Disclaimer: Not mine.
Rhea put the plates on the table and levitated the pot from the back burner to join them. She wasn't about to take time to set a fancy table, not tonight when everything was coming undone. First their best brood sow, now two cows, gone. She slammed the flatware down and headed for the door to call Anthony and Remus.
"Come eat!" she yelled through the screen door. "I'm not keeping it hot, so if you aren't coming at least send the boy."
Remus leaned forward from his cross-legged position, braced himself with his arms, and stood up. "You coming? Mum sounds right upset she does."
"Nah, I'll heat it up later. You run along before she has your arse," Anthony muttered as he cranked the winch, pulling the barbed wire taunt before hammering a two-pronged nail into it, to hold it fast to the fencepost. "We lose one more and we don't eat this winter, now run along."
"I can stay and help." The small boy looked up hopefully. "I bet I can turn the winch, if you just let me…"
"I told you what to do, now go." Anthony stopped to glare at his son, waiting until he started to walk away.
He watched Remus run his sleeve under his nose and saw the slump of his shoulders. "Remus, just … go eat first. You can help better on a full stomach."
Rhea held the door open for Remus as he scurried by her on his way to the table. "Sit and eat, I'll be right back."
She pulled her shawl off of the hook by the door and wrapped it around herself as she walked down the steps and across the front yard to the pen. Anthony had repaired most of the fence, only two more lengths to go.
"Want me to bring them in?"
Anthony stood up straight and looked to the tops of the mountains to the west. "Should still have a couple of hours of light left. Leave 'em for a while. They'll start on back themselves soon enough."
"By which time they'll be hurting for the milking. I'll send Remus when he…"
"No," he threw down his hammer followed by his work gloves. "I'll do it now. Just quit nagging woman."
"Nagging? You want nagging I'll start in on the barn."
She turned and walked back to the house as he walked the other way. She was sick of it, sick of there never being enough and always needing more. Sick of tending animals and worrying about crops. The door slammed shut behind her with a loud crack that filled the small house like a pistol shot.
"Dad says he'll fix that soon as he…"
"I know, soon as he finishes with what he's doing." She sat opposite him at the table and leaned forward putting her arms in the space in front of her. "Ah, Remus. I know it's not his fault. Your Da works hard, harder then most with less thanks as well. I just get tired is all."
"Dad says he wants to build a new barn. Said he would sooner do that than fix the old one."
"Did he now? And did he tell you who was paying for it? No? Didn't think so. When you are down there, run out to the shed and see if he bought that new spring."
She picked up his empty dish and dropped it in the sink, hearing the door slam with a crack again, she turned too late to call him back and remind him to run to the shed. Shouldn't be worried, she told herself, and shouldn't be after him all the time. She shook her head and looked to the fireplace and the small framed picture that didn't move sitting on the mantle. Shouldn't be worried about something that has already happened and can't be undone.
Later, when Remus was tucked in and Anthony took out his pipe, packed it full of sweet cherry tobacco and went outside to sit in the cool night air, she followed him. She sat down in front of him, leaning back against his legs and looked up at the sky with him.
"There," he said, pointing low on the horizon. "Sirius."
Rhea smiled at the game he so liked to play and followed his finger, then grabbed his hand and moved it from Orion's dog to his shoulder. "Bellatrix."
"I hear the Blacks named their oldest daughter Bellatrix."
"Really?" Rhea continued to watch the heavens. "What is it for them? Three girls?"
"Yes, I think it is. Shame who the youngest married, would have thought better of her."
"Now you sound like your mother," Rhea sighed. "I want him home."
"I know, but it is safer this way."
"Have you heard anything?" She kept her eyes turned upwards as if she could find the answer there.
She felt him shift in the chair and knew he was holding a match to the bowl of the pipe, drawing in air and puffing out the first sweet smoke. She heard his sigh and felt him lean back in the chair, away from her, without so much as a touch.
"I should have just given him what he wanted. I didn't think he would go this far, I thought…" he sighed and took a draw on the pipe, biting the stem and savouring the aroma. "I thought we were safe here."
