Epilogue: Okay, so this werewolf walks into a bar see…
Heedless of the close confines of the crowd he was part of, Remus Lupin turned carelessly away from the bar with yet another brimming pint in his hand and smacked right into the person behind him. His drink sloshed all over the surprised face and form of Eleanor Hamilton who'd been awaiting her chance to get to the front of the mob. The startled woman jumped and frantically began to wipe liquor and foam off of herself as she directed a few choice words at her clumsy assailant.
"Of all the idiotic moves! It's crowded in here, didn't that thought penetrate your pea brain and clue you in to the fact that you needed to move carefully, you ignoramus!" she snarled in exasperated anger as she raised furious eyes to glare at the incompetent who'd just doused her in beer.
As their eyes met, hers bright and angry, his bleary and embarrassed, she gasped in surprised recognition. "Remus Lupin! How the hell did I get so lucky?"
Lupin swayed on his feet and clutched the remains of his drink in front of himself as he stared somewhat blankly at the angry blond that he'd just baptized with liquor. He should know her apparently. She obviously knew him…and the association wasn't a pleasant one from her tone. He concentrated very hard and tried to bring her face into sharper focus.
"Elllie…Ellaa…Eleanor. Yes, it's Eleanor, right? Pretty Eleanor." He smiled faintly at his success. "Well…well…well, what brings you here, Ellie-nor?" The vacantly smiling wizard listed rather obviously to the side as he stood and confronted the surprised witch.
Her mouth fell open in shock. Lupin was clearly more than three sheets to the wind. How odd. He didn't seem the type. Her anger faded and her curiosity was peaked. Last she'd heard he'd managed to finally get his paws on Evangeline after sniffing around her ever since her husband had died. The werewolf should be off living in glorious sin somewhere in the wilds of Cornwall. Why the hell was he in a pub in the middle of London, drunker than Bacchus at a midsummer revel?
She frowned at him in concern. "The question should be what brings you here, Remus. Are you all right?"
He moved away from her heading unsteadily toward a dim private booth at the back of the pub. His voice floated casually back to her from over his shoulder wafting along on the fumes from his libations. "Oh, yeah…I'm just peachy. No problems here. No sir. Everything's just wonderful. I've never felt better in my life."
Perplexed, she forgot her desire for a drink and instead turned and followed him back to his waiting booth then slipped in across from him as he sat down heavily on the cracked leather of the seat and stared down into his half empty mug. The rather sticky table in front of them was littered with empty glasses of all sorts. Apparently beer hadn't been the only beverage that Lupin had been imbibing this evening. The empties were lined up end to end as if someone was trying to build a defensive wall of glassware to hide behind. Judging by the formidable size of the crystalline barrier, Lupin had been at this for quite some time. He was certainly going to regret this reckless behavior in the morning.
As the soused wizard didn't seem to be in any hurry to further enlighten her as to why he was here getting as drunk as he could all by himself, she decided that if she was going to satisfy her curiosity, she'd have to be the one asking the questions.
Eleanor leaned closer over the table and tried to catch his wandering eye. "Remus, why are you in London?"
His shaggy head came up in surprise to see that she was still there. He blinked his eyes a couple of times, trying for focus that simply wasn't possible anymore, and shook his head. "Don't you live in some hot place, Ellie-nor? Africa, right? Somewhere with sand and bugs and too many Goblins?"
She suppressed a smile. God, he was drunk. "Cairo, yes."
He nodded, vaguely pleased by his success in remembering. "Yeah…Cairo. Why aren't you in Cairo? Did the Goblins sack you?"
"No. I'm actually in London for a funeral. My uncle died, and I was the only relative he had left, so I had to settle the estate."
Lupin thought about that for a moment, and then ventured tentatively, "Are you sure?"
Confused, she asked, "Sure I'm his only living relative? Well, yes. As sure as you ever can be, I suppose."
The drunken werewolf shook his head heavily, his unkempt hair drooping down into his eyes. "No, no, no. Sure he's dead."
