Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable setting or character in this story. All Harry Potter™ characters belong to JKR Rowling and various publishers which all aren't me.

I'm just borrowing them for a short amount of time and promise to return them unharmed. Well, as unharmed as possible.

Summed up: All the good stuff is hers, the rest is mine!

My original characters (and there are plenty of them) belong to me, so please be so kind and ask in case you want to borrow them.

The story was written for enjoyment only, no money is being made with it. So please don't sue – there's nothing I have which you could probably want. I'm just a poor student with way too much imagination.

Rating: PG-13, to be on the safe side. Bit of language, some pieces of non-drastic violence.

Summary: AU. Alternative Universe. Just thought I'd let you know.

There are plenty of AU scenarios out here, but I never stumbled across this particular set up.

What if Harry had not gone and lived with the Dursleys? At least not for eleven years. What if a certain werewolf had fought the fight of his life with the Ministry of Magic to gain custody for him? What if he had finally won this fight?

Love, peace, happiness for everybody involved?

I don't think so.

Throw in the return of the Dark Lord, Death Eaters and an escaped convict, and you get a story in which nothing is what it seems. A story which lets the custody struggle with the Ministry of Magic appear like a picnic for Remus…

Note: Different from what I told you in my preview, this story takes place when Harry is seven years old, not during his third year.

I promise not to come up with nonsense like strange new powers or sudden appearances of long-lost relatives.

But there are plenty of OC, I hope they don't confuse you.

Warning: We all read 'Prisoner of Azkaban'. I did, too. More often than was healthy, I have to admit. But be warned: Nothing is what it seems, and I'm not planning on re-writing PoA here. So – I wouldn't be too convinced that everything turns out as it did in canon. Some characters might be completely different from the way we all know them. So don't be too sure that you already know how the story ends – I haven't even decided that yet!

Have fun and let me know what you think, this is my first AU after all. It won't be as long as The Final Battle, maybe the size of The Last Marauder.

"…" marks direct speech

'…' marks thoughts of a character

underlined means the word is emphasized

italics means flashbacks. There are plenty of them, but I took care to note when they take place.

Reviews and constructive criticism are always appreciated, I can't tell you often enough.

This chapter actually contains a large part of the preview, and all of the chapter is a flashback to 1981. The future chapters won't be like that, but there will be more flashbacks in the course of the story to explain what happened in between chapter 1 and 2. Also, there will be flashbacks to the Marauder time and…oh my, just read and you'll find out.

I told you in the preview that I didn't know whether to make this slash or not, and I've finally decided not to. My old 'I can't write any romance for the life of me' problem, combined with the fact that no slash is far better for this plot.

Don't mind the little lyric interludes, I was just playing around a little. Maybe it'll happen again, maybe not.

Okay, that should be enough for this, so – start reading, please.


About The Ones Who Are Left Behind

Remus woke up with what was probably the worst headache of his entire life. He instantly knew that the transformation last night had been one of the worst for a long time. Though he could not remember much, he still felt that the wolf was feeling restless, it was disturbed by something, but by what Remus could not tell.

He carefully opened his eyes and was surprised to find himself in his bedroom. He was sure that he had not managed to get up here alone, so somebody must have brought him here. His first guess was that it had been Sirius, but usually Sirius stayed by his side until he had woken up. And hadn't Sirius told him only yesterday morning that he would not be able to come over?

Remus carefully sat up and tried to find out what had woken him up, but as he contemplated about this he realized that somebody had put on his pyjama pants and wrapped up his chest and forearms in bandages. The wolf must have raged last night if his injuries were that bad. He could still feel the wolf's anger and restlessness.

Raised voices from downstairs made him look up. That must have woken him a couple of minutes ago. Curious as to what was going on in his own house, Remus rose from the bed, pulled on a wide robe and opened the door.

Three voices were arguing downstairs, two of them Remus didn't know. When he stepped down the stairs, he saw that his father was arguing with two other wizards, Ministry officials by the look of their robes, and was trying to make them leave again.

"I told you already that he is in no condition to talk to you right now. Leave and come back tomorrow, then he should be able to speak to you."

The taller of the two Ministry wizards made another step into the hall, despite Richard Lupin's efforts to close the door in his face.

