Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR. Another in my series of monologues…I hope you like it. Constructive feedback welcome. Flamers will get to feed Fluffy (who is very, very hungry). Special thanks to Amy for beta-reading this story.
Alive In You
I am still somewhat shaken…I guess it surprises me that I can still react…can still feel…anything.
That may only be because I still remember.
Perhaps because the memories are all I have left.
I am trying not to think about the last twelve years and yet it is the only thing on my mind. Twelve wasted years. Twelve years of simply surviving…the only thing keeping me going was the thought of revenge. Revenge on the one who took everything away from me. Not those twelve years of my life…my life was not worth that much. He took my friends away and my friends were everything to me.
Crouching down by an old gnarled tree in the Forbidden Forest, a tree that looks as wild and savage as I do, I think back to when I was a student at this place. I spent seven years here…the best seven years of my life.
The only years in my life where I was truly happy.
Was it really me? Was I really that vibrant, extroverted person who thought that he was invincible…untouchable…
It seems like it was another person…another lifetime.
If I had tears to cry, I would. I would weep for my friends…my dear friends who meant more to me than family ever could.
James was the leader of our group…my compatriot in many, many schemes…most of which no one knew about. He was very deceptive…presented the most honourable face to the world and yet was a true prankster at heart. We recognized a kindred spirit immediately and, between the two of us, masterminded many memorable tricks. Who could forget the Yule Ball in fifth year when we spiked the punch with a levitating potion? The sight of Professor McGonagall threatening to take points off the house of the person responsible while floating upside down and trying to hold onto her hat was worth many, many Galleons.
James had the ideas. I was able to plan them out to perfection. We really were a great team.
Remus was the third member of our group. Quiet. Introverted. He was smart…really smart and applied himself to his work but that never stopped him from being a part of our schemes. We had a lot of fun together and, when we discovered his secret, it didn't change anything. After all, it wasn't his fault and we weren't about to ruin a perfectly good partnership just because of something as seemingly insignificant as a transformation once monthly. Dumbledore put several safeguards in place and that was all there was to it.
But it wasn't enough. I first proposed the idea of becoming Animagi in second year and, although James agreed instantly, it took several years before we were able to do it properly. I have to admit that I did not like deceiving Dumbledore. I respect the man…respect everything about him and I can't say that about almost anyone else. After four long years, we managed to do it.
Becoming an Animagus is not easy and there were several interesting mishaps but we managed to fix them without involving Madam Pomfrey. Thank goodness. I don't know what she would have done if she had seen James with antlers sticking out of his backside. The end result was worth it. Remus was grateful and we were able to explore the Forbidden Forest to our heart's content.
Even now, I can almost smile at those memories…almost…
Peter. Wormtail. The murderous little traitor who took everything away from me. I wish I could say that I had always suspected he would turn on us but I can't. He just seemed like a frail, quiet boy who seemingly hero-worshipped James. He was not a great student…scraped by just enough to make it into the next year. He didn't like Quidditch all that much either but he came to every game that James played.
Sometimes, I wonder if it wasn't just hero-worshipping…was there more to it than just that? Was that the reason behind the bitterness that led to such darkness?
It was either that or it was Lily.
That manages to bring a small, rusty smile to my face. It has been such a long time since I have smiled about anything. But, then again, Lily could always make me smile. She was beautiful…truly beautiful. She was the most generous, kind-hearted person I have ever known. I suppose we all loved her in a way. Remus looked to her as a sister. I looked to her as a partner in crime. James was her soulmate. We all knew that. We knew it from the first day at Hogwarts but the two of them did not realize it until some time later.
And Peter watched them as their relationship grew.
And I am not sure which one he was jealous of.
And which one he hated.
Of course, there was Snape. For as long as there was a group of Marauders, there was a Snape. He really wasn't that bad at first. Rather a tall, lanky boy who was pale, very smart and always dressed in black.
I don't trust men in black.
For a while, he really didn't bother us too much but it was because of Remus' absences that he got particularly nosy and annoying and started bothering the living hell out of us. Everywhere we went, he seemed to shadow us. And he was good at shadowing and hiding and eavesdropping. It made us angry and fiercely protective of our friend. Dumbledore vouched for Remus but that didn't mean that widespread publication of his "condition" was a good idea.
Yes, we went too far. No, I should not have done that to him. I think back now and I realize what could have happened and would not have wanted that stain on Remus' soul for anything. He had never taken a human life…thank Merlin that James got there in time. Snape never did forgive James for that and I never got the chance to explain…not that I tried particularly hard, truth be told.
Although, I have to admit, I am glad he had the snot scared out of him.
Time passed and things changed. James and Lily got married. It was a beautiful ceremony held in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Everyone was there. Even Snape. Even he realized that the two of them shared something truly unique and accepted that as best he could. A part of me felt sorry for him…this dark, solitary figure who had never had a chance with her…
…a very small part, mind you.
Remus became somewhat distant and reserved after graduation. I suspect he had somehow fallen to the lure of the Death Eaters…let his pain and anguish at being rejected by so many others simply consume him and become a follower of the Dark Lord. I suppose a part of me understands that but that doesn't mean I can accept or forgive that. He had James. He had me. We were friends. Was it possible that he would betray us? Sometimes I think not. Sometimes…
Sometimes I am not so certain.
And then, Harry was born.
