The Sugar Quill
Author: Starsea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Filling in the Gap  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Filling in the Gap

Filling in the Gap

 

by

 

Starsea

 

Rating: PG-13

 

__________________________________

 

Though you're gone,

I still believe that

You can call out my name…

__________________________________

 

Lying on his four poster bed, the young man stared up at the roof above him with unseeing eyes.  Although he had been told over and over again - not just by his friends, but also by himself - that it was hopeless, part of him was straining to hear something. A certain voice, a laugh that nobody else could make. He rolled on his side to face the cold, empty hearth and closed his eyes. He could almost hear him like this, that canine laugh, the eyes crinkling as suddenly years dropped off the pale face. Arms came around his chest as the hollow feeling inside grew and gnawed. It was the worst pain he had felt in his life, even compared to growing his bones back or seeing Cedric's dead body.

 

"Sirius..." he whispered, his eyes aching as he strained to see a face, the face still so vivid inside his mind.

 

But there was no face. There was no answer. There would never be an answer. The dog star had fallen.

 

Sirius was dead.

 

_________________________________________

 

Goodbye to you, my trusted friend;

We've known each other since we were

Nine or ten,

Together we've climbed hills and trees,

Learned of love and ABCs,

Skinned our hearts and skinned our knees...

_________________________________________

 

How was it possible? He should be used to it by now, people dying, people leaving him, but he wasn't. After all those deaths, after the miracle of his surviving Azkaban with his sanity practically intact, he had thought Sirius would live, live until this awful war was over. This war which had blighted more than half their lives. And would continue to blight more, unless Harry...

 

Remus put a hand over his face, feeling the day-old stubble. He felt sick and weak, and not just because of Sirius’s death. It was nearing that time again, the moon growing ripe, draining his strength, his calm, loosening his grip. The knowledge that he would be alone in this transformation, that he would never have a companion again, was a bitter thorn in his heart. Sirius had gone, and never again would he be able to turn around and see those gleaming yellow eyes, full of memories, conspiracy, laughter...

 

His shoulders shuddered as tears slowly leaked out of the tired brown eyes.

 

He remembered meeting Sirius and James for the first time, as he opened his luggage in their Hogwarts dormitory, a clatter upon the stairs, huffing, puffing - his mouth curved in a grim smile, ‘then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down!’ - and two dark-haired boys flinging themselves into the room, onto the beds, a simultaneous cry of, "I WIN!"

 

It was James who noticed him first - not for nothing had he turned into a stag, a beast of flight - hazel eyes brightening with interest as he sat up.

 

"Hullo, who are you?"

 

"Lupin, prat," said a black-eyed boy cheerfully, lobbing a pillow. "You’d have known that if you hadn’t been staring at that redhead in the Sorting queue." He grinned and Remus thought his canine teeth seemed extra pointed. "That’s James Potter, he’s an idiot, so be gentle."

 

A snort and a protest from James ended in a small pillow fight whilst Remus carefully unpacked his luggage and neatly stored everything away. He knew who they both were of course: the Blacks were one of the most prominent pureblood families, and the Potters weren’t far behind.

 

"Are you always like this?" he asked as the door had opened to admit the fourth member of their dormitory.

 

"Yes!" they’d chorused cheerfully.

 

Remus smiled for a moment, remembering. He’d asked exactly the same question of the Weasley twins, and they’d answered in exactly the same way. He knew that Harry had acquired the Marauders’ Map from them, and that only confirmed his theory that Fred and George were the James and Sirius of the Hogwarts of the 1990s. His smile wilted: he hoped with all his heart that Fred and George’s future consisted of sunshine and dancing, not shadows and death.

 

He still found himself waking up and wondering about James, before he remembered. Even now he walked into the room where Sirius had stayed briefly over the summer, calling out Sirius’ name, telling him to get up, because Sirius did love sleeping in, especially since after thirteen years in Azkaban and one on the run, a feather bed was like heaven...

 

It had been wonderful to have Sirius to stay, almost like old times, though James’s absence had been noticeable. No, he wasn’t James, but that didn’t mean they’d sat around and done nothing. Thanks to the large supply of Wolfsbane Potion from Severus - Remus always made sure that Sirius was elsewhere when it was dropped off - for three nights they’d run about, wolf and dog, enjoying themselves thoroughly, even scaring the living daylights out of Harry’s uncle as he collected the milk bottles one morning in his itchy dressing gown. Both of them had longed to bound into the house past the petrified man, so they could wake Harry up, but even as a normal wolf, Remus drew attention, so he’d vetoed that decision, much to Sirius’s disappointment. It was frustrating for both of them to be so near Harry without being able to let him know. Sirius hadn’t been able to go out in the daylight anyway, and Remus had been travelling all over Germany, France and Scandinavia, searching out fellow werewolves, spreading the news of Voldemort’s return and trying to persuade them that just because he used monsters in the war, didn’t mean he kept them alive afterwards.

