recs :: about
Grounds For Disaster
and yet it happens
PG-13, het. Remus Lupin has problems. He's a wizard. He's a
werewolf. He's somehow got himself very, very lost. And he's just been arrested
by the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Things can only get worse...
It wasn't because he was a wizard. It wasn't even because
he was a werewolf. It was - apparently - because he was the wrong kind
Here he was, sitting with a young woman who could somehow tune out the noise
of an entire city's worth of people shouting, screaming, hawking, kill-
inhuming, and other such unsavoury verbs, and telling him that all was
wrong with him was the fact that his was the unfashionable kind of
He wasn't sure what to make of that. To be perfectly honest, he wasn't sure
what to make of a lot of things in this place. He didn't even know how he'd
got here. He supposed it were possible - no, that implied his being here was
somehow logical, understandable, somehow made sense, and that wouldn't do at
all. He merely acknowledged the merest possibility that when you were talking
into a shining green fireplace, sinuses full of ash and brain apparently full
of cotton wool, the words "Diagon Alley" could somehow emerge as
"Ankh-Morpork" and the rest could be, as they said in the Writers' Guild,
Of course, he hadn't even known that was the name of the place. He still
wouldn't, had he not, moments after his arrival, had an encounter with its
brightest and best.
He hadn't been doing anything. He'd said so.
It wasn't so much as what he was doing as what he wasn't doing, they'd said.
Which was what, exactly?
Not being not morphologically gifted, they'd said.
Remus Lupin let himself be arrested by the Watch. It seemed like the polite
thing to do.
They brought him by way of Treacle Mine Road, past Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
("Sausages! Inna bun!") and into the Watch House. They tried to place him
before Commander Vimes, but hit an insurmountable obstacle in the fact there
was no Commander Vimes for him to be placed before, unless they wanted to
place him before the commander being placed before the Patrician, which would
only have been possible had the Oblong Office been inside the Watch House.*
- - - - - -
* Or had Remus, Vimes or Vetinari (or some combination of the three) been
capable of being in two places at once. Which, to clarify, they weren't,
although in the case of Vetinari, Leonard of Quirm was working on it.
- - - - - -
Before Carrot could come and ruin everything by being
polite and reasonable, a woman in chain-mail stomped through the door.
"Sergeant, I thought you were having a headache." Nobby could be quite
reasonable himself when he chose.
"I was. I can smell him from the other side of the Ankh!"
It took Remus a moment to notice she was pointing at him. He blinked at her.
Without a second glance at Nobby, she took control of the prisoner. If
'control' could be interpreted as taking him outside to sit in the sunshine,
Nobby thought ironically. The Patrician would have approved.
In the yard, Remus was blinking again.
"You're a werewolf," she told him bluntly.
"I know. I mean, yes, I am." Remus wondered vaguely whether he'd gone quietly
mad. "How... how do you know?"
She glared. "I told you, I can smell it on you. But you're... different.
Aniseed," she added inconsequentially.
"Different? Aniseed?" Remus closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them
again, a (nominal) man had swivelled into view, yelling something about rats
on a stick.
"Different," she repeated. "You're the only one in your family, aren't you?"
Something about the way she said it prompted him to finally catch on. "And
you're not," he said.
She shook her head. "My name is Angua von Uberwald."
When she saw this clearly hadn't had the effect she intended, she tried again.
"As in the place. Uberwald. You're not from round here, are you?"
"You could say that. I'm not entirely sure where 'here' is. Go on."
She paused, and did so. "My family are quite well-known. They're mostly all
werewolves. Carrot says I have a good pedigree, and he doesn't have a sense of
irony, so there you go."
"Who's Carrot?" It wasn't, Remus reflected, the most logical question to ask
first; but with about six hundred questions whirling round his head for him to
choose from, it was a start.
"My... well, he's a captain in the Watch."
Ah, said a voice in Remus's head. Aloud, he asked the question that had
been bothering him for the longest time. "What am I doing here?"
"Well, I don't know." She sniffed. "Keeping me from my headache. You reek of
"That's hardly surprising." Remus raised his eyebrows. "Is there something
else I should be reeking of?"
She sighed. "Word gets around, you know," she said carefully. "Seems every
unlicensed criminal knows there's a werewolf in the Watch. The ones with
above-average intelligence drop an aniseed bomb before making a clean**
getaway. I can't track 'em because I can't smell a thing other than aniseed.
Except you. You smell of werewolf."
