Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter is property of JK Rowling. I am but a poor college student.
Pairing(s): a little implied SB/RL, so SLASH: be warned!
Warnings: not a happy piece, definitely not a happy ending.
Author's Notes: So yeah. This just popped out of my head and found its way onto my computer. It's been done before, I know. Completely unbeta'd, so there will probably be several errors on my part. I tried not to write James and Sirius completely out of character. I just think that they were quite the rascals at school, and Remus was an important part of why they were able to actually grow up by seventh year. Also, my first AU that's not a "bring Black back" scenario. Go me. And: Happy (belated) birthday, Meredith Tasaki!Remember: Feedback is my guilty pleasure…
For the Good of the Whole
Werewolves do not understand family or friendship; they only distinguish between threat and prey.
As July came and slowly went, things were not looking good at the Lupin household. Little Remus had turned eleven in March. No letter from Hogwarts came. Still, Julius Lupin noticed that his son did not get upset or distressed. There was still a chance that the letter was on its way, merely delayed a while. But the days passed by and though Remus smiled, his eyes became more and more resigned. When the Daily Prophet began printing advertisements for Hogwarts supplies, they all knew that it was over. All of the letters Marie had written, all of the meetings Julius attended, were all in vain. No school wanted a werewolf. Julius saw Remus finally succumb to his feelings and weep in the arms of his mother. He could not stand by and watch any more. There was one last possibility.
Early the next day, Mr. Lupin arrived at the Ministry of Magic, where he knew Albus Dumbledore was attending a meeting with the Minister. He waited for nearly four hours in the atrium, hoping for a miracle. Dumbledore was a reasonable man, he knew, and very progressive for someone in his position. Perhaps if he could talk to him in person… A flurry of activity by the lifts announced Dumbledore's presence. The man was walking briskly towards the nearest Floo. Julius took his chance.
"Sir! Professor Dumbledore!" The headmaster inclined his head in acknowledgement. "I wrote to you concerning my son, Remus. Remus Lupin."
"Ah, yes. It is terrible what happened to him. Unfortunately, I cannot allow someone of his condition at my school."
"But he has done nothing to warrant such a fate! It was my fault… He's so smart and kind, he would do well at Hogwarts. Please, just meet him. That's all I ask. Please."
At this point, Albus should have been moved by the pleading of this obviously loving father. He would have agreed to see the boy, and subsequently been delighted by the sharp mind, intense bravery, and boundless compassion displayed by one so young and traumatized. "And he's already showing strong signs of magic,"Mrs. Lupin would have said with pride. Dumbledore would have believed her because she was not just bragging or pleading. The Lupins were inherently modest, and Marie genuinely proud of her son. By August, the steps would have been taken to admit Remus Lupin to Hogwarts.
But Dumbledore was a very busy man, and this was a problem that he could not find time to address. A werewolf at Hogwarts meant more than a physical danger to all of the students. If the information became public, the school might be shut down, which would deny an education to hundreds of children. Dumbledore chose the welfare of the majority over the welfare of an individual. With only a small twinge of regret, he sent Mr. Lupin on his way.
Werewolves have no knowledge of reason or kindness. They are creatures of savage instinct.
There were only three beds in the first-year Gryffindor boys' dorm after that Sorting. Sirius, James, and Peter enjoyed the freedom of Hogwarts with abandon, as children away from their parents for the first time are wont to do. Their dorm became messy and filled to the brim with junk within a fortnight—except for one corner of the room, which none of them used. It remained clean of clutter or people. Peter once told the others, "It's like a ghost walks there." Sirius and James laughed away his remark, but silently agreed.
Remus stayed at home that fall, and every year after that. His mother home schooled him on every subject she could think of, from etiquette to philosophy. Magic was out of the question, considering the laws against under-age wizards outside of school. The local children, already not entirely friendly with Remus, sensed that something was wrong with him and began to avoid him altogether. He became almost mute in his isolation. Julius worked longer and longer hours at the research center to provide the books necessary for Remus's education. Marie lost a lot of weight and was falling ill more and more often, the stress of their situation taking its toll.
At Hogwarts, the Marauders, as they began calling themselves, became the bane of all the professors. Their pranks were light-hearted and simple at first. But Remus was not there to balance them with maturity and reason. As the years passed, they became more wild and out of control. No one was there to slowly soothe away Sirius's anger or James's cruelty. In their third year, they did not learn about empathy or the meaning of friendship. They were not confronted with prejudice, and were not motivated to find the depths of their own bravery. When Professor McGonagall introduced them to Animagi, James only raised an eyebrow. "A challenge," he said. "Fun." He looked to his friends. "Imagine the damage we could do…" Sirius pondered.
