Disclaimer: We assure you, JK did not write this
singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me,
solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you,
more shall I escape, never more the reverberations,
more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me.
again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what was there in the
sea under the yellow and sagging moon,
messenger there aroused, the fire, the sweet hell within,
unknown want, the destiny of me.
Whitman "Out of The Cradle Endlessly Rocking"
Sirius bounded forward on all fours, and fell onto his
back, legs in the air. Harry shrieked with laughter, and pounded his little
hands on his godfather's belly. From her place on the couch, Lily laughed at
them and stuck her feet into James's lap in a silent demand for a foot
Twilight stained the room in Godric's Hollow a soft blue,
and the waning moon shone through the windows. Remus sighed, content and
drowsy. They'd spent the entire day working in Lily's enormous garden, and he
felt pleasantly sore and ready for sleep. Peter, sitting in the armchair
opposite him, was already snoring slightly.
He loved evenings like this, all of them together, all of them still
safe. He just didn't understand how
Sirius had energy left to cavort with a toddler.
"Up!" Harry threw his arms into the air and looked at
Sirius expectantly. Sirius sat up, looking guiltily from Harry to Lily. Unaware of his godfather's unease, Harry
repeated his request loudly. "Up!"
Sirius glanced at Lily questioningly.
Lily's eyes narrowed. "No. Absolutely not."
His face fell.
"Don't you trust me?"
"Oh, honestly." Lily exclaimed exasperatedly.
Remus grinned. The battle was already lost. Lily would
never be able to resist the combined charms of Sirius Black and her son. Remus
reached for his butterbeer and settled back to enjoy the show.
"Up?" Harry repeated.
Sirius shook his head. "Sorry mate. Your mum says no."
Harry's lower lip began to tremble, and the brilliant
green eyes he turned to his mother were brimmed with tears.
Sirius' lower lip came out as well, and he sat up on his
knees next to Harry. "Please Lily?"
"James! Help!" Lily turned to her husband sprawled on the couch next her,
He waved his hands in protest. "Don't look at me!"
Lily looked from James to Harry and Sirius who were
gazing at her pleadingly. She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Fine. But not too high."
Sirius winked at her as he pulled his wand from his
pocket. "Wingardum Leviosa!" Slowly,
Harry began to rise into the air. Directing the movement with his wand, Sirius
moved the toddler in a series of dips and rotations, with Harry squealing in
delight the entire time. James threw an arm around his wife, who was laughing
along with her son. Harry waved a tiny
hand at his smiling parents, who waved back.
Finally, Sirius lowered him to the ground. Harry yawned and rubbed his
Lily leaned forward. "I think it's time for bed."
Sirius lay down next him on the floor. "What do you think Harry? Wanna sleep on the
floor with me?" Placing his hands under
his head, he shut his eyes. Harry hesitated for a moment, and then crawled
across the floor toward Sirius. He lay
his head down on the outstretched arm and closed his eyes. He fell asleep almost immediately. Soon Sirius' loud snores bore testament to
the fact that he had fallen asleep as well.
"Caught in his own trap," said Remus in amusement.
James laughed. "He's got the right idea, though. It's
definitely bedtime. Somebody prod Peter and send him home. He'll get a neck cramp if he spends the
night in that chair."
Lily got up from the couch and stretched lazily. "Do you
want to bring Harry upstairs, James? Remus and I can take care of the other two
James scooped a sleepy Harry from the ground. He settled his son onto his shoulder, and
Harry curled his arm around James' neck.
Lily smoothed the shock of black hair back from Harry's eyes and reached
up to do the same to her husband. James
smiled at her before turning to climb the stairs.
Something wrenched in Remus's heart as he watched them.
They had such an easy affection together; the highest place in each other's
hearts, and they both knew it. Unconsciously, his eyes dropped to the sleeping
man on the floor. He didn't envy James
and Lily. Their happiness was one of the things that brought him contentment,
but it still hurt sometimes to know that he'd never have what they did. That he couldn't even tell him.
It was harder now than it used to be, he thought,
watching Sirius breathe quietly in sleep. His black hair was tousled from
Harry's small hands, and his robes were in disarray. He looked like a child
fallen asleep in the middle of play.
There were more moments like this now, where it was a physical pain not
to be able to stretch out beside him, smooth his crumpled hair, and kiss him
awake. In spite of himself, Remus felt
the corner of his mouth twitch, imagining Padfoot's reaction to that. Even unrequited love had its moments of
"Remus?" Lily's soft voice broke into his thoughts.
