There was something weird about her and Tonks just couldn't explain why. "Hey Silv, do you think Hawkins may be involved with Fell's case?"
"The case, no. But personally, yes." Glancing at Tonks's bemused expression, Silvia continued. "Fell was calling for her so he most likely knows her. But all the evidence we've gathered in his case proved that the two homicides are evidence of only one werewolf's doing. With Fell's hair, it points to only him. Hawkins may be involved in another case."
Tonks sighed. "Let's go home then…see what the Marauders have been up to."
Songbirds were perched upon the wooden birdfeeder Alexis had hung outside the front living room window. Their songs were soft and slow, blending in sweetly with the everyday drone of the fan and the wireless. Remus and Sirius would cut into the drone as they called out various moves for the protesting chess pieces on the board below, continuing on with their game that had been going on for at least an hour.
"Knight to E5," said Remus. A bird called shrilly outside.
"Rook to F3," Sirius countered, muttering something about the bird crying outside.
"Um, queen to H4, check."
"Ha!" Sirius suddenly jumped and Remus realized what mistake he'd just made when his white pieces protested against his move while Sirius's black pieces were cheering happily. "Rook to F7, checkmate! In your face Moony!"
Remus was laughing as Sirius began dancing around the room, cheering and throwing his hands in the air as the chess pieces began to rearrange themselves. His soft blue eyes turned to the open window and behind the two swallows that were just flying away by the loud ruckus, Remus could see two women cross the wonky iron gate of Grimmauld Place, approaching the stone steps. He bounced up to his feet instantly, the woes of his pitiful defeat by Sirius forgotten.
"Oh look, the wife's home," Sirius smiled and followed Remus to the hallway.
The door clicked open and Remus grinned as his vision was covered by a blur of bright, bubblegum pink. Her warm arms wrapped around his neck as he weaved his own arms around her waist, holding her tightly and deeply inhaling her scent—she smelled of sweet lavender and street. She'd been outside. When Remus finally let go, he saw that Sirius had helped Silvia into the kitchen where he removed the tottering pile of paperwork from her hands and began making tea together, husband and wife.
"Happy to see me?" Tonks questioned him and he nodded too many times. "How was your day?" she asked, leading him to the kitchen. Tonks tripped over the troll-leg umbrella stand and flailed towards the ground. Fortunately, Remus was holding onto her and caught her just in time before she woke up the sleeping portrait of Walburga Black, Sirius's mother who would shriek insults at them. Remus helped Tonks into the kitchen where they took their seats across from Sirius and Silvia, bickering softly over which tea to use.
"Spent most of the day reading," Remus answered. "Then Sirius destroyed part of the house when he turned into Snuffles." Sirius indignantly yelled, "I did not!" but Remus continued on. "Then I lost pitifully to Sirius in a game of chess."
Tonks was laughing. Remus felt his heart swell and dance. Her smile always did that to him and the feeling never faded even after so long. He loves it. "You were also reading the rubbish in the Prophet, weren't you?"
"How'd you know?"
"That pile of old newspapers in the living room is stacking up, Remus."
"Yeah, Tonks tripped over it last night," Silvia smiled causing Tonks to blush.
"Any news then Remus?" Tonks asked. "Silvia and I haven't had time to look at the paper this morning. Oh and I don't want to hear anymore about how much the Prophet is trashing Dumbledore and Harry. I mean just last year they were worshipping the ground he walked on and now this." She shook her head. "Bloody wankers."
"Fudge has been influencing the Prophet to portray Harry as a madman," said Silvia, tapping the kettle on the stove with her wand, causing it to squeal while emitting steam. "He's also convinced Dumbledore wants his job. Fudge is insane I tell you."
"I don't know what news there is to talk about then," Remus sighed. "Other than that…"
Sirius cut in as he took a hasty seat beside his wife and put four steaming cups of tea in between them. "Oh no, no," he said. "Other than Fudge's paranoia and lies in the Prophet, Remus is worried about something else. Why don't you tell them about that, mate?"
Remus shook his head and shot Sirius a sharp look but Tonks caught his eyes and his expression fell. "Werewolves…there has been a rise in werewolf crimes."
"We know that," said Tonks. She exchanged a knowing glance with Silvia before continuing. "Kingsley, Dawlish and I had just arrested Bartol Fell before coming home."
"Two homicides and one disappearance," Silvia further explained.
