Yes, this is similar to the story Remus Lupin and the Forbidden Forest, which I have now written and posted on this site twice, and removed twice. And I swear, if I come back in a few months and think this is utter crap again, I will never again attempt to re-write it. But I am giving it one last go, in the name of being a better writer, and more in tune with how a story should really go. The characters were entirely too fictionalized in the last version, and I will attempt to rectify that here. Also, I've gotten somewhat better at naming them, because WOW! some of those names were crap. That said, Beware of OCs, as they are plentiful! Now, if this story is utter crap, please, please feel free to tell me, as I think it will save us all a lot of time.
And, since I'm terrible at descriptions without a character count, I can only imagine how cruddy that summary must sound, and yet you were kind enough to click on this story any way. So let me try to give you a picture of Remus Lupin and The Centaur Ashes before you start reading, in case the description was just too vague and you thought this was something it's not: This is the epic retelling of Remus Lupin's life, or at least 14 years of it, with two(2) major changes. Remus begins Hogwarts in 1984 (rather then the canon 1971), and he is not a werewolf. I repeat, he is not a werewolf. Everything is fairly well explained in this first chapter, but I wanted to make sure you understood those things.
Enjoy, and all reviews, including flames telling me what an utter failure I am, are welcome. But I will give you cookie for nice reviews.
If there was one word to describe Remus John Lupin, it was too.
He was too tall, all long limbs and long torso and long everything that he handled with an unusual amount of grace most of the time. Not clumsy, just awkward, he would say when occasionally he stumbled over an errant object on the floor or tangled his legs as he sat in a chair. As far as the Order went, only Dumbledore and Hagrid were taller, and Sirius, the tallest of his friends from his school days, had been shorter then him by several inches.
He was too thin, particularly for someone of his height. Molly had seemed to take this as a personal affront, and had begun cooking huge meals for him as often as she could, fulfilling her job as mother figure to anyone who happened to look just a little less then fully nourished who stumbled across her path quite splendidly. He had always been lean, years of transforming and war trimmed the fat off a man much better then even the most effective diet spell, and he suspected he would always be so. His thin oxfords and faded trousers showed off a frame that was all sharp, angled joints and lean muscles, no matter how baggy he wore them.
His hair was too gray, too long, too messy. The gray made him look far older then his thirty-six years, while the length and style of the sandy brown locks was the same as he'd worn during his Hogwarts years, just starting to come back in vogue. Not that Remus had ever been very good at knowing what was in or out of style. Molly was always offering to cut it for him, and it had become somewhat of a running joke between him and Bill who she would get to first.
And he was too much of a werewolf for most people to even notice his smile, or his laugh, or the spark that shined behind his amber eyes through just about everything, or the fact that he was too nice to almost everyone he met, no matter how they treated him in return.
Remus had been a lycanthrope for thirty years now, and he supposed that after a while you built up a little bit of resistance, a tolerance you could call it, to the harsh words, but by that time, the lines had already been sketched prematurely and deeply into his thin, handsome face. Only a handful of people had ever gotten past the werewolf thing to really accept that there was something to Remus Lupin beyond the werewolf thing. And it seemed like most of those people were dead.
Something in the area of his heart clenched at the thought of dead friends, Sirius's death less then a month past, and he ran a hand along his chin, feeling the few day's worth of sandy beard, wishing that he'd thought to shave before coming to Hogwarts. It was considerably easier to convince people that you were just fine if you looked the part.
But life goes on, and it always had, and always would, until, of course, it didn't, but that caused the heart-clenching thing to happen again, so he shoved those thoughts into some far hidden corner of his mind and muttered the password to expose the staircase up to the Headmaster's office. Dumbledore had given no specific reason for calling him to the school today, but Remus assumed it was something for the Order.
It seemed everything these days was about the Order, not that Remus minded terribly. Throwing himself into work seemed to be one of two things that kept him from drowning in angst, and the other was something he had been trying to avoid lately, as it raised more questions then Remus was really ready to deal with at all.
