A/N: Many thanks to
Sveltskye, my SQ beta reader, for the finishing touches; Gryffinjack, for the
encouragement, and keeping me on my toes; Alezandrian, for perspective; and the
rest of the WWR pack for the support.
Disclaimer: I admire JK Rowling for the fabulous
world her imagination has created; I have made no profit from playing in her
vast backyard. The words that follow are mine, other than a few quoted lines
from the final chapter of The Order of the
The most beautiful people we have
known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known
loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an
appreciation, sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with
compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not
One Day at a
Time~ The Starting Point
Remus Lupin paused at the doorway of
Twelve Grimmauld Place, exhausted after yet another long day at the Ministry.
On only one other occasion had he felt so utterly drained. Tomorrow he would
return to the Ministry and the process would begin anew, explaining the events
of six days ago to a group of Aurors yet again. With the reactivation of the
Death Eaters and the return of Voldemort everyone over the past few days had
been interrogated several times by Aurors. This left precious little time to do
Order assignments. Staying busy was good in that it provided one with little
opportunity to think, and Remus didn’t want to think about the events of the
past week just yet. Much to his dismay, this was proving to be difficult, since
every time he entered headquarters half a dozen people seemed compelled to ask
him how he was feeling.
Arthur Weasley came up behind Remus giving him a weak smile; the two of them
entered together. Remus was sure that Arthur was hoping there would be several
people at headquarters tonight. The other evening had been terribly
uncomfortable since it was just Molly, Arthur and Remus. Arthur and Molly
seemed to be walking on eggshells whenever they encountered Remus. In fact,
last night, Molly had made note that Remus seemed to be very much his usual
self with one exception- he
was quieter than usual. Remus was heartened upon entering to realize there
would be ten in total for dinner that evening. The idea of getting lost in the
in the crowd was an attractive one.
“There you two are!” came the slightly too animated voice of Molly Weasley. “Well, we can all sit down to
eat. I’m sure that everyone could use a nice, hot meal.”
For a second, Remus considered stating he was not hungry, and then he realised
it was just easier to sit and push the food about his plate than to argue. In
any case, the din of the surrounding conversation would provide a welcome
distraction. If he just kept busy enough until sleep overtook him, he would not
have to think. His body was aching, telling him to retreat to bed, but Remus
knew that, as exhausted
as he was, he was still too alert. He would wait until much later to retire.
Then, if he fell right to sleep, he wouldn’t have to think. If he were
especially fortunate, his dreams would be bland or nonexistent.
A low, feminine voice brought Remus back to the present. “Things still tense
down at the Ministry, Arthur?” Emmeline Vance asked guardedly.
"Afraid it is, but considering the number of proven Death Eaters who were
employed there, it's only to be expected,” replied Arthur, sounding a bit more
irritated than he probably intended. “There is a bit of over precaution
concerning who is loyal to whom.”
Kingsley Shaklebolt added in a resigned tone, “I wish I could do more to make
your jobs easier, but now that I have been exposed as a member of the Order I’m
afraid I spend my days answering the same questions over and over again! They
just haven't a clue about what we all...” Kingsley's voice trailed off there,
clearly suppressing the anger in his voice.
Serving himself from his personal hamper, Mad-Eye Moody gritted his teeth as he
spoke. “If Fudge had been this
bloody careful a year ago none of this would be necessary. If
you want to talk about who’s really to blame for-”
“Well, this stew is delicious, Molly,” interrupted the merry voice of
Nymphadora Tonks. “ I missed your cooking this week at St. Mungo’s.” To Remus,
Tonks appeared to be back to her usual self, having spent five out of the
previous six days at St. Mungo’s. Well, truth be told, there was a difference;
she seemed to have acquired
Molly’s overly animated, positive tone.
Each of us has our
ways of covering, thought Remus. Does she miss Sirius
as much as…Remus knocked over his wine goblet, causing a minor stir.
“Not to worry, not to worry,” said Molly, as she cleaned up the ensuing mess. “Emmeline dear, could
you lend a hand?”
Brilliant, just brilliant, could I possibly draw their attention any more?
Emmeline Vance looked compassionately at Remus as she refilled his goblet.
There was a bitter and wounded tone in her voice. “Day after day you trudge
back to those fools at the Ministry who understand everything and nothing. You must be beyond worn-out.”
