Author's note:

I am truely sorry that I have not updated for such an unbelievably long time. I must say I have no excuse. I hope you still enjoy this as much as I do. Yes, yes, I do although my update pace might not have shown it. If you're still reading this, let me congratulate you on your exceptional staying power! In my own and your interest I will try to get into writing faster again... Thank you for your patience!

A big thanks also goes out to everyone who took the time to read and review this story!

The story so far... (since it's been so ridiculously long)

After spending his summer mostly in the company of Bellatrix and Tonks Harry returns to Hogwarts, where he meets Horace Slughorn, the new Potions teacher, who has an interest in promising students. He comes to possess Snape's old Potions book and meets Rufus Scrimgeour, the new Minister. He agrees to publicly show his support of the Ministry and in turn is promised to be able to take a look in the DMLE, where he supposedly wants to work after finishing Hogwarts. This oficially ends his friendship with Ron who reacts deeply jealous. On Halloween (shown in this chapter) he has previously agreed to meet with Remus Lupin, who has something important to tell Harry and later on will attend the Ministry's Halloween celebration to uphold his end of the deal with Scrimgeour.

Burning Desire

Fragments Of A Broken Life

The day of Halloween 1996 arrived cold and stormy. Water was pouring down from the skies in seemingly never ending cascades, saturating earth, stone and skin alike. Clouds, huge and of the darkest gray towered over the land, beaten by whips of harsh, cold wind, a striking opposite of the long hot summer they had had.

But none of this could dampen the mood of the students of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. After to months of homework, classes, hard work and strained lessons a day of freedom, even though out in the cold, seemed more like a refreshing shower than anything else.

Though it was not the work alone that had their young minds craving distraction. Two months had passed, two months of reading the most dreadful news each morning that was to come, two month of waiting for letters from home telling them that everything was fine, that everyone was fine, two month of fearing that someone was not fine, for some two month of enduring the hardest pain of loss.

Two month of war, seperated from their families, fearing for the worst, hoping for an end.

For them it was a day to forget, if only for a few hours, a day to spent with their best friends, going to Zonko's, or joking around at the Howling Hut, enjoying a butterbear at the Three Broomsticks, and finally the feast. A few hours in which they could pretend that everything was like it used to be last year and that the worst they had to fear was a detention with Filch, the gruesome janitor.

The number of those who were experiencing quite the contrary was very small in comparison. Those who did not see tragedies in the mornings paper but news of success, of hope and of change. Those who saw a chance for themselves, a gain, an aim. Those who were quite exhilerated and did well to hide a small smile here and there, those who had gotten accustomed to putting on somber masks, afraid of not fitting in with general atmosphere of foreboding and fearful anticipation.

And yet that day they were united, as split as they might have been in mind, they were all looking forward to leaving the ancient halls of the magical institution to expose themselves to the chilling rain.

Once again one Harry Potter made his way down to the small wizarding village Hogsmead with the beautiful asian Cho Chang, this time squeezed under a small black brolly threatening to give way to the elements.

Much to his friend Hermione's well hidden amusement and glee said by now tattered brolly had once been Harry's old divination book, at least before he transfigured it quite unceremoniously, being the next best item around that he had no use for anymore.

They could have used a charm to preserve from getting wet, that was true but bringing a brolly had seemed like a good idea to Harry, furthermore he had found some kind of nostalgic joy in finally giving that horrid book some purpose at least and Cho had seemed to enjoy the gesture as well.

So instead of reminding him of the countless charms they could have used to protect themselves from the nasty weather she had happily pressed her lean body against him to fit under the brolly.

Harry ignored his bitterly freezing feet, already soaked wet in Dudley's old sneakers and watched Cho's face intently while she chatted happily about this or that. He smiled, gave polite comments and laughed lowly at her small jokes, all the while his eyes never leaving her face, more than happy to let her talk. At first she had blushed but quickly and quietly she accepted his close surveillance.

