Author: Regala Electra
Summary: "I am trying... / To prevent // the end of the world"
Author's Notes: Daaaaaark. Set during the First War and following Remus until the ending of the First War. Thanks to faith_girl222 for the beta and she remains shiny. Summary quoted from Monica Youn's Naglfar.
Feedback: As always, it is more than greatly appreciated, and constantly desired.
You will have to become a hero like the rest of us.
Nothing you can do will disappoint them now.
(Above lines taken from Night Ferry to Naxos 1 and Night Ferry to Naxos 2 by Monica Youn's collection of poetry, Barter.)
It's just a walk in the park.
Setting: Sunset, or rather, the sun is actually setting.
There is nothing figurative about it; it is setting. And the park is alit brightly.
It is burning, violently ablaze only in the way the most sensational reporter of The Daily Prophet could describe (achingly using the most apocalyptic terminology possible, with a breathless tone of hyperbole) and he remembers telling Sirius, it's just a walk in the park, honestly, and everything is falling apart around him.
He puts out a flame catching at the bottom of his robes with a stream of water, but there is no way to stop this, it has spread across the entirety of the park.
There is a thin girl at the other end of the pond, scorched badly, reds and blacks, raw as anything. She thinks she is safe. He wants her to believe for just a while longer.
Making his way to her, while the fire (while hell itself) is unleashed all around them, it is like he is almost strolling, but he is not. He walks purposely because he is quite sure that his leg requires more time to fully heal from last night's full moon.
Though, at the very least, when the sun sets, he will not fear this night. Well, he will fear it, but he will at least remember it, his mind will remain his own and his only.
For what that's worth now.
When he crouches down next to her, ignoring the smell of burnt flesh and the coppery tang of freshly drawn blood hanging in the air, he says, "You will be safe, I swear it."
Her eyes do not look at him. She is muttering to hide her sobbing, catching breaths as though she is stealing them with a violent desperation. He hates that he can make out the words stammering out of her mouth. "My family -He- all dead - everyone - he's coming-"
Yes, he is coming; Remus turns and sees the smoke rising in the air, over a little cottage on the corner of the park. "We have to go now. I'll take you to St. Mungo's, you'll be safe, I swear."
"NO!" The girl pushes him away suddenly, violently, and he awkwardly falls backwards, his bad leg cracking loudly underneath him.
And with a mangled scream that cuts right through him, she manages to rise, eyes glinting with the triumph that only the mad possess.
As the sun fully sets, in the darkness of early evening, she runs to the only source of light, and is swallowed in the fiery brightness, her body but a dark shadow against the unceasing yellows and reds dancing across the park.
He has failed.
There is little time left and he tries to transfigure long weeds in order to set a temporary cast on his re-injured leg. The pain is only secondary to his thoughts. As he attempts to stand, his hand unintentionally finds a charm bracelet among the muddy bank of the pond. Tucking it in his robes, he apparates with a faint pop, forcing the image of the burning and smoke away with little result.
As he leaves the alley, he catches a reflection of himself in a nearby store window. He does not recognize the person staring back at him.
The reports merely say it is an accident at first. And then the bodies are found.
A bead of sweat collects on the newscaster's forehead as he speaks to the man-on-the-scene, a reporter with a grim face, but oddly blank eyes.
Gang warfare and the like.
There is a shadow of a robed figure, vanishing as quickly as it fell over the background of the reporter's on-the-spot report. If someone looked close enough, they'd see it, clear as anything. Trouble is, no one does.
Dumbledore stands in front of a window, his fingers pressed very tightly right under his crooked nose. No owls dare fly now, so he must be looking for something, perhaps hidden over the horizon. All he says, with a resigned sigh, "The Spencers."
"I tried to-" Remus stops, a burning heat like ashes constricting his throat. He mustn't fail Dumbledore and now is not the time for tears. That will come, after, if there is an after left. "A child managed to escape, but-"
He takes out the scorched bracelet. It is mostly tarnished dull, save for one charm, a bright star. Dumbledore reaches out and takes it in his hand. There is only so long that Remus can look at him, and he looks away, facing the window, attempting to see what sign Dumbledore is seeking for in the distance.
"Isabella Spencer. Fourteen years old. She was accepted to Hogwarts, you know, but in these times..."
Remus knows what he is not saying. "When was she bitten?"
Dumbledore pushes up his glasses, and stares ahead out the window, eyes focused, not looking at Remus. "This year. A werewolf allying himself with Voldemort has been assigned the task of increasing the ranks." His voice is cold, almost unaffected. "Muggle-borns were first choice because-"
"They're easy to dispose of." Remus sighs, his leg feeling worse with every moment. He will not fully recover this time. It doesn't matter.
"Do not doubt yourself, Remus," Dumbledore says in his insufferably gentle way, "There is only so much to be done and you have performed admirably. You need to rest."
