CHAPTER TWO - In the Light of Day
all of my betas, Alkari, Luna, Mincot, Pelirroja, Seriously Sirius, and Vargmoy.
You know your betas must be right and it’s time to change things when all six
of them make the same criticism.
As Remus went to the garden shed, the
remaining beads from the morning’s rain glimmered so brightly that the noontime
sun hurt his eyes. He opened the door and soon found the item he sought – an
old, rickety, dark green wheelbarrow.
Buckbeak was in
the middle of the thick lawn, fanning his stormy grey wings in the warm sun,
his beak turned longingly toward the sky.
“Enjoy getting out of that stuffy room,
don’t you, boy?” Remus called to him as he approached, pushing the wheelbarrow.
“I wish I could let you fly. Unfortunately, the Ministry still classifies you
as a wanted hippogriff. I’m afraid those gits will never understand that it
was Draco Malfoy’s fault and not yours.”
his head and looked forlornly at Remus, who was busy checking that the wards were
still set securely around Buckbeak to prevent his flight. Remus cursed the
necessity to do so. Beaky deserved more than a caged existence. Look where
hiding in this blasted cage got Sirius. He turned abruptly away from Buckbeak
and pushed the wheelbarrow through the open back door.
In contrast to the
bright garden, the inside of the Black family house was dim and gloomy. It
took a couple of minutes for Remus’ eyes to adjust to the poor lighting as he
navigated the shadowy passage and stood before his quarry – the row of
house-elf heads mounted on the wall. They were all too visible now that Remus
had cleared the smoke away with the habitus charm. Kreacher’s
relatives. The Black family’s trophy wall. Once theirs, they never let you go.
He snorted as he pushed away the grim thought of Sirius’ head on a plaque on
the wall in line with all the others.
stopped in mid-thought; since Sirius’ death, he had had to use all his
formidable mental discipline to push aside … certain thoughts. Instead, he
concentrated on the task at hand.
Placing the wheelbarrow against the wall directly below the first
gruesome head (who had been, he noted with sour amusement, named “Toady”), he
pointed his wand at the plaque. “Desertium!” Nothing happened. Maybe
the old hag used a simple spell on these just to outfox us. “Accio,
Toady!” But Toady’s head remained resolutely stuck on the wall. Remus
rubbed his stubbly chin thoughtfully with his finger, mentally running down
every removal charm he had ever learnt. After a few more tries, he was finally
able to remove Toady’s remnants with the ancient Extirpatius spell. It
fell directly into the wheelbarrow, and although the tips of Toady’s bat-like
ears stuck out of the wheelbarrow a bit, Remus ignored them.
As Remus worked
his way down the long hall, the heads of Kritter, Goon, Vagrunt, Lackie, Grinch,
and Brewt all soon met the same fate as Toady’s. The wall seemed much airier
without the house-elf ornaments adorning it. It definitely felt more inviting,
despite the shabby, peeling paint and the ever-present chill in the hallway. He
pushed the house-elf mounded wheelbarrow outdoors into the garden shed and left
it there, feeling a grim satisfaction as he closed the shed door. Although he
had decided to bury them, he felt tired and needed to rest. Their burial could
wait another day, and meanwhile, they would be safe from rats in the shed.
The mounting of
the trophy heads on the wall had been an obnoxious practise in and of itself.
They had all reminded him of Kreacher and his treachery every time Remus had
seen them. Well, of course they would; they were his family and relatives;
of course they would look alike. He suddenly wondered whom Sirius would
have resembled more, his mother or his father; he tried to picture them all
together, but found it impossible to imagine.
removed the wards confining Buckbeak, grabbing Buckbeak’s lead before coming
back inside. “It’s one thing to let you outside for a bit, but I don’t want to
risk anything unnecessarily.” Buckbeak squawked his displeasure at being back
inside so soon. “I know, I know. You don’t want to be stuck back in here any
more than I want to bring you here.” Remus had a sudden flash of Sirius’ face;
all the happiness and light from an afternoon spent gardening in the soft sun
slowly leached away as he climbed the back of the stairs.
himself and checked Buckbeak’s wounds with studied thoroughness. I need to
wash this room out somehow, he thought as he cleared away the old bandages
and dressings. Come to think of it, I still need to take a shower, too.
Has it really
been only a day and one half
since I showered last? He stood under the hot stream of water in the
shower and let it pour over his face for several minutes, his closed eyes
turned up to the streaming water, relaxing his muscles taut with pain and
The clean scent of
the soap filled the air as he began to cleanse his face and neck mechanically. No
matter how hard I scrub, I still feel tainted right down to my bones. Will
this ache l never leave? Is this pain and guilt always going to haunt me?
Perhaps if he stood there long enough under the rushing water, it would
wash away the ache in his body, the exhaustion that penetrated so deeply into
his bones. Maybe it went too deep for that, he thought. Maybe the water
would wash him away instead wearing him down into droplets that would merge
with the tears of his grief.
The rage and
sorrow suddenly overwhelmed him. Dammit - Why didn’t I see this coming? I
should’ve known Sirius would go after Harry if he ever got the faintest inkling
Harry was in danger. I should’ve known that Harry would go after Sirius, too.
