“Nice job on that essay, Luna,” Remus said while Luna packed her things slowly. The rest of her classmates had left a few minutes ago.
“Thanks,” Luna replied. She picked up her quill and examined it before sticking it in her bag.
Remus sighed to himself. He'd been teaching Luna for nearly six months and had yet to see her interact much with her peers. She often spoke of Ginny Weasley, but never seemed to interact with her, or anyone else. Yet she seemed happy. Remus was unsure of whether intervening would help or hurt her.
“You know, Luna,” Remus began, slowly, “if you wanted to walk to your next class or your common room with your friends, we could schedule other times to have tea.”
Luna stared up at him. “Oh, I'd much rather have tea with you. I don't have many friends, and I like hearing about my mother. Dad rarely talks about her. I think it hurts him too much.”
“Everyone deals with loss differently,” Remus said.
Luna nodded. “I just like hearing stories from when she was at Hogwarts. It's weird, knowing that she was once here. I might even be in the same dormitory she was in.”
It was possible, Remus thought. He chuckled to himself as he remembered the night, shortly after Harry was born, when he, James, Sirius, and Peter figured out that Harry would in fact have the same dormitory they did. It was certainly weird knowing that Harry slept in the same dormitory he had.
“When I was little she told me that she almost always knew the answers to the riddles to get into the common room,” Luna said.
Remus smiled. “I don't recall her having trouble with any of them. Good thing, too, because I wouldn't have been able to help her.”
“I'll kill him,” Sirius said as he paced the dormitory. “I'll hex him so bad that no one will recognize him and no one will mind because he's a Death Eater. I won't even go to Azkaban.”
“Padfoot,” Remus said. “He's not worth it. He never has been.”
“I'm with Sirius on this one,” James said, scowling on his bed. “I wish you hadn't waited a week to tell us about this.”
“When was I supposed to tell you?” Remus asked. “Between Quidditch practice, prefect rounds, and the fact that Lily and Alice are always around-”
“And that you're off with Addy most nights,” Peter cut in.
“Exactly. This was the first time we've all been together, without the girls.”
“He's got no right,” Sirius muttered, still pacing. “He's as slimy as they come and he's calling you a half-breed scum? Snivellus...”
“You're focusing too much on Snape,” Remus pointed out. “Snape is nothing in the grand scheme of things. He's one of Voldemort's minions and I seriously doubt Voldemort cares that much about his well-being. He's expendable.”
“But we can't let him get away with it!” James shouted, jumping off his bed.
“And what are you going to do?” Remus asked. “You can't hex him or Lily will get angry with you.”
“She'd understand,” James said adamantly, “if she knew-”
“But she doesn't,” Remus interrupted. “And how would you explain it to her without telling her I'm a werewolf?”
James sighed and sat back down. “I suppose you're right.”
“Of course I'm right,” Remus said. “And you two need to watch it these next few months. I don't think the Auror Academy would hesitate to take back your acceptances if you get into trouble here.”
James and Sirius exchanged glances. It was obvious that that hadn't crossed either of their minds.
“The world needs as many Aurors as possible,” Remus continued. “Don't wreck it trying to get revenge for me. It's not the first time anyone's ever called me half-breed scum, and it won't be the last-”
“Prongs,” Remus cut him off. “I said it's fine.”
“Fine,” James muttered. “Did you ever decide what to do about the tutoring thing?”
Remus sighed. He didn't have much desire to talk about that, but it was better than talking about Snape. His plan was due to McGonagall by Monday and he still wasn't sure what to do.
“You should do it,” Sirius said. “The tutor I had when I was a kid was awful. Stuffy, old, couldn't take a joke. Not that anyone like my mother would hire you as a tutor-”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Sirius,” Remus said.
“I didn't mean that. I meant because you're not a pureblood. But I'm sure James had a nice half-blood tutor.”
“I did,” James said. “He wasn't awful, either. I liked him plenty.”
“I didn't realize it was that common to have tutors,” Remus said. “My mum taught me.”
“I went to Muggle school,” Peter added.
“Oh, yeah,” Sirius said. “Most pureblooded families have tutors for their kids. Regulus and I shared one with our cousins. Trust me, having to spend every day with Bella and Cissy is enough to drive anyone insane. Thank God for Andromeda.”
“You really think I could do it?” Remus asked, skeptically.
James nodded. “Yes. You'd be good at it. Just don't tell them you're a werewolf and you'll be fine.”
