Remus shuffled the papers around on his desk until he located the stack of essays that still needed marking. “About what?”
“The jinx,” Luna said as she picked up her bag and hung it over her shoulder. “It's June now, and you're still here.”
Remus chuckled. “And I hope to still be here in September, too.”
“No one's lasted more than a year in decades,” Luna said. “Did you have a new Defense professor every year when you were in school?”
“Yes,” Remus said. “But I hope to defy the odds, as I have told you before. So no, I'm not worried.”
Luna's eyes grew large. “I would be. But perhaps your head is full of wrackspurts.”
Remus stifled a laugh. “Wrackspurts?”
“They get in your brain and mess with your thoughts,” Luna explained as she walked to the door. “Good luck, Professor.”
“Thanks, Luna,” Remus said, smiling.
“I'm going to fail them,” Addy said, putting her head down on the table. “Every last one.”
“You are not,” Remus assured her, not looking up from his own notes. It was a Saturday afternoon and Remus and his friends had taken over two entire tables in the library, studying for their N.E.W.T.s, and Addy for her O.W.L.s.
“But I am!” Addy exclaimed, raising her head once more.
Remus finally glanced up and saw that her eyes were wet. “Addy, you've been preparing all year. You're going to be fine.”
“I won't,” she wailed. “I can't concentrate on studying so there's no way I'll be able to concentrate on my exams.”
“I can't concentrate either,” Sirius said, throwing down his quill. “We've been studying too long.”
Addy glared at Sirius. “That's not it. I need a break. Remus?”
“Uh, sure, I could take a break,” Remus said as he closed his books. “I'll see you lot later.”
“Remember, we've got that meeting with Dumbledore after dinner,” James said.
Remus nodded as he stood up. Addy was already standing, her bag hitched on her shoulder. A few tears were streaming down her face. Remus grabbed his bag and put his other arm around Addy's shoulder, as he led them out into the corridor.
“I'm sorry,” Addy said, sniffling as they walked away from the library. “You were studying and now I've interrupted-”
“Addy, it's fine,” Remus said quietly.
“It's just, everything reminds me of him, you know? I can't even eat breakfast without thinking about how Patrick always wrapped his sausage with bacon. Mum always told him how pointless that was, because it masked the taste of the bacon.”
Remus laughed. “That's really weird, Addy. The sausage and bacon thing.”
“I know. And that's not even all of it. Studying just now, I thought about how he got an O on his Transfiguration O.W.L. and that if I got an O on mine he'd take me out for chicken fingers.”
Addy cracked a smile through her tears. “Yeah, chicken fingers. Random, I know. I'm not sure how that came about. But now, there's no chance of that.”
“If you get an O, I'll take you out for chicken fingers,” Remus said.
Their conversation petered off as they continued to walk around the castle. Neither Remus or Addy had any intention of going anywhere specific, but instead wandered aimlessly. The corridors were empty, which didn't surprise Remus. He had a feeling half the castle was in the library.
“I'm really mad at him,” Addy said as they walked down the second floor corridor.
“Mad at who?”
“Patrick,” Addy said, her voice cracking. “That sounds awful, doesn't it? I'm just really pissed at him and I don't want to be but I can't stop.”
Tears were now streaming down Addy's face. Remus wrapped her in a tight hug and they sat down right where they were, in the corridor.
“I'm awful, aren't I?”
“No, you're not,” Remus told her.
“I'm just so mad that he joined that organization.” She sniffled and wiped her eyes. “I haven't told anyone else. He'd still be here if he hadn't joined. I don't want to be angry with him. He's dead. Nothing can change.”
Remus didn't know what to say. It was similar to when Peter's father died, but different at the same time. All Peter had was grief. He wasn't angry with his father. But Addy, Addy was not only grieving, but was dealing with frustration over how her brother died.
“It's just not fair,” Addy continued. “It's not fair to me or my parents, that he joined and got himself killed. But my parents just see him as a hero and I suppose he is, but I just can't stop thinking about how if he hadn't joined he'd still be here.”
