June 30th, 2009, 3:18 am
A/N: I wrote this quite a while ago and I did post it here, but it's since disappeared. This was originally written as a prequel to the first story I ever wrote, called Fire Burns. Since I'm currently rewriting Fire Burns, I thought I'd post this before I repost the new version of that.
Things to be aware of:
contains a prominent OC
Remus is not a werewolf yet in this story
this is as cannon as possible up to and including HP6
That being said, enjoy!
Chapter 1 - Be careful what you wish for
Remus sat in his bedroom, gazing out of the window at the whitewashed walls of the houses opposite, their roofs capped with snow. It was the thick of Winter and he was stuck inside with no one to play with. He sighed, his warm breath condensing on the cold window and wished fervently for a companion.
"Remus, sweetheart?" called his mother's voice from the doorway. "Can you come downstairs for a moment?"
Remus took one last mournful look out at the crisp, clear morning, then clambered down from the window sill and made his way over to his mother, a questioning look on his face. She picked him up, smiling, and carried him downstairs.
"Go on," she said, setting him down in the hall and giving him a gentle prod in the direction of the lounge.
Remus looked up at her and waited patiently for further information, still looking slightly bemused. His mother laughed and gestured once more for him to enter the room. Hesitantly, he poked his head around the door and surveyed it's occupants warily. A strange couple were sitting next to each other on the settee, drinking tea out of his mother's best china cups and talking quietly with his father, who was relaxing in an armchair. The strange women suddenly caught sight of him and smiled warmly.
"You must be Remus."
Remus nodded cautiously, sidling into the room and heading towards his father.
"These are our new neighbours, Remus," explained his father. "Mr and Mrs Archer."
"Oh please, call me Charles," laughed the man. "And this is my wife Sarah."
Remus smiled shyly at them, wondering why his mother had wanted him to meet them.
"They've got a daughter around your age, Remus," said his mother, right on cue, bringing in a plateful of biscuits. "She's in the garden. D'you want to meet her?"
Remus paused momentarily. Yes, he'd wanted a friend to play with but a girl? Slowly he nodded; after all, any playmate was better than no playmate, right?
"Remember to put on your coat and scarf," reminded his mother as he hurried out of the room.
He grabbed his things from the special low peg his father had installed for him and pushed open the back door which had been left slightly ajar.
"Hello?" he called, looking down the white slope of the lawn.
"Hello?" echoed another voice. A girl with gleaming black hair, cut into a long fringe at the front that fell into a pair of dark blue eyes peered out at him from behind the small shed.
"Hello?" said Remus again, examining the girl curiously. The girl stared right back, mirroring his inquisitive stance, then giggled and asked:
"Is that all you can say?"
"Huh?" he asked, staring blankly at her. She giggled again, grinning cheekily at him.
"What's your name?"
"Remus John Lupin,” replied Remus warily. “What's yours?"
"Katherine Arcadia Archer."
"Oh." Remus stared at her for a moment longer, trying to think of something else to say. He was shy enough around other boys of his own age – how was he supposed to deal with a girl? What was it they liked to talk about? Dolls? Pink things?
"Hey! Lupin!" yelled a brash voice from his left, breaking the awkward silence. There was scrabbling noise on the other side of the fence and a boy's head appeared over the wooden panels. Remus eyed his ten year old nemesis suspiciously; William Isaacs had dark brown hair and small mean eyes that always appeared to Remus to be black.
"Want to come over and play?" grinned William, and Remus thought he heard stifled laughter on the other side of the fence; Will obviously had company.
"No thank you," said Remus politely, looking nervously at his neighbour.
"Oh come on, it'll be fun- OW!" There was a thud as Will lost his footing on the flimsy wooden panel and fell backwards onto the grass in his own yard. Remus frowned and was about to go back inside when he heard the already familiar giggle of Katherine. He looked over at her as Will peered over the fence once more.
“Who threw that snowball?” he asked, glaring at Remus who shrugged. Will's gaze travelled around the garden and alighted for a moment on Katherine's wide eyed expression of innocence before flickering back to Remus. “If I find out who threw-” Will’s threat was abruptly cut off as another fistful of packed snow hit him squarely on the nose and he toppled backwards for the second time in as many minutes.
Remus stared in shock at Katherine, who was dusting off her gloves as though nothing had happened. She caught his eye and managed to keep her innocent expression for a full two seconds before bursting into a fit of giggles.
“You threw them?” asked Remus, frowning; starting a snowball fight didn’t seem like a very girly thing to do. In answer Katherine scooped up another handful of snow and hit him in the chest. Remus stood motionless for a moment, pondering this turn of events, then grinned and stooped to make his own missile just as Will’s head reappeared over the fence for the third time, accompanied by a ginger haired boy of about the same age.
Remus paused, snowball ready in his hand, then looked over at Katherine, who was also on the point of throwing a similar projectile his way. He raised his eyebrows in question and got a huge grin in return, and as one they both turned and tossed the snowballs at the common enemy.
Remus laughed as Will and his friend jumped hurriedly down from the fence, narrowly missing being hit for a third time, and, from the raised voices, landed on top of each other on the snow covered grass. Remus looked over at Katherine and smiled; maybe having a girl for a friend wouldn’t be quite as bad as he’d thought.
“Katherine?” asked Remus, drawing her attention away from the muffled argument behind the fence and onto him.
“Yes?” she asked, pushing dark hair out of her eyes. Remus grinned, and held up a freshly made snowball.
Feedback is lovely and goes here (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=121240). :)
July 1st, 2009, 6:33 pm
Chapter 2 - Teddy Bear's Picnic
If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise...
- Traditional Nursery Rhyme
William Isaacs sat on the stairs and surveyed the four year old in front of him with a mixture of dislike and distrust. Katherine gazed unblinkingly up at him, a small smile on her lips.
"Go away," he said for the seventh time that morning. Katherine raised an eyebrow.
"Mummy says you have to play with me."
"I don't want to. Go play with that Lupin kid." Katherine tilted her head on one side and gazed thoughtfully up at him.
"You don't like me, do you?"
William didn't answer but instead risked a glance through the gap in-between the rail and eyed the two sets of parents warily, wondering how much longer he was going to be stuck here.
"Fine. If you don't want to play, I'll play on my own," sighed Katherine, turning away from him and heading towards the back door.
William waited a while then followed, knowing his parents would be furious if anything happened to Katherine while he was supposed to be looking after her. He pushed the door open slightly and glanced around the sloping garden, searching for the head of black hair.
"Katherine?" he ventured when he saw nothing. He glanced down at the fresh layer of snow and saw a set of footprints leading away from the house, down towards the stream that ran along the bottom of the lawn. Frowning slightly, he trudged down the snowy yard and looked around once more.
Where the hell had she gone? He gave the space in front of him a puzzled look before realising exactly what he was seeing. She wouldn't have...would she? Casting a quick glance back at the house, he jumped over the stream and scrambled up the slippery bank on the other side, before quickly scaling the low fence that separated the garden from the deep forest beyond.
"Katherine, it's not funny. Where are you?" he called, the damp foliage squelching unpleasantly beneath his shoes. He peered into the dark spaces between the clumps of trees and thought he saw a movement a little way in front of him. "Katherine?"
Katherine gazed up at the proud young creature that stood before her. The creature looked back down at her, it's stormy dark eyes watching her sombrely.
"What is a young child such as yourself doing out here alone?" it asked in mournful tones.
"I've seen things like you in books. You're a centaur, aren't you?" she stated, with the overt bluntness that comes with being only four years old.
"You are a witch, child?"
Katherine giggled. "Of course not, witches are old women with green skin and huge warts."
The centaur gazed at her for a moment longer, the light breeze ruffling his wild black hair, before saying, almost to himself: "But you cannot be a muggle, your aura is... Who are your parents, child?"
Katherine gave him an odd look before saying with an air of uncertainty: "People?"
"Katherine?" came a distant voice from behind her.
Katherine half turned in the direction of the speaker, when the centaur asked obscurely: "Your name is Katherine?" She nodded, eyeing him dubiously.
"Katherine Archer." The celestial being paused for a moment then bowed.
"It was nice to meet you Miss Archer." Katherine frowned at him, trying to comprehend his sudden change of character.
"You too Mister...?"
"Bane. My name is Bane. Good day Miss Archer." Katherine shot him a last quizzical look as he bowed and retreated among the shadowy branches.
"Katherine?" William ducked out from behind a pine tree and let out a deep breath on seeing her. "What on earth d'you think you're doing? You can't go wandering off into the woods like that."
"Funny, that's just what Mr Bane said," she remarked as he ushered her back towards the safety of the house. "But you're both wrong, because, you see, I just did." William glared at her then frowned.
"Who's Mr Bane?"
"He's a centaur."
"Uh huh," said Katherine, pulling her herself up the fence and dropping down on the other side.
William stared at her through the lattice of wires and said slowly: "You do know that centaurs don't exist right? They're just fairy stories." She shrugged as though this didn't bother her in the slightest.
"Then I guess I must be in one of them." William gave her a condescending look as she jumped easily back over the gentle stream and turned back to watch him.
"William! What on earth are you doing?" shrieked a woman's voice from the back door. "Get out of there this minute!"
William looked up sharply and saw his mother standing in the doorway, glaring furiously at him. He looked from her livid expression to Katherine's grin and back again and wondered vaguely how long it would take to persuade his parents to move.
