Chapter 70 : Life on the Moon
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Life on the Moon
Remus sat in his bedroom, his legs folded under him as he stared at the boxes piled up by the railing overlooking the living room. He never realised he had so much stuff. It had taken him the better part of the previous day and this morning to track down all of his possessions and even longer to pack them away. His bed had been stripped down completely, his pictures taken off the wall, his records stacked neatly away with them. He had sold his gramophone the day before. There was a kid in town who wanted one and Remus didn’t really need his. Sirius had the one they had given him for Christmas years ago. Remus could only imagine what would happen if they had two of them – a battle of who could outlast the music longer, no doubt.
He had avoided his parents all day. His mother had been quiet for the past two days, ever since he had gotten back from school. Remus knew that she was concerned that he was leaving. She knew he was old enough to take care of himself, but when it came to the full moons… she had every right to be worried about her only child. Sirius had assured her that he knew a place Remus could transform, but Mrs. Lupin was still concerned. The only place Remus had ever transformed that wasn’t home was the Shrieking Shack. Sirius hadn’t gone into specifics about where this place was with Mrs. Lupin, but he had told Remus there was a small forest not too far from their flat. They could Apparate there every full moon. It was far enough removed from society that he would not have to worry about attacking anyone.
Sighing, Remus glanced at his watch and saw that he had better get moving if he wanted to get to Sirius’s soon. It was already past midday and he was going to have to make a few trips back and forth. He was able to Apparate to the place, as the landlady, Mrs. Sherman, and her husband were out for the day and he wouldn’t have to worry about them seeing him. That would not be the first impression he would want to make for his new landlady. Remus had a number of boxes to bring, it would take some time. His father had insisted on helping him, but Remus refused the help. He could do it on his own. He slid off his bed and kneeled down in front of the box that held his clothes. He was planning on selling his Hogwarts robes, maybe keeping one pair if he needed them. He didn’t know why he would need them… maybe he was just feeling nostalgia. He knew Sirius didn’t care about his help in paying the rent; Alphard had left him so much money that it wasn’t a problem for him to pay it all. But Remus was going to help him and to do that, he needed to sell things.
Swallowing with a bit of difficulty, he knew he had to get going. He had to stop stalling. He knew he had to go talk to his parents now before he began moving his belongings. So, abandoning his packing for the moment, he descended the stairs to the first floor. Remus found his parents in the kitchen. His mother was reading one of her books, a cup of tea beside her, and his father was busy writing an article of the next edition of the Daily Prophet, his quill moving furiously across the parchment. Remus stood in the doorway for a moment, watching his parents, before clearing his throat. “Err… I’m about ready to go.”
Anna cleared her own throat noisily upon hearing her son’s voice, setting her tea down on its saucer. Standing up, she hesitated before crossing to her son. Why was it that she couldn’t see him as the eighteen year old man he had become? All she saw was the sleepy, timid eleven year old boy she had dropped off at Platform Nine and Three Quarters so many years ago. “You… you better come and visit,” she told him firmly.
“Of course I will,” Remus assured her. He couldn’t dream of never visiting his parents again. He loved them too much to do that and they had done so much for him. “And you two are welcome to visit me any time you want.” He and Sirius wouldn’t mind at all if they dropped in. Sirius loved Remus’s parents like they were his own, anyway.
Anna nodded soundlessly before finding her voice again. “Do you want help bringing your things?”
Remus shook his head. “I’m just going to Apparate with it all. It’s faster that way.” Maybe he shouldn’t have said it like that. He meant that it was easier to just Apparate with it all. He didn’t want his mother to think that he couldn’t stand to be there for much longer. “It’s easier, I mean,” he added hastily.
“We know what you meant, Remus,” Harry said, coming forward now and gripping his son’s shoulder. Harry studied Remus for a moment. It was hard to believe the boy he had seen off onto the Hogwarts Express so many years ago was now about to go out on his own. Ever since Remus had been bitten they worried about how he would grow up. Would he let the prejudices he faced overcome him or would he get past them and live his own life? Harry was pleased to see that it was the latter. He and Anna had done a good job. Despite the obstacles their son faced, he didn’t let that stop him from going on with his life. “You’re a good boy, Remus.”