Startled, he tore his gaze from Sirius and looked up to find Lily leaning
against the open doorway to the kitchen. Her green eyes were sympathetic, and
he tried to smile in reassurance. It didn't bother him that Lily knew how he felt
about his best friend; in fact, it was a relief to him that the knowledge
belonged to someone else other than himself.
He'd never actually talked to her about it, and she'd never broached the
subject with him. But she knew somehow-
she'd known for years.
"I should probably wake him up and haul him home," he
said, his voice light but controlled.
She smiled back, the understanding in her eyes was unmistakable, and he
could feel the warm of her sympathy from across the room.
"No progress getting them to their own beds, yet?"
James's head poked around Lily's shoulder. "Wormtail is always nearly
impossible to wake up, but surely you could have just kicked Padfoot
awake." He walked over to Peter and
wiggled his shoulder. "Oi, you there! You're drooling on the upholstery."
Peter grunted and muttered, "I'm not asleep, I can hear
every word you say," before turning his face in the other direction and
resuming his snores.
James snorted. "Well, we offered him the easy way out.
It's time for more drastic methods." His eyes gleamed with mischief as he
headed for the kitchen.
"James, whatever you're planning, NO." Lily moved to
intercept her husband.
"I can't believe I'm going to leave before the show
starts, but I think I'm going to roust Sirius and head out," said Remus,
grateful that his mood had been broken.
"Your loss," said James cheerfully, and dodged under
Lily's arm and into the kitchen.
"James!" Lily started to follow him from the room but
stopped just inside the door. She turned back to Remus. "Take care Remus. I wish…" but she stopped as
Remus suddenly stood.
"I will. Thanks for a lovely evening."
She nodded and left the room.
Remus stood over Sirius
for a moment, looking down at the prone figure of his friend.
"Hey, Sirius." Remus nudged
him with his toe. "Wake up." Sirius
rubbed his face into the rug a little and sighed.
Remus sat alone in the
darkened living room, staring into the dying embers of the fire. His ears picked up the distant rumble of
thunder and a moment later, the soft pattering of rain on slate rooftops. It
was appropriate weather, he supposed. Melancholy rain for a melancholy mood.
Sirius had gone out almost immediately after they'd gotten home, and briefly,
Remus wondered who he was meeting. He
hadn't asked, he usually didn't. He
told himself it was because he didn't care, but that was, of course, a
lie. Remus rubbed a hand across his
rough jaw and sighed. The bottle of Drambuie Sirius kept in the cupboard was
sounding extremely tempting. Suddenly, the fading light of the fire exploded in
a smoky flash, startling Remus into a standing position. Albus Dumbledore's head floated in the
"Remus? Are you there?"
"Yes. I'm here,
Professor." Remus moved closer to the fireplace, and knelt next to the gate.
The head nodded grimly.
"There's been another attack."
Remus felt his heart
skip. "Lily, Ja-, " he started, before the Professor cut him off.
"No. It was the Bones".
And it was…very bad. One of the Death
Eaters was captured…and I'd like you to be present at his questioning. Please
"I'll be right there,
Professor." The brilliant fire faded, leaving only smoldering embers. He stood,
and brushed the cinders from his trousers, as he tried to remember the Bones'.
They were Aurors, he thought. Or…had been. And if he remembered correctly, they
had a little girl around Harry's age.
Harry…his heart thumped as he tried to imagine what James and Lily must
be going through, their little family in the center of a whirlwind. How long
before it swallowed them whole? The
wind howled through the eaves, startling Remus from his thoughts. An uneasy sensation settled into his stomach
as he Apparated into the night.
One half of the room was
bathed in brilliant light, placing the dark, slumped figure in stark
contrast. The only interruption of
black and white were the luminous green bands encircling the man's chest,
torso, and wrists. The tremulous and shimmering
magical wall gave off a slight humming sound, giving hypnotizing testament to
the powerful current flowing through its beautiful veneer. Remus had not stepped fully into the room
when the hairs on the back of his neck began to rise. As the door swung closed behind them, Remus tensed. Even in human
form, his nose had a heightened sense of awareness, and the room contained an
unmistakable pungent aroma. Now he understood why Dumbledore wanted him
here. The smell was growing stronger.
Slowly the dark figure began to stir.
