A.N.: Yo! Just rudefool with another crossover thing I knew I had to make happen. I love papa Hoho and Remus Lupin. They areactually very similar in many respects- so I decided this needed to happen. Please note: this is Brohood/manga Hohenheim. The first anime version of him just made me sad.
The evening smelled of damp things, old and musty products of the overflowing gutters. In the cold mist, droplets floated in the refracted light, projecting strange silhouettes far from their origins. The light itself was cold and artificial where it glistened in puddles under street lamps and everything in shadow took a umber tone, dark, dull and brown. A chill held the air, soaking and numbing straight to the bone. It was classic in that iconic British melancholy. It was miserable.
Alone on a park bench, under the harsh lamp glare, sat a startlingly bright man. His clothes were drab and unremarkable, his briefcase, acceptably worn, his spectacles, unadorned. These only served to contrast the length of golden hair that ran long down his neck and over the shoulder of his normal, brown trench coat. Matching in color were his eyes that hid, half lidded, behind the simple glasses. He was a vivid spot of molten light in the shade of impending night. The kind that made one glance to the side with surprised attention, stunned that something in such gloom could even exist so brightly. Still, the man hunched on the bench as to ward off the cold. He held his hands before him in such somber contemplation, one might assume it wasn't the chill that had brought forth this discomfort. Rather, his thoughts curled into themselves- and their owner with them. A slight frown was folded on his face, a crease between eyebrows. He released a sigh- the first sound since the last car drove by in a subdued, skittering whirr- and wrapped his hands further together. He sighed again.
The crunch of damp gravel joined his quiet lament and the noise ended with the halt of an old leather loafer. Its owner happened to share a taste for dull attire, nearly blending in with the haze of umber night. Only the shocks of silver hair drew away from the background.
The golden man on the bench was joined in his contemplation. Next to him sat a tall and narrow figure dressed in strange robes and a glimpse of a grey sweater. His dark eyes were warm, haloed strangely in the light above. Neither seemed to be bothered by the other's presence; both made eye contact before before giving a mild smile. Both knew the smile wasn't fully genuine, though. They were surprisingly similar men.
Between the two of them, it was discovered neither were conversationalists. A continued silence reigned about them, not exactly uncomfortable, not truly at ease. A car drove by, headlights glittering on the dark pavement. It turned the corner. It was quiet once again.
Until the long haired man released another sigh. The patchy and skinny one leaned forward with another smile and spoke the dawning evening's first words.
"Penny for your thoughts?" he had a hoarse voice but clean diction.
The golden one shrugged.
"They're not worth your money. An old man's musings are generally depressing." he finished off with a grimace that was possibly supposed to be the opposite, but was clearly unsuccessful.
"You don't look too old."
"Looks can be deceiving." each man spoke lightly with a certain heavy undertone that fell to the bottom like water under oil.
"Oh, do I know that." the spectacled blonde spared a glance at his companion. The man beside him was sickly and worn, the grey in his hair shockingly apparent in the lamp light and the hollow of his cheeks shadowed. He had a black eye too- something that stuck the other man as strangely out of place.
"What brought you here?" the bright man was now facing the other man, curious.
"Mostly chance, maybe a bit of grief- you must excuse me, someone very important to me has died recently. I didn't mean to burden you with my loss." the greying man corrected himself with small wave of dismissal. His companion only tilted his head
"Don't be sorry. Losing someone isn't something easily swept under a rug." the patchy one gave the other man an appreciative look before extending a hand.
"Remus Lupin, that's my name."
"Oh. Yes. Van Hohenheim." their hands preformed that customary ritual, bobbing up and down. Remus's hand was chilled in the damp air. Hohenheim's was surprisingly warm. They smiled again to each other, maybe a bit more truth to the curve of lips than before.
"I have seen many pass in my lifetime" Van Hohenheim began as if uncertain to proceed. His words hung briefly in the air like a hand waiting to be grasped. He balled his trousers into his fists and continued "But I refuse to forget them. Tell me about who you lost." Remus Lupin could tell how forced the man's speech was. They were treading into the deep recesses of dark, wet sadness usually avoided for the sake of exploring alone in dissmal solitude. Somehow, it was far more reassuring to be out in the literal damp, dimness with a stranger to offload feelings into.
"My friend... I lost my friend." he couldn't bring the name up from that taught tether within him. It only made it halfway up Remus's throat before dissipating with a choke. Hohenheim turned more on the bench towards his companion with an understanding look.
"I knew him since we were eleven. He was a little brat. I was so jealous. I never got a chance to be a brat." Hohenheim chuckled at this. Remus gave a sheepish, watery grin.
