Promises Remembered

The Sequel to Promises Unbroken

Chapter Forty-Three: And Not to Yield

"I need to talk to you."

The harsh voice startled James out of his reverie; he'd been staring at the cherry top of his brand new desk and trying to decide where he was going to put everything—hardly a minute passed without someone wandering into this office and dropping off something else that he so desperately needed. Dumbledore, James was beginning to realize, had possessed a lot of stuff, the usefulness of which his replacement had yet to figure out. After all, what in the world had Dumbledore needed a stuffed Billywig for?

Standing in the doorway of James' reconstructed (albeit with a very different floor plan) office was Severus Snape.

"What are you doing here?" James asked before he could stop himself. Then he glanced at the clock, the giant, grandfatherly, and Muggle affair that it was. Why did Dumbledore keep that in here?

"As I said, I need to speak with you." Snape stepped through the doorframe—James did not yet have a door—and seated himself in the spare chair without being invited. "It is a matter of some importance, to both the Order and the Ministry." He hesitated. "And to the Aurors."

Suddenly, James felt as if the temperature in that office had dropped significantly—which was entirely possible, seeing as the entire Ministry of Magic was only three quarters built, and James was quite certain that they hadn't figured out the proper Climate Control Charms yet. "Then why not tell us last night?"

"Last night was not the time."

"I see." Snape did not have to explain why—James already knew, and hated himself for knowing. For almost agreeing. "Then why here? Why risk yourself by coming to the Ministry of Magic?"

Snape laughed mirthlessly. "He knows I'm here."


"Just as I knew about the Riddle House Raid," Snape replied without the slightest hint of regret. "As I knew it would fail."

"And you didn't tell us?" James demanded furiously.

"Of course I did not." His wand was suddenly out, flicking over his shoulder. "Silencio.If I told you everything I know, it would become painfully obvious where my loyalties lie, and I would be of no use to you. Or to the Dark Lord."

James bit back the reply such casual cruelty so richly deserved only because Snape was right. James could hate it all he wanted, but Snape was right, and he had to trust the man. Had Snape wanted to betray them, the war would have been lost years ago. If Snape wanted to betray us, we'd all be dead. James sighed quietly.

"What did you want to see me about?"

"Moody is dead," Snape said without preamble. "The wand and the eye were planted for the Aurors to find, in order to draw them to the Riddle House. Moody has always been dead."

For a long moment, James could do nothing but stare. Had it all been for nothing? "Who was screaming, then?"

"Muggles. Random victims." Snape shrugged. "Brought for that express purpose and then slain. Rodolphus was quite pleased to share this fact with me when I asked."

And Sirius had known. "We have no choice but to act," he had said quietly when the Inner Circle met. "We must do so, or risk losing everything for which we fight. Still…I can only hope I am wrong. If I am not…" James swallowed. How had he known? Could he have known? Snape seemed to sense James' inability to articulate a reply.

"There is, however, no doubt that Moody has been dead since 1988."

James swallowed back revulsion, fear, and anger. "Sirius needs to know this. The Aurors need to."

"That, I leave to you," the Death Eater replied. "I have no desire to speak to your…friend." He spat the last word as if it was a curse, and James bristled.

"After last night, I would not blame him for hexing you on sight," the Minister replied, making Snape snort.

"Do you think I fear him, James?"

"No." If there was one thing no one could deny about Snape, it was that he had courage. Incredible courage, to do what he had done—and face what he had faced—for the last twelve years.

"You're wrong," was the quiet reply. "I do fear him. I fear what he will become."

"You don't—"

"You see it. Do not deny it." Snape's eyes were dark, but filled with something. Was that anger? He snarled, "I have seen this happen before."

James started. "What?"

"Ask him what potions I have given him. Ask him what he is doing to himself—willingly and by choice, he claims. And then tell me that man, that monster, is your friend."


Lily was waiting in his office when Dung came back from seeing the students off to Hogsmeade. The moment she saw him, she almost regretted doing so—though he greeted her pleasantly enough, the Transfiguration Professor looked exhausted. There were lines in his pale face that she'd never seen before, and he appeared to have lost weight over the past few days. In short, he was starting to resemble an overstressed Severus Snape, though his hair wasn't nearly so greasy. Thankfully.

"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Lily," Fletcher said quietly. "As usual, the Weasley twins were up to something, and I ended up giving them detentions. And not allowing them to go to Hogsmeade."

