Just as he would look back on Halloween of 1981 as starting out so strangely normal as any other day, so would Remus recall this day.
It had started as a somewhat eventful Friday, actually, because as Remus was leaving for guard duty, a sleep-deprived Sirius was shouting at Kreacher, having discovered the elf had injured Buckbeak’s leg for no apparent reason. Remus shut the door behind him on the shouting match that ensued, and when he returned at lunch, he found Sirius napping on the sofa in the drawing room, clutching a roll of gauze. He shook his head and went down to have something to eat, and then emerged to find Sirius had gone back up to attend to Buckbeak, and so he had taken out those files on the Department of Mysteries when he realized that they were missing.
He appealed to Sirius.
“I’ll bet that damn elf’s taken them,” Sirius growled and poured himself a drink in the drawing room, not caring this time that it was still just a little too early. “I’ve sent him down to his bedroom, but I doubt he’ll stay there.”
In any case, they went looking for the files all over the house, starting from the kitchen and cellar up, just to be thorough. At around half-past five they were up in the attic, where they found them, as was perhaps to be expected, and then Sirius went to change Buckbeak’s bandages. Remus stood in the doorway to the room that had once been Walburga Black’s, holding the files in the tattered little briefcase, and watched as Sirius changed the hippogriff’s bandages. As he did so he clucked softly to the creature, this kindred spirit of his in that he too was an outlaw and forced to remain in hiding rather than fly free.
“And one day you’ll fly away free too you know,” Sirius was telling him, and Buckbeak made a little cawing sound deep in his throat.
He fixed Remus with one fierce orange eye, and Sirius glanced up.
“Oh don’t worry about him,” he said, patting Buckbeak’s beak. “Remus won’t hurt you, he’s a friend, you know him….”
Remus crouched down and fed Buckbeak a dead rat from the sack, being sure to bow first, so that the hippogriff could nod his feathery head and permit him to stroke it.
Then he left Sirius and Buckbeak to go and finish going through those papers down in the kitchen. As he descended the stairs, he heard the sound of Kreacher roaring with rather maniacal laughter, and jumped the last few steps and opened the door to find the house-elf rolling around on the floor as though he was overjoyed beyond his wildest dreams.
Kreacher stopped laughing and blinked up at Remus with his huge eyes. “Ooooh…it’s the werewolf, it is….” He rolled over onto his hands and knees and clambered back to his feet, his bones creaking as he did so.
“Always a pleasure, Kreacher,” said Remus, setting the briefcase and papers down on the table. “What are you so happy about, if I might ask?”
“Not the werewolf’s business, is it, to know what makes Kreacher happy?” sneered Kreacher, and he proceeded to shuffle out of the kitchen, though he cast a kind of dark look at the fire.
Remus did not fail to notice this, and when the elf had shuffled up the stairs and out of sight, he crossed over to the fire and examined it, though nothing appeared out of the ordinary.
He went back to the table and began going through the papers. After a while Sirius came down.
“Not having a second glass, are you?” Remus asked him without looking up.
“For your information, I’ve only had the one today,” said Sirius, quite soberly (and therefore truthfully). “I’ve left the empty glass on the coffee table in the drawing room though for later.”
“As a nightcap.”
“Anyway, so, Buckbeak’s having a rest, and I told Kreacher to go clean something when he slinked up the stairs, but I doubt that’s what he’ll do. But do you know what I was thinking while I was up there with Buckbeak on and off? We never really talked about whether Harry and Ginny were sending each other any signals. Or did we? I can’t remember.”
“We…were pretty nonverbal about it,” said Remus, looking up from his work at last. “But I’d say that if given proper circumstances, who knows?” He shrugged. “It could happen.”
