Chapter 10: Aftershocks
"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road,
And through it all, there'd always be tomorrow's episode.
Suddenly that isn't true, there's another avenue…
Beckoning, the great divide, ask no questions, take no side.
Who's to say who's right or wrong? Whose course is braver run?
All I know is all we are, is over, said and done.
Friends never say good bye…"
-- Friends Never Say Goodbye, from the El Dorado Sountrack.
Water dripped from the window as Remus lay huddled under the blanket that Voldemort had brought to him after the last transformation. He shivered, barely hearing the clinking of the pewter chains as his fevered face pressed against the damp cold stone. The full moon had come painfully the last month and as both the moon's pull and the cruelty of his captors were unabated, the Death Eaters' abuse was worse than ever.
He couldn't give in. He had promised himself that he would never betray the man who had meant so much to him, who had given him a chance at a normal life. And though the rest of his surrogate father's friends would never accept his help in the fight against Voldemort if they knew his secrets, he wouldn't betray the confidences of the only people in this world who did trust him.
In a slight daze from the illness that had begun to creep into his lungs, Remus didn't hear the footsteps beyond the door or the door itself as it opened.
Footsteps sounded and Remus cringed, anticipating another beating as he couldn't make out their voices.
"Holy shit, Denise, we've got a live one here," someone muttered as Remus' back went flush against the wall that he was chained against.
Remus summoned up all his residual courage and glared at the fuzzy shapes in his delirium. "No, as a matter of fact, I happen to be dead. It was peaceful, except for the torture; now use your brain for a moment. Would I have moved if I wasn't alive?" he spat.
Denise's male companion walked closer and kneeled next to him. "Who are you?"
"Wait a second. You're Longbottom. Frank or something," Remus murmured.
Frank Longbottom's jaw dropped. "Your name. What is it?" he demanded.
Frank's face darkened. "What the hell are you doing in these dungeons, Slytherin?"
"Evidently not much," Remus retorted as the woman lifted his sleeve to check his arm.
"He's unmarked, Frank."
With this, Remus laughed. "Of course I'm bloody well unmarked. I said no," he said, before coughing.
"N. O. as in the negative. I told him to shove it, and he wasn't too happy about that. You mind taking these chains off? I haven't seen my wand since I got captured… I can't do these on my own," he managed.
In shock, Denise opened the manacles and shackles that had bound him, and he smiled in relief. She saw the redness, but chalked it up to the normal chafing that occurred in people in long-term confinement.
"Thank you," he breathed.
"Lupin, are there anymore people in here?"
Remus lifted an eyebrow and looked around the cell. "Not in this one."
"In the dungeons, Slytherin!" Frank demanded, getting a bit annoyed.
"I don't fucking know! I'm telling you the honest truth. Voldemort had me captured and somewhere in the interrogation I was brought to this cell, and I haven't left because he only offered to let me go if I joined him. My immediate response was to tell him that I'd rather go kill myself first," he spat. "Needless to say, conditions did not improve. Now why don't you tell me why the fuck you two don't believe me?"
"When were you brought here?" Denise asked, sidestepping the question.
"I don't know. Sometime in August." A twinge of defeat crept into his voice. "It's been over two months, I know that much."
"Lupin, who was the last person to see you?"
He frowned in thought, trying to remember the last person he had spoken to before his capture. "Lucius. Lucius Malfoy. I stayed at his estate briefly because I was passing by and he and his wife insisted that I not sleep in the rain." He paused, descending into coughs. "Good gods, Jamie and Siri are going to kill me. And if Lily finds out I'm sick, I'll never hear the end of it. I can just hear her now. 'I thought that James told you, Remus Lupin, that walking holiday was a terrible idea, and a completely irresponsible act, and…" He coughed again. "'It seems to me that you deserve to be sick after what you put the three of us through.' Lils is like that, you know?"
Unaware of the look on the Auror's faces, he continued.
"Wait, if you're here, that means that Voldemort's dead. Are Lily and James alright? I heard they were one of the targets…"
Frank's face darkened. "Then you don't know?"
"Frank, I hardly think now is the time…" Denise began
"Sirius Black has been taken to Azkaban for the murder of 13 people, including the wizard Peter Pettigrew, violating the sanctity of a Fidelius charm, belonging to James and Lily Potter, accessory to the murder of James and Lily Potter, and high treason in association with all of Voldemort's Death Eaters," he intoned solemnly.
A practiced mask replaced Remus' wistful expression. He swallowed and mumbled two words before a silent prayer spilled over his lips in a Celtic tongue they didn't recognize.
