He was an alert boy with a loyalty to those around him that was touching. He had a desire to be loved in the same way that Remus had, and Maeve knew it came from a lack of sustained affection. She knew he now had plenty of love around him, but there must still be a longing for his lost parents and for Sirius. From the occasional comment he made, she was sure he hadn’t entirely given up on seeing any of them again, even if it was in the next life.
Molly Weasley was delighted at the change in Harry; he went from being sullen and withdrawn to becoming, if not exactly his old self, then at least a more relaxed presence about the place. In fact if it were not for the late night comings and goings of various Order members, the atmosphere at Grimmauld Place would have been almost pleasant. Those nocturnal visits were a sombre reminder of the state of the wizarding world. A disquieting expectancy had descended over everything, which Molly kept referring to as the calm before the storm. They were on tenterhooks waiting for the first attack and no one had any idea where, or when, it would come.
Maeve had only a few more days in London before she planned to take the train back up to Hogwarts. She had some shopping to do, so she announced her intentions to spend the day in Diagon Alley. Harry didn’t need asking twice and immediately jumped at the opportunity to leave the gloomy house for the delights of the best shopping experience in England. Remus looked a little worried at the thought of them going alone so he arranged for himself and Tonks to accompany them. Maeve had protested that it was an unnecessary measure, but Remus had insisted, with a stern reminder that Voldemort would have liked to have both herself and Harry in his devious sights.
“But he wouldn’t know who I am,” she argued. “And he wouldn’t try anything in a busy place filled with wizards and witches, would he? He’s not stupid.”
“We don’t know for certain he doesn’t know who you are, and I’m not sure Voldemort could resist the temptation to attack Harry, even if it was in the presence of half the wizarding world.” His look of concern was so great that she had backed down and so, on a warm, late-August morning, they set off from Grimmauld Place to walk the short distance to the Leaky Cauldron.
When they arrived it was exactly as she remembered it, dark and dingy with the sort of clientele that would give most Muggles nightmares for years. Tom, the barman, was busily wiping glasses with a cloth that looked as if it were putting more dirt on them than it was taking off. He gave them a gruff hello before offering them drinks.
“No, thank you, Tom, it’s a bit early in the day for us,” Tonks said, grinning. “We’re off shopping.”
The barman nodded, peering round at Harry.
“Morning, Mr Potter,” he said to Harry, who muttered a hello in return. “Morning, Professor Lupin, and I don’t know the young lady.” He looked questioningly at Maeve.
“This is my sister, Selene,” Remus said. Maeve realised she was getting heartily fed up with being introduced to people, having her hand shook and people exclaiming that they never knew Remus had a sister. It was tedious and she had a full appreciation for the annoyance Harry felt when people constantly stared at his scar. Tom didn’t shake her hand though; he merely bobbed his head in her direction with a leering grin before shuffling off to the other end of the bar, where a dark, greasy-looking wizard was waving an empty glass at him.
“Come on then, you lot. Let’s hit the shops. I got paid last Friday and I have my eye on a great new device for detecting people with the Imperius Curse on them,” Tonks said eagerly, leading the way to the courtyard at the rear of the building. She knocked over two pints of beer and a coat stand on the way, apologising cheerily to the sodden drinkers that she left in her wake.
Maeve could feel her excitement building as they reached the yard where the younger witch began counting under her breath before tapping a brick in the wall. As the wall rearranged itself to provide an archway to the hustle and bustle that was Diagon Alley, she mentally planned the places she would have to visit. Gringotts Wizarding Bank would have to be the first stop before she could even think about shopping. When she had left school her father had managed to get her a job at the Irish Ministry dealing with the control and licensing of potions, which had paid quite well. She had had all her wages transferred into an account at Gringotts because she found that the allowance her father gave her more than paid for her day-to-day expenses. This account had been one her mother had set up for her when she had been just a baby, and she knew it was where all the money her mother had left her in her will had ended up. She had no idea how much was in there, but she had always known she was fairly well off. It made her feel vaguely ashamed that all this money had been languishing in a vault when she really should have been using it for a good cause. Dumbledore had made arrangements using a contact within the bank to allow her access to her vault in her current incarnation. As Selene, it was quite plausible that her job abroad had paid her well enough to afford a few nice things in life, and so no one would be surprised when she left Gringotts with a little money in her purse.
