Chapter 21 : Alphard
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Remus sipped his cup of tea while watching Luna. For the past two minutes she'd been absentmindedly stirring her own cup of tea while staring at the boggart's trunk. The boggart had been particularly loud that day, wanting to escape from the trunk but being unable to do so. Remus had had to put a silencing charm on it during his classes.
“What year has been using the boggart?” Luna asked, finally letting go of her teaspoon.
“I used a different boggart at the beginning of the year with the third years,” Remus explained, “but this particular boggart has been helping me with a bit of private tutoring.”
“Harry Potter's dementor problem,” Luna said immediately. “That's why he was able to produce that patronus at the Quidditch match.”
Remus was taken aback by her ability to figure that out. “Impressive, Miss Lovegood. I assume that Harry didn't tell you?”
“No,” Luna said wistfully. “He and I aren't friends. I know that boggarts take the form of what a person most fears, because you told me. And I know that Harry is afraid of dementors and that most third years can't produce patronuses.”
“Very astute,” Remus said.
“Will my class ever get to use the boggart?” Luna asked.
Remus hadn't planned on it. Nor did he think that it was a good idea for most second years to face a boggart. “Most likely no. Next year, perhaps.”
“If you're still here,” Luna said, sighing.
“I certainly plan on it,” Remus said, chuckling.
“But the position is cursed. You probably won't be. Can I see the boggart?”
Remus was once again taken by surprise at how frank she was. “I'll think about it, Luna.”
Luna's eyes returned to the trunk. She barely even blinked. “They're fascinating. Boggarts,” she said quietly.
Remus's eighteenth birthday arrived with little fanfare. Even as a child Remus never did anything exciting for his birthdays, choosing to have a small family dinner rather than a huge party. This year, James, Sirius, and Peter had bought him an entire box of Honeyduke's chocolate bars along with a book on defensive spells. The rest of the day passed as usual, with classes and homework.
But that was before Remus met up with Addy in the Entrance Hall after dinner. Remus may not have paid special attention to birthdays, but Addy did. To Addy, birthdays were exciting events that should be celebrated all day. She greeted him with a long kiss and a sparkly hat which she stuck to his head with magic, so he was unable to take it off.
“Do I really have to wear it?” Remus asked, groaning.
“Yes,” Addy said with a grin. “You're lucky I didn't blindfold you. But I figured you have enough trouble walking with your sight intact.”
“Thanks,” Remus muttered. “Where are we going, anyway?”
Addy laughed. “If I told you it wouldn't be a surprise.”
Remus followed Addy as she led him up the grand staircase. She was grinning uncontrollably, which only made Remus all the more curious. They kept going up staircase after staircase until they reached the seventh floor, which was when Remus realized where they were going. The Room of Requirement.
Addy stopped in front of the painting of Barnabas the Barmy and paced three times. The usual door appeared on the wall and Addy watched Remus, as if waiting for his shocked expression. Her face fell. “You already know about this place, don't you?”
Remus nodded. When he and his friends created the Marauder's Map they spent months discovering as many of Hogwarts's secrets as they could, the Room of Requirement being one of them. But he couldn't tell Addy that. He, James, Sirius, and Peter had agreed to never tell anyone about the Map. Not even Lily and Alice knew.
Addy sighed. “Okay. But that's only part of the surprise.” She turned the knob on the door and pushed it open, stepping aside so Remus could enter first.
The room was decorated for a party, with multi-colored balloons and streamers hung everywhere. The furniture resembled that of the Gryffindor common room, although in better condition. A large table was taking up residence in the middle of the room and it bore a large cake, a few bowls of snacks, and a crate of Butterbeers. But what surprised Remus more was that James, Sirius, Peter, Lily, and Alice were also there.
“Surprise!” Sirius shouted. The others followed suit.
Remus walked further into the room, still shocked. Addy had organized a surprise party for him, and he hadn't even had a regular birthday party before.
“Happy Birthday, Remus,” Addy said as she kissed him quickly on the cheek.
“You did all this?” Remus asked.
Addy nodded. “The others helped a bit. Sirius and Peter got the Butterbeer. Lily and Alice got the house-elves to make the cake. And James helped with the room. But it was my idea.”
“Addy...” Remus began. “I don't know what to say. Thanks. You know, I've never had a birthday party before.”
Addy stared at him, her mouth agape. “Seriously?”
“Seriously,” Remus said. “It's always just been family.”
“But why?” Addy asked. “I thought everyone's parents held birthday parties for them.”
Remus shrugged. “It was complicated, when I was little. But that doesn't matter now. Thanks, Addy. This means a lot.”