"No." Remus realizes how short he sounds and attempts to rectify it, "No, I need to- yes, I suppose you're right."
Dumbledore's hand is heavy on Remus' shoulder. "You know what you must do next."
"It's hard keeping it from them."
Dumbledore almost smiles. "I fear the worst in these times, Remus, but you mustn't doubt, where you go, there is always a shadow of hope. They will understand."
Remus only can nod, not believing.
Before he leaves, Dumbledore hands back the bracelet, and his eyes are shining bright. "We mustn't forget."
As if that is even possible.
He studies the parchment a final time before he burns it, watching the paper curl into fine black ash and crumble away. He points his wand, murmurs, and the ashes disappear.
He will have to pack.
He will not miss this place. It is not a home and its potential for being a home has been eradicated in these times. For now, it is a hideout, a place to lie low, and a place where he does not belong.
There is a brief sentimental thought as he changes, for further effect, "R.J.L." to "R.J. Lupin" on his battered luggage.
There now, he thinks, they'll need only to find me.
"Where have you been?" There is a faint crack and Sirius enters the bedroom, "Are you packing? Listen, you have to see Evans soon, she's swelled up, and it's kicking, can you believe it?"
What is not said: You haven't seen her in weeks. There is a child to worry about. James and Lily have other responsibilities.
And Remus has made other promises.
Remus closes the battered suitcase and says, wearily, "Not tonight, Sirius. I'll be leaving tomorrow."
He says it all with capital letters, a new edge to his voice.
Remus locks his luggage with a mere flick of his wand. "It's getting worse."
What does not need to be said: The change. Voldemort. The nightmares. Everything.
He hasn't seen Lily and James because this is the wrong time, the worst time, and he cannot think about the child, about what his future will be. There is no future anymore.
And he let the girl run into the fire.
"Moony, I swear to you-"
"I can't take another promise, Sirius. And I should go."
He hesitates. "I can't tell you."
"Sod it all! We're both in the Order, and you've been damn bloody silent lately. What's the matter, then?"
Ah, the final accusation. It hurts more than he expected.
He turns, swiftly, "I'm leaving."
Sirius kisses him, hot and desperate. He can stay, as he lets Sirius slide his tongue into his own mouth, it is trust, implicit trust, as Sirius clings to him, so wonderfully tight and warm. He is still weak and he *wants* to, but he must go on, and he pushes Sirius away.
"This isn't a matter of choice, anymore." No, it is a matter of watching it all fall down.
"And you might not be coming back."
Something is wrong when he looks at Sirius: there is not the anger he expected flashing in his grey eyes, nor the shouting, or the denouncements that he is being a coward. No declaration that he's forgetting that as long as they, all of them, Sirius, Remus, James, Lily, and Peter, stay together, they will defeat Voldemort.
He waits for the outburst.
And it never comes.
Something sinks heavily in his stomach, like ill realizations, heavy and disquieting.
Sirius is not fighting for him. He breathes a heavy sigh and musters up a dead, even kind of force in his voice, wearied with all he has seen, all he still feels and he declares, "You're wrong. There's no 'might' about this business. Take care of James and Lily."
He is not sure if there was a growl in his voice, but he knows he will never forget the expression on Sirius' face. Because he cannot read it.
Sirius lets him go without a single word.
He closes the eyes of the young wizard, a werewolf since he was a young teen. His hair, lank and pale, had yet to be marred by a single strand of grey .
Another potential ally and he was too late to stop the Death Eaters from killing him, perhaps because they tired of controlling the young boy for their ongoing project of creating more werewolves.
Besides, they have a more faithful monster in their ranks.
Remus knows there is no time to bury the body and there are no forms of identification on the boy, save for a crude series of scars all over the body, ensuring that even in death, the body of the werewolf belongs to the Death Eaters.
So he counteracts it best as he can, muttering the spells as quickly as he can manage, and when he steadies his wand over the corpse, he watches it burn until nothing remains but charred fragments, and those he sends off to drown in the ocean.
Perhaps the spirit is freed.
He misses his scheduled time for his report with Dumbledore.
The kindly witch is not quite sure what he is, but she lost both her daughters and soon, they will find her.
As she shakily repairs his broken leg, not asking him how he broke it last night (he wonders if she realizes that last night was a full moon, her windows have been shuttered and charmed to never open again), she can only says, the whisper growing fearful with every moment, "Why did I marry a Muggle? Why did I marry a Muggle?"
He should have comforted her, but he had nothing to say.
Dumbledore is nowhere to be found.
He is in a bar that is purely Muggle when he spots the werewolf.
Unlike others, there are no Death Eater-inflicted scars, only self-inflicted ones. There are too many days to the next moon. This werewolf is impatient, while Remus is grateful for the temporary reprieve.