 

Remus still didn’t know how much good he’d done: their unfortunate curse put his fellow sufferers under a lot of strain. Most were willing to enjoy the short-term privileges under Voldemort and risk the consequences, which required a lot of tact and persuasion, exhausting work. A few were just rotten to the core, and had gone over to the dark side long ago; he’d even met a couple who’d sought out other werewolves deliberately for the bite. He just couldn’t understand that. Why would you want to put yourself through such pain every month...? The look in their eyes had sickened him inside.

 

Was he like that? No, Sirius had told him. He cared about people, cared about what they thought, what they wanted. But that was his problem: he cared. He cared so much, too much. Whatever one could say about Severus, he at least had the luxury of not giving a damn about other people’s opinions of him. Remus wished he could have that. But he’d always wanted to be accepted, to be liked. Like Neville, he’d always been so afraid of people discovering his

secret... How could he not like the boy, sympathise with him?

 

It frightened him, this need to be liked. More so than his curse did. He had heard women talking about their ‘curse’, and he understood how they felt, in a way. After a while, you got used to it. You got on with it. You prepared for the worst and when it came, you coped. What else could you do? Nothing.

 

And that was all he felt now. Nothing. A deep emptiness inside his heart and mind. The painful absences of two men who had died long before their time. And one who...

 

He didn’t even want to think of the name. But it hissed out from between his lips all the same. Another sign that full moon was nearing: he said things he didn’t want to say, Freudian slips became common place, his self-control weakened day by day.

 

"Wormtail."

 

The worm. The rat. The man whose need for acceptance had grown so bad, he’d betrayed his friends. The man who haunted his dreams, pleading for forgiveness. Remus screamed at him in those dreams - "How could you...? How could you...? Lily and James-!" Words which Wormtail had himself screamed at Sirius...

 

Sirius...

 

It all came back to Sirius.

 

His friend.

 

His best friend.

 

His dead friend.

 

_________________________________________

 

You never said goodbye,

Someone tell me, why

Did you have to go and leave my world so cold?

__________________________________________

 

He knew himself well enough to realise that it wasn't just the fact that Sirius was dead which hurt - it was the knowledge that they had never been able to have more than a few moments alone, never spoken of the things that were truly important. And there had been so many important things: his father, all the things they had done together, what things had been like before Voldemort rose and smashed the Marauders' lives to pieces. But Harry couldn't blame Voldemort for Sirius's death, though it would have made things so much easier.

 

He went through stages of blaming himself, then Dumbledore, then Snape, then murderous fantasies of killing Bellatrix Lestrange in the cruellest way known to Muggle or wizard. But none of it made him feel better, none of it lessened the pain in his heart at the thought that he would never speak to Sirius again. Harry tried to tell himself that Moody was right: Sirius had died in battle, which was what he would have wanted... But Moody hadn't seen the shock in Sirius' face.

 

Harry knew the truth: Sirius hadn't wanted to die at all. He'd known the risks, but he'd come because of Harry, because, as Dumbledore had put it, Harry was the most important person in the world to him. But this, the idea of Sirius caring about him that much, only made Harry feel worse. He didn't want to think about it. It was because Sirius had cared that he was dead. Of course, if he was going to be logical - something that had seemed particularly difficult this year - it all went back to the fact that Sirius had been unable to stand

his house arrest any longer. And that had been because of Wormtail's escape...

 

Harry felt fresh rage and grief well up inside him. He had spared Wormtail at the end of his third year for this? Wormtail was already responsible for his parents' deaths, now he had killed Sirius as well. It wasn't that simple, he knew that, but Harry still wondered about what he’d do if the situation ever repeated itself.

 

Yet killing Wormtail would not bring Sirius back. Nothing could bring the dead back to life, Dumbledore had said so himself. Harry was stuck with a shattered communication mirror, a melted pocket knife and a broomstick still confiscated somewhere in Hogwarts. Such a small legacy for such an important relationship.

 

It wasn't fair! Harry punched his pillow, unwilling to destroy the bedroom like he had Dumbledore's office. Sirius had spent thirteen years in Azkaban, unfairly convicted, and then two years on the run, after knowing that he'd helped kill two of his best friends. It was such a waste, a waste of a man, a waste of life. Harry wiped his face where it was wet. He hadn't even said goodbye - he hadn't said anything.

 

"But that's what a funeral's for," Hermione said gently inside Harry's mind.

 

"Yeah, Harry, I'm sure that everyone will give you time alone, you know," came Ron's awkward addition.

 

"He hadn't even been cleared," Harry muttered, his throat raw from the effort of holding back his grief when other people were in the room. "Everyone still thinks he's a raving lunatic, a psycho. They'll all be happy that he's dead-" He choked again, imagining the headlines, the jubilation. There might even be street parties. For an instant, he saw Sirius's reaction to this, the raised eyebrow, the grimly amused smile - and then remembered that he'd never see it again.

