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FIC: Remus Lupin and the Revolt of the Creatures, Chapter 18 / 21 (PG-13), part one

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Jun. 1st, 2010 | 11:40 pm

Title: Remus Lupin and the Revolt of the Creatures, Chapter Eighteen: Gifts of Magic, Gifts of Love, part one
Author: PaulaMcG
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: (subtly, eventually) Remus/Sirius
Chapter summary: Remus and his friends and allies venture to offer and risk more.
Word count: around 10,500
Disclaimer: Remus won't help me make any money.

Notes: I’ll always love to receive a comment on any chapter.

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, Chapter Eleven here, here and here., Chapter Twelve here and here, Chapter Thirteen here and here, Chapter Fourteen here and here, Chapter Fifteen here, Chapter Sixteen here, and Chapter Seventeen here and here.

Remus Lupin and the Revolt of the Creatures


Chapter Eighteen: Gifts of Magic, Gifts of Love



Harry,

We were still children when we truly entered the war in 1979, even though I had just turned twenty-one and regarded myself as an adult. In fact – due to my familiarity with blood and pain – I felt I was older than others recruited to the Order. How many times do we have to grow up?

Five years earlier, when at the setting of another full moon I regain my senses, I am born again not as the helpless child who hugged himself, fearing the loss of identity. I wake up as a man, revelling in the touch which is tending to my left arm. My single wound is being licked by an enormous, shaggy black dog. While the tongue continues its work, the startling phosphorous eyes meet mine.

“No dogs have grey eyes,” I say. To my surprise the hoarseness of my voice is hardly noticeable.

I must have blinked. When the black head is lifted again, I see the beloved graceful features. His lips are pressed once more gently against the edge of the wound. Then he shifts and stretches his arms.

“It’s not fair this doesn’t cause me pain,” he says.

Is there a hitch in his breath, as if he forced himself to stop sobbing?

For a moment I sense merely a numbing silence in my body. The harsh contact with the cold floor indicates my dimensions, and as usual I’m unable to move. However, the peculiar absence of heightened hurting on gashes and bruises has been my first insight into this new life. No, I do not miss even the warm caress of the trickling blood. It has not abandoned me in solitude.

No, on the contrary. Beyond the torment of its changes my body cherishes the memory of an ultimate satisfaction. At this moment, when I still cannot suspect what it means, I dare accept the subconscious, merely physical knowledge I will later try to deny. As a wolf I have reached what had hardly become a dream yet for the child I was before this night.

Undeniably Sirius has become a dog. I close my eyes and seek a vivid memory of his fur rubbing against my skin, hoping to feel it again. But I’m now furless. I cannot help trembling with cold, and he does not touch me.

He must have done it to make me stop howling. There is a proof in my soft voice. “You… the dog… it’s beautiful. Did James and Peter make it, too?”

“Not yet. Or in fact Peter did, but he changed back immediately, like always.”


Four weeks earlier Sirius and James witnessed Peter reaching his Animagus form three times during a single full-moon night. In the tunnel under the bolted and charmed trap door he shrank into a rat first in the shelter of almost complete darkness and then in front of their eyes, in the cold light of their wands. Only when reporting this to me, did they confess that all three of them had already spent the full moons of a couple of months from moonrise until moonset listening to my agony.

“We know you didn’t want that, but we thought it would help,” James explained, sitting on the edge of my bed, after Madame Pomfrey had allowed me to return to the dormitory and the effort of climbing the stairs had made me collapse on top of the coverlet.

Sirius was pacing, throwing glances at me and Peter in turn. He was almost breathless. “It works. When we feel we just… need to change.”

Peter had retreated to the windowsill. “I hated… didn’t like it… waiting there, outside the door, I mean,” he confessed with a tremulous smile. “But I did it. I was the first to succeed.”

He eyed me cautiously. Perhaps he saw the blood that had still stained one of my bandages. He folded his sleeves and rubbed his arms.

I lifted my hand wearily, wishing I could have tapped him on the shoulder, and settled with winking at him. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Tell us again what it felt like,” James said.

“Like… nothing,” Peter replied in an astonished tone. “When I stopped wanting to be me, in this body… You know, I hated it: it was recoiling… well, you know. I leant against the wall and started chanting my incantation in my head.”

“Did you start losing the physical awareness slowly in the way we have…?” Sirius asked.

“No, it was rather like… It was gone suddenly. And just for a second, so I hardly noticed it. I don’t know how. I didn’t even think I wanted to change. I just noticed I was falling forwards and then I felt my… front paws hit the floor. That… okay, that scared me, and then they were hands again.”

“That’s when I stumbled on you,” James cut in.

“And I needed to show what had happened.”

“We had to wait for an hour,” Sirius said.

Peter looked both proud and reproachful. “You didn’t believe me.”

James laughed. “I still can’t believe… Okay, I do. But really…”

“I know. But I knew immediately. It was me. A rat, just as I had decided.”


During that month Peter changed once when alone with me in the dormitory.

Flopping onto the bed next to me unexpectedly, in order to reach a book he evidently needed to borrow for a moment, he had caught me sketching rats on the margins of my Transfiguration notes.

“Oh, you…” he breathed out. After a brief, almost awkward silence he asked, “Do you hope that next time…?”

To be honest, I could not help hoping that soon the wolf would no longer be alone. I pushed the parchment to the floor and turned to lie on my back. He must have already known that this meant I wanted to procrastinate by talking to him, perhaps say something important, too. Unless he was the interrogator, Peter disliked constant eye contact during conversations, so it had grown into a habit with me to stare at clouds or at the ceiling instead of his face.

“It must be scary to be suddenly different,” I said. “When you know all the time who and what you are.”

“And I’m such a small animal, not like you,” he muttered, fingering the Transfiguration book.

“But you know you’ll be safe just like that.”

And do no harm to anyone, unlike me. That’s what I felt like adding but kept to myself.

“I suppose I have to get used to it… to trust…”

“You don’t need to come to my company before the others. Or before you first get used to changing and being a rat in… completely safe places.”

Or at all, if you can’t trust. Or perhaps that was better left unsaid. Since I still wasn’t sure I could. Instead, I added, “Would you like to try and show me now?”

He did. And I was amazed at the speed and smoothness of the change. I reached out my hand to pet him, but he jumped to the floor. In a moment he appeared as a boy again, with his back against the door.


But now Sirius has learnt to turn into a dog. I open my eyes again. He’s licking his lips, then lifting his hand only to touch his own cheeks.

