A/N: Well, this is it, the final chapter. I don't know when I wasn't writing this story now; it has seriously become a big part of what I do. As you can probably tell, I finished writing this fic a week ago and so I'm just updating now (which probably accounts for the quick updates).
The reviews have been very mixed of late, but still, I thank you for all of them. I'm glad that most of you feel I managed to keep characters IC and that my story is well written. The only point on which people have raised issues really is the so called "reasoning" behind what Snape has done. Maybe you just expected something bigger? Maybe his motivations don't fit your idea of Snape as a character? In fact, I don't even know if they fit MY ideas od Snape. He is probably the best charcter to write as he is always so ambiguous. Personally, I don't think it matters what the exact motivations are, except in the fact that they have all added up to make him the character he is to date.
I'm glad people enjoyed the interaction between Remus and Harry. I too was a little disappointed that J.K. didin't dedicate much time to their relationship in HBP. They are, after all, united in grief. But, I suppose we can forgive her. Remus was off doing important things after all :-P
I would like to thank all of those that have been here from the begining (that is quite alot of you!) Without your encouragement this may have been just a lonely oneshot! Thank you to all of those that have come over from Potions and Snitches. (You must have done ALOT of reading!) Thank you for all the nice things that have said, all the constructive criticisms, and all the well thought out opinions on my plot. They were all appreciated.
I am currently about eight chapters into writing what will follow this. I am going back to pick out questions I have deliberately and subtley raised in this fiction regarding the problematic nature of Remus and Sirius' relationship. I believe it is important to look at this carefully, as I am currently planning a fic AFTER that one which will deal with the problem of the Death of the Potters: how much did Dumbledore know? What exactly was Snape's role? Why didn't the Potters take Dumbledore up in his offer of being their Secret Keeper? Why did Sirius distrust Remus? And why did no-one tell Remus that Peter was the Secret-Keeper?
I hope this is enough to tempt you to read this fics too! (Remus/Sirius one will be posted under their character sections obviously).
So, here it is, the final chapter. I have tried to make it a light ending to what has otherwise been an angsty tale. I am going to address the problem of Ron and Hermione (but how can I resolve it?), while Remus and Harry say goodbye.
Disclaimer: Thank you for J.K. for writing characters that I myself wish I had created. I didn't however, so don't sue.
It was a damp and chilly morning; dark clouds hung ominously over head and dared to threaten rain. As Harry looked around the faces of those that were gathered outside the gates of Hogwarts, his heart sank as he watched Ron and Hermione approach him; Hermione's bushy hair sticking out angrily beneath her hat, Ron's face bitten red by the cold. For a moment Harry could do nothing but shift nervously on his feet, hands in his pocket as he buried his chin in his scarf to escape. But it was no use, they were directly in front of him now, and Harry prepared himself for whatever it was to follow; shouting, accusations, tears…anything…as long as it was done and forgotten just as quickly.
"Ron and I have been talking," Hermione began eventually as the crowd began the walk to Hogsmeade. Harry automatically became tense with anticipation. "And well…we think we've been really unfair to you since the beginning of term."
"What?" gasped Harry, unable to hide his surprise as he turned to look at Ron.
"You see the thing is Harry…" Ron began, nervously kicking a loose stone from the earth bellow, "Me and Hermione arguing can't have helped…you know…with everything you've been going through. We didn't realise how bad we had got until you erm…" Ron flushed crimson as he too buried his chin in his scarf to muffle the words as he spoke them, "Until you shouted at us the other day."
"Yeah…" Harry began slowly, not fully understanding what they were trying to say. "About that…"
"Oh don't worry about that!" Hermione cut him off briskly, pre-empting an apology that was never to come. "We realise that what you said was obviously down to stress. I mean, you had had to put up with a week with Snape…especially after the Veritaserum incident. I don't blame you if I'm honest…I don't know if I would have been half as patient."
Hermione smiled as if to cover her tracks, but Harry's eyes were fixed on Ron who seemed to be taking the greatest care not to look at Harry.
"Yeah but…erm…well…I think you've got the wrong…"
Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by a man with sandy coloured hair and extremely scruffy clothes who smiled at Ron and Hermione as he approached. Seeing the look of disappointment on Harry's face, Remus' smile left him, and he took a step backwards as he said, "Oh sorry, it seems I've interrupted something."
Harry noticed Ron grimace as Hermione swiftly and enthusiastically said, "You haven't at all. Why don't you walk with us?" Remus seemed to have listened but not heard, his eyes were reading the message Harry was silently giving him. After smiling secretly to Harry, Remus straightened his back, pulling his fingerless gloves onto his hands as he said, "I'll just be walking a little way ahead. Catch up with me Harry." And with that, he strode swiftly away.
Hermione looked flustered, the wind was whipping her hair around her face and she was finding it impossible to smooth it down.
"I guess what we're getting at is that, well, what you said about Ron and me…" Harry shot a glance to Ron who was still staring with his fixed on the floor as he walked. "We talked about it and both agreed on what a ridiculous idea it was…I mean…you must have been really stressed to have even suggested it." Hermione's laugh was nervous; Ron's face was completely red.
