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FIC: Remus Lupin and the Revolt of the Creatures, Chapter 17 / 21 (PG-13,) part one

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May. 23rd, 2010 | 08:44 pm

Title: Remus Lupin and the Revolt of the Creatures, Chapter Seventeen: Foolhardy Decisions, part one
Author: PaulaMcG
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: (subtly, eventually) Remus/Sirius
Chapter summary: A recruit of Umbridge’s army leads Remus on a reckless mission.
Word count: around 5,700
Disclaimer: Remus won't help me make any money.

Notes: Since I’ve now made all the earlier chapters public, it’s time to post this one. And having finally received the preliminary (and elatingly positive) comments on the brief closing scenes of the novel from my beta ishonn, I trust that the last few chapters will be posted by mid-July, most of them by mid-June.

Chapter One can be found here, Chapter Two here, Chapter Three here and here, Chapter Four here, Chapter Five here and here, Chapter Six here and here, Chapter Seven here, Chapter Eight here and here, Chapter Nine here, here and here, Chapter Ten here and here, the first part of Chapter Eleven here, the second part of Chapter Eleven here, the third part of Chapter Eleven here., the first part of Chapter Twelve here, the second part of Chapter Twelve here, the first part of Chapter Thirteen here, the second part of Chapter Thirteen here, the first part of Chapter Fourteen is here, the second part of Chapter Fourteen is here, Chapter Fifteen is here and Chapter Sixteen is here.

Remus Lupin and the Revolt of the Creatures

Chapter Seventeen: Foolhardy Decisions

Frank held out his seemingly empty hands. The invisible creature evidently struggled and kicked, as he pressed it firmly back against his chest and, instead, took one more step across the withered grass and dry leaves towards Remus and the parchment he had conjured.

To Remus’s surprise Frank no longer looked like only half the man he had been as an auror. Lack of exercise may have made him lose the athletic muscularity, but the determined grip of his fingers resembled the way he had handled the beater’s bat. He was no longer slouching like at St Mungo’s. Above all, the characteristic calm he had preserved through all these years, when isolating himself within the wrecks of his mind, was now reaching out in obviously intentional reassurance. He was, indeed, whispering to an invisible ear, and soon one of his hands ventured to relax to a caressing stroke. Frank and his pet were evidently now both staring at the Secret Keeper’s writing, as they had been advised to.

“We have to wait for a moment,” Remus said.

Frank did not spare him a glance or a nod. The two – or rather three – of them remained immobile, while the heat of magic escaped the parchment and disappeared into the chill of the fair morning, leaving a dim glow in the words.

In situations like this one Remus wondered if it would have been wiser to get rid of the Fidelius Charm. Perhaps he should have relied solely on the magic of the elves, even though it was bound to remain mysterious, the scope of its protection unpredictable. Dumbledore may have actually guessed that some of those to join Remus would be illiterate – but also known that they could enter, as long as they were able to focus on the image of the text and to repeat in their thoughts what one among them had read aloud. The wats and other such creatures who never possessed conscious, human-like minds would not be affected by the charm at all.

Against Remus’s expectations Frank seemed to understand so well what they were supposed to do that he was eager to share this with his beloved pet, too. This was quite remarkable progress in his recovery, as in August he had still not even pointed at objects in the way one-year-old children did so as to share contents of their minds. His wife, instead, was hard to be kept focused.

Fortunately Alice had, according to Nymphadora, grown attached to Mrs Hopchin at the moment when she had tumbled from the fireplace into arms which in her eyes obviously belonged to Granny. The hard-working auror had been compelled to hurry to another mission, and in any case Remus was determined to manage to take these friends to their new home. Watching the two white heads approach among the trees, he felt gratitude for the fact that Mrs Hopchin was far less senile than she pretended to be. She was even nimble enough to catch Alice and, above all, excellent at persuading her to return instead of wandering further along the slopes.

Remus could hear the tender words ring clear and uncompromising in the still, crisp air. “There we go. This is a lovely path. Nice dry leaves to kick at. Just let me hold your hand; it’s wide enough for the two of us. Frank and Remus are waiting for us. And then you’ll just look at the parchment and listen to me. Then close your eyes and remember what it was.”

