Authors: dramaturgy and thinkatory
Rating: Heavy PG-13, R (for violence)
Word count: 6,237
Era: The First War Against Voldemort (1970-1981)
Characters: Remus Lupin, MWPP/L, Fenrir Greyback, many, many others
Chapter Summary: “They don’t know why I’m here. Some of them are so conditioned into being scared of me.” Him. His Father. The Father he’d been welcomed by – no. Fenrir had welcomed something Remus didn’t want to become. A criminal who took children from their families, one who killed and ruled by intimidation. One who didn’t want to just live his life. He looked back up at the house. “This is… I can’t be here.”
Authors' Note: Well, this is is, the final chapter. It's been a wonderful ride and we are glad that you all read it and were hopefully half as amused, entranced, and enamoured as we are. We are hard at work on a sequel and a third story -- codenamed Episode II and Episode III. :) We'll let you know when Episode II is ready for the posting, and hope that you can stick with us! Thank you again! Keep watching for some little things we like to call "DVD Extras." ;)
But you can still add the comm for automatic updates to your flist, to let you know when part two is ready for posting.
Fathers and Sons
Chapter 26: The First Things
Though the investigations are still pending at the MLE and Sirius Black sits in lock up, heavily guarded, no one is afraid to give the happy news: You-Know-Who has been slain. The war is over. Nathan Maher, "Tyranny's End," The Daily Prophet, 2 November 1981.
The wizarding world was celebrating -- and why shouldn't they. You-Know-Who was somehow dead, vanquished by an infant known only as Harry Potter, dubbed The Boy Who Lived for surviving the Killing Curse. Julia wanted to be skeptical about it; after all, it didn't seem likely that the wizard who had held Britain in a grip of terror for over half of her own life was dead because of a child. But it wasn't what was on her mind. What was on her mind was that it was the second of November, she was officially in her second trimester, and there had been no word from Jeremy or the unified pack. They said that no news was good news, but for her, no news was just no news and waiting made her more anxious than anything else.
Of course, it was only the second of November. This was why she was trying not to worry, but neither could she fully engage in the excitement of the time. She and the rest of the Curentons, with the werewolves of the Den, seemed to live in a world apart. The news affected them, certainly, but they were still waiting for news of people and a situation that was, in many ways, much closer to them.
After dinner, she had volunteered for kitchen duty with the perpetually energised and fidgeting Gemma. She'd come not long ago, in the last group with Jeremy. "Ready for the dustpan?" she asked Gemma, who was awkwardly steering the broom to sweep debris into a pile.
"Think so," she answered, glancing down at it. She then looked up at Julia, who waited for the request that she felt coming. "Or you could Vanish it." The girl had a fascination with magic being performed that Julia could hardly fathom.
"I could," she conceded, kneeling down to put the dustpan to the tiled floor with a sigh of effort. "Or we could just do it this way."
"Yeah," she echoed, but unhesitatingly and enthusiastically swept the dust into the dustpan.
Jeremy flung the door open hard enough to make it hit the wall and ran into the Den, stopping abruptly in the sitting room the sudden sprint he'd started at the end of the lane. Breathing hard, he looked around before flinging his cloak onto the couch and shouting, "JULIA!"
The dustpan dropped from Julia’s fingers and clattered on the floor as she turned and ran from the kitchen, barely hearing Gemma's indignant "Hey!" She followed her feet, skidding to a halt in the doorway, afraid that she'd been hearing things. But she hadn't. He was here. "Jeremy!"
He unabashedly grinned at his wife, as he had probably never been happier to see her in his life. "Oh, there you are. Hi."
"Where else am I supposed to be, you daft prat?" she asked, and once she was sure her knees were going to support her she advanced and threw her arms around him.
He held her for a moment, then touched her hair and face before kissing her. He was free. He could be with her. It was impossible, but he was free.
"I feel like I can breathe now," she confessed once she broke the kiss.