“It will,” said Sirius. “That boy’s got to have his dad’s taste in redheads.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “Of course he does, Sirius.” He turned over the sheaf of notes and continued onto the reverse side, which he’d had yet to reach thus far. And then he thought of something. “Erm…you know, Sirius…for the record….” He peered up at Sirius, who was looking at him with curiosity as to what he might say. “Er…well, I have to say…I think—I think you would have made a great father. And I think that when all of this is behind us, you’ll be the wonderful godfather that you’ve always tried to be to Harry.”
Sirius’ mouth went a little slack, and then his face broke into a wide smile: he positively beamed. “You think so?” he asked, almost timidly.
“Yes, I do.”
The front door opened and there was a “Wotcher!” as usual, followed by the tumbling of the troll leg umbrella stand. But Nymphadora could manage to shut Mrs. Black up on her own by now, and did so now before descending the stairs to find Remus and Sirius in the kitchen.
“Wotcher,” she said again.
“And wotcher to you,” said Sirius, still beaming, even a little giddy, and before Nymphadora knew what was happening he got up and swept her up, taking her around the room in an awkward sort of polka routine.
“Sirius!” she laughed. “What’re you doing?”
“I dunno, I just felt like dancing with you, baby cuz,” he said, pinching her nose.
And she leapt onto his back but instead he caught her, and started carrying her around like he used to do when she was little, and she shrieked with laughter as he ran around the room, warbling nonsense.
Remus laughed and clapped his hands, thoroughly amused, the papers in front of him quite forgotten. Then at last Sirius deposited his fiancée (Remus liked the feeling of that: Nymphadora, his fiancée) on the seat next to him at the table, and she leaned in and kissed him, giggling.
“Wotcher, my handsome fellow.”
“Wotcher, funny face.”
Sirius sat down across from them, his own particular bark-like laughter brought down to a simmer, as Nymphadora said, “Well, dear, shall we discuss some wedding plans, perchance?”
“Oh, should I leave?” Sirius asked with a cheeky grin.
“No, I think as the best man you should stay,” said Remus with a cheeky grin of his own.
They had just barely begun their discussion though (and Sirius turned out to be a wiling participant, in part because he sincerely cared, but also a little bit in part because he really had nothing better to do, and it was fun to be a part of a project with friends), when they received an unexpected visitor via a flaming phoenix feather—the Order’s ultimate untraceable form of transportation, but to be used only in the gravest of emergencies.
Remus, Nymphadora, and Sirius all stared, but considering how Severus had traveled here, they all forgot any previous strife between any of them.
“What’s happened?” asked Remus, already rising from the table.
“Ah, Black, I see you’re alive and well,” said Severus, and he sounded maybe just a teensy bit disappointed, but only in an oddly childish way that really didn’t mean a whole lot.
Sirius frowned. “Yeah, of course, I am. You arrived via emergency feather for that?”
Severus gave an agitated sigh. “Your dear godson managed to fall asleep during his History of Magic O.W.L.—or so I would presume—and the Dark Lord sent him a false vision in his dreams that he had you hostage, torturing you, inside the Hall of Prophecy, no doubt to lure the boy there so that he can obtain the prophecy, since he and the Dark Lord are the only ones who can physically retrieve it, as you know. At the moment he is currently in the custody of Dolores Umbridge for having been caught using her fireplace to try and contact you here, but it would seem that he did not catch you.”
Sirius looked at Remus and Nymphadora, his face slackening in slight shock. Remus glanced at the fire, and then he thought disturbingly about how Kreacher had been laughing…and the fireplace….
Then Sirius turned back to Severus. “Well, thanks for checking up on me for him. Now if you could go let him know I’m fine before he does anything mad please?”
He was being polite enough, but Severus still managed a scornful look before he disappeared on the flaming feather.
“Whew,” said Sirius with some relief. “That sounded like a close call. I can only hope that Umbridge woman doesn’t lay a stubby ringed finger on Harry or I’ll—”
“Well, when you see Severus again, you ought to thank him for making sure you were alive on Harry’s behalf,” Remus pointed out.
