Blood And Carnations
by Voleuse

i. 1980

Amidst the chaos of the war, the cold iron of distrust overlaying every conversation, Harry Potter is born.

The baby clutches at his thumb with a gurgle, and Remus could weep at the purity of it. He feels large and clumsy next to fragile Harry. Sirius laughs at the worry on his face as he holds the baby. James and Lily wrap their arms around each other, proud, and Peter beams at the room indiscriminately.

"Hello, Harry," he whispers against the baby's downy head. "It's good to meet you."

For one moment, Remus feels wholly joyful.

Little does he know.


ii. 1981

He's being interrogated by two former schoolmates when the news comes. They know before he does, whispers slipping from mouth to ear, and he watches their faces go slack with grief.

He knows it's over.

Then they tell him who was at fault, and he'll never breathe rightly again.

After the funerals, after the trial, after watching Sirius howl on the front page of the Daily Prophet, Remus returns to Hogwarts. Appears at Dumbledore's office door, and stands.

Dumbledore glances up, weary, and nods. "Harry is safe."

Remus sighs like exorcism, and goes away again. Not satisfied, but close enough.


iii. 1982

People are never quite sure how to act around Remus. Certainly he was bereft; best mates with the Potters and Pettigrew in Hogwarts. But he was also close to Sirius Black, and complicity is easy to assume.

Being a werewolf, besides, doesn't help. Even if they don't know what he is, his frequent disappearances don't lend confidence to him.

He doesn't care. He hasn't cared about anything at all for quite a while.

It's enough to do a bit of work, to pay the bills and stock the cupboard, then crawl into bed for as long as he can.



iv. 1983

The last of the Death Eaters have been gathered, and the wizarding world breathes a sign of relief. Certainly there are still a few dodgy wizards out there--not everyone believes those who cried Imperius--but the bad ones, the really bad ones like Black, are safe in Azkaban.

One day in July, Remus sends an owl to Dumbledore. One word scrawled across a piece of parchment, a question.

Dumbledore replies, post haste, with a neatly penned sentence.

Safe, and growing strong.

Remus wants to ask another question, but decides against it. Better not to know.

Easier not to care.


v. 1984

He's going through an old box of school notes, wanting to verify the composition of a scrubbing potion. He should have known better than to attempt making a Muggle casserole, but the recipe in the Times had looked so easy.

What he finds, instead, is a picture Lily had taken of them, seventh years and jolly. James, Sirius, Peter, and himself.

He freezes, an odd counterpoint to the waving and tumbling figures in the photograph. Remus stares at Sirius, at his arms slung around his shoulders.

Remus doesn't find the scrubbing potion. He tosses the dish in the rubbish bin.


vi. 1985

Once in a while, Remus visits Peter's mother, in her house, musty with sorrow. It's always uncomfortable, as Remus was never especially close to Peter. "Best mates" doesn't require close confidence.

He is able to provide Mrs. Pettigrew with the thing she craves: Stories of Peter in school, of his daring exploits, of his bravery in the face of monsters and administrators. Stories half-true, and kind.

When he mentions how loyal and devoted Peter was, she always breaks down into sobs. He pats her on the back, allows her tears to dry, and bids her farewell.

Until the next time.


vii. 1986

He's early for the train, so he finds an empty spot at the station and reads a book, semi-oblivious to the crowds of Muggles passing.

When he looks up from his book, James is standing in front of him.

He blinks, stops breathing, then realizes. Not James, but younger. Not James, despite the unruly hair, the sideways grin, the face.

Not James, but Harry.

Yanked along by a bellowing man and a rail-thin woman. Dodging a cuff from a boy, maybe a year older than him, maybe fifty pounds or so heavier.

They pass. His train arrives. He misses it.


viii. 1987

Remus loves the scent of books. The dusty, dry smell of pages and ink, cracking with age. Of leather and thread, and dormant magic.

The library, then, is a haven of his. Getting lost in the stacks is like burrowing into warm blankets, like being wrapped in a lover's arms.

Like traveling back in time.

He's looking for an astronomy text, newly published. He's seen it in Flourish and Blotts, but it's glossy, and several Galleons. Walking down the shelves, he lays his hand flat against the books. Trails the bumps of their spines, and thinks only, ever, of books.


ix. 1988

the moon is hot against his hands and it speaks to him like coals, calling, calling, and he's bound, caged, and he can't answer because of...of...

he thrashes against his fetters, growling, and he needs the air, needs the grass, needs to feel blood spurt against his teeth needs to feed the hunger, gnawing through his body, grinding his bones against each other

he's trapped, and alone, and it's not right in a way he can't...he can't think, he just wants out, and away, and to be with the moon again

to be with the moon

to be with



x. 1989

He's pouring tea for himself when the owl appears at his window. It chirps to get his attention, and he lets it in with a smile. Takes the letter, paper fine and envelope heavy, and offers the messenger some water and a bit of his dinner in thanks.

The letter is from Dumbledore, and he didn't expect the offer. Didn't expect to return to Hogwarts, in any capacity, ever. Certainly not as instructor.

He scribbles his regrets on a scrap of parchment and sends the owl on its way.

Sits down to his dinner.

Wonders, for an hour, "What if?"


xi. 1990

He receives a message, curt and technical, from someone he wouldn't consider a friend. Looks at his calendar, and looks up the uses for several herbs. Contemplates the past for a day.

Then he replies, with thanks, and takes a train to Hogwarts. Greets this not-friend with reserve, and receives icy hostility in response.

They discuss preliminary spells, then potion preparation, with fervor but not passion. They cast the spells together, at twilight, then Remus watches intently as his not-friend brews a series of complicated potions, then combines them with utter competence. A master.

He takes the potion, with gratitude.


xii. 1991

He hears the rumble of gossip all the way from Diagon Alley, through the Muggle streets, and racing up to his humble apartment. He reads the rumors in the Prophet, and catches a few sidelong looks, unfamiliar after so many years.

He feels the past echo inside of him, and remembers the dark-haired boy from the train station. Knows the truth, not for the facts, but for the feeling of inevitability.

Harry Potter has returned to the wizarding world.

When Harry arrives at Hogwarts, Remus is in his kitchen. Clutching a crumpled photograph in hand. Mourning for friends passed.



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