 

He could only pray that he'd be better by the funeral. He didn't want to have tears pouring down his face by the time that happened. He wondered if Kreacher would be there. He didn't know what happened to house elves after the last member of their family died. Hermione would, no doubt.

 

Harry sat up, grabbed a rather damp tissue from the bedside table and scrubbed his face, then splashed cold water on his eyes to make them seem less red. He might as well ask her: it was a subject that would keep Hermione occupied for some time, and it might help him to keep his mind off what had happened for a while, though somehow he doubted it. Sirius was on his mind whether he wanted to think about him or not.

 

Harry jumped off the bed and went to find his friend before grief ambushed him again.

 

____________________________________

 

You've been the blood in my veins

The only one who knows my middle name

And the smiles they came easy,

'Cause of you...

 

You know that I love you,

But I hate you,

'Cause I know I could never escape you

So let the choir sing,

For tonight I’m an easy mark...

____________________________________

 

He stared across the wound in the earth, trying not to look down, trying not to remind himself of what lay in that coffin. He stared instead at the young man opposite him, his hair actually neat for once, although slowly ruffling back into its normal position, head bowed, glasses slipping slightly forward on his nose. The hands were clenched. Remus bit his lip and looked down himself.

 

He wanted to talk.

 

Harry needed to talk.

 

They hadn’t talked.

 

Remus didn’t know what to say.

 

What did you say to a boy who had just lost the nearest thing he'd ever had to a parent?

 

Sorry just didn't cut it.

 

It was a typical English summer day: overcast, muggy and threatening to rain. They took for granted that they could stand outside without anyone looking at them, but for Sirius, that would have been paradise.

 

Remus swallowed down a burning lump and reached forward to throw his clod of earth onto the empty coffin. They couldn't find his body. They couldn't go through the Veil. Harry had put forward the idea of just reaching a hand through - but it didn't work like that. Remus knew that much.

 

That was all he knew. You didn't go through that Veil and come out again. James had found it out, back in the Marauder days: the legendary Veil of Death, one of the few places left where the realms of the dead and the living still lived side by side. As the Muggles had spread over the Earth, such places had become fewer and fewer. The wizards had closed them off or built buildings around them, but they weren't perfect: people still disappeared through them and never came back. Nobody knew if these Muggles were still alive but trapped or actually dead. After Nearly Headless Nick's peevish

reassurances that ghosts were wizards who had not 'gone on' as he called it, James had created a whole fascinating theory about how the ghosts of Muggles could come back through the Veil to communicate their unfinished business. Something about compensation for not having magic, if Remus remembered correctly.

 

But Sirius had been a wizard through and through. A pureblood, if you wanted to be technical. He hated the word: he spent days of thinking up an insult for purebloods who believed they should be the only people at Hogwarts.

 

Thanks to Lily, he'd eventually found the perfect word. It wasn't even really a swear word according to Harry, after a small enquiry. Apparently it was something that Muggles used to clean their surfaces and toilets.

 

Bleach.

 

The Slytherins hadn't known what it was, but they'd guessed it was a Muggle word because they had no idea where it'd come from. Every time Sirius had heard someone use the word 'mudblood', he'd called out 'Bleach!' in reply. The very fact it was a Muggle word infuriated the Slytherins, who didn't bother, of course, to find out what exactly bleach was. He should tell Harry about that. Make him smile.

 

It had become his main mission in life to make Harry smile.

 

Something else that might make Harry smile was Remus's middle name. He'd never exactly understood why his parents had decided to give him such a plain and simple name after one like Remus.

 

"It was your grandfather’s name, dear ," his mother had said when he'd asked her, amazed after seeing it on the government registration document which proclaimed his lycanthropy to anyone who wanted to see it.

 

The memory made Remus smile now, though he'd almost cried with embarrassment at the time. Sirius had been the only one to know the name, and then it had been accidental, as he'd been staying over at the time and Remus's mother had yelled it up the stairs after seeing that he'd got a B in one of his exams. His parents had been keen for him to get good marks and prove that his curse didn't affect his daily life.

 

"John?" Sirius repeated, utterly amazed. “But you’re not a ‘John’!”

 

“Then that’s probably why they call me ‘Remus’, isn’t it?” said Remus dryly, before adding, “You have to swear not to tell anyone else!"

 

"What? Not even James or Peter?"

 

"Not even them."

 

Sirius paused, noticing the look on his friend's face.

 

"This is really important to you, isn't it?" he asked.

 

"Yeah, you could say that," he replied, sarcasm dripping from his words.

 

"Fine, I swear on the Map." Sirius had grinned, holding up the piece of paper, which they had just begun to work on. "I siriusly promise not to tell anyone about your middle name."

