“Do you think the dementors will still be here next year?” Luna asked.
“That depends on whether Sirius Black is caught,” Remus said, “and he's eluded the Aurors thus far.”
“I'm just glad you're still here. I mean, there's still two weeks left, so something could happen, but still. I think Lockhart was gone by this time last year.”
Remus chuckled. “I hope to still be here in two weeks.”
Luna sat down in the chair in front of Remus's desk. “What happened between you and my mother?”
“What do you mean?”
“All year you've told me stories from when you were with her in school and how happy you two were, despite all the Voldemort stuff. But she married my dad and you...are you married?”
“No, I never married,” Remus said. “But yes, your mother and I did break up at the end of my seventh year.”
“Why?” Luna asked, her eyes huge and innocent, so much like Addy's.
Remus sighed, remembering back to that fateful day. “Voldemort, graduation, your mother's grief over her brother, my own ambitions. It wasn't meant to be, but that's okay, because she fell in love with your father.”
“Will you tell me about it?” Luna asked. “The whole story of how you broke up?”
The last week of classes that year was the strangest last week of classes Remus had ever experienced. Some of the professors expressed sadness that the seventh years would be leaving, but others seemed to not notice that it was the final week or that the seventh years would be leaving. McGonagall taught as she normally did, but at the end of class, she told them that they'd been one of her favorite classes to teach, and Remus had a feeling it was true. James told Remus that Slughorn spent their entire last class telling them to keep in touch and inform him of their successes. But none of the teachers, not even Slughorn, could top Professor Banks, who was genuinely saddened by the arrival of exams. He cut the review session on the last day short, saving the last ten minutes to express how much he had enjoyed teaching the seventh years.
“Some teachers insist that they do not have favorite classes,” Banks began in their final class period. “But I think all teachers have favorite classes, much as they have favorite pupils, even if they won't admit it.”
“Do you have a favorite student, sir?” one of the Hufflepuffs asked.
“I'd be quite hypocritical if I said I didn't,” Banks said with a laugh. “But I won't say who it is. Anyway, I have no shame in admitting that this has been my favorite class to teach this year. I could not be more proud that six of you are moving on to the Auror Academy. While I take no credit for your accomplishments, considering you had already applied by the time I got here, I am still proud.
“Further, each and every one of you have made great strides this year. There is no doubt in my mind that you will ace your N.E.W.T.s next week. You've worked hard and now is the time to prove it. I will miss each and every one of you next year, and you are the reason why it was so difficult for me to come to a decision about what to do next year.”
“What do you mean?” Sirius asked.
Banks, who had been standing behind his desk, moved in front of it and leaned against it. “I have decided to return to the Auror Department. With Voldemort recruiting new Death Eaters like a stray dog attracts fleas, the Ministry needs as many qualified Aurors as they can get. My twins are entering Hogwarts next year and they've told me on multiple occasions that they don't want their father as one of their teachers. Also, I just want to fight. We've entered a war and it won't do us any good to deny it. It's time to take the offense against the Dark forces out there, and I want to be on the front line.
“I look forward to seeing quite a few of you at the Academy. They've already informed me that I'll be teaching a class as part of my job, since I have teaching experience.
“I have yet to inform the whole school of my decision. Professor Dumbledore knows, of course, as do the rest of the professors. But I wanted to tell you first. Please send me owls, telling me how you are all doing next year, whether you are in the Auror Academy or not. The bell will be ringing shortly, so I'll let you go early. It has been a pleasure to teach you this past year. Mr. Lupin, please see me up front.”
Remus wasn't surprised. It was Banks's last chance to speak with Remus privately, and Remus had to admit that he'd grown to enjoy his kindness.
The rest of the class filed out quietly, a few saying goodbye to Banks as they went. Remus noticed a certain wistfulness in his eyes as everyone else left. It was obvious that he would miss this class. Once everyone left, Banks resumed his seat behind his desk. Remus walked to the front.
“Remus,” Banks said, looking up at him, “you are my favorite student.”
