You've got mail
Author’s Note: This is the direct sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Dark Portrait. Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, J.K. Rowling and Joss Whedon do. Thanks very much to my Beta Letomo, but all mistakes are still mine. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Many thanks to tosca for recommending this story. I deeply appreciate it. Chapter 25 You’ve got Mail Hogwarts, Lupin’s quarters, January 30th 1996
Remus Lupin wasn't stupid by any means. Nor was he badly educated. Quite the contrary. Whereas Sirius and James had approached magic, and the study of it, as their natural right, with an insouciance only wealthy purebloods could muster, and Peter had done the same in a far more dogged fashion, with rather less flair, Remus had shared with many Muggleborns a supreme wonder that he was doing what he was doing and that he was doing it at Hogwarts.
To him, the fact that he was allowed to be there at all, allowed to use a wand, allowed to learn more than the most basic of things, was a miracle, an amazing gift he never would have thought, hoped, to receive except in his wildest dreams.
That meant that he had concentrated on his studies and learned a great deal. He knew there would be no or little chance of him ever gaining any higher education, whether as an apprentice or in one of the very rare Wizarding Universities.
So he had made the best use he could of his stay. And now, now that he was a teacher, he had access to sources he could only have dreamed of as a pupil.
He was currently looking at a pile of no less than seven books from the Restricted Section and two from the books that Albus and other headmasters had removed or gathered over the centuries. Albus called it the Forbidden Section, and the usual twinkle had not been there when he'd called it that. Remus could see why, from looking at the books.
But he needed the information and after a short explanation what he needed it for, Albus had offered him these two books. And the twinkle had been back. With interest.
Revenge was going to be sweet.
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD January 31st
Luna Lovegood was a bit surprised when Professor Lupin called out to her after her DADA class. “Miss Lovegood? May I have a word with you?”
Luna looked around as if to look for another Miss Lovegood. “Me? Of course, Professor. Was there something wrong with my essay on the Suppression of the Transylvanian Vampire Rising of 1469? Wasn't it long enough? Was it too long? I did tell Myrtle that two and a half feet might be a bit long, but she and Hermione said that otherwise it didn't sufficiently cover the subject matter and reflect the diversity of opinions and the breadth of the sources.”
“No, no it was fine,” Lupin assured her. “Yes it was slightly too long, and perhaps a bit advanced for someone your age, but very good. Miss Lovegood? You seem a bit tense. Is everything alright?”
Luna shrugged. “Well, Daddy went to the Colonies. He's there to meet a lady.”
“A lady. I see,” Lupin smiled. “I'm sure it will be fine, Miss Lovegood.”
“I'm sure it will be. I just hope he doesn't get distracted and fall into the Grand Canyon again. Mummy isn't there anymore to get him out this time,” Luna smiled serenely. “What did you want to see me about then, sir?”
“Ah yes,” Lupin coughed. “I'm doing a little research and I was wondering... Professor McGonagall told me that you have at least one rare book which was written by one of your ancestors? Do you have any others?”
Luna nodded. “Yes, the library was one thing that was never sold, no matter how hard things became. Mummy and Daddy dug a special basement for it.”
Remus cleared his throat. “Would it be possible to check if that library contained “Sur les Metamorphose humaine et la transcendentalisme: L'Animus Humaine et l'âme des Bêtes
. And maybe La Revolution Humaine, la forme feminine et la magique internalle?
Luna frowned. “I think we have them, yes. Great-great Grandmère Heloise, wrote them, non? But why would you...” her eyes widened. “Oh! I didn't realise you and Professor Snape were quite that serious! Don't worry, sir! Your secret is safe with me. I'll get the books for you the next time I'm home, once Daddy returns from the Colonies.”
She smiled widely and skipped out of the classroom, humming Brahms’ lullaby.
Lupin ran a hand over his face. “Oh dear. That might very well cause more trouble than it's worth.”
