Chapter 8 - Vocations
Bella curled back onto the leafy bedding and was instantly asleep. Remus rested, snoozing occasionally but was instantly awake at the slightest change in sound or scent.
The disk of the sun was half gone when Bella stirred, stretched like a cat, then rose to her feet. She sensed before she saw the werewolf watching her.
"What?" she asked.
He smiled and said, "In your former life you must have been a dancer."
"There was a time when I wanted to be, but "purebloods" don't perform in public."
"Your movements are so graceful, fluid. Every thing you do is art."
"I think I'm going to like having you around, milord Were. You're good for my fragile ego."
"The only other vampire I've ever known was a drama queen too." He said with a smirk.
"You don't want to know what the only other werewolf I've known was like."
"Anything like the one that turned me, Fenrir Greyback?"
She nodded, "Very much."
"Y'know," Remus said, "in aperverse way Greyback was compensating for his own impotence."
"You mean he . . ."
"Yep, there wasn't a spell or potion that could help him with his, um, little problem."
"Big bad wolf, tiny little penis?"
"Right in one milady."
"No wonder he was such a vicious bastard," she looked appraisingly at Remus, "no problems in that department, milord Were?"
"No complaints. . ."
His face fell as he remembered his beloved Dora, and their orphaned son, Teddy.
Bella cursed to herself, quietly. "Would you like to see your son?"
Remus's expression was very pained. He knew his chances of reclaiming his son were slender to nil. As far as the world knew, Remus Lupin was dead. Let it remain so. That didn't stop the ache in his heart when he thought about little Teddy.
"He is better off with his grandmum, Andromeda."
"We can still pop in and see him if you like."
"Shite, shite, shite!" she thought to herself, "I have to keep him busy, keep his mind off his loss."
She thought about simply releasing her pheromones to enthrall him but then she would have a slave, with no will of his own. Somehow she knew she needed him whole in mind and spirit. It was like the challenge of breaking a thoroughbred horse. Make him accept the bridle, but keep his spirit intact.
The germ of an idea began to take hold.
This man needed a direction, guidance. He could be a weapon, dark and terrible or he could be an instrument of peace.
It couldn't be that simple, could it?
Her inner voice assured her that it could.
She followed the thought to alogical conclusion and it all fit. The parameters would include meditation, certainly, an ascetic lifestyle, of course. Devotions would follow a lunar cycle where the members of the order would have to be in seclusion during certain cycles of the moon. With a full beard and tonsure his own mother wouldn't recognize him. Add glasses and the disguise would be perfect. It was just the thing. Now if she could only sell Remus on the idea.
It would have to wait thought, moonrise was imminent. She slipped off her cloak and gown; her skin glowed gloriously pale in the twilight.
"Milord?" she said, gesturing at his own robes.
He removed his own. She gasped as she saw countless scars crisscrossing his legs and torso. Most of the wounds were apparently self-inflicted - Bella remembered reading that werewolves had a shorter life-span than most wizards because of the pain of morphing from one form to another every month. Most fought the transformation with all their strength, making the change insanely painful.
He was becoming agitated as he felt the moonrise approach.
"Remus," she said softly, "do you trust me?"
He hesitated for a moment before nodding.
"Look into my eyes, see how deeply you can see into my eyes."
And Remus was transfixed by the deep purple irises rimmed by a thin line of red, but the pupils, they went on forever. He couldn't see his reflection in those dark pits. They absorbed everything. Light, pain, consciousness.
Bella held him transfixed through the transformation. It may have been as painful as any he had ever experienced, but it was as though he were watching the change from somewhere else. It was someone else's pain.
He shook his canine head and watched as the lady Vamp became the white she-wolf. She dropped her forepaws to the ground, tongue lolling and tail wagging as she initiated play.
Remus was thrilled. He was no longer the lone wolf, crying in the night.
Millie stood in the entryway of Pansy's new house flanked on either side by half-starved children with haunted expressions; one boy, one girl. Both had the thousand yard stare. Pansy could guess their story. Pureblood children, used to being treated like royalty, spoiled rotten.
Then nothing, less than nothing: no money, no privilege, no home, no food and no one to take care of them. The children ran when their parents died or were arrested. They hid when aurors and other people from the ministry tried to take custody of them. Neither could remember their last decent meal.
Both had been rummaging through garbage in Diagon Alley when Millie found them.
"Put two more plates out, Allison, there's a dear." Pansy called out.
"Yes Mama Pansy."
She shot an accusatory glare at Millicent. "You got her started on that and now everyone's calling me that."
"I dunno," Millie smirked. "Kind of suits you doncha think?"