"You don't understand, Mr. Lupin. We have urgent business with your son, this can't wait until tomorrow."

Richard let out an exasperated sigh.

"He is sleeping and I won't wake him up just because you think your business can't be delayed by a day. Leave now!"

The smaller of the two others suddenly interrupted.

"I don't think there's the need to wake him up anymore."

Remus found himself suddenly watched by three pairs of eyes as the other men realized his presence in the room. Richard immediately walked over to his son's side and held out an arm for him to lean on. He sighed.

"You shouldn't be up. I told them to leave, but they didn't listen to me. Sorry that we woke you up."

Remus shook his head.

"No, it's alright."
He turned towards the two Ministry officials.

"You wanted to speak to me?"

The taller man nodded.

"Remus J. Lupin? Yes, we need to speak to you on an urgent matter."

"Why don't we go over into the living room then."

Remus allowed his father to support him on the way into the living room, where he sat down on the sofa with exhausted sigh. Richard handed him a blanket which he took gratefully. It was already quite cold for beginning of November. Remus looked at the two Ministry wizards expectantly, his face not betraying the inner turmoil that had started as soon as he had seen them. Something was not right here, something had happened.

"Well, and you would be?"

The taller of the two wizards looked up.

"I am Auror Stevens, and this is Auror McMillan. Ministry Department of Capital Crime."

Remus frowned his brow. Why on Earth would the Ministry send two Aurors who investigated crimes like murder into his house? What had happened last night?

Stevens realized Remus' distress and continued to talk.

"We need to speak to you concerning the events of last night."

He pulled out a file from his briefcase.

"We first need to confirm the information in our files. You are Remus Jonathan Lupin?"

Remus nodded.

"Yes I am."

"Date and place of Birth?"

"February 20th, 1960 in Egerton, Kent."

"Recent occupation?"

"I'm about to finish my doctor's degree in Defence techniques and the specialized literature concerning this topic in January. I'm employed by the London University of Magic, I'm teaching classes in Defence."

Stevens nodded and began the questioning.

"Is it correct that you know Sirius Black?"

Remus nodded and swallowed against the lump that formed in his throat. They had come because of Sirius? Where was Sirius anyway? Had something happened to him? He didn't even notice that Richard returned from the kitchen with a tray of tea and forced a large mug of the hot liquid into his hand.

"What is your relation towards Mr. Black?"

"We are friends. We went to school together, Hogwarts, and after graduation we shared a flat until the beginning of this year. Why? Has something happened to him?"

Not even reacting to Remus' question, Auror Stevens continued while McMillan wrote down everything Remus said.

"Do you know where Mr. Black was last night and what he intended to do?"

Remus shook his head.

"No. No, I don't know. What is this all about?"

"What is your relation towards Mr. and Mrs. James Potter and Mr. Peter Pettigrew?"

Remus shook his head in confusion.

"The same. We all went to school together, we're close friends. What has happened?"

"Do you know if Mr. Black stands in connection to You-Know-Who and the Death Eaters?"

"No. I mean, we knew that somebody was passing information to them about James and Lily, but Sirius? No, no he wouldn't do that."

"Is Mr. Black a Death Eater?"

"Since when has Mr. Black been a Death Eater?"
"Don't you listen to me? Sirius is no Death Eater, never. Now would you finally care to tell me what this is all about?"

Still, Stevens ignored Remus' questions.

"Do you know anything about Mr. Black's plans for last night or for the near future? Has he planned a journey lately? Talked about leaving the country?"

Remus shook his head.

"No, never. What has happened?"

"One last question. Where have you been last night between ten in the evening and seven in the morning?"

Remus let out a harsh laugh.

"I'm fairly sure that directly beneath my name in the Ministry files there's the remark 'werewolf, male' in bold printing. And if you care to check the lunar chart, yesterday night was full moon. I've been in the garden shelter, protected by countless wards and charms, since five o'clock yesterday afternoon, throughout my transformations, and until my father brought me back into the house after moonset this morning. I don't recall the time of that because I was not conscious. Now would you finally tell me what this is all about? Why all those questions about Sirius and my other friends? What has happened?"