Alice came bouncing the last stretch of the path, dragging the little old lady behind her. Now she was standing almost too close, beaming at Remus. The frequent albeit brief outings in London had improved her health. And this latest scampering across the orchard had flushed her cheeks. As if the warmth of summer had returned and approached Remus, fragile and unreliable.

“Grandpa’s home. Alice look, and listen.” She was still staring at his face.

So as to show an example, he bent to look at the parchment he was holding. Mrs Hopchin guided her attention by pointing at the text, finally proceeding to indicating each word in turn and to uttering them with emphasis.

Alice ran up to the front door first and found her wat as well as Neville there, waiting for her. She scooped up the wat and curtseyed to this handsome young man.

Neville did not mind. He hugged her and Remus was close enough just in time to hear him whisper, “I am Neville, your son. Welcome to your new home, Mum.” Meeting Remus’s gaze, he bit his lip, but his smile or voice did not falter when he pulled Frank to a half-hug. “Welcome home, Dad. And Mrs Hopchin… Thank you so much. I’m Neville Longbottom.”

“Well, I think I’m going down to my house now… But it’s good to know I can get here, if someone has a message or some needs, you know. And you can all drop by any time. That keeps the flue well-swept. Good-bye, Mr Wotton, Mr Longbottom… and Mr Longbottom. Be a good girl, Alice.”

Mrs Hopchin had turned to stump along the lane towards the village, before Remus had time to insist that she stay for a while.

“She called you Mr Wotton,” Neville said.

“Oh, perhaps she likes to think I’m my father. But let’s go in and show your parents around.”

Neville stepped to the middle of the floor with arms around his mother’s and father’s shoulders and with his head high. Was he prouder of them than before? In any case he was now proud of himself. Perhaps this situation – and what he had learnt about his ability to help others learn – allowed him to regard himself as old enough to have parents who needed to be taken care of. His parents’ tragedy actually made him appear more grown-up than some others of his age.

That was, of course, sad every time: that a child was forced to grow up too early. But Neville could bear it, and perhaps he would not even be harmed by not admitting that it was a loss, if he had support from others who were more grown-up. From his grandmother, and Brünnhilde…

“Remus, I’m afraid Jonah needs you. He’s… worried about his mother.”

Disappointed by Harry’s absence, Remus had been about to leave his old room. It was getting late, and he no longer felt his presence was necessary or desirable. Neville’s words, however, stopped him at the door for a moment.

The two of them had combined their magic to achieve a further enlargement spell, and to conjure a reliable partition wall so as to secure some privacy for Frank and Alice. Neville had reassured Remus that a single wide mattress on the floor was quite good enough a bed. The most serious doubts about the adequacy of his hospitality had been banished by memories of the flats which some young people, having moved together soon after leaving Hogwarts, had shared during the first war.

Alice had, indeed, waved cheerfully goodbye to both Neville and Remus and pulled Frank to sit down on the mattress. Neville was to stay firmly until morning in the part of the room he shared with the three other boys, so that he would be available in case his parents needed anything, but now he could spare a thought for someone else.

“Jonah?” Remus asked. “You mean… He did not ask you to tell me, did he?”

“No, but he told me… After dinner when we were arranging the herb storage. Mum and Dad were helping, too, and it was all nice, but… I don’t think it’s only that he wishes his mum were here, too. It sounds like something bad has happened.”

“I’ll… Thank you, Neville.”

Without Neville’s hint Remus might have done his best not to overhear the conversation in a bedroom he passed on his way to the kitchen. Rose’s voice had such an irritated and evasive tone that he would have actually liked to disapparate.

“It’s no big deal. Mum’s better off without him.”

Now he had to stop, and he knocked on the door before Jonah had finished replying, “But… you can’t want him to…”

The boy was leaning against the wall, next to the door. He looked as pale as when Remus had seen him for the first time. As if in desperate search for solace he blurted out immediately, “Dolly’s dad has joined them – the Special Security Corps.”

“ Excuse me… Can I… can we sit down?”

