It had all been ruined in one fell swoop, a few nights he would never forget. He already had one one night to dream about- rain and water roaring through his nightmares. His neest dreams, his new awful memories, were nights of fire and debris. Instead of running, he couldn’t move. Instead of hot blood on his face and the shouting and screaming, there was cold tea on a wooden table and silence and tears as every detail was relayed to him. Remus could hear the music downstairs, could hear the celebrations and the cheering and the happiness from the entire Wizarding World buzzing- but it didn’t reach his heart. He sat there in his crooked chair, in the room he’d rented because his landlord deemed him too dangerous to live in his home. His heart raced, thumping against his chest, but nothing on the outside stirred. His eyes stayed fixed on his own hand still wrapped loosely around his tea cup’s handle. The man sitting across from him was quiet, giving Remus his time to be desperately, intensely sad.
In two terrible days, they were all gone. James, defending those he loved fiercely. Lily, loving with her whole heart. Peter, finally making a stand. And Sirius... his dearest friend. Sirius surprised them all, as he always had. One more great prank. It was over. Remus’ greatest adventure was over. The Marauders... gone. Mischief managed.
A sob broke through the silence. Remus crumpled, falling into himself and letting his head press against the rough wood of the uneven table. He held his breath. No more sobs came from him, barely a noise peeked through. What was he supposed to do? He was alone. The people he’d loved for years upon years were gone in a single blink and what had he done to stop it? The tears continued to blur his vision. They were hot against his cold, clammy hands and his breath finally popped out of him.
“They were good, kind people.” He croaked. He dragged himself upward, looking his messenger in the eye. He searched for a reason to blame the man, for some faulty detail that he had missed- but he couldn’t pin anything down. “Even Sirius.” He added, knowing in ten minutes his mind would change. But fifteen ago Sirius had still been his best friend, the one man he could turn to when things got too hard. The one man who would take him in and let him sleep on a couch for three days time when his pockets were empty. “Good.. gentle people.” The tears continued even as he stared up at his companion, releasing his terror of letting the man see him weak. “They didn’t deserve this.”
“Good people are lost in dark times, Remus.” The wise, quiet tone of the man’s voice usually comforted Remus. He could often find strength in just picturing the man’s voice, a man who had always had faith in him as a human. Tonight, though, Remus found it extremely hard to process wise words. It was not the night to be comforted or to celebrate. It was not the time for Remus to let himself move on because he could not change what had happened. All he wanted to do was wallow in the pain in which he felt so trapped. “The light does not always come in the ways we would like.” Remus choked on a broken sob.
“What light? How is there a light in this?” It was quiet and still for a moment in the upstairs room. Downstairs the cheering and music continued, dull through the thick floors and walls. Remus looked at his old friend with despair and confusion, but the man was smiling back. A twinkle in his eyes told Remus that there was some hope in all of this, that somewhere there was a secret that Remus didn’t know yet.
“The boy survived.” Remus could not hold back his shocked, exasperated look. He said nothing, still confused and taken far aback. After a long while, he spoke.
“Harry?”Remus’ mind was spinning. He could be sick at any moment, and he looked between his friend and the floor for another long while. “Little Harry Potter...” James’ only son. A brilliant mix of James’ talent and Lily’s brains, the two of them a perfect pair to make a child. James Potter would be so proud... The thought struck Remus suddenly and hard in the chest. It was rash, but it was brilliant. He could see it all. “I’ll take him. Let him live with me. I know him. I know his mother, I know his father. I can raise him.” It was spinning inside his head. He could see himself with the little clone of his friend, in their small but homey flat near Hogsmeade, a stone’s throw from Hogwarts. He and Harry, fishing in the summer and flying in the winter. He would care for him and teach him everything he knew, and he would tell him stories of his father and of his mother and their friends. He would tell him of the Godfather who loved him very much and wouldn’t let him know about the dark times that had taken him over. It was the most pleasant vision he’d had the whole night, but as he looked up at his friend he could see his plan was not the same. “Please, Albus. He needs someone to love him.”
It came down to the look in Dumbledore’s eye. If he said no to this, Remus would be alone. He could see the pain he’d inflicted on his old friend, making him say no to something that would make Remus more happy than he had ever been. He shouldn’t have brought it up and yet all he could do was hope that Albus would say yes. Of all the painful, silent moments... this one stabbed Remus right through his heart. It was a silence that denied him, that shot him from the cloud he’d perched upon.
“Remus...” Albus started, and Remus knew this would not be pleasant. He braced himself in his chair, all clenched teeth and eyes shut tight. “Remus, how would you raise the boy?” The question hurt. It hurt very much. Remus’ heart tightened and his stomach went cold. “Where would he go once a month? And when you work? Who will watch him, then?” Remus knew all of this. He had known it before he’d even asked. He had known it when Sirius had been Harry’s Godfather and when he was only asked to babysit last minute, when no one else could. He knew it when he was ten years old and braced himself for a lonely, friendless future. Who was he to believe he could care for Harry Potter? A werewolf in his twenties with not a penny to his name. Who would mother him? Remus’ own mother was gone, now. “He can’t be here, not with his name in history books for children to learn about for ages. What would it do to him? I’m sorry, Remus.” It wasn’t a comfort to hear. ”I truly am.” Remus sat in his crooked chair with his face in his hands, unable to stop the tears from boiling over though he made little noise.
“Can I see him? Where will he go?” Remus gathered the strength to look up at Dumbledore, who offered a kind smile and was getting to his feet. It was unexpected and Remus sat up in his chair, watching the man move quickly and look out the window at what must have been one hundred witches and wizards celebrating the death of the Dark Lord in the alleyways. Remus got to his feet as well, coming to peer down at them all. There were wizards of all kinds down there, all of them happily chatting and singing and dancing. The darkness had been lifted for them, though it felt as if it had only begun for Remus. He felt a hand touch his shoulder and he looked up at Albus. The man smiled warmly and winked one eye, patting Remus heartily.
“You will see him, Remus.” He assured, looking back down to the crowd of people. “We all will. Look at them. They will all want to see him, and who am I to deny that? Harry Potter has not finished with us, Remus.” Remus watched. He watched them all smiling and laughing. It wasn’t something he’d seen in, truthfully, years. The darkness had grown and their families had been cursed and embittered from violence and evil. It all seemed to be lifting, now, though Remus was very sure the next few weeks would be hectic to say the least. He looked up at Dumbledore. “I give you my word, Mister Lupin, you will meet Harry Potter again.”
Remus nodded. He stepped away from the window and went to take a silent seat on the bed in the corner. He took in a little breath, looking up to talk just as his old friend gave him a merry wink and disapparated with a crack. Remus stared at the spot where he had been before slowly letting his eyes slide closed. He fell backwards onto his bed, taking a moment to be still. Quite suddenly, a wrenching, howling sob emitted from him as he dragged himself up onto his little untidy bed. It came spilling out of him, every bit of sadness seeping into the room and filling the air. Everyone was gone. Remus felt his heart ache beneath him as he shook from weeping. He clutched his quilt and his pillow and his own shirt, past his breaking point.
There was nothing left.
( template credit to beautiful disaster at atf. )