Chapter 13 : The Sorcerer's Apprentice
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“Everything is straight with your school for next week,” Harry said one morning. “An old teacher of mine has agreed to come tutor you. He can come two days next week and then he can’t come until the week after.”
“Why not?” Arthur asked.
Harry thought a moment. “I’ll explain that after you get to know him a little,” he said. “He sent a list of books and materials you should have.” Harry handed over a list on parchment. “We’ll go into Diagon Alley on the weekend for it.”
“I can go,” Arthur said.
“How about we both go, but you can do your own shopping while I visit some old friends?”
Arthur folded up the parchment and pocketed it. “That sounds better.”
Saturday was cold but sunny. They took the underground since Arthur complained about getting grimy in the Floo network last time.
As they stepped through the archway from the pub, Arthur said, “Too bad it’s too cold for ice cream.”
“Florean sells hot cider,” Harry said. He pointed up the street. “See that sign on the first floor with the three Ws?” At Arthur’s nod, he said, “I’ll be there. Come up when you’re finished.”
With a glance at his son, he walked away. Arthur watched a path clear through the startled shoppers as his dad strolled along the alley away from him.
He needed books, so he decided to start there. Inside the bookstore it was blissfully warm from a roaring fire. Arthur pulled off his hat and mittens and loosened his cloak. The parchment had six books listed on it. Arthur wandered around, trying to get a sense of the organization of the store. He found one of the books on a pile of second hand textbooks. It was a little beaten up, but it was full of meaningful looking notes from the previous student. That felt like a bonus, so he tossed it into the bottom of his cauldron. Another two he found when he realized that everything was organized by title, not author, and in sections by audience. The section behind him was Housewitches the one he was in, Learners. In the far corner a locked cabinet with glass doors read Necromancers. Arthur moved that way out of curiosity.
Bright eyes staring at him, made him turn as he reached the cabinet. A tall man with a high-collared cloak and straight blonde hair that hung over his eyes gave him such an intense look, Arthur froze.
The man strode suddenly over, his eyes taking him in. “You . . . must be the Potter boy,” he said with a hint of accusation.
“Arthur. Pleased to meet you, sir,” Arthur said levelly.
“Hmf,” the man huffed and glanced around. “You aren’t here alone, are you?” he said in mock concern. “My daughter tells me you are a Muggle.” He looked Arthur over with a vaguely hungry expression.
Arthur relaxed marginally, feeling an advantage there given the slow news. Arthur shrugged easily. He really would rather be a Muggle than be associated with this lot.
“And your mother?” the man said in question, glancing around the store.
“Dead, sir,” Arthur answered.
“Ah,” he replied airily. He seemed to search for words then.
“I’m a Mudblood if that is what you are getting at,” Arthur continued in the same easy tone. Several shoppers stopped and glanced up sharply at that. “I assume your daughter inherited your obsession with such things,” Arthur explained.
The man seemed a little taken aback by the upfront approach, so Arthur retained his casual gaze and pose with extra effort. Eventually, after an involuntary twitch of one eye, the man said, “And your dear father?”
“Around,” Arthur answered, not unlocking his gaze from the grey-eyed one before him.
“I’d ask you to give him my regards . . . but . . .” The man had such a look of distaste on his face that Arthur had to clench his teeth to keep from smiling. “Your father clearly demonstrates the risks of interbreeding.” He looked Arthur up and down with a look of tired regard. “By producing this.”
Arthur pulled his head back in surprise and tried to think of a response to measure up to that.
“Arthur,” a voice said in question from across the store. Arthur didn’t look up since he recognized the voice and was really starting to think this was getting ridiculous. He wasn’t in the least bit of trouble here, really. “Draco,” Snape greeted the blonde man.
“Professor,” the man said with a false smile. He bowed slightly and took a half step back.
“Are you here alone?” Snape asked Arthur.
“Yes,” Arthur replied challengingly.
Snape raised a brow and disregarded the issue. He looked Licia’s father over. “Rather startling to look at, is he not?” Snape asked him, glancing at Arthur.
“Yes. Rather.” The man sniffed. “At least I don’t have to worry he will end up at school with my daughter.”
