The Sugar Quill
Author: Emma Dalrymple (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: His Ivory Tower  Chapter: Prologue - And Then There Was One
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prolog PROLOGUE: And Then There Was One

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars...
 - Bible, Book of Revelation

...Demoniac frenzy, moping melancholy
And moon-struck madness...

 - Milton, Paradise Lost



    James, dead.  Lily, dead.  Peter, dead.  And Sirius--lost to him forever.


    Remus sat on a knoll overlooking the ruins of what had once been the Potters' happy, loving home in Godric's Hollow, his knees drawn tightly against his chest.  It was late in the evening, but the last few days had been stormy, so the sky was tempestuous and grey.  A few streaks of the crimson sunset could be seen through the grim-looking clouds.
    The cold was seeping into him through his robes, but he didn't care.  Physical discomfort he could bear.  It was the grief and anger, longing and fury that he didn't know if he could endure.
    Just days before, that pile of wood and debris had been home to three wonderful, dear people.  He hadn't needed to see it to know that it had been whole, vibrant with life.  James and Lily would have made it so, for even knowing that Voldemort himself was after them couldn't dim their love for life.  And little Harry, raised in such an environment, had been the most charming child, never troublesome--although he did seem to have a penchant for mischief like his father.
    It was incomprehensible to him that James' passion for life, Lily's kindness, and Peter's bumbling adoration could all be so easily extinguished.  Shouldn't part of them linger?  Why did the extinction of their bodies mean the dousing of their spirits, like candles held under water?
    His mind returned of its own volition to the moment his life had shattered.


    There had been a knock at the front door while he had been washing dishes early on the morning of November 1st.  Remus dried his hands quickly on a towel and walked towards the door, still in his apron.
    He was very surprised to see his old Headmaster standing there, looking extremely grave and his usually twinkling eyes red-rimmed.  Dumbledore said nothing, but his wan complexion and grief-stricken expression told Remus everything he needed to know.
    Remus staggered backwards, colliding with a chair and latching onto it desperately for support.
    "No!" he cried.  "It's not true.  Tell me anything, I'll believe anything--just let them be alive--"
    With what looked like a great force of will, Dumbledore slowly shook his head, his gaze pained and unflinching.
    Remus' breath caught, and he uttered a strangled sob.  And then Dumbledore spoke.
    "Harry's alive, but Peter went after Sirius this morning--and Sirius attacked and--" Dumbledore's voice broke.
    Remus turned and stumbled towards the fireplace.  He couldn't think, he couldn't stop thinking.

    They're dead!  They're dead!  Oh my God, James and Lily and Peter--dead--
    He felt a comforting hand on his shoulder, and Remus turned into Dumbledore's chest as he would his father's, sobbing uncontrollably.  The older man simply held him, offering no words of solace because there were none to be said.  Remus had lost everything.  Even though he was dimly aware in some distant part of his mind that Dumbledore's heart must be breaking too, he was a pillar of strength for Remus and offered the only thing it was in his power to give--a shoulder to cry on.


