Remus sighed as he placed a stack of books in the open trunk sitting on the floor of his study. His study was mostly empty now, with only a few more things left to pack. He'd saved his books for last because he always thought rooms looked their emptiest when there weren't any books in them. A room without books was hardly a room at all, just a space with four walls.
The past twenty-four hours had been a whirlwind of emotion for Remus and he hadn't really processed everything yet. On one side, he was positively ecstatic that Sirius hadn't been the traitor Remus believed him to be, but on the other hand, he could hardly grasp at the concept that Peter betrayed them all. Then there was the fact that Peter had escaped and the only witnesses to his having been there at all were three thirteen-year-olds, an escaped convict, and Remus himself. Sirius certainly wouldn't be getting his name cleared anytime soon. All of that on top of the fact that it was the day after the full moon and he'd transformed without Wolfsbane and nearly attacked three of his favorite students. Suffice to say, Remus was barely holding it together. Then he found out Snape had let Remus's condition slip, and he'd had to resign.
He screwed up. If he hadn't forgotten his potion in his haste to follow Harry, Hermione, Ron, Sirius, and Peter, perhaps he'd still be employed by Hogwarts. Really, it was his own fault.
Remus grimaced as he stood up. His leg was bothering him. The same leg that he'd injured in his seventh year. It was a pain that reminded him of a simpler time, of a time when all his friends had been alive.
There was a light knock on his open door and Remus turned to see Luna standing just outside. Her eyes were large and she wore a shocked expression.
“Luna...” Remus began.
“Professor?” Luna asked quietly, stepping inside. “What are you doing?”
“Packing,” Remus said. “I'm afraid I couldn't defy the curse.”
“But it's not really cursed!” Luna exclaimed. “Not really. It's just a rumor. You told me that.”
Remus smiled. “I did. And you insisted that it wasn't just a rumor. But either way, I am leaving Hogwarts.”
“But why?” Luna asked, stepping over a box in order to reach her usual chair. “You don't have Voldemort in the back of your head nor did you lose your memory.”
“No, I don't and I didn't,” Remus said ruefully. “Did you hear about what happened last night?”
If Luna was surprised at Remus's change in topic, she didn't show it. “I heard rumors. Ginny Weasley has been telling people her brother got pulled through a tunnel to the Shrieking Shack by Sirius Black.”
“It's true,” Remus said. “Except it wasn't Sirius Black who betrayed Harry's parents all those years ago. It was Peter Pettigrew.”
“Was supposed to be dead?” Remus said. “Yes, he was. He faked his own death and framed Sirius. He's spent the past twelve years living as a rat, his animagus form.”
Luna's mouth fell open. “A rat? People are also saying that Sirius Black is an animagus. A dog.”
“He is,” Remus confirmed. “We all were. James Potter was a stag.”
“What about you?”
Remus sighed. “That brings us back to my resignation. I am not an animagus, but I am the reason why my friends became animagi when we were in school. Luna, the reason I resigned is because I am a werewolf. Professor Snape told everyone at breakfast. Werewolves are not technically allowed to be teachers at Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore gave me a chance, but now that my secret has been revealed, I can no longer stay.”
Luna's face fell. “But Professor, that's not fair. It's Snape's fault-”
“That doesn't matter. Whether his intentions were malicious or not, it remains that everyone now knows. I'm afraid there is nothing I can do except resign.”
“It's still not fair,” Luna said softly. “But what does that have to do with your friends becoming animagi?”
“Werewolves only harm humans while transformed,” Remus explained. “And when we don't have anyone to bite, we bite ourselves. James, Sirius, and Peter became animagi in order to spend full moons with me and distract me from attacking myself. They made the moons bearable, long before the Wolfsbane potion was invented.”
“So you were a werewolf while in school,” Luna said, furrowing her brow.
“Since I was five,” Remus said.
Luna's eyes suddenly grew large again and a smile crept onto her face. “Professor...did you ever tell my mum about your being a werewolf?”
“No,” Remus said. “She seemed satisfied in just knowing I had a chronic illness. I always imagined we would break up over it, but it never came to that. Not after her brother's death and my joining the organization he died serving.”
