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I'm tired of good-byes and burials
Friends I have known
Some I just met
Standing around
It's hard to forget - now isn't it?
Sunday, May 20 • Morning



He'd swung by Glen Hollow yesterday, before going out to work on the cottage, but by the time Remus had finally managed to leave his bed — for some reason, his wife had wanted him to stick around, and he'd been more than willing to oblige — Harry and Daphne were already off for the day.

Harry had owled back in response to the note Remus had left that they'd be at home on Sunday, and so Remus tried again.

An unpleasant job didn't get any easier by putting it off.

Remus let himself in the house and went looking for Harry.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tracing a finger over one of the pictures of his mother and father when they attended Hogwarts, Harry wondered if there would be anything in his child's face that reminded him of them.

Will the baby have my mum's eyes?

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a figure go by the study door. There was only one person he was expecting, but the Ferret had been known to drop in unannounced

"Remus? If that's you, I'm in here. If it's not - where the hell have you been, Ferret? I haven't fed you for over a month."
Remus checked his progress toward the kitchen and swerved back to the study.

"I'm afraid it's only me, and so the care and feeding of Draco will have to wait."

His voice was light, but his eyes were not; Remus studied Harry, trying to get an estimation of his mood before getting to it.

"Did yesterday go well?"
Closing the book that contained the pictures, Harry put it on the low table in front of the couch and then leaned back.

"All in all, not bad. The things Daphne let me get for her and the baby are upstairs now. The things she thought were too much will show up sometime this week," Harry advised with a smirk. "I think she thinks I'm going to spoil the baby - and if she does - she's right."
Lupin's head nodded in a silent chuckle as he walked around the couch to claim the chair on the far side.

"I'm sure you will — even without needing anything from a shop, if I make my guess."

Harry's attentiveness to his wife and child were good to see; Remus only hoped that whatever stormclouds were gathering in the distance wouldn't affect them in any way.

Remus sighed and got to the point.

"I went to Hestia Jones' memorial service on Friday, and I spoke with Tonks while there. She had some unpleasant news."
The smirk on Harry's face died a quick death. News could mean many things, but he and Snape had done too good a job for him to be worried it was about bodies being found. The twinge he felt at hearing Hestia's name was shoved away before he took a deep breath. He could have gone to the memorial without a qualm, but knowing that Remus would be there - he couldn't be that much of a hypocrite and give his condolences to the family in front of the man.

Clearing his throat, Harry asked, "What kind of unpleasant news?"
"Responsible for Remus' illness?"

Daphne hadn't meant to eavesdrop, but she'd been looking for Harry and the door had been open. She walked into the study and looked from her husband to Remus in confusion.

"I thought you'd had an allergy. How could someone be responsible for that?"
The worry lines around Remus' eyes deepened, and the fingers of his left hand plucked at the upholstery edging on the arm of the chair, but Lupin remained where he was; Harry deserved privacy while he processed everything that had just been revealed.

It was just as well; if he'd turned, he might have missed Daphne's entrance. As it was, Lupin was able to recover quickly and follow the path he'd decided after the memorial service to take.

He was going to hew close to the truth, whenever possible — it did make it easier to keep the story straight, especially if evading Verasiterum ever factored into their situation. Someone had put Izabel and the children of Hogwarts in jeopardy; Lupin could hardly stand in the way of finding out who had done so. Harry ... was now going to be the father of a Hogwarts student himself, in the fullness of time. He'd understand, Remus hoped. Believed. Harry'd want to help find the architect of the entire situation just as much as Lupin himself did.

He had a wife and a career to protect. He was going to do both.

"My reaction to the potion was helped along with some deliberate additions, it seems," Remus explained, rising to his feet out of courtesy. "A rather large security hole with the supplies that we're keeping quiet until it's completely plugged, lest people catch wind and do the sensible thing by demanding my resignation."
Her gasp was clearly audible. "Why would anyone want to hurt you like that?"

The more she thought about it, the more horrified and upset she became. It wasn't just Remus that some unknown arse had tried to hurt - although that was bad enough, a bad reaction to whatever they had down to mess up his potion could have killed him - but Izabel and all of Remus' friends, as well.

"Your resignation? That is preposterous. I won't say a word to anyone, I swear. Do you have any idea who could have done it?"
Remus smiled sadly and shrugged.

"The authorities seem to think Mrs. Lestrange stole a werewolf heart. Snape believes it was that which was added to the wolfsbane that final month."

Patience had never been Bellatrix' strong suit. Looking back, Lupin felt lucky she'd not done anything even more drastic.
Everything seemed to go black for a second, and Daphne staggered, falling back against the door frame.

"A heart. Bellatrix Lestrange poisoned you - with a heart."

Brown eyes pleaded with Remus for forgiveness, even as the guilt ridden words began. "I'm so sorry. So very sorry. I didn't know, you have to believe me, I didn't know what she wanted it for. She never told me, and I didn't know what it was. You have to understand, she came to me, asked me to do it for her, and I couldn't refuse, I couldn't anger her, not after the book and him and... Harry?"

