Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine. Nor is anything else you recognise.

The Last Marauder

Remus Lupin sat in his apartment, miserable and alone.

In the past forty-eight hours he had lost everyone he cared about. The Marauders had been ripped apart, had disintegrated from beneath him.

He had always seen their friendship as rock solid; something he would be willing to put all his trust into, build his life on. But the bricks had crumbled, the cement had fallen to pieces, his entire world had come crashing down around his ears. James Potter and Peter Pettigrew dead- killed by the traitorous Sirius Black. Remus still had trouble believing it.

It was Sirius.

Sirius who had stood by him after learning of Remus' werewolf condition, Sirius who had made a promise not to betray his friends, not to go over to the Dark Side, Sirius who had suggested becoming an Animagus with James and Peter to help make Remus' transformations every month bearable. Sirius Black.

"Why Sirius?" Remus whispered, his voice and heart filled with pain, "What good did it do? How could you do this to them? How could you do it to James? What about Harry? Didn't you think of him?"

Remus was at a loss to understand why Sirius would intentionally hurt James and the family James had held so dear. Sirius and James had been inseparable. They were brothers in spirit, even if not in name. They had always been so similar and always turned to each other for help and comfort. They were best friends to the end.

The end had come.

'So why', Remus wondered, 'am I still here? How can I be here if everything else I trusted was false?'

Halloween is notoriously associated with ghosts, goblins and terror but this year it had brought more horrors than Remus could have ever imagined. Death, grief, loss, murder, insanity, evil.

Sirius was James and Lily's Secret Keeper. Sirius had known that they had trusted him even more than Dumbledore himself. And Sirius betrayed them.

Remus just didn't understand it. Not only did Sirius willingly hand James over to Voldemort but he murdered Peter with his own hands. Sirius knew that James loved Lily more than anybody but Sirius as good as murdered her. He killed the woman his best friend loved. As far as Remus was concerned Sirius could go to Azkaban and he hoped he died there, alone and friendless.

Remus would do nothing to stop it.

Roughly snatching the bottle off the table, Remus poured himself another shot, a good deal of it not reaching the glass and falling with a soft splash at his feet. Throwing his head back, Remus swallowed the burning liquid in one go, yearning for the numbness he knew it would eventually bring. He grimaced as the memories surfaced.

He remembered the day which James had proclaimed throughout his seventh year at Hogwarts as the happiest day of his life- the day Lily had agreed to go on a date ("One date James," she had specified, "we'll see how it goes.").

Remus remembered how James eyes brightened with happiness- quite a feat for someone who already had such a jovial personality. He recalled how Sirius had enthusiastically congratulated James on his getting the girl James had had his eye on since the 3rd year. They had spent the whole day planning where James would take her, how he would impress her. In the end they opted for simple yet special, somewhere they could talk without it putting any pressure on Lily to agree to a second date. ("Rules out Madame Puddifoot's then" Sirius had said with a grin. "Thank God. Hate that place. I don't want her to think that she has to agree to go out with me again if she doesn't like it. I want her to like it. I want her to like me" James had replied.) So, James had snuck out to Hogsmeade with Lily under his invisibility cloak.

They went to the Three Broomsticks where, James reported breathlessly, they spent ages talking and, he exclaimed excitedly, "she laughed at one of my jokes!" They had left the Three Broomsticks only when thrown out for closing time and had spent the walk along the passageway back to the one-eyed witch statue talking about anything that had come into their minds.

He and Sirius had waited in their dorm for James while Peter, curled up on his bed, snored loudly. Despite Remus' admonishments, only James' bursting through the door, caused Sirius to cease throwing screwed up pieces of parchment in Peter's direction, trying to hit him on the nose. ("You'd think I would be able to hit it! I mean I'm a Chaser! It's not like it's even that small a target!" Sirius had complained after his 6th missile failed to hit its mark.)

When James had entered, however, Sirius immediately stopped his endeavors and turned to James eagerly to hear the verdict. James proceeded to recall, in minute detail, everything about the date, how well it went, what they had talked about, how she had let him kiss her goodnight ("And kissed back!") and how they had arranged another date.

Remus heard the clock strike three in the morning as he firmly pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes until they hurt, trying to blot out the aching pain in the rest of his body, trying to blot out the visions of the past swimming through the liquor induced haze. Throwing back another shot the memory of the morning after that date came unbidden into his mind. James and Lily had sat side by side at breakfast talking animatedly and spilling their breakfast all over the table in their unwillingness to look at anything else. So engrossed were they in each other, their friends had had to tell them several times that they had to be getting to lessons before it registered with them. Saying goodbye had taken another fifteen minutes and by the time they had all arrived at their respective lessons they were very late indeed. Sirius had laughed about it, said James was going soft, but it was clear how pleased he was about his best friend's new relationship.