“Unless we can convince Arthur otherwise, no,” Snape commented.
The man looked confused at that. “Licia insisted he was a Squib,” he said.
“That would be most unfortunate for her if it were true,” Snape drawled, “since she lost a duel with him.”
Draco looked very distressed at that, his eyes roving between Arthur and his former teacher.
“Arthur,” Snape said in a hard tone. “Finish your shopping, why don’t you.”
“Yes, sir.” Arthur took his list to the counter, thinking that might speed things up. He glanced back at the pair. They were watching him as they talked. Draco’s eyes narrowed as he listened to Snape. Finally he stalked off with a swish of his cloak. As Arthur waited for the shopkeeper to return with his other three books, Snape came up beside. “You should keep in mind, Arthur, your own comment about not being able to distinguish friend from foe.”
“He wasn’t hard to distinguish, sir. He didn’t seem very nice from the beginning.”
Quietly, Snape said, “That doesn’t cover it, Arthur. He is a dark wizard. Avoid him.”
A chill ran along Arthur’s spine. “Yes, sir,” he replied, finding safety in obedience. “My dad says I’m a tempting target.”
Snape’s head tilted to the side almost bird like. “You are that,” he agreed.
With his books in his backpack, Arthur headed down to the parchment store where he stocked up on quills, ink, and paper. No one in that shop looked like a dark wizard or even paid him any attention. After that he found the door to the first floor offices on the correct block and went up the narrow unlit staircase. At the top he could hear conversation coming from an open door on the left. He looked in. A red-haired man of about forty burst into excitement when he saw him.
“You must be Arthur!” he said gleefully as he ran over and pulled Arthur in by the shoulders. “My, but you are a sight! The spitting image of your father at your age. Merlin!”
“Everyone always looks like they’re seeing a ghost when they meet me,” Arthur commented as he looked around the place. It was packed with colored boxes and trays of half bitten sweets and cauldrons of gooey ingredients. “Some guy in the bookstore just now was really disturbed to see me.”
“Do you know who it was?” Harry asked.
“Uh,” Arthur said, remembering how Snape addressed him. “Draco, Licia’s father.”
Harry stiffened and stepped over. “You ran into Draco Malfoy?”
“I happened to him, really. I was looking for books and he came over, rather startled.” Arthur thought of explaining how he had had a little fun with him since he had not heard he wasn’t a Muggle anymore, then decided to stay quiet, given his father’s concerned look. “I’ve already been told to avoid him, don’t worry.”
“Good. I’m glad people are looking out for you,” Harry said.
“Well,” Arthur hemmed. “One person in particular, Professor Snape.”
The red-haired man looked shocked. “Snape is looking out for you. Are you sure you don’t have him confused with someone else? Someone nice?”
Arthur gave him a narrow look. “Yes.”
Harry chuckled and patting the man on the shoulder, said, “Arthur, this is George Weasley. George, you have to understand, Snape likes him.” When George, with a face of disbelief, pointed at Arthur, Harry nodded. “Arthur sorted into Slytherin, just to warn you.”
George’s animated face went to utterly dismayed. “Goodness, that is a surprise.”
“It shouldn’t be,” Arthur said, glancing at this father meaningfully.
“Want to try some sweets?” George asked eagerly, seeming to forget the previous conversation completely.
Arthur nodded willingly.
“So tell me about this tutor who is coming today,” Arthur said at breakfast.
“He taught at Hogwarts one year when I was there. Taught me spells that saved my life more than once. His name is Remus Lupin. He’s a very nice man and one of my father’s best friends at school.”
“Oh. Which one?” Arthur asked. At Harry’s questioning look, he went on, “You said once they all had nicknames, Padfoot for example, though I don’t remember them all.”
“Padfoot was my godfather, Sirius. Prongs, was my father. Wormtail, was a traitor.” Harry stopped there a moment. “The only one left is Remus, who was Moony.”
Harry grinned a little. “I’ll explain it some other time.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. “But he’s a nice wizard?”
“Very nice,” Harry assured him.