His shoulder protested painfully as he raised his hand to knock, the fresh, deep gash along the shoulder blade adding to the stiffness of shifting bones and unnaturally stretching muscles. Soon though, it would just be yet another scar crisscrossing his pale skin, and it wasn't as though he hadn't dealt with various degrees of pain, ranging from horrifying to minor inconveniences, for his entire life, so he ignored it fairly well and raised his hand to knock again.
Just then, the door swung open and Remus quickly lowered his hand, trying to hide his discomfort at the sudden movement. Dumbledore smiled at him serenely, though he appeared to be sucking on a rather putrid piece of candy, if the slight smell it was giving off was any indication.
"Remus, I'm delighted you could come. Please," he said, stepping aside to allow the younger man to enter the office. Remus forced a small smile, attempting to shove his memories of times spent in this office into the same corner that he'd shoved his earlier thoughts. He was quite good at this, but he supposed with practice came perfect, though he certainly wasn't perfect yet, and swallowed a hard lump as he heard the door click locked behind him.
"Have a seat," Dumbledore said, and as Remus lowered himself carefully into one of the two high backed chairs in front of the desk, he realized he'd never known Dumbledore to lock his office.
"Remus, I haven't called you here today to talk about the Order, but something that relates directly to you and your 'furry little problem', as I believe James Potter often referred to it."
"What about it, sir?" asked Remus, curious as to what could be discussed about his being a werewolf. It was something that he'd almost always been, and would always be, very much a part of what he was for the past thirty years. It was how many people defined him within their minds: Remus Lupin, resident werewolf.
"Well, I believe, that in my research of the topic, I may have discovered a way to cure your condition, I'll admit a rather unorthodox one," said Dumbledore, with such a casual tone that Remus wondered if perhaps he had misheard the Headmaster, and rather than saying something that would drastically change Remus's life, he had simply been commenting on the weather. Perhaps his own dreams had taken to mocking him? He pinched his leg hard, the sore muscles protesting quite angrily and Remus looked up at Dumbledore, unable to hide a small grimace.
"I assure you, Remus, this is entirely real. But, like many good things, it is not without some sacrifice," he said, and the twinkle in his blue eyes, though no less intense, had a hint of sadness as he met Remus's own amber ones.
Swallowing unconsciously, Remus felt his heart twinge heavily at the thought that something he'd wanted so badly for so long could cost him dearly, "Sir, what, um, what is the-," he asked, struggling for words, caught somewhere between hope and horror, which was an uncomfortable place to be to say the least.
"You will, to put it simply, be starting over. If you go back, and stop yourself from being bitten, you'll be living a drastically different life from the age of six on. Not only will you prevent yourself from becoming a werewolf, but through this particular method, you will also alter the entire course of your existence. You'll be living in a different time, with different people, and if I do say so myself, very different adventures."
Remus knew his jaw was hanging open at perhaps a truly astonishing angle, but the part of his brain that was in charge of basic motor functions seemed to have been disabled by what Dumbledore had said. When he managed to reconnect his muscles to his brain, it took every bit of concentration he possessed to stutter out a simple, "H-How?"
"Ah, that is the most important question, isn't? Well, I suppose I should start at the beginning, with your parents. I've never seen two people who were as devoted to their son as they were to you, Remus. They would have given almost anything to see you free of your affliction, and when they couldn't find a cure, they made your life as comfortable as was within their power. They were not perfect people, but no one truly is, and they were both truly wonderful people. They were a very powerful witch and wizard, and nice almost to a fault. There is so much of both of them in you," Dumbledore said, and Remus blushed. It had been a long time since anyone had talked about his parents, and no one had ever given them quite the glowing description that Dumbledore had.
"Shortly before your father's death, he came to me and asked me to continue their search for something to help you. He was in very poor health at the time, and your mother's death had left a deep mark on him, but he never gave up the hope that someday you would be free of the wolf. I agreed, because by that time, through your years at Hogwarts and your work with the Order, I knew you quite well, and didn't think I could find a nicer or more deserving young man in the entire world," Remus blushed again at the compliment, and Dumbledore paused to remove two small items from one of his desk drawers.