Remus raised his eyebrows in shock. He knew from the beginning of the year that Banks had taken a certain interest in his future, but he always thought Sirius or James was Banks's favorite.
Banks chuckled. “I'm sure everyone thinks that I prefer those who are going to the Auror Academy next year, but the six of them have been so sure of themselves all year. Not you. I don't mean that in a bad way. When I first met you you thought you couldn't do anything next year. Your confidence was shot, and you couldn't produce a decent patronus. Now look at you. Your patronus is easily the strongest in the entire class and you've joined a secret organization to fight Voldemort.”
Remus's jaw fell open. “You know about that?”
Banks laughed. “Know about it? I'm in it. One of the original members. How do you think I landed this job?”
Remus shook his head, trying to grasp the information. All this time, Professor Banks had been in the Order of the Phoenix with Dumbledore. He wasn't just a random ex-Auror.
“Dumbledore wanted someone to look after the school,” Banks explained. “I had a small background in teaching and was willing to take the job, despite its curse. He also told me to keep an eye on you and help you figure out what to do about next year. Doesn't miss a thing, Dumbledore.”
Remus finally closed his jaw. All this time, Dumbledore had been helping him figure out his life through Banks. “But-”
“Don't worry. I may have initially spoke with you because Dumbledore asked me to, but I never dreamed you'd be such a strong, mature kid. And you're not really a kid anymore, are you? None of you are. Dumbledore came up with the idea of recruiting you, along with your friends, last year, you know. It wasn't a rash decision. He trusts you, all of you.”
“I don't know what to say,” Remus said quietly.
“Then don't say anything,” Banks said, smiling. “You've defied every single stereotype about lycanthropes, Remus. That's something to be proud of. The laws are unfair and I hope you see them change in your lifetime. But for now, I hope the Order will be enough.”
“It will, sir,” Remus said.
Banks stood up. “I don't want you to be late for your next class, but remember, this isn't goodbye. I'll see you at the first meeting after graduation.”
Remus nodded as he got up. “Thanks, Professor. For everything.”
“It was my pleasure, Remus.”
By the time N.E.W.T.s arrived, Remus just wanted the final week of Hogwarts to be over. He'd spent the entire year wishing that time would slow down, but now that the final week was upon him, he just wanted to be done. Remus knew this was because he was anxious to begin his work for the Order, but it also felt strange to still be in school, while simultaneously being a member of a secret organization that fights Voldemort.
More than that, exams were simply exhausting. N.E.W.T. examinations took place in various classrooms since O.W.L.s took place in the Great Hall. Far fewer students took each N.E.W.T. than took each O.W.L, so this worked well. Monday, for Remus, was Transfiguration, with the written in the morning and the practical in the afternoon. It was one of the few exams that every single one of Remus's friends were sitting as well. Remus thought he did decently, but of course, he wouldn't know for sure until the summer.
As the week progressed Remus developed a bit of an exam routine. He would sit his morning exam, study, go to lunch, sit his afternoon exam, study, go to dinner, and study some more. All of his friends, even Sirius, followed the same pattern. Addy joined them for most study sessions, but she and Remus didn't go for anymore private walks. Addy, due to her anxiety over exams, wanted to spend all her spare time studying, and Remus, due to his anxiety over Addy's reaction to his joining the Order, didn't want to accidentally tell her before exams were over.
Remus, James, Sirius, and Peter's final prank went over very well with the entire Hogwarts population. Most students thought it was hilarious and the professors regarded it with vague amusement. Slughorn thought it was genius and apparently congratulated James and Sirius on it after their potions practical. The only one who seemed disappointed was Peeves, who had been expecting something a bit more disruptive. He retaliated by destroying the History of Magic classroom, much to the joy of the first through fifth years who still took that class.
Remus sat his last exam on Friday morning. It was Arithmancy, so there was no practical portion. James, Sirius, and Peter, having taken fewer classes than Remus, were already done. Remus found them sitting together in the common room after finishing his exam.
