Chapter 5 : The Mission
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It was a hard pill for James to swallow, but in the end he knew that Dumbledore was right when it came to Harry. The boy needed a chance to grow up in a normal environment, away from the fame and pressures of the wizarding world, and Dumbledore swore that he would be safe. And Dumbledore was right - as a werewolf, raising a child was near impossible. It was one of those uncomfortable facts about his new life, particularly when it was no longer safe for him to remain in England after the moon. Some of the wolves were out for blood: his, to be exact.
By the time Harry reached eleven, James thought that it might be time for him to introduce himself, but again Dumbledore made the painful point that while he may have been Harry’s father, to come forward now claiming paternity would not only sound crazy, it would sound like the words of a desperate man. There would be no way to avoid it becoming public knowledge; too many eyes were on Harry. Questions would arise, not only from the rest of the wizarding world, but also from Harry. Why hadn’t he been in Harry’s life before? While the reasoning had been sound, logic would not sit well with an eleven-year-old boy who was trying to come to terms with who and what he was. To have a man whom most knew as a friend of his father’s claiming to be his father would just be that little too much. It was a hard thought for anyone to swallow, thus James grudgingly stayed in Europe where he was safe, and making headway with the werewolves of France, per Dumbledore's request.
He did, however, insist that his invisibility cloak be given to Harry. While he could not himself be part of Harry's life, he could at least be in it, in some small way. He had, after all, lent it to Dumbledore all those years ago and never got it back. It belonged the hands of a Potter. It had been passed down father to son for many generations always around the time of their eleventh birthday. He, of course, had missed that occasion but Christmas wasn't too late, and Dumbledore obliged seeing as it did rightfully belong to Harry now.
After that, not many other letters were exchanged between Dumbledore and James; he could not be in Harry's life as he was technically needed in France. He was not sure of how much good he was doing among the werewolves there but he did as was asked. Thus, it was a surprise when James was met with an unfamiliar barn owl. The owl itself wasn't as surprising as the contents of the letter itself. Dumbledore was in the country on business and wished to speak of a rather important matter, he needed another favor.
The idea of having another favor asked of him did not exactly sit well with James. He knew what Dumbledore has asked of Remus for the Order: for him to protect Harry, and of James to continue the work of Remus in another country. None of it was easy. It had even cost his friend his life. It wasn’t too hard to assume that similar favors would continue to be asked of him. It was why he was there in France. What more did Dumbledore want? Sure it was for the greater good, but sometimes the cost felt a little steep to him. Still he wasn’t going to refuse meeting with Dumbledore. They man generally knew what was best, and he needed to at least hear him out.
Thus James found himself entering yet another pub to meet with Dumbledore. The memories from so long ago washing over him some as he pushed open the door. The place was quiet instead of boisterous like the Hogs Head had been when he had last been there. He was glad to find that this place was nothing like the other establishment; it helped to break the connection between his last meeting with Dumbledore and this one. He only had a moment to look around when his attention was caught by his assumed name.
“Remus.” Dumbledore stood and offered his hand not looking any different now than he did those thirteen years ago. If there was any change, it was his beard; it had grown longer. “You look well.”
James gave a bit of a dry laugh. He knew all too well how he, as Remus, had aged over the years. Gone were the boyish features he once had. He was now gray around the temples; his face had become lined with worry and the agony he had carried over the years. He even had a few new scars since he took on the role of his lost friend. “I’ve been making do.”
Dumbledore gave a nod before he gestured for James to take the seat across from him. “I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty to order some malted mead. I am told that you can find none better in France than that which is brewed here. I am uncertain as to how well it will hold up to Madame Rosemerta’s however.”
“I doubt I’ll be a good judge of that,” confessed James. “I haven’t had something of Rosemerta’s probably since shortly after I left school.” Though it was possible that how he remembered things tasting like, would not be how it tasted like now. He had learned very early on that as Remus, his tastes had changed. He couldn’t stand meat done well any more.
“Of course, the local mead is not why I asked you here. It is merely a happy incident that I am afforded the opportunity to taste the local flavors.”
James looked to Dumbledore expectantly as their drinks were delivered. He took a sip and while it was good it was certainly different than what he recalled. It was a lot sweeter and he was pretty sure they matured it with grape juice along with the honey and water. It wasn’t as thick as Rosemerta’s either.
