Author's notes: I wrote this in about a day and a half. It helps to listen to the Mishima soundtrack (it was on when I wrote it). It also has references to spoilers up to OotP: It takes place after it, but only vaguely references to it.
Author's note part two: What was seriously meant to be a one-shot has turned into a very long story. The REST of this story took about a week to finish while on a skiing trip in Colorado. It truly wasn't meant to be this long (i.e. 90 pages written), but that's the way it happens sometimes. But don't worry. It IS finished; I just have to type it.
Reflections of a Consumptive Mind
Remus was tired. A lunch break, an extended weekend, a nice holiday in the country, an extended leave of absence, an indefinite sabbatical to anywhere and everywhere. The were-wizard looked down at his drink. He didn't normally drink- too easy to lose control over himself, his secrets, his emotions, but, at the moment, a nice, alcohol-laden drink was his only desire.
The next thing he knew, a dingy night sky fettered by towering brick edifice and a green metal box of a monster swam in and out of his peripheral vision in time with his breathing patterns. He had just decided to stay there forever, content with his current universe when the sudden urge to vomit overcame him. He staggered onto to his knees and emptied his stomach of partially digested alcohol and stomach acid. Using the newly identified trash bin as leverage to stand up, he found himself in an alley. The place was completely foreign, even the few stars that had somehow pushed their light through London smog had morphed into foreign constellation patterns. Shuffling a few steps, he found an odd trail of sickles and galleons leading to his undamaged wand and empty money case.
He gathered up what he could find, cleaned off the muck off his clothes, resenting the fact that no matter how many scourgify spells he did on his tongue, he still tasted bile, cigarette ashes, and firewhisky.
Shuffling out of the cul-de-sac, he emerged into an over lit street full of Muggles and too loud music. He felt every inch the middle-aged hung over drifter that he looked, and stayed pressed against store walls. Walking down the streets, he was left relatively in peace outside of a few panhandlers who looked only slightly worse than he did. Passing trendy bars, Indie film theaters, and closed book stores, he walked aimlessly, idly wondering how far he had gotten into his holiday.
A puff of white light seared his retinas, leaving him seeing spots for a minute. He looked for the source until he saw another pulse emerge from across the street. A small crowd had formed on the sidewalk, barring any view of the scene, but he knew the type of illumination well. He quickly crossed the street, and found a boy of about 17 turning tea cozies into Stephen Hawking books with way too much magical melodrama required.
"All right, Ladies and Gents," the boy laughed, "now I nee a shoe- any shoe. You, Sir, with the Hindu Swastika shaved into your hair. Might I see your steel-tipped, leather boot? No? All right then. You, Ma'am, might I see your extremely cheap rose?"
The woman gave him the flower, which he palmed into his left hand. With more theatrics, he began chanting." Flower, flower in the night, let's see something nice and bright." With that, the flower began to levitate and spin clockwise. The crowd "ooh'ed" as the red color drained from the petals onto the leaves, then the stem promptly fell off.
The crowd began to clap as the transformed flower began to acquire the characteristics of a full moon. It spun in a lazy orbit around the crowd. Remus could see the famous face rotate into the rarely seen cratered dark side. Remus felt hollow inside, his face growing numb. The man next to him elbowed him in the ribs and said, "this is completely fake. I mean, you can see the wires." Remus laughed at the sentiment as the rose suddenly dropped onto the street and crumbled into little dried out pieces. The rose's previous owner stormed off in a huff as the teenager sprouted a cheeky grin and began to collect money from his remaining audience.
Remus slowly took out a Sickle and flipped it into waiting hands. The boy looked up surprised, instantly wary of the wizard. He shoved the rest of the money into his pocket, and quickly walked away from the older man.
"Wait!" Lupin cried, following the boy.
"Get bent!" The boy yelled back, trying to get lost in the dwindling crowd. Remus quickly pursued, and finally grabbed the boy's wrist under a blue light that left them both pale and harshly gaunt.