“I suppose,” Sirius grumbled, and he changed the subject back to wedding planning. Heaving a sigh, something softer touched his face, and he smiled a little. “Still, it means a lot that that boy would be willing to risk his life for me. Though if ever does, I will…punish him, so help me….”
“Of course he would risk his life for you,” said Remus, as though that fact had been painfully obvious. “He adores you, Sirius, as much as any teenage boy can adore a father figure. You’re the closest thing he has to a parent, and you were his father’s best friend besides. I would even go so far as to say that he sees something of a kindred spirit in you. He would never sit quiet at home if he believed you were in danger, just as I know you would go to any length to protect him.”
“Well, I won’t lie, it’d be easier on my heart rate if he would stay put,” said Sirius gruffly, “if only because, as you well know, I’d never forgive myself if he got killed, especially if he did while trying to save someone like me.”
“Sirius, don’t worry,” said Nymphadora, patting her cousin’s hand. “Harry’s a smart kid. Don’t feel like any of this is your fault. And anyway, it’s going to be fine: Severus is going to back and get Harry and his friends out of Umbridge’s clutches somehow, and inform them that you’re fine, and all will be well. You’ll see.” And she even winked, and at this, Sirius had to smile, because it had been so reminiscent of him.
So they returned to their discussion of wedding talk. In the end they were talking more about their memories of James and Lily’s wedding rather than Remus and Nymphadora’s wedding, perhaps because really they just weren’t ready to think about the future just yet and wanted to linger a little longer in the past.
And linger they did, for quite a while in fact, until outside the sun had well gone down and the moon reigned over London. As they talked and laughed, Mad-Eye and Kingsley came down into the kitchen, claiming that they had a couple of things to drop off—reports, paperwork, and the like. The other three had to change the subject at their arrival, but they managed to find a perfectly innocuous subject concerning Buckbeak’s injury, and Kingsley and Mad-Eye were just asking about how the hippogriff had managed to get hurt when Severus returned via the same emergency phoenix feather.
At this second arrival, Remus’ stomach twisted a little a bit.
“Severus, what’s going on?” Kingsley asked, as he and Mad-Eye had no idea that the man had appeared already once before this evening in the same fashion.
Severus looked directly at Sirius. “Harry managed to escape from Dolores Umbridge by leading her out alone to the Forbidden Forest along with the Granger girl, however Harry has not come back out. I learned that he had gone in with the other two when I found my Slytherins on the Inquisitorial Squad all unconscious in Umbridge’s unmanned office, and I will admit it took a couple of hours for me to rouse them all and get them to remember what had happened for me, especially young Crabbe and Goyle. In any case, it’s clear to me that Potter still believes you to be held hostage by the Dark Lord in the Hall of Prophecy and is very likely on his way there to try and rescue you, along with the Granger girl, the two youngest Weasley children, the Longbottom boy, and the Lovegood girl. But of course, it’s a trap.”
Remus didn’t have time to wonder at Xenophilius Lovegood’s daughter Luna tagging along with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville; he glanced at Sirius and Nymphadora, and they looked at Kingsley and Mad-Eye, and Mad-Eye brought up the disturbing fact that at the moment he was unable to receive communication from Hestia Jones, who was supposed to be the Order member on duty to guard the prophecy. Had something happened to her?
With a sickening sinking feeling they all realized what was going down.
Not even wasting time with questions, Remus, Sirius, Nymphadora, Kingsley, and Mad-Eye all agreed to lend their wands in aiding Harry and his friends.
But Severus singled Sirius out.
“Black, I think it’s best you stay here and wait for Dumbledore to arrive, he’ll need filling in,” Severus said evenly. “Being a wanted criminal, I don’t think you want to be caught at the Ministry, now do you? And after all, Harry’s been given a vision of you being held hostage—you could still prove to be of value to bringing the boy to harm.”
“Since when do you care about Harry or me?” Sirius spat. “I’m going to rescue my godson dammit, and I’m not letting someone like you stop me.”
“I believe Dumbledore would quite agree with me,” said Severus coolly, “So unless you want to take it up with him….”
