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the director's cut
Requested by Am-Chau.
This story was only the second I ever wrote in HP fandom, and
for some reason, it’s the most well-known of any of my fics. I was in America
when I was writing it, away from my own computer, the internet and any sort of
fic resource, except my own battered but reliably British copy of OotP. Just
before leaving, I’d signed up for the Sirius/Remus FQF, and the challenge I
picked was “attempted suicide.” Over days of writing on paper in the garden, I
wondered if I was making a big mistake, but I didn’t throw it away as was my
On arrival at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, Fred and George chose to ignore their mother’s strict instructions about silence; consequently, they were met by an apoplectic old hag, screeching at them like a banshee. “Blood traitors! Filth! Scum!”
You’ll note I didn’t follow JKR’s example and have Mrs Black’s shouting ALL IN CAPS. :)
Also, the flippant tone that is set up here is a natural consequence of having Fred as POV character.
“Mum?” said Fred in bewilderment. “Mum, how does she know who we are?”
No-one gets this joke! The implication is that Fred is perfectly happy to be called a blood traitor, filth and scum; merely curious as to how she knows to call him that.
Mrs Weasley chivvied them upstairs without ceremony, and in the confusion of shrieks from behind them and grumbles as they all got in each other’s way, the twins didn’t realise straight away that as they went up the stairs, two more people were coming down. Upon reaching the upstairs landing, Fred suddenly recalled an old wizarding-and-Muggle superstition about people passing other people on stairs, and he turned his head, thinking it might be an idea at least to know who the two passers-by had been. He saw them in the half-light of the dim hallway, two adults of around the same age – younger than the twins’ mother – and both of whom he recognised. However, one of them elicited much more of a response from him than the other.
“Mum!” Fred yelled. “That’s Sirius Black!” And he was running down the stairs, wand in hand, just as George shouted, “What?”, their mother shouted, “Fred! No!” and another, quieter, almost amused voice said clearly, “Expelliarmus.”
I certainly got a lot of mileage out of the word “amused” as applied to Remus. I later decided it tied in nicely with the title and contrasted nicely with the end.
Fred watched in dismay as his wand leapt from his hand, described a graceful arc down the stairs and was caught neatly by a wizard standing at the foot of them. Fred sprinted down with George at his heels, mouth already opening to ask the inevitable questions, but he was stopped by the soft voice saying, “Yours, I believe?”
Fred looked up into the amber eyes of a werewolf. Remus Lupin was holding his wand with a decidedly amused expression on his pale face. Fred reached for it, but Lupin wouldn’t let go. “Not yet,” he said quietly. “Not until I’m sure you won’t do anything potentially damaging to my friend here.”
Normally, as omniscient third-person narrator, I call Remus by his first name, but limited by Fred’s POV, it had to be “Lupin.” Fred still thinks of him as his former Defence teacher.
Fred suddenly remembered the reason for his flight downstairs, and went to speak again. This time, it was his mother who stopped him. “Hush, Fred,” she said sternly. “Sirius is a member of the Order of the Phoenix like your father and me.”
“But how…” Fred began, and Sirius’s face broke into a grin. “I’ll explain,” he promised. “Just rest assured for now, I’m not a mass-murderer.”
Sirius’s sense of humour has become rather dark, but I thought he might find some food for amusement in being thought of as a murderer. The theme of using humour as a defence is a continuing one, indicated by the title again.
The twins looked at each other. “That’s good to know,” said George.
The explanation, involving as it did miscarriages of justice, cut-off fingers, disappearing and reappearing rats, and the disturbing realisation that the twins’ younger brother had known about the whole thing long before they had (“What do you mean, he was Scabbers?!”) was sufficiently distracting for the twins not to notice the fact that as they left the room, Sirius called, “Moony?” and seemed to be expecting a reply from somewhere inside the house.
I had way too much fun writing the twins’ opinion of Ron. The almost silly structure of this sentence was deliberate, believe it or not; all this random information is designed to obscure that one word, Moony.
Ron had been in Diagon Alley with Hermione Granger, and it wasn’t until later that day that the pair of them arrived at Grimmauld Place. Neither bothered to moderate their tones in the hallway; after twenty seconds of alternately gritty and falsetto screeching, they ran for it.
