Dead and Gone.

This was written for:

The Broadway Song Challenge - 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' from Les Miserables.

The Wand Wood Competition - Pear, write about Remus or Dumbledore

The Greenhouses Competition - Begonia, write a fic with no dialogue

Hogwarts Classes Competition - Muggle Studies, write about death

Remus let himself into his small, dilapidated cottage and dropped down onto the threadbare couch. The winter wind howled round the building, whistling in under the doorways and rattling the windows in their frames, but he made no effort to get a fire going in the grate to chase away the chill or illuminate the darkness.

Why bother? Why bother with anything anymore?

Witches and Wizards up and down the country, throughout the world even, were right now celebrating Voldemort's demise but how many of them were giving more than a cursory thought to the other casualties of that night? His friends – he couldn't even bear to think their names - were dead too.

With the barest flick of his wand a half empty bottle of firewhiskey flew through the room into his outstretched hand. He poured himself a glass and swallowed it in one, relishing the burn that trailed in its' wake, cutting through the numbness that had descended on him when he'd heard the news.

Of course he hadn't believed it at first. It wouldn't be true. Couldn't be. But as all his attempts to contact his friends failed he'd began to panic. And then it hit him. Dumbledore. Dumbledore would be able to explain and reassure him, as he always had before.

And so without even considering the fact that there were still hours before the sun would rise he had apparated right to the gates of Hogwarts. But rushing up to the grand castle he had found it in an uproar with McGonagall in charge and Dumbledore nowhere to be seen.

His old head of house hadn't seemed surprised to see him there. In fact it was almost like she was expecting him. Thankfully she seemed to understand that he needed to talk to Dumbledore and no one else and so, after explaining that he was at the Ministry and they didn't know when to expect him back, she sent him off to a small, comfortable chamber to wait.

The sympathetic look she gave him coupled with the gentle pat on his arm as she left, so at odds with the stern, taciturn woman he'd known as his teacher brought bile to his throat but he forced it down. Even then he refused to believe that what he'd heard was true. There had to be another explanation. There had to be.

House elves came and went with food and drink but Remus didn't touch any of it. He simply paced up and down before the fireplace as the sky outside gradually lightened.

Eventually word was brought to him that Dumbledore had returned and was waiting for him in his office. Minutes later, although at the time it had felt like hours, Remus entered the imposing room that was perhaps more familiar than it should have been to any student. Dumbledore was stood at the rain streaked window staring out but on hearing Remus he had turned. The expression on his face was all it took. It was true. Everything he'd heard was true.

The realisation struck Remus like a physical blow, sending him reeling backwards. His legs buckled beneath him and it was only because of the chair next to him that he remained on his feet.

Staying only long enough for Dumbledore to verbally confirm the facts he'd turned and fled. Suddenly it was too painful to remain in the building that had always been such a comfort, the place where he'd first felt like he actually belonged. Memories had bubbled up inside him, too many to control. Wherever he looked he could see the four of them as they had been, hear their laughter echoing through the corridors. It was too much to deal with.

But even now, back in his cottage that they'd only been in a handful of times, the memories were still assaulting him. But of course they were. For half of their lives the four of them had been inseparable, even once they'd left Hogwarts and weren't physically together all the time. Of course it hadn't been smooth in the beginning. James and Sirius' opposing families, Peter's shyness and Remus' own secret saw to that and at times they'd fought and argued like all teenagers but they'd bonded as strongly as any group of friends could. No, not friends, brothers. And now two of them were dead because of the third. Not to mention kind, beautiful Lily. And Harry, orphaned and left with Lily's vile sister.

Tears burned the backs of Remus' eyelids but he fought them down, taking another swig of the fiery drink. If only he could stop the visions that swam through his mind as easily. Flashes of the four of them throughout their time at Hogwarts and afterwards, working on their Animagus transformations; planning their next big prank; working on the Marauders Map; James and Lily's wedding; meeting Harry.

As the memories continued and his mind flashed through the years Remus couldn't stop the moan of pain that tore its' way from his throat. How could this have happened? Why? Of course the Black family had always been deep in the Dark Arts but not Sirius. Almost as soon as he'd arrived at Hogwarts and been exposed to different ways of thinking he'd turned his back on his family's beliefs.

In their later years at Hogwarts, as Voldemort's power had begun to grow and take hold of the Wizarding World, they'd spent many evenings discussing a new world, a tomorrow without Voldemort and how it could be brought about, what part they could all play.

And then when Dumbledore had come to them and asked them to join the Order of the Phoenix Sirius had been just as enthusiastic as the rest of them, relishing the chance to actually act instead of just talking about it. Remus could still see the fire that had lit up Sirius' eyes, the passion that had filled him whenever talk had turned to the fight against Voldemort. That had been real; Remus knew it had been real so what had happened? What had it all been for?

Yes, their tomorrow had arrived but not in the way any of them had expected. Yes, Voldemort was gone but so was Peter. And James. And Lily. And he was left, alone. The one whose life was the least valued, the werewolf who would always be shunned by society was now the only one who had a life to look forward to.

Remus let the glass slip through his fingers to the floor with a dull thud as he dropped his head into his hands and wept.