Written for Cassidy (our dancing days) on the Gift-Giving Extravaganza 2013.
Thanks to Ivy and Kerri (african sky) for letting me harass them about this.
The first time Remus came across the Patronus charm was when he was eleven years old. It was his first week at Hogwarts and he was hiding the library because his housemates, though nice enough, were more than just a little intimidating. It didn't help that he'd never been very good at making friends...not that he really wanted to make friends. Friends, he'd found, come with too many risks when one was a werewolf.
He tried really hard to convince himself that reading books on dementors (because something has to be worse than a werewolf, didn't it?) was fun.
Upon reading about the Patronus charm, he paused. He wasn't interested in trying it; he knew he wasn't nearly clever enough to pull it off. But the complexity of the spell wasn't what stopped him. It was the idea of the spell that caused his fingers to freeze mid-page.
He leant back into his chair and sighed. He'd never be able to perform the spell. Not because he wasn't not talented enough or wasn't able to work towards something, but because Remus, for the life of him, couldn't think of a positive memory that would even come close to being strong enough to fend of the only creature that might possess more evil than he did.
They were in third year when Sirius discovered the spell and, just because he was nosey and wanted to know what everyone's Patronus would form as, convinced them all to give it a go.
Remus scrunched his nose at the idea. It was a difficult spell and he didn't want to be around if Sirius found that he was incapable of casting it. He tried to warn them off it—tried to tell them that it's a spell that requires ridiculous amounts of hard work to master and that they'd probably never it since dementors are kept at Azkaban and they were extremely unlikely to ever even see one, let alone need to drive one away.
Sirius, of course, dismissed him with a flippant wave of the hand and grinned.
They'd be doing the spell, Remus realised, whether he liked it or not. He shook his head to express his disapproval, but his mind was already racing. What memory would everyone use? He was curious. It was easier to focus on that curiosity than the nagging thought of having to decide on what memory he'd use.
The first Patronus Remus cast was two days later. It was a wisp and a small one at that. It wasn't exactly worthy of facing a dementor—that much was for sure. The memory, after a night of thinking it over, was obvious.
It was a memory from his first year, when he'd finally decided that maybe the idea of distancing himself from everyone was kind of rubbish. And so, he'd started talking a little to James, Sirius and Peter and after a few weeks, he'd begun to call them his friends. That was when his life at Hogwarts really began.
It was the memory of the morning after the last full moon of that school year that he uses. He'd woken up in the sickbay, aching everywhere and with a new collection of scars.
"Wild night out?"
He'd almost jumped out of his skin when he'd realised that hovering near him were James, Sirius and Peter. Immediately, he'd tried to explain, but even he knew that everything coming out of his mouth was completely unbelievable.
"We know you're a werewolf, Remus," Sirius had interrupted.
He was ashamed to say that he'd started sobbing. He'd been so sure it was all over—the only friends he'd ever had were bound to hate him. Maybe they'd complain to their parents and he'd be kicked out of Hogwarts. He wouldn't have blamed them. He was an evil creature and didn't deserve friends. Besides, he'd been lying to them the whole year. Who'd want to be friends with a liar?
"It's alright," James had said with a hesitant hand on Remus' shoulder. "We don't...uh. We know you're still you, Remus. You're our mate."
They must've been joking. He'd been so sure that James had been joking. But he'd looked up slowly, sniffling, and almost died of shock when he realised that Sirius, James and Peter were all looking back at him with small, if not somewhat shaky, smiles.
Sirius had picked up the balm on the side table and had started rubbing some on Remus' newest scars that littered his arm.
"We'll be able to help you now," Sirius had said. "We can nick some food from the kitchens so you eat before the transformation and pick up your homework when you miss morning classes. We can make it easier for you."
And that was it. That was the memory Remus used for his first (rather pathetic) Patronus.
His first proper Patronus—not that wispy rubbish, but a proper Patronus—came one year later.
James, Sirius and Peter had dragged him under the cloak and outside after hours, claiming to have something "absolutely brilliant" to show him. In truth, he hadn't been expecting anything at all. He'd thought that that had just been a way to stop him from resisting.