I only realised here that I was stuck with Fred as my POV character whether I liked it or not. I’d never written about him before, never particularly thought about him before, and here he is, shoving his own personality in – he doesn’t know Hermione as well as Ron or Harry or even Remus, so he naturally adds her surname.
“What-the-bloody-hell-was-that?” Ron panted, bursting suddenly into the twins’ room. Even Hermione the generally unflappable looked flustered.
“That,” Fred informed Ron sagely, “was Sirius Black’s dear old mum. This is his house.”
“Sirius is here?” Ron said. “Excellent.”
“Forgive us if we’re wrong, dear brother…” George began.
“…but we’re not so sure that that would be everyone’s reaction to the news…” Fred continued.
“…that they’d be sharing a house with an escaped mass-murderer,” finished George.
Finishing each other’s sentences? I couldn’t resist. Plus, I have always liked Fred and George as a double act, even though I did have to single one of them out to write about.
“He’s not a murderer,” Ron began, but stopped at the twins’ identical expressions of triumph.
“Ah,” said Fred. “So you did know. And you told us Scabbers had been eaten by Hermione’s cat.”
And this totally random factoid somehow explains everything.
“That’s what he thought at the time!” broke in Hermione indignantly. “And besides, we couldn’t tell anyone about it, could we? Who’d have believed us?”
To Ron’s surprise, the twins seemed inclined to be reasonable. “That’s true,” Fred said, shrugging. “If you’d tried telling me Sirius Black was innocent two years ago, and talked about cats and rats and fingers and God-knows-what, I’d have said you were off your nut.”
“Not that you aren’t already,” added George kindly.
“Although,” said Fred, suddenly serious, “I suppose now he’s back” – he paused significantly – “anything is possible.”
This is the first indicator that this will not be an entirely humorous story, despite the title, despite the POV character, despite the banter. Also, I needed to set Fred up as more than comic relief; he does have his serious side.
There was a tense silence, broken by Hermione a few moments later. “Are you two finished yet?” she demanded imperiously. “I need to find Ginny, I told her I’d meet her when I got here…”
Fred looked at George. “I think we’re about done,” he said, and George nodded in agreement. With twin cracks, they Disapparated.
In the midst of cleaning out the house, dealing with Mundungus Fletcher, avoiding Moody’s magical eye, planning Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes with George and fleeing from the various screams of Mrs Weasley and Mrs Black, Fred almost forgot the other inhabitants of the house. He knew they were around for a reason, of course, and he knew they were talented wizards doing work of their own for the Order of the Phoenix, and yet it was almost possible to forget they were there. The twins and Hermione were given a reminder of their presence on the day where Sirius lost his temper, barged into his mother’s old room and blasted every spider in it with the Avada Kedavra curse. He emerged on the landing breathless but triumphant, with cobwebs falling out of his hair.
I’ve always liked this bit, with its wash of details. Again with the flippancy and presupposed knowledge – maybe it’s all that time they’ve been telling me to write about attitudes and values, but one minor linguistic thing did seem essential, and that was the definite article – “the day Sirius lost his temper.”
Sirius’ sudden appearance caused Hermione and the twins, who were passing, to stop dead. They were nearly run into by Lupin and Kingsley Shacklebolt, who were coming the other way, so all was chaos for a time. In the middle of it, Lupin was heard to remark, “Padfoot, you look like a yeti.”
Before Sirius could reply to this, Kingsley shouted, “That’s it!”
“Excuse me?” said Lupin, sounding amused.
Again with “amused”, but I hate the way Remus’s sense of humour is ignored in fanon. He was Moony, after all; he has significant experience of practical jokes, and even as a teacher, he shoots chewing gum up Peeves’ nose and dresses Snape in drag. That soft-spoken, dry wit is one of my favourite things about the character.
This is becoming something of a digression.
“Remus,” said the Auror earnestly, “where do yetis come from?”
“I never had to deal with one while I was there,” replied Remus, “but I would say Tibet.”
“Tibet,” repeated Kingsley in hushed tones. “I thought so. Sirius, I’ve found you!” And having delivered this remark, he was off, running headlong down the stairs and out of sight.
A brief confession – this story was meant to be a funny one originally, it just sort of mutated. And I did love this detail – I wondered while reading OotP why exactly Kingsley chose Tibet of all places.