He grimaced. "Unfortunately, what worries me most is that neither seemed especially disappointed." A rare smile crossed his face. "I just hope I'm not their intended victim."

"I'm sure you're not." Despite herself, Lily giggled. Little was amusing these days, but the trouble her son and his friends—the darling 'Misfits' got into was always fun to hear. Lily hadn't been a prankster herself at Hogwarts, but dating and then marrying James had taught her to appreciate the finer points of humor. Besides, she probably knew who their planned target was, unless they proved crazy enough to try pulling a prank on Remus. I think I'd pay to see the results of that!

"Right," he said gruffly. The smile was gone. "What did you want to see me about?"

"Just to talk. I know we went over all your symptoms a few days ago, but I wanted to let you know what we're doing."

"Can you do anything?" Dung asked pointedly.

Lily nodded adamantly. "I believe we can. The library at Grimmauld Place has an interesting collection of old spell books, and I actually found the Distance Seeing Enchantment in several of them. There isn't a countercurse for it, but there is information on the spell's creation. By backtracking from there, we ought to be able to develop a cure."

"How long?" Dung swallowed, obviously trying to hide his worry, but unable to.

"A few months," Lily replied with a smile. "Maybe less. Molly Weasley is great at taking spells apart."

"I don't think we have that long," he whispered.

Lily frowned. "It won't be easy in the meantime, Dung, but you can take some time off from teaching if you fear being a danger to your students, and—"

"No, it's not that." He shook his head. "Not entirely, anyway. But…we need an Inner Circle, Lily, and it cannot reform now. I think Remus suspected Sirius before, but it's me. It has to be. Fawkes knows."

"Are you so certain?" she asked.

"I am."

"Then we'll survive," she reassured him. "We have so far. We only need a few months—it could be as little as thirty days. And then the Circle can reform."

"I'm not sure if we have that time," Dung replied flatly.

Lily reached out and squeezed his hand. "We do. You'll see." She rose, releasing his hand. "I will come back next week to tell you about our progress."

"Right." He stared into nothingness. "I'll see you then."


Morning. Dawn. Sunrise. They were supposed to be happy times, signs of beauty and of hope. New beginnings. Banishment of darkness.

Sirius snorted. "Right."

Perhaps sleeping would have helped, but as hard as he'd tried, sleep had not come. Sirius had merely lain awake in the darkness, staring at the ceiling and thinking. Remembering. Remembering.

"You amaze me, sometimes, Sirius. I freely admit it." Cold fingers stroked his forehead. "But why waste so much strength fighting me? Would you truly prefer to die here, forgotten and alone?"

"Yes." Speaking burned. He tasted blood. He did not care.

"I offer you the world… Is that so much less attractive than a life of pain?"

"Ten years." Sirius wheezed in pain. "Ten years…I've said no."

"Ten years, and still I have offered," Voldemort countered quietly. Fingers traced along Sirius' jaw, making him flinch in pain. "And still the offer remains."

His fuzzy vision caught movement as the wand rose. Sirius hardly had time to brace himself. "Crucio!"

His world exploded in agony; fireworks went off before his eyes. Still, the Dark Lord's last words sank through Sirius' weak screams. Soft, and tempting—but not tempting enough, even through all the pain.

"Remember that."

Shuddering, Sirius sat up. His breaths were coming in short gasps, and he remembered the pain so vividly that it was almost like being in Azkaban all over again. Then again, the last few days had been like that. He'd been living through hell, moment by moment, memory by memory. Slowly, he got his breathing under control and swung his legs over the side of the bed. A flick of his hand sent the covers flying back into place.

He shivered, despite the fact that the room was warm. Very warm, actually—he'd made sure of that before trying to sleep, hoping that extra warmth would help. But it hadn't, and Sirius had almost stopped caring. There was too much to be done to worry about personal comfort. He dressed absentmindedly, hardly noticing what robes he put on, and only pausing to pick his wand up off the bedside table and slip it in a pocket.

Quietly, he slipped out of his quarters and through the outside doors of the Main Villa, heading again for Lab Six. Now that the Aurors knew what he was doing, he had no visitors, and Sirius was glad for that. Even Tonks and Bill stayed away, which surprised him slightly—Sirius had expected that curious pair to be the first to overcome their fear and seek him out. Fear. He'd never wanted to be feared, but he had a feeling that the Aurors did fear him now, even when they claimed to suppport his actions.

