Minutes later, Remus and I found ourselves appearing just outside the grounds of Hogwarts. We nearly ran past the winged boar statues, through the Entrance Hall and all the way up to Dumbledore's office. Since it was the summer holidays, a password was not needed to enter, so breathing heavily, we ran up the stairs and knocked at the large wooden door.
Hunched over, I grasped at a stitch in my side and threw a panicked look at Remus, who stood with his hands resting on his knees.
"Reck – Reckon he's – he's here?" I panted.
"Hope so," he answered.
Remus knocked once more – a little harder and more urgently – and finally we heard a voice from the other side of the door.
"Please, come in," Dumbledore called out.
Together, we opened the door and both quickly entered the office. I looked around at all of the little trinkets and instruments – some emitting little puffs of smoke – until finally, my eyes rested on my old Headmaster and friend, Albus Dumbledore. He sat at his desk wearing a polite smile and gesturing to two chairs directly in front of him.
"Have a seat," he offered.
As Remus and I both sat down, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and placed his hands upon – what I noticed was – a copy of the Daily Prophet on his desk.
"Emmeline. Remus. I would say that this is a pleasant surprise, but due to the nature of the shocking news which has come out today, I would venture a guess and say this is more than a social visit," Dumbledore said.
I was astounded that he seemed so calm about a mass murdering traitor escaping from an inescapable fortress.
Remus cleared his throat. "You would be correct, Albus. We've come to discuss… him."
I turned my head to look at Remus and cocked an eyebrow. It seemed that I was not the only one who still had trouble saying that name.
"I have surmised as much," Dumbledore airily responded.
I turned my attention back to Dumbledore. He leaned forward and placed the tips of his fingers together while watching each of us in turn very carefully.
"I suppose the reason for this surprise visit, is because you are worried Sirius Black may be now looking for Harry Potter," he simply stated, almost as if he were just commenting on the weather.
Remus and I both looked at one another, his face mirrored mine. Eyes wide and his mouth parted slightly in shock.
"Well-" I began.
"Yes. That's exactly why we're here, Albus," Remus finished.
"How did you know?" I wondered.
Dumbledore chuckled softly – It was infuriating. Didn't he understand how serious this was?
"We shall just call it an accurate guess," he winked.
I sighed heavily. Truth be told, I like and respect Dumbledore very much, but at times, his enigmatic ways could wear on a person.
"Albus, shouldn't we possibly station a few-" Dumbledore raised his hand to stop me.
"My dear Emmeline, please rest assured that no harm will come to Harry Potter whilst he is at his Aunt and Uncle's."
I opened my mouth to protest, but he stopped me once more.
"I understand both of your concerns but Harry is safer than I think even he realizes under their supervision," he tried to comfort us.
I didn't really know what Dumbledore meant by that, but if Dumbledore said that he was safe, then I would have to trust him. Dumbledore wouldn't lie, not about something as important as that. I nodded and looked at Remus, who still didn't look very convinced. A crease formed between his eyebrows and he bit his lip slightly.
Dumbledore exhaled and raised an eyebrow at Remus.
"Remus, if it would ease some of your worries, I could most certainly use a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for the upcoming term."
Remus snorted. "You couldn't possibly mean me, Albus. I mean –" he gestured towards his disheveled appearance. "Look at me. I'm not- I'm not suitable teaching material at all."
Dumbledore and I both started telling Remus how wrong he was and how great of a DADA professor he would make when he cut us both off.
"Are you both forgetting about my – my condition?" he snarled. "It would be far too dangerous – unsafe. No," he shook his head jerkily. "No, absolutely not." He glared at the ground and avoided eye contact with both of us.
Honestly, I felt that Remus was being completely foolish. With the wolfsbane potion, his condition – as he put it, was more than manageable. It would be perfectly safe for him to be around the children and it was no secret that he was extremely advanced when it came to Defensive Magic and dealing with Dark Creatures. Not to mention, I know he would feel a lot better if he was able to be close to Harry while he was on the loose and possibly after him.
I shrugged my shoulders at Dumbledore who smiled at me and shook his head softly.
"Remus," I began gently. I placed my hand on his shoulder and he quickly shook it off.
"No!" he repeated.
Dumbledore seemed to have enough, he slammed his hand down on the desk which caused both me and Remus to jump. I didn't know about him, but I suddenly felt like a school child who was about to be scolded, once again in my life.
"Remus, that is enough," Dumbledore said firmly. "You are more than aware that your condition would be dealt with and you would be of no danger to the students of this castle. I will not hear any more of this. You will accept the position and I am afraid that I will not take no as an answer. You will report here on September the first, and that is final," Dumbledore ordered.
I sat rigidly in my chair. At times, Dumbledore could be truly frightening, despite his normally calm demeanor. Remus, it seemed, was not as easily intimidated by the man as I was.
"And if I don't, you'll place me in detention? Take away my Prefect status?" Remus challenged with a smirk.
My eyes went wide and slowly I turned my head towards Remus. I could not believe how rudely he was behaving. Dumbledore, however, seemed to find Remus' words amusing.
"Perhaps," he chuckled.
Considering the state Remus was in when I found him earlier that morning, I thought he would be foolish not to take the position. It would give him something worth getting out of bed for and something to take his mind off of the last however many lonely years of his life. Not to mention, the steady income I would assume would be welcomed as well.
"Remus, I think you should do it," I said quietly. "And I think," I gulped. "Lily and James would be happy to know that you were watching over their son," I added.
