Title: Out of Order, Out of Time

Rating: ...PG-13, T, just to be safe. Only for language; probably could've passed for PG just fine, but with themes as well... Didn't want to risk it.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. Or the Fleetwood Mac song I quote in-fic. Almost surprising, isn't it? Only the plot is mine-- well, the plot is sort of mine-- also, there's one part that seems very familiar to me, and I can't tell if I stole it from someone else or just from myself. blink If it's the former, I apologize to the end of time.

Summary: Spoilers for HBP. When one of Remus's potions goes totally awry, he gains the last ability he ever would have wanted... From the very beginning, there was only one way it could end.

Notes: I GOT SOMETHING DONE! YESSSS! celebrates If you had ANY idea how rare that was getting--! I only seem to get ideas these days for year-long epics! XX Oh, and "Sirius" and "Dumbledore" are damnably hard to type... Just thought I'd complain about that. eh heh

No pairings. Why? How? Because I'm a complete wuss. My policy thus far has always been to neither confirm nor deny anything, and let the reader fill in the details for themselves. A narrow little line I walk. 'embarassment' smiley that refuses, for whatever reason, to allow

I know the quotes from the books are inexact; it's somewhat intentional. sigh Might as well go on and apologise for posting the thing now; it's what I'm getting at, isn't it? Ah well...

(-)

I wish it had been easier

Instead of any longer...

-"Top of the World", Dixie Chicks

I'm so alone, and I feel just like somebody else

Man, I ain't changed-- but I know I ain't the same

But somewhere here in between

These city walls of dying dreams,

I think her death, it must be killing me...

-"One Headlight", Wallflowers

(-)(-)

Remus hated Potions. He hated it with a passion.

This was not Slughorn's fault. At least, not entirely. Remus could not, of course, fail to notice the favoritism shown to the "Slug Club", but he was never outright mistreated. On Remus's scale, that was downright delightful.

No, Remus hated Potions because he was terrible at it. It was rather humiliating. He was a reasonably good student in just about every other subject, but something essential about Potions eluded him. The facts simply wouldn't stick in his mind. The logic behind its theories escaped him.

This was aggravated by the fact that werewolf hair caused many potions to explode.

He had barely managed to escape the class thus far with a passing grade-- he suspected Slughorn might be making allowances for his "condition". And he fully intended to drop it at his first opportunity.

But the opportunity hadn't come yet, and thus Remus was sitting behind his cauldron at the back of the room, feeling slightly queasy. His current partner, Peter, was probably feeling slightly queasy too; though he'd put a lot of effort into learning the Shield Charm (with the help of Sirius and James), it was rather hard to cast that quickly enough when confronted with a mass of boiling purple stuff coming directly at your face.

Remus hated Potions.

As soon as he was out of the damn class he'd be able to develop a nice, balanced attitude toward the fine and important art. Until then, he hated the ridiculous crap.

"Good afternoon," said Slughorn, breezing in, late, as usual. "I was just having a conversation with some former students of mine-- you may have heard of them--"

Remus sighed. It also didn't help that Professor Slughorn was a bit of a name-dropping prat.

"...Anyway, to today's lesson! It's almost the weekend, and I know the other professors have been keeping your noses to the grindstone, so I thought I'd give you something easy today."

"He's just writing another Letter to the Editor," Sirius muttered from the next desk.

"That or a gay romance novel," James chipped in quietly.

"Instructions on the board, class..." The professor waved his wand, and the instructions appeared. "I'll be collecting your work at the end of the class."

"What if we finish early?" James called.

"Er-- then you may sit quietly and read your textbooks."

"Dammit," Sirius muttered. "Should've waited 'till we finished, caught him off guard."

"Wouldn't have worked anyway," Peter said morosely.

Remus raised a hand, nervously.

"Yes, Mr. Lupin?"

"What exactly is this potion supposed to be?"

"I'll tell you that at the end of class. Doesn't matter anyway. Even you can't mess this one up!"

"Want to bet?" Remus muttered despondently.

"C'mon, positive attitude, Moony!" Sirius said, giving him a playful shove. "Let a smile be your umbrella..."

"Won't work well against a rain of boiling potion..."

"And you wonder how you got your nickname."

Remus bent his head over his set of ingredients, beginning to measure out what they'd need. Remus and Peter had agreed that Remus would do the preparing, and Peter would do the actual adding things in and stirring. Their potions seemed to explode marginally less often that way.

Everything went reasonably well for a few minutes. Remus was concentrating on shredding his boomslang skin-- it took special concentration when you had to do it with a very sharp silver knife.

"Professor, does it matter which direction we stir it?" Albert Brooks asked suddenly.

"Ow!" Remus hissed, dropping the knife and snatching his hand away before he'd even realized he'd cut himself.

"No," Slughorn said irritably. "I would've put it up there if it did. What, d'you think I'm a student-hating sociopath?"

"N--no, professor--..."

"Are you okay?" Peter asked, worried, looking over.

"Yeah, I just-- cut my finger." Remus looked at the skin and seperated out any that looked remotely close to the drops of his blood on the desk. If werewolf hair messes potions up... "Just use those bits and it should be fine."

"Right." Peter picked them up and dropped them in. "Let's see, step four... He said it doesn't matter which way you stir it?"

"Right," Remus said, stepping back. Now that he was done with the ingredients, it was best that he stay as far away from the potion as possible.

"And the larkspur..." Peter swept it off the table and dumped it in. "Now, three clockwise, one counter... Three clockwise, one counter..."

Almost over and it hasn't blown up yet... Any day his potion didn't blow up in class was a good day. In fact, there were still scorch marks on the ceiling that no one had been able to get out, and a few on the desk...

He looked down at them. There was a drop of smeared blood near the rim of the dark cauldron-bottom outline.

Wait-- smeared? Unless, when Peter got the larkspur-- does that mean it's going to--?

Remus heard an all-too-familiar faint rumbling from the cauldron and stopped thinking altogether.

"LOOK OUT!" he yelled, pushing Peter out of the way as the potion erupted.

He felt the liquid splash over him-- it didn't seem as hot as it should be-- then it seemed much hotter than it should be, seeping into his veins, coursing like acid back to his heart, to his head--

"Lupin! Pettigrew!"

"Hey, we got Slughorn's attention," Remus murmured vaugely, woozy. "Must be serious."

"Guys!" Someone-- probably Sirius-- prodded them with his foot. "Are you all right!"

"It shouldn't do any harm-- it's a perfectly harmless potion-- probably more harm was caused by you two throwing yourselves to the floor than by anything else-- everyone all right?" he called to the rest of the class.

There was a vague murmur of assent, which Remus was somewhat relieved to hear. He felt strangely weak, but he managed to lever himself up a few inches.

"Sorry about that," he gasped. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," said Peter, opening his eyes.

