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Chapter 1 : Eloquence
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- Angela Carter
He was, at one point in his youth, a man confident in his words - though soft-spoken, lest he was in the presence of those strong enough to tear him out of his shell, they were always strung together with the highest level of eloquence, often making him sound like a man from another time. And Remus had always felt just so; too old for his young body, his mind weary and bones strong, the level-headed one of their pair, always with what-ifs and why's. And he has come now to regret this fact, too much time spent on questions unanswered, wasting the moments that were now such a luxury.
It is in his days when he is old in both mind and body that words begin to escape him; the last one standing, he remains in a life far too idyllic than how he had imagined it, with a wife thirteen years his junior who made him tea in the morning and made love to him at night while he sits in a stoic silence, an ongoing state of non-being that is far, far less that what she deserved.
Now words have become no more than accidental, a rare luxury for those who care enough to listen.
Because while Nymphadora Tonks wanders about the rooms of their tiny flat, pouring him a mug of chai and chattering endlessly about the affairs of the day - she's developed a habit of that, filling the silences that he so often creates - Remus Lupin is more than aware that he is going to die in this war.
He is fine with this.
In his free time he writes letters, for while he no longer speaks with the elegance of a young man with far too much confidence for his own good, the words seem to flow from the tip of his quill like magic. And so he sits, and so he writes.
On the parchments he writes his final confessions; the things too-long kept secret, those which he was always too much of a coward to reveal. For while Remus Lupin has been many things, he has never been brave. Courage and other such manly things were reserved for James, for Sirius, for Harry and Hermione and Ron and dear Nymphadora, who carried a bravery of her own. Her little acts of strength came in every day ways, in being married to a man not-alive and pouring his tea every morning and painting her hair the darkest black at night.
Her courage came in her silence, in the way she held her tongue.
And he thinks that, were he a different man, it might be enough to make him fall in love her.
So he writes her first. His letters are sloppy and disjointed, not for lack of caring, but rather because he rushes through, words coming to him in a torrent and scrawled on crisp parchment before he can allow himself to forget.
"Tonks (I very nearly wrote Nymphadora, but I can only imagine the look on your face if I had),
I have loved you in the way that a man loves a precious thing, a thing so precious he can hardly believe that it is real, that it is mine to hold. You are, in the simplest of words, a gift; in the most eloquent, the only effervescent ray of light in this pitiful darkness that I call living.
I hope that you get the chance to read this letter. I pray that your life is not taken along with mine.
And if it is not - do not concern yourself to mourn the memory of a man long-dead. There was nothing you could have done to save me, my dear, though Merlin bless your ever-beating heart for trying. Mine halted long ago, and despite your desperate attempts there is no known cure for the ceasing of a life.
Smile when I am gone, and I shall know this old man did not break you entirely."
He doesn't sign it. To do so would feel redundant - his very being has been poured into every word that was scratched down in child's print. So he slips it just under the inside cover of his favourite muggle novel, To Kill a Mockingbird; he knows that, when it happens, this will be the first place she goes.
Remus only prays she has the chance.
The next letter is for his son, the one he will hardly know, the one who will look like his mother and be free of his father's curse, and live a life with people able to live it as well.
It is written and re-written, the maddening imperfections glaringly important. For these are the only words of his his son will remember, and they must be ones that will allow him to know who his father is, where he comes from, why he did what he did. Why he couldn't be alive to see his first birthday, or any after that.
They will be the final remnants of the man he could have been, and fuck if he can't get them right.
(for as of yet you have no name, but a tiny brain and tiny fingers and a tiny, tiny heart)
Forgive me. I am -"
But nothing comes.
It is a letter he shall finish another day.
The day before the end of his life Remus becomes very much aware of the disintegration of his mortal state of being (and my, what a morbid way to put it, but the dramatics sound much better than the simple truth - dying).
He becomes aware in the way that the tea Nymphadora pours him tastes far sweeter, in the way that her touch is like exotic silk, in the way Molly's anxious screeching doesn't put him on edge, in the way little Teddy Lupin suddenly becomes both parts the most beautiful and the saddest thing he has seen in his life.
But he is most aware in the way his fingers twitch anxiously - there is one letter left to write.
At first he sits. Then he stares, but the words don't smack him in the face as they did for his wife, or cease completely as they did for his son. Rather, they wait for him patiently in the background, as if asking his permission. They are gentle and soft and unobtrusive, but he takes his time before he beings. This is a moment he must savour - this is the moment where the finished of it all takes centre stage, and while Remus has been prepared for far too long, he can't help but put it off a second longer.
A minute, perhaps.
An hour most likely.
He puts it off until he cannot put it off any longer, and the words tickling the tip of his tongue are ready to come out and make their mark. It is the first drop of ink that sets everything in motion, and then puzzle pieces fall all at once.
"My dear friend,
(Friend? Is that the right word? I have never known what to call you - perhaps just Sirius will do. My dear Sirius)
Ever since your painful departure from this plane to the next I have longed for mine. I suppose it came in a way, for part of me, the part that had always belonged so pathetically and inarguably to you. And perhaps it went to find you, that little part of me I could never reclaim as my own, and I cannot help but wonder if it made it there in one piece. I hope so sincerely; if I had to lose a chunk of myself, I can only hope it found happiness where I will never be able to again.
I wish I could say that I will see you soon, Sirius, but I don't know if I will end up where you have. I have done things, such terrible things, and I have taken comfort in thought of you all the while. Thought of your face, of your touch, but it is in doing such things that I fear I may have secured my eternity separated from yourself.
So I will not say anything, other than how deeply I owe you for saving me.
My thoughts are coming out in jumbled fragments now, and although you will never read this some day someone will, and I hope, for their sake as well as mine, it makes sense. Because I do not know where one thought ends and the other begins, as they all connect in an endless train of SiriusSiriusSirius. But I will say this - I have loved you so selfishly, because I have loved you as a belonging, as something of my own. And I hope you can forgive me for that, my friend who is not a friend at all, because you deserve to be owned by no one.
I should conclude this letter, but I have never been one for endings.
I have loved, and been loved. I have lived, and I have seen and done and felt and loved, more than I have ever thought was possible for one human being. And I have loved you, Sirius Black, the singular thing which kept this tired heart beating until this last day."
It is not eloquent. It is not beautiful or intelligent or near what he had intented to say.
But, in these final moments, it is enough.
A/N: I gave myself feels D:
To Kill a Mocking Bird is a novel by Harper Lee, and reviews are a girl's best friend. Even just a "hi I read this" is something that will make my day!
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