After normal school, Arthur arrived home for lunch. He liked the short day a lot; he could pay attention better knowing he was getting away much sooner. In the living room his father and another man were just pouring tea. The man stood up when Arthur came in.
“Goodness,” he said. “Even warned, you are hard to take.” He smiled and held out his hand.
As they shook hands, Arthur noticed that his robe was very worn and that the lines around his eyes and his grey hair did not look right on him as though he were aging too fast. “Hello, sir,” Arthur said. “I’ll get my stuff.” Arthur brought from his room the books he had been instructed to buy along with a quill and ink and two sheets of parchment. He arranged these things on the low table beside the tea set.
Lupin considered him as Arthur said, “Dad suggested I read the first chapter in each book, which I did, but I don’t think I understood much.” It was hard to admit he could not understand something, but he didn’t want to be overestimated where magic was concerned.
“We’ll go over things,” Lupin said reassuringly. He sipped his tea and slid down the couch to Arthur’s books. “We’ll start with these two.” He set two of them aside. “Your father mentioned in his owl that you need to work on tempering. That isn’t unusual in a late bloomer. But I have to warn you that it isn’t easy to learn at this point.”
Arthur scratched his head and pulled the two books over. They were fortunately the two easier ones.
Lupin went on, “Did anyone explain to you what happened with your magic?” When Arthur shook his head without looking up, his tutor went on, “Sometimes, when it is strong enough to, the magic inside someone will fold over onto itself, keeping itself completely hidden. It is a self-defense mechanism. It can happen if things are very stressful or risky for magic when it first manifests. What it means is that the normal instincts for it that you would have gained when you were younger, you’ve missed out on.”
Lupin paused until Arthur looked up at him, then continued. “It is good that Headmistress McGonagall brought it to light when she did. It may never have unfolded otherwise.”
Arthur’s look sharped as he considered that McGonagall had lied about causing his magic. Lupin considered him closely before turning to Harry on the end of the couch. Carefully, he said, “He doesn’t want to be a wizard, does he?”
Harry shook his head. “No.”
Arthur dropped his gaze, feelings tugged him apart. “I never said that,” he offered.
“I assumed that’s why you hid it as long as you could,” Harry said evenly.
Lupin shook his head. “When you said you were interested mostly in teaching him control, I didn’t understand.” He sighed. “Well, Arthur. We’ll work on that then almost exclusively. You change your mind and want to learn more, you’ll let me know, I’m sure. Learning control means learning a lot of different spells anyway.” He moved the books aside and pulled over his satchel. He pulled a few wooden blocks out of it and set them on the table. “Let’s see what you can do. Harry mentioned he’s been working with you a little.” He pulled out a wand and said. “Arrangement!” in a French accent. The blocks jumped into a neat stack. He moved them back to sit directly on the table, disarrayed, as he asked, “Done this one?” When Arthur shook his head, he added, “Good, I want to see you try a spell for the first time. Where’s your wand?”
“I don’t have one.”
“You don’t have one?” Lupin asked in surprise.
Harry pulled his out and held it out for Arthur. “I don’t want one,” Arthur insisted stubbornly.
Lupin’s eyes narrowed. As he opened his mouth to speak, Arthur incanted the spell while pointing with his finger. The blocks glowed yellow, hovered, then jumped into a stack, though not quite as neat as the previous one.
Lupin put his hand on his forehead and stared at the blocks before his eyes slid over to Harry. Slowly, he said, “You are telling me that you have hired me to tutor the fourth hand conjurer since Merlin, and he doesn’t actually want to be a wizard.”
Harry poured himself more tea, heating it with a tap of his wand. “Pretty much.” He sipped from his cup. “I always suspected Dumbledore of not really needing his wand. He didn’t always use it.”
“He wasn’t a natural though.” Lupin said. “He told me he worked very hard to learn to cast without a wand. I asked him about it once as a student when I saw him lighting the hearths with a wave of his hand.” He rubbed his bottom lip in thought. “But you,” he said to Arthur. “You just did a spell you’ve never done before.”
“It’s easier without a wand,” Arthur insisted quietly.