"--always James and Sirius, James and Sirius, or maybe James and Sirius and Remus, on occasion, but it's like we don't even exist most of the time, just James and Sirius--"

"Well, it's not our fault if you don't make a name for yourself!" Sirius snapped angrily, still testy. Peter had picked a bad time to have this argument; Remus still wasn't talking to Sirius, and everyone was in a rather short temper because of it. "If you want people to be interested in you, do something interesting for once! Instead of just following us around being annoying. Can't expect us to give you a life as well."

"Stop it," snapped Remus. "The hell do you have to be so mean to everybody for? Don't you have any respect for your friends? Oh wait-- I forgot-- you don't have any friends-- you have people who hang around you that you don't care about-- don't worry, Peter. It's not personal. He feels that way about everybody, each and every single one of us."

"THAT'S NOT TRUE!"

"THEN WHY DID YOU DO IT! Why did you use me like an attack dog! Didn't you stop to realize that vicious dogs get put down!"

"Remus--"

"He's right," said Peter. "You don't care about anyone. We're not as good as you. Well, maybe I'm not taking it anymore!"

"Go ahead! Run to someone who'll protect you!" Sirius yelled as Peter hurried to the door. "Just remember, people who've got power over you will use it to hurt you in the end!"

"Yeah," Peter said, pausing as he climbed through the portrait-hole; "you taught me that."

He left.

-

"He's not going to win," said Peter, looking well-fed but sick, in the light of the quarter moon that filtered through the trees.

"I should kill you right now," said Remus, looking half-starved but well.

"But you can't. Not like Sirius. He could do it. You never could."

"I could. And maybe I should call him right now."

"But you won't."

"...You've already done your harm. Anyway, I think it's rather a boon to our forces to have you at Voldemort's side."

Peter sneered-- but had he flinched at hearing his master's name? "Because I'm an idiot? You think so too, don't you? You're just too polite to say so."

"Yes," Remus admitted freely. "But also... because maybe, deep down, you're not."

The traitor stared at him a moment, and then apparated away.

Remus sighed. "I really should have killed him..."

-

"No," said Harry Potter in the Shrieking Shack, staring at them with his mother's eyes, his father's face.

The only thing in the world that could have stopped them.

"Thank you--" said the traitor.

"No," said Harry, kicking him away, looking revolted. "It's just-- I don't reckon my father would've wanted them to become killers-- just for you."

Remus knew it was true. Sirius would be harder to convince, but-- they had time, now. They had time.

"REMUS!"

Remus's head whipped up frantically, searching for the voice-- then just as quickly went down again, as he started to cough violently into his hand. He was being carried by someone-- quickly--

"Professor, he stopped shaking!" he heard Peter cry.

Traitor... What? How... what?

"I could tell, I'm carrying him," Slughorn said testily. "Remus, what happened?"

"What... I saw... things." Remus choked out, then had to cough even more violently.

"It was crazy," said Peter, sounding terrified, "you looked at me and your eyes turned this funny color and you started shaking--"

"Some sort of fit," Sirius said, "you were thrashing around--"

"You couldn't hear us--" James inserted. "Is that--"

Someone grabbed his hand. "Professor! I think he's coughing up blood!"

"What the hell did you idiots do to that thing!" Slughorn hissed, his pace increasing.

"Remus cut himself, I think maybe some of his blood--" said Peter.

"That wouldn't do this! You had to do something else! A lot of something else!" Slughorn paused in his speech, probably, Remus knew, to glare at Peter furiously. "Someone make sure he stays awake!"

"Remus--" Someone touched his chin, bringing it up now he'd finally stopped coughing. "Remus, look at us, open your eyes."

Remus obeyed reluctantly, opening his eyes to see Sirius and James, staring at him, looking desperately worried.

James looked up at him, looking sick and haunted, and just a little bit scared. "Remus-- I think one of us is a traitor."

His heart stopped. "No. It couldn't be."

"Think about it!" Sirius cried. "How else could they have known where we'd be! Someone has to be feeding them this information. And it has to be one of us."

"But-- we could have been overheard--"

Sirius snorted. "You helped put on the blocking charms yourself! You know that couldn't have happened! No-- someone's helping him, I know it--"

"But who?"

Sirius looked at him for a moment, thinking. "I have no idea," he said.

Just a trifle too slowly.

No, it was ridiculous. They knew he'd never betray them. They knew he'd lay his life down for them.

Didn't they?

-

"I did it!" James crowed, running into the Common Room.

"You didn't," Sirius said, putting down the book he'd been pretending to read.

"It's impossible," Peter seconded.

"Lily's going out with me!"

"My God. Call the Daily Prophet," said Remus, looking around for an owl. "This should make the front page, don't you think?"

"Yeah, tomorrow's headline, in big bold letters," Sirius envisioned. "'Hell Freezes Over. Devil blames British witch for shockingly poor judgment. Full story on page ten.'"

"Ha, ha. You people are such romantics. You're just angry because I got the most beautiful girl in the school!"

"You don't 'have' anything yet," Remus warned.

"Ha, you think I'm letting her get away after all this? You're crazy. No, I'm going to marry that girl."

"What?" Sirius sat up striaght. "Since when?"

"Since now!"

"This isn't going to involve something illegal that you'll expect us to help you with, is it?" Remus said warily.

"Is love illegal?"

"Actually," Remus said thoughtfully, "in some countries--"

"No one can outlaw love!" James cried. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find a way to get out of my detention on Friday night that I forgot about." He hurried to his room.

Lily stepped through the protrait hole with a sigh. "I've gone insane," she said. "It's the only explanation. Could one of you call St. Mungo's to pick me up? I have to go find my least ugly outfit."

-

Leaning against a tree, staring at the roped-off foundation of what had been a very pretty house, as the sun began to set.

"I don't see how this could have happened. Do you? I don't understand it. I don't understand any of it..."

-

A dusty old house, decorated with mostly Gothic furniture and a supreme lack of taste.

"YOU DARE BRING A HALFBREED INTO THIS HOUSE!" the protrait shrieked. "AND A MUGGLE-LOVER WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU ENTER THIS HOUSE AGAIN! WHERE'S REGULUS! I WANTED HIM TO HAVE THE HOUSE, NOT A NASTY, FILTHY LITTLE BLOOD TRAITOR LIKE YOU!"

"Believe me, lady, I'm not happy about this either!" Sirius yelled back. An incredible understatement. "So why don't you SHUT THE HELL UP and--"

"YOU DARE SPEAK BACK TO YOUR MOTHER! You always WERE an ungrateful piece of scum, you slimy, useless--"

"Parafenestrae! Silencio!"

One wave of his wand brought the curtains; another swished them shut; another cast the Silencing harm, and--

"Oh thank Merlin," Molly Weasley sighed.

"Damn bitch," Sirius muttered, storming off to the kitchen.

"Er-- thank you-- Mr. Lupin."

Molly nodded at him decisively. It was the first entirely civil gesture she'd made to him since they'd met.

But he had been a werewolf, teaching her son. He couldn't blame her for that, not at all.

"Remus," he corrected, with a smile.

"Remus," she agreed, with a smile of her own.

"We should catch up to him before he breaks something..."

"I heard that!"