Remus leaned back from the careful arithmantic calculations he'd been making all day in between his classes. With knowledge from the books borrowed from the Library and Albus, he ought to be able to achieve what he had in mind. The books from Miss Lovegood might allow him to do it in a more elegant fashion, but that was not essential. What he needed, and wanted, was to get even. Admittedly Severus had pulled an elaborate, even beautiful prank, on several levels and on the entire school, with Remus himself and the Weasley Twins as the primary targets.
But right now he was preparing himself mentally to read a letter he had never expected to get. Though he had to admit he hadn't been a regular correspondent in the past. He’d sent his last letter to his parents a good five years before, a terse reply to say he had received their notice and that he now knew they had moved, buying an old Herbary and moving there. The last letter before that had been his written acknowledgement of their move to the States, ten years ago or so. But apparently his mother had an incredible capacity to forgive her erring son, much like she had for forgiving her husband for speaking out at the wrong moment and thereby bringing Voldemort's, and Greyback's, anger down upon them, cursing their son, Remus, to lycanthropy.
Transatlantic mail was carried by owl to the coast and there was attached to either the Express Eagles, who were charmed to be able to fly far greater distances than normal, or to what was called Porpoise post, thrown in a water tight bin and attached to a harness worn by dolphins or porpoises.
This was a slow method, as the marine mammals thought it was all a splendid game and attempted to use the bin as a ball, dove with it as deep as they could, used it to knock against Muggle ships bottoms and any of a thousand tricks they had devised in the last thousand years. Attempts to Imperius them to swim straight had ended very badly for the wizards involved.
Remus had heard that recently Mug- Normal were accepting the fact that dolphins were very intelligent. Wizards had known that since Rombardo de Santiago had been found dead, drifting in the harbour of Barcelona with his wand in two pieces, one in his mouth, through his palate into his brain and one in his anus, the splinters driven deep into his bowels and perforating both them and his stomach. That had been a week after he had cast that first Imperius. It had taken ten years before any Dolphin would come near a wizard again. And a lot
Kettleburn had used it as an example of why you should never, ever abuse an animal. It might be quite capable of getting even, or even a bit more then even, and bit you on the arse (well-behaved, male students were shown his own bite in that location upon special request. Whole generations had been permanently mentally scarred.). So despite being un-magical, Dolphins and Porpoises were classed as magical creatures.
But in this case a bird had carried Remus' parents' letter. And that bird had flown in among the parliament of owls that morning, and had been huge and pearly white, with slight grey tinges.
The regal looking albatross had arrived at breakfast and swooped in, scattering the few early risers among the Staff with its huge wingspan, casting aside cutlery and flatware with its great clawed feet and had, with screeching claws ripping deep gouges in the varnished and ancient wood of the high table, come to a precise halt right next to Remus. It had given him a look of utter disregard and had then stolen his entire kipper, smoothly throwing it up and then catching and swallowing it.
That had sent Albus off into chuckles. The Headmaster had spent all of breakfast feeding the albatross morsels from his own plate. Remus had been waiting to open the letter ever since. But he'd delayed doing so until he'd finished his classes and his calculations. The albatross had needed to rest anyway. It was actually doing so in Albus' office. Remus spent another second thinking about an overweight albatross. Then he realised that if his mother had bothered to answer, by Albatross Mail, it was unlikely that the letter contained anything too bad. And that all the things he'd been doing and thinking were just delaying tactics, to postpone the emotional upheaval reading the letter would surely cause.
With trembling hands Remus broke the seal and folded open the stiff, crackling parchment. My dear, dear son, We were so very pleased to hear from you, dear Remus. We were so very frightened for you, and worried about you. I'm writing this letter, since your father's handwriting is as bad as yours.
Remus huffed. His handwriting was a sore point with his mother, who wrote in a beautiful clear hand. Some things never changed. We are very well. Very well indeed. I regret not moving here long ago. I think your life would've been much easier if we had, though you probably would have missed those Three Terrors you called friends.