“Yes, I can imagine it would be. The wand attenuates. Most of us need that to focus and channel power, but it changes the magic on the way. Getting away without it . . . “ he tilted his head, as though trying to take that in, jealous maybe even.
Harry stood up. “I’ll leave you two alone for the lesson,” he said.
Arthur spent the afternoon discussing and practicing basic spells. By the time six o’clock came around, he was feeling quite comfortable with several simple spells. Harry wandered back in. He stood in the doorway and said, “How are you two doing?”
“Quite well. He picks up on some things very easily. Others he seems incapable of.” At Harry’s curious look, Lupin explained, “Transfiguration is no problem for him. But permanent transformations he can’t seem to get a hold of. Like a Reparo for example.” He gestured at a pile of broken sticks, one of wood, one of marble, one of lacquer.
Arthur glanced up from his mobile as they were talking. He hadn’t checked messages all afternoon and was using this opportunity to do so.
Lupin studied him as he said, “Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to care that entire classes of spelling are out of reach.” He shrugged at Harry who smiled faintly.
“You are staying for dinner, right?” Harry asked.
As they sat down around the dining room table, Arthur said, “I like only having a half day of school. How long will I be tutored?”
“As long as you like,” Harry said as he poured beer for him and Lupin. “If you run out of one topic we can add others. You are good at maths so even things I never studied, like arithmancy, are possible. Potions might interest you if you found out what you can do with them. Or maybe that’s not a good idea,” he said upon further reflection. “Astronomy is interesting, and relatively safe.”
At the end of the meal after Lupin departed, Harry cleared the table and asked, “What do you think?”
Arthur grabbed the utensils and the napkins and followed Harry to the kitchen. “You mean, about Mr. Lupin? He’s nice, like you said. What’s wrong with him, though?”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
Arthur loaded the dishwasher as he said, “Well, his robe was pretty old, even by wizard standards, which aren’t very high to begin with. He seems younger than he looks, kinda the opposite of you.”
“He isn’t very well off,” Harry commented as he handed dishes over. “He gets discriminated against.”
Arthur thought about that as he put the beer glasses on the rack and closed the dishwasher. “I can’t guess why, he seems fine.”
“Glad you think so,” Harry quipped as he hung the tea towels to dry.
“You aren’t going to say.”
“Can I guess?” Arthur said.
“I don’t know, can you?”
As they walked out of the kitchen, Arthur said, “He’s a vampire?”
Harry turned around at that. “They get discriminated against too, but I don’t think I would hire one as your tutor.”
“You make it sound like I might be on the right track,” Arthur said, stopping by his room to get his day-school books. Harry shrugged broadly. Arthur shook his head as he went through his backpack; he really should stop guessing, he decided.
As Harry predicted, Arthur’s tutor was absent for the end of the week. The following Monday, Harry was running an errand to Hogsmeade when Arthur returned home from school. He ate a snack as he waited for his tutor who arrived with a bang! as usual.
“Hello, Arthur,” he said.
“Hello, sir,” Arthur said. He looked up to find his tutor looking paler than usual. The lines around his eyes were deeper as well and he looked rather tired. “Are you feeling all right, sir?” Arthur asked in concern.
Lupin, who had taken a seat on the couch beside him, looked him over closely. Arthur suspected that Lupin was only now realizing that Arthur was uninformed about things--whatever they were. “I’m fine, Arthur. Don’t worry about me.” He took a stack of parchment out of his satchel. “Did you take notes on the next two chapters?”
They went over Arthur’s lesson. “Well, my boy,” Lupin said. “It is clear you read everything, but I have a sense that it doesn’t mean much to you.”
Arthur frowned. He pulled out the book and pointed at a paragraph on matter transcendence. “You can’t create matter. It is one of the laws of physics,” Arthur stated.
“You are a Muggle, Arthur. No insult intended,” Lupin quipped.
“I keep telling people that and they don’t believe me.”
Lupin gave him a small grin. “That spell casting has them confused, I think.” Arthur dropped his gaze and rubbed his foot against his ankle in frustration. Lupin said, “Your father was thrilled to be a wizard.”
“Yeah, I’ve gotten that impression,” he said flatly.