Remus was close to being frantic now, so shortly after his transformations it normally didn't take much to upset him and the way those two Aurors had been avoiding all his questions so far had not helped to ease his mind in the slightest.

Stevens leaned back and gestured McMillan to answer Remus' question. The smaller Auror put his quill back into his briefcase and looked up.

"Last night, Mr. and Mrs. James and Lily Potter were murdered in their house in Godric's Hollow, supposedly by You-Know-Who himself. In the early morning hours, Sirius Black was obviously cornered by Mr. Peter Pettigrew in a street in Muggle London. Witnesses testified that Pettigrew accused Black of having betrayed the Potters to the Dark Lord, then Black blew up the street with a curse, killing Pettigrew and twelve by standing muggles in the process. When our units arrived there minutes later, we found Black still there, standing in the middle of the destruction and laughing about his deed. He is being brought to Azkaban for association with the Dark Lord and thirteen cases of murder as we speak."

Remus just stared, trying to process the information. James and Lily were dead. It could not be, could it? He knew that they had performed the Fidelius Charm only a week ago, that they had chosen Sirius as their Secret Keeper. If Voldemort had found them, that meant that Sirius had given their location away. No, Sirius wouldn't do that, would he? But then again, they had known that one amongst their small group of friends had given away information about James and Lily, and hadn't his growing suspicion towards Sirius been the reason why he had moved out of their flat? But Sirius wouldn't betray James, would he? James was like a brother to him, how could he have done that? And Peter…Sirius had killed Peter and twelve innocent muggles. Remus could not imagine it, but it had to be true. Sure, Sirius was able to do perform such a strong curse, he was a very powerful wizard, but Remus had never believed him capable of such a crime. But then, what other explanation was there? Voldemort could only have found James and Lily if Sirius had given them away, and there were witnesses who had seen Sirius kill Peter and thirteen muggles. It had to be true. But why?

Remus literally felt his world shatter at the moment he realized what this meant. James, Lily and Peter were dead. Sirius was on his way to Azkaban, and after what he had done he had died for Remus as well. His whole world, all the people he had cared for since they had met at school, were gone. Gone in the blink of an eye. Last night, before he had gone into the garden shelter for his transformation everything had been alright, and now only hours later, his life lay in pieces at his feet. Moony was howling in pain, but Remus knew that as soon as the wolf would realized the implications of it all, it would be furious.

Completely oblivious to his surroundings, Remus didn't realize his father coming back into the living room, the morning copy of the Daily Prophet in his hands and all colour drained from his face. Seeing the distressed condition of his youngest son, Richard ushered the Aurors out of the room.

"That's enough, you've asked him what you needed to. Now leave, before I personally throw you out."

Stevens and McMillan got up from their chairs and left the room, moments later the sound of the front door closing shot sounded through the suddenly all too silent house. Richard put the paper onto the table and sat down next to his son. Remus was staring unfocusedly ahead, his whole body shaking. The tea in the cup he still had not realized he held spilled all over his hands.

Richard took the cup from Remus' hands, put it onto the table and then took Remus into his arms.

He held his son, gently rocking him back and forth while Remus tried to understand what had just happened to him. Suddenly, realization dawned.

"They're dead!"

He managed to choke out before he completely broke down. Richard could not remember when he had last seen Remus cry like that. Normally, self control was Remus' most urgent instinct, he didn't let himself go like that. Richard decided that he would not allow his son any chance to fall into depression, he knew fairly well what possible outcome this could have after the next full moon.

"Not all of them are dead."

Remus looked up from red-rimmed eyes and Richard handed him the paper. Not quite understanding what his father was driving at, Remus took the paper and looked at the front page. The pictures were the first thing to catch his eye and nearly made him throw up. One large picture showed the debris that only hours ago had been the Potters' home at Godric's Hollow with the Dark Mark floating in the sky above. But what made Remus feel sick was the second picture on the page.

It showed Sirius, the man Remus thought he had known better than anybody else, standing in the middle of a devastated street, debris and other things Remus didn't really want to know what exactly they were all around him, and he was laughing. His face was a mask of madness, nothing resembling the fun loving prankster Remus had known for years and he laughed even as the Ministry wizards took away his wand and apparated him away.

"Don't look at the pictures. Read."