I still take my pleasure in my voice. “And you did not… change back?”

“No,” he says with an attempt at a grin. “James agreed to let me in when I almost bit his nose off. And I was in here with you all through the night.”

“But it was dangerous. You could have changed…”

“No, I couldn’t. You needed me to be like you. Perhaps that’s why I’m a dog now whenever you need me.”

Now I can see that he’s flushed and his hands are trembling. Still, his grin does not falter any longer. He seems to quickly eye my naked body, but his gaze returns to my face before he starts taking off his cloak. Having spread it over me, he lies down close beside me.

“Is this all right now… I mean getting so close… now that you have no wounds or bruises all over your body? Your muscles must still be hurting.”

In fact, the transformation pain now returns as an echo earlier than usual, perhaps because there’s no aching of numerous wounds overshadowing it. But the pressure of his touch against my skin, even through the fabric, makes it more tolerable, and I catch myself making an instinctive attempt at moving ever closer to him.

I start focusing on his familiar talk, but I realise that now I hardly need my hearing so as to be consoled.

“This time there’s no frost on the windowpane,” he says, “although it’s not really too warm in here, is it? But the light is still deep red like… I mean, we can stay alone for a while more.”

He’s taller than me, and when I’ve cautiously huddled against him, my face is sheltered by his neck, and my freezing feet are resting between his legs. I’m falling asleep, when he quickly disentangles himself and pulls the cloak away, too.

“James is knocking; Pomfrey’s there,” he whispers urgently. “I’ll just hide under the bed.”


He’s used to taking this risk. Since the autumn he’s come immediately after the moonset to try to look after me. But until this extraordinary morning I always needed to comfort him instead.

He was helpless when facing my serious injuries. Even if he had mastered healing magic, he could not have done much without raising suspicion in Madame Pomfrey, but I’m sure he would not have cared about any suspicion. He was so angry at her making me wait. Still, he resisted complaining about her habit of sleeping well past sunrise, until afterwards when the wounds had been tended. In the shack he always sat down beside me, forcing himself to speak in a soothing voice.

To my surprise I did not mind if he saw my mauled body, perhaps because, as I’ve told you, at these moments, oddly enough, I loved it as a regained treasure. He used to bring a quilt which I suspect he had bought for this purpose: an exceptionally warm and light one.

And I would reassure him that the pain was already passing. On those bitterly cold mornings after the long exhausting nights I drew his attention to the glorious colours of sunrise.

I first told him about the rosy light which had greeted me in my cellar room at home. This kind of detailed talk was, of course, possible for me only several hours after the transformation when my throat was less sore, so I offered it as consolation to my friends, when they looked so devastated at my bedside in the hospital wing. I tried my best to make them believe that the mornings were never too painful at all.

By the following full moon Sirius had sneaked into the shack and removed the planks from the upper half of the upstairs windows. After that I only needed to shift my eyes to that direction for a moment, and when I was too tired to look any longer, he did his best to describe the beauty of the light. The frost turning into rubies. It was his turn to repeat words I had said before.


And now I hardly need to hear them, just as he’ll hardly need to read his theories on the magic of Animagi in my handwriting any longer.

He’s become a dog for me. Now the miracle of changes is living in and around and between the two of us, and pain has become a pleasure.



Harry’s face was blank, and he was sitting erect on the bench, clutching his mug of firewhiskey. Remus could not help feeling disappointed, even anguished, having forced himself to look away from the stage and across the length of the pub table.

In Harry’s eyes the story of the three Animagi might not have reached any of its best climaxes yet. He was probably not highly receptive to this story told by the Merry Thespians in playful combinations of sound, movement and light, either.

Remus did his best not to stop to separate the roles of verbal language, of melodies and of visual images in the all-encompassing illusion of life. The soothing and uplifting rhythm was seeping into his body and mind.

He wished that Harry, too, could have let this art release as tears the pain of loss and fear, to give way to emerging hope. Perhaps, by the end of the performance, some consolation would have washed over him as well. At least the memory of this night would somehow compensate for what Remus had offered to the boy a couple of days ago: the images of bleeding and drowning.

Perhaps in his immobile body and in the mind which was consciously focused only on two goals – the prophesied killing, which still appeared as eventually inevitable, and the ambitious and unpredictable change of form – Harry could, after all, sense the touch of this rhythm particularly clearly. In a more startling way than someone like Tim, who did not hesitate to let the music move him physically and to sing along as soon as he started catching the recurring phrases.

This gloom will pass. We will plant, and harvest again.

Jonah, at least, was both smiling and biting his lip. At times, holding little Dolores upright on his knees, he bent his head and hid his face in her hair. His mother had clutched his arm, and her mouth was twitching.

Thisby’s voice, now at its most fragile, repeated a melody, caressing every syllable of the lyrical line, then grew into an elated cry. And the embittered, suspicious woman could not help joining in the praise for the half-veela by clapping her hands to the beat of a faun’s shawm.

Remus was not surprised that Alice’s eyes and smile continued to respond to every twist in the performance. Even Frank’s expression alternated between thoughtfulness and amazement, while his hands rested calmly over his chest, sheltering the figure of his wat.

Glancing at Neville in turn, Remus rather read on the lips than heard the question. “Harry, are you thinking what Dumbledore would say, if he knew… that we’re… that you are again outside of the protection?”

Harry merely shook his head and turned his expressionless gaze more firmly towards the stage. The little half-veela stumbled into the darkness, in search for the bird of spirit, for the kind monster, for a home.

There were undeniable risks in bringing Harry – and everyone else – to Stow-on-the-Wold and in spending a whole evening together at the Headless Queen. For some reason, however, Remus had no longer hesitated to support Robin’s schemes for Halloween.

Fawkes had brought a fiery message: Dumbledore wanted to hear no more rumours that Harry Potter had been seen in London. However, this pub was in the Cotswolds, and practically part of Remus’s home, and celebrating with a theatre troupe was hardly dangerous, compared with what Harry had ended up getting involved in without any plans.

Harry might have not felt like commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of his parents’ deaths. He had asked Remus to make sure that he would be treated simply as a friend and another member of the audience, and not forced to any role beyond that. In any case Remus was happy to show him that all these allies were eager to celebrate Voldemort’s first fall.

