Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairing: W/Remus Lupin
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things HP belong to JK Rowling, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Author’s Note: For Bookgal01’s birthday.
Note3: Sorta angsty. Mucho sad. Spoilers for HP5. . .takes place at some random point in the BtVS universe. . .completely AU for that show.
She was sitting in a corner when he came in. At least, he supposed that she was sitting there. The truth was, he didn’t see her. He wasn’t looking. Eyes half-seeing, he went to the counter first, ordering himself a shot of Firewhiskey with a pint of something strong and foul smelling to chase away the burning. He downed the shot, grimacing with pain and distaste as the burning liquid coursed its way down his throat, settling like lead in his stomach. The pint he picked up, surveying the room drearily.
It was crowded, as Rosmerta’s was wont to be on a Saturday evening. Witches and wizards from around the area flocked to Hogsmeade for the type of close companionship that her establishment provided.
Companionship was the last thing he wanted tonight, though. If the truth were to be told, he supposed that leaving his rooms at the school probably hadn’t been the smartest of ideas. He could have easily had the house elves fetch something to ‘ease his pain’.
But the school contained memories. Memories of four young boys, still trying to make adventure and earn their place in the world. A world that was much more unkind than any of them could have ever imagined.
Except for one.
He supposed that every group had one like Peter. One that was doomed by Fate to betray his friends into the very pits of Hell. Or, perhaps, he was just romanticizing what was undoubtedly a very cowardly deed.
Still, accusations and excuses aside, the memories were there, wandering the halls of Hogwarts much as the boys themselves had done so long ago.
Two of those ‘boys’ were dead. Peter was a turncoat.
Which left only him.
He never thought. . . .
Never in a million years. Through curses and hexes, spells and potions. Through the rise and fall and then rise again of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
Not once did he think that he, Remus Lupin, would be the last true member of the Marauders left. Not even when Sirius was thrown in jail had he contemplated what it would be like to be the last left. To carry that torch with him to his dying day. Sirius’ responsibilities were now his own, as he had promised his most dearest friend on more than one night, when they shared a pint together. He would watch over Harry and continue the good fight.
It was, with those memories, that he realized that the little tavern was quite crowded. No one he knew, and all of the tables seemed full to capacity. If was as if everyone had decided that tonight would be the perfect night to get quite thoroughly drunk, and they were doing it loudly and with good humor.
His eyes paused on a table so far at the back of the room he wondered if he had ever even noticed it before. It was dark, practically in a corner, with only room for two people.
And only one was currently sitting at it.
Remus sighed, glancing down at the pint in his hand, wondering one more time what had possessed him to leave the quiet of his rooms. Oh yes. . memories.
He slid through the crowded room, unnoticed for the most part. Many of those that did know him barely glanced his way. A werewolf. That’s what he was. Anathema of civilized society. Many of those parents that had loved him before the secret came out now wrote letters to the Headmaster asking that he no longer be allowed anywhere near their precious children. How quickly the tide of public opinion turned, and not often for the better. This latest rising of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was another fine example of that. The general public disbelieved and disbelieved until. . .
Until fine members of their society ended up injured or dead.
It was sickening in the most disheartening way.
As he neared the table he began to take note of the woman that sat there. She was dressed in a simple green robe, nothing fancy like many of the other patrons. She had a mug in front of her, though from the color he could tell it was nothing more harmful than butterbeer. But it was the expression on her face that made him most take notice of her.
She looked sad. At a loss. Much like he felt since the death of his best friend.
“Is this seat taken?”
She looked up, green eyes glassy with unshed tears, and he wondered if this was the smartest thing, even if she allowed him to stay. She was already in the middle of her own depression, why add to it by his presence or allow her to add to his own?
“It’s not,” she shook her head with a sad smile. “You can sit if you like.”
Remus smiled his thanks, taking the chair. She turned her attention back to the drink in front of her, and he found himself doing likewise. Rosmerta’s was busy around them, but they could have been in their own quiet world for all the difference it made. He didn’t speak and neither did she, though they seemed to have so much in common. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her, red hair framing her face like a shield against the onslaught of everyone else’s laughter. Her eyes were fixed steadily on her drink, one hand grasping the mug as if she’d lift it at any moment to drink.