Rhea nodded and stiffly rose, the damp night air, making her legs and neck ache. She didn't say a word as she returned to the house and began to clean the kitchen.
Every night she cleaned the kitchen while he sat outside and waited. Waited for the night to fall so deep that every star could be seen, sat and waited to see the shape of the moon and judge the tide of things other than the sea. Waited until it was the night he wanted, and then he would take his rifle and small hand pistol, and would head up to the mountains. Waited for Greyback to make a mistake, to come back, to want more.
They didn't talk about it any more. There was nothing left to say. Nothing left to berate one another for, or to place blame on. There was only the picture on the mantle to remind them of their first son. And Remus, that had always went to bed so good, never begging to stay up just a little later, never ever wanting to walk to the mountains with his father, and never questioning why he did.
He knew the story. The kinder story that Rhea had crafted, staying away from the more horrific story that was Marcus. Marcus Romulus was the big brother Remus could not remember, the big brother who had gone away because he was ill. An illness that perhaps the clear salt-water air of Northern Scotland could, maybe not cure, not allow him to return, but could somehow make better where magic could not. Maybe the air could bring him peace.
She knew Remus was beginning to wonder what the name of the illness was. At seven years old he was bright and inquisitive, always wanting more than she could give. She heard Anthony coming in the back door and cast a soft Nox, putting out the candles that hung on the kitchen walls, leaving the ones in the living room burning.
"No milk again tonight." He threw his gloves on the table. "The spotted calf has gone missing."
"Oh, Anthony," she sat heavily at the table. "What fucking good is the Ministry! How do they expect us to …"
"Shut up, do you want to wake him?"
"It's getting worse," she hissed. "He keeps taking and taking. What are we supposed to do? A fucking Werewolf and…"
"I said shut up! Do you want the boy hearing what his brother is, this way? Do you really want to call that fool Ministry of yours in on this? Do you want to register your son as a … a creature not fit to live? You know what they will do if they find him. Do you want that around my neck too?"
Rhea felt her throat constrict, she swallowed hard to clear it, wanting nothing more than to get through the next few minutes. She stood and started to climb the stairs to the bedroom when he yanked her around to face him.
"I didn't mean that the way it sounded, you have to know that. My gods, he's is my son too. My firstborn. I did this to him, me. How do you think I feel knowing he is out there and I can't even talk to him or help him?"
"And I am his mother!" she snapped. "Five years he's been gone. Five years and I don't even know if he is alive."
He pulled her into his arms and guided her head to his shoulder, holding her tight. "He's not dead. Don't even think it. He's smart and knows how to be careful. You'll see, when it's safe, when Remus is off to Hogwarts he'll come back."
Together they climbed the stairs and went to bed, lying back to back on the narrow bed. Neither were willing or able to reach for the other, both forgetting how. Rhea no longer would wait for his touch, wondering if he even cared. Wondering if he was sorry for joining her world, and not staying in his. He didn't care for much any more, she had often thought as she watched his haunted face. They would lie together until his dreams woke him and he would check the doors, look in on Remus and sit by the window to watch and wait. That was when she could sleep, when he watched and was up to keep Remus safe.
Whereas his dreams were of the attack, the ripping skin, the unholy sounds, hers were of Marcus' laughing eyes and hopeful games. She could still hear his squeal of delight when the first calf of the spring was born, or his sound of happiness as he let go of the rope that swung out over the river, in the split second of time when courage overcame fear and he let go. Anthony would wake sweating, in a panic, but she would turn deeper into the pillow not wanting then, or ever, to let go.
"Mum?" Remus peeked around the edge of the door. "Mum? Dad says it's time to get up. He's made tea and toast."
She nodded without opening her eyes and waved him away with her hand.
"Mum?" Remus' voice registered someplace in her mind. "Mum, he said not to leave until you were up."
"I'm up, I'm up." She swung her leg over the side of the bed. "Who are you?"
"Can't be my Remus. Too big to be my Remus," she frowned at him as he grinned at her.
"Mum, cut it out." He laughed at her.
