Summer of the Phoenix
A prologue to “The
Order of the Phoenix”
“We’ve set up
Headquarters somewhere undetectable. It’s taken a while…”
(Remus Lupin to Harry in “The Order of the Phoenix”, Chapter 3)
Have you ever wondered how No. 12 Grimmauld Place was established as Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix? Have you ever wanted
to see a meeting of the Order, and how they came to accept Sirius back into
their ranks? Have you ever asked yourself how they came to guard the Department
of Mysteries, and why the Weasleys moved into Headquarters with their children
and Hermione? How the Order reacted to the news of the Dementor
attack on Harry? And why Harry didn’t get the “better welcome” he was expecting
when he finally arrived at Grimmauld Place?
In short: Have you ever wished that “The Order
of the Phoenix” had come with a prologue?
It does now. The answers are here.
Bridging the gap between the end of “Goblet of
Fire” and the day Harry arrives at Headquarters at the start of “Order of the Phoenix”, this story tells –
from Sirius Black’s point of view - of the rebuilding of the Order and life at No. 12 Grimmauld Place during the summer of 1995 - the Summer of the Phoenix.
descended on Grimmauld Place. The gloomy orange street lamps added only
little light to that of the waxing moon in the cloudy sky above. The square
itself was deserted. A slight breeze rustled through the withered trees around
There was a
particularly strong gust of wind – and two figures appeared at the
north-eastern corner of the square, as if the wind had blown them there. They
were the figures of a man and a dog, walking side by side down towards the
southern side of the square. The man wore a shabby old trench coat and
trainers. His hair was grey, but it seemed to have greyed prematurely, since
his face, although rather thin and lined, was that of a man not much past
forty. He seemed to be muttering to himself, but as he drew nearer it became
clear that he was talking to his dog, like lonely people talk to their pets
when they have no other friends.
are, then. Number twelve, was it? The one over there, with the dark brick
façade and the windows boarded up on the ground floor?”
as if expecting the dog to reply, but the dog, a big, shaggy black creature,
stood quite silent and motionless, contemplating the house the man had
then,” said the man. “Looks like we’re early. Let’s
take a little walk around the square while we wait, shall we?”
whom?” a deep voice growled behind them.
The man in
the trench coat whipped round, reaching into his coat, but the moment he came
face to face with the speaker, he relaxed immediately and even smiled, if still
a little nervously. The appearance of the newcomer, however, was not of a sort that
would usually invite smiles, even nervous ones. He was an elderly man, wearing
a long black travelling cloak over his slightly hunched shoulders and a bowler
hat that sat lopsidedly on his grizzled dark hair, covering his right eye – but
it could not conceal the fact that the man had a large chunk missing from his
nose, as if it had been bitten off by a ferocious dog. Perhaps that was the
reason why he was eyeing the black dog next to the younger man rather suspiciously.
for me, were you? I was waiting for you.
Where are the others? And what did you bring that dog for?”
“Just for company. Nice to meet you, Alastor.” The younger man
offered his hand to the newcomer, who didn’t take it.
want to draw attention to ourselves, Lupin,” he growled instead.
confirmed Lupin, and his smile widened. “Only we figured we’d attract far more attention if we had Sirius Black
wandering around the heart of London in his usual form.”
let out a low rasp of breath that sounded almost like a laugh. “Oh yes, of
course,” he said. “Dumbledore told me. Brilliant achievement
for a fifth year student, by the way. So this is what you look like,”
and he gave the dog a gruff but good-natured pat on the head. “You’d better
wait until we’re inside then. And if that old crook doesn’t turn up this
instant, we’re going without him.”
come,” replied Lupin.
better be quick about it,” Moody muttered. “We can’t stand here forever… got to
keep moving… not linger in one place too long, makes you vulne – over here, quick!” The last words
were spoken in an urgent whisper, and Moody caught the other man by the sleeve
and pulled him out of the circle of light from the street lamp they’d been standing
figure had appeared on the far side of the square, looking even more like a
shabby tramp than the other two, with his mop of ginger hair and unshaved face.
