The Sugar Quill
Author: Lady Narcissa (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hangover  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.

Disclaimer: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Tonks, and any incidental Potters belong to JK Rowling

Disclaimer: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Tonks, and any incidental Potters belong to JK Rowling. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for letting all her fans borrow her characters to suit our own needs.

This story ©2007 by Lady Narcissa. Rated G. Huge thanks to Felina for letting me share her gift-fic and to Shelle and Paige, my first readers.

 

~^*v*^~

 

“Remus.”

 

The voice trickled into his subconscious, and he knew it was only a dream. It had to be a dream, because this was the voice of a dream. A ghost, maybe, or a memory, but it was certainly nothing more than that. Fighting stirring against wakefulness—he’d never been one of those to simply spring out of bed after a nap— he shook his head slowly and otherwise refused to budge. It was too early to wake up.

 

“Remus.”

 

Slowly, against his better judgment, Remus forced his eyes open. They were dry and crusty, the way eyes have a tendency to get after a long night’s sleep after an even longer night of far too much firewhisky. Reaching up, he wiped the crust out of the corners and blinked slowly. An unruly head of black hair obscured the dim light in the background, and then he knew it had to be a dream—one of those waking dreams—and he wondered how many dreams within dreams there would be and how long it would take him to actually waken.

 

“Excuse me, Remus, but it’s time to get up now. I know you’d rather have your beauty rest, but do us a favour and try to pay attention.”

 

This time he felt the pressure of a hand on his shoulder, shaking lightly.

 

“Back off, Padfoot.” Remus’s own voice sounded stale and husky with disuse: there definitely had to be too much drinking last night because he hadn’t felt or sounded like this in years. It was just like Sirius to disturb him from his…

 

…Sirius? It couldn’t be: he’d been gone since…

 

Now Remus sat with a start. “Sirius. Where… what… oh… oh, no, I think I’m going to be ill.” He closed his eyes again but felt his friend’s hand steadying him; his own hand covered his eyes. The light was too bright. “I don’t suppose you’ve got any of that hangover cure you and James discovered sixth year? No, that would be far too much to ask.”

 

The answer to that was a short, bark-like laugh, one Remus hadn’t heard in years and years but he recognized it at once. “Padfoot, you dog. Where are we? I think I’ve been having the strangest dream. It felt like it went on and on for years, and…”

 

He could feel himself blush. “Oh, for Merlin’s sake: I dreamt…” A very short and quiet laugh escaped; he rubbed his eyes. “I dreamt I married your cousin. You know, Tonks.” Finally opening his eyes, he chanced a glance at Sirius. “It was—”

 

“Shh.” Sirius raised a finger to his lips, nodding to his right. “She’s not awake yet. I thought to tell you what was going on first, and then you and Tonks can discuss. But here, the sun, such as it is, is starting to rise. Sit up, Moony. That’s it. But no quick movements. You’ve been through a bit of a night.”

 

“That’s what my head tells me.” Remus squinted against the sudden intrusion of sunlight. “Now, where are we and what are we doing here, wherever here is? I thought you were… but no, that must have been a dream too. Ridiculous. I dreamt you were…”

 

“Dead?” Shrugging, Sirius gave his friend a disarming smile. “Oh, I am; I died. That wasn’t a dream. It happened after Azkaban; I was supposed to stay at Grimmauld Place but you know me. I’ve never done a thing in my life that someone told me I had to do. I disregarded orders—as usual—and went barreling into a fight at the Department of Mysteries, squared off with Bellatrix and the last thing I knew before I got here was the feel of one of her green spells to my chest. Do you want to know what my first thought was after that?” He didn’t wait for Remus but instead kept right on going, just as he’d always done. “I was angry. Not so much at Bella but at myself: I’m faster than that. I was just out of practice from being held up at my parents’ home that whole year. No dueling practice? For me? Unheard of. If I’d been a little sharper, I could have beaten her at that bloody fight but no, she had to go and cast her special little Avada Kedavra right at me and isn’t that just fitting, to die annoyed at her? Some things never change.”

 

“The two of you never did get on.” The fog in Remus's brain was starting to lift just a little: something was terribly wrong. For all of Sirius’s brashness, this didn’t make sense: it was a dream, wasn’t it? “But Padfoot… explain something to me. What’s going on? Where are we?” For the first time, he noticed that Sirius seemed to have lost the haunted look Azkaban had instilled in him: he looked a good ten or fifteen years younger. Healthy, happy, whole. Beyond that, he didn’t recognize their location. He’d learned over the years to be self-sufficient, but always looked fondly on the time he was at Hogwarts with James and Sirius and even Peter: they were a good group. They were friends, and they cared for and about one another. On those mornings after a full moon, he’d relied so heavily on them to remind him what had transpired, help him wake, calm him, help him return to reality. This felt suspiciously like one of those mornings; they hadn’t had the luxury of Wolfsbane potion at the time.