Remus studied the two seemingly random items on the desk in between himself and the headmaster with interest. One had the appearance of being an overly intricate Time Turner with a rusty chain, while the other was an unpolished deep black stone, with colored veins shot through it. The veins seemed to dance and buzz happily as Remus watched, and it took effort to drag his eyes back up to Dumbledore's.
The headmaster slipped his long fingers under the chain of the Time Turner first, holding it aloft so that Remus could see into the tiny hourglass at eye level, and said, "This is, as I assume you have guessed, a Time Turner. But it is no ordinary Turner. In fact, I'm not sure if 'turner' is really an accurate term for it. You see, while an ordinary Time Turner can send you back minutes, even hours, and then let the time play out in a natural progression until the moment you went back, this can be used to send you back years, and then pull you back to your current time. A Time "Yo-Yo", if you will," Dumbledore said with a smile, and Remus gave his own nervous one at the joke.
"We can send you back to prevent yourself from ever being bitten. But this, of course, presents a problem. When you are pulled back to the present, you will suddenly have thirty years of life, of memories, that you never actually lived. They will simply be blurry pictures and moments that you will be unable to fully figure out if you actually lived them or not. And a life not actually lived is hardly a life at all. Which is where the second item comes in.
"This is Eneidfuna Carega, a Soul-Combining Stone in English. It's usually used in traditional magical Welsh marriage ceremonies, or even at deathbeds, to infuse just a little of the dying person into perhaps a great-grandchild they will never meet, though it is hardly ever used to the degree that we will use it. If you clasp it between your wand hand, your right, and the wand hand of your younger version, also his right, of course, under the full moon on a summer night, the two souls will merge.
"Because they are as similar as two souls can possibly be, being the soul of the same person, you will revert to the younger version, your six year old self, and all memories of anything past the moment you merged, or of your interactions with you as you are now, will be erased. It is a truly remarkably complicated process, and I could spend months upon months trying to explain what parts of it I do understand, as it is quite fascinating, but I've rambled on enough, and I can sense your anxiousness, which is understandable in these circumstances," he said as Remus blushed again, wondering if it was possible to spontaneously combust if your cheeks grew that hot repeatedly in such a short amount of time.
"But, because of the age gap between you now and you when Greyback attacked you, you, hopefully unbitten and merged into one soul, will be pulled forward in time thirteen years. Or, at least, that is what I've managed to calculate. Again, I'm not an expert, but I'm fairly certain that number, thirteen, is correct. So, instead of starting Hogwarts in 1971, you will be a first year in 1984. If I'm not mistaken, that would be the year that young Miss Tonks first graced Hogwarts with her lovely presence," said Dumbledore, with a smile that was more knowing than Remus was really comfortable with.
He would have laughed at the words "Tonks" and "grace" being used in the same sentence, had his heart not clenched in an entirely different way at the mention of the young Auror. Being around her seemed to make the near constant ache in his heart ease away into a pleasant, fuzzy feeling in his stomach that he hadn't ever quite experienced to this extent before. But lately, the fuzzy warmness had been migrating from his stomach to his heart, and he wasn't quite sure how to react.
"And this life? I mean, if I go back, how much of this life will I have left? In my memories?" he asks, although the tight lump that's taken up residence behind his sternum tells him that he already knows the answer to that. But his mind is whirling from the sheer magnitude of this thing in front of him, and he wants to know as much as possible.
At this, Dumbledore's smile turned sad as he said, "Not much at all. If you go back and change things, none of them will really have existed. Maybe, occasionally, a particularly strong connection may stir up something that goes beyond memory, but, Remus, if you go back, you'll be sacrificing everything good in this life. If you go back, it's likely that you'll never know Frank or Alice Longbottom, the Prewett twins, the Samurs.