“She knew,” Luna said, staring directly at Remus. “She must've figured it out.”
The thought had crossed Remus's mind once or twice, that Addy knew about his lycanthropy all along and that was why she never cared that he didn't tell her. But his suspicions were never confirmed. “I'm not sure, Luna. It's possible.”
“No,” Luna said, laughing. “She actually did know. You know what my name means, don't you?”
“Moon,” Remus mused. “In many languages.”
Luna smiled. “My mum told me she named me after a really good friend she had when she was at Hogwarts, but she never explained. She always got really sad when she talked about it, so I never brought it up more than a few times. I always assumed she had a friend named Luna who died or something, but now I understand. Professor, she named me after you.”
Remus stared at Luna, processing what she had just told him. He never gave Luna's name a second thought before now, but it made sense. More than that, it meant Addy never forgot him. Despite all their years of no contact, she remembered
him enough, was fond of him enough, to name her only daughter after him. It also meant that she never cared that he had lycanthropy.
“Addy never had a friend named Luna,” Remus said quietly. “At least not at Hogwarts.”
Luna nodded. “It was you. You were the friend. But she never said you were her boyfriend.”
Somehow that didn't bother Remus. As much as they were boyfriend and girlfriend, he and Addy had been closer, like two best friends.
Luna suddenly stood up and wrapped her arms around Remus. Remus was startled for a second, never having received a hug from a student before. But then he hugged her back, for the briefest of moments, before he pulled away. When he did, Luna was smiling.
“I've enjoyed getting to know you this past year, Luna,” Remus said. “You and your mother are incredibly alike. She'd be very proud of you, you know.”
“Thanks for telling me about her,” Luna said. “I wish you weren't leaving.”
“I wish I wasn't leaving, too. But Luna, this isn't goodbye. We'll see each other again.”
“I'll owl you,” Luna said, “and tell you about whoever replaces you. And I bet Dad would let me invite you over for dinner sometime.”
Remus had to suppress a chuckle at the thought of what Xeno Lovegood's house must look like. “I would enjoy that very much. I won't say goodbye. But until next time, Luna.”
Luna smiled. “Until then. I'll miss you at Hogwarts, Professor Lupin.”
“I'll miss being here,” Remus said.
Luna gave him another quick hug before skipping out of his classroom. When she reached the threshold, she looked back and waved. Remus waved back and she left. He stood next to his trunk for a full five minutes after she left, thinking about how Addy had loved him enough, thought of him enough, to not only name Luna after him, but to name her after the part of him that most people despised.
Remus packed his trunk methodically. First he folded his robes and set them on the bottom. Then came his parchment, quills, and ink. Then all the junk he'd acquired over the past nine months such as Chocolate Frog cards, unused dung bombs, and half-empty sacks of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans. Last, he packed his books. Most people probably would've packed books first, given their weight, but Remus always saved books for last. His dormitory looked too empty without them, so he saved them until the last moment possible.
James, Sirius, and Peter were also packing. They'd started the process without saying a word and they hadn't said anything since. In fact, all four boys had been quiet all morning. Remus preferred it that way. He told his friends about what happened with Addy as soon as it had happened, and he had no desire to talk about it again.
They still had an hour until they had to be on the grounds for the leavers ceremony. Remus just wanted the entire thing to be over. As much as he was going to miss Hogwarts, he now only desired to go home and enjoy a few days of quiet before his work for the Order began. But even that would be hard to come by since Alice and Frank were getting married in a week and Remus would be moving into Sirius's new house shortly thereafter.
Remus sighed as he placed the final book on the top of the pile of stuff in his trunk. He reached over and shut the lid, which closed easily. Ever since he gave up potions and didn't have to carry a cauldron and potions kit to and from school, packing had become a lot easier.
“I'll see you lot at the ceremony,” Remus said, standing up.
“Where are you going?” Sirius asked.
“There's just something I have to do,” Remus said.
The corridors were quiet as Remus walked away from Gryffindor tower. The rest of the students were shut in their dormitories, doing last minute packing, much like Remus had been doing just minutes ago. For the younger students, it was just another summer. But for the seventh years, it was the start of the rest of their lives.
