“Ugh…” I open my eyes blearily, wincing against the pounding pain in my head. I’m in my own bed, still wearing last night’s robes.

“Oh -- you’re awake.”

I jump, and look around too quickly -- the pain in my head doubles in response to the movement. A chair’s been pulled up to my bedside, and there’s someone sitting in it, looking up at me apprehensively from overtop a battered book. A sleek, dark-haired someone.

“What’re you doing here?” I ask Marlene, coughing.

She shrugs, putting her book aside. “Thought I’d come and see how you were doing. I would’ve come sooner, but I didn’t get the message about Barnabus’ flat until after it was all over. Feel like an idiot for missing it.”

I shake my head. “Don’t be stupid.”

Marlene pushes her dark hair behind her ears, and grins at me. “You’ve a lot of nerve if you’re calling me stupid.”

“Merlin.” I let my head flop back onto the pillow, trying to ignore the ear-splitting pain. “Have you come to my deathbed just to insult me? Or are you going to poke me in the eyes, a bit, while you’re at it?”

But I’m teasing her, and she knows it. Although, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind a bit even if she did start poking me in the eyes or having a go at me. I’m just glad to have her here. I suppose it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to become best friends again, or anything. But it’s reassuring to know that she does, at least, still care whether I live or die.

She leans back in her chair, shaking her head at me. “Everyone in the building got out okay, if you were wondering. The Muggles’ve all had their memories modified -- no idea what story the Healers came up with to explain that kind of damage. They won’t be able to get their possessions back, not when it’s been destroyed by Dark Magic, but they got out with their lives and their families.”

I nod. “Cool.”

We sit in silence for a moment.

“You do know I’m sorry, don’t you?” I say after a while. “Not just for what happened, but… you know. How I acted.”

“Yeah,” Marlene sighs. “I know.”

She gets to her feet, and for a second I think she’s about to leave. But she says, “I’ll tell Remus you’re awake. I think he was just going to fix lunch.”

“Remus?” I blurt out, sitting bolt upright and instantly regretting it. Pressing my knuckles into my temples, I squint up at Marlene. “Remus is back?”

She frowns at me, her hand on the door handle. “What do you mean, ‘back?’ Where else would he be?”

“He…” I feel my cheeks flush as I internally debate whether or not to tell her. “Marlene, I bloody kissed him. And I think we almost had sex the other night.”

“Oh, for the…” Marlene groans, rolling her eyes at me. But apparently she can’t contain her curiosity, because before I know it she’s climbing up onto the bed and sitting beside me. I feel a warm rush of emotion as I’m instantly transported back to our Hogwarts days, when we would sit in my bed demolishing Chocolate Frogs and talking shite about the other Ravenclaws.“But you live together, you blithering idiot.”

“Yeah, I know,” I reply, lying back down. “I’m not saying it was a smart move. I guess it was a long time coming, though. So, anyway, he said he was going to move out and then--”

“Wait,” Marlene waves a hand in the air like an orchestra conductor, indicating I’m meant to stop. “Do you have feelings for him?”

“Blegh.” I stick my tongue out at her. “Can we not do this?”

“Er, no, actually,” says Marlene stubbornly, scooting down under the covers beside me. “In case you hadn’t noticed, you’ve been a bit of a prick to me for the past few months, and you’ve got some making up to do. So you’d better start spilling your guts, O’Keefe.”

“Damn it, McKinnon.” I laugh -- then sigh, screwing up my face as I try to make sense of my feelings. “I mean, yeah, I s’pose I’ve got some sort of feelings. But what if that’s just because we’ve been working together for months, and he’s always making me cups of tea, and he just looks really cute when he comes out of the shower and his hair’s all drippy?”

Marlene snorts. “You know, you’ve really got to start growing up.”

“I know,” I groan, rubbing my knuckles into my closed eyes. “I’m working on it.”

“Okay.” Marlene rolls out of bed again. “I’m going to see if there’s any lunch left. I’ll make sure not to mention to Remus that you fancy his drippy hair.”

“Oh, shut up,” I tell her, but the door is already closing behind her.

I laugh, turning over in bed.



When I wake up again, it’s dark outside my window, and my stomach is growling hungrily.