I should’ve been faster …should’ve got between Sirius and Bellatrix. I should
have done something to stop him. I should have seen what Kreacher was doing …
I should have…
It was like ocean
tides, he thought raggedly some time later, coming back to himself to find the
shower water finally beginning to cool. You could play in the shallows all
your life, thinking the ocean safe, friendly, even beautiful; but then
something like this happens, and all of a sudden, that ocean inside rises up
and drowns you, mercilessly dragging you out into the depths where there is no
light and no land. He drew a deep shuddering breath. The rough ocean wave
had tumbled over him and dragged him down, but the wave passed. For now. Until
I walk through this cold, empty, vile house alone … without …
He allowed himself another five minutes
of feeling the water wrap him in warmth. His eyes closed again as he steadied
himself with a hand against the tile wall. Slowly, he turned the shower off
and dried himself, aware once again of his exhaustion. He quickly performed
the shaving spell and put on his boxers before returning to his bedroom. Even
though it was merely late afternoon, he crept into his soft, cool bed. The
tension drained from his exhausted body. I couldn’t sleep at all last
night… no wonder I am so exhausted. All I want to do is sleep. Sleep and forget
the events of the last two days. Just fall into a sweet oblivion and please,
let it be a dreamless sleep. Please, God, I never want to see Sirius fall
through that veil again.
After tossing and turning for several
hours, he awoke near midnight, having got his wish. He vaguely remembered a
dream of being twelve and spending a summer afternoon exploring the woods
behind his house with Sirius. Remembering that only brought up memories he
would rather not think of, if possible. Finally, too tired to push them away, Remus
decided to get up and check on Buckbeak. Maybe some hot tea, too. Hippogriff
checked on and tea drunk, he returned wearily to his bed and spent a rather
fitful night, eventually getting to sleep near dawn. Those dreams of that
damned veil just don’t stop!
It was midmorning when Remus woke. Once
he had finally slept, he fell into a deep sleep. The dreamless, weighted sleep
brought only to those who have tasted either heavy grief or Snape’s sleeping
draughts. His body felt sluggish and stiff and the thought of breakfast
repelled him. Must not have moved all night, he thought, as he tended
to Buckbeak’s nearly healed wounds. If only Kreacher hadn’t hurt Buckbeak.
Then Sirius would have been there when Harry … no! Stop it! It doesn’t do any
The air was stifling and the walls felt
like they were closing in; Remus had to get out. From the way Buckbeak was
scratching at the hay on the floor, he was not the only one who felt that way. Remus
grabbed a bucket full of dead rats and led Buckbeak into the garden to enjoy
the warm sun.
Buckbeak had finished eating and was now
resting on the lawn as Remus opened the shed slowly and selected a spade. The
work of digging a burial trench loosened his muscles somewhat, although he found
that dull, foggy feeling difficult to shake. As he tipped the first of the
house-elf heads into the trench, he wondered whether elves had burial
ceremonies. I could read a simple prayer for the dead at least … I could
read it … for Sirius … If we only had his body, at least … even putting up a
stone over an empty grave would help … something … James and Lily have
No. No more.
He pushed the thoughts away, suddenly
realising how often he did that and how much energy it took. No wonder I’m so
Buckbeak looked around the yard, craning
his neck this way and that. “I know, boy,” said Remus as he approached him,
knelt on the soft lush grass, and began to pet him gently on the neck. “I miss
him, too. But neither of us is going to see him again.” He paused, and then
made himself say it, slowly, deliberately. “This time, I won’t get him back.”
Buckbeak turned his head to look at Remus.
“Last time, I thought I’d lost him for
good.” His voice trailed off. Nobody ever escaped Azkaban. No one sentenced
to a lifetime there ever leaves; even their bodies were buried there on the
prison grounds rather than being shipped home. Once those prison wall closed
around Sirius … though, in truth, Remus acknowledged bleakly, Sirius had in
effect been lost to him the minute that Remus had finally understood what
Sirius had done. What Sirius had been reputed to have done.
His face paled. I killed him – last
time – but I thought he had killed himself. Remus shook himself and went
firmly back to his grim task. He set another head – Vagrunt – carefully in the
The unwanted memories washed over him
…how his world had caved in and how nothing had made sense. The more he tried
to avoid the memories, the worse it became. Once again he heard the sounds of
death and destruction surround him. Remus shut his eyes tightly and tried to
force himself not to think of how those infernal sounds constantly pounded in
his eardrums. But all that did was bring back memories of many sleepless nights
pacing and wondering what he could have done differently.
wiped the beads of sweat from his face and opened his eyes. “ ‘What if’s’
constantly raced through my head like pelting raindrops. Such confusion! How
Sirius of all people could have done such a thing … they were … my family.”
Once again he felt the tremendous hole inside him, like all his insides were
torn out. He cringed as the memories and the current feelings were getting all
Remus tried to focus again on talking to
Buckbeak. That seemed to help a bit. “I was numb … couldn’t feel anything.
All those people surrounding me, offering help… all I saw was my own pit of
despair. It felt like drowning. Not even the transformations could match the
gut wrenching agony of their deaths.”
As he began to fill the dirt in around
Vagrunt’s chin, Remus found himself thinking of his life after Sirius’
imprisonment. Flashes of memory: the shabby lodgings that grew shabbier over
time; the look in Mrs Raeburn’s eyes when she told him that she could not
employ a werewolf; the brittle and almost unconscious distance he kept between
himself and others … the long hours of pushing away Sirius’ laughing face …
determined that nobody would hurt me like that again. Transformations are
horrible, yes, but I almost welcomed the physical pain to escape my misery.
But the anguish from losing any one of my greatest friends, let alone all of
them at once, was more than I could bear.”
absent-mindedly picked up the spade as he continued to speak. “She
always said I was reserved as a boy at Hogwarts,” he said as if Buckbeak would
know what he was talking about.
“That was nothing
compared to how I became after they all left me. I knew the wizarding
community.” Who would want to be friends with a depressed werewolf? Nobody
wants to do much with a werewolf at all, let alone hear about a werewolf whose
life has been an internal struggle.