"Remus?"

Remus opened his eyes, then instantly squeezed them shut again, with a hitch of his breath.

"It's all right. You don't have to look at me," said Madam Pomfrey, sounding rather worried. Which wasn't saying all that much, but still. "Talk to me, Remus. What happened? Do you remember anything?"

"I... I don't know. I..." His eyes filled with tears, but he refused to open his eyes. "I think-- seeing people triggers it-- seeing their eyes--"

"Ah. No wonder, then. Hold still..."

Something like cotton on his face-- wiping off liquid he hadn't realized was there before. He didn't think it was tears. "What happened to me?"

"That's what we're trying to find out, Remus, but you have to tell me everything you remember. Do you remember anything?"

"Just... I'd see someone's eyes, and then... I'd see things."

"Objects? Stars? Visions?"

"Visions," Remus said quietly. "Of..." He shuddered at the memory, at the prospect. "I think they're of the future."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because-- I see people-- and we're older. Twenty, thirty, forty sometimes."

"Do you think they're real?"

"I... don't think that even I... could have come up with those on my own." I'm not that crazy yet.

But I will be--?

"Hmm." Madame Pomfrey pursed her lips, in her best transparent 'I'm-not-worried' act. "Well, instinct is a powerful thing..."

"Yeah. I know." Remus smiled ironically.

"Intuition, I mean. Still... Precognition... it isn't likely."

Remus sighed shakily. "God, I hope you're right."

"...Why? What did you see?"

Never will I answer that. Never in a million years.

"Remus?"

"I'm awake."

"...Right. I think you should try to get some rest now. All right? After those seizures you had, you'll need some sleep?"

"Seizures?" Remus almost opened his eyes. That's new.

"Yes. Don't worry, Professor Slughorn is working on an antidote as we speak. In fact, I'm going down to talk with him about it right now."

There was something dangerous in her voice. Remus wanted to see if her expression matched it, but didn't dare. "All right."

"Good. ...Go to sleep."

"Yes, ma'am," he said dutifully.

What was all that? All that talk about traitors and death and... I can't be that paranoid, can I? I can't have gone that crazy.

But... it can't actually be the future. It can't be. It can't be, it won't, it's not possible. Delusions, they're delusions, that's all it is, I know it, I know it, none of us would ever-- no. No. No.

Just me being insecure, I won't believe it, I'll never believe it...

(-)

"I can't believe these idiots," Slughorn said, stirring a steaming concoction. "It's a simple potion! And look what they did! I know part of it's the boy's 'condition', but even subtracting that they're incompetent! Larkspur! Larkspur! That is NOT what I wrote on the board! The idiots need glasses!"

"What was the potion you asked them to make?" Madame Pomfrey asked him again.

"Just an old thing-- Dark Ages stuff, barely even works. One of those old 'let me see my true love' spells girls used to giggle over. Fluff. Pure fluff. And he even makes THAT explode!"

"I think he's doing rather well," she said cooly, never fond of anyone who belittled her patients. Particularly Remus Lupin; she'd seen the poor boy in too many pieces too often to stomach criticism of him well.

Astonishingly brave. And I protested so to Dumbledore...

"Hmm. Whatever." Slughorn dismissed her opinion out of hand; how the hell would she know? "So what are his symptoms?"

"He thinks he's seeing the future," she said.

"...Larkspur... it would amplify... and the last ingredient to activate it is blood. If some of his got in, like Pettigrew said, it would explain why it's only affecting him. I suppose it might be possible-- but it's still emotion-based. He could only see parts of the future that he felt strongly in. And it should still be blurry-- shouldn't have these effects-- they must've screwed something else up, too. Not enough boomslang skin-- that wouldn't help..."

"Professor, these symptoms of his are serious. I think they're getting worse, as well. We need an antidote."

"Don't know why anyone would give up a chance to see the future... But yes, of course," he added hurriedly, catching her glare. "As soon as I can. It's just that no one thought to make an antidote for a harmless 'true-love' potion..."

"You're the Potions Master. I'm sure you're up to the task."

She stalked out of the room. She'd never liked the man.

Why had she had to go into a profession that required so many damned potions?

But there was something else, something that was bothering her.

Times when he has strong emotions...But... the poor boy... the thing he feels most strongly is pain...

(-)

Sitting with Sirius, feeling like an anchor again. It's better than feeling lost, but it's not what I ever expected to be, and is something I'm getting quite tired of.

But you can't escape what you are.

"He looks so like him."

"But he isn't, and you've got to remember that."

"How could I forget? After all, you all keep reminding me. Like I've gone crazy."

"Sometimes you act crazy. Is that our fault?"

"He's wiser than we were. Excepting you. He's not a prankster, either. Who'd have thought it?"

"Quirk of genetics... He must have gotten his mother's brain."

"Thank God."

"You know those days can't come back."

"...It's pretty damn hard to accept, you know."

"Of course I know. I thought-- but he isn't coming back."

"You think I thought he was?"

"Would you stop that? Of course I don't. I think you wish he was. I know you do, because you miss him more than I do, and there's not a week that goes by..."

"Moony..."

"I've had all this time to get over it... Even when it turned out I was wrong about everything... I know you haven't. There's no getting over anything in Azkaban."

"Heh. Understatement of the century there. But... it feels like I'm frozen in time. Like those years of my life-- just vanished, and here I am, and I'm who I was, and you're even older than you were, and I don't fit in anymore. Everyone expects me to act my age, but I can't, because I'm not. I don't think I'll ever be able to be 'cautious'. Or have patience for all that idiotic strategy."

"Well, I can do that for you, if I have to."

"Oh, really?"

"'Course. Someone's got to keep you from killing yourself; I'll take the job. After all... we're the only ones left..."

And I couldn't bear to be the last one standing.

"Well, look who's here."

Why? Remus asked the ceiling, out of habit.

"Hi, Snape," Remus said cheerfully, not opening his eyes. "What brings you here?"

"Your idiot friends, that's what. Attacked me. Apparently they're all jittery because you spilled some potion on yourself, and they're taking it out on all of us."

"Lovely," Remus sighed. "Would it help if I apologized?"

"Go to hell."

"I didn't think so."

"As if you're sorry. You wouldn't follow them around everywhere if you weren't sorry..."

"Don't you understand friendship?" Remus asked, knowing a second later that it was probably unwise. "Don't you understand wanting to stay around someone because they accept you?"

"Seems like ass-kissing to me."

"I didn't think so," Remus sighed.

"I think you're just afraid."

"Can't deny that one."

"You won't even look at me..."

"I'm trying to sleep."

"Then why are you talking to me?"

"Because you started it."

"See? Just like your friends. Blaming everything on me."

"Would you shut up? Madame Pomfrey will kill us."

"Like I care what that useless bitch thinks..."

"Don't call her that..."

"Don't know why that Muggle-lover Dumbledore hired her... Except he's such an idiot..."

"Stop that."

"Couldn't tell his head from his arse if he didn't wear a hat on the one..."

