"Ahh yes, no celebration would be complete without Marie's banquets," Remus said. "I ate enough for three meals last time, when Luk was promoted a couple of months ago."
"Promoted?" Aurellia exclaimed, sandwich halting in mid-air. She shot her cousin an accusing glare. "You didn't tell me about this!"
Luk looked honestly puzzled. "You mean, you never got that letter?"
“Oh no!” Aurellia groaned. "Air mail strikes again! You know, it will probably show up at my dorm a week from now and collect dust until someone thinks to return it to sender. Owls definitely have some advantages over the Muggle post. So, what's this about a promotion?"
"Luk is now responsible for training new Watcher recruits for the South London district," Remus replied.
Aurellia gasped. "That's wonderful news! Well, now we have two major things to celebrate!"
They finished lunch, and Luk went to pay the bill.
"So, do you have any good news to celebrate?" Aurellia asked Remus after her cousin left.
"Well, I'm here celebrating with my best friend and his ‘little sis’ whom I haven't seen in almost a year, and I have reason to be proud of them both," Remus replied, his eyes twinkling.
Ari pouted. "That's sweet, Remus, but I was thinking more along the lines of your personal accomplishments."
"I’ve done nothing that can even come close to your two accomplishments, so I'll be content to bask in your glory," Remus said. He laughed at the exasperated expression on Aurellia’s face as Luk returned and hoisted up the larger suitcase.
"We all ready to go, then?" Luk asked.
“Luk, I can handle both of them!” Aurellia insisted as she took the smaller suitcase, and reached for the larger one.
“No, Ari,” he retorted, quickly backing out of Aurellia’s reach. “You need to back down and let someone else help you out once in a while. And that includes things like looking at the check and handing me money when I said it’s my treat, and insisting on carrying too much baggage all by yourself.”
“But I can do it. I want to do my share,” Aurellia insisted.
“Not today, and that’s final. End of discussion,” Luk insisted, heading toward the exit with Aurellia’s suitcase, leaving her to splutter useless protests as she followed his long strides.
Remus grinned and shook his head as he gave chase. “Your turn to back down this time, Ari,” he called. “He’s not going to change his mind.”
Aurellia stopped and waited for Remus to catch up. “Why can’t he ever let me do things for myself?” she complained.
“He missed you a lot more than he lets on, you know. And he likes to be helpful. Why don’t you thank him instead of complaining?”
“Because I’ve had a taste of independence, Remus, and I don’t want to give it up. I’ve learned to do things for myself, and I don’t need to be smothered and spoiled my first day back. He’s too overprotective. Both of you are.”
“You’ve changed, Aurellia,” Remus observed softly. “I can see that. You’ve grown more assertive and independent since you’ve been away. But Luk remembers you the way you were before you left, and it’s going to take time for him to adjust. For both of us, really. Ari, a word of big brotherly advice, if you’ll hear it. Let your cousin have his way tonight, even if it annoys you. Let him be the solicitous overprotective sibling he wants to be. You won’t accomplish anything by arguing with him now, and you’ll have plenty of time to work this out between the two of you later. Don’t let it spoil tonight.”
Aurellia nodded and bit her lip. Remus was right, much as she hated to relent. Tonight, entertainment. Tomorrow, business.
They made their way to the exit in silence, both of them thinking about what they intended to say when the celebrating ended and it was time to get serious. Luk was far ahead of them, halfway across the parking lot by now, and both of them hollered at him in unison to slow down. Luk willingly obliged, and soon they were a threesome again. After what felt like an eternity to the weary Remus, they finally reached the white Corsa. Luk effortlessly heaved both bags into the car's trunk while Aurellia bit her tongue and shot an exasperated glance at Remus.
After unlocking the passenger side, Luk then went around the front of the car, unlocked the driver’s side, and slid behind the wheel. Aurellia sat beside him in the front, and Remus climbed in back, behind Aurellia.
Ari turned to give her cousin and ‘big brother’ a wide grin. "All right! Let's party!" she cheered as Luk started the car and pulled out of his parking space.
Luk drove around the parking lot and paid the attendant. Then he pulled out onto the road and headed home.