Hermione stopped laughing, her eyes swiftly scanning the people around her for a possible means of escape. Squinting as if she saw someone she recognised she said swiftly, "I think I see Ginny" and without another word she strode off and disappeared into the crowd.
For a long time, Ron said nothing, and Harry let him enjoy the silence, somewhat relieved that Hermione had finally left. He knew by now that when Ron was this quiet he was debating something; he was measuring up the pros and cons in his head of pursuing a course of action; like when he was debating whether or not to tell his mother something the twins had done. So Harry waited for Ron to break the silence as they walked in the wind and the cold.
"When did Lupin get here?" he asked, finally lifting his eyes from the ground beneath his feet.
"Last night," Harry replied simply. Ron said something that sounded like "Oh" before turning his attention once more to the path. For a few uncomfortable moments they stayed like this before, after clearing his throat awkwardly, Ron said in a quiet whisper, "You were right you know."
"What did you say?" Harry asked, hardly believing his ears. This time when Ron spoke it was firmer and much louder than before.
"You were right with what you said about…you know…me…" Ron froze, unable to finish the sentence before he babbled incoherently, "Bloody hell I can't even bring myself to say it."
"You fancy Hermione?" Harry said. Ron nodded.
"I don't know…I really don't know why. I've tried to work it out…in my head it doesn't make sense. I mean she's bossy…really bossy. All she does is have a go. And don't even get me started on the way she thinks she knows everything…" Ron took a deep, shuddering breath before continuing, "I think sometimes…I try to think when it started but I don't even know…I wish I did though Harry…but I don't…It doesn't make sense, and I don't want to like her but I do."
Harry grinned and Ron reciprocated with a smile that looked more like a wince as he continued, "I really, really do."
Ron huffed, kicking another stone much harder than the first. "I tried to tell her last night you know. I was actually quite pleased you said it. I'd been trying to say it for weeks. But when I bought it up she changed it round…made it seem like a great big joke. I couldn't tell her then…she'd just think I was mental…or messing her around."
Harry said nothing; relieved that for the first time in ages he was having a normal conversation with his best friend. Ron looked at Harry confused.
"What you smiling for? I thought you'd be weird about it…"
"Ron, I've known for ages. It's not exactly a surprise." Ron tried to smile, but he winced again before burying his head in his hands as he moaned, "Its hopeless anyway really…it's too late for anything else…she'll only ever see be as a friend…"
Harry threw an arm around Ron and shook him hard, causing him to drop his hands from his face as he said enthusiastically, "Come on, it's not over until the Fat Lady sings…"
Ron smiled despite himself.
"Have you ever heard that old bag sing?"
"Well?" Remus asked when Harry caught up with him, rubbing his hands together and blowing on them hard. Harry shrugged before shaking his head. Remus rolled his eyes.
"I'm beginning to think those two will never get together." Harry sighed in agreement.
As they reached the top of the hill they looked down on the town of Hogsmeade below; smoke curling from the chimneys up into the miserable sky. Students rushed past them yet Harry and Remus stood looking down to the town below, motionless and silent. Finally it was Harry that spoke first, not turning his eyes from the town as he said, "I've been thinking about something…something I saw in Snape's Pensieve…something I can't explain…."
He automatically had Remus' attention; his eyes were now fixed on Harry who was still gazing down into the valley below. He watched as he blinked, slowly turning his attention towards him and asked, "In the memory Snape showed me I saw…an argument." Harry noticed Remus grow pale; his eyes once again becoming dark and melancholy as Harry continued to speak. "I want to know Remus…I want to know what Sirius and my dad fought about that night…"
Harry watched as Remus exhaled and closed his eyes, thinking silently to himself for a moment as if Harry wasn't there. All around was cold and frozen; Remus appeared so much older than Harry knew he was as he opened his eyes once more. He hesitated as if he was thinking that what he was about to say should not be said, but the smile that flooded his features reassured Harry, and the words he spoke immediately put Harry's mind to rest. "You know I really couldn't tell you…it was so long ago. But I can assure you Harry, it was nothing serious."
Both of them once more turned their attention to the town of Hogsmeade below, and the swarms of Hogwarts students that had descended. Harry knew from the silence that had descended that it was time for Remus to say goodbye.
"Can I write to you?" Harry suddenly asked, the question causing Remus' face to flood with confusion. Harry blushed and mumbled, "Well…that is…if you're not too busy…"
"Of course you can Harry. You don't even have to ask." Remus turned and noticed Ron and Hermione, standing a safe distance apart from one another, hovering nearby as they waited for Harry. Remus waved them over and as they approached, he pressed a number of coins into Harry's hand and asked, "Would you do me a favour?"
"Will you buy me some chocolate from Honeydukes," Harry grinned. "I seem to be running low." And with that Remus turned and walked away, pulling his robes tightly around him as he descended the path back towards Hogwarts.
Harry pocketed the money and, after watching the shape of Remus disappear round the bend, he turned to Ron and Hermione and said, "Come on, I've been neglecting you for far too long. Time for some Butterbeers I think."