Chapter Two: A
Disclaimer: these wonderful characters belong to JK: I
just borrowed them for a bit.
Sirius could just make out Remus’s shape ahead of him as he turned down a side
street. Putting on an extra burst of
speed, he dodged in and out of the pedestrians, determined to catch him.
He was about a hundred yards away when Remus turned
smartly left through a gate and up a short path. Sirius sat panting at the gate and let out a
howl of frustration as he saw Remus disappear into a house.
He shook himself, pushed the gate open and padded into
the front garden. There was a small
shrubbery and he sat in the bushes waiting, ears pricked. What on earth was Moony up to now?
From his position, he could see the front room of the
house through a large bay window. There
was a piano that had seen better days at the back of the room and a large oak
table with six chairs in the bay. A couple
of portraits hung on the wall. Sirius
squinted; the subjects appeared to be snoring.
The door to the front room opened and a pale
fair-haired woman in her thirties ushered Remus into the room. She was wearing a pinafore and had her
sleeves rolled-up as if she had been baking.
She wiped her hands nervously on her apron and kept smiling and nodding
at Remus who in turn seemed to be speaking gently to her as if to put her at
She pulled out a chair at the table and Remus took his
seat, opening his briefcase and taking out quills and parchment. Then she went to the door and appeared to
call. Immediately, four children between
the ages of five and ten rushed in to the room and sat at the table. Their clothes looked like hand-me-downs but their
faces were clean and eager. Each was
clutching a small book.
The mystery was explained: Remus was doing a spot of private
tuition. Sirius watched the silent
tableau unfold before him. Remus was
obviously going over their previous lesson and each of the children in turn
were reading to him from the books. He
stopped one occasionally to correct them but generally let them demonstrate
what they had learned, smiling encouragement at them.
He was an excellent teacher, Sirius thought
objectively, watching the children swell with pride as Remus praised their
efforts. He felt proud of his friend’s accomplishment and then angry as he remembered
the letter Remus had sent him explaining why his position at Hogwarts had
“I made up my
mind to leave: not drinking the Wolfsbane potion was - unforgivable. In more ways than one. In any case, Snape has decided to share with
the general school populace the fact that their DADA professor is in fact a
Dark Creature himself. Ah, well. Severus has his way after all. Maybe he‘ll take the vacant position.”
Sirius had snorted loudly when he had read that. Spiteful, vindictive Snivellus! Nothing changed.
The afternoon wore on.
The woman brought fresh scones and milk into the room and Remus and the
children took a break to eat them.
rumbled. He realised he had eaten
nothing since the night before. He laid
down on his front paws in the drowsy sunshine and tried to ignore fantasies
about roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes.
The sound of a front door slamming snapped him back to
reality. He watched as a dark-haired,
powerfully-built man burst into the front room causing Remus to jump to his
feet. The children sat
The pale woman came rushing in and stood in front of
Remus as the man lunged forward. She
appeared to be trying to placate the man whom Sirius supposed was her husband
but did not seem to be having much success.
Remus put his hands on her shoulders to try to move her gently out of
the way. Sirius guessed he was
explaining to the man about the lessons: in his head, Sirius could hear Remus’s patient, reasonable tone.
An ugly scowl suffused the man’s face; he interrupted Remus by reaching over and picking up one of the
schoolbooks. Slowly and deliberately, he
ripped it in two and threw it back down on the table. One of the children screwed up her face to
cry but was hushed by her mother.
Remus looked sadly down at the destroyed book and then
gathered together his teaching materials, snapping his briefcase shut. The woman put a hand on his arm and started
to apologise but her husband pulled her away from Remus and gestured towards
the door. Remus hesitated for a moment
then left the room.
The front door opened and Remus emerged, his face
white with emotion. He took a few steps
down the garden path and Sirius started towards him then stopped as the
pale-faced woman came running out.
Lupin,” she called
Remus turned round and the woman pushed some bronze
coins into his hand.
said, looking anxiously over her shoulder.
them! I know it should be more, but…please just take them!”
“Alright,” Remus said in a low voice. He threw a glance back up the path. “Will you and
the children be okay?”
“Yes, we’ll be fine,” Mrs Draper assured him, edging back towards the door. “I’m sorry, Professor, I’m so sorry…”
And with that, she fled into the house. Remus looked after her uncertainly then
sighed and walked out of the gate.
He felt something nudge his knee and looked down to
see a big scruffy-looking dog wagging its tail at him. His eyebrows shot up.
exclaimed then looked round hurriedly to check that no one had heard him.
He dropped quickly to one knee.
“Can you come
back to my house with me? We can talk
Sirius gave a joyful bark and the two of them set off
at a brisk pace homewards.
Remus stopped at a butcher’s to buy some sausages and picked up a bottle of Firewhisky from a
shadowy little shop that passing Muggles ignored: both purchases received a
happy woof of approval.
The journey home passed without incident apart from
one point where a group of children with a harassed-looking governess went past
in an open-topped carriage. One of them
pointed at Sirius and shrieked “Sparkle! Look, it’s Sparkle!”
Angel,” shouted her
sister at the top of her voice.
“Jell-jell!” bellowed another girl as the carriage took them
in the opposite direction.