"What have you got in the way of tunes?" Aurellia wondered as she searched through Luk's small collection of tapes. "Ahhh, perfect!" And without further ceremony, she plugged one of the tapes into the cassette player: The Eagles. Soon, the familiar strains of "Hotel California" filled the car. Luk opened the sunroof, and soon the three of them were singing along. Or, rather, howling along, because of the three, only Aurellia could carry a tune, and she was no Met star. And she wasn't trying very hard to sing in key.
"Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face...
Livin' it up at the Hotel California...”
Aurellia and Luk let out whoops at the end of the song, and then laughed at each other's singing.
"It feels so good to be home," Ari announced cheerfully as she looked first at her cousin, then at her cousin's best friend...who had dozed off.
"Remus?" Aurellia inquired, “are you really asleep, or are you faking?” When no response was forthcoming, she addressed her cousin in amazement. “How can he possibly be asleep with all that racket we made?”
"I’m not surprised. He could sleep in the middle of the subway after a full moon," Luk said with forced humor.
“Remus?” Aurellia said as she reached a hand back to the werewolf’s knee and gave a nudge. “Remus? Wake up, sleepyhead!”
Remus woke with a start.
“Huh? Oh, sorry,” he apologized with a sleepy grin. “You might say I had a rough night last night.”
“I thought I told you to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t party too hard!” Aurellia scolded Luk, with forced levity that did not entirely cover up the anxiety in her voice.
“Oh, he does keep an eye on me,” Remus said with a small stretch. “But since he parties harder than I do, I don’t think it does me any good.”
Luk snerked with amusement, and Aurellia laughed.
“Looks like I’m going to have to keep an eye on both of you from now on,” Aurellia announced. “Someone’s got to have a sense of responsibility!”
“Well, we’re in for it now,” Remus warned facetiously.
“Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted,” Luk said with a grin. “At least we’ve still got the rest of today and tonight.”
“No worries,” Remus agreed, stifling a yawn. “Let’s play!”
At ten till eleven the common room was still occupied by worried Gryffindors, though mostly older ones at this point. Kenrick and his friends had turned in around ten thirty after extracting solemn (though insincere) promises from Harry, Ron, and Angelina to wake them up and tell them if anything changed. Ginny and Hermione came down at a quarter till just as Dobby appeared to inform the students that his work in the kitchen was done for the evening, and he would be free to check in on Deveroux again, if they wished. Harry had eagerly agreed, and Dobby had instantly disappeared. Now the students anxiously watched for his return.
Ron paced back and forth in front of the fireplace, while Ginny, Hermione and Neville sat on the couch, waiting tensely. Lavender Brown, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan and Parvati Patil sat on assorted chairs, and Harry stood near the window, looking outside.
Everyone jumped when they heard a "pop" and Dobby appeared in the middle of the room.
“Dobby! How is she?" Ron asked anxiously as he and the others gathered around the house-elf.
"Dobby is being happy to report Miss Deveroux is much better than last time. She is sleeping now, Mr. Wheezy," Dobby said. "And Mr. Remus Lupin is here. He is sleeping too."
"Remus Lupin is here?" Hermione asked, puzzled. "I didn’t know he’s a trained Healer."
"Dobby is not knowing about that," the house-elf replied, “but Dobby hears that Mr. Lupin is very worried about Miss Deveroux and is here to help her.”
"Professor Deveroux knows him," Neville piped up. "I think she's known him for some time before she came here."
Everyone turned to him, surprised. But Harry remembered that when he had talked with Deveroux back in February, he had learned that she was friends with the former Defense teacher. He also realized that if Sirius had been working with Snape and Deveroux as part of Dumbledore’s inner circle, then it was only logical that Lupin had as well. But Deveroux’s condition must be serious in order to draw Lupin away from more important duties elsewhere…
"How do you know that?" Ron asked.
Neville shrugged. "Well, I've often had to go to her office for extra help with homework, and her office is rather unusual. She keeps a lot of Muggle things, plants, fountains…and non-moving pictures. And Mr. Lupin is in some of those pictures, along with Miss Deveroux herself, and another chap who looks a bit like her. Her cousin, she told me."
"Sounds like they go back a ways. I wonder how they know each other?" Dean mused.
Voldemort, war, Dumbledore’s “old crowd”, thought Harry. Like himself, Deveroux wasn’t old enough to have played much of a part in the last war, but she was old enough to have experienced and to remember its devastation. And like Harry, she had very good reasons for wanting to help Dumbledore fight Voldemort now.