After they had stopped at Gringotts, where Remus had remained outside mumbling something about having enough money on him, they headed for Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlour. Maeve took great pleasure in treating everyone to an ice cream, which was served by a welcoming Florean himself. As they polished of the ices they discussed the day ahead. Harry had already bought his new schoolbooks and the other things he needed for school so he wasn’t too bothered about where they went. It was Maeve and Tonks who took the lead, making a beeline for Madam Malkin’s Robes For All Occasions. They spent a very happy half hour trying on various different robes, whilst Remus and Harry sat by the door on tiny, ornate gold chairs nodding their heads feebly at every robe the two witches tried on. Maeve finally settled on two plain, dark green robes for school and a more glamorous, emerald-coloured velvet dress robe that she fell in love with instantly. Tonks didn’t buy anything; she had just come for the fun of trying on different outfits. Madam Malkin tutted at her as she left the shop, but Tonks merely grinned back at her and the others.
“Never really been one for clothes myself, now hair… that’s much more my style,” she said, running her hand through orange-coloured spikes. Maeve glanced at Tonks, still unsure of that colour. Tonks seemed to read her thoughts because she suddenly looked doubtful.
“Is it me?” she asked, peering round Maeve at her reflection in the shop window. “I have been wondering if it made me look a bit ill, a bit green around the cheeks.” She tugged at the spikes.
“Well now you mention it…” Maeve began tactfully.
“I knew it!” she said with a sigh. Wrinkling her face up, the others watched as her hair went from vivid orange to a livid lilac colour. Maeve wasn’t sure it was really an improvement, but she was surprised to find herself in the presence of another Metamorphmagus. She couldn’t help thinking it must come in immensely handy for her work as an Auror.
“What do you think, Remus?” Tonks turned to him and grinned. He looked a bit uneasy and coughed something about it being lovely whatever colour it was, at which Tonks went pink and looked very pleased with herself.
Unless Maeve was very much mistaken there was a glint in Tonks’ eye that hinted at something bordering on infatuation, and it wasn’t the first time Maeve had seen her taking an extra interest in Remus. She smiled to herself and hoped the feeling was reciprocated. From what she had seen of Tonks, she was exactly the down to earth, open sort that would do a lot for Remus.
Maeve paid a visit to several shops to stock up on things for school and the lessons she would be teaching. She also dropped in to Stitch-a-Spell, a wonderful tiny shop that sold magical threads and materials. She had been eyeing up Remus’ robes and decided that though he made a valiant effort to darn them, he wasn’t that good with a needle and thread, so she would attempt to prise them off him to repair them. Tonks also insisted they have a look in Everard’s Essential Equipment, which stocked a wide variety of magical devices, ranging from wizard toys for the young toddler to helpful gadgets for the ageing and infirm. This was were she had heard about the sensor for catching people under the influence of the Imperius Curse. Though she knew the Ministry took a dim view of what they described as ‘amateur aids to detection’, they didn’t prevent their Aurors using them.
Tonks approached the counter, where a spotty young man sat slouched on a stool with a copy of Magnificent Magical Machines magazine in his hands.
“G’day,” he said chirpily, “and what can I do for you fine looking witches and wizards?” He glanced at Remus, giving him a quick look that suggested he wasn’t included in this description.
“I’m after” – and here Tonks lowered her voice – “that gadget that detects the Imperius Curse.”
“Ahh.” He gave her a knowing smile and a brief wink. “That’s specialised stuff, that is. Only highly trained wizards can get it to work.”
“And you think I’m not?” she said indignantly.
“Now, now, Miss… did I say that? I just need you to be aware that if it doesn’t work then it may not be the device’s fault.” And with that universal get-out clause he disappeared from view beneath the vast expanse of cluttered counter. He was gone so long they were beginning to think he had left the shop, but eventually he popped back up again with a small black box in his hand and a sheepish grin on his face.