Astonished at this bizarre query, her mouth dropped open, and she stared incredulously at him for a long moment before summoning up an indignant answer. "Of course, I'm sure he's dead. What kind of a question is that?"
He glanced around with a suspicious gleam in his eyes, leaned closer over the table, and spoke in a conspiratorial tone. "A smart one if you ask me. You can't be too careful when someone tells you someone is dead because sometimes someone is wrong and then where are you…hm? Tell me that? Where're you left when someone who's supposed to be dead isn't really dead at all and tha's the end of everything? So I say you can't be too careful. Yes, I do."
Completely confused by his words and manner, she shook her head and gaped at him. Clearly she was missing something. "Well, I'm absolutely sure, Remus. I've seen his body and everything. There's certainly no doubt he's dead."
Lupin nodded sagely and downed the rest of his drink. Then he looked in her general direction once more although his eyes refused to focus at all. "Well…I hate to tell you, but seeing a body isn't proof. I seed a body and where did it get me, huh? Well…okay if you want to get technik…technicle…if you want to split hairs…I only actually saw a head, but you'd think that'd be enough, wouldn't you? I mean…bodies don't usually run around without their heads, do they? So a head ought to have been enough proof, wouldn't you think…but was it…NO!"
The drunken wizard slammed his hand down on the tabletop so suddenly that Eleanor jumped and banged her knee hard on the underside of the table.
As she rubbed some feeling back into her abused knee, Eleanor continued to gape at her companion, worried now that he wasn't simply drunk, but was actually deranged. "Remus. What are you talking about?"
"Wha my talking about? Wha do you thing I'm talking about, Ell-nor? Snape, that's what! Made a fool out of me, he did. Yup. I'm a fool. Yeah…definitely a fool."
As Lupin swayed back and forth in his seat and stared with an air of melancholy down into his glass, Eleanor reached over and took his hand and tried to get him to look up at her. "Remus. You're not making any sense. What about Severus Snape? He's dead."
Lupin shook his head solemnly, and turned to stare up at her in bleary-eyed sincerity. "Tha's what I've been trying to tell you, Elee-nor. He's not dead after all! The bastard's alive and well and back at Hogwarts teaching my classes an' shagging the woman I love, an' he's all alive an'…everything."
With a brisk motion of her hands Eleanor drew back the drapes over her window and let the bright light of late morning flood into her room. Then she turned and contemplated the rather pitiful figure lying huddled on her bed. The werewolf groaned loudly and attempted to block out the sun with his hands.
"For gods sake! Close those drapes. Some of us are trying to die over here." He moaned as he tried to move and suddenly clutched his head fiercely as the top of it threatened to come flying off.
Eleanor merely crossed her arms and smiled rather smugly. "Goodness, one would almost think you were a vampire instead of a werewolf."
Lupin shaded his eyes with a shaky hand and squinted in her direction. "Very funny. Who is that anyway? I can't see who you are with the light behind you."
With an exasperated sigh, she walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed, cocked her head and frowned down at him. "Recognize me now, Remus?"
He returned the frown as his abused eyes tried to focus on the figure in front of him. "Eleanor? Is that you?"
"Very good, Remus. Got it in one."
"What the hell are you doing in my hotel room?"
Eleanor sighed theatrically and shook her head. "Oh dear, and you were doing so well, too. Take a closer look around you, Remus. This isn't your room…it's mine."
The very hungover wizard leaned up on his elbows and waited a moment for his aching head to catch up to his body. "Your room? I don't understand," he muttered in pained confusion.
"What's the last thing you remember?" she asked with an air of amused condescension.
That made him pause. Good question. What was the last thing he remembered? "Um…I think I was in a pub. Yeah…The Leaping Gryphon. Seemed like a good choice. Things get a little vague after that."
The elegant blond snorted in amusement. "I'm not surprised."
He focused his eyes on her as best he could. "Um…I really don't remember leaving the pub at all. How did I end up here with you? Uh…we didn't…um?"
She laughed shortly, and he winced faintly at the incredulity in her tone. "No. We didn't "um" anything. You were so falling down drunk last night that you couldn't have "um-ed" if your life depended on it."