"I was asking the gods and goddesses of Avalon to care for their souls in the new life. Is Harry gone then, too?" he asked, hoping to not have to offer prayers for a fourth.
"No. He's alive. Saved us all. Dumbledore's got him and gave him to a family to raise." Denise placed a hand on his thin and shaking shoulder. "I've got a Portkey. We'll take you to the Ministry offices, and you'll be formally processed there. It should only take a few hours."
Remus backed away from their hands with a speed he didn't know he possessed, and from the looks of it, neither did they.
"Lupin. It's alright."
"No, it's not fucking alright. I'm not fucking going. Just let me out of here, you can get your damn testimony from someone else, or I'll get you a pensieve," he said, moving desperately to the corner.
"What's wrong?" Denise asked.
"I'm not going anywhere near any Dementors. I told you the truth, now let me go."
"Lupin, we need Veritaserum to verify what you are saying," Frank said. "It has to be administered by a licensed Potions Master and we'll need a witness."
"You'll be dragging me there. Take me to Hogwarts if you have to. I have to talk to Dumbledore now."
"Frank. Denise. How may I help you today?" Dumbledore asked congenially, inwardly fearing for his castle's residents in the wake of Voldemort's downfall. He stood on the steps of the castle protectively.
"Professor Dumbledore, do you have any Veritaserum in your Potions' stores?" Frank asked.
"Merlin, Longbottom, even I would have said hello first, and I'm the most disrespectful son of a bitch you've ever met," Remus muttered. "Even Dumbledore knows that."
"I… believe we do. Remus?" he asked in disbelief.
"Hello, Headmaster," Remus said, having been handcuffed with both arms behind his back. "I'd shake your hand, but I believe that mine are otherwise engaged." He was dressed again in his brown leather coat, and his pale countenance did nothing to allay Dumbledore's fears.
"Remus," Dumbledore breathed as he pulled the young man into a warm embrace. "Where in God's name have you been?"
"We removed him from Voldemort's dungeons," Frank said. "He claims to have been there for 2 months."
Dumbledore pushed Remus away. "If you will check the Ministry records, he has been listed as missing for nearly a month and a half. He had owled me once a week prior to his disappearance. James and Sirius were most displeased with you for leaving without telling them. And I must confess that the fact that you lied so easily and told them that I encouraged this course of action was quite distressing," he admitted, looking Remus from head to toe and then in his hazel eyes.
"Headmaster, I needed space," Remus declared. "They were bloody suffocating me."
Dumbledore sighed, waving them indoors. "Please come in, although I must insist that you release Remus."
"Albus, his innocence has not been established. We're going to get ripped for not bringing him back to headquarters immediately," Frank said.
"Remus, do you give me your solemn word that you will not try to evade the Aurors should your innocence be in question?"
Remus bristled. "Why would I run when I know I never broke any laws, except if it has become a crime for me to draw breath!"
"Remus." Dumbledore admonished.
"Yes, I give my word. You know that."
"You should know that Remus' word is more binding than any written document I have ever seen."
sighed and unbound Remus' hands.
Remus shot them both a glare and rubbed his sore wrists.
"Our Potions Master would know. He has no classes, as this is a Sunday, and perhaps he would be able to assist you," Dumbledore said, leading the way through the dungeons.
"Please sit, Remus," Dumbledore said, gesturing to a chair in the front of the Potions classroom. He went into the office looking for the Potions professor as the Aurors took up flanking positions.
He complied, looking greatly like the rebellious teen he had been in his earlier years as the slightly older Aurors glared at him. As the wait stretched on, Remus placed his left thumb in his mouth and bit the nail, as his hair fell into his face. He only looked up as the door opened again. "Oh, for fuck's sake…"
"Good to see you again as well, Lupin," Snape said, as he exited the office and walked in front of him.
"One of the Slytherins who truly hates me and two Gryffindors who would be happy to join you in throwing me off a cliff. Damn, it's nice to be bloody well loved," he spat.
"No, it's fine. Just like the old days, Albus. I have made no bones about the fact that I despise him," Snape said.
"What do you say you just give me the Veritaserum and we can get this show on the road so that I can go skipping on my merry way?"
"This is class C Veritaserum, Longbottom," Snape intoned. "Just so you can put it in your report." He placed five drops on Remus' tongue.
"Wait, shouldn't the dose be three?"
"It would be, had Lupin and I not developed a tolerance for all three classes of veritaserum as a bit of fun our last couple of years at Hogwarts."
"The two of you could make that in 6th year?"
Remus smiled. "Third year, actually."
"Is it working?" Frank asked Snape.
"It is quite potent, I assure you. However, you may want to direct the questions to your friend Lupin there. He is under the serum, not me," Snape jabbed sarcastically.