 

Remus rolled his eyes. "Sirius, that was funny the first time, but this is the fiftieth."

 

"Hey, a good joke never grows old!"

 

"I never said that was a good joke."

 

His cheek was wet. Remus glanced up instinctively before realising that it was a tear. He glanced at Harry again as the boy dropped his own bit of earth into the grave.

 

"Harry..."

 

Shit! He hadn't meant to say that out loud. Even though he'd taken his Wolfsbane Potion this morning like a good boy, it wasn't really enough. And now those green eyes were looking at him, and it was like looking at James all over again, and pain burned in his chest. Why did they have to hold the funeral just before the full moon? He was sure that Severus had planned it this way. It wasn't a logical thought, but he couldn't think logically at the moment - he hated himself - he should have sent Sirius straight back home - and Harry was still looking at him, his green eyes turning his cheeks sallow in the grey light.

 

And Remus could smell his pain. It wasn't as sharp as it had been, but it was still deep enough and fresh enough to make him feel sick. Because the wolf inside him was thinking of Harry as prey. Easy prey.

 

No.

 

Harry was a person. Harry was James and Lily's son.

 

"It's alright," Remus whispered, his voice hoarse. It was as much for himself as for the boy opposite him.

 

Harry's lips twitched a little. It was the beginning of a smile. His eyes were watery, but he nodded to show that he'd heard. That he understood. That he was grateful for that one simple sentence.

 

Remus smiled back. If it had made Harry try to smile, then he was happy. He was in control. For a while.

 

_____________________________________________

 

Summer has come, taken you far

Once more you are travelling light,

Aimed at the dark;

Arrow in flight;

Why do I have to miss you so?

...

Even though you could not be there for me

I know you meant to be.

_____________________________________________

 

He couldn't believe that it had been more than a month. Sirius had been gone for more than a month. It still seemed impossible to Harry. He had stopped expecting to see him, hear him, get a letter from him, but he still wished it was possible. Still wished, on getting up, that today would be the day they'd find him, bruised but alive.

 

But even that was gone now.

 

Now he was standing at the funeral.

 

Harry clenched his fists. It was an empty coffin. How could they put an empty coffin in the ground, and a gravestone? He didn't want to look, but his eyes were drawn to the inscription:

 

Sirius Black

 

"Padfoot"

 

1960 - 1996

 

Finally Free

 

Harry stopped short at that expression. Who had chosen that? Lupin, he was sure of it. It was short, simple, and yet it was so right. Had Sirius ever been free? Knowing all that he did, Harry believed he could give an answer: only when with his friends, and, possibly, walking back to Hogwarts with Harry, believing that he would be pardoned, believing that he would be able to live a normal life again. Otherwise... he had grown up in a family almost as bad as the Malfoys, despised by them for his rebellion, probably suspected by his fellow Gryffindors for his family background; he had been thrown into Azkaban without any kind of trial, knowing who had really killed his best friend; spent twelve years in that hellhole; one searching for Wormtail; one on the run; and one incarcerated in his filthy, creature-ridden family home with a Hippogriff, a senile manipulative house elf and a screaming maternal portrait for company, not forgetting that whilst enduring all this, he had been taunted by his old nemesis... The review of Sirius's life was incredibly depressing.

 

Harry took a deep breath and threw his clod of earth in with the coffin. Even if he thought Sirius's death unfair and cruel, maybe it was for the best. At least now Sirius wouldn't have to hide anymore. He wouldn't have to put up with Kreacher or his mother. He was free. And that was what Sirius had wanted, wasn't it? To be free: free of his past, his family, his guilt.

 

It was true. But it didn't help the pain. And it didn't fill this huge space that still existed inside of Harry. He had known Sirius for such a short time. How could he have grown to love him so much? Why did his absence feel like such a huge hole in Harry's life?

 

There were no answers.

 

"Harry..."

 

Harry looked up into calm brown eyes, and felt the pain in his chest shift very slightly, just as it had after that meeting with Luna. Professor Lupin's face was pale and drawn. It was full moon tonight, and Harry admired his old professor for coming to the funeral. He really should have been at home, but he'd put aside his personal problems and come through for Sirius, like always. At the moment, he looked particularly ill, and Harry wondered what was going on. Lupin had known Sirius for much longer than Harry, but Harry hadn't seen him cry. He'd been able to talk pleasantly on the ride back to Kings Cross. Harry had wondered at his calm: perhaps Lupin knew something he didn't? Now, he couldn't believe that Lupin knew anything more than he did. His face spoke plainly of his pain and grief, and one solitary tear glittered on his cheek. Yet as he opened his mouth, Harry realised that he wasn't even thinking about himself.

 

"It's alright."

 

And Harry found himself trying to smile at his old professor, trying to reassure him that he wasn't going to collapse or blow up as he had in Dumbledore's office.

 

Lupin smiled back.

 

A weak ray of sunlight broke through the clouds.