She paused as though considering carefully her next statement; her pale blue
eyes meeting his gray.
tactics immediately required; I am fooling no one. Breathe, breathe, that's it
...Harry...shift their focus.
Remus decided to tell the group about an idea that had occurred to him earlier
that day, when he had overheard for the umpteenth
time, “Wonder how young Potter is getting on?"
Remus slowly and carefully chose his words, regaining his controlled veneer. “I
thought that I might meet the Hogwarts Express when it comes in tomorrow and
see how Harry’s faring. Perhaps a little chat with Harry’s
Aunt and Uncle when the train arrives tomorrow might be in order as well.
Judging from what Harry, Ron, and Hermione have described, I believe that the
Dursleys will need a little reminder regarding their duties. They seem to be a
bunch not overly encumbered by the
burden of intelligence. I assume the effects of Albus’ Howler have more than
worn off." Remus paused before asking hopefully, "So, is anyone up
for assisting with the job?”
“Well, of course Molly and I are going to be there anyway with Fred and
George,” replied Arthur. “I daresay your fears are well founded, Remus. Their
utter indifference and neglect towards Harry have been both a blessing and a
curse. I think it quite wise to, as you suggested, issue a reminder.”
“I would like to go too,” said Bill, “but Emmeline and I have business to
follow up on at Gringott’s tomorrow. Be sure to give us a full report, though.
If half of what Ron has said about the Dursley clan is true, then the sooner
someone speaks to them the better.”
Kingsley Shacklebolt, Dedalus Diggle, and Mundungus Fletcher also begged off,
citing Ministry duties, surveillance, and a business arrangement.
“After everything Hermione and Ginny told me last summer, I’m in,” stated
Tonks. Her voice then acquired a sharper tone. “Don’t look at me like that,
Molly.” Molly Weasley, her
mother hen instincts working overtime, had clearly been about to tell Tonks that she needed her rest.
“ I am fine to go and meet the train; I need to...to...do something! You know,
my father has always been fond of this Muggle saying 'Walk softly and carry a
big stick'. The way I see it, the more the better."
“I’d be happy to look ‘em in the eye and see that they know their place, as
well as reiterate the consequences of their failing to comply. That kind does
not respond to subtle hints,” added Mad-Eye dryly. “In fact, according to Hagrid, if I
turned one of them into a pig…”
“Well," said Remus, cutting him off, heartened to know he’d be in good
company, "I don’t know if anything
that drastic is needed just yet, Mad-Eye. Although, the suggestion of swine
might prove helpful," he added thoughtfully. Remus continued, now addressing
the entire group. "The idea is to blend in with the Muggles while we wait,
so no robes. Come attired in your Muggle best. Let’s all meet here by say 10:00
The rest of the evening Remus
managed to blend quietly into the background. The group eventually dispersed
near midnight, and Remus was able to retire that night not feeling as
downtrodden as he had the previous evenings. Sleep came almost at once with the
images of trains, comrades, and promises filling his head.
At 9:45 the following morning, a motley group assembled in the kitchen of
Twelve Grimmauld Place. Remus was chatting with Arthur as Tonks, the last of
the party, came through the door. She inhaled sharply as she viewed the others.
The explosion of colour was quite overpowering even for her senses “Um,…just
what is it that you all are wearing?”
“Why, we always dress like this to meet the train,” said Molly as she buttoned
her red and purple stripped knit jumper with the pom-poms at the cuffs. “Is
there something wrong?”
"Er... of course not, Molly," replied Tonks brightly, still rapidly
blinking her eyes. “I guess I'm just not used to you all in Muggle attire. Why
don’t you, Arthur, and the two leprechauns over there go ahead? The rest of us
will catch up. Better not let the Muggles see this mob. We wouldn’t want to
attract too much attention.”
Molly rolled her eyes as she herded her husband and sons out the door. “I told the twins those suits
needed better shirts. The white shirts are just out of place…” Her voice faded
as they left the room. Tonks and Remus shared a knowing look; they knew the
twins’ shirts were the least of their problems. Fighting Molly's fashion sense was a battle not to be won.
“All right, as Tonks said it’s wise that we wait a few minutes before leaving,”
stated Remus as he watched the door close. “Two smaller groups are less
noticeable. While we were awaiting your arrival, Tonks, we decided that Arthur
should make the first contact with the Dursleys since he has met them before.
The rest of us can then add our sentiments.”