July 3rd, 2009, 11:09 am
Chapter 3 - Silent Secrets
Charlotte Lupin gazed out of the lounge window at the two figures playing on the lawn. It had been three months since Sarah and Charles had moved in with their daughter and in that time, she and Sarah had become firm friends. She turned away from the window and smiled at Sarah who had entered the room carrying a tray of tea and biscuits.
"Are they still out there?" asked Sarah, glancing out at the children and laughing. "I wonder what they talk about." Charlotte smiled.
"Children live in a world of their own half the time. They've got plenty of ways of amusing themselves." Sarah nodded, running a hand through her dark brown hair and looking thoughtful.
"You know, I've been meaning to ask you something... Oh, is that the door?" She smiled apologetically at Charlotte and hurried out of the room.
Charlotte frowned, wondering what could be troubling her friend, and looked out of the window again. For some reason, Remus was now chasing Katherine around the garden and the black haired girl was laughing hysterically. Odd that; neither Charles nor Sarah had black hair. She supposed it must be a throw back from a previous generation.
"...just in here," said Sarah, ushering the newcomer in. "Do you want to go into the garden William? Katherine and Remus are out there."
William shook his head violently and clung to his mother's hand.
"Oh don't be silly, William," scolded his mother, rolling her eyes. "Go out and play."
"Don't want to," muttered William. "Feel sick."
"You were fine when we left the house," she reminded him.
"Feel sick," repeated Will, firmly.
"I'm sorry," apologised Sheryl, looking at Sarah and Charlotte. "He's not usually like this."
"Oh it's all right," said Sarah, smiling at the young boy. "He can just sit in here if he wants to. Help yourselves to biscuits, everyone, I'm just going to check on the other two."
Sarah walked out into the hall and went into the kitchen, smiling faintly. She, unlike Charlotte was perfectly aware of William's usual antics since Katherine was always brutally honest. This meant that Sarah also knew that her four year old had wandered off into the woods totally alone and then let William take the blame for it a month ago. She had considered telling William's mother this but decided against it; she'd never be believed anyway.
She opened the back door and called out to the two children. Katherine ran up to her and ducked behind her legs, peering out at Remus' half scowling, half laughing face.
"What on earth are you up to?" asked Sarah, grinning down at them.
"Nothing," said Remus innocently. Katherine just grinned mischievously at Remus and didn't answer.
"Do you want anything? Food? Drink?"
"No thank you," replied Remus, tearing his gaze away from Katherine's sparkling eyes and looking up at Sarah.
"No thanks," seconded Katherine, still grinning.
"Ok, if you need anything just shout."
"We will," they chorused. Sarah smiled and left them to it. Remus grinned at Katherine, standing in the doorway to the kitchen.
"Ha! You're trapped now." Katherine smiled sweetly back.
"Oh I think not, Rem."
"Well how do you propose getting out of this one?" asked Remus, folding his arms.
Katherine flashed him a wicked grin and darted past him into the garden before realised what was happening.
"Hey! That's not fair!" he called after her.
"Neither's life, but you can't do anything about it," she called back, sitting down on the freshly cut grass.
"Why isn't it fair?" he asked, coming to sit beside her.
"No idea, it's something my parents say," she answered, shrugging.
"Parents are odd," said Remus thoughtfully. "Mine keep going on about how I'm growing up so fast but that's stupid; I'm getting older at the same rate as everyone else." Katherine nodded in agreement, then asked.
"Why were we chasing each other?" Remus paused, frowning in recollection.
"Can't remember," he decided eventually.
"Neither can I." Remus smiled and lay down on the grass in the morning sunlight.
"What d'you want to be when you grow up?" he asked, watching her pluck blades of grass absently with her right hand. Katherine paused, staring down the garden at the gently trickling stream, and contemplated this.
"Alive," she said finally.
"You can't say that!" objected Remus.
"Because... You can't. It's not allowed."
"Well then I want to be someone who can make it allowed." Remus squinted up at her.
"You want to make laws?"
"Like a lawyer?"
"What do they do?"
"Don't know, but they've got the word 'law' in their name so it must have something to do with laws."
"I guess." They were silent for a while then Katherine asked: "What do you want to be?"
"I want to work at the Ministry. It looks cool."
"The what?" asked Katherine, giving him a funny look.
"The, er, government," said Remus, hurriedly backtracking. "In the, um, Houses of Parliament. I want to work there."
"If you worked there, you’d get to be on TV," said Katherine brightly. Remus nodded, and settled back on the grass, closing his eyes in the early spring sunshine. Katherine smiled happily to herself and gazed into the darkness of the forest before her. After a few minutes she put her head on one side, her sharp eyes trying to discern the dark shape that appeared to be lingering there, and nudged Remus. "Rem," she said hesitantly. "Can you see something down there?" Remus sat up, blinking, and followed her gaze.
"Um, trees?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at her. Katherine frowned and shrugged.
"Oh well, it was probably nothing."
"What did you think it was?" he asked, gazing at her.
"Nothing, it was probably just a trick of the light." She got up, stretching. "Race you back to the house."
He grinned and jumped up, dashing ahead of her up to the small cottage giving no further thought to her odd remark. Why should he? It probably was just a trick of the light.
Follow the linky (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=121240). :)
July 6th, 2009, 12:26 am
Chapter 4 - Hamlets and hunting
Time flies when you're having fun, and for Katherine and Remus, the first year of their friendship raced by without one dull moment. When they weren't pulling pranks on William or playfully teasing one another, they sat and talked, content to simply enjoy one another's company.
Today was one such a day. They sat at the bottom of Katherine's garden, the autumnal sun warm on their faces while the brook gushed happily past them, the crystal clear water reflecting the blue sky with its scattering of white, fluffy clouds.
"Aren't you scared of the woods?" asked Remus, watching Katherine with sceptical interest.
"No. Mummy says I shouldn't go in there alone, but that's not because of monsters - it's because of people." She threw a pebble into the stream, watching the ripples for a moment before they were swallowed by the current. She grinned at him and then looked up at the forest before them. The trees were shedding the last of their leaves before winter and the foliage glowed amber and red in the golden sunlight. It wasn't scary at all.
"What kind of people?" asked Remus, frowning at her as she gazed at her rippling reflection in the stream. Katherine shrugged, squinting up at the trees in the bright sunlight.
"Bad people I guess. Race you back to the house?" she asked, gazing at him with clear blue eyes; he grinned impishly back.
"Want a head start?"
"Are you suggesting I need one?"
"Shut up, Remus," laughed Katherine, getting to her feet and running up the slope.
He caught up with her at the back door of the house and tried to glare at her. She giggled at his expression and he grinned sheepishly.
"Katherine? Remus? Lunch is ready," called a woman's voice from inside.
"Coming," replied Katherine, glancing down the garden as she did so. Funny, she could have sworn the bush just rustled, but there was no wind.
"You ok?" asked Remus, his sandy blond hair gleaming gold in the sun. Katherine paused then nodded.
"Yeah, come on Remmy." She took his hand and they went inside to eat lunch.
At the bottom of the garden, Reuben Silva growled softly, then turned and slunk away into the wood. Next time, he thought sullenly, I'll get them next time…
In a way, Remus had been right to be wary of the woods. Of course, there would have been nothing to be afraid of if Katherine's perception of them had been correct - that they were simply ordinary woods with nothing more alarming than a few vicious brambles and a handful of incontinent birds. To her, they were just ordinary muggle woods.
Except they weren't.
While it is true that Hogsmeade is the only all wizard village in Britain, it is by no means the only magical community. On the outskirts of Essex, there lies one such community. It isn't a village, in fact it hardly even qualifies as a hamlet, but it is a place where wizards and witches can be assured a secure and quiet life. A few well cast spells have even ensured the area is unplotable on any muggle map and anti-muggle charms surround it for safety's sake.
This being said, there are a couple of muggle inhabitants - those already well briefed on the magical world through family, friends or fiancées and this of course prevents it from being classified as an all magical dwelling.
At this present moment in time, it is being watched by a pair of golden eyes that stare out at the sunny lanes with a mixture of longing and scorn. The watcher is a young boy of around seventeen. He used to live there at 12a, Holly Street, but recent events have forced him to rethink his living arrangements.
He turns away, loping through the dense undergrowth of the forest towards the makeshift hut somewhere near it's centre. That's where his family is now, his real family. In a manner of speaking. Perhaps they aren't blood relatives, but they're all he has now.
He's already made the distinction.
After only two months, the wolf and the human are a whole race apart.
Dan Caelum is long gone and in his place is Reuben Silva.
And he's late.
"You're late," remarked a deep voice from the depths of a patched armchair.
Reuben ignored the voice and walked over to Ruth, whose fiery red hair shone like rubies in the warm autumn sunshine. She smiled at him, her dark brown eyes gazing fondly into his amber ones.
"Hey," she said huskily as he sat down next to her on the floor, back against the wall. "What took you so long?" Reuben shrugged, tugging on a lock of Ruth's hair and smiling lazily at her.
"I was observing them."
"They're five, Reuben. They can't go very far," said the scornful voice from the armchair.
Reuben frowned at armchair and met the brilliant emerald gaze of Gareth Dux, who was currently scowling at him over a newspaper entitled The Daily Prophet.
The eyes were the first thing anyone noticed about Gareth. They glinted in the sunlight, two bright gems framed with heavy black lashes. The second thing people noticed was the gleaming black hair that fell about his handsome, clean cut features. To say that it was wild was an understatement. The word feral might have been better suited; Reuben often thought it had a life of it's own.