Raising his head, the man's face came into full relief. The mouth was bruised and swollen, blood
running from both corners. The area
around the eyes was mottled, and one eye was almost completely closed but they
were clear and alert. As the
silver-grey eyes met Lupin's he felt a growl rise in his throat. The man's swollen lips twisted into a
grotesque sneer. Lupin stepped back
from the barrier, never taking his eyes from the Death Eater.
"He's a werewolf."
"Are you sure?"
Remus answered with a grim smile.
"You're going to need stronger restraints."
Remus' statement sent the
room into a flurry of activity. Several
wizards appeared to reinforce the bonds with a series of strengthening
spells. An additional restraint had been
added; a manacle of silver placed around the man's neck. Remus couldn't help wincing as the collar
burned and bit into the man's flesh. It
gleamed dully at him amid the bloodied and blistered skin. He had sent everyone from the room, and now
a tense silence pressed in from all sides.
It was Remus who finally
broke the silence. "What is your name?"
The man stared
unblinkingly back at him.
He asked again,
sharper. "What is your name?"
"Miles Griffon." The
voice was raspy and brittle. "And
Griffon gave a scratchy laugh. "How appropriate."
"If you give us names,
perhaps they'll go easier on you at your trial."
Griffon's laugh was sharp
and harsh. "I'm not going to have a
trial Remus. You know that. They don't
send werewolves to Azkaban."
" You'll get a trial just
like everyone else. We don't operate the way Voldemort does."
A scowl crossed Griffon's
face. "We?" he spat. "If your friends
knew the truth about you we'd be sharing a cell right now. You're a Dark creature, Remus. You should be
serving a Dark master."
"I prefer not to serve a
master at all, thank you."
"But you already do,
Remus. You're a slave to the beast inside you. You've spent your entire life
inventing a facade of control, desperately convincing yourself that you
maintain dominion over the wolf."
"Do not presume to know
me, or who I am!" Remus snarled.
"But I do know you,
Remus. I was like you once. Living a half-life masked by the illusion of
control, only to have the illusion shattered by each full moon. Each day a
curse…but that's where I was wrong. It's a gift, Remus. A gift to be
savored and enjoyed."
"Did you enjoy what you
did last night?" He was afraid to hear the answer.
"Oh yes." The
obvious satisfaction made Remus' stomach twist.
His eyes weren't really
focussing on anything in the pub except for the single shot of Firewhiskey
sitting on the table in front of him. The cadence of Sirius's voice stood out
from the cacophony of voices around him, but the words eluded him, as if
Padfoot's monologue was in a language he couldn't understand.
Remus shut his eyes for a
long moment. He didn't want to be here,
in a noisy, smoky, crowded pub. He was
tired of breathing everyone else's air, and the walls of the pub were suddenly
closing in on him. It was a struggle to
breathe in here, and it wasn't just the smoke, or the funk of too many people
in too small a space. The wolf senses
were too strong tonight, and he couldn't ignore them. He could sense them all
individually; smell the intimate details of their lives. He had no right to be here, pretending to be
one of them, their eyes all passing over him as if he belonged. How had he ever
mingled with them comfortably? He'd begun to believe his own lie, that's what
happened, he thought bitterly. Somehow, he'd forgotten that he wasn't human.
"She's really nice,
Moony. She's very…kind. And pretty.
You've only met her a couple of times, and it seemed like maybe you
didn't like her all that much, but she's one of those people who really grow on
Remus grunted absently.
"And I really like her
company. She's very relaxing to be around."
Remus nodded, and pushed
his glass around the table. Sirius had
been dating Natalia for a few months now.
He'd only met her a couple of times.
It wasn't as if he was objective on this subject, but she seemed pleasant
enough. He didn't know anything about her, really.
"I haven't bought a ring
or anything yet."
You're a slave to the beast inside you. Remus was back in a small room at the ministry,
and the smell of another werewolf stung his nostrils. He shook his head slightly and tried to concentrate. "What does
she do at the Ministry?"
"I don't know. Something
in some international office there."
"Oh." He couldn't think
of anywhere else to go from there. God, he was tired. If he had any hope of
sleep tonight, he'd go home to bed, but as he was sure that he'd be up all
night anyway, he might as well stay and listen to Sirius's prattle.
"…I look at James and
Lily and I wonder how they manage to be so happy. I mean, knowing that Voldemort is targeting them. But they don't
regret getting married, right?"
