Author: Regala Electra
Pairing: Remus/Sirius, James/Lily
Spoilers: PoA, GoF, OotP
Summary: The tale of a magic-induced fever of a troubling nature wherein very bad things happen and one good thing almost does happen, but doesn’t in the end. Or, how to see the future by having a really, really bad case of the Mysterious Fever.
Author’s Notes: Thank you to stars91 for the preliminary read-through/beta. I cannot blame anyone for the idea, although I'm sure the usual suspects played a part somehow, the clever minxes. Ooh, and yeah, this gets a bit darkish, so be warned.
Feedback: *needs* *craves* *dies* It helps me know I totally didn't fuck up this incredibly fucked up plotbunny.
There are no spells or potions that may make one see into the future. Indeed, beyond the highly questionable art of divination, there is no true way to part time itself and see what the future shall bring.
Prophecies are of course, a different breed, and indeed it is suggested that in some way prophecies do carve certainty into the fabric of the future, and stave off any unexpected realities. Such theories however have yet to be confirmed by those of sane constitutions.
That is what every good wizard and witch learns, however if those who are young and hopeful and a bit foolish, enamored of the hope to see what tomorrow may bring, then they shall take up Divination, and they will soon learn the concrete truth that seeing into the future is a bit of rubbish. If they are profoundly silly and think a nice pack of Tarot cards are more than just printed bits of paper, then there is always the fascinating career of Muggle readings via this ultimately useless art.
No one truly gets a glimpse of the future through these methods or by any easily learned magic spells.
There is however a Fever, not particularly rare (despite the fact that even few Healers study it or aware of its varied and complex history), and the malady is associated with a good that is not only strictly forbidden by definition of trade classes, but also must be destroyed when discovered. Unfortunately, it has a strange tendency to make its way into particularly delicious sweets for no rhyme or reason and continues to baffle Ministry quality control inspectors, especially as it is not discovered until the first outbreak.
And when it strikes (some say it strikes quite fiercely and unnaturally even for a magic-related virus), it is merciless. However, and this further baffles those few who do indeed study the Fever, it is quite easily curable with a relatively simple potion of healing agents and one nice long night of restless sleep.
There are strange delusions famously attached to it, and though none can remember the hallucinations upon waking from proper treatment, an account of a mad wizard (who never fully recovered as he was not discovered with the ailment until after the window of treatment had long since passed) does suggest that indeed this may be the only key into the most mysterious future.
It rather differs from most attempts to see into the future as it is honest and not a load of nonsense about soggy tealeaves and foggy crystal balls.
Despite the many accounts and celebrated careers of most Seers, the mad wizard infected by the Fever differs greatly from those who claim to possess the Eye insofar as everything he has spoken about has indeed come true wholly and completely. That is, when he can be understood in his long and ceaseless babblings.
For he is completely mad and has a fondness for using his cutlery as adornment on his robes, which he stylishly drapes around his chest, pining it round his neck with his favorite shining spoon. Yes he is still alive, and very, very mad and can be visited as St. Mungo’s, as he once said of visitors: “Journeying! Presents blithely goodbye turnips!”
(Which the Healer assigned to keep eye of him - and to ensure that his sharp cutlery doesn’t poke out his eyes – swears that the repeated ramble is indeed his way of merely saying ‘hello.’)
Yet he had spoken of that which had yet to come as though it was a definite certainty. As though indeed it was the most important bit of the future that he must pass on before it came.
Some say it is when one is most mad, is it when the truth is most clear.
This is what he said:
He warned of Nothing that could be Named and indeed, He came.
These are the moments that stretch and stretch until forever becomes a lost concept and there is nothing, nothing, nothing, but these moments, these moments.
These moments are fleeting and he isn’t sweating, not at all. There is no time for it.
He’ll tell her. He’ll tell her and his voice is desperate, but it is strong, he is sure even in death, he is worried, he fears the worst, he will not let the worst happen, the worst is going to happen, he does not fear death and he will not accept death.
He’ll tell her but he hasn’t spoken the words yet.
He’ll stand there. His knees will not be knocking, he’ll stand there strong and there is only one spell that will fell him and he knows it, knows it is coming, but he'll stand there for as long as he can, as long as possible, he will stand there and he will face –
It is coming and he can do nothing to stop it.
He’ll find time in empty moments – in moments of waiting – in moments of death – in moments, moments, moments, all he has is emptiness, is this gnawing knowing wiping everything clear and blank as ever.
He’ll raise his wand; he’ll know no word will save him –
He’ll remember an old tree, a sallow face riddled with shock, fear, and mingled in the loathing, gratefulness and that will be worst of all, in the end, he knows it. And then, it’ll come to him, the taste of betrayal once more and he’ll wonder but there is not time enough, there is not time enough, there is not –
Time – and he closes his eyes –
He closes his eyes –
There is only the green of two sets of eyes to greet him, rushing towards him, and he tells them, he’ll tell her –
A rush of green and then –
There are worse ways. He knows that much. There are worse ways, worse ways, worse ways –
Potter, please quit being a hero and please drink this!
