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Chapter Four

A New Member for the Order

Remus Lupin sat by the fire in the kitchen at 12 Grimmauld Place wondering how he would approach Sirius with his new problem. He hated leaving his old friend alone but Dumbledore had asked him to go on a journey. He was also feeling a little peckish and Molly Weasley hadn’t been round for days with her gift of good cooking. He got up from his seat and rustled around the pantry looking for some food. All there was were a few stale crackers and a moldy wedge of Montgomery Cheddar. That elf Kreacher was the sorriest excuse for a house elf that he’d ever seen. Not that he’d seen many. He chuckled inwardly. Remus’ family background did not include family house elves. He’d grown up in a little country house with an academic father and a muggle mother. Sirius, on the other hand, had grown up amongst the wealthy Blacks and had disappointed his family heritage no end, most especially at being sorted into the Gryffindor House at Hogwarts rather than Slytherin.

Sirius walked into the kitchen heading straight for the kettle to pour his self a cup of tea. “Buckbeak’s wasting away up there,” he said to Lupin without looking over at him. “I’m going to point out to Dumbledore tonight at the meeting that he must get taken out on occasion. A hippogriff needs to fly every once and awhile.”

Lupin smiled grimly. “Are you going to suggest to him that you be the one to take him out, Padfoot?” His friend was slowly wasting away being caged in a house that held memories of a family that he’d hated. Kreacher was no help. The little troublemaker was constantly getting in the way of cleaning efforts in the house. Molly and company had made great strides sweeping out the place over the summer but the house was creaking under the weight of neglect.

Sirius said nothing but gritted his teeth and sat down with a disgruntled thud next to Lupin by the fire.

Molly Weasley bounced into the kitchen shoving open the door. She was trailed by sacks of food floating in the air like so many ducklings. “What, ho!” both men at the fire called out in welcome. It was as if the cavalry had come to save them.

“We didn’t hear you come in!” said Lupin delighted that food had arrived. Molly’s happy face was also a welcome change after listening to Sirius grouse about the state of things for three days. His friend had been awfully grumpy.

Molly put her hands on her plump hips and clucked at them. “If you two don’t look an old married couple sitting by the fire, I tell you!” she said grinning. She set to work unpacking the food. “You didn’t hear me coming in because no offence to your old mum, Sirius, but I do so hate to hear her scream at me! I put a silencing charm on whenever I enter that door!” The portrait of his mother at the front door screamed at whoever entered and it was very annoying.

There was a bang and something fell at the front door. “TRAITORIOUS MUD BLOOD RELATIONS!!!! OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!!!”

“Remind me to teach the silencing charm to Tonks, gentlemen,” said Molly as she held up a bottle of cream from the sack.

Lupin jumped up to hold open the door for Tonks. She looked exceedingly guilty. “Sorry, Molly!” she said. “I swear I think she jumps out of that painting and moves the umbrella stand just so I’ll trip over it.” She caught Lupin by the arm, pecked him spontaneously on the cheek and finished it off with squashing his chin lightly with her fingers.

“Did you miss me?” she asked laughing at him.

“Utterly,” said Lupin rolling his eyes and pretending sarcasm but he had never been very good at it. He missed everyone when they were away. Remus Lupin loved everyone’s company and Tonks was, to be sure, entertaining to have around. He rubbed his hand through his sandy colored hair, as he habitually did, and followed her.

She jumped over to the fire and nicked Remus’ seat next to Sirius. “Wotcher, cousin,” she said seriously. “How’re ya holding up?”

“I want to fly,” said Sirius deadpan. He looked healthier than he had only a month ago, but his eyes still retained that hallow look of a man who’d been in prison or in hiding for many years.

She didn’t laugh at his attempt at humor, she looked concerned. Tonks had not really known Sirius before, being much younger, and banned from the family because of her mudblood father. Now, however, they shared a common disdain for their mutual Black family relatives and had become fairly tight on that fact alone. She fussed at her pink hair to check that it was standing up correctly and showed Sirius her new nail color to cheer him up. “Pumpkin orange for a little seasonal color, what do you think?” she asked him teasing.

Sirius laughed at her, which was her aim in the first place and swatted her hands away. He’d kept his black hair long and even though he’d been in Azkaban for twelve years it hadn’t gone gray. He was also clean-shaven again, which helped his appearance.

