A Brief Note On The AU Theme – Please take the time to read this; it'll probably help quite a lot! Right a number of things, most of which are important. 1) Sirius Black never met Remus Lupin or James Potter whilst he was at Hogwarts, in other words, The Marauder's gang did not exist. Black did, however, team up with Peter Pettigrew. 2) This takes place when all four of our fabulous guys are let's say…twenty-four. 3) THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Voldemort is coming to power at this point in time and so James and Remus are among the aurors' trying to stop him. Peter and Sirius are on Voldemort's side. That, too is extremely vital, they're not the good guys (well, ok Peter never was but still…)
Again: The Marauders never met.
~Cracking…my entire world is splitting,
My concepts are all shifting,
My understanding drifting,
For all this time I was missing,
And you're the one holding my key ~ M-Girls 'Complete Illusion'
Some several years ago, a group of archaeologists were excavating a peat bog near the gardens of a castle in the south east of England, they hoped to find the remains of several prehistoric animals which were rumoured to have died there, instead they found something quite, quite different.
A diary. Barely legible and covered in filth, it did not look that old, but what interested the archaeologists the most, was the names and the message written inside the cover. Strange names they were, and even stranger was the message, which seemed to be an excerpt from a poem of some sort, but none that any human could identify.
Sirius Black and Remus Lupin,
'For my darling when we are gone,
I hope our tale will live on,
And mark our place beneath the sky,
And know it is for you I die,
For love surpasses everything,
From lord and noble to dark king,
Our love is strong and will live on,
Even, my darling, when we are gone…'
The rest of the poem was illegible and so the archaeologists took it back to the laboratory to have its pages repaired and cleaned of mud. It was a delicate process that took months, but bit-by-bit, a story began to emerge…
"Lupin!" Minerva McGonagall raced up a flight of stone stairs, her breath tearing from her throat in painful gasps as her robes flapped behind her in a swirl of green velvet. "LUPIN!" She yelled again, this time much louder as she skidded around a corner in a surprisingly agile way and screeched to a halt outside a thick oak door. Not pausing for breath, she began hammering on it with both fists, urgency in her every movement.
Inside the small bedroom, Remus Lupin sat bolt upright with a start, short brown hair – streaked very slightly with silver, not grey – mussed and sticking up in ways he would usually have only expected to see on his best friend James Potter's head. For a moment, his confused mind wondered why there was an exceptionally loud banging coming from the door and a loud shouting emanating from behind it, and it was three or four seconds before he recognised the voice.
"REMUS LUPIN GET UP!" McGonagall's could have risen the dead its volume was so loud now. "THERE'S BEEN ANOTHER ATTACK!"
Another attack? Remus dragged a hand across his face wearily as he stumbled out of bed and to his feet, finding and pulling on the nearest robe with haste. Not again… his stomach seemed to slip an inch or two at the thought of what was no doubt now awaiting him at the 'scene of the crime.' His mouth twisted bitterly at the thought; no doubt another fine house reduced to rubble, probably bits of it still smoking, bodies… oh yes, there would always be the bodies. His stomach lurched again at the thought. Innocents, always innocents, murdered by Lord Voldemort himself, or, at least one of his twisted followers. And why? Because they refused to join him? Because they were a threat? His heart ached at the thought as he hurriedly flung open the door to confront Minerva, because they had been auroras trying to make a difference too? He shuddered at the thought, all too easily the next victim could be James, or his wife Lily, or even…
"Me." He whispered softly.
"What?" McGonagall snapped, impatience rising in her tone.
"Nothing." Remus hurriedly shook off his feelings of dread and gave her a sharp look, "Where?" Was all he said.
The older woman's lips thinned and her face took on an even grimmer expression than it had had on previously. "Five miles to the east of here." She said shortly, "A place called Sable Retreat…a former student used to live there with his family…" She trailed off and her eyes glazed over slightly as if she was seeing something outside normal vision, "…but we lost track of him after he left to take a job." She sighed heavily, "He was one of my best student's," She said, her eyes misting over again, "Very good with transfiguration."