There was a third thing to realise about Gareth, but many people were either too stupid or too slow to work it out and it was this: he was mad. The eyes that were now so intently trained on Reuben hid behind them a mind so twisted that it was tied in knots.
"They have parents, Gareth," said Ruth, resting her head on Reuben's shoulder.
"Muggle parents, Rue," argued Gareth.
"Not the boy's," said Reuben. "They're wizards." Gareth looked at him sharply.
"How d'you know?"
"I told you, I was observing them," said Reuben calmly.
"Why aren't they living in the village then?" demanded Gareth, scowling.
"They go there sometimes," said a lazy voice from a corner. Frobisher Lakes, the fourth member of the small gang stretched, yawning widely. "I've seen them buying stuff." Gareth's scowl deepened.
"And you didn't think to share this information with us?" he asked angrily. Frobisher only shrugged, flexing muscled arms.
"I thought you knew."
"Well I didn't and this makes it much more complicated," Gareth snapped.
"I fail to see why," said Frobisher, frowning at him. "Just go for the girl instead. She can keep Ruth company." Ruth tossed her crimson mane of hair and gave him a stern look.
"I don't want to be lumbered with a five year old thanks very much," she said firmly. Gareth shrugged, standing up.
"You won't be. It's our project and that means all of us. We just take the kid and leave." He grinned, his eyes shining with vicious delight. "We'll do it tonight."
Remus surveyed the tent critically. "You think it'll stay up?"
"It should do," answered Katherine, sticking her head inside the tent flap and peering around.
Their parents had agreed to let them camp out in the garden for the night, though they both knew that as soon as they were asleep, they'd be carried back into the house and put to bed. Parents could be so boring sometimes.
"It was fine when we put all the stuff in, wasn't it?" said Katherine, ducking under the flap and crawling inside.
The majority of floor space was taken up by two thick sleeping bags and bowls of sweets and drinks, ideal for a midnight feast. There was also an assortment of toys and drawing books in case they got bored and an assortment of random items such as a pair of sunglasses, a few toys swords and even a framed photograph of the two of them that had been taken at Remus’ fifth birthday. How they'd managed to end up in the tent was anyone's guess.
At around eight o'clock, Katherine and Remus fell asleep amidst a pile of soft toys, sweet wrappers and half finished drawings. A movement outside the canvas made Katherine stir in her sleep and she pulled the sleeping bag over her head, hoping whichever parent it was would go away. She didn't want to go back inside just yet, it was nice out here with the soothing sound of brook in the distance and the soft rustling of the trees in the forest.
The figure outside padded round to the entrance and she heard the tent flap being unzipped. Beside her, Remus rolled over, his blond hair tousled and brown eyes closed. Katherine risked a glance over at the tent entrance, hoping her parents wouldn't catch her awake at this hour, but she saw nothing.
That was odd, she could have sworn the tent flap had been unzipped. She lay there in the dark, contemplating this puzzle as the light breeze rustled the empty sweet wrappers. She turned over, moving closer to Remus for comfort then stopped.
Light breeze? How could there be wind inside the tent when the entrance was closed?
Behind her, a shadow moved slightly and it took her no more than a second to decide what to do. She used the only weapon a five year old could against a stranger: she screamed.
August 19th, 2009, 11:37 pm
A/N: So very sorry I haven't been updating - I admit I completely forgot I was supposed to be. :blush: Luckily, AerinAlanna reminded me, so here's the next chapter, with never-before-seen backstory explanations. Enjoy!
Chapter 5 - A life for a life
Remus awoke with a jolt, completely disorientated. Katherine had been screaming, hadn't she? He lay completely still for a moment, listening hard. Maybe it was just a dream.
But if it had been a dream, where was Katherine? Her sleeping bag was empty and the tent flap was open, waving in the breeze. Up at the house, the kitchen light flickered on and a figure moved towards the door, heading towards the garden.
Remus was about to scramble to his feet when he noticed something odd. The tent flap was open, yes, but Katherine's sleeping bag had been dragged backwards a foot or so and anyone attempting to sneak out of the entrance to the tent would risk being seen from the house.
Remus sat up slowly as he came to the unpleasant conclusion that whatever had made Katherine scream was still in the tent. He paused for a moment, then leapt out of his sleeping bag and whirled around to face the impostor, the toy wand his parents had bought him for his birthday clasped tightly in his hand.
The man standing in the shadows grinned wickedly at him, his green eyes gleaming in the light from the house.
"Think that bit of wood's going to do much use against me, do you? I could kill her right now," he said, gesturing to Katherine who was clamped firmly under one arm. He snapped his sharp teeth at Remus, still grinning insanely. "Ever seen a werewolf before, boy?"
Remus hadn't but he'd learnt about them. What hurts them? Silver, wasn't it? He knew Katherine wore a silver ring on a chain around her neck but that wouldn't do much damage.
The werewolf flashed him a wild grin and ripped through the lining of the back of the tent with one clawed hand. Silver, where had he seen silver...? There were adult footsteps running down the lawn even now but the werewolf was already ducking through the newly made exit. The gleam of light reflected on glass caught Remus' eye and he looked down to see the photograph from his birthday, which they’d taken from the mantelpiece in his house. His and Katherine’s faces grinned up at him from within the heavy photo frame his mother had let him pick out from the shop.
He darted for it, remembering the shop keeper’s praise of his choice and hoping sterling silver still worked against werewolves. He ran through the shredded cloth of the tent and hurled it at the retreating head of the black haired man. It missed his head but smashed into the back of his knee, causing him to stumble. He dropped Katherine in his attempt to balance himself and fell headfirst into the stream at the end of the garden.
Remus dashed down the slope towards Katherine, who was getting unsteadily to her feet.
“Are you all right?” he asked, pulling her backwards, away from the dark figure in the stream. She nodded even though she was shaking and clung onto him, staring in horror at the man below them.
“What is he?” she whispered, as the man dragged himself to his feet, water streaming off him.
“You mean who,” said Remus carefully, even now trying to conceal the magical world as his parents had warned him to. “Who is he? I don't know.”
The adults had almost reached them now and Remus could see his father running towards them, his hand closed around his wand. Behind them, the werewolf wasn't giving up on his quarry. He made a wild lunge and dived towards the two children, determined to finish what he'd started.
What happened next was anyone's guess. Even afterwards, when the adults finally decided to be honest with one another, they couldn't understand it.
The man leapt at Remus and Katherine and a fraction of a second later, Katherine's mother screamed a warning. Remus' father sent a stunning charm at the man but it ricocheted harmlessly away, his werewolf blood rendering it useless. Then, when Remus' father was still five feet away, something happened.
A surge of power erupted from somewhere, rippling across the ground and making the trees sway violently as though in a gale. When it hit the man, he was thrown backwards and smashed into the fence that separated the garden from the forest, head lolling dangerously.
The four adults stood still, staring disbelievingly between him and the two small children in front of them. Charlotte was the first to recover, rushing to their sides and carrying them inside the house, exchanging a meaningful glance with her husband.
John Lupin approached the fallen werewolf cautiously, half expecting him to jump up at any moment and execute another vicious attack. He didn't, however. Whatever that surge had been, it had certainly meant the end of him.
"I didn't think there were werewolves in these parts," said Charles Archer softly.
"Neither did I," began John, then stopped, turning to stare at his neighbours. Sarah smiled apologetically.
"I think we need to talk. Shall we go inside?" She bent to pick up the picture frame Remus had hurled at the werewolf, then walked calmly up the slope towards the house, the two men following.
“They're asleep,” said Charlotte softly, closing the door to the lounge and sitting down next to her husband. “I put them in Katherine's room.” Sarah smiled and poured Charlotte a cup of tea as John asked quietly:
“You know about us?”
“We moved here purposely,” explained Charles. “Katherine doesn't know about the magical world yet, but we thought it would be good to live near a small wizarding community for when we do tell her.”
“But you're both muggles,” said Charlotte, frowning. “How did you find out about the wizarding world?” Sarah smiled faintly, and began to explain.
“I've been meaning to tell you for ages now, but things kept getting in the way. My great-grandmother was, I forget what you call it – a squig?”
“A squib?” asked Charlotte.
“That’s it,” nodded Sarah. “Her family were wizards, but they disowned her when they found out what she was. Anyway, she married a muggle, and cut herself off from everything to do with magic, but she told her daughter, my grandma, stories about this fantasy world that existed alongside ours, with a secret wizarding school called Hogwarts and a bank run by goblins. My grandma thought they were just stories, but she remembered them and she used to tell them to me when I stayed round there. I forgot about them when I grew up but then five years ago…” Sarah hesitated and looked to her husband for support. Charles took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze, turning his attention to the Lupins.
“You may have noticed that Katherine doesn't bear much, if any, resemblance to us,” he said quietly, and Charlotte and John nodded; a black haired child born to brown haired parents did seem to defy the laws of genetics somewhat. “Well five years ago we were in a hospital in London – we’d been trying for a baby for a while with no luck and there was a new treatment that had had some success, so we thought – why not?”
