Chapter 13 : Remus Lupin
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“Are you sure you’ll be okay here by yourself, Remus?” Tonks asked, giving him a worried look.
I groggily lifted my head to meet her face. Her features were etched with concern, and perhaps something more, but my mind wouldn’t let me think about that right now. “I-I’ll be fine,” I managed, hoping against hope she wouldn’t press the matter further.
She nodded her head solemnly. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” She turned on her heal and slowly shut the door behind her. I stared hard at the place she just was, and then the sound of a soft pop was what tore away my gaze.
I slowly allowed my feet to carry me to the kitchen. Stopping, all I could allow myself to do was stare at the opposite wall. I watched as the flame light caused shadows to dance idly against the wall.
I didn’t want to remove my gaze from the idle flickering of light, but off to the side, I saw one of the shadows stirring more than what was reasonably possible. Turning slightly, I realized I wasn’t alone in the barren kitchen.
Kreacher’s eyes met mine, and he immediately looked away. “Mistress would not be pleased to have filthy half-breeds in her house.”
I clenched my fists at my side and retreated to the dining room. Now was not the time to lose it. I leaned up against the wall adjacent to the dining room. Shutting my eyes, I took a deep breath. Sirius’ face filled my mind. Sirius…you can’t be gone too, I thought. I knew that night we went to the Department of Mysteries, that something bad could happen, but nothing prepared me for this. Seeing you fall…the Veil opening up receiving the last true friend I ever had…it took all my restraint from not wanting to beat Harry to save you.
I ran my fingers over my eyes and back towards my temples. Oh God Sirius!
“- the piece of filth looks sad,” muttered Kreacher loudly, as he entered the sitting room. “Mistress’ son is no where seen. That means blood traitor didn’t return. Mistress will be most pleased.”
In an instant, I was out of my chair and glowering over the house elf. Kreacher didn’t even seem to notice me as he continued to mutter obscenities about Sirius. How dare he!
“Don’t ever speak of Sirius like that,” I said with icy calm, “Ever!”
The elf’s cold eyes ventured to look up at me. “He talks to Kreacher as if Kreacher would listen to him.” He averted his eyes and walked past me as if I wasn’t even there.
My grip on my wand instinctively tightened. I was so tempted to hex that thing into the next room. Better yet strangle him with my bare hands. A snarl escaped my lips as I glared daggers at the retreating elf.
Grimacing, I remembered myself and placed my wand back into the folds of my robes. I scanned the gloomy room and sighed deeply. There were too many memories of Sirius in this house. Catching another glimpse of Kreacher was all it took to convince me that I needed to get out of here.
I approached the front door, reaching my hand for the knob. I turned it slowly and closed it quickly behind me. The sun greeted me as I stepped out, but its light brought little cheer to the dismal House of Black.
I took a cautious step onto the sidewalk. Taking one step at a time, I pushed all surfaced emotions down the best I could. It would not do well to entertain them with the other presence consistent to my other nature. As I walked, I scanned the other houses briefly. On the chance that I actually made eye contact with one of the muggles on the street, I looked away quickly, not trusting myself to speak.
After ten minutes of walking and finding myself no closer to collecting my own thoughts, I stopped to ponder where I could go. I had no particular destination, and no place to go. There’s always Grimmuald, a voice inside my head reminded me. But that’s where I want to be away from, I reasoned with myself.
I shivered involuntarily as I realized I truly had nothing else, no one else. Voldemort took them all from me. James. Lily. And now Sirius. There’s always Harry.
Voldemort had taken them away from him too. You’re a werewolf Moony. What makes
you think you can protect him from the same fate?
“No!” I uttered aloud, stopping abruptly. I felt I had to do something, anything. I became so lost in that moment, that I didn’t realize when a young muggle boy accidentally bumped into me.
“I’m so sorry,” said a woman, who was hurrying towards me.
“Sorry,” mumbled the young lad.
Then, she saw me for the first real time, and her hand automatically tightened on her son’s shoulder. “Yes, well…we must be off,” she said abruptly and ushered her and her son in the opposite direction.