He rested his forehead against hers, taking the moment in before he spoke. "It's over," he said. "The unified pack is disbanded. Fenrir is exiled, along with all his followers, and the Carrows have been fought off." He touched her face. "Some died... but for our cause."
It was selfish to think it, but all she could think about was how he wasn't dead, or worse. She nodded in understanding. "Who?"
Jeremy made himself not think about it as he answered. He'd mourned enough. He couldn't afford to grieve, not now, not when everything was as close to solved as it could be. "Conor," he started wearily. "Adam. The Carrows killed Adam. Wesley nearly killed Edward. About twenty died overall."
Adam. That hit her a bit harder than she thought it would have, and she inhaled sharply. He was one of the few people who she’d seen every time she went to Hati’s pack, and hadn’t tried to kill her. "That many," she said, and she nodded. "But it's over."
"It's over. It's over," he repeated, and laughed at the absurdity of that. The wolf was settled, Conor and Adam were dead, but it was over.
She laughed as well and kissed him quickly. "It's -- it's all done then, Jeremy, do you know?"
"...Yeah, that's what I said," he said, startled. "It's over, we figured it all out."
"No, no, no, it's -- don't look at me like I'm crazy, honestly." She was laughing again. It was hitting her all at once, that was all. She took a deep breath and stopped her brain from racing. "It's -- You-Know-Who's gone, Jeremy."
Jeremy did, in fact, look at her like she was completely insane. "What?"
"It's -- just yesterday, everybody knew. It was crazy, you couldn't get anywhere without people celebrating or anything, but I was -- " I was still worrying nearly fell out of her mouth, but she stopped. There wasn't a reason to worry now. "Nobody can really explain how, it's -- quite incredible, really, but they do know that he's dead."
His eyebrows raised, his expression one of pure skepticism as he struggled with whether or not to say what had immediately sprung to mind, but as always, he inevitably had to speak. "Where did you hear this from? The Ministry? You know that Barty Crouch and The Daily Prophet would say just about anything to satisfy the people, is there a body? Who killed him?"
An answer to the last question was likely not going to help her Not Crazy case. "It's in the paper," she allowed evenly, she could feel her cheeks go scarlet. "There are people dead, you can read it all for yourself. It seems a very desperate and complex lie to tell although I have to say that if they have, they've done it very completely. A lot more complete than you'd expect."
Oh. Well, now he felt like an arse. "I -- I'm sorry, I'm an arse, and that's my dad's fault, I believe you," he said quickly. "I'll read every article I can get my hands on. So... it's all done then?" He dared to let a smile show. "The war is over?"
It seemed incredible, even as she wrapped her mind around it. "Yeah," she said, and smiled a little bit back.
"Our kid, born in peacetime," he said, now grinning.
"Like you said," she answered.
And then he had to laugh, again, but this time with genuine amusement. "I was right! I love being right."
She couldn't help but laugh as well, although she was shaking her head, too. "I know that you do!" she said.
"So when am I going to wake up?" he teased, kissing her forehead.
"I... am kind of wondering the same thing," she admitted.
"You are beautiful and amazing and I missed you so much, and I didn't mean to leave you behind, and I'm sorry. And I will never leave you again. I promise," Jeremy swore.
"I... really like the sound of that," she said. She was determined not to be pessimistic at all, because there was finally no reason to be. She embraced him again, hard, and just murmured, "I love you."
"I love you, too." He held her just as tightly, and only released her when he could make himself do so. "Let's... let's spread the good news."
Julia covered her mouth to hide her growing smile. "I haven't said anything," she promised. This was really the first time that she was allowing herself to be excited. "And no one's said anything either, so."
Her excitement was catching. "Really?" Oh, now he couldn't wait. "Really? We actually get to tell them ourselves?"
"Yeah, really!" she said. "No way I was doing it without you unless I had to."
"Did I mention I love you? I love you. A lot," he said, shamelessly wearing his stupidest grin.