"You shouldn't have walked out last night," Bill Weasley said quietly as Sirius came around the Main Villa's east corner. Apparently, he'd been wrong. Bill wasn't afraid enough to stay away. Yet.

Sirius stopped. "There was nothing left to be said."

"Wasn't there?"

Tell him that he's mine. The words invaded his mind so suddenly that Sirius felt his eyes grow wide. He tensed, feeling darkness, cold, pain, intervene—Tell Fletcher that he is mine. Bill was staring at him, but Sirius had no inclination to pay the slightest attention to the other Auror. The darkness was suffocating him, and this was different.. Something within Sirius had risen to meet Voldemort, had reached out.

Darkness stabbed at his soul, and Sirius shuddered. Whether the pain came from Voldemort or himself, Sirius would never know, but it goaded him into action. Reaching within himself, the Auror did something he had never done before. During the attack on Avalon, Sirius had pushed back, but now he attacked. Using every bit of his strength, Sirius forced the pain back at Voldemort, forced the Dark Lord to swallow the darkness. For a split second, he felt pain along their link, and the world went black—only to clear again a moment later. Sirius was still standing between the Main Villa and the Library. Bill was still staring.

"Are you all right?" the younger man asked worriedly.

Sirius swallowed, trying to bury the fact that the sheer speed in which he'd succeeded in pushing Voldemort away—the fact that he'd managed at all—had frightened him. "I'm fine."

"What was that?"

"A memory," he lied, shaking his head as if to clear it. What had Voldemort meant? Did he even want to know? A hundred times, the Dark Lord had said those same words to Sirius, had claimed to own himCertainly, he'd said them to Dung in the past. But was this different?

"You're lying," Bill replied quietly. He sounded hurt.

"Yes. I am."

Was there anything left so say? No, there wasn't. There still wasn't.

Yet again, Sirius walked away.


"Ready?" George asked, and the others nodded.

"This had better work," Hermione breathed, lifting her wand.

"Of course it'll work, Hermione," Fred reassured her. "You researched it."

"Shut up," she growled, making both twins giggle until Ginny elbowed George in the stomach.

"Hey! What'd you do that for?"

"Because you're a prat, that's why," she replied cheerfully. "Now let the girl work."

Fred snorted. "You're no fun, Gin."

"I'm plenty of fun," she replied aloofly. "Just not when you're busy making a bloody—"

"Ginny!" Ron gasped in shock.

The Misfits snickered as she turned to look innocently at her older brother. Even Hermione lowered her wand to glance over her shoulder—the pointed look Ginny was wearing was wonderful. "Oh, don't act so surprised. It's not like you don't say things Mum would ground you for."

"But that's different!"

"Ron, I learned those words from you."

Hermione snickered as the youngest Weasley boy went bright red. Fred and George chortled. Ron tried again. "I—"

"Will the two of you stop arguing so we can get on with this before we get caught?" Harry suddenly intervened.

"Good idea," Hermione piped up, turning to the door and trying to remember the exact unlocking pattern that she'd read in Locks, Keys and Getting Around Both, which was quite possibly the only useful book ever writtenby Professor Vindictus Viridian. Hermione smiled to herself, then very carefully began tapping her wand against the lock. Right. Left. Up. Up. Left. Up. Down. Diagonal—

"Who's going to catch us, anyway?" Ron demanded from behind her. "Everyone's either at Hogsmeade or studying, and no one even knows where Professor Snape is—"

"Are you so sure everyone's in Hogsmeade, Ron?" a voice asked.

Ron sputtered, the twins swore, Ginny jumped, and Harry spun around so quickly that he knocked Hermione's arm forward, shoving her wand into the keyhole and inadvertently completing the unlocking charm. With a click, the door swung open a few inches.

"What are you doing here, Percy?" George demanded.

"Shouldn't you be in Hogsmeade?" Fred added angrily. "With your darling Penelope?"

Hermione looked over her shoulder in time to see Percy draw himself up importantly. "I am a prefect. I don't need to explain myself to you. In fact, you six ought to be the ones explaining. What in the name of Merlin do you think you're doing trying to get into Professor Snape's personal quarters?"

"Succeeding," Ron muttered, but Percy ignored him.

"And why do you care? D'you want to get into trouble with us?" Fred asked.

"No, he'd never be seen with such lowly riffraff as trouble-makers," George corrected his twin. "Would you Perce?"