Buckbeak was momentarily startled as some
stray dirt from Remus’ intense digging landed at his feet. “Sorry, boy,” Remus
“When Albus got in touch with me, I was
shocked about Sirius’ escape. But from somewhere deep inside of me came a bit
of hope that he would find me and tell me that everyone was wrong. That he had
not killed them all.” Remus scoffed at himself as he tossed another shovelful
of dirt aside. Well, it seemed a ludicrous hope at the time.
Once again, his mind was back at Hogwarts...
Remus’ friends were all gone and he
was no longer a child. He was a professor now. There would be no more Slytherin
baiting or midnight strolls with wands at the ready. He was back in his office
laughing silently to himself, having just run up the stairs from the Slytherin
dungeons after charming Snape’s class book early one morning before breakfast
so it erased all marks made by students that week. All marks were erased – good
and bad, so he would not be able to reconstruct which students had received the
poor marks. James would have been proud of him for adding that memory charm so Snape
wouldn’t remember any of the grades. Not a single student got a poor mark that
week, not even Neville.
He laughed silently to himself at the
memory as he came back to the present. “He deserved those pranks! The way he
treated Harry! I had to do something that would make James proud.
“Harry … I wanted so desperately to be
able to say something to him, but I couldn’t. There is a fine line not to be
crossed; professors cannot have personal relationships with students. So I kept
quiet about James during all those Patronus lessons.” Remus paused, then shook
his head. “Who am I kidding? I was terrified of answering questions about
James and Lily; I didn’t know if I could stay in control and think about them
Remus shovelled the black dirt on top of
yet another house-elf head. How many were there?
“And when Harry mentioned Sirius’ name …
it was with such hatred. A part of me wanted to defend Sirius, but I did
A thought struck him. “Maybe you knew
Sirius even then.” He looked expectantly at Buckbeak.
But there was no answer. Buckbeak may
have been listening to Remus, but he was not a good conversationalist.
“That night at the Shrieking Shack … that
wretched place I’d hoped never to set foot in again. Seeing Sirius and what Azkaban
had done to him ... One of the happiest moments of my life was when Sirius
confirmed his innocence. That knot I’d been carrying around in the pit of my
stomach for all those long years dissolved … his name was going to be cleared,”
Remus said, a broad smile lighting up his face. But then the smile suddenly
“Then the lycanthropy got in the way
again … fouled everything up, as usual. Sirius was caught …at least the two of
you escaped, no thanks to me.”
A frown creased Remus’ forehead. I
still kick myself! Why didn’t I take that blasted potion? It was entirely my
fault! Sirius would’ve been free if it hadn’t been for me… Snape must’ve been
so pleased with himself, that foul blast-ended skrewt! At least I knew Sirius
was innocent and was free, even though the Ministry was still after his
blood... But I could contact him… I had him back.
“That night when
he turned up on my doorstep and said Dumbledore had sent him … so many things
to catch up on. All the old times with James and Lily… and Fiona.” Remus
paused for a couple of minutes and sighed as he patted the rich black dirt over
the last of the house-elves. “Fiona … He really loved her, you know.”
Remus threw the spade into the now empty
wheelbarrow angrily. “But now to have him snatched away from us. To lose him
again ... forever. He won’t come back. He can’t. How I wish I were wrong …
how I wish there were a way to get him back from beyond that damned veil!” He
paused for a moment and spat out in disgust, “Listen to me …I sound like Harry
with his naïve hopes, refusing to accept the truth. Sirius is gone. He’s left
Remus balled his hands into fists. The
muscles in his face tightened and the veins in his neck strained. “He left you
…he left me … he left Harry …all because he had to taunt Bellatrix. All
because of that damned evil family of his. Why couldn’t he just end it with
her? Why’d he have to ask her if that was the best she could do? What did he
expect she would do? His cockiness is what got him killed, you know!
“That same cockiness that made him do
something foolish like go to the train as Snuffles,” he spat out bitterly
before taking a deep breath and continuing. “That idiot! He was always so
reckless! Always thought he knew best. He never thought what it would be like
to lose him again. To have him back only for him to die!” he exploded, kicking
the wheelbarrow so forcefully it turned over.
Remus was breathing quite hard now and
could feel the tears welling up inside him as he stared at the spinning wheel
of the fallen wheelbarrow. “Peter’s made his choice. Sirius is with James and
Lily. And I’m stuck here trying to pick up the pieces! Stuck with his house,
his hippogriff, and an enormous gash growing larger in my heart.” He closed his
eyes and breathed deeply, trying to regain control of himself.
“Everyone is so used to seeing me in such
a calm controlled temper. Yet I cannot for the life of me control these wild
emotions. How do I go on without any hope? What do I say to Harry? What’s
Harry going to expect of me? Is he going to want to even talk with me, let
along share his feelings, fears, hopes and dreams? I know I wouldn’t if I were
in his boots.”
Remus looked around. Buckbeak was
looking at him, his head slightly tilted. “Listen to me, talking like this… as
if it changes anything. A right nut case you are, Lupin! Ready to be chucked
into St. Mungo’s.”
He took a deep breath and put the
wheelbarrow and spade in the shed. “Got to pull myself together. Sirius is dead;
he’s gone and nothing I say or do is going to change that. Even if he could
come back, he wouldn’t want a life like this, being stuck here day after day,
slowly rotting away like the house he was living in. He’d want to be out there
helping us in the field. We’ve got to find and destroy Voldemort for him, for
all of us. I’ve got you to look after, and Harry, if he lets me.” He paused.