Werewolves cannot apologize, for they do not feel guilt. They offer no forgiveness, for they do not understand mercy.
By the Marauders' fifth year, they had conquered the Animagus transformation and moved on to other entertainment. Those they bullied faced increasingly physical and more dangerous threats. Remus was not there to twinge at their consciences. James began focusing on Lily Evans, who continually pushed him away. At some point in the beginning of their sixth year, Sirius and James pulled a prank that went terribly wrong. Peter ended up in the hospital wing, wrapped from head to toe in gauze. McGonagall was leading an extensive inquiry. "A Marauder never tells," Peter had croaked. Sirius and James smiled at each other in relief. As Peter watched them, he knew he would never truly be one of them no matter how hard he tried. He was unusually quiet for the rest of term. When he did not come back to Hogwarts after the winter break, neither of them really cared.
Remus picked up odd jobs here and there to help his parents with their bills. He was still being taught by Marie, or whatever tutor they could manage to scrape enough money together for. He eventually found employment at a Hogsmeade bookstore. The manager was kind and knew of his condition, but said nothing. Whenever he had the time, Remus borrowed books from the store. His mind became filled with information, his soul even more hungry for adventure. Full moons became increasingly difficult. The Lupins could not afford much food and the transformations were hard enough for someone who was not malnourished. Remus's weakened state made every full moon a battle just to live. There was no Prongs to keep the wolf in check, and no Padfoot to chase and play with.
The sixth year at Hogwarts ended without any changes. James had not performed an act of extreme bravery to save the life of another, and therefore did not get pushed the final step into adulthood and responsibility. He remained cruel and egotistical, bored by school and by the world. Sirius was even worse. There had been no opportunity for him to hit the bottom and work his way back up. Nothing had exposed his limits. The incident with Peter did not end in Sirius doubting his very soul. Most importantly, there was no Remus there for him to want to change for. No Remus to show him mercy. No Remus to show him love. He did not learn of betrayal, or guilt, or forgiveness.
Werewolves are Dark Creatures, dedicated to spreading evil among good wizards.
Without the presence of Remus to chip away at any prejudices instilled from birth, Sirius was unable to completely open his mind. There was no build-up of tension at home, there was no struggle to break free. He did not come to a final confrontation with his parents, so did not run away that summer. His parents still resented his rebelliousness, and spent a fortune trying to persuade him to become a proper Black. Sirius rather enjoyed the attention he was getting, but still did not like them and kept them at arm's length. He was uncertain as to how he fit in. There was still something different about him, he knew. However, Sirius stayed connected to them. They were, after all, currently a valuable resource.
The Lupins had been concentrating so much on educating Remus in hopes of giving him a future that they neglected everything else. There was no Dumbledore to offer reassurance or, occasionally, a bit of help financially. Mrs. Lupin did not have the time or energy to start working at a part-time job she adored. Marie lost her spirit and finally surrendered to the harsh life of poverty. The funeral was on a rainy Wednesday morning. Julius was devastated, and only Remus's mothering kept him fed and clean. Remus, meanwhile, gained a second job. He worked at the bookstore from ten to close, ate dinner, and then headed to the Hog's Head, usually until three in the morning. The cycle was draining, but the money was good. The proprietor of the Hog's Head was not picky about his condition, and did not spread the information. After all, many of the customers were also of ill repute. Any income he was able to spare was donated to victims of the war.
James and Sirius's seventh year at Hogwarts showed some late blooming. Although James had not been given the position of Head Boy—since he had not grown in maturity and responsibility last year—he still thought that maybe life was not all about pranks. He concentrated a bit more on his studies in hopes that he could become an Auror. There were more and more incidences of Dark wizards attacking Muggle-borns, and James wanted to help. However, it was too late for him to win the heart of Lily Evans. Lily had not seen a more mature side to James after The Prank. She did not witness James's struggle to keep his friends together. There had been no evidence of him growing up until after she had met a handsome Ravenclaw, who treated her with respect. After Hogwarts, Lily would marry him. They would have three beautiful children, and miraculously survive the war. But the Ravenclaw would never make Lily laugh.
Sirius evolved from rebellion to apathy. He could see no more joy in life. There were no more adventures or pranks, especially since James began to study more. Contact with his parents was kept at a minimum—enough to keep them happy and him sane. There was pressure from his family and certain Slytherins to join Lord Voldemort. Sirius ignored them as rubbish. James suggested he become an Auror and work for Dumbledore. He could find no passion to fight. "What's in it for me?" he asked.
Werewolves walk among humans, pretending to be normal, concealing their Dark nature. They cannot be trusted.