Remus kept walking until he reached the hospital wing. He paused at the door and then entered. Madam Pomfrey was sitting at her desk, doing paperwork. She looked up and smiled when Remus walked over to her.
“Hello, Remus,” she greeted him. “I was hoping you'd come to visit one last time.”
“I wouldn't leave without saying goodbye,” Remus said.
“Of course not,” Madam Pomfrey said as she stood up. “Are you all packed? Excited for the leavers ceremony?”
Remus shrugged. “Yeah, I suppose.”
Madam Pomfrey put her arm around Remus's shoulders and led him over to the nearest bed. She sat down and patted the spot next to her. Remus sat.
“Is everything okay, Remus?” she asked quietly.
Remus bit his lip. Nothing was okay, but hadn't come to the hospital wing to talk about Addy.
“You've never been able to lie successfully to me, Remus,” the nurse said with a chuckle.
That was definitely true, Remus thought. Ever since his first year Madam Pomfrey had been able to weasel anything out of him, whether it had to do with his lycanthropy or not.
“Addy broke up with me,” Remus said, not looking up from his lap.
“Oh, dear.” Madam Pomfrey patted his back.
“And it wasn't even because of my lycanthropy. She still doesn't know about that. It was because I decided to fight against Voldemort, just like her brother did. Except he died and she blames it on him fighting and she said she can't handle being with me if I'm going to fight like he did. She's afraid I'll die.”
“Oh, Remus. I'm so sorry.”
“It would've been better if she'd said it was because I was leaving and she wasn't.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded. “She's suffered a terrible tragedy. She's trying to separate herself from anything that could cause her to feel that pain ever again.”
“I always thought the worse pain I'd ever feel was the pain from a transformation,” Remus said quietly. “But it's not. This is worse. It just hurts so much.”
“It hurts because it mattered, Remus,” Madam Pomfrey said quietly. “What you and Addy had was real, so of course it hurts now, so soon after it ended. But time will help. I know it doesn't seem that way now, but it will. And eventually, you'll just have the good memories left.”
Remus nodded. That made sense. But it still didn't help the pain he felt in his heart. It was so fresh, and so raw, like there wasn't anything in the world that could take it away.
“Now, you'd better get to the grounds,” Madam Pomfrey said, standing up. “You don't want to be late.”
Remus stood as well. “Madam Pomfrey...thanks...for everything.”
The nurse smiled and wrapped Remus in a tight hug. “You're welcome, Remus. You've come a long way since the scared eleven-year-old you were when I first met you. I'm very proud. If you ever need anything, be it healing after a full moon or just someone to talk to, I'm only an owl or Floo call away. Please keep in touch.”
“I will,” Remus said, biting back tears. He never imagined it would be this hard to say goodbye to Madam Pomfrey.
“Take care, Remus,” Madam Pomfrey said, letting him go.
“You, too,” Remus said. He turned to leave, but paused for a moment near the door. The hospital wing had been as much a part of his Hogwarts career as his dormitory and the classrooms had been. It was strange saying goodbye.
“Did your parents show up?” James whispered to Sirius as they sat in rows of chairs on the grounds.
Sirius snorted. “Is that a serious question? Of course they didn't. They'll save all their congratulations for next year, when Regulus is done.”
Remus saw his own parents. They were sitting in the third row, with James's parents and Peter's parents. Remus could already see tears in his mother's eyes, and it struck him that his parents probably never thought they'd see this day come.
“Did your parents come?” Remus asked Lily.
Lily nodded. “Yeah, they're in the back. But Petunia and Vernon didn't, obviously.”
Professor Dumbledore, who had been speaking with a few of the other professors in the first row, stepped up to the podium that had been set up in front of the rows of students. The crowd immediately quieted, without him even having to ask for silence.
“Welcome family, friends, and students to the 1978 leavers ceremony at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” Dumbledore began. “The students behind me have worked hard for seven years and today they embark on a journey that is the rest of their lives. No longer children, these adults join the rest of us, in whatever the future brings.
