A Welsh Boggart is what they had told him. A fairly vicious one living in the forest. Lyall, who had nothing better to do but read the Daily Prophet had leaped from his desk and threw down the paper, abandoning the rather dull story he was reading about a shady store owner in Knockturn Alley who had been illegally breeding Hippogriffs.
"Where abouts, sir?" He piped up happily as he stood from his tiny desk. The plump wizard who stood before him looked bored and tired as he read a paper from a file in his hand. He glared up at the young man through his rectangle glasses.
"What makes you think I know, Lupin?" He had spat at him. "Just get rid of the thing so my boss will get out of my hair."
"Certainly!" Lyall had agreed excitedly. He quickly packed a small bag on his desk, pushed his wand in his pocket and headed for the door where he would begin the long ascent to the top floor of the ministry.
It had been days since he had had a task. Last week he was assigned to tend to a complaint about a certain poltergeist called Peeves at the Hogwarts School. Apparently he had destroyed one of the girls dorms. It was a job no one else wanted to do, since these complaints came up so often. Really, almost every job he was assigned was just a nuisance for people of higher positions than him, which were still quite low. But Lyall loved these jobs. It was what he did best. And Boggarts were his favorite!
He swerved down the narrow, winding halls where some of the tiniest offices were. These were all located in the Department of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, though most of the few people in these offices weren't exactly parts of the department. Not really part of any department, but if they were, this would be the closest one. They were extras. But Lyall didn't mind this title. He always tried staying optimistic. All of the greatest wizards had to start somewhere.
Lyall reached the main level. He dodged through the crowds of people, trying not to get trampled considering that compared to everyone around him, he was the youngest and smallest. He clutched his handbag close to his side and cut to the side to get to an entrance to the floo network. He stepped up to a quiet fireplace that flickered with low, green flames and clutched a small handful of the powder that sat in a small pot next to him. As he threw the powder in the fire and jumped into the flames, he ordered to be taken to a remote street in London. All he needed to do was get out of the ministry and be somewhere with no muggle witnesses so he could apparate to where he needed to go.
Finding himself stepping out of a tiny fireplace in a dark alley, he immediately apparated himself to the Welsh forests. He felt his feet leave the pavement for a quick second then they suddenly touched grass. He stood on the edge of the beautiful forest. He pulled his wand out of his pocket and was about to plunge into the trees, trying to avoid the trail to make sure of not running into any muggles on his magical task, when he stopped to think. This forest was quite vast. He had not had a description of where this Boggart was last sighted or maybe where it liked to hang out. Without any guidelines he knew that this could take a while. Checking his watch, he saw that it read eleven o-clock right on the nose. His shift did not end until six that night. Smiling to himself, he realized that he had the day to stroll through this beautiful forest. He would pick this over sitting in a desk with nothing to do any day. Plunging into the shadows between the trees, he whispered: "Lumos!" and continued with a pale light glowing on his wand-tip.
It was now half past two and he had found nothing. His legs were becoming very sore from all the walking and sweat covered his brow. He took off his cloak as he slumped against a large boulder in the ground. Combing his fingers through his deep brown hair, he glanced around in the shadows. No Boggart was in sight. He would know if he saw one. Where else would he see a Grindylow sprinting at him through the trees? He had hated Grindylows ever since he had went for a swim in the lake at Hogwarts in his fourth year. He was a Gryffindor after all and swam out very deep, diving down for as long as he could hold his breath and as deep as he could manage. But that day, through the shadows of the depths, the water demon snatched his ankle and began dragging him down. He surely would have drowned if it weren't for the giant squid who came along and saved him.
His thoughts were interrupted by a humming. Lyall looked up quickly in surprise. He realized that it was a person humming. The person was quietly singing a little tune. I must be near the trail... He realized. He muttered the word "Nox" and hid his wand away in one of his pockets. He couldn't risk a non'magical folk seeing it. He stood from the forest floor and peered through the trees. It was a girl!
She walked along the trail, happily admiring the forest around her. She was tired, as usual, since her job at an insurance office started rather early in the morning. But today, when she left the building, she thought that she might take a little detour on the walk home. She always past by a promising looking trail off one of the streets she always walked down and thought she would give it a go. What was the worst that could happen? She had recalled seeing families going down this trail for a casual stroll before.
She had been wandering down the trail for quite a while now and was just accepting the fact that it wasn't going to lead her back to her house. She didn't mind, so she turned and began doubling back to find her old route home when something struck her attention. Did she see something?
At first she heard a rustle in the bushes to her right.When she turned her head to glance over in the direction she thought she saw something move, she stopped where she stood. Maybe it was just a deer? The woods seemed to be packed with wildlife. But just as she thought of this, she noticed that the songs of the birds all around her had suddenly stopped. The longer she stared into the shadows next to her, the more that she feared for the worst.
"Hello?" She called with a slight quiver in her voice. Whatever it was responded by giving a violent shake of the bush just feet away from where she stood. She felt her breath catch in her throat. Just before she attempted to move her stiff legs in a run, a huge, masked man jumped from the bushes, advancing on her menacingly. The girl shrieked in terror.
"Here! Here!" Lyall called as he jumped from the bushes behind the girl. He seized her arm and pulled her behind him as he retrieved his wand from his pocket. "Riddikulus!"
The man vanished. Where he stood was nothing but a small field mushroom. Lyall smiled proudly. That was a job well done. He stood for a moment, admiring the mushroom that had once been the shape-shifter. But at this moment, he noticed the girl cowering behind him, clutching his arm. He nearly forgot.
"Its all right," He spoke to her comfortingly. "It was only a Boggart." He put his wand away in his back pocket as the girl looked up, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"What happened?" She asked frantically, looking around for a sign of the man. "What happened to that man?" As she spoke, Lyall nearly forgot to take in her words. He was amazed at how beautiful she was. Her eyes shimmered blue behind the perfect strands of bright brown hair.
"Wha...?" He asked, dazed. "Oh! Him. I got rid of him. Don't worry."
"You did?" She asked, amazed. Lyall liked the way she spoke. As if she admired him. "Where did he go?"
"Oh, thank you so much!" She said through tears as she hugged him around the waist. He gave her a small hug back and smiled.
"Listen. Do you live around here?" He asked her. She pulled away from her hug.
"Well- I- I'm not sure, actually. I took a bit of a detour," She told him.
"Hmm," Lyall thought. "Maybe I should accompany you home. Just in case he comes back."
"Oh! I would very much appreciate that," She said thankfully as she smiled up at him. The both turned down the trail and began to walk in the opposite direction that she had come.
"I'm Lyall Lupin," He told her, extending a hand. She smiled and shook it.
"And I am Hope Howell."
Lyall found himself infatuated by this young lady. Though her beautiful face was reddened with past tears, she was perfect in her eyes. Everything except the one quality that most wizards seemed to despise. Lyall could sense this about her, and he did not care. She was a muggle.