“We had to wait around awhile for the tests that would say if we were eligible for the treatment or not to come back,” continued Sarah, looking nervously up at the Lupins. “Anyway, I ended up in the maternity ward, looking at all the newborns in the nursery, and there’s this woman there, hand on the glass, staring down at this tiny baby. She catches my eye and I ask if the baby’s hers, and she nods, saying it’s her daughter, and then asks which one’s mine…” Sarah gave a nervous laugh, and brushed light brown hair out of her eyes. “I think she was rather startled when I just burst into tears, but then she just sat me down and got me a coffee and I just…told her everything. How much we wanted a child and how I didn’t think we were ever going to be able to conceive…and then this man appears and starts practically yelling at the woman – saying she shouldn’t be out of bed, shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t start getting attached…
“I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but this woman…I’ve never seen anyone so angry. She looked like she was about to commit murder and I think she might have gone for him if a nurse hadn’t come out and told them off for disturbing the newborns. The woman apologised, but the man just stormed off. I thought it was odd, but I didn’t like to pry – just made my excuses and left. Later we got the results for the tests, were told we weren’t eligible and went home - end of story, or so we thought.”
“A few weeks later the same woman turns up on our doorstep, baby in one arm, a folder of papers in the other,” said Charles, sitting back and running a hand through his already ruffled hair. “Turns out the yelling man was her brother and he wanted her to give up her baby. She didn’t want to, we could tell that, but she was convinced it was the right thing to do. She told us the father wasn’t a very nice man and she was worried the child could be in danger if he found out about her.”
“So she gave the child to you?” asked Charlotte, staring in shock at her neighbours, not quite sure what to think.
“We tried to say no,” said Sarah quickly. “We really did – Charles is a policeman – we always go through the proper channels for everything – but she was adamant. Said she got…feelings…about things sometimes. Of course we thought she was a probably going a bit off the rails, what with giving up her kid and everything, but then she turns to me and says…‘your grandmother told you about Hogwarts, didn’t she?’” Sarah gave them a crooked smile and laughed nervously. “Charles was all for throwing her out, baby or not, but then she shows us her wand and starts talking about the places my grandmother used to describe in stories…there was no way she could have known all that. Then she said she’d looked me up and found out I had some wizarding blood in me – that’s how I found out about my great-grandma.”
“To cut a long story short, we eventually started to believe her, and the next day and a few memory charms on certain key people later, the baby is legally ours, we’ve got a new house, a new life, and the woman has gone.” Charles sighed, rubbing his thumb comfortingly over the back of his wife’s hand. “We kept the name she gave her – Katherine Arcadia, and she also left a ring for her – Katherine wears it round her neck. We’ll tell Katherine she’s a witch when she gets her Hogwarts letter, but until then she only knows she’s adopted, and that we love her very much.”
“Well…that's probably best, I suppose,” said John Lupin, exhaling deeply.
“You’re not going to tell anyone?” asked Sarah, trying hard not to sound nervous.
“Well this woman must have known what she was doing if she did all the paperwork and that in one day, so I doubt there’d be any evidence left that anything was ever amiss even if we did want to report you,” said John seriously, adding gravely: “Besides, I think there are more important things that need dealing with at present – the body in the garden for one.”
“What are we going to do about that?” asked Charles worriedly. They could hardly go to the police; judging from the man’s appearance, his DNA would cause nationwide panic.
“I'll get on to the Ministry,” said John wearily, rubbing a hand over his tired face. “Werewolves usually hunt alone but there are the occasional pack of them and if this one had friends, they might be planning revenge. Don't worry,” he added, seeing their anxious faces. “I'm sure it's nothing.”
There was a heavy pause, then Charles asked: “That thing that killed the werewolf - did you do it?”
John and Charlotte shook their heads.
“There's no way it was Remus, either,” added Charlotte pensively. “He's done magic before - small things like summon teddies or make his vegetables disappear, but nothing like that.”
“D'you think it could have been Katherine?” asked Sarah, looking apprehensive. John shrugged.
“It's unlikely. I mean, she's only five. I don't know what happened.” He sighed and shook his head. “We'd better be getting back – I need to owl the Auror department; we'll collect Remus tomorrow, if that’s ok.”
“Fine,” nodded Sarah, standing to go with them to the front door, then hesitating. “You won’t…well, Katherine-”
“Your secret’s safe with us,” assured Charlotte gently. “We won’t say a word.” She looked up at her husband, who nodded, and took her arm as they stepped out into the cool autumn night. Sarah watched them walk down the short garden path, then shut the door and looked up the stairs towards Katherine’s bedroom. Charles came out of the lounge and slipped a comforting arm around her shoulders.
“It’ll be ok,” he said softly, as Sarah leant against him, burying her head in his chest and breathing in his warm, musky scent. “Everything’s going to be all right.”
Sarah nodded, and shut her eyes, trying her very best to make herself believe him.
Out in the forest, two figures stood together outside a shabby wooden hut, wondering what was taking Gareth and Frobisher so long.
"Why aren't they back yet?" asked Ruth, leaning against Reuben and sighing.
"I don't know," answered Reuben, resting his head on her scarlet curls. "Wait, someone's coming." He looked up, peering through the shadowy trees.
"Why only one?" whispered Ruth, suddenly alert.
Frobisher burst into the clearing, his black hair messier than ever and green eyes wide.
"They killed him!"
"What?" asked Ruth, confused. "Who killed who?"
"The wizards - they killed Gareth!" panted Frobisher, leaning heavily against a tree. "There was this...wave. It killed him. He's dead."
The three werewolves stared at each other for a long moment then Ruth's face hardened and she smiled grimly at the other two. "They're going to pay for this."
One week later, they carried out that promise.
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September 14th, 2009, 2:43 am
Chapter 6 - Promises, promises...
Sarah Archer turned around to see her six year old daughter standing in the kitchen doorway.
“Where's Remus?” asked Katherine, her blue eyes looking imploringly up at her mother, willing her to sort everything out. Sarah sighed, drying her hands on a tea towel, and picked Katherine up gently. “He had to go away, darling.”
“But…” said Katherine quietly, confusion clear on her face. “But he didn’t say goodbye.”
“Well you see, someone in his family had an accident and they had to move to look after him,” said Sarah softly.
Katherine frowned, looking up at her mother distrustfully. “He would have said goodbye. He wouldn't have just left.”
“I know, honey, but sometimes these things happen-”
“Well they shouldn't,” yelled Katherine angrily, twisting out of her mother's grip and running upstairs to her room.
Why would Remus have left? He was supposed to be her friend, why had he abandoned her? She glared at her reflection in the mirror. Had it been her fault he'd left? Was that why everyone was being so secretive?
The light streaming through the window fell on the charm bracelet Remus had given her for her birthday, making the silver ornaments sparkle merrily.
‘It's magic,’ he'd said, grinning. ‘It protects you from evil people.’
Hadn't stopped him from leaving her though, had it?
She scowled, tugging the bracelet off and throwing it into a corner. Fine, if Remus didn't want to be friends with her, she wasn't going to be friends with him.
“Katherine?” called her mother, knocking on the bedroom door. “Are you all right?”
Katherine leapt onto her bed and dived under the covers. She didn't want to talk to anyone right now, she just wanted to be left alone.
“Katherine?” Sarah called again, trying the door handle. “Katherine, open the door.”
Underneath the quilt, Katherine frowned. The door didn't have a lock, how on earth did her mother suppose she was keeping it shut?
“Go away,” muttered Katherine, clutching the ring that hung on a chain around her neck tightly. She'd had it for as long as she could remember and though it was far too big for her to wear properly, she'd always loved it. The sapphires that were studded around it matched the colour of her eyes perfectly and as stupid as it sounded, it always brought her comfort when she needed it most.
After a while, she heard her mother sigh and walk quietly away, leaving Katherine totally alone.
“Hey, how was your day?” asked Charles when he got home from work, smiling at his wife.
“Well, Katherine locked herself in her room at eleven o'clock this morning and hasn't come out since. Oh, and some rookie from the Ministry came round at one and tried to wipe my memory, so I threw a frying pan at him, but apart from that…the day's been pretty uneventful, really,” answered Sarah, taking a sip of tea.
“Oh,” said Charles, loosening his tie. He paused, frowning. “Is there a lock on Katherine's door?”
“No,” said Sarah flatly. “But good luck trying to get the door open. I don't think she even realises she's doing it.”
Charles frowned, putting an arm around his wife's shoulders. “You said someone tried to wipe your memory?”
“Hmm? Oh yeah, this wizard turned up, I think his name was Alex or Alastor or something. Anyway, he asked if I'd seen any wolves recently. I told him no, but I'd seen a werewolf and he went pale and tried to use obliviate on me. I had to hurl a frying pan at him so he'd stop jabbering long enough to listen. I don't think he'd had much experience with muggles - it's not funny, stop laughing,” scolded Sarah, looking reprovingly at her husband.
“Sorry, I was just imagining him filing a report on you: Assault with a kitchen utensil.”
“Oh shut up, it was the first thing to hand,” reprimanded Sarah, though she couldn't help smiling slightly.
“Who's Mummy been assaulting?” asked a small voice from above them.
They looked up to see Katherine sitting on the stairs, peering down at them through the banister.
“No one, honey,” smiled Sarah. “Feeling better?”
Katherine shrugged and asked blankly: “He's not coming back is he?”
“No, I don't think so. I'm sorry,” said Charles gently.
Katherine appeared to consider this and then said quite simply: “Ok.”
Her parents exchanged confused glances but Katherine had already disappeared back upstairs.
“D'you think she's going to be all right?” asked Sarah, uncertainly.
“Yeah, she's just upset at the moment. She'll be fine in a couple of days. She's strong.” Charles smiled, squeezing her shoulder reassuringly.
“She's only six,” said Sarah, worriedly.