Sirius kept his eyes straight ahead and affected not
to notice. A moment passed and he risked
a glance up at Remus. Remus looked like he hadn’t heard; Sirius breathed a sigh of relief.
They reached the two-bedroom terrace and Remus opened
“After you,” he motioned Sirius in and followed him.
“Sparkle,” he added, shutting the door.
Sirius launched himself at him with a mock-snarl and
sent him and his briefcase flying.
laughed, pushing him away. He propped himself up on one elbow. “Padfoot, it’s good to see you - you have no idea how
good. But why are you here? And where‘s Buckbeak?”
The dog changed into Sirius, sitting cross-legged on the
floor, his expression turning grim.
“Buckbeak’s being looked after by Dumbledore. He sent me here with news, Moony, news of the
Remus sat up straight.
“Harry?” he asked urgently.
“He’s OK,” Sirius
He hesitated for a moment as if wondering where to
you mind if I talk while you cook, Remus?
I know it’s early but
this is going to take a while and frankly, I‘m starving.”
They moved into the kitchen and while Remus fried the
sausages and prepared the vegetables he had bought earlier, Sirius explained
the events of the previous night.
Several times Remus stopped what he was doing to stare
in disbelief at his friend.
Diggory?” Remus shook his head incredulously. “I taught him…he was an excellent student…Cedric’s dead?”
He continued with Harry’s account of
the events in the graveyard. When Remus
heard the part Wormtail had had to play, his mouth settled into a tight
“Peter,” he said with disgust.
have killed him, Moony, back at the Shack.”
“It was Harry’s choice we didn’t,” Remus
pointed out. “And as you said, of all of us, he has the most right.”
“Next time,” he muttered.
The story of Voldemort’s resurrection and the battle of the wands kept Remus by turn so
horrified and enthralled that the sausages would have been cremated if Sirius
had not rescued them.
lives.” Remus gave a shudder. “Somehow I
hoped we wouldn’t have to
face him at full power again. Priori
Incantatem with the wands…that’s very rare.
Harry saw James and Lily?”
after-images at any rate,” Sirius
said, serving up the meal. “Like Dumbledore said, the dead can’t live again.”
Over the meal, Sirius explained how Barty Crouch Jnr
had escaped Azkaban and impersonated Alastor Moody. The story about the Dementor’s Kiss made Remus push his plate away.
“What is it?” Sirius asked in between mouthfuls.
have happened to you…” Remus
whispered. In his mind‘s eye, he could see the cloaked figure swooping
down on a helpless Sirius. “You would have been…” he broke off and swallowed quickly.
Sirius chewed a piece of sausage in bewilderment for a
few seconds before the penny dropped.
“Padfoot, I…“ Remus studied the table-top. “I let you down.
I let James and Lily and Harry down.
If only I’d drunk that
damn potion…” Self-loathing filled his face.
of that!” Sirius put
his knife and fork down. “Moony, we
can’t go through
life playing “What if?”. I know
it’s tempting. Do you think I didn’t sit in Azkaban thinking “What if I’d waited for Remus and we’d gone after Peter together?” or “What if I’d stuck with being the Secret-Keeper?” - of course I did!”
He leaned forward for emphasis.
“But this is
the thing, we make choices, some of them conscious, some of them
unconscious. And we have to live with
the consequences. It’s no use crying over spilt Wolfsbane. We’ve got a job
Taking a deep breath of resolve, Remus nodded. He listened to Sirius explain about the
messages to Arabella Figg and Mundungus Fletcher and the rest of the Order of
the Phoenix and the instruction to “lie low at
Lupin’s” for a while.
He frowned. “Finding Arabella will be no problem. Dung might be a little trickier. He tends to be on the move a lot. Let‘s see…who else is there?” He counted them off on his
fingers. “Dedalus, Emmeline, Mad-Eye…well, he’ll already know…Elphias…and
Sturgis. I‘ll send a note to all of them telling them to be ready.”
Frank and Alice,” Sirius
said, waving a fork at him.
One look at Remus’s shocked face told him he had said something wrong.
“They’re dead?” he hazarded.
“St Mungo’s,” Remus said
quietly. “Tortured for information after Voldemort disappeared. They never recovered.”
This time it was Sirius who pushed his plate away, his
appetite quite vanished.
“They had a
kid, Harry’s age…” he said slowly.
“Neville,” Remus supplied.
“I taught him
“What’s he like?”
his mother in looks. Brought up by his
grandmother and I think he’s had a lot
to live up to. Nice kid, though.”
“I hope I
meet him someday,“ Sirius said
solemnly. “Frank and Alice…anything
else I missed out on?”
“I don’t know…I don’t think so…the rest of the Order survived.
We just slipped back into our usual roles. I haven‘t seen Arabella or the others very much since. I guess now we‘ll have a chance to catch up with them together.”
Going to a small chest of drawers, he dug out parchment
and quill then opened the back door and on cue, a small brown owl flew in.
“You’ve met Amos,” he said.
Amos flew lazily around the kitchen while Remus
quickly dashed off the letters. Their
content was innocuous enough to avoid rousing suspicion in any reader outside
the Order of the Phoenix.
Having sent Amos on his way, Remus turned back to find
Sirius with two glasses and the bottle of Firewhisky in his hands.
“Time for a
chat, Moony,” he
ordered. “I want to tell you about my day.”