“Come on, let’s go inside.”
That afternoon, Remus got rid of the
troll umbrella stand from the front hall. Never did care much for trolls.
He also cleaned the scorch marks and ashes from the burning of the tapestry and
Mrs Black’s picture. That old hag! After that, he trudged downstairs
to the kitchen to clean up in there. Blast! The dishes! How could I have
forgot to wash them? His step became brisk and determined as he walked
over to the sink, pushing his sleeves back up. He’d wash them by hand – he
needed to keep doing something. Heavens, the place is a mess! He
turned to make sure he had not missed anything.
His face paled as his eyes fell upon a
silver goblet still on the table. Sirius.
A knock at the front door pulled him from
his thoughts. Just what I do not need – visitors. With a sigh, he
dragged himself upstairs and opened the door. Mundungus Fletcher.
Mundungus quickly came inside, removed
his worn hat from his ginger hair, and nodded briefly. He looked sadly at Remus
with his watery, red eyes.
“Remus.” The warm, sickly sweet odour of
firewhiskey was overpowering. Remus winced slightly as he took two small steps
“Hello, Mundungus.” Remus motioned him
toward the kitchen.
Mundungus caught his breath just as he
turned to go down the flight of stairs to the kitchen.
“Bloody hell! Must’ve had more of this
than I thought! Wha’ happened to all those nasty house-elves that were on that
wall? Never really cared for ’em meself other than the one with the big ears …
rather fond I was of that one, reminded me of me grandmum.” He moved to take a
closer look. “Aye, they’re gone all right. Thought it must’ve been too much a
good thing at first for them devils to be gone,” he said, reaching inside his
robes, grabbing his flask of firewhiskey and saluting the bare wall.
“Yes, well…hmm-mmm…” Remus cleared his
throat. “I’ve done a bit of house cleaning.”
Mundungus nodded quietly, still staring
at the bare wall. Then his eyes lit up and he gave a well-practised smile as
he pointed at it and began to speak with an air of a used broom salesman. “Ye
know, I know where I can get me hands on some top of the line mirrors and fancy
paintings for ye to fancy this place up. Dirt cheap. Ye can’t turn down an
excellent opportunity like that.”
Remus choked a laugh barely managing to
turn it into a cough instead.
“Thank you, no. Perhaps another time.” Last
thing I want to do now is purchase some stolen mirrors and paintings.
Mundungus stared at the wall a bit
longer. “Right. Well, maybe later.” He turned his full attention to Remus.
“I’ve been to the Alley. Heard what happened.”
“I see.” The question is which Alley
– Diagon or Knockturn. “I’m sure The Daily Prophet is reporting all the
details now that the Ministry has been forced to admit the truth,” Remus said
bitterly as he led the way back down to the kitchen.
“Look ‘ere … I’m sorry about Sirius.
Always gave me a fair shake. Never looked down at me because of me um…
associates. I know some of the Order don’t approve of me, but not Sirius.
Always welcomed me at the dinner table, he did.” Mundungus looked down at the
table before him, his pouchy eyes resting on Sirius’ ornate silver goblet.
Remus snatched the goblet and began to
wash it rather quickly. It can’t stay there forever. The light in the
kitchen was getting fainter as the sun began to set. He felt Mundungus’ eyes
“Yes?” He said as he turned to face the
dishevelled man before him.
Mundungus fidgeted as he cleared his
throat. “Remus, I don’t mean to be nosing about your business, but umm… when’s
the last time you ate? You look rather pale, mate.”
“Ate? I’m eating. Why I ate only …. ” When
the devil did I eat last? It couldn’t have been yesterday! That toast with
Dumbledore and Moody. “Don’t worry about me. I ate some toast earlier.” Remus
felt the back of his neck growing warmer. Now that Mundungus had mentioned it,
he did feel a knot of hunger in his stomach.
“Right, mate. Then you must’ve eaten just
enough toast for a flobberworm. C’mon. I’ll fix you something to eat. Could
do wiv’ a bit of something meself.” Mundungus got up, sauntered over to the
pantry on his bandied legs, and started rummaging around.
“No, really, Mundungus… I’m fine. Look,
I can fix something for both of us.” Remus said as he hastily dried his hands
and went to the pantry, pulling out the ingredients to make pumpkin pancakes. I
must be the polite host. Besides, I’ve had the misfortune of tasting his
cooking. Three days in St. Mungo’s.
“Well, if you insist, Remus. Never was
much of a cook anyway.” Mundungus seemed satisfied that he was going to get
fed and sat back down at the table and waited. A few minutes passed as Remus
started the ingredients to mixing themselves together. Sirius’ old recipe he
got from Fiona.
“’Ere, lad.” Mundungus fished in a pocket inside his robes and took something
small out. “Thought you or Harry Potter should have this.” He pushed the item
toward Remus, who finished drying his hands before coming back to the table.
He picked up the item and examined it. It was Sirius’ old pocket watch. He
opened the golden lid and read the inscription:
No matter how much time has passed,
the four of us will always be there for each other.
Moony, Wormtail, and Prongs
The back of Remus’ throat went dry.
Incapable of speech, he looked quizzically at Mundungus as he felt for the
chair and sat down. Finally, he managed to speak, though it was barely
audible. “We gave this to him that Christmas he finally left his infernal
family. I don’t mean any offence, but … why would Sirius have given this to
“Surprised he gave it to me, are ye? So
was I. Lemme tell ye how I came by it.”
“Yes, please do,” gulped a puzzled Remus.
“’Bout two years ago, I met Sirius in Hogsmeade.
