The Sugar Quill
Author: Starbuckx  Story: Ad astra per aspera  Chapter: default
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Ad astra per Aspera

 

Ad astra per Aspera

 

 

If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

 

 

The large patch of grass where Number twelve, Grimmauld Place used to exist for everyone, and the towering trees and stony steps that led to the house only a few could really see looked exactly as they had the last time Remus Lupin had stood right in front of the house, and yet the world they belonged to had changed so dramatically in the past few hours that Remus idly wondered how it was possible for everything to look so damn normal.

 

And yet, here he was, standing as close to the door as it was safe to do, looking calm and collected as he waved Alastor and Molly home, with vague assurances that yes, he would be fine. All he needed was a cup of tea and a good night’s sleep. Only that and he would be fine.

 

Inside, however, he was screaming. Physical pain he could handle. He was used to it. Mental anguish? Try twelve years of thinking all your friends were gone, killed by the one person you always thought you could trust. But the dull ache that had settled inside his heart, the awful emptiness that knowing the man who had shared everything with him so many years ago, and then again for the past few months, was gone, that, he wasn’t sure he could handle.

 

He remained serene and collected, however, even as the pain he did not care to hide anymore engulfed every word he uttered and every move he made. Mad Eye and Molly could clearly see it, he noticed as he looked at them, and yet he refused to allow their compassion to touch him. Sirius, and his mind almost refused to grasp the concept, even though he had seen it, was dead. And he needed time to grieve, alone.

 

“Are you quite sure you don’t want company, Lupin?” Mad Eye asked, his magical eye trying to peer into Remus's soul with such ferocity that, if it were not for the circumstances, he would have laughed. But the only one who could see through him was now gone and magical eye or not, Mad Eye wasn’t welcome to the inner workings of his soul.

 

“It’s quite all right, Alastor,” he said, and he had to fight to talk through the pain that now seemed to be engulfing him, the sudden urge to cry, to scream, and to just enter the house that Sirius hated so much, and tear it apart as a last present to his friend. Yet, he waited.

 

“I could stay with you if you like, Remus.” Molly offered, as Remus knew she would. They had formed some kind of bond in the time the Weasleys has spent in this house, and he knew Molly had come to respect and care for him as a brother. But tonight, he didn’t want her compassion and tender care. His best friend was gone. Tonight, he wanted to feel the pain.

 

“There’s absolutely no need for that, Molly,” he said with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m going straight to bed.”

 

She smiled tenderly at him, and then engulfed him in the kind of hug she usually reserved for family members, but he was too distracted by his own words to notice. The words had rolled out of his tongue so quickly, that he hadn’t had time to stop them, and being able to speak in a world without Sirius didn’t seem fair. His heart clenched painfully at the thought, and he let go of Molly, eager to enter the house, to be alone with his pain and his memories.

 

He looked at Mad Eye and Molly one last time, gave them what he thought was a comforting nod, and entered the house, shutting the door quickly. His eyes took in every detail of the house as if seeing them for the first time, and he almost felt he was. The sense of emptiness overtook him quickly, and he found himself on the floor before he could take even one step, his throat dry and his eyes watering.

 

His lips pressed tightly, he sat there for a moment, his eyes resting on a silver chandelier, perhaps the only thing in this wretched house Sirius had loved, a present from his grandfather, and a very useful thing for pranks, if one knew how to use it. The markings were faded, but he could still see the place where a young Sirius had carved their names into it, after declaring the artifact the most useful thing in the world, after a wand, of course.  

 

The memory was like a knife through his heart, and he took a very deep breath to calm himself down before gathering himself up. He would not break down here, not in front of that wretched portrait.

 

He had met Mrs. Black just a couple of times, but he, for one, had to admit that the blasted thing did it justice. She hadn’t yelled those things at him, but for the way she behaved Remus had been sure that if she had known what he was, she would have done much more than yell.  

 

Once standing, he let his hand graze the chandelier as his legs took him upstairs, and he felt a sense of finality as he stood in front of Sirius’s room, his eyes glazed. He ached for his own bed, a dreamless potion and a good night’s sleep, and maybe, just maybe, when he woke up everything would be different. Sirius would still be alive. And Bellatrix Lestrange would be very much dead.