"How do you know?" Sirius queried, turning to his wife as he placed his arm around her.
"I work in the office. When a frustrating case comes up, that's all they talk about," she told him. Remus noticed the way her hazel eyes were staring at the vase of daisies on the kitchen counter instead of Sirius's eyes. He knew she was lying but he felt it unwise to start another fight between the married couple.
"Oh yes, desk job," Sirius smiled.
"Why were you worried?" Tonks asked quickly, taking Remus's hand.
He drew a long breath and looked at them with a serious gaze. "From what we know of the last war," Remus looked to Sirius. "We think Voldemort may be trying to convince the werewolves to join his side. That might be why they're gathering here in London and when many werewolves are together, violence and chaos ensues."
"What does You-Know-Who plan to do with werewolves?" Tonks questioned.
"We don't know," Remus answered. "Though on the full moon, well, you know." He was grim and Tonks saw his eyes turn to a particularly nasty scar of his on the back of his hand.
"What did You-Know-Who try to do with the werewolves in the last war?" It was Silvia speaking that time and Remus raised his head slightly to face her.
"Most werewolves are aggressive and will attack without thinking, even if the moon isn't up. He's probably trying to use them to do things that Death Eaters can't do in the open. Especially now since Voldemort is using the fact that the Ministry is denying his return to his advantage. He's working in the shadows and he doesn't want his Death Eaters exposed either."
"But they don't have wands," said Tonks. "Or most don't. Fell didn't."
"They don't need wands," Sirius spoke up. "Fenrir Greyback…I've seen him once and his grizzly claws are enough to kill someone."
"Despicable," said Remus quietly. Self-conscious, he pulled his hand back from Tonks but she stubbornly took hold and pulled him back. Silently, they'd once again settled an argument before it began. Tonks had grown to understand him too well.
"Remus," Silvia began. She had noticed Remus's fragile state when speaking about werewolves and was talking delicately. "What happens when a lot of werewolves are together?"
"They get extremely aggressive," he answered slowly, stroking Tonks's hand and the handle of his warm cup of tea. "The rivalries between the packs may also cause a lot of trouble."
"Rivalries between packs?" Sirius asked, surprised.
"Correction, rivalries overall," Remus replied.
"What in the world are you talking about?" Tonks wondered.
"Well, in a wolf pack, a lot of the stronger ones want to become Alpha, the leader, and so they fight over that. Then between the packs, they may be trying to prove dominance over one another…" He paused and licked his lips before warily explaining, "Animal nature…they want to show dominance. So violence breaks out between packs and their surrounding becomes an unsuspecting battlefield." He drew a breath.
Beside him, Tonks was holding onto his arm and rubbing comforting circles upon his back. She always knew that speaking about werewolves was a touchy topic with Remus and they wouldn't try to ask him if they could get information anywhere else. He relaxed under her warm hands and began sipping his tea gently.
"I'm taking a bath," said Tonks after a while. "I'm knackered! Running is hard work!"
Her footsteps made the water in the vase of daisies ripple and she carefully made her way to the stairs, trying hard to avoid tripping over the troll-leg umbrella stand, again.
"Hey Moony, what usually happens as an outcome of these rivalries?" Sirius asked.
Soothed by Tonks, Remus was slightly more comfortable talking about it. "Killing," he answered. "Either they kill members from other packs or kill the innocent. It's whichever way they can prove their dominance and I think they've gotten more creative over the years."
"You're right on that one, Remus," Silvia sighed and both Marauders turned to her. "Just the other day the Auror Office found a house ransacked and destroyed as if by an animal. Two people, mother and father, were brutally murdered." She looked absolutely disgusted as she recalled the incident. "Flesh was torn and their insides…no, I'm not going there but you get the idea." She sighed. "It wasn't on a full moon though. Atticus Page from Lexi's department confirmed the time of death for us with a new device they created. The husband and wife were murdered on the thirtieth of June." Silvia took a breath. "Where is Lexi anyways? Is she home yet? I need to ask her a bit more about that device."
"Err, you don't want to yet honey," said Sirius, resting one elbow on the table. "She came home screaming at Marrick for defending Rookwood. Apparently he cocked something up again. They're upstairs I think, I heard the door slam."
"Oh," said Silvia, disappointed. "Well I guess she does have a lot to worry about. Rookwood's just messed up the whole security system to her department anyways. If someone breaks in, Lexi will be in huge trouble."