"Nope," she flopped onto her back, her legs hanging off the bed. "Can't get up without my hug."
"Ewww, do I have to?"
"Nope, just tell your Dad you left me asleep."
She giggled as she felt the bed move when he climbed up to give her a morning hug. Try as he might to pretend he was too big, she knew if she forgot to demand his hug he would feel the slight. So every morning they played the game.
Anthony stood at the bottom of the stairs and called up to them, the tea was growing cold and the toast was ready. Sighing, she and Remus tromped down the stairs and into the kitchen. It was the day before shopping day and Remus was already excited, already making lists of what he wanted. They would have to get an early start, wanting, no… needing, to be home well before dark.
Still two days off the calendar showed, still more then forty-eight hours before she would tuck Remus in bed, ward his windows and set up a silencing spell. Less then forty-eight hours before Anthony would go hunting in the mountains. Remus saw her looking at the calendar and lowered his head over his plate, he didn't like the look she got on her face when she thought he wasn't watching, or the way Dad cleared his throat at her, loudly, like a scolding.
"You make a list? I'm not walking through those god awful shops all day."
"He needs a pair of shoes. Ones he has are all walked over, and I need to go to the market."
"Mum, can I spend my money at the bookshop?"
"It's your money Remus," she grinned at him. "You earned it, you spend it anyway you chose. Just chose wisely. Once it's gone it's gone."
"They've got this really neat book 'bout dragons and things. It even tells ya what to do if one comes around."
Anthony looked at him over the edge of The Daily Prophet he held in his hands. "Plan on a dragon happening by?"
"Ya never know. That one night I thought I heard one, member Dad?"
Anthony looked up at Rhea and frowned. "It was a storm coming down over the ridge. Told you that, son."
"Yeah, but it still sounded like one, all howling and all."
"Thought we could get an early start. Maybe have breakfast at that Leaky Cauldron place before we go to the market."
"Really Dad?" Remus looked up from his tea with a wide smile. "That would be neat. Sometimes Tom lets me in the kitchen…"
"Just get up early, we leave too late and it's off." Anthony snapped the paper back up to cover his grin.
He read the paper until he heard Remus run outside, the door sending a sharp reminder into the too quiet kitchen.
"Need to get to that door." He looked at Rhea sheepishly. "Just seems there's not enough time in the day."
"Funny that," Rhea sat down and wrapped her hands around her mug. "We taught him so much about your Muggle life, I sometimes have to remind myself he needs to see mine. I'll show him the wand work, and fix the spring."
"It's good for the boy. He seems… comfortable when he works with his hands. Better than I was at his age."
"He's getting confused. He can't see where one world ends and the other begins. He has to learn."
"He'll learn." Anthony pushed away from the table and stood up, suddenly angered. "Or are you finding fault in that too?"
She watched him stomp to the door and flinched as the door slammed, again cursing the broken spring. She thought of Marcus, and how hard he had worked to learn to use his hands when a wand was in his pocket. How much harder it had been for him. She wondered if he was working with his hands now.
Remus spent the day looking at the clock and dreaming of the book of dragons and fire. Mum would help him with the words he still did not know, dragging out the dictionary and making him look them up, and then patiently explaining them. Sometimes he liked the part with the dictionary better than the book, her sitting close, and Dad taking a turn when she fixed the tea.
Twice he cut his hands on the fence by winding the winch too tight, twice Dad chided him and guided his hand to do it right. It was hard to concentrate with dragons flying overhead, and peeking around the corner of the barn. He couldn't think beyond Flourish and Blotts, and the shelves that seemed to go on forever. .
By morning he was anxious and almost giddy. He showered and brushed his teeth and was waiting downstairs long before Rhea came down.
"Remus, go hang up your cloak. We have to stop by the Muggle market. You won't be needing that. If it's cold grab a jumper."
"Ah, Mum… I hate that market. You said I was going with Dad to get shoes."
"I know, but it's less expensive and the produce is fresher. If you want more than rice and beans we go there."
