The Sugar Quill
Author: Eudora Hawkins  Story: His Mother's Eyes  Chapter: Default
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His Mother’s Eyes

His Mother’s Eyes

 

A/N: This story is based on characters and situations owned by J.K. Rowling. No copyright infringement is intended. Some of the dialogue in this story was taken verbatim from the first Scholastic paperback printing of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10, The Marauder’s Map, September 2001.

This tale was inspired by the bridge scene in the movie version of PoA. Remus spoke openly of his admiration for Lily. His conversation with Harry implied a closer relationship between Lily and Remus than had been revealed in the books. Here’s my take on what might have happened…

 

Remus Lupin glanced up from the hinkypunk’s cage at the front of the classroom and surveyed his third year Defense Against the Dark Arts students with pride. Boys and girls, chattering in excitement, gathered up their books and funneled toward the exit. Remus adjusted the shabby robes that hung on his lean frame, made thinner by his latest episode of lycanthropy. It felt good to be back teaching and to have been missed.

His gaze settled on thirteen-year-old Harry Potter. The boy’s build and the unkempt black hair that stuck up at odd angles were so familiar, the spitting image of his old friend. The resemblance was uncanny. Harry, not James, he reminded himself.

“Wait a moment, Harry,” Remus called out. “I’d like a word.”

Harry turned and approached the Dark Arts professor’s desk. Remus tucked his books back into the battered old briefcase.

“I heard about the match,” Remus said, meeting Harry’s inquisitive stare, “and I’m sorry about your broomstick. Is there any chance of fixing it?”

“No,” Harry answered. “The tree smashed it to bits.”

That old Whomping Willow, the tree that had been planted on the grounds in Remus’ youth, had just demolished Harry’s prize broomstick. James would have been upset about that, too, and about losing the Quidditch match to Hufflepuff. James was fanatic about Quidditch that way.

“Did you hear about the dementors too?” Harry queried. The words seemed to catch in the boy’s throat.

A mixture of compassion and regret flooded over Remus. The boy before him seemed so young and so vulnerable. But he suppressed his instinct to embrace the boy like he would his own pup.

What could he say to Harry? For all the boy knew, Remus was just another professor at Hogwarts, not an old friend of his parents. Nor did he know what Remus was or the sordid details of the monthly madness that plagued him with every full moon. A guarded secret that Remus was not about to divulge.

Remus did his best to allay Harry’s fears. He was his Dark Arts professor, right? He could talk about dementors without getting personal. Be comforting, but stick to the facts. But nothing could prepare him for Harry’s next comment.

“When the dementors get near me—” Harry’s brilliant green eyes looked away, full of fear. “I can hear Voldemort murdering my mum.”

The revelation hit Remus like a Stunning Hex. He reached for the boy out of sheer instinct, caught himself at the last instant, and yanked his arm back down into place.

In the silence that followed, Remus stared into those green eyes. Harry had his mother’s emerald eyes. Now here she was, staring back at him through her son’s eyes. Harry’s words haunted his thoughts. I can hear Voldemort murdering my mum, murdering Lily.

Lily Potter? He had buried her memory the day they lowered her casket in the ground beside James. Whenever those old memories resurfaced, he would brush them aside. Think of something else. Just like he did when he first saw Harry on the Hogwarts Express. Take care of business. Deal with the dementors. Keep focused on the present. Why couldn’t he shrug it off now?

By the time Harry had left the Dark Arts classroom that afternoon, Remus was shaken. Oh, he’d made a calm show of it on the outside. But now that Harry had gone, Remus’ collected exterior had started to crack. He sank back down into his chair. A trembling hand rested on his briefcase.

His thoughts lingered on those haunting eyes, Lily’s eyes. Remus’ memory traced back twelve years to the last time that he’d seen them.

* * * *

The morgue at Godric’s Hollow was a gloomy place, not one that invited loitering. An uncontrollable compunction to flee overtook a person the moment he stepped into the place.  Remus recalled the room, dimly lit and dank with that smell of death and decay hanging in the suffocating air.

Horace Crypt, the undertaker with the cadaverous stare, who looked as though he was about to depart the ranks of the living himself, beckoned Remus over to identify the bodies. The old man’s gnarled and liver-spotted hands pulled out the drawer.

Lily lay on the cold slab, looking just as she had in life. That rich, long, red hair framed her face. The pink lips were slightly parted. The green eyes still open, stared in unseeing surprise, as they had in her last moments just before the Killing Curse had cut short her young life. Even in death she remained radiantly beautiful.

“Yes, that’s her.” Remus nodded to the undertaker. The words had emerged from his throat in a sort of hoarse croak.

His shaking fingers reached for her face. He brushed the cheek, now cold and pale, then closed the lids with a gentle stroke. He turned away, choking back his tears.

* * * *

Remus entered his Hogwarts office, unsure of how he had gotten there. He did not remember the long walk through the corridors of the ancient school or the students jostling past him in their haste to get to classes. He jerked his head, trying to clear his thoughts, but he could not throw off the memory of that emerald gaze.