"I got the impression that Mr. Lupin and her cousin used to be good friends," Neville replied. "I don't know much more than that, though. I asked her about her cousin a couple of times, and she quickly changed the subject. I get the feeling something really bad happened to him."
"Well, I think now that Mr. Lupin is here, she’ll recover," Hermione said. “Sometimes people just need a little time, distance, and encouragement to work through things.”
And she sent a pointed glance in Harry’s direction, which Harry pretended to ignore.
"Mr. Lupin, sir?"
Lupin awoke from his dream with a start to find Winky standing over him.
"She is waking up, Mr. Lupin, sir," the house-elf said. "You wanted Winky to wake you, sir."
Lupin sat up and gave a small stretch. "Thank you, Winky; you have been most helpful. I appreciate the wake-up call."
Lupin quietly entered Ari's bedroom and went to her side.
"Poor, dear Ari," Lupin murmured.
Aurellia slowly opened her eyes and looked up at Lupin. Her eyes widened with surprise as they focused on his familiar kind features.
"Remus," she greeted feebly. "What are you doing here? Wait, where am I? Am I still at Hogwarts?"
"Yes, you’re still at Hogwarts. I came to see you because Dumbledore asked me to come," Lupin replied as he ran his fingers along her forehead and cheek. At least her fever had broken, he noted with relief. "He sent me a fire parchment telling me I was desperately needed here."
"I'm glad you are here," she said weakly. "But...what time is it? Am I late for class? I have my Ravenclaw third-years this afternoon, and..."
"Ari, it's Sunday," Lupin said gently.
Aurellia stared at the older wizard. "Sunday? How can that be? I thought it was Friday morning! I'm missing two days!"
"What is the last thing you remember?" Lupin asked quietly.
Aurellia thought for a moment. "I remember going to my office, and I saw a stream of water creeping across the floor from under the door. And I wondered if Peeves had got in and upended all my fountains. And then I...I went in and…it wasn’t Peeves. It was…oh, no, that’s when I saw them. I saw the flowers lying in the middle of a pool of water on the floor, and, and…I don’t remember anything after that." She closed her eyes, her expression pained. "Oh, Remus! What happened? What did I do? I…I remember thinking of Snape, and how I had hurt him, and how he told me that if he were ever captured…” She started crying softly.
“He’s in pain, Remus, and he needs my help, and I don’t know what to do! I can’t find him! I can’t reach him! I even sent Venator to find him, and he never returned!”
Lupin sat on the edge of her bed, picked her up and cradled her gently. “Don’t blame yourself, Ari, and don’t try to handle this all by yourself,” he said soothingly. “You’re not helping either one of you by wallowing in misery and making yourself sick.”
"Some Watcher I turned out to be," the elf sniffled angrily. "If only Luk were here. He would find Snape. He would know what to do. He always knew what to do. I never realized how much I relied on him, until one day he was gone."
"I know," Lupin commiserated. "I miss him too."
Aurellia looked up and noticed that Lupin, too, was crying. Great drops of sorrow were streaking down his cheeks and pooling under his chin, and his eyes glistened with tears. She raised a hand and brushed a few of the tears away, but more followed in their wake.
“Remus, I thought we were done crying for him a long time ago,” Aurellia remarked softly, listening to the werewolf’s ragged breath, and feeling the sting of pooling tears in her own eyes.
“Some wounds take a long time to heal,” Remus remarked, thinking of his parents and the Potters, and Luk, all of whom had gone away, gone ahead, and left him behind to carry on alone, as best as he could. “And some wounds never truly heal.”
“Oh, Remus, what are we going to do?” Aurellia wondered.
The werewolf sniffled and conjured up a weak smile, and the tears stubbornly, reluctantly began to dry on his cheeks at last. “We will remember the good times, and be thankful for the time we had. And we will try to make them proud of us until the day we join them.”
“I don’t even know where to begin,” Aurellia said. “I’ve been trying so hard for so long to forget…”
"Well, then, I’ll start. Do you remember what a tease Luk used to be, and how you and he would get into those flirting contests?" Lupin prompted with a small grin. "You two were incorrigible...always trying to see who could attract the most attention! It was a little embarrassing sometimes. I never could take you crazy youngsters anywhere!"