“Sorry I took so long, ladies and gents, but our stockroom is a bit full and it took some finding.” He handed the box to Tonks who took it quickly and flipped open the lid. Inside, nestled on a cushion of deep blue velvet, was a small circular object that looked rather like a compass. It had a gold rim with a mother of pearl face and two tiny golden hands that were slowly circling round in a very relaxed manner. At each of the four points where North, South, East and West would normally be there were words written in tiny script, they had to peer closely at the face to decipher what they said. The Northerly point said ‘Safely Sane’, the Eastern was ‘Mildly Manipulated’, the Southern a worrying ‘Immensely Influenced’ and the West a devastating ‘Completely Controlled’. Tonks removed it from the box and flipped it over. Engraved on the back were the words ‘The Inimitable Imperius Indicator brought to you by Mirus Machina’.
“Perfect!” she exclaimed. “I’ll take it.”
“But you don’t even know how much it costs,” Remus said with concern.
“If you have to ask the price,” the young man said with a smirk, “then you really can’t afford it.”
Maeve watched as Remus withdrew to the other end of the shop, a look of consternation crossing her face. She was aware that money was a constant worry for him, so to be reminded in that way by an unthinking slip of a boy was hard. Tonks, meanwhile, pulled out a pouch and after a whispered conversation began counting Galleons out onto the counter. Once the little box was safely tucked into her pocket, they all filed from the shop and ploughed straight into Quality Quidditch Supplies so that Harry could have a look round his favourite shop in Diagon Alley. Maeve never could understand the appeal of flinging yourself around at several hundred feet on a broomstick while trying to catch an elusive golden ball with wings, although looking around her at the multitude of different brooms and equipment she had to accept that a large group of people did find it incredibly interesting and exciting. She spotted a small leather money pouch with a broomstick and a Golden Snitch tooled onto the leather and, with Harry safely ensconced at the other side of the shop, she quickly paid for it and slipped it into her robes. It would make a nice leaving present for him when she caught the train on Friday.
The last visit of the day was to Flourish and Blotts, and they all went in separate directions as they browsed the shelves. Maeve was happily immersed in the Potions section when she heard raised voices from the other side of the shop.
“At least my dad’s not in prison!”
That was Harry’s voice. She quickly pushed the book she had been flicking through back onto the shelf and headed in the direction of the beginnings of a quarrel.
“No, but then your dad’s dead, isn’t he? All because he felt the need to protect his ungrateful little whelp.” This was a voice she didn’t know, hard and brittle with a savage undertone that belied a vengeful personality.
“And you think your dad would do that for you, do you?” She could hear the anger in Harry’s voice, and as she rounded the high shelves, she found him facing a tall, blond-haired boy. They both had their wands drawn and were waggling them dangerously in the air.
“Harry, what’s going on?” she asked calmly, taking in the fact that the other boy had a sneer on his face that would make a leprechaun cry.
“Nothing,” he said, his lips stiff with tension.
“Oh, Potter’s just upset because my father has more guts and intelligence than his father had. My father is able to recognise the winning side.” There was a sickening smirk on the boy’s face now and she frowned at him.
“My dad WAS on the right side, Malfoy, and deep down you know it,” Harry retorted hotly
“Yeah, the right side if you want to die whining for mercy like a coward.” Their wands were still in the air and she felt Harry move his hand as if preparing to use his.
“Don’t, Harry.” She caught hold of his arm and he felt a bolt of heat shoot across up to his shoulder. “He’s not worth it.”
“I’m worth a hundred of him, with his disgusting friends and ridiculous scar. Hopefully next time Voldemort will finish him off properly.”
“What’s your name?” Maeve snapped at the blond boy, with more than a hint of venom in her voice.
“Malfoy,” he sneered, “Draco Malfoy. What’s yours?” There was a challenge in his words, daring her to take him on.
At that moment, Remus and Tonks arrived, looking slightly breathless and full of concern.
“What are you up to now, Draco?” Remus asked in a tired voice. “Not causing trouble again are we?”
Harry was still glaring at the other boy but he had put his wand away so Draco let his arm fall in response, sensing perhaps that he was now seriously outnumbered.