Remus downed his
Firewhiskey and sat back in his chair. "Padfoot, what are you trying to tell me
here?" He finally tuned into the conversation. "You're going to propose to Natalia?"
There was silence at the
"That's what I've been
saying for the past half hour, Moony. Where have you been?"
"I'm sorry. I'm a little
"So what do you think?"
Remus fought the urge to
lay his head down on the table. He couldn't believe this. He had just had one
of the worst days ever in a life that encompassed quite a few very bad days,
and he was now being forced to give Sirius advice about his love life.
"This is sudden, isn't
it?" he didn't trust himself to say any more.
"We've been going out for
five months now. That's not too sudden. Do you think it's too sudden?" Sirius's voice
was tinged with worry.
"No, I suppose not," He
was too weary to do this tonight. "I'm sorry, Sirius. I'm probably not the
right person to ask for advice about this."
Sirius surveyed him from
across the table. "I know that this afternoon was strange for you, but it was
just a coincidence. That he happened to be a werewolf. There's no deeper meaning in it. It doesn't have anything to do with you."
"It doesn't have anything
to do with me?" Remus's voice was sharp, and incredulous.
Sirius looked taken aback
for a moment. Remus rarely raised his
voice, and never in public. He
recovered quickly, though, and tried out a crooked half-smile- one of his most charming.
"Hell, no, Moony. It's just one of
those things- like having an asshole for an uncle, or having bunch of jerks
join a club you belong to. You shouldn't worry about it."
Remus jerked his head up
and looked around the bar for a distraction. There was a haze over his vision
that a single shot of Firewhiskey couldn't account for. Sirius was trying to
handle him again. It wasn't just that Sirius always relied on his charm, which
he did, but that he had a special brand of charm, a separate set of tactics
that he'd developed to use only on him. He knew his weaknesses and how to play
on them, just like a lover. It wasn't fair, thought Remus irrationally. It
wasn't fair that he could be entirely oblivious and completely attuned to him
at the same time.
"Don't," he said
"I wish you would talk to
me," Sirius said. His face was earnest
and concerned. "You're a private
person. I know. I respect that. But there's something… different about the way
you aren't talking lately."
Remus could think of
nothing to say. He picked up his empty
glass and put it back down. "This is just a bad night, Padfoot. I'm sorry. It
doesn't have anything to do with you.
Congratulations on Natalia. I'm really happy for you."
"What did he say to you?"
"Come on, Moony. What did Griffon say that got you this
He sighed. "Drop it.
"Fine." There was another
longish stretch of silence.
"What were you saying
Sirius shrugged. "We don't have to talk about that."
"No, I'm sorry. You were
saying something about James and Lily?"
Sirius accepted the
change of subject. "I was saying that I
didn't know if it was the right time to be thinking about getting married and
starting a family."
"Because of Voldemort."
"Yeah." His eyes grew troubled. "There's a war going
on, and we know it, even if everyone else hasn't caught on yet."
"I respect what Prongs
and Lily are doing, trying to carve out some normalcy in this, and just live
their lives." He took a drink from the glass of bitter in front of him. "But I
don't know if I can do that. Not now.
Because…it would divide my focus too much, and now isn't the time to be
"You don't think they're
selfish for getting married and having Harry, I know you don't." Remus wasn't
entirely sure where Sirius was going with this.
"No, no. But they did it for different reasons—I
mean, they were James and Lily. They couldn't not get married. And we were younger."
"I don't mean that. I
mean…it wasn't as bad. The Giants hadn't joined him yet, or any of the other
Dark creatures." He paused. "Today wouldn't have happened then."
You should be serving
a Dark master. Griffon's bloodied
face swam in front of his eyes. The smells of the bar swirled around Remus
stronger than ever. He was part of it, part of the growing chaos. It didn't matter that he had no choice in
it- the darkness was inside him. Already part of him. Rising panic choked him.
He had to get out of here. He pushed himself up from the table so quickly his
chair shot into the wall behind him.
"Moony?" Sirius stretched
out a hand, but the look in Remus's eyes stopped him.
"I think sometimes that
you forget I'm a Dark creature,
Padfoot. But I never do." He made his way blindly to the door, and didn't notice
Sirius's troubled face as he watched him leave.
Author's Notes: Tee
hee. Surprised, aren't you? Didn't see that coming, did you? And the fun has
only just begun. For Arabella, because it's her birthday and she walks the path
of the One True Way. And for Erik, Engineer First Class on the HMS