He plopped the battered briefcase on his desk and sank into his chair. His hand swiped over his forehead, brushing the prematurely graying strands of light brown hair from his tired eyes. Maybe a drink would help.

His hand reached for the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a shot glass and a small hip flask of firewhisky kept for medicinal purposes. He poured himself a drink and tossed it down in a single gulp. The whisky burned down the length of his esophagus. He grimaced and stared into the bottom of the glass. Another memory surfaced through the dregs of the drink.

Remus set the shot glass down on his desk. He extracted a small wooden box from the bottom drawer. His fingers fidgeted with the lock, opened the box, then rifled through the contents. He extracted a photograph and stared, transported back in time once more.

* * * *

Remus looked up from the glass clasped in his hand. A wistful smile crossed his lips. Lily’s laughing eyes met his gaze. He raised the glass in a toast to the beautiful bride, now his friend’s wife.

Gaiety lit every face at the lavish wedding reception. Lily’s green eyes danced, her cheek flushed with the bloom of her youth. Her arms encircled James Potter’s neck and she gazed into her groom’s face. James stared back, matching her look of adoration.

“Just lovely,” the photographer proffered, raising the flash bulb. “Hold that pose and…POP!” The blinding flash bathed the couple in its warm amber glow.

Lily and James burst into reams of laughter. The best man, Sirius Black, had thrust his shaggy head between theirs at the last moment. His cheeky wink and rakish grin would forever be preserved with the other wedding memories.

From his seat in the corner, Remus watched. He chuckled at Sirius’ antics. Outside, he laughed and cheered with the rest, but inside some small flicker of hope died. He stared back into the bottom of the glass in his hand, then took a deep draught, drowning his hidden pain in the forgetfulness of the liquor.

* * * *

The photograph dropped from Remus’ fingers back into the box. His hand ran through the sandy hair streaked with gray. He paced across his office to the windows. Perhaps some fresh air would help to dispel his ghosts.

Outside, clouds had blanketed the early November sky, blotting out the last rays of sunlight. A cold drizzle fell. Remus opened the leaded panes, allowing a gust of sobering air to wash over his face.

Down below, a red-haired girl dashed for cover from the elements. A young man offered to share his umbrella. The two students huddled under the umbrella, laughing and shaking the dampness from their clothing.

* * * *

Remus was down upon that courtyard. Rain pelted against his young face. He raised an umbrella, glad that he’d thought to bring it on his walk. A familiar female voice beckoned from behind. He spun around to see Lily Evans running toward him, attempting to shield herself from the sudden downpour by holding her books over her head.

“Come on,” Remus said with a nod of his head, “under the umbrella.”

He held out his umbrella to Lily and together they dashed for the protection of the covered walkway. Once under the portico, Remus lowered and closed the umbrella. His hand brushed his disheveled, light brown hair from his eyes. He gazed over at the female companion thrown into his path by the fateful cloudburst.

Lily set down her books. She shook the rain from her bohemian skirt with the fringed sash and attempted to wring the water from her silky red hair. Droplets trailed down her face and chest. The peasant blouse, made transparent by dampness, clung to her body. Lily remained innocently unaware of the alluring spectacle that she made or the effect that it had on sixteen-year-old Remus, awash in hormones. He averted his gaze in a sudden flush of embarrassment.

“Y-you’re soaked,” he stuttered. “You’ll catch cold like that.” He took off his outer Hogwarts robe and offered it to her. “Here, take this.”

“Thanks.” Lily pulled the cloak around her shoulders and shot him a grateful smile.

Remus felt a rush of heat surge up though his body at the sight of that smile. Now he knew why James always acted like such a fool around this girl. He felt a bit weak-kneed himself, a novel and somewhat giddy sensation.

Reality quickly checked him back to earth. Those brilliant green eyes now regarded him with a quizzical stare. He glanced down at his own attire: one of his father’s button-down dress shirts worn over faded and patched blue jeans. He’d never given his clothes a second thought before. But in the presence of this girl, he was suddenly aware that his clothing was outdated and tatty. Not like the silky shirts in bright colors with wide collars and the leather jackets trimmed with fringe worn by his classmates. He blushed with chagrin.

“Laundry day,” he lied with a wry grin.

The truth was that this clothing was representative of his wardrobe. His parents had spent the bulk of their fortune scouring the country for remedies to his “medical condition,” their delicate term for his lycanthropy. What little wizarding gold that remained was used for necessities; thus, his clothing consisted of hand-me-downs and consignment shop purchases. And he usually wore his Hogwarts robes over his garb anyway, so no one but his friends in the Gryffindor boy’s dormitory ever knew.

Lily smiled at him once more. Remus breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently, she had believed his lie or perhaps she didn’t care much about outward appearances.

“Remus, I’ve been meaning to ask you,” she said, faltering and blushing. “I’m having trouble with my Advanced Charms homework.” She cast him a shy, hopeful glance. “I was hoping that you could help me.”