“I asked you here Remus because some things have come up that I feel you should be made aware of.” Dumbledore paused to allow the words to settle before he continued. “There has been an unfortunate incident at Azkaban.”
The single swallow of mead sunk in James’ stomach like a pit. There was an uncomfortable knot built there as he waited to hear more. Had Sirius died? Had he been killed? While he now hated the man, to know he was dead - it was hard to say how he felt because he had been his best friend and like a brother to him.
“It seems that Sirius has managed to escape.”
The uneasy knot released inside James morphing into an ice bolt the shot through him. He fought to maintain the rage that was suddenly building inside him. He remained ridged his fist clenching as his nails drug across the table. “He’s after Harry, isn’t he?”
“I’m afraid he is. It is reported that before his escape, he started muttering to himself ‘He’s at Hogwarts’ over and over.”
“He is not going to get Harry. I’ll kill him myself if I have to.”
“At present, Harry is safely at home with his aunt and uncle unaware of this turn of events. Sirius is currently at large and I am going to need your aid in ensuring Harry is safe during the school year.”
“I know of a few places of where he might be. I’ll find him.”
James gave Dumbledore a deadly look. He was just in control of the anger that was coursing through him, but just that. “If you think for one minute I am going to sit idly by while my- ” James paused briefly as he started to feel the glass of mead begin to crack in his hand. “ -while Harry is in danger you have another thing coming! I will protect Harry with my life, as I should have done in the first place and you will not stop me Dumbledore.”
“I anticipated you would feel as such. It is why I came to see you, Remus. I need your aid in doing just that. I need your help in protecting Harry at Hogwarts.”
“Then let me-” James trailed off as Dumbledore raised a hand indicating that he wasn’t through.
“Your skills in protecting Harry would be better put to use at Hogwarts than off chasing shadows. There is an entire man-hunt going on for Sirius. One more person in that search will not make a difference. However, if he is truly after Harry, then it is he who we need to focus on.”
“What do you want me to do then?” asked James, his eyes narrowing.
“I have an opening this year for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts a subject you are well versed in. Come teach and watch over Harry. You and I both know that when Sirius was in school he knew the castle quite well – better than most. I assume you are equally familiar. You would be able to watch for him better than most. Ensure Harry’s added safety as the protective wards that are in place when he is at home on Private Drive do not stand while he is at Hogwarts.”
James stared at Dumbledore for a minute. This was not what he was expecting. A job? A chance to meet and be with Harry? This was too good to be true! Then the reality of one thing came crashing down on him. “What about my condition? I can hardly be sneaking off to the Shrieking Shack once a month and then spend days at a time healing in the hospital wing.”
“I’m sure you are aware of the Wolfsbane potion?”
“That – is notoriously difficult to brew.”
“Severus, I am sure, would be very much up to the task of brewing that for you every month.”
“Snape? You honestly think he would help me?” James highly doubted it – poison him was more like it.
“Time has a way of being a balm to old grievances. Severus is just as invested as I am in ensuring the safety of Harry. Not to mention his quarrel was more with Sirius and James and less with you, Remus.”
“I doubt time has changed things that much.”
“True, he has expressed his … uncertainty, in my wish to appoint you as the new Professor of Defense, but he has agreed none the less.”
James considered this – he may have misjudged Snape a little bit. He was working to protect Harry. He had done his part once before, it was why he and Lily had been able to go into hiding, at least until Sirius betrayed them. The absurdity was hard to grasp, Snape in the end had done more for him than Sirius. It was sickening, but true, and here Snape was going to be helping him once more.
Dumbledore spoke once more. “I am sure you are aware that if you accept the position, certain events of the past cannot be brought to Harry’s attention.”
That derailed James’ thought process as the sting of his losses continued to swirl around him. He closed his eyes for moment as he tried to push the renewed pain aside. His tone was just above a whisper. “I am aware.” He swallowed hard before he continued to speak.
“I am Remus John Lupin. James and I went to school together, and he was a very dear friend of mine.” He hated words but at the same time it was true, and he was coming to terms with that. He was no longer James, and he no longer held much hope of ever being him in name ever again. He was Remus now.
“I know none of this has been easy on you, Remus, but it is for the greater good.”
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