"Maybe you could get your Mum to make some of her curry. She makes the best," Anthony said from the back door where he set the Muggle rifle down. Seeing Rhea's hopeful look, he shook his head then indicated the boy in a silent warning.
She didn't need to ask, she never did. Once a month for more years then she wanted to count he would return the same way. The last five years hung on his shoulders and slowed his walk. Every month he seemed older and sadder, but still she hoped. Still, when he walked in the door, and set down the rifle, she would hope.
"Will ya Mum?" Remus didn't wait for an answer as he ran for his jumper.
Curry had been a favourite of Marcus'. A dish she no longer made very often. Curry stuck in her mouth and had to be choked down. Anthony didn't seem to notice the things that bothered her. Not like she, who knew that he no longer could stand to be in the old barn, the barn where Marcus would be locked in once a month. She had kept his clothes hanging neatly in his closet until the day she came home and found them burnt. Anthony somehow thought that erasing his memory from the house would erase it from her mind. Now, they left together to do the shopping, both unable to admit to the other that he had been wrong.
She pushed the cart and loaded the basket, always watching Remus. He was too big now to hold her hand in public, he would tug against her and be embarrassed. Anthony came with them, now that Remus was getting older. Rather than keep the boy at home he would follow behind and watch, his hand in his pocket, resting on the pistol, his face unmoveable. On occasion Rhea could feel the looks from the Muggles that found them strange. Strange, that the woman never spoke while in the market, strange that the man walked behind, always with his right hand in his pocket. Strange that the boy seemed ill at ease, ready to run. Remus didn't like the market, and would rather have eaten rice and beans.
He knew that once the shopping was done, Mum would shrink the packages and take them home while he and Dad would portkey over to Diagon. Was safe there, Dad always said knowingly. Your kind is there, they understand. Diagon had bookshops, used and new, and had shops with windows hung with brooms and wonderful things. Today Dad would come, and he would get shoes, and maybe be able to buy an ice cream cone and eat it as they walked down the pavement.
"I want to get him a quill, a child's quill so he can learn proper," Rhea quipped. "Ours are too large for his hand and Marc… the ones we used to have are all weather cracked."
Anthony looked down at the boy and nodded. "He needs clean parchment too. The kind with lines."
"I can put in an order, they can send it by owl."
"No," he frowned and thought how easy owls were to follow. "Tell you what," a rare smile touched his face, "we'll go on home after Remus here gets his books, you run on to Hogsmeade. With term starting the shops will be stocked."
"Can we afford it?"
He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small bag of coins, pressed it into her hand and smiled. "Wanted to save it, for the hols, wanted to buy you that new set of robes you saw last year. Guess you can pick them up yourself. You need something to wear here."
"Dad said we can go look at the brooms," Remus smiled proudly at being able to hold the secret. "Dad said just me and him today cause you got shopping to do for new clothes but it's a surprise. He even said I can get two books and maybe we can use the floo to go home."
"Two?" she smirked. "And what did you do to earn the second?"
"He kept a secret." Anthony put his hand on the boys head and shrugged his shoulders. "I never got past fifth year but my son loves his books, how can I say no to that?"
"Have you already decided what book you want?" She raised an eyebrow and gave Remus her best "be good" look.
"Ummm," he looked up at his father and tugged his hand. "Dad?"
"They just got a shipment of Muggle books." He put his hand up to stop her protest. "I know, but the boy needs a story book, can't be learning books all the time."
"You just make sure it's not one of those trashy things like your mother reads, you know what I mean."
"No, Mum," Remus grinned. "These are all … what they called Dad?"
"Classics, they're called classics."
"Fine." She looked up at Anthony and saw his nod, telling her it was okay for her to leave, that he would stay close to him. "I won't be long. I think maybe an hour, no more."
She only looked back twice on her way to the apparition point, only twice before she smiled and left for Hogsmeade.
A/N: This is the story of Remus. The first few chapters are meant set up the story, and give him and his family's back story. The later chapters will deal with the Mauraders and his time in and after Hogwarts. Although the basic story will follow canon I am sure there will be the occasional questionable timeline problem and in the later chapters become slightly AU.