Author’s Notes: Again,
much thanks to my proof-reader, Logical Quirk. Prior reading in this fic-universe is not necessary, but just for your
information to deepen your understanding: in a prior installment I had Tonks
befriend Snape during their time in the Order together.
This chapter contains violence and torture—nothing is
graphic or explicit, but if those subjects make you squeamish you probably
ought to avoid this story.
Choices: Part II
“I’ve got to go back, haven’t I?”
“That is up to you.”
“I’ve got a choice?”
“Oh yes…I think that if you decided not to go back, you
would be able to…let’s say…board a train.”
“And where would it take me?”
Potter and Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Remus Apparates to the first safe
place he can think of—Alastor Moody’s abandoned home.
For years, when Remus had no other place to stay, or no other place to
transform, Alastor had taken him in. Now, once again,
Remus seeks the solace of his old sanctuary.
His heart is still pounding, and he feels a dull ache
growing in his head. The past few minutes feel more like a dark nightmare than
reality. He can’t have hexed Harry
like that, can he? He clutches his cloak tightly around him, and stumbles
through the night toward the dark house.
He makes his way through the layers of protection
surrounding the home, and lets himself inside. As soon as he closes the door
behind him, he feels a wand pressed to his throat.
“Identify yourself!” a voice hisses
in the darkness. It must be another member of the Order—they are the only ones
with the means to breach the security around the house.
“It is I, Remus Lupin, a werewolf…” A monster… An outcast…
“…married to Nymphadora Tonks…” He ran away from her. It
wasn’t to help Harry—not really. The responsibility was too much. He wasn’t
strong enough. He left her…
A few candles sputter to life, casting a dim yellow glow
across the face of Kingsley Shacklebolt. “And the last words Albus Dumbledore spoke to us?” he says.
“Harry is the best
hope we have. Trust him.” It is painful to Remus to speak the words that he has
so clearly ignored. He didn’t trust Harry. He treated him like a child who
needed an adult to solve his problems for him. And in return, Harry has treated
him like a man—an equal—and spoken to him just as James would have done. He
told him the truth. But instead of listening, he’d blasted Harry into a wall.
Harry was right. He really is a coward.
Kingsley lowers his wand, and a few more candles come alight
behind him as he offers a few more tokens of his own identity. Remus hardly
hears him—Harry’s words of reproof continue to ring in his ears.
When Kingsley asks what brings him here, he mutters that
Death Eaters were chasing him and he needed a safe place to hide. Kingsley
chuckles, and says that great minds think alike: when he refused to abandon his
post with the Muggle Minister, Thicknesse ordered
some of the Death Eater goons to arrest him.
“So it seems that Dora isn’t the only Auror out of a job,”
he says, smiling, his white teeth flashing brightly in the dim light.
Remus nods, forcing a weak smile onto his face. He turns
away from Kingsley’s shining smile, and sits down on a well-worn chair in a
dark corner. Kingsley might make light of losing his job, but he doesn’t have a
wife, or a child. Oh, God, a child…. He puts his face in his hands, and slumps
forward, caught up in his torrential thoughts.
“Remus—is Dora all right?” Kingsley’s voice is full of
Remus lifts his head back up, and quietly reassures him that
Dora is safe with her parents. He tries to imbue his words with a tone of
finality, and it seems to work because Kingsley drops the subject, and asks why
he’s on the run.
Remus briefly tells him of his search for Harry, and how he
finally located him at Grimmauld Place.
“And he’s safe?”
Remus closes his eyes tight again. “He was. He and Ron and
Hermione seem to have a good handle on things. At least, they did until I
showed up.” He shakes his head. “I failed him. The square was under
surveillance. I was careless. I let myself be seen. Now the Death Eaters will
redouble their efforts to get in. They’ll probably bring Snape along—he’ll find
a way to let them in.”
Kingsley paces back and forth in the dim and dusty living
room. Finally, he stops and faces Remus. He declares that Harry is going to be
safe at Grimmauld
Place, because the Death Eaters will think that
he’s fled elsewhere.
He goes on to tell Remus of the discovery that he made just
before fleeing the Ministry: You-Know-Who has charmed his name, so that anyone
who speaks it will be instantly traceable. They will use this as a tool to lay
a false trail for the Death Eaters, to lure them away from Grimmauld Place.
Remus feels his guts clenching. How can he do this? After
what Harry said to him—how can he put himself at risk like this? He should go
back. He should go home to Dora. He takes some deep breaths, trying to clear
his head, and stands, moving to a window to peer through the curtains at the
overgrown garden shrouded in darkness. Even in the black of the night Remus can
see that it has been neglected for so long, it is little more than a lonely
tangle of weeds and briers. Nothing but a jumble of dark,
twisted shapes crossing over each other. No order. No beauty.
“I understand if you don’t want to come on this mission,”
says Kingsley. “You’ve a wife at home to worry about.” He begins to muse over
the possibility of getting Dedalus or Hestia to join him on his wild goose chase.
Remus’s mind turns over and over. What if their enemies find
Harry because of him? What if his one moment of thoughtless rage has cost them
their victory? What kind of world will be left for his son to grow up in?
He takes in a startled hissing breath as he realizes, for
the first time, that he truly wants his son to be born. He wants his child to
have the chance to grow up—the chance to live a happier life than the one he
But none of that will be possible if Harry is killed. And
he’ll be damned if he lets his own foolish outburst lead to Harry’s downfall.