“The world they will enter today is a very different world than the one seven years ago. Seven years ago, we did not live in fear of attacks on our loved ones. We did not fear our neighbors or strangers. The world was peaceful, calm, and is now wrought with danger and uncertainty. Yet I have confidence in the class of 1978. They will move on to do great things, no matter what the world throws their way. In fact, this class boasts the largest number of future Aurors in recent history. It also contains future healers, Ministry workers, shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, and writers. One day, perhaps, one of these students could be teaching at this very school, or one of them may even become my successor,” Dumbledore paused to chuckle. “Their futures, like all of ours, are uncertain. Yet, I believe that mystery is one of the best things about life. We have the power to make our futures and make them whatever we want. Nobody, not even Lord Voldemort, can take that away from us.”
There was a smatter of whispering amongst the crowd at Voldemort's name.
“I now invite you to listen to this year's Head Boy and Head Girl,” Dumbledore continued. “Both have shown exemplary leadership skills throughout their time at Hogwarts. First we have our Head Boy, Mr. James Potter.”
James stood up, clutching a stack of notecards, and stepped up to the podium. He performed Sonorus on himself and then stared out at the crowd.
“Hi,” he began. “I want to tell you up front that I'm not good at speech writing. In fact, I had my three best friends help me with this, and without them, this speech would've been awful. I promise. But I'm not ashamed that I needed help with this, because everything I've done at Hogwarts has been with the three of them. We met on the train, on our very first day, and have been friends ever since.
“I've learned many things at Hogwarts. Professor Slughorn taught me to never mix eye of newt with dried pixie dung, unless you want to set your potion on fire and get second degree burns and have to go to the hospital wing. Professor Flitwick taught me how to make my laundry fold itself, which has certainly helped with my laziness. Professor McGonagall taught me how to transfigure someone's quill into a mouse while they are writing, which has hilarious consequences.”
The crowd laughed and Remus smirked. It had been Sirius who'd done that to Peter last year.
“But of all the lessons I learned while at Hogwarts, the most important one has been friendship. My friends have been there for me, every minute, every second, for the past seven years, and I've been there for them. We've helped each other through difficult exams, heartbreak, and more. We've shared tears, laughter, and a few pranks over the past seven years. I can always count on my friends for anything and they can count on me, no matter what. I learned that if you can't trust your friends, who can you trust?
“And so, the best advice I have for my fellow classmates, is to keep your friends close. Don't lose touch as you move on, no matter how easy it might be. Thank you.”
The crowd clapped as James stepped down from the podium. When he sat down Remus noticed that his face was glistening with sweat. Remus hadn't realized just how nervous James had been.
Dumbledore stepped up to the podium once more. “Thank you, James. Now we have our Head Girl, Miss Lily Evans.”
“Thank you, Professor,” Lily said after taking Dumbledore's place. “And thank you, James. The importance of friendship is one of the best lessons any of us could take away from Hogwarts. But I am going to talk to you about another lesson, one that I just learned this past year. And that is that it is okay to fail.
“For those of you who do not know, I am a Muggle-born. I grew up knowing nothing of Hogwarts, and nothing of magic. I excelled at school, getting top marks in every subject, every year. Failure wasn't really on my radar, yet it was something I secretly feared. After receiving my Hogwarts letter, I was afraid that I'd be bad at magic, that Hogwarts made a mistake in accepting me. I thought that since I didn't have magical parents, I'd be behind.
“Yet when I got to Hogwarts, I discovered that that was not the case. I wasn't behind at all, and in fact, I continued to excel. My marks were high, and I got made prefect in fifth year. Then I became Head Girl. It seemed that nothing could possibly go wrong...”
Remus's mind wandered during Lily's speech. He'd had every intention of paying attention, but his nerves wouldn't let him. This was the moment he'd been anticipating, been fearing, for the past seven years. The moment when he would no longer be a student and no longer be encased in the safety of Hogwarts. He was an adult and he'd have to make his own way.
His gaze wandered to the Whomping Willow, the tree that symbolized his time at Hogwarts. That tree was his mark on the school. While future students wouldn't know why it was there, Remus and his friends would, and as long as it stood, it was proof that a werewolf had attended Hogwarts.