Remus smiled. The Three Terrors had been his mother's name for the other Marauders. It was a name that was taken up by various other parents. Though each had of course excluded their own dear boy, at least for the first three years. Then they had agreed that apparently all their children were inveterate and incurable troublemakers at school. Peter's mother had used it, too. *Must go visit her again. She's so happy to talk to me, whenever I go.* The Herbiage is quite successful and the investors are most pleased, as are we. Pretty soon we’ll have paid of the debt. I know you don't like herbology very much, but it has it's interesting side. Your father is glaring at me. Covered in welts and bumps and bright purple, after an encounter in greenhouse three with a young Whip Armed Slime Mould. So if you must fight creatures of darkness, you could try that. Or even better you could come over and baby-sit. Enclosed are some pictures. You've missed the first three years of your little brother's life, so I suggest you get over here as soon as you can. You wouldn't want to miss the first weeks of your little sister's too, now, would you?
Remus sat looking at the moving images. A little boy, laughing at the camera on his father's shoulders. The same boy, jumping in a muddy puddle again and again, just as his mother ran to stop him and got a face full of water for her trouble, sitting on a swing... A last picture, his mother, obviously pregnant, his father, beaming with pride with the little boy between them, in front of a large greenhouse. His name is Isengrim Edward Lupin. We call him Izzy. I hope that coming to see them, and us, will be sufficient reason for you to be careful? That job you have now, if that is the best you can do, things must be bad. Any other job at Hogwarts would be fine, but DADA? There is no anti-werewolf legislation in the States. The Concordat won't have it. Apparently the Grand Magisters provide options for education, and even methods of controlling the wolf, or if that fails, strong cages. Then again, those werewolves who do not abide by the laws of the Concordat and the Alpha Strictures are dealt with swiftly and mostly finally. But I hardly think you'll be going round chasing after cattle or attacking Muggles at isolated farmsteads. Please write again and soon! The Albatross needs to rest for a day. I'm sure you can manage to produce something, even if it is barely legible, in that time.
Remus grinned. She would never stop harping on that; he might as well accept it. And let us know when you're free of that job, and can come for a visit, even if you won't stay. And tell Dumbledore that if the job kills you, I'll get Augusta Longbottom to help me hunt the two of you down! Much love, Mum and Dad.
Remus blinked away a few tears. Despite all the distance he tried to put between them, his parents still loved him. And he was a big brother! It was uncommon for Wizards and Witches to make full opportunity of their longevity and longer fertility, but hardly impossible. His mother had barely graduated Hogwarts when she married and Remus was born ten months later. So even among Muggles it could be possible. Just, even if it wasn't exactly healthy or advisable. Among Witches it was custom more than anything else. *The Herbiage really must be doing well...*
Remus tapped the letter. *It won't do any harm to inquire into the cost of travelling to America. Just... checking.*
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Hogwarts Library, February 1st 1996
Luna Lovegood scowled at the page in front of her. “Oooooh. Porcupine!”
Myrtle giggled. “Must be pretty bad, the spines are getting longer.”
Hermione sniffed. “Really, Luna. If your father could hear you!”
Luna sighed. “Stop it, you two. And I've heard you use much worse, Hermione Granger! And I have your parents’ address!”
Hermione crossed her arms and glared, though she also seemed a bit uncertain. “You wouldn't!”
Luna rolled her eyes. “Of course I wouldn't, Hermione. I'm not a Snitch.”
“Well, you've got the colouring. Luna Lovegood, the golden snitch,” Myrtle giggled again.
“Oh haha. You sound like the boys,” Luna sniffed. “All they talk about is Quidditch. Or chess. Or Gobstones, or Exploding Snap. Actually, they talk about a lot of things, as long as it isn't anything to do with school.”
Hermione nodded. “True. I honestly wonder how any of them ever get a passing grade.”
