Errare Humanum Est
Author's Note—the title is Latin, it translates "to err is human". As always I do not own anyone but Sosia, and I'm not so sure that it's not the other way around and she actually owns me! The incredible J.K. Rowling owns Harry, Remus, Dumbledore, Sirius, and pretty much everything else. A special note of thanks to my beta-reader, bbennett, and you can find this over at Sugarquill soon as well!
And if I were doing this for money, I wouldn't be putting it up for free here, would I?
Please, review in the box that is quite helpfully stationed at the bottom of the page!
That's what he remembered most of their last meeting, the look of hurt and betrayal in her eyes.
"He did not do that. Sirius could not have done that!" Her voice throbbed with tears she refused to shed.
"He was the only one capable of doing so," Dumbledore reasoned; his voice was tired and laced with a deep sadness. "Sirius was James and Lily's Secret Keeper, I was there when they made the decision—I offered to take on the task myself, but James would have no one but Sirius."
"And don't forget Peter." She turned away from Remus' voice, hugging herself tightly. "He killed Peter, Sosia. Peter tracked him down and he killed him to escape!" Remus cried. She would not look at him; she had not looked at him since he had told her why Dumbledore and sent him to fetch her.
"There were twelve innocent people killed as well, in his attempt to escape Peter. Muggles who knew nothing of our world or the danger they were in."
"A street full of witnesses saw him—they SAW him—kill Peter and all those muggles." If he could only reach past her blind faith in the perfection of her beloved elder brother, Remus thought desperately. She might have seen something, heard something, that would help them to make sense of it all, because heaven knew he did not understand why Sirius had done what he had done. "And do you know what he did afterwards, Sosia? He laughed. He laughed, Sosie!"
"No, I won't believe it. Not of Sirius, he would not do that."
"Sosia," Dumbledore moved to stand directly in front of her. She would not look him in the eye, "Sosia," he repeated, "Sirius sold Lily and James to Voldemort, and when Peter tracked him down, Sirius killed him." He paused; it hurt Remus to the core to hear it put so bluntly, but if anything would get through to her, it was this. "He has been sent to Azkaban and will remain there for the rest of his life." She flinched and paled at that. "All we want now is to understand why, and we are hoping that you can help us with that."
She looked up sharply at this, finally meeting Dumbledore's gaze.
"You think I can help you..... you truly believe that..... " Horror spread over her face, it had finally penetrated her brain, just exactly what they were saying. "You think I knew... that I might have suspected... and did nothing? How could you? I would never.... he would never.... " She had never looked so wounded, not even when he had told her of James and Lily's deaths. For a moment she stood staring at Dumbledore in shock, then she turned to him.
He looked reluctantly into her eyes, and saw there his own doubts reflected in the look of deep betrayal on her face. She held his gaze for a moment, then turned abruptly, placed something on Dumbledore's desk, and walked resolutely out of the room.
Dumbledore sighed as Remus sank dejectedly into a chair. He had been so sure that she held the answers, that they could reach her and come to understand this horrible tragedy. And it had been his own doubts—in her knowledge, in her innocence—that had ruined their chances.
Dumbledore turned to the object she had placed on his desk, "Ah, well," he said. "I suppose I should have expected this." He was looking down sadly, fingering the object. Remus glanced up curiously, and in the next moment he was on his feet and beside Dumbledore.
"No, she can't mean it," He said in disbelief.
"I'm afraid she can and does. She has declared herself exile."
On the desk lay Sosia's wand.
Remus recalled the blind panic that had sent him haring off to her little cottage on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Too late, she had packed the little she had and gone long before he arrived. All that was left was a note stating her intentions to sever all ties with the wizarding world if it insisted on believing her brother a monster and she an accomplice, unwitting or not. He recalled the desperate, and ultimately fruitless, search for her. Visiting every place she had ever even mentioned in passing. Nothing. She had effectively disappeared from his life. Yet another pair of lives ruined by Sirius' betrayal, he had thought bitterly at the time.