Voices sounding far off. Floating. An airy memory of something –
He will not be there in the end, but a shadow remains.
A shadow pouring out of a wand, a ghastly wand, a wand that when brandished, means the end, and he pours out of the center of it, just a bit of wood and a feather, that’s all? – and he stares at himself, a double, not him at all, it’s like someone copied him but did it wrong on purpose, the wrong eyes, green eyes, so much smaller and different and no – he is not there. He is not there at all. Not anymore.
But he is a silvery ghost cloud chasing black hooded monsters across the lake and he is there, somehow in the periphery. He is for a moment there.
There is no time for him though, it has been torn asunder and as he stands there, and he knows –
This moment flashing bright gre–
Just another sip, ah –
This moment rushing, spiraling, hitting him with the immediacy of everything–
Please, just a bit more and then –
He is dead.
He stands at the edge of the waters, the lake, he is at the lake, he is sure of it, and he stands, well, he stands like a –
Dog, like a beast, like an animal, rotting from the inside and matted and mangy –
A tattered wafting of something he cannot see, a mirror shattered that he looks out of. The reflection of something rotted, dying, a beast, not himself, a creepy tearing sucking vicious thing and he shall go to hell in his own way, always his own way, his own choice.
His mind –
Going south, to warmer climates just as soon, as soon as it comes, knowing there is nothing left anymore and he’s lost the plot completely and his heart, doggish and human, screams for blood.
And the cold biting fiercely inside, he will never be rid of it but there is one way to make up for the emptiness screaming – yes there is only one way.
The cat, a Friend, streaking across the grassy grounds, and soon, it will Happen and soon he will be freed –
A memory clutching in mind like a horrified whisper, clambering towards him as the cat looms closer.
Hmmph, quite a nasty case, looks like I’ll have to increase the dosage -
Disjointed, a hand scratching behind his (human) ear, nuzzling in that perfect slightly sharp angle of neck and hollowed shoulder and head, yes, here is a bit of peace and then it glides away and something thick, a concoction of madness, of a dark squat cell and black figures waiting eagerly for his return (arrival) -
There now, that’s a Good Boy (A Good Dog) this will make you feel better in the morning.
Mourning madness and loss and he is gripping nothing because he cannot, his paws will not prevent him and he pads silently around the grounds waiting, knowing, he is waiting for just one chance.
And then nothing will be better, but his blood calls for murder and when he thinks of the dark possibilities, his hackles rise and he growls –
Growing? Why, it’s just a bit of a medicine, you’ll be fine, Mr. Black –
That Name, the naming of everything, a name of Moon, a name of betrayal, offering another name worming in out of the few memories not ripped apart, another place, take his place and a switch how clever and the dank, darkness awaiting him, as ghostly as a wafting bit of cloth in stunning red, a violet burst of blood, deeper than anything.
He does not remember all the fine-tuning, all the intricacies of revenge. Only that it shall be done, it shall be done.
Coming upon the house, the door ripped apart and there, on the floor, no, it cannot be, and further in, his steps are not heavy, they are silent, as silent as they will never be again, and it is there –
A bark across the grounds, a bark of madness, a bark of bodies lying spread around, and blood and blood and blood and that is what he smells, the scent of blood in the air and there is a beast fouler than any that he must hunt, that he must destroy, tear apart in his jaws until its final seizing breath of agony.
Agony, the prize and price and pain, draining him of everything until there is nothing left to lose, a lost glimpse of forgiveness sewn up somewhere, but the memories do not have warmth clinging there, in Everything there is only the brittle truth – death would be sweeter –
And survival is only a side issue until he finally has his chance – this is for James, for him, for everything, for – a word that has not been breathed yet.
There is no way to hold all this and his mind switches back and forth, a reflection of a mangy, starved black dog in the waters, a ravaged man in the fragments of a ruined mirror and Blackness in the void, and finally, finally, there is nothing left to hope for, all has been lost.
But then the Friend finally reaches him and deposits its prize: there is a paper with Words on it, and he shall pass through obstacles undetected and he remembers Knifes and soon, soon, his paws will become man-paws and he will stretch out and eke his damnation.
And as he has quite forgotten laughter he barks in joy.
His face slackens as the Change happens, ill and ravaged by Time itself and he quite forgets altogether, but the blood still screams.
- Forgive me, forgive, forgive, forgive – chattering, chattering, teeth clacking, gnawing nothing, chattering a litany he knows so well –
They’d be amazed of him this time – no! Forgive him for that, for that, for everything, forgive him because everything is about to –
He doesn’t want to die. He cannot die. Why is he expected to die?
Why do they ask so much of him and how much can he bear – no, not this time, not now. Now he makes his choice. Now.
