Lupin and Tonks on Safari
Lupin and Tonks were on Diagon Alley gathering supplies for their journey. They were going to make a quick jaunt to the Lake District to find the small village of Wolvin but they would have to rough it. There would be no Inn in Wolvin, nor any welcoming pub from their understanding, so they would have to hike in and camp. Dumbledore had told them that strangers were not welcome but that they should try to enlist the werewolves to join the Order of the Phoenix if at all possible. Dumbledore had asked that Lupin try to convince them not to follow the Dark Lord.
Tonks pulled on Lupin’s arm trying to persuade him into a shop. “Oh, please, Remus?” begged Tonks. “Let’s just step in for a minute! It’s my fave shop and who bloody knows when we’ll get back from that place? It sounds as if it’s in the middle of nowhere!” She was dragging Lupin into a bangle and bobs shop with a lurid purple window and a twinkling gaudy sign. There were magically dancing fairies and flying bats hovering about inside, along with some strange outlandish music pumping loudly out onto the alley. “It’ll just be a sec, I promise!” she pleaded.
He let her lead him, always wanting to make others happy, but wished he’d done otherwise as he entered a maze of color, stuff and noise. It was a shop with great large cases of jewelry, and bits of what looked like junk everywhere. There were endless bolts of shimmering fabrics and outlandish clothing on manikins that moved around the shop as if possessed by the music that beat and blared. Lupin felt, most definitely out of place and very old.
“If I could just wait outside, Tonks?” he asked desperately.
“You’re loving it, you old coot!” laughed Tonks. She slapped him on the back and messed up his hair.
Lupin smiled weakly. He didn’t really love it, at all, but she laughed at him and nodded encouragingly as she pushed him deeper into the center of the place. She then bounced off to look at something at the back of the shop while he pretended to be interested in the jewelry cases. He held onto the largest case for support because the music was really quite loud and he had particularly sensitive hearing.
As he was letting his eye wander past snake pins with tongues that hissed and eye bracelets that seemed to have real eyes, he spotted a charm that was really rather lovely sitting alone in a cloth box. He signaled the young woman who looked bored and therefore worked there. She had exotic spiky white-blonde hair with black roots that stood straight up all around her head and blue iridescent lips. He asked her if he could see the charm.
Tonks was done looking around and came up behind him. “Who’s it for?” she asked eyeing the charm that showed a wolf in front of an opalescent moon that shimmered and glowed.
“A lady I just met that I wish to impress with my charm,” said Lupin over the music. He laughed at his own little joke and gave it to the girl to wrap up for him. It was a small inexpensive gesture but he was sure she’d appreciate the humor as well as the sentiment. What a relief to think that he’d met someone who seemed so open to what he was and how clever she was to have guessed it. He briefly visualized the moment, thinking of how nice she’d been. The dragon woman from the East, she’d called herself. It had been very entertaining. She didn’t seem a dragon like personality, at all, but rather nice. Perhaps she was a very strict professor.
“It’s for that lady in green isn’t, Remus?” Tonks asked as they exited the shop to Lupin’s immediate relief. His ears were numb from the onslaught of sound.
“I saw you making eyes at each other,” Tonks teased. “In fact, the entire Order of the Phoenix saw it. I thought poor Snape was going to hex you on the spot. He looked the little green monster, if you ask me.”
“Now, Tonks,” he said, not wanting to share his thoughts of Felicity nor think of Snape at Hogwarts with access to her. “Don’t you be nosy. I didn’t ask for your views on my love life.”
They made their way out through the Leaky Cauldron and sat down in a corner for a pint and a nosh before leaving on their trip.
Remus took out parchment and quill while Tonks watched the busy pub. He wrote a short note to Miss Felicity Wood, Ancient Runes Professor at Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry. He rolled it up and with a flick of his wand made a nice little package of the charm and a note for the owl post. He was really quite pleased with himself and feeling very confident. He felt, for the first time in many years, not the tired and worn-down old dog, but the handsome and hearty wolf.
That afternoon Lupin and Tonks arrived on the hill just above the Drunken Duck Inn in Barnsgate. From there they had a short hike toward Coniston down a country lane to the hidden village of Wolvin. The Inn beckoned Tonks with its painted brick exterior of English country quaintness. She just knew it’d be nice, warm and cheery inside.
“We could stop in for a Tag Lag before we hoof it down the lane, Remus,” she said hopefully. “The local muggle beer is very tasty here. It’s meant to give you strength. That’s what my dad always said: ‘Lake country beer is the best.’ After all, it’s a little like a safari that we’re on, isn’t it? We’re hunting the illusive wolf, the beast of the night, wild and untamed! We should have a pint to begin it.”
“We’ve got to set up a camp before nightfall, Tonks,” answered Lupin dryly. “We haven’t the time to celebrate before we begin. Besides, I don’t think of myself as a wild beast.” He started walking down the hill toward the pretty and picturesque Inn that sat on a crossroads. It had stood there unchanged for a good four hundred years. Tonks followed hoping she hadn’t offended him. Sometimes, she really should think before she opened her big fat trap.