“I’m not the trouble-causer around here,” he said. “That’s Potter’s speciality.”
“I’m going,” Harry said suddenly. “He’s really not worth the effort.”
And with that he turned around and walked away followed by Tonks and Remus, who gave a last glance at Malfoy before beckoning Maeve to follow them. She hesitated, looking at the sharp-faced boy in front of her, but before she could say anything else a tall, well-groomed woman appeared from behind her.
“Draco, there you are,” she said snappishly before realising her son and Maeve had been in conversation. “And who are you?” she asked in a haughty voice.
“Selene Lupin.” She held out her hand, but the other woman looked at her in disgust while her son snorted derisively.
“Is there a problem?” Maeve asked, her gaze holding the other woman’s without blinking.
“What does she want with you, Draco?” His mother turned and peered down her nose at her son, who shrugged his shoulders and made to walk away.
“Leave my son alone,” the woman said coldly to Maeve. “We don’t want any half-bloods pestering our family. You’re related to that half-breed werewolf, aren’t you? It’s in your eyes… filthy creature.”
Maeve’s eyes looked back equally coldly, and with undisguised contempt, she stepped closer to her antagonist.
“Far better,” she said icily, “to be a half-blood than a strange, inbred fool like yourself. You have done your son no favours by passing on your narrow-minded thinking. He will suffer in the long run.” She turned away quickly as the woman’s high, false laughter rang in her ears.
“Well really, Draco!” she said to her son as the door of Flourish and Blotts slammed behind Maeve’s furnace of frustration.
After that encounter, the lustre of the day was dulled somewhat. They decided to make their way back to Grimmauld Place, although they were in a rather more subdued mood than they had been that morning. Tonks and Remus walked on ahead, leaving her walking beside a very quiet Harry. She watched him chewing his bottom lip in agitation and she wished they could have avoided the unfortunate encounter in the bookshop.
“I’m sorry that happened, Harry,” she began, but he shrugged his shoulders and it felt like all the good work she had done in getting him to talk over the past few days had been undone. A screech came from ahead as Tonks, who had been walking a pretend tightrope on a low wall, fell off, and Remus had to drag her to her feet as she grinned and brushed herself off.
“Hard to believe someone that clumsy is an Auror,” Maeve joked affectionately, and Harry managed a weak smile.
“She’s a good witch though. Remus says she’s very handy in a tight spot,” Harry said, raising his head and looking at her. Something was niggling him about the events of the afternoon. He wanted to ask her about it, but he wasn’t sure what explanation she would be able to give him.
“What is it?” she asked, seeing the questioning look on his face.
“Nothing really,” he said slowly. “It’s just that when you grabbed my arm – in Flourish and Blotts – well, it felt like fire shot up my arm.”
She raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“Did it hurt?” she asked.
“No, no, it didn’t hurt.” He shook his head. “It just felt… I don’t know. I suppose it calmed me down.”
This puzzled her. It wasn’t an effect she had ever come across before, and no one had ever mentioned it to her in the past. She had grabbed Remus back at the cottage, but he had never said anything about heat. She resolved to mention it to him later to see what he thought.
“Well, as long as it didn’t hurt,” she said steadily. “It must be some charm I used subconsciously.”
Neither of them appeared convinced, but they dropped the subject and before long the party had arrived back at Grimmauld Place, which was in darkness and, unusually, there were no cooking smells coming from the kitchen.
“It’s started,” Molly wailed, as they walked in to the cold kitchen. She was sitting at the table clutching a teacloth, listening to the wireless. “There have been two attacks on wizards in the past hour,” she explained with horror in her voice. “Tolpuddle Binderton and James Renching are both dead.”
Tonks gave a little yelp. “I knew Tolpuddle, we called him Tolly. He was on the same Auror training course as me.” Her eyes reflected the sudden realisation that if one of her fellow trainees had been killed, then it could just as easily be her next time.
“Now, Molly, we don’t know this is Voldemort’s doing,” Remus said, sitting next to her and prising the teacloth from her hands before she shredded it. “They could be unrelated accidents.”
