The Sugar Quill
Author: Violet Azure (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Simple Request  Chapter: default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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Disclaimer: I do not own any of the creations of J.K. Rowling, nor am I making any money off them.  It’s her universe-I’m just visiting.

 

A/N: A big thank you to the staffers at the Quill for all of your hard work and many thank-you’s and a huge box of chocolate frogs to my wonderful beta DoctorAicha! 

 

 

A Simple Request

 

 

     The note lay unfolded on the coffee table.  Remus could easily read Hagrid’s untidy scrawl from the saggy couch where he sat, sifting through an assortment of cardboard boxes.  A pile of old parchment was scattered across the cushion to his left.  Letters mingled with formal documents, forgotten school assignments, and a series of old report cards. 

 

An 82 on this Potions test!   I can’t believe I thought this answer was belladonna!  Poor Professor Nalgene! No wonder he thought we were all a bunch of dunderheads!  Although there were some star pupils…oooh, here’s my third year vampire essay! 

 

     Remus skimmed his essay, smiling and shaking his head at his thirteen year-old self.  To keep safe from vampires, use garlic.  Garlic around the neck or on a door of a house is one thing that will keep a vampire away because it smells really bad.  It was a rather good essay for a thirteen year-old.  Remus looked over a Charms exam from fourth year (94, not bad), an old article from The Daily Prophet about the first appearance of the Wolfsbane Potion, a program from a Puddlemere United-Wimbourne Wasps game and a few birthday cards.

 

     He glanced at the clock and mentally chastised himself for spending most of the morning and afternoon daydreaming and lingering about contents in the boxes instead of focusing on the task at hand.  It had just seemed like such a shame to casually discard an item once it had been freed of its cardboard confinement.  So, Remus had spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon giving proper attention to treasures long buried that were now momentarily unearthed.  It was a bittersweet relief to be able to even look at all these mementos from his youth but he had dawdled long enough-a deadline was looming.  He furrowed his brow and continued burrowing through the box on his lap. 

    

     A woolen scarf snaked docilely around the cushion to his right, its other end hanging off the arm of the couch.  Its fringed end fingered a lone, bronze Gobstone.  The scarlet had faded to a dull brick red and the gold had muted into deep goldenrod.  He had uncoiled it from its nest of papers hours ago, sending a thin layer of dust particles into the air.  Remus had held it gently for a minute before tossing it aside like a viper and occupied himself with boxes and papers for the remainder of the day.  The scarf had dozed all afternoon, basking in the beams of afternoon sunlight that traveled across the couch and were now slanting across the coffee table.

 

     Setting aside his essay on the moons of Jupiter with the rest of the papers, Remus wearily rubbed his face with his hands.  The heels of his palms remained pressed against his eyes for a moment before taking action.  He set the box that was on his lap down on the hardwood floor and stretched his lean, muscular arms above his head.  His back arched and he rolled his neck, loosening muscles that fluctuated between aching and sore.  Out of the corner of his eye Remus spied the scarf.  Lowering his arms slowly, his mouth turned down in a sort of reverse smile.  He traced his index finger over the relentless rows of red and gold for a moment before grudgingly picking it up.

 

     The yarn felt scratchy and spongy beneath his fingers and it smelled like mildew and of… something else.  The wolf’s keen olfactory sense detected a hint of sweat…and dampness, as if the scarf has been put away without drying properly after a wet and snowy day.  It reminded him faintly of a damp dog.  Remus tossed it around the back of his neck.  Grasping the two ends in either hand he stretched the scarf out parallel to his wiry frame.  As if hypnotized he gazed as Gryffindor’s colors marched in neat stripes on either side of his head before deciding the day was too hot for the robes he on, let alone a woolen scarf.  Once again he discarded it-more gently this time-on the cushion next to him, picked up a different box and pawed through another pile of papers.   

    

     After about ten minutes of digging Remus set the box on the floor.  Exasperated with his lack of progress he decided he needed to move around a bit before he could give his full attention to the task at hand.  Heaving a sigh he got off the sagging couch, which squeaked its protests at being disturbed, and padded a short distance to his kitchen.  The flat was a studio so the “kitchen” was really just the area opposite the couch where the stove and icebox were located.  He opened the fridge, moved aside a half empty carton of milk and grasped the cold bottle of Athena’s Ale.  A quick tap from his wand opened the bottle.  He took a long swallow, nearly draining half the bottle. 