Remus's face grew thoughtful as he continued to drink his tea, unaware of the new conversation at hand. His mind was still thinking about the werewolf problem and when he spoke, he drew Sirius and Silvia's attention back to the topic. "That's weird," he said. "The animalistic attacks usually don't happen until the full moon."
There was a pause as the Spanish auror regained her thoughts and said, "That's not all. The family had a son, seven years old at the most, and the son was missing. Tonks's team searched the whole house but couldn't find him."
"Greyback," Remus muttered under his breath.
Silvia heard him and shook her head. "It wasn't Greyback. Tonks's team arrested Bartol Fell tonight. All the evidence we found points to him as the murderer. Kingsley's interrogating him for the location of where he kept the child."
"Are you sure he was working alone?" Remus questioned.
"Positive." Silvia nodded. "The Department is trailing more attacks but we're all certain this one is entirely Bartol Fell."
"How do you know so much?" Sirius asked, gazing into his wife's eyes.
Remus saw Silvia's eyes flicker to the vase of flowers. "Desk job, I have to sort out all the evidence and reports. I don't go on the field but I still take part in the case, love."
He kept what he noticed quiet from Sirius. Remus knew Silvia wouldn't enjoy a desk job and hoped she knew her limits. "This is really strange," he said, continuing on with the discussion. "Attack the parents, take the child, this seems more like Greyback's work method."
Leaning back and placing a hand upon her stomach, Silvia shrugged and sighed. Just a second after, a white snowy owl swooped through the open window and glided daintily onto the wooden table, standing just in front of Sirius. Despite what Remus expected to see, Sirius didn't smile upon the sight. Instead, he sighed and groaned quietly.
"Hello Hedwig," he greeted. "I'm beginning to regret my decision of telling Harry to write more often. He's been asking what's going on, what's happening, and what we're doing."
"But Dumbledore asked us specifically to keep Harry out of this," said Remus gently.
"I know," Sirius groaned. "I feel terribly lying to him though. I mean, he deserves to know, doesn't he? He's the one who told us Voldemort's back."
"He's only a kid, Sirius," Silvia comforted and helped him take the letter from Hedwig's outstretched leg. "He's not even fifteen."
"But he's strong, he should know."
"He's not James, Sirius," said Silvia. Hazel eyes met his grey ones and she silenced him.
"Just keep things vague," Remus advised, finishing his tea and clearing away his cup.
Sirius had summoned up a set of parchment and quill. "Thanks Moony, keep it vague. Silv, you help me write then. You're always better with words than I was."
Sensing that the moment had grown private, Remus smiled, slid his chair back, and got up to leave the kitchen. As he walked away, he could still hear Sirius and Silvia's conversation.
"You're the godfather, you understand him more."
"But a mother's word is always better. Well not my mother," Sirius laughed but his voice was gentle. "Just write the letter with me. Here, I'll hold the parchment for you and you write."
As he ascended the stairs, Remus found himself laughing and shaking his head. Despite the dreariness of Grimmauld Place, they still managed to laugh and smile every day, never forgetting that it was because they'd forgotten to trust each other in the last war that led to their downfall. On the second landing, Remus was surprised when he found Tonks's head, mousy brown and drenched wet, sticking out of the bathroom door. He smiled when he saw her.
She grinned. "Wotcher Remus," she replied.
"What are you doing?" he questioned, amused.
"I forgot a towel. And…I figured since no one would see me, I was going to risk it and run to the linen closet. But since you're here," her grin widened. "Can you help me? Please?"
Remus was suppressing and extremely tempting urge to laugh. "So you're telling me that you're dripping wet and naked right now and you were about to risk everything and sprint down the hall to the linen closet?" He raised an eyebrow.
Under his inquisitive gaze, Tonks was blushing scarlet. "Oh shut up," she said. "Can you please get me a towel? I'm getting kind of cold in here."
"All right," he said. "Which one's the linen closet?" He walked to the left of the bathroom door where two more doors were closed shut, looking identical to one another.
"The one on the left," said Tonks. She looked straight out of the bathroom and watched as Remus reached for the door. Her eyes widened. "No! My left! Not yours!" she was too late.
