‘There may be trouble ahead
But while there's music and moonlight and love and romance
Let's face the music and dance.’
~ Irving Berlin
The timbers of the old house creaked and groaned as it was buffeted by
the wild winds of autumn. The day was creeping on, shadows lengthening
across the wooden floor as the sun curved round the large bay window of
the living room. Leaves rustled, blown into energetic eddying swirls the
length of the lane, more falling from the trees like silent tears. Time
crept on, sunshine blending with shadows. And still the silent vigil was
The young man sat alone, an unmoving figure in the twilight. Ashes lay
grey and cold in the hearth beside him: no fire blazing despite the chill
of the day. Only the steady ticking of the clock gave life to the place,
a heart beating on even though there seemed to be nothing left to live
for. Everything that had ever mattered to him had gone. And everyone.
He heaved in a shuddering sigh and ran a hand through his hair, not wanting
to comprehend what had happened, yet the hollow feeling gnawing at the
pit of his stomach told him it was true. They were dead.
The single word echoed in his mind chilling him to the core. He buried
his head in his hands, the warmth of his forehead burned against his trembling
fingers as he tried to make sense of it all. Why did it have to happen?
He slammed his fist down on the small table beside him, his anger savagely
fighting back the tears that threatened to fall. The framed photograph
teetered on its edge for a moment before toppling forwards, glass shattering
into tiny shards.
“Oh no! No!” he exclaimed, reaching for his wand and repairing the damage
swiftly. His heart thudded fearfully; this picture was virtually all he
had left of them now. What if it was ruined? He swept his fingers quickly
across the mended glass, seeking the injuries he had caused, yet found
none. “As good as new,” a small voice said in his head. Misery surged
inside him. If only he could have stopped it happening to them.
He should have seen it coming; somehow.
Despite everything, a small smile tugged at his lips as he regarded the
figures laughing together in the photograph. It seemed to have been taken
a lifetime ago, but in reality it was only a couple of months. They’d
been in this very room, all of them together. The smile wobbled as his
long fingers touched the young man in the centre of the group, his black
hair as untidy as ever, and his glasses perched crookedly on his nose.
He was grinning adoringly at the pretty red-headed girl beside him, whilst
his best friend levitated a bucket of water over them threatening to cool
their ardour one way or another. He could remember the teasing so clearly.
And then there was… He shut his eyes and shook his head. They were dead?
This was a nightmare. It had to be.
The shadows deepened, shapes drifting round the room like ghosts. He
gave a shaky laugh. It was almost like they were all there now, crouched
around the fire just like they had been in the summer.
“James?” he croaked to the shadow in the chair opposite him, the lump
in his throat burning painfully.
“Remus,” James grinned wickedly across at him from the armchair, and
threw another bottle of butterbeer at his stomach. “Come on, you can’t
get out of it that easily.”
“OK, then,” Remus sighed, knowing they’d never let it rest. He braced
himself for the confession, “Kathleen Delaney.”
There was a whoop of delight at having wormed his secret out of him at
“Delaney?” Sirius said, leaning forward with interest. “You mean that
brunette in the year above us? The one with legs all the way up to her…”
“Sirius!” Lily threw a cushion at him. “She was really nice.”
“I’ll say she was,” Sirius retorted shamelessly, flinging the cushion
back and missing her by miles.
“And that is why Sirius doesn’t play Chaser,” Peter wheezed, his eyes
twinkling merrily. “Mind you, Remus. I can’t say I blame you for having
a crush on her. She was absolutely gorgeous.”
“It never got anywhere though,” Remus chuckled at himself. “I sent her
a Valentine’s card once, but she thought it was from Anderson,
you know, the Ravenclaw Keeper. That was that really. I fell over them
snogging in the Restricted Section a couple of days later.”
There was an exaggerated ‘Awww!’ of mock-sympathy from his friends, and
Remus rolled his eyes.
“We’d never have made it anyway,” he chuckled. The others looked curiously
at him, wondering what he meant. “She had an allergy to animal hairs,”
he explained with a casual shrug.
The occupants of the cosy sitting room erupted into roars of laughter.
“Er, yes. I think that would cause a few problems,” Sirius choked. “Can
you imagine curling up with a girl to whisper sweet nothings in her ear,
only for her to…” His laughter became too much and he clutched helplessly
at his sides.