 

This is not a good time to get drunk, he sternly told himself.  He sat back down on the couch and glanced at Hagrid’s note.  After you send the owl back would be a good time to get drunk. 

 

     He carefully set the beer down the coffee table on top on top of a coaster that was usually reserved for cups of tea.  A tawny barn owl from Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry dozed with its head tucked under its right wing in a perch Remus had set up for post owls.  Not having an owl of his own, it was sometimes necessary for delivery owls to wait around a bit before flying off with responses.  Heaving the box back on his lap Remus continued shifting papers until he found what he had spent the better part of a hot Saturday afternoon looking for.  He glanced again at the coffee table.

 

Dear Remus Lupin,

 

I’m writing to you for help with a project I’m working on for Harry Potter.  Harry doesn’t have any pictures of his mum and dad, so I’m putting together a photo book for him.  I knew you were chums with James and I was wondering- if it ain’t too much trouble-if you had any old pictures of James and Lily.  Could I get ‘em before Monday? It’s a surprise for Harry.  Hope you’re well.  Thanks a whole lot.

 

Rubeus Hagrid

 

     Remus held the small stack of wizarding photographs in his hand, relieved that he had finally found them.  If he hadn’t come across them Remus had momentarily considered sending Harry the one framed picture he had of himself with his three best friends from Hogwarts: James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius Black. 

 

     The picture had been taken at the end of their fifth year shortly after three of them had mastered the Animagus transformation.  Sirius was his left and James was on the right.  Peter stood next to James.  All four boys had their arms around each others’ shoulders.  Pure joy lit fifteen year-old Remus’s smile as his photographic self leaned forward and looked to the far right to catch Peter’s eye.  The usual look of mischief was fixed on Sirius’s face and James was looking rather excited and proud of himself.  Peter too looked half pleased with himself, half astonished that he had managed to perform such a complex spell (with a little help from James and Sirius).  There they were; Padfoot, Moony, Prongs and Wormtail encased together in a rectangle of cherry wood.  By tapping the picture four times and saying Ostendo Feras Sini the four of them would morph into their animal forms and Remus would have his only painless transformation into a werewolf.  Between the stag and enormous dog, he looked like a normal timber wolf and not like the vicious beast that possessed him once a month. 

 

     Remus felt the slightest twinge of guilt for being so selfish.  This was the only picture he had of the four of them together that was suitable for framing.  Even though he would have given his life for his best friend’s son he was glad he didn’t have to give up this picture.  It was the only thing he displayed of his time at Hogwarts other than his diploma.  It normally perched unobtrusively on top of his bookshelf and quietly blended in with pictures of his parents and a few nature shots he had taken.  The rest of his Hogwarts related pictures had been entombed in cardboard since November 2, 1981. 

    

     His picture safe, Remus turned his attention to the stack of wizarding photographs to decide which ones to send.  The first picture in the pile was one of him and James, in which James was raising up a pint of Poseidon Porter a little too enthusiastically and nearly falling off his barstool in the process.  Beer jerkily sloshed out of the glass and onto Remus’s lap.  Remus watched himself silently laugh at James’s drunken antics from the flat surface of the photograph, not minding the splash forever wetting his robes then drying off long enough only to have more of James’s beer splashed on them.  In these old wizard photos the motions were less fluid than the ones now.  People in the pictures appeared clumsy; movements were executed with halting precision with each action exaggerated in several smaller steps.  But the glass in James’s hand always remained full, although James was too drunk in that picture to care if the pint contained Skele-Grow.

 

Ah, yes.  James’s 18th birthday.  James was no lightweight either; he must have been on his eighth or ninth pint by that point.  Remus chuckled and toasted his and James’ eighteen year-old selves before he took a sip of his own beer. Some how I don’t think Dumbledore would approve of this picture in a memory book.  At least, he smiled, not for an 11 year old.

       

     This last thought jolted him a bit.  Eleven years… almost, oh Merlin…he’s almost twelve years old now.  The corners of his mouth turned down and he glanced again at the scarf that lazily basked in a shaft of sunlight. 

 

At this rate I’ll be here well into the night and well on my way to James’s level of inebriation. 