Aurellia's sniffles turned to giggles, and she started to hiccup. "I remember that one night at McCauley’s, before I went away to the States! Oh, we were terrible that night! Each of us trying to prove that we wouldn’t miss the other one bit, and that we could get more dates than the other if we wanted to! I think we regressed about twenty years…Oh, Remus, how could you stand it? You must have been mortified!”
“Not really. Well, maybe a little,” Remus admitted. “But I think everyone could tell that you were like two siblings who were parting ways and wouldn’t see each other in a while, and were having fun making each other think you would be just fine without the other.”
“We were siblings, in all but the strictest sense,” Aurellia said. “It always seemed wrong calling him a cousin when all my life he was so like a big brother to me. Like you.”
“Not like me,” Remus said with a sad grin. “I never had a knack for flirting and drawing attention like you two. And even if I had, I would have let you win every time.”
Aurellia gave the werewolf a skeptical look. “That’s easy for you to say, since you never participated.”
“Someone had to be the responsible one,” Remus quipped.
“I remember Luk would never let me win those contests, never let me take any risks. Any time a chap got too close to me, Luk chased him off! I had to go to America...just to get a date! And he gave me such a hard time about going overseas without him, that I thought I’d have to stow away on a ship. He was always so protective, too protective. It drove me crazy sometimes, but now I miss that. I miss knowing that he was always looking out for me.”
“Poor Snape,” Remus reflected. “Imagine what Luk would have done to him if he ever found out how he broke your heart.”
“I probably never would have met Snape if Luk hadn’t died,” Aurellia pointed out.
“True,” the werewolf mused sadly. “And Snape would have been smart enough not to try to push Luk around the way he tried to push you around. Luk had a way of making his presence known.”
“Yeah,” Aurellia chuckled. “Remember his country music? The twangy kind that you used to groan about every time he played it? And remember how we'd drive around in his car, with Duran Duran, or The Eagles, or Garth Brooks playing? Especially Garth Brooks. Luk was a die-hard fan of his. Can you imagine him bringing that ‘country music rot’ -- as you call it -- into Hogwarts?"
“Dumbledore’s office would have been packed with complaining students,” Remus remarked with a grin. “And teachers. There would have been a line all the way from the gargoyle to the dungeons after the first day of classes.”
“And Snape would have been at the front of it,” Aurellia agreed with a giggle.
“And McGonagall right beside him,” Remus added with amusement.
"Oh I got friends in loooow places," Lupin sang softly, horribly off-key, but it made Aurellia giggle despite her tears. She joined in, only slightly less off-key, her voice hoarse from crying.
"Where the whiskey runs, and booze chases my blues away, and I'll be okayay..."
"He loved that song," Lupin said, laughing softly at some distant memory. "It was his favorite. Remember that night when you came back from school, after we picked you up at the airport, and after we had eaten that huge dinner at your parents' house? Remember how we all went to the Canary Wharf and stopped in that little dive? They had karaoke that night…”
Aurellia started to laugh. "I remember. And he sang that song and dragged us on stage with him. It's a wonder we weren't thrown out! I've heard stray cats that sounded more in tune! Mom and Dad took it in style; they just shook their heads and laughed at us."
"I noticed they left to go home shortly after," Remus said with a grin. “Pity that. We could have used their help during the pub quiz, especially on the history section."
Aurellia laughed. “Are you actually admitting you would have liked my father to stay?”
“I’m only saying that he is dead useful when it comes to out-of-the-way trivia,” Remus replied drolly.
Aurellia chuckled, and her expression fell again. "I still miss Luk, so much. Even now, after all of these months, it still hurts." She started crying again, and Remus hugged her tightly.
"You know, Ari, I think that neither one of us ever had the chance to grieve properly," the older wizard reflected. "And I think maybe we need to do that. Today. Can you get up?"
Aurellia nodded, and slowly rose from her bed, though she was a bit wobbly. Lupin helped her get to her feet, and they went into the front room. They sat down side-by-side on the couch in front of the fireplace.
Lupin handed Aurellia a quill and a roll of parchment from the table in front of them, and picked up a second quill and parchment paper for himself.
"Aurellia, are you sure you’re ready for this?" Lupin asked softly.