“The Dark Mark,” she said tremulously, “was seen at both incidents. They were found lying there as if nothing had happened, stone dead.”
Fat tears began to creep from the corners of her eyes, and Tonks ran across to give her a hug.
“Where they killed using Avada Kedavra?” Harry asked quietly, at which Molly began to wail again, her tears flowing freely down Tonks’ shoulder.
“Molly, don’t upset yourself like this,” Remus said. “We knew this would happen sooner or later.” He stood up and left the job of comforting her to Tonks. He now had other things on his mind. Maeve had been supposed to leave alone on Friday, but in light of this news he thought this wasn’t such a good idea.
He asked Harry to go to his room while he discussed some things with Maeve, but Harry looked reluctant to leave them.
“I want to stay, Professor Lupin,” he said firmly. “I spent the whole of last year being kept in the dark. It’s not going to happen again.” His mouth was set firm, and Remus looked sad for a moment before redoubling his resolve.
“I really can’t discuss this with you now, Harry. It’s for Selene’s safety.” He hoped the appeal on behalf of Maeve would help Harry make the right decision. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect.
“Well, then all the more reason I should stay,” he said, and the others looked at him in surprise.
“Why, Harry?” Maeve asked gently.
“I don’t know,” he said, looking away from her, not wanting to admit that he had come to care for her in the same way he cared for her brother, and he didn’t want her hurt or even worse.
“Harry, please, it’s important that I talk to Selene alone,” Remus insisted. Harry gave him a disgusted glare before stomping from the room, slamming the door behind him.
Maeve watched him go with regret, looking at Remus with anguish in her eyes.
“He should know, Remus. I can’t go on like this,” she said in a low voice.
Remus shook his head firmly, steering her from the room before Tonks and Molly took an interest in their conversation. They climbed the stairs to the drawing room and sat on the sofa together.
“He can’t know, Maeve. No one, beyond the people Dumbledore has decided upon, should know, and you need to be careful about what you say in front of people. Molly and Tonks could have easily heard what you said and have asked some awkward questions,” Remus admonished her gently.
“I know, Remus, but it is so hard to keep the pretence going. I had no idea it would be this difficult. And there is something strange going on between Harry and me that I can’t explain.”
“What do you mean?” he asked sharply.
“I feel so protective towards him,” she confessed.
“We all do, Maeve,” he said.
“No.” She shook her head. “This is something else, Remus, something strange. When I grabbed his arm today in Flourish and Blotts, he felt a shot of heat go up it.”
He frowned, as if some vague memory had been triggered, but he couldn’t quite place what the information meant. It was there, he just couldn’t locate it. She was looking at him as if he could provide the answers, and he felt inadequate under her scrutiny so he changed the subject.
“I think you need to be accompanied back to Hogwarts. I’m going to call on Mad-Eye Moody to take you back by train, and I’ll check with Dumbledore about coming myself. He may think you should have even more protection.”
She fingered the sleeve of her robe, upset that suddenly he viewed her as someone incompetent who couldn’t take care of herself. She sighed heavily and looked at him with sadness.
“This is the beginning, isn’t it, Remus? The beginning of what could be the end.”
“Don’t say that, Maeve. It could be our chance to rid the world of his evil once and for all.” Remus was displaying his optimistic streak again.
“Or make way for even more evil to come after. I knew this would happen but it doesn’t stop me longing for home and the safety I had at Abbeylara.”
They both glanced at the door as a floorboard creaked. Remus moved swiftly to open it, and he looked out onto the corridor. He couldn’t see anyone, but he had a strong feeling he wasn’t alone. He also had a horrible feeling he knew why, but he couldn’t prove it and so went back into the room closing the door firmly behind him.
“It’s settled, Maeve. You will be going back with protection on Friday.” His face was firm and she knew there was no point arguing about it. “Let’s go and help Tonks sort Molly out. I am sure we can manage to make supper between us.”
She got up reluctantly and went to help in the kitchen, but she did so with a heavy heart and the knowledge that the deaths of those two poor wizards had changed everything beyond recognition.