“You don’t need to contact Dedalus
or Hestia,” he says, turning to face Kingsley, the
dancing candlelight glowing brightly in front of him. “I promised Dora I’d come
home when Harry was safe. He’s not safe yet.”
Kingsley nods. “All right, then. Lets get to work.”
Within the hour their plans are set. Before leaving the
house Remus slips into the spare bedroom he so often used for his
transformations. He closes his eyes and focuses on his memories of Dora on
their wedding day—so radiant—so happy—so full of life. He points his wand into
the darkness, and conjures his Patronus. The bright
powerful lion bursts forth from his wand, casting a silver glow throughout the
room. With a low whisper, Remus imparts his message: “I am helping Kingsley to
draw the Death Eaters off of Harry’s trail. Don’t try to find me or contact
me—it’s too dangerous. I’ll be home as soon as he is safe. Stay with your
parents—protect yourself. I love you.”
With a last flick of his wand, he sends his Patronus out into the darkness, and watches it fly until
its slivery glow is swallowed by the night.
At each place Remus and Kingsley visit, they scatter items
intended to look like the detritus of three teenagers passing through in a
panic. Then, they speak Voldemort’s name before
hastily Apparating away.
On the eighth day their would-be captors appear so soon
after they say Voldemort’s name that they are drawn
into a pitched battle with four assailants. They manage to escape only after
disabling two of their attackers.
They face a second battle the next day when they find a gang
of five Death Eaters waiting for them at the next stop along their intended
false trail. Remus is blasted hard into a wall before they escape, leaving him
battered and bruised.
They return to Alastor’s home that
evening to recover, and as Remus lays in the darkness, struggling to sleep in
spite of the aches and pains left from the blast, he can’t help but wonder if
this was how Harry felt the night after he left him. Had he been this bruised?
Did he feel this lonely?
Not an hour passes when he doesn’t think of Dora, and wonder
if he is doing the right thing.
When he chose to come on this mission with Kingsley, he
wanted to turn his lies into truth, and do something that would help both
Harry, and his own family. He wonders when he started thinking of them as a
doubts linger in the back of his mind at all times. Is he really doing this for
his them, or is he still just running away? Is he, as Harry put it, abandoning
his family to “go on an adventure”?
He replays Harry’s words in his mind again and again. There
are times when he guiltily believes that Harry spoke nothing but the truth.
Then, at other moments, he wonders if he is letting his affection for Harry
cloud his judgment. Harry has no real idea of the prejudices that Remus faces
each and every day—of the vile hatred that surrounds him wherever he goes. That
same dark, bleak, hopeless existence is all that Dora and their child have to
look forward to if he goes back to them. Even if Harry wins—how much will
He rolls over to his side, trying to find a comfortable
position to sleep in.
He tries to ignore the fear that the men who chased him
across the Grimmauld square recognized him. He tries
to pretend that Dora will be safe without him—that they will never come to
question her—that they will never hurt her.
He can’t help but think, once again, that she would have
been far better off if he had never married her at all.
He lies in the darkness, doing his best to convince himself
of the correctness of his choices, until at last he drifts off to sleep.
Every few days Kingsley gets word from Arthur that there are
still no signs or rumors at the Ministry that Harry’s been captured, and every
few days Remus sends another glowing lion charging across the country to his
wife, to reassure her that he is still safe.
He tries not to think of her loneliness or her fear. She is
the strongest person he’s ever met; she’ll get through this. He knows she will.
Thirteen nights after the beginning of their mission of
distraction, Remus and Kingsley finally venture back to Grimmauld Place.
They each approach the square from different sides, Disillusioned and under the
cover of darkness. After five minutes, they return to their rendezvous, and
confirm what they’ve seen: Death Eaters are still standing watch.
It can mean only one thing: they haven’t yet breached the
defenses around Number Twelve. They haven’t forced their way in.
The campaign of misdirection has worked. Harry is safe and
free. The enemy hasn’t found him.
With a smile and a sigh of relief, Kingsley pats him on the
back, celebrating their success. “We did it, mate. We did it.”
Remus feels his heart growing lighter. His mistake wasn’t so
disastrous, after all.
Kingsley pats him on the back yet again. “I’ll keep up the
false trail for another week, just to be sure. But I think you’ve done enough.
You can go back to your wife.”
Remus smiles, and thanks his friend, but his heart is
pounding rapidly in his chest.
Back…He can go back…
After a few more words of congratulation
and farewell, Kingsley Disapparates.
Remus stands by himself in the darkness of the alley,
breathing heavily. What sort of welcome can he expect when he returns?
Neither Ted nor Andromeda was supportive of his decision to
follow Harry. Somehow, they could see the duplicity in him that was always
invisible to Dora. Have they been working to turn her against him in his
absence? Could they have persuaded her not to take him back? What kind of home
will he be walking back into?
Should he even go back at all?
He shakes his head. This is foolishness. Dora has proven her
loyalty to him time and time again. He shouldn’t let himself start doubting
now. And no matter how much he still regrets his impulsive decision to marry
her, he needs to face the consequences of the choice he has made. He needs to
take care of his family.
He takes a final deep breath, and Apparates
one street away from the Tonks’ home. He Disillusions himself and carefully
makes his way there, dodging the splashes of light coming from the
widely-spaced lampposts, and creeping through the shadows. He doesn’t want to
take any chances.