“No one says you have to be thrilled. But we don’t want you to be a hazard to anyone or anything. All you have to do is practice a variety of spells until you naturally get a sense of control. But it is going to take a while.”
“When will I know I’m set?”
“I guess when strange things stop happening around you,” Lupin replied.
Arthur picked up his notes. “Let’s go to the next part, then,” he said, thinking about the cherry cobbler that had shown up for midday tea at school when everyone insisted it had been crullers just minutes before.
Harry came home an hour later. “How are you, Remus?” he asked.
“Fine,” he replied as he watched Arthur try to transpose two objects. Arthur repeated the spell several times before giving up and leaning back in his chair.
“Have you tried it with a wand?” Harry asked as he put his coat away.
“It doesn’t help,” Arthur said. “Can we do something else?” Arthur pleaded. “This isn’t working.”
“Certainly,” Lupin replied. He put the marble objects away. To Harry, he said, “I have been doing a little reading on spell predetermination to try to figure out why he is blocked from some kinds of magic.”
“I don’t need to switch things around. I can always pick them up and move them,” Arthur said a little testily.
“There are more significant spells that use the same underlayment. Apparition for example.”
“Bugger,” Arthur said.
“He likes Apparating.” Harry explained. “He likes anything that is superior to technology and dislikes anything less efficient.”
“We haven’t tried charms yet. I’ll be curious to see how that goes. I also don’t expect he could manage to be an Animagus, but I could be wrong.”
“What is that?” Arthur asked.
“I am not one. But your father is.” He gave Harry an expectant look.
Harry frowned. “I think this is something that will queer him out, as he says. So maybe we’ll wait on that.”
“What does it mean?” Arthur insistently asked them both.
“An Animagus is someone who can transform into an animal,” Lupin replied.
Arthur’s mouth fell open. “What? Any animal?”
“No, just a particular one,” Lupin said as though that diminished it. “Professor McGonagall can turn into a house cat, for example.”
“You’re kidding!” Arthur said, laughing. At Lupin’s serious expression, he said, “You’re not kidding. What do you turn into?” he asked his dad with slight trepidation.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t scare you anymore,” Harry said.
Arthur’s shoulders fell. “I promise I won’t queer out. Come on,” he cajoled.
Harry took a deep breath. “Haven’t done this is rather a long time. But here goes.” He held up a finger pointed at Arthur. “You promised,” he said.
“Yeah, yeah.” Arthur shifted to the edge of his seat in anticipation.
Harry stepped back, moved a chair out of the way and stood in the middle of the open space. He rubbed his hands together in thought and then threw them down to the sides, opening them wide. Like a computer morph, he twisted and grew until a stag stood in his place.
“Whoa,” Arthur breathed. He stood up and stepped over, careful to avoid the antlers. “Deer don’t have green eyes,” he said and got a narrowed look from the beast in return. He reached out a finger and ran it over the very short fur along the stag’s snout. He was butted lightly in return, nearly knocking him over. A second later his father morphed back. Arthur shook his head at him. “That is effing amazing, Dad,” he said a little breathless. He looked at Lupin. “You don’t think I could learn that?”
Lupin shrugged. “Most wizards can’t learn that. It is very difficult in general and not well understood, so I may be wrong about its underlayment. It may be that it classes with transfiguration, in which case you could learn it almost for certain given your ease with spells of that nature.”
“You can’t do this?” Arthur asked his tutor.
Lupin shook his head. “Not precisely.”
Arthur turned to his dad. “I want to learn that,” he said.
“You may be too young to register,” Harry said.
“They lowered the age. It is now fourteen,” Lupin said.
“What do you mean, register?” Arthur asked.
“All Animagi must register with the Ministry of Magic,” Harry explained.
“Of course,” Harry replied. “Photographs of me in both modes are on file.”
Lupin said, “We can start tomorrow on a spell called the Patronus. It tends to reveal the animal you can become or one very close. Your father will remember that spell.”
“Very well,” Harry said graciously. “I’m going to start dinner. Will you stay?”
“I have an appointment, so no. But I appreciate the invitation,” Lupin said.