“Oh Remus, darling,” James’ voice lifted to a falsetto pitch and he slid
out of the chair he was sharing with Lily winking quickly at her. He draped
his arm affectionately around his friend and batted his eyelashes at him.
“I’ve been wanting to tell you so much that I – I… a.. a.. atishoo!”
“Exactly,” Remus laughed. “Bit of a passion killer. Do you mean you’ve
never had that problem?”
“I’m far too cute for that,” Sirius said with a grin, transforming quickly
into the big shaggy dog. He settled his head on Lily’s knee and looked
up adoringly at her with pale blue eyes.
“Ahh! Padfoot’s at it again,” Peter chuckled.
“Oi! Get your own,” James objected lazily.
“He’s on a losing battle here,” Lily laughed, ruffling the fur on the
scruff of his neck and scratching vigorously behind his ear. “Sirius,
you know I love you, but James is far better at those Bambi eyes than
you are. Besides, there’s only room for one animal in my life.”
“Yeah,” James added, with a mischievous glint in his eye. “I keep telling
Harry to stop clawing the furniture, but will he listen?”
The shadows deepened, surrounding him with the weight of memories that
ached in his heart. They had been so happy then, the four of them and
Lily. Free from school at last, the future was theirs; or should have
been. He still couldn’t believe they were gone and that he’d never see
them again. It felt almost like one of Sirius’ practical jokes, and they
were merely hidden somewhere, maybe under James’ invisibility cloak watching
him with bated breath before springing out and yelling, ‘Surprise!’ and
laughing at the expression of shock on his face. He listened, willing
for it to be true with all his might. Please let it be true. Please. Yet
the unpleasant sinking sensation gave the realisation that it could never
be like that again.
The clock ticked relentlessly through the stillness, and the lump in
this throat thickened. Peter, Lily and James were dead, Sirius was incarcerated
in Azkaban for a fate worse than death, and he was left, alone with his
world in shreds. The pain and knowledge of Sirius’ betrayal was more than
he could bear. The ache built to a fevered crescendo inside him making
him want to howl out loud, shrieking his loss to the world through the
dark night air.
It made no sense: no sense at all. He could just make out Sirius’ smile
on the summer photograph as he teased James about Lily. The two of them
had been such friends, almost like brothers. Sirius was Harry’s Godfather,
for heaven’s sake. His brow furrowed as he stared at the picture, trying
to make the pieces fit. Sirius had always despised Voldemort and yet he
had still gone over to the dark side? How had that happened, and why?
He shook his head, not understanding at all.
And yet, there could be no doubt about it. Those poor Muggles had been
blown apart because of Sirius’, and then there was Peter… Remus swallowed
painfully. Poor, poor Peter…
“Peter? What are you doing out here?”
“Came out for a bit of fresh air, Moony,” Peter replied, leaning on the
railings and drinking in the heady delights of that balmy summer evening.
“You’ve no idea how good it is to get out of London
for a change. It’s nice out here, isn’t it?”
“Still working too hard?” Remus asked cautiously, one ear open for what
was going on inside the house. He didn’t trust James and Sirius and inch
after a few butterbeers. Last time they’d had a Transfiguration competition
and it had taken over a week to catch all of his furniture and herd it
back into the house. The coffee table still moo-ed when it felt neglected.
“Yeah,” Peter admitted, turning to face his friend. His pallor startled
Remus, and the dark circles beneath his eyes belied a severe lack of sleep.
“I’ve got to, though,” he confessed, glancing over his shoulder at the
others in the house and smiling wistfully. “I’m not like those two, you
know, brilliant at everything they do. It’s easy for them. I don’t have
much talent, so I’ve got to work hard for my greatness and grab any opportunity
“Greatness?” Remus laughed. “Sounds like you’re going all Slytherin on
Peter shook his head, his eyes drifting back out across the garden.
“Moony, I would have thought that you, of all people, would know what
it was like to try and fit in,” he said quietly. “I’m only doing what
has to be done, what anyone would do if they were in my shoes.”
“We all are,” Remus said softly. “I don’t think the situation with Voldemort
is making things easy for any of us.”
“No,” Peter agreed, sighing to himself once more. “No, it’s not.”