He pauses three houses away from
the Tonks’, and slowly surveys the scene. At first, it appears that the coast
is clear. Then, suddenly, his eyes detect a small movement from the garden
across the street. He stares at the spot intently for several minutes before he
realizes what he is looking at: it is a cloaked and hooded wizard sitting
restlessly on a bench, almost invisible under his own Disillusionment spell.
The house is being watched. There’s no going home tonight.
Remus spends the rest of the night quietly approaching the
homes of each and every other Order member to check for surveillance. And with
each new house that he comes to, the knot in his stomach grows tighter.
The Tonks house is the only one being watched. There are no
signs of surveillance at any of the other homes.
Between his wild dash into the Grimmauld Place
square and his two battles with Death Eaters, he must have been recognized.
They know that he’s been leading them away from Harry, so they assume that he
knows where Harry is. If he dares go back to the Tonks’ home the Death Eaters
will swoop down on them all within minutes, and take him away for questioning
to see if they can pry Harry’s location out of him.
Who knows what they might do to Dora,
or what might happen to the baby?
He can’t let that happen.
Remus Apparates to an alley in
Muggle London just as the first rays of sunlight begin to pierce the dawn sky.
He wearily trudges down the street until he finds a café that opens early for
breakfast. He slumps down into a seat in a dim corner.
Once again, he made the wrong decision.
He tried to convince himself that by protecting Harry, he
was protecting his family. But he was mistaken. Perhaps he had even willfully
fooled himself. All he did was put his family in more danger than before.
He orders tea from a bleary-eyed waitress who looks like a
wraith under the harsh florescent lights, and then leans forward, putting his
face in his hands.
He’s a horrible person.
Everyone who allows him into their lives inevitably ends up
Why did he ever let Dora convince him that he was
worthwhile? Why did he let her give him hope?
He should have gotten out of her life the instant he could
tell that he was falling in love with her. He never, ever, should have given in
to his feelings after Dumbledore’s death—when he went to her, pleading for her
to give him another chance.
For once in his life he had decided to ignore his judgment
and to act on his instincts. And now those damnable instincts are going to
destroy her, and to destroy their child along with her.
His malady is reason enough to stay out of her life, but now
he is beginning to see that his own poor judgment and weakness of character are
even stronger reasons to stay away.
In his moments of greater clarity since that first panicked
day after learning of the pregnancy, Remus has accepted the fact the chances of
his son inheriting his malady are virtually non-existent. In all his time among
the werewolves, he never once met one that had been born that way, and never
once heard a tale of it actually happening. It was merely a rumor—a threat—a
horror story that old ones would tell to the young. But it wasn’t true. It
couldn’t be true. Remus won’t let himself believe it.
His son will be normal. Once the Death Eaters give up
looking for him, they’ll leave Dora alone. Her mother’s pureblood status should
protect them. Dora will be safe. She can build a new life for herself and for
her son—a life that will be far better without Remus than with him.
He has nearly made his decision to vanish, when Harry’s
words once more echo in his mind.
He wishes he could Obliviate
himself to wipe the memory of that night from his mind.
It’s not cowardice that drives him away from his wife. He
only wants to protect her. He wants her to be happy…
An image of her beautiful sparkling eyes floods his mind. He
sees them shining as she looks up at him, with her expression full of hope and
love. He sees her hair shimmering in the sunlight, and her teeth sparkling as
she laughs. He sees the glowing silver form of her werewolf Patronus
bounding toward him, its mouth open in a grin.
He made her laugh.
He made her smile. Somehow,
astonishingly, he became her symbol
of strength and happiness.
Since leaving Hogwarts as a young man he never once imagined
that he would ever be so fortunate as to love someone as wonderful as Dora. And
never in his wildest dreams would he have guessed that she would love him back.
Is it selfish to want to go home to that? Is it
short-sighted to want to enjoy that love for as long as he can?
Is it more cowardly to run away from that life of love and
happiness in an attempt to protect it, or to go back to it in the hopes that
through some miracle he won’t destroy the very happiness that he seeks?
The second option brings with it the greatest reward—but
also the greatest risk. Is that what hr is really afraid of? Alone, he has
nothing to lose. But if he goes back, he just might lose everything he’s ever
He drinks his tea in a few scalding gulps, then leaves a few
Muggle coins on the table and heads back out onto the street, now fully bathed
in the early morning light.
One way or another, he can’t go back yet—no matter how much
he wants to. Not until his family is safe.
After finding an abandoned alley to hide in, he crouches
behind the rubbish bins, and once more conjures his Patronus.
Its silvery glow looks weak and dim in the morning light. Softly, he imparts
his message: “The house is being watched—they must know I can lead them to
Harry. I’m so sorry, Dora. I can’t come home.”
The fog swirls densely through the streets, and the sky is dark
with clouds overhead. Even here in the city the pernicious melancholy of the
breeding dementors lies thick in the air.
Remus finds himself walking the same dim streets and
haunting the same shadowy alleys that he frequented during his days with Greyback’s pack. He feels a strange sort of comfort in the
familiarity of the surroundings. It helps him forget the hopelessness of his
His mind swirls with thoughts as thick and dark as the fog.
Dozens of times a day he convinces himself that Dora is
better off without him, and dozens of times a day he longs to go home.
Four days after parting ways with Kingsley he makes another
attempt to approach the Tonks’ home, and once more he trudges away into the
darkness after spotting a Death Eater sentry still standing watch.
That night he curls uncomfortably on the ground in the scant
shelter in between a row of bushes and a brick wall. A nearby streetlamp casts
an eerie, spectral pattern of light and dark across the blank wall above him.