Tonks looked up at Remus, who stood over them watching them fondly. “Did you tell him, yet, Remus?” she asked.

Remus shook his head.

“Bloody hell,” said Sirius disgusted. “I’m not a frigging child, you two!”

“Dumbledore’s assigned Tonks and I do go to the lake country to check reports of werewolves there that we’re to make the effort to enlist,” said Remus before Sirius could yell any more. He felt guilty leaving his friend. Sirius had always been the one inclined to travel and live dangerously and he was miserable having to stay in the house. It was almost as bad as Azkaban for him.

Sirius Black was still wanted for the supposed killing of Peter Pettigrew and his escape from Azkaban. Albus Dumbledore had instructed him in no uncertain terms that he was not to leave the house for his own safety. Only two weeks before there’d been a report in The Daily Prophet that he’d been seen in London.

Arthur Weasley arrived at the front door with Kinsley Shacklebolt and Hestia Jones. Ten minutes later two others, Tomasina Tall and Erik Findlay came in. Soon others arrived, including the formidable Auror Alastor Moody who grunted to all and wandered about the room looking in corners to make sure it was safe. Molly busied herself making coffee and tea and instructing Remus to draught butterbeer for all who wanted it. She didn’t hold back in saying that they could do with a few more supplies and she’d see that they got some.

The members of the Order of the Phoenix were assembling for their meeting and only missing a few of those expected.
The intended agenda for the meeting consisted of concern about the interference with Hogwarts by the Ministry of Magic and other more recent mix-ups that had occurred at the Department of Mysteries. One of the Order, Sturgis Podmore, had been sentenced to Azkaban in early September because the Ministry had charged him with attempted theft when he was discovered at the door to the Department of Mysteries. He’d been guarding a particularly important artifact for the Order at the time. It was getting harder and harder to keep their presence a secret. There was quite the brisk debate about the room as people shared snacks and drank while discussing various options.

Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape and Felicity Wood arrived via a portkey some two blocks from 12 Grimmauld Place since Felicity had never been there before. Severus followed Dumbledore up the walk as they made their way toward the house. It didn’t take much observation to note that Severus was devoted to Albus Dumbledore in a way that was outside his usual inclinations toward people. It was not lost on Felicity that Severus, though he was inwardly as sarcastic and snarling toward Dumbledore, as he was to anyone else, took great pains not to show it. He often tried to whisper suggestions, even advice to the Headmaster. He was a bit of a butt kisser.

Felicity followed a short distance behind enjoying the London air. She had never gotten to know the city very well and it had a certain sound of energy about it that she quite liked. She remembered the short stay that they’d had in London before her father sent her back to Tibet to escape the Dark Lord. There had been a wonderful walled garden that she suddenly remembered for the first time in years.

“You really are quite slow, Professor Wood,” said Severus impatiently. He was not comfortable in the open streets with or without Dumbledore. He also did not like 12 Grimmauld Place in any shape, manner or form.

Dumbledore stopped and waited for her, taking her arm in his. “How do you like being at Hogwarts again, my dear? It’s been so many years since you were there, has it changed much?” he asked with a slight twinkle in his eye. The man was really a wicked tease sometimes. Snape had turned and starred at her as if she were a liar and a cad for not telling him that she’d been to Hogwarts before.

“Severus, Severus” said Dumbledore cheerily, “didn’t you know yet that Miss Wood had been to Hogwarts?”

“I never mentioned it, Headmaster,” Felicity said biting her lip. She rather thought she might kick the old man if he didn’t stop causing trouble. It was hard enough to get Snape to trust her without him messing with his head. Why the Headmaster wanted to muddle with his own agenda was beyond her.

They arrived at the house, which magically appeared before them with a word from Dumbledore and walked in the door with Dumbledore leading the way and Severus behind her. The house had an unpleasant odor and she accidentally tripped over something in the hall.

“STRANGERS!!!! OUT!!!!” Yelled a voice from the wall.

Before she realized that she’d done it, Felicity had flipped her braid in a defense response and shut the voice up.

Severus stood stunned at the door glaring at her. “What did you just do?”

“Sorry,” she said. “I was startled.”

“That is a Black family portrait that you just slapped with your ridiculous braid, Miss Wood,” he said with distain. “Who knows but that you may have ruined it!”