"You'll never meet Lily Evans or James Potter, they'll all be lost to the First War before you even receive your Hogwarts' letter. You'll never know Sirius before Azkaban, or Peter as the boy you befriended at Hogwarts. No detentions with the Marauders, no late night study sessions with Lily. The group of friends that were such an important part of your life will never be a part of this new life. You'll never be Moony, and Remus, of all the titles you've ever held, prestigious and not, I know that that means more to you the anything.
"But know also that this new life, should you choose to go back, may present the same sorts of opportunities, and greater, things you never could have dreamed of in this life. Think, not having to worry about receiving a Hogwarts letter, being free to try out for the Quidditch team, no worrying about falling asleep in class because of exhaustion you have no control over, being able to pursue your clear love of teaching without prejudice. And perhaps, you may find new friends, and form bonds with them that go beyond even, dare I say, what you had with the Marauders.
"And," said Dumbledore, mischievous quality back in the twinkle behind the half-moon glasses, "every excuse you have thought of for not pursuing a relationship with young Nymphadora will be dealt with in perhaps a single blow, which is good, as you two have clearly fallen very much in love with each other. I've found that no amount of time or magic can alter true love," he held a hand up with a smile at Remus's sputtering syllables after the last comment, and continued, "This is not without sacrifice, as I said before, and it seems monumentally unfair to ask a man who has already sacrificed so much to just give it all up, all the happy moments he has accumulated, and start over, but I wouldn't tell you about it if I didn't think it was a good option.
"Remus," he said, meeting the other man's eyes with an intensity in his own that Remus has seen only a few times in all the years that he's known Dumbledore, "there is this force inside of you, a grand force for good, a will, a need to make things right again, to fix the problems of the world in front of you. And you are a fabulous ambassador for this need, and a vital, if not essential, member of the Order of the Phoenix. But there is something more, something good and right that you strive for that cannot be achieved by simply playing your part.
"Is it impossible for you to achieve this within the confines of this life? No. But outside of it, in this new life of different possibilities, of different people and occasions, there is a beautiful opportunity right in front of you," Dumbledore said, then relaxed back into his chair, his eyes never leaving Remus's. "But, the choice is not mine, only yours. It is your life after all, and it is you who must choose how to lead it."
Remus just sat there for a second, his mind jumbled and slow, and he can feel every ache and pain from the previous full moon as if he's trapped inside the exhaustion, and rationale decisions seem like a bad idea, and for a moment he can perhaps grasp for the first time Sirius's utter need to drown the voices inside his head out by dousing them in Firewhiskey.
The hope and unknown of this new life stretching out in front of him, and the comfortable known of his current life, which, while less than perfect, is at least more than a complicated hypothetical. And his friends are here, or at least they used to be, and even if their memories seem to cause the uncomfortable heart-clenching feeling, at least there are memories.
And of course, there is Dora. He smiles slightly at the nickname, grudgingly accepted when she'd been unable to convince him to stop calling her Nymphadora, and he can see her face, happy and energetic and young, dark eyes and pale skin and pink hair, and thinks how he would do anything to tell her how he felt. And Dumbledore seems to think she feels the same way, might return that strange warmness in and around his heart, and that here is the perfect opportunity to eliminate every excuse he has in one fell swoop.
"Sir, could I perhaps burrow your Pensieve for a few minutes?" he asked, surprised at the scratchiness of his own voice, and wondered if the thick, fast swirling of his thoughts was reflected in the amber of his eyes.
"Of course," said Dumbledore, gesturing to the cabinet off to the side of his desk as he stood, "Now, I'm simply famished, and I believe I'll go place my lunch order with the house elves. I think I'll have chicken today, would you like me to order something for you?" he asked, but Remus shook his head as his eyes fell to the Eneidfuna Carega, the colored veins against the dark of the stone mesmerizing him for a moment. He heard the door click closed behind him, the unfamiliar click of the lock, and stood slowly, giving his muscles time to adjust to standing again, before he crossed to the cupboard and pulled the doors open gently. He can see his face reflected just slightly in the swirling silver liquid, and thought about the memories he wanted, pulling them to the top of his mind. Remus touched his wand to his temple, transporting the thin silver threads one by one, slowly, carefully, into the basin.