He walked straight towards them across the brownish patch of lawn in the middle
of the square, his hands deep in the pockets of his coat, which seemed to be
several sizes too large for him.
time,” Moody growled as he stepped forward to meet him.
“’Evenin’, guv,” the other replied,
not bothering to take his hands out of his pockets. “Now, where’re we s’pposed to go? An’ what’s the dog doin’
“Never you mind,” Moody said. “We’ve got to get a move on. Let’s
see if we can get in.”
his back on the others and opened the wrought-iron gate that led to the door
steps of number twelve.
light,” he muttered, looking up sourly at the street lamps, but then he
shrugged and moved up the steps.
followed, grouping around the large black front door with the brass No. 12 on
it, the figures blind with age. The door had neither handle nor keyhole, but
there was a large door knocker in the shape of a twisted serpent in the centre
of it, and a frayed bell string that looked as if it might crumble in the hand
of whoever touched it.
“You’d better check if the coast is clear,”
what I’m doing,” Moody replied, staring at the door, and then moving his gaze
to the left, to the right and up to the windows of the first and second floor.
“No sign of any living creature, beast, being or spirit,” he reported.
“D’you reckon we’re safe then?” the man with the ginger hair
“I can see
through closed doors, not into the future, Mundungus,”
Moody replied irritably. “Never reckon you’re safe, anywhere or any time.”
He drew out
his wand and pointed it at the door. “Alohomora.”
happened. He tapped the door in different places, still without effect.
Finally, he pocketed his wand again and pushed his shoulder against the door,
but it still didn’t open. “Am I supposed to blast the whole darn thing down?”
“If that is
a rhetorical question, go ahead,” Lupin smiled.
“You have a
better idea then?”
over,” Mundungus interrupted them, unceremoniously
pushing Moody aside. He produced a little instrument from somewhere inside his
coat that looked like a pocket knife, only with several blades, one very fine
and thin, one crooked, one broad and flat. He tapped the door with the fine and
thin blade in the place where the keyhole would normally be. There was a soft click. Next he pushed the broad blade
into the narrow gap between the door and the frame and moved it up and down
carefully until it metal hit metal, and there was a clatter like a chain being
released. Then the crooked blade went in, and after about a minute, during
which Moody began tapping his foot impatiently, they heard a bolt drawn back,
and the door swung open, revealing a dark and dusty hallway.
underestimate the ol’ crook.” Mundungus
grinned and gave Moody a mock bow. “Step in an’ make yourselves at home,
Moody, and turned to the dog, which was sitting behind the three men, patiently
watching the proceedings. “You go first. It’s yours after all.” He stepped back
to make room, and the dog hesitantly got up and moved towards the darkness of
the hallway. It stopped and sniffed. The hair on the back of its neck bristled.
But then, with sudden resolution, it walked on through the door into the gloomy
hall. The others followed in silence.
And so it
was that Sirius Black, for the first time in almost twenty years, again set
foot in the house of his fathers.
* * *
entering last, closed the door behind them and sealed it with a whispered “Colloportus”.
Moody, and the pale light from the tip of his wand revealed a view of the front
part of a long hallway, and a staircase on their right leading to the upper
said Mundungus in a low voice, taking a few more
steps into the hall, looking around at the dark wooden panelling that was
coming off the walls, the frayed carpet that gave off little clouds of dust
under their steps, and the serpent-shaped chandelier hanging from the ceiling,
covered in cobwebs. “Blimey,” he said again. “Mad-Eye, what is this place?”
and most ancient house of Black,” said a new voice from the door.
gave a start and turned to the now three human faces confronting him. Between
Moody and Lupin stood a third man, about Lupin’s age, with almost shoulder
length dark hair and deep set, equally dark eyes. His face looked rather drawn
and wasted in the pale light, but his eyes were curiously alive.
repeated Mundungus, taking a while to put two and two
together. “This is your house?”
voice down, Mundungus,” Moody warned him.
expression changed from surprise to disbelief. “Your own house,” he said to
Sirius, ignoring Moody’s warning. “Nice hideout for a mad mass murderer.”