His hand had turned the doorknob and Remus pushed the door open before Tonks could tell him that she'd meant her left hand, not his. The smile on his face fell immediately and was rapidly replaced by a horrified expression as he looked into the room that Alexis had claimed earlier that morning. Inside, he briefly saw a blur of navy blue blankets and skin, lots of skin.
"Bloody hell!" someone's hoarse and breathless voice screamed from the other side of the bed, hidden from his view.
"Remus!" Tonks called as Remus slammed the door shut, blushing beat red.
He turned back to face her, wide-eyed. "I think I just walked in on Lexi and Marrick."
Tonks's hands flew up to her mouth as she tried to suppress or at least muffle her hysterical laughter. Her eyes were swelling with tears and she shook her head as Remus dazedly open the other door and withdrew a fresh white towel. He made his way back to her, his expression unchanging. It took Tonks another five minutes before she could calm herself.
"I can't believe you walked in on my cousin," she managed to utter.
"I can't believe it myself," he sighed, looking utterly embarrassed.
"You're right Remus, you are a Marauder."
Remus raised an eyebrow and said, "You did it on purpose."
Her heart-shaped face was glowing red and she was shaking her head. "In all honesty, I didn't know which door was which either. We've only been here for a few days after all."
A sly smirk appeared upon his face when Tonks reached for the towel. He backed away, pulling the towel out of her reach, and looked back at her with a passive smile.
"Hey, you said it's good to laugh! You said that even in war, life goes on and to laugh all the way through it." She was impressed at how she could memorize his words so clearly.
"Yes, I did, but…Lexi's going to hate me now."
"Come on Remus, give me the bloody towel," she groaned.
He thought for a moment then said, "No."
"Don't make me embarrass you again," she warned.
"How can you embarrass me more than you already did?" He immediately regretted it.
Unexpectedly, Tonks flung the bathroom door open, stood briefly in front of him with a fake look of anger and her arms akimbo. Remus's heart must have burst as all the blood in his body rushed up to his face. He gulped. Tonks swiftly took the towel out of his hands and ran back into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her, leaving only small, wet footprints on the floor where she'd walked upon.
There was a loud snort from Walburga Black's portrait.
"Hey! Don't slam my doors!" Sirius's voice called up from downstairs.
But Remus couldn't hear Sirius. He could only hear Tonks, on the other side of the door.
"Remus, sometimes I wonder what stage of a relationship we're at," Tonks laughed.
"S-same," he uttered weakly, swallowing again.
Morning came in all its glory with the magnificent sun rising from the east and the sound of birds singing in the summer warmth. The open window had finally succeeded in tempting in a breath of cold air that stroked his sleepy face gently. He slowly came to wake, blinking several times and cringing against the sheer brilliance of the sun's light that spilled through the entire room from the window. When he opened his eyes, he was looking up at the ceiling. It was weird. The golden sunlight made the old and black room kind of beautiful in an antiquated sort of way.
"Morning Remus," Tonks muttered, her head buried in their pillow.
He turned to his side and faced her. All he could see of her face was a mass of long, obsidian black hair. Remus smiled as she shifted under the blanket. Waking up beside her and wondering about her colorful hair was always a good start to another day.
"Good morning Nymphadora," he replied and she grumbled about the use of her name. "Why is it black this morning?" he asked out of sheer curiosity.
"I had a weird dream," she made a muffled noise into her pillow.
"What'd you dream about?"
She turned to face him. "You'd think I'm weird…weirder than I already am," she smiled.
"No I won't," he assured her.
"Too bad, I'm not telling you." She sat up and pulled him up with her. Tonks stuck her tongue out at him as she stretched and grinned at the brilliant yellow duck upon her turquoise blue t-shirt she'd slept in. "I think blonde is good for today."
He smiled. Remus always found her so interesting.
"I think blonde would be lovely," he told her and she closed her eyes to morph.
Cimmerian black hair morphed to beautiful, curly blonde in the same shade as her father's. Remus smiled and took her hand as they lingered upon the warm mattress under the glorious morning light. Remus didn't want to get off and he could tell that neither did Tonks.
"FILTH! SCUM! WEREWOLVES AND BLOOD TRAITORS, IN MY HOUSE!"
