Disclaimer: We assure you, JK did not
write this one.
O you singer solitary, singing by yourself,
O solitary me listening, never more shall I
cease perpetuating you,
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations,
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be
absent from me.
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child
I was before what was there in the night,
By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon,
The messenger there aroused, the fire, the sweet
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
--Walt Whitman "Out of The Cradle Endlessly
Sirius bounded forward on all fours, and fell onto
his back, legs in the air. Harry shrieked with laughter, and pounded his
little hands on his godfather's belly. From her place on the couch, Lily
laughed at them and stuck her feet into James's lap in a silent demand
for a foot rub.
Twilight stained the room in Godric's Hollow a
soft blue, and the waning moon shone through the windows. Remus sighed,
content and drowsy. They'd spent the entire day working in Lily's enormous
garden, and he felt pleasantly sore and ready for sleep. Peter, sitting
in the armchair opposite him, was already snoring slightly. He loved evenings
like this, all of them together, all of them still safe. He just didn't
understand how Sirius had energy left to cavort with a toddler.
"Up!" Harry threw his arms into the air
and looked at Sirius expectantly. Sirius sat up, looking guiltily from
Harry to Lily. Unaware of his godfather's unease, Harry repeated his request
Sirius glanced at Lily questioningly.
Lily's eyes narrowed. "No. Absolutely not."
His face fell. "Don't you trust me?"
"Oh, honestly." Lily exclaimed exasperatedly.
Remus grinned. The battle was already lost. Lily
would never be able to resist the combined charms of Sirius Black and
her son. Remus reached for his butterbeer and settled back to enjoy the
"Up?" Harry repeated.
Sirius shook his head. "Sorry mate. Your mum
Harry's lower lip began to tremble, and the brilliant
green eyes he turned to his mother were brimmed with tears.
Sirius' lower lip came out as well, and he sat
up on his knees next to Harry. "Please Lily?"
"James! Help!" Lily turned to her husband sprawled on the couch
next her, laughing.
He waved his hands in protest. "Don't look
Lily looked from James to Harry and Sirius who
were gazing at her pleadingly. She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Fine.
But not too high."
Sirius winked at her as he pulled his wand from
his pocket. "Wingardum Leviosa!" Slowly, Harry began to rise
into the air. Directing the movement with his wand, Sirius moved the toddler
in a series of dips and rotations, with Harry squealing in delight the
entire time. James threw an arm around his wife, who was laughing along
with her son. Harry waved a tiny hand at his smiling parents, who waved
back. Finally, Sirius lowered him to the ground. Harry yawned and rubbed
Lily leaned forward. "I think it's time for
Sirius lay down next him on the floor. "What
do you think Harry? Wanna sleep on the floor with me?" Placing his
hands under his head, he shut his eyes. Harry hesitated for a moment,
and then crawled across the floor toward Sirius. He lay his head down
on the outstretched arm and closed his eyes. He fell asleep almost immediately.
Soon Sirius' loud snores bore testament to the fact that he had fallen
asleep as well.
"Caught in his own trap," said Remus
James laughed. "He's got the right idea, though.
It's definitely bedtime. Somebody prod Peter and send him home. He'll
get a neck cramp if he spends the night in that chair."
Lily got up from the couch and stretched lazily.
"Do you want to bring Harry upstairs, James? Remus and I can take
care of the other two babies."
James scooped a sleepy Harry from the ground. He
settled his son onto his shoulder, and Harry curled his arm around James'
neck. Lily smoothed the shock of black hair back from Harry's eyes and
reached up to do the same to her husband. James smiled at her before turning
to climb the stairs.
Something wrenched in Remus's heart as he watched
them. They had such an easy affection together; the highest place in each
other's hearts, and they both knew it. Unconsciously, his eyes dropped
to the sleeping man on the floor. He didn't envy James and Lily. Their
happiness was one of the things that brought him contentment, but it still
hurt sometimes to know that he'd never have what they did. That he couldn't
even tell him.
It was harder now than it used to be, he thought,
watching Sirius breathe quietly in sleep. His black hair was tousled from
Harry's small hands, and his robes were in disarray. He looked like a
child fallen asleep in the middle of play. There were more moments like
this now, where it was a physical pain not to be able to stretch out beside
him, smooth his crumpled hair, and kiss him awake. In spite of himself,
Remus felt the corner of his mouth twitch, imagining Padfoot's reaction
to that. Even unrequited love had its moments of levity.