"Why are you trying to piss me off? It's very pathological."

"Ooh, swear word... You ARE getting angry..."

Why? Remus asked again, silently. Irritatingly, no one ever answered.

"Damn little fairy-boy idiot... Which one are you snogging? Black? Couldn't be Pettigrew, they wouldn't keep you in the group for that..."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Must be Black. Tell me-- what did you have to do to get him to notice you? Bat your eyelashes? Wear tight pants? Show a little--"

Remus's eyes snapped open. "What the HELL is wrong with--!"

Snape was smirking at him, and Remus immediately realized his mistake.

"I know what you are, Lupin," Snape hissed. Remus was pinned against the wall, couldn't move, couldn't breathe. "With that idiot Dumbledore protecting you, I know better than to tell anyone yet. But I know what you are, and you disgust me. I can't understand why they let you in here. You're dangerous, and you're a murderer. And how does it feel from the other end, little Remus?"

And, just as suddenly, he let go. "I just didn't want you to mistake my silence for an indication that I in any way like you."

"Why, Severus, dear..." he breathed hoarsely, massaging his throat, as the sinister Slytherin boy stalked away. "How could you ever think I would dream of such a thing..."

-

"I know what you are, Severus," he said, staring up at him.

"And you should kill me. Yes, I've heard about your little spiel. Amazing that a werewolf could be such a coward. A Gryffindor, no less. And yet, here I stand, not being killed."

"Less cowardice than idiocy. Besides-- there's a line. People would get quite angry if I didn't wait my turn."

"You always were the least unintelligent of the group. Except in potions. There, you rival Neville Longbottom in fathomless depths of stupidity..."

"Why, thank you, Severus. But I notice I'm not being killed, either."

"That could be arranged..."

-

And the ropes came out of nowhere, tied him down-- I always wondered about you, Severus-- everything was falling apart, and it was his own fault. How could he have left the damned thing open on the desk? Idiot, idiot--

The glint of happiness in his eye-- finally, you get your revenge, for whatever imagined slight-- I'm amazed you didn't kill me with that Wolfsbane, Severus-- you've gained so much restraint in your old age--

I could have been your friend-- but you'd never let anyone be your friend-- maybe you were abused, but now you're the abuser.

And knowing the past doesn't mean it's any less right to break the cycle.

I would have stopped him, Severus, just as I want to stop you. But you've let him control you, now, you vindictive little idiot-- you'd tear the entire world down for revenge-- but it's not us you want to be revenged against, even if you won't let yourself believe it--

Three Expelliarmi at once-- that had to hurt...

My God, do you know what this means-- it means they believed us--

A miracle when I hardly believe myself--

-

"But... he always hated Lily and James. How could Dumbledore believe..."

He hated them, he wanted them dead, he wanted me dead, that's why he told--

He killed Dumbledore, I can't believe it, I always thought there was good in him, thought Sirius was naive--! God forgive me! God forgive me!

"LUPIN!"

Snape was shaking him-- unnecessarily hard--

The look in his eyes was almost worried, but Remus didn't have time to register that-- the future was bleeding into the past, and all he could see was the potions professor who'd told his secret, nearly gotten him killed, murdered Albus Dumbledore--

"REMUS!"

Remus snapped back to reality. His hands were wrapped around Snape's throat.

And the boy looked terrified.

"You're dangerous, and you're a murderer. And how does it feel from the other end, little Remus?"

This is what he was talking about. This. Tonight.

He laughed once, weakly, before collapsing to the floor.

"What the hell is WRONG with the little freak!" he heard Snape gasp, before his mind went away.

(-)

It's okay. I forgive you. We'll always be together. I won't let anything tear us apart.

Will you?

(-)

"Are you done with that antidote yet?"

"I don't know if this will work, but try it, if you're that impatient."

"Will it kill him?"

"No."

"Will it turn him blue?"

"Possibly."

"That's a risk I'm willing to take. He keeps bleeding."

"Really?"

"Not just seizures; the seizures are intermittent. But he keeps bleeding. Coughing up blood, nosebleeds... his tears are coming out red. I don't like it. Half-healed scars..."

"I'm working on it."

"Will this work?"

"It might."

"Which means you know it won't."

"...Possibly."

"Well, get to work then! This boy's life is at stake!"

"Fine, fine..."

"Or do you consider him less than a boy? Is that what this is?"

"No! Dammit, woman, I'm working as fast as I can!"

"I notice you haven't canceled your 'Slug Club' meeting."

"I'm hoping I'll be done by then."

"In half an hour?"

"...Poppy, Apollo Smi--"

"I don't CARE who's going to be there!"

"He can only come the one afternoon!"

"WORK ON THE POTION OR I HEX YOU!"

"Isn't there some sort of oath--?"

"I KNOW SOME DAMN GOOD ONES, TOO!"

"Fine! Fine! Merlin!"

"Son of a bitch."

"Touchy wench."

(-)

"Remus?"

He stirred slightly. "Remus? I have something to tell you. Something happened last night."

"Are those fireworks?"

"Yes. Remus, something's happened--"

"C'mon, Moony, wake up."

"I was worried he wouldn't get out of bed... but he was up before I was..."

"...Molly, what if that was because he couldn't sleep?"

"Mooooonyyyy..."

"Dumbledore sent me. What the hell are you wearing!"

"I have to get my groceries somehow!"

"What if something's wrong with him?"

"Halfbreed freak, if I had my way none of you would be alive..."

"He looks like he's just asleep, can't quite hear us. He's fine."

"Of course I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be fine? Let's not make a big deal over it-- that doesn't help-- nothing-- that doesn't help. I'll get over it on my own, you'll get over it on your own, everything will be fine, if you just leave me alone--"

"Remus--"

"Tonks-- because if you don't leave me alone, I'll start crying-- and I don't know if I'll ever stop--"

"The hell did that stuff do to him? Was Slughorn making us make something illegal?"

"You can't offer me a job. It's not legal. It hasn't been for months now."

"I know very well, I'm not senile quite yet, thank you. And I don't care, Remus. You need a job. I need a teacher. And you are the most qualified person I can imagine for the job."

"Wouldn't put it past him. Moony..."

"Go away."

"Moony..." Sirius shook his cot slightly.

"Sorry for sending Snivellus here to be your roommate, we didn't really think it through--" James chimed in.

"Kinda a fault of ours, it's why we need you," Sirius finished stoutly.

"So you should wake up now," Peter concluded.

"I can't."

"Why not?" Peter asked.

"It'll start again."

"What'll start again?" asked James.

"People are saying you can read people's minds, is that true?"

"Peter!"

"Or that you can tell the future. That's why James really wanted to know-- if Evans will ever stop hating him--" Peter teased.

"That's a laugh--"

"Snivellus was saying you'd gone crazy-- like he's one to talk--" Sirius laughed.

"Madame Pomfrey will kill you," Remus noted.

"We don't care. We just wanted to see if you're okay."

"Are you?" James asked.

"Well..." Remus considered it. "I can't open my eyes..."