 

     Remus rarely had more than two drinks over the course of a night no matter how much the other three teased him.  He didn’t mind having the tolerance of a house elf; loosing control of himself once a month was plenty, thank you very much.

   

     Setting aside the celebrating James, Remus turned his attention to the next picture in the stack.  Seven slightly out of focus scarlet figures hugged each other, cheering and screaming silently around the huge Quidditch cup.  Caitlyn O’Malley, the Gryffindor Seeker, was slowly jumping into the air.  She hovered above the ground for a moment and then gradually succumbed to gravity’s effects over and over again.  Remus thought about setting this one aside, but James was too blurred and obscured in the background hugging another scarlet figure.  Peter was leaping up and down, dancing in a circle and waving one of the Beater clubs in the air.  Except for the scarlet robes he looked like he was performing a very elaborate mating dance- or perhaps appealing to the gods for rain.

 

Peter…he was usually a reserve.  That Bludger knocked out Nicholas Bartle during the warm up so Peter got to play.  His first real game was that Cup match against Ravenclaw.  He told me afterwards he was so afraid he was going to ruin our chances for the Cup that he almost faked an injury to get out of playing-but he did fine and we still won.  We never did give Peter enough credit; never really knew what he was truly capable of and he surprised us.  He surprised us all.  Remus’s throat tightened as he realized he was thinking about Peter in past tense and he quickly cast his thoughts back to Harry.

 

Does Harry like Quidditch?  What did he think of Quidditch when he first saw a game? Lily said he loved the Quidditch mobile above his crib I gave him for Christmas.  James was so excited about having a son to take to Puddlemere United games.   Does Harry know that James was the best Chaser Griffindor ever had? Of course not.  He doesn’t even have a picture of James for Merlin’s sake.  How can he not even have a picture of them?   How can he not know his parents?

 

     From the little he knew of Lily’s relatives, he had discerned that her parents were nice but her sister, Petunia, was a pill.  She had flat out refused to attend James and Lily’s wedding even though Lily had asked her to be the maid of honor.  She hadn’t even come to the hospital the night Harry was born and hadn’t helped Lily at all with the new baby.  Not that Lily and James lacked for help with their first-born child.  He, Sirius, and Peter had all cheerfully volunteered to take care of Harry when Lily and James needed a break. 

   

“No problem at all,” Sirius would often say.  “Fulfilling my duties as a godfather.”

    

This noble statement of Sirius would more often than not be followed by two sets of eyes rolling and a bout of friendly teasing.

    

“Abusing your position of power is more like it.”  Peter turned to Lily grinning.  “Do you know why Sirius loves sitting for Harry so much?  Young witches can’t resist a wizard who’s good with children.  They swarm to him and the pram like- ouch!!!”  Sirius had bounced a plastic block off Peter’s head. 

   

“Come on Wormtail, don’t rat on me.” Sirius’s face took on a look that would make an angel jealous.  “Lily, I solemnly swear, on my honor…shut it you two,” Peter and Remus had begun sniggering.  “Harry likes going for walks in Diagon Alley and it just happens that I pass Madam Maulkin’s and Gladrags and for some reason groups of witches just happen to congregate around the two of us.  It’s mere coincidence!  Of course, it helps that Harry has your good looks even if he did inherit James’s god awful mop.” Now Lily was giggling along with Remus and Peter.

    

“And you just happen to acquire a whole bunch of owl post addresses in the process,” Remus drawled, his angelic-expression exaggerated to match the one on Sirius’s face. 

    

“Exactly!  Pure coincidence!  Knock it off.” Sirius took a swipe at the halo Remus had drawn over his head with his wand.  “Hey little guy.” Sirius began swinging Harry around.  Harry shrieked and waved his arms up and down in approval.  “I even put a baby seat on the back of the motorbike and Harry has his own mini-helmet with a drawing-”

    

“A WHAT on your WHAT?!”  Lily’s green eyes widened and then narrowed, fixing Sirius in a glare. 