"Fine, Mama Millie!"
The big girl's smile was genuine,"I like the sound o' that."
"How many does that make?" Pansy asked.
"Well, Bernie here and Collette make it an even score."
Pansy groaned. Twenty children, all dispossessed pure-bloods. "How many more d'you reckon?"
"Talking to the kids I'd say about a dozen more."
"I'll take Bernie, you take Collette."
Each girl took their new charges to a small bathroom where they transfigured their ragged clothing into plain, serviceable garments, then had them bathe. Many of the children coming off the streets had lice and that had to be taken care of immediately. Bernie was okay, but Collette's hair was teaming with nits.
The main parlor was the only room long enough to use as a dining hall. Pansy and Millicent worked long days without any breaks to make a decent home environment for their charges.
Cleaned and scrubbed the new arrivals fit right in - indeed they knew many of the other children.
Pansy sat in her bedroom / office scrutinizing documents. Magic was wonderful, but you can't conjure food. She was pouring over books on nutrition and child care. The books were helpful but did little to teach her how to be a surrogate parent.
Just past midnight on the day of Bernie and Collette's arrival she had an epiphany.
These children needed exactly what she hadn't had growing up. Oh she was a spoilt rotten princess to be sure but that's because it was easier to just give her everything she ever wanted rather than take the time to care, really care.
She wrote ten guidelines:
/1./ Love the children, especially those who seem unlovable.
/2./ Make every effort to catch each child in the act of being or doing good every day, let them know you appreciate them.
/3./ Clearly define expectations, give each child responsibilities.
/4./ Fun is allowed in the home and in the classroom.
/5./ Never ever strike a child. That teaches them that hitting is a solution. Belts are for holding up trousers, not for discipline.
/6./ Hug every child at least once a day, see rule one
/7./ Have a warm breakfast everyday.
/8./ Help each child discover his or her dream and then follow that dream.
9./ Tell every child that you love him her everyday, again, see rule one.
/10./ Make sure they have aplace to call their own.
Millicent found her the next morning; head down on the writing desk, snoring gently. The big girl lifted Pansy's limp unresisting form and placed her in her bed, pulled off the girl's shoes and covered her with the duvet.
Millie sat at the desk and looked at the ledger. Almost all the numbers were in the red. Pansy's trust would pay a stipend at the end of the month but that would barely keep them in bread and soup.
As she closed the ledger she saw the guidelines. Her own breath caught as she felt the rightness of it. She quietly slipped out of the room, but not before she placed a kiss on Pansy's forehead and said, "I love you, y'know?"
That morning "Mama Millie" served up scrambled eggs and sausages and fresh milk to twenty-one grateful urchins, the twenty first child had shown up at the door, just in time for breakfast.
After breakfast she had Allison and some of the older kids start making a list of things that had to be done around the manor and grounds. Then another list describing what each child could do to help Mama Pansy in her efforts to care for them.
When Pansy woke she panicked, thinking she needed to be doing any one of the hundred things that needed to be done around the manor. She bolted from her room to see everyone cleaning, cooking or hunched over the dining tables making lists and plans.
Just above the fireplace where there had been a portrait of the elder Crabbe there was a framed copy of Pansy's guidelines done in beautiful calligraphy.
Millie smiled and gave her a hug.
"What did you do?" Pansy asked.
"We just had a sit-down chat, seems like the kids have all decided we're family, and family takes care of its own."
Millicent laid out the plans for the grounds. "We're going to turn this place into a working farm. It'll be good to grow as much of our own food as we can, and Ethan here," she hugged the shoulders of the new arrival, "used to help out on his granddad's chicken farm, until some arseholes in white masks torched it."
"Millie, how much will all this cost?"
"A bit, at first," she admitted."But once everything is up and running it'll be a lot less than buying everything outright."
Pansy nodded. "I'm going to Gringotts. If we take out a mortgage on this place that should give us the start-up money we need."
Remus looked at his reflection. A full-bearded tonsured druid monk looked back. His broken nose had been fixed - painfully - by his lady vampire. He wore ablack rough cloth monk's robe. Black rimmed glasses completed the ensemble.
"I don't think even Sirius would recognize you." The vampiress said, approvingly.
"I don't recognize me!"Remus said, then started at his own voice, which had been lowered an octave by a simple charm placed around his neck.
"You are Brother David, a druid in service to the Goddess. This will require you to be in isolation for meditation at four times during the lunar month."
"Convenient." He said, appreciatively, "I can be well and away from anyone that might come to harm during the full moon."
"Just so." She said, capturing his gaze. "And Remus?"
"I'll be there for you."
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