Aurellia nodded mutely. She remembered reading about traditional elven wakes, had even attended one for an elderly neighbor when she was five. The elves and other mourners would briefly write down their fondest thoughts and memories, and end their personal message with a formal farewell, either spoken, or written, or both.
Slowly Aurellia wrote, speaking her thoughts aloud in time to the skritching of her quill.
"I remember…your kindness and your strength."
Lupin, too, was writing, and he said softly, "I remember…your compassion and bravery."
"I remember your laughter, and your teasing…"
"I remember that you never let me down, and accepted me for who I was..."
"I remember your strong hugs and gentleness, and how you never failed to comfort me when I was discouraged…”
"I remember how you pulled me back up when I had fallen into despair…”
There was a long, solemn pause. Then Lupin turned to Aurellia, his eyes overly bright. "I think I am ready now, are you?"
Aurellia's lower lip quivered, and she nodded. He helped her from the couch to the floor in front of the fireplace, where they both knelt.
"Eeah'en trehwa en etirii munahlah'ehn nehre e'istia," Aurellia said.
Lupin repeated the phrase in English: "May you journey on into the next world in peace and light."
"Eeah'en neh rezorkahlan briddahr, hu'linebreh espirina, e'hebre khelmerii iallah khe frotorheilah'di."
"May we not hold you back with emotional tethers, but release your spirit, and keep your memory alive in good deeds."
Aurellia's voice cracked a bit with the next line, and tears streamed down her face, blotting the ink on the parchment.
"E'hebre nein, eh'gonarashu a'timi eh'luzzahna."
"We release you now, and know we will meet again in another time and place," Lupin repeated, choking up at the end of the phrase. He clutched at the parchment paper for a moment, then tossed it gently into the blazing fireplace. Then he turned to Aurellia, who still clutched the roll of paper in her hand.
"It's time to let go, Aurellia," he urged gently. "Let it go now."
She held on to the parchment for a second longer, then with a small cry, she tossed it gently into the fire, where it mingled with the burning paper and ash of Lupin's fond recollections. They both watched the fireplace as the smoke and flames devoured their words, watched the smoke rise from the chimney like lingering memories. They held each other for a few more moments as the parchment disappeared.
"How are you?" Lupin asked.
Aurellia considered for a moment. "Better, like a bit of the weight has fallen away. I still miss Luk, but I feel I can finally go on."
Lupin nodded. "We will never truly stop missing him, Fireball, but we both need to move on from here. We have much to do."
Aurellia gave a small laugh. "Fireball. No one has called me that in a long time. I hope you don't have to leave any time soon. I've missed you, and you're all I have left now."
Lupin rand a hand through her golden curls. "I don't have to leave soon. Not for a couple of weeks, with the next full moon. At any rate, I don't want to leave until I know you will be all right. I am your 'big brother,' after all," he said with a small grin. "And now, I think we should have breakfast, and then tackle the second problem."
"Second problem?" Aurellia wondered as Lupin helped her to her feet and back over to the couch. Winky had already brought a small plate of biscuits and jam, with sausages and orange juice.
"Yes, finding Snape," Lupin replied as he helped himself to some of the biscuits and strawberry jam.
Aurellia listlessly picked up a sausage link. "But I've tried searching," she said, as she fingered her locket. She stared off into the distance, her expression haunted.
Lupin grinned. "There are many ways a Watcher can keep track of her clients, my dear, and you are still learning them. That’s why I brought two of Luk's old Watching instruction books. I found them a couple of weeks ago, and meant to surprise you with them when I felt it was safe to owl you. The one you have now is the standard one for all wizards and witches, but it was written for humans, not elves. Luk must have somehow managed to get his hands on two archaic books that include some luthu spells only elves can use. There may be something in them that will help you. I can’t read them, though. They’re all in Druidish."
Aurellia perked up instantly at the idea of tackling this project, as she shoved the sausage in her mouth and seized a biscuit. She already was starting to look more like her normal self, Lupin thought, relieved.
“I can read Druidish and Old Elvish," she said as she spread blueberry jam on her biscuit. For the first time in weeks, she felt hopeful.
"I know, and I'm thinking that after breakfast, if you are up to it, maybe we can find a way to find our lost black sheep," Lupin replied cheerfully.