“Oh yeah?” Sirius drew closer to Severus, glaring into his calm, dark eyes. “Well, maybe you’d like to take it up with Dumbledore how you refused to keep teaching Harry Occlumency and how now because of you, Harry could be killed!”
“It’s not my fault the boy’s so thick-headed and reckless—”
Sirius reached for his wand, but Remus grabbed his wrist and stopped him. “Sirius! Stop this! This isn’t going to help Harry! I agree with Severus, I think it’s best you stay behind.”
Sirius looked at him with a mixture of mingled shock and anger at this odd perfidy.
“Sirius, please, we’re wasting time,” Remus pleaded. “I promise, we’ll bring Harry and his friends back safe.”
“That’s right, we will,” Nymphadora insisted, nodding.
It was only the interest of time that Sirius relented and sank back into his seat at the kitchen table, glaring mutinously up at Severus.
“Now Dumbledore is due to arrive here shortly,” Severus said unconcernedly, “so be sure to inform him of anything he is not already as of yet aware, Black. I am going to go back to the school to try and find Potter in the forest, just in case.”
Sirius said nothing but continued to glare at Severus as he once again disappeared on the phoenix feather. Remus and the others meanwhile prepared to Apparate directly to the atrium of the Ministry. Remus and Mad-Eye, the only ones who didn’t have clearance to do so because they no longer worked at the Ministry like Nymphadora and Kingsley did, would come with them by Side-Along Apparition and bypass that regulation.
Yet just as Remus closed his hand around Nymphadora’s and they were about to leave, Remus felt his other hand clasped in Sirius’, which was oddly clammy, and opened his mouth to speak as he looked into his friend’s determined face beside him.
Nymphadora was already turning on the spot before she noticed that Sirius was coming too, and so was unable to stop, and Sirius was dragged into the squeezing darkness along with them. When they all appeared in the terribly empty Atrium of the Ministry, Mad-Eye and Kingsley too were made aware that Sirius had stowed away at the last minute, and it was Mad-Eye who rounded on Sirius with his temper.
“Sirius, what in God’s name do you think you’re doing?!” he growled.
“I left Kreacher with instructions to wait up for Dumbledore,” said Sirius. “I don’t care what Severus says, I’m not sitting on my arse while my godson risks his life for a danger that isn’t real and play right into Voldemort’s hands! I won’t!”
He pushed past the ex-Auror and made his way towards the lifts. Mad-Eye was about to come at him from behind with a verbal counterattack, but Remus knew now there was no point: Sirius had always been too stubborn for his own good.
“Don’t bother, Alastor,” he said placatingly. “Let’s just see if they’re there yet and if there’s a problem and if so, get Harry and his friends out of danger while we still can.” As he met up with Sirius at the lifts, he could see that he had overheard him, and saw the gratitude in his eyes that he was not going to make him turn around and go back to Number 12, Grimmauld Place.
Nymphadora drew up beside him followed by Mad-Eye and Kingsley, and bit her lip, but Remus gave her a reassuring pat on the arm as the grill to the lift slid open.
The five of them piled into the lift and descended into the darkness below; Remus caught one last glimpse of that old glittering Fountain of Magical Brethren before it disappeared above them.
“Let us hope we need not pray for a miracle,” said Kingsley, and even then he did not betray fear and kept his calm demeanor intact—though his eyes flickered in Sirius’ direction as he spoke.
When at last they hit the bottom at the Department of Mysteries level, they sprinted out of the lift and down the corridor towards the door at the end, but as Kingsley got the door open and he and Mad-Eye filed inside, Nymphadora hesitated as Sirius held Remus back by the forearm.
“Remus, just so you know—if I don’t make it…my will’s in the drawer of the writing desk in the drawing room, and…look after Harry as best you can, would you?”