    

     Remus smiled at the memory.  He had enjoyed the few times he had watched Harry by himself.  Well, except for the part when Harry’s nappy needed changing or when Harry would spit up mashed peas all down the back of his robes.  The best part was getting him ready for bed and reading him stories.  Clean from his bath and smelling of baby powder and lavender shampoo, Harry would nestle in the crook of Remus’s sinewy arms.  His green eyes would look expectantly up into his light brown ones.  What were those books he had read?  He remembered Harry had liked Danny the Doubtful Dragon, The Kneazle and the Weasel, and Babies on Broomsticks.  Harry would be so quiet while Remus read to him.  He just stared at him with his intense green eyes.  Harry could spend up to an hour in his arms, transfixed by the story and lulled by the soothing cadence of Remus’s voice.  It took several stories before Harry would be sleepy enough to agree to be put into his crib. 

    

     Remus never minded another read through of Eunice the Littlest Unicorn or Gorog and the Greedy Goblins.  He couldn’t have children of his own-not unless he wanted to pass his lyncanthropy on to them.  At twenty-three he had been too young to really pine for children-the mashed peas had seen to that.  More recently, whenever Remus caught site of a woman pushing a pram along or children at a playground, he would be seized by a sharp melancholy.  Throughout his youth he had the vague, hopeful assurance that he would somehow manage have a family life at some point when he was older.  Hogwarts had given him that glimmer of hope.  And werewolf or not he wasn’t completely hopeless with women; he’d had his fair share of female companionship.  He had tricked himself into believing that even with the unusual circumstances of his illness his life would follow the typical path.  He would find a job, settle down and meet someone who would eventually become his wife.  He was having difficulty with the job and he just hadn’t met a woman yet who could fully comprehend his condition.  And you never will, that nasty little voice liked to whisper to him.  At thirty-five, with middle age approaching in a decade or so, that fear became harder and harder to dismiss and someday was turning into never.  His hopes at settling into a family life grew dimmer and the full impact of not ever reading stories to children of his own gnawed at his mind and heart. 

 

You did have a family.  James and Peter and-   

    

     Did he have any pictures of Harry as a baby?  He shuffled through the stack of photos until he came to one of Harry in his christening gown held between a beaming James and Lily.  Satisfied, Remus put that aside for the owl to take back.  What else could he send? 

    

     He found a nice picture of James and Lily, arms around each other’s waist.  It was the beginning of seventh year and the two of them had been named Head Boy and Head Girl that summer.  They stood beaming in front of the doors to the Great Hall, shiny badges on their robes.  He added that one on top of the christening picture.

 

What sort of student is Harry?  He must be smart.  Any child of Lily and James would be.  But he’s spent so much time with Muggles, what if he doesn’t take to wizarding education?

 

     A Christmas picture caught his eye.  The first and only Christmas the family had celebrated together.  Remus smiled at the site of James in a red jumper kneeling by the tree.  He was holding up the Quidditch mobile Remus had given Harry.  In the photo James was gesturing excitedly at the small figures, pointing them out to Harry and no doubt explaining the finer points of Wronski Feints and cobbing.  Harry sat mesmerized in his baby seat under the tree, dressed in a matching red snuggle suit.  His little arms made grasping motions toward the mobile, which only served to make James happier.  Lily knelt on Harry’s other side with a look on her face somewhere between exasperation and bemusement as she patiently endured her husband’s fanaticism for all things related to flying balls and brooms.  Remus added it to the small piling forming on the coffee table.

 

     That Christmas Eve, Lily and James had a small gathering of their intimate friends over for a bit of holiday cheer.  He, Sirius, and Peter had all arrived together.  It was safer to travel in numbers in those days.  He was still a bit tired and achy from the full moon three days before but excited he could celebrate Christmas on Christmas this year.  The three of them were laden down with gifts, most of them for Harry.  The three men spent hours in Pandora’s Toy Box and in Doodads and Hickeys in order to ensure all the gifts had been thoroughly tested and had received the Marauder stamp of approval.  They had generously rewarded Harry for providing them this most excellent excuse to play with all the new gadgets and gizmos like the overgrown schoolboys they were. 

 

“We come bearing gifts like the Three Wise Men of yore,” Sirius announced their arrival.

    

“More like the three wise guys,” James said with a roll of his eyes, disarming the wards and letting them pass into the house. 

    

“Be nice, Prongs, or Father Christmas is going to leave a lump of coal in your stocking,” Sirius scolded him.  The three of them trooped in, shaking off snow, shedding scarves and winter cloaks and giving out rounds of hugs, slaps on the back and kisses on the cheek. 