The next day Dumbledore called a meeting of The Order at Grimmauld Place. Early in the morning lots of voices could be heard coming from the room beside the kitchen. Maeve had been excluded from the meeting, which rankled a little, but she took it with good grace and stayed in her room packing her belongings ready for the trip the following day. A few hours later footsteps could be heard trooping from the house. All the noise had woken Mrs Black, who screamed at them all from her position by the door, but today no one was in the frame of mind to be bothered with her so her insults went unheeded. After a short time had passed there was a knock at her door. When she opened it Ron stood there looking apprehensive.
“They want to see you in the drawing room,” he said ominously.
“Who does?” she asked.
“Professor Dumbledore and old Mad-Eye; they look really serious.” He gulped. “It’s bad, isn’t it? Those two wizards that died mean it’s starting again.”
“Yes, Ron, I’m afraid it probably is starting again.” She laid a hand on his shoulder. “But we’ll get through it, we did last time.”
“We only got through it last time because Harry stopped Voldemort,” Ron said knowingly. “Is that going to have to happen again?”
She looked at the fear on Ron’s face and it brought home what she would have to face at Hogwarts. All these children who had been too young to remember the last time would be thrust into a terrifying war that would upset their lives and tear families apart. She knew unless Voldemort was stopped quickly some of them would lose family members, and some of them would suffer as their families defected to the dark side. There was a high probability that in-fighting would begin at the school as different people found themselves on different sides, and she hoped fervently that the day would never come when one of the pupils was killed.
Shaking these murky thoughts away she looked at Ron and lied. “No, Ron, I don’t think the people in power will let that happen again.”
But she knew from what Harry had told her about the prophecy he had heard from Dumbledore that that was precisely what would have to happen before Voldemort was vanquished. This thought made her even more fearful for the future.
She opened the door of the drawing room to be faced with the sight of Alastor ‘Mad- Eye’ Moody staring straight at her from his position immediately behind the door. She did get the distinct impression that the slight thud she had heard as the door opened was him being hit in the face by it. He was rubbing his head slightly, his magical eye swirling frantically in its socket. This concerned her slightly. If he couldn’t win a fight with a door he was hardly likely to be the best person to protect her from any stray Death Eaters they might happen upon.
He was the most battered-looking person she had ever come across, with a chunk missing from his nose, and skin that looked like dried seaweed. The scars that crisscrossed his entire face clearly showed the kind of life he had led and she couldn’t help but wonder if he had accumulated that many because he was very brave or very stupid.
Dumbledore was standing by the glowing fire watching the two of them assess each other, until finally Mad-Eye gave a grunt of approval, moving out of the way to let her pass.
“Maeve, you know why I am here,” Dumbledore said with a grave tone in his voice. She nodded quickly, surprised to hear him use her real name in company.
“I have taken the liberty of letting Tonks and Alastor in on our little secret, so we can talk freely,” he explained quickly. The decision had not been an easy one, but he failed to see how he could offer her adequate protection without enlisting the help of trusted friends.
She glanced at the grizzled man who circled the room slowly, keeping his magical eye on her at all times, and then she looked across at Tonks who winked at her encouragingly. Maeve had to admit she wasn’t entirely thrilled with the prospect of these two being her new guardians.
“I want you to return as planned on Friday, with a minimum of fuss. We have to assume that Voldemort does not yet know your secret so it would be pure misfortune if he were to choose you as his next victim. However, we cannot send you unprotected so Alastor will be coming with you and will watch you from a safe distance to make sure no one gets too close to you,” said Dumbledore.
She nodded, pleased at least that the security measures would not be too invasive. She assumed that this would be the extent of the discussion, but Dumbledore hadn’t quite finished. He coughed to clear his throat.
“I also understand that you have a problem with Harry, specifically with the story you are telling him,” he said and she threw a poisonous look at Remus for divulging that particular conversation, which she would rather have remained private. Remus deflected her look with a small smile that had the hint of an apology about it.
“Not really a problem, Professor,” she replied, trying to play it down and failing.