Three years out of Hogwarts found James and Sirius living the bachelor life. With no Lily comfort or encourage him, James had been unable to hold up under the vigorous Auror training and quit soon after he started. Sirius had been unable to qualify in the first place. There had been no Remus to instill a strong enough work ethic in them at an early age. They had come to the Hog's Head nearly every night since Hogwarts, drinking and carousing away their inheritances. By this time, however, James had finally grown up enough to realize he was wasting his time. Though he could not re-enter the Auror program, he tried for a lower-level law enforcement job that had opportunity for advancement. There, he met a sweet young lady on the secretarial staff. They would eventually become serious enough to talk about marriage. James would become content with his life, but would always feel slightly restless and useless.
Sirius resented James for abandoning their revelry. His parents were becoming frustrated with him. Mrs. Black often introduced him to various friends of the family, people who happened to have job openings in their businesses. However, he carried on with his routine at the Hog's Head, though he added dealing illegal potions to his repertoire. He was arrogant and careless, everything people expected an heir of the House of Black to be. But he was also depressed and felt empty inside. Sirius started becoming infatuated with the young barkeep. The man was his age, but looked older. He had grey hair, a limp, and a sickly appearance, plus many, many scars. Several marks ran across his face, the knotted scar tissue causing one eye to open only half way. He was by no means beautiful. But the man's fingers were long and graceful, and his eyes enchanting. There was an intangible strength within him. Sirius wanted to dominate him completely, especially since he sensed it would be quite a challenge.
He began to talk to the bartender, spilling out his thoughts as he became drunk. Remus—as he had heard the owner call him—never spoke a word, simply smiling or frowning when appropriate. While Sirius was waiting for James to show up for one of their rare nights out, he spoke of how angry he was at his friend for leaving him, of all the adventures they used to get up to at Hogwarts. "Perhaps becoming an adult, settling down, is just another adventure," a coarse voice said. Sirius looked up, shocked, only to see Remus wiping steadily at the inside of a glass and blushing slightly. When his mother introduced him to another 'friend' later that week, Sirius actually listened and accepted an administrative job at the Ministry.
Werewolves are monsters, half-breed scum. They should be hunted down and destroyed for the safety of society.
Sirius continued to visit the Hog's Head frequently. He was content with his job as long as it kept his parents happy. However, the war was starting to reach him. It was becoming more and more intense for everyone in wizarding Britain. At some point, a prophecy had been made, heard by two sets of ears. The message was slightly garbled and convoluted, as if it wasn't even sure of its own meaning. However, it was enough to condemn the Longbottoms and their son to the grave. There was even more pressure for Sirius to join the Death Eaters. Sirius knew that soon he would have to choose a side, and he knew he would end up breaking away from his family entirely. He was becoming increasingly obsessed with Remus in order to take his mind off his problems. One day there came news of a bloody werewolf attack on a family outside London. Sirius was discussing the event with another wizard at the Hog's Head when the man leaned over and whispered, "You know, that bartender—the one with all the scars—he's a werewolf."
Remus had sensed the building tension of the war, though he remained aloof from most of the world. He was smart enough to recognize danger, so he began avoiding any attention whatsoever—even the smiles he received from the handsome Sirius Black. The news of a werewolf attack was even harder to ignore. He was extremely alert when he went to work that day. Remus stayed later than usual at the Hog's Head to make up for the night he had off. It was nearly dawn by the time he was ready to leave. Tension that followed him all day still settled heavily onto his shoulders. So as he was taking the garbage out to the back before he went home, he was not entirely surprised to be pushed up against the wall. What did catch him off guard was the kiss, a bruising force salted by tears. When the man finally pulled away, Remus recognized both the face and the confusion in his eyes.
"You had to be a werewolf, didn't you?" Sirius hissed. And then the punches began. "I will not become like my parents…" Remus heard Sirius mumble over the beating. "…consorting with Dark magic…" He made no move to fight back, only deflecting as many of the punches away from his head as he could. Remus knew from previous experience that struggling would only make things worse. "…allied with him…"
Soon Sirius's ramblings faded away until he was just kicking and punching. Remus could feel the blood flooding from his nose. A particularly hard kick cracked some ribs. He bit his lip to keep from crying out, reciting to himself why he deserved this. Werewolves are beasts, monsters. Werewolves are a danger to everyone around them. The list was engrained in his mind from everything he had read, and the feeling of despair welling up in his stomach was just as familiar. Werewolves are not human. Remus received one final kick in the stomach before Sirius spat in his face. "I don't ever want to see you in the Hog's Head again, monster," he said hoarsely. He walked away to what would be an unsatisfying and lonely future, leaving Remus broken and bloody on the ground.
In a tower at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore stared out a window at a desolate sunrise and wondered where it all went so wrong. He sighed and returned to his desk, and continued to make decisions for the good of the whole.
Werewolves do not cry.