They walked along as the sun dove slowly for the horizon, dodging speeding vehicles that the muggles seemed inclined to drive at frightening speeds along the country roads. Tonks was nearly clipped twice. Eventually, they stood on yet another hill overlooking the small village. There wasn’t much to it, only a tearoom, small market and a cluster of ten odd dwellings. The place looked untouched by time, as if it had looked the same for a hundred years.
“We might as well have tea,” said Tonks, thinking wistfully of the beer they might have drunk a few miles back. “We could ask if they allow camps, and perhaps the tearoom is a meeting place? It seems the only business in town other than that tweedy little market.”
Lupin nodded silently. He was not feeling comfortable in this place. Though he was a werewolf, he had never sought out his own kind. He could smell their presence all around him. Werewolves had stood on this very hill, and lived in this village. He wondered how many there were and what they were like. Dumbledore had not given him much information. He felt his defenses become very alert to possible danger. Even though the moon was only half full, he was wary and knew that caution was in order.
“Tonks,” he said stopping suddenly thinking of something important. He turned to look at her taking in her attire. She’d changed her hair to violet, something she often did, and wore a mix of many colored tops with a pair of ripped and baggy jeans. He wondered how he was going to ask her.
“Tonks,” he began again.
“You want me to change, don’t you?” she said guessing. “Mad-eye is always saying that I stand out like a sore thumb, as well. The crabby old codger is forever on about it.
“It’s just that we don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves,” said Remus. “You look very young to be traveling with a graying old man like myself. If you wouldn’t mind?” He smiled kindly to her in apology.
“I don’t mind, Remus.” She sparkled her eyes at him. “How about this?” she said and instantly changed into the spitting image of Felicity Wood, dressed in the green robe as he’d last seen her. Her smile just as bright, just as beautiful.
Remus gasped. “No, don’t, Tonks!”
She smirked at him and then turned herself into a muggle looking blonde of about forty, her hair in a bun with a hiking outfit on. Next to Remus in his shabby exterior of various browns with a cardie to top it off, they looked the lovely middle-aged couple on hiking holiday. “Better?” she asked innocently.
“My heart nearly stopped, Tonks,” he said finding his breath.
“You must really like her, then,” she laughed hitching up her knapsack and heading down the hill toward the village.
Remus gulped and followed her. Yes, he really must.
Once in the tearoom, they fell into their roles. Tonks settled into a table at the back under a poster showing the joys of vacationing in the Lake District while Lupin went to the counter to order tea. The place had a shabby unkempt feel about it, as if few strangers happened in and if they did, they’d left and walked the extra few miles down the road for a better place. The tables were covered in a plastic check that was very dated and the tea boxes did not look stocked with much choice. The old woman behind the counter looked up at Lupin but didn’t smile. She let out a small sigh, very slight, as if she recognized something in him. Lupin guessed what that something was.
“We’re interested in camping nearby,” he said casually after ordering and struggling with the muggle money that he had never got straight though his mother had tried to teach him for years.
“How long will you be staying in the area?” the woman asked. She had gray hair, and looked ancient. Her face that was deeply lined. She’d probably spent the whole of her life out of doors.
“I don’t know, a few days perhaps,” he said.
“You’ll be leaving before the next full moon, then?”
Lupin smiled. “Most definitely.”
“Then, there’ll be an old oak up the lane out the village next to a small pond that’d be nice for you. We allow it for a small fee.” She looked at him warily. Obviously, not many strangers stayed around the place. But the money must be useful or she’d have told him to get lost.
“You’re very kind,” he said, and then walked back to Tonks with the cups.
“She knows,” he whispered to her as he sat down.
“So we’ll wait then and see what happens,” she said soberly. She was disconcertingly in character as the middle-aged wife. It was a little disturbing for Remus who was feeling his age already. He wasn’t really old at all but he was graying prematurely and the battle that he’d waged with the wolf inside was taking its toll on him. He was often very tired.
As they had sat at the back of the tearoom over the next half hour, several locals came by to chat with the old woman. At first, it just seemed that the woman was probably the center of news in town, but then the intrepid pair noticed that each time someone entered they tended to sniff the air as if checking for a scent, then after chatting with the old lady they would leave without having tea. A few would eye them in a backward glance as if making sure that they’d seen what they’d seen.
Finally, Remus and Tonks got up to go and returned the cups to the counter.
“You say it’s just up the lane?”
The woman merely nodded.
As they set up camp under the ancient oak that must have been two meters wide and sat alone in a treeless landscape, Tonks became her old chatty self again.
“Suspicious lot, these people, wouldn’t you say, Remus?” she asked.
Remus pulled a huge tarp out of his very small knapsack. He drew out several stakes and two long poles, as well.
“I sure hope you know how to set one of these things up because I haven’t a clue,” said Tonks watching him.
“Just you witness and be amazed, young lady,” he said looking around furtively as he took his wand from his inside pocket. He sat down next to Tonks on a stump and orchestrated a tent pull by flashing his wand about expertly.