He stands before him and he bows, without force, squeaking his acceptance, pleading all, offering anything he can to the service –
He cannot stand this, cannot stand any of it, and he doesn’t want to die, he doesn’t want to be a sacrifice, a scorched body of nothing and nothing and nothing will stop Him so why should he bother?
A hand to his mouth, another on his forehead, a muttered sound of soothing and caring, but edged in faint annoyance –
Yes Mr. Pettigrew, you’ll be all better in the morning –
He sucks it all so greedily and so quickly, and like everything makes sure that he will live, he retains it only because he knows he is weak.
Weak. He will die if he does not crumble and betray them and there isn’t a choice, really, there isn’t a choice at all, and he cannot make it, so he sneaks into it, as though it is a mere hole he fell into and there is a promise of survival and he must take it because he mustn’t know what is to come, he desires no horrors and only his protection.
Forgive me, he wants to squeak, bending hands that are beginning to have the patched, claw-like nature of Wormtail, but he fears dying even more. And when it comes for him, when the foulest things, the most monstrous come for all of them, he will cower and bow to the ground and easily serve Death lest Death take him, and he falls into a deep and unsteady sleep, troubled as ever by the nagging notion of rot and decay and mottled skin, but even then, he is promised survival and will fight for it no matter the cost, and finally, he snores loudly and not profoundly.
This is a dream and a hallucination and the pain is easily secondary to his transformations. He can know all this in the deepest part of his mind, beyond the mad delirium, and it is because of this that he passes through it wearily, fading in and out into the nothingness. What is to come touches him with a vicious desire to do malice, but he has already been altered and cannot be ruined any further.
He steps on the dais and turns around as though he is waiting for someone. He is supposed to go through, it calls him. A boy – no James – no Not-James passes him and he watches him reach out to the fluttering cloth and does not call him back from the precipice.
No, that isn’t how it’ll be; he isn’t on the dais at all. What is on the dais (no, it's Who), he does not look, screwing his eyes shut.
Sirius telling him to make a wish, and then his hot breath against Remus’s neck, a kiss, and then there is one later, the lips are drier and it has all gone wrong somehow, and something bitter stings inside his eyelids, but he will not open them, not for anything.
He can feel the moon ripe and vicious on his eyelids, summoning the pull and he lets go – of what he will not look – and the voices he blocks out and he feels it change but he is not able to remember, he has freed the beast – he cannot control the beast –
Control the beast, there will be a way finally – he sips at it slowly, as vile as –
Oh Remus, I know you hate the taste of it and you’ve had too much experience in here for such a boy but –
He sips from it because he always must lest –
A hand reaching out towards him, a mock-hand, a dream-hand, a hand of ghost, as pale and hideous as the moon –
And he is alone.
Nothing there save himself and he aches not for the past, because the past was never his to possess, but he longs for the present, for a presence here and now and then and before and later and what will be, and he longs for that which he cannot have.
He is fading, scarred and lined with all the mistakes and nightmares coming and going like an unwelcome intruder upon his person and he cannot stop anything, so there he was, there he is, and there he will always be. Alone.
The Fever doesn’t quite break with him, it shall mingle in the poison ruin of his body, somewhere stuck between the planes of beast and man, and will be forcibly leached out by the moon itself, eager to call out another monster of delirium in its wake.
When he wakes, the others have been sent to the dorms, and his body is still wracked by fever and madness and nothingness.
If he closes his eyes, everything vanishes and he still stands there, lost to time, lost to death, lost to all.
His end began in the past and there is no way to reverse it and he sees nothing waiting ahead beyond that which was already set in motion.
A silver hand. Death. Betrayal.
Himself. Beyond the ending of it all, beyond the rise and fall and rise and fall, the swelling of the future offers no glimpse, no visage in an end to it, and he knows that he shall never be granted a hero’s end, a wasted end, a betrayer’s end, for his end came in a bite and it festers on and on and it remains in his hands, and what he shall make of it, not even the future can reveal such a thing.
He does not mull over these delusions for long and when they visit him in the medical wing, he can catch ghosts of it, snippets and when he sees Sirius’s eyes, he sees a hollowed out horror that is yet to be, he sees the guilt that is yet to ruin Peter’s too-youthful face, and when he looks at James, he sees a boy standing there, a boy he must remember to protect in the end and the walking dead.
Yet there are all here and now, and there will never be another time like this ever.
He has his friends and he is selfish and he forces it all away, a weak smile and says, well, what he says he was always going to say and they laugh and swear they’ll never purchase another sweet again as going mad isn’t as fun as it seems – and one will say as an aside, oh, so Sirius is only playing at being a completely mad berk – and Remus will laugh, and knows – oh, the madness is yet to come.
Yes, Remus is certain such madness will come to pass and he cannot let himself be burdened with it. He shall keep his silence and soon the madness of the muddle future shall dissolve, never to return, until it comes to meet him as everything must, in the end.