And as her words dragged on Harry knew exactly why he had, back in his third year, chosen her to be his love interest. She was undeniably beautiful, slightly exotic but not too much so, her features soft and appealing, her eyes soulful, her smile soft. She was intelligent, but not frighteningly so, witty but not sly, funny but not giddy. All in all, and Harry was painfully aware of that, Cho Chang was a nice person.

He had chosen her because of that and because of her apparent talent in Quidditch, but most of all because he had had nothing to fear from Cho Chang and because he had thought that he had absolutely no chance of ever asking her out.

He could as well have picked Pansy Parkinson, he had believed that he would develop as many feelings for Cho as her would for that bitch, meaning none at all.

But after one year of idolizing her that had changed and he had even found the motivation to ask her out. After being rejected because of Cedric Diggory, he had not felt jealous, yet believed his feelings to be true, while in honesty they were as shallow as his wish to be heterosexual for Ron Weasley's sake. So he had spent another year idolizing Cho Chang and asked her out a second time, this time being accepted.

But Cho had disappointed his expectations, being far less superficial than other girls her age, Cedric's early death had wounded her deeply and Harry's date had been nothing but a bitter shell of herself.

After another half a year Cho had finally recuperated and had become the girl Harry's mind had portrayed and yet he felt more detached than he ever had, more so than when he had asked her to the Yule Ball, even more so than when she had kissed him underneath the mistletoe, crying all the while over a dead boy he could not possibly replace.

He wondered idly how things would have developed if she had been so whole last Valentine's Day at Madam Puddifoot's. Maybe, just maybe, despite all odds, he would have fallen in love with her...? He found that there was not much enjoyment in that train of thoughts.

She was a nice person, yes, a kind heart, as some would say, the type of girl who would impress through flawless behavior, rather than through stunning beauty, academic success or admirable creativity.

She was, as Harry had correctly assumed when thirteen years old, someone who would never hurt you intentionally, someone safe to be around. But that was, for Harry, neither enough nor someone he could relate to.

So when he kept watching, and his mind comprehended all of Cho's wonderful characteristics, his heart felt nothing. He did not enjoy her company, he did not dislike it either. He did not care to an absurd degree of completeness that was astounding and he felt so emotionally empty that it almost hurt.

He had wished it away, oh yes, how he had wished those terribly painful feelings away after Sirius' death. And now, now he could not even regret that there was nothing. But, oh, how he craved for that emptiness to be filled and longingly he remembered the unmatched joy the casting of the unforgivable curses granted, but he knew it was a shallow joy, a sensation of highest bodily lust, yes, but one that would leave him even emptier once it was over. But it could be repeated again and again...

He hated his old friends, yes, and he hated Dumbledore and that gave him life and spirit, but one day they would be gone as well, and nothing would be left for him...but the ashes of his old life.

It would draw him even closer to Voldemort, even closer to the only constant in his life, who had been so right (and Harry hated when he was right) when saying he was the only one who Harry had.

And knowing that Harry was aware that he was lost, that he had lost, to his enemy no less, indeed being lost to that person, it did not pain him. It filled him with joy rather than bitterness, glad he could offer something that was wanted, not having to be afraid of loosing himself, but being beckoned to do so.

He did not have to work much for fulfilling Voldemort's expectations like he had with other people, not because they were lesser, but because it was no struggle for him to find out what was desired, it was all so easy, so natural, like Voldemort was the only real connection Harry had ever had to another person, it was destined. And it felt so good.

The only thing he would ever understand... having suffered too much pain in his young life already, pain would be the only thing he would ever be able to understand completely, the only thing beknownst to him that joy could be taken from.

And while walking with Cho Chang, the main actress of his first pubertal imaginations, left him entirely too cold, he, himself, not being able to bring himself to actually listen to the words that were spouting out of her all to well curved mouth, he thought about Remus, who he was going to meet, the last living connection to his parents.