"What? Why not?" Peter sounded alarmed.

"Because... I can open my eyes, I just can't... look at people."

From the silence, he could tell that hadn't helped them much.

"I start... seeing things. And having seizures. Both of which are bad."

"I told you he could see the future!" James crowed. "So does Evans ever stop hating me!"

"You don't understand," Remus said, faintly desperate, because he knew he had never been able to refuse these people anything, never in forty-odd years. "The future's not meant to be seen."

"...Hasn't Slughorn found an antidote yet?" James asked, faintly confused.

"Well... he tried something... but I don't think it worked."

"Do you know?" Sirius pointed out, sharply. The beginning of a line of logic Remus knew would be inescapable.

"No... I, er, haven't dared..."

"Then why don't you try? You could be cured and you'd never know it!" Sirius cried.

"But... I really don't think..."

"C'mon, Remus, give it a shot. Look at us." Sirius reached for his hand.

Remus had never been able to deny them anything.

"You... you became..."

"Animagi," James said proudly. "McGonagall gave us the idea. Been working on it for years. I'm the stag, Sirius is the dog, and Peter's the rat. Do you remember it?"

"Yes, but-- My God, you shouldn't have-- it's illegal, it's dangerous--"

"Do you feel better this morning?" Sirius asked.

"Well-- yes, but--"

"Then it was worth it. We're the Marauders. We stick together."

"Besides..." James grinned. "It was a HELL of a lot of fun."

"Now all we need to do is work on nicknames... It's not fair for you to be the only one..."

"I can't believe you actually..."

Sirius grinned. "So, when we say we'll never tell anyone--now will you believe us?"

-

The hospital ward, a different day, a different year, a different century.

"It was stupid, I know it was stupid, I never should have--"

"STUPID! STUPID! That is not even CLOSE to what you did to me! You BETRAYED ME! You swore you'd never tell, and what do you do? You tell SNAPE! SNAPE! SNAPE of all people! Don't you have any idea-- it would have KILLED me, Sirius! And I don't just mean emotionally! The Ministry barely tolerates my breathing as it IS! A werewolf who KILLS people--"

"Remus, it wouldn't have been your fault--!"

"No matter WHOSE fault it is, it's always the werewolf's fault, they get PUT DOWN, Sirius, they get KILLED, not very prettily, either--"

"Remus, I'm sorry, I didn't think it through--!"

"YOU NEVER THINK ANYTHING THROUGH! They would have COME here for me, Sirius, and they wouldn't have been ABLE to kill me, because I would already be dead."

"What--?"

"I WOULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE! BECAUSE YOU BETRAYED ME! I WOULD HAVE KILLED MYSELF BEFORE THEY GOT HERE!"

"Moony, please--"

"I DON'T EVER WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!"

"Moony--!"

"GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE BEFORE THE MINISTRY DOES HAVE TO COME!"

-

"Lily and James are dead," Dumbledore whispered gently, holding his gaze.

"...What?"

"They're dead, Remus. He killed them."

"But-- I thought it was a secret-- they didn't even tell ME--"

"Where they were? I'm afraid they... I'm afraid we made a mistake, Remus. We didn't trust you."

"...You thought I was the traitor." Almost calm. Even though he felt like he was going to die.

"I admit, we did. But we were wrong. We were fooled. James and Lily-- they had a Secret-Keeper. The only person who knew where they were?"

"Who?"

"Remus..."

"Tell me!"

"Sirius, Remus. It was Sirius."

"...There must be some mistake."

"There isn't. I was there."

"There has to be-- someone else must have known-- something must have happened--"

"Remus."

"Stop doing that! It can't be! He wouldn't have-- wouldn't have..."

"Remus. There's more."

"What? Did I escape and murder Ja-- Peter last night?"

"No. Sirius did that."

"...No."

"In a street full of Muggles, Remus. He killed... thirteen people. They're still looking for... for Peter."

"No. It can't be. He would never."

"They're sending him to Azkaban, Remus. They're not bothering with a trial."

"He wouldn't-- there has to be something--"

"Harry is alive."

"...What? I thought you said--"

"They killed James and Lily. But Harry survived."

"But-- but how--?"

"No one knows, yet. But he has. I've sent him to live with his aunt and uncle. He'll be safe there, I can assure you of that."

"...Lily's sister?"

"Yes."

"Lily's sister hates her."

"Well. I'm sure it's not hate..."

"I'm pretty sure she said it was hate."

"I'm sure they will treat him kindly there."

"You have a faith I can never match..."

"Faith is only strong if it is tested. And mine has never been tested as much as yours has. Remus... I am sorry."

"I... think you should leave now."

"Yes. I'll be back tomorrow."

"...Right."

-

He looks so like you, James-- he looks so like you--

-

"Together?" Is it all right now?

"I think so, yes." What ever is?

-

"But... why would he have remained hidden for so long? Unless... unless you switched... without telling me?"

You don't dare to believe it, can't dare-- he nods-- it can't be true, it's too good to be true-- Peter will have an explanation, James and Lily will pop out from under the bed-- just another prank, Remus! Sorry 'bout that!-- someone from St. Mungo's will come in with a cure for lycanthropy--

You don't dare to believe it-- but-- you can't stop yourself, either.

-

The house he hates so, on the stairway--

"Together, at least." We'll keep the pact as long as we can.

"Absolutely." 'Till death us do part.

I thought I'd be the one who died.

Why did you cheat me like that?

"Remus? Remus, dear, talk to me. Open your eyes. It's okay; you won't see anyone. I've blindfolded you. Okay?"

Remus opened his eyes, gingerly. She wasn't lying.

"Good. You're awake. How are you feeling?"

It wasn't worth an answer. Nothing was.

"Remus, I need you to answer me. I need to know that last seizure didn't-- didn't-- Remus, speak to me, your friends are going crazy."

"So am I," he whispered, past a raw throat, past lips that didn't want to move.

"No you're not. Slughorn explained it to me. Professor Slughorn," she amended. "What you were brewing in that class-- it was a potion to see who your husband would be. Some silly Dark Ages nonsense. Fluff. But still marketable. And, with a few alterations, an excellent scrying tool. Personally, I think he purposely altered the recipe to make it more far-reaching-- but we'll never be able to prove it. But your blood got in it, do you remember? That activated it, and made it specific to you, and set it haywire, all at once. That's why it's only you in here."

Remus was faintly relieved... Somewhere, at least. He couldn't really feel it. He was too busy being sixteen, eighteen, twenty, thirty, Merlin only knew how old.

"And Remus, it's... it's doing something to you. You're hemmorhaging... you're losing blood, inside and out. I'm doing all I can, but Slughorn is working on an antidote... So just... lie still, all right? Try to rest. You'll be all right."

"I can't sleep," Remus croaked.

"Should I give you a potion?"

"No, I--" He closed his eyes against the black silk of the blindfold. "I keep seeing it-- I don't even understand all of it, it's all jumbled, out of order, contradictory even, like pieces from three jigsaw puzzles dumped together-- but it's all true-- it's all true, and nothing I can do could stop it."