Daphne turned to look at her husband, scared at what she might see. How disgusted would he be, would he hate her? Her voice was small and frightened when she spoke again, "I swear I didn't know, I thought it was beef or venison. I'm a cook, that's what I do, I didn't even think she would - Please believe me."
Daphne didn't feel like arguing the semantics of whether or not he had lied, although it did make her feel a tiny bit better that he had made an effort to tell her "as much of the truth" as he could. Later, when things had settled down, they would talk. Whether Harry wanted to or not.

She wasn't a child, she fully understood there were some things that Harry might not ever be able to tell her for whatever reason, and while she didn't like it, Daphne did accept it. But she couldn't go on living in complete obliviousness if there was a threat to be blindsided by. Especially if it was a threat to her family. Keeping her in the dark didn't make the danger any less real, it just made it easier for her to fall unwittingly into a trap.

"Neville Longbottom?" The name was familiar, but it still took a moment for Daphne to remember who he was. Or, had been. One of Harry's former friends from school, the doctor? Hadn't he gone back to London, or something?

Daphne moved to Harry's side, not sure of how close he and Longbottom had remained over the years. "I'm sorry." She reached out to gently lay her hand on his arm, prepared to move it at the first sign that he didn't want it there.

"What possible reason would she have for - Harry, I know we have to act a certain way, but I don't ever want her near our baby." The very thought of what Bellatrix Lestrange could do to a small, defenseless baby made her shudder.
Remus slipped out of the room, as quietly and unobrusively as possible. They didn't need anyone else in the house with them for now.

He walked down the hall and to the foyer, hands shoved deep into his pockets.

How much of a net has she spun, and what have we been blind to?

Before retiring to the cottage to tile the upstairs bath, he had a wife of his own to go speak with, and some comments to ponder.
Slipping an arm around her waist, Harry pulled Daphne into his arms, holding her tight, waving a hand at Remus as he left. He was sure the other man would be back another day - with pointed questions. Harry wasn't sure what answers he would give. He needed to speak with Snape and between the two of them - perhaps decide how they were going to try and handle Bellatrix. Sending her back to Azkaban wasn't the solution they needed, despite what Remus would say. Too many people - born and unborn were at risk if she got out again.

A heavy sigh sounded before Harry loosened his grip enough to move them to the couch. Sitting down and then pulling Daph onto his lap he studied her face and then kissed her forehead. If Neville was dead as the Aurors and Remus seemed to think - there was no reason to keep his secret as he had promised Dumbledore so many years ago. It couldn't hurt him any longer.

"Lestrange doesn't need a reason to do anything, Daph, and that's why I want you to tell me if she ever even smiles at you in passing. Neville's parents were both Aurors during Voldemort's first reign of terror. Lestrange, her husband and Barty Crouch, Jr tortured them. They didn't kill them - which would have been kinder in the long run - they merely drove them insane. As far as I know, they're both still alive in a very special ward at St. Mungo's."

Harry's eyes dropped to Daphne's stomach as his hand moved to caress it.

"In her twisted mind, she was probably finishing what she started all those years ago."
"That's horrible," she whispered. Daphne's lower lip trembled a bit, and she knew if she wasn't careful she'd start crying.

"I promise, you'll be the first to know if I even see the woman." A deep breath went a little way toward calming her down. "But you need to promise me that you'll be very careful with her."

Her thumbnail was worried for a moment as Daphne tried to word her concerns in a way that wouldn't cause another argument. "If I do as Remus asked, and go to the Aurors about her, they may find out about - things. I can't do it, can I? What if she started telling everyone that she knew you were the Dark Lord come back again, and someone believed her? Or Croaker?" her voice broke with her guilt, and Daphne forced yet another deep breath.

"Unless, no one would believe her, would they? What should we do? I want to help him, I owe him so much for my part in what happened, but I don't know what I'd do if something were to happen to you or us."
Taking her hands in one of his, Harry's other arm slid around his wife's body as he pulled her closer.

"It doesn't matter what people think about me, Daph. It never has. Some will believe I'm a dark lord no matter what," he said quietly and then pulled back enough to look her in the eyes.

"They wouldn't be that far off. I finally admitted to myself a while back that I'm not a 'good guy' and haven't been for a long time. At the very least I'm a dark wizard, Daph, which is part of why I fought against us for so long. I kidded myself that I only do things to help people and I do. But only certain people. People I care about. For them I would do anything - and have," Harry advised narrowing his eyes slightly as they peered into hers. He didn't know how much he should actually tell her, but he wanted her to be careful.

"I don't want you to worry about having to talk to the Aurors. At all. Lestrange will be taken care of. It's been allowed to continue too long and too many people have gotten hurt. No one else but Snape knows anything about Croaker and that's how it's going to stay."