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“Mr. Lupin! I see you are up,
good! How are you today?”
The thin, white-haired man turned
from the window and smiled broadly at the young mediwitch
who had entered his room.
“Hello, Grace,” Remus Lupin said. “My day
is splendid, now that you are here. It’s good to see you, as always.” He rolled
over on his narrow hospital bed so he could see her.
Grace giggled and ran her hand through her
short, black hair. It was cropped in a feathered style, close to the face, in
the fashion that was so popular at the moment. It
reminded Remus so much of another young woman in his past, someone very dear to
“You are so sweet,” she said, and
she patted his hand. The young witch smoothed out her green robes. “Have you
had breakfast, yet?”
“Just,” Remus said, and he pulled
an exaggerated face as he pulled himself more upright.
Grace adjusted the pillows behind his back. “The eggs and cheese were good, but
someone must tell the chef about those little blue and
white abominations. They are so bitter without coffee.”
“You really shouldn’t drink
coffee, not with your heart.” Grace gave Remus a mock glare, but the corners of
her heart-shaped mouth twitched at the old argument, and her light brown eyes
twinkled in ill-suppressed amusement. “Besides, coffee is bitter, too. At least
the way you like it.”
“Not as bitter as those pills,”
Remus grumped half heartedly, but he was smiling too. This was comfortable,
familiar. A long established routine, as cozy and secure as a smoking jacket or
a favorite pair of slippers.
Remus looked around past Grace to see a wizened head peering into his room.
“Gideon!” Remus responded with a
grin. “How is everything? The Hearts Card Club gathering today?”
“But of course!” Gideon floated in
on a levitating chair, his familiar, elegant mahogany cane in hand. He wore a
bright canary-yellow turtleneck underneath a gaudy blue, red and white plaid
robe. He wore a brown loafer on his left foot, and his robe settled flat where
his right leg should have been. Dragon attack, during the days of Grindelwald, Gideon had told Remus.
“I was 19 at the time,” Gideon
would say when someone inadvertently reminded him of the subject. Remus knew
the story by heart. “We had tracked down some of his followers, but that
Hungarian Horntail took us all by surprise! Killed two of us, and left me
Gideon was fond of telling tall
tales and Remus was never sure what to believe – but
he knew this particular story was, indeed, true.
“So, who’s coming?” Remus asked. “The usual crowd?”
“Barney can’t make it,” Gideon
said, and for the first time, his smile dimmed a bit. “He’s ailing today.”
Gideon brightened again. “But Sprout’s having a good day, and Lockhart will be
there, as usual.”
“I’m glad to hear about Pomona,”
Remus said. “And Gideon, behave yourself with Gilderoy.”
come on, Remus.” Gideon adopted a wheedling tone. “How else can an old, sick
man like me get some amusement? I’m long past it for the usual merriment.”
Gideon tipped Grace a slow wink and gave her an impish grin. Grace merely
laughed and shook her head in amusement. “It brightens my day to have some
sport with him, and it’s harmless. Have you ever heard him complain?”
“It’s not much sport if the game
is all one-sided,” Remus chided. “You can’t have a battle of wits with the
witless. How about the Longbottoms?”
“Doubtful.” Gideon’s expression
became sad again. “Alice, poor
creature, was weeping bitterly again because of her son’s death, and Frank was
still in his shell, last I heard.”
Remus sighed and looked grim while
Grace went around his room, cleaning and tidying up. Two younger mediwitches maneuvered themselves around Gideon, who
steered his chair away to make room for them.
“Why did their Healers tell them?”
Remus scowled and shook his head. “Neville died twenty years ago. Why tell them
now, just when they were finally beginning to come around a bit?”
“I had heard something about their
boy,” Gideon said as he floated further into the room. “But I don’t know a lot
Remus gave a mirthless smile. “He
had been one of my students, the year I taught at Hogwarts. He was a brave lad
in the end. He was going to be apprenticed as a Healer, and was caring for the
sick and wounded at Hogsmeade. When the Death Eaters
attacked, he and six others went out to meet them. None of them survived, they
were outnumbered three to one. But because of them…” Remus had to stop a moment
to take a deep breath. “Because of them, the patients and the other Healers all
escaped to safety.”