At that he blushed rather severely and lay back down. He closed his eyes once more, covered them with a trembling arm, and moaned in embarrassment. "Oh. So how did I end up here, anyway? I assume that we met in the bar?"
"Yes, indeed. You managed to spill half a pint of beer on me. You always were a charmer, Remus, I'll give you that."
Lupin groaned in misery. "I'm sorry. You must think I'm an absolute idiot."
"Well…the thought did cross my mind, I must admit, but if what you told me last night is true then it sounds as if you had good cause to be getting drunk."
"Really? What did I tell you?" He let his arm slide to his side as he cracked open his eyelids and peered up at her once again.
"You told me that Severus Snape isn't dead after all. Is this true?"
He sighed wearily. "Yes. It's true. Severus Snape is very much alive."
She nodded thoughtfully. "You also said that he was at Hogwarts, teaching your classes and "shagging the woman you love". Your words not mine. From that I inferred that he was now holding the Defense Against the Dark Arts position and that he and Evangeline have gotten back together. Am I right?"
Lupin threw his arm back across his eyes again and groaned softly. "Evangeline did say that you were the smart one of her friends, Eleanor. Yes, that's exactly right. Once Severus showed up alive, I knew it was only a matter of time before he and Evangeline got back together. She never really stopped loving him, and despite his anger at finding her involved with me, it was obvious that he still loved her very much, too. Once they were back together again, I knew I couldn't stay there and watch, so I resigned my position and suggested to Albus that he give it to Severus. He took me up on it, so I left, and that about brings you up to date on the pitiful life of Remus Lupin, prize idiot." He smiled sheepishly up at her as he lifted his arm once more. "Warms your heart a bit, doesn't it?"
Eleanor gave him a small wry smile. "To be honest, there's a tiny part of me that feels good to see this all blow up in your face, Remus, but only a tiny part. I know that you couldn't help how you felt about Evangeline. Under the circumstances, I never really expected you to do anything other than what you did. Our relationship was too new to hold anything to rival the love you felt for her. I'll admit that when you rejected me to pursue her, it hurt, but I came to understand it. I don't have any hard feelings, Remus. Honest. I'm sorry that things didn't work out for you. I am happy for Evangeline, though. I know how much she loves her husband."
Lupin nodded sadly. "Yes, she does…and she always will. I need to start accepting that."
"Yes, you do. I'm not sure that acceptance is best found in the bottom of a glass, though."
He shrugged. "You're probably right, but it helps…at least a little."
"If I may ask. Where was Severus all this time, anyway?"
"In Voldemort's hands, actually. He spent the last year being tortured in some hellhole of a prison…while I was romancing his wife. That ratchets up the guilt factor, let me tell you."
She nodded in understanding. "I'm sorry, Remus. Well, now that you've left Hogwarts, what are you going to do?"
He stared her in the eye. "I don't have the faintest idea. I've been simply testing out every wizarding bar in London so far…next I was going to move on to the Muggle ones. They're cheaper anyway what with the exchange rate and all."
"I see. Well, that's certainly a plan…a fairly stupid and unproductive plan, but a plan nevertheless."
A frown flitted across his face, and he turned away from her. "Well, frankly, it was the only thing that came to mind so I went with it." He sighed heavily and turned back. "You don't happen to have a better idea, do you?"
"As a matter of fact, I do. As usual, while I did have to be in London for my uncle's funeral, the goblins weren't about to let me go without doing something work related while I was here. The bank has a job opening up, and they wanted me to scout around for candidates. They're primarily interested in Aurors or ex-Aurors, but I'll bet an ex-Defense Against the Dark Arts professor would fit the bill as well. So…are you interested in working for Gringotts?"
Lupin was intrigued in spite of himself. "Well, I'm not sure. You seem to do more than just work for the goblins, Eleanor. Frankly, they seem to run your life. I've just left a job that was mine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm not sure that I want to plunge back into another position that would take up all of my time."