    

“Honestly,” Lily said, looking at the small mountain of gifts the three of them were piling into Harry’s stocking and under the huge Christmas tree.  “You’re going to spoil him rotten!”

    

“Nonsense, Lily.  Every child needs a recording of phoenix song lullabies, a toy broomstick, a set of spelling blocks, a Quidditch mobile, My First Dungbombs, a stuffed dragon, a-”

    

“I meant James, not Harry.  Who do you think plays with half this stuff?” Lily laughed. 

    

“I’m just spending quality time with my son.” James stood behind Lily and wrapped his arms around Lily’s waist, which had returned to most of its former slenderness, and kissed her on top of her flaming locks.   

    

“Hey, two turtledoves, save it for the mistletoe, will ya?” Sirius teased and headed off with Peter in search of the buffet. 

    

     With her holly berry hair and evergreen eyes Lily looked a bit like a Yule fairy.  In spite of the war raging in the wizarding world, at that moment James and Lily looked as if nothing could disturb their embrace.  James rested his chin on top of Lily’s head, his glasses sliding down his nose as he gazed at her flaming locks.  Lily leaned into James and tilted her head slightly so James’s chin shifted off the top of her head and came to rest next to her temple.  She looked up at her husband, unworried for a moment and content with the world.  A soft smile on her lips, the two of them were so close her eyelashes almost tickled his chin. 

 

This, Remus had thought, this is all one could ever want from this life.  

 

     Entwined one with the other oblivious to everything except each other, Remus felt a faint twinge of envy before he inadvertently cleared his throat and made a move to pass into the living room.  Lily blushed and moved to disentangle herself from James but James kept his arms around her.  He turned her slightly to the side and gave her a quick kiss.

    

“So, Moony, what’ll you have to drink?” James finally (and grudgingly) detangled himself from Lily and steered Remus to the makeshift bar while Lily took the cloaks and scarves to the closet. 

    

     Remus wished he had a picture of the two of them together at that moment.  He imagined that if the two of them were alive their mushiness would embarrass the pre-teen wizard.  Indeed, the two were often so wrapped up in each other the other three Marauders would mock swoon, conjure up flowers and violin music until the two of them snapped to their senses.  What is so awful about love that makes us feel embarrassed in its presence? Why do we see a need to ridicule one of the few good things in this world?  Remus wondered.      

 

And why didn’t I take more pictures? 

 

     Well, he had just come to a stack of photos from James’s bachelor party, more photos that meant something instead of when we were all acting like idiots.  He didn’t bother adding the bachelor party photos to the “send” pile.  Maybe when Harry’s bit older, he thought grinning.  And, he thought unhappily, if I ever get the chance to see him again. 

 

Three pictures.  Is that enough?  Maybe one more.

 

     Remus thumbed through the stack again.  A dull ache seized his heart for a minute and he drew a long breath of hot stale air into his lungs.  The sun had slipped underneath the horizon and dusk settled over his humble surroundings.  Not quite dark or quite light, the room hung in transition.  Remus reached for his wand and lit a few candles.  He slowly exhaled and quickly finished the remaining swallows of his ale. 

     

     Arm in arm, Lily and James shined with happiness on their wedding day.  James waved with his free hand and Lily clutched a bouquet of white roses in her other hand.  The ceremony was over.  Remus could see the gold bands circling their fingers but they were still in the church posing for pictures.  In the background Remus caught a glimpse of Aurora, Lily’s maid of honor, keeping the flower girl and wand bearer amused.  Peter was in the far background flirting with James’s cousin, who was killed less than a month later by Death Eaters.  Sirius, James’s best man, stood by James’s side.  He waving and smiling just as hard, if not harder, than the newlyweds. 

 

     Remus stared intensely at that picture.  It was best picture he had of James and Lily’s wedding day.  Well, it wasn’t exactly the best one.  That honor went to the photo he had of a lorelei popping out of the cake.  The look on James and Lily’s face was priceless.  That cake had gotten mixed up with a different one meant for a bachelor party.  Lily had a hard time believing Sirius hadn’t been behind it even though he swore on his wand he had nothing to do with it. 

 

I’m sure other people will send pictures of James and Lily on their wedding day.  I don’t think Harry would appreciate a picture of the man who killed his parents. 