"I'm not going to hurt you," the werewolf said softly, letting go once the boy stopped squirming. "Or turn you into the Ministry."
"I'm not breaking any rules," the boy replied defiantly.
Remus smiled. "Doing magic in front of large crowds of Muggles might possibly be construed as 'breaking the rules.'"
"Not if they think that it's magic," the boy spat back.
"That almost made sense," Remus laughed, studying the boy, his hair was a dark blonde shaped that hung in half clipped curls, while hazel eyes that seemed to change colors stared back at him. His face was rife a smattering of freckles which also, Remus noted, seemed to change pigment levels according to the boy's mood. "Look, I don't want to turn you in. I just wanted to meet you."
Remus shrugged. "You don't meet many wizard street performers openly doing magic in the middle of London."
"It's a living," he replied.
"Where are your parents?" Remus asked, noticing a bank clock digitally blink 4:32 AM.
"Around. Look, I'm hungry, you're filthy, and I don't need a social worker."
Remus looked down, and realized he looked a lot worse than he had previously thought. "I'm not normally this bad- I was mugged." He explained limply.
"Sure," the boy rolled his eyes, his freckles darkening. "Stupid wizards. We always underestimate Muggles, and then blame them when we let something idiotic happen to ourselves- like getting robbed. Then they get blamed because we're too stupid overestimating our own intelligence. Then we have to hear about how some poor schmuck wizard got mugged for the next fifty years."
Remus smiled at the boy's candor. "So how much did you get for that little stunt back there?" The boy looked around, then pulled out a clump of cash and change. "Ah, about five pounds, then." Remus quickly counted.
"Enough for dinner," the boy stated, trying to not look impressed at Remus's ability to add Muggle money that fast.
"If you like disgusting Muggle fast food that has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever."
"I'm 17 years old- what do I care about nutrition?"
"Ah, yes." Remus chuckled. "I've forgotten that fast food is an act of anarchic independence and not a health biohazard at your age." Remus let go of the boy, and the two walked down the street. The two walked down the street a while, drifting past the hardcore night owls in various states of sobriety until they found a diner that seemed dingy enough to accept Remus's state of dress.
"So, why were you stalking me earlier?" the boy asked, plopping into a booth. "You're not one of those freaks that like to pick up boys, are you?"
"What? No!" Remus sputtered. "I'm a teacher!"
"Oh, like teachers can't be pervs."
"Well, it's not like that. I was just curious as to why you're out on the streets at this time of night doing magic in front of Muggles."
"Like I said- It's a living."
"I see." Remus replied. "Remus Lupin," he announced, sticking out a hand.
"Tollie Andrill, short for Tollivan," the boy replied, taking the older man's hand.
"I am curious," Remus said, taking a glass of water from an overly tired waitress. "As to how you are able to perform magic without a wand."
Tollie's temper blazed up again, savagely rolling up his left sleeve. Taped to his inner forearm was a thin, bendable willow wand. "We're way too traditionalistic. It's our major crutch. We think that there's only one way to do anything concerning magic, and straight innovation is left to rot. The problem with our society is our superiority complex. The Purebloods are the worst- inbred Nazis the lot of them."
Remus chuckled. "Well, I wouldn't go that far. Some of my best friends were Purebloods. And rumor has it that Voldemort was only half. So I suppose that it really depends on the person. Personally, I'm in one of the lesser blood lines- a nice mix of pedigrees and mutts."
"We're not dogs," Tollie countered harshly.
"No... sort of an in-joke," Remus replied. "So how about your line?"
"As pure as undriven snow, unfortunately. I can't stand it."
Remus accepted his greasy hamburger and fries from the tired waitress, and began to eat. "So why are you out here? Amongst the Muggle Rabble?"
"I prefer the company." Tollie announced, full of pride. "They don't judge you for the most part. Well, they do- I'm not an idiot, but what I grew up hearing is completely different from what I've experienced. It's like we shut the Muggles out of our world for 400 years now, and they've gone and morally evolved on us. They're no longer the god-fearing monsters who enjoy wanton killing of our kind because of some half-baked religious phobia."