Remus heard his father's voice from far away, but it took him long moments until he managed to take his eyes away from the moving images that proved his friend's betrayal. When he looked at the headline, his jaw dropped.

The Boy Who Lived defeats He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

Last night, the wizarding world was finally freed from the threat that You-Know-Who has posed upon all of us for the past decade. The Dark Lord vanished as he attempted to murder Harry Potter, fifteen months old infant son of James and Lily Potter, both Ministry Aurors. The Potters had been killed only minutes before in an attempt to save their son, but miraculously young Harry did not only manage to survive the Killing Curse, but also to destroy You-Know-Who. The precise circumstances remain unknown for the time being…

The paper fell from Remus' hand.

Voldemort had fallen last night? Harry had defeated Voldemort? Harry was alive? Oh god, Harry was alive…

Richard Lupin had not left his son alone ever since the two Ministry wizards had broken the news of the deaths and betrayal of Remus' friends to his son.

Remus had never been the type of person who wore his heart on his sleeve, it had sometimes been difficult enough even for Richard to know what was going on inside of his son's mind. But instead of letting his guard down after the devastating news, Remus had completely shut out his surroundings and ever since then brewed over the catastrophe that had changed his life during one single night.

Richard didn't know that much about what had been happening between Remus and his friends in the weeks before Halloween, all that Remus had told him was that the Potters had to go into hiding because they were high on the Dark Lord's target list. And he had known that something had happened that had caused a strain in Remus' and Sirius' formerly strong friendship.

Until the beginning of the year, Remus and Sirius had shared a flat in London. And then one day Remus had moved out and back into his father's house near Highley. Remus had never told Richard what exactly had happened to cause this estrangement, but now he realized that he should have known something was going on. Of course it was easy to find out what it had been, now that he knew the outcome, but even though Remus still had not told him what had happened, he strongly suspected that Remus had started doubting Sirius' loyalty.

Richard didn't know nearly as much about the impact of Remus' lycanthropy as he wished he did, but he knew enough to suspect that the death and betrayal that had happened in his circle of friends hit Remus even harder than it would have if he weren't cursed.

Remus had lost three of his friends by the hands of another, something which was already bad enough, but not only he had lost them. The wolf had, too.

Richard didn't know how to handle the situation, not at all.

The first day, Remus had cried without ends as it had seemed. He had completely broken down, only slept with the help of a rather strong sleeping potion and even then only for a couple of hours.

But all this had changed completely by the next morning. Remus had refused to leave his room ever since, he hardly talked, didn't eat and didn't sleep. He was mourning for the friends he had lost, but the extend of that grief scared Richard. He refused to leave his son alone out of the fear that Remus might try to end his life as well, and so far there was no sign that Remus' depression might ease anytime soon.

Three weeks had passed by now and Remus wasn't doing any better. He had attended James', Lily's and Peter's funerals completely oblivious to his surroundings, then had returned home and withdrawn into his room again.

Worst of all had been the official Ministry questioning. Without any forewarning, five Ministry wizards had stood on the doorstep three days after Peter's funeral and had taken Remus into custody. Richard had refused to leave his son alone, but they had neither allowed him to accompany his son nor had Remus been given the right to call a lawyer. Werewolf regulations didn't consider it necessary for a lycanthropy to consult a lawyer. For over fifty hours straight Remus had been questioned by the Aurors. Remus hadn't told him much about it, but Richard knew a little about the Ministry's methods. Janus had told him a couple of times how the Aurors treated potential suspects, and as a werewolf who had been a friend of a murderer, a supposedly high-ranking Death Eater, Remus was a suspect. No matter that the Halloween night had been a full moon, no matter that he had not had much contact with Sirius during the weeks previous to the murders.

No sleep, nothing to eat, bound to the interrogation chair, questioned by a bunch of Aurors without any pause. They surely had forced various truth potions down his throat, not caring the least about how his body reacted to them. The fact that the Ministry didn't really care about how werewolves reacted to what gave the Aurors the perfect excuse to try anything they could think of. Who knew whether Veritaserum really worked on werewolves? Okay, let's try another potion. They must have tried anything to make Remus confess his involvement with the Death Eaters, his association with and partaking in the murder. And all that just because they didn't consider him human. An innocent werewolf? Hardly possible from the Ministry's point of view.

