The Sugar Quill
Author: Jillie (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Walk in Andante  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.

A Walk in Andante

A Walk in Andante

By Jillie

 

Disclaimer: It’s memorized in your head by now…don’t own anything but the plot!

 

 

Night of the third day.

 

Remus Lupin sat, back hunched, eyes bloodshot, lids heavy, at a grimy, ramshackle bar, six small glasses of drained liquid sitting in front on him. They teased him, taunted him, invited him to challenge their strength and their numbers.

And bitterly Remus knew he would win the battle. He wasn’t soused. He’d been trying to get drunk for the past two days, and, because that’s the way the world works, he couldn’t. His body wouldn’t let him become intoxicated; his mind wouldn’t allow him to succumb to acerbic alcohol.

His hazel eyes were tired and wet; they held in their irises and pupils the deepest, most somber sorrow—the kind of grief that won every battle, the kind of grief that only time can heal.

 

 November 3rd, 1981.

 

Remus let out a weak, shaky cough.

“Another round,” he said, his voice raspy and dry.

The bartender, a large, soiled man whose eyes were beetle-black and unusually tiny, snorted. “Yer scarin’ away me customers from th’ bar, mate.”

“I believe I’m paying for it,” Remus answered icily. “By the looks of this dump, you could use a bit of extra coin.”

The bartender snorted again and smirked; Remus could tell that he was used to jerks—arrogant jerks, bitter jerks, rich jerks, poor jerks, and miserable jerks. The soiled man let out a holler—an unintelligible cacophony that called forth a grubby, yellow-eyed house-elf, who produced Remus’ less-than-useful drink.

Remus nodded. “Thanks,” he rasped, snatching the glass from the elf.  Even in his depression and self-abuse he was polite. The polite one of the group; the one who second-guessed their motives on occasion. But the one who planned out their most intricate and strategic pranks.

Remus let out an odd noise—like a cross between a sob and a snort. He downed his drink.

The bartender looked over at him, onyx eyes scanning him critically. Surveying him. He sees a miserable, pitiable existence before him. Remus ignored the bartender. He doesn’t know a damn thing. He sees a meek, weak man before him. Cloak, tattered and dirty, holes forming at the ragged edges, hood pulled over unclean, disheveled hair and woeful eyes. The bartender cocked his head.

“What is it?” Remus snapped.

“Calm th’ hell down, mate,” the man replied silkily, cleaning a glass with a stained towel.

“I’m not your mate,” Remus said.

“Ev’ry’un who comes intuh m’bar’s m’mate,” the bartender answered, grinning. He was missing some teeth. “It’s th’barkeep’s way o’life!”  He let out a hearty laugh that Remus hated; it clashed with the air of misery and impuissance he was trying to maintain. I want to be miserable.

The barkeep’s way of life, huh? Until even they get sick of you. Tom the Barkeep had finally (and most regrettably) kicked Remus out of the Leaky Cauldron.

 

“Go home, Remus!” Tom had pleaded. “I simply can’t allow you to waste yourself away in my presence—the guilt I’ll feel!”

“Leave me be,” Remus had said, pithily.

“Remus—Mr. Lupin--,” Tom had hesitated, had given a shaky, unwilling sigh, and had said, “Leave. Right now. Or I’m calling the Ministry.”

 

So Remus had trucked through Diagon Alley to the very edge of the street, right next to the entrance of Knockturn Alley, where the door to the Grey Street had beckoned to him like the wrought gates of Hell.

“Uh-huh,” Remus said dully; he was trying his hardest to signal to the barkeep. Keep away. I’m not going to talk to you. I’m not like those embittered prats that you cater to.

 The barkeep stuck out his hand. “Art Friggy.”

Mechanically Remus’ hand stuck out and shook it. But he had control of his lips, and he said nothing.

Art Friggy raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “Y’got a name?”

“Remus Lupin.” Why the hell do you care? You see the same types as me come in here, waste away, and leave. Bartending’s an impersonal job, no matter what you may think. You feign compassion and interest, but in the end, you go home to your family at the end of the night and you sleep well.