The applause was accompanied by shouts in Gobbledegook, when Grap and Urgy appeared on the stage in flashes of light, so as to shelter Thisby and her adopted half-breed children with their golden cloaks. Turning his head towards the most discordant cheers, Remus caught a glimpse of Mrs Porchead’s arrogant face at her weakest moment. She was tapping the corners of her tiny eyes with a silk handkerchief. There was only a single simple ring on her fingers. She must have sold her jewels or at least some of them in order to buy her share in the Headless Queen, and exhibiting her sacrifice in public was obviously not beyond her.

Now the pub was in the most magically powerful hands of goblins. Shareholders included several poorer goblins from Remus’s old neighbourhood, as well as the two wealthiest goblin dynasties.

The previous owner, Old Squib Hexington, would have willingly sold for a low price. The future of the pub had looked unsure, even though long traditions should have constituted an inviolable right to uphold any inter-breed relations. Since September the owner had received from the Ministry several rolls of parchment with threats of closing the pub, unless the live performances by troupes of mixed breeds were stopped, and unless all non-human waiters were dismissed.

The new company titled Creature Power and founded by the owners of Gringotts and of the mines had decided to buy the business for a more remarkable price than necessary – so as to declare that they would not agree to any restrictions. This was their act of revolt against the wizarding authorities. In one sense it could look like only a small playful step, perhaps an experiment. Yet, both its symbolic and practical significance were enhanced by the decision to invite shareholders among the wide ranks of goblins, with the striking exception of those who supported Bog Bafflegab and declared all so-called lesser magical creatures, including humans, as unworthy of any attention, and those who co-operated openly with Umbridge herself.

Creature Power had already launched into enlarging the business. The goblins respected the principle of free entrance to the performances. Instead of selling tickets they offered fan merchandise.

At the moment, too, the short plump figure of Bud Pinchbeck was gliding gracefully on the edge of the stage, and his eerie grin revealed his joy in capturing vivid images of the enchanting scenes onto magical film. The photographs would not end up only on the pages of the Quibbler. The artists had been promised a five-percent share of the profit in case they cared to scribble their signatures or at least initials on the pictures, so that fans would be more willing to pay properly for their copies.

The half-breeds whom Hexington had already hired for decades were excellent salesmen. It seemed to be in the nature of half-elves to sell only what you needed, not what you had planned to buy. On the other hand, those who were half elves, half goblins – like most of the waiters at Headless Queen – probably managed to make you feel that your needs had unexpectedly multiplied. Or that beverages, and now any fan products, were admittedly forced on you, but it was not humanly possible to refuse.

The little bearded waiter, whom Remus remembered from his visit to the pub soon after his homecoming, now popped in front of him without a warning. Having recently met unexpected reverence in the most unlikely situations, Remus had hoped that here, too, at least his wish not to buy drinks would be respected.

For a moment the combination of loud cheers and half-playful protests raised by Mr Grubber’s entrance made it unnecessary for Remus to pretend not to hear the waiter press Butterbeer or some fey beverage on him. The caricature of Umbridge addressed members of the audience, urging them to join her army.

If everyone here managed to turn down her offers, Remus had to succeed in saying no to a waiter. He braced himself for stating again his principle of not drinking or eating while following a performance.

This was, of course, not the whole truth. He had to admit to himself that at occasions like this one it was still embarrassing not to have a single Knut in his pocket. Seriously, he needed to do something about that. Sales of some of the crops had already been arranged, mainly by Rose in co-operation with Mr Landor. However, Remus had not taken any of the income to his personal use, to replace the money bag he had given to Paul.

The waiter slammed the drink onto the table in front of Remus. Oddly enough, he smirked and elaborated, “This was designed especially to offer the flavour you’ve missed, with no alcohol – and no price. It’s from the younger gentleman at that small table.”

Remus could not immediately lift his gaze from the two simple glasses, both of which first seemed to contain only water. One of them was not filled to the half, and the odour, as well, started leading him to the realisation of what this priceless offer was.

He was not sure if he had managed to follow the waiter’s gesticulation correctly. In the indicated company of four, closest to the opposite end of the stage, there was no one he knew personally. The leader of the banking dynasty, and two elderly goblin ladies, who could both have been either his wives or sisters, and a scrawny bearded man, who surprisingly looked like a half-human, and – even more unexpectedly – handsome in a peculiar way. This man turned his brown face towards Remus, winked and raised his glass.

Remus smiled and nodded, then tried to escape the embarrassment by focusing all attention to the glasses. He poured some water from the full glass into the other one. Indeed, the clear liquid became cloudy. And the odour was unmistakably the same he still savoured in his soothing ointment – anise, which he had perhaps tasted in a drink only once since giving up alcohol in Africa at the beginning of the 1990’s.

When lifting the glass to his lips he noticed that the slanting eyes were still staring at him shamelessly. The wide mouth was unmistakably a goblin trait, but the luminous smile shone like… a memory.

Various features in this stranger reminded Remus of at least three friends he had left behind. Fortunately nobody else could know that, and perhaps it was only an illusion evoked by this substitute of the beverage which he had recommended to the last travelling companion of his drifting years. Omar, the wealthy tramp, spice merchant of Zanzibar, had become almost addicted to ouzo in Crete, even though raki was the local traditional spirit… But how could this half-goblin possibly know that Remus had craved for ouzo?

At the time of his return to Crete – to show to Omar the most exquisite magical art in the monster king’s palace – Remus had already abstained, and he had merely watched the change into milky white caused by cold water, and imagined the heat spreading in his friend’s veins. Himself he had, in the end, not been warmed or consoled by this relationship either. Instead, he had started longing for a chance to settle down and do something useful, perhaps to go back towards where home had once been.

In any case it had been summer 1993, and at the same time Padfoot had been motivated to his inhuman feat. Omar had read aloud the Daily Prophet article, when Remus had found it too hard to bear to see the photograph of the fugitive, and brought him urgently back to Britain on his oriental carpet, then left immediately on Remus’s orders, perhaps for Paris, to meet Jean.

What was the magic of this drink? Something more harmful than alcohol? Or was it a beneficial gift like the united creatures’ art?

Or perhaps the gift-giver’s stare alone was leading Remus’s mind astray. He had turned towards the stage again, but he was now following the characters in the story of his life, instead of those in the performance. Having seen this revised, extended version of the show in rehearsals, he could as well allow his thoughts to wander, just for a moment…to Jean, to Omar, and to the boy with a warm hue on his small face, the refugee in Thessalonica who had subsisted on his cassette tape collection of fierce nostalgia… Had Omar, indeed, financed a restaurant business for Samir, turning him eventually into an eligible bachelor in the magical society of Beirut, where he had returned by 1993?