“Yeah, you can tell the kids you have to visit your sick mum every full moon,” Sirius said, smirking.
Remus groaned. That had been his lie to his friends before they found out about his lycanthropy. “Because that went so well with you lot?”
“We live with you,” Sirius said. “It'll be easier keeping it from people you don't live with.”
“Yeah, I suppose...”
“Do it, Remus,” Sirius said. “When James and Peter have kids you can tutor them.”
“What about your kids?” Remus asked. “Will they have to have a pureblood tutor?”
Sirius screwed up his face. “Of course not. I just doubt I'll ever have kids.”
“Are we really talking about this?” Peter asked. He looked vaguely ill.
“No,” James said immediately. “Point is, Remus is going to be a private tutor next year. He's got a plan. There, don't you feel better?”
Remus nodded, but he didn't mean it. He felt very unsettled about the whole thing and didn't think it would work. But on the outside, he seemed better. This would be something to tell McGonagall and anyone else who asked what he was going to do with his life, and that was all he needed at this point. He still had three and a half months left at Hogwarts and that was three and a half months left to ignore the rest of his life.
“He hasn't been here at all this week,” Alice said at breakfast the following Wednesday.
“He must've been here once,” Lily replied, craning her neck to see the staff table.
“I'm telling you. He hasn't,” Alice argued. “Dumbledore's up to something.”
“Of course he is. He's Dumbledore,” James said in between bites of sausage. “I wouldn't worry about it.”
“I'm not worrying,” Alice said. “It's just odd.”
Remus agreed with Alice. While it was true that Dumbledore had been absent from the castle more often than normal since the Hogsmeade attack, he'd never gone three full days without making an appearance at a meal. Dumbledore's absence made Remus feel unsettled, as if the headmaster himself was the only person stopping Voldemort from attacking the castle. Remus shook the thought from his mind, attributing it to pre-full moon paranoia (the full moon was tomorrow), and turned his head upward to watch the post owls enter the room.
Remus rarely ever got post, but earlier in the year James had begun subscribing to the Prophet and Remus read every issue, not wanting to miss anything. James took the copy of the paper from the owl that landed on his plate, paid the owl, and unfolded the paper.
James let out a loud gasp, his face visible paling. “Holy shit.”
“James!” Lily scolded, as she leaned over his shoulder. “Oh my God.”
Remus, who was sitting across from James, leaned across the table and read the headline upside down.
MUGGLE FAMILY MURDERED BY DEATH EATERS
Remus stared at James while he waited for him, Lily, and Sirius (who was on James's other side) to read the article. Gasps similar to James's could now be heard all over the room, as other students read the headline. Lily looked like she was about to be sick, but James looked more angry than upset. Sirius kept making cursory glances at the Slytherin table. All three looked up when they finished reading and James silently handed the paper across the table to Remus.
Alice and Peter, who were seated on either side of Remus, leaned toward him as he spread the paper out.
A Muggle family was murdered late last night,
just outside of Bath, England. Grant and
Wanda Jones, and their two young children,
were pronounced dead on the scene by St.
Mungo's Healer Jared Thomes. Cause of death
is Avada Kedavra.
Muggle emergency workers were called to the
scene by neighbors after screams were heard
from the house. By the time workers arrived,
the Death Eaters were gone, but the Dark Mark
was floating above the house. Ministry workers
were alerted to the scene by the Underage
Magic Detection System (UMDS), which has been
adapted by the Ministry to detect Dark Magic.
Aurors and Obliviators were deployed to the
scene mere seconds after Muggle emergency
workers arrived. Aurors secured the location
while Oblivators worked to modify the memories
of emergency workers and the neighbors who
called them. The Muggle-Worthy Excuse Office
and Obliviators attributed the deaths of the
family to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Aurors searched the scene for remaining Death
Eaters and arrested 43-year-old Fenrir
Greyback a mile from the house. Greyback, a
werewolf, has been in and out of Azkaban for
the past two decades, for attacking children.
Greyback will be questioned later today. No
Death Eaters baring the Dark Mark were found
near the scene.
Remus set the paper down and stared directly at his plate. He suddenly wished he hadn't eaten as much bacon as he had. His head was swimming. A whole family murdered, for absolutely nothing. And their relatives wouldn't even know that they were murdered. They would think of it as a tragic accident.
“No wonder Dumbledore isn't here,” Alice said quietly.
“I think I'm going to be sick,” Lily said as she stood up. She ran from the table, not looking back.