“Yer a funny one,” Friggy commented, turning his back to Remus and picking up a new glass to clean. “Polite even in yer ‘opelessness.”

“Huh,” was Remus’ unintelligent answer.

“Don’t think tha’ I dunno yer type,” Friggy continued. “Yer type don’t come in as of’en as some others, but I get suma ya ever’once in a while. Th’intelligent kind—smart, n’ with a big ol’ future full’o light—but they jus’ don’t see it.”

Remus hated that he was listening.

“Y’pro’bly been through six other bars b’fore yeh got here,” Friggy said. “Sumthin’ bad happened to ya—somethin’ traumatizin’, I’m sure. Yeh, I see yer kind ever’ so of’en. Young ‘uns like you jus’ don’t know how ter deal—y’might be smart n’ all, but tha’ don’t mean yeh got life experience.”

Remus hated him.

Truth hurts.

“An’ you young lot hate us old folks, too,” Friggy continued, smiling, turning back to Remus. “Yeh hate tha’ we speak th’truth. Tha’ I’m sayin’ this ain’t the right way to handle things. Tha’ I’m sayin’ that wallowin’ in yer misery ain’t gonna do nothin’.”

Remus also hated bad grammar. Peter had been particularly miserable in his grammar.

A pang shot through Remus’ chest.

Peter.

He’d been wallowing in his sorrow, all right—but he was concentrating on wallowing in his sorrow—not why he was wallowing.

Didn’t make me feel better. Made me feel lonely.

Lonelier.

“Wha’, y’think tha’ I don’t care, huh?” Friggy said. “I know what yer kind thinks—that us bartenders, we see it all, an’ it’s jus’ impersonal. Well, I see yer logic in tha’, Remus—I hear lots o’ stories, thousands a day, even—most the same, jus’ with dif’rent people—some even wit’ the same people, now that’s curious, awright—but see here, now, tha’ makes me wiser. ‘Cause I recognize th’same sorrow in ever’one, and I figgered out how to solve ‘em all.”

Remus hated what he was going to say. He hesitated, knowing that Art Friggy knew what he was going to do. He blinked, stared at his glasses, and closed his eyes. When he opened them, several long moments later, they were tear-stung, though the shadows the cloak pulled over his head prevented the “all-knowing” Friggy from seeing them.

Though he probably knows.

“…How?” Remus asked finally, his voice completely dry and scratchy.

Friggy smiled. “Deal with it.”

Remus let out a quiet snort.

“It’s a simple as that—an’ th’answer’s so obvious tha’ no one wants ter try it,” Friggy answered. “Yeh gotta deal with it, Remus! ‘Cause I care ‘bout ever’one who’s ever stepped foot in here—but I don’t care about their wallowin, no sir-ee. An’ I don’t care ‘bout yours. Yer tryin’ to get smashed, an’ it’s not workin’—shouldn’t tha’ be a sign? Yeh haven’t slept in days—but yeh aren’t thinkin’ bout anythin’! Tha’s the problem with smart folks—they think themselves entitled t’unhappiness, ‘cause they go ‘round usually actin’ like the shoulder others cry on. An’ then they get even sadder ‘cause they realize tha’ jus’ ‘cause they’re smart ‘n logical don’t mean they’re wise—an’ they always thought that they were wise, cause they were smart! An’ their friends, they always went to ‘em for advice, cause they too though’ smartness and wisdom were one in the same! But it ain’t! It ain’t! And you—yer the type who listens and learns quick. Yeh want that wisdom. But Remus, it ain’t gonna be in those drinks yeh keep orderin’.”

Friggy’s oratory—spoken in abrasive and lengthy language, a clash to Remus’ sensitive ears—sat inside of Remus’ mind.

I know it, old man.

I’m selfish?

Remus’ chest began to rise and fall rapidly. His breathing increased; his heart pounded rapidly. He felt blood rushing through his veins—for the first time in three days, life seemed to be reborn in his body.

Selfish?

I’m selfish?

“Remus?” Friggy squinted his eyes—what was left of them shone with a sort of alarming concern. Why would this stranger care so much about him?

