Summary: "Sirius was staring at the patch of carpet where the boggart, pretending to be Harry's body, had lain." After Harry leaves the drawing room of number twelve, Remus confronts Sirius, and makes a very, very important promise.
(Short missing moment from chapter nine of OotP.)
Author's Notes: This story was written pre-HBP (book), post-PoA (movie). The quote in the summary is from Pg. 176 of the American version of OotP. The quote in the story is in PoA, Pg. 365. Rating: G.
Please write reviews! Your opinion is very sincerely appreciated!
If you like this (or don't), read "The Man Who Lives." This story is an implied Missing Moment of that story as well.
Disclaimer: The best flattery is imitation, JKR, so consider this a compliment, not a crime.
Dedication: For L.B., who confronts my boggarts every day.
Sirius "Padfoot" Black
Gryffindor, Order of Phoenix, Marauder
Beloved Friend and Godfather
Although Remus Lupin had voluntarily written the engraving for his friend's memorial, it was nearly unbearable to actually read the words. Through the writing, and through the reading, Sirius' death had shifted from a nightmare reality, which made it all the more tormenting. Remus felt like a mini-Dementor had taken up residency in his chest. He was truly the remaining Marauder. He was alone once again, though not completely.
It was the day before Hogwarts' start of term. Remus stood a dozen paces behind Harry Potter, who was on his knees in the middle of Godric's Graveyard.
The door to the drawing room of number twelve sighed shut.
Molly Weasley leaned back against the shadowed wall, her cheeks blotted red from Lupin's handkerchief. Harry had glanced back just as Mad-Eye Moody nudged him into the hall and their eyes embraced. Molly forced the same smile she always offered her own children whenever they caught her crying. Harry had accepted it, though thoroughly aware of its insincerity. Remus silently hoped Harry wouldn't have nightmares about the various grotesque forms he could only guess the boggart had morphed into. If he saw Ginny, or Ron, his very best friend, lying dead…
Remus had had similar dreams for fourteen years.
Molly's forehead slumped to her knees and her arms wilted to the floor as another round of fresh tears billowed like a potions cauldron. With a flick of his wand, Lupin dried the handkerchief but Molly couldn't conjure the strength to lift it. "I didn't want him to see me like this, Remus," came Molly's muffled voice from between her kneecaps, "and I'm supposed to protect my family…" She fingered her wand, her dress damp and wrinkling from the solidifying salt.
Lupin sighed for half of a moment, and then got to his feet, hoisting Molly up with him. "You won't be the last to have cause to react like that, Molly. Harry doesn't expect us to be perfect. He won't think any less of you."
Molly shook her head but straightened a bit, her eyes bloodshot and drooping with fatigue. After a minute she readopted her masquerade of composure. "Well, I suppose I ought to go clean the dishes." Only her eyes continued to betray how unsettled the boggart had made her. Molly was coughing and clearing her throat as she descended, muttering the same charm as Lupin in an attempt to dry out her clothes. Remus wondered what charms could possibly hide the incident from Arthur.
When Molly's footsteps faded into the depths of Grimmauld Place, Lupin sheathed his own wand, but jumped when he too turned to leave. In all the commotion he'd practically forgotten that Sirius Black was still there.
The expression on Sirius' face reminded Lupin of how his friend must have looked while imprisoned in Azkaban. With Harry around the Order's headquarters, Sirius' attitude, hope, motivation, everything had noticeably improved. But at that moment he appeared just like the corpse he was when they'd reunited. Even after offering comfort to Molly, Sirius' gaze was once again transfixed as if Harry's dead body was still on the carpet.
Remus took a cautious step forward, unsure if Black was aware of his own surroundings. "Sirius?" Harry's godfather blinked at the sound of his name, but his expression remained lifeless. Remus winced with common sympathy, but surprised himself by firmly declaring: "Sirius, that was just a boggart. That wasn't Harry."
Sirius' eyes gradually lifted by degrees, shifting gears millimeter after millimeter until Lupin instinctively spotted something all the more alarming. The two Marauders stared at one another for an achingly long moment as realization bloomed within Remus. An icy déjà vu invaded his memory…
"…I was scared. I set out for your parents' house straight away. And when I saw their house, destroyed, and their bodies…"
"Sirius," Lupin croaked, reaching a shaking hand for his friend's shoulder. Remus swallowed helplessly, his throat like a steel pole and just as cold.
"Sirius…that wasn't James."
Silence. Sirius was pinching each tear just before it tipped onto his sallow cheeks. Remus didn't bother, he hadn't had the practice. His own tears gathered in his weary eyes as if any attempt to harness them would've been laughed at.
"Remus, promise that if anything happens to me, you'll be Harry's godfather."
"You'd just have to ask him, Remus, Lily would want you to. I need to know that Harry would be ok, I want to know that he'd be all right, for James, for Lily."
Lily's name spoken aloud was the most beautiful sound. Lupin found himself barely able to do anything but blink and breathe. The concept of anything happening to anybody made him take back his own consoling words to Molly. "Sirius…" Remus sighed, "I promise, Sirius."
"Swear it, Moony." Amusement rekindled in Sirius' glassy eyes.
Remus made a valiant attempt at a smile, "I solemnly swear, Padfoot."
Lupin inhaled slowly and exhaled at half that speed. Harry was on his feet now and from behind he looked exactly, exactly like James. Though up front he had more wrinkles at 16 than a combined James and Lily did at 22. The Gryffindor 6th year took a few steps backwards to get the panoramic view of all three graves.
Sirius, James, Lily…oh how I miss you…
When he turns around, Remus decided, and the notion gave him an avalanche of a stomach ache. Harry ran rickety fingers through his characteristically messy black hair, his father's hair that Remus had watched whenever he sat behind James Potter in class. When Harry turns around I won't wait any longer, I'll just ask him and he'll say yes and everything will be fine…
Harry's shoulders rose and deflated with a deep breath, and all the hairs he'd leveled sprung back up again. He whispered a few words, nodded his head, and then Harry Potter twisted away from Sirius' memorial to plunge into Remus' waiting arms.