“Don't worry,” said Charles soothingly. “I have a feeling she's going to be fine whatever happens. If she's anything like her mother, she can handle anything.” He kissed her on the forehead and smiled reassuringly. “She'll be fine; we'll all be fine. I promise.”
Sarah nodded, leaning against him. He was right, Katherine would turn out all right. They'd make sure she did.
[One year later]
“Are you sure, you'll be alright? I don't like leaving you on your own...” fretted Sarah. “It's just I forgot to get the fireworks and-”
“Just go, Mum,” laughed Katherine, grinning at her. “I'm seven years old. I'll be fine.”
Sarah still looked anxious. “I won't be more than ten minutes and don't answer the door, don't go outside and don't-”
“-answer the phone, I know. Just go, I can look after myself,” finished Katherine, rolling her eyes.
“Well, alright,” frowned Sarah. “Ten minutes, all right?”
“Ten minutes,” agreed Katherine, knowing full well it would take her mother at least fifteen.
“Ok,” sighed Sarah, grabbing her coat and hurrying out of the door.
Katherine shook her head at her mother's constant anxieties. She wandered into the lounge and turned on the radio, grinning as the dulcet tones of Don Mclean drifted from the speakers. She climbed into an armchair and hummed along happily to the song, flicking through her school reading book.
She sighed, wondering why on earth teachers thought these books made for a thrilling read. She glanced down at the story they were currently reading.
‘Peter has some marbles. Jane does not have any marbles. Jane is sad. Peter gives Jane half of his marbles. Jane is very happy.’
And Peter is a fool for giving away half his marbles, thought Katherine dryly, shutting the book in disgust. She reached for the stereo remote control and turned the volume up, dancing around the room and miming along with the lyrics.
“...do you believe in rock and roll? Can music save your mortal soul? And can you teach me how to dance, real slow...”
Suddenly she stopped dead, eyes alighting on the strange figure in the doorway. A man was standing there, his blue eyes watching her with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.
“How did you get in?” she asked softly, staring at him.
“Uh, are your parents in?” he asked, as the radio proclaimed that it was a lonely teenager with a pink carnation and a pickup truck.
“No. How did you get in?” repeated Katherine, stepping away from him. The window was only a few feet away and if he came any closer she could climb out of it.
“I really think I should talk to your parents-” he began, stepping forward and halting abruptly, looking very much as though he'd walked into something solid. Katherine frowned as he reached out in front of him, pushing against some kind of invisible barrier.
“How are you doing that?” he murmured, gazing curiously at her.
“What?” she asked, staring blankly at him. “I'm not doing anything.”
“Then what's causin-” He paused, catching sight of something hanging around her neck. The ring dangling on a fine silver chain was glowing ever so slightly, the sapphires glimmering gently. “Where did you get that?” he asked quietly, gesturing to the ring.
Katherine looked distrustfully at him, closing her hand around the ring, completely unaware of the force field it was producing.
“Get what?” she asked, turning the radio off and looking dumbly at him. Childish stupidity was invariably the best weapon to use against adults; it drove them mad.
“The one you're holding,” said the man, frowning at her.
“I'm not holding anything,” said Katherine, casting another glance towards the window.
“Yes you are!”
“No I'm not.”
The man sighed despairingly. “I'll just wait here until your parents get back then, shall I?”
Katherine shrugged and walked over to the telephone, and was just reaching for the receiver when the man called out to her again.
“Hey, wait! What are you doing?” he asked, a tinge of anxiety in his voice. “Put that down.”
“Yes, hello? Can I have the number for the Bristol police station please?” said Katherine calmly, ignoring the man who was trying so desperately to get her attention.
“Not the police, you don't have to call the police!” he was saying, voice boarding on hysterical now.
“Thank you,” said Katherine, ending the call and typing in another number.
“Look, here, I have chocolate,” said the stranger coaxingly, pulling a large slab of chocolate from inside his long coat. But no, it wasn't a coat was it? It was a cloak.
Katherine put her hand over the mouthpiece and gave him a funny look. “I'm not supposed to talk to strangers, much less take sweets from them,” she said coolly.
“I'm not a stranger, I know your parents,” he said franticly.
“You're wearing a dress,” said Katherine slowly, expression clearly stating that if this wasn’t strange, she didn’t know what was.
“It's not a dress!” the man protested. “They're robes.”
“It’s a dress,” said Katherine firmly, turning her attention back to the phone call. “Hello, could I speak to Sergeant Archer, please?” There was a pause. “No, it's his daughter." Another pause. “Yes it is an emergency... Yes I am seven, what of it?”
The man looked imploringly at her. “I'm not going to hurt you-”
“Shut up,” she scowled, then: “No, not you. I was talking to transvestite in my living room.”
“Hey!” yelled the man, looking hurt.
“No… Why would I have hit my head? Could I just talk to the Sergeant please? Thank you.” She rolled her eyes exasperatedly, addressing the funny man. “Why do people stop listening as soon as you tell them how old you are? It's not fair.”
The man shrugged helplessly, sinking down to the floor. At least she was only informing her father, rather than the entire police force that there was a wizard in her house – assuming, of course, that she knew he was a wizard.
“Hello Daddy? There's a weird man in the house who says he knows you.” She paused, listening to the reply then looked up at the man. “He wants to know your name.”
“Alastor,” sulked the man. “Alastor Moody.”
Katherine listened for a while longer then smiled and said goodbye to her father. She put the phone down and looked shrewdly up at Alastor.
“Ok, so you do know Mummy and Daddy, but that still doesn't explain how you got in. All the windows and doors are locked and I didn't hear anything. I suppose you came down the chimney like Santa, did you?”
“Well...” began Alastor, but the sound of keys jangling in the lock cut him off; Sarah was home.
“Katherine? Are you ok?” she called, setting the shopping bags down in the hall and shutting the door.
“I'm in here,” called Katherine, eyeing Alastor suspiciously. Sarah walked in and started when she saw Alastor slumped on the floor.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, staring at him.
“We've had reports of werewolf activity around here,” said Alastor, getting to his feet.
“John informed the Ministry of that a year ago,” frowned Sarah. “Why are you only acting now?”
“The boss thought it was an isolated incident and since the werewolf in question died, well, he didn't think it necessary to investigate further,” explained Alastor, apologetically.
Katherine was looking from one adult to the other, getting more and more confused. Werewolves weren't real, were they? Magic was only in fairy stories and games, it didn't actually exist...
“But there were two different attacks,” said Sarah, looking annoyed.
“Yeah, um, there was a mix up and we got the first report after the second,” said Alastor, looking embarrassed on behalf of his department. “The DCMC presumed it was the same werewolf and had therefore died.”
“DCMC?” asked Sarah, looking confused.
“Department for the Control of Magical Creatures,” clarified Alastor. “Not my usual department of course, but things are pretty quiet on the Auror front at present so they've got us doing odd jobs for everyone else.”
Katherine stared up at them, things finally starting to fit together in her mind. Werewolves were real and there had been two attacks last year.
She remembered all too well the black haired man with insane emerald eyes that had tried to abduct her last year but she'd always presumed it had been a nightmare as no one had mentioned it since, and the tent was good as new when she'd sneaked a look at it. So that was one attack, and the other...?
The other attack had been made on Remus; that's why he'd moved. If he'd moved. Maybe he'd been killed... But no, Remus couldn't be dead; she'd know if he was. Right?
“Mummy?” she asked softly. Sarah looked down at her, gazing into her child's large blue eyes.
“Magic's real, isn't it?”
Sarah was silent for a moment. Now that it came to it, she wasn't sure if she wanted to reveal her wizarding world to her daughter. She'd survived seven years without knowing the truth, surely one more year couldn't hurt...
But there was no lying to those eyes and Katherine had to know sometime. Sarah took a deep breath and gazed calmly at her daughter.
“Yes, it is,” she sighed. “In fact, I think we need to have a talk, Katherine. There are a few things you ought to know...”
October 3rd, 2009, 1:10 am
Chapter 7 - Letter from a friend
Remus Lupin sat on the stone wall outside a small thatched cottage, gazing despondently down the dirt track that passed for a main road, hoping for someone, anyone, to come along and ease the boredom.
He'd been living in the countryside for a year now and the novelty had long ago worn off. He missed his friends, he missed Katherine, hell, he even missed William. He would have given just about anything to go back, even for day and to be rid of this stupid condition.
He sighed, looking up into the clear blue November sky and wondering if he'd ever be normal again. He frowned suddenly as his sharp brown eyes caught sight of a black shape gliding smoothly over the woods on the opposite side of the lane. It dropped down as it came closer, landing clumsily on the wall and it would have overbalanced had Remus not reached out and steadied it.
The raven looked up at him with small black eyes and promptly stuck out it's leg. Remus frowned and untied the letter that had been strapped there. The raven fluttered up into a tree, free of it's burden, and perched precariously on a branch, it's beady eyes still fixed on him.
Remus glanced down at the envelope, wondering which of his parents it was intended for and saw to his surprise that it was addressed in carefully printed letters, to R J Lupin. He flipped it over, wondering whether or not to open it - who on earth would be writing to him? Drawn on the back of the envelope in black crayon was a picture.
== & ==
Remus stared at it for a while, mind racing. The crayoned picture had smudged in places, but it was still recognisable as a cat. Why would someone draw a cat on an envelope? Remus had received letters from the Ministry before, but they always had wax seals with a Ministry crest stamped onto them, never a cat, and even if they did, he doubted they would use crayon.