Luna turned back to her book. “They probably bat their long eyelashes and waggle their hips at Professor Snape.”
“Luna!” Hermione whispered, shocked.
“Oh really Hermione,” Luna replied airily. “Everybody could see that he and Professor Lupin were desperately in love, the way they kept looking at each other, and glaring. The Germans have a saying for it, Was sich liebt, das neckt sich, those who love each other, bicker.”
“Luna, haven't you and Harry had a couple of fights?” Hermione asked pointedly.
Luna pursed her lips. “I've shouted at him. I'm not quite sure if he's been angry with me. Maybe I should apologize for that, what do you think?”
Hermione had gone very quiet for a second, only letting out a breath when Luna showed no obvious interest in Harry. “Maybe you should. I'm no expert on boys.”
“I shall ask Penelope, she's got a boyfriend and is a Ravenclaw. That ought to make her an expert, I think,” Luna decided. Then she turned back to her book.
Myrtle looked at Hermione and then winked at the dark corner by the door where Professor Snape was scowling.
“Harry?” Hermione plonked a thick book in front of him. “We're going to read this.”
Harry looked at the fist-and-a-half thick tome with trepidation. “We are? What is it?”
“Lady Bedell's notes on propriety, etiquette and protocol, amended by her elder sister and Mrs. Weas- Lady Prew- your mum,” Hermione explained firmly. “They want it to be read by people who don't know anything about wizarding culture. We qualify.”
Ron let out a breath of relief.
Harry shifted uncomfortably on his chair. “I've got Quidditch practice Hermione.”
“Headmaster Dumbledore has agreed that proofreading this will be worth extra credit for Comparative Culture next year. And you’ll know the material, so you needn't work so hard on it then,” Hermione pointed out. “We can get another copy if we need it.”
“But Hermione!” Harry whined. “I don't understand this sort of thing!”
“And isn't that exactly the reason to study it?” Hermione pointed out primly. Seeing Harry's stubborn expression she pleaded. “At least think about it.”
Harry nodded heavily. “I'll look at it first, okay?”
Hermione flashed him a brilliant smile. “Thanks Harry.”
Harry's heart skipped a beat and he wondered what that was all about.
“So what was in the book that got you so upset” Myrtle asked.
“Nothing, that's what, just that Umberto Collocoecci invented Moving Painting and Animated Portraits during a stay at Hogwarts in the early twelfth century,” if Luna believed in pouting, she would have done so, “So much for Hogwarts in the History of Magical painting.
And it took me two days to convince Madam Pince to let me read it.”
“Why?” Myrtle frowned.
“Well, it's quite old. And there's a whole section on magical painting. I'd imagine that people like Fred and George would need to be kept away from that,” Luna mused. “Might be quite interesting to see what they could do with the knowledge though. From a safe distance.”
Myrtle laughed. “Like six counties away!” She let out a ghostly sigh. “But still no luck on finding out who Porty is.”
Remus Lupin was glaring at a large, white bird. He was holding the letter to his parents but any move to attach it had been thwarted by the owner of the leg it ought to be attached to.
The huge albatross who Dumbledore had gleefully named Dead, gazed back impassively.
“Look you insufferable bird! This letter is going onto that leg of yours whether you like it or not!” Remus fumed.
“Really Remus, that's no way to talk to the poor thing,” Albus chided. “He's going to carry that letter all the way over the Atlantic for you. Aren't you, Dead?”
Dead looked at the older wizard. Dumbledore smiled. “As soon as he's asked you politely and brought you another kipper.”
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Hogwarts Stables
Sirius Black was a big, black dog. Big black dogs, especially those who were born to the House of Black were not supposed to whimper, or bury their heads in their blankets and whine pathetically. But Sirius really felt like it. Not only was he unable, even with the help of the half-kneazle, and much easier access to the Castle than he ever had expected, to get at Peter, he was the continuous target of dozens of girls who submitted him to unending torture. Or boys who made him chase after sticks. Admittedly the attention and exercise were doing wonders for his fur and muscle tone. And he was really getting to know Harry, even if Harry didn't know him. At least not as a man. And he really had to remember not to lick his balls in front of him. That was something he'd never live down once he took his rightful place in the boy's life.
