FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,

Challenges 6

I was going to wait until I finished all of them, but I think I've been pokey enough. Here are some more.

Something involving Lupin and teenage Tonks. Something light with humor and awkwardness (some angst is also okay). for reannanshaw

"It's your fault I'm freezing!" Tonks said, grabbing Daffy's old red sweatshirt and wrapping it around herself like a cape. She pulled up the hood and tied the lace. He was a lot taller than she was, and she practically swam in it. "You knew I couldn't balance on that curb, and that puddle was cold."

"And, what, I forced you to walk on the curb? You could have walked on the pavement like a normal person."

"Well, you walked on it, and what kind of girlfriend would I be if I didn't at least try to match you?"

"I think you're mixing up 'girlfriend' and 'competitive athlete.'"

She rolled her eyes at him, enlarging them a little bit for effect, then picked up their untouched picnic basket. "Well, I've got a friend around here. Grown-up. He can get me dried off. That's where I was taking you, anyway."

"A grown-up friend? Like… your parents' friend?"

"Well, yes, but no. He's my friend, too."

"And he's around… here." Daffy looked dubiously at the dilapidated row of flats in the wizarding section of Caerphilly, a neighborhood his parents didn't even like him to be in. He'd only come because Tonks had insisted, and he hadn't wanted her to think he was afraid. Most Welsh wizards went to Cardiff or even London when they needed magical supplies. The Caerphilly neighborhood had mainly been taken over by hags and other creatures that couldn't blend in very well. Dad said half of them were just squatting, but no one bothered them because no one would pay rent there, anyway.

"Yes," she said. "He lives here somewhere. I think he said… number…" She scanned the cracked doors, where numbers dangled from rusty screws. Her eyes finally stopped at the only one where the number was right-side up and straight. "Five," she said. "That one."

She set off briskly, a wide smile on her face, and was knocking sharply on the door by the time Daffy caught up with her.

It opened almost immediately, and Daffy's first thought was, It's me. It was a stupid thought, as thoughts went. The man on the other side of the door had to be thirty, and he was already starting to get gray hair. His face was lined. And no one seeing this man would ever call Daffy skinny again. Their features weren't even all that close.

But his hair was almost the same as Daffy's own, gray aside. His eyes were the same light color. And he had that tall, gangly look that was the bane of Daffy's existence. And there was something else, some way he stood, that felt uncomfortably familiar.

For a minute, the man looked at them in a confused way, then he said, "Dora? What in the world are you doing here?"

"I told you I was going to come see you. This is my boyfriend, Daffy Apcarne. Daffy, this is Remus Lupin."

The man turned to Daffy, and Daffy could see that he saw it, too. He blinked and shook his head, then turned back to Tonks. "I told you not to come. It's not safe down here."

She set down the picnic basket. "I always come to see you," she said. "And we brought lunch. Plus, I'm soaking wet, because Daffy pushed me in a puddle."

"I did not."

"In a metaphorical sense." She broadened her grin at Lupin. "Dry me off?"

Lupin sighed like he was taking on a heavy load. "Yes, all right. Come in."

Tonks smiled and gave him a little hug as she went by. Daffy just smiled at him, hoping that the weirdness he felt in it wasn't visible. Given Lupin's return smile -- which was flatly bizarre -- he guessed he wasn't so lucky.

Inside, the little flat was surprisingly -- impeccably -- neat. The threadbare rug was clean and even, the splintery furniture was free of dust. The wallpaper was a lost cause, but the walls had been thoroughly scoured of the sort of graffiti Daffy expected in a place like this. A small wooden table was piled with parchment and quills and old books, and a battered wardrobe with no door held a small selection of neatly hung robes.

"I like this place," Tonks said, looking around with interest while Lupin dried her off with a quick spell. "You should put up some of your drawings, though."

"I don't really draw anymore, Dora."

"That's just silly. He's really good, Daffy. Better than Sanjiv." She pulled off the sweatshirt and sat down in a much-repaired chintz armchair with stuffing coming out of the arm. "It's almost time for O.W.L.s," she said lightly. "I came up to study with Daff."

"This doesn't seem like studying," Lupin said. He waved his wand, and another chair appeared for Daffy.

"It's a lunch break." Tonks nodded toward the basket. "I packed enough for all three of us." She looked at Daffy. "Remus is a teacher. I thought we could pick his brains about Charms."

"You're a teacher?" Daffy repeated, sounding more surprised than he meant to.

"I was, once," Lupin said. "Dora, you're perfectly fine at Charms. You don't need help."

"I do if they test me on the householdy ones." She shuddered. "Mum says I'm utterly hopeless about the house. Should we have lunch?"