I maneuver out of bed, massaging the aching back of my neck, and pad down the corridor to the sitting room. My heart skips a beat, but I manage to keep myself from stopping when I notice a sliver of light beneath Remus’ bedroom door. Fighting a smile, I continue into the kitchen, and rummage around in the cupboards for something to eat, feeling a bit like a raccoon.

I’ve just popped the cork out of a Butterbeer and ripped open a bag of Cheddar Snitches when the door opens -- and suddenly Remus is standing in the doorway in his frayed pajamas, his hair tousled, his arms crossed. He raises his eyebrows at me. I raise mine back, munching on a handful of Cheddar Snitches.

“So, you got Selwyn,” he says.

I nod. I find my eyes flickering down to his arms and shoulders, and quickly direct them back up toward his face.

“I should’ve been there,” he says quietly.

“What?” My hand freezes halfway between the Cheddar Snitches bag and my mouth. “No -- the whole point was that Moody thought Selwyn’d come after me. We might not’ve been able to get him if you’d been there.”

“Yeah, but I mean…” He pushes off the doorframe and crosses to the table, where he sits down across from me. “I shouldn’t have left. Not when all that was going on.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I say, shaking my head furiously. “It all turned out okay, we got him, and no one got hurt.” Well, Herod Selwyn got hurt, I remind myself. “Erm, do you know if I’m in trouble with Moody, at all?” I ask.

Remus frowns, bemused. “Why would you be?”

“No reason,” I say quickly. It looks like Moody hasn’t told anyone about my deviation from the plan -- which suits me fine. I don’t exactly need everyone knowing that I used Selwyn as a human punching bag. “Marlene said all the Muggles got out okay. Did they figure out who cast the fire?”

“Not yet.” Remus’ expression goes dark, like someone’s flipped a switch. “The motive’s easy enough to guess. He’s written stories on some of the Death Eaters, made some pretty direct accusations. From what he told Moody, it seems like the fire earlier this year might’ve been a kind of threat -- you know, the Death Eaters telling him to back off.”

“Fuck.” I close my eyes. So Barnabus was telling the truth the whole time -- he genuinely was scared of the Death Eaters. I stuff some more Cheddar Snitches into my mouth. “Is he okay? Barnabus?”

“He’s being treated for shock in St. Mungo’s,” says Remus. “Should be out today.”

I nod. “What about Selwyn? Have they passed him on to Crouch yet?”

“No, not yet.” Remus looks mildly apprehensive. “They’re doing the interrogation tomorrow. Moody said that, er… he wants you to be there.”

What?” My jaw drops, and I quickly cover my mouth with my hand to prevent a load of food from falling out of it. I hold up a finger to Remus while I finish chewing, then clear my throat. “Are you joking? Was he joking? Does he even know how to do that?”

“I don’t think he was joking,” says Remus, looking almost as if he’s fighting a smile now. “He, ah, did mention that one condition.”

I narrow my eyes. “Which is?”

“Well.” Remus reaches for the box of Cheddar Snitches. “You’re not allowed to talk.”

I roll my eyes. “Should’ve seen that one coming.”

He laughs, a little guiltily. I smile -- our eyes meet over the box of Cheddar Snitches, and I feel my cheeks heating up.

“Er,” I say, into the silence. “So, what are we going to do?”

Remus nods slowly. “Yeah. That.” He takes his hand out of the Cheddar Snitches box without grabbing any. “Look, I thought about it yesterday -- and I s’pose, really, I’d always figured that relationships, that kind of thing… wouldn’t really be in the cards for me.”

What--

“No, it’s okay,” he says quickly, turning his honest, green eyes on me. “Like I said, I’ve always known. So this doesn’t change anything -- because even if things had been different…” He looks down at the table, and shrugs. “It wouldn’t have mattered, not with my condition.”

I stare at him. “You can’t honestly think that it’s impossible for you to be in a relationship, just because you’re a werewolf.” He winces at the word, but I continue. “Come on. You take the Wolfsbane Potion. You’re not dangerous.”

“What if something went wrong with the potion?” says Remus. “And there are different ways of being dangerous. People wouldn’t want to associate with someone who was too close to me.”

I open my mouth to argue again, but Remus cuts across me:

“There’s no point arguing about it,” he says gently. “Anyway, it just made me realize that it’d be stupid to throw, you know, all this away -- over something that could never happen, anyway.” He rubs his neck, his cheeks going slightly pink. He glances up again.