Surely Remus would not be in on Dumbledore's schemes, he would have thought a few months ago, but now that knew what people were capable of, people of whom he had thought that they actually loved him (what a ridiculous thought all together, maybe Voldemort was right after all, maybe love was nothing but an illusion? He could not in all honesty say that he had found evidence contradicting that theory.) he would not find himself able and / or willing to believe that Remus would be any any better than his best friends.

He would see for himself today if that best friend of his parents was to be condemned or not, and somehow it dawned on him, it would be easier if he were to because honestly, what if Remus was true to everything he had expressed regarding Harry?

What was he to do in the face of greater innocence than he would ever posses again? He realized that by now he was no better than Ron, Hermione or Dumbledore, he had without doubt fallen into Voldemort's trap, and willingly so, he had taken a one way ticket so to speak, and he was okay with that, because he could not bring himself to care.

Those who are to weak to seize power, indeed.

But Remus... should he actually be free of all guilt... innocent Remus Lupin... What to do? As much as he wished he did not care about that anymore, as much as he wished he could be numb to all, so entirely numb to everything and anything, he could not help but still grieve the future he had lost.

He did not think that he would be able to cut off all bridges to a thwarted past, but surely Remus would blame him, hate him even, for the choices he had taken.

He closed his eyes. I live in the present, not the past... it does not matter. It is my life and it is about now. he thought. He would not wager in his choice... not to be a victim again... never.

Cho had fallen silent and obviously exhausted every topic she had deemed light conversation. They had neared Hogsmead and the silence stretched between them, quiet uneasily. Harry was aware that she wanted him to say something, so he broke away from the worrying stray of thoughts hoping at least for some distraction.

"So... were do you want to go?," he asked lightly, dreading that she might demand Madam Puddifoot's, but still leaving the choice to her.

Cho actually blushed a bit, maybe pleased that he led her decide, but most likely remembering their embarrassing date last Valentine.

"How about the Three Broomsticks?", she suggested carefully, clearly remembering last year.

Harry nodded in agreement, secretly glad that she'd decided for the common pub instead of the lover's nest.

He led her inside the pub once they had arrived, she being most clearly glad to have escaped the rain, their legs soaking wet up to the knees, despite Harry's attempt to keep them dry. After finding an adequate table, not too secluded, yet not drawing too much attention, he busied himself getting them a warming butterbeer, his thoughts lingering with the werewolf.

"So Cho...," he began, handing the drink over to her as he said down. "You're not playing Quidditch anymore. Why's that?"

"Oh," she blushed a bit. "You should have noticed …. that I, well, am still in my sixth year."

Of course he had noticed, besides it had been quiet gleefully discussed between Lavender and the Patil Twins at breakfasts.

"About that...," he started, but Cho cut him off.

"It's nice of you not to harass me with questions unlike all the others... but last year was too much for, I mean with my mum being pressured at the Ministry and the DA, Umbridge, I simply failed to perform. So I want to do it all right this year, you see? I'm laying low, concentrating on my studies, it's not like I'd ever be a professional Quidditch player anyways..."

Harry smiled a little at that. "Do you want to be one?"

Cho laughed rather humorlessly. "I would lie if I said I'd never thought about it, but actually I've no idea what I want to do after school. Playing Quidditch, it's sort of a stupid ... fantasy I used to have." She sounded bitter when she said that, much like she was repeating words that had been imparted on her by an authoritative figure, most likely a parent. "I'm not good enough anyways. And it's not fun any more... not after Cedric-"

No, no, no! She would not start talking about Cedric again, would she? But Cho herself seemed to realize that her train of speech was not going in a good direction.

She cleared her throat. "Anyways, I'm not so sad I've one more year to think about what I'm going to do with my life." She took a deep gulp of butterbeer. "What about you, Harry? Do you still want to be an auror?"

"How do you know that I wanted to become an auror?" he asked her, a bit bewildered that she knew, it had been an idea he used to toy with, a dream he used to have, having actively told about it only Ron, Hermione, probably Ginny sometime, McGonagall and Umbridge (rather unwillingly, though).