“No one can stop you from feeling what you're feeling,” Remus said quietly. “And nothing you feel is wrong. My mum used to tell me that when I was little and hated the fact that I got ill all the time.”
“I don't even want to tell my mum and dad that I'm pissed at Patrick,” Addy said.
“You don't have to, but I don't think it would upset them.”
“I just don't want to.”
Remus hugged Addy tighter and she rested her head on his shoulder. She cried quietly, her tears flowing into Remus's robes, but didn't say anything else. Remus didn't say anything either, because there was nothing to say. Instead they sat there, Remus comforting Addy the only way he knew how.
Remus and Addy decided against going to the Great Hall for dinner and instead ate a meal of Honeyduke's chocolate, cauldron cakes, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans in the Room of Requirement. Remus felt slightly sick by the time they finished off their feast, but Addy was smiling and laughing again which made Remus's stomachache well worth it.
“What does Dumbledore want?” Addy asked as she ate the last remaining beans.
“No idea,” Remus said. He glanced at his watch. “I'd better go. Do you want to study again tomorrow?”
Addy sighed. “I'd better. Meet at the library at ten?”
“Sure,” Remus said. He gave Addy one last kiss and left the room.
James, Sirius, Peter, Lily, and Alice were already at Dumbledore's study when Remus arrived a few minutes later. They were seated in front of his desk, but Dumbledore was pacing behind it.
“Ah, Remus,” Dumbledore said, gesturing to the last remaining chair. “Please, take a seat.”
Remus nodded and sat down. He glanced at Sirius, who shrugged. Apparently Dumbledore had yet to say why they were there.
“Before I begin, I must stress how important it is that you keep what I am about to tell you between us,” Dumbledore said, still pacing. “Whether you agree to what I will ask or not, this must be kept secret. If any of you do not think you can do that, please leave now.”
Remus was struck by how serious Dumbledore was making whatever this was out to be. The secretive nature only made him even more curious. None of his friends made any move to get up, and Remus certainly did not either.
“Excellent,” Dumbledore continued. “Now, I wish to tell you why I have been absent from the castle so many times this past year and who the volunteers were who participated in the raid a few weeks ago.
“It became apparent to me a few years ago that I possessed far more knowledge about the man who calls himself Lord Voldemort than the Ministry does. I will not tell you all of this information because it would take far too long and frankly, it is not necessary. Nor do I have any desire to share this knowledge with the Ministry because when it comes to law enforcement, their hands are tied in regulations and policy. Mine, however, are not.
“Thus, I sought to start an underground organization to fight Voldemort from another side. We do not seek to work against the Minsitry, but instead alongside it, providing support and assistance when needed, and to do things that the Ministry either cannot or will not do. I recruited Alastor Moody to start the organization-”
“But he's-” Sirius interrupted.
“Head Auror?” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. “Why yes, he is. He is also the best Auror the Ministry has ever seen and if they were to sack him for participating in an underground organization, there would be more backlash than when former Minsiter of Magic Lorcan McLaird thought it would be a good idea to breed nifflers in his study. And Alastor's vast knowledge of law enforcement, defensive magic, and the way the Auror department works has proven most beneficial. Since we began the organization two years ago we have recruited a great number more, most former students of mine.”
This was it, Remus thought. This was the organization Addy's brother had belonged to. The organization Addy believed had gotten her brother killed.
“Sadly, we lost five of our own in the raid of Voldemort's headquarters. We weren't many to begin with and now our numbers are far too low to continue our current efforts.”
“Patrick Mosley,” Remus said quietly. “He was one of them, wasn't he?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore said. The twinkle disappeared from his eye and was replaced by sadness. “Very unfortunate. He was our newest recruit and one of the most promising I'd found. You're quite friendly with his sister, aren't you, Remus?”
Sirius snorted and Remus elbowed him in the ribs. “Yes, Professor,” Remus said.
“The six of you have impressed me not only throughout the past year, but for your entire duration at Hogwarts,” Dumbledore continued. “I wish to offer each of you the opportunity to join. We call ourselves the Order of the Phoenix.”