 

The hangovers were huge.

 

Sirius raised one eye, giving Remus half a smile before standing. “You’re with me. And James and Lily and a few others. Do you remember? There was a bit of a scene at Hogwarts. Harry—my godson—and his friends, and so many fought. So many fell, too, and it would be so crass of me not to offer up my apologies and sympathies. Then again, Moony, at least you brought your blushing bride with you. Apparently the whole till Death do us part line didn’t apply to the pair of you. I just thought you deserved to know where we were first. I could have woken her too, but… I’m only her no-good cousin. You’re the man she loves.”

 

Remus blinked once, twice, a third time before standing and the moment he stood, a flood of memories invaded his brain although they came in snippets: Hogwarts. Death Eaters. Werewolves. Students, staff, no surfeit of dueling. Tonks: he was married to her! He was the luckiest man all… but no. No, he remembered: she was so brave, so selfless, so beautiful, so full of action, and she’d fallen, she’d fallen, and it seemed as if her fall took forever and there was nothing he could do but watch her, stricken, and then he leapt forward in a rage of fury, wand out, casting spells more quickly than he knew he could, praying for a full moon so that his foes could feel the extent of his wrath, and Nymphadora—his wife—dying on the ground, and then…

 

“No. Please.” Out of their foursome, he’d always been the most outwardly emotional and this was no exception; he could feel wetness at the corners of his eyes, a rage welling up inside him and he wanted to explode, to scream, to murder. He could feel Sirius’s hands on his shoulders and did his best to shake them off.

 

“You know, Remus.” Sirius’s voice was oddly calming. “Memories are powerful things. They’re far more potent than so many things, and perhaps in life we don’t give them quite enough credit. But hold onto them, my friend. Hold onto them. You’re here with us now, on the other side. And like James, you’ve got your beloved here to keep you company. You’ve got her for eternity. And if I know my cousin at all, I know she’ll want to hear about all of this from you. Not me; I’m a terrible welcoming committee. But it was my turn. After all, James and Lily did it for me. I’m repaying the favor, and this way you can be the one to welcome Tonks. But before you do, there are just three more things I need to tell you.”

 

He rested an arm around Remus’s shoulder. “First, Teddy’s taken care of; Andromeda’s seeing to that. Second, there are no full moons here. That might put your mind at ease. And finally, this place has a way of bringing people back to when they were at their best without losing all they’ve become. I think you might not find it to be particularly bad. Look at me: for a dead man, I feel—and look—fairly wonderful and I suspect you will, too.”

 

“Once I get used to it, maybe.” Remus groaned and stretched and for years, stretching had been a painful affair with all his scar tissue but this time, it didn’t hurt. “Let me try that again.”

 

The second stretch proved as painless as the first: he met Sirius’s eyes steadily. “Wait. We… died, right?”

 

“And your point is?”

 

“We’re dead, but we’re here. We breathe and speak and walk and exist, in a place with no or little pain, and we stay with our loved ones. Of course we can’t go back, but this… well, it doesn’t seem quite that horrible, does it? What’s the catch? Where’s the drawback?”

 

For a minute the smile stayed on Sirius’s face, but then it wavered and disappeared. “Ah, I thought we might come round to that question.” He let out a sigh. “There is one thing we just can’t seem to get on this side of the veil, no matter how much we try… are you certain you want to hear this? Because I can stop right now.”

 

Remus shook his head, determined to hear it out. He’d always been the academic and thorough sort; he wanted to know the odds and make his assessment based on all the facts unlike some other people he knew. He gave a grim nod. “Tell me. Don’t hold back.”

 

“All right.” Closing his eyes, Sirius let out a deep sigh.

 

When those deep-set eyelids opened again, Remus could see the grey of his eyes hidden behind dark lashes, as always, and braced himself for the worst. What could it be: did this quasi-paradise come with an expiration date? Despite Sirius’s words, would he not be allowed to stay with his wife, his friends? Would they have to spend an eternity with enemies? Venture into a more traditional version of Hell? What was it going to be?

 

Sirius shook his head. “No matter how many times I’ve tried—it would be such a comfort, for old time’s sake, you understand—there are simply no fleas.” With a laugh, he cuffed Remus on the shoulder. “Come along, time to wake up Tonks. She’ll be so happy to see you.”

 

 

~^*v*^~

 

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