NOTE: This is a continuation of my story named In The Dark.
The room isn't obsessively tidy. It isn't extraordinarily messy, either. All in all, it is somewhere in between; expected, normal.
And that (insane though it may seem) is what unnerves Sirius. He knocked on the door with excessive, almost unnecessary force: three short, sharp raps. Then, came the silence. The alarm. The shock when he turned the handle, and the door opened with the greatest of ease.
Sirius has already called out too many times, but he shouts again, for luck, "Peter!", not caring if he is heard, swallows and waits.
Remus slumps against his living room wall, letting his eyes close for one moment, one moment...
Roughly 3 minutes pass, when his body jerks upright, and he realises that he has managed to nearly fall asleep whilst standing.
"Impossible, Moony," James would have said with Sirius and Peter both laughing in response, but neither of them are here, of course.
Remus manages to sink into the couch, rubbing his face and stifling a yawn, refusing to let himself nod off again; lest the meetings and other such encounters come flooding back.
If Dumbledore hadn't asked so gravely, he is sure he wouldn't be doing it. And then, Remus wonders if that private decision is one of the utmost cowardice.
But, he can't help it. Seeing these people that are scarily akin to him...or is it that he is them, but he is one of the lucky few? The educated, the one with support, family, friends-
Remus looks around at his empty place. Does have friends. Did? Does.
Sirius isn't really sure what he wants to find. That sounds scary; even feels scary inside his head, so all he does is listen to the loyal roar of the motorbike, the chilling whoosh of the wind.
When he sees the house and the roof, all caved in, against a backdrop of blackness and stars, he doesn't register the scene, or believe in it. At first.
Soon, he lands, and clambers off his bike, his foot catching on the seat, making him trip.
Remus is innocent, Sirius thinks, as he looks upon the ruin of everything. It is the only flash of sudden realisation that isn't terrible.
As Remus drinks a freshly made cup of tea, he notices the curled, slightly torn calendar clumsily stuck on the wall with a Muggle drawing pin. October 31st. Halloween, obviously.
He desperately wants to say, "Remember that year we made all the pumpkins explode?" but there's no-one to share that memory with. Instead, he keeps the words to himself and they don't even bother to form on his lips.
Just before he crosses the near nonexistent threshold, Sirius's hands unconsciously clench into fists- nails piercing the now clammy skin.
Tell me you've apparated, James, he prays fiercely. You're all away- anywhere but here.
It is James whom he finds first. His glasses lie broken and squint on his face. Sirius, without thinking, carefully prises them off, fixing the shattered lens with a simple whisper of a "Reparo." He gently brushes James's hair back and puts them back on in their rightful place. James, face quietly calm and pale, doesn't respond.
It is then and only then, when what should've been a scream, turns into a strangled yell and then something entirely different.
"Sirius. Hello, I suppose.
I don't-I can't-I don't understand. No, well, I do understand. But, only partly. You have to help me. And, I know, I usually 'get' things rather quickly like History of Magic homework and reasons and things, but...I'm not making sense. Sorry.
See, that's the thing. Not the not making sense bit: the being sorry bit.
Is it because of me being away all the time? I wish I could tell you why, believe me, Padfoot, I do. I just-it's too dangerous.
What I-the point-what I'm meaning is:
You're arrogant and loud and irrational and unreasonable and are really quite an insufferable prat (at times) but I...I hope you're alright."
It's what Remus so wants to be able to say and he can't. He isnít stupid; he knows that there is something fundamentally wrong: Siriusís silences, his moods, his prickly retorts all strike Remus as the boy he once knew in first year- prone to shouting, eyes darkened warily by something indefinable.
He supposes itís because of the stress of being the Secret Keeper. Thatís all he knows. The last time he saw James, the man told him softly that it wasnít anything personal; just the way the Charm worked. And anyway, wasnít it better for Remus to be kept out of the loop for a little while longer, until the threat had passed?
Remus had almost believed him. Until he chanced a glance at Sirius, behind Jamesís shoulder, face stormy; unpredictable. And Remus felt like he was back in Hogwarts (before the others knew), when everything had to be so carefully concealed. Say it, he had willed Sirius silently. Werewolf. That's what this is all about.
Remus inexplicably wants Sirius here, anyway, even if it is only a reason for him to finally reveal that he's changed his mind about Remus long ago, that he has doubts about his reliability. Anything (bitter words, rebukes), is better than sitting here and not knowing.
Sirius staggers up the half destroyed stairs- full of harsh raw emotions and energy.
He makes some kind of pained, animal like sound when he comes across Lily, sprawled across the floor. She fell right in front of Harry's cot. She was trying to shield him, Sirius thinks, and emits another kind of constricted, choking noise which immediately dies. Harry isn't in the cot.
He took him. Fury overcomes Sirius in that moment; fury for the war, fury for Voldemort, fury for the once friend that he willingly put all his trust into.