 

Yes, Harry thought. It was alright. He was alright for now.

 

Now was all that mattered.

 

____________________________________________________________

 

My brother, you are older than me

Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won't heal?

Your eyes have died, but you see more than I:

Daniel, you're a star in the face of the sky...

____________________________________________________________

 

Three days later, Remus tottered down the stairs of his modest home and boiled himself a cup of tea, collapsing on a wooden chair. It hadn't been a bad one this time: someone had sent him a huge slab of meat by owl. Remus had sat on his hind legs whilst the owl had hovered in the kitchen, dropped the meat on the floor, and then hooted. Remus had bowed down, thanking the bird, then chewed and gulped his way through the meat. It had watched him for a while, its golden eyes quizzical, but not judging his hunger.

 

But no matter how much he enjoyed himself as a proper wolf, he was always aware that this time, a time where his needs, likes and dislikes were wonderfully simple, was limited. And whether he transformed into a werewolf or a normal one, the transformation was still excruciating. In fact it was rumoured that the wizard who had created the Cruciatus Curse had watched werewolves transform to get an idea of the pain he wanted to cause. It was a big reason why most werewolves were so introverted and angry at the world. Enduring that kind of pain, as Dumbledore had told him at his special interview to become a Hogwarts pupil, took great endurance and a strong mind.

 

Remus wondered if that was true: if his mind was really that strong. In some areas, yes, but not in others. Just like anybody else really.

 

He laughed, a black laugh. He didn't allow himself to sink into self-pity at any other time of the month, but at these times, with his emotions still so raw and close to the surface, it was impossible not to feel just a little antisocial and bitter.

 

Especially now he was alone.

 

James and Sirius had understood his pain, for any kind of metamorphosis was painful, and their many attempts to become Animagi had left them panting, white-faced on the floor, gripping the bedposts as they willed themselves not to scream. He had not taken pleasure in their suffering, but quietly helped them, distracted them until their bodies felt human again. Even when they finally managed to become animals, it was still painful. 'Flash pain', James had called it: intense, bone-searing, but quick.

 

"Well," Remus had said quietly, "imagine that kind of pain going on for minutes... even hours. That's what it's like for me."

 

That's what it was still like.

 

A knock on the door made him jump, his head snapping up. He retained a few lupine qualities the day after his full transformation and the scent of the person at the door was immediately recognisable. But as he slowly opened the door, surprise lingered on his face to tinge the pleasure.

 

“Harry...”

 

Harry was looking a little better. His hair was back to its usual rumpled state. His clothes fit him for once, since Vernon and Petunia had been thrown into a panic by the threat of the Order’s visits, and whilst they would not have won any fashion awards, they were comfortable, covered all his steadily growing limbs and didn’t have any holes in them. From Harry’s point of view, this was the biggest improvement of the lot.

 

“I hope this isn’t a bad time,” he murmured, looking at Remus’s ashen cheeks and the shadows beneath his eyes.

 

“No, not at all: if you’d called twenty-four hours ago, then it might have been a problem,” Remus joked weakly, letting him in after peering around. “Nobody came with you?”

 

“Kingsley came with me to the gate, but I wanted to… see you alone,” Harry answered, walking through the hall as if he’d lived there all his life. The kettle had long since boiled and he watched, fascinated, as it poured Remus a cup of tea all by itself, then hovered, waiting to see if he wanted one.

 

“No thanks – Butterbeer would be nice,” Harry added. Remus pointed his wand at the larder: a large bottle flew out, its top slowly unscrewing as a glass danced forward. It seemed to know exactly how much Harry wanted, and waited until he had caught hold of the glass before returning to its former place. Harry grinned: the magical world still had the capacity to amaze and delight him. For one moment, the sorrow and tension melted from his face and he looked like any other fifteen year-old boy. Remus started smiling

himself. It was wonderful to see the joy on Harry’s face.

 

“How did it know...?” Harry asked, his sentence trailing off as he

took a gulp.

 

Remus hesitated, drinking his tea whilst wondering how to put this. Finally, he decided on the truth. He didn’t want to lie to Harry. Sirius wouldn’t have wanted him to keep secrets.

 

“It was what your father always had when he came round my house,”

he said honestly. “He always drank it in a glass like that too – well, when my parents were around. If they were out, he drank it straight from the bottle.”

 

Harry’s grin grew wider. Despite the recent revelation that his dad’s character hadn’t been as perfect as he’d assumed, the image was comforting, almost familiar. Professor Lupin was smiling at him, his eyes kindly, the expression taking almost ten years off him. Harry noticed that the hair around his ears was almost completely grey now, but the rest remained a golden brown. His face hadn’t seen a razor for three days, so there was a faint shadow around his chin and lips. He was dressed in a tatty dressing gown, which was loosely belted. Harry caught sight of a thin white chest. He shivered and took a sip of his drink, feeling the warm liquid seep down through his body with gratitude. Sometimes Lupin looked so fragile. He hated that. He didn’t want to lose Lupin; nobody wanted to lose Lupin. He was knowledgeable, diplomatic, and good with people, a real credit to the Order. He was still the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher they’d ever had.