Addy opened her mouth to respond, but Remus cut her off by kissing her. When they broke apart she was smiling again, Remus's past of no birthday parties forgotten.
Remus thoroughly enjoyed his party. It was the first time Addy spent a long period of time with all of his friends and she came through the evening unscathed. She laughed at their jokes and while she didn't say much, she seemed to enjoy it. The group spent a few hours in the Room of Requirement, eating and drinking until they had to return to their common rooms for the night. Remus walked Addy back to Ravenclaw while the rest of his friends returned to Gryffindor.
“Thanks for my best birthday ever,” Remus said as they walked.
Addy blushed. “You're welcome. Birthdays should be celebrated. That's what my mum always says.”
“You were one of those kids who had the huge party every year with every single person you knew, weren't you?”
Addy blushed even deeper. “Yes. I still do. Mum just holds them a month before my actual birthday. You can come this year, if you want.”
“Sure,” Remus said.
They walked quietly for a few more minutes and then reached Ravenclaw tower. Remus squeezed Addy's hand and leaned in to kiss her once more. Her cheeks were still red when they pulled apart. Addy smiled once more and then turned to the common room entrance. She answered the riddle and then turned to Remus before entering.
“Happy Birthday, Remus Lupin.”
“Sirius, mate, is that...” James's voice trailed off as he nodded to a very large, very black owl flying toward the Gryffindor table.
Remus glanced up and watched the owl. It was the biggest owl he'd ever seen in his life, and one that he hadn't seen in years. This owl belonged to Sirius's parents.
“Damn,” Sirius muttered. “Wonder what's prompted this.”
The owl landed in front of Sirius, but averted its head, as if it had been instructed not to meet Sirius's gaze. Remus wouldn't put it past Sirius's parents to train their owl to do such a thing. Sirius slowly took the letter from the owl and it flew away immediately, only to be replaced by a much smaller barn owl, who seemed much friendlier.
“You're popular today,” James said as Sirius took the other letter.
“Who's the other owl from?” Peter asked.
“No idea,” Sirius said as he held both letters up. “I've half a mind to just burn the one from my parents.”
“But you won't because you're too curious about it,” James said, grinning.
Sirius chuckled as he set the letter from the barn owl down on his empty plate. “You know me too well, Prongs.”
Remus, James, and Peter watched as Sirius tore the envelope and pulled out a small piece of parchment. Whatever it was Sirius's parents needed to tell him, it wasn't very long. Sirius's brow furrowed as he read it and when he handed it to James a few seconds later, he looked quite upset.
Remus read it over James's shoulder.
To my eldest son-
Your uncle Alphard died last night.
He'd been ill for quite some time,
but since you turned your back on your
family, I didn't feel the need to
For some reason Alphard has left
his entire life's savings to you. I
imagine his solicitor will contact
you. The funeral is on Saturday.
“Charming as always, isn't she?” James said, setting down the letter. “I'm sorry, mate.”
“Me, too,” Remus said. Peter muttered his condolences as well.
“I can't believe she didn't tell me he was ill,” Sirius said quietly. “Except that I can, because she's my mum.”
“Were you close?” Remus asked.
Sirius shrugged. “I guess. I mean, I didn't see him much. He was my mum's brother but I think she always thought he was a nutter. Probably why he was always my favorite of all my aunts and uncles. He used to slip me biscuits before dinner at family functions. And he never hesitated to blame Bellatrix for everything when we were kids.”
“Clearly you were his favorite, too,” James said. “He left you everything.”
“Not that I had much competition,” Sirius pointed out. “He always seemed to like Andromeda, though.”
“Open the other one,” Peter said.
Sirius picked up the other envelope and opened it. This one was longer, yet Sirius scanned it quickly and set it back down, rather than give it to James.
“From the solicitor,” Sirius said. “He wants to meet with me after the funeral and sort out all the paperwork. Alphard had a load of gold, apparently.”
“Are you going to the funeral, then?” James asked.
“I suppose I should. Mum neglected to tell me the time and where it is, though. Bet she did that on purpose. It's all in the solicitor's letter.”
“I'll go with you, if you want,” James said.
Sirius looked relieved. “Thanks. That would be great. I haven't seen any of them since I left. Except Regulus. Actually, I need to go speak with him. I'll see you lot in class.”
Sirius shoved his letters into his robes and got up from the table. Remus watched as he found his brother at the Slytherin table and the two of them left the room, side by side.
“He seems to be taking this rather well,” Remus commented.
James shook his head. “He's keeping it all in. I know he never talked about Alphard much, but he really was Sirius's favorite relative, except for Andromeda. Saturday's going to be difficult.”
“We'd better get to Defense,” Peter said, checking his watch.