"Oh, I see, and just what do you plan to do with all of this copious free time you want to have? Get so blasted drunk every night that you don't know where you are the next morning…or whom you might or might not have slept with? Or perhaps you'd prefer to spend your time brooding about Evangeline and how she should be in your bed not Snape's?"
Lupin winced at her mocking tone. "That's a little harsh."
"Is it? Personally, I'd think you'd want to have a job that kept you busy. It would make it easier to get past all this pain and allow you to move forward with your life in a productive manner, but if that's not what you want then forget I mentioned it."
He sighed and slowly hauled himself up into a sitting position and leaned wearily back against the headboard of the bed as his head continued to throb along with his heartbeat. "Okay…you're right, as usual. Don't you ever get tired of that?"
She just smiled serenely. "Do you want to hear about the job or not?"
"Sure. Why not? I'm not exactly overwhelmed with employment opportunities, after all. Being a werewolf does seem to put a damper on my chances most of the time."
"Well, this time, it might actually help. After the attack on the English branch of the bank last year, the goblins have been feeling a little insecure. They're looking to hire a new chief of security for the bank. They want someone with experience fighting against the dark side. Part of the job would be to beef up security at all the branches and to work out strategies on how to better safeguard our customers' assets in times of trouble or attack. Since Voldemort used werewolves in his attack, your intimate knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses would be a point in your favor. Are you interested?"
Lupin frowned and considered the idea. "Actually…yeah…I think I am. It would certainly be a challenge. One I think I could meet."
Pleased to have gotten him to focus on something besides his own personal misery, she smiled at him. "Excellent."
"If I took this job, where would I be based? Would I have to live in Cairo like you do?"
"No. I doubt it. I'd guess you'd end up being based here in London, as the bank in Diagon Alley is the largest and the most important one to protect, but you'd be traveling around a lot. All of the branches would need some of your attention."
"It sounds good to me. How would I go about applying for the position?"
"Well, I can set up an interview for you sometime in the next couple of days. That should give you enough time to sober up and pull yourself together a bit. You'd need a couple of letters of reference, but that shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure that Professor Dumbledore would write one for you…Severus might as well, don't you think?"
Lupin laughed shortly. "Oh, yes, I can just see me asking Severus for a letter of reference. He could tell them what a wonderful wife stealer I am."
"If I know anything at all about Severus Snape, it's that he hates to be indebted to anyone, and he has to feel at least a little indebted to you for taking such good care of Evangeline for him. From what I heard, she might not have survived if you hadn't been able to pull her out of her depression. I'm willing to bet that they both feel a little guilty that you felt the need to quit your job and leave Hogwarts, too. Snape is still held in high esteem by the goblins. A word from him would clearly be a feather in your cap. Although, I must admit there will be some grumbling when they realize that since he never was actually dead, they'll have to reinstate the perks they accorded to him as a reward for what he did for the bank."
Lupin grinned. "Yes. I suppose from their point of view, he was the perfect hero. He helped them out, took their reward, and promptly died after only using the reward for a short time."
Eleanor grinned back in amused agreement. "Indeed. However, they'll simply have to get over it. So what do you think? Can you get the letters?"
"I can certainly ask. What do I have to lose anyway? I'll send a couple of owls today."
"Excellent. I have a feeling that this will work out for you, Remus. Now do you think you feel well enough to get up and return to your own lodgings?"
Lupin sighed and grimaced slightly. "If I move very slowly. I think I can manage it. You never did tell me how I ended up here with you, you know."
"It's really fairly simple. I convinced you that you'd had enough to drink, and it was time to go home for the night, but when we got outside, the first thing you did was throw up and then you collapsed in the gutter. I couldn't wake you up, and as tempting as it was, I couldn't just leave you there, so I levitated you up here to my room and let you sleep it off. You hadn't told me where you were staying, and I didn't really fancy scouring all of the hotels in London for your room."
"What hotel is this anyway?"
"The Acromantula Arms"
Lupin smiled. "You're not going to believe it, but I'm supposed to be in room 318."