I don't know if he would have agreed without me saying that, but it certainly seemed like something clicked after I mentioned our deceased friends. He looked at me and I saw his expression slowly soften. His eyes teared slightly and a small smile appeared on his lips. His shoulders slumped and he exhaled loudly.
"I – I supposed you're right, Em," he croaked.
I winced at the sound of my old nick-name. No one had called me that since… since before.
"Alright, Albus," Remus conceded. "I'll do it."
Dumbledore stood up and clapped his hands together. "Wonderful! Now I am terribly sorry, but I do have some business that I need to attend to this afternoon, and must say goodbye for now."
Remus and I both got up and said our goodbyes to Dumbledore and thanked him for speaking with us, since we both barged in on him unexpectedly. As we reached the door and went to leave, Dumbledore called over.
"Oh, and Remus?"
He turned back around, "Albus?"
"If you would please, I would like for you to take the train with the students, on the first of September. I would feel a bit more at ease if you were there with the students."
Remus and I shared a puzzled look. What an odd request, I thought. Professors never take the train. Maybe Dumbledore was more worried about him than he let on.
"Erm, sure Professor," Remus slowly agreed.
As we walked through the halls of Hogwarts I nudged Remus with my elbow. "So, Professor Lupin, teacher, huh?" I smirked.
"I guess so," he sighed.
As we walked towards the Entrance Hall, we passed a part of the wall that I knew to be not really a wall. You were able to walk right through it and end up near the Transfiguration classroom. It was a shortcut that I used to use quite often. Normally, when I wanted a few stolen moments with him before class. The sight of it brought me up short and my breath hitched.
Before today, I haven't really given the bastard much thought. Well, not actively. I made it a point to not really think of him if I could help it, but that didn't mean that he still didn't find his way into my dreams – or nightmares may be more accurate.
I stopped suddenly and grabbed Remus' arm.
"What is it, Em?" he asked with genuine concern.
I felt my chest tighten again at him calling me, Em. Unshed tears caused the corners of my eyes to prickle and I began to run. I ran out onto the grounds, passed the winged boar statues and off of the school grounds.
A few moments later, Remus caught up to me and watched me carefully, like I was a bomb about to explode.
"I – I just don't understand how this could have happened." And without warning, the floodgates opened and I began to sob.
Remus hesitated for a moment, then awkwardly put his arms around me and patted my head.
"Aww, come on now. It's – it's going to be alright, Em," he tried to sooth me.
I had spent so, so long after everything happened trying to shove down any sort of emotion – any sadness. I wouldn't allow myself to breakdown after that last time. I couldn't. And now – just knowing that he was out there somewhere. Not knowing if he would come for me, Remus, Harry. It was the not knowing and the thought of possibly having to face him again that caused such an ache in my chest I couldn't not break down.
"Wh-what if – What if he finds me, Remus?" I finally voiced my worst fear out loud. "What if he tries to find me? How do I deal with that?" I cried.
As an Auror, I have dealt with all sorts of the worst kind of Wizards, Witches and creatures known to our world, but something about facing him – I didn't know if I was brave enough to do it.
Not after he had betrayed me and shattered me so horribly.
Remus squeezed me a bit tighter and buried his face in my hair.
"I don't know, Em. I don't know," he whispered.
It didn't take me too much longer to pull myself together. I backed out of Remus' arms and smiled a bit ruefully. "I'm sorry about that," I said hoarsely. "I'm normally in more control of myself."
I was honestly quite embarrassed of myself. But Remus smiled kindly. "It's alright, Em. You're not a superhero," he chuckled.
I forgot that Remus was a half-blood like me, which would lead to the Muggle reference. I gave a shaky laugh and wiped my cheeks with the back of my hand.
"No, I suppose I'm not. Although," I smiled. "it would be cool to fly without a broom."
I watched as Remus' smile slowly left his face as he studied mine like it was the first time he has really seen my properly all day.
"Merlin, Em," he exhaled. "You look like hell." I opened my mouth to give a sarcastic remark about how I had just bloody bawled my eyes out, and how would he expect me to look, when he cut me off. "And I don't mean because of that little episode you just had." He put his hand on my shoulder. "It goes deeper than that. I can see it in your eyes. They – they don't have that same spark – intensity they once had."
I shook myself out of his grasp and turned my back on him. I didn't know why, but that remark made me incredibly angry. Probably because I thought I had been faking it better than that.
"Look, I'm managing the best that I can, alright?" I snapped. "It hasn't exactly been easy, but" I turned back around and looked him up and down. "I don't exactly have to tell you that, do I?"
His shoulders slumped and he let out an exasperated sigh. "No. No I suppose you don't," he said quietly.
Once again, he looked utterly defeated. It was horrible to see. Considering that I knew Remus when he was in his prime. When he was young, clever and full of life. There wasn't even a hint of that man in front of me.
"Listen," I began. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you. It was wrong."
"It's alright, Em," he smiled.
I looked at my watch and saw it was nearly noon. I was really late to work. Scrimgeour would have my head.
"Remus, I hate to leave you, but I really must get to work. They're going to need everyone there today, and I'm already extremely late. I'll – I'll stop by later?" I asked. I did not want to be alone and I had a feeling he didn't either.
"Yeah. Yeah that sounds good. I'll make dinner," he announced proudly while puffing out his chest.
I smiled and patted him on the shoulder, agreeing to have dinner with him later on. I turned on the spot and with a pop, disappeared into the crushing nothingness.