There was a lull in the conversation, the evening birdsong wafting from
the grove of nearby ash trees lightening the air. A sudden booming noise
and a roar of male laughter from within rent the calmness of the night
air. Remus straightened up quickly and shook his head despairingly.
“Are you coming back in to give me a hand because I think James has just
turned Sirius into a pink dragon or something?” he laughed. “I don’t think
the living room is flame proof.”
They hurried back into the house to find Lily in mid-torrent, scolding
her husband and his best friend, and it was easy to see why. Harry was
perched on her hip, wailing copiously after having been rudely awoken
from his night’s sleep by a recent explosion that had clearly taken place
on the badly singed hearthrug. Her dark red hair swirled around her, glinting
furiously in the candlelight. Remus exchanged grins with Peter. They didn’t
need to do a thing when Lily was on the warpath.
“Honestly James, it’s not fair on Harry,” she said angrily, holding her
son to her and trying to soothe him. “It’s all very well having a laugh
but you’ve got to take your responsibilities seriously as well.”
“I do!” he protested, leaping to his feet. He reached out a clumsy hand
and stroked Harry’s messy black hair, a mirror image of his own, and smiled
guiltily at Lily. “Sorry,” he muttered. “I’ll sort it out.”
Harry’s cries slowly subsided and he cuddled into his mother, a sleepy
thumb questing for his mouth. The heavy lashes began to droop at once.
“Doesn’t he look just like James after a few butterbeers?” Peter laughed
beneath his breath. Remus had to fight to keep a straight face. There
was more than an uncanny resemblance.
“I’ll take him to back to bed,” James whispered, lifting his son gently
and disappearing up the stairs.
Harry. How he’d survived that curse…? Remus shook his head slowly. That
poor kid: barely more than a year old with both of his parents dead. Lily
and James had adored him from the very moment they’d known he was on the
way. Remus could remember the night in the Leaky Cauldron when a madly
blushing James had proudly confessed that he was going to be a father.
Nothing had ever removed that particular grin from his face; Harry had
certainly been loved.
The darkness filled the room now, inky-black and somehow comforting.
Remus knew all too well what it was like to be an orphan; his own parents
had died during his school years. Harry had no one. He wanted, more than
anything, to offer this little boy a home with him, to care for James
and Lily’s son the way they would have wanted him to. He needed Harry
now as much as Harry needed him. The tears stung painfully. It was impossible,
and he knew it. The Ministry would never allowed it; a werewolf caring
for a fully human child. What if he bit the child? What would he do with
a baby when he was in his non-human form? He didn’t know; he didn’t care
about the details, all he wanted was to give Harry a home. He was all
he had left. But Harry had relatives to take care of him…
He couldn’t even repay what he owed to James. He had never known what
true friendship was until he had started at Hogwarts, and even then he
had braced himself for the pain of the inevitable rejection when Sirius,
James and Peter discovered his terrible secret. He had never actually
believed that anyone could like him because of what he was. The monster
he became each month, when the moon swelled in her opulent fullness, terrified
him. He hated the change: the agonising twisting of innards and limbs
as he transformed, fighting and struggling against himself and his fate.
The sub-human thirst for blood revolted his rational mind. No one could
tolerate a creature like him.
“Don’t be so bloody stupid,” James’ voice echoed across the years. “OK,
so you’re a werewolf. I’d still prefer to be sharing a dormitory with
you than with Snape.”
That was friendship indeed. Remus smiled wistfully to himself remembering
the wonderful times running through the coolness of the Forbidden
Forest with Padfoot, Prongs
and little Wormtail somewhere underfoot. The glorious camaraderie of the
Marauders gave him a real life: the pranks, inventions, detentions and
laughter of those carefree years. The laughter that they’d continued until
the very end was now all snuffed out like a candle, and with it all his
Sirius was fiddling with the radio knobs trying to get a decent reception
on the Wizarding Wireless Network and failing dismally, whilst the rest
of them lounged around the fire, chattering away. The world around them
was becoming ever more dangerous as Voldemort’s grip across the wizarding
world tightened and began to squeeze. Reality was never far away, each
new copy of The Daily Prophet seemed to contain a longer obituary
column than the last. All of them had experienced personal losses lately,
yet all of them were determined to fight on.
“Here, let me,” Lily exclaimed, suddenly irritated by the crackle of
static beside her left ear. She leaned over, and tapped the old-fashioned
wireless with her wand, and lively music began to play clearly. “Much
better,” she beamed.
