Living with Danger
Chapter 5: Laying Plans
By Anne B. Walsh
Disclaimer: Horrendous pun in chapter. Not my pun. Mel Brooks' pun. Thank you.
Chapter 5: Laying Plans
Remus Lupin awoke slowly, wondering why he felt so odd, whose hand was wrapped around his, and what, in general, was going on. The sight of moonlight flooding in through a window did not help.
It’s full moon tonight. I should still be a wolf. Shouldn’t I?
He looked down at himself.
Oh. I am still a wolf.
But I can think. My mind is human. I won’t attack anyone.
I can handle that. I guess.
Damn sight better than the alternative.
Danger lay beside him, holding one of his front paws, her chest rising and falling in the even rhythms of sleep.
Well, she said the neighborhood gossips would have us sleeping together within two days. Though I doubt this is what she meant!
I wonder, does this only work when she’s touching me, or does one touch last all night?
Carefully, he withdrew his paw from her grasp, forcing himself to stay off balance. If I lose control and go wolf again, I’ll fall on her. I may wake her up, but better that than kill her!
Nothing happened. Remus sagged in relief. She was right. She’s a werewolf tamer.
I wonder what the theorists will make of her.
Assuming they ever hear about her.
He sniffed. Scents exploded into his nose — dust, food, mice, humans — he could smell Danger’s own personal scent, and Harry’s, and Neenie’s, and his own from before the transformation. His human sense of smell was more keen than other people’s, but the wolf’s nose was incredibly sharp. He could even tell how long it had been since she had held either child.
She held Neenie only about two hours ago? That doesn’t make sense... unless...
He went into the living room and shoved a window open with nose and paws, something the werewolf wasn’t intelligent enough to do on its own, so he didn’t have to safeguard against it. Out the window he went, down the lawn to the truck parked in the street.
Sure enough, Hermione’s in there. Asleep still, but she’s wet, so she may not sleep much longer. He wrinkled his nose. That was quite a penetrating odor.
I should get Danger to bring her in. It’s not exactly safe to let her sleep in the truck all night.
But she would have been a lot safer there than in the house two hours ago!
Enjoying his newfound freedom, he leapt lightly back in through the window and gently nudged Danger with his nose until she startled awake.
"What? What is it?" She blinked owlishly at him for a moment and rubbed her eyes, reorienting herself. "So, how do you feel?"
Remus smiled wolf-style, opening his mouth and panting happily. Good. Wonderful. Better than great. I can never tell you how much this means to me.
"So quit telling me, then. Why’d you wake me up anyway?"
You’re awfully grouchy at night.
"No, you’re too damn cheerful."
Wait a minute. I’m not talking aloud — I can’t talk aloud in this form. How are you hearing me?
"You’re right." Danger stopped. "I wonder..."
Can you hear this? said her voice in Remus’ mind.
Remus jumped a little. Yes. Loud and clear.
This is very interesting. I wonder if it’s left over from the shared dream?
At least we won’t have to do charades to get the point across.
Oh my God, Neenie! I left her in the truck!
Well, I wouldn’t have recommended bringing her in when you got here, Remus said. But now, I’d say it’s a good idea.
Danger was already halfway out the door.
After Neenie had been changed, a process during which she never really woke up, and put back to sleep on a folded blanket on the living room floor, Remus curled himself up next to her and Danger lay down on the couch.
So, did you dream what I dreamed? Danger asked.
Yep. The same dream I had two nights ago, before I met you. Only this time, the knowing went both ways — I knew your life, and you knew mine.
It was incredible. I feel as if I’ve known you for years.
So do I. Danger rolled onto her stomach and looked down at him. And I meant what I said. While we were dancing.
Remus met her eyes. So did I.
A silence followed, but not exactly an uncomfortable one — more like the silence of two people digesting a big idea simultaneously.
Because that’s what it is. I know I need a little time to get my mind around this amazing thing called love, Remus thought, carefully to himself only. And these astounding people who love me. He looked affectionately at Neenie, sound asleep and, of course, sucking her thumb. I would imagine Danger needs to do the same.
So, did you write to Aletha yet? Danger asked after a little while.
This morning. She should answer by tomorrow. Well, today, now.
That’s great. Harry was asking for her, and you, and "Pa-foot" all day. You spoiled him; he’s not happy with just me and Neenie anymore, Danger teased.
I don’t think you could spoil that boy no matter what you did to him.
The Dursleys are certainly trying their hardest, Danger said with a sigh.
Let’s not talk about them, not tonight. I have a question I need to ask you.
When are we really going to get married?
