He was losing himself in his work.
Bill had provided him several scrolls that needed painstakingly slow translation and he had set himself up at the table in Wilf's sitting room and let himself sink into the mind-numbing glory of work.
Mid-morning, Wilf brought him in a teatray with a cafetiere, some mugs, and a plate of sandwiches.
The young man barely looked up from his work. When he did, he almost did a double-take. "Thank you," he said, setting down his quill and stretching out the ache in his shoulders.
"How are things going? Did the house clearing go alright?"
"I got most of it done," was the reply. "I had a friend come over and take my mind off it for a while. I never realised just how little stuff Mam really had." He took a bite of the sandwich and realised how hungry he was. Wilf had also thoughtfully brought his potion down as well and he took a swig of it.
"The translation's going well," he said, tapping at the scroll he was currently working on. "Feels good to be doing it again."
"Glad to hear it, son." Wilf settled down in the chair with a clicking of various joints and idly glancing at one of the other scrolls in the pile. "Dear, oh, dear, who prepped this one? Far too much preservant, ten years and this will be crumbling. Amateurs."
"From what I've gathered from Bill, Cedric..." Anders couldn't help the tone of disgust that slipped into his voice when he mentioned the man's name. "Cedric has employed a whole bunch of new people at the Guild. Cheaper running costs, so yeah. Amateurs, probably."
"This has got to be hard for Bill, watching his dream being corrupted inch by inch."
"It's pretty hard on me, too. Bill's my friend and technically still my boss, even though Cedric's officially suspended me..." This was news to Wilf - but not unexpected. Anders was going to continue, when an owl, looking as though it had travelled a fair distance, landed on the kitchen window sill, a scroll tied to its leg.
"Something doesn't make sense about Cedric. I've seen his list of achievements. The boy's not dumb, so why is he acting it?" Wilf got up slowly, and went over to fuss the owl and bring it in to the perch he provided. "Hello, and what do you have for us today, hmmm?"
The note was short, precise, addressed to Wilf, and very much to the point.
I would be grateful if you could allow me to visit with you and Anders at your earliest convenience to discuss the business opportunity I put to him before the tragic death of his mother.
Please let me know ASAP as I will be in the area for a very short time.
Remus J. Lupin."
"Hhmph." Wilf stared at the bit of paper through his half moon glasses, with a frown. "Lupin's the werewolf, isn't he? Pass me that quill."
Anders' expression froze. "Lupin? What does HE want?" The young Curse Breaker's left leg began jiggling somewhat.
"Wants to drop by for a friendly chat about business." Wilf took the quill and wrote swiftly on the bottom of the note.
Anders watched the owl depart, and visibly relaxed again. He ate some more of the sandwich and poured the two of them a coffee.
Some twenty minutes later, the owl returned.
This matter is become of extreme importance. It could be the only opportunity we ever get to rid the world of the menace that is Fenrir Greyback. Please reconsider.
To this, the answer was a simple, "No. Anders is not stable enough to meet with you. I will not allow it. W.I.X.B."
This time, the reply came back within minutes.
"Then let me meet you on your own. R.J.L."
Twenty minutes later, Wilf was standing by the stile at the end of his property, a good half mile from the farmhouse.
"Well?" he said bluntly to the man standing on the other side.
"Professor Bradshaw." Remus Lupin, a man many presumed was dead after the last great battle, stood there, wrapped in a threadbare cloak. He had the sort of gaunt appearance that he'd always had, but this seemed more pronounced. His greying hair was longer and unruly than Wilf remembered it being in the photographs and his hazel eyes were troubled and anxious. "How is Anders?"
"Struggling," Wilf said.
"I am sorry to hear that," said Lupin, and he sounded, at least, genuinely sympathetic. "It took a lot of research to find out what happened with him."
"Boy got himself in a tangle. I think he'd have made it out of that sooner, except for his mother's passing and some other problems in his personal life. At the moment he's worked his way back up to translating, but he won't be ready for much else for months."
"Is that genuinely the case, or are you being over-protective?" The question was asked in a mild tone. "Is he truly that messed up?"
"He needs to be left alone."
"He's the only one, Wilf. The ONLY one who can help me, because of the Grimmauld Place connection. He's the last surviving member of the Black family." Lupin's fists clenched visibly. "I have waited so long for this chance and now it's being denied me!"