For a moment, he considers just stirring up the memories, watching the scenes he knows so well play out in front of him in ghostly silver, but another moment and he's lowering his face into the basin before him, a coolness flowing off the silver, touching his face in tendrils until his nose brushed the liquid and he plunged head first into his own memories.
His feet arrived on solid ground abruptly, and he stumbled just a bit, found himself almost face to face with eleven-year-old Remus, paler even then usual in the flickering candlelight of the Great Hall, the patched Sorting Hat falling over his head and the whispering voice already loud in his ear. He can still hear it almost twenty years later.
Ahhh, a quiet one. Always one, every year it seems, with the heart of a lion all wrapped up in quiet contemplation and secrets. And oh, the secrets inside your head, Mr. Lupin.
And Remus can see himself quaking on the stool, scared to death that instead of shouting a house name, it will screech "WEREWOLF!" to the heavens and the Hall, and everything will be ruined. But instead, the resounding call of "GRYFFINDOR!" breaks the silence, and he can see the young boy still shaking as he makes his way to the table. He moved on to the next memory, the dark enchanted sky exchanging for the tall ceiling of Professor McGonagall's classroom.
Two dark haired boys sat in front of him, one longhaired, casually flicking a bit of parchment between himself and the messy haired boy next to him. A small mousy haired boy is sitting a few desks down from them, where he'd moved to work on homework to avoid being distracted. He was doing a terrible job.
And next to him sat his younger version, dozing on his hand, full moon night exhaustion taking over him as he watched his friends. This morning, as he'd emerged from the Whomping Willow, he'd seen their shadows silhouetted against the rising blood red sun, and thought that there could be no more terrible sight.
But now, as James turned around and flicked the parchment at Remus, and Remus returned the paper with a sleepy smile, he knew they wouldn't leave him. And in that moment, though they will have years of school and some time after that to be friends, though their adventures will extend, in both depth and distance, far beyond this simple classroom, in his memory, there is no moment where these three boys were more real to him.
And then the last memory, a lonely hallway in Grimmauld, far enough after Christmas that the children have returned to school, but close enough that no one really questioned the presence of the small sprig of mistletoe hanging in the library door. At least, no one had questioned it until this moment, when Nymphadora Tonks had tripped into his arms in the doorway.
They'd both looked up at the same time, and then back to each other, and it seemed as though everything else was frozen. As Tonks righted herself, smiling nervously, Remus tried to reassure her with a smile of his own, but he was sure it came off just as unsure as hers had. Then suddenly, she'd pushed up on to her toes, and he, expecting a quick peck on the cheek, was caught off guard when her lips met his.
He could feel her arms around his neck, and rested his against her waist for a moment as he felt her tongue dart out lightly against his lips before she pulled back, million Galleon smile in place, splitting cheeks that were slightly red. She'd walked away then, whistling a slightly familiar Christmas carol with a tempo that seemed to change every few beats, and left Remus standing there, the warmness inside his heart accompanied by wonder at what had just happened in the dingy hallway of 12 Grimmauld Place.
As he pulled his face from the Pensieve, and let his mind come back from the memories, he glanced over at Dumbledore's desk, at the two small wooden picture frames lost among all the various silver instruments that cluttered the desk. Walking over slowly, his hand fell to the first, a black and white picture, slightly faded, crumpled around the edges even in the frame, a solid, comforting age to it.
Remus looked over the familiar faces, thought of all the memories, all the time spent among those people, the mornings after full moons spent in a kitchen buzzing with activity rather then a tiny, empty flat, meetings that lasted long past the point they probably should have. All those people lost, but so much life lived, those colorful vivid people who Remus had fought with, had seen grow and live and die, captured in one moment, smiling, laughing, waving at the camera heedless of the fate that awaited many of their number.