Remus's heart sped up. Was this what Dumbledore had meant when he said there would be something else for them after graduation if they did well with patrolling? This was his chance. His chance to become as close to an Auror as possible, despite the restrictions.
“What about the Ministry?” James asked. “Sirius and I are set to become Aurors.”
“And we need Aurors,” Dumbledore said. “Right now we have Alastor and one other Auror. But it does come at a risk. The Ministry does not oppose our efforts, but there is always the chance that they could tell their Aurors they aren't allowed to participate or face a sacking. It is up to you.”
“I'll do it,” Sirius said immediately. “It's worth the risk.”
Remus wasn't surprised. Sirius was always one to flaunt authority whenever possible.
“I don't think I need to tell you the risks that come with this,” Dumbledore said, his tone taking a darker turn. “You saw what happened to Patrick Mosley and the others. Things are only going to get more dangerous from here. You should think hard about this.”
“I knew the danger when signing up for the Auror Academy,” Sirius said. “I accept the risks.”
“Me, too,” James said. “I'm in.”
James and Lily exchanged a glance and Lily slipped her hand into James's. “Me, too. I missed my chance at becoming an Auror, so this is how I can help.”
Remus suddenly thought of Addy, and how she'd told him how happy she was he wasn't becoming an Auror. Multiple times. It would kill her if he signed up for the same organization that her brother died fighting for. But this was what he wanted, what he'd wanted for years.
“Frank is in this, isn't he?” Alice said suddenly.
Dumbledore gave her a wry smile. “Please do not be angry with him for not telling you. I swore him to secrecy as I have with you.”
“For how long?” Alice asked.
“Since September,” Dumbledore answered. “I would have waited until then to speak with the six of you, but after the raid... Alastor isn't as certain as I am about taking on students so soon after graduation, but I assured him it would be fine.”
“How busy will we be?” Remus asked. His job situation was still up in the air at this point. If he couldn't secure tutoring, he'd have to find a job in a Muggle shop.
“I cannot say,” Dumbledore said. “Missions can take hours or days. Or I can put you to work doing research and surveillance. I'll use your talents and skills to our advantage, of course. I cannot say that it won't clash with your potential job, however.” Dumbledore sighed and finally sat down. He folded his hands and placed them on his desk. “If you join, this is going to have to be your number one priority.”
Remus nodded. It seemed like a huge undertaking, making the Order of the Phoenix his number one commitment, but it wouldn't be that hard. Remus's prospects for steady work were slim and very up in the air. Living with Sirius meant that he wouldn't have to pay rent. Unlike Frank and Alice, he wasn't going to be getting married. And working for the Order was exactly what Remus wanted to do. He wanted to fight against Voldemort and his Death Eaters; he wanted to make a difference in the world and this was his chance. The only thing holding him back was Addy.
But Addy would still be at Hogwarts for another two years. Two years was an awfully long time and Remus had no idea where he'd be in two years, where any of them would be, really. Did he really want to put his own life on hold while Addy finished school? Would she even want to stay together after he graduated? Did Remus want to throw away his only chance, as a werewolf, to do what he really wanted to do?
No, he thought. He really didn't. He couldn't. He couldn't possibly turn down the opportunity to work for the Order and live with himself, no matter his reason for turning it down.
“Remus?” James asked, snapping Remus out of his thoughts.
“Sorry,” Remus said. “Just thinking. Count me in, Professor.”
Dumbledore smiled, staring directly at Remus, as if he was reading his thoughts, and knew exactly what Remus had decided before he said it. Actually, Remus thought, Dumbledore probably was reading his thoughts.
“Mr. Pettigrew?” Dumbledore prompted.
Remus thought back to Peter's hesitation about patrolling Hogwarts for Death Eaters. If he'd been hesitant about that, would he even want to do this? This was far more dangerous.
“I'm in,” Peter said quietly. “I want...I want my dad to be proud of me.”
“Excellent,” Dumbledore said, the twinkle back in his eye. “I will inform you of the date, time, and location of the first meeting after graduation at a later date. Remember, not a word to anyone. You may inform immediate family members that you have joined an organization that works to fight Voldemort, but that is it. You may not disclose the names of other members, locations of meetings, or what your missions and jobs consist of.”