Wilf shrugged. "That's life. It's waited this long, it can wait longer. Had I known you were involved, I probably wouldn't have confirmed his bloodline for him."
"He believes it now, then?" Lupin's eyes went deeply sorrowful. "Sirius was my friend, Wilf. I see Anders and I see him. I loved Astrid dearly and was saddened to hear of her passing."
"Do you remember my wife Vicky? It was a long time ago, I wouldn't be surprised if you've forgotten." Wilf put his hand in his pocket and drew out an envelope, which he held out over the stile to Lupin. "She was quite the photographer. A momento, of how things used to be for the Marauders."
Lupin hesitated, then took the photograph. Wilf saw the grief in the other man's eyes. "I tried to interfere, Wilf, really I did. But Sirius was so bloody minded..." He stared at the photograph. "You were good to me, once. Why are you so angry at me now?"
"Because you'll push Anders until he breaks again if it will give you a way to get at Fenrir. Don't tell me that you won't. You'd push anyone until they broke for that, and I won't let you do it to Anders. Not yet. Not now. There are other things awry in his life at the moment that are dodgy enough without you shoving your nose in and stirring things up."
"All I need is for him to go into the Black home, get me the amulet and come back out again." Lupin's tone was pleading. "I can find another Curse Breaker to work out the specifics of how it works if that's what it takes, but I need Anders to get it out."
"Tell me about the amulet."
"As far as I've been able to research, Sirius' great-great-great grandfather developed an amulet that exerted a certain amount of control over a lycanthrope. More specifically, it takes the - soul, if you like - of the lycanthrope and puts it into another's body. Possibly. It is hard to find information on it. It was developed with a Russian by the name of Kanatova. All I know is that if it is in Grimmauld Place, only Anders can get it out."
"And you want to do what with it, exactly?"
"I want to just kill him," said Lupin, his eyes flashing angrily. "But others want Greyback to stand trial. This way, there is a compromise." A look of infinite weariness came into Lupin's face. "If I kill him and entrap his spirit, soul, whatever it is, within myself, then I can stand trial and speak for him. And then I can take the execution for him. Because I have no reason to live any more, Professor Bradshaw."
"He deserves death," Wilf said quietly, "in so far as those who have taken life do. You'd throw your own life after it, would you?"
"If it rid the world of him, then yes."
"My recommendation? Bollocks to the heroics, lad. Put him in the ground, make sure he stays there, rebuild your life. That's a better slap in the face of darkness than chucking yourself into the ground after him."
"I still want the amulet. If it goes into the wrong hands, it..." Lupin shivered. "I want it so I can get rid of it at the same time." He looked at Wilf imploringly. "Please, Wilf. Please."
"You look sick."
"It was full moon two nights past." That was all he needed to say. "It's getting harder with every passing month, now." He looked at the photograph again, almost longingly, then handed it back to Wilf. "Please give Anders my best regards. And let me know as soon as you think he might be able to help."
Wilf glanced down at the grinning faces of the Marauders, laughing up at him from the photograph. "Keep the picture. I think you need it more than I do."
"Thank you." The photograph was squirrelled away into an inner pocket. "Please would you give this to Anders? Tell him it's from me." The werewolf handed a small, neatly-wrapped package to Wilf. "Before things went crazy, Sirius was going to propose to Astrid. This is the ring he bought for her." Lupin sighed. "It might elp him accept his parentage, the call is yours."
"Thank you, I'll consider it."
"Thank you for agreeing to see me. I understand the anger and the distrust. But I do not wish any harm to come to the boy. If you don't think he's ready yet, I will accept that. I just ask that you consider the fact that time is running out. Anders comes from good stock, Wilf. He's probably a lot tougher than he knows."
"I'll bear it in mind. Don't owl him again or I'll kick your arse from here to Glasgow. I'll owl you."
Lupin nodded and began walking away, his shoulders slumped in what was obvious defeat.
The man stopped and turned. He cut a ragged, pitiful figure standing in the field, but his eyes were bright, interested and intelligent.
"If you need a Curse Breaker who can keep their mouth shut..."
"I will keep it in mind, Professor." Lupin managed a smile. "Nothing can get past the fact that Anders is needed to retrieve the item, but I appreciate the gesture. Thank you."
"Don't think I offer lightly. I have my own reasons for retirement."
It was Wilf's turn to walk away.
Lupin watched him go, wrapped his threadbare cloak more tightly around himself and headed away, lost in thought.