AN: There will be a series of short stories that I've been writing about the reactions and missing moments of certain characters. This is Lupin's.

Please refer to my profile if you have questions about my updating or computer. Author's Notes and reviews of this story are no place for those sorts of inquiries.

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Remus Lupin's life had been far from perfect - far from happy. He'd had his moments - mostly centered around his friends. In fact, Remus often said to himself that his life only truly began it's measly journey when he'd gotten to Hogwarts. He had always been quiet, and he was content to be alone. He'd faced the fact that he would always be alone when he found out he'd been bitten by a werewolf. He just hadn't expected to be proven wrong.

Remus had lived with laughter for over seven years. He'd made friends, grown comfortable in his lifestyle. Sometimes he even imagined that he really wasn't that different - that being a werewolf wasn't such an atrocious thing. He'd dabbled in dating a little, but he just couldn't stand to lead anyone on. He knew he wasn't exactly Mr. Right.

Those years had been like a long, blissful dream. He'd woken up from it when they'd joined the Order. Sirius, James, and Peter had stayed ignorant. They cheered victories and recessed memories of defeats. They believed they would win, and there was no questioning. Remus had known the true danger. He'd brushed death once before, and he wouldn't take his friends for granted. He was going to be safe, cautious.

Well, that hadn't worked out. Before he knew it James, Lily, and Peter were dead; Sirius was in Azkaban; Harry was sent to live with Muggles. That had been the price he had to pay for Voldemort's defeat: his family.

He could have written Sirius. Padfoot wasn't allowed visitors, but he could owl. His letters would have gone through authorities, but they could have written. Remus couldn't do it. He couldn't respond when Sirius wrote to him, begging for him to understand . . .

Moony, you have to believe me. What have I got left if not you? I didn't do it!

Remus could remember in vivid detail. He'd gotten six letters in all. The last letter had been filled with desperation.

I know you don't believe me. I won't waste our time trying to convince you again. This is my last later, Remus. I can't keep hoping that you might help me. That's wishful thinking as it is. I mean no offense, but in our society a werewolf could hardly get a convincted "Death Eater" out of Azkaban.

I just wanted to let you know . . . well . . . you know I had a hard time growing up. Especially when I joined the Order. My family was less than grateful, in short. You weren't the only one who found a family at Hogwarts. You are my brother, Remus. As was James and Peter. Past tense in the latter's case. Why would I want to destroy the only love I ever found in life? Why would I turn James over to someone filled with such hate that it terrifies me to the core?

If, one day, you decide to believe me . . . I'll be waiting. I was always impatient, but now I have all the time in the world. I'm going to stop hoping that we can be as we once were, but I won't stop waiting.

I love you, Remus. We may not be blood, but we are brothers in all of the important ways. And . . . I'm sorry that I thought you were the betrayer. Now I know how it feels.

Remus had almost replied. He had wanted to tell Sirius that he loved him too. But Remus hadn't been able to. Some part of him reminded him that James, Lily, and Peter were all dead: because of Sirius.

Remus let out a heavy breath and covered his eyes with his hand. These memories were only upsetting him more than before. If that word could cover this empty, devastating feeling that he had inside. It wasn't that there was a part of him missing, it felt like *all* of him was missing. It felt like life could go on, and he could stay curled up in a ball with Buckbeak. He didn't want to live anymore, but he would hardly take his life. It was bitter and painful. This seemed to be worse than when his three best friends had left. Sirius had come back, and Remus had not expected him to leave again so soon. Especially not for good.

Remus heard a knock on the door, and he snapped upwards shakily. He didn't want anyone to know that he was falling apart. He didn't want anyone to pry, no matter how much good they meant.

"Come in," Remus called out in a cheerful voice. He quickly masked his pain and patted Buckbeak affectionately, as if he had just been up here feeding the animal.

"Remus dear, you missed lunch," Mrs. Weasley said softly.

"Did I? I'm sorry - this creature is so spectatular that I must have lost track of time. Have you ever ridden a Hippogriff before, Molly?"

"No, I'm afraid I haven't." Molly scrutinized him openly. "Remus, I know you must be grieving--"

"Grieving," Remus said in a strangled voice, "doesn't even begin to describe how I feel." He shut his eyes tightly and turned his back to her. He hadn't meant to lose control like that. "Molly, I trust you not to say anything. Please leave me alone."

Molly hesitated. "As you wish," she whispered eventually.