James met Sirius's gaze and then took off after Lily. Peter was moving his eggs around on his plate, but wasn't eating them.
Sirius suddenly stood up, his gaze still fixated on the Slytherin table. He stormed across the room and walked down the aisle between the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables until he reached his brother. Remus suddenly knew what he was going to do and jumped up after him, tripping over the bench in the process.
By the time Remus got there Regulus had risen and was facing his brother, arms crossed on his chest. There was not an inch difference in their heights and Remus was suddenly struck by how alike they looked.
“Sirius,” Remus said.
Sirius ignored him. “I just don't understand what could possibly make you think this is okay!”
“You're acting like I'm the one who killed them!” Regulus argued.
“You may as well have,” Sirius muttered. “What do I possibly have to do to make you see reason?”
“What do I have to do to make you see reason?” Regulus countered. “You abandoned our family and you're telling me I'm the crazy one?”
Remus felt someone come up behind him and he turned around to see Bulstrode's hulking form standing there, glaring menacingly at him. Remus's heart sped up. Bulstrode shoved him aside, causing him to fall on top of a Ravenclaw sitting behind him.
“Sorry,” Remus muttered to the girl as he righted himself.
Bulstrode grabbed Regulus's robes and pulled him away from Sirius, down the aisle, and out of the Great Hall. Sirius stared after them and then turned to Remus.
“C'mon,” Sirius muttered, taking off after the two Slytherins.
“Sirius!” Remus shouted after him. Sirius was running and Remus couldn't keep up. “Wait!”
Sirius stopped in the middle of the Entrance Hall, his shoulders sagging. Bulstrode and Regulus weren't anywhere to be found.
“I just don't get it, Moony,” Sirius said quietly.
“Neither do I,” Remus agreed.
“C'mon,” Sirius said.
For a brief second, Remus thought Sirius still had plans to follow Bulstrode and Regulus, but instead of turning toward the dungeons, Sirius walked to the front doors and left the castle, holding the door for Remus to follow. Remus sighed and followed him.
It was bitterly cold outside, being late February, and the snow was being blown up into the air. Remus squinted and bent his head down as they walked into the wind. Madam Pomfrey would probably yell at him for a good fifteen minutes if she knew he was outside in the cold the day before a full moon, but that didn't seem to matter right now. He and Sirius walked side by side across the grounds and started to walk around the lake.
“Greyback is the one who bit you, isn't he?” Sirius asked as they passed the beech tree they often sat beneath in nice weather.
Remus nodded. “I couldn't remember if I told you that.”
“I think you did, back when you first told us about the night you were bitten,” Sirius said.
“I'm not surprised he's with the Death Eaters,” Remus said quietly, kicking a chunk of ice onto the lake.
“But if what Snape says is true...”
“That Voldemort thinks werewolves are scum?” Remus asked. “Doesn't really fit, does it?”
“Not really,” Sirius agreed. “Snape could've been lying.”
“It doesn't matter if he was or he wasn't,” Remus said. “Whether Voldemort likes werewolves or not, he'll want me dead. I think his ideas are bloody insane and I'll fight him or die trying.”
“The Ministry is stupid,” Sirius muttered.
“What?” Remus asked, confused about the sudden change in topic.
“They're stupid for not letting you become an Auror just because you're a werewolf,” Sirius explained. “Their loss, really.”
“Even if I wasn't a werewolf they still wouldn't take me,” Remus said. “Not with my leg the way it is. But there are other ways to fight him.”
“Dumbledore seems to be doing something. I wish he'd tell us what he's up to.”
Remus thought again to Addy's brother and the secret organization. He wished he could tell Sirius about it.
“How long do I wait?” Sirius asked.
Sirius sighed and stopped walking. He sat down right where he was, in a pile of snow, and turned up to Remus. “To give up on my brother. To stop trying to talk sense into him. To write him off as a lost cause.”
Remus lowered himself into the snow next to Sirius and stared at the lake. He was the wrong person to ask about this. As much as he tried, he just could not imagine what it would be like to be in Sirius's situation. He didn't even know what it was like to have a brother, let alone a brother who was going down the wrong path.
“I don't know, Padfoot. I just don't know.”
Dumbledore returned to the castle two days after the full moon, but his expression at the staff table gave away nothing about where he'd been or what he'd been up to. None of the rest of the student body had seemed to have noticed his disappearance, but it was still something that remained on Remus's mind. While he knew that Dumbledore was surely doing something to fight Voldemort, he'd feel a whole lot better if the headmaster remained at Hogwarts.