Rose was sitting on the edge of the bed, straight-backed and frowning. She hardly glanced at Remus before she closed her eyes. Simon had settled cross-legged behind her, and he was lighting up a cigarette. The click of a Muggle lighter revealed to Rose what he was doing, and she opened the window with an irritated wave of her hand. The draft drove the smoke first towards Remus. Simon was smoking something he had obviously got from Tumble. The black hair fell over his eyes when he leant against Rose’s back and wrapped an arm around her, shivering in the cold breeze as he was wearing only a t-shirt.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Rose said. “Or to do – to stop him. He’s already got wounded, so he’s no good for Umbrigde anymore.”

“We can get information from him, if… Is he in the Ancient Village?”

Rose shrugged. “If you order me to go and look for him, to interrogate him, I’ll go. Mum told Thisby that they sent him back to the village.”

“No, I’m going with Jonah. Good night, Rose… Simon.”

Remus was not sure if Jonah was in any better position than Rose to gain his stepfather’s confidence, or if the two of them would even manage to find him. In any case Jonah would have the chance to check at his mother and baby sister.

Leaving the room and walking through the kitchen towards the main door, Remus waited in vain for Jonah to catch up and step by his side. “I’d better apparate – not show myself at the White Thestral. But we just have to trust that nobody will pay too much attention to you. Is it all right we’ll meet on your mother’s yard? I’m coming along to Mrs Hopchin’s house in any case.”

There was no response – as if each of them was bound to remain alone. Perhaps the two of them had ended up going out because they hoped to keep themselves busy through the lonely dark hours.

The waning crescent moon would not rise until after midnight. The sky was almost clear, but having left behind the circle of light spilling out from the house, Remus found it hard to see anything. Still, his feet did not hesitate on the familiar lane, since the ground was hard. The sound of the dry leaves crushing under his shoes made him imagine that they were already covered with frost, too – imagine the sparkle they would attain, if it were the time of full moon. But October was still warmer than April, and the temperature was pleasant enough for anyone who was not to spend the whole of each night outside.

“Do you know more than I heard?”

Jonah must have shaken his head before Remus turned to glance at him.

Mrs Hopchin’s garden was bordered by the wooded slope, and heavy curtains had been drawn to keep the path to the back porch in complete darkness. As soon as Jonah, too, had climbed the few steps, the door opened a crack. The two of them slipped in, and Mrs Hopchin led them through the kitchen towards the sitting room.

As the flickering light from the stove played on her wrinkled skin, her face looked cunning. “Too bad you didn’t bring Alice for late-night tea, too. I hope she hasn’t got lost.”

“No, Alice is safe…” Remus reassured her, without trying to hold back a smile. “At home with her husband and son.”

Mrs Hopchin nodded and pushed them in. “We’ll be a nice little party in any case. Harry! You won’t have to get bored with me and just read your parchments.”

Harry was standing in front of the fireplace, clutching a book and a couple of rolls of parchment against his chest.

“Well, hello, Harry. I’m glad you haven’t escaped further than this.” Remus heard his own voice calm and gentle, while both irritation and strange joy swelled in him.

Harry, in turn, replied in a resentful tone, “So Neville told you where I’d gone.”

“No… But that at least was wise of you: to let someone know.”

“I just wanted to have some privacy. You advised me to concentrate on these exercises…”

Harry had obviously not managed to leave behind his worries and his desire to isolate himself. In practice the point was that he was putting himself in potential danger when breaking the conditions of his excursion from Hogwarts. But Remus could not help feeling rejected. In turn, while mentioning only a fact, he could point out that he had not devoted himself to their relationship, either.

“We didn’t come looking for you. I didn’t think it would be necessary to explain to you why you must stay at the Wotton estate. Now I must take you back… Jonah, I’ll apparate to our meeting place by the time you’ve walked there from the pub.”

“All right. Can I have some floo powder, Mrs…”

“But I don’t want to go back yet,” Harry cut in. “The house is crowded and I don’t really care for that crowd.”

Perhaps Harry’s openly disdainful glance at Jonah hid some jealousy, too. In any case, this shameless attitude urged Remus to make abruptly a further reckless decision.

“I’ve changed my mind. Mrs Hopchin, would you please take Harry’s parchments and keep them safe and secret. They’re private and precious. Harry, you’re coming with us. To see some more crowds.”

Fortunately Harry, at least, was wearing a cloak with a hood. He was pulling the fabric to cover not only his forehead but his nose, too, when the three of them pushed their way through the ragged crowd at the White Thestral. Remus was tempted to linger at the pub longer than necessary only in order to make the boy suffer from the stench.