Worst of all had been that there had been absolutely no possibility for Richard to help his son. He had had to watch the Aurors take away his youngest son and then he had been forced to wait until he was released by the Ministry.

Janus hadn't even known what was going on. He had been sent on a mission, what was it, seven weeks ago now? He didn't know that the Potters were dead, that Peter was dead, that Sirius was a traitor and worst of all he didn't know what had happened to his brother. Surely he knew by now that Voldemort had gone, but nevertheless there would be enough work for him to do even without the Dark Lord around. Cleaning up the remainders of the Death Eaters, finally finishing this chapter into history.

Richard didn't know whether Janus would have been allowed to be present at Remus' interrogation either. Though the Unspeakables were ranking higher in the Ministry's chain of command than the Aurors, in this particular case he had been the brother of a suspect. But maybe he could have pulled some strings so that they would have at least treated him like a human being.

But then again maybe Janus would have refused to do that anyway.

More than two days after the Aurors had taken Remus into custody, just as Richard was about to contact Albus Dumbledore once more in search of help, an owl had arrived telling him that he could fetch his son at the Ministry main building. The sight that had greeted him there was one he would never forget.

Remus had been sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair in a secluded room, still in the same robes he had worn when they had taken him from Highley, his hair tousled and matted, white as a tablecloth with deep shadows under his eyes, his robes stained and ruffled. And though Richard didn't possess his son's heightened senses, he could clearly smell the stench of sweat, fear and vomit on Remus. But worst of all had been Remus' eyes. His unnatural amber eyes that normally seemed to glow whatever mood he was in, were dull and staring unfocusedly ahead. Remus didn't even look up when Richard entered the room, nor did he show any sign of recognition when his father pulled him to his feet and guided him out of the building.

Not answering to any of his fathers frantic and worried questions, Remus had barely managed to make it out of the building without collapsing before Richard apparated them both home.

Whatever those Aurors had done to Remus, they had managed to break him completely.

He had cancelled all his classes at University and had postponed the finishing date for his doctor's degree to an undefined date.

To Richard, it seemed that he had lost all interest in his life as it had been before that fateful night, and he didn't know how to bring that interest back. Richard was completely helpless, at a loss at what to do. A situation he had never again wanted to be in.

The sound of the front door being shut made Richard raise his head. Who would come into the house without knocking? He got up from the sofa and made his way to the door, his wand ready in hand. But he quickly put away the wand again when he saw who had arrived moments ago.

Janus pulled the door close behind him and then hung his coat onto a hook to let the few snowflakes on it dry. Then he turned around.

"Dad? Remus? Is anybody home?"

"In the living room, Janus. And don't shout around like that, or you'll wake up your brother."

Janus shook his head in confusion and entered the living room.

On the first look, nobody could oversee the similarities between father and son. Just like Richard and much unlike his younger brother, Janus was fairly tall and slim with broad shoulders. And though both men weren't expressively muscular, it wasn't advisable to underestimate their physical strength. Especially in Janus' case. Many Death Eaters hadn't lived to regret this mistake. His hair was dark brown and short, and he had the same green-brown eyes like his father. Eyes that stood out in his otherwise stern face and that betrayed the fact that Janus Lupin had seen far more of reality's bad side than would have been the share of a twenty-six year old man.

Unlike Remus, who looked very much like his mother with his sandy hair and formerly hazel-brown eyes, his lean frame and smaller statue, Janus didn't resemble his mother at all. He was glad of it. Janus Lupin didn't talk about his mother, let alone think about her.

Letting his eyes wander across the room and his father's state, Janus immediately realized that something was not right. Richard looked tired, as if he hadn't slept in days. He was badly shaved, his hair was tousled and the room didn't look much better. Used tea cups were standing on the couch table next to some older copies of the Daily Prophet. Janus frowned. Normally, his father and Remus were very tidy people, unbearably tidy at times. That was one of the few traits they shared, unfortunately for Janus.

Picking up some old papers and throwing them on the floor (Janus didn't really have a problem with being untidy on purpose at times), he sat down next to his father and looked at him.