 

That night on the Shack, what seemed like ages ago, he had hated Peter with a passion he never thought to find in himself. He had hated him, for getting Lily and James killed, for landing Sirius in Azkaban, and for leaving him alone, and miserable, not knowing the truth for twelve years. That was a bigger crime than Bellatrix could ever hope to commit, his mind reminded him, and yet the hatred the felt for that woman at the moment was bigger than anything he had felt in his life. So big, in fact, that it threatened to consume him. For a moment, he idly wondered if the hate hadn’t reached a point where he could have cast an Unforgivable at her were she standing in front of him, but as he pushed the door that led to Sirius’s room and looked inside, he as quickly ashamed of his thoughts. That wouldn’t be what Sirius’s would have wanted, of that much, he was sure.

 

It was amazing how such a good and noble heart could come out of a family so darkened by prejudice and hate, he thought, not for the first time. Having learned of Sirius’s lineage, he had quickly tried to create some distance between them early on, but Sirius had refused to let him get away with it. He smiled, his face a mask of pain. Sirius had often refused to let him get away with many things.

 

The door close behind him, and now that he was inside Sirius's room he felt his composure ebbing away. As a last conscious thought, he pulled out his wand and muttered “Silentio” as he headed for Sirius’s bed. There, on the table beside the bed, he caught sight of something that made his heart beat faster, and he held his breath for a moment, speechless.

 

There, in front of him, stood a recent looking picture of him and Sirius, their faces laughing, caught in a moment of unguarded glee. His eyes were dancing as he tried to explain something to Sirius, who was smiling broadly, as if he liked the idea. They certainly didn’t look carefree, and young, as they had once looked, but their faces radiated certain warmth, and it they looked so unmistakably happy to be reunited, that his heart ached. Could he ever look like that again? 

 

His hand grasped the picture silently, and he traced his fingers over it before turning it over, and the two simple words written there made his throat contract, as the tears he had been holding back for so long started falling, a few of them falling into the photograph where the names Moony and Padfoot were written.

 

The tears once falling slowly were falling harder now, his entire body clenched by sobs and he collapsed for the second time in the day, but this time he made no effort to get up, or to control the terrible sobs that came out of him.

 

Remus Lupin wasn’t a man of tears. The last time he had completely broken down and cried had been when confronted by his friends with the knowledge of his lycanthropy, nearly twenty years ago. The news of James and Lily’s murders and of Sirius's supposed betrayal had brought bitter tears, but they had also brought resentment so big that those tears had felt tainted somehow, and he hadn’t let them fall again. So tonight, he cried, for Sirius, for James, for Lily, and even for little Peter, who had betrayed them. For all he had lost. For all he was, and could have never been without his friends.

 

Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes into hours, and when the first rays of sunlight hit Remus’s pale face and puffy eyes, only then, did he allow himself to look away from the picture, and into the day that was just starting. Tears still rolling down his cheeks, he stood up slowly, his legs wobbly and his heart heavy, the photograph clenched tightly in his fist.

 

“You always said you’d be a bright start, Padfoot," he whispered slowly to the morning light outside, somehow sure that, wherever he was, Sirius was listening to him. And for that matter, so was James.

 

“Wherever you are, I know you are not alone.” His voice was hollow and empty as he muttered the words, even as a small flicker of hope was entering his heart. “Tell James I said hi,” he continued, grasping the picture more tightly, “And tell him and Lily that I intend to keep my promise, to the three of you. Harry won’t be alone.”

 

“Maybe one day, not so far from now, we’ll all be together again, the Marauders. We’ll wreak havoc again, in death.  Too bad it can’t be today.”

 

The photograph clenched tightly in his fist, he took a deep breath, looked once more upon the room and departed quickly, heading for his own room. Tomorrow, maybe, he would be back, to clean up after Sirius, but right now it was just too much to handle. Sleep would be good.

 

“Try not to have too much fun without me," he whispered slowly into the hall before closing the door that led to his room.

 

And as sleep overtook him, in a room not unlike the one had had previously occupied, the two friends in the photograph he still hadn’t let go of continued laughing, while on the nightstand a faded photograph showed four young boys laughing, their faces alive with joy.

 

The End

 

A/N: This is a weird little piece, isn’t it? It sort of took a life of it’s own after the first couple of paragraphs, and this is what it came out. I hardly think it comes close to showing how miserable Remus must be feeling at the moment, but I tried my best. I hope you enjoy. Kat, this if for you. And of course, for you too, Ami dear.

 

The title means: To the starts through difficult places …I just felt it was fitting, for Sirius. May he rest in the peace of the fictionally dead. Amen.

//
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