“Severus, please,” said Dumbledore, sighing. “Felicity would be doing us all a favor if she did!” He led them down a dark hall into a kitchen where there was the sound of a lively debate in process. Dumbledore walked in and everyone quieted. Felicity could feel the tension in Severus. It emanated from him. She needn’t even try hearing his thoughts. He didn’t like these people that she was about to meet very much.

She emerged into a kitchen filled with people. A fire spat smartly in the corner and a very cheery woman with bright red hair greeted her warmly and asked her if she’d like something to drink. Severus hovered at the edge of the fray looking stiff.

“Everyone!” said Dumbledore with his arm about her shoulders. “This is our new Ancient Runes professor from the East, Miss Felicity Wood!” They all greeted her in various ways. It was Remus Lupin sitting next Sirius Black in the corner that she noticed immediately. She could smell the beast within him from across the room. She felt a thrill of discovery rush through her. She’d never met a werewolf before but she knew that was what he was.

Her interested look was not lost on Remus who had been slouching in the corner listening intently to Sirius rant about how worried he was about Harry. A deep feeling stirred in him when he looked at this new witch that Dumbledore had introduced. Her dark green dress robe was quite remarkable and her long braid that she twirled in her fingers made her look seductive. She was truly breathtaking and he wanted so much to touch her that he was tempted to jump up and make his way across the room to her, but he held back.

Mad-eyed Moody noticed her immediately, as well and walked right up to her putting his wobbling eye quite close. She laughed. “So what exactly are ya, Miss Wood?” he asked looking at her from head to toe.

Some in the room were watching intently, including Snape, who had never liked the uncouth Auror even though they were technically on the same side.

“Why, I’m the Runes Professor at Hogwarts,” she answered grinning at him. He reminded her of Shaman Lu who’d lost his eye in a battle and had filled the empty socket with a similar orb. His had been red, a much scarier color than Moody’s blue.

“Aye, so Dumbledore’s said, but what are ya?”

Albus came up putting his arm around Felicity and moving between them. “She’s a woman, Alastor,” he said smiling. “I would have thought you’d know one when you’d seen one.” There was a small chuckle from Arthur Weasley who was sitting nearby.

Severus Snape stood talking to Kingsley Shacklebolt in low tones and she could feel him watching her out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t seem to miss much and hid very well from all contact with others unless approached and very few in the room seemed inclined to seek him out.

He’d not acknowledged, other than that first evening, what she’d told him about her past or even what she’d done for him a few weeks before when she’d quieted the Dark Lord’s mark. He’d not changed his disdainful demeanor other than that she could feel he’d gotten a great deal less aggravated whenever she was near him. But now, here in this room filled with people she didn’t know and many of whom he definitely didn’t like, she could feel his covert fixation on her. He was being downright territorial and watched her tirelessly from afar.

The meeting was primarily about new methods of surveillance protecting something important in the Department of Mysteries that she knew nothing about and the intrusion of the Ministry on the inner functions of Hogwarts.

Severus voiced his concerns about Dolores Umbridge’s appointment as “High Inquisitor” at Hogwarts in the first week of term.“She is a most annoying woman, with a secret agenda from Minister Fudge and the ministry,” he said. “They mean to take control of the school.”

Albus Dumbledore listened quietly. There was a large proportion of the listeners that were too busy loathing Severus Snape to listen to what he had to say. “Felicity?” said Dumbledore, “have you found this to be true?”

She looked at him and wanted to laugh at his attempt to include her but kept her face straight. Severus was not the
only one in the room that could control his outward emotions. “Professor Umbridge definitely has an agenda,” she said. “And it most certainly is to control Hogwarts. I have already had to alter my plans to teach Ancient Languages along with our standard Runes curriculum. She sits in on my classes regularly, asks annoying questions about my background, and has resorted to using some of my students to spy on my teaching and report to her. She has a particular distaste for my Eastern education, which she condescendingly considers too foreign and she has even suggested that I wear more appropriate clothing to set an example for the students. She is a large pink cow, very irritating and I think, dangerous.” Felicity lifted her chin in pride. It was true. Dumbledore should take her threat more seriously than he seemed to. “I also must add that I suspect that she has a separate agenda for those in Gryffindor House, and that she particularly has plans for Mr. Harry Potter. Herimone Granger, who is a student in my class and is good friend of his has been very agitated and worried about something concerning Dolores Umbridge and Mr. Potter.”