"Don't call me that," the older Weasley snapped.

"Sure, Perce."

"No problem."

"Will you two shut up!" Percy finally snarled, his self-control fracturing. Hermione giggled; she couldn't help herself. It was one thing to follow the rules, but Percy was really too much. Even if he was right sometimes.


"Not likely."

"Never," Ron added.

"Haven't you learned by now?" Ginny asked cheerfully.

Harry just snickered.

"I order you to get away from Professor Snape's quarters immediately!" Percy bleated, and all the Misfits laugh.

"Order us, do you?" Ron put in. "Oh, my."

"I'm frightened," George piped up. "Are you, little brother?"

"To death," Ron replied.

Fred snickered. "I'm shaking."

"Horrified," Harry added.

"I think I'll go cry now. Sob in my pillow for a bit," was Ginny's addition.

"I think I'll finish the prank and be off." Hermione smiled at Percy. "Will that work? I need to get some studying in, anyway."

Percy sputtered, and the others never got a chance to learn what he might have said. A sudden gust of cold air blew the door to Professor Snape's quarters open, and magical candles flared to life. There was something lying on the ground only a few feet away from the door.

"What the—" George started, then cut himself off.

Hermione felt cold. "Oh, no," she whispered, feeling the others crowd around her. But she had the best view, and there was no mistaking what those were.

"Those…those are Death Eater robes…" Percy managed to stutter.

Ron whistled. "Dad was right…"

"I knew it," Hermione whispered, more to herself than anyone else. "I knew it wasn't just Quirrell."

"We have to do something." Suddenly, Percy's voice was firm. "We cannot allow him to trick Professor Lupin any longer."

"Umm… He's not tricking anyone," Harry spoke up, startling the others. "Professor Lupin knows. He's—it's not like it seems."

"What do you mean?" Hermione demanded before she could stop herself. She'd been friends with Harry for almost a year and a half, now, and she knew when he was hiding something. This was definitely one of those cases.

"Well, er, I—"

"That doesn't matter," Percy interrupted firmly. "We need to tell someone right now."

"But—" Harry didn't even fully get the word out before Percy spun on his heels and walked away. "Wait! You don't understand!"

Percy kept walking, and Ginny swore. Meanwhile, Hermione spun to face Harry. "You're saying that Professor Lupin knows? That Snape's on our side?"


"Then we'd better stop him before he goes and does something we'll all regret," George interjected grimly.

"Good call," Ron agreed just as Hermione said:

"Let's go."

Together, the Misfits chased after Percy, Never Non-Bouncing Bouncy Balls completely forgotten.


"What do you think, Lucius?" Such was always a treacherous question when asked by the Dark Lord, but fortunately, he'd been expecting this one ever since Snape had delivered the prophecy into their master's hands.

"I think it changes everything, My Lord," he replied promptly.

"Do you?"

"Yes, My Lord. Combined with what we know of the 1981 prophecy, it indicates that the one by the Oracle at Delphi may not apply in the manner we had thought." Of course, the Dark Lord already knew this, but he liked to hear people think. Well, some people, anyway, Lucius thought to himself. Worthy people. I really can't imagine him having this conversation with Rodolphus.

"Have I been pursuing the wrong enemy, do you think?" the dangerous voice asked.

"I—" Time to tread carefully. Very carefully. "I believe that Black needs to die, My Lord."

Voldemort laughed. "How diplomatic!" The cold smile was frightening, even for Lucius, who had been one of the first Death Eaters. Then the expression hardened. "Find the boy, Lucius. Find him and bring him to me."

"Which one, My Lord?"



Dung sighed and glanced down at the empty paper, dragging his head out of his hands. He had to write, he knew—but what? How? To whom? Words would not come, but he did not have much time. The world did not have much time.

His head hurt. Everything did, including that empty ache in his soul that had been there ever since he'd realized that he had to be under the Distance Seeing Enchantment. His memories were fragmented, at best—he never remembered the incantation, but he did remember pain, remembered fighting something that could not be defeated. More importantly, he remembered losing…and he knew that by doing so, he had betrayed everything he held dear. Everyone who had done so much to help him, to rescue him from Voldemort's hands.