"Of course I'm up to it!" Aurellia said. "I'm tired of not being able to do anything."
"We'll have today and tomorrow to do research," Lupin pointed out.
"Tomorrow! But tomorrow is Monday! I have classes…”
“Not tomorrow, you don’t. You’re to rest up and get feeling better. Madam Pomfrey’s orders.”
Aurellia gave an exasperated sigh. “I’ll be fine by tomorrow, but I suppose I can use the time to look at those books.”
“Good,” said Lupin. “I’m glad to hear it. Because I was under orders from Madam Pomfrey to sedate you if you gave me any argument about it.”
“Well…not really. But I know she’d agree with me.”
The elf gave the werewolf a disapproving look, and then said, “I should be teaching my classes. We’ve got so much ground to cover, and so little time. But I also want to find Snape, and I don’t want to incur the wrath of Madam Pomfrey. So, let's eat, and let's get started," Aurellia said between bites. She ate with more relish than she had for the past month.
"Now this is the Fireball I remember," Lupin remarked with a grin. “It’s good to have you back.”
There was a light tapping on Deveroux’s door.
“Come in,” Aurellia sang out.
Wendamer entered the room carrying a tray laden with a small pitcher containing a honey-colored liquid, and a clear glass beside it.
“Miss Deveroux,” the apprentice said with obvious relief that her patient was up and lucid again. “You look better. How are you feeling?”
Aurellia smiled slightly. “Better, I guess.” Remus put a hand on her shoulder.
“Here,” Wendamer said as she placed the tray in front of Aurellia. “Drink a glass or two of this, and you should have some this afternoon as well. It will help you on the road to recovery.”
“Recuare,” Lupin said, wrinkling his nose. “I recognize that stuff. Ick!”
Aurellia chuckled. “Oh come on! It’s not that bad.”
Remus quirked an eyebrow. “It tastes like someone was overgenerous with tea bags and lemon!”
“You know,” Aurellia said after she took a couple of sips. “I think you could do with a cup yourself. You are looking rather peaky.”
“I was never a beauty, Ari,” Remus said as he rolled his eyes. “Admittedly, the moonlight doesn’t help my complexion much, and I seem to notice more wrinkles and gray hair with the passing of each month. But I prefer coffee. Strong, black coffee.”
“Yes, I know,” Aurellia said with a grin before finishing her cup. “You are barely human some mornings without it.”
Lupin gave an exaggerated groan. “I’ll have you know that I’m usually a morning person, except when it’s the morning after!”
Wendamer turned and left the room, shaking her head in amusement.
“The morning after you decide to transform into a night creature…”
“Decide, nothing!” Remus grouched good-naturedly. “I’ve never had much choice in that matter.” His expression became concerned again. “But Ari! You look even worse than I do on those mornings! What on earth have you done to yourself?” He gently ran a hand through her dull curls and lightly traced her pale cheeks.
Aurellia frowned. “I’ve been trying to cope. Oh, Remus, I failed him…”
“Shhhh,” Remus said, and he hugged Aurellia tightly. “We will find him. And then we will figure out how to rescue him. That’s the second reason why I came, remember?”
“Do you think it’s even possible at this point?”
“Ari,” Remus said, and he pulled away and looked determindly into her eyes. “I can’t make any guarantees. It would be presumptuous of me, although I sincerely wish I could. But I aslo believe that if anyone can find him, you can. I believe in your abilities.”
“Remus, my abilities, or lack thereof, are what landed me in this mess!” Aurellia turned away and bit her lip.
“Don’t,” Remus said, and he squeezed her shoulder. “You made a mistake, but Dumbledore told me what happened. You were just angry, and understandably so! You are only, if you’ll pardon the expression, human!”
The elf smiled, then sobered. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it might be too late. He might be dead…”
“Ari,” Remus said firmly. “You can’t blame yourself entirely for this! If you want, blame me for talking you into coming here in the first place.” He sighed. “I…I never meant for you to come to harm.”
“No, Remus,” Aurellia objected softly. “I refuse to blame you. I could have said no to your offer and stayed at my old job. And Dumbledore gave me two chances to break the Watcher’s Vow, if I so desired. Once was before Snape left, and once shortly after. But I said no both times. I was too proud to quit. And I think that I cared about him a lot more than I was willing to admit to myself. What has happened—to both of us—is my responsibility.”