He had to stop the pointless reminiscences. This man, perhaps the son of the leading banker of Gringotts himself, wanted something from him.

Savouring the last mouthfuls, Remus downed the drink. When he stood up, he saw the half-goblin do the same. At that moment the fairy lights went out.

In the gloom he stumbled around the tables and to the door of the men’s room. Outside it they bumped into each other.

The man laughed softly, seeking his balance with the help of grabbing Remus’s arms. Remus grabbed his in turn, so as to cautiously push him away. He was not much shorter than Remus, but his shoulders felt thin and bony under the fine velvety fabric. In the scarce light Remus distinguished first only the flash of a smile, then the tilt of the head.

The voice was playful. “Good evening, good Halloween, professor… Remus.”

“Good Halloween to you, Mr…” Remus started, fighting his confusion and finding his own tone unsatisfactory in its tension. “Excuse me, but I’m not good at following the lives of celebrities.”

“I am hardly… My uncle hasn’t allowed me in public much. We haven’t been in fashion until recently – half-breeds, I mean. You can call me Prospero.”

“Well, thank you for the delightful gift, Prospero. How do you know I went to Greece and…?”

“I don’t. The waiter told me what you’d like. He said the elves had told him.”

Why would Gumby spread such trivial information? Remus could not stop himself from muttering, “There’s an elf who knows me too well.”

“We all need also people to whom we can volunteer insight into our hearts.”

The solemn words made this sound unlike usual small talk, and in this case the idea of any kind of small talk made Remus nervous. “Do you think the two of us should negotiate on something?” he blurted out.

“I’m young for a goblin, not supposed to care about politics.”

“But you do… care.”

“I suppose so. I wish I had some valuable information for you. But perhaps you’ve all guessed it, and that adds to the fun you can poke at her.”

Crashes of thunder interrupted him, and Remus was not sure about the last word or its possible meaning. A series of lightnings flashed across the ceiling and revealed clearly the slender figure, which was now leaning casually against the wall. The robes looked silvery, not golden, and that was probably not due to a trick of the illumination, since there was a warm brownish hue in the neatly-groomed beard and the shoulder-length hair.

Remus avoided the eyes, glancing above the stage. There had to be more than one reason why he did not want this encounter to be bathed in the merciless white light. “The moon will rise soon. I must…”

“It’s only an illusion.”

“Not every time,” Remus caught himself saying pointedly.

Why was he so thrilled this man, too, seemed to enjoy the spontaneity in their exchange of ambiguous comments? In any case it was incredible that someone in his position among the goblins would care to get to know a werewolf personally. After all, the movement of peaceful resistance – or a profitable revolution – could, and would probably have to, continue without contribution from the victim who had first announced it in front of the Wizengamot. At least that was what Remus had thought when starting to yearn for a role among his own kind instead.

Now the fluorescent smoke was hovering above, changing shapes. Remus turned to see both the face and the fine garments tinted green, and he could not tell whether that was the true colour of the eyes. Robin’s inspired recitation of the Death Eater’s lines rose a storm of applause, but Remus moved closer to watch another expressive mouth form surprising words.

“As the half-veela says here, each part-human is different. I don’t claim to know much about your plight yet. In any case the moon beats the skull,” Prospero said almost cheerfully, cocking his head towards the stage. “My mother’s kin have never seriously considered supporting Voldemort. But Umbridge’s schemes were confusing. One reason why she ended up trying to exploit all of us must be that she’s a rare case among half-goblins. Goblins seldom mess about with female humans. Her mother managed to hide it from the wizarding community, and probably encouraged hatred and prejudice in her.”

This did confirm some of Remus’s suspicions.

“You wanted to come and reveal Umbridge’s descent to me? Thank you.”

“That’s not the only reason… I’ve been appointed the managing director of Creature Power, so I’ll be in touch with Mr Bottom, too, of course. This is my first proper opportunity to have a share of the wealth. But guiding the company to make profit, so as to increase my salary and bonuses, is not my only interest, not even my main interest. Born of a goblin mother, I’ve had access to the wisdom of our matriarchs, and when I’ve been curious, I’ve been allowed to study the ideals of humans, too. This knowledge is my capital, and I hope I can serve the creatures.”

Remus could not help smiling at the man’s casual declaration of his own value. It was far from both humility and arrogance: an expression of healthy self-esteem – a fine achievement for someone who must have always been reminded of his lower position, due to the fact that without a goblin father he would never have any rights of inheriting her mother’s relatives either.

What came out, however, belied Remus’s admiration. “Each of us is an individual, but certain lack of humility is a typical trait in goblin culture, isn’t it?”

“Whereas you are famous for your modesty,” Prospero replied almost gently. “Still, I trust the two of us have enough in common.” His long fingers rubbed Remus’s arm, feeling the fabric of his sleeve.

In the revealing light of the enchanted moon, and certainly under this sensitive touch, it must have been evident that the fabric was cheap and already worn-out, even though these were the better robes in which Remus had dressed only when going outside of the estate. When the wall painting had made him momentarily rich, he had still chosen something second-hand, in order to save money for Harry’s birthday present and for taking him to enjoy the elfish magic of images at the Windows of the Underworld restaurant.

To his surprise Remus recognised at least awe in the nuanced expression of Prospero’s mouth. Perhaps a part-human with a sheltered life, despite limited rights to property, naturally assumed that for someone who had claimed his inheritance, and welcomed a large group of protégés, it was a completely voluntary choice not to make himself elegant or even warm enough.

When Remus failed to reply, the tender voice, too, continued to caress him. “As you must know, some of us learn not to want what we can’t have. By the time we can have it, we’ve got too used to thinking it’s not important, after all.”

“In some cases we are right.”

“Undoubtedly, in case of material possessions beyond our basic needs. However…”

A heartrending howl of a solitary wolf startled them both. Remus recovered first, wondering whether the pack would ever be included in the show. He took advantage of Prospero’s hesitation and switched to a formal handshake. The power in the fingers was not threatening; their shape was not too alien. They were pleasantly smooth and warm.

“Thank you again… for everything you’ve offered. I’ll be happy, if you want to keep in touch.”

“I will,” Prospero said, now grinning again.

They pulled away from each other exactly when the audience erupted in cheers. Taking a few steps back simultaneously, they both started clapping their hands and shared a smile, before turning towards the stage and making their separate ways to their seats.

By the time Remus sat down, Tim among others had learnt the lyrics for the new closing song and was drumming its beat on the tabletop.

Let us share the gifts of life, gifts of magic, gifts of love.