And I also wanted to include a reference to Remus’s “lost years” – well, why shouldn’t he have gone to Tibet?
Lupin smiled at the confused faces in front of him. “Kingsley is the Auror in charge of the hunt for Sirius,” he said. “He’s been trying to think of a plausible country for days. I suggested Albania, but he said Voldemort had hidden there for years, it had already been done; then Dumbledore was in favour of Ecuador, but he said there were too many snakes…”
“Snakes?” repeated Hermione faintly, but Lupin didn’t seem to hear her and went on: “It would seem that he’s finally thought of something that sounds convincing to the Ministry.”
“The Ministry?” Fred repeated. “You mean, he’s just run off to the Ministry of Magic to tell them Sirius is in Tibet?”
“That’s right,” said Lupin, with a slight smile. “Now if you’ll excuse us, Sirius and I have to go upstairs and deal with a Boggart.”
“We do?” asked Sirius, who had been listening to all this with a slightly bemused air about him.
One of the arguments the Sirius/Remus slashers have in favour of its being canon is the way Remus is the only person Sirius will listen to. “Sit down, Sirius,” etc., and Sirius does. I don’t know about the implications of it, but I did want to include a bit of that dynamic here.
“We do,” repeated his friend firmly. “Molly says the house is full of them, and it’s always best to have more than one person dealing with them.”
“All right, then,” said Sirius, still bemusedly, and allowed himself to be led off. Hermione had gone, too, so the twins were left alone on the landing that had moments before had been thronging with people.
“George,” said Fred slowly. “Did you hear what I heard?”
“Just now, before all the stuff about the yetis. Lupin…”
“He called Sirius ‘Padfoot.’ Yeah, I heard.” George seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
“Right.” Fred wandered across to the wall and sat on the floor, leaning against it. “Padfoot… well, you can see why. His Animagus form, it makes sense.”
Okay, the real confession. I originally meant to write two separate stories. One deep, dark, angsty one for the FQF challenge, and one light piece where Fred and George discover who Moony and Padfoot are. For some insane reason, I combined the two.
“Yeah,” George said, “but that’s not the point. So Lupin calls him Padfoot. Is he the Padfoot?”
“Let’s say he is,” Fred replied, moving up so George would have room to sit next to him on the floor. “So if he’s Padfoot, then what does that make Lupin? How does he know?”
“He’s Moony,” said George instantly. “He’s a werewolf, he has to be. And besides…”
“I think I’ve heard Sirius call him that. Maybe… well, there’s one way to be sure.”
Fred didn’t need to ask what his twin was going to do, watching as George climbed about half the stairs, stopped, took a deep breath and called out clearly, “Moony!” Immediately, he turned and ran down again, joining Fred in the shadows below the staircase where they couldn’t be seen.
After a moment, a door on the landing above opened and Lupin came out. “Remus, what’s the matter?” came Sirius’s voice from inside the room.
“I thought I heard someone say my name,” Lupin explained, looking around the landing and down below. His gaze rested for a moment on the place where the twins were hiding, but he either didn’t see them or chose not to, for after a minute he moved to go back inside the room.
I nearly changed this bit, but left it in because there’s a hidden element of tragedy in it. There is no-one left who calls him Moony – only Sirius – and yet he still answers to the name.
Sirius’s voice floated out again. “Hey, I’ve found – oh, God.”
Canon blip. As a pureblood wizard, Sirius wouldn’t swear by God.
“Found what?” whispered Fred in George’s ear.
“The Boggart, most likely,” George whispered back, and a minute later, this guess was proven right. Sirius was backing out of the room, wand pointed straight in front of him. Even though it wasn’t their Boggart, the twins both felt the chill, the settling fear, the growing sense of despair as the hooded and cloaked figure glided silently out onto the dim landing.
One thing I cannot figure out is to what extent a Boggart affects a person. In PoA, it would seem that Harry’s Boggart (also a Dementor) affects both him and Remus, but equally, the moon-Boggart doesn’t induce Remus to transform.
There was a horrible moment where it seemed as though Sirius would drop his wand, and Remus moved forwards, but all of a sudden, he seemed to regain his strength. Moving quickly, he forced the Boggart backwards into the room. “Riddikulus!” he shouted, with a flourish of the wand now tightly held in his fingers. Two bursts of laughter rang out, a fatally harmonious chord, and down in the shadows, the twins heard the faint pop as the Boggart disappeared. Suddenly realising he was disappointed he hadn’t seen the Dementor made comical, Fred edged towards the foot of the stairs to listen. George followed.