He keeps his focus on his beer. It is tasteless to him. But he is not drunk yet. That will come later, if there ever is a later. He mustn't make it obvious as he follows the tracks of the werewolf.
There is another wizard here, his arms around a pretty Muggle girl. He is whispering in her ear. She giggles. Why wouldn't she?
Ignorance is bliss.
Remus doesn't remember bliss.
The werewolf stares with a steady, hungry gaze, as if it is fully transformed, howling beneath a violently full moon. It is hunting its prey.
Remus knows he is spotted, but he is in the periphery. He doesn't matter in the end. He motions the bartender over and buys another drink for the werewolf. He almost wants to ask the bartender to serve it in silver.
The bartender wouldn't understand the joke. And Remus hasn't found anything funny for a long time.
When the werewolf finally does look him dead on, Remus can only smile his best smile, a copy of Sirius' most handsome version, knowing he has mutilated the smile's intentions. The smile is not what draws it; it sees the scars across his face, sees the grey hairs prematurely growing in his hair.
It looks once more to its prey, carefully, hesitant, but there are weeks for its plans, and there is time now for other perversions.
When he waits outside the bar, in the alley, he almost thinks he is being heroic, somehow.
Minutes pass and he is tackled, roughly forced against the wall, and his vision goes black around the corners.
It breathes right against the shell of his ear and he forces himself to shudder, feeling its hard cock pressed against his arse. He manages to move around enough to face the beast and as its tongue, rough and bitter against his lips, pushes its way into his mouth, he parts his lips, and wants to bite down.
It forces him to his knees, sharply hitting his kneecaps on the ground. He will play the submissive, knows that as he kneels, it knows exactly what he is, but not who he is.
As soon as he unbuttons the werewolf's pants, he knocks it to the ground, savagely punching it as the blood pools down its face, thick and a dark color, the red dim in the poor light, and he pulls out his wand and almost screams the curse (*the* curse), but hesitates.
There is no sound coming from the broken, bleeding body.
The werewolf is dead.
He is not a hero, after all.
He misses his next report with Dumbledore. And the next.
Some wizards and witches drink in wizarding bars, but there is no celebration. There is hiding and fleeing and more awful news trickles down the wire, as it does.
He finds himself waking up earlier and earlier, and sometimes, he doesn't dream of anything besides darkness.
Many are figuring out what he is before he gets a chance. Everyone is on pins and needles and now they notice his shabby clothes, his scars, and his pallid visage during the waxing of the moon.
There is no mystery to death now, only inevitability and every passing day, Remus inches closer and closer to the very edge of it.
He does not enjoy pretending to be a part of the Muggle world, but it offers anonymity, something precious and dangerous all at once.
He continues on, and walks down busy streets, full of Muggles, and is almost lost in the crowds. It is a forgetting of sorts.
When Peter finds him, it is not in some secret place or some dark corner with hidden purposes. It is on the streets where Remus walks without purpose, as though he does not know - but he knows, every single moment, waking and sleeping, even during the change.
There, in the city amongst so many, Remus appears to be merely a weary man walking down the street with a pronounced limp.
Peter's small eyes go wide in shock and he tries to call out to Remus.
Remus stops. For once.
"Have you heard, Remus?" Peter's voice is unnaturally high and squeaks with a tremor on his name.
The moon is coming soon. It annoys him.
Remus shakes his head. He notices that Peter's eyes are sharply focused on bruises around his neck, some vaguely mouth-shaped, mostly made by long fingers. But he can still breathe and it will eventually heal.
"Where have you been?"
"Busy." Remus coughs and points out they are in the middle of a street
"Oh!" Peter actually raises his voice to an ear-splitting level. People turn and stare. Remus wants to remind him that he's not a rat. "Remus, can you-"
But Remus loses himself back into the crowds.
People stop by the store windows to watch the news on brand new TVs. Others read newspapers, foreheads wrinkled in concentration.
More people are dying.
The Muggle reporters on the news stare fixedly ahead, trying any lie that will fit, knowing that the lies are running out.
She is pretty piece of flesh, standing in a cramped kitchen, a packed bag next to her chair.
Her skin is a pale ivory like a fine sliver of the moon and he could almost hate her just for that, if he could feel that strong a sensation anymore. It is wasteful to feel such an irrational reaction to her moon-fair skin, and he stores it, for later, for the Death Eaters, for Voldemort.
She has not acknowledged him yet, as she smokes and pours firewhiskey into two mugs, cheerfully displaying the famous landmarks of the world.
When she turns to him, and nods to the other seat at the cramped kitchen table, she says as she offers the mug, "I haven't traveled."
He sits and takes a sip. It is more whiskey than coffee. The rest of it goes down his throat in a quick, bitter motion. Something burns in his eyes. He stares at her for a while, as she taps her fingers on a pack of cigarettes, opened and half-empty. It was never half-full. "I don't remember your name."