"Remus?" Lily's soft voice broke into
his thoughts. Startled, he tore his gaze from Sirius and looked up to
find Lily leaning against the open doorway to the kitchen. Her green eyes
were sympathetic, and he tried to smile in reassurance. It didn't bother
him that Lily knew how he felt about his best friend; in fact, it was
a relief to him that the knowledge belonged to someone else other than
himself. He'd never actually talked to her about it, and she'd never broached
the subject with him. But she knew somehow- she'd known for years.
"I should probably wake him up and haul him
home," he said, his voice light but controlled. She smiled back,
the understanding in her eyes was unmistakable, and he could feel the
warm of her sympathy from across the room.
"No progress getting them to their own beds,
yet?" James's head poked around Lily's shoulder. "Wormtail is
always nearly impossible to wake up, but surely you could have just kicked
Padfoot awake." He walked over to Peter and wiggled his shoulder.
"Oi, you there! You're drooling on the upholstery."
Peter grunted and muttered, "I'm not asleep,
I can hear every word you say," before turning his face in the other
direction and resuming his snores.
James snorted. "Well, we offered him the easy
way out. It's time for more drastic methods." His eyes gleamed with
mischief as he headed for the kitchen.
"James, whatever you're planning, NO."
Lily moved to intercept her husband.
"I can't believe I'm going to leave before
the show starts, but I think I'm going to roust Sirius and head out,"
said Remus, grateful that his mood had been broken.
"Your loss," said James cheerfully, and
dodged under Lily's arm and into the kitchen.
"James!" Lily started to follow him from
the room but stopped just inside the door. She turned back to Remus. "Take
care Remus. I wish…" but she stopped as Remus suddenly stood.
"I will. Thanks for a lovely evening."
She nodded and left the room.
Remus stood over Sirius for a moment, looking down
at the prone figure of his friend.
"Hey, Sirius." Remus nudged him with
his toe. "Wake up." Sirius rubbed his face into the rug a little
Remus sat alone in the darkened living room, staring
into the dying embers of the fire. His ears picked up the distant rumble
of thunder and a moment later, the soft pattering of rain on slate rooftops.
It was appropriate weather, he supposed. Melancholy rain for a melancholy
mood. Sirius had gone out almost immediately after they'd gotten home,
and briefly, Remus wondered who he was meeting. He hadn't asked, he usually
didn't. He told himself it was because he didn't care, but that was, of
course, a lie. Remus rubbed a hand across his rough jaw and sighed. The
bottle of Drambuie Sirius kept in the cupboard was sounding extremely
tempting. Suddenly, the fading light of the fire exploded in a smoky flash,
startling Remus into a standing position. Albus Dumbledore's head floated
in the flames.
"Remus? Are you there?"
"Yes. I'm here, Professor." Remus moved
closer to the fireplace, and knelt next to the gate. "What's happened."
The head nodded grimly. "There's been another
Remus felt his heart skip. "Lily, Ja-, "
he started, before the Professor cut him off.
"No. It was the Bones". And it was…very
bad. One of the Death Eaters was captured…and I'd like you to be present
at his questioning. Please hurry."
"I'll be right there, Professor." The
brilliant fire faded, leaving only smoldering embers. He stood, and brushed
the cinders from his trousers, as he tried to remember the Bones'. They
were Aurors, he thought. Or…had been. And if he remembered correctly,
they had a little girl around Harry's age. Harry…his heart thumped as
he tried to imagine what James and Lily must be going through, their little
family in the center of a whirlwind. How long before it swallowed them
whole? The wind howled through the eaves, startling Remus from his thoughts.
An uneasy sensation settled into his stomach as he Apparated into the
One half of the room was bathed in brilliant light,
placing the dark, slumped figure in stark contrast. The only interruption
of black and white were the luminous green bands encircling the man's
chest, torso, and wrists. The tremulous and shimmering magical wall gave
off a slight humming sound, giving hypnotizing testament to the powerful
current flowing through its beautiful veneer. Remus had not stepped fully
into the room when the hairs on the back of his neck began to rise. As
the door swung closed behind them, Remus tensed. Even in human form, his
nose had a heightened sense of awareness, and the room contained an unmistakable
pungent aroma. Now he understood why Dumbledore wanted him here. The smell
was growing stronger. Slowly the dark figure began to stir. Raising his
head, the man's face came into full relief. The mouth was bruised and
swollen, blood running from both corners. The area around the eyes was
mottled, and one eye was almost completely closed but they were clear
and alert. As the silver-grey eyes met Lupin's he felt a growl rise in
his throat. The man's swollen lips twisted into a grotesque sneer. Lupin
stepped back from the barrier, never taking his eyes from the Death Eater.