Scrounging in some dustbins he was. Found ’im there behind a store late at
night. Didn’t see me approach. He must’ve nicked everything he wanted from in
there, ’cause he came out and turned into the biggest black brute of a dog I’ve
ever seen. Still, it weren’t much. He looked powerfully thin, ’specially for
such a large animal. His ribs were sticking clean through his sides. I could
even see his hips. Worst of all, I could see his heartbeat through his furry
neck. Turned me stomach, it did.” Mundungus winced at the memory. The
thought of Sirius like that reminded Remus of how Sirius looked at the
“Why didn’t you turn Sirius in to the
authorities?” Remus asked.
Mundungus guffawed. “Me? Go to the
Ministry? Think they would take anything I said seriously?” He sobered up.
“’Sides, I felt right sorry for the chap. Couldn’t ’ave turned him in even if
I wanted to. And I didn’t want to – never did sit right with me that he could
do such a thing. Ministry’s not perfect, ye know… don’t trust ’em to always
get the right man… seen ’em make too many mistakes during me life.” He shook
himself slightly, as if to rid himself of an unpleasant memory.
“Anyway, I’d been having a bit of Ogden’s
that night, so I didn’t believe me eyes at first – kind of like just now with
those house-elf heads. But the brute was still there in front of me. I went
over and offered him the heel of a loaf of bread I still had on me. I put the firewhiskey
down to get the bread out of my pocket. Shocked he was to see me at first, but
he took it after sniffing me careful-like so’s he could see I meant him no
harm. After that, he scampered off right quick. I watched him a bit and then I
“Weren’t ’till later when I remembered I
was supposed to see Arabella Figg the next day that I realised that I’d left
the firewhiskey behind. I always need a stiff drink after seeing her albums of
her ruddy cats. But, no, I’d left it behind. Me, leaving something so
important on the ground for anyone to find! Well, I went back to get it, but
it was gone. Such a waste! I looked around carefully, but all I saw were four
of the biggest paw prints I ever did see. I knew it were ’im. So I followed
the tracks all the way back to a cave far out of town.”
Those caves. How many times did we
investigate them on full moon nights? Wormtail was always taunting us that he
could get in when we couldn’t. Poor Prongs always had it roughest with those
hooves of his – slipping and sliding on the rocks – and his big antlers getting
in the way and preventing him from entering the caves with smaller openings.
“… watching for ’im and always made sure
to have some food on me.” Right… Mundungus … the watch. Remus pulled
his chair closer to the table and tried to pay closer attention. “I felt right
sorry for ’im. I know wha’ it’s like to be down on me luck and to be hiding.
Whenever I saw ’im nearby, I always gave ’im some food. He took it quickly at
first. As time went on, he grew a little more trusting, even though I always
felt like he was giving me the once over. But he seemed to really be grateful
for me help. I never did let on as how I knew it was ’im.
“I didn’t see ’im for a while. So, I
took me chances and went up to that cave I knew he was hiding in. He was
there, all right, but in his human form. He was shaking with fever and didn’t
have proper blankets or anything. I told ’im I’d be right back with some
medicines and blankets. He knew I didn’t have two knuts to pinch together, and
neither did he. He insisted that I take the watch and use it to get what I
“Must’ve been really touched with the
fever to trust me with a solid gold watch! I tried to refuse, but he
insisted. So, I took the watch so I could get going. He was in a bad way and
“Didn’t you think to go to Dumbledore?
He knew Sirius was innocent!” Remus said in disbelief as he got up to stop the
ingredients before the batter got too rubbery and placed the pan on one of the
rings on the old cooker.
“Of course I did! What do you take me
for, a bloody fool?” cried Mundungus indignantly.
Remus started melting the butter in the
pan as he thought of how Mundungus had gone off on a business venture when he
was supposed to be guarding Harry last summer at Privet Drive.
“I went to Dumbledore straight away.
Course, I didn’t know he knew ’bout Sirius back then, so’s I made out it was an
acquaintance of mine, you see. Dumbledore gave me wha’ I needed straight off.
He even offered to have Madam Pomfrey come out, but I said ‘no’ since Sirius
was wanted by the Ministry.
Poppy would have known what to do!
She would have got in touch with me. I know she would. She used to think the
world of Sirius.
“I offered Dumbledore some of me own
money for the medicines, but he’d have none of it. I knew that watch must be
really important for Sirius to have it on ’im. Still don’t know how he got it
back after his escape from Azkaban.”
“He got it
because I owled it to him after I left Hogwarts,” Remus added quietly, almost
to himself. “I knew how much it meant to him and thought he would like
to have it near him while he was still avoiding the Ministry – to remind him
that his friends were always with him.” That I wouldn’t desert him again.
“Huh. So that’s how it were. Anyway,”
continued Mundungus, “I thought ’bout selling it. Had a good deal on dragon’s
teeth I could’ve used the galleons for. Right tempting offer it was! But I
didn’t. Wouldn’t sell nothing that meant so much to a bloke. So I kept it for
’im until he got better. Later on, when I went to give it back to ’im, he was
gone and I’d no way of reaching ’im. Poor bloke.”
“Then why didn’t you give it to me?”
asked Remus in astonishment as he made the pancakes. “You knew what close
friends we had been.”
“That’s the point. I knew wha’ close
friends you had been. Last I heard from Dumbledore before last summer, ye
still were refusing to talk about Sirius. So I figgered ye wouldn’t want nothin’
to remind ye of ’im. Then Sirius came and found me one night on Dumbledore’s
orders and we all came here. I tried to give it back to ’im. But he said he
didn’t want anything of his in this ruddy house. Better for at least something
of his to be free. He told me not to sell it to use on any of me business
ventures or he would ’ave my hide. But he said that with a wicked smile on his
face. He knew I wouldn’t. He was one of the few people what trusted me.
