You Were Never Like This
Chapter 10 - Different Windows
He thought he was going mad. Every object in the room seemed to talk, seemed to ridicule him, just like everyone he met. But he was special, wasn't he? Oh yes...very special! He was - now what was it called? He giggled insanely. That's right! He was the "ministry informant" - he'd heard his master say it. And anything his master said was true - and special!
Anyone looking at him right now would think he was crazy.
And he was - his shock of hair had not been combed for days, stubble grew on his chin and his robes were torn beyond recognition. But this "ministry informant" would appear normal when anyone was around. Driven mad by stress, he paced his office in a giggling stupor, reading only what his master sent him. He kept apart from his family, believing they had kept him down so long.
But his master never did that, oh no, not at all. His master fed him praise and rewards whilst everyone looked down upon him. Very soon this would all change...
Margaret Timms was a venerable old lady who lived a fairly normal life in Wessex. She was pleasant in everything she did and often contributed to nearby charities. But most of all, she didn't believe in anything to do with magic. She laughed this off, spending most of her time alone, sitting in a rocking chair by the fire. This night, everything was different.
She had just settled in with a good book when the door buzzer echoed through the hall. Annoyed, Margaret hobbled over to the door as fast as her legs could take her. How'd be bothering and old woman this time of the night?
She got her answer, but it wasn't the one she was looking for.
"Who was it this time?" a grim faced Auror asked.
His colleague rubbed weary eyes. "Some ol' Muggle. Locals reported the Dark Mark sailin' oe'r the house 'round nine las' night. I dunno whom Fudge is foolin'. We ain't gonna last six months."
"Aye," his friend agreed darkly.
It was as though the world had been enveloped in darkness, but the Muggles knew nothing of it. Through wizarding communities, distrust ran openly and fear lay about like a filthy smell. Cornelius Fudge was a desperate man. He'd lost Azkaban, lost the trust of his most loyal subjects and it was all his fault. He began to wonder why the giants had attacked - it seemed they were found working with him, and as to this, he had no clue.
Attacks had become more frequent, and evidence had revealed that an attack was scheduled for Boxing Day - whereabouts unknown. Fudge had given up largely and no one looked to him anymore. The only thing that remained in his own hands was his life.
Well, it was a hopeless one, wasn't it? No one would notice. Or would they? He considered this, but discarded the thought. He had control over the only thing he had left and he was going to use it. Fudge left the office early and wasn't seen alive again.
Remus heavily sat down in his armchair and looked over at Harry. "Fudge committed suicide last night. The whole ministry's in uproar - they don't know what to do about a Minister of Magic. Buggered, the lot of them."
"Only a matter of time," Sirius remarked dryly. "I bet they'll attack the ministry now that Fudge's out of the way."
Harry looked troubled, but then cleared his face. "So, Remus, how's the chemistry going?"
He was referring to Shamari, but Lupin found he could not answer. Instead, he contented himself with something he had neglected for a week. Sipping generously on his brandy, Remus stared blankly out the window and saw the woman in question walking across the grounds towards Hogsmeade. This wasn't the first time she'd left after dinner, but Remus had begun to worry.
"Do you know what she does before dinner?" he asked quietly.
Harry shook his head but Sirius answered, "Goes down to Hogsmeade and apparates to who-knows-where. I asked her where she goes, once. She said she was visiting her parents." Sirius studied his friend. "So she's mad at you, huh?"
Remus ignored him and continued with the brandy. The Love Doctor knowledgably launched into a long-winded explanation of what to do, but Lupin found he wasn't very interested. Shamari had ceased talking to him and had been throwing him dirty looks whenever he passed her in the halls. She always arrived at the Great Hall before him and made sure she left before he came down. Remus had resorted to asking Peeves as to what she was doing. And strangely, Peeves always told him.
"I'm going for a walk," Remus said shortly, leaving the confines of his study that seemed to close in about him.
Once outside the castle, he walked briskly around the lake a couple of times before resting in the roots of a tree near the lake. He realised he should be getting inside as the full moon once again hung menacingly in the sky. Groaning, he made his way back up to the castle, but stopped. He saw Shamari disappearing into the front doors in a travelling cloak, the hood thrown down. She was obviously heading for dinner, but Remus, not wanting to confront her or eat anything, went to his rooms and drank whisky instead of brandy.
After dinner, Harry strolled down the corridors side by side with a loyal dog that matched his every step. Sirius had insisted upon taking his Animagus form in case any wayward student came across them. Harry kept up a stream of conversation about school, Quidditch, etc to which the black dog would shake or nod it's head. They barely took notice of where they were or who they passed until they reached the passageway to the dungeons.
"I think we'd better go," Harry suggested mildly, staring down into the passageway with something of a grimace.
They turned to go, but a voice drifted up to meet them and the owner stepped out of the passageway. "I would too, Potter."
Harry twisted around reluctantly, staring down on Snape (a useful habit born of being taller). Sirius growled and bared his teeth, glaring at Snape with a human's hatred. Snape cast a disdainful eye over the dog, sneering horribly, "You've always had such an esteemed company."
"Grow up, Snape," Harry told him coolly. "You're such an arse."
Snape's eyes flashed and he hissed, "You'll regret that."
And he kicked the black dog in the side as hard as he could, not staying even to relish in the yelp of pain Sirius had expelled. Harry glared after him, but decided it wasn't worth it. He looked down at his godfather and shrugged sympathetically. Sometimes Harry doubted which side Snape was really on.
The house was quiet, when it once had shown the signs of an occupant loyal to his sport. His room was musty and thick with dust as no one had dared entered there for a long time. This was the Diggory house, perched on a hill overlooking a nearby town. As the lights switched on as they did every day, the failed to illuminate figures cloaked in shadow.
They moved stealthily towards the front door and one raised a long finger and pressed the buzzer. No immediate response came to the uninvited guests but they did not let this stop him. One whipped out their wand and muttered, "Alohomora!"
They kicked the door open so hard that it bounced hard against the wall with a giant crack. Amos Diggory had his wand ready, but he knew he was outnumbered. Gritting his teeth, he shouted out curses, throwing off some but in the end the Death Eaters were to win. Amos did not go down until the very end, protecting his wife and the house in which so many memories were entrusted.
Long after the guests had left, a mark sailed over the house, declaring victory. Inside the Diggory's were sprawled, never again to leave their house.
The sun rose quickly in the morning, drowning the night sky with light. Remus Lupin watched it all from his office, miserably. A new day had come, sure, but not every new day brought new joys. These days...it brought new horrors. He grimaced as he set one foot in front of the other towards his door but stopped. He sighed dejectedly and sat down in his chair - and realised he had a visitor.
Peeves the Poltergeist was watching him avidly from across the room. Finally, he cackled, "If the professor without his girlfriend?"
"Shut up, Peeves," Remus muttered.
"I'll go a fetchin' her."
Without waiting for an answer, the poltergeist vanished. Lupin could only guess what Peeves had gone to do. Sure enough, a few minutes later, he heard a light tapping on the door. And he knew who it was.