“Miss Granger, is often agitated, Miss Wood,” said Severus dryly. “You are new and just getting to know her.”

The look of loathing from many in the room toward Severus’ words was illuminating. He was not liked by anyone, it seemed. The man was incredible.

Sirius jumped up. “It’s true what the lady has said,” he said emotionally. “I’ve had a letter from Harry myself and he’s miserable. The woman has made his life a living hell by putting him in detention during the very first week! And, it’s absurd letting her teach the Dark Arts with no practical application! The woman is a menace.”

Everyone looked to Dumbledore, who grimaced but looked calm. “Ladies and Gentlemen, until we find the Dark Lord we will not be able to rid ourselves of the Ministry at Hogwarts,” he said. There was a general murmuring.

“I’ve been watching the Malfoys for a month,” said Mad-Eye. “Disgusting bunch of no-goods going in and out a that bloody house, but I haven’t laid eye on the old snake anywhere!”

Dumbledore nodded his head. “I’m sending Remus and Miss Tonks to the Lake District in search of the werewolves there to bring them over to our side,” he said with authority. “Hagrid is still in transit after negotiating with the Giants. All of us, who are older remember how many were killed by the Giants when the Dark Lord was last in power.” Many in the room nodded their heads in memory, including Felicity. She had witnessed an attack by the Giants and it was something horrifying to fear for those not able to defend against them. “We all know that the Dark Lord wishes to obtain the secret in the Department of Mysteries,” continued Dumbledore. “This must be stopped at all costs. And we must double our efforts to find Voldemort before he gathers forces. Thankfully many of his more zealous followers are in Azkaban. However, my friends, I believe that it is not unlikely that he will try to approach the Dementors in an effort to illicit an escape. They have never been trustworthy. The Ministry is foolish to use them. We should prepare for the eventuality that he will try to free his followers from prison.”

Felicity noticed that Sirius Black looked particularly ashen at the mention of the Dementors. She had no experience with them, but from the way that Remus Lupin felt for his friend’s shoulder with his hand, she knew it meant that they must be terrible creatures.

When the meeting broke up, she made her way over to Sirius and Remus as gracefully as she could. She wanted more than anything else in the world to touch Remus Lupin. The beast within her blood called out to greet the other who carried a creature within. There was a carnal urging that she needed to obey.

“That was very touching how you defended Harry Potter, Mr. Black,” she said to Sirius. “He’s really a very earnest young man. Miss Granger is really quite concerned for him.”

She smiled shyly at Remus.

“Hermione is a most clever young witch,” said Remus before Sirius could utter a response. Sirius, in fact, raised a brow in surprise at Remus being so forward with a lady.

“Mr. Lupin?” she asked holding out her hand for him to take. Oh, she so wanted him to take her hand.

“Miss Wood,” he said reaching out to touch her. She stood holding his hand and smiling for definitely longer than was necessary. She could feel the quickening of his blood and knew his scent was different than the others. Though his animal was a fur creature and hers scaled, they were both predators and this was what she found so exciting about him. He was another predator!

Sirius started to laugh at them for they’d stood far too long looking at each other and shaking hands. “Somebody may shake my hand, as well if they’d like,” he said sarcastically rolling his eyes. “I’m the one that she said was very touching, after all.”

They all three laughed. “I’m sorry,” said Felicity, still looking at Remus. “There’s something about you that seems very familiar to me, Mr. Lupin.”

“And what am I?” said Sirius still wanting some attention.

She looked at him and smiled teasingly. “You Sirius Black, friend of Harry Potter, are a big black shaggy dog.” Her eyes glittered for she knew he would be taken aback. They both were.

“And what am I?” said Remus in almost a whisper. He could hardly breathe.

“You,” she said smiling at him and lowering her voice huskily. “Are a handsome wolf.” She could have kissed him,
though she’d only just met him. For the look of joy on his face melted her heart. He seemed unaccustomed to acceptance, yes, but more than that, he was not comfortable with his wolf. That made her sad for him.

“What am I?” she asked them both grinning mischievously.

