Disclaimer: I own very little.
A/N: I know that this series has been mostly Remus-centric for obvious reasons. This chapter, however, was originally written to show how I would descripe Snape and Dumbledore's relationship. It was written before I started reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
...After reading HBP, I didn't change a word. I haven't changed my opinion, either. Anybody else telling me something funny about it can simply bugger off. I refuse to believe anything else!
After the Moon
People avoided Albus Dumbledore's eyes as he strode through the corridors of Hogwarts. There was none of the usual bumbling fool left in him that day; instead, he was about as soft as steel. Whoever laid their eyes at him knew instantly just why even the Dark Lord had feared him. This man was not somebody you wanted to mess with, not if you had any choice. Even death would have probably been a preferable fate.
He was not out for anger right now, however. Instead, his brows were now furrowed in worry, his icy blue eyes down-directed as he hurried further towards his destination.
The Final Battle had come and gone, and the Light Side was victorious. There weren't any celebrations, however. Nobody could gather the strength to celebrate when they were still burying the remains of their loved ones. The Infirmary was full of patients, as only the most severe cases could be sent to St. Mungo's, which was just as full of war victims. Everybody who could walk on their own had been sent away as the resources simply weren't enough to care for them.
Despite the fact that there were a lot more people in the castle than usually, it was awfully quiet. Nobody dared to laugh or shout; everybody was still mourning. So many had been lost forever, so many would never return from the battlefield. Children, parents, siblings, friends, lovers, spouses... Everyone had somebody to mourn. The most unlucky ones didn't have a single loved one alive.
Albus Dumbledore was also mourning. Well, he would have been, had he not had other things to worry about. The matter on top of his mind was his promise to a dying friend, a promise he was desperately trying to fulfill. With a deep sigh, he once again recalled the last moments of the day of the Final Battle.
Dumbledore hastily ran through the battlefield, looking at the scattered bodies, turning around the most familiar-looking ones. He recognized most of them, and every face he recognized hurt. His children, they were all his children, regardless of whether they'd fallen in the robes of an Auror, an Order member, or -- the most painful ones -- a Death Eater, or a Hogwarts student. However, they were not what he was looking for at the moment. Therefore, he continued his search.
At last he found what he had desperately prayed both to find and not to find. This man was still alive, thankfully, but it was obvious from his deathly pale skin -- even paler than usually -- and the deep gash on his side that wouldn't be the case for long. Kneeling down next to the younger man, he reached out a trembling hand to wipe a lock of bloody hair from the pale face.
"...Severus?" he whispered, looking down at the man who was dearer to him than any of the other people around them. "At last I found you, Severus..."
"Albus," said the Potions Master quietly, glancing up at him with a weak, tired smile. "So you did outlive me after all. I always expected you to do that anyway, you know."
"You're not dead yet," the Headmaster said firmly, trying to believe that with all the desperation his heart could gather. "And you won't die, either. There's still hope left for you."
"Don't make me laugh," the other man said dryly. "I've failed him, Albus," Severus said then, doubling over as a coughing fit hit him. When he removed his fist from his mouth, the pale skin was covered with tiny droplets of blood. "I promised to keep him safe, and now I've failed him. They took him, Albus... they took him from me. Away from me."
"You have not failed him, Severus, my boy," Albus said quietly. "You did everything you could. Nobody could have asked any more from you."
"But it still wasn't enough," the pale Slytherin argued. Then he raised his pained eyes to the Headmaster. "Promise me, Albus," he said weakly. "Promise me that if you find him -- no, when you find him -- you will take care of him for me. Promise me.
Albus grasped his hand tightly. "I promise," was all he said.
Now, Severus gave him a weak smile. "Thank you, Albus," he whispered, then added, "for everything." Very quietly, he still murmured, "Remus..." And then, he sighed deep, and with that sigh, his spirit left his body, for no other breath ever passed those pale, thin lips again.
Albus held his pale, delicate hand in the middle of the now silent battlefield until he felt no more warmth from the body. Then he sighed as well, looked up at the stars that had just begun to light up the sky, and vowed that he would fulfill his promise, no matter what.
It had been a week now, and there was still no sign of Remus. What worried the Headmaster most was the fact that it was the night of full moon. Unless the Death Eaters who'd taken him were fools -- what they couldn't be, as they'd managed to defeat Severus -- they had surely gotten rid of the werewolf before that. Therefore, their chances of finding Remus alive were very slim.
Sighing, Albus shook his head. It seemed that he, too, had failed his promise to keep Remus safe. Like Severus, he also blamed himself, despite having done everything in his power.
Yes, Severus had indeed sworn to keep Remus safe, with his own life, if need be. The reason for this was pretty clear. In a battle the year before Severus had been just about to be in the receiving end of a fatal blow. However, Remus had stepped in front of him just in time to save him. Being a werewolf, Remus had managed to survive the Killing Curse, but he had lost his sight. Feeling obligated, Severus had taken it upon himself to take care of the werewolf. With his exceptional hearing and sense of smell, Remus could go about his everyday life, but in a battle, he was of little help, and very much in danger. That was why Severus had tried to get him into safety during the battle -- and, obviously, failed.