 

“I wish you could come back this year!” Harry said impulsively, staring at his reflection in the beer.

 

The expression took Remus by surprise, but it warmed his heart at the same time. It was flattering to think that Harry wanted him back not just for who he was, but for his teaching skills as well.

 

“Harry, you know that’s not possible,” he said gently.

 

Harry ignored him. “Maybe if I wrote to everyone in the DA,” he said, thinking out loud.

 

“Sorry?”

 

Harry glanced up. “Nobody told you?”

 

“It’s familiar, but refresh my memory.”

 

For the next ten minutes, Lupin listened intently, as Harry recounted the tales of the DA – Dumbledore’s Army, the private group of students who had come together in Harry’s fifth year to learn what they could from the Boy Who Lived. Lupin wasn’t surprised that it had been Hermione’s idea. He was also pleased that Harry had explained to his two friends that surviving Voldemort was not a matter of saying the right words, swishing the wand in the right way, and standing back.

 

“I was so angry,” Harry said reflectively. “They were acting like... like it was some kind of game.” He pushed his hair back in a gesture that almost choked Remus’s throat, it held so many memories. “I don’t think they ever realised before... how terrified I’d been. Even in the cemetery with Cedric...” His voice grew hoarse and he swallowed, taking a sip of Butterbeer before continuing. “Even when we discussed that, I don’t think they really understood... how

terrified I’d felt. They didn’t see me the night after I came back...”

 

“Sirius told me what you were like,” Remus said quietly, draining his mug.

“I suppose they didn’t think it was different from seeing Riddle die in the Chamber of Secrets... yes, I know about that, Harry. Neither of them has seen people die yet... Try to be patient with them.”

 

He suddenly realised that he’d said Sirius’s name. Easily, calmly, as if he did it every day. He glanced at Harry, who was looking right at him.

 

“I came to... to thank you,” Harry said in a rush, suddenly realising that this must be how Ron had felt when he tried to apologise after the first task in the Triwizard Tournament. “I didn’t think I’d make it through the funeral... I knew that Sirius was free and that he’d be happy now... but I couldn’t make myself believe it, if you see what I mean, and then when you said that... It made me feel better,” he ended lamely, his face turning red. He knew that Lupin looking at him, but he couldn’t look up, he just couldn’t. Then he

felt angry with himself: he had faced up to Voldemort and he was scared of looking a friend in the eye? Slowly, Harry lifted his head.

 

“Believe it or not, Harry,” said Lupin, his eyes glittering, “it made me feel better too. It’s not right that he’s gone. I wish with all my heart that there were some way to bring him back, just as I’ve often wished there was a way to bring your parents back. I will always miss him - we will always miss him. But I know that Sirius wouldn’t want us to sit around mourning his absence – he’d prefer us to celebrate his life and achievements.”

 

“Celebrate what?!” Harry demanded, his voice wavering dangerously as he fought off the ever-present tears. He hated himself for snapping, but his self-control was still not the best it could be.

 

Remus considered, not at all offended by Harry’s tone, fingers tapping his chin. “Well... Sirius was the first man to escape out of Azkaban,” he said slowly. “And that was when the Dementors were guarding the place. Even if you take into account that he had the good fortune to be an Animagus... it took a lot of courage, foresight, planning and sheer bloody nerve to do that. And if there’s one thing Sirius had it was nerve,” he added fondly, chuckling to himself. “Not to mention that he consistently managed to avoid being captured by the Ministry for two years... which is no small achievement, if you think of the Aurors you’ve met.”

 

Harry remembered Kingsley Shacklebolt’s desk, covered in clippings of Sirius, articles about him dating back years before Harry was born, there’d even been a tiny square detailing Sirius’s birth to his mother and father and where the party celebrating his arrival would be held. He found to his amazement that he’d started grinning too.

 

“He actually became an Animagus without outside help,” Remus added,

"and he helped you to stay alive. He’d probably think that his greatest achievement, Harry. Helping you to stay alive. So let’s not cry over him. Let’s be thankful for what he did, and the peace which he’s now enjoying.”

 

As Remus finished, they both noticed that the kitchen was filling up with sunlight. In fact, one ray was shining right in Remus’ eyes. He tutted. “Very funny,” he muttered, turning away so that Harry could blow his nose and pretend to have something in his eyes. Harry laughed weakly. “Weird,” he commented.

 

“Not at all: he always liked having the last laugh,” Remus replied, with a sly grin that both surprised Harry and made him grin back.

 

“Thanks, Professor Lupin,” he said, meaning, thanks for everything.