Lupin gave her a frustrated look, and this one, Daffy could interpret perfectly well: You did not need to feed me.

But he wasn't about to actually say it. Instead, he Conjured a table, waved his wand at the picnic basket, and set it to unpacking itself. "So," he said, turning to Daffy. "How long have you and Dora been… going out with one another? Ted and Andromeda didn't mention it."

"Oh. October," Daffy said. "A couple of Hogsmeade weekends. Quidditch games."

"You're in Hufflepuff, too?"

"Yeah." Something else needed to be said, so Daffy said the only thing he could think of. "Were you?"


"Oh," Daffy said, then stupidly added, "Charlie Weasley's in Gryffindor."

"Charlie's one of our friends," Tonks said. "He's the Seeker on their Quidditch team." With a grin she added. "That's the one that chases the Snitch. Which is the little flying ball."

"Ha-ha," Lupin said, his frustration melting into a kind of resigned fondness. "How have you been, Dora?"

"You'd know if you'd come visit me," she said loftily, then stuck out her tongue. "I'm fine. How about you?"

"Well enough." He started serving out lunch. "So, Daffy… is that short for something?"

"It's Dafydd," Daffy said, pronouncing it properly in Welsh -- "Davith" -- "but Tonks started calling me Daffy before we got out of London on the Hogwarts Express, and it's been that ever since. My mum pretends to cry."

"I don't think she's pretending. I don't think she likes me."

"She likes you fine. Everyone likes you."

"Snape hates me," Tonks offered.

"Snape hates everyone." Daffy turned to Lupin. "Snape's one of our teachers."

"I know Snape," Lupin said. "He gives you trouble?"

"Let's just say, I don't dare make a single Potions mistake. He'll look for any excuse to keep me out of N.E.W.T. level, and I need it if I'm going to be an Auror." She wrinkled her nose. "He called me Miss Black once when he was annoyed."

A deep shadow passed over Lupin's face. "Did he."

Tonks nodded. But she wasn't able to maintain her distaste for long. "So I just don't make Potions mistakes. He can't mark me down just for not liking me if I don't actually make mistakes."

"That's a good strategy," Lupin said. He glanced back at Daffy. "So, do you play Quidditch, or…"

"God, no. I can barely fly a broom straight."

Lupin laughed. "I know how that feels."

"Daffy's president of the Astronomy club," Tonks offered.

"Past president."

Tonks frowned. "Since when?"

He shrugged. "Maddie was doing more than me, anyway, so I just resigned last week." He looked apologetically at Lupin. "Which… didn't leave me doing much. I mean, I still go. I like the telescopes." This seemed like an exquisitely stupid thing to say, once it was out, but neither Tonks nor Lupin commented on it.

They got a bit more comfortable as they ate. Tonks talked about her upcoming exams, and Lupin mentioned that he'd been doing odd jobs. Daffy couldn't imagine why he didn't have a regular job; he seemed a level-headed sort of person with good credentials, given what he said about having apprenticed to McGonagall. Neither of them offered an explanation. Somehow, the three of them fell into a long conversation about a novel called The Sliver of the Years, which had been on the Daily Prophet's bestseller list for six months. Everyone at Hogwarts had read it because it was supposed to have contained an illicit time travel spell, but it turned out to be a fake. This became a discussion of the ethics of magical time travel, which turned into a historical review, which became an excoriation of the teaching of history at Hogwarts. About halfway through it, Daffy realized that he was taking part in an actual adult conversation, with no one questioning his presence or thinking he'd be bored. Tonks took this as a matter of course, but for him it was an anomaly. He liked it.

After lunch, Lupin magically cleaned up and put the dishes back into Tonks's picnic basket. "It's getting dark," he said. "I'm going to walk the pair of you out of the neighborhood."

"I can handle -- "

"Dora." He waited for her to stop talking. "This is not a safe place. Both of you look soft and like you might have money on you."

"I don't," Daffy offered.

"Which they won't find out until after they've jumped you. Come on."

He picked up the picnic basket and led them outside. Daffy was shocked to see that it was getting dark. Locals were out on the street now, capering around, drunk if they could afford it. A raggedy woman jumped out of a doorway and howled at Lupin. He muttered, "Hello, Jessamyn," and steered them past her. An old man with wild eyes -- maybe under the influence of something stronger than alcohol -- walked at their side for a while, raving about the full moon coming.

Finally, they went into the little shop that served as a conduit to the rest of the city. On the magical side, it was a seedy apothecary. On the Muggle side, it was a seedy chemist. Lupin hurried them through it and sat with them at the bus stop until he was sure they were safe on board. Tonks looked a bit cross at all of it.