But this latest news was a blow that he might never recover from. Remus Lupin apparently was involved in a deeply committed and physical relationship with Severus Snape. It was enough to make a grown dog cry, or howl at the moon.
Suddenly a strong but gentle hand grabbed him by the scruff of his neck. “Aha! Perfect. A prime example, just like you said, Rubeus,” Kettleburn's voice sounded approving. “With this fellow, Neville's toad and Miss Granger's half-Kneazle we can cover a great many of the more common familiars and pets. And with that old rat of Mr. Weasley Three that Weasley Six now has, we can have them show how proper care can extend the life of even the commonest of animals. He seems to be in excellent shape, much better than I expected from your description of him.”
“Yerse, Silvanus. 'E's plumped up pretty nice,” Hagrid told him with obvious pride in his voice “An' we may as well check 'is anal glands again while we're at it, they were fine last time, but the breed does suffer from it.”
Sirius howled at the indignity of it all. Sometimes life just wasn't fair.
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Great hall, after lunch
“Mr. Potter, kindly come see me after your classes and dinner, eight o’clock will do,” Professor Kettleburn told Harry in passing as he hastened towards the paddock, Hagrid in tow. “Not a detention, don’t worry.”
Harry nodded, his mind already on a way to dodge most of what work there was in divination.
At ten past eight Harry had been waiting for ten minutes and was looking rather uncertainly at the door to Professor Kettleburn’s office. He could hear adult voices from inside, raised in some sort of discussion and in Harry’s experience when adults fought it seldom boded well for him. He thought he recognized Snape and Hagrid and what he thought was his Dad, but there would hardly be a reason for him to be there. He hoped. They tended to be angry at him, and he would feel the consequences, or they would take out their frustration on him. Neither was pleasant or good.
The door opened and Kettleburn looked out, annoyance on his face. He saw harry, looking hesitant and it cleared up. “Ah, Mr. Potter. I assume you’ve been here a while?”
Harry nodded. “Yessir! I could hear you talking, sir!”
“Ah, of course. Do come in. We were waiting for your arrival,” Kettleburn waved him inside.
“Yessir!” Harry slipped inside, looking around with a mix of curiosity and uncertainty. Seated in the chairs around the fire were Snape, Hagrid, and indeed his foster father, Arthur Weasley. Arthur rose and came over to hug him.
“Mr- D-dad? Is something wrong?” Harry asked anxiously.
“No, no. Well. Yes,” Arthur ran a hand through his loose red curls. “We were discussing the basilisk.”
“What about it? It is dead, isn’t it?” Harry sounded even more anxious.
Arthur snorted. “After the dissection, I should hope so. No, I just found out how big the beast was.”
“He was rather upset,” Snape noted dryly.
“Oh. So why am I here?” Harry looked from his father to the teachers.
“To discuss what to do with the proceeds of the sale of the beast. If the whole thing with Black and the Dementors hadn’t happened the Headmaster also wanted to ask you to help explore Slytherin’s tunnels,” Kettleburn settled into his specially built chair. “We think there are at least six doors sealed so they can only be opened by a Parseltongue.”
“There is no way I’m going to allow that, Kettleburn!” Arthur interrupted.
Harry frowned. “Are there any other parseltongues?”
“No,” Snape stated decisively. “And I’d prefer it if you were older, the last thing we want to do is encourage your hero complex even further.”
“He does not have a hero complex!” Arthur snapped.
“He does,” Snape drawled. “A mile deep and a league wide.”