And then the second picture, more familiar faces, more fond memories. He remembered their patience with an ever more temperamental Sirius, their kindness to him, food and clothing often literally shoved at him after he'd refused many times. He can even now smell the foul smoke of Mundungus's pipe, Molly's cooking, Arthur sitting at the table, fiddling with his newest Muggle gadget, more redheads than seemed possible sometimes, Sirius slouched at the table, Firewhiskey forgotten as he talks with Dora and Moody. He touched the smiling faces of those already lost, and then his finger found his own image.
He's smiling, an honest smile, wide, teeth showing, slightly off balance as Tonks clung to his side, laughing heartily at his joke about Snape's hair, her pink hair a sharp contrast to the shabbiness of his robe. But next to her, he looks less old, less worn out, the smile de-aging him as effectively as any potion.
And in that moment, looking between the two pictures, and seeing how different they are, how similar, he made his decision, just as the door clicked open behind him, and Dumbledore came in, levitating a small tray in front of him. Remus collected the memories carefully, letting them sink back into his mind, as he turned to the headmaster, and he can tell that Dumbledore sees his thoughts splashed across his face, but he asks aloud anyway, "Have you come to a decision?"
"Yes, sir. I want to go back. I want my chance," said Remus, not sure what this chance is, but feeling a deep burning inside his heart for it. Of course, it could just be heartburn, the logical part of his brain said, but Remus told the logical part of his brain to shove off and met Dumbledore's eyes.
"Very well, then," said Dumbledore, though the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth gave away his great approval. Carefully setting the tray on his desk, he picked up the Time Turner and the stone, and approached Remus. Draping the chain over his neck, he handed the stone to Remus slowly and backed away, retrieving his wand from the folds of his robes.
"Now, Remus, I should tell you. As the person who sent you back, I will always have a vague recollection of you as you are now, even in that other life. It is possible that I will retain many of my memories of this you, and if you wish, when I think it proper, I can perhaps share them with you."
Remus considered it for a moment, before shaking his head, staring resolutely at his battered shoes, "No, I don't think I'd want to know, that there was this other path, that I had lived it and left it. I just," he paused for a second, "I think I might think it cowardly," he said, a hint of shame in his voice.
"Remus," said Dumbledore, moving forward to place a long, warm hand on his shoulder, "Wanting a second chance is not cowardice. It takes a lot of courage to simply start over, no matter what you may be leaving or going towards."
At that point, Remus looked up, the real matter coming out when he saw the two pictures again, sitting there, and spoke, "I never stopped them. God, I never personally did anything to him, but I never ever said a word to stop them. I wanted so badly to be liked that I just let them do as they wished."
Dumbledore smiled sadly, "No one is perfect, Mr. Lupin, no matter how hard they try. You like to be liked, almost to a fault, and while this sometimes makes for poor decision-making, it is nothing that other people do not struggle with. Our deficiencies make us who we are just as much as our capacities. Never forget that, Remus, that with every mistake comes a chance to grow, to become more yourself. Mistakes are made, will always be made, but it is no grand sin to want to be liked."
Remus nodded, and Dumbledore stepped back again, "Well, we should begin then. There is no going back once you do this," he said, but Remus only nodded again, eyes still fixed on his shoes, "Now, once I send you back, you'll have five minutes to use the Stone to bind before you're pulled back, and the reason this particular kind of Turner is so rare is the fact that it can only be used once. Meaning that this very well may be a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said, and Remus nodded once again as he swallowed against the heavy lump in his throat.
Dumbledore removed something from his pocket, something wrapped in a dark blue cloth dotted with yellow stars, and held it out to Remus, who took it gingerly, letting the cloth fall away to reveal a silver ball as Dumbledore explained, "If you are unable to drive Greyback off in time, make sure your younger version is in possession of this before you use the Stone. It works like an egg, the outside breakable, the inside liquid. It could be his last line of defense."
Remus nodded, and felt the stone in his pocket, buzzing almost happily against his palm, a warmth and solidness radiating from it, giving the impression that it would do it's best in whatever it was asked to do. It soothed some of his nerves away as Dumbledore smiled at him, twirling his wand absently between his long fingers, looking like he had something more to say.