Sirius didn't show up in Defense. Remus spent the entire class thinking about Sirius rather than paying attention to Banks, who was lecturing on inferi. Inferi were rather creepy, and on a normal day Remus would probably find them interesting, but this wasn't a normal day. Remus found himself focusing more on the actual letter Sirius received from his mum than Alphard's death. There had been no sympathy in that letter and it was clearly only sent because Sirius's mum felt she had to, not because she wanted to.
Remus couldn't imagine growing up with parents that weren't loving and caring. Despite all of Remus's issues growing up, his parents had always been there. They were the one constant in his life and he never doubted their love for him, even when he was first bitten. It was never a question about whether they'd be there for him. They just were. Sirius had never had that growing up. And now, the only adult he ever had growing up was dead.
The bell rang, shaking Remus out of his thoughts. He took one final look at his blank note sheet and shoved it back into his bag, along with his unused quill and ink. He'd have to copy Lily's notes later.
“Lupin!” Banks shouted. “Please come up here.”
Remus sighed and told his friends to go on without him. Banks speaking with Remus after class was now becoming sort of a biweekly tradition. Remus wasn't sure he liked it.
Remus grabbed his bag and went up to Banks's desk. A few of his classmates gave him weird looks as they left, but most of them seemed to be used to the fact that Banks always wanted to talk to him.
“I spoke with Professor McGonagall,” Banks said, leaning back in his chair. “I'm glad you got your career issues sorted out. Good call on the private tutoring. That is exactly what I was getting at.”
Remus wondered why Banks didn't just come out and tell him about private tutoring, rather than skirting around the issue. At least McGonagall had been straight forward.
“I like you, Lupin,” Banks said, sitting up straight again. “I'd hate to see you waste that mind of yours.”
Join the club, Remus thought. Banks would have to get in line after Remus's parents and McGonagall, though.
Banks smiled. “I'm sure you're confused as to why I keep calling you up here to speak with me. Don't think anything of it. I don't hide my favoritism of students. How are you doing? You seemed slightly distracted today.”
“Er...” Remus began. “Just a few things on my mind.”
Banks nodded. “I think we all have more than a few things on our minds lately. Just remember, Voldemort won't be around forever. Don't let him and his band of idiots distract you from your life.”
Remus wasn't at all surprised that Banks used Voldemort's real name. He didn't strike Remus as the type of person who would be afraid of a name. Nor did he have any desire to tell Banks that for once, Voldemort was not on his mind.
“I'll let you get to your next class, Remus. Tell Mr. Black that skipping class will not help him in his future career as an Auror.”
Remus nodded. “I will, sir.”
Remus spent all of Saturday with Addy. Sirius and James left early for Alphard's funeral and Peter shut himself in the dormitory for the entire day, hoping to study a few months' worth of Transfiguration. Since the weather was decent, Remus and Addy spent most of the day outdoors, but after dinner they retreated to the library. Their routine of studying together had not waned, despite the fact that they were no longer just friends. Or at least that's what Remus thought. They still hadn't put a label on it.
When Remus first started studying with Addy he got a lot more studying done than he did now. Now, when they studied, Remus spent half the time just watching her. She never seemed to mind and most of the time never noticed. Remus himself wouldn't be able to study with someone watching him, but Addy didn't care. Remus liked the way her eyes darted across the page and how she would always put her hair up in a messy ponytail before she began to read.
Remus twiddled with his quill and watched as Addy scratched away at an Ancient Runes essay. He smiled as he watched her, not caring at all that he wasn't being productive.
Remus startled and knocked his bottle of ink over, soaking his Transfiguration book. “Dammit!” he shouted as he turned around to see who had surprised him. It was James. Sirius was lurking behind him, looking upset.
“Sorry, Moony,” James said. “I whispered your name three times and you didn't turn around. You always notice people behind you.”
“He's distracted,” Addy said, not looking up from her essay. “He watches me study instead of doing his own work.”
Remus blushed. “You know about that?”
Addy set down her quill and sighed. “Of course I know. You don't exactly hide it well.”
“We're stealing him,” James said as he siphoned the ink off of Remus's book. “Hope you don't mind.”
Addy giggled. “Go ahead.”
Remus shoved is books and unused parchment into his bag. After giving Addy a quick kiss goodbye he followed James and Sirius out of the library. Neither of them spoke until they reached the dormitory, where Peter was waiting for them.
“Found him,” James said. “Right where I knew we would.”
“With Addy in the library?” Peter asked, grinning.
“Of course,” James said as he sat down on his bed.
Remus's cheeks were burning. He sat down on his own bed and tried not to look his friends in the eye. “Padfoot, how was the funeral?” He knew that was the reason why James had pulled him away from Addy.