Always happy to see me, he was.”
Remus smiled thinly. “He’s not the only
one. I like seeing you, too.” Although not just now.
“I weren’t talking about ye, Remus.” Mundungus
shifted in his seat and said with disgust. “It’s Snape and Molly Weasley and
lots of other witches and wizards who’d rather not be in me company ’cause of
me associates and all. But not Sirius. He never looked down on me.
Dumbledore neither. Always appreciated the information I brung ’im, even when
“Well some people cannot see that we need
your … special talents.” Remus said tactfully as he served the pumpkin pancakes
and sat down.
“Right you are, lad!” Mundungus wheezed
with pride as he stuffed a forkful of pancake into his mouth with gusto. As
always, Mudundgus ate like he didn’t know where his next meal was coming from.
“It’s not so easy as people think to hear about the things people don’t want ye
to hear. Takes cunning and talent.” He stabbed more pancake heartily with his
fork and smiled.
“Indeed,” said Remus with a pleasant
smile as he forced a bit of pancake into his mouth with little enthusiasm.
“Sirius and I used to swap stories about
how to get information and certain … commodities … that are difficult to come
by,” said Mundungus lazily. “I’ll never forget ’im telling me how he used to
pretend to be a sad dog with no home to beg some food. He used to try to beg
round back where the house-elves were, hoping they’d feel sorry for ’im.” Mundungus
gave a great big guffaw of a laugh. “They did, too. While he was there, he’d
nick some newspapers to try to get information on Harry and You-Know-Who.”
“Sirius always was good at uncovering
information. It was one of his strong suits as an Auror,” said Remus, smirking
slightly at the memory of Sirius’ creativity.
Mundungus rambled slowly on. There was
no stopping him once he was in the throws of a good story. “There was this one
time back in Hogsmeade that we both spotted somebody throwing a Daily Prophet
in a trash bin,” said Mundungus. He took a swig from his flask and leaned
closer to Remus. Oh, that nasty breath!
“He was in dog form, course. He couldn’t
speak. He looks at me, and I looks at ’im and we both start walking quickly to
the bin with that there paper in it. Pretty soon, we’re both running. Weren’t
much of a contest, me against a big brute like ’im. He ran away with the
paper. Next time I saw ’im, wouldn’t ye know he laid that paper down at me
feet!” Mundungus gave a great laugh as he finished with a swaggering flourish of
his flask. “Had tooth marks and dog slobber on it, but it was the same paper.
That was Sirius for ye.” Mundungus sprayed Remus with a bit of firewhiskey as
he laughed through the ending of his tale.
Despite the unsolicited shower from Mundungus,
a bit of warmth spread inside Remus as he heard this story. Sirius had never
told it to him, but it was so like him.
They finished eating the pancakes. It
actually felt better to have some food in his stomach. At last, Mundungus left
and Remus took care of Buckbeak before settling in the drawing room to think
It was nearly nine in the evening when he
crept back down to his room, lit a candle, and sat in the leather chair looking
out the window at the fog closing in around the world outside. He alternated
between pleasant memories of Sirius and feelings of anger and sadness at his
loss. When the candle had burnt all the way down and extinguished itself, Remus
took no notice. He remained in his chair, lost in thought.
Remus could hear Sirius singing some Muggle
Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.
Oh, what a beautiful day.
Why was Remus hearing this? He was
still upstairs, tucked neatly in his bed. Just then, he felt something odd in
his right ear and reached up with his fingers to see what it was.
An extendable ear. Sirius. Another
annoying Muggle song. He pulled it out of his ear and followed the thin flesh
coloured string with his eyes. It led out the door. He moved the bedcovers
aside, got out of bed and followed the string, winding it up in his hand as he
went. Down the long passage it led, past Sirius’ messy room, past the one
Harry and Ron had used, and still it continued. On and on he followed it,
eventually down the stairs and into the bright cool kitchen.
There were already orange juice and
tea on the kitchen table, which was covered with a floor length white
tablecloth. The table was set with the best Black family china and
silverware. And there were… flowers on the table in a crystal vase. Over on
the marble benchtop, Remus saw the toast and orange marmalade, waiting to be
brought to the table.
And there was Sirius. What was he
wearing? A huge preposterous white fluffy hat of some sort was on his head and
a large white apron covered his torso. He wielded a spatula in his right hand
as he stood in front of a pan on the cooker, making eggs. He was still
All the sounds of the earth are like
All the sounds of the earth are like
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a
And a ol' weepin' willer is laughin'
Sirius turned to face Remus, a huge
smile lighting up his face as he sung to him.
Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.
Oh, what a beautiful day.
“Padfoot? You feeling all right?” Remus
asked disbelievingly as he grabbed the end of the extendable ear hovering right
in front of Sirius’ mouth.
“Splendid, splendid!” said Sirius, his
“What’s with all this? The fancy
china and all? Singing? You haven’t acted like this since we’ve been in this
“Moony, I was just thinking that you
and I need to try to cheer up. I’m tired of feeling depressed day after day.
And you don’t look much better, mate. Going around silently, not telling me
everything. I know there’s plenty of danger out there. But it’s almost
Christmas and maybe Dumbledore will let Harry come here for the holidays!
That’s what I was thinking of this morning as I woke up. So, I wanted to get
everything ready, just in case.”
Remus shook his head with a smile. “Padfoot,
you are amazing. Everything you have been through, you still can have as much
fun as a child at times.”
