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Chapter 24 : Death
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Remus sighed as he graded sixth year essays. Grading essays and homework was often a tedious task; one that Remus had never really cared for, but was necessary all the same. Deciding to take a break, he pulled the familiar worn piece of parchment out from his top desk drawer and set it in front of him.
He pointed his wand at it and muttered, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
Ink appeared all over the parchment, forming into the familiar lines of the Marauder's Map. Remus had taken to perusing it every so often, ever since he confiscated it from Harry Potter weeks ago. Harry's confession that he'd seen Peter Pettigrew on the map rubbed Remus the wrong way, despite the fact that he knew Harry must've been mistaken. It just didn't make sense. Remus even checked all his class rosters to see if another boy had a name resembling Peter Pettigrew, but there hadn't been one.
There was certainly nobody named Peter Pettigrew on the map right now. Remus noticed nothing out of the ordinary and was hit by the familiar pang of guilt he usually felt while looking at the map. He ought to hand it in to Dumbledore, but that meant explaining how he came across it and how he knew how to use it. Despite the fact that two of its makers were dead and a third was on the run from Azkaban, Remus still wanted to keep their teenage project a secret. Perhaps it was childish or stupid, even, but it was how Remus felt. So he'd settled upon searching it for Sirius Black himself every so often.
Remus jumped upon hearing a knock on his door and he hastily wiped the map clean and shoved it back into its drawer. He looked up and saw Luna Lovegood walk in. He should've known.
“Hi, Professor Lupin,” Luna said. “What are you doing?”
“Just grading some essays,” Remus said, grabbing the top essay and placing it where the map had been. “How are you?”
“Good,” Luna said as she sat down in her usual chair. “I was thinking about my boggart yesterday and was wondering if you knew what my mum's boggart was. I owled Dad, but he said he never asked her.”
Remus leaned back in his chair. “I never battled a boggart while I was in school and I don't think your mum did, either. We had a...colorful...array of Defense Against the Dark Arts professors when I was at Hogwarts, to put it mildly. Very similar to the way it is now, actually.”
Luna giggled. “Well, you're normal.”
Remus gave her a wry smile. “No one is normal, Luna. Remember that.”
“Did she ever tell you?” Luna prodded. “What she was most afraid of?”
“Not so plainly,” Remus said, leaning forward once more. “But I could hazard a guess, if you'd like.”
“Losing her loved ones,” Remus said quietly. “Losing them in the war against Voldemort, to be specific.”
The week following Thomas Pettigrew's disappearance was very strange for Remus, James, and Sirius. Since the four boys had been close friends from their very first week of school, everyone in the castle knew that Remus, James, and Sirius personally knew Thomas Pettigrew. This elicited one of two very different responses from their fellow students. Half of them constantly hounded the boys with questions about whether Peter's dad had been found, how Peter was, and whether there were any updates. This annoyed all three of them, although Remus and James tended to ignore it while Sirius threatened with hexes. The other half of the students completely ignored Remus, Sirius, and James, as if ignoring them and not making eye contact would make them immune from their family members suffering the same fate as Peter's dad. It was strange how tragedy brought out different responses in people.
Addy's response, in particular, threw Remus for a loop. Already woefully ignorant in what to do when faced with anyone crying, Remus was shocked when Addy burst into tears upon hearing about Peter's dad. Remus hurried her out of the library, where they'd been studying when he told her, and took her into an empty classroom, where he awkwardly comforted her until her tears subsided. Addy hadn't even met Peter's dad, so Remus was thoroughly confused as to why she cried. She explained afterward, telling Remus that it was more about her worry for her brother than Peter's dad, specifically. Still, Remus was glad when she felt better.
Neither Remus, James, or Sirius received any post from Peter during the week he was home. Remus had been hoping Peter would owl them at least once, but it didn't surprise him that he didn't. The Prophet hadn't published any updates in the case, so Remus doubted Peter would have much to tell them.
The night before Peter was scheduled to return Remus, Sirius, and James sat by themselves in their dormitory. Without even talking about it beforehand, they just congregated there after dinner. James didn't disappear with Lily and Remus didn't go to the library with Addy. Instead it was just their original group, minus one.
“Remember that summer we went to Peter's?” Sirius asked as he tossed Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans into his mouth.
Remus smiled. “Yeah. That was fun.” They'd just finished their second year. Remus's trip had been cut short by the full moon, but he'd gotten to spend a few days there, at least.
“His dad made us pancakes, remember that?” James added. “They were the best pancakes I'd ever tasted.”
“He's just so nice,” Remus said. “I don't think Peter's ever complained about him. Not even once.”
“None of you complain about your parents,” Sirius pointed out. “I've kind of monopolized that.”