Harry,

I want to give you one more piece of this story before you leave my home. You must be wondering why I haven’t shown more of James’s role in it. He certainly shared open-handedly his gifts – whatever he could of the talent, the confidence and the determination he had already developed to an exceptional degree before the Marauders’ major projects were launched.

We were all unrelenting in our own ways, even… You know; I’ve told you in detailed praise about the other two Animagi. This is what made us the Marauders, invincible. Immortal. Yes, we used to joke that we would live forever as a legend at Hogwarts, and we would, indeed, continue to live, forever up to no good in the eyes of the establishment. We must have all helped each other develop this strength. But James was perhaps something else again.

At times the rest of us had to feel intimidated or envious, since James never appeared as having any doubts. To us – to me, at least – it seemed that life had never denied him anything. In Lily’s case it was only a matter of time. Since few Hogwarts students at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and none of us three, had girlfriends, he could take his temporary failure lightly.

But you can hardly be more disappointed than he was when he had not reached his Animagus form by the April full moon either. Messing up his hair was not enough to compensate for that.


“All right,” he said, tearing off the catkins of a willow twig, while walking briskly across the grounds.

The moon, which was just rising above the ridge beyond Hogsmeade, had wained only for a couple of nights, and my legs were still weighed down with persistent weariness, while my mind was making reckless leaps. Struggling to keep up with James’s pace, I was startled only for a moment, then consoled by the snout poking me behind my knees. But the stick was ready, and James whistled. I could not help wincing whenever he treated the dog, for whom Peter had come up with the name Padfoot, as his own.

Sirius did not mind playing. He’d complained about boredom in the common room, and that was why we were out there, in the raw evening wind, to allow him to run as a dog.

He bounced off with a cheerful bark, and my mind chased after. I was amazed how vividly I could imagine burying my snout into last autumn’s leaves, breathing in the new life which had been biding its time in the frozen soil and was now pushing up. He would not find the slender twig easily; I suspected James was taunting his best friend by throwing something like that as far as possible to the shadows by the edge of the Forbidden Forest.

“Got rid of the mutt?” That was Peter, panting just behind us.

Shorter and plumper than the rest of us, he had trudged after James as pathetically as I had. He had also needed to catch up with us after stopping a couple of times. His intention had probably been to transform, but perhaps he had no patience to stay still and alone long enough when there was no particular need for him to be a rat. Now he had learnt to control the change, but it demanded concentration he couldn’t muster when he was eager to listen to James. Besides, he might have sensed that tonight James wasn’t exactly happy to walk in the company of animals.

James slapped me on the shoulder, urging me forward, and repeated, “All right. They managed to stop you from gnawing your paws. But Peter says you were still restless.”

Edging his way between the two of us, Peter replied on my behalf, “Oh yes. Padfoot had to wrestle him down again and again. And I went to lie down close to his snout – Moony’s snout, I mean…”

“You didn’t have to do that,” I said, and I was startled to hear a resentful tone in my voice. “It must have been scary.”

Peter turned to eye my face thoughtfully from behind his fringe. “No, you weren’t threatening. You were whining, like with longing… desire…”

There was no time for this to make me feel uncomfortable before James’s unexpected exclamation. “We’ll let you out!”

“No!” That was not what I had been dreaming of, as far as I knew.

Yet, the gushes brought the scent of damp moss, and the pad of the dog, ever farther away, inviting me to follow. I could not help listening to James’s determined words in irresponsible rapture.

“Yes. You know, I have a feeling I’ll be something bigger. That’s why it’s taking time. It’s growing.”

Peter was already hopping with excitement and now he started chuckling. “Oh yes. Just like Lily’s love for you is growing. Your head’s swelling!”

As soon as he had blurted that out he glanced at me – as if asking whether I thought his quick tongue had gone too far.

But James was the first one to laugh. “That too. But I have good reasons to let it swell. I’ll be a larger animal, I’ll guard our wolf, and lead us all to expeditions.”

“And we’ll explore and map all this land!”

Peter’s characteristic swiftness did not leave James wordless.

“Yes, exactly. But we’re starting here.” James turned and waved his arm towards the castle’s moon-lit towers.

For a moment I stared at the two of them, alarmed by their sudden urge to roam the Hogwarts corridors with a monster.


But, of course, when James led us to focus on preparing an extraordinary map of the castle, nobody was supposed to use an animal form. Peter offered to resort to his in any case. James had to acknowledge its benefits. However, I assume his aim was to shift our attention away from the transformations, so as to gain some time to complete his.

So towards the end of our fifth year, when the studies were at their most demanding, we were all overwhelmed by more than one secret project.

James did earn his nickname before the OWL exams, as you perhaps noticed in the conversation you witnessed. Sirius preferred calling him Prongs, as well as calling Peter Wormtail, since he invented those names. But by the end of the summer term James’s swollen head had carried its crown only a couple of times for few moments. Only the rat and the dog were able to keep me company in the Shack before our sixth year. Perhaps that partly explains the behaviour you needed to ask me and Sirius about…



This was still not exactly what Remus would have liked to give to Harry. He found it hard to concentrate, perhaps because he had decided to come to his old room – Harry’s room – so as to continue writing only until the moment he could get to talk to Harry instead. There was no desk, as the four beds took up almost all the space, and Remus had knelt by Harry’s bed and spread the parchment on one of the books about shapeshifting, which Harry had carelessly left lying around. Phil and Bob had been playing exploding snap, and now it sounded like they wanted to go to sleep, after exchanging a few comments and chuckles on the evening’s show.

“Umbridge was the best.”

“No, the daft Death Eater!”

The inhabitants of the estate had all returned home for a feast, eaten to repletion and sung and danced to their hearts’ content. Yes, Remus had danced, too – the Greek tsifteteli, which he had danced only once before, with Samir, in July 1993 shortly before hearing the news which had brought him back to this country.

Now he felt he must have been worse than drunk, as the usual melancholy was taking hold of him again. No, he was still restless in a peculiar way. Partly, of course, it was due to Harry’s disappearance. Bob and Phil said he had gone out with Neville after the feast, whereas Frank and Alice had retired to their partition, but Remus could not help getting worried.

Finally hearing laughter from the yard, he rushed to the window and threw it open to the raw night air. “Where have you been?”

The reply came from a large group crossing the yard. Remus recognised at least his mother’s cloak on Rose’s back, and Tumble’s horns, in addition to the glint on the glasses under Harry’s rumpled-up hair.