“He’s not –
“ Lupin began.
my hideout,” said Sirius grimly. “I haven’t been here for twenty years. And,”
he continued, looking around the hall with a sigh, “I’m not sure it’s good to
changed so much?” Lupin asked sympathetically.
“No, not at
all,” Sirius replied. “That’s what I meant.”
forward past Mundungus, his own wand raised and lit.
“There used to be a huge portrait on the wall here,” he said, pointing at a
pair of velvet curtains on the left side of the hall.
still is,” Moody said, drawing level with him. “Elderly lady
in black and green silk and a lacy bonnet, sitting in a high carved chair.
her,” Sirius said.
have a look?” Moody asked, reaching for the curtains.
Sirius said quickly. “I’m afraid I don’t feel much like saying hello, after – “
“Sssh!” Lupin hissed suddenly, and now they all heard
it – the sound of soft little footsteps, and a small voice muttering to itself. It was coming from somewhere beyond or beneath the
far end of the hall, which was in total darkness. The four men held their
breath. There was the sound of a door opening, and suddenly they heard the
“It was the
front door, yes, Kreacher must go and see who it is!
Mistress doesn’t expect guests, she would have told Kreacher. Maybe it’s
thieves and burglars and murderers!” The voice was close now, hovering just
beyond the range of their wand light.
Sirius said in a low voice, “didn’t you check the basement before we went in?”
told me there was a basement,” Moody snarled out of the corner of his mouth,
his wand pointed firmly towards the source of the small voice.
There was a
tense silence. Even the creature in the shadows had stopped muttering.
you are,” Moody suddenly called down the hall, his own voice not so much unlike
a dog’s bark, “show yourself or you’ll regret it!”
movement in the darkness, and then a small creature shuffled forward into the
wand light, shielding its enormous bulging eyes with a bony, withered hand. It
seemed very old, its thin greyish skin hanging around its bones like an
oversized piece of clothing. For real clothing, it wore nothing but a grimy
loincloth that seemed to be made of an old towel. It had very long, pointed
ears, and a nose like a snout. It was clearly a house-elf.
“What –“ Moody said, but Sirius had already lowered his wand.
he said. The house-elf gave a little start at being addressed with his name,
looked up at the man who had spoken to him, and broke into a wide, toothy grin.
he squeaked excitedly. “It’s Master! He’s come back at last!” And he bowed to
the dusty floor. When he straightened up again, the grin had wavered slightly,
threatening to slide off his ugly face, but the elf caught it just in time and
forced it back. “He’s back, oh, Mistress must hear of it, she must hear it at
once, at once!” There was definitely something sly and wicked in his grin now,
and sure enough, without warning, the elf suddenly broke into an ear-splitting
“He’s baaaack! BAAAAAAAACK!!!” he wailed, and then several things
happened at once. Moody never got further than “Shut up, you –“, while Lupin
clapped his hands over his ears, his face screwed up in pain. A second later,
the curtains in front of the portrait on the left hand wall had flown open,
revealing the ugly sight of the woman in the silk dress, just as Moody had
described her, but now wide awake and screaming at the top of her voice.
screamed, pointing an accusing finger at Sirius, “UNGRATEFUL BRAT THAT YOU’VE
ALWAYS BEEN, HOW DARE YOU COME SNEAKING BACK INTO THE HOUSE OF YOUR FATHERS,
AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, LIKE A MURDERER – “
yelled Moody, pointing his wand at the painting. A red jet of light shot out of
his wand, but it glanced off the canvas as if off an invisible shield.
shouted Lupin almost at the same time, but with no more luck than Moody. The
woman in green and black wailed on, unstunned and unsilenced.