"What's wrong, Dad? I thought you'd still be celebrating Voldemort's downfall, but instead I find the house in chaos and you looking like hell. And what's this about Remus sleeping? It's not like him to sleep in the middle of the day. Is he sick?"

Richard looked up from red-rimmed eyes, his lips trembling.

"Where have you been?"

Janus frowned.


"I asked where in Merlin's name you have been!"

Richard's voice was low and hoarse at the same time, and it had a menacing quality Janus had never heard before. At least not directed against him.

"Why, I've been on a mission. Working. You know that."


Janus sighed. His father clearly wasn't himself, he knew that Janus wasn't allowed to tell any outsider about his work, family or not.

"You know that I can't tell you. We've tried to infiltrate a Death Eater lair, that much I can tell you."

Richard nodded and broke the eye contact, staring at the cold fireplace.

"Why didn't you come home?"

Janus shook his head. He didn't understand why his father was asking all those questions. Voldemort had fallen, the wizarding world was still celebrating their regained freedom, and here he sat, behaving as if the world had just come to an end.

"I couldn't. The Dark Lord might have gone, but we needed to imprison as many Death Eaters as we could catch, before they all start denying their involvement. It was important."

Richard made a choking sound that sounded like suppressed laughter, though there was no mirth in his eyes.

"Important. Of course. Work to do. More important than anything else."

"Dad, what on earth has happened here?"

Again, Richard laughed mirthlessly and looked back at his son.

"You know how the Dark Lord fell?"

Janus nodded.

"Yeah, everybody knows. He was after the Potter family, both Aurors, and after someone had given away their hiding place to him, he killed the parents and then vanished as his killing curse rebounded from their son. Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived. It's difficult not to know this."

"Harry Potter. The name doesn't ring any bells?"

Janus shook his head.

"No, not really. Should it?"

Richard leaped from the sofa so suddenly that Janus jumped, his hand automatically reaching for his wand. It was a reflex that had often saved his life before, but normally Janus had enough self-control not to do this at home. Richard now stood in front of him, index finger pointing at Janus accusingly.

"For sure it should! If you only cared a tenth of how much you care for your work for Remus, you'd know that 'the Potter family' as you called them, were two of his best friends! That Harry Potter is your brother's godson! And you'd know that the 'someone' who betrayed their whereabouts to Voldemort was your brother's best friend. Remember the name Sirius Black? Does that ring any bells? Tall, black hair, came to visit over summer from time to time? The one who sent you the howlers that one summer? He betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, and then he killed another of his best friends on his own, blowing up a dozen muggles in the process.

If you had for once listened to Remus when he was telling about his friends, if you only cared a little for your brother's life, then you would know what Voldemort's downfall has cost him. And you have the guts to ask what's been going on here?

Where have you been when those Aurors suddenly stood on the doorstep, asking Remus stupid questions about Black's involvement with the Death Eaters without telling him that his best friends were dead or on their way to prison?

Where have you been when Remus had to bury three of his friends within two days?

Where have you been when your brother needed you, when he once in his life could have done with your help, tell me Janus!"

Richard fell back into an armchair and started to cry. He knew that what had happened had not been Janus' fault, but he was angry that his son had not been able to see what was really going on. He must have heard the names 'Potter' and 'Black' thousands of times during the last three weeks, but he had not been able to connect them to his brother. After those many times Remus had talked about them. No, he had kept on doing whatever it was the Ministry now again demanded of him, not for once asking whether his own family was alright.

Janus was taken aback. His father wasn't the type of person who lost his composure unless he was really angry. Or really sad. But it all made sense now. Of course Janus remembered Sirius Black, that oh-so-witty friend of his brother. He would never forget the howlers he had received from him one summer, or the various other prank-attempts he had had to endure whenever that blasted kid had been around. And of course he had heard of a Sirius Black being captured. But he had not been able to connect those two.

And of course he knew that two of Remus' friends were married and had a little child whose godfather Remus was. Well, one of his godfathers as far as he knew. The Potters. Lily and, what was his name, Jimmy? Jamie? James? James, yes.

And now they were dead and Sirius was in Azkaban. That explained why Remus hadn't shown up even though Richard had not exactly been silent during the last couple of minutes.

Janus dropped back against the sofa and ran his hands through his hair.