“It's official,” Remus said as he sat down. “We're all done.”
“Unless one of us bombed everything,” Sirius said. “Can you imagine? Having to come back to redo an entire year?”
“I don't think any of us did that poorly,” Remus said.
“I still feel like I should be doing something,” James mused. “It's just like after we finished our O.W.L.s. It doesn't feel like we're done.”
“Except this time we're really done,” Peter said. “Graduation's the day after tomorrow.”
“Damn, I knew there was something I had to do,” James muttered. “I've still got to write that bloody graduation speech.”
Sirius laughed. “Bet Moony's glad he didn't get Head Boy now, you having to give a speech and all.”
Remus smirked. “Very true, Padfoot.” Remus couldn't imagine having to get up in front of their entire class, and everyone's families, and give a speech.
“I wonder if Lily would write it for me...” James said, his voice trailing off.
Remus burst out laughing. “She's got her own speech to write. Besides, when has she ever done any of your homework for you?”
James sighed. “I suppose you're right.”
“Just think, it'll be practice for writing your wedding vows,” Sirius joked. “How was Petunia and Vernon's wedding, by the way?”
“A complete disaster,” James muttered. “Lily cried the entire ceremony but wouldn't even let me comfort her. Then, in the receiving line, both Petunia and Vernon ignored us, which was incredibly awkward. Lily still insisted upon going to the reception, but we only stayed about a half hour. So, it went about as well as I was expecting.”
Sirius sighed. “I really had hope for them, you know. I thought they weren't as far gone as Regulus and I.”
“Have you heard from-”
“No,” Sirius interrupted. “He's made his decision and it's his to make. I've given up. If he wants to throw his life away, that's his problem now.”
Remus was glad Sirius had finally come to that conclusion. He'd seen Regulus a couple times in the past few weeks since Bulstrode's sudden departure from the castle. Regulus had taken very well to Bulstrode's disappearance and now seemed to think of himself as Hogwarts's head Death Eater, given the fact that Snape was graduating soon. Remus had neglected to tell Sirius about these sightings, thinking that they'd only upset him. But apparently Sirius had accepted his brother's fate.
Remus spent the rest of the afternoon with James, Sirius, and Peter. All four of them wrote James's speech, and after that they wandered the castle and the grounds, reliving their better moments from the past seven years. It was blissfully peaceful, Remus thought, as they sat beneath their usual beech tree near the lake. Yet still, a dark cloud hung over Remus's head. He was going to have to talk to Addy after dinner.
All throughout dinner Remus thought about telling Addy about his joining the Order, and all the possible reactions she could have. Obviously the best would be that she wouldn't care, but Remus had a feeling there was as much chance of that happening as Regulus Black switching sides. She'd probably cry, yell at him a bit, and then maybe, just maybe, she'd accept it. Or she could cry, yell at him a bit, and then break up with him over it. That possibility caused Remus's appetite to disappear. He really did love Addy, and he didn't want anything to come between them.
Dread filled Remus as he walked into the Entrance Hall to meet Addy at seven. She was already there, standing next to the oak front doors. Remus greeted her with a nod and the two walked outside, as if it was an unspoken agreement that they didn't want to be in the confines of the castle.
There was a certain tension between them. Remus left his hands in his pockets and Addy's were crossed on her chest. Neither one made a move to attempt to hold hands as they walked.
“I think we need to talk, Remus,” Addy said quietly, after they'd walked in silence for a full five minutes.
It was then that Remus realized just how similar the two of them were. Remus knew that he needed to talk to her, but had had no idea that Addy felt the same way. A week ago they'd been fine, with the exception of Addy's grief over her brother, but then during exams they'd clammed up, neither of them speaking anything meaningful. Now, with the prospect of separating for who knew how long, they were both forced to talk about what exactly their relationship was. And that was something they'd never done before.
“Me, too,” Remus agreed. “Addy-”
“No,” Addy said. She stopped walking and sat down where she was, on a huge rock beneath a grove of pine trees. “Let me go first.”