INTO MY HOUSE, IN THE COMPANY OF SHABBY THIEVES AND CRIMINALS – “
brat!” the elf echoed happily, adding his squeaky voice to the infernal noise
echoing up and down the hallway. “Thieves! Murderers!”
“Hang on,” Mundungus said practically, and grabbed the frayed and
dusty curtains, trying to yank them shut. They flew out of his hands, refusing
to close over the still shrieking painting. Mundungus
grabbed them again. “Help me!” he shouted. Lupin came to his aid, and together
they managed to cover the portrait.
was so sudden it was almost palpable. Moody let out a low whistle. Lupin wiped
his forehead with the sleeve of his coat. Sirius, who had stood rooted to the
spot throughout the whole racket, slowly came to life again. He turned away
from the curtains covering the portrait, and stared very hard at the little
house-elf. The creature flinched under his gaze, and sank into another low bow
with a whispered “Master”. But when he looked up again, his face was twisted in
undisguised hatred, and when he spoke, the wicked grin reached almost from
pointed ear to pointed ear. “Welcome home.”
the house-elf a murderous look. His wand was still in his hand, and his
companions could see his fingers tighten around it.
“Erm, Mundungus,” Lupin suddenly
said in a casual voice, “how did you know that?” He pointed over his shoulder
at the now completely still curtains.
Mundungus replied with a grin, “easy. It’s, well, not
the first time I’ve had a portrait in someone’s home shout ‘thief’ and
‘burglar’ at me, y’ know…” He glanced apologetically at Moody, who was frowning
deeply. “Anyway, I find the bes’
way is to get outta their sight. They all calm down
after a while.”
Lupin said approvingly.
Moody admitted with a grunt, apparently not inclined to give Mundungus more credit for his crook’s tricks than
absolutely necessary. “Right. Let’s keep our voices
down, have some more light, and take a closer look at the place.”
his wand at the old-fashioned gas lamps along the walls of the hall, and one
after the other, they flickered into life, lighting the hallway from end to
“Hang on,” Mundungus said again, looking up and down the hall in
confusion. “Where’d that big black dog go?”
Sirius said, turning sharply on his heel, away from the elf and back to his
companions. “Let’s go and find the headmaster’s portrait. It used to be in the
ever tells me anythin’,” Mundungus
stay down here and keep an eye on that elf,” Moody instructed Mundungus. “And don’t touch anything.”
looked injured at the implication, but said nothing. Moody took off his bowler
hat, revealing his mismatched eyes, one dark and one electric-blue, and hung
the hat over the serpent-shaped ornament on the lower end of the banister. Then
they began ascending the stairs to the upper floors.
have moved him to an unused room,” Sirius remarked. “It’s quite irritating to
have someone like him breathing down your neck when you’re writing a letter or
reading a book, even if he doesn’t comment on it every single time. Look,” he
said, pointing at a row of plaques on the wall, a grim collection of shrunken
house-elf heads, all with the same extremely long ears and snout like nose as
the live one downstairs. “How soon do you think Kreacher’s
going to join them?”
grunted in reply. They had arrived on the second landing. Several doors led off
it. The closest was to their right.
first,” Sirius muttered, standing back to make room for Moody, who raised an
“Anything wrong?” He scanned the closed door to make sure there was nothing unpleasant
Sirius said, not looking at either of his companions, “it’s just – “
to be yours?” Lupin guessed.
it over then.” Without waiting for an answer from Sirius, Moody had turned the
serpent-shaped handle and pushed the door open.
time,” a bored voice greeted them. “I thought you’d never even make it here,
after all the racket downstairs. You’re lucky you didn’t wake the Muggle neighbours.”