'They are…were best friends,' Remus thought. They had been close to Remus and Peter, of course, but Remus knew that his friendship with them could not come close to the bond shared by Sirius and James, such similar souls that people frequently mistook them for brothers. Nobody could replace Sirius in James' life, just as nobody could replace James in Sirius'.

How could Sirius do this to James?

Only two days had passed since Lily, James and Peter had died and Sirius was dragged off to Azkaban (Remus spilled some of his drink as his hand shook at the thought of the place) and already Remus was desperately lonely.

He had discovered two days ago that Voldemort, the evil shadow that had been hovering menacingly over the Wizarding World for so long was gone, because of Harry Potter. His euphoria turned to despair in milliseconds as he came to a full realisation of the repercussions for himself and his friends.

James and Lily were dead. Peter was dead. Harry was an orphan. All because of Sirius Black. Remus didn't think it was possible for him to hate his old friend so much.

Remus sighed heavily and stared into the fire, his heart mourning the friends, and the life, he had lost. He was still struggling to comprehend the fact that he would never see them again. Sirius would never get out. James, Lily and Peter were dead and Harry… he would stay away from Harry. No point in confusing the child any more. Remus couldn't add to the boy's burden. He knew what a difficult time Harry would have as he grew up without him being a part of his young life. A wizard who was also a werewolf, old and grey before his time would hardly make life easier. Maybe in the future he would find Harry again. How could he not? He was part of James and Lily and his old life, and the possibility of that connection that could be made in the future was the only reason Remus hadn't decided to join his three deceased friends. He would find Harry again, and hopefully would get to be a part of his life. That is, if there was room for him next to the friends and girlfriends the young boy was likely to know and love. He would wait for Harry to grow up and at some point, maybe, he could be a part of his life again.

Remus blinked furiously and leaned back in the threadbare chair. He assumed Harry would go to Lily's sister. What was her name? Petunia. Lily's parents had been keen horticulturists and wanted to name their girls after the most beautiful and gentle living things on earth, in the hope that their children would grow up the same way. Lily rarely talked about her sister as the knowledge that Petunia disliked her caused her great pain. She had spent her pre-teen years idolising her older sister and was confused in the extreme when she received her Hogwarts letter and Petunia's reaction had been, not the excitement and happiness that Lily herself was feeling and expected from her older sibling, but disdain, anger and resentment. Lily had cared deeply for her sister and had always hoped that they could one day rebuild the relationship they used to have.

Remus' thoughts turned to Peter as he poured himself another glass, his vision becoming very hazy now with the drink and unshed tears. Poor Peter. He hadn't always done the right thing but he had tried and his friends had respected him, stood by him. He worshipped James and Sirius with an unending devotion. To him they could do no wrong. But, finally, he had been brave in the reckless, highly stupid way befitting a Gryffindor. He had stood up to Sirius, the idol who had stabbed them all in the back and been killed for his trouble.

He hadn't deserved that. None of them had deserved this.

Remus wondered what had happened to Sirius to turn him from the kind, loyal friend he once was, to the ruthless, heartless killer Remus had learned he had become. What had changed him into a murderer who couldn't care less about his best friends? Remus feared he would never know the answer to any one of the thousands of questions roving restlessly through his head, clogging his brain, punching at his mind, demanding answers.

"What went wrong, Padfoot? Sirius?" Remus asked the room, its emptiness mirroring the void in his life created by the loss of his best friends. "The Padfoot I knew would never have been able to tolerate Voldemort. You and James hated the Dark Arts, despised them. Why did you do this Sirius? What about James? What about the Marauders? What about… what about Harry?"

Sirius had adored his godson and James and Lily had doted on him. James was so proud to have a baby boy to teach Quidditch to ("And mischief, of course," Sirius had once added laughingly before ducking to avoid one of Harry's balls thrown by Lily who had just entered the room after putting Harry to bed. "Don't you dare!" she had warned, the effect somewhat diminished by her wide smile). James was so happy to have a son to carry on the Potter line as well as James' personal reputation for troublemaking at Hogwarts that he and the rest of the Marauders had spent so long building up.

It was all over now. All those dreams of the future. The Marauders together, Harry growing up in a happy, loving environment with his parents and their friends.

Sighing, Remus rubbed his tired eyes. With one last point of his wand he extinguished the dying fire and rose to his feet as though it took all his strength to move. The Last Marauder stumbled through the darkness to his bedroom for a third tormented night of restlessness, unable to fall into the relief of slumber.