Written for the Dr. Seuss Quotes Competition on HPFC.
My prompt: "How did it get so late so soon?"
This quote just reminds me of Remus Lupin, for some reason, so that's where it took me. I was just along for the ride.
I'm not sure how the style of this one ended up the way it did. It's a bit peculiar. I don't know. I kind of like it, though, so it's staying that way.
Thanks to GreekEMTSlytherinSpriteFairy for beta-ing this!
The flashbacks are in past tense; Remus' current thoughts are in present tense.
It seems to Remus like the worst moments in his life always come about when he loses track of his thoughts. Really, he ought to stop doing that. He can't help it, though. Remus is, and always has been, a thinker. He has an infallible tendency to lose himself in his thoughts. It drives Sirius absolutely barmy, really, because he always looks like he's paying perfect attention, but he's off in 'Remus-land,' as Sirius has dubbed it. He rambles, and his thoughts drift so far down random paths that he ends up entirely unsure of how he got there.
Like now. When he was musing over the worst moments of his life, and he ended up on Sirius and Remus-land.
When he was younger, losing track of time in Remus-land didn't hurt him too badly. Sure, he got into quite a bit of trouble with his mum, but really, nothing serious. (He still can't think that word without thinking a bad pun involving Sirius, because every time that word comes up, Sirius makes a pun.)
It was when he was eight years old that it really hurt him the worst.
He hadn't meant to lose track of time, really. He had simply been lounging in the small clearing a quarter of a mile behind his house, as he was wont to do.
Remus can't even remember what he'd been thinking about. It doesn't matter anymore. Maybe it never did. He had no clue what was about to happen, that's the only thing he knows for sure. He hadn't even the slightest clue that anything was wrong.
He wonders in hindsight if there was something wrong with that. If he should have known, if maybe his father should have told him, warned him, anything. If maybe, if he'd had the slightest inkling, it wouldn't have happened.
And then he shakes himself. Thinking like that doesn't do him any good.
He was in the clearing, musing. His hands were behind his head, his back on the soft grass, his knees bent. He stared up at the sky, but he didn't see anything.
It took him a long time to realize that the sky had darkened. Too long.
'How did it get so late so soon?' he wondered.
Still, Remus didn't think anything was wrong. Sure, he was late for dinner. Sure, his mum would be mad. Besides that, though, it was just an ordinary day in the life of Remus Lupin.
Until he came.
Remus can hardly think his name.
Also known as the worst thing that ever happened to Remus Lupin.
Remus wonders, sometimes, what happened to make Fenrir so bitter, so cruel. Then he realizes he knows the answer to that; he's living it. It's the world that's made Fenrir that way, because of their prejudice, because of their disapproval. And Remus gets that, but he hates Fenrir for being weak and giving into it and becoming the monster that they believe he is.
Remus is drifting into Remus-land again.
Remus got up. He dusted himself off. He admired the full moon (for the last time in his life). He began to walk through the dusky wood toward his home.
He never made it.
Remus was two steps into the forest when he heard the faint crunch of leaves behind him. The hair on the back of his neck began to prickle.
He froze. He scanned the forest. Nothing.
Remus breathed again. He shook his head. 'Silly.'
He walked two more steps, then another crunch. Remus didn't freeze that time. He didn't stop. He began to sprint.
Remus was tiny, at age eight. He had short little legs. He couldn't run very fast.
Still, that night, he made it halfway to his house in well under a minute.
A chilling laugh echoed behind him the whole way.
Remus ran, fear in his eyes, sweat dripping down his back, panic seizing his brain.
Then he tripped.
Remus knows, logically, that tripping didn't make any difference.
Fenrir Greyback was a full-fledged werewolf. He was certainly faster than an eight-year-old, even if said eight-year-old was fueled by adrenaline and terror.
He can't help but think, though, that if he hadn't tripped, he might've made it.
He knows it's irrational.
That doesn't stop him from believing it, or at least, that doesn't stop some part of him from believing it.
Remus knows he will never forget the agony of that night. The night he lost his childhood, his innocence, his respect for his father, and very nearly his life.
They found him at three a.m., still writhing in agony on the cold dirt floor of the forest.
Sweet Merlin, it hurt.
He could feel the poison winding its way through his veins, burning tunnels below his skin. Changing him.
Not physically, oh, no. That change would come later. This was changing him inside. Making him something else, something other. Making him not human anymore.
And really, that one night should have been enough to kick Remus of his habit of drifting off into Remus-land and losing track of time.
Somehow, it wasn't.
But he got through the next seven years relatively unscathed by his wandering thoughts.
Until the second worst night of his life.
Sirius was never afraid to voice his disapproval when Remus drifted off into Remus-land. He did everything he could to snap Remus out of it. Remus had several bruises to show for his barbaric tactics.
Because of this, over the years, Remus developed the skill of making it appear that he was listening. He got quite good at it, really. He nodded and mhmmed along with the conversation while his thoughts were somewhere else entirely.
He regrets that, now.
Sirius was venting about something – Remus later found out it was something Snape had said. Sirius vented frequently, and Remus had stopped listening sometime during the first sentence.
He's pretty sure he fanned the flames. Not that the flames weren't already a roaring bonfire of a blaze. Still, Remus did nothing to stop them. He poured an oxygen tank out on top of them. All with a simple mhmm.
He can't blame himself for Sirius running into Snape on his way to the Shack that night. Try as he might, he can't. That was just horrendous luck.
Still, Sirius was burning with rage that night, and Remus has always been the only one who can extinguish him when he gets that way, but Remus was off in Remus-land.
He should have known better.
The fact of the matter is, Snape nearly died that night because Remus wasn't paying attention.
Is it odd that he's never blamed Sirius for that night?
He didn't have trouble blaming his father the first time. It's the same situation, isn't it?
But it's not, somehow. And Remus can't hate Sirius. He can't hate Sirius for his faults when Sirius has accepted Remus despite his.
Those two nights combined definitely should have kicked Remus's thoughts into order.
And really, it seems only fitting that the habit that has haunted his life should cause his death.
Because here he is, dueling death eaters, Dora at his side, and his thoughts are meandering through the worst parts of his life.
He's still throwing out spells like his life depends on it (which it does), but he's not paying attention, not really.
The green light shooting at his face too quickly for him to avoid proves that maybe he should be.