He was still gazing at it when the raven, tired of waiting, fluttered down from it's branch, landed shakily on the wall and nipped his hand impatiently.
“All right, all right,” he said, sighing. “I'm opening it.” He slit the envelope open and pulled out the sheet of paper inside. The letter, written in thick black pencil, read as follows:
Your very rude. First you leave with out saying bye, and then you don't rite to me? It's been over a year - you should be ashamed of yourself. At least I had an excuse - I didn't no your address, but you know mine so you should have writen.
How ar you? Mummy and Daddy say you're a wizard. Well guess what, I'm a which and that means we will both go to Hogwarts when we are older. I'm going to a muggle skool at the moment – the same one as Will. (Hoo is still as thick as ever.)
Do you go to skool? Mummy said you don't have to becos your Ministree doesn't make you. Do your parents teech you? Is your new house nice? Hav you maid any new fiends?
Mummy and Daddy said you won't be able to come back and visit ever, but now I have Bane (he was a birthday present) so I decided to rite to you insted. They don't no I'm riting too you, but Daddy all ways says what you don't no, can't hurt you.
Please rite back, I miss talking to you,
Remus stared at the letter, hardly daring to believe it. Katherine had written to him; Katherine had written to him. And...
He scanned the letter again. Yes, he had read that right - she was a witch. Why had he not known that? And perhaps more importantly, why had she not known that? He knew muggle children sometimes developed magical powers, but his father had said they didn’t know what was causing the strange things that happened around them until they turned eleven, and received their Hogwarts acceptance letter. Katherine had only just turned eight, so how on earth had she found out?
He skimmed through the letter once more, hardly daring to believe it was really there. The raven pecked his hand again, bringing him back to reality. He glanced down at it, a broad grin spreading across his face.
“Wait there, I'll be back in five minutes,” he ordered, leaping off the wall and sprinting towards the house, Katherine's letter clutched tightly in his hand.
He burst through the front door and bounded up the stairs, ignoring his mother's anxious inquiries as to what was wrong, and dashed into his room. After a few minutes rummaging, he unearthed a pencil and some parchment and lay on the floor to begin his letter.
He'd got as far as Dear Katherine, when his mother knocked on the door.
“Is everything all right, sweetheart?” she asked, peering into the room.
“Fine,” he answered, shoving the writing utensils under his bed.
“Only you were in such a hurry just now. Did something scare you?” she persisted, studying him apprehensively.
“Uh... There was a...fox...in the bushes,” Remus lied hesitantly. “It surprised me.”
His mother smiled gently. “You are a silly billy, aren't you? Foxes won't harm you. They're more frightened of you than you are of them, you know.” And with these wise words of wisdom, she closed the door carefully and descended the stairs once more.
Remus waited until he heard her start the washing up in the kitchen before he reached under the bed and pulled out his letter again. Katherine had said her parents knew nothing of her correspondence with him, and Remus was pretty sure his parents would only get worried if he told them he was writing to her, so he thought it best to keep it a secret – for now at least.
It might not matter soon in any case, once Katherine found out what he was. He bent over the letter, wondering how to start. He had to tell her he was a werewolf, of course he did, but then what if she told someone else? What if she reacted like everyone else had? What if she didn't want to know him anymore?
He was already finding it hard dealing with the way strangers looked at him once they discovered his condition, half pity, half something else; he didn't think he could bear to see the same expression on Katherine’s face.
Even so, she had to find out sometime, and better sooner than later. He knew his Mum and Dad were already having a difficult time trying to get him enrolled at Hogwarts, and if he didn't get in, Katherine would want to know why. If he did get in, she could hardly fail to notice that he turned in a flesh eating monster once a month. No, it was best to be honest from the start.
He took a deep breath and looked at the blank piece of paper before him. Probably best to keep it short – then if she didn't send one back, at least he wouldn't have given himself too much false hope. Very slowly, he began to write.
I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye. Mum and Dad thought it best to leeve quietly. We had to leeve becos I had an accident. I wos biten by a werewolf and now I am one. I understand if you don't want to rite anymoor, but I want you to kno you were a really great friend.
Remus read through it, then, feeling distinctly apprehensive he slipped out of his room and made his way outside with considerably less vigour than his original trip. He found Bane perched in a birch tree and tied the letter quickly to his leg before sending him on his way.
He watched the raven until it disappeared over the tree tops and then, feeling lonelier than ever, he turned around and shuffled inside.
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October 18th, 2009, 5:29 pm
Chapter 8 – Roll with it
Monday morning dawned bright, fresh and cold. Remus lay huddled in bed with one of the many books he owned, and tried not to think about yesterday's letter. Eventually he gave up reading; the prospect of Katherine's reply, or lack of it, filling his mind. Books could never compare with real friendship.
A sharp tapping on his window made Remus leap out of bed and climb the chair that sat beneath it. He stared anxiously out into the sharp black eyes of a raven; it had a letter tied to it's leg.
Remus fumbled with the catch and pushed the window up, allowing the bird entry to his room. It fluttered in, landing on his bed post and promptly offered it's leg. Remus detached the note and unfolded it hurriedly, still unsure whether he wanted to read it or not.
He needn't have worried.
What are you on about? Why woodn't I want to be your friend? I know your a wherewolf. We had some wizards come around a few weeks ago looking for it. I guessed that was why you had to leave. You're wierd.
PS: That letter wos abismallee short.
Remus had to read the letter a full five times before it sunk in. She knew – Katherine knew he was a werewolf, and what's more, she'd known before she even wrote to him. She knew...and she didn't care. In fact, she seemed far more concerned with the length of his message than his condition.
Remus grinned, snatched up pencil and parchment from his desk, and began his letter...
Charlotte Lupin couldn't understand the change that came over her son during the next few weeks. He went from being quiet and reserved to...well, almost normal. And he hadn't been able to stop grinning for days.
Whenever she or her husband questioned his sudden change of mood, Remus just grinned wider and told them it was nothing. Eventually they'd decided to just accept it – whatever it was, it made their son happy and that was all that mattered.
In another burst of good fortune, they received a letter that week from the headmaster of Hogwarts, informing them that Remus would be able to attend Hogwarts in four years time if he so wished. The letter indicated that the Ministry of Magic had agreed that, providing all safety requirements were met, Remus would be eligible to a full education just like everyone else. Dumbledore did not say what the requirements were, nor how they would be met, but the news was most welcome all the same.
The only odd thing Charlotte and John observed, was that as soon as they'd given Remus the good news, he ran upstairs, locked himself in his bedroom for half an hour, and refused to tell them what he was doing.
In fact, the only other person who ever discovered the reason behind this bizarre behaviour was a seven year old girl with jet black hair and bright blue eyes. Katherine Archer grinned as she read her friend's jubilant letter and sighed happily, glancing at the calendar on her bedroom wall and mentally ticking off another day till she'd get to see Remus again. Only four years to go...
Then, two years later, disaster struck once again in the form of a innocuous white envelope. A nine year old Katherine frowned as she gazed out of her bedroom window, deliberating over her newest letter to her best friend. She'd got as far as: Dear Remus, before she'd stopped. How was she supposed to tell him this?
She turned her fountain pen over and over in her hands, not knowing how to continue. ‘Dear Remus, I'm moving to France. Good luck at Hogwarts. Love Katherine’, didn't seem very appropriate somehow and yet there was no way of breaking it to him gently.
She dropped the pen on her desk and scowled out at the bright July afternoon. According to her parents, her father had been offered a new job in Paris, and that was that – they were going. It wasn’t that Katherine didn’t like France – they went there every summer, and she loved it, and thanks to her private school education, she’d been able to speak the language for years, but moving there was a different matter.
Her parents didn’t seem to care that Katherine would have to move schools and make a whole new set of friends, or that she’d never get to go to Hogwarts now. Apparently there was another school – Beauxbaton – that French witches and wizards went to, so that’s where she was going to end up.
It was just all so sudden, and it was made more shocking by the fact that Katherine hadn’t even been aware her dad had applied for a job in the French police. They’d never even mentioned perhaps getting a holiday home in France, let alone moving there permanently, and now…
She sighed heavily, picked up her pen, and began to write.
Remus was climbing an apple tree at the bottom of his garden when the letter arrived. The apples weren't quite ripe yet, but the thick foliage hid him from any prying eyes. Bane fluttered onto a branch just above him and squawked a greeting.
Remus grinned and pulled himself onto a sturdy branch so he could read Katherine's letter. He untied it from Bane's leg and the raven immediately hopped away and began pecking at the young apples. Remus chuckled and turned the envelope over to slit it open. That was when he first noticed that something was wrong; there was no drawing over the seal.
Ever since her first letter, Katherine had always drawn some form of feline on the back of the envelope, partly as a sort of seal and partly as a private joke between the two friends. Remus always drew a crescent moon or a wolf on the back of his. She couldn't have forgotten, and yet it was definitely from her. The writing on the envelope matched hers, and Bane was her pet.
Remus frowned and opened the envelope, tugging the stiff paper out, unfolding it, and beginning to read.
October 27th, 2009, 5:35 am
Chapter 9 – Hogwarts
Remus Lupin sat in the end compartment of the Hogwarts Express and gazed out of the window at the scenery chugging past. The train had left the station a few minutes ago, leaving behind many tearful parents and just as many jubilant ones, glad to have the house to themselves without the children constantly under their feet.
Remus pulled his train ticket out of his pocket once more, trying to reassure himself he wasn't dreaming. He grinned as he read it and settled back in his seat. This was it: he was really going to Hogwarts.