He sure as hell hadn't been expecting to be pushed down into the grass and told to sit still while his three friends walked a few feet away, turned to face him, and then transformed into animals.
A stag. A dog. A rat.
Remus couldn't stop his jaw from falling wide open.
"You three!" he'd exclaimed, incredulous. "Animagi? You've got to be kidding me. Do you have any idea how illegal this is?" Under his breath, he'd added, "Not to mention how difficult the spell is, Merlin."
James had been the first to change back and he was frowning, apparently not pleased by Remus' reaction.
"That's not the point."
"What's the point then?"
Sirius had been next. "The point, Remus, is that now we really can help you during the change—no, don't say anything yet, just let me explain—because a werewolf bite only affects humans. You told us that. But if we're animals..."
"You want to spend the transformation with me," Remus had finished, feeling shell-shocked. "You lot...you're absolutely mental."
One look at their faces had told him they'd never back down. So, instead of reprimanding them, he'd simply said, "Thank you."
He really was thankful. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him.
And that was the memory he used when he first cast a Patronus with form. He cast it as a laugh, just to make sure his new memory was strong enough. As it turned out, it was. He didn't tell the others though. He wasn't sure how he'd be able to look Sirius in the eye and tell him that his Patronus was a dog.
Eventually, his Patronus memory changed to the first time Sirius kissed him.
They'd been joking around in the dormitory when the conversation had turned serious.
"Prongs says I'm a twat," Sirius had said suddenly. "He reckons I take you for granted."
Remus had bit his tongue at that. Everyone knew that Remus and Sirius' relationship hinged on Remus being patient enough to put up with Sirius and his prattish behaviour. In other words, it was all about Remus fancying the pants off Sirius and being painfully obvious about it.
"That's not fair," Remus had replied after a moment of silence, even though it probably was. "You've done loads for me. Animagus, remember?"
"No, no," Sirius had said. "Don't do that. Don't make me sound so fucking great when I'm not. You always do that."
Remus had fallen silent.
"I know what you want from me," Sirius had continued with, because really, everyone did know that Remus was head over heels. "And I like you. I mean, I fancy you. You wouldn't understand because you don't see how fucking great you are, but I do fancy you."
Then, much to Remus' despair, Sirius had said, "But I won't be able to give you what you want. I'll mess up. I'll hurt you and you don't deserve that."
At this, Remus had shrugged. "I'd be willing to take that chance."
Sirius had stared at him with wide eyes. And then, with very little finesse, had leaned in and kissed him. It'd been sloppy and teeth had clacked. As far as first kisses went, it hadn't been great. But when they'd pulled back, they'd smiled at each other and laughed.
"Prongs is going to kill me," Sirius had breathed. "He's going to fucking kill me."
Over the years, Remus continued to test memories. He would go into a room by himself cast the spell, just to see if it would work. The memories that did came from all over the place, different places and different times, but almost all of them included Sirius.
And then Voldemort happened. Remus and Sirius' relationship fell apart because no one could trust anyone and there was a traitor and it had to be of them—one of the Order—it just had to be. Remus was a werewolf and Sirius was a Black. Someone was to blame and both were likely supects.
It wasn't as if Remus didn't still love Sirius and that Sirius didn't love him back. It was just there was too much to risk. Everyone had to be on their toes; everyone had to keep secrets.
And then everything fell to pieces.
James died. Lily died. Peter died. Sirius got sent to Azkaban. Remus didn't know what to believe.
For years after that, Remus produced the Patronus charm often. He tried to separate the past from the present and make sure that his memories—his happy memories—of the only brothers he'd ever known remained untainted.
He so badly wanted to escape the present.
He clung to the moments during which they hadn't had a care in the world and Voldemort had been on the backburner. The moments that were strictly Marauder. The moments that belonged to just Sirius and Remus.
He continued to cast the Patronus charm to make sure he never forgot what it was like to be truly happy.
It was hard, but he did it.
He didn't succeed completely, though. The past did remind him of the present. His memories, despite all his efforts, were tainted after all.
He never saw the dog again. His Patronus...it was better than a wisp, but he never saw that dog—that stupid mangy brilliant dog—again.