That Friday, as they sat down to dinner, Harry asked, “Did I ever tell you how I met your mum?” in a tone that implied he himself knew.
Arthur sucked on his lips as he took that in. “A long time ago, but you can tell me again.”
Harry grinned, though his eyes were a little too bright. “Yvonne was working as a liaison to the Ministry of Magic from the British Home Office. They were trying to come up with better ways of coordinating public announcements when there were serious magical threats to Muggle safety. As you can imagine, they had to work with the Aurors on occassion. Because I’d been taken off field work after I was injured, they assigned me to interface with her when she wanted something from the Auror’s office.”
Arthur listed intently. This was essentially the story he remembered although the adult details were new. He really wanted to ask who his dad had talked to, but forced himself to just listen. When his dad grinned mischievously as he said, “She didn’t like me much at first,” Arthur decided that the story was his dad’s now anyway.
“Did you like her?” Arthur asked.
Harry thought that over. “I don’t know.” His gaze fell into the distance but it didn’t look strained or unhappy. “I expect I considered her dislike a challenge. I apparently wasn’t dating anyone seriously at the time and I didn’t have many other work responsibilities distracting me. She was considered a pretty tough cookie around the Ministry and after a month when she softened up we two were quite the topic for gossip.” He shook his head and fell silent again.
Harry continued after a long pause, “I got into the habit of meeting her outside the Auror’s office, but the other Auror’s would just happen to drop by at the coffee shop or pub we were at. We started meeting farther and farther away from the Ministry so it became a game to find us.”
Arthur grinned and rested his chin on his hand to listen more closely.
“We got engaged after three months of this. To everyone’s complete surprise. Probably why we did it--we both liked to ignore everyone’s advice, or so everyone says.”
Arthur worked on the Patronus the whole next week with very little result. He was starting to get very frustrated with the tiny green vapor that was all he could produce, wand or not.
“You can do this, Arthur. You wouldn’t get to the ghost vapor if you couldn’t. Have patience--it took your father a month, I think, to get this. Lucky for you, you don’t need to save your life with it.” Lupin put his things away.
“Is there something I can practice over the weekend?” Arthur asked.
Lupin thought that over. “Yoga or something like it. I think your mind is too crowded with things. I watch you during the afternoon and realize that you are thinking of several other things at any given moment.”
“I forgot to message my friend Eric with an update, I have a big report on cave formation due on Monday, Roger asked me if I could hack a cheat for him on his new cartridge, and-”
“Precisely,” Lupin said, cutting him off. “Your life is too complicated. Here is what you can do. Turn that little alarm of yours to go off once an hour. Then when it does, spend five minutes thinking about nothing.”
“Absolutely nothing,” Lupin said heartily.
“Okay,” Arthur said. “Can’t complain about that assignment.”
Lupin laughed lightly. “It will be harder than you think,” he insisted as he stood up.
“Are you staying for dinner?” Arthur asked him hopefully.
Lupin glanced toward the hallway before saying quietly, “I am starting to feel a bit the interloper.”
“No,” Arthur replied. “Dad and I don’t have much to talk about, really. You know a bunch of the stuff he doesn’t, too. You should stay.” He led the way to the kitchen.
As they passed Harry’s room, Lupin knocked on the doorframe and leaned in. “What are you working on?” he said, seeing the piles of clippings on the bed.
“I’m not sure, beyond catching up with things. Molly sent me her personal clipping file; it’s alarmingly extensive.”
“I’m sure,” Lupin said darkly.
Harry stood up and came out. “What do you feel like for dinner?” he asked the two of them. Before they could reply, he said, “You know what I feel like? Going out.” He sized up Lupin. “Up to borrowing some Muggle clothes for a night out?”
“In Muggle London?” Lupin asked.
“Yes,” Arthur said firmly. “No one knows him in Muggle London,” he pointed out.
Harry gave Lupin a grin at that. “Come on. We could both stand to unwind a bit.”