He stares at the pattern for nearly and hour, tracing its broken lines with his
eyes, trying to ignore the lonely neediness welling up inside of him. Finally,
Remus falls so easily into his old pattern
of vagrancy and scavenging that he wonders if this really is the lifestyle his
kind are best suited for.
The gnawing hunger in his belly helps distract him from the
growing ache of desolation in his heart.
He trudges through the shadows and the fog, not knowing or
caring where his feet will carry him. All he knows is that he has to keep
moving. If he stops moving—if he settles down long enough to think—the pain of
his separation from Dora will grow too strong. He can’t give in to the
temptation to go back her. He can’t put her at risk of capture, or torture, or
worse. So he keeps moving. It’s the only way to make it through the days—and
the only way to wear himself out enough to sleep
through the nights.
Remus stares down at
the date on the discarded newspaper beneath his feet. Has he really been on the
streets for so long? How did he lose track of the days?
He should have known it—should have recognized it from the
restless anger and nervous energy that has been troubling him since yesterday.
Tonight is the full moon.
He continues to wander the streets until dusk, and then Apparates to Moody’s house. He hasn’t dared return until
now for fear that the Death Eaters would have breached the home’s security.
Tonight his need is too great to let his fear stand in the way of a safe
shelter for his transformation.
He hastily removes all of the furniture from the spare room,
as was his habit from many transformations in the past. It doesn’t matter that
Moody is dead—Remus won’t destroy his belongings like they are nothing but
He transfigures the window into a sheet of metal, blocking
off the outside light, and shrouding the room in darkness. After removing his dirt
and sweat-stained clothing he folds it neatly and places it in a tidy pile in
the hall. He closes and seals the door, then casts charms on all the walls and
the door to strengthen them against attack. Finally, he locks the door with a
timed charm, set to expire at sunrise, and slides his wand out of the room
through the crack under the door. The dim, dancing orange flame of a single
candle in the center of the room does little to break the oppressive darkness
in the small box of a room. Remus sits beside the candle, and waits.
It is midmorning when the transfigured window returns to its
original state, allowing the sunlight into the room. Remus stirs slowly and
blinks painfully. Naturally, the dementors’ fog has
dissipated enough to bath him in nearly blinding light the morning after a
It’s been months since he had to go without the potion, and
he is feeling very much worse for the wear. After a few more minutes he gathers
his strength to stand, and hobbles to the door. He bypasses his wand and
clothes to stumble down the hall to the bathroom, where he sinks into the tub
and lets the warm water of the shower run over him until it begins to turn
He hauls himself out of the tub and dries on a musty old
towel. He rummages through the medicine cabinet, and finds some healing salves
for his bruises and abrasions. Finally he makes his way back into the hall, retrieves
his wand, and uses it to perform a few quick cleaning spells on his clothes
He sinks gratefully onto the large settee in the living
room, and reclines comfortably, once again closing his eyes.
He naps for several hours, finally waking in the late
The sun filters softly through the gauzy floral curtains,
and he smiles peacefully while examining their feminine pattern. He remembers
being shocked more than six years ago when the curtains first appeared in Alastor’s house. When he asked about them, Alastor had gruffly stated that they were a birthday gift
from one of the new Auror trainees, who seemed to think that his home was too
cold and impersonal. It wasn’t until four years later that Remus had learned it
was Dora who gave Alastor the curtains.
The longer he stares at the curtains, the more intense the
empty ache in his chest grows. He needs to see her. Being without her like
this—fearing for her life, worrying about her well-being and the progress of
the pregnancy—it’s killing him.
He no longer cares if it’s selfish and risky: he has to find
a way to be with her.
As if by some magic deeper and older than he’s even known,
the very instant he makes up his mind the large silvery form of her werewolf Patronus bursts through the wall, dancing on air and
wagging its tail when it sees him. Its mouth opens, and Dora’s voice issues
forth: “I need you, Remus. Please tell me where to find you, so we can be
together. I need you. Please…”
Though the Patronus continues to
wag happily, the loneliness and anguish in Dora’s voice rips at his heart. Has
something happened? He has to go to her. Now.
He leaps to his feet, revitalized by a surge of adrenaline,
pulls on his shoes, and determinedly marches out the door into the garden.
Four black-robed wizards are standing lazily in front of the
house, one of them leaning against the garden fence.
They are on him in an instant. His wand is blasted out of
his hand as soon as he raises it, and thick cords wrap tightly around his body
as he falls heavily to the ground.
The men laugh and congratulate each other on the ease of his
capture. One of them, whom Remus now recognizes as Dawlish,
jovially says, “I told you it would be worth our while to come take a look
around Mad-Eye’s old place, didn’t I? Thompson—send
word to Yaxley. We’ve finally got the man he’s been
Yaxley and Lucius Malfoy argue for
several minutes about what room to keep Remus in. Finally, Yaxley
wins out. He insists that Remus be kept apart from the “other prisoners,” and
orders that a pantry adjoining the ballroom be cleared out and converted into a
makeshift cell. Lucius storms off in a huff to carry out the preparations. All
the while Remus, still bound, stands between two hulking thugs marveling that these are the masterminds behind the
overthrow of the Ministry.
After several more minutes his cell is ready, and the thugs
throw him roughly inside, leaving him alone in the dark.
Remus fumes at himself. He was such a fool to go charging
out into the garden like that, without even checking. Especially
now, when Dora is in so much distress.