"Oh fuck!"

"Oh fuck alright, Janus! Do you have any idea what the last couple of weeks were like? Do you have any idea what your brother is going through right now? I can't deal with this alone, Janus. I can't. It's too much for me. I could have done with your help, but you were Merlin only knows where playing hide and seek with the Death Eaters instead of here. You weren't there when we needed you!"

Janus got up from the sofa and crouched down in front of his father.

"Dad, I'm sorry, alright? I'm sorry. I didn't know. After Voldemort fell, I was told that neither you nor Remus were harmed, so I thought you were alright. I thought there was no need for me to come home, and it was important that we got hold of those Death Eaters. I just didn't know."

Richard shook his head, got up and went into the kitchen, Janus following suit. Richard boiled some water with a flick of his wand, then took two of the few remaining clean cups from the shelf and put some tea bags into them. Janus leaned against the counter and waited for his father to regain his composure. Richard handed him a cup, but at that moment Janus couldn't care less about tea.

"How's Remus?"

Richard sat down on the kitchen table and rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands.

"Bad. Not eating. Sleeping only when I drug him. Lost all interest. Broken."

"Is there anything I can do?"

Richard looked up and raised an eyebrow. Janus was shocked to realized that his father looked far older than fifty-two right now.

"You could find out who the Aurors at his interrogation were and then tell me their names so that I can kill them slowly and painfully."

"He was taken in for questioning?"

That didn't make sense. Not really. Normally, only suspects were questioned at the Ministry building.

"Oh, I think they also questioned him. Between binding him up, forcing potions down his throat, keeping him awake by force, yes I think they also found the time to ask a question or two."

Janus sighed.

"Dad, that's standard procedure."

Richard slammed his cup onto the table with such a force that the tea spilled all over the wood.

"Standard procedure? He wasn't even allowed a lawyer and they were treating him as if he was a guilty man."

"He's a werewolf."

Richard jumped to his feet, his eyes flashing dangerously in anger.

"What do you want to say with this?"

"Only that Ministry regulations don't allow werewolves a lawyer. You know that as well as I do. And after all he was a close friend of both, the Potters and Black, so it's only natural that they would question him. And if Remus had done nothing wrong, there surely wouldn't have been the need to keep him so long."

Richard slowly stepped closer to Janus who was still leaning against the counter.

"Are you trying to tell me that you think Remus has anything to do with this? That he knew about Black's involvement with the Death Eaters? Maybe that he had shifted sides as well?"

"I'm only saying that it's no secret that Voldemort had tried to recruit werewolves. The Ministry is right if they're suspicious, better be safe than sorry. Neither you nor I really understand how much his lycanthropy affects Remus, how much being a dark creature affects his mind. How could the Ministry know? And you have to admit that it's their right to be suspicious towards a werewolf who was a close friend of a high-ranking Death Eater."

Janus didn't even see the blow coming. Before he realized it, his head flew to the side and a stinging pain spread through his left cheek. He looked at his father in complete and utter shock.

Never, never ever throughout their entire youth had Richard slapped one of them before. No matter how angry he had been, no matter how much they would have deserved it.

"You'll never again say something like this in my house! I'd have thought that after seventeen years you'd be able to put your stupid prejudices aside, but obviously I've been mistaken. You only see the wolf, the dark creature, you talk about your own brother as if he was nothing like a werewolf. Tell me, has Remus ever shown any signs to prove your prejudices? Has he ever been aggressive, inclined to the dark?

I'm ashamed that I have to remind you that it's your brother we're talking about here, not some creature that tried to attack innocent people from behind. It's your brother, for Merlin's sake! He's cursed enough as it is, he doesn't need your biased accusations, especially not now.

For seventeen years you've done nothing but use his condition to blame him for everything that happened, but this will stop now! I know beyond all doubt that Remus knew nothing about Black's involvement with the Death Eaters and I know that he'd have never done anything to harm his friends. Have you ever listened when he talked about them? Don't you know how much they meant to him?

Remus is the most loyal person I've ever met, and if you really doubt him and if you really believe what you've just said, then you better leave now and never come back!"

With this, Richard turned around and went upstairs, leaving a very confused Janus who was still absent-mindly rubbing his cheek behind.