“But Pete's dad could win an award for father of the year,” James said.
Remus nodded. “I've never told you this, but when we were at Peter's house that summer I was a bit scared. It was the first time I'd ever spent the night away from home, outside of Hogwarts of course. Remember, I didn't go with you lot to James's the previous summer.” Instead, his parents had taken him to Bulgaria in search of a lycanthropy cure that obviously didn't work.
“Oh, yeah,” James said. “I'd forgotten.”
“Anyway,” Remus continued. “The first night I couldn't sleep, but I didn't want to wake any of you up and admit I was afraid, so I went outside to look at the moon. Wormtail's dad must've heard me get up because he came outside and sat with me. He didn't say a word at first. Then he went and got me a warm mug of milk and told me that it's okay to be afraid. Would you believe that that was the first time anyone told me it was okay to be afraid?”
“What about your parents?” Sirius asked.
“They always told me I was brave,” Remus said. “Every time I cried, even before I got bitten, they'd hug me and tell me I was their brave little boy. That's not a bad thing, but when Mr. Pettigrew told me it was okay to be afraid, I just relaxed. Instantly. He didn't say anything else. I didn't have trouble sleeping after that.”
James and Sirius were quiet for a few minutes. “He's a great dad,” Sirius finally said.
“And now he's going to be killed just because his job is making sure people know the truth,” James muttered. “It's just not right.”
“He might not be killed-” Remus began.
Sirius let out a twisted laugh. “Prongs is right, Moony. It's been a week. Why would Voldemort have mercy on him, a grown man, when he murders Muggle children in front of their parents?”
Remus said nothing. Sirius was right. But Remus didn't want to admit that Peter's dad, the man who helped Remus realize it was okay to be afraid, was going to be murdered by the worst wizard Britain had ever seen.
The news arrived the following morning at breakfast, via a tear-streaked piece of parchment sent from Peter. Mr. Pettigrew, along with his coworker Eli Rosenburg, had been found. Their bodies were found by Alastor Moody himself, deep in the Forest of Dean, in the middle of the night. The letter said nothing else.
Remus sat stunned, his plate of eggs no longer appetizing. Sirius and James wore identical looks of shock and sadness, but didn't say a word. There was absolutely nothing to say. Nothing they could say would bring Mr. Pettigrew back.
Handing the note to Lily, Remus got up and left the room. He couldn't just go to class after receiving that news. He didn't know what to do, but he certainly couldn't sit through a class like nothing bad had happened. Without turning around to see if James and Sirius had followed him, he ran outside, despite the torrential downpour that was taking place.
Remus was grateful for the rain. With huge sheets of water pouring down his face, he didn't have to admit to himself that he was crying. Nor did James and Sirius notice his tears when they caught up to him a few minutes later. Similarly, Remus had no idea whether they were crying, but it didn't matter.
The three boys trudged through the mud until they reached the flooding lake and began to walk the path around it. The path was virtually gone, taken over by lake and rain water, but they walked it all the same. For Remus, at least, it was better than being inside the castle. The pouring rain was almost therapeutic, as if strong enough rain were able to wash away grief, to cleanse one of sadness.
Still, they said nothing. Their walk was quiet and solitary, despite the fact that they walked together. All three were lost in their own thoughts, and while they were most likely thinking the same things, it was better for their thoughts to remain thoughts.
Remus, Sirius, and James wound up skiving off all their classes that day. They walked in the rain for an hour, until they were soaked to the skin and Remus's leg ached so badly that he could no longer ignore it. Remus continued to drown his grief in a hot shower after they returned to the castle and then took a two hour nap, brought about by grief and the impending full moon. He didn't know what James and Sirius did while he was sleeping, but when he awoke, they were there.
“We've had another owl from Peter,” James said quietly. “He said the funeral is on Saturday. Two o'clock. He wants us to go.”
Saturday. The day before the full moon.
“We're both going,” Sirius said. “But I know that's the day before-”
“I'll go,” Remus interrupted. He had to go. He doubted Mr. Pettigrew understood the true meaning of what he said to Remus that night, so many years ago, but he had to go.
“Dumbledore said we can use his Floo,” James said.
Remus nodded and got up out of bed. He put on his shoes and started to search his bedside table for his wand.
“Where are you going?” James asked.
“I've got to find Addy,” Remus said. “I need to tell her.”
“She'll already know. It was in the Prophet this morning.”
Of course it was, Remus thought, sitting back down on his bed. Part of him was relieved, since she'd surely cry again. But the other part of him thought he needed to find her anyway.
“She'll understand if you don't talk to her,” James said.
Remus let out a sigh. “You think?”
James nodded. “Let's just stay here until dinner. If she really wants to talk to you, she'll find you at dinner.”