Above them, Lupin had stopped laughing, but there was still the occasional catch in his breathing as he spoke. “Sirius, I don’t believe you did that.”
“What?” asked Sirius, sounding mortally offended, although in a good way. “You’re the one who taught Defence Against the Dark Arts, for heaven’s sake! You always say that to defeat a Boggart, you have to make it comical.”
“That’s right,” said Lupin calmly. “I said to make it comical. I did not say, make its cloak fall off to reveal Severus Snape in a…” He stopped, waving his hands around for a moment, and said helplessly, “In a Hawaiian… thing.”
After all these years, Sirius can still make Remus laugh and can still render him speechless.
“It was a sarong, I saw people wearing them down in the tropics last year. And it had a floral motif,” Sirius reminded him.
“’Floral motif?’” quoth Lupin with some amusement. “Do you have any idea how much of a cliché you sound like?”
I don’t know if this is coming through, but this is the first indicator for the twins, listening in. The cliché Remus is referring to is the fact Sirius sounds so very very gay.
“As if you can talk.” Sirius grinned broadly, and went on, “And what on earth are you getting so uptight about? Didn’t you take the opportunity to dress Snape up as Frank Longbottom’s mother?”
“That was different.”
“How exactly was that different?”
“Neville’s Boggart was Snape. Whatever I did had to make Severus comical in some way. You, on the other hand, chose to bring him into existence and then… dress him up. And the other reason why…”
“Oh, yes,” said Sirius with a high degree of scepticism, “tell me the other reason why.”
“I’ll tell you why,” said Lupin with such conviction that the twins edged even closer. “When I was teaching, I could avoid Snape if I tried hard enough. But I have to see him tonight for my Wolfsbane! I won’t be able to keep a straight face!”
Sirius let out his distinctive, bark-like laugh, and laid one hand on Lupin’s head, threading his fingers through his hair. “That, my lovely Moony,” he said softly, “was the whole idea.”
And so it begins. Seriously, I wanted to make this seem natural, and it was made more difficult by the fact neither of them is my POV character.
Lupin tipped his head back under the caress. “I might have known,” he murmured, almost too low to be heard, and then he dropped to his knees as Sirius wrapped his arms around his waist. They were both still talking, but no longer loudly enough for the sound to drift down to the apparently deserted landing below.
Fred and George chose to make a break for it not long after that, retreating to a safe distance where they could Disapparate to their room without being heard. As soon as they were sure they were securely out of earshot of anyone, Fred spoke. “Ever get the feeling,” he demanded breathlessly, “that you were about to see something you really weren’t supposed to see?”
I had way too much fun writing this bit, too.
“Yeah,” breathed George, as if this were the most monumental realisation he had ever had in his life.
There was a long silence. Then:
“We knew they were old friends,” Fred began.
“And they haven’t seen each other in thirteen years,” finished George.
“But they are Moony and Padfoot,” Fred stated, as if this settled the matter. George grinned, and there was a satisfied pause. “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs,” George orated. “Purveyors of aids to magical mischief-makers. We owe them so much.”
Above all, I would have thought the twins would be open-minded. And when it comes to it, they’re more interested in the fact that Sirius and Remus are Padfoot and Moony than the fact Sirius and Remus are shacked up.
“Only we never thought we’d be living in the same house as them,” sighed Fred dramatically.
“Hey,” said George suddenly. “Do you reckon anyone else knows?”
“About – what we saw…?”
“Harry might,” said Fred thoughtfully. “Sirius is his godfather, isn’t he? And Hermione might have guessed – she knew Lupin was a werewolf before anyone else, didn’t she?”
Unfortunately, Harry needs to GET A CLUE!
The companion piece to this, Special Needs, focuses on Hermione, because she’s another character I wanted to show growing up.
“How about Ron?”
“Nah.” Fred shook his head. “That dear younger brother of ours? Not a chance. And it’s my considered opinion that we don’t tell him. Or anyone else.”
“Agreed,” George replied, and they exchanged satisfied looks before sauntering off downstairs.