"State your legal name for the record."
Remus blinked, his head swimming. "My name at present is Remus Janus Lupin."
"Have you ever used an alternate name?" Frank asked as Denise copied it all down.
"Remus Janus Allenson was the name I bore from birth until my abandonment and subsequent adoption."
Frank's eyes widened. There had been another Allenson in his class that he had remembered. Aside from their hair, dress and mannerisms, they were quite similar. "Age?"
"20 years, 2 months and 15 days."
"I am unemployed," Remus said, wiping a few beads of sweat from his forehead.
"I don't have one."
"Place of last residence?" Frank asked, exasperated.
"15 Knockturn Alley, Flat #2, First Floor."
"Who was the last person to see you before your disappearance?"
"Lucius Malfoy." Malfoy… Malfoy who had begged him to choose a side, and then delivered him to Voldemort to make him choose. Lucius who had Remus' best interests at heart.
"Are you now or have you ever been a Death Eater?"
"Did Voldemort ever ask you to become a Death Eater?"
Snape's eyebrow raised as the question was asked.
"Because although I harbor a great resentment for the Ministry due to my upbringing, I have no reason to join a group clamoring for its destruction. I prefer peaceful means of social change to violent and bloody revolution."
"What do you mean, your upbringing?" Denise asked, as Remus' eyes locked on Snape's.
Dumbledore put his hand over Remus' mouth. "Under the Privacy Act of 1975, he does not have to answer that question."
"Headmaster, I think…"
"Remus was abandoned in 1966, and was raised in a Ministry orphanage near Knockturn Alley," Dumbledore explained. "His experience in growing up on those streets did not demonstrate the best side of the Ministry's concern."
"Fine," Frank said, unwilling to argue with the Headmaster. "Did you have any ideas that the Potters were targeted?"
"Who told you?"
There was a collective indrawn breath at that statement.
"What did he tell you?"
"He told me the day of Samhain that the Potter's Secret Keeper was one of his Death Eaters and that that night was the night he would kill them. Once their destruction was assured, little would stand in opposition to him." Remus marveled at his flat monotone. He really hated veritaserum. At least it didn't hurt.
"Because James Potter was the Heir of Gryffindor, as he was the Heir of Slytherin."
A hush came over the room. No one dared speak until Frank recovered his voice. "And then what did he tell you?"
"He told me once more to give up…"
"How many times did he ask you?"
"Every day. For 67 days." His voice wavered, but didn't break.
Dumbledore seemed to wince.
"He told me to give up and join the winning side, that nothing could be gained from further resistance and delaying my allegiance to him any longer. He… told me that he would return after the job was finished, and ask for my oath once again."
"He never came back?"
"No. Nor did any of the other Death Eaters. You were the first humans I had seen in 7 days," he said, slight desperation tingeing in his voice.
"Any further questions for Remus, Frank?"
"No, Albus. That's all. We'll file a report and you'll hear from us if we need you further. Don't leave the country, Lupin."
Remus merely sat on the hard wooden chair and then slammed his head against the desk as the Aurors left. Snape set a vial of chalky white potion on the desk in front of him.
"So Voldemort called you to his service after all," Snape commented as the lycanthrope downed the potion.
Remus fixed Snape with a poisonous glare. "You really don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you, Snape?"
"Unlike you, I seem to. I mentioned nothing of your… condition. But you? Five drops and you spilled everything," he said, crossing his arms smugly.
"Sod off. I'm out of practice. You know as well as I do that Veritaserum is bloody expensive to make and absolutely illegal to buy over the counter."
Albus returned. "Thank your for your cooperation, Remus."
"You're welcome. I… should get going," he mumbled, standing up. "I just wish I knew where my stuff was."
"No, Albus, I don't want to hear it. None of the whole, 'you've lost someone important to you' bullshit. I want to leave. Now."
Dumbledore moved closer to him. "I know you're in pain, Remus, but you have to let it out or it will consume you."
Remus glared, and turned back towards the two wizards with a feral glint in his now amber eyes. "What's the point? Something has always consumed me, remember? What's a little more fuel to the fire?" he spat.
"Remus, please calm down," Dumbledore requested.
"And if I can't?" he asked, pulling his coat tighter against him. "Let's recap the past 2 months. I was fine until I got attacked by Death Eaters, stunned, imprisoned, tortured, brainwashed, then starved, manhandled, interrogated again, and now I find that four of the people I trusted most in life are either dead or traitors!"
Dumbledore flinched, and Snape gazed with sympathy. He hadn't known where Remus was.