Her reverie was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a third person, who apparated out of nowhere, his half moon spectacles flashing in the torchlight. "Ah, Minerva, I see you got here before me." He said mildly, absently tugging a few strands of a long, silver beard. "I trust you've informed Remus of the situation?" He smiled slightly, but his blue eyes looked as tired as Remus felt.
"Yes, yes." McGonagall said impatiently, "I was just giving him directions to the Black's home."
Black… The name stirred something in Remus's memory, but for the life of him, he couldn't think why. Another flash of Dumbledore's spectacles brought his attention back to the present, but also put something else in the foremost of his mind. Half moon. He reminded himself, shuddering slightly, only another two more weeks. Feeling slightly sick at the thought of undergoing yet another transformation, he tried to push it to the back of his mind and focus on more important things.
"It would be best if we did apparate," Minerva was saying, "It's going to be much faster and we need to get there quickly in case… in case there's any survivors." Her tone wasn't hopeful as she glanced at both men, one older, one younger. "The Black's were avidly against… You Know Who, we owe them this much."
Dumbledore nodded and in the same instant, three wands were flicked out of robe sleeves. "Apparatus." He said and with a flick of the wrist, the three auroras vanished.
The huge stone hall was dark, save for the two flickering torches that stood in brackets on either side of the imposing, throne like chair. In the chair sat a man, his face cruel and calculating as he watched someone enter through a large door and bow low to him. Snake-like eyes flickered for a moment in brief recognition and the man in the chair smiled coldly looking down at the man who was still bent low at the waist.
"Come now," The voice was as cold as the face had looked, hard as diamonds, freezing as ice, "You know you don't have to keep those civilities with me, my good friend."
"Sir." The bowing man straightened up slightly, and the torchlight caught a handsome face. A straight nose, full yet determined lips, strong eyebrows, high cheekbones and glittering grey eyes all added to the impression of an imperial warrior. Glossy jet-black hair swung as he walked towards the sitting man, just brushing his collarbone through the open neck of his robe. "I have more news on the developments."
"Pray tell." One pale hand came up to caress a serpent, which had hitherto remained unseen, coiled around one of the brackets.
"The auroras are acting as you suspected my lord." The man's voice was husky, slightly deep and low, "They've taken off towards Sable Retreat." He turned his tanned face away for a moment, gazing at one of the red drapes that lined the room. "The werewolf is with them." He looked back, smiling slightly, "I trust you want me to act as…discretely as possible when I capture him?"
"There will be no need to go looking for him." The snake-eyed man's voice was filled with a suppressed sense of triumph. "He will come looking for us in good time…well," He seemed to amend as one black eyebrow rose in a silent question, "He'll come looking for you." He laughed suddenly, "Alert the others, we'll want a royal welcome for him when he arrives."
The black-haired man grinned, "Very good my lord." He turned and was halfway out of the room before the high, cold voice stopped him again.
"And since it's you he will be looking for, I think I'll let you have the pleasure of convincing him to join us."
"Thankyou my lord."
He had been right; he reflected miserably as he poked through the burnt and shattered rubble that had once been Sable Retreat; of course he had been right. Remus sighed, but just for once, he wished he had been wrong, was that too much to ask? Apparently it was, he decided as he continued to clear debris away from near the chimneystack, searching for anyone who might be alive. Behind him, he could hear Dumbledore, Minerva, Mundungus Fletcher and several other auroras whispering in shock at the sight of what had once been such a magnificent building and was now a pile of smouldering bricks and burning ashes.
Suddenly, the pile of smashed bricks he was clearing away, trembled slightly. Eyes widening and hands beginning to shake, Remus dropped to his knees, regardless of the biting night cold, which was now beginning to seep its way through his robes, and began frantically scrabbling away the loose rocks. Suddenly, and without warning, his questing fingers met flesh and he sped up, finally pulling away a large block to reveal a dust covered man with greying black hair.
"Lupin?" McGonagall had come over, closely followed by Dumbledore and they both peered of Remus's shoulder. Eyes wide behind her spectacles, Minerva McGonagall pulled out her wand. "He's unconscious." She said shortly before flicking the small piece of wood and muttering, "Inconstialis."