Remus became amused at the boy's pronouncements, falling into the role of Devil's Advocate. "Some might say that our voluntary segregation stopped the killing."
"Eh, they killed way more than our own kind, and they went on killing even after we left the scene. But since then they've stopped the witch killing, and not because of us, but because they did it themselves. We just like to take credit for their own thought processes."
"But they're out there still killing each other. Killing witches was simply one excuse for them, always has been."
"And, yet, we're just as guilty as they are. We just like to pretend that our hands are clean because we let the Dementors do the job for us. We're oh so humane, what with their kisses- 'still alive, they are, but only on a purely biological level.' When that happens, it simply becomes a matter of quantity of life, and not quality."
"True," was the only thing Remus was able to manage.
"And look what they've done with the world in the past 300 years. And what have we done in return? They can kill more efficiently, but they've also done such grand things too. And all without magic. But our kind- we've become isolated and insular. We've bogged ourselves down with rules and bureaucracy, all in the name of safety."
"You remind me of a friend," Remus replied. "He's obsessed with Muggles too."
"I'm not obsessed; I'm simply stating a fact- we're stagnating."
"And why are we doing that?"
"Because we're afraid." Tollie answered. "Not of them. Because for all of their bombs, their silly belief systems, irrational fears, indoor plumbing- even the youngest of us has more potential power than a nuclear bomb. It's why we ship them off to schools that are heavily guarded; it's as much to protect the outside world while they're trying to not blow things up as it is to protect us from the Muggles." Tollie finally inhaled again. "We fear the unknown, but, more importantly, the uncontrollable."
"You mean ourselves?"
"Not at all. Now look" With this, the boy drained the last of his water glass, readying himself for another onslaught. It was the first time, Remus finally realized, that the boy was verbally expressing his own inner thoughts and ideas. "Now look," the boy repeated, "at how we treat other magical creatures. Those that we can't force into lesser classes, we denigrate, become stand-offish with, proclaim some of them as being 'unnatural' to the point where we pronounce them as 'monstrous.' Those that have the ability to hurt and maim us, we ostracize, shun them as though they were lepers. Those that can hurt us the worst are the ones that we hate and fear the most."
Remus became very still at the boy's speech. Tollie hadn't noticed the older man's reactions to the discourse at all and continued with his soundings. Sitting very still, Remus felt a slight panic rise, and fought the urge to stop the boy, and return quickly to the safety of 12 Grimauld Place. His neural pathways began to flood with adrenaline, but there he sat, listening and watching the boy's freckles darken and lighten in conjunction with his breathing. "There's only one problem with your classification," Remus replied. "It puts, say vampires, centaurs, and other magical races and species into the same category with those like Voldemort."
"I'm not- our society is."
"That's a bit unfair, don't you think?" Remus said. "Take vampires- I've met quite a few, and most of them were forced into that life. A couple were voluntarily, but the majority are all victims. They didn't choose that life, it was foisted upon them."
"But how do we treat them? Not as victims, but as enemies and demons. Now look at another segment of our disenfranchised- squibs. That most pathetic and harmless lot of our world. But instead of letting them live a normal life, we leave them stuck between our society and the Muggles'. They aren't allowed to join us- we refuse to accept them as full class citizens, but we can't just let them join the Muggles without our controlling them on some level, because they make us scared- scared of possible future squibs in our pure lines, and scared that if they ever decided to tell the world about our dirty little secret of our own existence, we'd be ruined."
Remus sat back and laughed pleasantly.
"Nothing," Remus said. "Just remembering back when I was seventeen, and had the whole world figured out. My friends and I were out to take on the world too, and make it a better place."
"So what happened?"
"The killing started," Remus reminisced quietly. "Out of the four of us," he continued, "two are dead, and the third ended up being the ultimate betrayer of us all. I guess that I'm the last one still here. Still doing what I can to help. It was a bit strange- I always figured that I'd be the first one to die in the war."
