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Chapter 6 : Remus
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Only I will remain.
Snow collected slowly on the window sill and a sharp chilling wind blew under the door. It was Christmas day but there were no signs of the holiday in Remus’ small house apart from a small sprig of holly on the hearth above the fireplace. The fire’s warmth did not fill the house let alone the man seated next to the firing darning his socks. Today was just another lonely day for Remus.
It was a mere two months since Remus’ life changed drastically. James and Lily were dead, as was Peter, and Sirius was locked away in Azkaban for murder. Some days it felt surreal for the lone-Marauder to not have his once close family. They had drifted apart over the course of the past year. Remus felt the signs of alienation from the others as it became more evident that there was a spy close to James and Lilly. After all that happened Remus told himself not to be bitter about the unspoken assumptions about him. Of course it’s the werewolf who had the finger of blame.
Despite himself, Remus began to dwell on the injustice of the past year. Sirius the spy had shifted blame to the only other reasonable suspect. It was brilliantly done – the hints that were dropped about an untrustworthy element in the group and the slow withdraw of information. By Harry’s first birthday they were sending Remus further away from the others by having him spy on low-level cronies with no real significance to the war.
A scratch at the window pulled Remus out of his acrid memories. Looking over he saw the brown owl his father owned. After a quick wave of his wand and a cold gust of snow, Alfie the owl was on his arm hooting softly. “Got a message from Dad?” Remus asked the familiar bird. “Let’s have a look.”
The Christmas greeting was short and asked when Remus could visit next. Lyall struggled after his wife’s death. Neither he nor Remus knew how to grief for Hope or reestablish the family without her. It was impossible for Remus to visit his father without the crushing weight of his mother’s absence. His response back was equally short and said he’d try to visit after the New Year. “Make sure he eats, Alfie,” Remus called after the owl as it flew into the snow.
Remus made himself a cup of strong tea, with a touch of firewhiskey, to warm himself with a bit of Christmas cheer. A year ago he had experienced real joy at Christmas. Sirius had James, Lily, Harry, and Peter over to his tiny flat.
They were one another’s family on that Christmas day. James and Lily had come over early to help Sirius play host. Sirius had been entertaining Harry in the sitting room while Lily and James made their Christmas dinner in the bachelor’s kitchen. When Remus knocked at the door, it opened almost immediately after.
“Say hello to Uncle Remus, Harry!” Sirius said holding the tiny baby towards the door. As Harry began to fuss at the cold air and new person, Sirius called out to James, “Padfoot, he’s calling for you!”
“Let me take him,” Remus said reaching out for the crying infant. Sirius gladly handed over his godson to Moony. Quickly discarding his jacket and scarf, Remus took Harry and began to coo at him and wished him a Merry Christmas.
Lily was in the doorway from the kitchen and grinned at the two men negotiating her crying son. After a few moments of Remus’ consolation, Harry stopped fussing. “We might send him home with you, Remus. You have a knack with children,” Lily said with a laugh. “James could do with a break from the middle of the night wake up calls.”
“If you failed to notice it, I was entertaining the little bloke all morning without incident,” Sirius said in a voice that failed to be casual and off-the-cuff.
“You are good with Harry,” Lily said consolingly. “Just not when he starts to cry,” she added with a smirk. Lily made her way to Remus and reached for her son. “Here’s Mummy’s little boy,” she said holding Harry close. “Mummy and Daddy are just finishing up dinner. Be good for your uncles.” With a kiss Lily handed the giggling baby back to Remus.
The next hour Remus and Sirius entertained Harry with an invigorating game of roll the ball. Remus had to dissuade Sirius from enchanting the ball to fly around the room. “He needs to start practicing quidditch,” Sirius insisted reaching for his wand.
“Padfoot, I don’t recall reading that any of the nationally ranked quidditch players started before they could walk,” Remus said holding onto the ball for a moment.
