Coping With Grief

Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Harry Potter and I'm not making any money from this fic

Summary: SPOILERS. Remus Lupin survives the events of Deathly Hallows, but leaves after his wife is killed. Two years later, something unexpected happens

Warning(s): Spoilers – especially for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; spanking; AU; mentions of violence/character death; drug use

Prompt: 16 – Drugs

It had been two years since the final and bloodiest battle with Lord Voldemort. When Lupin took the drugs the muggles used, they helped to dull the sharp edge of the memories – but nothing could make them fade away completely. He couldn't forget the sight of Tonks – of all the others – lying dead on the floor.

Maybe running was taking the coward's way out; but it was still easier than facing reality.

Lupin locked the front door behind him and leaned back against it, closing his eyes. Though no one would have seen his body, he knew that the rest of the wizards would have assumed he was dead as well. And though he had been reluctant to leave his son, he knew that it would be better for Teddy not to have his cursed father around. Lupin still didn't trust himself around others – and the house he lived in now was as far away from the town as he'd been able to get.

It was in the woods, which gave him plenty of space to run when the werewolf broke free. And the woods were private property, which meant that it was even less likely for him to run into any stray muggles.

Of course, dwelling on these things was simply a way for Lupin to put off using the drugs for as long as possible. The full moon was tonight, and he could already feel the pull of the wolf. While the memories were strong, the wolf was more likely to be violent and much harder to control; as if it wasn't hard enough already.

Pushing himself away from the door, Lupin stumbled into the living room, reaching for the key hanging around his neck. He walked over to the safe and unlocked it, lifting the lid to reveal the drugs he kept there.

But they were gone.

Flinching slightly, Lupin straightened up and looked around wildly. Surely he couldn't have got through his supply that quickly? He was normally very careful to keep it well-topped up. Surely he hadn't lost it that much? But it looked like he had... And now he wasn't even sure whether or not he had enough time to get to his dealer before the man left for the night. Of course, he didn't have a choice now...

"Looking for these?"

Lupin jerked at the unexpected voice behind him, and was instantly on his feet, reaching for his wand. If a thief had broken into his house, the muggle would get more than he'd bargained for. Of course... the wards he'd had up should have kept out most people – muggles and wizards alike.

But the sight which greeted Lupin made him stumble back a step. He knew that the dead could return briefly – but there was no reason for Sirius Black to be standing behind him. His first thought was that it had to be some kind of trick... But who would have been able to find him here? "What are you?" he whispered, staring at the image of his dead friend – who, he noticed, was holding his drugs.

Instead of answering, Sirius simply shook his head at Lupin. "You look terrible, Remus. And you were always supposed to be the smart one."

Maybe he'd finally lost it completely. Perhaps he'd finally been driven mad by the drugs, and was hallucinating. "You're supposed to be dead," Lupin told the man who wasn't really there.

"Yes, I know. It was quite bad timing, don't you think? After all, we were winning." As he spoke, Sirius shoved the packets of drugs into his pocket. "Apparently, there are places and times when the veil between the living and the dead is especially thin. You know that it's the solstice? Looks like I can finally come here and tell you just what I think about what you've been doing."

"What I've been doing?" Lupin stared at his friend, and slowly shook his head. "You're just a hallucination; brought on by drugs, or fatigue..." Or just his memories, which he was trying so hard to forget. "Give me the drugs." He was too confused to realise that he'd just told Sirius he wasn't real, but was interacting with him at the same time.

Sirius gave Lupin a smile that the werewolf well remembered from their time as students at Hogwarts. "Come and get it."

"I will, then." Lupin moved as quickly as he could towards Sirius – but even he was surprised at how much the drugs had affected his agility and speed. When they'd been younger, it would have been difficult to tell who would be the winner in a wrestling match between them. Now, it took only a few moments of them struggling together for Sirius to gain the upper hand – and the moment he did, he had Lupin down and bent over the couch.

Lupin's memories had definitely been dulled, because it wasn't until he heard the unmistakeable sound of Sirius pulling his belt through his loops that he realised what was about to happen. And the moment he knew, he began struggling. "Sirius, what...? You don't have to do this!"

"You owe it to your son, to Harry – to countless others – to go back," Sirius said as he doubled the belt over. "I would have come back sooner if I could – but I hope this gets through to you." He raised the belt and brought it down hard across Lupin's backside.

Lupin's breath hissed out in a gasp. He hardly had a chance to catch his breath before the next strike from the belt came. And with the third came the awful realisation that this wasn't a hallucination; it wasn't something brought on by using too many drugs. And the cry that came was wrenched from somewhere deep within his soul. "I can't go back! I can't control it! The wolf...!"

"... Is a part of you," Sirius finished as he continued to bring the belt down. "Do you remember the times me, James – even Peter – stayed with you while the moon was full? The wolf never hurt us... It knew we were your friends. Don't you think it will be the same with the rest of your family and friends? Is it wrong to deny your son his father? Believe me, I know what it's like."

Gasping, Lupin slumped forward, his forehead pressing into the couch. He wanted to deny his friend's words, but they cut deep into his soul. The tears started to fall, and his breath hitched as he began to sob.

And then Sirius stopped the awful thrashing, dropping the belt to the floor and lightly rubbing Lupin's back. "Go to them, Lupin... I can't be there for my godson anymore, but you can." And then both the touch and the voice were gone.

When Lupin looked up, there was no sign that his friend had been there – and the drugs were gone, too.

The End