"Once or twice now, yeah," she replied.
"Well come on, let's go!"
"Be nice to me, I'm going to be somebody's mother," she said as he began to pull her out of the sitting room. "They were going to the office, last I knew."
"I hope that doesn't mean what it sometimes means," he said, quite straight-faced.
Julia made a face in return, knowing full well what Jeremy was talking about. "Think we should try back later?"
Jeremy shrugged. "No, Dad and Mum are probably just in there arguing about whatever shit the Minister and Crouch have been saying since this whole thing, we can interrupt that."
"A discussion for the ages, certainly," Julia agreed dryly as they approached the almost closed door.
As it happened, Jeremy was spot on. "Well of course they're minimising the fact that they had absolutely nothing to do with it," Owen said to Brighid. "And it's unsurprising, considering the hot air that Crouch -- " He was interrupted by a short knock before the door swung open. The subject at hand was forgotten, because there Jeremy stood, with Julia. He smiled at his son. "Welcome back."
Jeremy sent them both a broad grin. "Yeah, we won," he said. "Some casualties -- twenty, and that's overall -- but we won, and things are in order now." He was slightly ashamed that the news of the pregnancy now trumped the news of the victory, to him, but it did.
He nodded. "A victory, none the less," he replied, and then really took a careful look between the two of them, growing suspicious. "The last time both of you had that look on your face, you told us you were getting married," he said.
"Oh lord," Brighid said, sounding quite weary as she looked back at the two just as carefully. "What is it now, you two?"
Julia was feeling extremely clever for no particular reason. Although she tried to keep a straight face, she was failing at that. She looked back up at Jeremy, and elbowed him lightly to go ahead.
"Julia's pregnant," Jeremy said, wearing a shameless expression of mixed glee and smugness.
Owen's eyebrows raised. He couldn't help it, he was a little shocked. "You kids work fast," he commented.
"...Not that fast," was the only response Jeremy could think of.
Julia slapped the palm of her hand to her forehead. "No, I'm early in my fourth month now, it -- seriously," she said.
"Oh good lord," Brighid breathed, staring at the couple with wide eyes.
"Um," Julia started, "... yes. Yes, pretty much," she agreed.
"... B?" Owen asked. He'd never seen her quite so bewildered.
"Mum?" Jeremy echoed, unable to not be concerned. She looked white.
Brighid took a deep breath, opened her mouth to speak and proceeded to actually faint from shock.
"Oh good -- " Owen sighed, and scrambled to make sure Brighid wasn't going to drop like a sack of rocks. "Now we really are in a bloody Jane Austen novel."
Julia covered her gaping mouth with one hand, until she found her words. "Your mother just fainted," she said to Jeremy, as if he hadn't been standing there the entire time.
Jeremy couldn't hold it back anymore and leaned on Julia as he began to laugh very, very hard.
Julia held on to him with her free arm and glanced to Owen and Brighid. Her hand was still over her mouth but she couldn't help but smile a little. "I -- oh, god, I'm sorry that wasn't really our intention -- "
Owen couldn't really say he blamed his wife, it had been an eventful week and needless to say that had been the last thing they'd been expecting to hear from their son and daughter-in-law. "Well, I daresay not," he said to Julia, and put his hand to Brighid's face. "B. Brighid," he said.
There was a moment where she shook off her funk before she finally answered, "What?"
"Good morning, sleepy -- Jeremy, stop laughing, you sound like a hyena," Owen started.
"Sorry," Jeremy sniggered.
Brighid blinked a few times. "They aren't joking, then?"
Owen tried to stop the smirk that was spreading across his face, but was ultimately failing in that. "Well. If they are, they've certainly managed to fool you," he said.
"Dad, be nice, she's just come to," Jeremy said, not bothering to hide his own smirk.
"I sometimes wonder why I bother with either of you." Brighid straightened and gave both her smirking boys pointed looks.
"You and me both," Owen grinned, and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "But yes. It would seem as though we are being told the truth."