 

     Sirius looked so handsome in that photo.  His dark hair was short and nowhere near as untidy as James’s mop, which had refused to behave even on his wedding day.  He was laughing and looked as pleased as a niffler in a gold mine for his best friend and his new wife. 

 

What does he look like now?  What has 10 years in Azkaban done to him?  Ten years!  Sweet Avalon.   No one survives in Azkaban that long…unless they know some dark magic or don’t care about what they’ve done to earn a stay there.

 

     Lily smiled at Remus and waved her bouquet.  He deserves it.

 

     Does he?  A little voice whispered at the back of his mind as Sirius waved furiously at Remus.  This is Sirius we’re talking about.  Padfoot, co-author of the Marauder’s Map, the guy who could shovel down an entire steak and kidney pie in three bites, proud owner of the world’s coolest flying motorbike, able to do the most wicked McGonagall impressions, and the one who figured out how to sneak Roaches of Immense Size into the Slytherin common room.  

 

     Yes.  That nasty little voice whispered more loudly against the other voice-the same nasty little voice that told him never instead of someday.  This is Sirius the Secret Keeper who was supposed to die rather than reveal the location of the Potter family.  This is Sirius, who Peter tracked down and confronted.  This is Sirius, the person who killed Peter and at least a dozen Muggles in broad daylight.  Sirius, who was perfectly willing to have Severus Snape almost killed at my expense.  He could barely keep my secret let alone a secret in the face of Voldemort.  The one, the only…Sirius Orion Black. 

 

     Remus rested the photograph on his thigh and looked intently at it as if it would save him the trouble and just tell him which pile to place it in.  His fingers absent-mindedly stroked the scarf to his right.  He picked up the scarf, winding and unwinding it around his hands.  At the movement, the Gobstone fell off the couch and clattered to the floor.  Remus ignored it as it rolled across the room, the metal humming against the hardwood floors. 

 

What house is Harry in?  I know nothing about him other than he was born on the hottest day in July, he loved going for rides on Sirius’s moterbike, “Danny the Doubtful Dragon” was his favorite story, he liked mashed carrots and bananas, the Quidditch mobile lulled him to sleep every night and he defeated the one of the most feared Dark Wizards who ever lived with just a scar to show for it.  A scar I’ve never actually seen.

 

     Remus tossed the scarf around his neck again, letting the ends fall on either side of his chest.  In his heart he knew; he knew Harry was in Gryffindor.  There was no other house for the son of James and Lily Potter.  He definitely liked Quidditch.  He was still loved very much by his “Uncle Moony.” 

 

Dear Harry, Remus imagined himself telling Harry one last bedtime story.  Once upon a time there was a brilliant young wizard with messy black hair who loved a bright young Muggle-born witch with eyes as green as emeralds.  They were top of their class at school; she was excellent at Charms and he at Transfiguration.  They got married and had a son who inherited his unruly black hair and her deep green eyes and they loved him fiercely.  And they all lived happily ever after…at least for a little while.   

 

But you already knew that part. 

 

All the stories you’ve been read end with, “And they all lived happily ever after”, didn’t they? They neglected to tell you after what.  Poor form really, ending the story with a participle.  Leaves you hanging, doesn’t it?  Just so you know, the ever after is only the end of the beginning.  We just know we’ve made it through the first part alive.  Let me tell you the story of what happened after the after, after the end. 

 

This handsome young wizard and beautiful young witch were in danger, so they turned to a wise old wizard for help.  He told them a secret was their only hope of surviving, a magic secret the young wizard’s best friend would keep safe for the young couple.  But the friend didn’t keep his promise and took the secret he was entrusted with to an evil sorcerer who wanted the young couple dead.  This evil sorcerer killed the young witch and wizard and tried to kill their young son.  But this little boy, whom the young witch and wizard loved with all their hearts, managed to defeat the evil wizard sorcerer and brought peace to a war-torn land. 

 

But that’s not all, Boy-Who-Lived.  Look in the white spaces between the black lines where the true story’s shadow lurks half-formed.  When everyone tells you the story of Harry Potter and the Evil Wizard I’ll bet it’s what they don’t tell you that most intrigues you, am I right?