Snape rolled his eyes at the other adults’ looks, and started counting on his fingers. “Troll. Quirrell. Basilisk. Miss Lovegood and my niece and the Dementors. The last thing we need is to encourage him to risk his life, he does so quite often enough on his own. Need I go on?”
Arthur raised his eyebrows. “Now that you mention it…” he looked at Harry, who smiled rather sheepishly.
“We’ll talk about that later,” Arthur decided. “Now there’s the basilisk to discuss.”
“But you knew that I fought it and everything,” Harry was wondering at his foster father’s tense tone.
“Not that it was the biggest basilisk seen in well over five centuries, if not longer!” Arthur growled at Kettleburn.
“Oh. But Hagrid and Professor Kettleburn killed it,” Harry pointed out.
“At the very least it was a team effort. And Professor Snape and I think, from the autopsy we performed, that it would have died from the injuries you inflicted with the Sword of Gryffindor,” Kettleburn grinned. “You might have died because of it if we hadn’t been there, but you were still instrumental in killing it.”
Harry rubbed his arm and shoulder, feeling the burn of the serpent’s poison again. Arthur put an arm around his shoulder. “Very well, accepting that, what do we do now?”
Snape withdrew small book from his robes, and then enlarged it, but it remained thin and narrow, a ledger of some sort. “This contains everything we harvested from the beast. Which is, well, everything. We had the House elves gather the dried blood. A conservative calculation shows that if we market them in a prudent fashion, we can realise a profit over a period of a decade of slightly over one and a half million Galleons, more if we spread it out further.”
Arthur paled, as did Harry. “H-how much?”
“A million and a half. We’re still using bits from the one Professor Kettleburn killed,” Snape reminded them. “That was thirty years ago.”
“Oh. So we won’t get all that at once?” Harry took Arthur’s hand, stressing the we.
“Not if you’re smart. Selling it all at once would mean that most of it would be bought by dealers would take most of the profit. It would glut the market, and very few dealers have the sort of funds needed to buy so much basilisk part anyway. Eight percent will go to me, for the services in preparing the beast for sale. The rest should be divided among those who killed it,” Snape explained.
He put the ledger on the table. Arthur frowned. “Eight percent. That’s rather cheap, Severus.”
Snape shrugged. “I don’t need the money. But if you insist, you can make the rest up with parts. There are a number of potions I’d like to try and recreate and brew and some experiments of my own I’d like to perform. And you might want to explain to your son I’m not gouging you.”
Arthur grinned at Harry’s mulish expression. “A creature that has been prepared by a Potions Master will bring in more than one just cut up by anybody, Harry. It probably increases the value by twenty-five or thirty percent. That goes even for common creatures like rats. Those harvested under the supervision of a Potions Master are still worth about ten percent more.”
“Not to mention it’s bloody dangerous. And with one hand, not something I’d care to try myself. I lost half a hand to the last one I gutted,” Kettleburn grimaced.
Harry nodded. “Okay. I understand. Dad? If you and Bill were there, and maybe Charlie, could we go into those tunnels?”
Snape gave him a look through narrowed eyes. “Explain, Potter.”
Harry frowned. “Why? You know why I need to.”
Snape raised an eyebrow at Arthur who frowned at Harry. “Harry, apologize and behave. Explain yourself to Professor Snape.”
Harry looked at his feet, then back at Snape. “Sorry, sir. I was thinking there might be something else dangerous down there, and we ought to get it before it became more dangerous.”
Snape lifted the eyebrow again at Arthur, who sighed. “I‘ll discuss it with your mother. She’ll probably agree. But she won’t be happy.”
Hagrid leaned over and slapped Arthur’s shoulder. “Don’ worry, Arthur! We’ll keep the boy safe!” he fingered his wand with his other hand and beamed happily. Then his face fell. “Pity we ‘ad to kill the poor beastie though. If Riddle ‘adn’t been there, we might of talked it ‘roun’.”
The others exchanged glances and Snape rolled his eyes.