"I think I'll give you a potion. But-- the Headmaster wants to see you. Will you talk to him?"

But he's dead...

No, he isn't. Wrong time.

"All right," he whispered.

"Right. I'll be right back."

A rustling of fabric; a creak of the door; a movement of a chair.

"Hello, Remus."

"Hi, Professor Dumbledore," Remus whispered, throat closing with tears.

"Are you all right?"

Remus tried to lie, but couldn't remember what the point would be. "...No."

"Remus, I want to tell you-- whatever you're seeing, it can be changed. And you're more likely to see the parts that affect you, emotionally, the most."

"So pain is the most powerful emotion."

"Is that all you're seeing? Pain?" An honest question-- a little too honest, because Remus didn't want to answer-- because answering would mean facing it, and answering would do no good--

"Not... Not all... Most, though..." Remus struggled to remember anything, anything at all, that could be helpful, through the mist/web/ocean of pains and betrayals-- and remmebered one thing. "Professor... you're right about him. He's coming, and sooner than you think, and worse than you think, and you've got to be prepared."

"Right about who?" Dumbledore asked carefully.

"You know who." Remus closed his eyes in frustration; why did he have to play stupid, at this of all times... "I don't know his real name, you won't know his assumed name yet..."

"...I know. I am preparing. Don't worry."

"He's worse than you think... It..." Remus struggled against despair, though he'd forgotten why. "Why am I even...? It won't change anything. It won't help anything."

"How do you know?"

"It's... a paradox. If I'd changed anything, I would have seen something different in the first place. So I can't change anything. And it's all going to happen. Don't trust him."

"I can assure you, I don't."

"Not him... Snape... don't..." Remus struggled to get his thought across, through blurry mind and aching throat. "He'll... he's going to..."

Remus said no more.

"Remus?" Dumbledore reached out to him. "Remus? Poppy--"

Madame Pomfrey rushed in. "More blood-replenishing potion-- I don't know if it will keep working for long. That idiot Slughorn--..."

"He'll find it," Dumbledore said quietly. "It's what happens when he does that I'm worried about..."

(-)

Remus wasn't thinking clearly. Of course, he hadn't been for several days now, but tonight in particular. He couldn't remember how old he was. He couldn't remember why he was in the Hospital Wing. He couldn't remember why he was so short.

He couldn't even remember why he couldn't remember anything, though he knew damn well he knew.

He felt like he'd been taken out of time, out of life; certainly he wasn't-- how old was he supposed to be? Twelve? Thirteen?-- either way, he wasn't that age anymore, but he wasn't quite thirty or whatever either...

Is this eternity? Timelessness? They always described it in the books, and I could never understand-- how you can feel, see everything at once-- "outside of time"-- I never understood it-- I suppose maybe I do now--

I still don't like it very much; this is supposed to be anything like heaven?

Even lifting his arm an inch above the bed had been difficult, and yet here he was, making his way toward the window, toward the light of the moon that was shining in.

Is this a suicide attempt? If so, it would hardly be fair to do it now-- kill yourself in your own time, when you exist--

But the moon was quite beautiful, almost overhead-- waning, nearing third quarter, so it must be pretty late. Or pretty early.

Third-quarter moon rises at midnight, sets at noon. About a week until then--

Why they named me Moony... Doubly appropriate even before they knew about my "furry little problem", after which I knew I was stuck with the nickname for life...

For life...

He stared up at the moon hazily, and noticed a faint flash in his reflection against the window. My eyes... they turn silver when this thing happens? No wonder they were so scared...

Until now, his... "new condition" had only manifested when looking into someone's eyes.

Well, they say there's a man in the moon...

Personally, I only ever saw a rabbit. But rabbits have eyes too...

Because, however hazily, the effects of the potion were recurring.

The moon showed him a blurry picture, from far away-- four dark shapes: one larger, two similar, and one almost too small to be seen.

Remus remembered the wolf, drunk with freedom, drunk with friends or packmates or whatever the hell terminology, the wolf didn't care, they were there and they were a distraction even if the bastards wouldn't let him eat. They ran with him, and he was happy, and some vague fragment of a human mind within it was desperately grateful.

When they become Animagi, Remus realized. Those ridiculously dangerous/incredibly joyous/sweet to look back upon nights when he hadn't been alone.

That was a rarity in his life, he realized. Had always been. Would always be.

The moon showed him a window, yellow light streaming out into the night, a small party within.

Remus remembered the sound of friends' laughter, his own, miraculously, included-- spinning around in a blur of people, the arms of someone he loved. Some Muggle song on the radio he'd never heard before and would never hear again.

"If I live to see the Seven Wonders,

Or make a path to the rainbow's end,

I'll never live to match the beauty again..."

So long ago, so far in the future, so far in the past, so close to remember--

The moon showed him a small clearing, the ruins of a house, a stumbling figure dropping down to his knees at the edge of it as if in prayer.

Like the end of a pilgramage, Remus remembered, like kneeling down at a shrine. Like traveling a thousand miles to bring some offering that suddenly seemed wholly inadequate-- like dropping to your knees in front of the altar, weary or overpowered, and asking the god, "Why?" And hoping it would respect you enough to answer.

Before the last scene, after the last scene-- it was all out of order. Remus had put a vague timeline to it, but was long since hopelessly confused and drowning. This was not meant to be.

The moon showed him lonely, howling-- in the Forest with his friends-- staring down the stars--huddling up in a frayed jacket on the London streets-- passing out flyers--talking by the school lake--

And he realized what he'd come here to see. Something the moon would know, whenever it happened, wherever it happened, because of how he was shackled to it.

The moon showed him his death, and Remus realized that this was probably an attempt at suicide after all.

"REMUS! Up at this time of night! I told you to rest!"

Madame Pomfrey bundled him back into bed, God bless the woman. "Bleeding again... How the hell did you manage that? Was someone out there? I told you to stay in bed!"

Remus blinked at her arms, and remembered something he'd always forgotten to say. "Poppy...thank you. So much. For everything. I know you never wanted me here... but you've meant so much to me, all these years, because you were there for me anyway. I can't remember if I ever told you that. If I ever tell you that. I hate verb tenses. But, in case I forget, thank you."

Madame Pomfrey stared at him, totally unnerved and trying not to show it.

Those weren't the words of a thirteen-year-old boy. That wasn't the voice of one.

And after all, when did I tell him he could call me 'Poppy'!

He's a student; he shouldn't even know my first name, much less dare to...

"...You're always welcome" said Madame Pomfrey, voice fluttering slightly. "Now drink this and go to sleep. I'm going to go beat Professor Slughorn about the head repeatedly with a broomstick."

"Thank you," Remus said deleriously, slipping instantly into sleep.

I'm not sure he'll wake up from this one.

What is happening to this poor child...

Wasn't lycanthropy enough?

(-)

"Remus?"

He had been called by his name entirely too much in the last few days.

"Remus? Open your eyes."