Julia was not laughing, rather she was flushed and appearing guilty of something. "I'm due on May fifteenth," she added helpfully.
"I'm sorry," Brighid said to Julia, quickly. "That... was the thing I least expected."
"Well. Me too, at the time," she tried a joke, although the thing least expected barely managed to cover it.
"So you've kno -- oh," she said, sizing up Julia again. "Of course."
Julia looked down at herself, she wasn't showing quite yet, she wasn't sure what made it so patently obvious once people knew. "For sure for about a month or so, yeah."
Owen leaned back against the front of his desk and exhaled in one swift breath. "I'm not sure I'm ready to be a grandparent," he joked, mostly to Brighid.
"Yeah, yeah, we're having a kid, it's great, when is someone going to tell me about the fall of You-Know-Who?" Jeremy asked, almost indignant.
"I imagine we would have gotten there eventually," Owen said, and immediately began digging in the stack on his desk for yesterday's newspaper. "It seems as though You-Know-Who was struck down by none other than an infant named Harry Potter -- here it is," he said, holding it up. "The boys parents were killed, sadly, and that was all Hallowe’en night. Yesterday, Sirius Black -- a Black, so obviously a Death Eater -- exploded a street in Muggle London, killing twelve Muggles and another wizard, supposedly out of grief for his master."
"... I told you it had been a busy couple of days," Julia concluded at Jeremy.
It was as sudden and startling as a slap, forcing him immediately out of his arrogant excitement. "...James and Lily Potter?" he said. "Sirius Black? They're pinning it on Sirius Black?" Remus didn't know. Remus was back with Ben and Hati. "I need to go back. I'll be back," he swore to Julia. "I need to go back."
Julia couldn't help it. She was kind of annoyed. "You need to go back," she repeated flatly.
"One night. I swear! I swear. You can come with me." Jeremy put his hands up.
She took a breath and let it out. "I don't want to be -- yeah. Okay, what the hell. Let's go." She took another breath, willing herself to be caught up in the impetuous decision instead of resisting it.
"They'll be glad to see you. Hey, we can take Gemma back," he figured. "Sky and Rory want to see her, at the very least."
"I'm sure she'll be ready to go," Julia said. Gemma had not been there long, but due to her tendency to talk to anyone about anything, she had become more well-known to her than just about anyone else in the house. She jumped at the small squeal of excitement that came from the corridor, although when Gemma showed her face around the corner, she sighed in relief.
Gemma ran into the room, stopping just short of Jeremy and Julia. "I'm sorry I know I shouldn't've listened but I couldn't help it and I promise I finished in the kitchen, do I really get to go back? We REALLY won?"
Jeremy smiled at her, unfazed entirely as he'd heard her arrive outside the door two or three minutes ago. "We really won. Are you ready to go?"
"I am really ready. I want to see Sky and Rory was supposed to be here when I got here," she said, bouncing lightly and she looked at all the Curentons. "But um... thank you, I just want to go home."
"Sure, all right. We'll see you tomorrow," Jeremy said, nodding to his parents before he turned back to Gemma. "We'll get you back to Ben and Sky, no problem."
"Tomorrow," Owen echoed with a half-smile. "Goodbye, Gemma."
"Bye!" she cheered, waving, and pulled right on Jeremy's arm, and for good measure pulled at Julia too. A second more would obviously been too much to bear.
"You didn't think it was really all over, did you?" Jeremy teased his wife as they followed Gemma out.
"If I can fall asleep with you," she said with a sigh, "I don't care where the hell we are."
"Who wants to sleep?" Gemma demanded as they left the house, and she shivered when the cold air hit.
Jeremy had to smirk at Julia as he put on his cloak. "Dunno."
"Being pregnant is tiring sometimes." She smirked back. "Okay, grab a hand and get ready to Apparate," she added to Gemma.
Gemma held on to Julia's hand tightly. "I'm ready I'm ready, let's go."