    Everything he had known had been wiped from his life in that moment.  He didn't remember the Headmaster leaving--although he knew Dumbledore must have given him a Sleeping Draught at some point, as the rest of that day was a blank.
    He had tried to go to Godric's Hollow the next day, but Ministry officials were still swarming about the place.  Although cognizant of his need to see the place for himself, the officials explained that he wasn't allowed on the premises while they were still piecing together what had happened and drawing up a report.  He vaguely remembered Alastor Moody gently steering him away and muttering a few gruff words of comfort.
    He had returned doggedly the next day--this morning--and found the site empty except for the rubble that had once been James and Lily's home.  He had climbed around the wreckage, tracing with shaken fingertips what had once been walls, furniture.  Stood in what had been the kitchen, where Lily undoubtably would have made her famous French toast; the bedroom, where the couple had slept with Harry in his crib not an arm's length away.
    He had staggered back up the hill, fallen to the ground, and he hadn't moved since.
    But all this devastation hadn't been enough for Sirius.  When confronted with his treachery by Peter--poor, clumsy Peter--he had had to destroy him too.
    Remus shook with rage at the thought of what had once been his closest friend.  It was Sirius who had wrought all this--Sirius who had chosen to join Voldemort's ranks, Sirius who had betrayed James and Lily, Sirius who had killed Peter for daring to confront him.  It was Sirius who had left Remus' life in shambles, a pile of broken glass.
    He wondered for the thousandth time what could possibly have happened to the dashing, clever, buoyant Sirius, the one who had been one of his closest friends for fifteen years, who had become an Animagus for him, to turn him a traitor.
    When had it happened?  Had James teased him one time too many about that beloved motorbike of his?  Had been in love with Lily?  Or had he simply been tempted by the power Voldemort offered?
    Remus rocked back and forth, hugging his knees.  Sirius had been James' best friend--best man at his wedding, and Harry's godfather.  The person James had trusted most after Lily.  Someone all of them--not just James, Lily, and Peter, but Dumbledore and Mundungus and Arabella--had trusted with their lives.  And not only had he forsaken their trust, he had fed them mercilessly to the most vicious and depraved wizard of their time.
    Remus pounded his fist into the hard ground, impotent rage surging through him.  He was fiercely glad Sirius was in Azkaban.  That wretched traitor deserved to have all his happy memories stolen from him as he had stolen his friends' lives.  Remus hoped he rotted there.
    He looked towards the ruins again, and drifted into a sort of stupor.  He was too exhausted from crying for two days to spare much energy for thought.
    The full moon was that night, and Remus was dimly aware in the recesses of his mind that he had to get someplace safe, and soon.  Remembering the promise Sirius and Peter had made a week ago to keep him company tonight angered him enough to shake him out of his stupor.

    He managed to get back to his house somehow, and lock himself in the cage by the shed.  He gazed bitterly at the sky, the rising moon's light illuminating the trails his tears had made down his grimy face, daring it to hurt him more than he was hurting now.
    Bleeding is believing, he thought to himself, as he began the harrowing transformation.  He had never gone into a full moon this emotional before, and knew it would be dangerous, but he didn't care.
    The pain of transforming was multiplied because his muscles were so sore from sitting unmoving on the hard ground for so long.  He focused on the pain, drew comfort from it, because it meant that he didn't have to think about all the pieces of himself that were missing when he had claws growing through his skin to think about instead.
    Perhaps it was because the deaths of his friends were still so close in the recent past, or because his human emotions going into the transformation had been so strong, but the wolf felt the pain of his human host, and he understood.
    Unable to take out his pain upon something else, the wolf turned upon himself.  He clawed mercilessly against himself, feeling the tearing flesh and knowing that it was somehow helping the ache inside him.
    He realized the absence of his usual companions--Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs--and knew that they would never be with him again.  He was going to be alone the next time he returned, and every time after that.  He would have no one to keep him company, no one to play with and fight away the unbearable loneliness he always felt.
    He gnawed at his sides, his flanks, anything his teeth would reach.  His claws scratched and rent everything around him--the walls, the ground, himself.  Each burning hole he left in his own flesh took his mind off the ache inside him a little bit.
    Finally, bleeding and exhausted, the wolf fell asleep as the moon began its descent below the mountains.

    Remus awoke hours later to mind-curdling pain, and screamed with agony, and grief, and rage.  The puddles of blood around him were alarmingly large.  He thought vaguely that he would die if he didn't staunch the wounds.  He toyed idly with the idea for a moment before shoving it aside.  His friends had died because of Sirius.  He wouldn't let Sirius kill him too.
    He performed a Staunching Charm on himself to stop the bleeding, and a Disinfecting Spell to prevent the wounds from festering, but did nothing to stop the pain.
    He simply laid in his blood there on the ground, staring up at the sky, focusing intently on his pain.  The sun crept slowly up the horizon, paused overhead, and began its descent behind him.
    Even the tortuous pain of his wounds couldn't keep his mind from going back to what had started it all in the first place.

    They were gone.  Everything that had made up his life before October 31st was gone, everything except for little Harry Potter, who was now an orphan.  Harry Potter, and him.

*A/N The title (His Ivory Tower) is from a translation of Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve.  Also, the "bleeding is believing" line is taken from a Natalie Imbruglia song called "Smoke."

The chapters start brief, but get longer as the story goes on and the plot matures.  Also, there's going to be a lot of angsty!Remus for the next few chapters, but I promise he gets better.

As much as I love Remus, he is JKR's creation and I freely admit that I'm only playing with the wonderful world she's created.  Many thanks to Seldes Katne for being such a quick beta and for catching my plotholes =)

Continued in Chapter 1: So Shaken As We Are



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