The Prisoner of Memory
During the year that Remus Lupin teaches at Hogwarts he is confronted by his memories of the past while he attempts to protect Harry Potter from the inevitable arrival of Sirius Black. Canon compliant and follows the timeline of POA.
FYI – I only use OCs as a plot device to establish something about a character, so if you hate them, don't worry – they don't stick around too long!
"Confidence," Remus Lupin wrote on the parchment before him. "You must believe in your abilities in order to defend yourself." As he wrote those words, Remus thought back to his days studying Defence Against the Dark Arts while he was a student at Hogwarts. He believed then, as well as now, that it was James Potter's unwavering self-confidence in addition to his skill which gave James an advantage when they were in that class together all those years ago. In his mind's eye, Remus recalled a seventeen year old James standing proudly, his right arm and wand straight out in front of him. From tip of his wand a perfect patronus had formed.
"Hello Prongs," James said to the stag as he admired his own work. Remus saw James look to the auburn haired girl on his right and smile. Lily Evans smiled back at James. She had come by then to admire his confidence, which for so many years she had mistaken as arrogance. James turned from her to say something to the boy on his left. The boy's eyes we covered with his long, dark hair which he then pushed away with a casual stroke of his hand in order to see the patronus. His grey eyes moved from the patronus to Remus and…
Remus brought himself back to the present. He realized that he had been unable breathe for the past few moments and the breath rushed back into him, causing him to gasp and cough. "Stop," he told himself when he regained his composure. "Just don't think about it any more." He turned back to the parchment.
He poured himself another cup of tea and sat down at his shabby kitchen table to continue writing his first lesson plan. It was already July and the school year would begin in less than two months. Remus now wondered why he had waited so long to begin this task, but he deep down he knew the answer. Having been so used to crushing disappointments throughout his life, Remus half expected this opportunity to slip away from him as so many had before.
Dumbledore and Remus had come to an agreement about his becoming the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher a month earlier. It was not the first time Remus had been approached by Dumbledore and asked to consider returning to Hogwarts. Several times over the years since Voldemort's defeat Dumbledore had offered the position to Remus but Remus had always refused. "I'm not safe around children," was his excuse.
"On the contrary, of all the prefects I've known during my years as headmaster, you were one of the most compassionate towards the younger students. That, along with your skills would make you an excellent teacher." Dumbledore replied. But still, Remus would not accept. He feared returning to the place that held so many happy memories for him. Memories he feared would be tainted if he returned.
It was nearly a dozen years after Voldemort's fall, when Dumbledore returned to Remus and made his offer again. This time was different and there was an urgency in the older man's voice that Remus had not heard before. "My current Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will not be returning next year. I need you to reconsider your previous concerns about becoming a teacher and accept my job offer." As always, Remus began to demur, but Dumbledore put up his hand to stop him from speaking, "Before you answer, I want you to think about any favors you feel you may owe to me. To think about the times I took a chance on you and to see if you have it in your heart to take a chance on me."
"Sir, are you blackmailing me?" Remus asked in amused disbelief.
"Technically, it's extortion; but I wouldn't put you in this position, Remus, if I didn't really need you to take me seriously this time and to realize, once and for all, that my offer is genuine. I am not asking you to take this position out of pity."
Remus was shocked by this shift in Dumbledore's usual unflappable demeanor. "Why? What has changed?" he asked.
Dumbledore leaned forward in his chair, resting his wrists on Remus' table where the two sat drinking tea. Remus felt momentarily embarrassed about the table's chipping paint and unsteady legs, but forgot these thoughts as soon as Dumbledore spoke.
"You are probably aware that James Potter's son is now attending Hogwarts."
There it was.
In the nearly twelve years that had passed, Remus had tried to protect himself from the pain brought on by memory, but Dumbledore had brought that hurt right back to the surface. If Dumbledore had taken a knife and stabbed him in the heart, Remus felt that the pain would have been just as great. For all those years during which he had felt so alone and abandon as a result of the events that had occurred, Remus knew that there was another person, a small child, whose loss was greater than his. Like so many things, he had tried not think about it because it reminded him of the person whose deception had orphaned the child.