Once again, he’s failed her.
Remus finds that he can bear the pain of torture quite well.
He’s experienced a great deal of pain over the course of his life, so he’s had
plenty of opportunities to learn how to endure it stoically.
He can even bear the humiliation—though not as easily as the
pain. Being chained to the floor like an animal by a collar around his neck is
an indignity above and beyond any of the many other indignities he’s had to
endure over the course of his life. But it’s nothing that would break him.
What hurts him the most is watching his wand snapped before
his eyes. It is the same wand his father bought for
him on their first trip to Diagon Alley, as part of
their celebration after learning that he would be permitted to attend Hogwarts.
Ever since that day, the wand has been his most prized possession. Now, it is
nothing but splintered wood, tossed aside like rubbish.
All the while unending thoughts of Dora course through his
mind. Is she safe? Or have they taken her captive as well? And even if she is
safe, what must she be thinking when she hasn’t heard from him yet—nearly
half-a-day after sending him her Patronus message?
What will happen to her when they kill him?
He wishes he had a chance to say goodbye.
When the torture fails to break Remus, Yaxley
turns to a new tactic: Legilimency.
Two of Yaxley’s thugs force Remus
upright, and Yaxley freezes Remus’s eyes open with a
spell in order to establish a long, deep gaze.
Remus discovers that his incessant thoughts of Dora have an
unexpected benefit: by focusing on those thoughts—especially by dwelling on his
happy memories of their time together—he is able to deflect Yaxley’s
inexpert probe of his mind, and keep Harry’s last-known whereabouts safely to
After less than an hour Yaxley
gives up in disgust. The thugs throw Remus roughly to the floor and storm out,
once more locking him up alone in the dark.
This time, instead of obsessing over his worries about what
might possibly be happening to Dora, he clings desperately to his most precious
memories of her. He replays their happiest, most joyful, and most passionate
moments together over and over in his mind. As he does, the darkness and pain
and humiliation seem to melt away, leaving behind nothing but a sense of
It quickly becomes apparent that Bellatrix is a far more
adept torturer than Yaxley. She intersperses her Crucios with Stinging Hexes and Flogging
Spells, expertly aimed to inflict the maximum pain. It is a potent combination
of spells, and, unlike Yaxley, Bellatrix has no
interest in extracting information from Remus. Her only desire is to revel in
the pleasure of punishing the filthy werewolf who tried to rise above his
station by sullying the blood of her ancient and noble family.
After the first hour Remus barely notices her maniacal
laughter and biting insults anymore.
For the first time in his life, he is grateful to be a
werewolf. Well over a decade ago he learned that the best way to minimize the
pain of his transformations was to surrender his mind completely to the
wolf—hiding his humanity deep inside. He finds himself using the same technique
It is not his
screams and howls that fill the tiny prison chamber—it is the wolf’s. It is the wolf, not the man, whose body writhes on
Remus is not there at all. He is floating far away in the
midst of a bright, sunlit cloud. Dora is with him, holding him close, and the cries
of anguish are little more than faint echoes in their ears.
Remus doesn’t know how long he’s lain on the foul-smelling
damp floor of his cell, alone in the darkness. He has been drifting in and out
of sleep, trying desperately to cling to his dreams of Dora—dancing with
her…making love to her…laughing with her…holding their son in his arms…
When the door opens again, casting a faint light across him,
he grits his teeth and tries to prepare himself for another bout of torture.
Instead, he is surprised when a small bowl of water is
shoved in front of his face, and an all-too familiar voice says, “Drink this.”
Remus’s draws in a painful, raspy breath as he slowly raises
his head to stare at the crouching figure of Peter Pettigrew.
For years he has longed for a chance to face Peter again. He
has dreamed of finally performing the task that Harry forbade him to do that
night so long ago in the Shrieking Shack. But now, to face his betrayer like this, chained and weakened and starving,
is almost unbearable.
“I could end it right now,” whispers Peter. “I could tell
them all I found you dead—that your heart must have given out during the night.
They would believe me.”
Remus can hardly believe what he is hearing. Is that pity he
sees in Peter’s eyes?
Peter continues, “Bellatrix will be back later. And she’s
not the only one. Greyback wants a turn with you, too. You don’t want to face
that, Remus. Let me finish it now.”
For a moment, Remus finds himself tempted by the offer. All
the suffering—all the pain—it could be over. He could be free…
He closes his eyes, and his mind turns to Dora, and to their
son. He shakes his head as a cold, hard rage wells in his heart. His lips curl
downward into a fierce frown. “I want no charity from you, traitor!” he barks
out in a low, harsh voice that he barely recognizes as his own.
“Please, Remus?” says Peter in a high-pitched, pleading
“Get out!” roars Remus.
Peter scrambles to his feel and scampers hastily out of the
room, sealing the door tight behind him.
Several more hours pass before Remus hears the sound of
angry voices approaching. One of them is unmistakably Bellatrix, but it takes
several moments to recognize the other as belonging to Greyback.
They seem to be standing just outside of his cell.
“Our Lord commanded me to cleanse my family of this cancer!
It is my right! You won’t take it from me!” says Bellatrix.
“To hell with you and your family!” snarls Greyback. “This
nasty little spy cost me the chance to earn my Mark! I want him, and I’ll have
“The Dark Lord would never have granted you the privilege of
wearing his Mark, whether or not you had succeeded at marshalling your pathetic
little werewolf army,” retorts Bellatrix.