“Typical of a woman to take the easy way out,” Sirius teased. “Don’t
you know the joy is in learning to operate the machine itself, rather
than in the end result?”
“I know a few nice charms that could make the music come out of your
ears instead of the wireless,” Lily said raising her eyebrow and waving
her wand vaguely in his direction. “Maybe you’d prefer that, Mr Black?”
“She’s got you there,” James laughed, leaning back against the chair.
“She would as well.”
The radio crackled and hissed when the music broke off abruptly and the
eminent voice of Aeleric Booth flowed lightly across the airwaves. All
five of them tensed. This interruption could only mean one thing.
“Further violent deaths have been reported this afternoon
from Death Eater attacks in the small Gloucestershire village
Three wizarding families are believed to have been murdered, including
the Auror, Stephen Forth…”
The news bulletin continued, spreading more terrible revelations around
the stunned listeners. Forth had been only a few years above them in Gryffindor
House: a popular student then, and a vital key in the resistance against
Voldemort. Remus found himself glancing at James, to discover his friend
had turned ghostly white, and Lily had reached for his hand.
“James?” Remus broke through the silence, his voice suddenly low and
“I worked with him,” James said briefly, running a shaking hand through
his hair. He pulled Lily to him and buried her in a hug, neither of them
moving or speaking further.
The other three exchanged uneasy glances. Voldemort really did seem to
be selecting strategic victims now. How long would it be before he turned
his attention to the Potters? They had been lucky to escape his attention
thus far, but it couldn’t last.
“What are you going to do, James?” Sirius’ voice was strained.
There was no immediate reply, James simply looked steadily at his wife,
an unspoken conversation passing between them.
“James, this is bloody important!” Sirius burst out. “It could be you
next. All three of you! We’ve got to be prepared.”
James turned to him and nodded soberly, the music blaring away in the
“We will be,” he said quietly. There was a pause and then a mischievous
grin spread across his face as he conjured the empty butterbeer bottles
into mid air, clinking them together as added percussion to the music.
“But we’re never going to give in to him. We’re going to keep going the
way we always have,” he grinned suddenly, pulling Lily to her feet and
restoring a sense of normalcy.
“I don’t think snogging will scare the Dark Lord away,” Remus remarked
with a grin.
“Depends on if he’s allergic to animal hairs or not,” Sirius teased.
“I mean, there’s got to be a reason why his eyes are so red. I say it’s
an allergy.” Remus groaned inwardly. They were never going to let him
forget that one.
“Let’s face the music and dance!” James laughed, fitting his actions
to his words. He twirled Lily round in his arms, sending her hair flying
around in a whirl of flame. She laughed as she danced with him, happiness
glowing through her emerald eyes, living as if there were no tomorrow.
Remus sighed heavily to himself as he straightened from his chair, stretching
stiffened limbs. Lily and James had managed it, having fun and living
their lives until the very end. That was something to be grateful for.
But now, after that final conflict, everything had changed. Voldemort
was gone. The world was in tatters much as his life was, and needed to
be rebuilt. He couldn’t sit here and waste away pining over what might
have been. It hurt so much, but he had to get a grip somehow. He had to
do something. He had to try. They were dead. Gone. But he could still
do some good.
“Let’s face the music and dance.”
Suddenly, he found himself upstairs, numbly flinging some possessions
into a suitcase: robes, books, and finally he carefully wrapped that picture
of the four of them and Lily in a towel and placed it protectively on
top. The fastenings were snapped shut. He seized the case in his hand
and let out a shuddering sigh.
Glancing around him, he crept back through the darkness, silently bidding
his home farewell. The clock ticked on relentlessly. The inky shadows
in the living room seemed to nod encouragingly at him; his memories smiled.
“Goodbye,” he whispered, his voice cracking as a single tear fell, burning
down his cheek.
With his battered old suitcase in hand he closed the door on the ghosts
in his memories and trudged heavily up the lane. Alone.
A/N: Well, this fic crept up out of nowhere and surprised me! Never
thought I’d be writing a bit of Remus… Hope you enjoyed reading as much
as I did writing. Thanks to Alphie for the beta, and to Anne for laughing
in all the right places. As ever, JKR’s characters and world, without
whom I’d be very bored indeed!