"Oh, I heard it in the DA last year. Colin Creevey is pretty informed about you, you know that?" Harry groaned and she peaked at him curiously. "Did I recognize past tense in your question?"

"Past tense? I wouldn't know... are you sure you heard that?"

"So you still want to be an Auror, just to make this clear?"

"Of course! All my electives have been chosen so that I can become an auror. It's what I want to do since fourth year!" exclaimed Harry in mock conviction.

Cho seemed to think about that for a moment, probably calculating. "Since Moody?", she asked a bit incredulously.

Harry nodded. "A bit ironic really, since he turned out to be a Death Eater. But he made being an auror look so-"

"Bad for your psychic health?"

"No... exciting!"

"We in Ravenclaw were actually surprised that he was quiet competent in teaching. Sad to admit that the best teacher we had in seven years now was a Death Eater posing as a mad ex-Auror," remarked Cho, sounding serious. She did not seem to realize how humorous her statement sounded, especially phrased so dryly.

"Considering your words I take it that you wouldn't want to become an Auror?", Harry asked conversationally.

"No... not really. Don't get me wrong, it's a very important job to be done, especially nowadays, when... well, I just think, I'm not cut out for it, there are probably lots of people who would do better than me. I just don't think that it's the right thing for me. Do you know what I mean?" she explained, looking slightly worried that he might not understand.

"Yeah, sure," nodded Harry. "After all it's an important decision... not something you want to regret later on."

Cho sighed. "I'm really afraid, though, whether we will even come to worry about such things. It doesn't look like the Ministry's making any progress in catching the Death Eaters... To me it looks like it's only getting worse."

Harry nodded neutrally. He had the nagging feeling that she would end up asking about the prophecy – at least she had enough tact to try wrapping it up.

"Unfortunately it probably will. I think there are many who never dared to openly support Voldemort, fearing legal prosecution. The longer the Ministry remains unsuccessful in taking him down, the more of them will speak up."

"You really think so, Harry? I can't imagine-"

Harry shook his head. "Muggle studies."


"Why doesn't a muggleborn teach muggle studies? Someone who actually knows about muggles? Hermione visited that course because it was so entertaining. Well, she said that it was 'interesting to see how wizards view the muggleworld' or something along the lines. But from what she said Burbage is mostly as clueless as her students. And what about the Ministry? Any muggleborns in high ranking positions? Not even in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office! That doesn't seem very liberal to me." he reasoned and on Cho's face quickly dawned realization.

"I've never looked at it like that." she frowned. "It seemed to be okay as it was."

"And that's the problem. Most of the people aren't even consciously aware of the intolerance and discrimination already existing. And muggleborns do have no lobby. Their families who could support them are not even a part of this world. They are new to this world and they rather accept the situation as it is... What should they do themselves? Seven years is a very short time to gain a thorough understanding of the machinations of this society. Apart from that the old families hold all the political weight. Just look at Slughorn ... he openly encourages students to become a part and make use of a corrupt and closed off society. Of course to someone who benefits from the workings of the system would think that everything is 'okay as it is'."

"But surely people would not be so set in their ways that they would simply ignore-" Cho's gasped.

"Do you really think that? There will be many who will just duck their heads and wait for the outcome." deadpanned Harry. He had seen enough for their ignorance last year.

"But they can't stand by when something so obviously wrong happens right in front of their faces!" exclaimed Cho, sounding as well troubled as not really convinced of her own words.

"Of course it is wrong," said Harry. Ahem. Right. "But it will not harm them. Or at least most are bound to believe that. Just like last year."

"What... what about the prophecy?", asked Cho. Here she went. "It was all over the Prophet this summer, but they're really unreliable... does no know what it says?"

Harry's mouth formed a strict line, he remained silent. Only thinking about the prophecy...

"I mean, I didn't want to pry," Cho added quickly. "I just wondered..."

Maybe she had learned that pressuring him for information was not a good strategy for a date either.