The first voice belonged to Tim. “We went to the granaries. It was raining. Now we can go to the woods.”

“Come along!” That was Jonah. He was holding Thisby’s hand, and she was beckoning as well.

Was he too old for this? His need to say good-bye to Harry served at least as an excuse. He climbed out of the window, and was welcomed with cheers.

Perhaps the young ones among the human members of the crowd were starting to get tired, too. Peck’s shawm was still leading them on across the bleak, harvested fields.

Bright stars were blinking among the restless clouds, but otherwise the earth, shading the moon, was in merciful shade. Its creatures were playing with their small lights.

Among the few charms of lumos here, Jonah’s must have been the most desperately jubilant. His wandtop was illuminating a fair stretch of the path in front of him, and the colour of the beams was exceptionally warm. The endearingly young face no longer looked pained and pale in Thisby’s inherent glow either.

Remus found himself drawn near the two of them. Somewhere on his right Harry and Simon were cracking jokes, or at least every now and then guffawing uncontrollably.

The north wind perhaps pushed them all astray from their course. Instead of the woods they were now approaching the sheep shelters.

When Remus arrived by the largest shed, most of his friends were already huddled against the stone wall. A cigarette was passing from one to the other. Peck snatched it from Tumble’s lips and held it high up, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. Remus sat down at the end of one of the sturdy benches to watch the phosphorous purple smoke curl above the hoods, horns and windswept manes.

“Don’t get too excited about this, children,” Peck said. He barely touched the cigarette to his lips before forwarding it to Tim. “Only one drag? No, take two or three, if you can’t resist it. But never again. You’ll feel consoled only for a moment – more than consoled. You’ll reach a shadow of a vision, but you must not continue to seek it. After a moment you know how desperately fragile this rapture is. You make one wrong move and it’s shattered, and every move will be wrong sooner or later. You must have a chance to try it only once, then give it up for the search of the real thing, the real vision. You’ll approach that one only when your mind is clear. When you allow others to make it only clearer. No blinding love, my children. Or blinding hatred.”

The other fauns murmured in agreement, each lifting a hand to touch a horn. The boys and girls from the Ancient Village had fidgeted for a moment, but they relaxed again, when the cigarette was passed on, and Peck picked up his shawm and abandoned speeches, returning to his usual and at least seemingly light-hearted expression.

As Simon edged his way to the other side of Tumble, Harry found himself standing alone. Having glanced around, he strode purposefully to Remus.

There was a slight slur in Harry’s voice. “We… don’t want this night to end.”

“No, and you’ve already felt what Peck talked about, haven’t you? The fear that you’ll lose it all at any moment.”

Harry nodded vigorously and leant heavily against the wall. Remus had to strain his neck to look up and to his side so as to examine his face. The expression was softer than at the Headless Queen.

“What you’ve been drinking isn’t any better than this. This or that – it’s not what you need.”

“You don’t…?”

“I used to… never much, but a little bit was more than enough. There was a time when a regular Muggle cigarette was enough to complete the… detachment from my essential feelings. Because my body’s survival demanded my whole attention and I was tempted to deny its needs, too. After that, at the latest, I cherish as full control of my mind as I can achieve, as long as I have it… the human mind, I mean.”

Harry shook his head, muttering, “My mind must have gone dull – or to some other place.”

“You don’t know what I’m talking about,” Remus said matter-of-factly, not managing to hold back a small smile of resignation.

But Harry straightened up from his slouch. “Did they… you all – did you drink a lot during the first war?”

“Well, no… not all the time. Obviously I couldn’t afford it. And they… I think they found some consolation in their Animagus forms.”

It had to be a good decision to take this last opportunity to talk about the magic of Animagi. No, Remus no longer feared that this aspiration was more harmful for Harry than anything else he would indulge in. “They were not able to leave their human minds behind. But I believe that as a stag, a dog, and a rat they were more focused on the concerns of the moment. During a full-moon night – and other nights when he escaped the madness of wizards, running off to the woods alone with Padfoot – your father couldn’t possibly worry about the war, or his wife and son. I’m not saying you should necessarily reach an animal form soon or ever…”

“You know I want to.”

“In that case I can hope you’ll remember this, so you won’t let your mind… go out of control. You know that apparating is hardly possible for someone who’s drunk. And for this magic you need even higher awareness of your mind, at least relatively more intense attachment, perhaps something of another level. I wouldn’t be able to tell.”

Was there much more Remus could offer? He reached out his left hand, and Harry took it, so as to help him stand up. Harry was still holding it when he turned the palm upwards and the flames blazed up more quickly and brighter than ever, in a surprising crimson shade.

He was astonished to hear the hopeful tone in his own voice despite the words he chose. “I doubt this can guide you far, but do you want to join me for a while?”

Harry took off his glasses and turned his back to the crowd. When the two of them set off towards the deep darkness at the edge of the woods, Lily’s eyes cast a trusting look at Remus. No, the boy was not exactly like James. His neck, exposed, as he did not bother to wear the hood despite the cold, was thin, and perhaps this made him appear as vulnerable.

Remus hardly knew what he started to talk about, while a forgotten dream was enticing him.
“We don’t need to go far this time… You know, on the first day I took you outside the protection Dumbledore had set at the beginning of September, for you, too, as he must have foreseen my intention to invite you. Unlike you, I knew we remained in the shelter of some other magic. Now it seems they’re going to show themselves to us right here.”

Multi-coloured lights had started blossoming under the trees.

Harry only quickened his pace and did not avert his eyes from the glow ahead when asking, “They? Who…What is it?”

“I don’t know much. I’ve seen this only as a very young child, on the other side of… what I call the borderline, remember?”

As if the two of them had now crossed a borderline, at the moment when it first seemed that they became surrounded by the dancing flames, they were, instead, suddenly bathed in the even, gentle glow of a summer evening. Yes, the crimson shade now repeated in the sky was reassuring: there was no threat of moonrise.

Their breaths were still forming steam in the chilly air, but under the blossoming trees frail wild flowers held their heads high, as if expecting butterflies to return to feed on them.

“These I’ve seen later, too,” Remus murmured, only partly to Harry.

He was not surprised when two elves appeared. Gumby and Enty, the most respected one among the elves Remus had ever known, were standing among the flowers, dressed in white cloaks.

“The flowers I brought to your parents’ funeral, Remus Arthur Wotton,” Gumby stated solemnly but with a small smile and a wink. “Now they are for the memory of your parents, Harry James Potter.”