I never did learn how to do a Patronus Charm very well but, if I had to choose my happy thought, it would be the moment I held Harry in my arms for the first time and he laughed at me. Laughed! Giggled hysterically! Reaching his arms out in a gesture of absolute trust. What person can resist that? I gave him a huge hug, feeling his tiny little body squirm in delight as he tried to grab my hair and put it in his mouth. He was a feisty child…full of spirit. When James told me that he and Lily wanted me to be the godfather I was speechless.
And, believe me, that is a rarity.
He looked so much like his father but those eyes…all his mother. Eyes that could look right through you…right into your soul. Who could ever want to hurt someone who could look at you like that?
Someone who didn't have a soul…that's who…Voldemort.
I refuse to call him You-Know-Who. That is utter rubbish and a desecration to the memory of the loved ones I have lost to that bastard. Despite Peter's betrayal and Remus' possible involvement, it was Voldemort who cast the Killing Curse. It was Voldemort who took them away from me.
I cover my face with my scarred hands and tremble as I remember. By Merlin's ghost, I wish I could forget. I wish I could procure a Memory Charm to erase that whole incident from my mind. And yet, I know I must not.
When I left Peter's house…when I felt that pricking of danger along the back of my neck…I don't know what I was thinking. I was reacting…moving…certainly not thinking. I was never any good at Disapparating and never did get my license so I had my motorbike and it was fast…
…but not fast enough.
I arrived and saw the Dark Mark floating quietly and menacingly over their house. And I knew. I knew what was inside. And I knew it was because of me. Because of my decision not to be their secret-keeper. I was the one who had betrayed them by suggesting Peter. Even Dumbledore had offered…I insisted.
My fault…all my fault.
I stumbled off of the motorbike, not even bothering with the kickstand…just letting it fall over on its side. It wasn't important. Nothing was important. The house seemed intact…a cruel mockery of the Death Eater way. Property damage could be repaired and therefore was not considered a useful exercise in intimidation. Torture and death remained on the mind of the collective consciousness much longer.
I stepped through the front door which was swinging lazily. James was in the hallway. I could see that he was dead. There was a look of defiance on his face as he lay there, wand still in his hand. I walked over slowly and, leaning down, picked up his limp body and carried it over to the bedroom. His wand dropped, clattering on the floor, sending up sparks of a spell uncast…his last spell…ironic that it was a shielding spell. Always thinking of protecting his family…
…and it hadn't been enough.
I lay him down gently on the bed and closed his eyes for him. There was nothing more I could do…except find Lily and Harry.
I searched the house and soon found Lily, in much the same way as I found James, lying in the hallway to the back door, a look of pleading on her silent face and her wand not far away. I picked her up as well and carried her to her husband. Closing her eyes, as a form of last rites, I began the heartbreaking task of looking for my little godson.
I searched for him but I could not find him.
I looked through the entire house without finding a trace of him.
And then, I heard it and I thought that my sorrow had driven me insane.
I was hearing things. I was delusional. It just wasn't possible!!
I raced out of the house in a frenzy, out the open back door…why had I not checked the back yard sooner, I cursed myself. And then I stopped…
There he was…sitting in the middle of the back yard, crying and clutching at a stuffed animal which I recognized as the stuffed deer I had bought him for his first Christmas. I couldn't move for a moment…thinking that this was somehow a dream…then I managed to put one foot in front of the other and slowly made my way towards him.
He heard me and turned quickly, fear in his eyes but, when he saw it was me, he…
…he held out his arms to me just as he had before…trusting me to make everything better somehow.
Magical godfathers…the kind that make everything better…only exist in fairytales, unfortunately.
I picked him up and quickly kissed him on the cheek, noticing for the first time that his forehead was covered in blood. I pulled a handkerchief from my pocket and wiped it away as best I could. He had a scar, shaped like a lightning bolt. It was very deep and particularly nasty. What had happened to him? Did he manage, against all odds, to survive a Killing Curse? And where was Voldemort? What the hell happened?
"Mama?" his little voice shook from having cried so much.
I couldn't say anything.
The poor little tyke started to hiccup. I automatically made to reenter the house to get him a glass of water but then caught myself. I could not get to the kitchen without passing the bedroom and I hadn't closed the door to the bedroom…
Harry nestled against me quietly and it wasn't too long before he was fast asleep.
Anger was starting to take the place of the sorrow in my heart. Anger against Voldemort and against Peter particularly. I wanted vengeance and I didn't care if it meant Azkaban.
Ironic how I got sent to Azkaban, but never got my vengeance. Peter managed to escape…then…
…but his days are numbered.
He knows it.
I know it.
It is the one thing that has kept me going for the longest time…through that hell on earth known as Azkaban…surviving on rats…wishing each one were him.
I want vengeance! The vengeance for which I was imprisoned. The vengeance so long denied me.
At least I thought that was all I wanted.
Until I saw you.
And I realized that, for as much as I have lost, I have not lost quite everything.
And that has given me hope…something that has eluded me for such a long time.
I watched you play and I remembered James. I saw your friends and I remembered the good times with my friends.
I smile at that…I can't remember the last time I smiled...feels like my face will crack from the effort.
I wanted to have your father back because I missed my friend and I was despondent because I knew I never could.
But, then I saw you and realized that isn't true at all.
I found my friend.
I found James.
He's alive in you.
A/N: The line "I searched for him but I could not find him" comes from the Bible but I can't remember exactly which chapter and verse.