Sirius collapsed on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. “Awful. Miserable. Bloody insane. Take your pick.”
Remus turned to James. “It really was terrible,” James said.
“It would've been better if my mum just didn't speak to me,” Sirius elaborated. “Dad didn't say a word to me and it was awkward, but I expected that. No, Mum decided it would be a good idea to come up and tell me what a terrible son I am.”
Remus cringed. “What did she say?”
“Just that I've wrecked her life and befouled the name of Black and brought shame upon the family. She was practically crying over it. Never mind that her brother is laying dead in a casket. No, even that can't distract her from her terrible first child. Everyone was staring at her. Even Regulus looked uncomfortable, but he didn't exactly tell her to stop. Neither did my dad.”
“That's awful,” Remus said, reminded once again how lucky he was to have parents who loved him.
“It gets worse,” Sirius muttered. “After the funeral there was a sort of lunch at Grimmauld Place. Prongs and I went because everyone expected us to, but it was just as awkward. We stood around eating fancy food and only talking to ourselves, because by that point Mum had exhausted herself. But then Bellatrix noticed us.”
Remus remembered Bellatrix from his first year. She had been a seventh year. Even then she was scary, with her mass of crazy, curly black hair and her piercing stare.
“She's married to Rodolphus Lestrange. Remember that Death Eater who was caught and then released in September? Bellatrix married his brother. The two of them were hinting at things that the Death Eaters are going to do. Nothing new. Just more attacks in the future and how I should switch sides now and I'd be accepted back with open arms. They even told James he could come since he's a pureblood. Just told us we had to drop the two of you.”
“And Sirius nearly hexed Rodolphus,” James added.
“Can you blame me?” Sirius asked.
“Not really,” James said.
Remus wasn't surprised at that. Sirius had always been quick to hex, no matter who the opponent was.
“Was Andromeda there?” Remus asked.
“No. She has nothing to do with the Blacks anymore. I'm the only one she's in contact with. I didn't expect her to come. She doesn't want Nymphadora to have anything to do with the Blacks. Can't really blame her.”
Nymphadora was Andromeda's daughter. If Remus was remembering right, Nymphadora was around five or so.
“Anyway. We left after that to meet the solicitor. He told me the best part. Mum tried to contest the will. Can you believe that? Probably. I sure can. She said that as Alphard's closest living relative she was entitled to his inheritance. But the will was good. Alphard went through all the proper channels, so everything's mine. It's all gold. I guess Alphard had someone lined up to buy his house as soon as he died. Bit creepy, really.”
“How much?” Peter asked.
Sirius shrugged. “Fair bit. Enough for me to buy a house and live for a while.”
“You're going to buy a house?” Remus asked, raising his eyebrows. He'd never heard of anyone buying a house just out of Hogwarts.
“I am. And you're going to come live in it rent-free when we graduate. Then you won't have an excuse not to live with us. You, too, Pete. And James, of course. Unless he goes and marries Lily right out of Hogwarts like Frank and Alice.”
James turned bright pink. “Er, no... No.”
“I don't know...” Remus began. He felt uneasy agreeing to live with Sirius rent-free. He didn't want charity, and never had.
“Moony,” Sirius said. “I want all of us to stay together after Hogwarts. No matter what happens. If there's one thing my uncle Alphard wanted it was for me to be happy. And living with you three will make me happy. It'll make me crazy, but it'll also make me happy.”
“I suppose...” Remus said. “If you put it that way...”
“I do,” Sirius said adamantly. “I miss Uncle Alphard and it's sad that he's gone, but I don't think he'd want me to dwell on it. He never approved of the Dark Magic the Blacks were involved with and he wouldn't approve of where the family is now. He'd want me to use his money to help fight. And having a place for all of us will help.”
Remus sighed. “Okay. I'm in.” But he still wasn't sure.
Sirius smiled. “Excellent. Oh, did I mention that Alphard got himself blasted off the tree for leaving me his gold?”
Remus's mouth fell open. “Even though he was dead when your mum found that out?”
“Yep,” Sirius said. “Regulus actually told me about it. Mum flew into a rage and burned him right off, without even running it by Dad first.”
Remus shook his head slowly, letting out a low whistle. Yes, despite the fact that his life was anything but normal, he was lucky to have a normal family.
A/N: Sorry about the late update! But I think I've got the best excuse in the world. Yesterday I was in NYC attending J.K. Rowling's reading and signing for The Casual Vacancy! It was absolutely amazing and she is so wonderful. I'll be blogging out about it within the next few days, so keep an eye on the forums for it!
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