Finally, with a proud smile, he met Remus's eyes and calmly leveled his wand at the Time Turner sitting against Remus's chest, "Remus, I believe you have a great destiny, something much beyond anything that you or I or anyone else can even begin to imagine. I believe that your life will be full of adventure and mystery and friendship and love, enough to keep a young man busy for a very long time. Something great awaits you, Remus Lupin, a fate far beyond your wildest dreams. You are a great man, and I expect nothing but the best from this second chance you've been given. I'm sure you won't disappoint me," he said, and with a grand flourish of his wand, the Time Turner began to spin rapidly.
The last thing Remus saw before he disappeared into a world of swirling colors and sounds was the bright twinkle in the blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore behind the half-moon glasses. And then he was gone.
There was no way to comprehend time or space as it was now, moving around him in a confusing pattern of colors, and the noise was almost overwhelming, but the Turner spun a steady beat against his chest, and the Eneidfuga Carega still buzzed happily in his pocket, so he kept a hand wrapped tightly around it and hoped for the best.
His feet hit the ground quite suddenly, and he barely managed to keep his balance as the normal world came back into focus. Remus now stood in the small forested area that he'd looked out over from his bedroom window growing up. The house, the only steady home he'd ever known besides Hogwarts, could be seen from the clearing, sitting peacefully, utterly unaware of the events that were about to change it forever, one way or another.
With shaking hands, he removed his pocket watch, a present from his father for his fifteenth birthday, and glanced at the time: 6:49. Sunrise was fast approaching, but there was plenty of night left. He was still staring at the watch when he heard the strange scratching sound, oddly musical, and looked up to find himself staring at, well, himself.
Young Remus was perched on a rather large boulder, the only big rock within a couple miles, long, broken tree branch in his hands. As he moved it carefully up and down the rock, the tip dragged across the ridges, creating the scratching song that had caught Remus's attention. He remembered his thought process that June morning so long ago, how he'd woken up early, couldn't get back to sleep, wondered what outside was like at this time, as he'd never been.
Rather boring, Remus remembered, and almost smiled, but suddenly, a thick crack filled the clearing, and he looked up to see his younger self holding the two halves of the stick, staring at it in frustration before climbing down off the rock to look for a new stick. As he did this, Remus began a silent countdown in his head: Fifteen, fourteen.
He'd seen this memory so often, in his waking mind and his dreams, that he knew exactly how long between the stick snapping and Greyback's arrival. Twelve, eleven. His younger self turned his back to a small break in the trees, just before a quiet snap of twigs was heard, but didn't notice it. Remus swallowed, removed his wand from his robes, could feel Greyback approaching. Three, two.
And there they were, the pair of green-brown eyes that Remus still dreamed about, emerging from the small space, and Greyback had arrived. One.
"Stupefy!" he shouted, just as the werewolf lunged toward the younger Remus, and the beam of red light connected dead center, but it simply diverted the wolf's course a little, rather then stunning it. It was just too large, with too much magic and raw power, to be dealt with by a simple spell, but it was the most effective thing Remus could do at the moment.
The younger Remus had scrambled back up on to the boulder at the shout, and looked down on the scene with wide, terror-filled eyes. At least, Remus thought, this time, if he gets me, at least I'll get to see his face. Casting another spell, Remus moved out of the slight cover of the trees, the moon revealing his features fully. He didn't miss the surprise and confusion that flashed across the boy's face for a moment before it filled with terror again.
Remus noted, as another jet of red light met Greyback's continued assaults on the boulder, that the werewolf seemed intent only on reaching his younger version, totally oblivious to the man sending spell after spell at it. He assumed that it was something to do with the fact that this he, because of the Time Turner, wasn't fully a part of this time, and the wolf just couldn't understand it.
Greyback moved quicker than Remus expected, and his "Stupefy!" sailed a few hairs over its back, and its claws scraped against the rock inches from young Remus's toes. Startled, the boy, barely balanced on the very tip of the rock, tumbled backward, landing heavily on his shoulder. As his younger self struggled to get to his feet, Remus strode forward and pulled him up, pushing him behind him, muttering a quick apology as his hand brushed past the sore shoulder.