There was almost as much blood on his hands, though. Operation ICEBREAKER—it was surprising that Bill Weasley could even look at the man who had doomed him to Azkaban—and the Riddle House Raid were only the two most glaring failures. So many had died because Dung had not fought enough. Sirius had fought back the Distance Seeing Enchantment; Dung knew he had. But Dung Fletcher had failed. He had failed and become Voldemort's tool.

"Voldemort." He meant to whisper the name, but it came out half as a sob. How long had it taken him to relearn to say that name? Too long. He should have known better.

Should have known better.

Slowly, he lifted his quill and began to write. Perhaps, if he cared enough, the words would simply come. His tears certainly fell easily enough, dotting the page and staining the ink.

Dear Remus…


"We need to talk, Sirius," James said quietly, watching his friend's face closely through the fire.

"Not now." The response was immediate.

"Then when?" James demanded, sounding far more sharp than he intended but unable to help himself. He was worried about his friend.

"I don't know." Sirius looked away.

James sighed and tried to contain his temper. "Sirius…Snape has been telling me things, things that worry me. That worry all of us."

"I'm not surprised," the other replied flatly.

"What is going on, Sirius?" James pressed. "What are you doing? Snape called you a monster."

Sirius snorted. "Again, I am not surprised." His voice sounded dead, and made James feel cold.

"Then tell me why!"

"Do you think I'm a monster, James?" Suddenly, Sirius turned his head and ice blue eyes zeroed in on James. The deadness was still there, the emptiness remained…but there was a frozen quality to Sirius' eyes that James had never seen before.

Something burned beneath the ice.

"You're my friend," he replied immediately, trying desperately to look away from the chilling gaze but unable to do so. James shivered, but Sirius' expression did not change.

"I hope so."

"Of course you are!" James swallowed. "We're brothers, remember? The four of us—no matter what. And we're here for you, Sirius, always. We just—"

"Then trust me." Sirius turned away, but not before something red flashed in his eyes. "Just this time."


Something red.

Sirius cut the connection.


"I honestly don't believe that—"

"Is there a problem here?" Remus interjected mildly, wandering around the corner and encountering six Misfits versus Percy Weasley, an uneven fight if he'd ever seen one. Of course, they weren't throwing hexes or punches, but the argument was far too vehement to be called anything less mild than an all-out fight. Even Percy was shouting, though he did shut up the moment Remus approached.

Harry did not. "Will you listen for just one moment! I already told you more than I'm supposed to, and if you run off and make a git out of yourself, you might ruin everything! You don't know—"

"That's enough, Harry," Remus cut him off, and was glad to see that James' son flushed red. He turned to look at the others, noticing that Hermione Granger had flushed with embarrassment. "Now, what is going on here?"

"Nothing important, Headmaster," George Weasley tried. "We were just having a family discussion."

"Were you now?" Remus arched one eyebrow, eyeing Hermione and Harry. Family discussion, my furry left ear, he thought to himself, trying not to laugh. Obviously, Percy had caught the Misfits in some sort of mischief, and was probably trying to turn them in. This wasn't the first time such a thing had happened, but it was the loudest.

"Well, something like that, anyway," Fred replied lamely.

Remus repressed a smile and turned to the oldest Weasley. He was surprised to see no smile blossom on the prefect's face. "Percy?"

"Professor Lupin, is it true that—"


He spun on instinct; Snape never called him by his first name in front of students, and rarely even did so in front of other professors. But the deputy headmaster was striding down the hall purposefully, his pale face set and—frightened? No, but he was shaken, and horror filled his eyes.

Remus rushed forward to meet him. "What happened?"

Snape stopped, ghostly pale and still wide-eyed. For a moment, Remus thought he was having problems forming words, but then he reached inside his robes to withdraw a folded piece of paper. Severus' hands shook as he handed the paper over.

"It's Dung," Severus whispered, and his voice cracked. "He's dead."

"What?" Remus whispered, hardly hearing his own voice. He thought it echoed in the hallway, thought it faded away. His knees were weak, and a sudden weight landed on his chest, making it hard to breathe. "You're…?"

"Poison. Belladonna." Severus' voice was still ragged. "I found the vial."

Remus held the letter—it had to be a letter—against his chest because he could think of nothing else to do. Tears wanted to rise in his eyes, but he forced them resolutely back. There was a time for tears, and this was not it. Not now. Not until he had answers.

Before he could ask, someone else spoke up.

"You killed him, didn't you?" Percy Weasley demanded coldly. Remus spun around as the other six children gaped.