- - - - - -
**Speaking figuratively. This was, after all,
- - - - - -
"Instead of aniseed?"
"Quick learner, aren't you?"
"I try." He grinned suddenly; he might not have much of an idea where he was
or what he was doing, but at some indefinite time within the last ten minutes,
subtly, insidiously, he'd begun to enjoy himself.
She grinned back at him. The effect would have been unsettling on anyone
except a pretty young woman with a lupine set to her features. "Tell me," she
said after a moment, "do you drink?"
Remus considered. "Even if I didn't before, I do now."
What they did next might have followed all the basic rules of narrative
convention (as set forth by the Writers' Guild) involved sex, or drugs, or
Music With Rocks In, but probably not.
Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh and Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch,
had something less than limitless reserves of patience. He'd just had an hour
or so of Lord Vetinari being ironical at him, which had not done wonders for
his state of mind. And now, it would seem his officers had arrested a werewolf
from another dimension.
"Why?" he asked.
"Standing With Intent To Loiter," said Nobby.
He extracted the story bit by bit - the weather was cold, so Sergeant Detritus
managed to make one or two contributions - and came to a conclusion in no time
at all. "Magic," he said succinctly.
"Sir?" said Detritus and Nobby simultaneously.
"Wizards," said Vimes, equally succinctly, and then looked thoughtfully
non-committal, an expression he had perfected by long association with
Vetinari. After a moment, he added, "Where is he?"
"The werewolf. The other one."
"Sitting outside with Sergeant Angua, sir," said Carrot, who had just come in.
"Angua?" repeated Vimes, giving Carrot a significant look. Carrot stared
impassively back, and Vimes sighed. Carrot wouldn't understand the concept of
infidelity if it hit him on the head with a battleaxe.
Angua and 'the other one' appeared a short time later, looking slightly worse
for wear, but perfectly cheerful, particularly Remus. He was happier about
himself and his lycanthropy than he'd been for quite some time.
"Do you want to go home?" Vimes asked him abruptly, and gave him a Look. It
was a look that positively radiated menace. This is a man who believes
everyone is guilty, it said. His ancestors were regicides and he is
married to a woman who breeds dragons for fun. This is, in short, a man who
wears cardboard soles. And likes it.
Remus took a deep breath and swallowed. "Yes," he said.
Angua led him back outside. They were shortly followed by Vimes, Carrot,
Corporal Littlebottom and Detritus. And his crossbow.
"With all due respect, sir..." Angua began.
"Yes, Sergeant?" snapped Vimes.
"Where are we going? Why so many people?"
Vimes glared. There were some things he wouldn't allow any man (or woman or
troll or dwarf or werewolf) to face alone.
"We're off to see the wizards," he said darkly.
They stormed into Unseen University with all guns metaphorically blazing.
Ridcully glanced up. "Oh, hello," he said vaguely. "What do you - stop that
please, Bursar - want?" Without waiting for an answer, he went on, "Whatever
it is, it'll have to wait, I'm afraid, we're very - Bursar! - busy at the
"Sergeant Detritus," said Vimes, "look intimidating."
Five minutes later, the Dean had been persuaded down from the chandelier, the
Chair of Indeterminate Studies had been extracted from the sideboard, and the
Archchancellor was a lot more eager to help. "It's all very clear," he said
officiously, then quailed under Vimes's withering glare.
Ponder Stibbons scurried across, trying not trip over the bottom of his robes.
"This looks like bein' a job for that thing of yours. You know, the one with
"That's the one. Lead on, old chap."
"Ook," said the Librarian.
Remus watched in bemusement as they wheeled out Hex. As well as the ant farm,
Unreal Time Clock, beach ball and mouse-with-cheese, it now featured a bunch
of peacock feathers and a knife sticking out of a lemon. "Ah," he said
Ponder Stibbons glanced at him, and nearly shouted for joy. Just for a moment,
he'd recognised in Remus Lupin something he'd never thought he'd see again.
Sanity. He could have cried.
Remus was rather unnerved at the look of mute intensity in the other man's
eyes, and whispered in Angua's ear, "Who are these people?"
"Some of the cleverest people on the Discworld," she replied, straight-faced.
Beside her, Vimes took a step back as the Bursar made to address him. "A
trumpet of shellfish, if you would be so kind."
Ponder sat down at the keyboard and pulled a few levers. It took some time to
compose the question, but at length he paused and turned to talk to the
Archchancellor. "I think I know the answer," he said carefully.