Sirius and Remus both looked at each other questioningly. “A beautiful woman,” said Remus taking her hand again and kissing it gently.

Sirius made a, not so slight retching sound, which she deftly ignored. “They call me the dragon woman,” she said lightly, his hand still holding hers. “Because of the beast within my heart.”

Sirius laughed wholeheartedly. “I think she likes you, Moony!” he said gaily. “That’s the best pick-up line that I’ve heard in ages!”

Remus blushed. My goodness she liked this wolf! She wanted to kiss him passionately right then and there in front of everyone.

The looming shadow of Severus Snape approached her and bent to her ear. He fairly hissed into it. “We’re leaving, Miss Wood,” he said and she could tell that he was seething.

“Severus Snape,” said Sirius with the utmost contempt. In fact, he completely changed in an instance from a laughing man to a hateful man.

Felicity Wood felt the hairs on her neck stand on end. She suddenly wanted to claw the black dog. This Head of Slytherin House had no end of enemies.

“Black,” said Severus taking her arm possessively. “Lupin.” She let him guide her out of the room. He was so angry that she never got a chance to say good-bye to the others. Before he pushed her through the door she looked back at them. Remus Lupin had a pained look in his pale blue eyes as he looked at her intensely. It was as if something important had been taken from him and he wanted it back.

When they were out on the sidewalk, she wriggled from Snape’s grasp and stomped her foot at him. “What is wrong with you?” she shouted at him.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said stoically but there was viciousness in his voice.

“I know a jealous man when I see one, Severus,” she said.

He grabbed her harder this time and pushed her along the street. “Don’t be conceited, woman,” he said coldly. "Dumbledore instructed that we return immediately. The longer that we are away will be noticed. We’re to apparate from a point a few blocks from here and act like we’ve been out together if that silly Umbridge woman spots us.”

“Why didn’t you like Remus and Sirius, Severus?” she asked.

He didn’t answer her at first. He didn’t want to answer her at all. She couldn’t hear his scattered angry thoughts coherently. Severus struggled inwardly to keep his stoic outer shell intack.

“We have a history and none of it good,” he said finally.

“I thought that they were rather nice,” she said. She didn’t know why she’d said it, knowing it would enrage him.

Severus stopped and grabbed both her arms, looking sternly into her face. He wanted to shake some sense into her. She could practically see the fire inside him bursting with heat. It was, frankly, exhilarating. “He’s a werewolf, Felicity!” he said fiercely, thinking that she would be shocked. “He’s dangerous! You must stay away from him!” He was livid and so wanted her to see the wrongness of her ways.

“I know that he’s a werewolf, Severus,” she said evenly. “That’s what I liked about him.”

He had that awful look of prejudiced revulsion on his face that she most despised. People were so irritating in their assumptions of those who were different. Her father had had that same look the first time that he’d seen her change into her dragon self. It was a disgusted horrified look and she wanted to wipe it off Snape’s arrogant face.

She ripped herself from his grip. He was surprised at her strength. “I might have a few other surprises for you! Professor Snape.” She spat the words. “You know nothing about me! You are so arrogant and yet you know little or nothing about the world outside your quaint little England. How dare you presume you know what is best for me? It’s a wide world of magic out there, and you haven’t a clue!” With that said, she disapparated to the gates of Hogwarts.

Severus stood seething alone on the sidewalk for a few minutes before he followed her.

“I think old Snivellus was jealous, you know,” said Sirius to Lupin who stood looking like he’d just lost a friend.

“Yes,” said Lupin avoiding his eye. He didn’t want to look at another until he’d memorized her face.

“She was certainly smitten with you.” Sirius could barely contain his grin.

“You think?”

“Huh-huh, in fact, Moony,” he said slyly. “I might just send an owl along to make sure she got back all right. Maybe she’d like to meet up with you in Hogsmeade?”

Lupin laughed uncomfortably. “I’m perfectly capable of pursuing a beautiful woman without advice from you, Padfoot,” he said feigning severity.

“Then you’ve changed a bit in the years that I was away,” said Sirius. “Because I don’t remember you being the pursuing type, mate.” Sirius laughed at him but Lupin merely smiled.

He could change his old habits for this woman. She had seemed delightfully special and something deep within him called to seek her out.

I'd love to hear what you think! Please leave a review. Pru

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