Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter; but then, I never expressed any desire to own Harry Potter. It's Remus Lupin I want.
Lupin's room at Grimmauld was almost identical to his office during his term at Hogwarts. The creamy white carpet was deep enough to sink one's feet into. Three walls matched the colour perfectly, whilst the fourth was a brilliant scarlet and decorated with the few pictures that Lupin had decided to keep, most almost duplicates of the many Harry had seen last night.
On the windowsill, Harry even noticed the Grindylow tank, now filled with a selection of rare fish, the likes of which Harry had never before seen.
Lupin had a rare knack for making almost anywhere feel like home and this room, cold and filled with junk though it was, even smelt like him. "Make yourself at home. I never really unpacked. I've been living out of my trunk for quite some time."
Harry, biting his lip and attempting to decide between the bed (warm, comfortable and so very tempting in his state of semi-sleep) and the chair, opted for the latter, deciding that falling asleep in his former teacher's bed would be one of the most embarrassing moments of his life.
"I suppose," said Lupin, flicking through photo albums and creating organised piles at his feet. "I should explain a few things before Sirius has time to exaggerate the facts."
Lupin's rushed synopsis of the years between their leaving Hogwarts and that fateful Halloween, was over and analysed well before lunch, let alone before Sirius could interrupt.
For the remainder of the day, Harry practically shut himself away, flicking through the photo album that he had been given by Hagrid, watching his parents dance in the snow, watching his parents smile outside a small and unassuming church and watching his father flick his wand so that his own tiny face would light up as multi-coloured sparks danced above his head.
It just wasn't fair.
Despite everyone claiming that he and Sirius might as well have been father and son, they weren't. No-one could replace James Potter and no-one dared to try. He hated himself for thinking it, but sometimes Harry wished someone would.
When the door opened, Harry hurriedly flicked to the next photograph, not wanting to be seen dwelling on pictures of Sirius and debating how alike his father and his best friend were in appearance. The last thing he wanted was to be the catalyst in sending his godfather into one of his renowned melancholy moods.
To Harry's surprise and relief, his visitor was Lupin who, as though having read his mind, crouched beside the chair and said, "You can't live in the past, Harry."
Harry nodded, unable or unwilling to speak.
"If I show you these pictures, promise me that you won't feel resentment. Obviously, you'll feel longing, we all will. Please don't let longing or resentment consume you."
Harry began to wonder why he had not had this lecture before he'd seen their school pictures. That said, their school pictures had been innocent and as they belonged to Sirius, it was not Lupin's place to tell him any of this.
Again, Lupin answered this unasked question. "You know what happened, Harry. I would wake up in the morning and think to myself, thank God it was a dream. Maybe I'd manage to convince myself that I was alone because your parents were in hiding or I was alone because I couldn't put Peter at risk, but eventually I would have to come to terms with reality. I would look at these pictures almost every day. It was the lowest point of my day and at the same time, it was the reason I woke up in the morning. I don't want that for you, Harry. I don't want you to hate-"
"I've got more reason to hate Pettigrew than the pair of you!"
Lupin shushed him, taking a clenched fist and squeezing it reassuringly. "I know. I know." He took a deep breath. "I'm not talking about him."
Harry raised his head, meeting Lupin's eyes and frowning in confusion. "I don't understand."
"I'm talking about us, Harry, Sirius and myself. Knowing the truth, I see these pictures and it is obvious. For years I looked at these and I never saw beyond the image. I believed what I was led to, so perhaps I'm talking about myself more than Sirius."
Harry mulled this over. Whatever he was about to see was not pleasant. He wondered whether he even wanted to see them anymore. Glancing down at the picture of his mother, her arms around her husband's neck, laughing half to the camera and half into his jumper, he knew. Of course he wanted to see them.
"I couldn't hate you," he answered quietly. "Besides, the truth wouldn't have brought them back."
Lupin steeled himself. "At the time, it might have saved their lives." He stood and began to pace. "Living in the moment, you are forgiven for not realising the true meaning behind a gesture, behind an odd look, behind the expression on someone's face. However, when you watch that gesture, that look, that expression, every day, well…"
Harry swallowed hard. "What are you saying?" His breathing settled. "Look, if I hadn't seen Pettigrew, I would never have believed you. If you hadn't taught me and I hadn't known you, I would never have even allowed you to show him to me. How can I blame you for feeling the same way?"
Lupin smiled, curious. He sat opposite Harry and shook his head slightly. "I know you are told that you're like your father every day but-"
"But my father would have done the same?"
Lupin shook his head. "Your father would certainly have never held a grudge and he would have forgiven me, don't misunderstand me. The thought process that went into that, Harry, was purely your mother." He beamed and got to his feet. "Anyway, the Prince of Darkness is ready to grace us with his presence."
Harry smiled faintly. He was always perplexed by Lupin's ability to lighten the mood in seconds, despite often being rather low himself. "So what you're trying to tell me is that I should look beyond what I see first?"
Lupin nodded, collecting the box of photographs that he had left behind before lunch. "Always," he replied. "When you feel you ought to be suspicious, then you ought to look deeper for your answer. I pray that you will never have to study such an image and know that lives depend on it, Harry, but knowing you, you probably will."
"You pray?" Harry asked incredulously. "How can you believe in God after everything that's happened?"
Lupin laughed. "Harry, after everything that's happened, how can you not?" He waited to close the door behind Harry who, still thinking about this, trudged out.
"Are you pair even coming, or what?"
Lupin leant over the banister. "I'm on my way!" He ushered Harry down the stairs, muttering, "Merlin, he's got the patience of a starving shark."