No—I have every right to be—to be upset at them—but isn’t that what Friggy just warned me about? “Tha’s the problem with smart folks—they think themselves entitled t’unhappiness, ‘cause they go ‘round usually actin’ like the shoulder others cry on.” But he doesn’t know my story—no matter what he thinks—it’s sad and selfish like everyone else’s…but this time—I’m entitled to selfishness…they…

Remus looked as though he might have a heart attack. His face had grown warm, his cheeks red, and his eyes grew to the size of Quaffles. His breathing was furious—ragged, harsh, difficult…

“Remus!”

They said they’d always be there for me!” Remus cried, a dry, raking sob escaping from his throat. He took an uneven breath, tears spilling from the side of his eyes. “But they’re not…”

Friggy said nothing for a long time; Remus felt Friggy’s gaze settle on him—the quivering, hapless young man in front of him—and at long last the bartender opened his mouth.

“It’s not yer fault.”

Remus stared straight ahead, his face abject, his gaze aimless. He closed his eyes. “…I know.”

Friggy continued to gaze at Remus. “Jus’ ‘cause yeh know…doesn’t make yeh selfish.”

“…I know.”

“No, yeh don’t,” Friggy answered casually. “At least, yeh don’t know fully jus’ quite yet.” He sent a half-smile to Remus. “Which’s why I’m closin’ up shop.”

Remus nodded, and slowly pulled himself up and off of the barstool. He dug into the thin pockets of his worn pants.

Friggy shook his head. “’S on th’house.”

Remus looked over at him, and for the first time stared him straight in the eye. “I can’t let you do that. I’ve had too many drinks tonight.”

“Don’ worry ‘bout it!” Friggy grunted. “Th’only way I’ll let yeh get outta here free now is if yeh leave!”

The edge of Remus’ chafed lips ever so slightly twisted upward—the first sign of hope in days. But the somber expression that had glued itself to his piteous face continued to pore out from his eyes, his lips, and his brow.

“Where to…?” Remus murmured, more to himself than to Friggy. “Where to find solace…?”

Friggy didn’t answer. Or rather, he did answer, in the form of a cocked eyebrow.

“Why don’t yeh go home?”

“…” Remus paused, eyes stinging. “I have no family…left…”

“Home ain’t necessary-ly with people, Remus.”

“Oh, really? Some more anthroposophy you’ve gained in your shabby bar?”

“Plenty o’ folks come in ‘ere, an’ they got a wife, or a ‘usband, an’ kids n’ all—but they ain’t got a home. Tha’s a state o’ mind, mate—home, yeh gotter find it.”

State of mind. Place in your heart. I haven’t got a right mind. I haven’t got room in my haggard heart.

Where can I go? What can I do? There’s nothing I can do.

You can’t change the past!

“Yeh can’t change wha’s been done an’ gone,” Friggy finished matter-of-factly. “But it’s not ‘bout that, Remus. It’s about findin’ peace with th’ past. An’ knowin’ that yeh’ll be awright.”

There’s nothing left of the past.

Which is…why I’m mourning it?

What can I do?

But to forget the past?

But I can’t forget the past.

But can I make peace with the past?

I can?

Maybe?

“I’m leaving!” Remus said suddenly, a knifelike, crisp tone ringing from the voice. He spun around, cloak billowing in the self-made wind, and escaped into the night.

Friggy blinked, a tiny smile gracing his froglike lips.

Remus’ heart pounded as he dashed out in the bitter streets of Diagon Alley, imaginary music drumming in the background as the wind blew against his running body. His mind was racing—swirling blank thoughts through his tattered, weak mind, his heart pounding nervously and excitedly in his tired chest. Through the narrow street—past the magical stores—the Leaky Cauldron—the brick wall—

The cold, empty streets of London.

Remus liked London, despite his somewhat reclusive nature. The city was an interesting place—Remus, who so loved the country and the fresh air, did love the city as well. There was a place for everyone and everything—quiet, historical attractions that Remus grudgingly loved…the hustle and bustle that Sirius so loved…

Sirius.