Against Remus’s expectations, Enty spoke as well. The voice of this elf, who usually contented himself with nodding or frowning, was gentle but not less awe-inspiring. “You need not pick them. They will continue to thrive. As you will, in the bloom of your youth. Your friends at Hogwarts, too, can serve you better than you think. Your enemy is less powerful than you fear.”

Having got used to the house-elf at the Wotton estate acting as his friend, like any other more or less human member of Remus’s brotherhood, Harry now merely stared at the two small figures. Gumby stepped forward and held his hands out, as if offering something invisible.

Remus realised that he had bent to receive the gift, and he was now holding a warm mug. For a moment he wished that the steaming drink which Harry, too, had been given, were something extraordinary, so as to guarantee an impression on Harry.

However, Enty replied to his thought.”That is not what you need. Simply tea to warm you up a bit.”

Sipping from his mug, Remus realised that the elf was right. Still, he was happy when Gumby turned to Harry and said something more challenging, too.

“Have you chosen to leave the pursuit of the shadow, so as to approach what is real?”

“I… at least I’ll try. Have you got it – the real vision?”

“No, it can be in nobody’s possession. It can never be quite reached in this life. And you don’t depend on us. But we help you, as all creatures can help each other.”

Remus caught himself explaining something he had never before worded so clearly to himself either. “They soothe our minds with images – guiding us to build up our own images, helping us slowly learn to see more clearly.”

Harry’s response exceeded his expectations. “I remember… the restaurant. You said it was the elves’ magic of images. But you showed me your own memories of that place… in Greece, right?”

“They made it vivid for me again – and possible for me to share it.”

“But you’ve managed well enough without them. In the letters, I mean. With words and nothing else.”

The two of them were alone again. Remus took another slow swig of his tea, watching the flowers now close their petals and bend their heads, while the colour of the sky faded. “We all have gifts of magic and they grow when we share them.”

“You told me you learnt to paint after…”

“And became sensitive, capable of seeing the world around me in this way, yes. But it’s hard to say when we receive the gifts, because it all evolves slowly. I just haven’t been able to remember. Perhaps Gumby, together with my parents and everyone here, started giving it to me as soon as I was born. Perhaps I received something valuable also when I was… deprived of the childhood, the life my parents had expected me to have.”

“As I received something valuable fifteen years ago when my parents were killed.”

It was hard to say if there was a mocking tone in Harry’s voice. Perhaps he sincerely wondered whether what he said could be true or not.

“Voldemort didn’t mean to give you any treasures,” Remus said almost harshly. “But he didn’t manage to deprive you of all of them either.”

He felt compelled to leave the topic and say something comforting, even uplifting. Touching cautiously Harry’s upper arm, he guided Harry to turn and start walking back to the open farmland. “You know, Prongs came here in July after our fifth year. Surprised me, standing outside the window. Bending his head, so I could see his antlers. He showed himself to my parents, too. ‘I know your son’s secret, so I can let you know mine. It’s a gift for him,’ he said. My parents accepted it gratefully. Without telling me, he explained it to them as if we’d done it repeatedly. They let him do what he wanted during the full-moon night. That’s one of my most beautiful and frightening memories. I can’t have been fully transformed yet, as I can remember it… In the height of the pain I saw the cellar door open to the moonlight, and he was standing there – oddly enough, still in is human form. I struggled to get up, not to attack anyone, only to be touched by him. On the basis of his account I know that we came to the woods and, for the first time, I was running free.”

The wind was now pushing them across the fields towards the house. When Remus hushed and turned to glance back, he saw a white figure approaching. Hedwig arrived and startled Harry by perching on his shoulder. She had been away for a few days, taking letters to friends at Hogwarts, and now she had a small note for Harry attached to her leg.

After glancing at the few lines Harry grinned. “Well, this night isn’t going to end… not for me here. Dumbledore’s thestrals are coming… to take me and Neville back in their carriage before dawn.”

“In that case you must hurry to pack your things – all the books and rolls of parchment included. Tell Hermione her time will come to meet the elves here, too.”

It was somehow a relief to act as if there were time only for quick farewells. On the other hand, the lingering atmosphere of mystery dictated, among the routine phrases, a wording Remus had never considered before. “And the simple core of their wisdom is that the real wealth derives from our seeking to satisfy each other’s needs. Well, take good care of yourself. Thanks for the visit. And… I’m sorry for what you had to take part in – the other night, I mean.” He pulled Harry to a hug and hardly dared stop to wonder which one of them was shaking and whether it was due to the cold only.

“It’s all right,” Harry muttered to his shoulder. “Thank you. And you…You’re going back there?”

His own voice was not much more than a whisper, but it did not need to be, since they were finally so close to each other. “Yes, and not only there. I never meant you should follow. But I still mean this: I’ll stay on your side, and I hope I’ll still be where I can help you when you need it. Now you’re the first to know… I’m leaving this place within a couple of days.”



Standing at the edge of a large vacant plot in the heart of the denied neighbourhood, Remus tried to cherish the illusion of being completely bereft and free again. He had been anxious and reckless enough to arrive when the daylight had barely started waning. Having asked Anthony for the directions for finding his brother and the others, he had apparated from the off-license to the end of the gravel road and walked undisturbed until reaching this spot, where he simply had to wait.

The late afternoon sky looked amazingly wide and high above this piece of open land, which was scattered with ruin and rubble among patches of withered weed. The few scrawny trees in front of the surrounding windowless warehouses and stables were surrendering their last brown and yellow leaves to the strengthening gusts of wind.

During the past weeks he had – both wistfully and proudly – prepared himself for leaving behind home and more. Only this morning, however, had he realised that whatever he had built up and shared could be far from perfect in the eyes of some of the people he had regarded as satisfied, even grateful members of a brotherhood. Now it was not easy to forget that he had to return to improve the living conditions, or at least to make sure that all the creatures he had gathered at the Wotton estate would live in as much harmony as was possible in the poor conditions.

In any case he could have only this fleeting moment of detachment before tackling the serious challenge of reaching new mutual commitments.

He was bringing food. No meat, though. He could have brought some mutton, as sheep were occasionally slaughtered and some creatures, mainly humans, ate mutton at the Wotton estate. But he found it appropriate or at least amusing that in this way the ideal of pacifism would be introduced as complete with vegetarianism. Perhaps it was not too big a risk that gifts of vegetables and bread would not make an impression.