"Percy, no!" Hermione tried to grab his arm, but the older boy pulled away.

"You poisoned him, and you're a Death Eater," the prefect spat.

Remus opened his mouth to reply, but no words came out. Suddenly, he felt drained, and he just wanted to sob.

"Be quiet, you stupid brat. You have no idea what has happened," Severus snapped furiously, and Remus thought he saw the glitter of grief in Severus' eyes. Grief both knew the other man would never show. It existed alongside the words both knew Severus would never say—especially not here.

"I don't know?" Percy demanded furiously. "I can recognize a murderer when I see one!"

Snape's wand came up with blinding speed, but Remus clamped a hand down on it just as quickly.

"Severus, no!"

For a moment, fury flashed in Snape's eyes, and Remus thought that his deputy might hex him. But the anger faded quickly, drowning under sorrow, and Snape turned away. He strode off without a word, leaving Remus with shaking hands and seven confused children.

He started to turn to them slowly, but spun around when Percy demanded: "Are you just going to let him go, Headmaster? Let him run?"

Remus forced his own anger and grief aside. "Percy…" He took a deep breath. "Professor Snape did not kill Professor Fletcher"—his voice cracked—"and he is not what you think he is."

"We saw the robes," Percy replied fixedly, ignoring it when Fred stepped hard on his foot.

"Professor Snape fights the war in what ways he can," Remus replied slowly. "But he is on our side."

He crossed his arms, very conscious of the letter he had yet to read. "Now, I must ask you not to repeat this: to your friends, to your girlfriend, or to your parents. Too many lives are at risk, including Professor Snape's. Do you understand me?"

Percy glared.

"Percy, I will place a Memory Charm on you if I must. I would greatly regret doing so, but there are things we cannot risk," he continued quietly. "Do you understand me?"

Percy's frown deepened, and a long moment passed before he growled: "I understand. And I won't tell anyone."

He was unhappy, but Remus believed him. The Weasleys had raised honest children, pranksters notwithstanding. They were a good family. "Thank you," the headmaster said softly.

"Who killed Professor Fletcher?" Hermione whispered before he could ask them to leave. The letter was heavy in his hands.

"No one." Remus closed his eyes briefly, then forced them open. "He killed himself.


Only after the children left and Remus made it to the safety of his own office did he open the letter. It wasn't sealed; just folded neatly—maybe by Snape, but probably by Dung. Fletcher had been like that. Organized and precise.

Remus swallowed back the lump in his throat. Why did it have to end like this, Dung? he wanted to ask, but now it was too late. Why couldn't you give us a chance?

But it was over now. No tomorrows. No second chances.

Remus swallowed and began to read.

Dear Remus,

First I must say that I am sorry. I am sorry that I could not be what you needed me to be, and I am sorry that I could not see this through. Maybe I am a coward for choosing this method, but I do not see another way out.

Do not weep for me. If I may ask you for anything, I ask for that—not because I would think less of you, but because this is my choice. For the last three years, I have been an unwitting traitor, and I have betrayed you, the Order, and all I spent a lifetime fighting for. That wasn't my choice. I was just a tool, then. Nothing more, nothing less. A means to an end for the Dark Lord to use.

I've heard it said that "a tool is just a tool unless it does the job by itself." Well, Remus, I have done this job for myself. I have ended it, and you may now form a new Circle. I don't think Fawkes will stop you now.

Please remember that this is my choice. My ending. I refuse to live the rest of my life as half of who I would want to be, knowing that I could betray everything just by being there. Even if the countercurse is found tomorrow, I believe I have done the right thing. At the very least, he won't ever use me again.

Your friend,

Mundungus A. Fletcher

To Be Concluded


Ye Olde Author's Note: I do apologize for the absence of Joe the Husky; he's been shifted to Promises Defended simply because his scene would not fit. However, look for him in Promises Defended: Chapter One: The Final Circle.

Thanks very much for reading—I really do appreciate it, and all of your kind remarks in reviews and on the group. Ending PR is a bit bittersweet for me, but you'll all be happy to know that I opened a new Microsoft Word document the moment I finished PR, titling it "Promises Defended." And I do hope that you'll all stick with me for Promises Defended. Look for the first chapter in the next week, perhaps as soon as Monday. For all of you who have yet to join the Unbroken Universe Yahoo!Group, I suggest doing so—that'll be the first place to know that PD is up.

Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone, and thanks again for reading!