Perhaps that was why he did not get appropriately alarmed and did not consider alternative ways of acting, when Jonah grabbed his arm and made him halt.

“Mum’s here. And he’s with her. Kostas, I mean – Dolly’s dad.”

Mrs Ditcher in her purple fake fur coat was not hard to spot, even though she was not facing them. She was sitting at a table not far from the fireplace, leaning lightly on a man with a bandage around his dark head.

Without hesitating Remus turned towards the couple, with Jonah now walking in step with him, and expecting Harry to follow. “Tell me immediately if you see Ministry men around, in uniform or without, as you can recognise the faces…”

In fact, the same recruiters were not likely to keep returning to this community. They had probably realised that they had already got the volunteers they could hope to get here – some members of the older generation, while the young witches and wizards had turned out unexpectedly reluctant or hard to be found at all in the neighbourhood. Instead, there could be some of these new recruits around, trying to catch or otherwise harm the dissidents, and Remus had advised his protégées not to come to the pub when visiting their families.

He should have realised that some of these families practically lived at the pub. Mrs Ditcher had obviously recovered well enough from both her physical illness and her depression so as to return to the normal habit of spending her days in the warmth of the pub.

It looked like some witches and wizards had just left the couple, having stayed for a while by the table to exchange a few words with them. The bench opposite to theirs was now vacant.

Jonah slid to sit down, and gesticulated to Remus, urging him to do the same. Remus had to twitch Harry at the sleeve so as to make him flop at the end of the bench, and he could not help enjoying the boy’s discomfort.

Turning his attention back to Mrs Ditcher and Kostas, he noticed that her hair had lost almost all of the raven dye but it was clean and neatly combed into a bun. It was obvious that Dolores had inherited her thick black curls from her father. The Mediterranean darkness of his complexion was emphasized by the whiteness of the bandage above his eyebrows. He seemed to be clearly younger than her lady friend, and perhaps the poorer diet – the lack of olive oil and sweet pastries – had stopped him from developing the typical well-nourished look of a middle-aged Greek man.

“Hello. I heard… that you joined – only when I heard that they sent you back,” Jonah said, and he continued, as nobody else talked, with nervousness evident in his babbling. “But I didn’t know you were back together…”

“Who’s that? Your son?” Kostas said, only glancing up, straight in front of him, before he turned his face back towards the cup between his palms.

Mrs Ditcher stared firmly into Remus’s eyes but gave a vague reply, “And a couple of his friends.”

It was disconcerting that Kostas did not look at – or talk to – Jonah either, even though they had evidently known each other for quite a while. However, the customary neglect of polite gestures – the same kind of behaviour Remus had observed in Jonah when they had first met – now actually served Remus well. There was no need for him to introduce himself, not to mention Harry. Still, he could not possibly refrain from asking, “How are you, Mrs Ditcher?”

“Thank you,” she said. Giving him a bittersweet smile, she let her finger brush the rim of Kostas’s cup. “The two of us are just fine, Dolores and I. Thank you.”

The cup looked familiar… Yes, it derived from Remus’s kitchen.

In the brief silence that followed, Kostas moved slightly away from Mrs Ditcher and held out his arms to her. She produced the sleeping baby for him from inside her coat. Little Dolores’s cheeks were rosy, and after some sucking movements her lips formed a smile. Kostas kissed her forehead, staring in the distance between Remus and Jonah.

For some reason Remus felt compelled to glance at Harry, while he actually preferred watching the baby. Somehow the boy’s presence was disquieting, even though he was acting so unassuming that it was bordering on indifference and on a wordless argument that he did not belong to this small company any more than to the regulars of the pub. Remus was amazed to realise how grown-up and strong Harry looked – physically, whereas the obviously forced expression of boredom revealed his immaturity.

Kostas’s words startled Remus, even though the voice was soft. “So you come to check that my girls are all right. I tell you, I didn’t leave them. You left them, and you’d better not come here, if you don’t want to make your mother watch our Corps beat you.”