Remus and Tonks jumped off their bed and hurried downstairs, their wand in their hand and they were struggling to straighten out their clothes. Walburga Black's screams had echoed through the black and empty halls of Grimmauld, scaring away all the birds and rudely waking up all of its sleepy occupants. At the stairs, Remus ran into a sleepy and yawning Sirius who was lazily dragging himself downstairs. Alexis was already at the foot of the stairs wearing a silver dressing gown with a toothbrush in her mouth, looking wide awake.
"Shut up!" Sirius groaned and with Remus's help, wrenched the black curtain closed over his mother's portrait, stunning her and silencing her. "KREACHER!" he bellowed, angry.
Tonks jumped back a step when the old house elf suddenly apparated right in front of them, bowing down so low that his long nose was touching the ground. "Yes, master," he answered in a low, reproachful tone, speaking to his feet rather than Sirius.
"What happened?" Sirius demanded.
"Kreacher, go back to your den," Alexis commanded from downstairs.
It has become obvious to Remus and Tonks that Kreacher was much friendlier to Alexis whose name was strangely not blasted off the family tree, unlike Sirius who remained a black scorch mark upon the doxie infested tapestry in the drawing room. He disapparated back to where he slept in the kitchen with a malevolent smirk towards Sirius, Tonks, and Remus.
"Lexi! What the hell?"
"It's not Kreacher. It was Fred and George making the noise."
"Fred and George?" Tonks mumbled. "Wait, Weasleys?"
Together in a stampede, Remus, Tonks, and Sirius made their way down to the bottom landing and crowded with Alexis into the narrow hallway. There they saw a mass of red heads pushing each other into the house, dragging with them many trunks, rucksacks, and briefcases. Behind them all, Tonks could spot Mad-Eye Moody, limping through the crowd.
"Tonks!" Molly Weasley's voice sounded and Tonks suddenly found herself drowned in a hug. "Alexis dear! Remus, Sirius! Where is Silvia?" Molly asked, smiling up at Sirius.
"She's upstairs," he answered with a wry smile. He was utterly surprised to see so many Weasleys adding color to his dreary house. "How are you Molly—Arthur?"
"Good, good," Arthur grinned. "Listen, sorry we dropped in so suddenly," he explained through all the noise his children were making as they pushed themselves around the hallway and fell into the living room.
"It's all right, really," Sirius smiled as Remus and Tonks greeted all the children. "But wait, what are you doing here so early in the morning?"
"They're moving in," Mad-Eye grunted as he shuffled into the kitchen. "It's safer for them especially with so many children. It's more convenient too."
"Wonderful!" Sirius was still in slight shock from his loud awakening and seeing so many red heads at once first thing in the morning. "The more the merrier!"
"Thank you Sirius," Molly smiled gratefully and followed them into the kitchen with Arthur close behind her, speaking with Mad-Eye about something.
Remus and Tonks exchanged a furtive glance and turned back to all the Weasley children. Ginny was still pulling her trunk into the living room with Ron's help while Fred and George were preoccupied in an animated conversation with Alexis. "Looks like you won't have to worry about not having enough smiles or laughs anymore," Tonks told Remus, grinning.
"Like Sirius said: the more the merrier. In times of war, it's better to stick together."
Tonks giggled and turned to Bill Weasley, the eldest of all Molly and Arthur's kids. "Wotcher Bill, back from Egypt?"
"Yeah, I think for good." His smile was torn between longing and happiness. "Mad-Eye's letting me join the Order to help. And I've taken a job at Gringotts."
"Brilliant!" Tonks grinned.
"Hello Bill," Remus replied, shaking hands warmly with him.
"Wait a minute, one, two…five, and Molly and Arthur, seven, you're missing two Weasleys," she told Bill with an inquisitive gaze.
"Oh, Charlie's still in Romania," Bill smiled. "He couldn't bear to leave the dragons."
"What about Percy?" Remus asked, remembering the missing Weasley, his old student.
The smile on Bill's face fell and Remus wondered if he'd said something wrong. Tonks watched as Bill looked around then leaned in and whispered to them. "Percy's been promoted."
"Isn't that a good thing?" she asked.
Bill shook his head. "Not when the Minister is using him to spy on us. Percy's turned against mum and dad, saying they're crazy for believing Dumbledore that You-Know-Who's back. He's siding with the Ministry. It's a touchy topic so try not to bring it up. Mum was crying the other night and dad never looked so angry when Percy moved out."
"Sorry," said Remus and Tonks together, feeling terrible.