Surprisingly enough, I felt nothing, which was unnerving since earlier I had to force my inner wolf into submission. I am no stranger to someone shivering, gasping, or even turning pale when they encountered me because of what I was, but I was not used to this sort of reaction in the muggle world.
I must look really awful. I felt like howling in frustration. Sometimes, I just wished I was an ignorant muggle with no knowledge of the wizarding world, but at moments like this, it seems I wouldn’t be seen even differently. Suddenly, the weather outside seemed a lot less bright as the wind blew my hair against my face. I didn’t even bother setting it back in place. My curse seemed to hover over me like a heavy cloud. Instinctively, I reached up to pull my shabby jacket tighter against myself only to realize that I left before grabbing it.
Swearing ineffectually, I turned around and headed back in the direction of Grimmuald. Eventually walking into a throng of muggles was not a good idea at the moment.
Off in the distance, I saw the same woman who hurried away from me moments ago. She had her back towards me, and a man that accompanied her now had his arm draped around her shoulder. The young boy was playing with something on the ground a few feet in front of them. You’ll never have anything like that.
He sighed, and then chided himself. Stop pitying yourself. It won’t bring any of them back. He hated feeling helpless and so utterly alone. I am not unfamiliar with loneliness, but the fresh grief of Sirius death affected me greatly. If I gave into my despair, I’m not sure I would come out of it this time. It was then that I realized I needed to be completely alone in the place where I lost saw Sirius before that night even if it meant confronting my own demons at the moment. It was better than the alternative.
Immediately, I quickened my pace and hurried back to the house. I slowed as I reached where the door should appear. Concentrating on its location, the house of Black materialized in front of me. I pushed open the door and heard the door click behind me. Dead silence greeted me.
Throwing my head back in surrender, I let out a shout of pent-up anger and depression. No one could hear me, except maybe Kreacher, but that didn’t matter. I hurried up the stairs and through the hall. For a brief moment, I actually thought fate might be on my side just this once since Mrs. Black’s screams didn’t resound off the walls as I clambered up the flights up the stairs. I passed the rooms given to various Order members and headed straight towards the room Sirius used.
I stood in the dank hallway outside the door, leading to his room at the top of the house. A bitter laugh escaped me. He always did like being higher than anyone else.
Raising his hand, he slowly turned the dusty handle. The door creaked open revealing a dimly lit room. The light came from a solitary candle that sat on a desk adjacent to his bed. The magically lit candle had waned down to a mere stub. It’s probably been like that since we went to the Department of Mysteries.
I walked across the room and hovered over the desk. I immediately recognized the familiar scrawl of Sirius on a piece of parchment that was addressed to Harry. My heart constricted within me. He had been writing this letter to Harry, a letter he would never finish. I closed my eyes as another wave of grief passed over me.
After a few minutes, I sank into the chair in front of the desk. I inhaled deeply and could still pick up the scent of Padfoot in the musty room. My eyes reopened and stared listlessly at the desk. A feathered quill was thrown aside and the inkwell was knocked over and its contents had already bled onto the desk, including soaking into part of the letter that Sirius never finished. Harry.
I wanted to go to him, but there was nothing I could do. Umbridge had seen to that. And Dumbledore.
He told me to remain here until Harry finished the end of term. Exhaustion started to settle in, but too many memories drifted in and out of my mind to allow me to sleep. I continued to stare at nothing until my eyes began to cloud over, and I couldn’t see anything else. It all happened so fast. The floo call from Serverus. The Order. The attack. I remember hearing Sirius gloating his attacker, but I was too focused on my own duel to pay attention. Then I heard Harry’s cry. I stopped my own duel and watched as the Veil opened. Sirius! In so brief a moment, he was gone.
There was a soft knock on the door that my mind didn’t register. I had to stop Harry from going after him. Harry. He’s the reason we even went to the Department of Mysteries. No! It’s not his fault. He was just like Sirius, always dove into something to save some one else…so much like his father…Sirius did the same thing. Damn it, why couldn’t he just let us killed Peter!
I didn’t move when I heard my name called even though I recognized the voice. My body tensed when she crossed the room.