Their newly-licensed Apparition skills only served to enhance their joint ability to be in the right place at the right time, so it was no surprise that Fred and George were in the dim entrance hallway when Severus Snape swept in, cast a disdainful glance in their direction, and went into the kitchen. The twins had their Extendable Ears out in a moment, and within seconds the conversation taking place behind the closed kitchen door was as clear as if they had been in the room.
First came Lupin’s voice, mild but with the ever-present thread of amusement running through it. “Severus. It’s nice to see you again.”
“Spare me the niceties, Lupin,” said Snape lazily, and Fred fancied he could picture the sneering expression on the potions master’s face as he said it. Inside the room, Snape continued, “We both know why I’m here. You need me.”
Because when it comes down to it, Snape is a bastard. One of the good guys, but still a bastard.
“I wouldn’t presume that, Severus,” replied Lupin, still mildly.
“Oh?” It was Snape’s turn to sound amused. “Can I take that to mean your lamentable potion-making skills have improved? Or is this yet another example of ambiguous wordplay on your part?”
“Neither, Severus,” said Lupin, and his voice had the definite beginnings of an edge to it. “If you decided, for any reason at all, to withhold the potion from me, I will be caused inconvenience, but my life will not be put at risk. This house has a cellar, I believe, and you are aware that Sirius Black is an Animagus. He is perfectly capable of keeping a werewolf in check.”
Only Remus could talk about putting his life at risk in such dry, clinical terms.
“Really, Lupin,” said Snape disdainfully, “I find myself tempted to spare myself the effort and responsibility required in making a cauldron of aconite every month. It seems to me to be perfectly clear that you and your… Animagus can manage admirably without it.”
The word was so soft it was hardly spoken, but Snape heard it. “So,” he said softly. “Are we back to where we started, then? You admit that I am here because you need me?”
“I would have thought, Severus,” said Lupin evenly, “that the safety of the Order of the Phoenix would be your first priority.”
“It is,” Snape stated.
“Then I would also have thought you would do everything in your power to prevent its members from the risk of attack by a fully-grown werewolf.”
This is an allusion to the Prank; when Snape last saw Lupin as a werewolf, he was sixteen. The implication is that the wolf is even more dangerous now.
There was a pause. Fred wished desperately he could see inside the room.
“I may not escape the cellar” – and now Lupin’s voice was dropping – “but I will turn the wolf’s wrath upon myself, and even I am a member of the Order of the Phoenix.”
He is very self-deprecating here, but he’s doing it to piss Snape off; trying to make him realise what a cruel thing he’s suggesting.
There was another pause, a triumphant one this time. “Give ‘em hell, Moony,” Fred murmured unthinkingly, and blushed.
A sign that Fred is getting more involved in this than he thought he was; before, Sirius and Lupin were background figures.
He was just resolving to find out if the Extendable Ears transmitted sound in the reverse direction as well as they did in the forward one when he heard a new noise from inside the room. Someone was standing up – there came the scraping sound of a chair, and then came another sound, the hiss of polished wood on cloth. Someone had drawn their wand. The twins heard heavy, angry footsteps, the sound of glass smashing and someone crying out, and then footsteps again, getting closer and closer…
I think this whole scene worked better for the fact the twins couldn’t see inside the room.
By the time Snape opened the door, the twins were on the other side of the hallway, both seemingly very interested in the curtains covering Sirius’s mother’s portrait on the far wall. Snape was still standing in the doorway, facing into the room. “Ah, Mr Black,” he said smoothly.
“Sirius?” hissed Fred into George’s ear. “How did he get in without us seeing?”
“The other door,” George hissed back. “Shut up.”
Yes, Raven, George managed to hiss a sentence without any sibilants in it. Gah.
“You show an excellent sense of timing,” Snape continued. “Your poor pet werewolf has something to tell you. Oh, yes, how remiss of me… your poor pet Gryffindor werewolf.” When Lupin didn’t react, he added, “You’re going to need all of that exalted lion’s bravery, aren’t you?” And before Sirius could respond to the parting shot, he departed with a swish of his cloak. He neglected to close the kitchen door behind him, and the twins realised that by staying where they were, they could not only hear everything that was going on, but they could sneak backwards glances every so often as well. Lupin was clearly visible, sitting at the kitchen table, and Sirius was standing behind him, arms wrapped languidly round Lupin’s neck. On the floor were the pieces of what had once been a glass flask before someone (Fred would have bet the joke shop on Snape) had knocked it off the table. The potion it had contained was gradually eating its way into the floor and disappearing. “What was that all about, Remus?” Sirius was asking.