Out of a
large ornate frame on the wall to their left, a man was looking down at them,
his lips curled in a sneer. He was wearing black and green like the woman in
the hall, but judging from his hairstyle and his white silk stockings and
buckled shoes, his painting was much older. Around his neck was the heavy chain
of office with the Hogwarts crest that the headmasters wore on official
we’re here now, Nigellus,” Moody growled. “And you’d
better take yourself off back to Dumbledore double quick and tell him that his
advance guard has completed its mission successfully and with no casualties.”
the former headmaster replied haughtily. “My duty – “ and the tone of his voice left them in no doubt as to what
he thought about it, “my duty is to the current Headmaster or Headmistress of
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and to him or her only. I would like you to note that I am
not taking orders from anyone else, least of all from suspended ex-Aurors,
lycanthropes and – “ his gaze travelled from Moody and
Lupin to Sirius, and he fell silent.
“ – mad
mass murderers?” Sirius suggested sarcastically.
ridiculous,” said Headmaster Nigellus, almost
affectionately. “You’re family after all, Sirius.”
reminding me, Phineas,” Sirius replied, “just when
I’d almost managed to forget.”
Phineas Nigellus gave him a thin smile and stroked his pointed
suspended,” Moody grumbled, “I retired.”
“And I am
not going to waste my time bickering over mere technicalities with you lot,” Phineas replied in his earlier haughty tone. “I am going to
see Professor Dumbledore now, and if he thinks you worthy of a reply, I might condescend to coming back to tell
you.” And with a swish of his black and green robes, he was gone, leaving the
canvas blank in its frame.
go and have a look at the other rooms until he’s back?” Lupin asked.
shrugged indifferently. “If you like,” he said. “I think you will find them all
much like this one.”
they were looking into was in the same state of decay as the rest of the house
– dusty, gloomy and almost empty, long fallen into disuse. Except for the bed,
there was hardly any sign that it had ever been used at all, and certainly no
sign of its last inhabitant having been a fifteen-year-old boy. They waited in
silence, Sirius leaning in the doorframe, staring blankly at the wall
“You know, this house will be really useful,”
Moody broke the silence after a while.
“As useful as Mundungus Fletcher?” Sirius asked, not willing to be
cheered up so easily.
useful,” Moody said. “Big enough to house a fair number if needed, but not too big to hide it. Could even withstand a
concerted attack or siege for a while, given the defence was properly
of being properly organized,” came Phineas Nigellus’s voice from the empty frame, followed shortly
afterwards by the former headmaster himself, “Professor Dumbledore says well
done to no casualties – he did seem
surprised about that – and he will be with you first thing in the morning. You,
that’s Sirius and Lupin, are to stay here until he
joins you. Mad-Eye Moody and the crook can go home. Under no circumstances is
Sirius to leave the house. Take a note for Professor Dumbledore of anything
unexpected that you find in the house, but don’t attempt to change or get rid
of it yourself.”
include Kreacher?” Sirius asked innocently.
Phineas Nigellus seemed
are we supposed to do with him?”
mean he is still there?”
Sirius exchanged a look.
mean you didn’t know?”
I didn’t,” said Phineas in his most dignified tone.
“There are no paintings in the kitchen,
you know. And besides, I doubt I have spent much more time in this house than
you over the last twenty years, Sirius. I dare say I’ve always found your
mother’s company slightly less unpleasant than you did, but life in this place
did not improve with her death - particularly not in the hall, as you have
already found out, if my ears have not deceived me. Now, if you please,
gentlemen, I don’t know about you but I at
least should like to get some rest
tonight.” And he made to move out of the frame.
night,” Moody called after him. “And tell Dumbledore not to ring the door
But Phineas Nigellus was already
slowly turned to Sirius, who met his eyes with a rather stubborn look on his
“That was –
your mother?” Lupin asked very
nodded grimly. “That was her. I always told you you
didn’t want to meet her, didn’t I? I hope you believe me now.”