"Out with it, then," said Ridcully breezily, and paused for a moment to glare
at certain members of the Faculty. And the Watch.
"Milk and two sugars, please," said the Bursar. The Chair of Indeterminate
Studies nudged the Dean, and they felt in their pockets for the dried frog
"It's like this," said Ponder despairingly. "Thaumotological instabilities
seem to have transported him" - he nodded at Remus - "into Ankh-Morpork from a
parallel dimension. Biderectional sortilegic transfer."
Ridcully blinked. "Then let's send him back the same way," he said
"It's not that simple, Archchancellor."
"Doesn't seem too complicated to me. We bring something else through, and
while the door's open we push him back through it."
They thought about it.
"I'm going to regret saying this," said Vimes, "but that actually made sense
"Is making sense to me, too," added Detritus.
"Me too," said the Dean.
"Fish in fried batter," said the Bursar.
"I think it might work," said Angua.
"Ook," said the Librarian.
Remus said nothing. He blinked a little.
+++Minimal Grounds For Disaster. Divide By Cucumber Error. Redo From Start+++
Ponder Stibbons looked slightly affronted, then gave it up as a bad job and
started drawing an octagon on the floor. He was helped somewhat by the
Lecturer in Recent Runes, and as the Watch... watched, they led Remus
to stand in the middle of it. Ponder attempted to explain things. "The
problem," he said, "in teleporting objects is the object to be teleported, no
matter how large, is reduced to the size of a thaumic particle and is subject
to a near fatal quandary in that it can know who it is or where it is going,
but not both, which therefore causes escalating ripples in the morphogenetic
field of said object and may result in its being smeared across eleven
dimensions. But you all knew that, I'm sure."
"I didn't," said Remus.
"Ook," the Librarian told him*.
- - - - - -
*He meant, "Neither did I, and would you perchance
happen to have a peanut about your person?"
- - - - - -
Ponder wasn't listening. He looked Remus up and down. "How much do you think
he weighs?" he asked no-one in particular.
Angua whispered something in his ear.
"Ah. Well, we'll need to transport something from the other end that weighs as
much, or possibly more, as it'll prevent him arriving at too high a speed."
"Good," said Ridcully vaguely. "Do hurry it up, Mr Stibbons."
"I'm doing my best, Archchancellor. Well, Mr Lupin, it's been nice to see
you." He paused and gave Remus a look a life-prisoner would give a mate about
to be released on parole.
"You too," said Remus bemusedly. Angua stepped forwards. "It's been a pleasure
to meet you, Remus Lupin," she said clearly, making Vimes glance quickly at
Carrot. Carrot was staring straight in front of him, apparently unaffected.
"You're not too bad," Vimes told Remus grudgingly. "For a wizard."
"Thank you, Commander," replied Remus evenly.
The university wizards shuffled forwards and took up their positions. Vimes
looked wildly around for an upturned table he could tell his watchmen to hide
behind. There wasn't one, so he told Detritus to stand with feet apart and had
them hide behind him instead.
The wizards' staffs were soon smoking at the ends. Ridcully was alternating
between glaring at the Bursar (who was playing with a yo-yo) and glaring at
Ponder Stibbons. "Mr Stibb-..." he began.
The spell caught.
- - - - - -
Remus landed, if that were the word, in bed. Not his own bed, but an empty bed
nonetheless, and he wasn't one to quibble. But it took him only a few moments
to notice all was not quite well. The sheets were rumpled and warm, almost as
if they had been being slept in seconds previously, and his lupine senses
could pick up the faint scent wrapped in familiar swathes around him.
Remus lay still for a moment and thought about it. When he spoke, it was in
the careful, measured tones of one who is
trying their very hardest not to swear.
- - - - - -
On the floor of Unseen University, Angua's senses were
suddenly assaulted by the acute absence of werewolf.
"He's gone," she said. Her tone suggested this was less of a good thing than
might be expected.
One by one, the Watch edged out from behind Detritus.
There was a faint rumble in the ground.
Something just slightly heavier than Remus Lupin appeared in the centre of the
"I do hope it's not a vampire," murmured Ridcully distractedly.
"Amen to that," breathed Vimes.
Ridcully nudged it with his toe. "Hmm," he said. "Uncommunicative sort of
Sirius Black opened his eyes and caught sight of Ridcully.
"Fuck," he said thoughtfully, and passed out.
compliments, rotten tomatoes...
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