"This stupid war," Tollie replied. "Half of my relatives were Death Eaters. Half the time, they act like they don't even know what they really want. More power? To rule the world? To just randomly kill Muggleborn witches and wizards? They're just bored Purebloods with too much time and money on their hands."
"That's true for some them, yes."
"It's funny. The only thing that my family has is its own bloodline. 50 generation Pureblood, and only five pounds in the family coffers." Tollie leaned back, and stared into his empty glass. "Perhaps I should become a Death Eater," he began again, his voice going low. "Just so I could become a spy, and then play the two sides off each other. I certainly wouldn't be bored then."
"That sounds like a rather lonely life, Tollie." Remus replied quietly.
"Eh, it'd still be a life."
"It wouldn't be much of a life." Remus somehow managed a smile, "and then who would entertain the Muggles for five whole pounds?"
"I'm sure the Muggle world would somehow survive the disappearance of a street performer."
Remus breathed deeply, looking at the boy with sad eyes. "You're much too young to be this cynical. I myself waited until the ripe age of 23 before I gave up on the world."
"It doesn't look like you've given up to me."
"I suppose that I've been through too much lately to have that luxury anymore."
"Fighting the good fight against the Dark Forces of Evil," Tollie said smugly.
"It's not nobility- it's simply the only thing that I know how to do," Remus said. "I just hope that your generation won't end up the same way mine has."
"Heh, a closeted cynic disguised as an optimist. Wishing that the Civil War won't carry over into the next generation, but realistic enough to know that it's already happened."
"It will end, Tollie."
"Of course, it will. All things end. Maybe we'll learn from our mistakes, learn to be a little more humble, to not erroneously place ourselves atop the magical food chain, and start becoming more mature wizards and witches capable of nothing caught in our own petty wars and vices. But I've three cousins all younger than myself with the Dark Mark already. But who knows? Maybe it will stop."
"I look forward to that day myself."
"But then you wouldn't know what to do with yourself."
Remus thought for a second, then smiled. "Perhaps I'll become a street performer."
Tollie grinned back. "That's the spirit."
With that, the check for their early morning dinner arrived. Tollie grabbed it, but Remus pulled it out of the boy's hands. "I've got it," he exclaimed, "the muggers didn't get my wizard money- anti theft spell." He pulled out two sickles, and transformed them into a ten pound note with spare change using an exversium spell. "You can get the next one," he stated with calculated aloofness.
Tollie looked startled, then recovered himself. He frowned at the offer, and Remus watched as the boy debated with himself with facial expressions. "Fine," he hesitated, almost afraid to smile at the offer. "Next week? Same time?"
Remus nodded proudly at the boy. "I would like that. Just... stay safe, okay?"
He began to rise out of the booth when Tollie replied, "I will, just as long as you don't get killed with an errant killing curse yourself." Tollie watched as Remus immediately stilled halfway standing, and suddenly realized that the older man was grieving.
"I'll try not to," Remus finally replied, "but I can't promise that. 'Mortality be thy weakness, thy salvation.'" With that, he left the boy at the booth and walked out of the diner.
Tollie watched the man through the diner window. The teacher's entire body slumped through memories and traveled slowly down the street, disappearing into the last vestiges of the night crowd.
The boy finally got up out of his seat, and entered an empty bathroom. Locking the door, he peered at himself in the mirror, his eyes changing colors under the florescent lighting. He took off his secondhand coat, and put it onto a half bent peg. He pulled up his left sleeve, and took off the wand, flexing his arm and wrist. Then he slowly peeled up his right sleeve, wincing as little bolts of electricity etched white hot ripples of pain around a newly burnt Dark Mark.
He leaned back against the cement block wall, and slid to the ground in a daze. A few teardrops fell off his nose and onto his arm, sizzling where it dripped onto a shiny and bright Mark that stared unblinking back up at him, cursing him forever.