"He's a werewolf."
"Are you sure?"
Remus answered with a grim smile. "You're going to need stronger
Remus' statement sent the room into a flurry of
activity. Several wizards appeared to reinforce the bonds with a series
of strengthening spells. An additional restraint had been added; a manacle
of silver placed around the man's neck. Remus couldn't help wincing as
the collar burned and bit into the man's flesh. It gleamed dully at him
amid the bloodied and blistered skin. He had sent everyone from the room,
and now a tense silence pressed in from all sides.
It was Remus who finally broke the silence. "What
is your name?"
The man stared unblinkingly back at him.
He asked again, sharper. "What is your name?"
"Miles Griffon." The voice was raspy
and brittle. "And yours?"
Griffon gave a scratchy laugh. "How appropriate."
"If you give us names, perhaps they'll go
easier on you at your trial."
Griffon's laugh was sharp and harsh. "I'm
not going to have a trial Remus. You know that. They don't send werewolves
" You'll get a trial just like everyone else.
We don't operate the way Voldemort does."
A scowl crossed Griffon's face. "We?"
he spat. "If your friends knew the truth about you we'd be
sharing a cell right now. You're a Dark creature, Remus. You should be
serving a Dark master."
"I prefer not to serve a master at all, thank
"But you already do, Remus. You're a slave
to the beast inside you. You've spent your entire life inventing a facade
of control, desperately convincing yourself that you maintain dominion
over the wolf."
"Do not presume to know me, or who I am!"
"But I do know you, Remus. I was like you
once. Living a half-life masked by the illusion of control, only to have
the illusion shattered by each full moon. Each day a curse…but that's
where I was wrong. It's a gift, Remus. A gift to be savored and
"Did you enjoy what you did last night?"
He was afraid to hear the answer.
"Oh yes." The obvious satisfaction
made Remus' stomach twist.
His eyes weren't really focussing on anything in
the pub except for the single shot of Firewhiskey sitting on the table
in front of him. The cadence of Sirius's voice stood out from the cacophony
of voices around him, but the words eluded him, as if Padfoot's monologue
was in a language he couldn't understand.
Remus shut his eyes for a long moment. He didn't
want to be here, in a noisy, smoky, crowded pub. He was tired of breathing
everyone else's air, and the walls of the pub were suddenly closing in
on him. It was a struggle to breathe in here, and it wasn't just the smoke,
or the funk of too many people in too small a space. The wolf senses were
too strong tonight, and he couldn't ignore them. He could sense them all
individually; smell the intimate details of their lives. He had no right
to be here, pretending to be one of them, their eyes all passing over
him as if he belonged. How had he ever mingled with them comfortably?
He'd begun to believe his own lie, that's what happened, he thought bitterly.
Somehow, he'd forgotten that he wasn't human.
"She's really nice, Moony. She's very…kind.
And pretty. You've only met her a couple of times, and it seemed like
maybe you didn't like her all that much, but she's one of those people
who really grow on you."
Remus grunted absently.
"And I really like her company. She's very
relaxing to be around."
Remus nodded, and pushed his glass around the table.
Sirius had been dating Natalia for a few months now. He'd only met her
a couple of times. It wasn't as if he was objective on this subject, but
she seemed pleasant enough. He didn't know anything about her, really.
"I haven't bought a ring or anything yet."
You're a slave to the beast inside you.
Remus was back in a small room at the ministry, and the smell of another
werewolf stung his nostrils. He shook his head slightly and tried to concentrate.
"What does she do at the Ministry?"
"I don't know. Something in some international
"Oh." He couldn't think of anywhere else
to go from there. God, he was tired. If he had any hope of sleep tonight,
he'd go home to bed, but as he was sure that he'd be up all night anyway,
he might as well stay and listen to Sirius's prattle.
"…I look at James and Lily and I wonder how
they manage to be so happy. I mean, knowing that Voldemort is targeting
them. But they don't regret getting married, right?"
Remus downed his Firewhiskey and sat back in his
chair. "Padfoot, what are you trying to tell me here?" He finally
tuned into the conversation. "You're going to propose to Natalia?"