Suddenly the compartment door burst open and two boys tumbled in, laughing about something. They stopped abruptly when they caught sight of Remus and looked guilty. Remus looked back expectantly, but just as one of the boys opened his mouth to say something, the door slid open again and a tall girl with gleaming ebony hair appeared.
“Sirius Black, get out here this instant,” she demanded, glaring at the boy whose silky black hair fell in his dark eyes.
“Is something wrong, cousin?” asked the boy innocently, as his friend dropped into the seat next to Remus, grinning wickedly.
“Wrong? Wrong? Sirius, you do realise I'll be writing to your mother about this,” the girl called Bella growled, scowling at Sirius.
“About what?” asked Sirius, eyes wide in a bad imitation of innocence.
The girl eyed Sirius for a moment, her expression torn between anger and amusement. “You can't honestly believe that Lucius' hair is naturally fluorescent pink, dear cousin. And you can stop that smirking, boy,” she added, throwing the boy sitting next to Remus a scornful look. “You're lucky Lucius didn't see you or you'd both be in detention for the rest of term.”
“I notice you haven't told him who it was,” chipped in Sirius, collapsing onto the seats opposite Remus and grinning up at his cousin. “You’re so sweet.”
“I promised your mother I'd look out for you,” sniffed Bella. “And speaking of looking out for you, you'd better come with me. I'll introduce you to your new room mates.”
“Sirius will be sharing with me,” interjected the boy with messy hair, speaking for the first time since Remus had seen him.
“You?” laughed Bella, looking at him with an expression that seemed torn between amusement and derision. “And who exactly are you, pray?”
“James Potter,” replied the boy promptly, running a hand through his hair and making it stick up at the front.
“Potter?” repeated Bella, her face now clearly showing her contempt. “And you think you’ll be sharing with Sirius, do you? Members of the Black family do not get sorted into Gryffindor, Potter.”
“Our great uncle was a Potter,” said Sirius, ignoring Bella and propping himself up on an elbow to look at James. “Charlus. Any relation?”
“Oh him, yeah,” frowned James. “Married a Slytherin. We don’t talk about him much.”
“Excuse me,” interjected Bella, glaring at James before turning back to Sirius. “But you really have to come with me now.”
“No, I think I’m all right here, thanks,” said Sirius lazily, lying back across the seats. “James and…” He glanced over at Remus, pointedly, who hurriedly supplied:
“Remus.” Sirius nodded his thanks, and continued:
“…Remus here will keep me company, I’m sure. What’s the Gryffindor common room look like, do you know?”
“Sirius Black, don't be ridiculous,” said Bella through gritted teeth. “Every Black for the past ten generations has been in Slytherin. No Black was ever sorted into Gryffindor: it'd be a disgrace. Now-” She stopped as there was a shout further down the train.
“Hadn't you better go sort that out?” asked Sirius scornfully, gazing idly at the ceiling. “You are a prefect, aren't you?”
Bella glowered at him for a moment longer, then slid the door shut with rather more force than was necessary.
“Ten generations?” asked James as soon as she'd left. Sirius scowled, and nodded morosely.
“Someone got put in Ravenclaw once. No one spoke to her for a month - at least that's what Father said,” he sighed, running a hand through his black hair. He glanced up and caught sight of Remus' bemused expression. “Sorry about that. Bella’s a bit…intense.”
“No problem,” said Remus, smiling timidly.
“You got any crazy relatives around?” grinned James.
“No, it’s just me,” said Remus, swallowing nervously. His parents had always planned to have more children, but after he was bitten they’d had to rethink things.
“Same here,” nodded James amiably, before turning his attention to Sirius again. “So, is it just Bella that you know, then?”
“Nah, I’ve got tons of cousins,” shrugged Sirius, pushing himself into a sitting position and flicking hair out of his eyes with a toss of his head. “Got a younger brother too, but he doesn’t start school for another two years. Met some other people at parties and stuff too, you know?”
Remus shook his head, but James nodded. “Yeah, some of Mum and Dad’s friends have kids that are already here.”
“But you don’t know anyone?” questioned Sirius, his dark eyes observing Remus critically. “No one at all?”
“I- No,” said Remus hesitantly, and James and Sirius exchanged confused looks.
“Are you muggle born, then?” asked James, frowning a little.
“No, I’m half blood,” said Remus, sitting up a little straighter. “My family’s just not very sociable, I suppose.”
“Well never mind, you know us now,” said Sirius, with a light shrug, and pulled a pack of cards out of his jacket pocket. “Ever played Exploding Snap before, Remus?” he asked, smirking slightly. Remus shook his head. He hadn't had much contact with the Wizarding World himself, all his knowledge coming from what his mother and father had told him. “It’s fun,” grinned Sirius, sharing a knowing glance with James. “You'll like it.”
A few singed eyebrows and many miles later, the Hogwarts Express pulled into Hogsmeade Station and the students piled out, laughing and talking, or in the first years’ case, staring wide-eyed at the giant of a man who seemed to be indicating that they follow him.
Sirius pointed out a haughty looking group of seventeen year olds as they pushed their way through the sea of students.
“They’re the Slytherin seventh years,” he told Remus and James in a low voice. “You'll steer clear of them if you know what's good for you. In fact, steer clear of Slytherins in general. They're all a bunch of losers.”
“Didn’t that girl say you were going to be in Slytherin?” asked Remus warily, spotting Bella amongst the group Sirius had indicated. He was slightly worried of annoying Sirius when they'd just spent the past few hours forming some sort of tenuous friendship, but Sirius just pulled a face and said carelessly:
“What, Bella? I don’t give a toss what she thinks. I’m leaving if I get sorted into Slytherin.”
James laughed and grinned at Remus' shocked expression. “Quite right too. Gryffindor’s the only place to be,” said James as the first years reached a lake, on which there sat a row of small boats. The giant man, whom Remus had heard addressed as Hagrid, gestured for them to get into the boats and they all clambered in. A brown haired girl took the fourth place in their boat and grinned at Sirius.
“You managed to escape Bellatrix, then?” she asked breathlessly. “I’ve only just been able to get away.”
“You should have stuck with me, Andy,” smirked Sirius. “Has she introduced you to all your new room mates then?”
“Yes,” grumbled Andromeda, tossing her brown hair over her shoulder as the boats started to move. “There's Nicola Meliflua – Aunt Meliflua's great niece, and Cassandra Rookwood – that's Augustus' sister. Oh yes, and Fiona Parkinson – face like a pig,” she sniffed, casting a dark look over at the boat that held the aforementioned blonde girl. “And one more, who was it? Oh yeah, Alexandra McKenzie. She's the red head. Got a twin brother called James, too.”
“There's another James?” asked James Potter, frowning, and Remus was certain he wouldn't have minded so much had the other James not been destined for Slytherin. Andromeda nodded and pointed at a red haired boy sitting with three other boys, a few boats away.
“But don't worry, he likes to be called Jamie by all accounts,” said Andromeda, as the boats glided silently to a halt. James didn't looked much assuaged by this news but Remus didn't have time to dwell on it because the first years were being herded out into the legendary Entrance Hall of Hogwarts.
A stern looking witch by the name of Professor McGonagall gave them all a speech about Houses and so forth which Remus was too excited to pay much attention to, and then opened the doors to the Great Hall and led them in.
The Sorting Hat was placed on a stool at the front of the hall and, after singing its song, Professor McGonagall pulled a list of names out of her robes and began to read them. As she did so, James nudged Remus and gestured up at the ceiling; Remus nearly gasped in surprise.
“It's enchanted. Looks like the sky outside,” whispered James as the students around them began applauding the first new student. Remus glanced down to see who had been sorted – he'd missed it in his fascination with the ceiling, but all he found out was that the student had gone into Slytherin. He caught sight of Bellatrix who was looking judiciously down the table at the new arrival, an odd expression on her face.
Avery, Robert was also sorted into Slytherin, and then it was the girl who'd shared their boat – Andromeda Black, Remus discovered. The hat was silent for about half a minute and then it declared in firm voice:
There was an audible gasp from the Slytherin table as Andromeda removed the hat and set it back down on the stool with trembling fingers, before making her way over to her new house table. Beside Remus, Sirius was grinning at his cousin, while on the Slytherin table, Bellatrix was glaring furiously at her sister.
“Black, Sirius,” called Professor McGonagall calmly.
Sirius strode forward and put the hat on his head. It fell down over his eyes and remained there for well over a minute. Eventually, after much consideration, the hat finally made a decision.
There was total silence for a full five seconds, then the Gryffindor table started cheering and the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs joined in. The Slytherins remained quite still as Sirius made his way over to the Gryffindor table. Bellatrix, Remus noted, was looking murderous.
The list continued, drawing inexorably closer to Remus' name. Remus distracted himself by trying to imagine what Katherine was doing right now. The last letter from her had arrived almost three months ago, the day before she'd been due to move to France. They'd kept in contact of course, but ever since she'd revealed she was going to Beauxbaton, the letters had become fewer and far between. What was the point in retaining a friendship that was doomed from the start?
She'd given him Bane as a small reminder of their friendship, though. Even now, the raven was probably settling into the Owlery that Remus' parents had told him about, and Katherine? She'd be starting Beauxbaton right about now. Maybe even sorted – if Beauxbaton had houses. He sighed as Professor McGonagall read the next name on the list. Lacerta, Jessica, a pretty brunette who was promptly sorted into Ravenclaw. Then Longbottom, Frank was put into Gryffindor and finally Lupin, Remus.