Anna cleared her throat again and began fussing, straightening Remus’s robes and flattening stray hairs sticking up on his head, as if he was going somewhere important. For the first time in his life, Remus let her fuss. “Now, if you ever want to come home, you know we’re here for you.”
“I know, Mum.”
“I mean it, if you’re feeling too sick after a full moon and want to come back, we’ll be happy to take care of you.”
“I know, Mum.”
“Now, if you every need anything-”
“Mum,” Remus said loudly before his mother kept going for such a length of time he would never be able to leave. “I’ll be fine. I’ll come home when I can, if I’m feeling sick, I’ll let you know. Please… you’ve got to let me do this.”
“Oh, I know I do.” She didn’t know why she was worrying so much. She knew she and Harry had raised an intelligent, self-sufficient boy. He was a man now, but she couldn’t help but think of him as the frightened little boy he had been so many years ago. Offering Remus a watery smile, she pulled him into a hug. “You’ll answer my letters, won’t you?”
“I was actually thinking of ignoring them,” Remus chuckled.
“Remus John Lupin,” his mother said warningly, pulling away from him and glaring at him, though she knew he was kidding.
Harry then stepped forward. “You’re sure you wouldn’t like some help with you things?”
Remus nodded firmly. “I’m sure, Dad.” Looking between his watery-eyed mother and his calm father, Remus felt a tug inside him. He was going to miss his parents. They’d be there for him for his entire life. Of course, when he went to Hogwarts they weren’t able to be there for him all the time, but when he came home for the summer they were. “Have I ever said thank you for everything you’ve done for me?”
Harry and his wife smiled. “You didn’t need to.” Pulling his son into a hug, Harry said, “Don’t be a stranger.”
“I won’t be.”
Sirius didn’t realise how dirty a house could get when it was unoccupied for almost an entire year. He was just grateful that he didn’t have allergies; otherwise there wouldn’t be a moment when he was coughing and sneezing due to the obscene amount of dust in his flat. He imagined a runny nose and irritated eyes would make the day’s tasks a lot more difficult. He swore he had been cleaning since he got home from school. That wasn’t entirely true, as he had unceremoniously chucked his school things into his bedroom the second he walked through the door and proceeded to look for something to drink. Then, before he could get anything of substance done, Mrs. Sherman insisted that he have dinner with her and her husband. Sirius felt horrible declining the offer, especially when she had not charged him rent for the months he was away at school, so he took her up on it. Besides, he needed to remind her that he would be getting a roommate.
Speaking of roommates, Remus should be arriving at any moment with his things. Perhaps once Remus arrived and put all his stuff in his room, Sirius could get some help in ridding the place of the multiple layers of dust that had accumulated since September. In fact, he was sure he’d have some help once Remus came; he knew his friend wouldn’t want to live in a place where he was constantly sneezing and coughing. Remus was sick enough without the extra help. Certainly it would be a lot easier to keep this place clean once there were two people living here. There would have been three if Peter hadn’t felt that he needed to stay with his mother for the summer or however long it would be.
Sirius understood why his friend chose to stay home, or at least he tried to understand why. Sirius doubted that if he ever received the news that his father died he would go rushing home to take care of his mother. No, he didn’t doubt it, he was sure of it. He was sure he wouldn’t rush home to tend to any of his family. The only time he did was Alphard, but Alphard was a special case. But Peter loved his father and his mother, his entire family; it was only natural that he would want to help his mum. Still, Sirius wished he wouldn’t let that get in the way of him living his life. They were out of school now; they were supposed to go out on their own. It was only natural.
Sirius shook his head; he didn’t understand Peter at all lately. No matter how much he tried to, he just didn’t know what was going through his friend’s head. This bothered him, a lot. Peter had been acting strangely lately and Sirius doubted that all of it had to do with his father’s death. He had no doubt that this was the majority of it, but it couldn’t be the reason entirely. There had to be something else going on and Sirius wanted to know what it was. He also knew that it was unlikely Peter would tell him.
He studied the countertop he was dusting with a rag before rolling his eyes at himself. He was an eighteen year old wizard, for Merlin’s sake. He whipped out his wand and muttered the appropriate cleaning spell. In seconds, the countertop was remarkably clean, so clean he could have sworn he saw it sparkle. His stomach suddenly rumbled loudly. Merlin, he was hungry. Opening one of the cupboards, he discovered a bag of crisps that he had bought yesterday. Taking it out, he dug up a handful. Munching on them, he stared thoughtfully around the kitchen. He really needed to go grocery shopping. Perhaps a single bag of crisps was enough for one person, but not for two. He had passed a helpful looking store on his walk that morning. He and Remus could check it out later that day.
Pausing to inspect the surface of the kitchen table, he deemed it passable and wandered into the living room. He straightened a couch cushion and stared out the window, down at the street below. Tomorrow he had to be at the Ministry of Magic for his eleven o’ clock interview with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He knew James had gone for his interview at St. Mungo’s the day before. He hadn’t spoken to his friend yet, as they had both been too busy to talk much, but he was going to see James after his own interview so he could find out how it went. Sirius was sure it had gone well. Who in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to hire Charles Potter’s son anyway?
Sirius feared that he would have a hard time getting his job. Who in their right mind would want to make a member of the Black family an Auror? Sirius knew the answer to that – no one. But when he had applied for the interview before school ended, the head of the Auror Division – Alastor Moody – had consented, giving him the first interview timeslot he had. Sirius was eager to meet this man; he had heard the name before. Moody was one of the men Charles, Harry and John had gone to meet that night a few summers ago. He distinctly remembered John Pettigrew saying Mad Eye wouldn’t be pleased when he learned that nothing was going on.
He was truly eager to see why this man had been dubbed the nickname Mad Eye. The man was an Auror; he had to be fairly smart. Then again, Dumbledore was a genius and he was downright mad.
He would just have to wait until the next day to see if Mad Eye Moody lived up to his name. Of course, Sirius knew he wouldn’t be permitted to call the man that, but inside his head that would be all he was thinking. He knew he would have to focus on his interview. He had to make himself sound different from the mental lot that was unfortunately his family. Sirius knew he would be looked down on in that particular department because of his last name. He hated the fact that that would happen, but he was ready for it. He was prepared to prove he was different from the other Blacks.
Sirius was broken out of his thoughts by a faint pop from behind him. He spun around and saw Remus straightening up, two boxes stacked upon each other in his arms. Sirius’s face split into a wide grin – this was really it. They weren’t in school anymore. They were out in the real world, living on their own. He was still roommates with one of his best friends and that was all he could ask for. “So,” he began, relieving Remus of one of his boxes. “Where’s the rest of your stuff?”
James was standing in his parents’ room in the Potter mansion, inspecting himself through the glass of the full length mirror. He had tried desperately to keep his hair lying flat on his head, but to no avail. It stuck up in the back worse than ever. He also wished his glasses weren’t as lopsided as they were. No one would want to hire a messy looking Healer; they would misinterpret it as James being unclean rather than genetics and old glasses. He couldn’t believe he had an interview with Hippocrates Smethwyk. The man was in charge of the creature-induced injury ward at St. Mungo’s. James knew his father had talked to Healer Smethwyk especially for that purpose.
James had to admit, his father knew him well. He knew James would work the hardest in that ward out of all of them, though that didn’t mean he wouldn’t work hard wherever he was put. But that ward, especially, James would give it everything. It was a hard line of work to go through, but James knew that if he could help make any of the patients feel better, he had done something worthwhile. James couldn’t deny, however, he was rather apprehensive about working in the ward where the werewolves first went after they were bitten. He had a strong stomach, he could take the injuries, but he wasn’t sure if he could stand the thought of knowing what they were going to have to go through for the rest of their lives. But he had to keep up his philosophy.
If he could just help one person feel better, he had done his job.
Stepping away from the mirror, deciding that there was no hope for his hair, he left the bedroom and met his father in the kitchen. Charles would be taking him to Smethwyk’s office before heading to do his rounds around the hospital. Charles had offered to stay during the interview for moral support, but James declined the offer. He didn’t think he would like for his father to be around while he was interviewing for his job. First of all, it felt like favouritism and, second of all, James was sure it would do nothing to ease his nerves. He would just be worrying about making a fool of himself in front of his father.
Together they Apparated to St. Mungo’s and James found himself standing in the crowded waiting room. Taking a calm look around the bustling room, Charles commented that it was rather slow today and James couldn’t keep his mouth from falling open. There had to be at least thirty people in here, all with various mutations. Some had three heads; others were hopping up and down, unable to stop. What was busy like, then? Did there have to be zero moving space for it to be considered busy? As it was, James had already been shoved back and forth in three seconds by five women, all of whom were sporting forked tongues, green scaly skin and webbed feet. The receptionist witch at the head of the room looked frazzled to say the least.
Charles led James through the crowd of malformed witches and wizards and out into the hallway. Not bothering to look at the directory, Charles brought his son to the Created Induced Injuries ward. There was an office just off the entryway, but James still was able to catch glimpse of the patients inside some of the other rooms just across the hallway. “Do you get used to this, Dad?” James asked quietly, his eyes fixed inside the room where a Healer was leaning over a patient, administering potions. He couldn’t imagine ever getting used to seeing these sickly people.
“I wouldn’t say you ever get used to it,” Charles replied fairly, his eyes focused straight ahead. “You just learn to accept it.”
James didn’t think he could ever learn to accept it. But he would have to give it a try if he wanted any hope of surviving in this field. They stopped outside of Healer Smethwyk’s door and Charles knocked on it. Within moments a man opened it, smiling at the two Potters. “Good morning, Charles,” he greeted his fellow Healer happily. Then, holding out a hand towards the younger Potter, he added, “It’s nice to meet you, James.”
Despite his nerves, James confidently shook Smethwyk’s hand and replied, “Nice to meet you too, sir.”
Smethwyk exchanged glances with Charles, though James could not decipher what the glances relayed. He hoped it wasn’t anything negative. Shaking the man’s hand and calling him ‘sir’ seemed like a good start. Unless, of course, Healer Smethwyk didn’t like being called ‘sir’? There were people who were like that, it made them feel old. But Healer Smethwyk was old, though James wasn’t about to point that out. James hoped he hadn’t just met someone like that. But Smethwyk was still smiling; he didn’t seem at all perturbed by the title.
“Well, I’ll leave you two to your business then,” Charles said, patting James on the shoulder and nodding to Smethwyk. James nodded at his father, who hovered for a moment as though he was making sure James would be alright, before heading to do his own work for the day.
“Come on in, James.” Smethwyk led James into his spacious and bright office. There was a large window the overlooked the street below, crowded with Muggles. There was a desk at the head of the room, with three chairs set around it – one with its back facing the window, clearly the one Smethwyk called his own, and two with their backs facing the door for visitors. There was also an armchair in the corner. Smethwyk led James to the desk and took a seat with his back facing the window, nodding for James to take a seat as well.
Sitting down, James folded his hands together in his lap, and then placed them flat on his knees, before gripping the arms of his chair with them. Finally, deciding upon just folding them in his lap, he waited patiently for Healer Smethwyk to say something. “Your father told me you were originally planning on becoming an Auror. What was the change of heart?”
“I… I think I said Auror just because it was what my best friend wanted to do,” James answered truthfully. He honestly wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to be an Auror. He always wanted to help, but he wasn’t sure being an Auror was the way he wanted to go about it. He knew Sirius had wanted to be one and that was why he had selected the career initially. “But when I gave it some real thought, I could help people both as an Auror and a Healer, but I’d rather be a Healer. My goal is to just help someone.”
There was a genuine smile on Smethwyk’s face as he took in James’s words. “Would you care to elaborate on what makes you want to help people so much?”
“Well… one of my best friend’s, you know him, I’m sure.” Remus had mentioned once before that Smethwyk had known him ever since he was first bitten as a little boy.
Smethwyk nodded sadly. “I’ve known your friend since he was a child, horrible what happened to him and at such a young age.”
“I want to help people like him. I just… I just want to help keep others from being in pain. I know I’m not going to always be able to fix everything completely, but I’d like to be given the chance to try. The way I can do that is to be a Healer.” James paused. Did he sound far too idealistic for Smethwyk to take him seriously? Did he sound completely foolish? “Of course, I know that’s not always possible… I just want to try,” he added hastily in hopes that would make him sound a little more realistic.
Smethwyk, however, didn’t seem to mind James’s initial response, did not seem to think that it was ridiculously idealistic. “You’re an enthusiastic man, James. That’s exactly what we need here. A Healer needs to be dedicated to his job, otherwise nothing will get done.” Smethwyk folded his hands together and rested his chin upon them, studying James carefully through narrowed eyes. “I think I’ll be able to find you a place here.”
It was strange being home. The house seemed so empty, even though Peter’s mother was just in the next room. Peter knew the reason why – without his dad around, the house would always have the sense of emptiness. Granted, his father wouldn’t be around for a good portion of the day anyway, working right up until the very end of his shift at the Magical Menagerie, but it was just the knowledge that he would be coming home. Peter would never again hear the familiar crack as his father Apparated into the kitchen and announced that he was home. He would never again hear another one of his father’s ridiculous stories about an animal that escaped from the store and had to be chased down. It was funny how he never thought so much about the little things while his father was still around. Now that he was gone, Peter couldn’t stop thinking about them.
Peter remembered when he was just a kid, before he had even been accepted into Hogwarts. He would be home after a day of roaming around London with his mum or playing in his room when his father came back from work. He would always hear the familiar, comforting pop that would signal his father’s return. He would listen to his father’s heavy footsteps as he crossed the kitchen to greet his wife and, within just moments, he would appear in the doorway of whatever room Peter happened to be in to offer him a grin and ask if he was hungry. There was never a time when John Pettigrew neglected to greet his son after a day of work. Peter wouldn’t be able to ever experience the feeling that his father always cared for him again.
He was gone, he wasn’t coming back.
He didn’t know what to do. He felt he had to stay here and help his mother. It was true that she had gotten on well enough without him while he had been finishing up with school, but now that he was home… they both just seemed so lost. Recently, it wasn’t strange to see his mother wiping away tears the moment he walked into a room. Peter knew she was trying to put up a brave front for him, so he could understand that she wanted him to live his own life but… he just didn’t know what to do. Sometimes he found himself almost wishing he had taken Sirius up on his offer to move in with him and Remus.
Sirius… Peter didn’t know where he stood with his friends anymore. James, Sirius and Remus… they had a bond with each other that he could never hope to achieve. No matter how much they insisted that they were all best friends, Peter didn’t believe that this was true anymore. Maybe it had been at one point in their lives, when they had first met, but not now, years later. Sirius could have tried harder to persuade him to come and live with him and Remus. But he gave in too easily. Peter recalled Sirius endlessly harassing Remus before even giving him a chance to answer “yes” or “no.” Of course Remus had said yes, even though he probably wanted to say no.
Remus would always be depending on his friends for everything – for his living space, money, everything. At least Peter had the chance to make something out of himself. He didn’t always need to be at the mercy of his friends.
Peter was going to pull himself out from the shadow of those three. He knew he was always thought of as the tagalong, the one who would never make himself into anything. But he had goals of his own. Peter Pettigrew was going to turn his life into something good, something better than any life his friends could ever hope to have. True, James was going to be training to become a Healer and Sirius was on his way to an interview at the Ministry of Magic to become an Auror, but just because he wasn’t after a fancy job like those didn’t mean he couldn’t have a better life. He would do something none of his friends ever dreamed of doing.
What that was, Peter wasn’t sure of just yet.
But that didn’t matter. He knew he was going to do it. He was determined to prove he wasn’t hopeless like everyone thought he was. He would open the most successful shop Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade had ever seen and it wouldn’t be burned down. He would have the best security, the best employees, the best merchandise and everyone would know that he did. Every other shopkeeper would wonder what Peter Pettigrew had that made him better than everyone else. They would wonder why their shops couldn’t be nearly as successful as he was. They would scramble for ways to beat the competition, yet they would come up with no decent solutions. They would all go to Peter for advice on how to make their shops just as brilliant and successful as his was.
Peter would be the most successful of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. He would prove that he didn’t deserve to take the back seat to them all the time in Hogwarts. He would prove that he wasn’t the untalented tagalong that everyone thought he was.
Peter Pettigrew would be a name that no one would ever forget.
Excerpt from Chapter Seventy One: The Ministry of Magic
“Hey, I have an interview today too and I’m wide awake!”
“That’s because you went back to sleep and when you woke up you drank three cups of coffee.”
“Well, why didn’t you do the same?”
“By the time I got up, there was only enough left for this!” Remus got up from his place at the kitchen table and crossed to the sink, turning the faucet on and rinsing out his glass. “We’re out of coffee, by the way.”
Sirius’s eyebrows raised. “How is that possible?”
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