Perhaps he kept his voice low and calm in order not to wake up his daughter. In any case he sounded like he was not threatening – but, instead, merely stating facts and offering advice. “I was there with my girls most of the time. Just not at the same time with… that creature. And that’s what they sent me against when I took the job. I took the job, so I could take care of my girls. They said they’d pay after the training. It was practical training soon enough.”

His warm brown eyes were now wandering, not focusing on anyone, while he groped inside of his shabby robes. “No uniform yet. But this is one of the best wands, they say.”

Remus’s fingers found his own wand in a pocket immediately, but he had to reproach himself for having not held it all the time.

However, Kostas placed his on the table. “These beauties pass quickly to new heroes’ hands.”

Jonah had been fidgeting for a while and now he could not help blurting out, “Do you have to give it back now that they sent you…?”

It was turning out unexpectedly easy to question Kostas. He could no longer completely hide his anguish, but he transferred his visible shaking into a gently rocking motion. The answers followed questions as if obediently, but – murmuring now in a hardly audible voice – he still gave the impression that he was rather talking to himself. “No, they haven’t sent me home. I was not supposed to be back yet – not alive. But I wanted to come just to bring something for Dolly. They won’t pay… I won’t be on their list on the payday anymore. But you can sell this.”

He reached for the wand again, so clumsily that the cup was almost knocked down. Had he perhaps got something strong enough from the bar, too, not only a nourishing drink brought from home?

“I know you want it. It’s up to your mum, and I just hope she thinks of our child.” He had again addressed his stepson.

But Jonah looked confused and obviously did not manage to consider carefully what to say. “So you’ve run away?”

“I’m returning to London tonight,” Kostas continued, still seemingly calm. “They want proper victims, and a lot. I can make a bigger contribution. That’s what they think. Like this I’m bloody useful, better than anyone among the barely trained poor devils. All of us we can hit each other by mistake often enough, but now I should truly be able to fire curses… blindly.” The last word was accompanied by wry laughter.

How could Remus not have realised earlier what caused Kostas’s strange failure in eye contact? “Did you hurt your eyes badly?” he asked.

“No… There’s no pain. I just can’t see. But it doesn’t make a difference. I must be going now.”

The last words alone could have made Mrs Ditcher start, but Kostas must have now stealthily moved the wand into her lap before offering the baby to her. Before Dolores was properly settled in her arms, she grabbed his shoulder in haste and kissed him on the mouth. Without another audible word he stood up and stumbled towards the fireplace.

Jonah rushed to his feet so as to follow his stepfather, but he glanced at his mother and did not need more than a wink to persuade him to approach her first. He bent to briefly hug her and sleeping Dolores – finally, having not greeted them at all when arriving at the table. But when continuing his way after Kostas he clutched his pocket with a satisfied grin on his flushed face.

While watching him Remus urged Harry up. “Quick. You can make it first to the floo and stop him from leaving without us.”

Harry cast an incredulous glance at Remus but did not say anything. He zigzagged through the crowd and perhaps wished he could have stepped right into the fireplace and left on his own. Remus arrived in front of the fire at the same time with Jonah, who was now leading Kostas by the hand.

“No, nowhere like any headquarters, or a camp either, not directly, Kostas was saying. “A friend helped me sneak out for one day. I’m going through the same shop where he took me. He should be there now to help me get back to our lodgings before it’s time to gather for the mission. Unless he’s given up waiting…”

Jonah sought reassurance in Remus’s eyes, obviously unable to decide what he could offer. “We… I can come and make sure you’ll find your way. If you really need to go. Perhaps you could escape and hide or…”

“I’m going. They’d find me. Besides, there’s something… I’m dying to see…”

“So what’s the name of the shop we’re going to? Jonah asked.”

“Anthony’s beer-off.”

“What’s that?”

“An offie. Anthony’s a Muggleborn, and from Yorkshire.”

“Let’s go then: to Anthony’s beer-off, London,” Jonah repeated, scattering into the languishing fire a pinch of the floo powder he had kept in his pocket.

When the flames rose high and green, Remus and Harry stepped in right after Jonah, who made sure there was space for the two of them. Harry – and Remus as well – would have had the chance to mention, instead, Mrs Hopchin’s house in Bagendon. But without an agreement they all ended up accompanying a recruit of Umbridge’s army.

“Draught beer?” A hopeful question sounded in the gloomy off-license.