Remus managed to eat a small helping at dinner, only because he knew he should, but he mostly sat and stared at his plate. The entire Gryffindor table was quiet, as if every Gryffindor was mourning Peter's dad as well. After Remus, Sirius, and James finished they walked slowly back to Gryffindor. Halfway there Remus felt a tap on his shoulder and he jumped in surprise. He turned around and saw Addy.
“Sorry,” she said. “Could we talk?”
Remus nodded and turned to James and Sirius. “I'll meet you in the dormitory.”
James and Sirius set off once more for Gryffindor while Remus followed Addy into an unused classroom. He sat down on one of the tables and Addy sat next to him.
“I saw the paper,” she said quietly. “I'm sorry about Peter's dad. Did you know him well?”
Remus nodded. “Yeah. We all did. We're going to the funeral on Saturday.”
“Peter will appreciate that,” Addy said. “It's scary, though, isn't it? That someone not even working to capture Death Eaters can be killed by them.”
“Dumbledore wasn't surprised,” Remus explained. “He said that fact checkers are just as threatening to Voldemort as Aurors.”
“I wouldn't have thought of that,” Addy said. “But I suppose it makes sense.”
“If you don't see me tomorrow, it's not because I'm avoiding you or anything,” Remus said quietly. He was already imagining skipping class again tomorrow to sleep. His grief over Peter's dad was aggravating the effects of the full moon.
Addy smiled. “I know. I'll see you next week, after the funeral.”
“Yeah, after the funeral,” Remus agreed. And after the full moon, he added to himself.
Addy stood up and kissed him. “Feel better, Remus.”
“Thanks, Addy,” Remus said.
She smiled and then turned to leave. Remus sat on the desk for a few minutes before leaving himself. He hadn't told Addy he was ill again, had he? Or did she mean feel better about his grief?
Remus slept late on Saturday. James woke him up two hours before the funeral and the three of them got ready silently, had a quick lunch, and then set off for Dumbledore's study. Remus had a pounding headache and felt exhausted, despite the fact that he slept twelve hours.
Dumbledore was waiting for them, dressed in plain black robes. Remus didn't think he'd ever seen the headmaster in such a somber outfit.
“Are you coming with us, sir?” James asked.
“I am,” Dumbledore replied. He held out a pot of Floo powder. “We're Flooing to Kennilworth Chapel.”
Remus didn't recognize the name, but it must've been an all-wizarding chapel since it was hooked up to the Floo Network.
James took a handful of Floo powder first, and Sirius followed. Remus took powder, but Dumbledore stopped him just as he was going to throw it into the fire.
“Are you sure you're okay to be going, Mr. Lupin?” he asked.
Remus nodded. “I have to go.”
“Very well,” Dumbledore replied.
Remus threw the powder into the flames and shouted, “Kennilworth Chapel!”
A few nauseating minutes later Remus fell out of the fireplace in an antechamber of Kennilworth Chapel. He stood up, brushed the ash off of his robes, and immediately sat down in the nearest chair. Flooing always made him incredibly dizzy.
James and Sirius were standing nearby, but neither of them said anything to Remus. The flames lit up green again and Dumbledore stepped out without a single bit of ash on his robes. Remus was suddenly very glad that Dumbledore had gone with them, because he had no idea what they were supposed to do now.
Remus stood and followed Dumbledore, James, and Sirius out of the room. The flames lit up green again as they left. Remus guessed that a lot of attendees were Flooing.
The antechamber gave way to a small corridor that was littered with people dressed in plain black robes, talking quietly amongst themselves. Dumbledore immediately left, having been hailed by an acquaintance, leaving the three boys to fend for themselves. Remus suddenly felt incredibly awkward and anxious. They didn't know anyone there.
“What time is it?” Sirius asked.
Remus glanced at his watch. “One-thirty.”
The double doors to Remus's right suddenly opened and Remus peered around them. They led to the sanctuary. People began to wander inside, which relieved Remus. It would be better to sit down until the funeral started, rather than stand in the middle of a large crowd.
James led the way into the sanctuary and the three boys filed into a pew halfway down the aisle. They were followed in by an older couple, who ignored them.
Remus said nothing during the next half hour. James and Sirius muttered about something, but Remus found it very difficult to concentrate on what it was.
At exactly two o'clock Peter and his mother walked through the doors, followed by what must've been other assorted family members. They sat in the first few pews, and then the coffin was wheeled in.
For Remus, this was the worst part of funerals. He'd only been to two funerals in his life- his mother's mother and his father's mother. His grandfathers had died before he was born. But during both funerals, he found it incredibly difficult to watch the coffin wheeled in. The whole time, he just kept imagining Peter's dad, alive and well, like the last time he'd seen him. He just couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that Peter's dad was now inside that coffin.