Remus stepped into the building—a small flat complex, magical and hidden from Muggle eyes—lit with dancing flames placed in ornate candelabras. The flat building wasn’t large—the flats were—but Remus scaled the stairs in a few deft moments.

He stopped in front of a door. He reached behind the silver numbers—
Flat No. 243—waved his wand—a silent spell—a small, silver key…

Remus inserted the key into the keyhole, heard a click, and pushed open the door.

The flat was abandoned. Fully furnished, clean, and homey, but empty…cold, familiar, and unfamiliar.

Sirius was neat. Not necessarily organized, but neat. He didn’t seem like the type—always running around, always getting into trouble—but he was a neat-freak. It was James who lived in a mess.

James.

James’ messes drove Lily insane—typical married love spats.

Lily.

But Sirius’ flat had been like a second home to them all. A real bachelor pad—bought and furnished when he was seventeen, filled with comfortable, squashy furniture, and all sorts of magical trinkets that had always entertained Sirius…

Memories.

They had thrown James and Lily an engagement party—right here, in this living room…

On a coffee table sat stacks of photos…black-and-white photos, colored photos, all moving…

Remus slowly walked over to the table, the silence stirring him. His brow creased somberly as his shaky, chilled hand reached over and picked up a photo.

It was black-and-white and rather plain; only three people had been captured in the frame, and the background was simple, though bits of flower danced in the corners. Three beautiful people captured in the photo—a tall man, dark hair falling into his eyes; a messy-haired, bespectacled, cheery-faced man laughing, his arms around a lovely redhead beaming at the camera.

He had taken that picture.

One of the happiest moments of my life.

Remus’ lips quivered and his eyes panged with the sharp hint of bitter tears. His hands tensed and he grasped the picture as though he was about to rip it straight down the middle…but he then stopped, relaxed, and threw the picture down onto the ground.

I hate you.

“What happened…?” Remus whispered, a tear trickling down his weatherworn cheek and dripping onto the photo. “Why—why didn’t I see it? James…Lily…I’m so sorry…”

James was one of his best mates. And Lily—the kind, compassionate Lily…she had been a bright spot in the middle of a dark and dreary time. He loved them both fully—he loved them individually, he loved them together…

“And Harry…what of you, Harry? Sent to a distant relative?” Remus’ voice was quivering. “But James has no relatives to care for you—sent to Lily’s Muggle family?” A bitter chuckle escaped from his desiccated throat.

James—you know what you did for me? I never told you what you did for me…I can only hope that you always knew…what you had done.

James had shown him life. In the simplest terms. Remus had lived less than favorably—mentally, at least—until he had arrived at Hogwarts and made friends with the intelligent, charismatic Potter. Son of elder Pureblood wizards, a boy striving for reputation and respect…

We left my hometown after the bite—the green fields were just a blistering reminder of my curse. I left my neighborhood friends…and the alert of a pitiable werewolf pup to my new neighborhood made life miserable. I—hated life. I found serenity in books, and—and magic. And Hogwarts—I was horrified at the thought that I couldn’t go to the place that I’d regarded as Heaven.

But I—I came to Hogwarts. And I made friends.

I found home.

He shivered—a biting, sudden shiver that pierced his entire being. His breathing was ragged and visible in Sirius’ flat—a sign of forsakenness, of loss, death…all frigid, all lachrymose.

“Lily Evans-Potter,” Remus whispered, closing his eyes slowly—mourning, grieving, dying.

Lily. Bright, cheery Lily, whose presence eased…me. The sister I never had; the maternal warmth that glowed from her hands, her face…

James, he would have—would have welcomed death if it meant saving those he loved. If it meant dying bravely—a knight’s death, a noble one. James, he was big on nobility—pure Gryffindor, that’s for certain. Fighting bravely, saving the one he loved—sacrificial…

But Lily, she’s more like me—she—she wouldn’t have wanted to die.

Another shiver.

Does that make me a coward?

That I don’t want to die?

I’d always wanted to die—when—when the seriousness of my condition truly came to me…when I thought I wouldn’t be received into Hogwarts…I sometimes thought that I’d have wanted to die.