That was the last thing he wanted to do.

"It's okay. We found the antidote. Open your eyes."

Remus did. Madame Pomfrey was staring down at him.

"See? You're fine now. Just rest a little longer and you'll be fine." She smiled.

Remus knew it wasn't true. Wars, betrayal, they'll betray me, all of them, I'm going to be the last--

"Your friends are waiting to see you. They've been worried. But I can't let them in yet."

He nodded.

"Remus..."

Hard enough to live through all that one time. But to know that it's coming--

I can't. I just-- can't. I can't bear it...

There's only one way this can end. From the very start, there was only one answer.

"Yes, ma'am," he whispered. "I'll rest..."

(-)

Later that night, in the dark of the Hospital Ward.

I can't live knowing this is coming.

A stolen scalpel.

You tear your flesh every month. Why should cutting it be harder?

But it is anyway. Even after all this.

But it's worth it.

He rested the blade lightly on his wrist and pushed.

(-)

"So-- he's fixed?" James asked, sounding worried.

Madame Pomfrey sighed. "He's not having seizures anymore... But... it was a traumatic experience for him. I don't know if he'll want to talk to you."

"'Course he will," Sirius said cheerfully. "Brought food, didn't we?"

"Still, be careful," she warned, still at war with herself over whether she should really let them in or not.

But-- they've done him good before, haven't they? Maybe they can fix him this time as well.

"We'll take good care of him," James promised with a wink, opening the door to the ward.

"I hope he's all right," Peter said, anxious. "He was acting so strangely... If he was seeing the future, was it really that bad?"

"Probably he was just hallucinating," Sirius said confidently. "He'll be fine. Oh, Moony..."

James opened the curtains.

Remus rubbed his eyes when the morning light hit his face. "You're here."

"'Course we are, did you think we wouldn't come? You didn't die! It's a bit of a celebration!"

Remus laughed. "Well, yeah, I guess-- shame it happens so often--"

"Better than the alternative," Sirius pointed out, putting down his tray of food. "You seem to be feeling better."

"Yes! It's strange-- I'm a little queasy, but otherwise-- I don't really understand it, but I'm certainly not asking questions." Remus grabbed a piece of toast before the others could begin to appropriate it.

"Good! You were kind of scaring us yesterday," James confided, deeply relieved.

"Yeah-- I guess I was a bit moody. Nothing unusual, though..." He laughed, self-deprecatingly. "Always happens the day of the full moon. Still, I think I was a little worse than usual..."

He took another bite of toast, and was, therefore, unaware of the very strange look that the other three shared.

"...Full moon?" James asked carefully.

Remus blinked and swallowed, suddenly uneasy. "Wasn't... wasn't yesterday...? I thought I remembered waking up from that already, but-- since I was still in here, I thought it must have been a dream--"

"...No," said Sirius, "that was a week ago, actually."

"A week?" Remus blinked again, somewhat paler than usual. "But-- I think I'd remember a week."

"Maybe that antidote..." James theorized.

"Antidote?"

"Potions a few days ago," Peter supplied. "We were making a potion, and it exploded, and you kept having seizures. Don't you remember?"

Remus shook his head slowly. "...This isn't a prank, is it? You wouldn't. If you are, this would be an excellent time to stop..."

"...We're not," said Sirius.

"Really," James affirmed.

"...Then what's going on?"

"...I'll get Madame Pomfrey," Peter said, standing up quickly.

"Yes," Remus agreed, rather unnerved. He was used to losing his memory-- to some extent, at least-- but a whole week?

He felt a little queasy thinking about it.

Peter led Madame Pomfrey into the room-- well, 'led' was the wrong word; she flew in after him as if she expected Remus's intestines to be spilling out onto the floor. "What's wrong!"

"He doesn't remember," James explained, getting off the cot quickly.

"Doesn't remember what!"

"The last week," said Sirius, making way as well. They all knew better than to cross Poppy Pomfrey.

The healer stared down at Remus, frozen. Remus stared back, terrified.

And suddenly she was under the cot, searching around, pulling out-- a cauldron, and Remus's wand, and something metal hissing around inside the slightly misshapen vessel. She fished it out instantly.

A scalpel, with a red-tinged, razor edge.

Before Remus could get over the shock, Madame Pomfrey was grabbing his arm, yanking it over, pulling back his sleeve to reveal the altogether too straight and neat short cut on his wrist-- the one he'd been puzzling over himself, before his friends arrived. She rounded on him, eyes blazing with fury and-- something else he couldn't place-- disgust? Worry? Fear?

"How in Merlin's name could you have DONE this!" she screamed at him, gone pale, more furious than even the Marauders had ever seen her. And more scared. "While under my care, no less! How DARE you!"

Remus stared back at her, shaking, terrified.

"--Shit. Of course. You don't remember."

She sank onto the next cot with a short sigh, running a hand through her hair. By now, she had all of the boys terrified-- especially Remus, who still didn't quite understand what was going on, but knew that he had done something drastic. "But maybe... this is for the best."

"A..." Remus tried warily. "A Forgetfulness Draft?"

She nodded wearily. "I believe so, yes. All the symptoms seem right, and the ingredients..." She glanced at the cut on his wrist. Even Remus remembered that the essential ingredient of a self-administered Forgetfulness Draft was a considerable quantity of blood.

"But-- but I'm terrible at potions, how could I--?"

"Determination. Sheer determination."

"But-- why would I--?"

"You wanted to forget something," said Madame Pomfrey. "Ask your friends. The aftereffects of that potion were... harrowing. Even for you. So it's not surprising. And maybe it was the best way."

"But..." Remus was appalled. "But... how could I... what if I'd gotten it wrong? I..."

I must not have cared. I knew I could have blown up the whole ward, and I must not have cared.

How COULD I! What the hell happened! That I'd do something so-- so dangerous, and cowardly, and-- and, dammit, cheating-- cut my wrist, for God's sake-- I promised myself I'd never--promised Mum, promised everyone I'd never--

I must have given in-- I must not have been strong enough, I failed-- but--

If-- all these moons-- haven't driven me to it yet--

Then what did?

He was shaking, staring down at his pale hands on the bedsheets.

I don't want to know. I don't ever want to know.

"I--" he tried. "I'm sorry--"

"It isn't your fault, Remus. None of this is your fault." She suddenly changed her tune entirely, pulling him into a hug. "You probably had help. It was the right thing to do. Okay? Don't worry about any of this. Have fun with your friends. There's nothing to worry about, nothing to be ashamed of. Eat some breakfast with your friends. I'll be right back."

She hurried out of the room.

"Could we..." Remus said, in a very small voice. Trying to figure out how to phrase the deepest, most illicit desire of his heart. "Could we pretend this never happened?"

"...Sure," said James.

"I'd be willing," said Peter.

"Absolutely," said Sirius.

"...Thanks."

"So. Can I have your bacon?"

"Sirius! You didn't even ask!"

"That's because you always say yes!"