The preacher stood up and walked to the pulpit. He greeted everyone and expressed how sorry he was for the loss of Thomas Pettigrew, then moved into a short speech on what a wonderful man he was. Remus listened, but he didn't comprehend what the preacher was saying.
In fact, Remus's attention waned during the first few parts of the funeral. The preacher gave another speech, there were a few songs, and a few speeches by various relatives. But Remus was unable to force himself to pay attention until Peter stepped up to the pulpit.
James and Sirius shifted and the three boys exchanged glances. None of them had known that Peter was going to speak at the funeral.
“Hi,” Peter began. “Um. Many of you know my dad as a fact checker or a Daily Prophet writer, but to me, he's just my dad. That's it. And that's all I ever wanted him to be. When I was five he taught me how to ride a bike and I still remember how he promised he'd keep holding on, but he didn't. He let go, and as soon as I realized that I fell off. I was so mad at him for promising that he'd be there, holding on, but then breaking that promise. I know that most dads do that when they teach their kids how to ride bikes, but, um, I didn't think that way at five. Now, at eighteen, he's not there again. He always told me he'd be there for me, forever, but when he promised that, he didn't know we'd have this war. I guess I just hope he knows I forgive him. For letting go when I was five, and for not being there now.” Peter's voice cracked and he blinked rapidly. “I love you, Dad.”
Peter ran down the few steps that led to the aisle, but didn't return to his pew. Instead, he ran all the way up the aisle and out of the sanctuary. James, Sirius, and Remus exchanged glances once more and then got up to follow Peter.
They found him in the same antechamber that they'd Flooed to. He was sitting in an armchair near the fire, his head buried in his hands. Remus could hear him sobbing.
James sat down in the same row of chairs Remus had sat in after Flooing, and Sirius and Remus followed them. James didn't say anything, so neither did Sirius or Remus. James, having accompanied Sirius to the funeral of his great uncle, had far more experience comforting grieving friends than Remus or Sirius.
Ten minutes later Peter's sobbing subsided and he looked up. His face was red and streaked with tears, but he didn't look surprised to see his three best friends sitting across the room from him.
“We're here for you, mate,” James said quietly. “Whatever you need us to do, we're here.”
“That's the thing,” Peter replied. “There's absolutely nothing you can do.”
James didn't say anything. Neither did Remus or Sirius. Instead, they sat silently for another ten minutes. Remus was having a hard time staying awake in the warm room and Sirius had to nudge him a few times to keep him from drifting off.
“No one gets it, you know?” Peter finally said. “We've had people bring casseroles, as if food can be a replacement for Dad. Neighbors and what not. They bring food and their consciences are clear. They just go back to their own houses, happy that this didn't happen to them.”
“People did that when my nana died,” Remus said, remembering how full their fridge got when his father's mother died, when he was thirteen.
“Nothing will be okay now. Never,” Peter added. “You know my mum hasn't even cried yet? She just walks around like a zombie, being the perfect hostess and making tea for all the people who bring us casseroles. And they all accept because they think it makes her happy, but it really doesn't. It just gives her something to do. But she hasn't cried. Isn't that messed up?”
“Everyone grieves differently, Wormtail,” James said.
“What do you know?” Peter snapped. “You've never had anyone in your family die. At least Padfoot and Moony sort of get it.”
“You're right,” James said. “But we know you better than anyone. We're at least better than the neighbors, right?”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Peter muttered. “And better than the damn Prophet. You know they sent a muffin basket? A muffin basket and a card, telling us how sorry they were for our loss. They'd better be sorry, seeing as it was them who got Dad killed in the first place. If he hadn't worked for them, he wouldn't have been killed.”
“Pete, mate, you can only blame the Death Eaters and Voldemort,” James said.
Peter flinched. “I know. But it's true. If he hadn't worked for them, he'd be alive.”
“You don't know that-” James began.
“Yeah, I do,” Peter cut him off. “Just leave it, Prongs.”
“Don't think about his death,” Remus said quietly. “Think about the good times. That's what my mum told me when Nana died. She told me not to focus on the cancer, but instead on all the times she would invite us to dinner and swear up and down it was homemade, but we'd see the takeaway containers in the trash. The good things and the funny things. That's what you should remember.”
Peter nodded. “I try. That's why I gave that speech. But I just keep thinking about that week between when he was captured and when his body was found. They said he was very recently killed, so what happened during that week? They found evidence of torture.” Peter wiped his eyes.
“Don't think about that,” Remus said adamantly. “I know it's hard, but you've got to try.”
“I know, but it's just so hard,” Peter said through tears. “It's just so damn hard.”
A/N: Thanks for the reviews! To all my American readers out there, remember to vote today!
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