 

What they won’t tell you is that once upon a time that friend, who betrayed that young witch and wizard loved you very much.  Your godfather took you for rides on his flying motorbike and could transform into a great big shaggy dog.  Padfoot would carry you around on his back and you would never fall off.  He came in second in his class for boys and yet couldn’t figure out how to change a nappy to save his life.  He sang you the best lullabies, better than the phoenix recording.  His middle name is Orion and he likes chocolate frogs, Vampire Vodka tonics, and always had us in stitches with his renditions of the Slytherin Quidditch songs.  One time during sixth year he brewed an entire batch of Butterbeer during Potions, which he promptly sold to the all the first and second year Gryffindors for a tidy profit.  At the Maypole Dance he would always ask Mavis Kettlebum to dance at least once even though all the prettiest girls in the class elbowed each other out of the way to be his partner.  He wanted to be an Auror one day, hexed Evan Rosier when Evan called Lily a Mudblood, turned Gordon Goyle into a giant cockroach in Transfiguration sixth year, and loved to dip his bacon in ketchup.

 

You might not want to listen to that part of the story but it needs to be told.  Just because it’s not what you want to hear doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or wasn’t true.  If it’s easier to keep your comfortable ideas of what Sirius is, fine, I’m just telling you who he was. 

 

Once upon a time Sirius Black was an extension of my very soul and I loved him as ferociously as I have ever loved another human being.  He mastered complex magic- risking expulsion from school, heavy fines and permanent disfiguration just to make twelve days a year bearable for me.  He did this of his own free will- out of the kindness his heart once possessed and I will always, always be grateful for that kindness. This is the one memory I will not allow to be tainted. 

 

No matter what the rest of the wizarding world will tell you, Sirius was not the vilest piece of scum on the planet.  You might not believe me.  You might rip this picture to shreds once you see it, but I thought you should see the Sirius that was like your father’s brother before you go back to hating him.  He loved you once and I will not have you robbed of that love.  You might think that love treacherous and you have every right to do so.  But before you hastily cast that good part of Sirius away, look at him smiling in this picture and know that this, too, was Sirius Black.  I hope you have a friend that embodies all of his good qualities because, although no one else will ever admit it to you, he did at one time have them.  He was my brother and my pack mate, and I would give anything in the world to undo, or even to understand, what led him to do the terrible things he did. 

 

Believe me, Harry, I understand how you must feel.  I almost killed a classmate because Sirius betrayed me. Because he couldn’t keep a secret.  Do you know what the Ministry of Magic does to werewolves who attack people?  You’ll find out in school- it’s not a story you want to hear before going to sleep.  We gradually forgave each other.  By the time we left Hogwarts, we had dismissed it as a very, very poor judgment call.  A mistake made in the heat of the moment.  One he was heartily sorry for, and he promised us, he promised me, he would never, ever let us down again.  James should have learned his lesson, but he, like Dumbledore, believed in second chances.    

 

I don’t expect you to forgive him.  I still haven’t.  But I want you to know all the facts before you make your choice.  I want you to look at him smiling in this picture with that young witch and wizard and know that he wasn’t always like Voldemort, foul to the core.  We are all vulnerable to evil.  You knew this story was going to have a moral, didn’t you?  All the good bedtime stories do-even if they don’t end happily ever after.  Just remember this: temptation and loyalty are equally as strong and all the difference in the world lies in the choice to yield or stand.  Goodnight, Harry.  Sleep tight.

 

     He took off the scarf and gently placed it back in the box he had taken it out of earlier in the day.  He scrawled a quick note to Hagrid and wrapped it securely around the four pictures.  The owl awoke and hooted expectantly at him.  Remus found a bit bread for the owl and another ale for himself.  As it nibbled on the bread, Remus tied the pictures securely to the owl’s leg.  Remus double-checked the small package to be sure it wouldn’t unravel during the flight to Hogwarts.  After the owl had finished its meager dinner, Remus let it out into the rapidly falling night.  He opened the bottle, raised it in salute to the messenger bird, and wished it a safe journey as it became a small black dot against the sky. 

 

     The sun set and night began to fall as Remus continued to stand at the open window long after the owl had disappeared.  He, too, felt as if he was receding into the night, the ache of twilight filling his chest.  The stars gradually congregated in the darkening sky.  And though he didn’t seek it out, he knew it was there in the dark canopy.  The Dog Star had made its appearance and at that moment Remus finished his drink, whispered goodnight, and got ready for bed.

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