"No... it's okay. The Prophet's quiet right this time. It broke, fell down the stairs. No one heard what it said," Harry explained.

Cho seemed hesitant to believe him at first, maybe because of his reserved tone or initial silence, but she chose to ignore it. "Oh. That's a pity. I had hoped..."

"Yes. A pity," he agreed in clipped tones signalizing that he did not want to talk about it anymore.

She got the message remaining silent, her face though betrayed that she must be feeling slightly hurt at his obvious refusal to discuss such delicate matters with her.

"Harry, I'm still sorry about what happened last year with Marietta-" she tried again, probably considering that he might still feel betrayed for she had supported her treacherous friend back then.

But that, really, seemed most irrelevant now, rather meaningless to say the least.

"Cho, it's forgiven, I understand. Look, Professor Slughorn's over there. I'm going to say hi if you'll excuse me for a moment." And thus he temporarily fled from their table, fortunately the Three Broosticks was Hogsmead's most popular pub, he doubted very much that Slughorn would set foot in, say, Madam Puddifoot's.

He knew that it was not the smartest idea to leave Cho alone if he wanted to keep her around to escape Hermione's presence and prevent being constantly exposed to Romilda Vane's attempts at seduction. But he couldn't help it, Cho had not lost her affinity to bring up the most solemn topics.

He briefly remembered their wet kiss underneath the mistletoe as he was greeted by a cheery Professor Slughorn who immediately insisted that he was to shake a few hands before being dragged into the rather lengthy telling of an anecdote about one of Slughorn's former students.

While listening to Slughorn and voicing agreement from time to time he noticed Ron and Hermione sitting at a table in the opposite corner of the room, the former giving him a dark look. Hermione then noticed that Harry was watching them and nudged Ron not as subtly as she might have intended to. The red head immediately dropped his gaze.

He listened to Slughorn for a few more minutes before politely excusing himself when he felt that he had to return to Cho if he did not want this day to be even more of a disaster than their Valentine's date last term.

When he returned she was indeed, and not to Harry's surprise to be honest, a bit disgruntled but had apparently gotten his hint and did not carry on talking about the war or anything even remotely related to it.

They resumed some mindless chatter about one thing or another before Harry finally cut their time to a close when he saw the squiggled hands of Madam Rosmerta's wall clock behind the bar pointing fourteen o'clock.

He had told her beforehand that he was going to meet up with someone else today as well, and that no, it was not a date and Cho had arranged to be picked up by the horde of giggling girls that posed as friends of hers.

Their goodbye was rather awkward on Cho's part, Harry could see that she was greatly disappointed but intended not to show it.

For him it was more of a relief, really but it also meant that he was going to meet Remus now. And as he stepped outside, embraced by the floods of water still falling down mercilessly from the skies he was stunned to find his heart beating hard in his chest.

He had not realized how weary he really was, how much it unset him that he did not know what to make of this situation, he was not used to this. Mostly he had a concrete plan in his mind, his views set, he had rarely doubted his own decisions and never taken long to make one. But this, oh this, filled his heart and head to the brim with conflicting thoughts and emotions.

His hands were clam, he felt uncomfortably warm despite the frosty air and suddenly the chilly rain was very welcome.

*You are excited.* Pause. *Why?*

Harry's thoughts came to a halt. There were too many of his own thoughts in his mind already, he did not need Voldemort's too right now, but then again it was a distraction he could use to delay sorting out his problems a little further.

*For how long have you been listening in on me?* he asked.

*Why does the werewolf upset you so much?* the question sounded honestly curious and Harry knew that while Voldemort could easily see Harry's reasons in the boy's mind he still did not understand.

*I still feel attached to him ... although I'm not sure about him, his motives... I still feel like … I don't want him to be a part of Dumbledore's conspiracy.* confessed Harry. Weakness...I am weak, thought Harry, only to himself, he will die... someday he will die... they will all die one day, except for me – and Voldemort.