"I didn't get much of a chance to be a brat in my young age either. Somehow I still managed to be one, though." the spectacled man confided, leaning back and Remus continued his wry smile.
"I took a while to make friends, but he was just relentless. I swear, when we first met in our room that night, he said "We are all going to be best friends." and that was that. I had never had a best friend before then."
"He sounded like a good person."
"He was. The best, really... The worst part was how I doubted him for so long. I never should have. He was such a good friend. Everything was my fault." Hohenheim watched Remus cover his face with a long exhale.
"I'm sure your friend would not want you to blame yourself. If he was as good of a friend as you say he would want you to continue with your life."
"What life?" came with a harsh laugh. Remus seemed taken back by his own words, though, as if surprised he was capable of such cynicism.
"Sorry. That must have sounded awfully depressing." Hohenheim only shook his head in understanding.
"You feel alone, correct?" Remus could only nod as well.
"No one is truly alone, remember that. Isn't there anyone else?"
Remus shrugged, but managed to look incredibly tormented for such a nonchalant gesture. A bus trundled past, the headlights dashing across the men's faces for a breif, illuminating second. Hohenheim continued to look incredibly bright while Remus appeared in the throes of dispare, all tense-mouthed and hand wrenching.
"There is a girl."
"A girl?" it was dark again and the mist had drifted slightly, leaving behind a pocket of momentary clarity.
"Exactly! She's just a girl. All innocent and bright and clever and witty and charming and young and I really don't deserve her."
"Why is that?" Hohenheim would be lying if he said he wasn't enjoying the night. It wasn't that he thrived on the pain of others- quite the opposite, really- but he did enjoy helping this lost man find his way. And it kept the old alchemist from pondering his own, eternally wayward path.
"I'll just bring her down. I'm poor, old, dangerous..."
"You can't be that old." Hohenheim countered with a sense of ironic deja- vu; to him, everyone was young.
"36. I'm 36. She's 23. That's 13 years- I can't do that to her, not with all the other younger, less broken men in the world."
"The age gap between my wife and myself surpassed that by far more. You shouldn't let some numbers stop you." it had taken ages for Trisha to convince him, but Hohenheim was so glad she did.
"I'm still penniless, though."
A wave of a hand at this.
"Yet another number. You shouldn't let those bother you. I've lived long enough to realize that, in the end, the only thing of worth in the world is happiness."
"You talk like you've been around for ages."
A quiet rose between them again as the fog rolled back over. Both contemplated the paths before them.
"She can't marry a monster." Remus whispered into the damp air. Hohenheim nearly choked. Now where had he heard that before?
"My wife did." he pulled the glasses from his eyes and rubbed his face, one wide palm running from forehead to chin. "My wife married a monster and didn't care. We were so happy while it lasted."
Remus spun to face him full on. Something was bright in his usually tired eyes. He opened and closed his mouth a few times before ordering his thoughts.
"How did you do it?" Hohenheim shook his head and watched the light reflecting on his glasses.
"Trisha did it. I know I shouldn't have caved, I was selfish and lonely."
"Merlin, does that sound familiar." Remus said with a rueful laugh as he leaned back on the bench to peer up at the starless sky.
"I'm curious, though. What makes you a monster?" Hohenheim watched his companion as the question was asked. Remus stiffened and then moved to prop his head up with his elbows on his knees. He stared ahead.
"I'll only tell if you do. I feel a bit reckless tonight anyway and what's that harm in telling a stranger." Remus may have been justifying a choice to himself. Hohenheim only gave him an incline of the head.
"Then we'll exchange."
"Promise you won't over react please." the shabby man asked timidly.
"Only if you promise the same."
"No, I insist, go ahead."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course. Don't be shy."
"Well... I guess they don't call us Gryffindors for nothing."
A pause when both men felt very apprehensive and foolish at the same time.
"I know this might sound crazy- you probably won't believe me- but you've been helpful so far so just... Try to understand."
"I reassure you, what you are can't be anymore unbelievable than what I am."
"You'd be surprised."
"Then surprise me."
"I'm a- I'm... I'm a werewolf." Remus finished with a swallow, daring himself to look at Hohenheim. The man looked as if what was revealed had been only pleasantly unexpected.
"I guess it's only fair that I share too." Remus was beside himself. Never had a person taken that development with such ease.
"Oh! Of course." the now proclaimed werewolf felt odd at this reaction like he had absorbed something very light as something else very heavy fell away to deep under the pavement.
"When I said I was very old, I was not exaggerating. I've lost count of the years at this point... Somewhere above 450, I think... That's how long I've lived."