* * *
came back down to the hall, Moody’s bowler hat was still there, but both Mundungus Fletcher and the house-elf were gone.
villain,” Moody grumbled. “Useful maybe, but as unreliable as
a bunch of pixies hired to do your spring cleaning.”
went looking for the dog,” Lupin suggested. “He can’t have gone far.”
There was a
loud noise somewhere beneath their feet, much like several boxes clattering to
the ground, and the muffled sound of cursing. Moody scanned the stone floor of
the hall with his magical eye.
the kitchen,” he reported.
here,” Sirius pointed at the door at the far end of the hall, which stood ajar.
asked Lupin as they made their way downstairs to the basement, “did you really
ever hire a bunch of pixies to do your spring cleaning?”
not,” Moody said indignantly. “Old Mrs Jones once did. They turned the place
upside down and we were called in because she claimed her house had been
attacked and searched by a troop of Death Eaters. It only turned out later that
she’d made the story up because she was so embarrassed the pixie idea didn’t
work. Next time she called us, nobody was in a hurry to come and check. Too bad
her story was true that time around. Here we are.”
arrived in the kitchen of No. 12, Grimmauld Place. It was a low but very large room,
taking up most of the basement. There was a sense of disuse and dilapidation
about it, just like about the rooms upstairs, but a merrily crackling fire in
the fireplace made it a lot less gloomy than the rest of the house. The crude
brick walls glowed in an almost golden light.
Fletcher emerged from a door on the right that led to a pantry. He was quite
red in the face.
me to keep an eye on the elf,” he explained, “so I followed it down ‘ere. It
lives in the boiler cupboard, over there.” He nodded at the door opposite the
pantry. “Went in an’ banged the door shut. I thought I’d have a look aroun’, but I couldn’ find anythin’ useful. The butterbeer’s
all gone sour.”
him a disapproving look. “Listen,” he said, “Dumbledore says you can go, so
we’ll be off in a minute. You two,“ he turned to Lupin
and Sirius, “don’t touch anything that looks or sounds dodgy. Don’t try and – “
what Phineas Nigellus said,
Alastor,” Lupin reminded him.
then. Keep an eye on the elf, and don’t take anything he might offer you to eat
“Can I just
put him on the wall next to his precious ancestors?” Sirius snarled. “’Cause
that’s where he belongs.”
what Dumbledore’s got to say to that,” Lupin suggested. “He might be of some
use yet. He could do all the cooking and cleaning for us, couldn’t he?”
around, Remus,” Sirius snarled. “Does it look to you as if that excuse for a
house-elf has even touched a broom or
a cooking spoon in years?”
there are other ways of getting rid of him,” Lupin replied patiently.
“House-elves do change employers sometimes.”
means I’m supposed to walk up to the House Elf Relocation office in the
Ministry tomorrow morning and say, look, I’m Sirius Black, and I don’t want to
share my hideout with my family’s old house-elf, would you mind finding him a
new employer he can insult instead?” Sirius’s voice had grown very loud,
echoing angrily around the bare kitchen.
“Look,” said Lupin, suddenly looking very
tired, “let’s give the matter a rest until tomorrow. One day won’t make a
then,” Moody said again, putting his bowler hat back on his grizzled hair,
hiding the magical eye. “I’ll see you around. Good night. Although I wouldn’t
sleep at all if I were you. You never know. Every
blanket, every bed sheet in this house could be a Lethifold.”
no Lethifolds in Britain, Moody,” Lupin said with a yawn.
old Obadiah Mimbleton, but they never found his
body,” Moody said gruffly. “Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Come on, Mundungus.”
* * *
listened to the receding footsteps crossing the hall overhead, Mundungus Fletcher almost inaudible, no doubt from long
practise, and Moody with his characteristic wooden-legged clunk in every other step. A moment later, the front door fell
practically collapsed into a chair next to the fireplace, put his elbow on the
long kitchen table and his head in his hand. Silent and brooding, he stared
into the fire.