I never tried to die.

“I was never suicidal…I’m too smart for that.” And Remus laughed—an elegiac, algid laugh—a perfect match for his grievous soul and his stone cold surroundings. “But I’m not smart enough to get over it all!”

It’s only been three days.

What do you expect?

And you don’t want to die.

“I don’t want to die,” Remus whispered, shaking.

I want to live.

“But not like this,” he breathed.

His sandy hair was heavy and clumped. The ends were sharp from uncleanliness—they fell into his eyes, cutting his pupils, encouraging tears to yet again form and fall.

He stood up.

“I don’t want to die,” Remus said aloud, talking to the spirits of the past, happy ones embedded within the memories of the living room, “but I don’t want to live like this.”

Was he strong enough to Apparate?

He closed his eyes—scrunched them up, as though concentrating on a brutally hard puzzle—he concentrated—images dancing in his mind—

A whirlwind of translucent colors—a rushing noise, a tugging feeling—and he stopped.

Off in the distance rested a large house—the house of his former neighbors. It was quiet and unthreatening, a nostalgic memory from seventeen years ago.

Which meant his former childhood house lay somewhere nearby.

The green plains of Scotland.

Remus didn’t consider himself Scottish—his parents had moved themselves and his older brother from a small village outside of Falmouth to the Scottish highlands before he was born, and then moved back into England before Remus had even turned five. But he had fond memories of the place—dense forests, lush grass, and “his place.”

“If the McHaydens’ house is there—and then the Campbell’s home lies north of there—then my house—ah, the Fairbairns’ house—is,” Remus spun to his right, “—that way.” He closed his eyes. “So…my place…it’s…”

His feet began to walk. A slow walk; his steps were light and paced, and his hands housed themselves in his thin pants pockets. He was in no hurry…he had his entire life to walk to “his place.”

Remus let the weather calm him. It was gentler, here in Scotland—the wind wasn’t howling and strong, but gentle, like a dance…the grass crunched lively beneath his threadbare boots—that even though it was chilly autumn, the grass was retaining green pigment, and springing with life.

The trees, already thick and brittle, became denser as he continued east. In the summer they were lush and citrine and sparkling green. The grass’s color, just as virescent as the leaves above them, was an adjective of life; the sky was blue and the clouds were pure white and tender. And even now in the autumn the highlands still retained their beauty: green, rolling hills, a cloudless night sky….Scotland was beautiful…and alive.

Through the forest now…deep within…the ground was hard and cold, but his destination—his place, that was soft, and warm.

 I haven’t been here in ages…and my feet just take me there. I traverse through nostalgia.

I should stop.

There, in front of his eyes, lay his place. A clearing in the forest—a small pool of pure, clear cerulean water, formed from a small, strong waterfall that trickled over jagged rocks. The water hadn’t yet frozen over…and the grass by the poolside was still alive, still green.

He spent the full of his days by this natural wonder, splashing in the waters and jumping down from the top of the waterfall. It had seemed so much larger when he was younger—but looking up at it now, the top of the waterfall was only some five-ish feet from the top of his head.

Remus squatted down and stared at his reflection for what seemed like years until he finally sat down. His eyes still bore holes into his reflection.

The man who stared back up at him—pallid skin, flaccid eyes, mangy hair—embodied misery.  The reflection changed—a curious face, pale, and both thin and pudgy…small, watery eyes and a round nose…

…Peter.

A tinge shot through Remus like he hadn’t felt in days. When he thought of Peter, everything was different. James and Lily were met with feelings of respect and sorrow; Sirius…he didn’t think about at all…; but Peter—Remus felt sad. He felt regret. He felt pity.

Peter…were you lonely?

Not snobby lonely, like me.

But lonely? I imagine you were sometimes.

You weren’t as strong, as smart, as fast, as handsome…as they were. I suppose even as I was, though I feel like a right bastard saying that. But you know we—we loved you, right? We trusted you, we enjoyed your company. You were our best friend…there to offer comfort and friendship and even an occasional bit of wit. Right, Peter? Remus’ eyes closed. We teased you and you teased us. But did you…

Did you know, Peter?