Remus turned away from them, wishing with all of his heart to merely sink into the floor and die. He wrapped his arms around himself and felt hot tears collect in his eyes. His hands shook and his head pounded unmercifully. "I'm such a fool."
"You can't mean that, Remus."
He ran his fingers through his mussed hair and laughed bitterly. "I can and I do. Tell me, you who have always been my advisor…my mentor, what is the point of letting anyone in when all you get is betrayal and more pain? And I'm surprised you aren't crowing about how right you were and how mistaken I was, Snape!"
Snape crossed his arms and spoke softly, without reproof or recrimination. "I see no need to point out a fact that you already aware of. I told you time and time again that Black was no good for you, and you trusted someone who had already betrayed you once."
Dumbledore interceded. "Remus, I want Poppy to have a look at you. You seem on the verge of complete collapse and I am unwilling to let you leave until I am certain that you are healthy."
Remus shook his head. "It doesn't matter. I mean, what is life, but being born, suffering and dying?" Frowning and pressing a hand to his temple, he walked to Severus' office, stalking past a stunned Snape as he walked to the cabinets.
"What are you looking for?"
Remus proceeded to ignore him. "Gods, is this in any sort of order?"
"I have a fever and a headache. I've probably got the flu. Point me in the right direction and I'll be out of this school before you can say Fizzing Whizzbees." It was true, his headache was growing harder and harder to ignore. Perhaps it was the fact that the adrenaline he had been running on was ebbing, or that he hadn't eaten in days. Or maybe it was the fact that he was mildly allergic to veritaserum. It didn't really matter any more, did it?
"Remus," Snape said, taking him by the arms. "Where would you go?"
Remus pushed him away. "Like it matters."
"It matters to Albus, obviously, and you're being quite disrespectful to him."
"I'm going to go say goodbye to my friends, Snape. I'll quite likely never see them again. Is that acceptable to you?" he snapped, reaching for a flu relieving potion.
"That has aconite in it. Are you mad?" Snape asked darkly. "Take this one instead." He substituted a violet potion for the green one.
Remus drank it, before Snape realized that that particular potion had a known depressant in it. 'Oh damn.' And no cheering potions or charms would help. They would only add to the mess. But it was too late, and Remus would just have to be watched. And as Potions Master, it would fall to Snape to watch over him.
The werewolf leaned back against a wall, sliding down it to put his head on his knees, which were drawn up to his chest. "They're all dead, Severus… and I only wish I were with them… if only it would make the pain stop. But it won't… It really won't."
Man did I have an interesting 21st birthday. Especially interesting was the fact that even though I got a bit more than tipsy with alcohol Saturday night, it was my mom who threw up Sunday, with food poisoning I think. But I have a new desk chair, a new mouse and keyboard, and I am rife with plot bunnies for my stories.
Life is good…
Except for that whole 'vomiting' thing. (Which was on sportscenter by the way… wait, that's the replacements.)
Thanks to my few, but ultimately faithful reviewers of this story.
Artemis MoonClaw - Here's more, hope you like it.
le'Ange de Mort - Remind me never to send you anything sugary, Lexi. You're just a bit off-kilter when on a sugar high, aren't you? And no PP/LV… sorry. And I think he sort of knows now that Lucius is a Death Eater, as it was he who suggested the forest path, wasn't it?
Ginevra - As for his last name, I made it so that he had been a respectable pureblood until he was bitten… when they abandoned him, (and subsequently disowned him), he was still listed as Allenson in the Ministry archives. I made Remus change his last name mentally first, because he didn't want anything to do with he people who deserted him. It was rather a logical choice, giving him the epithet Remus the Wolf. It was made official when he came to Hogwarts, as it hid the fact that someone who was a registered werewolf was attending school. The last straw was when Dumbledore adopted Remus; that was the first time it showed on a legal document. Sorry about the confusion. And how he got out of this? Deus ex machina is a great way to get your hero out of shit, aint it? Of course, it wasn't totally deus ex machina. It was also a little green-eyed munchkin.
Diva937 - I believe that a glomp is a type of hug done with reckless abandon… it's an anime term whatever it is. I just learned it, but if I'm wrong, I apologize. And I can leave it there… I'm the author. J
Thank you all!!!!
A/N: The next chapter will be set in Harry's 5th year, AU to OoTP… that book screwed up so many of my plot points that it's not even remotely close to funny. Well, time to post and go to work.
And question… has anyone seen Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life? I could have sworn that Vernon Dursley was one of the guys on the plane… No, just me? Okay. I'm content enough with recognizing that one of the henchmen was in the Replacements as Jumbo, the Japanese Sumo wrestler turned Center.