 

Remus nodded silently, showing that he understood. “You’re welcome, Harry. Now I’m going to cook myself breakfast. Would you like some? I can’t offer you Hogwarts portions but-”

 

“Oh no!” Harry said eagerly, squinting as he got struck in the eye by a ray himself. “I’d love to have some.”

 

“Good. And Harry?”

 

“Yes, Professor?”

 

“Isn’t it about time you started calling me ‘Remus’?”

 

Harry beamed, still squinting. “Yes, sir – I mean, yes, Remus. Did you like the meat I sent with Hedwig?”

 

Remus blinked at him. The stunned look on his face made Harry snort with laughter as he turned away and finished his Butterbeer. Remus smiled fondly at his back. After all he’d been through, all he’d seen, he’d thought that nobody could steal a march on him, but Harry had managed it. Amazing. Shaking his head, Remus turned to the stove. He remembered meeting that house elf, Dobby, who had sung Harry’s praises: now he understood why. Harry, like Ron, like Hermione, had a heart of gold.

 

For the first time in months, Remus saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Or it could just have been another sunbeam hitting him in the face.

 

“Yes,” he said, trying not to laugh. “I liked it a lot.”

 

___________________________________

 

Beyond the door, there's peace, I'm sure,

And I know there'll be no more

Tears in heaven.

___________________________________

 

It was a sunny day in the village of Little Whinging. Children ran to the village shop, holding pocket money in their hot little hands. Husbands mowed front lawns whilst wives complained to each other of the heat over their fences.

 

And on a wooden bench in the park, Harry Potter and Remus Lupin sat

side by side, eating 99 Flakes™ and enjoying the silence. The combined presence of Harry, the dangerous lunatic who was enrolled in St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys, and Remus Lupin, who suffered from the heinous crime of being a stranger, had managed to slowly empty the park until they had it all to themselves. Not that they minded this. In fact, they liked it.

 

“Is it always this peaceful around here?” Remus asked lazily, snapping off a piece of his Flake™ with unconcealed pleasure.

 

“It is when I’m around,” said Harry, catching his eye, so that they both started laughing. “I’m an incurable criminal; they’re hardly going to let their children anywhere near me.”

 

“I know what you mean,” Remus said with a sigh.

 

Harry winced, kicking himself. “Believe me, you’re not losing out. Most of them are incredibly spoiled. You’re worth ten of them.”

 

“Thanks, Harry,” Remus grinned, and took another bite out of his Flake™.

 

“Don’t mention it,” Harry replied. He always ate his chocolate first and then proceeded to carefully eat his ice-cream. It had been such a rare treat in his childhood that he’d acquired the habit of making it last as long as possible. Hermione and Ron were always fascinated by his ability to make the most out of the smallest bit of food, but Harry had the impression that Remus found this rather sad.

 

“It’s been three months,” he said abruptly, staring across the flat green.

 

Remus stopped eating and sighed. “I know,” he answered. “I was going

to visit the grave on Saturday... I suppose...?”

 

“They won’t allow me to come,” Harry said heavily, shaking his head. “You should have seen Uncle Vernon’s face when I told him about going to the funeral. Honestly, if Moody hadn’t shown up, I think I’d have had to try desperate measures.”

 

“Oh?” Remus raised his eyebrow. “Like what?”

 

Harry grinned sheepishly. “A threat to let Hedwig fly around the living room, leaving her – um – mark all over Aunt Petunia’s four-piece suite, wall-to-wall carpet and china ornaments.” His grin grew wider. “She’d have done it as well. She hates them as much as I do.”

 

“Do you really hate them, Harry?” Remus asked mildly, in that tone which always told Harry to be more precise.

 

Harry frowned, thinking. “I don’t know... I don’t hate them like I hate Voldemort, or Bellatrix... I suppose I feel the same way about them as I do about Malfoy... they’re annoying and they’re blind... but they’re not evil. Well, not compared to Voldemort or the Death Eaters.” He scratched at the white scars on his hand.

 

Remus looked at them too and bit his lip. The sight of those white lines always caused a huge rage inside of him, but he never let it out or said anything. What was done was done. He knew that better than anyone. He gently touched the hand, covering the scars so that he couldn’t see them anymore.

 

“I’ll tell Sirius that you wanted to come,” he said softly. Harry looked at him and stopped scratching, which was what Remus had wanted, so he moved his hand away.

 

“Could you tell him... that I still miss him?” he asked hoarsely. His voice had been slowly breaking over the summer. By the time he was sixteen, it would be totally broken. It was a strange thought, and somehow scary. Harry didn’t feel like this new voice, this adult voice, was really him. But there was time. That was something that he had learned from Remus: you took life one day at a time. What was the rush? The future moved at its own pace: even Voldemort couldn’t change that.

 

“I’ll tell him. And I’ll be there for your birthday. Molly’s cooking up a feast.”