You were queer right up to your death, Peter. Twitchy and nervous. Absent, distant.

You knew…didn’t you?

And you went to…to stop…to stop…

Remus’ hand lashed out at the water, and Peter’s face changed to Remus’.

“I—I’m so—I’m so sorry, Peter!” Remus moaned, clutching his chest. Tears rippled in the pool water. “I’m so…sorry…”

I never knew you were so brave, Peter.

I’m so…sorry…

Remus hunched over, his face inches away from the water, clutching his stomach, feeling sick.

Halloweens.

Christmases.

Sirius’ seventeenth birthday shindig.

Full moon romps.

James and Lily’s wedding.

Remus concentrated again—his mind was spinning, but he thought strongly of home. Spinning trees, swirling waters—rocks, trees, grass…

Another whirlwind, another tug…

…and there stood Hogwarts.

The grounds were silent, though the chirps of bugs and the occasional rustling of leaves made the silence more comfortable and less foreboding.

Hogwarts stood rooted in front of him, stone masonry shining in the moonlight. The stars twinkled overheard—the Forbidden Forest, a place that had erstwhile held so much adventure, danced in the wind—Hagrid’s hut, dark and sleepy, rested further on down.

Home.

And it will be here, at home, where...

The magic here was intense; being away from Hogwarts made him more sensitive to the atmosphere. He took a slow step, and this time, he would wander aimlessly.

The sky was beautiful—Remus had never been in love with astronomy, but he loved the outdoors, and the stars fit nicely under “outdoors.” The sky was a deep, dark, blue-black directly overhead, and the dark color turned into slate, and the slate into a lighter perse color. His eyes scanned the constellations above him—he felt, for the first time in days, sleep wash over him in a wave of telling; his body was finally telling him that he was tired…but he wasn’t finished tonight, not yet…

He stopped short. Hagrid’s hut was closer now, but no life shone from the frosted windows. His eyes turned from the horizon in front of him to the dome above him. 

Pyxis. Eridanus. Hydra. Leo.

He felt his breath, once again, catch itself.

Canis Major.

The brightest star in the night sky.

Sirius.

Sirius.

And something happened, then. Pity left Remus; sorrow, misery, wretchedness, ruefulness—all escaped from his limbs, his facial features, his blood—

And anger, wrath…vehemence, took control of him.

His eyes lost the look of helplessness—he felt it; he could feel the fire blazing in them now—

He felt alive again.

But I don’t want to live like this.

He clenched his teeth; his fists curled themselves into tight balls of iron; and his knees quaked, but he stood firm, staring furiously up at the sky, the beautiful reminder of the ugliest sin.

Dirty bastard!” Remus shouted, not caring if he stirred the entire castle. You lied to us! You pathetic son of a bitch!” He sobbed another dry, raking sob. How could you do that to us? To your best friends?”

It can’t be true.

It just can’t be true.

Remus’ thoughts swirled like seaweed in a tidal pool. So—so unlike him! There—there must be more to the story! There must be some reason as to why—why it happened! He’d never…he’d never…

“You would have never…” Remus cried softly, tears spilling down his face. “You…don’t you understand why it’s so hard for me, Sirius? I can’t forgive you for what you did. I can forget it, perhaps, over time…but I can’t forgive it.”

You can’t change the past.

“I thought I knew you, Sirius,” Remus whispered. “I—though I knew all of you—Peter, James, Lily…we thought we knew you…”

The ultimate betrayal, the alpha and the omega of iniquity. You betrayed us, Sirius.

And I hate you for it.

But I…don’t think I hate you.

“Do you hate me for it, Lily? James? Peter?” Remus whispered into the wind, pulling his cloak around his body. “Do you hate me that I don’t hate him?”

But is there more to this story?

Would you—want me to hate him?

I…don’t think we could hate him. Even if we wanted to.

But wait.

Maybe…maybe I do hate him.

I hate him now.

I hate him for what he did.

I don’t hate what he used to be…one of my best mates.

But I hate him now.

I hate his…real self?

His new self?