Jeremy glanced back into the Den and flashed one last excited grin before Disapparating.
"Hang on," Julia advised her again. She felt Gemma's small hand close around hers and she closed her eyes, Disapparating behind him with her.
The defeat of the unified pack by a ragtag bunch of abnormalities amongst the freak show that was werewolf packs had proven a crushing blow, even for Amycus. He supposed that he hadn't invested into it nearly what the halfbreeds had, or even what his sister had, but being on the losing side was not a feeling that Amycus Carrow relished.
Unfortunately, it was one that he was becoming familiar with.
The news of the Dark Lord's defeat had spread through his chosen like a brushfire, quick and deadly, although everyone was afraid to speak it out loud -- if the news proved false and their Lord had thought they'd been disloyal... that was a punishment not even worth contemplating. Some were calm, certain their innocence could be assured either by money, friends in high places, or both. Others mentally prepared their defense, and compiled all the names they could think of in case they were arrested and their necks had to be saved by pointing a finger. Others hid. Amycus wasn't sure which group he would fit into, not just yet, although he was loath to think of it at all -- this was a day they had not planned for.
Copy of The Daily Prophet clenched in his fist -- they thought Sirius Black was one of theirs, if he had been he had certainly been one of the best at hiding it in public -- Amycus Apparated back to the pack house where he had left Alecto with Fenrir's broken pack. Without even bothering to knock on the door as he had before, he pushed the front door open and without looking for his sister, yelled, "ALECTO."
Alecto snapped instantly out of her stupor -- after watching Wesley utterly humiliate another pack werewolf foolish enough to lay down a casual challenge to Fenrir's warrior out of boredom, her brother's shout, panicked as it sounded, was welcome. She stood without hesitation and ran to the door, her wand already in hand in the slight hope that there was a fight to be had. "What?" she demanded upon the sight of him.
He looked at her, struck how typically Alecto her ready position was. "I wish I didn't have to deliver this news to you," he said, "but... it is necessary." He was stalling, damn it all. He straightened the newspaper and held it out, front page facing her.
She stared hard at him first, examining his face for any sign of good news, but she eventually forced herself to look at the newspaper itself. It struck her visibly, forcing her a step back, her hand to her mouth and her face going white. "No," she hissed. "It's impossible!"
He lowered the newspaper. "I wish it were so," he replied. "But it is what it is. Things have fallen apart."
She shook her head, but it made disturbing sense with the little they'd heard, with how they hadn’t been Called, with everything. But the Dark Lord was too great for that. "What do we do?"
"It's turned to every man for himself, we can't trust that someone will not name us, if someone who knows us is caught -- or that we are not suspected already," he said calmly, pragmatically, attempting to be logical about it. He'd long ago decided that if he were caught and need go to Azkaban in service of the Dark Lord then so be it, but being caught when he was dead was meaningless. "What we do is simply a matter of what we think need be done."
Alecto crossed her arms over her chest, equally determined to do the pragmatic thing. "If the Dark Lord is truly dead, then all we can do is wait for the manhunt to die down so we can return to our work. We're lucky," she pointed out, wryly. "No one knows where we are."
There was the saying that beggars could not be choosers, but Amycus was not quite ready to concede to beggardom. "No one knows where we are," he repeated, almost inaudibly.
Alecto put her hands on his shoulders. "Think of it this way, Amycus." She spoke just as softly. "We aren't hiding. We're waiting. The traitors will betray Him, the worse traitors will betray us, the loyal who are caught will go to Azkaban, but the loyal who aren't caught -- we're waiting. The war won't ever be over until England's free of them, all we have to do is wait."
He breathed deeply and looked at Alecto -- she certainly wasn't wrong, in fact he would have said she made sense. "Waiting, then," he said after a long moment.
"What are we waiting for?" Fenrir asked, as abrupt in his tone as in his arrival. He raised an eyebrow at Alecto as she looked over at him.