Fumbling with his pocket watch as he kept his wand leveled at Greyback, Remus glanced at the hands, and dug out the dark stone as he herded the other Remus farther back.
"Give me your hand," Remus said, holding out his own right, the stone vibrating in his palm. Though he looked wary, the young boy clasped his own around Remus's with a glance over his shoulder at the werewolf. And the world seemed to stop, everything going blurry around the edges except for the two Remuses and a strange light that had engulfed their joined hands.
Returning his wand to his pocket, Remus felt the velvet surrounding the silver ball that Dumbledore had given him, and carefully withdrew it from his pocket. As he handed it to the younger Remus, he said, "Use it wisely. You've got one shot."
The boy considered it for a second, letting the cloth fall open to reveal the silver, before nodding, and asking, "Is this going to hurt?"
Remus gave a small laugh, "Honestly, I don't know. This is as new to me as it is to you," he said, and the younger Remus nodded carefully. There was steeliness behind the amber eyes, trained on the growing light, now creeping up their arms. As it touched his shoulder, Remus could feel the buzzing in the thick scar tissue there.
He remembered how it had felt, as the teeth sunk deep into his shoulder, cracking the blade in half, the impact of the collision shattering one of his ribs and breaking three more, his blood pooling thickly underneath him, chest and back slashed open. Only surviving because his mother was a Healer at St. Mungo's, many of her colleagues refusing to treat Remus because of the nature of the attack. He thinks that the pain must have simply been trying to prepare him for the torturous agony of full moons to come.
He remembered how empty his chest had felt the day after he had lost everything, his friends, how the world had celebrated around him as he sat in his dingy flat and focused on feeling his heartbeat just to make sure that there was something still there, something that kept him going.
He remembered the silent triumph in Snape's eyes as he'd left Hogwarts, McGonagall's pity, something that simply didn't suit the Gryffindor head of house. How like a failure he felt as those huge doors slammed shut behind him. And how, when he walked the streets after his exposure, it felt as though everyone was looking disdainfully down on him, despite the fact that he was usually the tallest person in sight.
But he also remembered the light behind Lily's eyes as they studied in the library, and in Harry's eyes, so like hers, as his first flimsy Patronus flowed slowly from the tip of his wand, and the light in the eyes of the others, Hermione's as she absorbed new information like a sponge, Ron's as the magic flowed from his new wand. And Neville's, the dark blue-green depths lighting up with happiness, not simply because Snape in drag was funny, but also because he had done something right, undeniably, unalterably right. He remembered the way his chest shook with laughter at James and Sirius's antics, or the feeling of loyalty that had welled up inside his heart when those three young boys walked back to the castle with him after they knew.
His watch was growing warm and vibrating slightly in his pocket, and withdrawing it, he watched as the magical numbers etched into the face changed gradually from 6-18-66 to 6-18-79, and Remus smiled as his thoughts turned to Dora, and just how much he wanted Dumbledore to be as right about her feelings for him as he had been about the year change.
Remus remembered the sparkle in her dark eyes, and the way her laugh bounced around the dingy kitchen of Grimmauld, how much of a calming effect her presence had on Sirius. How her hand felt brushing lightly across his forehead as she pushed his fringe out of his eyes, as he'd caught her doing several times when he'd fallen asleep on the couch in the study, full moon exhaustion taking over, waking to find her blushing and stammering excuses as to why she'd been staring at him for so long.
And he remembered the feel of her lips pressed over his, tongue ghosting along the chapped skin of his lower lip as her fingers tangled slightly in the hairs at the nape of his neck, Remus wishing that this moment could last forever. The corners of her lips quirked up even as she kissed him, and he'd thought nothing could be more perfect.
A chance, he thought, as the light engulfed everything from his neck down, not just for me, but for us. Just a chance.
One last breath as the old Remus Lupin, full moon air filling his lungs for the first time in nearly thirty years, and then the light engulfed him.