His purpose was not to show that he had much more than anyone else of his kind. Indeed, there were hardly any clothes to spare, after some had been taken to the families in the Ancient Village, too. It was barely the season for starting to shear the sheep, and despite magic the wool would not be processed in no time or without effort. The old blankets, however, were not absolutely necessary for those to keep who now slept in heated rooms.

For some reason Remus felt embarrassed about the humble gifts. He was happy to have been able to shrink them with a charm and to stuff them in the pockets of his robes. Now, however, he was feeling disturbed, as he kept forgetting that he did not have the familiar empty pockets into which to bury his hands.

He was getting impatient, looking forward to someone appearing. To something starting to happen and overwhelm him, so he could get rid of the still fresh disappointment with the response among his earlier allies to what he had accomplished and managed to offer to them.

During the day after Harry and Neville’s departure Remus had quickly checked that everything and everyone at the Wotton estate was taken care of in smooth co-operation under the almost imperceptible or at least natural control by Gumby and – on another level – by Rose. This morning there had been no further instructions to be given, and only two minor issues had tempted Remus to knock on Rose and Simon’s door once more.



Her voice had given him the permission to enter, and perhaps due to the prospects of new contacts, he was not abashed at finding the couple still in bed. The only problem was that he had come exactly in order to deprive them of their blankets. This made him only chuckle.

“When I’m no longer here intruding on your privacy, covers will be quite redundant in your bed. You can bring them to me later,” he added. “I won’t be leaving until afternoon.”

Simon, however, glanced at Rose without a trace of a smile. “I expected at least some basic comforts. It’s been like this all the time. We work for you, and what do we get?”

Rose opened her mouth, but contented herself with sighing and closing her eyes.

What had they got? Perhaps Rose felt an irresistible urge to agree with the man she had chosen for herself, and Remus, too, caught himself reluctant to start listing the comforts, the training, and the hope offered to everyone who had moved in. Not to mention Simon’s particular case… He had been afraid Simon’s needs had been given even too much intimate attention to.

But, of course, the gift he was now bringing to the two of them was only ridiculously useless. Nobody had asked for it. While seeking to slake his own aesthetic and emotional hunger, he had vainly thought that the painting would please someone else, too. That it would be accepted and it could actually become a real portrait, complete with movement. And no, Remus had not been thoroughly selfish. He had portrayed the two of them as a couple, allowing her to caress him.

He was still holding the sheet of aquarelle paper behind his back, in the way he had brought it in, to be presented as a surprise. He reprimanded himself for having not looked for an opportunity to finalise the watercolour earlier. There never seemed to be enough time, or he was simply too slow and hesitant. Still, he had not thought that he would have to give up the picture in such an unfavourable situation.

Bending down, he placed the painting on the floor near the door. “This piece is unfortunately not quite finished. And not at all what you must have expected. I’m sorry. I had no idea you were so dissatisfied. In any case, this place does not truly belong to any humans or part-humans. While I’m away, too, it will give you only what you need. You know, I’m going to people who live on the street… If you can spare a blanket, you’ll leave it in the kitchen by noon.”



A gust of wind shook him out of dwelling on the rejection, and he caught himself rubbing his arms. He decided to start pacing beside the stone wall of a low building, where there was a barely distinguishable path under a carpet of crunching leaves. No signs of life could be seen or heard, but a large wooden door was open a crack. He had prepared himself for living rough by putting on all his clothes – three more or less shabby robes and even his Muggle rags underneath – but he was already cold. Without any consideration he almost instinctively sought shelter from the piercing wind and ended up slinking inside the building.

The comforting sound and warmth of several creatures’ deep breathing surrounded him in the darkness. Eager to step further in, away from the draught, he held out his left palm. The flickering blue flames revealed the large shapes of couching animals in a row, like cows with peculiar spiral horns…



the latter part of Chapter Eighteen is here.

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kellychambliss

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from: kellychambliss
date: Aug. 27th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
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Some random thoughts on a fine section --

I really enjoy these Remus letters: it's like a second story inside the main one.

The connection with Sirius is very powerful and believable. I really liked this section, both in terms of insights and wording: Beyond the torment of its changes my body cherishes the memory of an ultimate satisfaction. At this moment, when I still cannot suspect what it means, I dare accept the subconscious, merely physical knowledge I will later try to deny. As a wolf I have reached what had hardly become a dream yet for the child I was before this night.

Another great line: He’s become a dog for me. Now the miracle of changes is living in and around and between the two of us, and pain has become a pleasure.

I love the exploration of what it feels like to be make an animagus change. What Peter has to say makes a lot of sense. This is an area that I find really interesting and was always sorry that JKR didn't talk more about it.

To be honest, I could not help hoping that soon the wolf would no longer be alone.

Definitely. Nice touch.

And I love Creature Power! Community ownership -- great idea.

The "borderline" meeting with the elves is beautifully done -- very touching.



Hope you don't mind a couple of minor corrections --
could not help listening to James’s determinate words in irresponsible rapture
Should be "determined"

eaten to replete and sung and danced to their hearts’ content
Should be "repletion" (or probably "fullness" would be more typical)

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PaulaMcG

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from: paulamcg
date: Aug. 28th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
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Thank you both for the praise and for the corrections! Of course I feel only glad and grateful when I see that you continue to appreciate this story so much that you even care to point out again the mistake I make repeatedly.

I’m thrilled the letters work for you so well. I’ve felt that this story inside the main one kept improving in style and also in significance for the whole of the novel, but I’ve wondered if the change in the balance between the two lines of narration turned out disconcerting for readers.

You make me ever happier I’ve let Peter tell us how it feels to change. I must have taken it for granted that when Remus talks to Harry about the meaning of the Magic of Animagi, it’s not enough to limit ourselves to the level where Rowling leaves it.

It’s a special treat that you quote lines which have been close to my heart. (I’ve been particularly happy with the latter one, whereas the former one is perhaps too complex.) I feel blessed when I know that what I’ve got to convey about intimate connection, and how I’m able to do it – only in this subtle way – can touch other people.

It’s great to hear that Creature Power, too, appeals to you. I’ve thought we needed to see some development in the opposition.

And after hinting at some mysterious elfish magic a lot earlier in the story, I’ve hoped I somehow succeeded in doing justice to it here, without inventing any more detailed explanations. It’s reassuring that the scene turned out touching. Perhaps the point is how the characters and the readers feel the power of the magic, and we don’t have to analyse its mechanics and its concrete role in the revolt.

Finally, I can’t resist telling you that after all this amazing feedback I’ll be unspeakably happily looking forward to your response to the rest of the developments. Thank you again for these gifts and for the hope!

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