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Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: New Moon #8- Remus never knew that Sirius kept a journal. Just what does he find out when he stumbles upon it? Must be set post-OotP. With Sirius' death still painfully unresolved, Remus cleans out their room in Grimmauld Place.
Author Notes: All my love and thanks go to rynne for the beta!
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
-- My Life Closed Twice, Emily Dickinson
No one has gone into their old room since Sirius had fallen, and opening the door for the first time smacks of sacrilege. Remus stands outside for a long moment beforehand. The house is overly quiet, and in the silence, he feels as if he is faced with the opening of a tomb. He is alone; no one offered to help him, and he wouldn't have allowed it anyway. Their loss is not the same as his loss.
The air inside is heavy as he enters, ripe with undisturbed dust, and the light from his wand is heavy as well. It falls largely on the bed, dirty gold on the wrinkles of sheets months unmade, but fails to illuminate the rest of the room. The walls are ensconced in shadow, and Remus sets about his task without glancing around.
This house has fallen apart. I knew that keeping dark creatures as pets was popular among my family, but I never expected the things to multiply so abundantly. It'll be months before we get the place cleaned up, and I'm already sick to death of cleaning.
I didn't expect I would want to destroy the painting so badly. It's as if I am trapped here with all of my family, as if I'm still a boy with no control over my life. Their old portraits are still hanging, and Dumbledore has forbid me to take them down, as they may be needed in the war or some other shite. Most of them aren't useful at all, though, and I've been taking down the more pointless ones when no one else is around. I know that it's only magic, that they only speak because they've been charmed into doing it, that they can't really hurt me any more, but I still hate it. I have no control over my own house, either, although my mother is greatly spited to hear that I am the sole surviving Black. She screamed for hours upon learning that.
There is nothing of their own in the closet.
Remus kept his robes folded, preferring the order of lined and filled drawers to the empty spaciousness of hanging clothes. Hung robes leave noticeable empty spaces below them. The gaps beg to be filled with shoes and luggage and books, filled with things Remus has not brought with him. He cannot fill them with things he does not own in the first place. When folded, there are no vacant areas. His belongings do not seem so sparse.
Sirius, though he had never admitted it, was unnerved by the dark draping shapes, their presence too close in the night. It only took one night of lying awake for Sirius to move his clothes. He spent hours waiting for the robes to glide out of the closet, all rotting hands and eyeless faces, and was not eager to repeat the experience. He was too old for nightmares, really.
He eventually kept his things in the other side of Remus' chest of drawers; they shared socks. The furniture was a shining relic from his mother's maiden days, charmed to keep clothes fresh and secrets hidden. While they lived together, dust did not settle upon it.
Remus is away on Order business, or some other nonsense, and the house is empty without him. I am out of Firewhiskey and Kreacher can't be trusted to fetch me more. I cannot fall asleep at night by myself. I lie in bed, which only makes things worse as it smells of Remus, the sheets and the blankets and the pillows, and I feel like a big swotting poof, but I can only think of him, what he's doing and if he's safe and when he'll come back. Usually, after enough of this, I'd go drink, but
I heard once that drinking alone is a sign of something bad, but I don't quite remember what. Muggle superstition, most likely.
There is quite a collection of Quidditch memorabilia in a box under the bed. Remus finds pennants emblazoned in bold Wasp stripes, a single battered glove, a progamme from a Cup held in France, pictures of the Gryffindor teams over the years, twigs torn from a broom. He tosses the items into the centre of the room, the idea of a bonfire vague but persistent in his mind. He takes care to hold each as briefly as possible, as though they burn him. He was never one for Quidditch.
It isn't until he finds a decrepit copy of Quidditch Throughout the Ages, the letters JP carved into the spine, that Remus pauses, wondering how Sirius came across James' old things.
It's not fair of me, to drag him to this old house, to make him live in hiding and to keep him here, to make him come back to me. He should have moved away, when I bollocksed things up so royally, should have gone to the States and lived as a Muggle professor, taught Reading Too Much and Dusty Libraries and More Research Than Is Absolutely Necessary to rich Americans. I hate that he stayed. I ruined his life, I think, and James' and Lily's and Harry's as well. I cannot always blame Peter for everything, although at least I had the common courtesy to fuck up out of love.
That doesn't make things any better.
I think it is all really my fault.
At the bottom of the box, there is a lock of auburn hair, bright as a flame against a scrap of white silk. Remus stares at it, not caring if Lily's hair came inside a piece of her wedding robes or a piece of her knickers, and feels he may vomit. He was prepared for remnants of Sirius, the loss relatively recent and still numb, but not for these bits of James and Lily, these pieces of a life long ignored. He closes his eyes against the memories and decides suddenly to send the lot of it to Harry.