“Ultimately, your petty bickering is utterly beside the point,”
interjects a third voice: the cold, hard tones of Severus Snape. “As I have
already told you, our Master has given me Lupin’s
life as a boon, and I am free to dispose of him however I see fit.”
“It’s not fair!” says Bellatrix.
“Feel free to take it up with our Master. Perhaps you can
convince him of the error of his decision?”
There is a long pause. Snape speaks again. “Good. I’m glad
both of you are starting to see reason. I may decide to give you a turn with
him before he’s through, but in the meantime, he and I have some old scores to
settle; and I fully intend to settle them in
“I’m not going anywhere, Snape!” says Greyback.
“I’ll be sure to mention your attentiveness and cooperation
to my Master the next time I speak with him,” drawls Snape.
Greyback emits a wordless growl, and Remus hears the sound
of heavy footsteps walking away.
“And you, Bellatrix?”
“You haven’t heard the last of this, Snape!”
“No, I would expect not.”
Remus hears a second set of footfalls moving away from his
Finally, after several moments of silence, the door opens.
He looks up to see a thin, dark figure silhouetted in the doorway. It is the
man who betrayed them all—the man who made this nightmarish world a
Snape raises his wand, and lights the small lantern dangling
from the ceiling, before stepping in and closing the door behind him. He
circles the small room, casting spells to seal the room tightly, and to prevent
any sound from escaping. All the while, Remus feels his anger and frustration
Finally, he conjures himself a chair, and sits stiffly,
staring down at Remus.
They stare at each other in silence for several minutes.
From the look on Snape’s face, Remus almost expects
another offer of mercy, like the one Peter extended to him earlier that day.
Perhaps Snape has some lingering respect for his former colleague, after all?
But Remus has no intention of accepting such an offer from Snape any more than
he did from Peter. He’ll give Snape no such satisfaction.
“There’s no need for this foolishness,” says Snape at last,
releasing the collar from Remus’s neck with a flick of his wand. It falls to
the ground with a dull clank, and Remus slowly rises to his knees.
Another few moments of silence pass before Snape flicks his wand
again, and the cords binding Remus’s wrists and ankles vanish. Remus’s eyes
widen in astonishment. What is Snape doing?
Snape tells him that he feels the conversation will be more
productive if both of them are comfortable, and proceeds to conjure a second
chair. “But I warn you,” he adds, “if you misbehave,
there will be consequences.”
Remus’s eyes dart warily back and forth between Snape and
chair. What harm could it do? It might even present him with an opportunity to
attack. He weakly rises to his feet, pain shooting through him at every
movement, and stumbles to the chair, finally collapsing into it. It is only a
plain wooden chair, but after the past several days, it feels heavenly.
The small lantern sways slightly overhead, as if moved by
some slight, undetectable breeze. Its dim yellow glow shifts strangely over Snape’s pale mask of a face.
“It was thoughtless of you to go carelessly traipsing around
Alastor’s property like that. Whatever would your
wife say if she knew how little value you place on a life she holds so dear?”
Remus’s anger rises, and his mouth hangs open. But before he
can respond, Snape launches into a speech about how he has no more desire to
see the Dark Lord rule England
than Remus does, and how he wants nothing more than to help Harry succeed in
whatever task Albus left for him. “If you tell me
where to find Harry, I can provide him with the tools and protection that he
needs to vanquish the Dark Lord once and for all.”
Remus’s astonished anger grows with every passing moment.
“You can’t really expect me to believe all this, can you?”
Snape sighs. “No. But it would make my life my simpler if
“I’ll never give Harry up to you. Never!”
“Just like you promised Tonks you would never leave her
Remus gives in to the tidal wave of rage coursing through
him and launches himself at Snape with an inhuman snarl.
He is knocked to ground by a curse, and Snape rises to his
feet, standing over Remus, still pointing his wand.
Remus heaves a deep breath. “I’ll never break. If Bellatrix
couldn’t break me, you don’t stand a chance. So you might as well give up now,
before you waste any more time. Either send me home to my wife, or put an end
to it. Right now!”
“End it now? And give you the coward’s way out? I don’t think
so. Get back in the chair.” Snape gestures with his wand.
Remus stays on the ground.
“Get in the chair!” Snape advances threateningly.
With a huff of frustration and pain, Remus hauls himself
back into the chair. Instantly, thick cords wrap around his arms, legs, and
chest, binding him tight to the chair. Again, he grits his teeth, waiting for
the torture to come. Again, he is surprised when it doesn’t.
Without a sound, and without even making eye contact, Snape
penetrates Remus’s mind. Remus gasps in surprise as his memories of Harry begin
to dance thought his thoughts, and he hastily pulls his memories of Dora to the
forefront of his mind just as he did with Yaxley.
The corners of Snape’s lips turn
up in a mocking smile. “Nice evasion. But you’ll find that my mastery of the
art of Legilimency far exceeds that of my
Over the next hour Snape delves into Remus’s mind again and
again. He winnows through countless recollections, and burrows deep into his
memories, seeking out any and all glimpses of Harry. Remus continues to focus
intently on his memories of Dora, doing all in his power to block out anything
Suddenly, Snape’s tactics change.
Instead of trying to break through the memories of Dora, he begins to study
them, examining them intently. Remus’s mind swirls in confusion and exhaustion
as he strives to push away the more private memories that he doesn’t want Snape
to see. But it grows harder and harder as time goes on. Snape dwells on
memories of their laughing conversations over coffee, lingers over the
recollections of their first kiss, and begins to pry into the memory of their
bodies joining as one for the first time….