She is wearing a tarnished bracelet, with only a faint glimmer coming from one of the few charms on it, a star.
She blinks, lighting a fresh cigarette with the end of her older one. As she stomps the older one in the ashtray, replacing the new one in the corner of her painted red mouth, she says with faint amusement, "You called me Lily. But mostly Sirius."
It makes sense. Her hair falls in shaggy black tresses and she has sharp, clever eyes, but they are a deep blue-green. He can't even feel a vague notion of shame and he wonders out loud, "And what did you call me?"
She blows out a long stream of smoke, puncturing it with an artful cloud shaped like an arrow. "Werewolf," and she takes a sip of her own firewhiskey with a dash of coffee, "You can stay here tonight, I do know it's a full moon. I'm good with conjuring chains that are unbreakable."
Something comes to him, a flicker of recognition. "I was warning you-"
"Yes, they're hunting me," she snaps shortly, and there is something very familiar in her eyes. "You told me that before."
"I did, didn't I?" All he recalls is a grey fog. "And, it's Remus, actually. My name."
She smokes for several moments, before she says, with a brash confidence, "You asked me to modify your memory last night."
He frowns, but knows it isn't a lie.
Her smile is sharp and pitiless. "I just did a basic Confudius charm, nothing too strong. It's temporary, but bloody annoying like a hangover."
A flash of screams overcomes him, and then a flash of light, and then, nothing. Absolutely nothing and then, just a young woman left in the wreckage. Her.
He hasn't asked about her name. He didn't then. He won't ever ask her.
"How are you at healing?"
She laughs; it has been reduced to a gravelly sound from her smoking. "I'll survive." She puts out her cigarette and does not light another. The tips of her fingers are covered in ashes and she carefully wipes it off on a napkin.
Cautiously, he says, "We'll have to move out tomorrow morning."
She stands up, stripping off her clothing, Muggle style shirt and pants, simple and basic, discreet enough to disappear forever. "Today's all we have, then?"
He doesn't answer her and does not move as she kisses him. It is smoky and something else. Something he doesn't want.
He pushes his chair back and she easily parts his clothing, her fingers making odd paths down his body, quick and nimble. When she bows her head down, just a dark tangle of hair, he can almost pretend, but her nails are fine and sharp, a sign of vanity.
Soon she is naked, save for the bracelet.
As she rises above him, he does not look at her when she slides down onto his cock.
And when she begins to move, he calls out Sirius' name.
His name is Harry Potter. It's a wonderful name. He doesn't know what the child looks like.
Dumbledore finally catches up to him, and there is a steeliness reflected in the eyes of both parties.
There is much more that he needs Remus to do.
"I'll take it."
It is September when he sees Sirius again. They do not talk. Remus knows he has lost weight, he only eats with a half-hearted reminder that he needs to survive, but Sirius, Sirius has lost that brash look always so painfully etched in his features.
They rent a room in the Leaky Cauldron. For the rest. No one dares look at anyone else in there and the silence is despairing. Everyone is waiting.
They enter the room. Neither talks about what they've been doing.
Sirius kisses him first. It is like nothing at all. Wet. Dry. In-between.
Remus takes off his clothes and Sirius takes off his own. They lie back on the bed. Remus doesn't dare to look into his eyes.
He rolls onto his stomach and Sirius is behind him and it is hard, a fierce rutting. There are noises.
But they do not talk to each other.
Soon after, they dress.
Sirius sits on the bed, tapping his fingers on his knees, a flash of the old Sirius, irritation and honest anger on his face.
As Remus reaches for the doorknob, he hears behind him, "He looks just like James. But he has Lily's eyes."
But Sirius isn't talking to him. Not really.
When Remus leaves, he wonders if Harry's description is merely a nice story for Remus, something to give him hope. If only Sirius understood, there is no hope left.
October creeps by.
He gives orders far too easily and doesn't count how many survive. They're all going to die, in the end.
Betrayal tastes like falling down.
It is like a blind leap and the landing is among the wreckage.
It is like a metaphor that cannot come close to describing what it is.
They're dead. It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Not like this.
Setting: a crack ripping apart the street.
Sights: Gone. There is nothing to see. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Those are the facts, the bare bones of the case, and it is all so simple, so clear, so damn evident.
It all falls down in the end.
He was laughing.
That's all Remus needs to know, as he prepares his documentation, making sure he is ready for the trek across Europe. There are still many of His followers, bidding their time, only now, it is no longer their time, and Remus will not let there be any time left for them, save the end.
He takes his leave of the Order with a final nod and no words to anyone else, avoiding the many pitying eyes cast in his direction and shaking off Dumbledore's offers to speak about it.
He wonders if anyone realizes that he understands. For he truly does.
He knows he would have laughed too.
Harry is the only one who Lived.