Sirius laughed back and sent the toast
and marmalade over to the table with an easy flick of his wand.
Remus started spreading the marmalade
on the toast for them as Sirius finished up with the eggs and served them with
a dramatic presentation.
“You know,” said Remus guardedly, “ he
isn’t likely to let Harry come here. He’s better protected at Hogwarts.”
“Doesn’t seem so safe to me with that Umbridge
woman about.” Sirius growled.
“No, she is not one to be trifled
with; I have unfortunately felt her sting in my lack of employment.” Remus
said resignedly, then his voice took on a more gentle tone as he looked Sirius
directly in the eyes. “But there are other dangers around and you know it.”
“True. And who better to protect him
from them than his own godfather here in a place that is unplottable?” replied
Sirius as if trying to convince himself as much as Remus. Sirius’ eyes darkened
and his voice lowered so slightly that only Remus would notice the difference.
“Besides, don’t spoil my good mood. Let me try to dream a little. You mind?”
Remus smiled a little to himself; he
owed Sirius that much at the very least. “No, certainly not. You’re right.
“Good. Then let’s start planning on
how we can get a giant Christmas tree in this place without anyone knowing
about it!” The air lightened immediately.
“As long as it doesn’t involve a foray
into the Forbidden Forest, you’re on.”
Breakfast continued with plans of
trees, fairy lights, and many other wonderful dreams, being discussed, none
more wonderful than imagining having with Harry there for Christmas. It was a
Remus awoke tangled in his bed linens.
Although the sun was shining brightly into his bedchamber, there was no smell
of eggs and no bustle in the kitchen. No singing. The present was stark and
Sirius had something beautiful in this
house after all. He got his Christmas with Harry as he had wished, thank
goodness. It wasn’t all bad.
Remus rose and led Buckbeak into the
garden for a while. Once outside, Remus sat in the garden and stared at the
large stone statue of Salazar Slytherin. How could Sirius have been part of
this family? It never made any sense.
Why was Sirius dead while Bellatrix
was still alive? Where is the justice in that? How could Fudge have been so
blind? Why didn’t Dumbledore see that Sirius and Harry needed more than
physical safety to keep them alive? To be really alive, you need warmth, love,
and people around you who can give you those things without hesitation. Why
didn’t I do something to help Sirius? I was supposed to be his best friend,
yet I did nothing. Nothing.
I never did anything. Why didn’t I
even go to see him at Azkaban to hear his side of the story? Why did I accept
the Ministry’s and Dumbledore’s word? He was all that was left … and I did not
even give him a chance to try to explain. How stupid I was! All those years
wasted! And now he’s gone. Forever.
He’s really gone. He’s not coming
back. Strange how distant a memory he already seems.
It was late afternoon before Remus thought
about going back inside.
He managed to remember to eat a small
meal that night, although his thoughts of that afternoon kept echoing in his
Wearily he trudged to bed. Sleep came
more easily to him that night as his mind started to accept the inevitable
truth about Sirius’ death.
Remus found himself back in the garden
the next morning. “Four days. Sirius has been dead four days already. It seems
like an eternity. Yet, it seems like he is still alive … like I will see him
as soon as I enter the next room. What is time? It has no meaning. He was
alive, then as good as dead, then alive again, and then dead again,” Remus
pondered aloud as he set the wards around Buckbeak. Sirius wasn’t the first
loss he had suffered, but losing Sirius a second time was different than the
“James was alive and then he died. Yet
he lives on in Harry. I see more and more of James in Harry as he gets older.
Or maybe it’s that as James got older, he caught up to Harry in maturity.”
He sat on the granite bench. The back of
the bench was carved to resemble two entwined elaborate snakes whose heads made
up the arm rests. Remus cupped his chin in his hands as his elbows rested on
his knees. A gentle breeze blew through his hair.
“Peter was alive, but then we thought him
dead, but now he lives again, but is as good as dead as far as we were
concerned.” He shook his head. These circular thoughts were just too much.
It doesn’t make any sense.
“And I … I was alive and then I thought
myself dead when I received the bite. Then I came alive again at Hogwarts…
then I died when I thought they were all dead… and then I started to live again
back at Hogwarts with teaching, Harry, and then Sirius, and now… and now…”
And now what? Good question, Lupin. Now,
what’s the answer?
Remus straightened up slowly as the
answer dawned on him.
I don’t know. I have no idea what the
The early morning breeze brought with it
the rich smells of the grass, oak tree, and the warm dirt. Smells of life.
Yet, Remus felt oddly detached from it all.
He sat and tried to think, but his
thoughts were still so full of Sirius that it was impossible for him to think
clearly. Eventually, he gave up and brought Buckbeak back inside to his room
and fed him a couple of extra rats for good measure.
Just as he contemplated whether it was
worth it to make breakfast for himself, a knock on the door caught him by
surprise. Who could that be? Nobody’s supposed to be here until tomorrow.
“Good morning, Remus,” Arthur said once Remus
had shut the front door behind him. Remus took Arthur’s hat and cloak and hung
them up for him.
“Good morning, Arthur. I wasn’t
expecting to see you until tomorrow.”
“Yes… well … um …” Arthur started before
giving up on trying to explain. Instead, he thrust a covered crock at Remus.
“This is from Molly. She said she
doubted you had eaten one square meal since … well, you know… and that I was to
be certain to stop by on my way to the Ministry and give you this. You know
Molly… always feels better if she’s helping.”
Remus took the crock, feeling slightly
“Please be sure to thank her for me.” Remus
led the way into the kitchen to put the crock away. “May I get your
something? Tea? Something to eat?”