Sirius’ multiple amicicides stirred within Remus soul. They created feelings he hadn’t felt often in his twenty-one years—Remus could hardly imagine that he had ever felt so much pain, suffering, misery, anger, and depression before, ever…

…and he could hardly imagine that any human being less strong than he would be able to withstand such emotional suicide.

“Remus Lupin? Is tha’ you?”

Remus looked up from the ground, wiped his face with the back of his dirty palm, and stood up slowly, registering the voice.

“Hagrid?” Remus said quietly.

“One an’ on’y,” Hagrid replied, chuckling slightly. The giant man walked towards Remus, his silhouette monstrous. He didn’t look miserable.

But he looked dizzy. Dizzy and something else. Something like exhaustion.

He looked like what Remus would look like in a few days’ time.

“I—I been, er,” Hagrid mumbled, shaking his head, “—er, alrigh’, sorta kinda.” His lips smiled lopsidedly. “But yeh—yeh don’t look like yeh been alrigh’.”

“I haven’t,” Remus replied shortly. He was tired. Finally. Tired physically, tired mentally, tired of bringing others down with him.

“I don’ expect yeh ter be healthy an’ fit, not yet,” Hagrid said. “These sorts o’ things take time ter heal.”

“They do…” Remus said quietly.

A flash in front of him—a small man, thin but with pudgy features, hair colorless, face nervous—

Peter.

Regret.

“But, like—yeh, yeh can help yerself get better, though,” Hagrid rambled, not really talking to Remus.

Another blindling flash—a handsome, dark-haired, light-eyed young man, grinning, eyes twinkling, crossing his arms over his chest confidently—

Sirius.

Deceit.

Hagrid sniffled.

“You’re right, Hagrid—time heals all wounds—as—as best as time can, but we—we’ve got to help ourselves,” Remus said kindly, walking closer to Hagrid. “We can’t wallow in our misery.”

Blinding white light—a beautiful young woman, red hair dancing like the sun, emerald eyes shining vividly, life radiating from her every limb—

Lily.

Familiarity.

“Yeh—we—can’t change th’ past,” Hagrid mumbled, and Remus for certain knew now that he was crying. Softly, gently—caressing his skin, not harsh, but tears of pain and anguish. “But we—we have ter, ter deal with it, don’ we?”

What a massive shift in roles. I’m doing the consoling? A confused, anguished prat like me?

He needs it.

He needs wisdom.

Friggy’s wisdom.

Now…my wisdom.

“I—here, take a look a’ this,” Hagrid mumbled, somewhat embarrassed. “They—all of yeh, really—great friends, I consider yeh all ter be—great friends o’ mine.” He pulled something out of his moleskin coat that he’d thrown over his pajamas. “Look—a baby picture. Fer—fer when he comes ter Hogwarts, see? I’m gonna put an album tergether—since—since…”

Remus took the picture from Hagrid’s giant fingers.

A final flash—loud, lingering, bright—and his final vision, a man whose eyes were framed by wireless eyeglasses, whose hair stood on end—

--a man who was reflected, almost frighteningly, in the baby’s photograph.

James.

Nobility.

And little baby Harry Potter.

Retention. Memory. Nostalgia. Redemption.

Life.

“They—they said—they said they’d always be there for me,” Hagrid moaned, his voice shivering and shaking.

Remus smiled—not a particularly large smile, or even an immensely friendly one, but it was warm, kind, welcoming, and, most of all, it was real.

“But they are,” Remus finished quietly, slowly and meaningfully handing the picture of Harry back to Hagrid. That little picture, that capture of life itself.

They are.

The silence of startling hope settled between the two spent men.

“I’m…returning back to my place,” Remus informed Hagrid warmly. He flashed Hagrid the same small smile. “You should too.”

Hagrid nodded and pocketed the picture.

Remus stared up at the sky and said nothing for a moment. He turned back to Hagrid. “Goodnight, Hagrid.” A gentle breeze rustled Remus’ hair. “Finally…I’m going home.”

And Remus turned around and began to walk, a walk in andante, the walk that would slowly, but surely, bring him home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

//
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