“Remus?” asked the tentative voice once more. “You shouldn’t be alone,” she added, her voice full of pity. Or was it compassion.
“But I am,” I responded automatically.
“Don’t do this,” she pleaded.
“I want to be alone,” I said in a tired voice.
“But you don’t need to be alone,” she pressed, moving to stand in front of me.
I didn’t raise my gaze to meet hers. “I doubt very much you know what I do and do not need.” I know I was sounding cold, but at the time, I did not care. I just wanted to be alone. Why couldn’t she just leave me be?
“I want you to listen to me,” Tonks said firmly. “Sirius wouldn’t want to see you like this.”
“He’s not here to tell me that, and he never again will be,” I responded evenly. I wanted to say something else to stress my point, but all that came out was “He’s gone.”
Tonks gave a pain sighed. “But you’re still here. You survived. You’ve got to continue to live or he’s won.”
“Voldemort has already one. He’s taken everyone from me. Everyone!” I gritted out, feeling thoroughly aggravated.
“You’re not the only one he’s taken people from,” Tonks blurted. Her voice sounded tired and weary.
“What would you have me do?” I say more bitterly than I mean.
She regards me with a slight frown. “For starters, you should take better care of yourself,” she says calmly. “Look at you.”
“I’ll manage,” I shifted slightly in my seat, becoming increasingly uncomfortable with this conversation.
“That’s all you do,” she pointed out. “There’s more to life than that.”
“I just lost my best friend, and as you so graciously pointed out, I survived. I don’t need another speech on the importance of life.” My hand fell to my side; my reflection a study of masked pain.
She shrugged, giving me a look of disgust. “Suit yourself.”
Her sudden change in demeanor made me feel as if I needed to explain myself to her. "Tonks," I pleaded, "you've got to understand ..."
"Understand what?" she snapped, getting angry now. "You think his death didn’t effect others? Didn’t affect me?”
“It’s different,” I said, pulling back unsteadily. Why couldn’t she understand that?
“Why? Because of your condition?” she retorted.
I cringed inwardly but wasn’t about to let her know that. “No,” I rasped. “Because Sir- because we were more than just friends.”
Obviously, that wasn’t the comment she was expecting. A cloud past over her features, but it disappeared so quickly I might have imagined it. Her features softened slightly as she tried to reach out to me. “I’m sorry,” she said sincerely. “I know he was your family.”
I pulled both hands through my hair. “He was all I had left,” I admitted, slumping my shoulders against the chair I was sitting in. I hated myself for showing such weakness. At that very moment, I wanted nothing more than to flee from the room, but I had to maintain a since of composure. Besides, I knew it was futile to attempt when I heard the charm she used on the door after she entered this room. Damn the Auror training for teaching them to bewitch door bolts.
Tonks reached out for me again a few moments later and laid a comforting hand on my shoulder. “You are not alone,” she told me, squeezing my shoulder.
I wanted to object, but I was currently at a loss for what to say. She dropped down in front of me and locked her eyes to mine. Both her eyes reflected bright with unshed tears.
“I don’t know what it will take for you to believe me, but I mean it.”
“I can’t lose Harry too,” I said barely in a whisper.
“Harry is safe at Hogwarts,” mentioned Tonks, looking bewildered.
“He just lost his Godfather…Sirius loved him as much as James did, if not more.”
"And you're mentioning this because ...?" asked Tonks.
“Because he’s all I have left,” I said, my voice breaking.
“Meaning?” pressed Tonks, looking at me quizzically.
"I mean he’s not something I can give up," I said, putting my face in my hands. “If I lost him, I don’t know what I’ll do…”
“You’ll survive…” Tonks said simply.
“Like I always do,” I muttered.
“And always will,” whispered Tonks, pulling me into a hug.
Tonks’ words rung true. “I was wrong,” I admitted, sinking into her embrace. “I’m sorry,” I whispered, wrapping my arms around her in return.
She held me tighter in response, and I felt my body convulse in a mixture of pain and relief and a quelling of the turbulence in his mind. In that moment, I finally felt a flicker of hope. Maybe there was something more than just surviving after all.
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