Five seconds of total silence, verbal and mental, followed this.
You know, if anyone had told me about this a year ago, I would have thought they were nuts, Danger said finally.
Same here. I probably would have believed more of it than you would, but I still wouldn’t have believed all of it. And you’re avoiding the question.
Don’t push me. Danger stared at the ceiling. Tell me this, she said. If we got married, you’d be reliably tame on your wolf nights, because I’d be with you. We’d have a stable home, two loving parents — more or less — and a child around. Is there a chance we’d get custody of Harry, if we asked?
That’s a good question. Remus thought about it for a moment. A chance, he said finally. But not much more than that. There might be magical reasons why he’s safer with his relatives that would negate any arguments we might make.
Safer from what? Danger demanded tartly. Safer from getting hit?
Getting hit? Are they abusing him?
I have no tangible evidence, but I think so. He flinched today when I swung my hand up in the air. No normal child does that.
Remus growled. For a moment, he felt the wolf mind stir within his own. Kill... kill... blood from those who harm the cub...
Danger placed her hand on the back of his head, and the feelings subsided.
Don’t mention it.
So, you still haven’t answered my question, Remus said, trying to get the conversation back onto a lighter note.
Trust me, I want to, Danger replied with a melancholy tone to her mental voice. If this were all about us, I’d say I want to get married tomorrow. I do want to get married tomorrow. But it’s not just about us. It’s about a little boy we both love, who’s not getting what he needs. We’re adults — we can do pretty much what we please. He’s helpless. We should think about him first, before ourselves.
I stand corrected. Or lie corrected. Or whatever. Harry comes first. Remus yawned enormously. And I think we should continue this conversation in the morning.
Works for me. Danger yawned in her turn, then wiggled around for a moment until she was lying on her stomach, one arm dangling from the couch, hand resting on Remus’ back. In case you feel wolfish during the night, she explained.
I appreciate that.
Good, because actually I just want an excuse to be close to you. Danger giggled, both mentally and aloud.
And I really appreciate that, Remus said, allowing his own amusement to bleed into the link between them. Sleep well.
The raft floated on down the river. Harry seemed to grow heavier in Remus’ lap, and when he looked down, he saw that the boy was growing, aging before his eyes. Already he had the look of a three-year-old. Neenie was growing as well, to Danger’s obvious surprise.
Sirius held out his hands to Aletha, who took them in hers with a smile. A moment later, when they let go, Aletha had a pearl in her hand. It was larger than any Remus had ever seen and shimmered with the play of the sunlight on it. She cradled it to her tenderly.
Danger shifted Neenie to the raft beside her as the girl continued to grow. She and Harry were losing the awkwardness of toddlers and taking on the more shapely forms of young children. Remus noticed that Harry’s resemblance to his father was getting more pronounced as the boy grew older.
A wordless cry attracted everyone’s attention. A woman was swimming toward them with a tiny dragon on her back. She was being pursued by a man, his face twisted with anger. Her expression was pleading.
Sirius reached out and took the dragonet from her, lifting it onto their raft. The woman smiled at them for a moment, then turned and swam at her pursuer, striking at him with her hands and feet. They sank together in the middle of the river, and there was no more trace of them.
The dragonet curled up in Sirius’ lap, shivering. After a few moments in the sun, though, it stretched and yawned, displaying its beautiful scales for everyone to see. Each adult stroked its back once or twice, and it hummed with pleasure.
I suppose this is another dream. It certainly doesn’t make much sense. But it is quite peaceful, rather enjoyable in its way...
Danger smiled at him from across the raft. He smiled back.
Scratch that. Very enjoyable.
He closed his eyes, letting the warmth of the sun soak into him...
Remus Lupin awoke all at once, in possession of several interesting facts.
First off, it was morning, and he was human again. While this usually delighted him, he was usually alone when it happened. On this particular day, an extremely attractive (to him, at least) human woman was asleep on his couch. Her hand was actually resting on his skin. While he enjoyed the sensation very much, the fact that he was not wearing any clothes might make the situation more than a little awkward if she were to wake up suddenly.
Added to this, a sleeping position which is comfortable for a wolf might not be such for a human.
I think my cramps have cramps.
And thirdly, someone had just rung his doorbell.
He looked around and spotted a spare blanket which he pulled quickly over himself — just in time, as Danger stirred to the second ringing of the doorbell. "Mmmm?" she said sleepily.
"Someone’s at the door," Remus said.
"So answer it."
"I can’t. I’m not dressed."
Danger’s eyes shot open, and she surveyed him. "Oh."
"Will you get it?"
"I don’t live here."
