"No, I think you're like James, who would've considered it the height of dishonor to mistrust his friends."
Remus Lupin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Remus loved his little house in the middle of the woods. Sure, it was not much with only a tiny living room, a bathroom, a kitchen barely able to fit a two person table, and a miniature bedroom with only a double-size bed and chest. But, it was the only place he could truly say he was comfortable. It was isolated from society, and it helped him forget. Forget about the war, forget about the Order, forget about the prejudice, and forget basically everything he did not want to think about.
The last few months had been very difficult toward Remus. He was constantly on secret missions for Dumbledore, trying to communicate with other werewolves and convince them the Order was the right path to choose, not the Death Eaters. Mostly, his mission had gone in vain. The werewolves he tried to persuade more often than not just scoffed at him, called him a 'want-to-be' wizard, and threw him right out the door. Sometimes, the werewolves had packs that would chase him for miles, trying to kill him with their bare hands. Needless to say, he was lucky to be alive.
He sat up from his bed, waking himself out of his thoughts. He checked the time, and quickly scurried out of bed. He was late! Today, it was Sirius' birthday and James was hosting a small party. Remus did not exactly want to go, exactly for the same reason he dreaded Order meetings. Sirius.
He knew Sirius was the traitor. He knew he had already joined the Death Eaters. He knew at the first chance he received; he would kill him, James, Lily, Harry, and Peter. Remus would have never thought these things a year ago. In fact, at that time these thoughts would have seemed ridiculous! But, alas, the war had changed people, and Sirius had been one of the many victims of change.
He sighed, realizing how much had changed since Hogwarts when everything had been so simple. Well, as simple as it could get being a werewolf. Finally setting his mind on getting ready, Remus rubbed his eyes and started toward the bathroom.
As he was about to turn on the shower head, a knock issued from the front door. He sighed again, ran a hand through his hair, and headed toward the door, nearly falling on his face from a loose floorboard. Damn, he really should remember where that is. He opened the door after it had given another loud knock, and two very familiar faces stood there.
Two tall men, both with sharp pureblood features, toward over Remus with an evil identical grin on their face. Remus immediately tried to shove the door shut, but the two men were too fast. They pushed the door with such force that caused Remus to stubble back.
"Aw, bitty Lupin, you really should greet your guests in a more kindly manner." One of the two men mocked.
"Shouldn't expect tha' much of werewolf, now can we, Bray?" The second one responded.
"'Suppose not, Jull, 'suppose not."
"What do you two want?" Remus demanded, trying not to show panic on his face. He had left his wand abandoned on his bedside table. He wished he had remembered Moody's number one rule: Constant Vigilance.
"You should know by now, Lupin," Jull laughed, chilling Remus to the spine. "One more time I'll be askin' this. This time better be the correct answer, got it?" Remus glared icily in response.
"Alrigh' then," Bray said, picking up for Jull. He quickly took out his wand and pointed it directly at Remus' throat. "Join You-Know-Who. Join 'em; he'll give you whatever you wish, all your greatest desires. No more prejudice, a job. A betta life for a mon- I mean, werewolf like you. We need a person like you. You're wanted here, Remus. Join 'em, join us."
This had been the third time he had used this speech, and each time it tugged at Remus. He could be wanted. He was needed. Something he had longed for ever since the day he had learned about the prejudice toward him, something that urged him to join.
The moment he thought about these things; he immediately felt guilty. He should not be so selfish. He did have people who cared about him, who wanted him. If he joined, he would hurt the people he loved the most, the people who stuck with him and remained his friend even after they knew he was a werewolf.
A low growl issued from his throat as he pushed Jull's wand aside.
"I'll be damned before I ever join you." He shouted, louder than he intended. Then, all hell broke loose.
Sirius' impatience was not helping James' nerves. Usually, he never was worried about petty things like this. It was tardiness, big deal! Sure, Remus had been late to things like this before, but it was usually just a half-an-hour to an hour late. Not four bloody hours. Maybe he was avoiding them? The moment he thought this, he pushed it aside. Nah, Remus wouldn't just go start avoiding him and Sirius for no reason. His stomach turned in a knot. Something did not seem right to him.