Remus still remembered when he first saw it, the summer before his first year, when he and his parents met with Professor Dumbledore. Remus questioned it, thinking that everyone would wonder why the headmaster would plant a dangerous tree on the grounds. “I'll tell them it was a gift from a friend, if they ask, but Remus, people rarely question what I do. It's one of the fringe benefits of being as brilliant as I am.” Remus laughed at that, and some of his nerves were settled.
“...I, like so many of my classmates, desired to become an Auror. I applied, did my interview, and sat for the exams. Then, I didn't get in. For what seemed like the first time, I had failed at something, and I didn't understand. For days I went over what I'd done wrong...”
His nerves tripled the day he and his parents traveled to London and he boarded the Hogwarts Express. When he met James, Sirius, and Peter, he tried to hide it, but he doubted he did a good job. Still, they befriended him, and it was the start of their tight friendship. Remus never imagined he'd be leaving Hogwarts with friends like James, Sirius, and Peter.
“...I'd failed at something, and that was it. Yet, as much as it hurt, I was okay. My parents were still proud of me, my friends still liked me, and that was it. I learned that failure is okay because it gives you a new opportunity. You overcome it and move on, which is exactly what I did...”
Remus turned back to Lily and forced his brain to focus.
“I will continue to fail throughout my life, as will the rest of us. There isn't a person here who hasn't experienced failure, no matter how big or small. When we fail at something we come out of it a stronger person, and we've learned from it, and we've learned how not to make the same mistakes. It's okay to make mistakes and it's okay to fail.
“I wish to tell my classmates not to live like I did for the majority of my life. Don't live afraid to fail, because if you do, you might miss out on something good. Thank you.”
Lily stepped down from the podium and Dumbledore returned. The crowd gave Lily a round of applause.
“Thank you, Miss Evans,” Dumbledore said. “Wise words, from both our Head Boy and Head Girl. And now, I ask the class of 1978 to rise and make their way to the boats, so they may leave Hogwarts the same way they arrived, seven years ago.
“As much as they are different now, adults rather than children, they face a similar fate. As when they were eleven, they are embarking on a new journey, one that begins with a simple boat ride.”
Remus rose along with his classmates. He was sort of glad the ceremony was over, as the whole prospect of actually leaving Hogwarts for good was making him slightly nauseous.
“Please join in me in congratulating the Hogwarts class of 1978,” Dumbledore said as he began applauding.
The crowd joined Dumbledore as Remus and the other seventh years walked the short distance to the lake.
Hagrid was waiting, much as he had been so many years ago. The little fleet of boats looked smaller than they had before. Remus, James, Sirius, and Peter got into the same boat just as they had after taking their first train ride.
The boats soon filled and Hagrid raised his pink umbrella. The boats started propelling forward and Remus turned back to see the crowd waving on the bank. He turned forward again and stared at the boats in front of him.
He was done now, completely done with Hogwarts. He'd felt uncertain at the beginning of the year, when he had no idea what he was going to do with his life, but now, somehow, the uncertainty felt worse. Remus knew what he was going to do; he was going to fight Voldemort with the Order of the Phoenix. But he didn't know what that would bring. None of them did. That was why Addy had broken up with him, he thought. The uncertainty of it all.
“Whatever happens,” James said quietly, “we'll do it together.”
“We've stuck together for seven years,” Sirius added. “Nothing can tear us apart now.”
“Nothing,” Peter agreed. “We've got each other, no matter what else happens.”
Remus nodded, unable to say anything for fear that the tears that had been threatening to fall would fall. James's speech had rung true for Remus. Of all the things he'd learned and experienced at Hogwarts, his friendship with James, Sirius, and Peter was by far the most important.
They were Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. The Marauders. Nothing, nothing could change that. A/N: It hurts because it mattered is a quote by John Green. Lily's speech was inspired by J.K. Rowling's commencement address at Harvard in 2008.
I'm very sorry about the incredibly late update! Not only did this need some reworking, but I completely forgot that the queue closure was going to affect TAs for part of the staff vacation. And I really should've remembered that considering I am a validator... But anyway, here it is! The last and final chapter.
Thank you so much for sticking with this story and for all the lovely reviews. I want to write a sequel, but I am not sure when I'll be able to because I now work two jobs and am very busy. But I have another story I am going to start posting next week! It's a Lily II romance called Searching for Forever.
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