Again with the casual display of affection. I’ve always thought that Sirius and Remus are together – hence all the slash! – but I’ve never thought it’s a particularly demonstrative relationship. We’re talking two people who have suffered the deaths and betrayal of almost everyone they loved, years apart, years spent mistakenly suspecting and hating each other – in short, this is not a happily-fucking-like-bunnies-type relationship. After all these years I would say they’re more like Arthur and Molly – quietly, calmly, naturally in love.
“He came to give me the potion.” Lupin sighed. “I suppose I provoked him.”
“The hell you did, Remus, you only told him the truth. Slimy, greasy, son-of-a…”
“Sirius.” Lupin halted the tirade with one hand. “How do you know exactly what I told him?”
Remus can still exert a degree of control over him.
Sirius paused. Sheepishly, he produced a pair of Extendable Ears. Lupin took them from him gently. “I didn’t think your coming in at the exact moment Snape drew his wand was a coincidence, Sirius,” he said.
“Don’t miss a thing, do you, Moony?” said Sirius affectionately. “Don’t worry about your potion, Dumbledore will send Snape back.”
“But not before tomorrow night,” said Lupin sadly. “That” – he pointed at the smashed glass and spilled potion on the floor – “certainly isn’t salvageable, and no-one in the house has the supplies or knowledge to make up another dose. I think I’m going to have to do what I told Snape I would.”
“Lock yourself in the cellar?” Sirius sounded horrified.
“What choice do I have?”
This sums up Remus’s attitude to his own condition, explaining why Sirius is angrier than he is. What choice, indeed.
Sirius sighed. “None,” he admitted, and standing up, he closed the door.
Sirius knows more than he lets on about the eavesdroppers.
As one, the twins retreated. “We should stop spying on them,” George said in a low voice.
The twins do stupid things on occasion, but they aren’t malicious.
Fred nodded. “It’s all right with the Order meetings, but…” He didn’t have to finish his sentence. As usual, they were in agreement, and having reached the decision, both of them fully meant to stick to it, but one would have more success than the other.
Fred woke with a start and a shiver. He felt as if he had been waiting for something; or perhaps something had been waiting for him. It was rather as if an invisible alarm clock had gone off inside his head just at that moment, and within seconds of opening his eyes, he was wide awake. He was also, he realised, desperately thirsty. Getting up, he went to the water jug by the window, only to find it empty. He considered several possibilities, among them Apparition and the use of Summoning Charms, but finally settled on simply making his way down to the kitchen and pouring himself a glass of water. He trod lightly as not to wake his twin, finding he had no need of magical light. The house was gradually filling with greyish-white dawn light, and in the east, streaks of red and pink were staining the sky.
I wanted this description to slow down the pace. Up until now it’s been dialogue-heavy, but this section changes things.
He managed to make it to the kitchen without anything or anyone waking up, and he’d grabbed a glass from beside the sink, filled it, drunk from it, and made to go out before he realised he wasn’t the only person awake in the house.
For “anything”, read Mrs Black’s portrait. :)
Instinctively moving so he couldn’t be seen, he turned around.
Sirius was standing there, dimly illuminated by a window at his side. The grey light of dawn threw his face into sharp relief, picking out the shadows in and around his eyes. He was carrying Remus Lupin, who was loosely wrapped in a blanket and white as chalk. The light crept over him in the same ghostly fashion, and Fred could make out dark traces of blood on his hands and feet and in his hair. His amber eyes were clear in the half-light, alert and wary and at that moment resting on Fred himself. Fred took an involuntary step backwards.
I purposely never gave us so much as a thought from Remus. This is a story about him, yes, but as seen from the outside. Exactly how much he is aware of is left to the imagination.
Sirius didn’t seem to have noticed; as Fred watched, he got out his wand, moving carefully as not to disturb the man in his arms, and pointing it at Lupin’s head, muttered, “Stupefy.” Fred wondered why he’d used a Stunning spell, when it occurred to him that when used as gently and delicately as Sirius had done, it wouldn’t hurt its recipient. For a moment, nothing appeared to have happened, but then Lupin’s eyelids fluttered closed and Sirius took a step back as the werewolf became dead weight in his arms.