Amycus looked at Fenrir, expression blank. "The reappearance of our Master," he said, pointedly, "at such a time when that should occur."
"Reappearance?" Fenrir echoed. That made no sense. Of all the things that could be said about the Dark Lord, no one would ever say his presence was anything but constant. "He has -- "
"They say he's dead, Fenrir." Alecto withdrew from her brother, tucking her wand into her belt. "They say we lost the war."
Fenrir scoffed as she spoke and cut in the second that she looked at him. "War never ends until one side surrenders," he said. "And we'll never surrender."
"Or until one side is all either dead or jailed," Amycus said dryly. "Which is what is likely to happen. And so we wait."
Fenrir snorted. "Typical," he said under his breath, then said more loudly, "You're free to stay or go, as always."
"Typical?" Alecto shot back, tone acidic and look much the same. "What do you mean, typical?"
Fenrir looked between the two with disdain. "I mean that wizards are spoiled," he explained, patronising. "You take your freedom for granted. Until one side surrenders -- "
"The war goes on. So tell me, Fenrir, if you knew this all along, why did you allow it to happen to yourself?" Alecto didn't wait to hear his answer. "Amycus, let's continue our conversation somewhere more private."
Amycus meant to hold his tongue, since Alecto had gotten plenty indignant for the both of them (as usual). But he needed to speak, and was careful not to offend -- if Alecto's idea were to be implemented, Fenrir could not be alienated. "Your fate is just as entwined, Greyback. No one knows where we are -- for now." And I doubt they'd waste space in Azkaban on you, he silently added, but otherwise just let the ambiguous qualification hang in the air.
Fenrir shrugged at them. "You need me more than I need you," he answered. "Our fates are entwined, so you're pack. Act as pack because you'll be treated as pack, wands or not."
Amycus thought of it as more of an impasse -- they were in need of a place to hide, and Fenrir needed neither of them to head back to the Ministry of Magic and lead the way back to the pack. Which he was about ready to do, Greyback irked him so. Still, the self-preservation instinct was the stronger. "Very well," he said, and turned back to his sister. "We still need to speak."
Alecto gave him a stiff nod and shot Fenrir a last scathing look before she gestured with her head for Amycus to follow her as she left.
"WESLEY," Fenrir shouted once the tension was even slightly lessened, without giving Alecto a second look. "Gather the pack, I want everyone together, now!"
Amycus wondered with a certain amount of absurdity if that meant them as well, but wordlessly followed Alecto as she had indicated.
Remus was not normally the sort to actively deny something, but then, he’d never had the kind of news that Jeremy had delivered to him from the rest of the wizarding world. It was too much to believe that James, Lily, and Peter were all dead, and by Sirius’s hand. If Remus were there, part of him thought he might be dead as well.
But it didn’t make any sense. Sirius was foolhardy and impulsive, but he was anything but a supporter of the You-Know-Who. To an outsider, it would make perfect, logical sense. To someone who had known him for years, as Remus had, it looked slightly absurd.
Still, the evidence looked back up at him from the newspaper in black and white. His head whirled with it, and yet his brain managed to wrap around none of it.
It was far too crowded inside the house for Remus right now, he sat on the front steps with the newspaper open in his hands, reading the front page article again and again, but every time he did so it seemed to morph into something increasingly incomprehensible. He finally gave up and let the paper down, shivering slightly. It had been unseasonably warm in the last week, but that promised to end soon. Remus saw his breath in the morning air and the grass sparkled with frost. He stared blankly at it.
“I thought you were leaving.”
He jumped out of his semi-catatonic state, and whirled around to see Briony standing there. In a rare first movement, he reached out to her wolf in concern. She accepted the gesture gratefully, but silently, and he looked at her. In lieu of a coat or anything heavier than her thin jumper, there was an old quilt wrapped around her body, her hair hung loose to her waist, her toes curled up against her bare feet, and she showed no signs of having slept; the pack's Electra certainly looked her part. “You should go back inside,” he told her.