"Whoever is at the door doesn’t need to know that. Just tell them I’m in the bathroom and I’ll be right down."
"Be right down? Yes. Will you close your eyes for a moment, please?"
"You asked me to marry you last night, now all of a sudden you’re shy?"
"We’re not married yet." Remus waited until she had her eyes tightly closed before quickly wrapping the blanket around his waist like a towel. "I’ll be right back."
He hurried up the stairs, limping a little, as Danger called, "Coming!" to the person at the door.
He was in his bedroom when he heard the squeals of a feminine greeting ritual. "Oh, I haven’t seen you in so long!" rose from below, in two-part harmony.
Who in the world — oh. It must be Aletha.
She came herself instead of owling back? I did get her attention.
Maybe I’ll take a little longer than I actually need to — they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
By the time he made it downstairs, the squealing had subsided, and Aletha was making friends with Neenie.
"Remus," she said in greeting, shaking his hand. "I didn’t expect to find you hanging around with this little barrel of trouble."
"Oh, you’re a fine one to talk," Danger said. "Who put the frog in Mrs. Walsh’s mailbox?"
"Yeah, well, who glued five 50p coins to the pavement?"
It seemed likely that they could, and would, go on all day. Remus intervened. "Would anyone care for breakfast?"
"Not if you’re cooking," Aletha said frankly.
"I’ll cook," Danger said. "What do you have around?"
Pancakes were duly decided on and made. Everyone was halfway through a second serving when Aletha asked, "So what’s this about Harry?"
Remus and Danger looked at each other.
"You start," Remus said, helping himself to another pancake.
Danger explained where Harry was living, with whom, and what was wrong with that. Aletha appeared to be taking it all very calmly, but Remus noticed that she was slowly shredding her paper napkin in her lap.
Remus took over, explaining what Danger had dreamed, and how he knew it was true. When he got to the part about Wormtail, not Sirius, being the traitor, he got a chance to see what his face must have looked like when Danger told him about her talent in their dream last night. Aletha’s expression varied from astonishment, to joy, to incredulous hope and lingered there. She looked as if he had just handed her the greatest desire of her heart.
Maybe I did. She loved — loves — Sirius. And I’ve just told her he’s not the murdering traitor she’s had to think he is for six months. That sounds like something worth having.
"Now I have to tell you something about me," Remus said. "It’s why Peter and James and Sirius became Animagi. I’m..." It was still hard to tell, but Danger squeezed his hand, and he took the plunge. "I’m a werewolf."
"Werewolf?" Aletha repeated, her eyes wide.
"There wolf," Danger said in a guttural voice. "There castle."
Aletha stared at both of them for a moment, then cracked a smile. "Why are you talking like that?"
"I thought you wanted me to," Danger said.
"No, I don’t want you to," said Aletha.
"Suit yourself, I’m easy," chorused Danger and Remus, and all three of them started laughing.
Thank you, Remus said privately to Danger. That could have been much worse.
I don’t think so. She knows you, she trusts you. You haven’t changed just because she’s found out something new about you.
You’d be surprised how many people don’t think like that. Remus was surprised himself, at how bitter he sounded in his mind.
Forget them, Danger said emphatically. I love you, Neenie and Harry love you, and Letha at least trusts you. Look at her. She doesn’t look scared or on edge. She’s as comfortable around you as she was ten minutes ago.
"It’s actually a relief to know," Aletha said, ignorant of the silent exchange. "I always wondered where you’d go for a couple days out of every month. Now I know. Besides, werewolves aren’t dangerous when it’s not full moon, are they — ah, you?"
"No." Remus grinned, realizing that he could add something to that. "And actually, I’m not dangerous at full moon any more, either."
They explained about Danger’s unusual abilities. Aletha was duly impressed, and let Danger try out her wand. Danger generated more sparks with Aletha’s than she had with Remus’, something which, strangely, made Remus feel a little jealous.
The wand chooses the wizard, he reminded himself. Or the witch.
But it still annoyed him.
"So, the way I see it, we have two things we need to do as soon as we possibly can," Aletha said. "We have to get Sirius out of Azkaban, and we have to get Harry out of that house."
"What about finding Wormtail?" Remus objected.
"All right, make that three things. But I don’t see that there’s any easy way to do that. I mean, yes, we have the poem, and we know that he’s somewhere around red-haired people. If that’s even the right way to read it. But there are thousands of red-haired people in the world, and he could be anywhere. I think we’re going to have to let that one go for the time being."
"How do you suggest we free Sirius, then, if not by finding Wormtail?" Remus asked.