Remus is still not quite human, it seems; he is awake, but his lack of response indicates his mind isn’t his own just yet.
Sirius ran a soft hand over Lupin’s face, pushing his hair out of his eyes.
Quiet affection and love. Above all, I wanted this to ring true, slip nicely into canon as something we didn’t see, and for that it would have to be quiet and understated.
He glanced carefully at his own hands, and Fred guessed they must have blood on them, for Sirius murmured, “I’m going to kill Snape for this,” before walking forwards, straight towards where his silent watcher was standing. Driven to it, Fred stepped out of the shadows and spoke as if Sirius knew he were there. “How is he?” he asked tentatively.
I think Fred is worried about how emotionally involved he is becoming with this. He’s supposed to be just another mischief-maker, and yet he’s standing here seeing something he isn’t supposed to see.
Sirius glanced at him. He didn’t seem at all startled by the unexpected voice. “He’s had a hard night,” he said curtly. “Needs to sleep it off.” He wasn’t looking at Fred as he spoke, gently shifting Lupin’s weight to make him easier to carry, and Fred realised he must be under a levitation spell of some sort, for Sirius to carry him with such apparent ease and gentleness. Fred was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling he was seeing something he wasn’t supposed to have seen, something private and sacred that shouldn’t have had any witnesses. Coming to a sudden decision, he turned on his heel and was about to go when Sirius’s voice called him back. “Wait.”
Fred wheeled round. For the first time, Sirius was looking right at him. In the early morning light, he and his burden looked ghost-like, almost as if they had just now stepped out of times long past. Sirius held his gaze for a few moments, then:
“Fred Weasley, right?”
Fred nodded, turned and fled.
He went back to bed, fell asleep and didn’t wake up until nearly noon. The sun was shining brightly through the window, making him feel like he was overheating under the covers. Thinking back, he found it difficult to remember what he had seen, and after that day, after the long, hot summer in which cleaning of the house began in earnest, jokes were planned, Order meetings were held and eavesdropped on, and news of Harry and the Dementors and later Harry himself arrived, Fred began to wonder if he had seen it at all, or if it had been some kind of ghostly, half-remembered dream.
I was saying the other day that I have sort of obsession with the idea of ghosts. The surreal, ghostly aspect of Sirius carrying Remus back through the house is supposed to be a direct contrast to the much clearer list of events in this sentence.
The morning of September the first, Fred was on the run from his mother’s wrath when he was stopped in his tracks by a big, bear-like black dog. The dog inclined his head in an irresistibly human gesture, and Fred followed with a grin. Padfoot led him to an unused bedroom, still thick with cobwebs and dust. Fred sneezed violently, and when his eyes were open again, he saw Sirius was back in human form, amusement in his expression. “Sorry to drag you away from your packing,” he said, not sounding sorry in the least.
Fred grinned at him. “We’re done with our packing. We bewitched the trunks so they’d fly down the stairs, but… well, Ginny was in the way.”
Despite all this emotional maturity, Fred is still Fred.
Sirius seemed to be trying not to laugh. “Was she all right?”
Fred nodded. “Mum and Lupin said they’d patch her up.”
“Ah.” Sirius looked uncomfortable. “Talking of Remus…”
He stopped, but Fred remained silent, waiting for him to continue. “You know, don’t you?” Sirius said at last. “About him… and me.”
“Yeah.” It was Fred’s turn to look uncomfortable. “I guessed. Well, me and George, we…”
Sirius held up one hand to stop him. “You saw me at the full moon, carrying him. I don’t blame you, we haven’t been being discreet lately.”
“Lately?” Fred repeated. “How long …” He stopped, ran through various ways of saying it in his head, none of which sounded right, and tried again. “How long have you… you know?”
Sirius frowned, but not as if he were offended. He seemed to be calculating. “Um… nineteen years, last Christmas. I think.”
Which is why I wanted it to seem natural. Nineteen years includes twelve in Azkaban, but it’s still a long time.
Fred raised his eyebrows, impressed. “Wow.”
There was a long, awkward silence, which Fred felt compelled to break. “Um… Sirius,” he began, “was there anything else?”