You did this. Sirius has a great need to throw up. You're the reason they're dead.
He returns to the outdoors with a burning notion to find Harry when, unbelievably, he spots a mass figure carrying a familiar bundle of blankets through the rubble.
Sirius draws out his wand quickly, before recognising the form as Hagrid. He hurries over, stumbling on bricks and plaster, until he reaches him, then reels back when he sees a twisted, bleeding cut on Harry's forehead.
I did that. As good as.
Sirius reaches forward and tries to clean it up with his sleeve, Hagrid letting him, gripping his shoulder with one large hand. Feeling that unmoving, solid weight resting there, Sirius is abruptly aware that he's shaking. He tries, in vain, to steady himself, calm the nerves. Nothing works, anymore.
As the last messy spot of scarlet is wiped away, Sirius says, "I'll look after him, Hagrid. I'm-I'm his godfather."
"Oh. Sirius, I dunno-"
He shakes his head in defiance, attempting to clear the air. "...They-they would've wanted-" And he can't go on.
Hagrid clears his throat gruffly, "Ah, no, Sirius, it's no' tha'. Dumbledore gave me instructions to get 'im away..."
There's a blind moment of panic, with Sirius not comprehending: Dumbledore wouldn't do this, why would he?
And then, it comes: He thinks I'm the Secret Keeper. Everyone...who matters does. His mind whirs, morphing its thoughts into a single name: Peter.
Seized numbly by a near impossible goal, Sirius states, slowly, "Well, take my motorbike, at least."
"Wha-? Yer motorbike? Blimey, Sirius, I couldn't..."
A chill washes over Sirius, which he welcomes gratefully; it makes his aim all the more clearer. He replies with, "I...I won't be needing it anymore."
Remus is unexpectedly awoken, by the sound of licking flames. Disorientated, he scrambles for something to hold onto, and succeeds in falling off the couch. He looks up in time to catch Dumbledore in front of the fireplace, brushing soot off brilliantly purple robes.
"Professor!" he exclaims, rising. Albus still seems strange and foreign.
Dumbledore regards him with his customary, piercing gaze. "Remus," he replies, "I am incredibly sorry-"
"Oh, no, it's alright. I must've fallen asl-well, anyway, take a seat and I'll-"
But Dumbledore doesn't move, still watching him seriously, and Remus feels a jolt of horror in the pit of his stomach. "What's happened?" he asks widly. "What-"
There is a fraction of a pause, before the truth: "Remus, James and Lily are dead."
He blinks. "They're-?"
Dumbledore sighs, looking and seeming older than ever. "Sirius...he was their Secret Keeper, you understand?"
"I know that," Remus cuts him off, without thinking or processing, and inhales sharply. "Merlin. Sirius. Is he-Death Eaters-did they...did they make him-?"
"Remus," Dumbledore continues, firmly. "Sirius betrayed them of his own accord."
He forces down an inhuman laugh, "No, Sirius could never, would never-"
"Peter went after him. He is dead. Sirius killed him."
Breathe. "I-I'm sorry?"
And Dumbledore explains.
Remus doesn't speak when Dumbledore finally leaves. He still stands there, until the jarring ring of a doorbell causes him to yelp.
Hagrid stands in front of him, shoulders hunched, with a well known motorbike at his side. He starts to apologise, fumbling for words, and Remus interrupts him with a polite, "It's alright," when it isn't, really.
Remus dutifully cleans the motorbike, with a ridiculous, cautious air. When his eyes start to sting, he tells himself that he's allergic to the oil.
He doesn't bother tidying up Sirius's flat; that concept has no point, considering that it will never be occupied again. Remus has cast spells upon spells, meaning only he can enter. If he decides to.
The motorbike is gingerly propped up against a wall because he has no clue as to where else to put it. He scans the place one last time, seeing a furiously scribbled on piece of parchment. With frightening curiousity, he steps forward, and picks it up. The first words are, Remus, I have to tell you, and they are near illegible, trapped in an overwhelmingly untidy scrawl. Not wanting to, but remembering, anyway, Remus knows that Sirius must've been rushing to a great extent- he can usually write in a copperplate script, due to having been forced to learn how to since the age of four.
Remus doesn't read the rest. He decides that Sirius can't possibly justify what he has done. The letter vanishes soon after, thanks to a hurried, "Incendio."
Obviously, the story reaches the front page of the Daily Prophet. Remus looks at the moving picture of Sirius being dragged off to Azkaban. He is laughing. Laughing. Remus turns away. He can't stop himself thinking of where he is being sent to, a cold place of despair, no hope. Remus feels a lurch of pity, resting his fingers on the photograph, wanting to pull Sirius out, and hates himself.
"Tell me it's a mistake," Remus whispers, alone. "Tell me it wasn't you."
Sirius tosses back his hair, laughs, doesn't struggle, his eyes wide and blank.
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