A broad grin broke over Remus’ face. “Let’s go to the library,” he suggested, gathering up her books. “You can dry off there and I can explain that charm theory.”

The walk to the library and the events of that afternoon passed in a blur. He selected a secluded table in the corner far from Madam Pince’s watchful eye, where they could converse undisturbed.

Remus pulled out a parchment. He drew figures on the page, while explaining the intricacies of the thirteen basic wand motions that comprised the basis of all charms. Then he explained how those few motions could be rearranged and permutated to perform various spells and incantations. That led to a discussion of basic combinatorics and number theory.

While he spoke, he was certain that the topic must have seemed very dry and boring to Lily. But instead, she seemed to hang on his every word. When he finished, her emerald eyes stared at him in astonishment.

“Wow,” she gushed. “You made that sound so simple and clear. You really should be teaching that course in place of old Flitwick.”

“Well, I…er…thanks,” he stammered, reddening under her praise.

“I’m serious,” she said. “You really have a knack for teaching. You must consider it.”

“Thanks,” he replied. “I will.”

Those green eyes bored into his for a moment. He squirmed with discomfort and looked down at the parchment. His hand doodled on the page.

“You really are sweet, you know,” Lily ventured. “Not like that joker Sirius or stuck-up James.” She rolled her eyes.

Remus’ head shot up to face her. “They’re not like that,” he said, shaking his head. “Sirius, Peter, and James are the most loyal friends I’ve got. James only acts like that around you. Trying to impress you, I…I think.”

“Well, he can stop trying,” she huffed.

Remus looked back down at the parchment. James was crazy about Lily. He worshipped the ground she walked on and had for several years. If only he could just be himself around her. Instead, he turned into a big-headed git wherever he was in Lily’s company.

Remus looked up to find Lily staring at him again with those big green eyes like limpid pools, so clear and wide that he could almost see his own reflection in them. His heart leapt. A lump had risen in his throat, nearly choking off his breath.

Lily leaned in. He froze, unable to move. He felt the soft, wet brush of her kiss on his cheek. The intoxicating, sweet, cherry scent of her lip gloss hovered in the air.

Remus had never been kissed by a girl before. Mother’s kisses didn’t count. The experience left a tingling sensation where her lips had touched him. Then his cheek burned hot. A dizzying rush of heat flashed across his chagrined face. Sweet Merlin!

Lily giggled, noting his shyness. “Thank you for your help,” she said, “and for the umbrella and your robe.”

She pushed back her chair and stood up to go. Her hands swept his robe from her shoulders. She folded it neatly and laid it over the back of her chair, then gathered up her books.

“See you around,” she said, over her shoulder.

Remus stared, watching her go. He sat rooted to his chair. His fingers reached for his quill and scrawled a note to himself in the corner of the parchment.

* * * *

Another chilly gust of air blew through the open window and across Remus’ face, rousing him from his reverie. He strolled back to his desk and plunked down into the chair. Once again, his eyes searched through the keepsakes in the small wooden chest. He extracted an old, yellowed parchment covered in inky diagrams. His hands ran over the page and smoothed the creases in the worn paper. His fingers traced the words scrawled in a tidy, microscopic hand on the lower left-hand corner of the page.

I love you, Lily.

He’d never acted on those words; never once told her or anyone else how he felt. How could he? His best friend was in love with the girl. Friends were such a precious commodity to a young werewolf, dearly won and not to be forfeit in a fight over a girl.

His hand swiped a stray tear from his tired eyes. Memories are funny things. Just when you think that you’ve buried the past, something comes along to push it back to the fore.

No regrets? Of course, he had regrets.  But he couldn’t change the past. He’d accepted that long ago. Even if he could, he knew that he’d made the right decision all those years ago. He chose his friend that day, as he had many times since.

But the present was something that he could change. And what better way to demonstrate his love for James…and Lily…than to help their son in any way he could. Yes, he would teach Harry how to fight the dementors. He knew that now.

A knock on his office door jolted Remus. He hurriedly folded the paper, replaced it in the box with his other keepsakes, and stowed the treasure chest back in the bottom drawer of his desk. The snowy, bearded head of Headmaster Dumbledore peered into his office.

“Good afternoon, Remus,” Dumbledore greeted. “I trust that I am not interrupting anything?”

“No, sir,” Remus replied with a wan smile.

“I wondered if you would be so kind as to join me for afternoon tea,” Dumbledore said. “I have just acquired some wonderful new volumes for my library that you may find of interest.”

“I would like that,” Remus replied, rising from his desk. “Thank you, sir.”

Dumbledore’s piercing gaze surveyed Remus over the half-moon spectacles. “I understand that you have been talking with young Master Potter.” A knowing twinkle glittered in the old man’s eyes. “He looks remarkably like James, does he not?”

“Yes, sir,” Remus replied, strolling from the room. “Except that he has his mother’s eyes.”

“Ah yes,” Dumbledore nodded sagely. “That he does.”

 

//
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