"Well, there’s two ways to do it. Legally, or extralegally. Legally, without Wormtail, it would be difficult to prove Sirius didn’t kill those people."
"Difficult? Try impossible," Danger objected, cutting some more pancake for Neenie. "You can’t prove a negative."
"You know what I mean," Aletha growled, shoving her friend playfully. "But you’re right. It will be damn near impossible. So that leaves extralegally."
"Breaking him out," Remus said. "That’s supposed to be impossible."
"It was supposed to be impossible to defeat You-Know-Who," Aletha pointed out. "And Harry Potter didn’t have a contact in the Ministry with high security clearances. You do. I can get information about Azkaban that the average witch on the street can’t get. Such as where it is, and how to get there."
"But the dementors would notice an extra person walking around the prison, wouldn’t they?" Remus asked. "I mean, they’re soulless, but they’re not stupid."
"No, what they are is blind," Aletha said, her face taut in concentration. "I have an idea. Just the beginning of an idea. Let me talk it out for a second."
She got up and began to pace around. "The dementors are blind. They get around by hearing, and by sensing people’s emotions. People’s emotions. They can tell where people are by their emotions. Where human beings are. Human emotions. Human."
"What about animals?" Danger said suddenly. "Can they sense animal emotions?"
"I don’t know," Aletha said slowly, looking up from her reverie. "I do — not — know. Hmm. Animal emotions. Do animals have emotions?"
"Haven’t you ever seen a dog when its dinner is late?" Remus asked. "Trust me, animals have emotions. They’re different than human emotions, though — not as advanced..."
"So maybe the dementors wouldn’t sense an animal," Danger said. "Or not as easily."
Aletha nodded. "So an animal could get in, but I don’t see..."
"A full moon," Remus said, snapping his fingers. "I’ll go. During a full moon. While I’m the wolf. They won’t sense me, because I’m an animal, but I’ll have my human mind, so I’ll be able to avoid them. And Sirius can avoid them as Padfoot."
"That’s it." Aletha pounded her fist into her palm jubilantly. "That is it. That is the thought I was chasing. You two, between you, got it before I did." She grinned. "I would say, offhand, that we make a good team."
"Me too," Danger said strongly. "What kind of locks do they have on the doors there? Is it a simple catch, something you could undo with your paws, Remus, or are they key locks? Those would be hard to open without hands."
"That’s what I can find out," Aletha said. "I’ll do some research tomorrow."
The excitement in the room was almost tangible. Remus could scent it, even with his limited human sense of smell. "What about Harry?" he said.
"Harry’s easy," Danger said, waving a negligent hand. "In and out, just take him and vanish. If we’re going to liberate a criminal, we’re going to need to hide out anyway, so we might as well hide two people as one."
"True enough," Aletha said. "Have to give some thought to where to hide them, and how. Everyone’ll be looking for Sirius, and Harry, as soon as it gets out that they’re gone."
"Sirius has a perfect disguise," Remus said. "No one except James, Peter, and I knew he was an Animagus. Harry will be a bit more difficult."
"Have to dye his hair or something," Danger said. She looked speculatively at Remus’ brown hair. "Wait a second. Aletha, look at us." She waved at herself, Neenie, and Remus. "We look like a family to you?"
"Sure thing," Aletha said, nodding thoughtfully. "If Harry had brown hair, he could pass for Neenie’s brother. Non-identical twins, whatever they’re called."
"Fraternal." Remus felt almost buoyant. "Just a married couple, their children — fraternal twins — and the family dog. Nothing unusual about that, is there?"
"All you’d need is a house somewhere, or an apartment," Aletha said. "Might be tough to find one that’s pet and child friendly, though. Rents can be pretty steep."
"If we can spring Sirius, money will not be a problem," Remus said, grinning. "As long as you have the right key, the goblins don’t care whose vault you’re accessing. And they don’t tell anyone anything."
"Goblins?" Danger asked. "I don’t think we covered this."
Aletha began to explain about Gringotts and goblins and wizarding finance in general. Danger listened intently while washing syrup off Neenie’s hands and face. Remus sat back and luxuriated in the amazing changes his life had taken over the past two days.
Let’s see. I have control over a part of me I’ve never been able to control before. I’ve acquired a wife and two children who love me — just getting into the terrible twos, but we’ll deal with that — and I’ve regained two friends.
Even if one of them is currently trapped in hell on earth.
He winced. Thinking of Sirius, in Azkaban for a crime he hadn’t committed, was painful, to say the least.
But at least now we know he’s innocent, and we’re going to do something about it.
Hold on, Sirius. We’re coming.
Just hold on.