Author's note: Many thanks to Xanthophyllippa for a speedy beta.
Demons and Memories
It was the same dream he had had nearly every night for the past three decades: a flash of blood-soaked teeth, yellow eyes, and serrated claws chasing him through the darkness. He was running, always running, through the black, starless night while maniacal laughter rang out through the air, mocking him.
He could feel the beast's hunger for blood and flesh, feel its hatred and rage pulse through the very scars that covered his body. Remus knew Greyback was always there, always watching, waiting to finish the job he had started years ago, and it haunted his nights for as long as he could remember dreaming.
But, this night, he would not wake to find himself in the safety of his own bed, in the quiet comfort of his own home. He would not be able to simply shake away the effects of another restless sleep. This night would find Remus Lupin running, still running, for his life. Being chased by a nightmare from which he would never wake up.
Remus wound his way through bramble and thicket, clearing his path with one arm while the other swayed useless at his side. He half ran, half limped through the dense forest, splinters of his destroyed wand still embedded in his leg. The only sound he could distinguish, other than the cracking of branches and his own erratic breathing, was the maniacal laughter that he could never seem to escape.
His mind raced: who would be left to face Greyback, who would approach the other werewolves and try to convince them that there were options other than the destroying of innocent lives? Were all his brethren to be lost to the homicidal ramblings of a savage killer? Suddenly, his thoughts turned to his own fleeting life and a thousand thoughts weaved through his mind: words never said, deeds never done. He had hoped his time would come after he finally knew peace; there was so much he had hoped to be forgiven for and so many others to forgive in return. Now there would be no time.
Sharp edges of rocks and exposed tree roots cut into his bare feet as he made his way through the crowded brush. Though he tried to move quietly, he knew it would matter little. Greyback would be able to hear his footsteps no matter how light, see the path of broken twigs and tree limbs Remus left in his wake, and smell the drops of blood that fell from his torn arm and leg as he escaped from the encampment where he had been spying on werewolf activity for the Order.
Suddenly, Remus felt the Earth give way beneath him. He stumbled over the uneven ground, fell forward in a jumbled heap, and caught his jaw against a jagged rock. Remus found himself prostrate in a clearing, one leg twisted and bent at an awkward angle from the rest of his body, his mouth full of dirt and bitter copper, and the sound of deranged laughter getting ever closer.
He closed his eyes in defeat. So this was how it would end. He thought of Harry and how he would never be able to say a proper goodbye. He thought of Nymphadora and how little time they'd had. He thought of Severus and how he would never truly know….
The sound of hushed footsteps on dead leaves caught his attention and he looked up to find he was not alone. Across the clearing, a masked, cloaked figure emerged from a thick patch of trees. The stranger stood, scrutinizing the open field and the prone figure of the werewolf that lay broken at its center. He didn't speak or make a move forward; the only clue to his identity was a glint of moonlight that shone off a silver hand.
Remus nearly laughed aloud. Tonight was the night for demons and memories, it seemed. He wondered who would kill him first or if they would share the pleasure out of some common Death Eater courtesy. He would soon get his answer as the creature that had been chasing him appeared from the opposite end of the clearing.
When Fenrir Greyback caught sight of Peter Pettigrew, the vile, insane laughter that Remus has heard incessantly over a lifetime became completely unhinged and unsettled. It would seem the irony of the moment was not lost on the monster either. Remus lay helpless as the two Death Eaters approached their prey. He closed his eyes again and began a silent prayer.
Remus wondered briefly how it would end. Perhaps Greyback would pick apart his limbs with all the joy of a schoolboy on Christmas morning just before Peter would finish him off with a spell that he'd become well known for performing. Maybe Greyback wouldn't allow Peter to participate at all; he didn't seem like the type who shared his toys and let others in on the game. It could be Peter's choice either way; perhaps his place in the hierarchy gave him the right to terminate certain lives. Treachery had its benefits and Peter had done a fairly decent job of it already; why not see it through?
His thoughts would be interrupted as skirmish broke out overhead. There was a gasp of surprise followed by an earsplitting scream and, without warning, a body fell next to Remus. He looked up and saw the slack-jawed, dead-eyed glare of Greyback; a bloody, gaping hole remained in the spot that was once his chest.
Remus recoiled at the sight and looked up to find Peter standing above him with what looked to be Greyback's heart clutched in his sliver hand. Peter dropped the organ on the floor where it landed with a sickening splatter next to Remus's head. It was then the Death Eater pulled back his hood and lifted his mask with the hand that was still human. Peter looked older, much older than he should, but for one brief moment Remus looked into the round face and the small eyes of the boy he knew. They stared at each other in the silence of the clearing for what felt like an eternity before Peter replaced his mask and turned to leave.
Remus watched him walk away, his cloak billowing behind him as he disappeared into the forest from where he surfaced. He vanished like a specter of some forgotten place and time, the only evidence that he was ever there was a few faint footprints in the dirt and the gutted corpse that lay next to Remus. He wanted to call out to his old friend. To thank him, to forgive him, to ask why, why, why did he hurt them, why did he leave them, why did he save him tonight? But he couldn't bear to utter a single word.
Instead Remus closed his eyes for the third time that night. Not in defeat or in prayer, but in sleep. He closed his eyes and dreamed of a spring day decades ago, of a patch of grass and four friends who picked at dandelions and spread wishes and dander through the air. Careless and foolish and happy.
And the laughter that filled this dream was that of a past that still thrived in a heart as over-mended as his cloak. Of a past, that perhaps, wasn't completely lost after all.Finis