“Remus believes that Harry may have overheard a conversation you had, which may have inadvertently revealed that you are not who you say you are. He has an invisibility cloak and seems to find lots of excuses to use it,” Dumbledore said with a wry smile. Maeve looked flustered and Dumbledore did his best to put her at ease.
“What I suggest you do is tell him the truth.” Dumbledore smiled and she looked at him in surprise.
“But, Professor…” Was she really being given permission to do something she had been longing to do? Surely this was too easy?
“He wasn’t told the truth last year and I fear that caused more problems than it solved, so I think candour is the order of the day. I will leave it up to you to decide when the moment is right to tell him, but I would think you should broach the subject with him before you leave for Hogwarts.” He walked towards her, patting her gently on the shoulder. “I shall see you at Hogwarts, my dear, but now I have to leave for the Ministry. Goodbye.”
And with a rush of wind he was gone, making her jump slightly. Tonks immediately hurried across to her with admiration in her eyes.
“I had no idea you were a Metamorphmagus,” she said, excitement bubbling up in her voice.
“Tonks,” Remus said in a warning tone form the doorway.
“Or that you came from such an amazing family, did you know that your mother…” But whatever she had been about to say was cut off by Remus barking at Tonks to be quiet.
Mad-Eye Moody stopped his endless travail around the room, coming to a halt in front of Maeve, who tried to look him in the eyes but found it impossible without sending her own eyes on a round trip of their sockets.
“I’ll pick you up at seven in the morning. Have your luggage ready and your wits about you,” he said, his voice solemn as his magical eye rolled wildly in its orbit.
“I’ll be ready,” she said.
“Good. I’ll be off then,” he replied and with that he too Disapparated from the room with a pop.
“I have to go see Harry,” Maeve said, looking first at Tonks and then Remus as if either of them would try to stop her. Remus wondered if she knew what she was about to unleash. She seemed to think Harry would be grateful for the truth, but he thought Harry might well be too angry at the deception to see sense. They both watched her leave the room hurriedly and the look they exchanged wasn’t one brimming with confidence at the outcome of her revelations to Harry.
She climbed the stairs, her eager feet making no sound as she skipped from step to step. As Maeve reached the room Harry shared with Ron she could hear loud cheering and roars of triumph from within. She knocked on the door and instantly the noise ceased followed by a loud shout of “Who is it?”
“It’s Selene,” she called back through the solid wood, the lie passing through the door with ease. There came the sound of footsteps, and Ron’s face appeared behind the now open door.
“Hi,” he said. “I was just watching a replay of the Quidditch, come in.”
She walked in to find Harry sitting up on his bed reading a book. He didn’t look up as she entered and Ron could see there was something going on that he didn’t know about.
“Right then,” he said cheerfully. “Just have to go and, erm, polish my broom or something.” He pulled his face apologetically at Harry as he backed from the room, leaving them alone with whatever it was they had to discuss.
The door had barely closed behind him before Maeve started to speak.
“Harry, I want to tell you the truth,” she said abruptly, having decided the best way to go about this was to tell the story as quickly as possible. He didn’t look at her, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the book in his hands. “I wanted to tell you the truth from the moment I met you, but I couldn’t. Now I find I can.”
Not a flicker.
“I’m not really Selene Lupin and I’m not Remus’ sister.” She shifted her position slightly. “My name is Maeve O’Malley and I’m from a place called Abbeylara in Ireland. Voldemort tried to kill me once, but failed. I have been in hiding ever since.”
He turned a page slowly.
“Professor Dumbledore brought me back because he believed my safety had been compromised and thought this was a good disguise to adopt. I used to attend Hogwarts so know the school well. It obviously meant telling a few untruths to people to maintain the disguise, and I hadn’t realised how difficult that would be.”
“I was at school with Remus, although we weren’t particularly close, but I was your mother’s best friend whilst I was there.”
Harry leapt from the bed as if she had poured a bucket of boiling water over him; his face was contorted with rage.
“You’re lying!” he yelled at her. “That’s just not true. I’ve never even heard of you, and if you were my mum’s best friend there would be a picture of you in the album Hagrid gave me. You are Professor Lupin’s sister, you even look like him!” he said triumphantly.