“Hey,” Gideon placed a wrinkled
hand on Remus’ thin shoulder. “You don’t have to talk about those times, I know
it upsets you. I’m sorry for bringing it up.”
“No, it’s all right.” Remus again
smiled at the older wizard, but his eyes remained haunted. “They deserve to be
remembered. I can’t hide from the past, I learned that long ago.”
“I didn’t know theLongbottoms’ boy was one of those six,” Gideon continued.
“I bet they would be proud of him, considering their background. If they could know.” Gideon gave himself a mental shake.
“So, can you join us? That will give us four, and you are looking pretty
Remus’ smile brightened. “Yes, I
think it’s going to be a good day, today.”
“Good!” Gideon was beaming. “See
you in an hour, then?”
“You’ve got it,” Remus replied.
“See you in an hour, and take it easy on Gilderoy!”
“But of course!” Gideon’s adopted an innocent expression. “I’ll be as civil
with him as I am with any annoying, brainless prat.”
Remus laughed and shook his head.
“Catch you in a bit, then,” he said as Gideon waved cheerfully and floated back
out into the corridor.
“So, would you like to go outside
before your card game?” Grace asked as the other mediwitches
left. “It’s a lovely day, and all the tulips are finally blooming.”
“That sounds agreeable,” Remus
said. “Have they started that monument, yet?”
“Yes, two days ago,” and Grace
wrinkled her nose a bit. “Right now, it looks like a huge, gaping hole at the
site. The construction crews have only started weaving the spells to stabilize
the spot. But it should be done before the end of the
summer. That is, unless the committees have yet another disagreement!” Grace
rolled her eyes.
“I would like to see it completed
in my lifetime,” Remus grumbled. “I can’t believe it took fifteen years of
planning, replanning, revamping and redoing to make a
memorial to Harry Potter and the others who lost their lives fighting
“Dad said there was more bickering
than actual planning,” Grace said with a confidential look. “But it’s being
worked on now and don’t fret. You will get to see it; you have many good years
left in you!”
I doubt that, Remus thought as he swung his good right leg over the
edge of the bed and gingerly pulled his twisted left leg to the edge. Gideon
had often remarked that the two of them made a fine pair because when together,
they had one good set of legs.
With Grace gripping his shoulders for
support, Remus slowly lowered himself into his own floating chair. He retrieved
his wand from the drawer in his nightstand next to the bed and placed it into
the lining of his soft brown robe. He casually glanced around his room – his
home for the last five years. He had moved here after his health had started to
noticeably decline. It was plain, for even after Remus had found a job in the
Ministry as an ambassador of sorts to the other, non-human races, he never had
much in the way of material things. The most prominent feature was his book
collection, which were neatly lined and ordered on a plain,
wooden bookshelf. A tattered photo album rested on top of the bookshelf,
along with a small white vase with a single flower – a spring tulip. “To add
color to the place,” Grace had said. The soft scent of the flower was a marked
contrast to the usual smells of antiseptic and bleach. There were a couple of
framed pictures on the walls, but nothing else distinguished his room from the
other rooms in the facility.
“Have you been able to order a new
robe for the official ground breaking ceremony in a week?” Grace asked as they
went down the white and green corridor.
“No, not yet,” Remus said, and he sighed.
“I reckon I’ll have to use the Speedy Owl Express by now. However, it shouldn't
be about me, it should be about those who sacrificed their lives to bring down
“But you are the last surviving
member of the old Order of the Phoenix,”
Grace said. “Of course they are going to make a fuss!”
“At least, the only one with their memory
intact,” Remus muttered, thinking of Pomona Sprout who, like the Longbottoms nearly 40 years ago, had been tortured into
insanity. At least there was the small consolation that the attackers received
their just deserts. When the Aurors had arrived at
the Hogwarts greenhouse in response to Sprout’s
distress signal, they had found the herbologist in a
catatonic state and four very fat and contented Venomous Tentacula plants. The
only thing that had remained of the Death Eaters were
scraps of fabric, a black leather shoe and four white masks.