“No!” cries Remus. Not that. He’ll never share that.
“This evasion and distraction can’t go on forever, Lupin.
You’re mind is too riddled with emotion to ever be truly impervious to
In an instant Snape is back inside Remus’s mind, peering at
the memory of Remus’s conversation with Harry at the Burrow after their wild
flight away from the Dursley’s. Too close—he’s coming
Remus focuses on his memories of the morning before his
wedding, trying to dwell on his nervous anticipation and the anxiety he felt
every time Ted caught his eye. But then he feels Snape rushing him through the
memory, skipping him past the wedding to the dinner with friends and family,
and then on to the first night of their short honeymoon. No! That is another
memory that Remus will never share.
He wrenches his mind away from that day to more recent
memories of Dora: her strength and defiance in the face of the insulting
interrogation following Bill’s wedding, and the way she so expertly comforted
her parents after their bout of torture. Again, he feels Snape seizing control
of his thoughts, forcing his way on to the discovery of Dora’s pregnancy and
through to Remus’s departure the following morning. Remus’s heart begins to
race—once again, Snape is drawing far too close to the information he seeks….
Abruptly, Snape withdraws from his mind, and Remus sits
taking deep gasping breaths in exhaustion from the strain of the battle within
his mind. He looks up at Snape’s face, and is shocked
by what he sees there.
Snape’s face is livid and pale.
“She’s pregnant?” he asks in a low, dangerous tone. “And you still chose to
leave her behind, risking yourself on a fool’s errand? Typical.
So eager to demonstrate your Gryffindor courage when there’s glory to won—but
not when it comes to facing the realities of your life. I always knew you were
The rebuke, so hauntingly similar to the one leveled by
Harry just weeks earlier, elicits the same primal rage. How dare Snape accuse him of being a coward?
Snape sneers at him. “Did you even give her a second thought
when you exposed yourself to capture?”
Now Snape dares to take the moral high ground, after all
he’s done? “Why the sudden concern for my wife?” Remus snaps. “Oh, I remember
now—you used to think of her as a friend, didn’t you? Did you ever give a
second thought to that friendship before you betrayed her and everyone she
cared about? Of course you didn’t—just like with Lily.”
Snape darts to his feet, his face a terrifying mask of rage
and revulsion. He points his wand at Remus’s chest, and utters a single word: “Crucio.”
The pain is more intense than anything Yaxley
or even Bellatrix had produced, but in an instant, it is over.
After the haze of pain clears from his eyes, Remus looks up
to see Snape standing, facing the door, his shoulders heaving as he takes deep
“Next time we meet,” says Snape in a slow, measured tone,
“take more care with what you say to me.”
He opens the door, extinguishing the lantern with a flick of
his wand over his shoulder as he stalks out, slamming the door behind him.
Remus has no idea how long he is left alone in the dark.
At some point, one of his captors moves him from the chair
and back into his collar on the ground, but he is barely conscious at the time.
His hunger and thirst have become ravenous animals, eating
him alive, and leaving him wasted and devoid of energy. He drifts slowly in and
out of consciousness. Whether sleeping or awake, visions of Dora dance before
his eyes. He wonders if she’ll ever forgive him for leaving her like this.
He has no idea how many days have passed when the door of
his cell is finally opened again. His eyes blink painfully against the light
from the corridor.
Snape and Bellatrix stand above him, while Peter crouches at
his side, lifting his head and tipping water into his mouth. He coughs and
splutters on the first few sips, but is finally able to drink. Yet the water
seems only to intensify the pain in his abdomen.
Bellatrix is once again begging permission to finish him.
“He’s useless to us now that Potter has fled from my Aunt’s house. Let me do
Snape denies her request, despite her angry pleading, saying
that he has other plans for the werewolf. He wants to keep him alive and
functioning until the next full moon.
When Bellatrix demands to know why, he says, “Because I’m
sure we can think of someplace amusing to release him for his transformation.”
Bellatrix’s cackling laugh is a
sure sign that she approves of the plan.
Snape and Bellatrix leave, and Peter scrambles after them,
once more leaving Remus alone in the dark.
Though his mother raised him as a Christian, Remus has never
been certain of the existence of a God. But now, during his moments of lucidity
in the midst of the darkness and pain, he begins to pray. He begs whoever may
be listening that they will protect his wife and unborn child. He begs for the
chance to see Dora again—for the chance to see his son come into the world. But
if it is not to be, he pleads that his life will end before his enemies have
the chance to use him as a tool to hurt and maim the innocent.
He wakes from a long, deep sleep, and instantly knows that
something has changed. But what?
It takes him a few moments of subtly shifting his weight to
realize that his hands and legs are free of their bonds. And
somehow, the pain and bone-deep weariness seen less than they were before his
slumber. Whoever conjured the cords had done a very poor job, for them
to dissolve so soon.
Could this be part of a new plan? Some twisted new tactic
for breaking him?
Or is it a miracle? Is this his path to freedom?
Whatever the case, he needs to take advantage of the
opportunity offered to him. This may be his one and only chance to ever see
He feels his way around the room on his hands and knees,
wincing at the pain of movement, but enduring it by once again focusing all his
thoughts on Dora. He inches his way around in a circle, testing the length and
weight of the chain affixed to his neck.
He must formulate a plan for escape. He can’t let this
chance pass him by.
