Nothing like bad plans to provide a structure for our monthly POV change.
Table of Contents and Summary So Far
"All right," Montgomery said, as soon as they were in his office. "What is this really about? I don't much appreciate having someone else put words in my mouth." He frowned deeply at Kingsley, who had magically prodded him to begin a denunciation of Remus on the steps of the church.
"I'm sorry about that, Father," Remus said. "We thought it wise to have something of a public split."
"There have been robberies," Kingsley said.
"Yes. My office was robbed a week ago. How did you know?"
"A chalice was found in the possession of a wizard known to be a thief," Kingsley said simply, without elaborating on Dung's role. "We need to know if anything else was missing."
"These sorts of things are usually about silver and any precious stones we might have," Montgomery said. "I noticed the chalice, a handful of rings, and a lovely set of gold candlesticks that were given to the parish two hundred years ago. Is that important?"
"I don't think so," Kingsley said. "There were no rumors about them being magical artifacts? No so-called miracles attached to them?"
Montgomery stiffened. "This is a church, Mr. Shacklebolt, and if something did have miracles attached to it, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as Hogwarts hugger-mugger."
"Kingsley didn't mean any offense," Remus said quickly. "We're only trying to find out if the thief in question took the items for magical purposes or not."
"Yes, of course," Montgomery said, distracted. "I'm sorry. I'm afraid I've got a bit defensive on the subject of miracles. My brother is very fond of trying to prove that all recorded miracles were just wizards and witches doing standard magic."
Kingsley smiled. "Ah. I didn't mean to trip that debate. I'd forgotten how many Muggle-borns leap to conclusions about everything in the world really being caused by magic. Remember to tell him that saints have to be dead to be saints, and that's when the miracles are meant to occur, and we can't very well do magic after we die."
"Ah. Logic." Montgomery returned the smile. "The answer to your question is that I don't think anything else is missing. A shelf was tipped over and quite a few of my personal things ended up on the floor--"
"What sort of personal things?" Remus asked. "It was a hairbrush or a razor or something of that sort?"
"No. Just a few books, a box of family photographs. Why would it matter if it had been a hairbrush?"
"Dark Arts," Kingsley said.
"Oh. I thought that sort of magic was pure myth."
"Unfortunately, it's not," Remus said. "There was nothing related to Alderman or Mag? Or me? No quills or owl feathers?"
"I throw out owl feathers," Montgomery said. "And I generally use a ball-point pen when I write."
Something was making Remus uneasy, but he couldn't place it. "I... Father, I think you need to be especially careful. It may be nothing more than a coincidence, but I don't like it at all."
"I can't say it thrills me, either," Montgomery admitted. "But Ralph has been quite adamant about looking out for me when the moon is full. He doesn't even want me in the rectory. He's insisting that I go to his home, since they don't know to look for me there."
"Where is that?"
"Shropshire, a few miles out from Shrewsbury. Why?"
"I'm sure Tonks will want to know where everyone is," Remus said.
Montgomery stood. "Was that all you needed to ask?"
"I think so. You should follow us out, though. A bit more well-placed invective might serve. You could add in something about Alderman, too."
"I'm sure that will be quite believable," Montgomery said. "I have a reputation for being rude to destitute children, you know."
In the end, he did manage to salvage a few words that implied a belief that Alderman had also been stealing, and Remus mocked him about keeping his doors unlocked. Kingsley herded Remus out sight of the forest, and then Remus made a show of getting away and Apparating to Hogsmeade. He supposed that Kingsley walked far enough out of town to Apparate safely back to London.
His mind still gnawed at the conversation with Montgomery. He felt he was missing something.
He sighed and went through the back garden into the Shrieking Shack, and as soon as he opened the door, he heard Dora say, "Absolutely not. Do you understand that at all? I said no."
Then--not much to Remus's surprise, he supposed--Vivian Waters piped up with, "But I want to help! They're my friends!"
"What help--" Dora stopped herself. "Vivian, there will be enough people there. We can take you to the sanctuary with everyone else the morning after."