Dressed in basic jeans and jumpers, they left the house. The weather was turning milder but it was still cool. They took the underground and got off at Piccadilly, then walked at random until they found a pub that looked too inviting to pass. They went to the back and stepped up into a wooden booth surrounded by brass rails. The crowd was noisy, but it was warm and friendly feeling.
They ordered ales and a coca cola as well as a round of fish and chips. Arthur, enjoying being out very much, was happy to eat and listen to the two of them chat about old and new times. Eventually, the crowd thinned and the noise eased off. Both his dad and Lupin were laughing a lot more than he had ever seen them. The bartend brought another round. Arthur pulled his over and sucked through the straw. His dad finished off his last one and exchanged it for the fresh one.
“Where do you get off being twenty-five?” Lupin was saying. “That makes you only twelve years older than Merlin here,” he griped, indicating Arthur by putting an arm around his shoulder. “You know,” he said to Arthur as he leaned closer with ale-scented breath, “The average wizard would be green with envy of your magic.”
Arthur shrugged, thinking the average wizard was a looney anyway.
Harry leaned over the table toward him. “You are enjoying having Remus as a tutor though, right?”
“Yes,” Arthur said, honestly. “Very much so.”
Laughing, Harry said to Lupin, “He’s been trying to figure out what makes you different though.”
“I was surprised you didn’t tell him.”
More sober, Harry said, “I didn’t know how he’d react. I figured if he got to liking you, it wouldn’t matter. He tried to guess one day--he thought you might be a vampire,” he said, laughing.
Lupin turned to Arthur and said sarcastically, “Oh, thank you very much.”
“Sorry,” Arthur said plaintively.
Harry hit Lupin on the arm playfully. “From a Muggle perspective, though, he wasn’t far off.”
Arthur looked between them in concern, his mind trying to conjure any likely possibility. He finally shrugged.
“No more guesses?” his father asked, disappointed.
“I don’t want to be insulting,” Arthur insisted. He sipped his cola again. He did like Lupin. The man not only was a patient teacher but he was always willing to steer clear of topics of conversation that bothered Arthur, which struck him as almost overly considerate considering that he was in charge during their lessons.
“Come on,” Harry cajoled. “You have a clue already.” When Lupin shook his head, Harry said, “He knows your old nickname.”
“Hey,” Arthur said. “Your father’s nickname-”
“He was an Animagus as well,” Harry said. “Same animal. Learned it to be safe around him,” he added, nodding at Lupin who was spending more time with his glass of ale.
“And your godfather turned into a dog, you used to tell me. Well, that makes sense given the name Sirius. Wait, did he have that name before or after he was a dog?”
“Before,” Harry said.
Arthur shook his head. “Wizards are crazy,” he said, thinking that Lupin sounded awfully canine as well. He stared into his cola and thought about the nickname Moony. Nighttime. Phases. Tides. Full moon. It was a full moon the other week when his tutor was absent. Since having to draw his father’s blood, he had stayed aware of that without trying. He blinked and sucked up the last of his glass. He couldn’t guess that, could he? It was awfully darn close to vampire, all right, without being Frankenstein’s monster, which was clearly not correct.
He glanced over at them, watching him expectantly. “So?” Harry asked.
“I think I’ve got it. I didn’t know there really was such a thing,” he commented. He met Lupin’s gaze and found it studying his in return as though looking for something. “Huh,” Arthur said, then shrugged. “You’re normal most all of the time. What’s the big deal?”
“He is rather dangerous during the other times,” Harry commented.
Arthur received another cola. When the bartend left, he said, “So, you become a werewolf when you get bitten, or is that just what Muggles think?”
“No, that’s correct,” Harry said. He looked at Lupin. “How old were you, four?”
Arthur balked severely, partially spilling his fresh drink.
“Sorry, Arthur,” Harry said.
Arthur forced every last vestige of pity off his face before he looked up. “Wow,” he said. He was curious if his tutor had ever bitten anybody, but resisted asking. To his father, he said, “You thought I would mind? It’s kind of cool, actually,” he added with a glance at Lupin where he imagined him morphing into a wolf the way his father had into the stag. Lupin, who looked vaguely uneasy, gave him a small smile.
Harry said, “Well, I’m glad you’re all right with it.”
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