*You don't even know him.* declared Voldemort. *You've seen him for the first time three years ago and not too often from then on. He must be nothing to you. A stranger.*

Harry had known that Voldemort would say something along those lines and rationally he was right, Harry knew almost nothing about Remus Lupin and apart of the time they had spent in a classroom together he had indeed not been around the man much.

*I know, but in case he knows nothing of Dumbledore's manipulations... I don't know, he was a very close friend of me parents'.* thought Harry, knowing that this argument would probably not impress his counterpart in the slightest.

And Remus will probably never understand my decision...

Harry shuddered slightly as an icy wave of incomprehension and light contempt washed over him. *That is one of the most feeble reasons I ever heard for something.* sneered Voldemort and somehow he managed to pull of the expression even in his thoughts, which was kind of impressive if not slightly worrying. *You sympathize* his emphasize on the word made it sound like one of the most disgusting things he could imagine *with him because he might be collateral damage of the old man's fight for the greater good, as well.*

*Phrase it how you want to phrase it, but fact is that I do feel this way, Voldemort.* pointed Harry out. He had discarded many of his morals in the last months but this was something he was unwilling to part with despite how much good it would probably do him.

*Foolish. You are delusional, Harry Potter.*

*I cannot be like you. Not entirely.* Maybe he was too broken already or maybe he was not broken enough.

*Oh, I don't want you to be like me. Entirely.* answered Voldemort, his tone much lighter than it had been before, even amused. *That would be – boring. Entirely.*

Harry could almost hear him smirk.

*On the contrary, I'm very much interested how you will deal with this situation. It's quiet entertaining to see you so... torn up.*

He did not reply when climbing up the muddy path towards the Shrieking Shack. He could see Remus's silhouette already, the man (or at least he assumed that it was Remus) was leaning against the fence around the shack, unperturbed by the cold and wetness.

*I hope you're going to enjoy the show then.* thought Harry sourly and was met with reassuring amusement. I hope I am going to enjoy it as well.

When he drew nearer the shape moved towards him and as the distance decreased Harry recognized Remus Lupin's worn out features, his shabby cloak and his dark, tired eyes which looked more haunted and sad than Harry had ever seen them before.

"Harry," he greeted, sounding slightly out of breath as he scrutinized Harry carefully.

"Hi, Remus," smiled Harry weakly.

They took no further action to greet each other, the realization creeping into Harry's mind that his former Professor might be even more weary of the talk they were going to have than Harry himself.

"I am glad you came." Harry nodded. "We should move inside, if you don't mind."

"No," Harry concurred with him. "The Hog's Head is rather empty."

In silence they marched back to the town, hurriedly, both finding the tension between them insufferable. They did not hesitate to step inside the dingy pub, only few other guests were present, very much like when Hermione had held the first DA meeting here last year.

Remus seemed to be acquainted with the innkeeper for they exchanged curt nods, before the man behind the bar returned to polishing a glass with his grimy dish towel and Remus selected one of the more secluded tables.

*The innkeeper reminds me of someone I know* thought Harry. *But I can't place just who...*

*I wouldn't be surprised.* thought Voldemort dismissively. *That's Aberforth Dumbledore.*

Harry stared at the pub owner. Aberforth Dumbledore?

"Harry, is something the matter?" asked Remus.

Harry's head snapped around to look at the man, before giving a hasty nod. "No, it's nothing," he said.

*Aberforth Dumbledore as in...* He remembered Dumbledore saying: '...even my own borther, Aberforth...'. *As in Dumbledore's brother?*

*Yes, most people don't even know that Dumbledore has a brother. Unlike Albus, Aberforth never made much effort … to make his existence known.* answered Voldemort, clearly uninterested in the subject.

*Wait a sec* Harry demanded. *You want to tell me that while Albus is up there leading Hogwarts, his own brother is the owner of the most shabby pub I've ever seen in closest proximity, and still their relationship is apparently so good that no one even noticed they were related? Why?*

*I've never cared much for Dumbledore's private life.*

"How are you doing, Harry?", asked Remus after a while, his question sounding neutral enough, but Harry was not fooled for one moment. Remus wanted to know how he was dealing with Sirius' death.

