Disclaimer: Joanne K. Rowling.
Spoilers: Well, OotP. Namely the end.
Dedications: To the Quill—still the finest HP fic archive that I have found. If I’ve never said it before, thank you. For all of it.
I settled Tonks at St. Mungo’s, still in her natural state—something too blank
faced and disproportioned—and returned myself to the old grim walls of Grimmauld. Sirius’ joke. The
others had arrived back, having obviously sorted out the students and the Death
Eaters. I brewed tea and poured. If I laced it all with a liberal dose of the
Irish, well, the others let me. I walked
off and away without a cup of my own and they let me to that, too.
“Remus?” Molly stepped out of the study. She must have finished her Floo call to inform…others. “Are you…well, obviously you’re not all right,
but is there anything you need? Anything
we might do for you?”
I took a shallow breath that sat like lead and tasted like
dust, and turned. Somehow I summoned a
wan smile. “No, Molly. I’m fine.
Or will be.” I focused on the ash
on her cheek rather than the look in her eyes.
“As for what might be done,” I shrugged, a bit helpless with all of
it. “Perhaps a long sleep?”
She nodded authoritatively.
“I’m not much of a hand at brewing, but I think I can manage a bit of
something for a dreamless sleep.”
“Thank you, Molly, but I can’t.” Her mouth opened and I gestured behind me, to
the kitchens, to stop her protests.
“Part and parcel of the condition, I’m afraid. Perhaps the others might like?”
“I’ll do what I can.”
She had taken two steps, three, and I had begun to let the iron out of
my spine when Molly spoke again. “I…I’ll
let the others know not to disturb you, shall I?”
Although she hadn’t turned I drew up my reserve. “Very much appreciated.” I kept it up until I reach my rooms at the
very end of the hall.
“Moony, you get to
sleep in Cousin Alecto’s private chambers.”
“You don’t like Cousin
course not. You and I both know that she was the one who
started the movement to have werewolves put down.”
I did so think of leaving her portrait up for you, too.”
I crossed the wide, rich room that time had faded until I
reached the oceanic bed, where I crumpled.
A graceless, slow arc until I was on my knees at the bedside, head bowed
and pressing painfully hard to the bedside table. Sirius. He’d hated this place, everything big and
small about it. I’d never seen him
happier than the day he told me that he’d left it for James’ place—even being
the best man hadn’t put so big a smile onto his face.
Downstairs, faintly, I could hear Mrs. Black screaming
insults at whomever had arrived and I felt the insane urge to go to her and
tell her that her son was dead. Even
though I knew that, to her, he had been dead for years I didn’t want to bother
counting. Sirius. Dead. When he had only so recently risen from the
ashes to which I had burned him.
When we had been boys, Sirius had brought me home to visit
for the Easter holiday. It had been the
first time I’d ever been on the Muggle trains and I
had been so excited that I hadn’t even questioned why we weren’t being met at
the station. That part had been told to
me as we’d walked from the underground stop to his home. To this place where he had been so despised,
the home of a family to which he had, thankfully, never truly belonged.
“Ouch! Watch yourself, Sirius!” He’d tread on the inside of my foot as
he’d taken a step back from what I’d later learned had been the corner to his
“My family is dark, Remus. No joke,
either. If there’s a Dark Wizard out
there, most of my family’d flock to him. I thought I’d probably best warn you before
you met my mum. James knows it but it’s
not something I say around a lot, if you take me.” Such a casual, carefree voice it had been—the
same sort of voice every thirteen year old boy would use when discussing
something so important that it knots his insides painfully. “But
I’m not like that.”
“Of course you aren’t,
Sirius! You’d hardly be mates with me if
you were! Everybody has something they
don’t like about themselves, right?”
“Sure. Mine is most of my family and most especially
my mum.” We’d resumed walking,
rucksacks tossed comfortably over our shoulders, until we reached the gate that
used to stand locked until Sirius tore it all down. “One day, Remus, I’m going to set her
straight about everything. And me. I’m going to
set her straight so hard.”
If I hadn’t loved Sirius when we were four, I most certainly
had when we were two. He had saved
me. On the run from the law and from the
lawless, he had saved me. Twelve years
I’d spent alone—alone even inside myself—without those I’d cared for best in
all the world.
I could have screamed at the unfairness of it all. I wished that I dared trust myself to let go
of my rage but I did not want to put such a weapon into the hands of the
wolf. The wolf, even with the potion,
had been an angry thing. It had been a
struggle to keep that part of myself from running under the moon in search of
the stag and the dog and the rat that had been its near-constant
companions. And it was exhausting to
wake up, human, and begin again the process of tucking all those memories back
into the trunk I’d stuffed them into.
Sirius. He’d hidden for a year, coming to me in the
most desperate times and it had been there, at one of my shabby, shabbier,
hovel-like flats that he’d seen the effects of the Wolfsbane
potion. I’d been ill at that moon, very
much so. Yet even though I spent the
night long awake, nose to nose with Padfoot, I wasn’t
at all tired when I was human again.
Sirius. For just shy of a year, from July to May,
we’d had the run of Grimmauld. And delighted in bringing the Order here if
for nothing more than the first horrified, minutes-long shriek his mother had
issued from her portrait. She’d fainted
and Sirius, oh Sirius had smiled at the bewildered men and women in the foyer
before cheerfully sending Kreacher off to make tea.
The thought of it, the memory, made me push away from the
table with a moan and I clutched my way onto the bed proper. Grasped large handfuls of feather down duvet
and shuddered. We’d tussled like pups in
this room—growling and howling and yipping as though we were little boys
again. We dove under the bed and round
the furniture, chasing and dodging and all the while laughing in the room of a
woman who’d made my life misery for five and a half hundred years before I’d
even been bitten.
I wanted to go down the hall again; to Sirius’ room and see
it emptied. There wasn’t anything in Grimmauld that called to me to keep it, even though the
image of Sirius’ laughing face nudged me toward the gold oval that housed his
cousin, or even perhaps his dear old mother.
I had all I needed of Sirius to bear away from the Black family home. Too much to bear. I wanted to set the world straight. I wanted to set everybody straight about
James and about Peter and about me. And
I vowed to set them straight about Sirius Black. So hard.
But I laid awake and didn’t leave
the bed for a very long time.