She snorted in amusement. "Well…so much for me being the smart one, I should've figured that you wouldn't go too far a field to get drunk. This is room 420. Think you can manage to find you way down one flight of stairs?"
Lupin eased off the bed and headed for the door…carefully. "I think I can manage it." He turned back to look at Eleanor as he paused in the doorway. "Thank you for all your help, Eleanor. Both last night and today. I'm not sure that I deserve it, but I truly do appreciate it."
She walked across the room to stand next to him. "No problem, Remus. Actually, I'm glad I can help you. Get yourself cleaned up and send your owls, I'll be in touch when I've set up the interview, all right?"
He nodded, thanked her again and left the room closing the door softly behind him. As he started off down the hall to the stairway, he found himself feeling optimistic for the first time in a very long time. Perhaps things would work out okay, after all. So with a lighter heart, he headed off to his room to start working on his new life.
Author's Notes: We'll that's it for this story. I want to thank everyone who read and commented on it as we went along. It was truly helpful to hear from all of you. I appreciate your kindness and support. Some of you have asked what I plan to do next. Unlike previously, I don't have another story ready and waiting in the wings at the moment. However, that doesn't mean I'm giving up on writing. I do have two one shots that I'll be posting shortly. One of them concerns Lupin's reaction to the death of his friend, the other concerns Dumbledore. In addition, I've posted an anthology of short stories that were written for a LiveJournal site called 30-Minute HP Fics. These shorts were responses to various challenges and all were written within a timeframe of 30 minutes. The title of the anthology is "Owl Posts", there are currently five stories there and I'll be adding to them soon. I do have ideas for another sequel in this storyline that I intend to devote some time to shortly, so hopefully I'll be continuing with Severus and Evangeline's story in the near future. I also hope to work on a couple of other story ideas that I have…a humorous piece that contains only canon characters, and a Lupin romance. At the moment, I'm embroiled in a "writer's duel"…sort of a round robin…with a very talented HP fanfiction author. This war of words is taking place on our LiveJournals. It's a somewhat unlikely battle between Minerva McGonagall and Hermione Granger for the affection of Severus Snape. I am arguing the case for Minerva while my friend Bleodswean, also known as Zagzagael, fights for Hermione. It's been a lot of fun and if anyone is interested in reading the posts, my LJ URL is up on my author's page here on fanfiction. Thank you all once more for reading, I hope you've enjoyed it. It's been a pleasure hearing from all of you. Happy Holidays.
Arachne's Child: No, Evangeline isn't really the forgive and forget type any more than her husband is. Black doesn't like to see his friend hurt, and in the end, he'd always rather blame Snape than anyone else. I hope you were satisfied with the outcome for Remus.
Lina Lupin: I'm a bit sorry that the story is ending, too. I'm very pleased that you've enjoyed it.
Lady Tamarisk: Well, Remus certainly encounters Eleanor again, as you can see. I'm not sure if they get back together, though. There would have to be some major fence mending first.
Rickfan37: You really are too kind in your comments to me. :) I'm very happy that you've enjoyed this story. Your insights into all the chapters have been very helpful. You always notice the little details and give me lots to think about with your thoughtful commentary. I thank you sincerely.
Dark Jezebel: Yes, Severus will always win where Evangeline is concerned. Remus never truly had a chance with her…she was far too deeply in love with her husband.
Jasara: I hope you approve of how I settled things for Remus. This gives him a whole new career to pursue. Hopefully he'll find new interests to make him happy.
Snapefan51: I imagine that the paintings gossip amongst themselves. Most flesh and blood people seem to ignore them, though. Hmmm…that gives me an idea. I do need to decide what to do with Snape's portrait, don't I? Thanks. I'll miss this story, too. I'm glad you liked it. :)
Elaine Lahey: Thanks for your support and encouragement. I'm glad that you've gotten so much enjoyment out of this story. I've enjoyed hearing from you. :)
Zagzagael: Thank you for all your help. I appreciate it and you very very much. :)
Whale of the World: I think it's a pretty good ending for Remus. If not a happy one then at least a hopeful one. Thanks for all the support. :)