“Sir?” Remus began.
“You may inform Miss Mosley of your decision,” Dumbledore said, “on account of her brother's service.”
Remus nodded in thanks. Part of him wanted to keep his decision from Addy a secret, but he was already keeping too many secrets from her.
“I wish you the best of luck on your N.E.W.T.s next week,” Dumbledore said, standing up.
Remus and his friends bid Dumbledore a good night and left his study. They did not speak on their trip back to the common room, all too lost in their thoughts. When they entered the common room a short while later, Remus was struck by how cheerful his fellow Gryffindors seemed. None of them had any idea that the seventh years had signed up for a dangerous organization to fight Voldemort. None of them had any idea of the danger that the seventh years would face in the following year. As much as they knew about Voldemort and his Death Eaters, the younger students were blissfully ignorant. And part of Remus was jealous of that ignorance and innocence.
“She's going to kill me,” Remus said to James as they worked on charming suits of armor in the fifth floor corridor the following evening.
Remus, James, Sirius, and Peter had decided upon a light-hearted prank to end the school year. With Voldemort looming, no one in the castle needed a malicious or irritating prank. Instead, they needed something fun that would take their minds off the outside world. They boys were working on charming every single suit of armor to speak throughout the week. Some of the phrases would be insulting, but others would merely wish their fellow students well on their exams. The charms would wear off by the time exams actually started. Remus doubted any of the professors would do anything about the prank, considering it wasn't harmful.
“Who?” James asked. “Your mum?”
“Oh, no,” Remus said, shuddering. “I'm not going to tell her. She's so afraid of Voldemort and everything he does that she won't even speak about him. I'll tell my dad and he'll keep it to himself. I'm talking about Addy.”
“Because of her brother?” James asked.
Remus nodded. “Am I stupid for having signed up? What would you have done if Lily were against fighting?”
“I'd have joined anyway,” James said immediately. “I'm really glad Lily and I are on the same page about it, but even if she wasn't, I'd have joined anyway. Fighting is too important. You're not stupid.”
“But what if she breaks up with me? I mean, she could possibly be the only girl out there who knows I'm keeping something from her but doesn't care.”
“Moony, if she doesn't care that you're keeping an illness a secret, why should she care that you're in the same organization as her brother was?”
“Because Patrick died,” Remus said. “And she's told me that she's glad I'm not becoming an Auror and that she doesn't know what she'd do if I died.”
James didn't say anything for a few minutes. “When are you going to tell her?”
“I don't know,” Remus said. “I kind of want to wait until after exams are done. She's already so worried about failing.”
“Maybe you should wait, then. If you think it'll upset her that much.”
“She keeps saying she's fine but then she starts crying while studying,” Remus said.
“Have you talked about what'll happen after graduation?” James asked. “I mean, even if you hadn't joined the Order, she'd still be here next year and you wouldn't.”
Remus shook his head. “To be honest, we've never really talked much about what exactly we are. I never asked her to become my girlfriend and she never asked me to become her boyfriend. We just sort of are.”
“Two years is a long time, Moony.”
“I know. A lot could happen. That's why I didn't turn down the Order.”
“Sirius would've killed you if you did.”
“So I'm dead either way,” Remus said, laughing.
“You've just got to do what you want to do,” James said quietly. “Do what you think is right and don't think about anything else.”
Remus nodded. “And that's the Order.”
“Then whatever happens with Addy happens,” James said as he charmed the last suit of armor. “There, I think we're done.”
Remus took a step back. “Last prank. This is so odd.”
James nodded. “Let's go find Padfoot and Wormtail.”
Remus and James set off down the corridor in search of their friends. As he walked, Remus watched the younger students hurrying back to their common rooms to make curfew. Already, even though graduation was still two weeks away, Remus felt set apart from them. A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! I posted a new one-shot, Strings, about Remus's reaction to James, Lily, and Peter's deaths, as well as Sirius's betrayal. Please check it out!
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