She smelled like tears and pain, something he was all too familiar with. Tears and pain, and maybe a little death. Not blood. Not the smell of decay or even fresh corpses. But the smell of someone that has had something die within themselves. How many times through the years had he smelled that on someone he came across? Recent widows, children that lost their parents.
He could scarcely stand it. Her pain seemed so much rawer than his own.
“Are you alright?” He murmured, leaning into the table so that she could hear above the din. She lifted her head slowly, shaking her head in a silent ‘no’.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be again.” She admitted with a shrug.
He nodded, knowing the feeling. How many mornings had he woken since Sirius’ death wondering if the pain would ever even ease?
“It gets easier.”
She nodded. “You’d think I’d know that. As many people as I’ve lost. Funny how that doesn’t make it any easier, you know. Just harder. One by one . . .they all die. Until you’re the last one left.”
The sadness etched in her face tore at the strings of his heart. Not just because of what she said, but because of how similar it was to how he felt.
“I understand. Sadly, I’ve lost many friends, as well.”
She sighed. “I thought you looked like a kindred spirit, though I always hoped that your pain was for something else. A lost dog. Favorite team lost the last game. Something like that, you know. I didn’t want you to understand.”
Just as he had not wanted her to understand.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered. “No one else should know this kind of pain.”
“It doesn’t seem fair.” He nodded, feeling wise beyond his years. She was young, now that he looked at her closer. Far too young to be carrying such pain around. “May I ask what happened?”
She looked at him, green eyes sparkling with pain. “Not now. One day. . .” She laughed sadly. “One day I’ll see you here again and I’ll tell you about them. About Spike and Xander. Buffy and Dawn. I’ll tell you about them all. But not tonight.”
He smiled, not believing for one moment that they would meet again. But it was a simple dream, the sharing of pain at a later date, when it did not hurt so much. So he allowed himself to accept it.
She left when he wasn’t looking, hours later. Neither had spoke since that initial moment when their pains became so terribly open. She left without a word, without a goodbye, leaving behind just the scent of her tears.
~*~A Year Later~*~
The students were on the trains, heading back to their homes and families. Back to a world filled with the terror of the Dark Lord’s gaining power. There was little he could do for them. Little anyone could do except continue to fight the good fight. He ordered a pint from Rosmerta and made his way back to the fartherest table in the room, where once upon a time ago he had met a red head that was slowly dying on the inside. He had sat at this table many times in the past year, wondering what had happened to her. No one at the school recognized her description. She was as much a mystery to him as she was to everyone that he asked.
And he had eventually just given up. It had been nice that night to just accept that one day she’d come back, but the truth was – she wasn’t. He didn’t even know if she was still alive or if she’d met the same end as those friends she hadn’t wanted to speak of. Perhaps she was back in the States, where her accent had placed her as being from that night they had spoken ever so briefly.
He smiled, staring down at the ale in his mug. The pain of Sirius’ death was nowhere near as painful as it had been on that dark night.
Remus glanced up, his forehead creasing with confusion at the woman standing before him.
“I don’t suppose you remember me, do you?”
“Of course,” he breathed, recognizing her from the soft quality of her voice. Her hair was much shorter now, her green eyes more vibrant, but she was the same woman from so many months before.
“I told you I’d come back.” She laughed lightly, slipping into the chair across from him. “I’m Willow, by the way.”
“Remus.” He offered, taking her hand lightly in his own. He smiled to see that her pain was not so fresh, not nearly as deep as it once had been; and she appeared to be in good health.
“I promised you a story.” She offered with a half-shrug. “Do you have time?”
“You don’t have –“
“I know.” She cut him off with a smile and a wave of her hand. “But I want to, you know. I want everyone to know what they gave for the world.”
Remus smiled and nodded, listening intently as she haltingly began a story he knew could lead to smile or tears – or a mixture of both.
And maybe, when she was done, he’d tell her about James and Sirius.
They deserved to be remembered, too.