There was a gap in the noise briefly. Only the electrical hum of incandescence prevailed the silence. Hohenheim could sense Remus looking him over, trying to find evidence of age that didn't exist. The quiet around was unsettling and the blond curled his hands back together.
"You don't have to believe me..."
"No, no. I believe you- you did the same for me anyway. Forgive me if this is asking to much, but... how?"
"That's the most unbelievable part." Remus tilted his head with a dry expression
"If you can believe I transform into a blood-thirsty beast every full moon I'll be more than willing to accept what you say."
"I am this way because of alchemy."
"Like Nicholas Flamel?"
"No... His alchemy was based in different principles than the kind I know." Hohenheim appeared to shrink, he tall figure sliding into itself.
"I-" he began before halting to rest his forehead in a palm.
"The alchemy I am familiar with is far less forgiving. His Philosopher's Stone, it is tame compared to the one I know... It caused so much death... So much loss." Remus blinked. Alchemy was not a subject he studied at the same vigor as others. It was widely considered a dying art. Hohenheim looked physically pained, but somehow resigned to that anguish- like he was used to it. Like it was just another part of him.
"I don't know why I'm telling you this." the blond sighed. Hohenheim felt a kindred spirit in the other man, though. They were very similar people, after all.
"We don't have to be sure about everything." Remus supplied feeling a tad reversed in roles. Offering advice did feel good. "I was never know for my brash actions, but I have seen others do fantastic things without even thinking. That's how Si- thats how he died." he added the last part sobering and felt it was opposite of his message and quickly moved to fix that "But he died happy and free. He was protecting the ones he loved. I don't think he would have had it any other way."
Hohenheim had lifted his head and was watching Remus with a light in his golden eyes.
"I have to tell someone." the man spoke almost to himself "If I don't, then I'll feel even more alone in this world than the other." The werewolf only nodded in silent support.
"I still have no idea why I am confiding in a stranger." Hohenheim's voice was caught in anxious excitement
"Neither did I, but you are quite a remarkable stranger."
A slightly bitter laugh "And so are you." he swallowed in some bitter preparation. "I am the Stone. I was made immortal through the bloodshed of millions- all because I listened to that Dwarf in the Flask. I was so blind. We just wanted to be free, but our definitions of freedom were so vastly different."
Remus didn't speak. He wished he could accept this revelation with as much grace as Hohenheim did for his werewolf one, but there was something massive about the man's words. He was tricked. Tricked into everlasting life only accomplished through the death of others. It seemed so grandly awful it was almost unbelievable. Almost.
"Was it your choice? To live this long, I mean."
"Never. I just wanted a family and a chance at my own life."
On the street side, where they sat, quiet fell like a woolen blanket along with another layer of fine mist. The night around felt somber and desolate like the dead roadway of some fallen, concrete kingdom. In the silence one could almost think the two were the last souls in existence.
"You're not a monster." Remus broke the pause softly.
"I'm not sure about that, but I know you aren't one." the werewolf rolled his eyes at Hohenheim's refusal.
"I'm pretty beastly once a month." the immortal shook his head at Remus's argument.
"Is there anyway to convince you otherwise?" he asked the greeting man who only laughed, lightening the mood.
"Only if I can convince you otherwise as well." the two of them turned to meet each other's eyes. It was strange both felt so much lighter. The first gust of wind picked up and the fog was pressed back into the shelter of the trees. Around them, the air smelled of freshness after rain and the puddles reflected pricks of silver stars and a waning moon. Things were suddenly and startlingly clear.
"This was a remarkable night." Hohenheim mused
"It truly was."
And the smile they shared was finally genuine.
Remus recalled the wise immortal as he climbed the steps to Grimmauld place a week later. It was after the Order meeting when Dumbledore drew him aside with that limitless twinkle in his eye.
"Remus," he began softly "I have noticed a certain connection between you and Ms. Nymphadora Tonks."
The werewolf opened his mouth to protest but was blocked by the headmaster. "In a time of loss, we must strive to gain- not to fill a space, but to continue living and breathing and being happy. You need this, Remus. I've heard your objections and may I remind you- numbers are nothing in the end; an old man would know this."
Remus had a sudden image of Van Hohenheim at these words.
"Professor..." Dumbledore gave him an expectant look. "I still need to think about it." the old man appeared to be slightly disappointed
"I think you met an old friend of mine"
"Yes, an alchemist by the name of Van Hohenheim."
Remus was speechless.
"You should seriously consider taking each other's advice." Dumbledore smiled knowingly before he began to make his way out of the kitchen. He said something quiet as he crossed the threshold, something Remus nearly didn't catch.
"And you both need to learn the correct definition of the word 'monster'."