She shook her head slowly. “I’m a Metamorphmagus, Harry. This is a disguise. I was only at Hogwarts for three years. I left abruptly. My father, in an act of cruelty he has yet to surpass, removed me from school because I had formed a relationship that he did not consider proper, and he refused me any contact with my old friends. But there were photographs; I don’t know what happened to them though. I never saw your mother again, Harry, after I left, a fact which I never cease to regret.”
“Why should I believe you?” he asked passionately. “You have been lying to me for the past week so why should I believe this?” He didn’t dare believe this could be true. A friend of his mother’s would be too much to ask for.
“Because if I am not telling the truth it would be a very cruel trick to play on you. Do you think I’m that cruel?” Her eyes were wide with concern.
Harry remembered the warmth of that touch in the bookshop and he knew she was telling the truth, he just couldn’t quite take in what she was saying.
“Then you knew Dad and Sirius?” He looked at her with longing.
“Yes, I did, I knew them both. I didn’t know them very well, but they were very well known about school.” She could see he was beginning to unbend a little so she smiled. “I am sorry about the deception, Harry. I thought it would be easy, but I realised when I met you that it wouldn’t be and I was proved right.”
“It just seems that everything is lies. I don’t know who, or what, to believe anymore. The world is upside down and I feel like I’m falling off it sometimes.” He looked at her sadly. “Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense.” She knelt by his bed, looking up at him. Lily’s green eyes looked back at her, making her experience a fresh wave of grief for her bright young friend who had had so much life in her and such a good future. “But I promise that, no matter what, I will not tell you a lie again. From now on only the truth matters.”
He gave her a look that could have been gratitude or it could have been relief. Either way she squeezed his hand and stood up. He looked like he needed some time alone to come to terms with what she had just told him.
“I have to leave in the morning but we can spend a bit of time together before I go. Perhaps you would like to talk about your mum, or perhaps you wouldn’t… but whatever you want to know, I’ll tell you. Just ask,” she said, walking towards the door.
“There is one thing,” he said in a low voice.
“Could you show me what you really look like, I mean, how mum saw you when you where at school.” He looked away quickly in case she found the request offensive, but she gave a soft chuckle.
“You want me to transform back into the girl I was at school!”
“If you don’t mind? I just want to see what Mum saw.”
“Well okay,” she said, “but just for a minute. I don’t want Ron seeing me as a schoolgirl.” Her eyes glowed with amusement.
She crumpled her face with concentration and Harry watched, entranced, as she shrank a few inches, her hair changing back to the usual tumble of red. He stared as her face grew smaller and more defined, with deeper, brown eyes. She had undoubtedly been one of the most striking girls in her year, but Harry didn’t see any of this. All Harry saw was his mum’s best friend, and it brought a heavy lump into his throat because now he knew he had seen her in some of the photographs. There was one in particular where the two young witches had stood laughing into the camera with their arms around each other’s shoulders looking as young and carefree as they really had been back then, before Voldemort ruined things for everyone. Just as the pain of seeing her became almost too much for him to bear, she wrinkled her face again and now he was looking at the same person but older and, if anything, more attractive than her younger self.
“This is me, Harry, as I really am and as one day I hope to be again.” Her voice was lilting, with a musical note to it that her incarnation as Selene didn’t have. Harry found himself enchanted by that voice. Before he had the chance to fully take the image in she was once again Selene Lupin.
“No one must know, Harry, not even Ron.” She impressed the need for secrecy on him, her serious face reflecting the gravity of her words.
“I understand,” he nodded, “I won’t tell anyone.” He looked at her earnestly. “Can I ask you one more thing?”
“Go ahead,” she said.
“You said your father removed you from school because you had an unsuitable relationship.” He was aware his question may sound cheeky, but he felt he had to know. “Who was that with?” Mental images of her with Remus had crossed his mind. What could be more unsuitable than a werewolf?
She hesitated for a fraction of a second. Harry was a perceptive boy and of course he would pick up on the one thing that could possibly drive a wedge between them. But she had promised him the truth so she gave it to him unflinchingly.
Harry felt his insides turn to ice.