They were halfway back across town before she spoke again, and then it was just to start scheduling their O.W.L. revision.

Daffy sighed and went along with it.

Sirius and Remus telling Harry a story about their time at Hogwarts that helps Harry see that his dad was a good person for Tsormick
[note: Alas, they never did get a chance, but I hope this attempt to fit it in the canon works. This just picks up in Shifts, after the fireplace conversation; Sirius had earlier wandered away muttering about his anger at Snape, and Remus just stayed in the kitchen]

Remus wasn't sure how long he sat at the kitchen table after Harry left the fireplace, staring at his book and not really absorbing anything on the page. He could hear Sirius upstairs, shoving furniture around in an ill-tempered way as he looked for Kreacher.

It was best to leave him alone when he was like this.

It wasn't until he went silent for a long time that Remus decided it was time to go talk about things.

He found Sirius in the parlor, pouring himself a glass of Firewhiskey and staring blindly up at the family tree.

"Did you find Kreacher?"

"Yes. The attic. He says he's been following orders like a good elf." Sirius sighed and summoned a second glass, pouring whiskey for Remus and banishing it over to him. "I can't leave it like this," he said. "Harry will have it in his head that… that that was all there was." He slammed his glass down on a table. The crystal-bedecked lamp on it fell over with a twinkling crash. "Bloody Snape. He'll have Harry thinking that James was nothing but a bully. While poor ickle Snivelly was just a put-upon little innocent."

"I doubt Harry will ever think that."

"Why not? He was in Snape's thoughts, and it's undoubtedly what Snape thinks. Poor, put-upon little Severus, everything just happens to him. You know Death-Eating. It happens to the best people."

"To be fair, he wasn't a Death Eater when you and James started in on him. Until Dumbledore told you, you weren't sure he was later."

"All right, we were monstrous little shits to him. And he was a monstrous little shit to everyone he resented. Most of the times James hit him, it was retaliation."

"You almost killed him that time you tried to sic me on him."

Sirius thought about it for a long time. "He was putting his nose into your business. I just… I wanted him to run off screaming. I reckoned he'd get as far as the trap door and realize that he was out of his depth, and then…" He waved it off. "I know I went too far. But I really wasn't trying to kill him. Just scare him a little. And it was…"


"It was right after I got disowned. My brother wasn't allowed to talk to me anymore and Snape was lording it over me that Regulus talked to him. Followed him around like bloody puppy. And Reg told me once that every time I got in fight with Snape, Snape took it out on him. He -- " Again, Sirius waved this off. "There's no point talking about Snape. He is what he is. It's James. I can't stand that Harry doesn't know who James was. He hears one thing that's different from what he thought, and suddenly, he's got this whole idea in his head… like one thing changes everything."

"That's the way people are."

"Only if they hear something they don't like. If he heard something good about… I don't know, Voldemort… If he heard Voldemort once did something nice, I don't think he'd suddenly be having a crisis of conscience about whether or not Voldemort's a bad guy."

Remus sighed. "Good beliefs are fragile. It's sad, but true." He sat down. "I don't know why it's true, exactly. What if you found out something bad about Dumbledore?"

"Like his having been friends with Gellert Grindelwald?"

"You… you know that?"

"James's mother told me. It all happened in Godric's Hollow; I expect everyone there knew. How did you know?"

"He told me himself," Remus said. "When I was making noises about how being a werewolf ought to be proof that I wasn't good enough for the Order."

"Exactly. Proof that one little thing doesn't disqualify you from being a good person. I've got to remind Harry of that."

"I wouldn't tell him about Dumbledore."


Remus sighed. "What stories do you want to tell him?"

"The true ones." Sirius took another swallow of his Firewhiskey. "I'd tell him about James in sixth year, when he rescued half the kids in Hogsmeade… remember?"

"The giant attack, yes. That's why Dumbledore chose him as Head Boy, even though he wasn't a prefect."

"Yes. He ran into the Three Broomsticks while it was collapsing and started carrying out third years who'd got trapped. I mean, sure, you and I and" -- he didn't say "Peter," but Remus knew it and heard it -- "were levitating the beams as well as we could with giants stomping about and shaking the ground, but it was James who actually ran in, and he knew we could lose hold any minute. He must've carried out eight kids before the Rescue Wizards made it past that barrier thing."