Tonks clapped encouragement. When he was done she then removed two sleeping cots, bags and a cook stove from her own pack. They made a nice little home in no time at all. It was just in the nick of time as it turned out, because their local Wolvin welcoming committee arrived shortly after that.
It was just dark and Remus had a small fire going to warm them against the autumn evening chill. Tonks was chattering away about how crazy Mad-Eye was to work with sometimes.
“I tell you, Remus when he takes that weird eye of his out and drops it in a glass of water, well, I just want to retch….”
“Shush!” whispered Remus coming alert. He had always been more able than others to sense movement from far off, even able to know how many or how big from the sound. “There are three large men heading our way, Tonks. Ready yourself,” he warned.
The three men circled their camp just out of sight once. Lupin could feel their movement. Both he and Tonks kept quiet pretending to stoke the fire with a stick but really poking it with their wands to be ready in case the intruders attacked. Finally, the three must have made a decision and walked purposely into the light of the campfire.
Both Lupin and Tonks stood in defensive positions ready for anything.
“You can put your wands away there, folk,” said the deep voice of the man leading the three. “We’ll not be fighting you wizards.” He was a large burly man with steel gray hair and eyes that reflected yellow in the firelight, a most disconcerting sight.
“You know we’re wizards, then?” asked Lupin.
“Yeah, and we wouldn’t be fool enough to fight the two of you, especially when one of you is a werewolf, as well.”
He reached out his hand in a friendly manner and stepped forward. “I’m David Gray and these here are my sons, John and Stephen.” He pointed to the two others with him, who did indeed look like close relatives. They looked strangely too old to be his sons however, as they already had hair nearly as gray.
“My name is Remus Lupin and this is Nymph, I mean Tonks, just Tonks,” said Lupin hesitantly taking his hand. “Please join us by the fire and tell us why you’ve sought us out.”
“Like as not, we’d be asking you the same question, sir,” said Mr. Gray sitting down on a stump. The sons stood still and silent obviously there to guard their father. “It does not go unnoticed when those like yourselves enter our little village intending to stay. There is always a reason. We’ve seen your kind before.”
“No, but we’ve been expecting someone. We’ve heard rumors of the Dark One’s return.”
Lupin took this in silently. “Then you’ll have guessed why we’ve come?”
“As last time, the evil wizard sought us out to join him. Many of us were killed when we denied him and most of us went into hiding for many years. The hills are endless here amongst the lakes. Our village is still recovering from the hardship of those years. We have no love of this Dark Lord as you wizards call him.”
“We fight against the evil one, once again. He’s gathering force as we gather ours against him. Our leader, Albus Dumbledore has sent us to seek out the werewolves here in Wolvin to join us against the Dark Lord. Are you the leader of this village, this den of werewolves?” asked Remus watching the older man as he grimaced and looked to his sons before answering.
“I am the leader of Wolvin, yes, and I remember this Dumbledore as a very powerful wizard. He saved many lives years ago.”
“Will you join us, then? Help us in our fight?”
The older man smiled slyly. “I think there must be more of a reason than just asking our help for your leader to send you to us, Mr. Lupin. It can be no coincidence that you are a wizard and a wolf.” He rose as if to leave. Lupin was confused. He knew of no other reason.
“My instructions were to ask your help, sir.”
“Tomorrow, you two will come into the village to meet the others in the morning. Our council will decide then what we’ll do.” Nodding his head politely in Tonks’ direction he turned to go. The meeting was over for Mr. David Gray.
“Are there many of you, may I ask?” said Lupin almost hopefully. “Werewolves, I mean.” He knew so few like himself.
David Gray turned and laughed at him. “Yeah, Mr. Lupin, we’ve many in our humble community. At least two hundred in these parts alone.”
Remus sat down hard on the stump as he watched the three men walk out of the light into the night. Two hundred werewolves in one place! It was inconceivable.
That evening Lupin lay back on his cot starring at the tent ceiling, Tonks lay on her stomach in the cot next to him.
“What are you thinking, Remus?” she asked, barely awake but still puzzled by Mr. Gray. “I can’t imagine so many werewolves in one place. How do they do it?”
“I don’t know, Tonks. It’s intriguing, isn’t it?” He sighed deeply. He was feeling strangely happy. “I think that the man may be right, you know,” said Lupin. “I think that Dumbledore sent me here for a reason other than just enlisting these people in our fight. They already seem to know and dislike Voldemort. There is no persuading to be done whatsoever and yet Dumbledore has sent us here. Why?”
“Sometimes I wish that old Dumbledore would just share a little more information with the rest of us, Remus. All this guessing he has us do is a pain.” She mumbled the rest of her train of thought incoherently, falling asleep almost instantly.
“Yes,” said Remus, listening to the sounds of the night. The wind rustled through the leaves of the sheltering oak tree above them. Off in the distance he heard the faint call of a wolf. He recognized the familiar sound immediately. For whatever reason, he found it comforting to hear and was half tempted to call out after it.
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