(-)

"...Well," Slughorn said, when Madame Pomfrey had finished. "Not surprised. Seems like something the moody little stick would do. You'll want me to make another antidote?"

"No!" she cried, before she could even think about it, pure, horrified reflex.

Dumbledore's wise blue eyes came to rest on her, gently. "Why not, Poppy?"

"Because--" She struggled to put her instinct into words, into logic. "If we give him back his memory, he'll be back where he was. He won't be able to perform a Memory Charm-- those can't be self-inflicted, not intentionally. He won't be able to make a potion; that didn't work. He'll think of-- the only other way for him to be able to not live with his memories. He won't see any other choice. We've already seen he's desperate enough to cut his wrists. That option-- he'll see it very clearly, then. And I think he'd do it."

Dumbledore nodded, slowly. "Yes... I agree."

"But--" Slughorn protested weakly. "It's against school rules-- think how useful he could be--"

"You didn't see him," Madame Pomfrey said firmly. "The last thing he was was 'useful'. You're not using him as a tool to get yourself-- whatever the hell it is you're looking for. You couldn't if you tried."

"I'd suggest taking your classroom assignments purely from the textbook in the future, Horace," Dumbledore said. Perfectly mild. Perfectly calm. Perfectly dangerous.

"--Yes, sir. If that will be all--"

"You may leave," said Dumbledore.

"Right." Slughorn did.

"...I hate him so much," Madame Pomfrey said, offhandedly.

"I noticed." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "But they really did deviate from the recipe to an astonishing degree."

"Then he should've written it more clearly."

"Precicely." His eyes were downright sparkling now with suppressed laughter.

"...Is he ever going to remember this?"

Dumbledore sighed. "He used the most powerful variation of that potion, Poppy. Even ordinary Muggles can repress memories for years... and with magical help in that repression...Well. He'll remember... when he's ready to remember. No sooner. But... possibly later."

"Which means?" Madame Pomfrey asked, trying not to sound impatient.

"I don't know," Dumbledore explained. "I'm not being obscure for the fun of it-- though I'll admit that's one of my more irritating hobbies; it simply isn't more specific than that. It may be that he'll remember when he's mature enough to accept it. It may be when most of the things he saw that scared him so have come to pass. It may be the moment of his death. It may be after his death. I don't know. No one but Remus can know. It's his decision, subconscious though it may be."

"...Well." Madame Pomfrey sighed. "I'm glad... that something is."

"...From the beginning of this affair, Poppy, this could have gone no differently. Because of him, you, laws of magic, pure logic-- there was no other thing that could have happened. You kept him alive, when many other healers might have failed. Don't worry about what you couldn't have prevented."

"...In his sleep... or when his eyes flashed silver... twice he sang... but almost always, he was talking about war and mistrust and betrayal. I heard that he told you to beware... Should we... have asked him what will happen?"

"You mean, was Horace right." Dumbledore sighed again, stroking Fawkes' head. "It may go down as a mistake... It may be my greatest failing... But I refuse to sacrifice a young boy's sanity, his life, for any cause. No matter how important it may be for us all. Ignoring the time paradox, the ethics, the entire nightmarish ordeal of trying to extract any useful information from his hallucinatory dreams... I will not, I cannot do it. Besides... the future is not meant to be known. Mr. Lupin had probably already learned that from books; there wasn't any need to reinforce the knowledge firsthand. But... in a way, he does prove it. But I didn't need reminding."

She smiled. "...I have no idea what the hell you just said, sir."

"Get some sleep, Poppy."

"Yes, Headmaster."

She left the office.

Everything isn't okay... but why does it feel that way?

Because anything can happen now...

(-)

The Marauders, true to their word, had conveniently forgotten the entire past week.

Well, the part where Remus was sick, at least. And therein lay the problem.

"Cheering Charms!" Remus cried in despair, flipping though notes. "I can't believe I missed Cheering Charms!"

"You didn't miss 'em, you were best in the class," Sirius said, attention focused on trying to fit the textbook he had, despite his best efforts, been forced to take out in class, back into his bag.

"Yes, but that doesn't help if I can't remember it! What the hell was I thinking! And then there were the days I was actually out! I'll never catch up!"

"Yeah you will," James said, attention focused on looking for Lily Evans in the corridors.

"Yeah, you always whine about it a lot, and then you always have it learned the next day, so what's the problem?" Peter complained, faintly resentful.

"But this is a week! MORE than a week!"

"Yeah, whatever, Moony," Sirius said, smiling wryly as he finally managed to close up his bag.

"I wouldn't be so worried if the notes you so kindly lent me weren't half comprised of doodles..."

"The ones of Evans in a swimsuit are all James," Sirius said.

"Hey! What were you doodling in a swimsuit? McGonagall, I bet?"

Sirius shuddered. "You're kidding me! You pervert!"

"She isn't that old..."

"What is it with you and big black dogs?" Remus wondered out loud. Since James and Sirius were now distracted, he was essentially talking to himself. "And what's this he keeps writing under it... 'Patient'? Where did you learn to write!"

"Mum," Sirius said promptly.

"Ah. Explains a lot."

"Merlin, I'm glad that class is over..." Peter yawned, changing the subject. "History of Magic... Can't someone tell him just to go on into the light?"

"They don't dare; they're afraid the students would do it instead," said James.

"Half a class, gone," Sirius said, shaking his head mournfully. "Prime of their lives and everything. Terrible waste."

"Half? That seems low..."

"Three-quarters?"

"Thirty out of thirty-one?"

"Yeah, that's closer..."

Remus smiled to himself, struck by a sudden wave of contentment. It was lunchtime, they had an easy afternoon, and the early-afternoon light was shining through the windows on him and his friends.

His friends. He'd never thought he'd have any-- hadn't wanted any, hadn't dared. But it had happened anyway... They'd found out, and they hadn't gone away, and...

Remus glanced out one of the windows, at the pale moon fragment in the sky. Smiling at a memory.

Afternoon spring sunlight; by the lake. They were arguing, and I was staying out of it. Working on my homework; studying Charms, I think. And suddenly, I realized-- I hadn't thought about being a werewolf all day.

It wasn't the first time it had happened, I realized; it was happening all the time now. My life no longer revolved around the full moon.

They had changed my life.

A few seconds later, I admitted what that really meant: they had saved my life.

I owe them so much for that. I owe them so much for this happiness, that I never dared to expect. For this hope

It's why I can't refuse them anything... but that's okay, isn't it? That's what friends are supposed to do. Friends care about each other; friends are always there; friends trust each other no matter what...

I'm out of practice, I have to go by what I've read-- I hope I'll do it right. But these people are my friends forever.

There isn't anything that can change that.

With his friends at his side, Remus Lupin walked calmly into the future, entirely unaware that he was even doing it. He didn't foresee any great struggles or wars to come-- unless his friends actually provoked an all-out Gryffindor/Slytherin war, which was, come to think of it, entirely within the realms of possibility. The future was a closed book-- unknown, unknowable, and full of unbounded potential.

And, no matter when you asked him, he would know that he would never want it any other way.

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