“Two things, actually,” Sirius replied, smiling slightly. “Firstly, I want to thank you for not, I don’t know, throwing a fit or something. Not everyone reacts so well.
“And secondly…” He forced something into Fred’s hands, and the boy was surprised to open out his palms and see them full of silver Sickles. “What’s this for?” he asked, confused.
“For these.” Sirius held up a pair of Extendable Ears. “I got them from your mother after she took them off you, but I doubt she paid you for them, so…” He shrugged.
“You don’t have to,” Fred began.
“I know I don’t have to. Come on, we’re getting late.” He transformed, gave the boy a big doggy grin and left the room. Fred followed, smiling at the unexpected jangle in his pockets.
Fred didn’t think about it again until a year later to the day.
His last view of King’s Cross had featured a large, graceful black dog loping along the rapidly-rushing-past platform, long after the other Order members had dissolved into shadowy figures, finally disappearing into smoke as the train left the station in a rush of acceleration. The Hogwarts Express was on its way. Within days, the money in Fred’s pockets was spent, the school year had begun in earnest, and the summer began to fade into memory. In the spring, the twins made their triumphant, soaring exit into the glorious sunset world, outside of Hogwarts’ ancient safety. Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes was a runaway success, and nearby, behind the scenes, the Order were making their preparations for war.
And then came June, and the veil.
I didn’t want to write about what happened at the Department of the Mysteries. I rather like this single, stand-alone sentence, that says everything I needed said.
He was at the doorway of the old kitchen at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, the house left to the Order of the Phoenix by Sirius Black.
Fred entered to see his mother crying her heart out on Remus Lupin’s shoulder.
A role-reversal. Molly spends so much time in OotP crying on Remus’s shoulder, that she seemed the natural choice to play this role.
Fred wondered idly if there had been another Boggart, or another returned letter from Percy, or – and Fred began to worry – another attack on his father, or on Harry, or…
“Mum?” he asked, and she turned her eyes towards him. He stepped closer, and saw the front of her robes was covered with something dark and red and spreading. He started to run, then stopped dead.
Standing behind her, he saw for the first time Lupin’s eyes, suddenly so large and lustrous in his pale face. Fred had never seen him in his wolf form, but he didn’t need to, this was much more frightening, and it was getting more so, for as Fred watched, his mother lifted Lupin’s hands, limp in hers, covered in blood gushing forth from the long slashes on his translucent skin. Molly’s arms were wrapped around Remus as though she would never let go, and through her sobs, Fred heard her mutter, “Why?”
Fred knew the answer. Oh, yes, he knew, he’d been here in this very spot a day before, he’d seen the unspectacular tableau, a picture of soft, reliant love in the face of adversity and Severus Snape. He knew, too, that even as his mother called for him to fetch his father, Moody, Dumbledore, anybody, that they might save Lupin, but Padfoot wasn’t here to save Moony, and that this wasn’t a source of silver Sickles or an unusual secret to keep from Ron, this was, this was…
And it’s here, right at this moment, that Fred realises the enormity of what they’re fighting.
Molly muttered, “Stupefy,” and Lupin’s head sank down onto the table.
Ironically, it’s the same spell Sirius used.
In that single, bloodstained moment, Fred knew that school was over and done with and the war had begun. As he ran from the room, calling first for Moody, then for George, he thought clearly that if a Wizarding Wheeze ever made Moony laugh after this, he’d have achieved more than he could ever have guessed on his glorious flight from Hogwarts. He’d have joined the fight against the dark, he’d have joined the famous purveyors of aids to magical-mischief makers, and even with only three OWLs and a joke shop to his name, he’d come of age.
In a sense, history is repeating itself. The four Marauders, who were so carefree and quick with practical jokes, all grew up too quickly once they left school. Now Fred, another mischief-maker, is doing the same thing, fighting the only way he knows how, with stupid practical jokes and suchlike, but it’s still something he can do.
Whether Remus survives this – I left it purposely ambiguous. Because we’ve never been inside his head, we never know what drives him to this, and whether it’s a temporary blip or something he will keep trying to do. For some reason, Remus is in the background of a story of which he is the focus, if that make sense.
Probably doesn’t. Anyway, this story is still my most well-known, even though Special Needs and Hunter’s Moon are much better from a technical standpoint. No accounting for taste. :)
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