Remus woke with a start at the sound of a knock at the front door of his tiny bedsit. He rubbed his eyes and stretched, before climbing to his feet and opening the door. "Professor Dumbledore," he said, wanting to be more surprised, and more pleased, than he was.
"Good evening Remus. Your tone suggests you are not best pleased to see an old friend."
"I – not at all. Come in, erm," he looked around desperately for somewhere for his old teacher to sit, eventually clearing a pile of books and parchment of a rickety three legged chair. "Please, take a seat."
"Thank you." Dumbledore said, "Well, this is most cosy." He looked around the room, approvingly.
Remus smiled, weakly. "Can I get you some tea?"
"That would be charming, but please, let me." And with a flick of his wand, a tray laden with cups, saucers and a tea pot appeared between them. It settled on the footstool between them and the pot whizzed off in the direction of the kitchen-area. It returned moments later, and poured itself.
"Thank you." Remus said, gratefully accepting a cup. He sat, some what precariously, on his mothers old piano stool. The piano had been sold long ago. The stool was in woeful need of repair.
"You are more than welcome. Although, I must admit, it is something of a bribe."
Remus couldn't meet his eyes. "I'm sorry Professor, but - "
"You would be perfectly safe, Remus. Do you think I would even offer you the position if I thought otherwise? Do you think I would put my pupils at such a risk?" Dumbledore asked, gently. "The Wolfsbane Potion has been tried and tested and proven most successful. Indeed, I am somewhat envious that my skills as a potion maker are not sufficient to have allowed me to invent the potion myself. I have the assurances of my Potions Master that he will make it for you each and every month, and you can simply curl up comfortably in your office and sleep. Many members of my staff, I am sure, would leap at the chance to be given extra time off each month."
"And when Severus agreed, did he know who the potion would be for?" Remus asked, mildly.
Dumbledore paused. "He will let bygone be bygones. And he will do what he must to protect his pupils."
"I don't know, Professor…"
"Remus, you would make a marvellous teacher. Do not think I was oblivious to the way you coached poor Peter Pettigrew through his exams. Are you really going to let your…furry little problem, as I think it was once called, deprive my students of such a great teacher?" Dumbledore paused, allowing these words to sink in.
Remus started into the depths of his tea. "But – parents - they won't want a werewolf teaching their children…"
"I generally do not keep things from the parents, but on this occasion…The governors will have to be informed, of course. Luckily, the biggest possible opponent to your appointment has just stepped down from his position so I do not think they will object. As for the staff, they remain relatively unchanged since your own time as a pupil, and they all remember you with great fondness." After a moment, Dumbledore added nonchalantly, "And of course, there is Harry. He is a charming boy. Brave, of course, and courageous. He is so very like his father…As a matter of fact, I have just come from a meeting with the Minister about Harry."
"Oh?" Remus said, a little knots forming at the pit of his stomach.
"Yes. And about Black."
"He's after Harry," his voice was flat, void of all emotion.
"Yes. I'm afraid we have reason to believe he is."
"It wouldn't be unlike him. He always did like to show off how much better he was than everyone else."
"I just wonder why he waited this long."
"So he can prove he's better than you too. It would be one thing, to attack a small boy in a muggle home. Another all together to kill him where most people would consider to be safest. It's the way Siri – His minds works. Maximum impact and attention."
"You sound like you miss him." If Remus hadn't been so wrapped up in his own thoughts, he might have noted a hint of understanding in Dumbledore's tone.
"I do. After everything he did. I hate him and think he deserves to spend the rest of his life rotting in Azkaban…but I miss him just as much as I miss James and Peter. And Lily. And everyone else. Is that awful?"
"That's human." Dumbledore said, kindly. "You believed him to be your friend. You trusted him. Those feelings hold strong and fast. They are hard to forget."
Remus closed his eyes and sighed.
"I'm sorry." Dumbledore added.
Remus shook his head. "It's not your fault. It's ours, for thinking that he loved us as much as we loved him."
"Even the best of us have been disappointed by those we love. And betrayal is a bitter kind of disappointment. You miss the man you knew. Who, despite everything, was once your friend."
Remus drained his cup like it was Fire Whiskey. He wished it was. "He was traitor." he said sadly.
"Do not let the man he became destroy the memories of the man you knew." Dumbledore said gently.
"But they were one and the same. I wish there was a point that I could look back on and think, yes, that's where it happened. That's where he changed. That's when he stopped loving us. But there isn't. One minute, he was the loyal, good man I'd known and the next he was killing my best friends. And laughing as he did it. I don't think I ever knew him."
There was another pause. Remus stared out the window.
"I'll take the job," he said at last, grimly, as he knew he always would. Because he was the only one left alive who knew the whole truth.
"Thank you, Remus. I expected no less of you." Dumbledore paused for a moment. "And now I must ask something more of you. The Minister has demanded that extra protection be placed around the school. I do not like it. Would you object terribly to travelling on the Hogwarts Express?"
"Not at all. But what about Harry when he's at his Aunt and Uncles? Do you want me to - "
"Harry is as safe in his Aunts house as he would be at Hogwarts." Dumbledore said firmly. "I have just had this very argument with Fudge. Let the boy enjoy his summer holiday. He doesn't need any more worry placed on his young shoulders."
"If you're sure…"
"I am. But it is not just Black I wish to protect Harry, and the rest of my students from." Dumbledore continued. "Fudge has ordered the Dementors of Azkaban to guard the school and I have a strong suspicion they will search the train. It would put my mind at some ease to know you there."
"Of course. But…can't you just forbid them?"
"I have made my feelings quite clear. Unfortunately, that does not guarantee they shall be respected. It will give me some comfort to know you are aboard. And now," Dumbledore stood and Remus followed. "I must take my leave. I look forward to welcoming you onto my staff in September."
Remus got the door, and his old teacher smiled at him. "I have absolute faith in you."
"Thank you." Remus said, honestly, feeling a rush of warmth at the praise. "I'll do my best not to disappoint you."
"Of all the people I have ever known, Remus, you are one of the few who has never given me cause to be disappointed. Indeed, I'm beginning to think you never will." Dumbledore smiled again, pleased with himself. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight." Remus watched him go and closed the door, his stomach in knots. He hated himself. He was perverting the cause of justice. Black was guilty, guilty, guilty. Remus wasn't a school boy desperate for friends anymore. This was more serious than not telling Professor McGonagall that it was Sirius who had left sink bombs all long the fifth floor corridor or telling Mary Macdonald that Sirius had been the one to charm her bag to sing. What did childish promises mean now? So what if it meant admitting that he'd betrayed Dumbledores trust when he was at school, this was about life and death. More importantly, Harry's life and death. He wrenched the door open again. "Dumble - "
But the man in the long cloak, with the silver beard, had gone. Remus rested his head on the door frame. "He's an Animagus," he sighed.
There is potential for a continuation. If I have time. We'll see. Reviews would help make the decision... :)