Remus sat. “I need to go first.” Whatever Addy had to say, hearing what Remus said could change everything.
“Okay,” she said. Her voice was small and suddenly fearful.
Remus took a deep breath. His heart was pounding fast. This was it. “Remember that meeting I had with Dumbledore a few weeks ago?”
Addy nodded. “You never said a word about it after.”
“Dumbledore told me about the organization your brother was in,” Remus continued. “He told all of us. Sirius, James, Peter, Lily, Alice, and me. And then he offered all of us places in it.”
Addy let out a gasp and her blue eyes grew large. “Remus,” she whispered. “No. He didn't.”
“He did,” Remus confirmed. “Addy...I accepted. As soon as I leave Hogwarts after graduation on Sunday, I'm going to fight Voldemort.”
“Remus,” Addy whispered again. “No...”
Remus forced himself to look at her. Her eyes were filled with tears and Remus felt like his heart was breaking in half. She looked so hurt, so betrayed, so devastated, like she'd just lost her brother all over again.
“I'm sorry,” Remus said.
“Remus, how could you?” Addy demanded. She was crying fully now. “I told you. I told you after Patrick died that I couldn't do it again. You knew. And you went and joined the same organization that got him killed!”
“Addy, please. You have to understand-”
“No, Remus, no.” Addy stood up. “I don't think you understand. It's bad enough that you're graduating, that you're leaving, but now you're going to go risk your life-”
“Addy, listen!” Remus said, standing up and raising his voice above hers. “This is my chance to do something with my life. I know you always have said that you're glad I'm not becoming an Auror, but I wanted to. I wanted to more than anything, but I couldn't, because of that illness I've got. It's held me back my entire life and finally, finally, I have the chance to be just like everyone else. It's not even going to be an issue with this. I can fight. I can do something.”
“I just don't understand why you want to so badly,” Addy said through her tears. “All of you. Patrick, your friends, you. I just don't get it.”
“I don't know how to make you understand.”
“I don't think you can. I just hate this, Remus. I hate this so much. Everyone is leaving and everyone is dying,” Addy said. Her voice was so hollow, like there was no hope left. It broke Remus's heart.
“I'd be graduating either way.”
“I know, and I thought that's what we were going to talk about tonight. I thought we'd talk about how we'd make it work when I was here and you were somewhere, but it's not that simple anymore. It's so much more complicated.”
“It isn't,” Remus said, knowing full well that it was.
“It is,” Addy said. “I just can't do it again, Remus.”
“Addy, I'm not going to die.”
Addy laughed, but it was empty. “That's exactly what Patrick told me, and now he's buried. I'll never see him again, and I'll never talk to him again. I can't go through that again. I still have two more years of school, Remus.”
“I know that, but-”
Addy wiped her eyes. “I just can't. I'm sorry, Remus. I love you. I really do, but it's just too hard. I'm sorry. I am.”
Remus held his hand out to her, but she didn't take it. “So...”
“This is it, Remus. I'm sorry,” Addy said. “But I can't go through it again. It'll kill me.”
Remus opened his mouth to tell her that it would be different than it was with her brother, but she pressed her lips against his before he could say a word. She kissed him hard, harder than she'd done before, but broke apart quickly. When she did, Remus's cheeks were wet from her tears.
“Goodbye, Remus Lupin,” Addy said quietly.
“Addy-” Remus began.
“I'm sorry,” she whispered. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Remus said, trying unsuccessfully to hold back his own tears.
Addy bit her lip and gave Remus one more glance, before turning around and running to the castle. She never looked back. Remus lowered himself back onto the rock and watched her go. Never in his life had he felt more alone. A/N: Only one chapter to go! Next week's chapter might be late because I need to rework some things in it and I'm going to be busy for the next week. Thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews!
The quote "Everyone is leaving and everyone is dying." comes from Grey's Anatomy, which was created and produced by Shonda Rhimes.