Fenrir Greyback remained in Azkaban, and for whatever reason, this didn't seem to have an effect on Remus. Perhaps it was because Greyback was always in and out of Azkaban or perhaps it was because so much time had passed since Remus had been bitten. But whatever the reason, Remus felt no relief in knowing that the man who inflicted lycanthropy upon him was in prison. He just didn't care.
While it had been confirmed that Greyback did not murder any of the Muggles, as his wand had not performed the Killing Curse, nor were any wands or wand remnants found at the scene, Greyback had been charged with being an accessory to four counts of murder. He'd been sentenced to five years in Azkaban, pending any information he could give on the actual murderers. But so far, he'd been quiet.
Fear was running rampant throughout Hogwarts. Only the very brave and purebloods wandered the castle alone, with most Muggle-borns walking to class in large groups. Bulstrode, Regulus, Snape, and Crabbe strode about as if they owned the place, striking fear into younger students and even older Muggle-borns. Lily and James held a prefect meeting about this, but every prefect knew that they couldn't stop the four Slytherins all the time. The only true way to stop them would be to expel them, but they had yet to commit any expellable offenses.
“I almost wish they'd just do something already,” Addy said during patrol. “Just so Dumbledore would expel them.”
“They won't,” Remus said. “I can tell they're being careful to just toe the line. Voldemort probably wants them here, wants eyes inside the castle. If they get expelled before they're qualified wizards, what good are they?”
Addy sighed. “That's true. But still... At least Bulstrode and Snape will graduate soon. Oh, but that means you will, too.”
Remus nodded. Neither of them had talked about what would happen after Remus graduated, and he really didn't want to think about it.
“Sirius's brother is one of them, isn't he?” Addy asked. “Regulus Black. Sirius Black.”
“Yes,” Remus confirmed. “Sirius is the black sheep of their family. They're all into blood purity.”
Addy grimaced. “I can't even imagine. Patrick and I have always been so close.”
“I think Sirius wishes that were the case with him and Regulus. But he can't condone what Regulus is doing.”
“I don't think I could even go against my family like that,” Addy continued. “I know it sounds awful, but I just couldn't.”
Remus nodded. “I like to think I could, but who knows, if I was in that situation. Have you heard from Patrick lately?”
“Yeah. He sent me a letter the other day. He's fine, but he can't say much in letters in case they're intercepted. It's just good to hear from him, to know he's alive.”
“Do you know anything more about that organization?” Remus asked, hoping Addy would find his question perfectly innocent and not at all like he wanted to join the organization.
“No. He won't tell me anything. He won't tell my parents, either, and they're perfectly okay with that. I'm just glad they aren't joining. But at the same time I almost think that if it weren't for me, they'd join.”
Remus felt the same, about his dad. “If they really felt they needed to join, they'd do it anyway. You aren't holding them back from anything.”
“That's the thing. I don't care if I'm holding them back. I just don't want them in danger, too. Is that bad?”
“No,” Remus said immediately. “Not everyone is a fighter. I've told you that.”
“I know. It's just...all your friends want to fight and half of them are becoming Aurors-”
“Two of them are becoming Aurors.”
“If Lily had made it it would've been three. And that would've left you and Peter. And you'd have joined if it weren't for your leg.”
“There's still Peter. He'll never become an Auror. You're not the only one.”
“Addy.” Remus stopped walking and stood to face her. “I do not think any less of you because you don't want to fight Voldemort.”
She flinched at his name. Despite Remus's efforts to get her to use Voldemort's name, Addy still hated it.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Remus said. “I'll prove it.” And even though they were on patrol, Remus pulled Addy into his arms and kissed her. “There. See?”
Addy giggled. “Okay.”
“Okay.” A/N: First, the chapter title and the last two lines of the story are adapted from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, which is my favorite book outside of the Harry Potter books. I highly recommend it! It's very emotional, so I don't suggest reading it in public.
Thank you for the wonderful reviews! I'd like to answer a question I've been getting lately, about why I don't update more often now that I've finished the novel. I like to stay ahead of where I am posting, in terms of where I am for writing, in my novels. That's why I only post once a week. Even though I have finished this novel, I have other things I am working on. By spreading out the updates to once a week per story, I'm able to ensure that I have consistent updates on my page. So that's why I won't post all the chapters at once. I know the wait is hard, but it's better than a few months of no new chapters!