"I know my way around, and I could get the girls ready, and--"
"Sweet," Remus said, coming into the room, "Tonks is right. You can't help."
Remus decided to say what Dora had balked at. "Exactly what help do you think you'd be? The whole plan is built around it being the full moon. You're not at your most helpful then."
"You'll be there, and you're no more human than I am!"
"Oh, for heaven's sake," Dora said. "You're both perfectly human. What's this nonsense?"
"If you think I'm human, why can't I help my friends?"
"Because you're nine."
"Harry Potter was only eleven when he had a fight with Vondermint! Remus told me!"
Remus could see Dora's mouth twitching with laughter at this new name for Lord Voldemort, but she managed not to laugh. "You're not Harry," she said. "And You-Know-Who is not after you."
"Greyback is, and it's Greyback we're fighting."
Remus put a hand on her shoulder. "Vivian, the answer is no. You stay with the Lady and be safe, so we won't have to worry about you along with everyone else."
"I wish I were human," she pouted. "And older. I wish I could help. Something bad is going to happen. I saw it in the water."
"What did you see?" Dora asked, serious again.
"Teeth. Claws." Vivian shrugged. "Werewolves. You know."
"Well, we know there will be werewolves," Dora said.
"Be careful, though. We can hurt you."
Dora grimaced. "I know."
Vivian looked from one to the other of them, then sighed. "I could help," she tried again.
"Vivian, no." Dora stretched her fingers, relaxing herself like a cat. "You need to go back now, and if you want to visit, send a message. You oughtn't try wandering across the Hogwarts grounds alone; no one knows you're meant to be there, and you're as likely as not to be turned out if someone other than McGonagall or Hagrid catches you."
"I'm not stupid," Vivian said. "I'm careful."
"I'll walk you back to the willow," Remus said.
Dora turned on him, exasperated. "Remus!"
"I won't leave the tunnel. I just want to have a private chat with Vivian."
Dora waved her hand impatiently. "I have a shift," she said. "I'll come by tomorrow to have our own chat."
Remus waited for her to gather up her things and leave.
"I can go back by myself," Vivian said. "It's more comfortable to talk here. I like it here."
Remus nodded and sat down. "How often do you look in the water?"
"You heard me. Every other minute, you're saying you saw something in the water."
"She's teaching me!"
"I know. And I know she values it. But Divination by any means isn't an exact kind of magic, and I don't think you're old enough to understand things."
"Vivian. Listen to me. I want you to be very, very careful. Don't just believe things you see that way."
"All right. I'm not hurting anyone," she pouted. "I'll go back now."
"Vivian, I'm just concerned."
Vivian nodded glumly. "She won't let anything happen."
"Don't you ever wish you were human?"
"I wish it all the time. I won't be able to go to school as you did. Everyone will know. I wish I were human. Do you think I can be someday?"
"How about tomorrow, the day after, and every day that doesn't happen to have a full moon right above you?"
She smiled. "You know what I mean."
"Yes. But you should never think of it that way."
"I always do. Greyback said--"
"Greyback has a lot of mad ideas. Don't give them any foothold."
She gave him a weak sort of nod. "I suppose I knew you wouldn't let me help."
"I take it back. You're brilliant at Divination."
"But I really think something bad is going to happen. It's not just werewolves. Why would I be scared of werewolves?"
Remus thought that werewolves had more cause to be afraid of werewolves than anyone else--all of them had, after all, been attacked--but he knew what she meant. There was no reason to be startled by them, which was certainly what Vivian meant.
He nodded. "Something could go wrong. Something could always go wrong. That's why Divination is imprecise at best. Nearly anything can happen. You can't let that frighten you."
She looked unsure of this concept--Remus doubted she would be Sorted into Gryffindor, if Dumbledore were able to find a way to get her into school--but after a moment, she smiled shakily. "All right, then," she said.
They passed a few more pleasantries, then Vivian dropped down into the tunnel and headed for her new home.
Nearly anything can happen, Remus repeated in his own mind.
There was no time to be frightened by phantoms in a forest lake.