We Are What Is Left Behind

Even the portrait in the hallway was quiet. She looked solemnly at the passersby, mourning the loss of her son. She did not seem miserable, only coldly regretful, perhaps because there was no one left to carry on the family name. The Blacks, toujours pur, her husband's family and her own distant relatives, had been snuffed out by a spell and a gentle breeze.

Around Mrs. Black, the members of the Order went on almost as though nothing had happened. Despite their grief, business continued as usual, unaccompanied by Mrs. Black's accusing shrieks.

Personally, Kingsley was certain she'd snap out of it in a few weeks, maybe a few months. No grief or disappointment could be deep enough to blot out all the hatred in a heart as mean as hers. Kingsley did not know if she had ever really loved her son, but he found it hard to believe that she was even capable of love.

She loved him, Remus told him without a trace of doubt in his low voice. She wouldn't hate him so much if she hadn't loved him. Remus paused and considered his plate of food. He'd cooked for Kingsley, in the kitchen that seemed as dead as everything else in the house. He really disappointed her, I think.

At night, the house sometimes moaned like low chello music. Kingsley tried not to stay too late.

Why don't you move out? Kingsley asked Remus one day, as the sun was setting somewhere beyond the heavy, molding curtains. You've another house you could go to, haven't you? Why not stay there?

Remus would not look at him. I need to take care of things here.

It doesn't need to be done right away. You could come back and take care of things later.

I can't, Remus said, and would say nothing else for the rest of the night. Kingsley left quietly, followed by Mrs. Black's sour, accusing gaze.

Another evening, Molly showed him in. They were all still silent in the hallway, although Mrs. Black did nothing more than at curse them under her breath anymore. In a way, her silence was more damning than anything she had ever done before.

Remus's upstairs, if you were looking for him, Molly whispered, and went back to the kitchen, shutting the door softly behind her.

There was no need to ask where upstairs he might find Remus.

Sure enough, he was standing in the middle of the room that had been their bedroom, his back to the door, his arms hanging limply at his sides. His feet were bare and he was not wearing his robes, dressed instead in a cream-white shirt that hung down to his knees, loose brown pants, and a black sweater that Kingsley knew to be Sirius'.

What're you doing? he asked gently.

Remus did not turn around.

Now Remus turned to face him. Everything's gone, save some of the things I thought Harry might like to have. By the bed, which was stripped of its sheets, there were two small cardboard boxes, bound shut with Spellotape. Kingsley noticed that the wardrobe door was open and that its interior was empty.

What about the things you might like to have? Kingsley asked.

Remus could not bring any emotion at all to his tired face. I'm afraid they're gone, too, he said, and left.