“It won’t be long,” Grace
continued. “My dad will make his speech, there will be a brief presentation,
oh, and Dad asked me to ask you – did you want to say anything while you were
up there?” They had rounded the corner and were approaching a set of glass and
brass double doors.
“Up there?” Remus asked, at first
not comprehending. Then it hit him. “No! I’m not…”
“Remus, you don’t have to,” Grace
said soothingly, and she gently squeezed his hand. “You’ll just be introduced,
then, and all you’ll have to do is wave at the group…”
“I didn’t know that I would be on
the bloody dais with the officials,” Remus groaned. “Is that really necessary?”
Grace laughed as she pointed her
wand at the door. The doors opened, and the warm, sweet spring air blew gently
on Remus’ face and through his wispy white hair. “Of course it is! Dad won’t take no for an answer on that one. He’ll understand
about the speech, in fact,” and here she giggled, “he’s
trying to convince the Minister to cut his speech down from twenty pages to
two. He hates long-winded speeches.”
“I hope your dad succeeds, then,”
Remus said, and he laughed. “Twenty pages!We’ll be there until !
The sweets will go stale.”
They stepped outside and saw an
elderly witch and a younger wizard seated at a small round table a short
distance away. A red and white striped umbrella provided shade from the warm
May sun. The witch was reading a copy of The
Daily Prophet while the wizard was absently shuffling a deck of cards.
Frank,” Remus called out as he floated towards them. “All
Pomona Sprout looked up, slightly
puzzled. “Hello, do I know you?”
Remus smiled sadly. “Yes, Pomona.It’s Remus. Remember?
We taught together one year, and we both worked with Dumbledore.”
“Dumbledore, yes,” Pomona
said thoughtfully. “I remember him. Is he here, too? He
must be getting on by now. Dumbledore was old when we were in school.”
“Dumbledore died some time ago, dear,”
Grace reminded her.
“Oh, pity that,” Pomona
murmured. “He always had lemon drops. I always loved lemon drops.”
“I understand you will be playing
cards with us today,” Remus said. He suddenly felt tired. No matter how long he
had lived here, he could never get used to her like this.
brightened. “Oh yes, I love playing cards. Do you play?”
“You never know what you’ll be
dealt,” Frank Longbottom suddenly said. His hands
continued to shuffle his deck of cards.
“Hello, Frank,” Grace said. “How
are you doing today?”
“Never know,” Frank muttered. He
started laying out the cards on the table in a single line, as if he were going
to play patience. “What you will get.”
Remus suddenly realized. “You have the paper upside down.”
“Do I?” Pomona
looked quizzically at the newspaper, shrugged and turned it right side up. “No
wonder I was having trouble following the stories.” She read for a few moments
and shook her head. “I still don’t understand much.”
“Not much to understand,” Remus
said, more to himself. He idly glanced at the
headlines, which trumpeted the start of the construction of the new memorial. A
second headline described the release of a Death Eater from Azkaban after a
twenty-year sentence. Another headline told of the death of what was believed
to be the last surviving giant, and another the election of a new Wizengamot
member. Remus also could see an ad proclaiming the latest Bertie Botts bean flavor (pine needle) and another ad for magic
carpet tours through Egypt
Grace said. “That’s yesterday’s paper. Would you like for me to get you a copy
thought a moment, and then nodded. “Maybe then I’ll understand what’s going
“If you do, be sure to tell the
rest of us,” Remus said.
“I will,” Pomona
said brightly. Frank had picked up his row of cards and had started shuffling
again, the cards making a soft slapping sound.
Remus and Grace left the two and
started towards the area where the construction of the memorial was underway.
Grace had been right – currently, it looked as if a vast meteor had left a
gaping hole in the ground. Remus could hear wizards inside chanting spells,
shouting orders and occasionally emitting a sharp exclamation of disgust or
pain when a foot connected with a stone, or a clump of dirt decided to deposit
itself on someone.
“They have a way to go, I see,”
Remus said. “I still think it’s peculiar, though. They are having the
groundbreaking ceremony after the ground has been broken.”