Once all the Weasleys were finally settled in and Molly had won a warmhearted fight with Silvia over who was making breakfast, everyone gathered at the long kitchen table and began downing the warm food, talking amiably to each other, catching up, and telling jokes. Remus and Tonks kept to themselves most of the time, still rather stunned that within an hour, they were suddenly living with seven more people.
"Um, Alexis," Tonks heard Remus call. She looked up to see Remus turn to face Alexis who was seated beside the kitchen window with Fred and George, whistling to a bird who was perched outside upon a wooden bird feeder she'd placed there.
"Err, about last night," he began, blushing and rubbing the back of his neck.
Tonks couldn't help but grin and she was hiding her face in her hands, trying desperately not to laugh. Ginny obviously noticed and asked, "Tonks, are you all right? What's so funny?"
"Shh, it's a really long story. Now's not a good time but I promise I'll tell you later."
Satisfied, Ginny nodded and smiled.
"Sorry about last night, Alexis," Remus apologized and Tonks shook her head. He was always so noble. "Um, where's Marrick."
"It's fine Remus," Alexis smiled. "Marrick went home last night after Sirius teased us."
"Oh, err, all right."
Tonks couldn't hold it anymore and accidentally let out a loud snort, causing Sirius to laugh on the other side of the table. She hid her face in Remus's arm and laughed to him, telling him in muffled speech how noble he was. "You're so strange," she said.
"I was being polite," he replied, taking her hand. "And you're just mean."
"Best keep an eye out for all the protection spells, Sirius," Tonks heard Mad-Eye say as he took a seat across from her beside Sirius. "Things are getting pretty serious now."
She thought that Mad-Eye could use some laughter in his life but knew that his words cannot be pushed aside. Things were getting serious and she was only keeping up the light hearted mood for everyone else's sake.
"When is the first meeting, Mad-Eye?" Remus asked, taking that morning's copy of the Daily Prophet from Sirius quickly saying, "Thanks Padfoot."
"We've got everything sorted out," said Moody in his usual grunt. "The first meeting's on the fifth, that's tomorrow in the evening. I'll show up first and wait to walk all the others in. I'm guessing we'll be meeting in the kitchen then?"
"It's the only place suitable," said Silvia. "We'll send Kreacher elsewhere in the house."
"Good because I hate that bloody elf," Sirius grumbled, eating his cereal.
"And I can send the kids upstairs," Molly told them.
"Mum, we want to listen," Ron groaned through a mouthful of toast.
"Yeah, we're of age, we can apparate too!" said Fred, or George, Tonks couldn't tell.
"No," Molly hissed at her children. "You're still too young."
Tuning out of the conversation, Tonks turned back to Remus who had quietly opened the paper and began reading it. She could see all the headlines, most of which relating to the werewolf problems at hand. On the third page, she saw a picture of her and Silvia chasing down Bartol Fell from last night and threw a glance at Sirius. He must have not seen the picture as he and Silvia were talking about something entirely different with smiles upon their faces.
"You and Silvia chased down Bartol Fell last night?" Remus asked.
"Yeah, try not to let Sirius see this," she whispered. "He thinks Silvia's got a desk job."
"I know," Remus sighed. "I just hope she doesn't hurt herself or the baby."
"She won't, we're making sure," Tonks assured him.
Reading along with him, Tonks could see that as Remus read more about the werewolf crimes or lies about Harry and Dumbledore, he grew more and more worried. He was good at putting up a mask in front of others, acting as if nothing was wrong and he was simply reading the paper, but Tonks knew better. That worried look was etched into his eyes and remained even when he stole glances at her.
"It's getting serious now isn't it?" he asked, pointing to an article about another murder.
Tonks sighed. She couldn't deny it. "Yeah, it's getting bad. We arrested Fell but he's definitely not the only werewolf causing chaos in London. What you said last night, about the packs working for You-Know-Who and their rivalries, it's going to get worse real soon."
"Most likely Dumbledore will speak about it in tomorrow's meeting. We'll find a way to handle it," he assured her, speaking quietly in their private conversation. "In the meantime however," Remus suddenly placed his gentle fingers upon the ends of her lips and pulled up tenderly, forming a smile upon her face. "Smile," he said.
She broke into a grin and shook her head. "Must you always?"
He shrugged. "It makes everything that's happening slightly more tolerable."
A blush crept onto her cheek, mirroring Remus's. "You worry too much."