And now Albus was failing his own promise.
"Albus! Albus, come quick!" called out a frantic voice. As the Headmaster turned around, wondering who else beside himself would be up this late -- it was well past sunset already -- he saw Nymphadora Tonks. Also, like he couldn't help noticing, the Metamorphmagus looked... delighted.
"What is it, Nymphadora?" he asked quietly. "Dare I hope for good news for once?"
"Indeed!" exclaimed the young witch. "You absolutely have to come to see this! But keep your wand at ready," she then warned. "We can't risk startling him, not tonight."
Now, the ancient wizard was visibly startled. "Do you mean that -- that you've found Remus?" he asked.
"Oh, no, Albus," she said with a tiny smile. "I mean that Remus has found us."
Unable to contain himself any longer, the Headmaster immediately hurried after her. He was led through the corridors and outside the school. As Nymphadora then started to lead him across the school grounds to a very particular direction, he realized where they were going, and picked up the pace until he was hurrying on her side. The battlefield, halfway to Hogsmeade from the castle, was a place he could have found even in his sleep, so strongly it had been branded into his mind.
Despite his age Albus had managed to get past her by the time they reached the battlefield. There he was met with a sight he'd already thought he would never see again. A large, golden wolf lay there some way afar, his head pillowed on his front paws. Every now and then the enormous animal raised its head to howl, the eerie, mournful sound echoing far away.
"I was out taking a walk," Nymphadora explained, "and yes, I did have my wand ready all the time. I'm not stupid enough to walk outside unarmed after the sunset at a full moon night. So, anyway, I heard the howling, and came to investigate. The moment I saw the wolf, I recognized him. I just knew that it was Moony! He must have escaped and --" Suddenly, she fell silent. "Albus? Is something wrong?"
"The spot he's lying at," the old wizard said, choking back tears. "It's exactly the same place where I found Severus... just before he..." The Headmaster swallowed, unable to talk any further.
"Oh." For once, the Metamorphmagus turned serious. She was one of the few who still could smile so soon after the war, always seeing the light side of things. However, she, too, knew of Albus's strong love for Severus, as well as of Remus's love for the man. "He must have followed his instincts, then... Snape used to always accompany him during the full moon nights, although I think he was terrified of the wolf. Moony must have missed him and come here to find him."
"Most probably." Now, Albus swallowed again, then adopted a determined expression. His wand at ready, he stepped forward. "Okay, Nymphadora. Now we must retrieve the werewolf."
It was almost noon the next day, and Albus was sitting in the Infirmary, looking at the immobile form in front of him. It hadn't been too hard to capture Remus; the blind, badly injured werewolf had been easily bound with just a couple of spells. After putting him into sleep Albus and Nymphadora had levitated him to the castle and the dungeons. At sunrise, they had taken the damaged man and brought him to the Infirmary.
Despite all the war victims there, Poppy had immediately found Remus a bed, starting to fuss over him immediately. Although he wasn't in danger of death, the greying brunet had obviously been tortured rather viciously, and that combined with the strain of transformation was quite enough to keep him in bed.
Now, however, Poppy had healed the smallest wounds and started treating the worst ones. It was only a matter of time when Remus would wake up. He would be in slight pain, yes -- not even Poppy's strongest potions could undo all the damage -- but he would be conscious and somehow coherent. Therefore, Albus had decided to sit on his bedside to make sure that there would be at least one familiar face around when Remus finally came to. It wouldn't do to have him wake up in the middle of strangers just after the full moon; that would agitate the wolf, as it was still strong inside him
Now, Remus stirred, then opened his eyes, the milky pools unfocused. "Albus?" he asked quietly after sniffing the air a couple of times. "Albus... where is Severus? Why isn't he here with me? He always stays with me for the day after a full moon!" As he obviously smelled Albus's sorrow and the tears that were about to fall from the blue eyes, his eyes widened in horror. "No..." he whispered. "No, it can't be true!"
"I'm so sorry, Remus," the Headmaster said, his voice thick with tears he wouldn't let fall. "I'm so very sorry. He gave his life in the Final Battle. I don't know if this is any comfort to you, but your name was the last word he ever said." Now, he swallowed at the memory of the man who'd been the nearest to a son he'd ever had. "Severus loved you very much, Remus. You must never forget that."
"How could I ever forget that?" asked the werewolf with a bitter chuckle. "He gave his life to protect me, Albus, I know he did... And I never asked him to do that. All I wanted was for him to be safe..."
And, as tears started to fall from the unseeing eyes, Albus could finally allow himself to cry, too. This far he had tried to stay strong and not break down. Now, however, the dams were finally broken, and he cried, cried for all the dead friends and colleagues, all his children that had been lost in this meaningless war. And above everything else he cried for Severus, for the only one he had ever called a son.
A/N: Okay, so the votes are now...
Charlie - 9
Ron - 8
Tonks - 4
Ginny - 4
Lily - 2
Moody - 1
Percy - 1
Neville - 1
So, everybody still seems to be preferring the Weasleys over any others... Very well. Charlie it shall be next. (Do not waste your time by voting Charlie anymore, he's now off the list...)