“Not Dad’s idea,” Grace said. “He
wanted to do it the traditional way. However, the Minister wanted to show
evidence work was being done on it first before
inviting a whole bunch of people out here. I guess in a way, I understand that,
given how long this project has taken.”
They started walking away from the
construction site to a small grove of dogwood trees. They had
been planted shortly after the construction of the Dumbledore Rest Home
for War Veterans and other Permanent Injury Patients nearly eighteen years ago.
Just over the pink and white flowered boughs, Remus could make out in the
distance the outline of the paths and two-story houses of Spalding. A bright
yellow goldfinch, perched in a dogwood overflowing with soft pink flowers,
strutted and sang, the sweet notes drifting through
Grace inhaled deeply. “I just love
the smell of spring! Everything is so new and fresh!”
Remus nodded, but his expression
was sad. Yes, springtime was the season for new beginnings, new growth. It also
marked a painful anniversary for him. A week from today, twenty years ago, was the day she
“Tonks, I wish you would reconsider! What you plan to do is
“I know Remus, but you know the price if Harry can’t get to him. We
need to create that distraction, and with my talent, I’m
the best there is! I’ve been practicing, and I look just like him!”
“Yes, I know, but wouldn’t a mirroring spell…?”
“We tried that, love, and You-Know-Who sees right through them. No,
this is the only way.”
“I might lose you…”
“I may lose you, too. We are at war, and nothing else matters, exceptthe future. I
love you, Remus Lupin. Never forget that. I love you. And
even if one of us goes beyond the veil, it is not forever. I believe that, with
all my heart.”
“Tonks, be careful. I…want youto come back, safe. Don’t take any
Silence, and his lips were sealed by hers. He held her tight, feeling her
slight form against him, warm and alive….
The next time he held her, she was
dead. Killed by an unknown Death Eater on the orders of Lord
Voldemort when he found out the deception. The plan had worked, but at a
terrible cost. Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and his darling had all died that
day so Harry could face the Dark Lord. Harry had destroyed Voldemort, but had
died himself a day later from his injuries.
Holding her still, cold form still
haunted his dreams, even so many years later. What plagued him more was the
memory of her telling him that she loved him. He could not remember a time when
he had told her the same thing.
Now it was too late. Unless she was right about life beyond the veil. He wasn’t as certain, but as the years past and he grew feebler
from the lingering results of his long-term suffering from lycanthropy and his
cumulative injuries from the lengthy, drawn-out war, he knew he would find out
sooner rather than later.
“There’s supposed to be a full
moon tonight, Remus,” Grace continued. “The gardens look so pretty in the
moonlight. I bet you are glad not to have to worry about full moons any more.”
Remus smiled and started to reply
when a shadowy figure caught his attention. He peered through the dogwoods at a
clump of tall grasses. “Grace? Who is that, over there in the pampas grass?”
Grace, too, looked at the figure.
Her brow furrowed. “I don’t know. It might be Alice,
she likes hiding out here. Alice?
Is that you?”
The figure didn’t
move, and the hairs on Remus’ neck started to prickle.
“I don’t think that’s Alice,”
Remus said uneasily. “Perhaps we should turn back.” He slowly drew his wand
from his robe pocket and his frail body tensed.
didn’t seem to hear. “Alice? Alice
dear, come out of there, you’ll get your robes dirty again.” Grace started
walking towards the clump of pampas grass.
“Grace, no!” Remus shouted. But it was too late. Something hissed and a white cloud
whirled from the bushes and settled over them. Grace gave a little choking
scream before collapsing in a heap a few feet from the grass. Remus coughed as
a sickly sweet smoke filled his nostrils.
“Stupe…” Remus panted.
was too late. He only saw a tall, thin figure emerge from the pearly cloud of
dust. A pair of glittering obsidian eyes stared at Remus over a stained white
cloth, which covered half the intruder’s face.
“You…” Anger and fear filled Remus
as he stared into those soulless eyes.
The figure did not respond, and
Remus tried raising his wand arm again. His wand, his whole arm, felt as if
they were made of lead. There was another puff of white smoke, and Remus felt
the wand slip from his hand as his world went black.
of Part I
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