Less than an hour passes before the door opens again. Remus
lies on the ground, his neck right next to the point where the chain is fixed
to the floor, the entire length of his leash coiled at his side. His body curls
up tightly to hide the absence of his bonds. Through half-open eyes he sees the
skinny form of a glassy-eyed Stan Shunpike carrying a bowl of water in one
hand, and a bowl of gruel in the other.
Stan wobbles as he walks, splashing water over his hand,
which induces soft giggling. From his staggering gait, Remus can’t help but
wonder if the boy is drunk. Yet another miracle.
Stan crouches in front of him, placing the bowls on the
ground. It’s time.
In one swift burst Remus tackles Stan to the ground, grasps
his hair, and pounds his head against the floor again and again until the boy
With shaking hands, Remus searches the unconscious body,
easily finding his wand in the back pocket of Stan’s trousers. He uses it to
unlatch the collar at his throat, breathing deeply as he removes the damnable
thing, and re-latches it around Stan’s neck, locking it with a spell.
Remus pauses long enough to slurp down the water and
gruel—he’ll need the energy to complete his escape.
He Disillusions himself, checks that the corridor is clear,
and makes his way out of his cell, past the ballroom, and down the corridor.
The miracles continue—in less than a minute he reaches a
door leading out of the house, and a quick survey through the nearby window
shows him that no one is in the garden. He slips outside, and stumbles quickly
across the lawn, heedless of any shadows his Disillusioned-form may cast. Speed
is more essential than stealth at a time like this.
He throws himself behind a clump of hedges, blocking the
view of the house, and silently prays for the final miracle that there are no
anti-Apparition spells on the grounds.
He focuses intently on the first place he can think of where
he might meet Dora in safety—the small beach cottage owned by her Muggle uncle,
where they spent the two short nights of their honeymoon.
He takes a deep breath, gathering in all of his remaining
strength, and Disapparates.
For hours Remus lies where he collapsed on the rug in the
living room of the small cottage.
His energy is spent. He drifts in and out of sleep, reveling
in the glorious sunlight pouring through the open blinds, and savoring the
clean scent of freedom.
He will see Dora again. They can be together. To hell with the risk. He’s ready to live. Some unknown
agent has given him a second chance at life, and he’s going to take it.
Finally, when the light through the windows begins to fade
with the setting sun, he musters enough strength to conjure his Patronus. It is time to call his wife.
He stares in astonishment as the silvery form emerges from
his stolen wand. Where is his lion? In its place stand a large, majestic boar,
rearing its head and stamping its feet impatiently.
The last time he saw this Patronus
was more than a year ago, when it emerged from Dora’s wand. It was once her Patronus. Now, somehow, it is his.
In wondering awe, he whispers his message: “I need you,
Dora. I am at the honeymoon cottage. Come to me. I love you.”
She looks like an angel, her warm face shining in the faint
light of dusk as she kneels beside him, weeping over his wounds and stroking
his hair while gently tipping water into his mouth.
“Don’t cry, sweetheart,” he whispers hoarsely. “I’ll be all
right, now that we’re together.”
She hushes him, forcing him to drink some more, before
moving on to casting various healing spells on his battered body.
He smiles up at her. “I’m so sorry, Dora. I shouldn’t have
stayed away so long. I thought I was protecting you…”
“You didn’t have to come back to my parents’ house, you
know.” Her pain breaks through the veneer of tenderness. “You could have called
me. I’d have come to you anywhere, anytime. We could have found a new safe
His smile grows even broader, and a weak chuckle escapes his
parched lips. In all his time on the run, that simple solution never once
occurred to him. “I’m afraid that my reputation for intelligence and
practicality is vastly overstated,” he whispers, coughing lightly, before
A few more tears course down her cheeks, but now she is
smiling, too, and he’s never seen a more welcome sight.
She chuckles back at him. “I could have told you that ages ago.”
He catches her hand lightly in his own. “What I wanted to
say…” he coughs again, “…what I need to say…is that all this time I thought I
was protecting you, when really, all along it was you...”
“You don’t have to say it,” she interrupts, her glistening
eyes meeting his, and her voice wavering. “I saw the Patronus.
As her hand squeezes his, he knows that they will never have
to be apart again.
The sun has already set outside, but Remus feels as if he stands
in the warmest most radiant spot on earth as he takes his son in his arms for
the first time.
The baby is so tiny, delicate, and light, that Remus is half
afraid of hurting him merely by jostling him too hard. He runs his rough finger
over the thin fuzz of black hair covering the little round head, and the baby
grimaces, stretching his neck and cooing softly.
Remus grins in thrilled astonishment as the thin hair
suddenly takes on a reddish tone. He moves to sit next to his wife on the bed. Her flushed and sweaty face glows with a new, extraordinary,
“Look what we have here,” he says softly, once more stroking
his son’s scalp, and watching in delight as the red tone deepens.
“Oh, Lord no!” exclaims Dora, laughing. “Mum! Come have a
Andromeda joins them, to stare wide-eyed at her grandson. “Oh, my gracious. It’s just like the day you were born,
Nymphadora. Your hair started changing colors straightaway.”
Soon, they are all laughing at the amazing, squirming little
man in Remus’s arms.
Sitting there, surrounded by his family, Remus knows without
a doubt that he is right where he belongs. He is home.
Author’s Notes: Thanks
so much for reading this whole angst-fest. This was very much a therapy fic for me, to help me fit my own fic-universe
into the new canon in a way that made sense. I hope you enjoyed it. Please
leave a review.