A/N: Thanks so much to Katie for pre-betaing for me and to my beta, Kelley; you guys help so much.
Nothing in this world is forever.
You would have thought I'd learned that by now. Then why does it always come as a shock when things do change? Why does it hurt so much? Apparently, I haven't learnt anything yet.
Things change, people move on. They marry. Turn on you. Die. Or worst of all, they lie. The lying is the worst. They say they will be with you until the end. You think they mean until your end. Why wouldn't you? You didn't realize they meant their end, when it's convenient for them to go away. The lying bastards. Why should you be the one who has to go on? The one who has to live with the memory of who they were? The one who has to have people telling you how sorry they are for your loss, how they know how you feel? They have no idea. This is the story of my loss.
I have never been angrier in my life. My anger doesn't compare to anything I have felt before. Not even when my life was changed forever at such a young age. I did not realize then how hard my life was going to get. I realized long ago that life is not fair. How can it be? When so many people died – no, not died, murdered.
Died, it is such a subdued word. It does not describe the brutality of the death. Die – to cease to live; to expire. To die suggests someone comes to the end of their life naturally. To cease to live, this phrase does not tell of the horrors of death, the way someone can take a life with a single flick of a wrist and wand. The way the life is blinked out of existence in a second. That second when their whole world flashes before their eyes. The second that lasts a lifetime. That word says nothing of the pain and suffering someone has to go through after they watch their friends … die.
Death makes me angry, but that is not why I am so angry.
Too many people around me have been murdered. And to think I was always worried I would hurt them through my carelessness. I was so worried they would be damaged by me. However, people can surprise you - that is what I have learned in my lifetime. In good ways and bad, people do surprise you. I never thought anyone who found out about me would look beyond it and still see the friend I was to them. For that I trusted my friends, until they betrayed me, they died. My friends left me and I was alone. I feel the loss of them every day. I can hardly live without them. Why couldn't we stay friends after Hogwarts? It was not that difficult. I said no. I fought my hardest. I wanted you to fight that hard as well. Couldn't you do that for me? All we had to do was say no to Him. Him, the bastard who took my friends from me.
Voldemort took so many people from me, so many people who loved me as I was. Not anyone better, not anyone different, simply me. My friends, the ones I came to love as a family. They cared for me when my parents couldn't. They accepted me as one of their own. In one way or another He took my friends from me as unquestionably as he did my family.
He destroys not only the people who serve him voluntary but those who have no choice, he doesn't care. He destroys their families, the closest friends they have and even others who don't know them that well. I will not be so ignorant as to think I am the only one who has had losses. I know other people have lost people who were possibly closer to them. Harry, for example, lost his parents. Then lost closest thing to a parent he knew. He will be able to go on though, he still has his best friends, and Mrs. Weasley will help him through. If Lily and James could have chosen a surrogate mother for him, Molly Weasley would have been the perfect choice. She may be overbearing, fussy and strict but that is what a good mother is like. Now a father for Harry, that's a different story. He had so many people willing to take him in and look after him. Dumbledore wanted to have him as a grandson. Even people who had never met him were eager to help, as long as there was no danger to them. People can surprise you that way…
I would have offered to take him in, but my condition made it impossible. He would remind me of his parents every day, and when their murders and their betrayal by my best friend were so fresh in my mind, I knew I would resent him. I just couldn't do that to him.
"Sirius will be missed."
What a stupid statement. I thought, as I spoke clearly but not quite steadily to the small group of people gathered in the garden of my house.
My house is not big, glamorous or even remarkable in any way, but that is the reason we had the ceremony here. The sky was a periwinkle blue on the day of 12th July 1996. A few white puffy clouds hovered, none of which dare to float across the sun and darken that day. It was dark enough already. The birds were twittering merrily in the garden next door, all going about their ways with no worries, no cares in the world. Oh, but to be a bird, to have wings to soar high and fly away, to escape everything even if it is only for a few hours. How can anyone not envy the freedom of the birds?
Harry was sitting in the front row looking up at me with a stony, unreadable expression on his young face. He was probably wondering why I stopped talking. I looked apologetically around at everyone.
"Sirius was more than a friend…" I gave my speech plainly. It was nothing special. It did not do justice for the way my heart was feeling. There were a few inspiring lines, a few memories I shared that I knew he would enjoy but mostly it showed nothing to the way I was feeling inside. In Sirius not only did I lose a friend, but I lost a brother, a confidante, and my last link to the past. As I gave my speech, my mind kept going back to what happened that fateful June day. The way Lestrange cursed him, a smile on her face. He still had the laughter on his face with his eyes wide in shock as he fell through the veil into the nothingness that lay beyond. That was Sirius though, always the joker. Even in our days at school he took nothing seriously. That's what I loved about him. Just to be like him for a second. Not to have all these fears and worries – just to be free like he was. Like he is now.
"I'm sorry for your loss, you knew him the best out of anyone. It must be hard for you," someone said. I acknowledged them and thanked them. But they had no idea how hard it was for me. How angry I am at him for leaving me, leaving Harry alone. Harry. He has no father figure now. I am in no position to be one for him. He won't accept me anyway. I can always try though. There is no harm in trying.