“Actually, before we go... Remus,” interrupted Tonks trying, but failing, to
sound diplomatic. “We need to make a few changes with your attire, starting
with that awful jumper. Where on earth did you get it? And Mad-Eye, that attire
was popular in the 90’s, but the 1890’s not in 1990’s! I know I nearly failed
stealth, but you two clearly must have never taken Muggle Studies at Hogwarts.
Whereas I am intentionally unique, you two and the Weasley clan are merely
“Why, what’s wrong with this jumper?" said Remus, sounding a bit wounded.
"Molly gave it to me for Christmas the year I taught Ron. The trousers and
the overcoat I’ve had forever. I don’t really have anything else.” He didn’t
want to attract undue attention at the station, but he didn't want to be late
“Well, I think we can get by with minor changes,” suggested Tonks, who now sounded guilty for hurting his
feelings. “Perhaps if it is not too uncomfortable, you could wear the sweater
backwards so that the orange RL is not showing, and next time Remus, navy blue
shirts and black trousers should not be put together. I think the coat hides
Tonks now turned her attention to
Mad-Eye and suppressed a giggle. She and Mad-Eye had fought this battle before. Attempting an exasperated
tone, she said, “Mad-Eye, the plumed hat must go, as should that staff. Really,
it’s as if you walked in from one of those costume dramas my father is fond of
watching on the Muggle telly. Right now you look like a combination Moses and
D’Artagnan.” Mad-Eye and Remus just gave Tonks blank looks as her reference
flew past them. “ Never mind, I think I spied a bowler hat on the rack as I
came in. I suppose that would be an improvement.”
Mad-Eye dug in his heels, “I’ll give you the hat, missy. The staff stays; it
was your idea in the first place! Remember, walk softly and carry a big stick?”
Remus had to chuckle to himself; this verbal spar was proving to be the only
unforced, lighthearted exchange he had witnessed in days. He was finding the
mirth somewhat comforting. All that was left was to Apparate to the train
The train was just pulling in upon their arrival. Soon the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione was walking
towards them down the platform, followed closely by Ginny.
“Ron, Ginny!” called Molly, she hurried forward hugging all of them. “Oh Harry
dear--how are you?” Harry winced into Molly's embrace.
Remus stepped forward, seeing instantly that Harry detested having yet another
person ask, “How are you?" as much as he did.
“Hello, Harry.” said Remus quietly, trying to sound as normal as possible.
wonder if my presence
reminds him of our last meeting. Does he associate me with Sirius falling
behind the v...No, we can't have
images like that or I will not be able to continue.
“Hi.” said Harry. “I didn’t expect…what are you all doing here?”
“Well,” said Remus with a slight smile, “We thought we might have a little chat
with your Aunt and Uncle before letting them take you home.” As the rest of the
group approached the Dursleys, Remus hung back and stood close to Harry as a
protective force. As agreed, he allowed Arthur take the lead. He would not be
hesitant to speak if necessary, but for now he was certain that Arthur, Tonks,
and Mad-Eye would be intimidating enough without him. Harry needed him where he
Vernon Dursley was a stubborn man; however, the group did seem to be making a
dent into that thickheaded, and pompous skull. Arthur, Tonks, and Mad-Eye were
making quite an impression. Remus knew that Vernon Dursley, like all bullies,
would eventually back down when outnumbered.
Tonks’ voice cut through the air, “…The point is if we find out you’ve been
horrible to Harry-”
Remus, from the rear, could not resist adding pleasantly, “-and make no mistake
we’ll hear about it.” The words were simple but pointed. Their implication
could not have been clearer. Remus was a bit taken aback by the feeling that
was coming over him. For the first time in days he had taken control over
something; he had managed to accomplish a worthy endeavour.
As the group concluded its business, Remus looked into the green eyes of Harry
that unsurprisingly still held the pain of recent days. He put a firm but
gentle hand on Harry’s shoulder as he said quietly, but still in control as he felt the emotion rise
within him. “Take care,
Harry. Keep in touch.”
Remus stood alone, not taking his eyes off the son and godson of his dearest
friends, as Harry departed with the Dursleys. He couldn’t in honesty say that
his pain had retreated, or that his sense of loss had abated. What he could
say; however, was that he had made a difference, and that given, the tragic
events of the last week, that was something. Yes, small though the gesture was,
it was indeed something.
With newly found resolve Remus joined Tonks, Mad-Eye and the others.
One day at a time.
If I think about Harry’s future I can go on, one day at a time.