It quickly put the strange situation of the two Dumbledore brothers out of his head, easily subdued when he was presented with more urgent matters.

"I'm fine," said Harry honestly, locking eyes with Remus amber ones. "It's … not been easy for me, but after thinking about everything that happened in the Department of Mysteries I came to the conclusion that I – that we all – should move on. Not like nothing happened," he added pointedly, "but despite it. I think that's what he wanted, what he would want us to do. We're still alive and we should keep on living. Looking back with sadness but not despair."

Remus smiled sadly at that. "Wise words, Harry. You have … aged beyond your years. You shouldn't have had to do that."

"I know." said Harry. "But it happened. And I can't take it back. I'm glad you came today, Remus."

"I'm glad you came, too," said Remus tiredly.

"How did you spent the summer?" asked Harry, regarding the man carefully. He looked as worn out as usual, but there was something new to his expression, a finality that had not been there before, his features spoke of resignation and the deep desire for rest that was long overdue.

"The same as last year," whispered Remus silently. Harry knew what he meant, he knew that the other had been sent to recruit the werewolves for Dumbledore after the Triwizard Tournament and Voldemort's rebirth. "It gets easier to stay with them the longer I am there … I have met Fenrir Greyback quite a few times."

His voice was barely audible by then, underlining the significance of his words. Harry could not place the name Fenrir Greyback although he believed he might have come across it before, maybe in the newspapers.

"Who is Fenrir Greyback?" he inquired carefully.

"A werewolf," murmured Remus as if talking to himself. Then his head snapped up and he leveled his eyes on Harry. "He was the one who … who bit me when I was a child." He sighed. "I'm not the only one though... Greyback, he is focused on children. He positions himself … before the full moon, so that he near to his victims when he turns. He bit me after getting in a fight with my father, to punish him."

"I didn't know that. Greyback... does he follow a purpose?" inquired Harry. "Does he want to create more werewolves?"

"He is ill, Harry, insane. There is no reason in his actions," stated Remus sadly.

*Lupin is right. Greyback is psychotic. It can happen when a werewolf is separated from pack long enough. They are not adapt to being without pack. Greyback might have lost his mind, the level of aggressiveness he shows is not in the werewolf's nature – usually.* commented Voldemort.

"And now you have met him? With the other werewolves?" asked Harry, trying to imagine how Remus might feel in the man's presence. Did Greyback remember him?

"Yes," nodded the other. "He's searched them out, trying to convince them to join the Dark. He's Voldemort's speaker with the werewolves and I fear they are prone to listen to him. The Ministry did not show us too much tolerance. They all desire better lives, so they might easily listen to Greyback."

*Did you not just tell me that Greyback is psychotic? Or do I need me hearing checked?* demanded Harry.

*Why, yes, he is.* confirmed Voldemort bemusedly.

*Then tell me again just why do you let him be your speaker?*

His inquiry was met by a mental sigh. *Greyback wants pack. He desires it – more than anything else. He is proud and he is strong enough to be their leader. He might be feared even by some of his own, but he thus can inspire obedience and he will not hesitate to do what it takes to return his race to the freedom he so longs for.*

While that could be deemed logical Harry could not quiet understand his former defense professor. "So why are you staying with them? It sounds like they can't be swayed to help Dumbledore anyways?" asked Harry.

"Well, the thing is," he started, but interrupted himself again. "First off you should know how a pack works. Fenrir is the one who turned me, who made me a werewolf, he is my sire. And he remembers very well who I am. As my sire he has a certain degree of control over me and surprisingly he has not used it against me yet. He requires me to stay with the pack though."

"You don't sound as though you minded too much," observed the raven haired teen.