The man gave a sudden gasp, as though air had filled his lungs, and his eyes cracked open. "Who…who are you?" he croaked suddenly, staring at them all, apparently not recognising the two older people behind Remus. "Where's Martha?" He trailed off, coughing loudly, and Remus was more than a little alarmed to see a small trickle of blood oozing from the corner of his mouth.
"Martha?" He asked as gently as possible, trying to ignore the tightening sensation in the pit of his stomach. "Who's Martha?"
"His wife." Dumbledore said quietly from behind Remus, "We found her…" He trailed off, knowing full well the conclusion the werewolf's mind would leap to.
Remus turned back to look at the man whose whole attention now seemed to be focused on him, completely disregarding the two, much greater, people. "Your wife…" He began, not knowing how to tell the older human. "She's…well…" His stuttering was cut off abruptly as the man sighed suddenly before coughing again, this time much harder. The trickle of blood increased.
"I know." He rasped suddenly, and gripped Remus' shoulder hard. "She's dead isn't she?" On the aurora's hesitant nod, he smiled slightly. "Knew she would be… but we won't be separated for long." He coughed again and for some minutes struggled to breathe easily. Once he'd regained some form of control he looked at Remus again. "There's something you must do…" his voice was no more than a harsh whisper now, but his grip was tighter than ever.
Amber eyes widened as Remus looked down at the former owner of Sable Retreat. "What?" He muttered, lowering his head closer to the dying man's mouth. "Is it something I can help with, to ease your pain?" It was a stupid question, and the man's eyes flashed with slight anger and amusement.
"No, it's…about my…my son." He gave a half smile, one that was devoid of humour.
"But… you're son vanished." Remus shook his head slightly and prepared to pull out of the man's grasp, convinced that his mind was wandering. "He's probably dead… the ministry searched for him…" He trailed off as the man shook his head hard, provoking another coughing fit and behind Lupin, Dumbledore turned and shouted instructions to get a medical wizard as fast as possible.
"No." The man hissed again, staring straight into Remus' eyes. "He did this… he's…" he sighed and lay back slightly, the strength ebbing from him, "…he's alive…very much so…" his eyes began to glaze over slightly and his words began to ramble slightly, "…look after him… the dark lord's servant… powerful…" Remus bent closer as the words got quieter and more desperate. "You are his redemption." The man muttered before, with a sudden slump, he fell backwards, his hand slipping from Remus's shoulder.
"Lupin?" Minerva McGonagall's tone was quiet, almost sympathetic as Remus stood up and turned around.
"No." he muttered, shaking his head in her direction, "He's…there's no point in getting a medical wizard now." He sighed, rubbing his eyes tiredly as he stared down at the now dead man. "That was Orion Black?" He asked suddenly, sounding unsure. "That was the owner of… well… of this?"
"Yes." Dumbledore frowned slightly, "Why do you ask?"
"He said something about his son." The words were tumbling out of Remus's mouth now, there was no stopping them. "He said he'd done this and something about the dark lord's servant and…well…Sirius Black is still alive." He watched their reactions. McGonagall tottered slightly and clutched Dumbledore's arm, her face going as white as chalk. Dumbledore himself looked calculatedly blank, but one of his eyebrows was twitching slightly.
"Impossible." McGonagall managed eventually, "Black's been missing for three years."
"But his father…" Remus began, but was cut off by Dumbledore.
"His mind was probably wandering, Lupin." He gave a slight smile, "Sirius Black is dead."
Remus said nothing; he turned away and looked out towards the forest that stood on the edge of the large, manicured lawn. A faint breeze had picked up and the leaves were rustling, sounding like the sea that was so far away. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, a large black dog appeared on the fringes of the wood, padding silently out of the trees to sit by one of the flowerbeds, it's tongue lolling slightly, as if had just been running. Frowning, Remus looked closer, the dog thumped its tail once and stared back at him, still panting.
If this was a Grim, it looked very friendly.
A sudden shout from behind the werewolf, told him that the medical wizard had arrived, and he turned around to glance at the white clad man who was now placing the dead owner of Sable Retreat onto a floating stretcher. Frowning, Remus felt a pang of sadness as he watched the body being taken away, before he looked back towards the woods.
The dog had completely vanished.