"No, I … no, I hadn't realized that," Remus stuttered.
Dumbledore was unfazed by Remus' obvious discomfort and he continued. "Harry's fine, but Voldemort has made two attempts to reach him while he's been at Hogwarts and that concerns me greatly. I need someone else to watch out for him. Someone I trust completely; someone else who feels invested in Harry's well-being. Equally important, I need someone who can teach in an area where there is a vacancy. Do you understand now, Remus, why it has to be you?"
Remus struggled to put together the pieces of everything Dumbledore had revealed to him. He wondered if all he had previously worked for; all that others had given their lives for, had been for nothing. "He's back?" he asked finally.
"Not completely," Dumbledore replied, leaning back. "But I expect he will be. We fool ourselves, Remus, when we believe we have conquered evil. Evil has a way of returning when we aren't vigilant in protecting what we value. The Ministry has become complacent in this time of peace. It's only a matter of time…" He shook his head but didn't finish the thought. Dumbledore's words hung between them, cold like a ghost.
They were silent for awhile as Remus continued to contemplate what Dumbledore had told him both about Voldemort and also about the boy who had ultimately defeated him years ago. He remembered Harry as a baby and tried to picture what he must look like now as a boy of thirteen, but he could not. He could only picture James at that age. He saw in the vapor of memory James' messy hair, his glasses askew, and his crocked, mischievous smile. Remus' reverie was suddenly broken when Dumbledore said, "You know I'm still waiting for your answer."
"I'm not sure you left me much choice," Remus answered softly. It was true that he knew he could not refuse what Dumbledore had asked him, but he also felt he owed something to James. James had also taken a chance when he had befriended Remus so many years ago. James had given his life to the cause that, if what Dumbledore said was true, was now in jeopardy.
Despite his desire to repay the kindness and bravery that Dumbledore and James had shown to him, Remus was still unsure about returning to Hogwarts, a place where he had been so happy. He wondered if he could be happy there again, this time as a teacher or if he would be constantly reminded that happiness does not last and the person he thought he knew so well ended up to be a person he did not know at all.
"If I do agree to your offer, can I request that you not tell Harry about me? I don't want him to know about me and James and …" Remus trailed off, unable to say the name.
"Of course," Dumbledore assured him. "That is your history to share and maybe someday you'll be ready to do so on your own."
In the weeks that followed, Remus found himself looking forward to his new position. He busied himself creating lesson plans and seeking out supplies for his classroom. Any trepidation he had previously felt about returning to Hogwarts began to disappear as he realized how much he needed this new challenge. Remus was surprised to find himself in possession of a long, lost emotion: excitement.
As the month drew to a close, Remus felt the moon waxing and made his way to Diagon Alley to purchase Wolfsbane potion. He had started taking the potion the previous year and, despite how tired it made him during the full moon, he was happy that he no longer had to transform. He was only thirty-three years old but he could already feel the toll that the years of transformations had taken on his joints and bones.
It was late in the day when he arrived at the apothecary. The potion maker looked up as he entered. "I was wondering when you'd get here," she said as she smiled at him. Julia Kim was a pretty witch, a few years younger than Remus, who he had gotten to know well over the past year as a result of his monthly visits to her shop.
"You should know by now that I always arrive as close to closing time as possible," Remus teased, smiling back at Julia. "This way I have the best chance of having you all to myself."
Julia laughed appreciatively as she lifted her wand and Remus heard the lock turn in the door behind him. The sign that had previously indicated the shop was open, now told the world that business was closed for the night. Julia handed Remus a steaming cauldron of Wolfsbane potion and then let him follow her up the stairs to her flat.
A/N: This story is consistent with my previous story, The Secret Keepers but will only focus on Harry's 3rd year from Remus Lupin's perspective. This story stands on its own and it is not necessary that you read the first story in order to understand this one. However, if you have read The Secret Keepers, you'll see similarities between The Prisoner of Memory and the chapter entitled "The Pain from Scorpions." Let me know if you enjoyed it.