I am sick to death of doing paperwork. I've been filing and sorting and prioritising for months now. I always hated the paperwork aspect of Order work, but at least the last time around, I got some action as well. This is stifling. I feel rather like some Gothic heroine in saying this, but I cannot wait for the day of my freedom. I will have my justice on Pettigrew, and I will do right by Harry, and then I will spend the rest of my life with the sun on my face. I will die old and wrinkled, and free.
Remus' books are still scattered about the room. Muggle classics intermingle with Wizarding literature. He finds them stacked haphazardly by the bed, under an aged dresser, and a few atop a pile of stale laundry. He chucks them into boxes without looking at the titles, without so much as a glance at the covers. Those he no longer wants, he will sell.
When he finds a worn leather notebook, grimy under what had been Sirius' side of the bed, he assumes it to be research from his days teaching, and saves it. It is familiar, even if not instantly recognised. He does not realise how his fingers linger on the bindings.
It is full moon, and Remus will not let me come with him. To be honest, I do not know where he has gone, which is probably good, because I'd follow him otherwise. I went through too much trouble to learn this, to learn this magic for him, to sit around and let him throw my efforts away.
He'll come back tomorrow morning, in the afternoon if it was especially bad, and he won't let me touch him, won't let me help him. I want to take care of him. I hate that he won't let me. I feel useless, just sitting around. I didn't bother to break out of prison to sit, a prisoner in my own house, and not be able to protect my godson, not be able to help my lov
I cannot sleep when he is not here, but especially on moons. Sometimes I think he knows this, and keeps me away regardless.
Sirius' bedside table, the only table in the room, is still as he left it. Remus ignores the empty water glass, the unfinished crossword, and opens the drawer, yanking roughly when it sticks. A cloud of dust rises, kicked up from the movement, and Remus sits heavily on the bed.
Sirius' personal effects, what few he retained, can fit into a single drawer. His wand is not there; it was taken by Dumbledore after the battle. It was perhaps saved, perhaps reused, but most likely destroyed. The keys to the house are not there either, and those, Remus knows, Dumbledore has confiscated, and is using as his own. Sirius' Gringotts key has been in Remus' small vault these past months. James' old mirror, forever awaiting a call from Harry, was in his pocket when he died. All Sirius' important belongings, those things necessary to the war or to his wealth, have been removed. Everything that remains is so everyday, so commonplace, and so heart-stoppingly Sirius it takes Remus' breath away.
He lifts up a packet of letters from Harry first, the parchment overly folded from repeated readings. There is a torn picture from their days at Hogwarts underneath, three boys and a single hand all waving enthusiastically in front of the castle. Remus winces and places the photo facedown on a dusty pillow. He finds a ballpoint pen, so much easier than a quill to use in bed. A stack of adverts ripped from The Prophet. An unused dog collar, gift from a laughing Tonks. A single stale owl treat. A Muggle novel, the book cheap and dog-eared.
Remus stares down at the drawer when he is finished, empty and abandoned in his lap. He has stacked its contents with his books, unable, at the deciding moment, to throw any of it away. As in the past months, he is unable to cry.
I found a rat in the kitchen today. Kreacher was sitting across the room, not doing anything. I killed it, because that's what any rat found in this house will get, but I played with it first. Brought back strange memories, playing with a rat. I haven't done that in years.
Remus leaves their robes in a stack for Molly to find. He doesn't especially care what she does with them. She can use them for her own family or cut them into rags or charm them to attack intruders in the night, and Remus will not object to any of it. He's bought new robes since it happened, anyway. The fabric is cheap, but has softened with use. They do not smell familiar, and that seems the most important thing.
He places most of Sirius' belonging with those of James. He will wait a few months, until the winter holidays, and then it will all go to Harry. Remus suspects it will simultaneously be the best and worst gift the boy has ever received. Lily's hair he tucks into a breast pocket, the heat from his body warming it almost immediately.
It's almost the end of term now. Harry'll be taking his O.W.L.s right now, actually, or at least one of them. I've written to Dumbledore, asking that Harry stay here this summer. I can't think of a safer place, really. Moony suggested mentioning that we'd be able to protect Harry better if we're all in the same house. Makes sense, to be certain. He shouldn't have to go back to those Muggles. I doubt anything Dumbledore can do would make him stay once he's of age, anyway.
I do wish we had some sort of garden, here. It's summer, I can tell it's summer, and I'm going crazier than ever in this dark house. People smell fresh when they come inside, hot and slightly sweaty and energised. I've considered sneaking out more times than I care to remember, but Moony, who is still sensible and dull about things, says I shouldn't be taking extraordinary risks just now, and tha
Remus brings his books with him as he leaves, seven boxes levitating behind him while he descends the stairs. He shrinks them before stepping into the fireplace, flooing on a connection that isn't strictly legal to a cheap hotel room. He has been there for months; there are no signs that the place is inhabited.
Remus crawls into bed. Tomorrow, he will sort through his things.