Remus nodded. It was the first time he'd realized, and then only dimly, that there had to be Death Eaters at Hogwarts, or at least sympathizers. The "barrier thing" that had kept out the rescuers had to be generated from both sides. Dumbledore had finally been able to force it down, and no one had ever been taken up on charges for it, but Remus was reasonably certain that the injuries a few of the Slytherins had been sporting on the way home came from backfiring spells rather than collapsing buildings. Snape had been one of them.

He shook off the memory. "That's a good one, but I think… well, I don't think Harry's doubting James's bravery right now. I'd tell him about when James was kind. When he invited me up for Christmas right after finding out that I was a werewolf."

Sirius grinned. "Mate, that was when you found out that he'd found out. He and I had been working it out all summer. We just needed a couple of months to test the theory."

"Well, then I'll point out that he never once hinted that he thought I might be monster."

"That's because you're not and never were."

Remus rolled his eyes. "Do you reckon he'd like to know about when he was a baby? Harry, I mean."

"At fifteen? Are you mad?"

"Just… if he could hear how much James loved him. And how much he loved Lily. And how she loved him, and… so on. How he said he loved to make the baby laugh better than he liked anything else. It might make him more real. Less… less what Snape saw."

"How Lily never stopped enjoying tweaking James's nose?" Sirius smiled. "And the cat. We should tell him about Billywig, and how James doted on that kitten, ever since he found him in the rain. Wasn't it the kitten that finally got her to agree to go out with him?"

"Yes… that's right. Wig was still sick from being out in Knockturn Alley. James thought someone had been practicing poisons on him. He couldn't get it worked out, so he went to Lily and he said that -- "

"Right, right! That she could call him any names she wanted, but couldn't she see about an antidote for the cat first. I'd almost forgotten about that. I don't think Lily ever looked back after that day."

"True enough. James used to say she'd really fallen in love with Wig, but -- "

" -- but he came with the deal." Sirius grinned. "I wonder if Harry'd like to know that. Did you know how your parents decided to get married?"

"Well, Mum had been after Dad since her apprenticeship started. Then I believe… I may have had something to do with the decision to marry."

Sirius made an exaggerated expression of shock.

"What about yours?"

"What's to say? They were cousins. Mum wanted the house. She probably threatened to curse Dad if he didn't marry her so she could have it. I think he might actually have loved her, if you can believe it. Never said so, but I used to sometimes catch him giving her a bit of a googly look." He gave a theatrical shudder. "And she deigned to let him stay in the house, so I suppose that's her idea of grand love. Or was."

Remus decided to get back to the point. "The thing is, we both knew our parents. By the time we were fifteen, we knew all of their stories. Harry doesn't. And right now, all he's got is Snape's notions. I think we'll need to fix that."

"How long will he have to stay with Tuney this summer?" Sirius asked, using Lily's name for her sister. "I mean, to keep up the magical fiction that she's his family. He can come here after and we can walk him through the whole family tree."

"Along with the Pensieve?"

"Absolutely. We'll tell him everything."

"Sounds like a plan," Remus said. "And on that note, I better get some sleep before classes tomorrow."

You mentioned in a previous ask the characters about a storyline where Sirius survived the DoM. Can I ask for the scene explaining how? for Siriuslyfan
(Note: Based on an AU where pretty much everyone lived and was more or less happy.)

"You can do better than that!" Sirius shouted, laughing. He hadn't dueled Bellatrix for years, and it was more fun than he remembered, no matter how deadly the curses were. He thought he might hit her with something simple and amusing next. Tentaculus, maybe. Tentacles around the face would be a good look on her.

She raised her wand, looking sly, and he knew she was about to throw something nasty.

"Sirius! Away!"

Dumbledore's voice boomed over the room as Bella's spell came at him, and he realized quite suddenly that he was standing in front of the veil in the Death Room. Instead of trying to raise a shield -- which would block her stunner, but quite probably throw him backward, as she no doubt planned -- he jumped to the side. The spell flew over his hip, about where his chest would have been, and the veil blasted inward for a moment.

"Oo," she said. "Bitty baby Sirius spotted Bella's trick."

He got to his feet. "I'll throw you through the blasted thing if you don't stand down. No messing with magic, either."

She giggled in a grotesque way.

"I mean it, Bellatrix. I'll --"

She slashed with her wand, interrupting the threat he was trying to think of -- the fun had gone out of things a bit when he realized she was actually trying to kill him -- and he dodged again, barely. This spell slashed a hole in the floor.

Bella twirled her hair around her wand, curling it absently while Sirius got to his feet. "Oo," she cooed again. "Little cousin is getting so very tired. He can't --"

Sirius jabbed his wand at her, trying to get a stun in, but she was as nimble as ever. She twirled, almost doing ballet, her robes swirling around her as she laughed brightly, like his spell was nothing more than a swirl of flower petals in the air. As her turn hit its apex, she casually turned her wand, and a harsh, bloody cut appeared on Sirius's arm, making him drop his wand.