 

Harry nodded: he could already imagine it. It would be nice to see the Burrow again. Bill might be there. He’d see Fred and George, Ron and Hermione, and Ginny. Maybe even Percy. He hoped he’d see Percy. Somehow, it just wasn’t the same without him. Harry had also sent invitations for the first time in his life: one to Neville Longbottom, somewhere in Lancashire, and one to Luna Lovegood, who knew where. He’d received a reply from Neville almost immediately, written mostly by his Nan from the handwriting and tone, but at the end, Neville had added his own little message: DA Rules OK. That had made Harry smile. He hadn’t received anything from Luna, but then he didn’t expect a reply from her. She’d probably just turn up, wandering in as if she’d meant to come somewhere else, greeting Ginny and Hermione as if she was in a dream. Harry wondered what Fred and George would make of her. He wondered what Luna would make of the twins. It would be his most interesting birthday so far. That was for sure. And yet...

 

“I wish he could be there too,” he said softly, finishing off his cornet.

 

Remus looked at him, his brown eyes soft but also oddly perceptive. “What makes you think he won’t be?” he asked with a small laugh. “Just because you can’t see him, doesn’t mean he won’t be there, Harry. In fact, I’d bet my clothes on the fact he’ll be there somehow, someway. And he’ll make sure you know it.” He stood up. “Now come on: before your uncle and aunt start worrying.”

 

Harry snorted. “Worrying about what I’ve done, you mean,” he said dryly.

 

“I never said why they’d be worrying, just that they’d be worrying,” Remus replied calmly, causing Harry to start laughing again as they made their way to the edge of the park in brilliant sunshine that caused both of them to squint their eyes.

 

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy by any means. But, they both thought as they walked silently back to Harry’s home, Sirius never went for the easy route in life. Why should he do so in death?

 

Perhaps it was better that it was hard, Harry decided, squinting against the sunlight. At least that way, he knew that Sirius was there. His heart felt light for the first time in ages. Remus’s words had reminded him of Luna.

 

“It’s not like I’ll never see her again, is it?”

 

“Do you think we’ll see him again?” Harry asked, looking up, but only a little. He’d grown.

 

Remus thought, and finally shrugged. “Who knows? If you tried to predict Sirius, he’d do exactly the opposite, just to prove that he was his own person. So, um...” He grinned. “I’m going to say ‘no’.”

 

Harry nodded and looked straight ahead. The future rolled slowly towards him, taking its time, refusing to be rushed. Just like Sirius. “I’m not going to see you again!” he yelled at the sky and grinned.

 

He could wait. He’d been doing that all his life.

 

He could wait.

 

 

 

Lyric excerpts from:

 

Melodies of Life by Emiko Shiratori

 

Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

 

You Are Not Alone by Michael Jackson

 

Every Word Was a Piece of My Heart by Jon Bon Jovi

 

Travelling Light by Sophie B. Hawkins

 

Daniel by Elton John

 

Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

 

 

Written whilst listening to:

 

Final Fantasy VII Theme by Nobuo Uematsu

Aeris's Theme by Nobuo Uematsu

Melodies of Life (Final Fantasy IX)

Indecipherable (KareKano)

Groping in the Dark (KareKano)

Travelling Light by Sophie B. Hawkins

 

 

DISCLAIMER: All characters and settings belong to JK Rowling, not me: how do I know this? Because I wouldn’t have to take out a student loan otherwise. ;) I don’t own any of the songs either.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Well! This was the first Harry Potter story I ever wrote. I was still in mourning for Sirius when I read it, and I think you can tell. The Final Fantasy games, for those who don’t know, are a Role Playing phenomenon which are available on the Playstation and have gorgeous soundtracks. Despite this, I have never played one and do not own a Playstation or a Playstation 2, but it’s on my list of “Things to Buy When I Get a Good Job”. KareKano is a Japanese animated series focusing on the lives of a group of high school students which is available on DVD for those who are interested in anime. The song “Travelling Light” is only available on the re-issued Timbre album, which has a bonus CD. It’s lovely and simple and uplifting.

 

Culture Notes – Cadbury’s Flakes™ are chocolate bars which are sold in England (and Canada, according to Megan, my beta). They are literally flakes of chocolate melted and melded into a bar, so they tend to crumble when you eat them and scatter you with chocolate crumbs. 99 Flakes™ are popular ice-creams which you can buy from any good ice-cream van around Britain in the summer. They are ordinary whipped vanilla ice-creams in a cone, with one or two Flakes™ stuck in the ice-cream, depending on how much you are willing to pay. They got their name because originally you only had to pay 99p for one. The price has recently gone up but the name has stuck.

 

Many thanks as always to Megan, my beta and the people who have reviewed my first two stories, The Only One and Destination Unknown. Look out for my story about Crookshanks, coming soon!

 

xxx~Starsea~xxx

//
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