Remus swallowed, a little staggered that Sirius would think that he actually wouldn’t make it, but on the other hand, like his writing out his will despite his youth, he knew that he was just being sure that he had something of an insurance policy for Harry’s sake—after all, being in a war really made life so unpredictable, as the two of them had come to learn at terrible prices during the last one.
So he nodded. “I promise.”
“Right, well, let’s go,” Sirius sniffed, nodding towards the entrance.
Nymphadora, whose mouth had been hanging open slightly at the exchange, closed it, for she couldn’t think of anything to say to her second-cousin’s request, and proceeded to follow Mad-Eye and Kingsley into the bowels of the Department of Mysteries. Once Sirius and Remus were inside, the door closed behind them.
Using the formula Remus had given them to help them orient themselves amidst the ever-changing doors, they followed the sound of what sounded like echoing shouts coming from one of the adjacent rooms as they each took a door (aside from the door to the Love Room, which obviously didn’t open) and made to search. It was obvious then that there was no need, because the door Sirius opened was the one where the shouting was coming from, so that was where they had to be.
So Harry and his friends had made it here—and unmercifully fallen into Voldemort’s trap.
“Quick!” Sirius waved a hand, and the others shut the other doors and followed him through at a run.
They were in the Time Room, which at the moment appeared to be empty. Through a wall to the room next door, which might have been the Thought Room (the rooms were always changing the doors between which they connected), they heard some moaning, but it was through the door at the other side of the Time Room that they heard the screams. Sirius was in the lead, on the hunt like a bloodhound, and as Remus followed at his heels, he could see how much even just a few minutes into this mission the verve had returned to Sirius, the color in his pale face, the life. In fact, it had been a while since Remus had seen him quite so alive.
As they reached the door, Remus felt Nymphadora clasp his hand from behind, and Remus gave her one last tender look over his shoulder, before turning resolutely towards the door, and caught Sirius looking over his shoulder at him and Nymphadora in turn.
He smiled a smile that might have said, You two do make a really good couple, and I wish you all the best….
And then he threw the door open and barreled into the next room, Remus, Nymphadora, Kingsley, and Mad-Eye following.
They managed to take stock of the situation in a matter of seconds: they were in the Death Room, the Veil of Death at the bottom on the dais, where Lucius Malfoy and several other Death Eaters had Harry cornered, while Harry clutched the prophecy to his chest in his very hands, and Bellatrix Lestrange had her wand trained on Neville Longbottom, who lay curled on the ground as though he had just been tortured, clutching his face, his hands bloody.
Lucius was the first to attempt attack, but Nymphadora was ready with a Stunner. Remus caught sight of Antonin Dolohov, and for a moment, the oaths of vengeance against each other flared up between them, whereupon the wolf itself seemed to rise up in fury within Remus and he began to shoot curse after curse down at Dolohov, and Dolohov in turn did the same as they ran to meet each other at the bottom of the stone steps. Sirius meanwhile took on another Death Eater, Kingsley and Mad-Eye both took on two at once, and Nymphadora ran off to meet Bellatrix, who shrieked with laughter and turned tail as though inviting her niece to play with her in a game of chase.
“Come back here, Lestrange!” she roared.
But as Remus and Dolohov dueled, Dolohov switched targets and aimed a curse at Mad-Eye’s back—Mad-Eye was hit with the full force of it, and fell hard against the stone steps, his magical eye popping out of its socket and spinning out onto the floor, his head hitting one step as he fell, and Remus caught the trickle of blood at his hairline.
Then Dolohov bore down upon Harry and Neville, as Harry had dashed over to help Neville to his feet, his other hand still clutching the prophecy. Remus aimed a spell at Dolohov, but then the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and he dived out of the way, just missing a hex from the Death Eater behind him by inches. On the ground, he shot a hex of his own at the Death Eater, and continued to duel him until he managed at last to bring him down, praying all the while that Harry and Neville were okay, that Dolohov had not tried anything and succeeded—like that terrible violet spell of his that had caused so many of his comrades in the First War to die such painful deaths—
He whipped around to find Sirius was now dueling Dolohov—he had managed to rescue Harry and Neville in the nick of time, it seemed—but then he saw Dolohov about to make the same slashing movement, and Sirius, still rusty yet, wasn’t ready—
Remus raised his wand, but Harry sprang up first and sent a Full Body-Bind at Dolohov, hitting him directly with the force of the curse so that he became rigid as a board and fell hard to the ground, immobile.