He rushed for it and barely managed to grab it before she came to a stop and raised hers above her head. He managed a quick Levicorpus, flipping her over, but she found her footing immediately.

"Sirius!" Dumbledore yelled again, and for the first time, Sirius noticed that he and Bella were the only ones left dueling. Dora was down, but Mad-Eye and Remus were working on her. A blond boy of about Harry's age was on the steps, his legs thrashing. Death Eaters were bound in the center of the room, and Albus Dumbledore stood at the top of the tiered seating, his wand raised, looking furious.

Harry ran out of the shadows. "Sirius! I'm sorry!'

Sirius caught him, putting himself between him and Bellatrix, and put an arm over his shoulder. "It's all right. I know what you thought."

A high, giggling laugh came from behind them, and suddenly, they were bound up in thorn-bushes. A wall of them grew up in front of Dumbledore, and Bellatrix ran from the room.

"She's not alone!" Dumbledore yelled. "Lupin, bring the other students in here and guard them!"

There was a flash, and the wall of vines disappeared. Dumbledore swept out of the room. Sirius could hear two sets of footsteps disappearing up the stairs. Remus tore himself away from Dora, giving her an anxious glance, then repaired the spell damage on the blond boy's legs and asked him to lead him to the other students.

"Let's get out of this, shall we?" Sirius asked Harry.

Harry nodded. They didn't dare use fire charms, but they could both cut well enough, and after a minute or so, Kingsley Shacklebolt came over to help. It took about five minutes all told. Just as the last of the thorny vines fell away and Sirius started to heal the wounds they'd left on Harry, there was a great crash of water from somewhere above them.

The door opened, and Remus came in, carrying Hermione and levitating Ron in front of him. Both of them looked seriously injured, and Harry ran over, tearing at his hair. The blond boy (who Sirius now saw well enough to recognize as one of Harry's dormitory mates) and a thin, ethereal girl were supporting Ginny Weasley between them. She looked like she'd hurt her foot, but was otherwise all right. The thin girl had a large bruise on her head and looked a little woozy.

"What's going on?" Ginny asked, letting go of her two supports and limping toward Sirius. "You are here. We were very worried."

"I'm all right. It was Voldemort. A trick. Though my dear cousin Bellatrix nearly got me with a trick of her own. You lot all came for me?"

She nodded. "Yeah. Well, we weren't about to let Harry go alone, were we?" She nodded at her supporters, who came over. "These are Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom."

"Neville…!" Sirius smiled. "I should have guessed you'd be in this. You and Harry used to get into more trouble together…" Neville looked confused at this, and Sirius decided to wait for later. "Let's get you healed," he said to Ginny. "I've had plenty of practice with broken bones, if it's a clean break."

It was, and he fixed it quickly. Remus had had worse on more than one occasion after transforming. But by the time he was done, Harry's distress about Ron and Hermione had become more apparent. Sirius could see Lupin trying to hold him back from going upstairs.

"I'm going to Harry now," he said. "Miss… Lovegood?"


"Luna. If you need that bump on your head healed, come along."

All three of the students followed him over to Harry, but stayed quiet, checking on one another and on Dora. Mad-Eye was working very quickly now, having recovered fully from his own injury. Remus had moved on to Hermione, who was unconscious and still. Sirius couldn't help further, because the more time went by, the more frantic Harry was.

"It's Dolohov's curse," Remus muttered. "She'll need potions. But I've got her stable, Harry. She's going to be fine as soon as we get her to Hogwarts."

"It's my fault," Harry said. "I was so stupid. She told me it was trick. Ron said it, too. But they came with me and -- "

"Harry, listen to me," Sirius said. "Voldemort has tricked other people. You're not the only one, and you did well."

"Well?" He flung his arm out toward Ron, Hermione, and Dora.

"You tried to get them out. You planned well. And you fought well against people who know things I hope you never learn."

"And now Dumbledore is… is fighting… what if Dumbledore…?"

"Then it's Voldemort's fault. Are you completely clear on that? And I think Dumbledore will be all right. He's fought Voldemort before." Sirius sighed. "Harry, I should have broken off that duel with Bellatrix earlier. I should have checked on you."

"I'm fine. I'm not hurt at all."

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure."

Sirius nodded. "If I let you go so that I can help Ron, will you stay put?"

Harry nodded.

Sirius let go of him, and went to work on Ron's injuries, while Dumbledore's battle raged on above.

He supposed the real war was just beginning.

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