Over the next twelve years, he had never really stopped searching for her. Oh yes—it had ceased to be his one pursuit in life, but wherever he went, he always had one eye out for any sign of her. Whenever he had to move to a new job or a new house—due mainly to people discovering his affliction—he looked for her, hoping that this time he would be lucky and stumble upon her in some out of the way town or village. He never did.
Then came Dumbledore's invitation to teach at Hogwarts. He was torn—how could he go back there? Walk alone through the same halls he had walked with James and Lily, Peter, Sirius, and Sosia. Back when there had been no shadows to darken their minds, back when the four of them had been the best of friends, inseparable—the Marauders. Back when Sosia cared for him. But how could he refuse Dumbledore, who had done so much for him? And there was Harry to consider. He was at Hogwarts now, James and Lily's son. He wanted to see the boy, to see how James' son had turned out.
He hadn't been disappointed either. It was almost like having James back; he smiled at the memory. He found that sometimes he had to remind himself that he wasn't looking at James. Beyond the mere physical resemblance, Harry had his father's way of holding himself, his sharp humor, his sense of adventure, his talent on the Quidditch field, and his rare determination.
No, he had no regrets now about taking the position. It had given him back so much of his life that he had thought lost forever. He now had a friendship with James and Lily's son. He now had back his oldest living friend, Sirius Black.
He shook his head. It still amazed him, the bizarre chain of events that led to the revelation of Peter's continued existence and Sirius' innocence. One of the more unfortunate effects was his own resignation, but he couldn't find it in him to regret even that. Not with all he had gained.
He sighed, sitting back on the bench, glancing around the neat little park where he was spending his day. It was just a little patch of grass and trees in the midst of London, but it was well kept and children played there while their mothers watched them from blankets spread on the ground. He was dressed as a Muggle, in faded blue jeans and a somewhat worn navy sweater, with a battered old duffel coat over it all. His only inconsistency was the practically new pair of dragonhide boots he wore. They had been a Christmas present from Professor Dumbledore and he doubted anyone here would be able to tell the difference.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts, running a hand through his short gray-flecked brown hair. It would be just his luck to miss who ever he was sent here to find by letting his mind wander into the past. It was an odd assignment; Dumbledore had sent him an owl requesting that he come here and watch the small restaurant across the way. He had said that an old friend he needed Remus to contact would be coming by here, but he hadn't said whom—only that Remus would know the person when he saw them. So he had come, picked out a likely spot and waited for this mystery person to show up.
He had spotted the plot of peonies while he had been looking around for something to distract his mind from the interminable wait, and had been reminded of Sosia. Peonies had been her favorite flowers; she loved how they looked s if they had little faces.
Remus, he told himself remonstratively, you'll never see anyone if your mind keeps wandering like this.
And then, he saw her. Impossible, he thought, I'm hallucinating, it can't be her, it's just not possible—not after all these years. He got up, the woman he had seen was walking into the kitchen entrance of the restaurant. Her walk is the same, he noted distractedly, and her hair—long, thick, and black as a moonless night.
He entered the restaurant and peered around for her.
"May I help you?" A petite blonde stood next to him.
"Um, yes." He looked around again, no sign of the woman. "A table for one please." He wasn't leaving until he had seen her. Until he was sure.
"Certainly, follow me please." She led him across the restaurant to a small corner table with two chairs. "How is this?"
"Perfect." The spot afforded a view of the entire establishment; he couldn't miss the girl now. "Thank you."
"No problem," she smiled, handing him a menu. "Your waitress will be right with you."
He shrugged out of his coat, hanging it on the back of the chair, and sat down. Opening the menu, but not really looking at it, he scanned the restaurant again for any sign that she had come out while he was otherwise occupied.
Was it really her? Had he found her after all these years, just when he had finally stopped looking? If it was her, how would she react to him? What should he tell her about Sirius?
Had Dumbledore known she was here? Is that why he had been sent?
He groaned and massaged his head with the heel of his hand, he was going to give himself a headache thinking like that. He still hadn't fully recovered from the last full moon.
"May I get you something to drink?" A pleasant voice spoke at his elbow.
"Yes." He said, not bothering to look up, I'll have a... " He happened to glance up just then and there she was. He had no doubts now; here was Sosia, in the living flesh, her quicksilver-gray eyes widening in surprise.