“That’s my point! Imagine how much he’ll gain from starting now,” without further discussion, Sirius waved his wand causing the ball to start zooming through the room.
Harry’s little hands reached up and tried to capture the flying ball. It zoomed past Harry, bounced against the wall, and zoomed into the kitchen where they heard a crash. “Darnit, Padfoot! That was the gravy!” came James’ voice.
Remus and Sirius exchanged amused looks before the werewolf said, “Domesticated a bit, hasn’t he?”
Another knock at the door announced Peter’s arrival. “Sorry for being late!” he called to the flat. “Mum wanted to keep me over as long as she could – you know how she gets,” he added with an exasperated look. “Is that dinner I smell?” Peter looked around hopefully as if he hadn’t eaten a decent meal in at least two hours.
It wasn’t long until dinner. They all sat around the table with plates full of food. James and Lily took turns holding Harry so the other could eat. “Did you hear about that attack –“ Peter started but was cut off by Lily clearing her throat.
“Wormy, it’s Christmas. Let’s not talk about the war,” she said softly. It had been friends of hers who were the victims of the death eater attack Peter was on the verge of mentioning. “We deserve an evening without that looming over our heads.”
A few moments of slow eating and the occasional sip of wine were all the group needed to find another topic. The truth was that the recent months had only included the war and violence. They often spoke of nothing else. “I read that Puddlemere United is looking for chasers,” Remus said to the room at large. “They’re doing tryouts in the spring.”
“After their performance last season they’ll need to get new talent,” Sirius managed through a mouthful of mashed parsnips. “Remember that game they played against the Hollyhead Harpies?”
James groaned, “How could I forget? Lily and I had a bet on that game.”
“What sort of bet?” Peter asked leaning around Sirius to ask. “Wasn’t gold I take it?”
“No, wasn’t gold…” James said stabbing his carrots with a bit more vigor than was necessary.
Sirius raised his eyebrows at James’ evasiveness. “Did you have to go starkers somewhere? Did she make you comb your hair?” At school, Sirius had always been the one to think of the most outrageous consequences for losing bets and dares.
Remus and Peter laughed. Lily glanced at James before revealing their bet, “He had to –“
“Is this something we’ll want to know?” Remus cut her off before hearing something he may not want to remember late at night when he couldn’t fall asleep.
“I guess not,” Lily said ruffling James’ hair. “I can tell you he’s become quite the chef.”
Sirius gave Remus a significant look and said, “Domesticated. It’s what we feared.” Laughter filled the room, even James smiled at being the subject of his friends’ banter.
Last Christmas they had all been terrified of the war and Voldemort. This Christmas those fears were gone but so were his friends… his family. The previous year they would have traded anything for the war to be over and the fear to be gone. Little did they know that the cost of eradicating fear would be everything they held dear.
As friends, they had never talked through the possibility of one of them dying. James lived in a world of denial where he refused to entertain the idea of anyone he cared for dying. It had been difficult for James to be convinced that he needed to hide. His refusal to see the danger around him cost not just James but all of them to lose everything.
“Why didn’t we see it?” Remus said to his empty house. “That black-hearted traitor played us all!” Even if Remus had known for a fact that Sirius was a spy against them, James would not have headed the advice. He was determined to always believe the best in those around him. Even people who little deserved it.
More than anything, Remus wished that any one of his friends were there to say some words of comfort. This would be his new norm for the holidays. He would be alone in this new world without the fear that chased his friends for so long. The thought sent chills through Remus despite the heat radiating from the fire. He knew deep down that he’d never know friendship and community like he did with his friends during the war. They had fought like heroes though. Fought like heroes and died.
Was it worth it? Would Remus exchange the safety and security of the wizarding world for his friends and the fear-filled lives they led? Yes, in a moment, yes.
A/N: This chapter ties closer to the quote at the beginning than a specific fear of Remus’. This focuses on his life in a post war (fear ridden) world. Let me know what you think! While each story was independent, I was trying to tie them together with the war and moments throughout that period.
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