Then Remus’ neck prickled again and he ducked yet another spell from yet another Death Eater, and, at least comforted that Sirius and Harry were okay for the moment, began to duel this next one, trying not to think any more of Sirius and Harry, and whether they were okay, or Nymphadora—
Bellatrix gave a triumphant shriek of laughter, and Remus fired an especially nasty jinx with especially powerful force that hit the Death Eater he was dueling right in the chest, sending him backward into the stone steps with a yell of pain, whereupon he slid to the bottom, motionless. Done with him, Remus turned, heart pounding, towards the source of Bellatrix’s delight—for anything Bellatrix delighted in could not be a good thing, and his only thought was of Nymphadora, whom he had last seen running to catch up with her aunt—
Nymphadora, who to his horror was now falling down from the top of the tiered steps, her body senseless to each and every hard thump against the stone until she lay broken and unmoving at the bottom, while Bellatrix cackled above her before sprinting down two steps at a time to reenter the larger battle.
She wasn’t moving, he couldn’t even tell if she was breathing, thought he saw no flutter of breath from the longer of her pink locks plastered across her face—
Remus thought he’d suffocate from the scream inside of him, not knowing whether the woman he loved was even alive anymore, but rather lay there, dead…and so stunned was he that he didn’t even pay heed to his own sense of precognition, and it took Sirius, sprinting out of nowhere, to yank him by the arm out of harm’s way.
“Remus, snap out of it, she’ll be all right!” he shouted. “Anyway, there’s nothing you can do now, just make sure Harry and Neville and the others get out of here!”
And before Remus could respond Sirius had already leapt onto the dais to meet Bellatrix—
Remus ducked again as he sensed another curse coming his way, and then retaliated at the Death Eater with a curse of his own, until he managed to blast this one onto his back too. He turned just in time to see Lucius fall back into the dais, where Sirius now dueled with Bellatrix close to the Veil—
But then, Harry raised his wand to strike again at Lucius, as Neville crouched nearby, his legs flailing oddly as he now held the prophecy to his chest. Remus leapt between them and shouted at Harry to get his friends and get out of there, before he cursed Lucius himself. Lucius though had regained his composure and was ready for him, and as the two of them dueled, Remus managed to catch just a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of Harry trying to help Neville up the stone steps, even with Neville’s legs flailing under whatever jinx they’d been subjected to—
Remus just managed to dodge another curse from Lucius and then shot one of his own, which made Lucius leap a bit to avoid it, some of his long, sleek blond hair pasted across his pale, sweating face; Remus imagined himself was showing just as much signs of exertion: indeed his own fringe stuck a little to his forehead, but he brushed it out of his eyes and he and Lucius squared off with renewed fervor.
Then like a whip crack Remus sent an exemplary Stunner that sent Lucius flying again as it struck him full in the face: the Death Eater crashed into the steps behind him and crumpled to the ground, though not nearly as broken as Nymphadora—
But then Albus appeared, from the doorway to a different room, and he seemed a tall and powerful force of white fury incarnate. Most of the remaining Death Eaters screamed at the sight of him and tried to run for it, even as Albus seemed to reel them back with his wand with immense ease and controlled outrage—
“Come on, you can do better than that!”*
Remus forgot himself again and turned at the sound of Sirius’ taunting voice: he and Bellatrix were still dueling on the Veil of Death’s dais—Sirius was laughing at her, so exhilarated in the heat of battle, back in action, the way he liked it—
But it was all blown away in a terrible flash, time suddenly suspended in a noiseless orb of numb collapse: though Sirius had dodged Bellatrix’s last jet of red light, she sent another, and Sirius, in his joy, had forgotten himself too.