“Should,” she echoed, and then shrugged. She couldn't walk past the staircase without remembering Conor's death and the overwhelming anger and grief rising up in her again. She sat down beside him and curled her toes against the bottom of her feet. “You said you were leaving last night after Jeremy came back.”
“I thought I was,” he said reluctantly after a moment.
“I don’t know what’s keeping you here, then,” she replied.
Remus didn’t have an easy answer for her. He didn’t even really have a difficult answer. “I… have neglected people close to me in order to be here, and… things have happened. I fear there’s a great wrong been done, and there is nothing I can do to undo it.”
She was silent for a moment and finally said, “Well. I suppose if there was something you could do to undo it, then it wouldn’t be a great wrong.”
He gave a short, bitter laugh. “I suppose you’re not wrong about that,” he said with a little bit more of an edge than he had meant to.
Briony heard it, and it hurt her to do so. Even worse than it hurt to touch wolves with him. “It must have been awful news.”
Remus swallowed. “Unbearable,” he said quietly, looking again at the newspaper.
“About your witch,” she said. Not a question, a mere statement.
“She’s not my – “ Remus stopped in mid-sentence, and ran a hand over his face. He was so tired right now, it was hard to think even in knee-jerk reactions. Luckily, Briony interrupted before he could try again.
“Not your witch. I know,” she said, resting her chin on her knees. “Just seems to differentiate from all the other witches we know,” she added dryly with a less than subtle glance back at the house.
Remus looked back, too. The house was still quiet, almost eerily so. "So Jane is staying," he said, not so much a question as a statement. Briony nodded. "That's a little surprising."
She looked at her feet, and shrugged. "She's become close with Skoll's pack, and they haven't all been together for ages. I can't say if Patrick's thrilled, but she is staying. We… came to an understanding."
“Mm,” he said, withdrawing. Pack politics had been going practically nonstop in the house as each surviving leader and each new one asserted control over their wolves, attempted to care for the wounded, and keep tempers cool and stress low. It was a tiring way to live. All the eyes that were cast on him were done so in suspicion – Remus, Fenrir’s heir apparent, had not fled, and no one was sure why. The things that had kept him in Ireland were self-imposed. Just as Jeremy had said, he did not want to leave things unfinished and in a mess. But he also did not want to face the suspicions of his friends, James, Lily, and the others. So he remained.
Briony let the two of them lapse into silence. Silence had become a rare commodity in the last several years, but it was no relief, weighing too heavily on her. She checked Remus, first visually and then hesitantly by nudging his wolf with hers. He didn’t react at first, but at a second touch, he hesitatingly returned the gesture. He was holding much back, but she could sense the hesitation – confusion, even. “I didn’t expect Jeremy to be back so soon,” she said. “Not for awhile.”
“If at all?”
His tone caught her attention. It was more than a touch bitter, but overall weary. “Not for awhile,” she repeated. “I didn’t think he’d leave Julia for anything, but I didn’t think he’d bring her here, either.”
“Why not, he sent her as a messenger more than once,” he said.
She didn’t have a reply for that, but shrugged instead. “I didn’t know what to expect from you either.”
He could understand that feeling. Remus didn’t know what to expect from himself anymore, either. He’d spent eighteen years being nothing less than upstanding, as he had been satisfied to be. He’d been a model student, a patient, thoughtful boy, who had never been anything but soft-spoken, even shy. A gentle person always fighting for control with the wolf. No one would have thought him a werewolf from just looking at him.
But these past three years, that had changed. He hadn’t looked at himself in a mirror in months but didn’t need to in order to know that his appearance was just as ragged as anyone else amongst the pack. Lies had become his coin, buying Fenrir’s trust and costing him the people who had always trusted him. It wasn’t an easy realisation to come to, and now with even the charade of privileged heir ripped away from him, he felt dreadfully empty. “I don’t know,” he answered. “I’ve… put a torch to some bridges that shouldn’t have been burned, and now it’s too late.”