“Have you ever heard of Obadiah Mimbleton?” Lupin asked, taking off his trench coat and
putting it over the back of another chair. “Right,” he continued when his
friend didn’t react. “Let’s make ourselves comfortable then. I’ll have a look
around and see about some food, shall I?”
more like.” Sirius said without looking up. “And something
stronger than butterbeer, if you please.”
into the pantry, and after rummaging around in it for a short while, he
returned with a bottle filled with a liquid of a colour between gold and
fit for eating,” he reported. “But I found this. Although it could be furniture
polish for all we know. Not that any of the furniture in this house looks like
it’s been polished recently.”
care what it is,” Sirius said indifferently.
two glasses on a dusty sideboard, uncorked the bottle, sniffed at the contents
and gave an appreciative little nod. “It’s a miracle Mundungus
overlooked this.” He filled a glass for Sirius and one for himself, sat down on
his chair and kicked off his trainers. “What shall we drink to then?” he asked
cheerfully. “To old times reborn?”
times past and gone forever,” Sirius said darkly, still staring into the fire.
his glass down again without touching his drink, and opened his mouth to
protest. But Sirius only shrugged, reached for his own glass and downed his
drink in one go.
said Lupin in a very quiet and composed voice. “I do understand how hard it is
for you to be back here after so long, and after all
that’s happened. But you knew that. You knew it wouldn’t be easy. You offered the house to Dumbledore to
be our Headquarters, after all. It was your wish. It was your own idea even.”
was. I meant to hand it over to Dumbledore to do with as he pleases. He can
burn the whole place down for all I care. But I didn’t mean to get stuck in
here, here of all places, for the rest of my life.”
ridiculous. You won’t be stuck in here for the rest of your life. Things have
only just started. Just wait till the place has been set up properly, and then
you’ll – you’ll –“ Lupin broke off, not knowing what
what?” snapped Sirius, meeting Lupin’s eyes for the first time since the others
had left. “You heard Phineas Nigellus.
‘Under no circumstances is Sirius to leave the house’.” He imitated the former
headmaster’s drawling tone. “Do you really think this has anything to do with
There was a
short silence. It rang with Sirius’s anger.
least it will keep people from patting
me on the head,” he concluded dryly.
meant it nicely,” said Lupin quickly.
silently sipped at his drink. Sirius was staring into the fire again. The
flickering light illuminated his brooding, once handsome face, deep shadows
marking his hollow cheeks and furrowed brow.
going around in a circle, Remus,” he said slowly. “I’m back where I started
when I was fifteen, as if nothing had happened, nothing at all. Lost years, wasted years, stolen years.” He reached across
the table for the bottle and refilled his glass.
true,” Lupin said firmly. “It’s not true, and you know it.”
there were some things that happened
in between, now that you mention it,” Sirius said sarcastically and raised his
glass in a mock toast. “To James and Lily then, and how I wish they’d taken me
with them just when I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
glassful went down in one go. But Lupin set his own glass back on the table
with a sharp clang.
that,” he said rather loudly, his voice shaking with suppressed emotion.
“Why not, if it’s true?”
that’s not what they died for, Sirius. They believed in something. They
believed in what they, what we were all doing. They
gave their lives so we others could continue, so that we should could finish
the great task of our time. They didn’t die because they wanted to spare
themselves the trouble of living, Sirius.”
looked up angrily. “You’re saying I’m insulting their memory then, are you?”
saying anything of that sort,” Lupin replied firmly. “All I’m saying is that
it’s up to you whether all these years will be lost and wasted in the end.
Think of what lies ahead of us, Sirius. Think of Harry. Harry needs you.”
moment, Sirius’s face brightened, and the light from the fireplace lit a spark
in his dark eyes that had not been there before. Lupin saw it and smiled to
himself while Sirius nodded slowly.
Harry,” Sirius said quietly. “Harry. I hope he’s a little happier where he is
right now. He’d deserve it, you know.” He fell silent, but the light in his