This time it struck him in the chest, and something inside Remus burgeoned on the point of breaking—he had watched that light as it flashed like a brilliant shooting star across the space between the two blood-feud cousins—Remus knew that it was no stunner: it was the same spell that that very same Antonin Dolohov had used to break Remus’ nose as a boy—a brighter, angrier, more violent red it was, a curse that broke through bone, muscle, and tissue with the force and effect of a Muggle bullet. So even before Sirius began to fall into the embrace of the fluttering Veil of Death in a slow and dreamlike way, it wouldn’t matter if anyone managed to catch him and pull him back, because he was dead anyway, shot through the heart by his own heartless cousin.
Remus could only watch through his own rending howl of anesthetization as his friend’s white and diminished face trailed off the edge of a laugh as it became riddled with wide-eyed, staggering pain, surprise, and even fear, and then disappeared in the folds of the ancient Veil along with the rest of him, gone forever.
Sirius was dead.
Remus found he couldn’t breath, his chest and throat tightening, his eyes stinging as a voice inside him whimpered over and over, shaking its head, No, no, no, no, no.
But Bellatrix shrieked in jubilation, even dancing a little on the spot, as she was wont to do in the wake of a satisfying kill. And beneath the terrible, terrible pain rose the hot rage: Remus clenched the handle of his wand tighter, his palms sweating, and was about to raise his wand to curse that femme fatale when Harry darted past him toward the dais, gasping and screaming Sirius’ name.
About to dive right into the Veil after his murdered godfather.
Remus’ feet flew beneath him, as though they were doing the thinking for him—his mind flickering like flashbulbs to when Sirius had watched his own Aurelia fall through the same Veil, and he and James had run to catch Sirius before he got himself killed going after her—
Harry was feet away from the dais when Remus reached him: he flung out his arm and grabbed the boy around the shoulders, his forearm braced against his chest as Harry immediately struggled to break free—
Just as Sirius had struggled to do…so much…too much….
Remus swallowed the grief that he knew was coming, trying to maul him to the ground, as he concentrated all of his energy on keeping a hold of Harry, who kicked and yelled for someone to get in there and save Sirius, as if he too somehow knew what the Veil could really do, what the Veil did do.
But even as Remus tried to tell him that it was too late, still Harry struggled and shouted. And the sight of Harry’s own violent denial in the wake of this explosive misery was more than Remus could bear, and the floodwaters of his own sorrow threatened all the more to crash through, his voice betraying him as it managed to break, just a little.
“He can’t come back, Harry. He can’t come back because he’s d—”**
“HE—IS—NOT—DEAD! SIRIUS!”*** As Harry howled he gave another violent jerk, but Remus was stronger, and continued to hold fast. Then Harry gave one last wild lurch and screamed, “SIRIUS!” followed by nothing more than shrieking verbal nonsense, as though his very mind had been disarranged and scattered as the waves of reality broke over him like the undertow beneath the sea, dragging him towards the darkness as surely as Remus was dragging him away from the dais.
And then Harry’s body went slack as he doubled over, his knees buckling slightly beneath him, overcome. Remus half-sank down to the floor with him, fighting, ever fighting back the tears that continued to threaten, choking on his own breath, choking back everything, surprised he didn’t just shatter on the floor as he was shattering inside.
Sirius…dead…and Nymphadora…she could be dead too…he didn’t know….
How would he bear losing them both? What hope was left then?
But unlike when he’d heard that terrible broadcast that announced James and Lily’s deaths, he was not free to spill his blood and guts upon the floor, he was not free to scream and break things, he had to hold it all together, because Harry couldn’t.
Harry, half-standing and half-crouched, in Remus’ arms, chalk-white, shaking madly as he stared wide-eyed at the whispering Veil of Death, begging with Lily’s green eyes that Sirius Black would come back.