Remus heard the door behind him shut, and he stopped holding it in. With a dry sob, he began to cry. Buckbeak seemed acute to Remus' feelings, and the animal used a giant wing to pat Remus' back. It might a quiet sound as if to offer comfort.

"I appreciate it, but I don't think this is the type of hurt that can go away," Remus said through his tears. "I don't think a wound like this can ever be healed."

Buckbeak bobbed his head as if he agreed.

* * * * *

Later that day, Remus had managed to come downstairs for a few bites of dinner. He didn't feel hungry, but he didn't want anyone to pry. When he felt like another bite would make him ill, he excused himself from the table and went upstairs. Instead of going to the room he usually slept in, he went into Sirius' room.

The bedroom had been cleared out of any Dark items immediately. It looked very much like Sirius' old room in that apartment they'd shared together nearly seventeen years ago. There was a bed with sheets that had brightly colored broomsticks all over it. It was sloppy, blankets everywhere. They had been awoken in the middle of the night by Severus to go and rescue Harry, Remus remembered. Not that Sirius would have made his bed under normal circumstances.

Remus saw a quill and ink on Sirius' desk. On it was a short letter to Harry. If only, Remus thought, Sirius had sent it straightaway that night. Maybe then Harry wouldn't have gone to the Department of Mysteries. Or at least he would have waited. Remus snorted.

That was unlikely. When Harry got it in his head to save someone, there was no stopping him. Even if that person didn't need saving.

Remus sat down at the old desk and picked up the quill. It was very nice. Sirius had always had nice things. He'd always been willing to share with Remus, but Remus rarely accepted. He never wanted Sirius to think he owed Remus something. It was Remus who was lucky to have friends and life and laughter.

Remus dipped the quill in the green ink. He picked up the sheet of paper addressed to Harry. There were more parchment pieces under that, and Remus began writing on the first layer before he knew what was happening.

Dear Sirius,

Now it is I who will write letters unanswered. Maybe I deserve this pain for the way I treated you fourteen years ago. I don't have the luxury of hope or waiting. Unlike Harry, I know what that veil was, and I know that you won't be back. I very much doubt that you will choose the path of a ghost. You spent too many years waiting when you were alive, too many years alone when you deserved happiness. You will be with Lily and James now. You're probably having the time of your, er, life right now. You're probably saying to yourself, 'Come on, Remus. What's taking you so long? Come and join us.'

You know that I won't. I have always had a sense of duty, Sirius. Perhaps it has something to do with being closely linked to the dog. I have loyalties to the Order, to Dumbledore, and, most of all, to Harry. Maybe I will never connect with him like you did, Sirius, but I can be there for him. I can tell him stories about his Godfather and parents. I can spoil him. Maybe not with money like you did, but there is one thing I can always offer: love. Tell Lily and James that I'm looking out for him now. I will do my best not to leave him alone. I'm his last link to you all.

I don't think I've ever felt so alone in my life. Not after I was bitten, not after You Know Who's defeat. I had something, and I had to give it up. The wanting and aching is even more powerful when you've tasted love.

Your letters fourteen years ago didn't go unanswered. I never wrote down my replies, and you never got them, but I have them word for word in my heart. I wanted to believe you, but all the facts were against you. The only thing was . . . you wouldn't have done it. I knew then, and I know now. You are loyal to the grave, Padfoot. I just wish it wasn't that literal.

You know what I wish for you? I wish that you were pardoned before you died. I know how much that would mean to you. The whole world thinks that you betrayed Lily and James, and that's what ate at you. You wanted to freely fight like we could. You wanted to join the movement, convince others that Voldemort was back. You wanted to be there in the final fight, not be taken out in the first battle.

I can promise you this, Sirius, if not much else: I will devote myself to getting your name cleared. I know that it's trivial, but I also know what it would mean to you. I will make sure that you are depicted as a hero. I will make sure you get all the credit you deserve.

I love you too, Sirius. I love James and Lily. I love Harry. It seems like I'm giving out more love than I ever deserved to be able.

Don't forget me. I'm not sure if there's a heaven or a hell. I'm not sure of anything about the afterlife. Just don't forget. I don't want to be left alone here remembering when none of us can go back.

With all of my love,


Remus finished up the letter. The ink was splotchy from the tears that had started as he wrote the first words. This letter wasn't enough to comfort him; it wasn't a touch of finality. It wasn't anything, really. Nothing profound.

Just a man trying to make sense of his best friend's death.