“Good luck,” whispered James as Remus trotted forwards. Remus picked up the hat, dropped it onto his head and everything went dark. The hat started to mutter thoughtfully in his ear, debating on where to place him. Remus thought of James and Sirius, his newly found friends and thought Gryffindor, as hard as he could.
Gryffindor? The hat sounded amused. Are you sure? Slytherin is another exceptionally good House, you know? No? Oh well, nothing else for it then.
Remus beamed and made his way over to sit next to Sirius who was grinning at him. There were five other first year girls who'd already been sorted into Gryffindor and Frank Longbottom smiled nervously at him from his place next to a red haired girl, whom Remus remembered to be called Lily Evans.
The next three students were placed in Slytherin, then Elliot North was placed in Ravenclaw. Nott and Parkinson went into Slytherin, and a blonde haired girl called Rose Perseus sat on the stool for about a minute before the hat called out: “Hufflepuff!”
Pettigrew, Peter, joined Remus and Sirius at the Gryffindor table and then it was James' turn. The hat had barely touched his head before it yelled: “Gryffindor!”
“Excellent,” grinned Sirius, as James sat down opposite them.
“Wow! I've never seen anyone get sorted that quick!” whispered the plump boy called Peter, gazing up at James.
“Potters have been in Gryffindor for centuries,” said James smugly as Rookwood, Cassandra was sorted into Slytherin. “Congratulations by the way, Sirius. You've succeeded in thoroughly annoying the entirety of Slytherin House in one go.”
Sirius grinned, casting a look over his shoulder at the Slytherin table. “Andy got out too. I think I'll stay here for Christmas, you know. And Easter. Give mother and father some time to cool down.”
James laughed, but Remus thought he heard a touch of anxiety in Sirius' voice that told him his new friend wasn't joking. The sorting ended at last a few minutes later with Vernica, Carol, being sorted into Hufflepuff and by the time everyone had eaten their fill and the feast was over, Remus found he was exhausted. Therefore, when he found his bed that night, he collapsed onto it without undressing and was asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.
“Double Potions?” exclaimed Sirius in disgust the next morning. “Four perfectly good subjects to choose from and they give us double Potions with the Slytherins.”
“With the Slytherins?” asked Remus in surprise, checking his timetable. “I thought we got taught in our House groups?”
“We do,” answered James morosely. “But Potions is always mixed. Gryffindor with Slytherin, Ravenclaw with Hufflepuff.”
“Come on, we'd better get moving or we'll be late,” sighed Sirius, draining his orange juice and picking up his bag. Remus stood to follow him but before he could move more than a few steps, he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Professor McGonagall standing over him.
“Could I have a quick word, Remus?” she asked, not unkindly. Remus nodded – it wasn't as though he had much choice – and gestured for the others to go on ahead of him. He followed her to her office where she went over the conditions of the safety precautions the headmaster had set in place for his arrival.
She also added that on the night before full moon he was to report to the Hospital Wing and see Madam Pomfrey, the matron. The staff had been informed of his condition but it was up to him whether or not he wished to disclose his secret to other students. Remus nodded, deciding then and there never to tell anyone his secret. He'd just made friends for the first time in seven years – he didn't intend on losing them any time soon.
By the time she let him go, he was late for his first lesson and had to run down to the dungeons, whereupon he promptly got lost and had to ask a ghost for directions. When he arrived, well over twenty minutes late and had explained himself to the teacher, a jovial man by the name of Slughorn, he discovered that Sirius and James hadn't been able to secure him a place at their table. They looked apologetically at him and he sighed, taking the only other seat available.
He sat down and looked blankly at the table where it's three occupants were examining a pile of what Remus recognised as Potions ingredients.
“We've got to identify them,” said the girl opposite him, sighing heavily. She had gleaming red hair and dark brown eyes, and her tone indicated that she didn't like sitting near him anymore than he liked sitting near her.
A boy with the same noble features and flaming red hair sat next to her, turning a kidney shaped stone over in his elegant fingers. He glanced up at Remus for just long enough to give him a condescending look, and then turned back to classifying the stone.
Remus racked his brain for their names – he'd heard them twice already. Andromeda had mentioned them on the boat, and then he'd seen them being sorted. James and Alexandra McKenzie, that was it: the red haired twins.
He pulled out his Potions book and picked up a bottle of something vaguely fluid that shone gold in the torchlight.
“It's a bezoar, Jamie,” said Alexandra suddenly, showing him a picture in her own textbook. “Cures most poisons. Comes from- urg! A goat's stomach! That's disgusting!”
“I don't think you'll be worrying about that too much if you're an inch from death," said a quiet voice next to Remus. Remus glanced at the girl he'd sat next to, trying not to grin at the sour look on Alexandra's face. Straight black hair fell across the girl's face, but she tucked it behind her ear now as she flicked through her textbook. He didn't remember seeing her at the sorting yesterday – she must have been the one he'd missed when James had distracted him.
“How are you doing?” asked Professor Slughorn, as he approached their table. “Miss Archer?”
“Those are lace wings,” answered the girl, pointing to a scattering of fine gossamer wings that lay in a heap on the desk. “And Alexandra found out that was a bezoar,” she added, smirking slightly as she indicated the small, kidney shaped stone.
“Very good,” smiled Slughorn as someone waved their hand frantically in the air on the other side of the classroom. “Excuse me,” he smiled genially and hurried over to the desperate student.
“Archer?” asked Remus softly, hardly daring to believe his ears. The girl glanced around at him, enabling him to see her properly for the first time. Jet black hair cut into a neat fringe, dark blue eyes under thick lashes and pale white skin. “Katherine?” he whispered, gazing at those familiar features in utter astonishment. The girl stared at him for a moment, then her eyes widened in disbelief.
“Remus? Bloody hell, you've changed!” she exclaimed, still gaping at him.
“Have I?” asked Remus, both amused and disconcerted.
“Yeah, but, oh Remus!” Katherine beamed and pulled him into an impromptu hug, much to the disdain of Alex and Jamie.
“I thought you were going to Beauxbaton,” said Remus quizzically when she let him go.
“I was, but then Dad’s job fell through or something, and they changed their minds, and I couldn't contact you because I'd already sent you Bane, and what with the sorting and everything…I completely forgot,” gushed Katherine, still grinning insanely.
“You're telling me you didn't see him being sorted?” asked Jamie, regarding Katherine distrustfully through dark brown eyes.
“Avery was distracting me,” frowned Katherine, throwing a disdainful look across the dungeons at the blond boy. “Kept quizzing me on my parents.”
“It is true they're muggles?” interjected Alex quickly, and Remus could tell she'd been dying to ask this for quite some time now.
“I was adopted,” said Katherine, observing the red head coldly. “I don't know who my birth parents are.”
“You're probably a half blood or something then,” said Jamie, losing interest at once. “If you were pureblood, they wouldn't have abandoned you. Doubtless they couldn't stand the shame.”
Katherine gave Jamie an icy look and muttered a colourful word that Remus didn't know the meaning of, before turning back to identifying the ingredients. Remus grinned and opened his Potions book, feeling happier than he had in a long time. Not only did he have two new friends, but Katherine was back in his life.
He had a feeling he was going to have a great time at Hogwarts.
When they packed up after the lesson, Katherine slipped a note into his hand and smiled as Alexandra hustled her off to break. Apparently the red head had decided that Katherine needed looking after since she knew nothing of the magical world. Remus stashed the note in his pocket as James and Sirius appeared at his side.
“Sorry about that, mate,” grimaced James. “Sanders insisted on sitting with us. She's fallen out with the girls already.”
“Sanders?” asked Remus as they walked out of the classroom.
“Susan Sanders. The short brunette,” answered Sirius, sighing. “Never stops talking. What did McGonagall want to see you about, anyway? You were away ages.”
“Oh, um, family matter,” muttered Remus, thinking quickly.
“Everything all right?” asked James, as Sirius frowned sympathetically.
“Yeah, my Mum's a bit ill, that's all,” said Remus uncomfortably, as they went past a small group of Slytherins, Katherine amongst them. She gave him an odd look as he passed and Remus guessed she'd overheard him and, from her sceptical expression, had not believed a word.
He didn't see her again until dinner and only then remembered the note. He unearthed it from the depths of his pocket while Sirius and James argued about something Quidditch related, and read it quickly, grinning.
Tonight. 8:00pm. Trophy Room.
We've got a lot to catch up on.
You didn't think you'd be rid of me that easy, did you?
He glanced up at the Slytherin table just in time to catch Katherine's eye. She smiled faintly before frowning in annoyance at the black haired boy sitting next to her, who was asking her something. Remus stuffed the note back into his pocket and smiled to himself. Yes, it looked very much as though Hogwarts was going to be the best thing that ever happened to him.
“What you grinning at, Remus?” asked James suddenly; apparently the Quidditch debate had been either resolved or abandoned.
Remus looked up innocently. “Oh nothing. Just thinking.”
“About?” probed Sirius, giving him an amused look.
“You think about nothing a lot, huh?” Sirius laughed. Remus nodded and grinned back at his friend. For the first time in his life, he had friends. Real friends, that weren't going to leave him. Not yet anyway. Not until they found out what he was. But maybe they wouldn't find out - or not for a good while at any rate.
And if they did – if they left him... Well, he still had Katherine, and she had him.
They were stuck with each other, and this time, it was for good.
~ Fin ~