By the time the group of four had managed to get out of the fireplace, a big bearded man had appeared from behind a counter with a large bronze funnel in his hand. “No, you don’t have your own jugs or bottles with you… Oh, it’s the Greek. The other recruit came back to wait but he left already, so I forgot all about it. And these must be new ones… no past-the-closing-hour customers, so… good night!” It did not take long for Anthony to assess the value of the newcomers.

He marched to the door, flung it open and shooed them out, while continuing to mutter to himself, “Better close the floo, too… This isn’t any better location for the shop than next to the chapel in Aston up in Yorkshire. I thought that they’d need to infuse spirit into the men who’re going to the battle. But nobody’s paid before it’s too late.”

Remus could not resist suggesting a solution, while not bothering to consider how well it would help the business and serve Umbridge’s interests at the same time. “Perhaps you could get their employer as your partner. Pay them in spirits or something…”

The shop-owner cast a sharper look at him, holding the door half open for a moment.

But Remus turned away to face the deserted alley. At this point there were buildings only on this side of the narrow gravel road. A couple of lanterns shed dim light across the ditch until a thicket. Further beyond a dark stretch of open wasteland, Remus could discern shadows moving in front of the windows of a long, low structure, probably a barrack.

Kostas confirmed his assumption. “The barracks are right ahead. Can you guide me to follow the other ditch… It branches off from the ditch by the road over there, just a few steps away to the left. So I can stay in the shelter of the bushes until I reach the yard. And I can pretend I just got a bit lost, walking from my hut.”

Jonah was holding Kostas’s arm and set off at once, only glancing back at Remus, raising his eyebrows. “The two of you can wait here, right? There was no need for you to come at all.”

Remus followed without saying a word, and checked that Harry was doing the same. He became suddenly aware of some tension between the two of them, as in his ears the silence of the night echoed the boy’s persistent abstaining from any inquiries. Did Harry pretend not to be interested in whatever they were doing?

Jonah crossed and helped Kostas cross one of the ditches so that the other one did not remain between them and the barracks, either. This was probably not the safest option, but the whole trip hardly was, either.

Kostas must have wondered about the same thing. “Why would you help me get back?” he said, struggling to regain his balance after the leap across the ditch. “I must be an enemy to your friends, too.”

An owl hooted and another one replied to it. Remus had stepped down until he could feel the soft soil under the soles of his shoes. These shoes he had bought second-hand in July – mainly in order to look respectable enough in Harry’s company – and they were still in good condition. Now he trusted they could serve him reliably on a long way to an unknown destination. On a reckless mission with a hidden purpose.

Some scarce light of stars or distant lanterns was reflected on the muddy water at the bottom of the ditch. It smelled of waste as well as of decay. But the lack of prospects was turning into elevation. Perhaps not a vision. Unlike this man who might never have the chance to get used to being blind, Remus did not value the sense of sight at this moment. A hooting made him lift his face, and he was reconciled with the waft of chill air on his cheeks, without trying to perceive the shadow of the wings. The birds of prey were out and anticipating the rising of the moon, which would expose their enemies.

A peculiar mood had seized the whole company. Did it make any sense that Kostas was, despite his vulnerable state, so indifferent to the identities of his companions? He was obviously being lured back by something else than simple despair or loyalty. What had he said about… dying to see?

And did Jonah, finally in the possession of a wand, know whom he wanted to serve, after all: Remus, his stepfather, or the ministry? Remus had intended to help Jonah, and then also to make Harry see how his allies were forced to live. A couple of good intentions had to suffice. He was allowed to simply enjoy this trip, when he, unexpectedly, despite the lack of playfulness in their various intentions, felt blessed, as if his solitude had finally again been replaced by a membership in a band of mischief makers. However, he was getting curious about what else this night could offer.

“Perhaps we want some more information from you,” he said, having caught up with Kostas and touching his shoulder, making him start. “Like where you’re going to attack tonight.”

Kostas was calmer than when making his farewells to those two whom he had called fondly his girls. “What makes you think I know anything? I’m just guessing it’s going to be like last time. And I reckon they built this camp right here for a single purpose, and brought my group here for the same purpose.”

“And the purpose is…? You said something about… some creatures.”