"Common, Prongs!" Sirius whined for about the fiftieth time that night. "Can't we just have cake without him? Doubt he will show anyway. He's four bloody hours late, mind you, probably working on more stuff for Moldy Voldy!" James rolled his eyes. He doubted completely that Remus would join the Knights of Walpurgis, but Sirius was determined on this factor.
"For the billionth time, Padfoot, Remus has not joined Voldy." Sirius scoffed at him.
"Keep thinking that, James, but you just watch. One day he'll betray us even more than he already has. You just watch."
"Sirius, will you cut it out!" Lily said, a sleeping Harry in her arms. Her green eyes narrowed at Sirius. "He hasn't betrayed us."
"Then what the hell-!" Lily glared, and Sirius ignored her. "-is making him four hours late! You explain that!" James was at loss for words. He had no idea why his friend had not shown up, but he would never think he would think Remus would join the Death Eaters. None of his friends would join Voldemort.
James saw the glare that Lily was giving Sirius and it was murderous. If looks could kill, Sirius would be dead within seconds. James had no idea how Sirius was even managing to keeping himself together because, if he were in his shoes, he would have at least took a step back.
"I will prove it to you!" Lily yelled, seeming to forgetting she could wake the baby in her arms. "I'll go over right now and prove he's not a traitor!" To James' relief, Harry did not wake at the yelling.
"Lils, calm down. You're getting a bit loud, sweetheart," James said, looking from Lily to Harry. Lily blushed.
"Sorry," she muttered, looking at Harry. She smiled. "I'm going to put the little tyke to bed, then we can continue this, Black." She gave one last glare to Sirius, who rolled his eyes, and ran up the stairs. It only took a minute to tuck Harry in, and her steps echoed through the house as she came back downstairs. It was silent for a few minutes, until Sirius spoke up.
"Why can't you just believe the damn truth?" He yelled. "I didn't want to at first, but look at it! It all makes sense. Why else would he be gone for weeks at a time only to be back for the moon? Why else has he barely around? Answer that one for me, Evans! He's also a, werewolf, in case you have forgotten!" James couldn't help but ponder what Sirius had said. It all made perfect sense. Except, his heart was telling him otherwise. It was telling him something else was wrong. He stood there watching the two uncharacteristically quiet.
"Don't you dare!" She said, her eyes becoming as slits again. James was positive Sirius had officially made Lily furious. Birthday or not, nothing Sirius could do could get out of Lily's wrath. "Using the werewolf card! I thought you were better than that Sirius, thought you were past all that prejudice!" Sirius sighed.
"I am, Lily, I am. I just can't find any other reason why he would be all these strange things. It's not just the fact that he's a werewolf, Lily. It's more than that. Now, can we just have a peaceful rest of the night and eat my damn cake?"
"We are not eating cake without Remus! Or an owl or something why he couldn't be here!" Lily yelled, her anger still edged in her voice.
"And what? Wait another six or seven hours for him to show?" Sirius questioned, glaring at Lily. She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a sudden pop.
Peter stood in the middle of the room, looking more tired and worn than James had ever seen him. His eyes had many bags, as though he hadn't slept for days, and his hair was so greasy it could have been rivaled with James' old enemy, Snape. Lily immediately ran up over to him and greeted him with a hug.
"Goodness, Peter!" She said, as she got out of the embrace. "You look awful! Would you like something to eat? I made some lasagna the muggle way."
"My favorite dish!" Sirius exclaimed proudly. Lily rolled her eyes obviously still mad.
"That would be nice," Peter mumbled tiredly. "I haven't had a decent meal in a while."
"I know. Food at muggle hospitals is worse than St. Mungo's food and that's saying something!" James said, happy a distraction had come. "How's your father doing? Are we able to come visit him up there yet?" Peter bit his lip. He never seemed to like talking about his father being in the hospital. James could respect that. He probably would look and act the same way if he was in Peter's shoes.
"He-He's getting better. Uh, Healers said he might be out soon. No visitors yet- um, unless you're family." Peter said this quickly, and James couldn't blame him. All he had to go through these last few weeks must have been tearing him apart. "Oh, and h-happy birthday, S-Sirius!"
"Thanks Peter," Sirius said, clapping him on the back. "See even Peter who could of just went home to his bed came! But, did Remus show, no, he just stays at home ditching us completely, probably tired from all the working with Voldemort." Lily sent a fierce glare at Sirius, and he stood his ground, glaring back. Peter fidgeted nervously shifting one leg to another.