His distress was growing, and she could feel it. “Remus, what’s happened?”
He shook his head. “I should go. I don’t know where, but I don’t have a purpose here any longer.”
“You don’t need a purpose to be here. It’s a pack, you’re a werewolf. You belong here.”
“I don’t,” he answered immediately. “I know why you say that, Briony, I do, but I don’t think that it’s true. I don’t.”
“I think that it is, and I know why you say that,” she replied. She moved to face him on the front steps, wincing when her bare feet became exposed to the cold air. “I know it’s not what you were used to, but it’s not what any of us knew before we came to a pack. It’s better than what we’d have with wizards.”
“Everyone is going to look at me and see Fenrir’s heir,” he said, and jumped up. The urge to pace was overwhelming, but his feet refused to move. He turned around and looked down at Briony, who stared back at him. “They don’t know why I’m here. Some of them are so conditioned into being scared of me.” Him. His Father. The Father he’d been welcomed by – no. Fenrir had welcomed something Remus didn’t want to become. A criminal who took children from their families, one who killed and ruled by intimidation. One who didn’t want to just live his life. He looked back up at the house. “This is… I can’t be here.”
She pulled the blanket around her tighter. “Wizards and witches aren’t going to treat you like a person,” she said. “They’re going to treat you like an animal.”
“I’m not in the Registry. That makes it easier,” he somewhat lied.
“People still know,” she said. “They know when you’re not like them. They become frightened of you and don’t want you to be their problem.”
Remus stopped, and just looked at her bleakly. There was no point in arguing ideology with her. “I don’t have another day of fight in me, Bri.”
“Me neither.” The only thing she wanted right now was to figure out how and where to pick her life back up. It wasn’t easy, it seemed like everyone she’d grown up with – Conor, Geoffrey, their entire pack save for a handful, were dead. Conor’s death itself was still too near to contemplate. "You should have let him kill me," she whispered.
"I couldn't have," he said.
"You should have," she repeated.
He finally managed to look away from her, and looked at the front lawn. The sun was just rising over the trees, and he could hear voices in the front room of the house. “I’m going,” he said, with more resolve than he’d felt in a great while.
She’d figured. If she had been totally honest with herself, she didn’t think he would stick around either. “What do you figure you’ll do?”
“I don’t know.” Godric’s Hollow was going to be a first stop. He needed to see for himself the destruction that had taken James and Lily’s lives and destroyed the Dark Lord – leaving Harry. He looked back at Briony. It seemed like the war had left many parentless. “Maybe I’ll go see my parents,” he managed to say. “I don’t know what’s in front of me.”
Briony was silent for a very long moment. She tried not to show her disapproval. “Are you sure you won’t stay here?” she asked instead.
“Positive, I think,” he said. Her neutral expression was impossible to read, and even her wolf had managed to successfully conceal whatever it was that she’d been thinking. He was too weary to suss it out. But they’d come too far together and spent too much time with one another to leave with that. “Are you going to be okay?”
“I don’t know,” she said immediately and contemplated. “I mean…”
“I get it,” he said. “Take care of yourself, and the pack.” She always did, he knew that, but he didn’t know what else to say to her. There was no goodbye that he could give that was completely satisfying. “Tell them… I don’t know.”
“I’ll make something good up and poetic, pretend you came up with it,” she answered, and made herself smile at him even though she didn’t feel it.
“Okay,” he said, and before he found a reason to not go he turned back and walked away from the pack house. The crisp air filled his lungs, and he breathed it in deeply. There was a strange sort of relief mixed with trepidation for every step he took while he tried to form some kind of coherent plan to follow, at least for the day. Godric’s Hollow first, he decided and once he made it to the boundary of their wards Disapparated. He wasn’t certain that he was ready for whatever was in front of him, but he also knew that he had no choice. He had a life to build, from the ground up.