I clear my throat, which is feeling strangely swollen. “So -- you’re staying?”

Remus half-smiles. “If I’m allowed.”

I grin, and push the Cheddar Snitches to him across the table. “Welcome back.”

“Thanks.” He takes a handful. “You do know that I bought these, right?”

“We both know that the only thing I’ve bought in this kitchen is some vodka,” I tell him, “which you can help yourself to, if you’d like.”

He chuckles, and shifts a bit awkwardly in his chair.

“Well.” I search around for something to say. “We closed the case, I s’pose, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, I s’pose.” Remus nods. “Although the Order and the Aurors did most of the work, in the end, didn’t they?”

“Shhh.” I push the Cheddar Snitches at him placatingly. “We closed the case -- which definitely calls for a celebration. We could have dinner tonight, invite some people.”

“Will we put an ad in the Prophet as well?” says Remus. “Find ourselves a new case?”

“Yeah,” I say, nodding vigorously. “Cool.”

“Right,” he says. He taps his fingers on the table, then gets up and rummages around with the tea things. I smile faintly, watching his back. I doubt we’ll get many responses to an ad in the Prophet -- we’re practically at war, after all. People are bound to be more concerned about the safety of their families and friends than, say, hiring a hot mess and a werewolf to spy on their cheating spouses. We’ll have to figure out some other way of bringing in an income, but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that Remus is home.

“Will you have a cup?” he says over his shoulder. My eyes search fleetingly across his broad back, down his arms. For a moment, I shiver, remembering exactly what it feels like to be held in those arms, touched by those hands.

“Yeah.” I say, smiling. “Please.”



Later, one of Moody’s people comes by the flat to take Remus and me to the safe house where he’s keeping Herod Selwyn. We Apparate together to the outside of a tiny cottage at the edge of the sea. The sky overhead is strikingly blue, and the wind gently brushes back our robes and hair as we walk along the seashore toward the cottage. Beyond the gently rolling, green cliffs, the sea tosses and turns itself lazily. A gorgeous day to interrogate a serial killer.

On the inside, the cottage is unfurnished and the lights are dim. The curtains are drawn over the windows, and the morning sunlight filters through them, casting bright patterns across the floor.

Moody’s waiting for us in one of the back rooms. He’s got Herod Selwyn sitting in a chair in the middle of the room; he paces around it, his wand out and pointed directly at Selwyn’s chest. His gnarled face is set, and as we walk into the room he simply nods. Selwyn seems to be unconscious -- his head is lolling onto his chest.

Ennervate,” Moody mutters, and Selwyn’s eyes flicker open. He stirs, lifting his head into the air, and his eyes focus on us. The cuts and bruises I inflicted upon him yesterday have been healed, but he’s got dark shadows underneath his eyes.

“Will I stay with you, sir?” says our stocky escort. Moody shakes his head, and -- nodding -- the man leaves.

When the door has closed, Moody points a finger at me. “Not a word out of you, O’Keefe, not a word,” he says. I nod, fighting a grin. Moody prowls across the room, drawing a small vial out of his robes. “If you don’t cooperate, I’ll give you some encouragement,” he grunts to Selwyn. Still pointing his wand directly at Selwyn, Moody tilts presses the vial up to his mouth, and tilts it backwards, pouring the contents down his throat.

I stand still with my arms crossed, biting my lip to keep my mouth shut. The truth is, I’ve never been so excited in my life.

“Pay close attention,” he tells me and Remus, throwing us a stern glance. “Dumbledore might want to sift through your memories, later.”

We nod, and Moody rounds on Selwyn again.

“Did you commit, or compel others to admit, the series of murders that the papers have been calling the Tarot killings?”

Selwyn’s eyelashes flutter. His eyes are unfocused beneath them. “I did.”

Moody circles slowly around Selwyn’s chair. “Why did you do it?”

“The Dark Lord,” says Selwyn. “He was interested in the experiment. He was curious to see whether the rituals could truly bestow arcane powers on their performer.”

“So they were ritual sacrifices?” says Moody. “Intended to generate magical power?”

“Yes.”

I look quickly over at Remus, whose face betrays no sign of smugness -- even though he was right all along. The killer really did think that the sacrificial killings would grant him magical powers.