"Well, y-yeah! S-Sirius is probably right. He-he's probably at a meeting w-with Voldemort right now!" Peter mumbled quickly. He kept fidgeting, refusing to look anyone in the eye. James was now beginning to feel like Peter knew more than he was putting on. He tried to search his face for any hints, but had no avail.
Lily huffed loudly. "You Peter! I can't believe the nerve of the two of you! Remus couldn't hurt a fly! You know what you both are just pigs! Pigs, I tell you! I can't even believe you- you- you- Argh!" With that, Lily went into the kitchen, and slammed the door. Sirius rolled his eyes and sat on the couch.
"Man, what's got her knickers in such a twist? She seems so defensive." Sirius snorted. "'Remus could never do something like that. Oh, Remus! Oh, Remus!' I mean come on, for Merlin's sake! She needs to accept it, just like I did." James could not believe how much his friends had split in the last few months. The closeness that once was, was now turned into bitter hatred toward one another. The war had ripped them apart. It made James boil in hatred for Voldemort. The man who caused everything, seemed to bring everyone he loved grief beyond belief.
The room remained silent for a few minutes as James pondered these things, and Sirius seemed to be becoming madder. "Oh, come on James! Don't tell me you believe Remus is not in the league with Voldemort!" James said nothing, and Sirius nostrils flared. "Damn it, Prongs! You seriously trust people too much! You need to learn one thing. Remus had betrayed us. He's one of them now! I know it, James! I know it for sure!" He seemed determined to make James believe him. James wanted to, he really did, but something inside him was stopping him.
"Honestly, I don't know anymore, Padfoot. Everything seems so messed up." James sat next to Sirius and put his head in his hands. "Why would he do this? Merlin, sometimes, I wish we could go back when everything was so much simpler. I just wonder why, Padfoot, why would he join him?" Sirius frowned, looking thoughtful.
"People change, James. They do. People aren't strong enough during this war, they aren't. Remus is one of the victims of this war. Don't you see this, Prongs?"
"A-And he's a werewolf, James," Peter spoke up, sitting nervously on the loveseat across from them. "He-He c-couldn't of been s-strong enough t-to get passed V-Voldemort."
"Exactly," Sirius said, nodding in agreement.
"I don't know," James repeated. "I want to believe that you both are right, I really do."
"Then why don't you!" Sirius snapped. "We've given you facts on why!"
"I just don't know!" James yelled back, his patience fading. Sirius growled.
"You know what! I'll prove he's part of Voldemort's league. Right now! We'll Floo over there, and you'll see! He'll have all those Knights of Walpurgis there! You just watch!" James glared and grabbed a hand filled with Floo powder.
"Fine! Wormtail, tell Lily where we're going!" Peter nodded, panic on his face. He scurried quickly from the couch into the kitchen. James threw the powder in the Floo network angrily and yelled, "Lupin Cottage!"
A strong aroma hit James as he entered Remus' house. It took all of his willpower to not discard his dinner. His stomach was in a knot as he observed the house. Blood was spilled everywhere. It was smeared on the walls, on the furniture, and somehow managed to get on the ceiling. The kitchen table which once stood high was broken into two. The loveseat and big comfy chair which once stood proudly against either side of the room were now knocked over, a bit of stuffing coming out of each of them. A floorboard was ripped from its place on the floor, blood gushed on the top of it.
James could feel his heart beating fast in his chest. The thumping rang through his ears. After a moment, he realized he was just standing there, and a thought rushed into his mind. Remus.
"Remus!" He shouted, running toward the bedroom. "Oh my wizard god, REMUS, REMUS! ARE YOU HERE!? REMUS!" He stopped in the doorway of the bedroom. A message written in blood was just above the bed frame. It said: 'The werewolf is gone. The Dark Lord will gain power.' A chunk of Remus' hair was on the floor, along with his wand split in two.
James could feel his knees buckle underneath him. No more words could issue from his mouth, and he just sat there staring at the message at the wall, silent tears dripping from his face. He didn't even realize when Lily came in with Sirius. He didn't realize that Sirius was crying and apologizing continually to the sky, pleading for Remus to come back and forgive him. He didn't realize when Lily started crying into his shoulder. He didn't even realize how much time the three of them sat there.
All he knew, one of his best friends were gone, and there was nothing he could do to let him return.