“You’d better hush and bend down a bit,” Jonah whispered, elbowing Remus and squeezing Kostas’s arm. “We’re getting close.”

Kostas turned his head, as if he could see, but he needed to ask, “Are they already arranged in rows in front of the long barrack?”

“Yes.” Remus could see them more clearly now. Perhaps thirty witches and wizards, some with military bearings, some with bad postures – a motley crowd.

Having strained his ears to intercept the orders given by the only couple of men in black-and-gold uniforms, Remus was startled by Harry’s voice gasping out close to him, “Death Eaters?”

“No, of course not. Death Eaters are the elite. As you can see, these witches and wizards don’t cover their faces, or their heads. They can hardly cover their bodies with their rags.”

Remus had said all that, before he realised how eager he was to offer information when Harry finally asked something. He could not resist adding, “Oh yes, there’s something else you’d consider a remarkable difference. These people have been recruited by the Ministry, not by Voldemort.”

They were all four standing very close to each other, with a stoop and behind the tallest bush, and Remus could feel Jonah shudder – even though he had already heard before both Remus and Harry speak this name of an enemy.

Kostas was obviously alarmed for a moment. “How can someone say aloud…?” he whispered. “Jonah…who are your friends, after all?”

“That’s a good question…” Remus said. “But if you mean just who the two of us are…”

“They came with me from Bagendon,” Jonah cut in, and he cast a sharp look at Harry when continuing, “and only the people who oppose both the Ministry and… You-Know-Who – only these people are our allies.”

“But we’re defending the Ministry against… him – by attacking his creatures.”

“His creatures?” Remus asked.

“This is not the time and place for talking,” Kostas now said.

Remus knew quite well how reckless it was to stay together at this spot.

But unexpectedly Kostas sounded calm again. “I’ll get a bit further by myself and then I’ll turn towards the barracks and let them see me… not you. I don’t know but… for some reason I don’t want them to catch you.”

“What if we don’t want them to get you back?” Jonah said.

“I need to go. I’m not going to give them more than one corpse. I gave the wand away. But they won’t notice. I have a stick I prepared for fooling them. I don’t know what hit my eyes…” Kostas continued in low murmur, and he was gradually sounding more and more delirious. He was clutching Jonah’s hand, which was still holding his arm. “I don’t mind going back, and this could be the works of an enchantment. I just feel it’s a pity if I’m killed by a stray hex before I get to see the fey folk again. As if I could see… But perhaps that’s it… I’ll see only them and their world, nothing here. I’m dying to see them. I’m losing my mind, but I’m going, and I’ll become part of the warning. Against the creatures. And against Umbridge, who makes us kill each other and blames them.”

Remus could relate to his urge. He started speaking to Jonah, “Let him… No, wait. Please tell me what your mission was when this happened to you?”

“We were raiding the Dewbowl Inn… Let me go now.”

“I… hope you’ll get to see them. Perhaps they’ll welcome you, if that’s what you need.”

The latter half of Chapter Seventeen is here.

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Comments {2}


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from: kellychambliss
date: Aug. 5th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)

when isolating himself within the wrecks of his mind
Great image. I'm so glad to see Frank again and in such a nuanced presentation.

And here's another great line -- one of the best I've read this summer: As if the warmth of summer had returned and approached Remus, fragile and unreliable.

but the determinate grip of his fingers
You'll want "determined"

I'm continuing to enjoy the OCs (Mrs Ditcher in her fake-fur purple -- ha!). The whole plot is developing in interesting ways, and I like the way you set up the class differences among the DE "elite" and the others.

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from: paulamcg
date: Aug. 6th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)

Thank you so much for pointing out an error, as well as for praising those lines. I’m happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed the way I’ve shown Frank here.

It’s wonderful to know that my OCs still work for you so well – after I’ve hoped that I’ve managed to make them return and serve fuller purposes in the story. Above all, I’m thrilled that the plot developments (indeed, in plural, too), as well as the way I take up the class issue, continue to interest you. When building up this story and the world for it I found such presentations of the war(s) unsatisfactory which showed only DEs and Order members pointing wands at each other and let us assume that there were no other groups involved in fighting.

I’m looking forward to replying to your next elating and thought-provoking comment. Thank you again for everything!

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