"In fact I don't. I'm not happy that Greyback is there but does leave me be most of the time. I feel it's where I belong, with them, Harry. I came to understand that even if Greyback had not forbidden me to leave I would stay." He closed his eyes. "I came to a decision and I hope you will not hate me for it, Harry. Believe me, I regret so much, and if I could relive my live I would do many things differently. I wish I could have given you more but seeing my condition I could not and I cannot now. It pains me but... I can't fight Greyback and this war at once. All of those I knew are dead by now, I have lost everything, everyone of my friends to it. I can't give more. I can't continue this. I'm sorry, but I will leave this part of my life behind. I wish you could do the same but I know you can't. And I really hope for you to win. I will offer you all the help I am able to give should you ever need it. But most of all I ask you for your forgiveness. I know that I am abandoning you but please be aware it is not out of ill will."

Lupin stared at him his eyes full of fright, fear that he might be condemned for his treachery by the boy sitting in front of him, who had so brave and selflessly fought for their ideals, ideals Lupin still shared but had no strength left to fight for. The boy who had sacrificed even more already and far more than the wolf was aware of and yet had never complained.

"You thought … you thought I would hate you for this? For, for trying to build a normal life? You think I could not understand how much you want to stop fighting?" asked Harry. You think I would hate you for giving up you responsibility and placing it on the remaining fighters, placing it on me? Yes, of course I do... if there was such a responsibility.

"You don't?", asked Remus hopefully.

"No. I … possibly couldn't," said Harry. Since my decision weighs even more...

"I – thank you, Harry," said Remus honestly, seeming infinitely relieved.

Harry laughed dryly. "Don't thank me. Just show me tolerance. You're not the only one who made up his mind."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Remus, frowning, considering possible meanings.

"This is not the place to discuss it... or the time. I should be heading back to Hogwarts now. Just bear it in mind. Please."

Remus nodded slowly. "Yes, I will. Thank you again for understanding me. Know that you can always write to me if you need my help. I will do what I can."

"I will think of it." He paused. "Does Dumbledore know, I mean did you tell him? I suppose this also means that you're leaving the Order?"

"I – I did not tell him, I guess I was afraid of what he might say." Or do. Remus had probably subconsciously done the right thing. "But since he's Dumbledore he might already know it anyways."

And that was very likely.

"Do you think he wouldn't accept it?" asked Harry carefully.

"I am not sure, to be honest," admitted Remus hesitantly. "Although I feel that it would be proper to talk to him and explain-"

"No! No, it's better if you don't confront him about it."

The man seemed slightly taken aback, but nodded his head. "Maybe you're right. Dumbledore has enough trouble as it is."

They exchanged a few more good wishes before parting ways, Harry being not nearly satisfied with the talks outcome, though he had not seen a way to outright ask Remus if he knew about Dumbledore's deeds. He had no means to check whether the werwolf would lie to him or not and furthermore knowing that the Hog's Head's barman was Dumbledore's own brother he felt not secure enough to brush such a delicate subject. He had decided to postpone that topic to a later date.

He was surprised though about Remus' decision to pull out off the war, while he welcomed it he had not expected it. He did not like what he had been told about Fenrir Greyback in the slightest, he was not sure what to make of it.

And while Remus had turned his back on Dumbledore his words had clearly shown that he was not ready yet to be confronted with Harry's changing sides – not yet anyways. Maybe spending some time with fellow werewolves would open his mind more. However he would have to find a way to talk to Remus privately where no one could so easily overhear them. He felt that there was a chance to – what? To gain the man's acceptance? His continued support? His company?

He walked back to Hogwarts deep in thought, being later than he had anticipated, when he heard news spreading of Katie Bell being attacked. From what he could make out, she had been send to St. Mungo's and while the story's about her health's state differed drastically, most pupils seemed to agree on the fact that the whole thing had had something to do with a cursed necklace that had been meant for the school's esteemed headmaster. One Albus Dumbledore.

All of this brought Harry to the conclusion that he was going to have a very serious talk with Draco Malfoy, very soon.

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