“What sort of power?” asks Moody, his voice clipped and businesslike.

“I don’t know,” says Selwyn. “I was in Knockturn Alley a while back, and I met an old hag who told me she wanted an audience with the Dark Lord. She had a load of old manuscripts -- like instruction manuals for the murders. The Dark Lord granted her an audience, was very interested in what she had to say. But none of our experiments ever came to anything. The Dark Lord was… disappointed.”

Moody nods thoughtfully. “Why go through Kevin North, instead of doing the murders yourself?”

Selwyn casts around for the right words. “One more barrier between the Aurors and me. North would slow down the investigation, because the Aurors would see him as a suspect, and it’d take a while for them to realize he was enchanted. Originally, the plan was to use another Squib or Muggle once North got taken in. But by that time, the experiments hadn’t been working, and the Dark Lord was getting impatient. He thought perhaps the sacrifices had to be done by a Wizard’s hand. So I stepped in.”

“You’d already been helping North, though.”

“Sometimes,” says Selwyn. “I bent some tree branches down so he could hang the first Muggle in them. I’d help him out with stuff he couldn’t get done himself.”

“Hmm.” Moody growls. “The ‘hag,’ as you put it. Madame Luminaire. Did you kill her?”

“The Dark Lord decided that she had served her purpose,” says Selwyn. “And Memory Charms can be broken. It was the only solution.”

I open my mouth to say something sarcastic, but catch sight of Remus, who’s raising his eyebrows at me in warning. Right -- shut up, O’Keefe.

“Were the victims chosen randomly?” asks Moody next.

“No.” Selwyn shakes his head. “That was Madame Luminaire’s job. She didn’t spend all her time around Knockturn alley -- she had a shop in Muggle London as well. When someone would come in and read the cards, the card she drew for them -- that’s the part they’d play.”

“Sam O’Connor,” I blurt out, “the one who was dressed up as the Hierophant. Didn’t we find out that he spent time in London? I’ll bet--”

I fall silent off the look on Moody’s face.

“Is that why you were so keen on killing Aislin O’Keefe?” says Moody, as if nothing had happened.

Selwyn’s grin sends a chill down my spine.

“She went to Madame Luminaire’s all by herself,” he says. “And the card was drawn for her. It was a lucky coincidence.”

“How did you get Kevin North out of the Ministry?” asks Moody, without a pause.

“The Dark Lord has faithful servants inside the Ministry,” says Selwyn simply.

“Who was it?” says Moody, more loudly, gripping the back of Selwyn’s chair. “Do you know any names?”

“No,” says Selwyn, looking unrattled by the change in Moody’s demeanor. “He doesn’t give us any names we don’t need to know. It’s protection, in case one of us is caught and made to talk.”

Moody tosses his head impatiently, stepping back from Selwyn’s chair. “You lot,” he says to me and Remus, “come on. I’ll have another go at him later.”

And he leads us back outside, onto the edge of the cliff. We stand in a row, looking out at the calm waters far below. Something is beginning to dawn on me: It was Voldemort, ultimately, who was behind it all. Selwyn did the leg work, of course, and was clearly happy enough to do it, but it was Voldemort pulling the strings.

“You only talked once out of turn, O’Keefe,” says Moody. “I’m very impressed.”

“I do it all for you,” I say with a grin.

“I’ve got something for you,” says Moody, reaching into his cloak. He withdraws a small leather pouch and a bottle of Ogden’s Old Firewhisky, and presses both into my hands. “Keep your mouth shut about the gold,” he says. “I had to shuffle some numbers around to get it for you. Should keep a roof over your heads until you find another case.”

“Thanks,” says Remus.

I crack open the Firewhisky. “Why don’t we have a toast?” I suggest, grinning. “To the finest Head of the damn Auror Office this country’s ever seen.”

I lift the bottle into the late morning air, where the sunlight makes the amber liquid glow. “To Alastor Moody.” I bring the bottle to my lips, take a swig, and pass it to Remus.

“Alastor Moody,” he says quietly, raising the bottle. He drinks, and passes it on to Moody.

Moody looks down at the bottle in his hand, and lets out a long breath.

“To all the fallen,” he says, squinting up into the sun. “May they rest in peace.”

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