There was silence at the table.
"That's what I've been saying for the past
half hour, Moony. Where have you been?"
"I'm sorry. I'm a little preoccupied."
"So what do you think?"
Remus fought the urge to lay his head down on the
table. He couldn't believe this. He had just had one of the worst days
ever in a life that encompassed quite a few very bad days, and he was
now being forced to give Sirius advice about his love life.
"This is sudden, isn't it?" he didn't
trust himself to say any more.
"We've been going out for five months now.
That's not too sudden. Do you think it's too sudden?" Sirius's
voice was tinged with worry.
"No, I suppose not," He was too weary
to do this tonight. "I'm sorry, Sirius. I'm probably not the right
person to ask for advice about this."
Sirius surveyed him from across the table. "I
know that this afternoon was strange for you, but it was just a coincidence.
That he happened to be a werewolf. There's no deeper meaning in it. It
doesn't have anything to do with you."
"It doesn't have anything to do with me?"
Remus's voice was sharp, and incredulous.
Sirius looked taken aback for a moment. Remus rarely
raised his voice, and never in public. He recovered quickly, though, and
tried out a crooked half-smile- one of his most charming. "Hell,
no, Moony. It's just one of those things- like having an asshole for an
uncle, or having bunch of jerks join a club you belong to. You shouldn't
worry about it."
Remus jerked his head up and looked around the
bar for a distraction. There was a haze over his vision that a single
shot of Firewhiskey couldn't account for. Sirius was trying to handle
him again. It wasn't just that Sirius always relied on his charm, which
he did, but that he had a special brand of charm, a separate set of tactics
that he'd developed to use only on him. He knew his weaknesses and how
to play on them, just like a lover. It wasn't fair, thought Remus irrationally.
It wasn't fair that he could be entirely oblivious and completely attuned
to him at the same time.
"Don't," he said irritably.
"I wish you would talk to me," Sirius
said. His face was earnest and concerned. "You're a private person.
I know. I respect that. But there's something… different about the way
you aren't talking lately."
Remus could think of nothing to say. He picked
up his empty glass and put it back down. "This is just a bad night,
Padfoot. I'm sorry. It doesn't have anything to do with you. Congratulations
on Natalia. I'm really happy for you."
"What did he say to you?"
"Come on, Moony. What did Griffon say that
got you this upset?"
He sighed. "Drop it. Please."
"Fine." There was another longish stretch
"What were you saying earlier?"
Sirius shrugged. "We don't have to talk about
"No, I'm sorry. You were saying something
about James and Lily?"
Sirius accepted the change of subject. "I
was saying that I didn't know if it was the right time to be thinking
about getting married and starting a family."
"Because of Voldemort."
"Yeah." His eyes grew troubled. "There's
a war going on, and we know it, even if everyone else hasn't caught on
"I respect what Prongs and Lily are doing,
trying to carve out some normalcy in this, and just live their lives."
He took a drink from the glass of bitter in front of him. "But I
don't know if I can do that. Not now. Because…it would divide my focus
too much, and now isn't the time to be selfish."
"You don't think they're selfish for getting
married and having Harry, I know you don't." Remus wasn't entirely
sure where Sirius was going with this.
"No, no. But they did it for different reasons-I
mean, they were James and Lily. They couldn't not get married.
And we were younger."
"You're barely twenty-four, Sirius."
"I don't mean that. I mean…it wasn't as bad.
The Giants hadn't joined him yet, or any of the other Dark creatures."
He paused. "Today wouldn't have happened then."
You should be serving a Dark master. Griffon's
bloodied face swam in front of his eyes. The smells of the bar swirled
around Remus stronger than ever. He was part of it, part of the growing
chaos. It didn't matter that he had no choice in it- the darkness was
inside him. Already part of him. Rising panic choked him. He had to get
out of here. He pushed himself up from the table so quickly his chair
shot into the wall behind him.
"Moony?" Sirius stretched out a hand,
but the look in Remus's eyes stopped him.
"I think sometimes that you forget I'm
a Dark creature, Padfoot. But I never do." He made his way blindly
to the door, and didn't notice Sirius's troubled face as he watched him
Author's Notes: Tee hee. Surprised, aren't you?
Didn't see that coming, did you? And the fun has only just begun. For
Arabella, because it's her birthday and she walks the path of the One
True Way. And for Erik, Engineer First Class on the HMS Remus/Sirius.