"Harry." He looked up at me, the pain written all over his face in the instant I said his name. It radiated off him like a fire blazing in the hearth, but it was gone promptly. I knew he was hurting. It didn't matter that his eyes and face gave nothing away. That is one of the benefits of being a werewolf; I can sense people's emotions. Which is why mine are hardly ever shown – I hide my feelings so people think I am stronger than I look. I have gotten good at it. So has Harry. We've both suffered losses; we both try to appear stronger than we look. Maybe we should lean on each other.
"Yes Remus?" he asked me, his wall back up again. He's not even of age yet and he has seen more than most grown men in battle. He never had a childhood: being kept in a cupboard for ten years, defeating Voldemort when he was eleven, and again when he was twelve, and escaping him when he was fourteen and fifteen. That third year was probably the hardest though. He learned things about people that adults could hardly handle. He learned of betrayal, cowardess, and injustice. He also learned, though, about family. He learned the truth about Sirius and so did I. It is said you learn something new everyday and I have never been more grateful for anything I learned that year than what I learned that night in the Shrieking Shack. I got my last remaining friend back. Now I have no one and I have to live with the undeserved view the Wizarding world has about Sirius. There is no way of clearing his name now. Does it matter, anyway?
"I will always be here for you." I put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed trying to show my concern through a simple gesture. "It is harder to kill a werewolf, we have a sixth sense about that kind of thing," I said to Harry. He looked back at me, pity in his eyes.
"Don't make promises you can't keep," he said with a knowledge that was older than his years. It was true though. I couldn't promise I would be there for him. Even though I have this sixth sense, it didn't help Sirius. We were all congregated at Grimmauld Place when Snape informed us what Harry had said that June day. I tired to stop Sirius going, but it was no use. I knew in my heart he would never stay behind when his godson was in danger. I don't blame him. I know I wouldn't have stayed behind. I knew something was going to happen though – I felt it. I knew he should have stayed. Why didn't I stun him or something? Oh, but I know it wouldn't have done any good. What happened happened and I can't change the past.
"I will do everything I can to help you, Harry," I said. He seemed to be satisfied with this answer and thanked me. I watched him walk away to Ginny Weasley. She put her arms around his waist and hugged him. He hugged her back the tears glistened in his eyes. He had someone to lean on, and that was a good thing. I turned and walked away from everyone. None of them needed me right now. They had significant others to hug them and cry for them. They didn't need a teacher.
I Apparated to the graveyard where the only person who did need me was buried, we needed each other, and we kept each other in check. Now I have no one. No one to laugh with. No one to reminisce with. No one to tell me we will win this war. I am all alone… again.
1960 – 1996
You're free now my friend. You've waited so long for this. Go, spread your wings and be free. You'll be missed… but you're free. I didn't have to be strong now. I sunk down on my knees and let the tears fall. In an instant, my steadfastness was gone and it was replaced by such grief as I never knew existed. I crumpled in an instant. The tears flowed and emotions were set free. I studied the plaque carefully and remembered his face. I saw him and James grinning at some stunt they had just pulled. That was all I needed for the memories to break the dam. I let them wash over me trying to savor each one. I remembered so many things that all seemed muddled. Then, one by one, the memories became clearer. One came to the forefront of my mind as I sat there.
It had been when we decided that Hogwarts needed a map. We had stayed up well into the night planning, experimenting, and drawing. It was the first time I had really felt part of something. I felt needed, and for the first time the fact that I would be turning into a werewolf the next night didn't bother me. In truth, I was looking forward to changing. We would roam the grounds and castle escaping trouble and getting into it, looking for secret passage ways, hidden rooms, and private quarters. Those nights we spent exploring the castle, just being young. Youth. Something Harry never had. I was dragged out of my memory at this realization.
The reason I had been fighting Voldemort was to save other people, other families from pain and suffering. I never had a personal reason for fighting this renewed war. I thought I had no family, no friends any more. I thought I had nothing left to fight for. This, however, is not true. Now I do have something to fight for. I will fight to give my best friends' son and Godson the childhood – what I had growing up – he should have. That will be my reason for fighting this war.
Maybe it was Sirius coming to me from the beyond but as I was standing at the grave of my best friend, I felt something flare up inside me… hope. The pain was no where near gone, but there was hope: Hope that everything would turn out for the best, hope that I would still be able to go on without him, hope I could make new friends who would look past the faults in my character and see the real me like Sirius did. I don't want them to be like him. No one could ever replace him and I don't want anyone to. Now I had hope that even if I couldn't defeat Voldemort I could help the boy that is supposed to.
Hope. There is hope in all of us. When horrific things happen, it is harder to see because our minds are so fixated on the pain and grief that we are blinded. When the pain subsides and we accept what happened, it becomes clear that there is always hope. It was there all along, we just refused to see it. Now I have the hope that I refused to see before and it will get me through.
I had a purpose now. The memory of the Ministry of Magic wasn't as prominent, other happier memories came forward from the depths of my aching heart and for the first time in many weeks I smiled remembering the good times with him and James and even Peter – he was our friend then. Everything was going to be all right I had hope. I would see Sirius, James and Lily soon… but not too soon… I hope.