Elf and werewolf mused silently for several moments, then Aurellia started to look around.
“Where did I put…?” she muttered, then she saw her wand on the mantle of the fireplace.
“Oh, there it is.” She held out her hand and mentally Summoned her wand.
“Ari, what are you doing?” Remus asked sternly.
“I am conjuring a second cup,” Aurellia replied matter-of-factly, and she started to raise her wand. “You are having some Recuare; there’s plently for both of us.”
“No!” Remus said firmly, and he grabbed her wrist.
“No,” he repeated firmly. “First of all, I won’t drink it! I dislike it almost as much as I detest Wolfsbane, and coffee does the job equally well. But more importantly, I don’t want you using magic right now. You’ve completly worn yourself out with grief!”
“Well then how do you expect me to…?” Aurellia asked, frustrated.
“First, we are going to read. That you can do without taxing yourself,” Remus said parentally, and he pointed his wand at his battered suitcase, which popped open. Several books sprang out and landed on the coffee table. “Or I should say, first you are going to read to me, because I’ve never had much luck with the language, despite Luk’s patient attempts to teach me. And I’ll do the spellcasting until I am satisfied, and Madam Pomfrey is satisfied, that you are rested enough to use magic without harming yourself.”
“Agreed,” Aurellia said dryly as she took another sip of her Recuare. “So long as you conjure yourself a cup and join me in some needed liquid refreshment.”
“You aren’t going to let that thought go, are you?”
“Of course not! Especially not when you are being contrary. You know I’m right.”
Remus sighed and rolled his eyes. He pointed his wand at the table and drew a circle on it, and a small mug appeared with a pop inside the proscribed ring. He then took the pitcher of Recuare and poured until the mug was half full.
“More,” Aurellia demanded.
“You are as bossy and demanding as your father, did I ever tell you that?”
“Yes, and thank you for the compliment. Now fill your glass!”
“For the record, you’re only getting away with bossing me today because I feel bad about talking you into coming here,” Remus said as he complied grudgingly and took a sip. “Well, at least it isn’t Wolfsbane,” he muttered as he wrinkled his nose.
Aurellia, meanwhile, grabbed the top book from the pile and opened it to the Table of Contents.
“I never knew Luk had all of this,” Aurellia said as she turned the pages in fascination.
“Oh. That reminds me,” Remus said, and he snapped his fingers. “Accio!” He again directed his wand toward the suitcase, and an intricately carved wooden box with mother-of-pearl inlay floated through the air and landed between them.
“What…?” Aurellia exclaimed softly. “Is this what I think…?”
Remus nodded as Aurellia opened the box and peered inside. She put a hand to her mouth in surprise.
Lying in the box’s wine-colored velvet lining were two objects. One was a silver scarab beetle pin about two inches long, with sparkling sapphire eyes. The other was a silvery wand, which reflected the light from the fireplace like Aurellia’s. And unlike Aurellia’s smooth, polished, needlike wand, this wand was twisted, like a tightly coiled corkscrew, resembling more closely the unicorn’s horn from which it was made.
“I found it while cleaning out…er…puttering around the Shack,” Remus said softly. “I forgot Luk had removed his Watcher pin just before…” the werewolf turned away, unable to finish. “I don’t recall ever seeing him use this wand, but then I met him after he got his standard wand from Olivanders. He showed it to me once, and he told me that it had been in his family for years. I thought you would like to have this.”
Aurellia nodded silently, then dropped her book and threw her arms around the older wizard, who returned her embrace. They held each other silently for several minutes, but this time there were no more tears.
“Thanks, Big Brother,” Aurellia said. “I…thank you.”
“I’m glad I found them,” Remus replied warmly, as he pulled away and looked at her with a sad smile. “As upside-down as things are at the Shack these days, I’m amazed I find anything. Now, let’s see what we can find in these books.”
Aurellia nodded and picked up the book she had dropped earlier. “Perhaps I should try teaching you Druidish so you can help. This is quite a stack.”
“You can try,” Remus said with a laugh as he peered over her shoulder. “But I’ll warn you, you’ll have your work cut out for you!”
End of Chapter 50
Note: "Hotel California" by The Eagles
"Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks