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Chapter 7 : Lupin's Letters and Potter's Song
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As if you couldn’t tell, I’m a Beatles fan. Then again who isn’t, eh? =P The last was an immensely tricky chapter to write, as I began to weave together pre-HBP and post-OotP canon information in with the threads of my own story. Tricky tricky tricky! But also fun fun fun!
I began writing the last two chapters with much trepidation...multiple-line dialogue of already-established characters is usually very, very difficult. I had done it before in HGE, but I’d never done established scenes with the Weasley family–just Gred and Forge. I’d also never done an ongoing scene with Snape...so I was nervous, nervous, nervous. I heart the Weasleys, so I didn’t wanna screw it up. But once I started, it was CAKE! I enjoyed myself so much sometimes it was hard to know where to cut the scene.
That said, this here chapter is completely different...I wasn’t expecting it to happen while writing, but it made me cry a little. Therefore I’m putting up my official TEARJERKER ALERT! So if you’re macho and have a rep to keep up, don’t read this in front of other people. ;P
You have been warned.
As Harry finished reading the explanatory letter, warm tingles stole over him. It was immensely touching to find out that Sirius wasn’t the only Marauder who had remained mindful of Harry over the years. Lupin had to have put hours of time and care into this treasure trove of past memories...there looked to be around a hundred scrolls in the parcel, of various lengths.
Harry’s first inclination was to start now and finish the letters as fast as he could read them. Hungry as he was for more information about his parents, however, he decided to take Lupin’s advice to savour the writing. It wasn’t everyday someone was fortunate enough to be given such an amazing gift...it would be the best idea to stretch out the experience as long as he could. Lupin added a P.S. saying to read them in chronological order, and that the first one was dated as far back as 3rd November, 1981–three days after Harry’s life was irrevocably changed by Lord Voldemort. Harry decided he would read that one before he went to sleep that night.
Everyone else was similarly impressed by the duration of Lupin’s thoughtfulness. Mrs. Weasley remarked how fifteen years was a long time to continue such one-sided correspondence–especially with someone who would’ve been incapable of answering the first ten years of it. She also commented how Harry needed to get a much sturdier, airtight container to keep the letters in–and the sooner, the better.
The arrival of Lupin’s parcel had all but driven thoughts of Harry’s meeting with Dumbledore and Snape from his mind. Harry crawled into bed, full of anticipation and admittedly, more than just a tinge of nervousness. The more he’d thought about it that day, the more Harry wasn’t sure if he wanted to know all of what Lupin had written in those letters. The reason being that Harry now knew some distasteful acts his brash young father and godfather had committed as teens. He kept thinking back on those scenes in the Pensieve, where James had been almost unspeakably cruel and arrogant to Snape. Definitively, that was not a part of Harry’s heritage he would ever be proud of.
Nevertheless, these writings were also about Lily...and Harry wouldn’t be able to gather all those things about his mother without reading everything else. It was as it should be, Harry supposed, to take the good with the bad...the bitter with the sweet. Lily and James had got the notion to marry one another sometime in the past, so his father couldn’t have been completely terrible–could he?
Harry lay there contemplating the first scroll for so long that Ron was now snoring in his sleep, even though the lamp had been on the whole time. Sighing, Harry finally concluded, after all the effort Lupin had put into the writing, that he certainly owed it to the man to pour over it.
The string tied around the scroll was so old that after Harry pulled it off, it still held its shape. With great deliberation, he unrolled the yellowed parchment and read:
Dear Little Harry,
I’ve no idea when or if you’ll ever read this, but I find myself needing to do
something, anything constructive due the events of the past three days.
Magicfolk still celebrate with capital jubilation that which you, as a small
toddler, managed to accomplish on Halloween night. It was a feat even the
greatest of all good wizards, many who have given their lives to preserve the
light, hadn’t even come close to doing. For you see, baby Harry, you seem
to have vanquished the evil Lord Voldemort when he attempted to murder
you. More incredible still, you’ll live to tell about it. That’s what the people
call you now–The Boy Who Lived.
And yet amidst all the celebrators, there are those of us who mourn their
losses after this terrifying war. After the deaths of three close friends in
three days, and another close friend being the one who caused their murders
to happen, one cannot help but be overwhelmed by their own confusion
No one stops to think about what it cost the young Potter family to be able
to halt evil in its tracks. I’ve no doubt that even now, Lily and James would
say that no price is too high, but as one of the ones left behind, I’m not so
certain any more.
It still defies comprehension that Sirius Black is responsible for betraying your
parents to Voldemort...I still cannot fathom him doing it. But that isn’t the only
crime he’s committed, unfortunately. It takes the most sinister of individuals to
deliberately murder only one other, and Sirius allegedly did so to thirteen people
on a crowded street, with a single spell. Among those people was another old
and mutual friend of ours, Peter Pettigrew, of whom they found only a finger
since he was closest to Sirius when the wicked curse was evoked. It’s now only
a matter of time before he is sentenced to life in Azkaban at the age of
twenty-three. Therefore you not only have no parents, little Harry, but no
godfather to take care of you either.
Here are the basics of why Sirius’s betrayal is so foreign to me. As the Blacks
are notorious purists, Sirius’s only brother Regulus, joined the Death Eaters–
much to the delight of their parents. As a youth, Sirius was so fed up with the
rampant prejudice, that he became a blood traitor. Being effectively dead to
his own family, James’s parents took Sirius in for the remainder of Sirius’s
education at Hogwarts. He had even been sorted into Gryffindor House–
the only direct Black descendant in history. After twelve years, I would’ve
hoped that I knew Sirius as if he were my own brother...but I guess people
can change...and drastically.
Though Dumbledore is a truly great wizard, and no one would be able to give
you better protection than he...I believe he has an altruistic streak that blinds
him to reality in some ways. I’ve heard that you’re now living somewhere
with Lily’s sister, Petunia. I also know something about the reputation of your
Muggle aunt and cannot imagine her family giving you a good time of it.
Hence my reasons for writing you are threefold: I wish for you to know about
your parents’ lives, I wish for you to know that Sirius Black wasn’t always a
twisted vicious soul, and I hope that by telling you these things it will somehow
give you and I both peace of mind, even if your peace won’t be for years to come.
But at this point, both I and my quill are spent, so I shall resume this by-and-by.
Signed, James’s old mate,
Remus J. Lupin
In a single letter, Lupin had already broadened Harry’s perspective. Never before had he truly appreciated how young his parents and the other Marauders were when their lives became so affected by the ongoing war at the time. They hadn’t been any older than Tonks was now.
Like Harry, Lupin had also lost his family, of a sort. Additionally, he’d lost the members all at once, had no one to talk to about it...so he wrote to somebody he hoped would understand, and clung to the notion for fifteen long years.
Harry’s eyes misted over and his heart went out to Remus Lupin of times past...a young man who even in his darkest season of isolation and pain, had so perfectly foreseen someone else’s desperate need for what he had to say so far into his and Harry’s own shadowy futures.
“Thank you...so much,” Harry whispered to the letter, as he slid the string back over the scroll, placed it carefully in the box, and switched off the light.
(0) (0) (0)
Harry was in the changing rooms, getting strapped into his Quidditch gear for another big game. He and the Gryffindors had been working extra hard and they were sure to give the Slytherins a pounding down they’d not soon forget. Yet as Harry looked around, he realised he was the only one in the room. Where was the rest of the team? They’d walked in together...could they have left for the pitch without him seeing?
And another odd thing...he noticed no actual pigment in anything. Harry rubbed his eyes, sure his vision was playing tricks on him...but again, his uniform and all his surroundings remained staunchly devoid of all colour. Everything remained in variant shades of grey.
Forgetting his Firebolt, he took off down the hallway for the Quidditch Pitch, determined to solve at least one of the following mysteries. Instead, he was greeted by yet another. This one was by far the largest enigma of the moment.
“Hello, Harry,” the smiling conundrum spoke to him, while casually leaning up against the wall. “All chuffed for the game, I see.”
Caught squarely off-guard, Harry nearly tripped over his own feet as he turned to stare at the person standing next to him.
“S-Sirius?” said Harry disbelievingly. He blinked rapidly and asked, “What...what are you doing here?”
“I’m surprised by you, Harry,” Sirius leaned off the wall. “Do you really think I’d miss your final match ever?”
“My...final...what are you talking about?”
“Always so many questions, Harry.” Sirius shook his head and smiled again. “Just once, you should learn from me and simply take the plunge. Go out there–everybody’s waiting for you.”
“Me?” Harry asked in befuddlement. Was this his godfather’s idea of a joke? “Why wait for me? I mean, I can’t play a Quidditch game all by myself.”
“Hmm,” said Sirius, pretending to ponder something, “I don’t recall anyone saying this was for a Quidditch game. Be careful what you assume, Harry.”
“Not...for...Quid...but...” spluttered Harry. Hadn’t the team walked into the changing rooms with him? And there was the pitch, straight outside...any lout in uniform would’ve thought “Quidditch Match”.
“I can’t say who expects you out there, Harry,” Sirius responded. “But I can say that you are dressed that way since you are a flyer. Because nobody–and I mean nobody–can soar like you do.” Then he walked away from Harry and out of sight toward the pitch.
Hurriedly, Harry chased after him...but as he turned the corner, Sirius had inexplicably vanished. But his godfather’s voice spoke one last time, filling the air above him, “Like your parents, though, I’m willing to watch...and wait. I’ll see you on the flip-side, Harry.”
The young man opened his mouth to ask Sirius to please stay, they had so much to talk about...but the drastic changes to the Quidditch Pitch stilled his protest.
Not only was everything stayed in the same depressing shades of grey, as if Harry were starring in his own old-fashioned horror flick, but there were no other players, no referee, no Quidditch equipment, and no noisy fans. Harry turned slowly on the spot, seeing that twice as many grandstands than normal lined the sides of the pitch. Despite being chock-full of people nobody cheered or jeered. When he caught sight of the rings, chills started running up and down his spine...all six centres of the scoring hoops were draped over in black fabric, and each adorned with the letters “HP”.
All at once, it became clear to Harry what Sirius meant...final match...no Quidditch...the sole player...the sombre spectators...
“I am aware there are those among you who question the reason we are holding this memorial service on the Quidditch Pitch today,” said a very serious Albus Dumbledore. His voice sprang up so suddenly, Harry jerked toward it as if stung.
The headmaster stood in front of the hoops on the north side of the pitch, turned so he could address both sides of the grandstands. What looked to be the school choir and an orchestra were arrayed in place behind him on the grass of the pitch.
“The simple answer for that is Harry Potter’s young friends,” continued Dumbledore. “It is not frivolity that motivated them; rather it was with deepest respect they approached me and requested we not do what tradition dictates. They know more than anyone that Harry was a fighter, a survivor, a bright and vibrant soul who was not afraid to stand up for others. And as each of you are aware, he faced down Lord Voldemort no less than five times in his young life.”
He didn’t know why, but the most powerful, nearly aching sense of deja vu swept over and through Harry, as if he’d heard his headmaster give a eulogy about him before...but why? It was almost as if Harry had passed on prior to now, in some other lifetime...
Dumbledore’s voice grew more intense as he continued, “Harry Potter’s schoolmates also requested very specifically that we not wear black. ‘Don’t let this be viewed as a termination of mortality,’ they said, ‘but a commemoration of life, and all that he stood for.’”
Harry was overcome; it felt as if his heart had stuck somewhere in his throat. Though he couldn’t see the individual colour, the darkest shade amongst all the greys was the black on the scoring hoops–not a single person seemed to have worn it.
“Now, let us reflect a moment.” Dumbledore’s gaze briefly dropped somewhere below the grandstands, then he looked back up and went on. “What exactly did Harry Potter stand for? If you say courage, justice, and integrity, you would indeed be right. Yet that barely scratches the surface. Those of us fortunate enough to have known him would also say he stood for friendship and family–despite being an orphan, teaching and teamwork–as his fellow students can attest, loyalty and leadership, character and compassion, trust and truth.”
Am I seeing my own future? Harry wondered desperately. No...this can’t be real, his hysteria rapidly increased, it’s just a dream, all a horrid dream...that’s why I saw Sirius. He closed his eyes tight shut, willing himself to wake up...please wake up! I can’t have died, I don’t even remember it happening...
“Therefore, Harry Potter’s friends rightfully pointed out that such a dynamic person as he would not wish for us to remember him as he died, but rather as he lived–and loved.”
Just when Harry thought he would surely explode with the conflicting shock within him–both from conviction that he had died, and consternation that he hadn’t–something audible and pure rent the air, curing the deafening silence which seemed to stretch forever...
He b’came wizard world’s most famous child,
Whose eyes were green, whose hair was wild.
‘Cause one night, th’Evil Man did all he could...
It was as if someone were syphoning away the fear which gripped Harry to his very centre. Slowly, he opened his eyes as the poetry poured over the pitch...the words of Harry’s life set to haunting music...the innocent, unaccompanied lament of a small Irish student in the school choir.
To take his life, and even had
The power to slay the boy’s mum and dad.
Since Evil lost that fight...is all well and good?
Astoundingly, the student was cast in a ray of splendid sunlight...it was like his voice had the power to pierce the thick clouds of the overcast sky. No, more than that–Harry gasped– everywhere the light touched instantly blossomed into richest colour. Then the rest of the vocalists joined the boy in chorus:
And we never took the time to answer
About the little boy, and what he’d do.
Evil dispelled, most of us took for granted
This tiny child had filled an older man’s shoes.
Some strings in the orchestra picked up the melody as the singers finished the chorus, thawing still more of the mind-numbing discord inside of Harry. Up in the sky, the break in the clouds grew ever larger, transforming the music makers and the pitch into an ocean of rainbow hue.
Ten years, a closet was his room;
Neglect, abuse, and endless gloom
‘Til a letter from old Hogwarts set him free.
Though those who saw forbade him leave
He said, “So long, I’ve been deceived...”
“Now I’ll go to find that wizard in me.”
Harry didn’t know if it was deliberate or imagined, but the sonorous effect round the pitch was more befitting a hall in the most majestic of all cathedrals. Each movement in the song was more beautiful than the next, every following verse sung by a different quartet, accompanied by more instruments in exquisite harmonies...
So they never took the time to tell him
Who he really was; what he could do.
By fear and hatred, tried to fell him
But deep within, the boy already knew.
Turning his face up to the grandstands, Harry saw that nearly everybody had stood up out of their seats, due the draw of warm sunlight and inspiring music. They too were enchanted and comforted by the layers of sound, finding themselves caught up in it...they could neither speak nor sit still. In another theme, a seventh year’s voice rang out over all the others, as if from Harry’s own perspective:
Take my hand, aside my journey
Ere beset by anger, worry–
Fight to keep these changes all in stride.
I wonder who would help me break the spell;
Who’ll lift me from my private hell.
Is this spark dark or light I feel inside?
Halfway through, the melody went through several key changes. The mood of the song shifted from personal lamentation to glorious, aspiring hope. Each chord flowed into Harry’s mind, through his very soul, spoke soothing vibes to every aching part of him. Transfixed, he moved from where he stood, irresistibly drawn to the nexus of harmony.
Forced to mature before his time
Each trial he faced more like a crime
He fought what fight he did for me and you.
Though from us now, our boy has gone,
His memory goes on, and strong;
He walked the mile within a grown man’s shoes.
Harry’s loneliness and pain were gone now, replaced by resonating joy and healing from the musicians’ intricately woven song. He turned back the way he came, only to see the entire audience had left the grandstands and filled the green of the pitch behind him. Nobody remained in drab shadows; the light encompassed everything and colourised all it touched. Assembly and musician alike stood together for the final climactic crescendo.
Now we endeavour to convey it
The legacy of all the boy did do.
If we could ask, he’d meekly say this:
Inside, I’m just the same as all of you.
The orchestra and choir rested for the last two lyrical phrases. The seventh year sang:
Look up, reach out, remember if you can.
And the Irish first year drew it to a close, with no less power than when he began:
Please don’t forget our boy inside the man.
At Dumbledore’s cue, all the people threw their arms above their heads. Sheer crystalline clamour cleft the skies, and Harry looked heavenward to see thousands of tiny golden Snitches hovering aloft the green. Each miniature of its predecessor sprouted wings and took off for the gap in the clouds toward the light.
Sudden clarity came to Harry, and he knew what he had to do. He cast his glance up at the sun, closed his eyes to let the warmth caress his face, joyously envisioning himself doing what he did best...for Harry soared.
I dunno why I bother notating sometimes; I guess it’s for the 2% of readers who actually read what the author says, and again for the .0002% who actually tell me they’ve read it...lol ;P
I had someone beta-read this chapter, and she asked me where I got the inspiration for it. I told her, and she said I should mention it, so here goes.
Mid-June two years ago , not long after I’d seen the brand-new Azkaban movie, I was still suffering from the loss of a dear friend. Her departure was unexpected and tragic. She was only in her early 40s...having been struck by a car, declared brain-dead, Carolyn lay comatose for a week before succumbing to her injuries.
So one night, I literally dreamed that I saw Harry Potter’s memorial service–I dreamt of his death. I also dreamed of his watching it, just as written...Harry being present to hear what all the people wanted to say of him. It wasn’t...sad, though. I found great comfort in my dream, and especially in the music–all the lyrics came from the dream as well. I can still recall it vividly.
At exactly two years to the day, I had the dream again this year . This time, someone even closer to me than Carolyn had abruptly ceased his life. Anthony was my greatest love, merely in his mid-thirties when he died, and I feared that I might surely be crushed under the weight of his loss. Again I found immense comfort within the music of this dream.
Writing this chapter made me chiefly mindful of people whose lives are cut short. For example, the hostage situation in a Colorado high school this past week...so reminiscent of Columbine, where a teenage girl died of gunshot wounds. Then in my old hometown, a stone’s throw from where I am now...another 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death by two 16-year-old boys from her own high school.
All four of the people mentioned above went before they should have...abruptly, tragically, violently. No one suffers more than their families...and especially children. I can’t speak for the two young girls, but I know my friends would not want me to linger in the pain of their loss– that’s what I gleaned from my dream. So this chapter is for those who mourn, lost in the questions of why these things happen. You’ll probably never receive the answer, and you’ll never stop missing them. But remember that they miss you too. It’s okay to grieve, okay to cry...ties of friendship and love do not cease with death. While grief and pain do fade with time, real love never ever does. Just have faith you can meet up later...and soar together.
Thanks for you who bothered to read this.
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