“Tea perhaps,” Arthur said uncomfortably.
“Actually … I have another reason for my visit. You see, the Ministry is
investigating what happened that night and is having everyone who was involved
fill out detailed reports. I thought I’d spare you going down there; I brought
the papers with me. I can pick them up tomorrow evening at the meeting.
Kingsley and I thought it would be best this way. Good man, Kingsley. He
managed to get Fudge to agree.”
For the second time in two minutes, Remus
was stunned – not by the report that he had to complete; he had expected that.
He was touched by the thoughtfulness of Arthur and Kingsley and their ability
to convince Fudge of anything reasonable.
“Thank you, Arthur. Truly,” he said
quietly, his mouth dry. “That will make it much more … bearable. Please, have
a seat,” he motioned.
Arthur sat down at the table and pulled
the papers out of his pocket as Remus began preparing the tea.
“I would ask how you are, but I have a
fairly good idea,” said Arthur, a clear note of sympathy in his voice.
Remus cocked his eyebrow at Arthur
sceptically as he set the tea down just a little too hastily. “Do you?”
“I think so. You did not know me really
back at the time of the first war against You-Know-Who, but my family, like
many others, was … touched.” Arthur’s looked pointedly at Remus as he
continued in a sad voice. “I had three older brothers. Edward went into
service with the International Confederation of Magic and lives abroad. Andrew
is a teacher at the Borealis Academy for Young Witches and Wizards in Essex.
He always enjoyed teaching the little ones. My other brother, Charles, had
been an Auror with the Ministry back when you lot were first starting at
Hogwarts. In fact, he was my twin. He was one of the first to openly oppose
You-Know-Who and he paid for it with his life. The look of abject terror on
his face is something my parents never recovered. He was only twenty-three; no
parent, no sibling expects to lose a loved one at twenty-three.”
“My lord, Arthur. I had no idea; I am so
sorry,” Remus said in astonishment.
“Yes. It is not something that I enjoy
telling people. I could not understand how my twin brother, who had played
with Quidditch with me that Christmas and given me a brand new Muggle ten-speed
cybicle for my Muggle collection, could all of a sudden be dead. He was so
bright and happy all the time, at least he was around me. I couldn’t
understand that I would never see him again because some monster had decided he
of all people was the enemy and destroyed him. And so he was gone.” Arthur was
staring into the vacant space before him.
Remus moved about the room, eventually
fumbling with the teapot as he got more tea. Damn. Arthur’s own twin
brother. “I’m sorry, Arthur. I don’t know what to say.”
“There is nothing to say; there never is, and that is something of the point.
It happened a long time ago. All our friends and relatives came to pay their
respects. They all brought food for us and said how sorry they were. They
kept coming over in droves those first few days, hovering over us, always
asking us how we felt; they had no idea. Oh, sure, some of them had
experienced deaths of family or friends before, but not from something sudden
like this when the person had been fighting to make the wizarding world free of
a monster like You-Know-Who.” Even after all these years, the anger and
bitterness still resounded in Arthur’s voice. It was something Remus had never
heard in Arthur’s voice before.
“When someone who is older dies, we
expect it. We prepare ourselves for it, but that wasn’t the case with
Charles. Oh, sure, I knew his work was dangerous and could lead to his death,
but that was an abstract idea. It wasn’t real, not to me. Of all my brothers,
Charles was the one I was closest to. He is the only one who really understood
me. He didn’t think me odd for liking Muggle things; to the contrary, he
encouraged me. He was the one who got me my very first Muggle light bulb,
which I still treasure it to this day. Charles and I had all sorts of secrets;
we understood what the other was thinking without verbal communication. I have
never been able to have that connection of thought with anyone else, not even
Remus sat down and looked down at his
teacup for a few minutes. Finally he spoke barely above a whisper. “So you
understand. I’ve been experiencing those feelings, too. I was there and saw
him die, but I still have trouble accepting it. I am so… “ His voice trailed
“Lost? Confused? Feeling alone? Guilty
that you should’ve done something to prevent his death or make his life
Remus looked up
at him, a bit surprised to hear his own thoughts voiced.
kindly at him for a moment before his face softened and took on a sympathetic
and understanding air. “I felt all those things, too,” he continued softly.
“As well as anger toward my brother for dying and leaving me alone. Yes, it’s
all right to feel that, too – you just forget. All I wanted to do was to be
left alone. I didn’t feel like I belonged with everyone else anymore. I felt
separated. Eventually, the pain lessened and I was able to move on. Molly and
I named our next son after my brother to honour him and so he would never be
forgotten, but I would never forget him anyway. He lives on in my memories and
has helped shape who I am and what I do today.”
Remus fingered the teacup again, trying
to work through what Arthur had been telling him. His eyebrows were knitted
together. He could feel Arthur’s eyes on him.
“You think about it, Remus. Time will
help. Tomorrow, Tonks and that Portia will be coming here in the morning.
Talk to Tonks. You’re both grieving. Later on, when we’re at the meeting,
I‘ll try to keep Molly away from you. Even though she means well, she tends to
be a bit smothering when she sees someone in pain. I know what she was like
when Charles died and it would be best if you had less to do with her until
you’re feeling stronger.”
Arthur moved the Ministry papers toward Remus,
who picked them up without looking and turned them over slowly in his fingers.
Arthur rose and put a hand on Remus’ shoulder.
“Talk to Tonks and try to remember how
much Sirius lived. His life may have been short and he definitely suffered a
great deal, but he lived his life to its fullest. He did not waste it.”
Remus nodded, his eyes still cast down.
“I’ll let myself out.”