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PoA outtake - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
PoA outtake
A random thought I had on what Lupin might have done after the attack on the Fat Lady.

"Nasty temper he's got, that Sirius Black."

Remus ground his teeth, pushing Peeves' voice out of his head. Over and over, like that damned Echo Hex Snape had used on him fourth year, so that he kept hearing the girl he'd had a crush on laughing uproariously at the awful state of his robes. Sirius had got him back for that with a--

Nasty temper he's got...

Remus stopped, dimly aware that his breathing was almost too shallow to matter. His head was pounding.

A corridor or two away, he could hear Filch arguing with the Fat Lady, trying to convince her to submit to restoration. In counterpoint, he could hear Peeves--the real one, not the one echoing in his head--going on about how dreadfully painful it would all be.

Peeves was occupied.

If there was a time to go, it was now, before the Poltergeist decided to start following him about again. Dumbledore and Snape were in the Great Hall with all the students. Snape would undoubtedly be making insinuations about trustworthiness by now.

And he'd be right, wouldn't he? After all, there was one passage that Remus hadn't been entirely honest about, one hiding place he hadn't mentioned to the Aurors who'd questioned him. Dumbledore knew about it, of course--he'd overseen the building of it--and expected Sirius to use it, but Remus hadn't guarded it. He'd fallen into the routine of Hogwarts with deep gratitude, and hadn't given Sirius Black much thought at all, a dereliction of his real duty here.

Dumbledore had only spoken one word to him as the students were herded to the Great Hall: "Investigate."

It hadn't been angry or impatient, simply imperative, and Remus knew what he meant--forget checking the enchantments, ignore the simple castle passages. Find the places Sirius would know.

In the end, only one counted.

Remus checked his old haunts in a perfunctory way, examining Gryffindor Tower as soon as the students were far enough away from the portrait not to observe the override spells on the security. He looked in the kitchens, annoying several elves who were trying to get some sleep. He glanced behind the greenhouses and checked behind Hagrid's hut. He didn't expect to find anything, and wasn't surprised.

There was only one logical way for Sirius to have come onto the grounds.

Remus took a deep breath, and went to the Whomping Willow.

He prodded the knot with a stick he Conjured and dropped down into the tunnel. The air was stale inside, but that meant nothing. It would take many openings to make it fresh again. Were any of the candle-smoke marks on the walls new? Was the grit on the floor disturbed, or was it his imagination? His wand lit, he made his way slowly to Hogsmeade.

The trapdoor was sealed, but if Sirius had obtained a wand somewhere, it could have been sealed from the other side. Carefully, he worked the latch and let himself up into the Shrieking Shack.

The quiet was sepulchral, the dust lying on the floor in a thick, snow-like blanket. Would Sirius take care to cover his steps, in case of this eventuality?

Remus wasn't sure--it sounded like a bit more thought than a man who slashed the Fat Lady for information would use--but it didn't seem entirely out of the question.

"Sirius!" he called.

Sirius!... irius... us... the Shack called back, bouncing his own voice back against the boarded windows.

"Are you a coward, too?" he called. Aroo-owr-oo bounced back, and Remus, spooked, cast an anti-echo spell. "Dammit, there's no other way onto the grounds. Are you hiding? Are you afraid to come out? Was all that bravado a lie, too?"

There was no answer, and the lack of an echo seemed even spookier than the hollow repetitions.

If Sirius was here, he wasn't going to be goaded out. It would need a different approach. "Maybe you had your reasons," Remus said. "Maybe it all made sense. Was it about Regulus? Did something happen? Were they holding something over you?" He paused, trying not to choke on the next words. "If that's what it was, maybe I can help. Maybe Dumbledore can help."

There was no answering movement, no sound in the deadened air. Remus looked miserably around the Shack, trying to imagine the boy who had laughed wildly through their shared youth now sitting in an upper room, covering his presence with dust and choking silence.

He would have to check.

He shored up the stairs to avoid falling through, then went up to the next floor. The bedroom doors were all open, with drifts of dust and cobwebs along them. His footsteps didn't echo. His wand didn't cast enough light, so he held out a handful of blue flames, which cast an eerie glow on the floating dust.

There was no one here.

He went to the tiny bedroom at the top of the stairs, the one that looked out on the concealed back garden (which these days, didn't look any better from the inside than it did from the outside, though it was considerably more cluttered with weeds and fallen leaves). The waxing moon spilled pale, whitish light across the undergrowth.

Nothing moved. The cellar door was sealed, the leaves around it undisturbed for many seasons.

"I'll be damned," Remus muttered. "He did find another way in."

It felt wrong--every instinct he had said that Sirius was using the Shrieking Shack tunnel--but there was no evidence at all that he'd so much as set foot here.

Still, Remus trusted his instincts. Eventually, it would prove too tempting. Better that it continue to look free and unused. A friendly haven... if one could say such thing about the miserable place.

As he went back to the trapdoor, he Summoned dust to cover his tracks, leaving the covering as pristine as he'd found it. Carefully, he lowered himself back into the tunnel. He paused before closing the trapdoor, looking at the empty tomb of a house. If the dead walked here, they were doing so damned quietly.

He closed the trapdoor and returned to Hogwarts.

In the cellar, the cold, gaunt man sat shivering among the leaves he'd barely had time to pull over himself.

Lupin had said many things, but not the one thing that would have mattered, the one thing that Sirius had been harboring a secret furtive hope of hearing.

Oh, he'd pretended to believe there could be mitigating circumstances, but Sirius knew that the words were empty. Lupin would no more consider a mitigating factor in James's death than he himself would.

But in neither the goading nor the wheedling had he even attempted to suggest that Sirius might not have committed the crime at all.

And if Lupin wouldn't entertain the idea, neither would anyone else.

Except bloody Wormtail, of course.

Wormtail, who was the only one who really knew.

He would need to find another way into Gryffindor Tower.

Soundtrack: Eleanor Rigby

12 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 30th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
That was excellent, really excellent. You've captured how both Sirius and Remus would have behaved during this time - Sirius not thinking too clearly, and unsure about persuading Remus of the truth, and Remus stopping short from fully investigating his former friend.

I continue to be in awe of your characterizations.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 30th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Sirius's biggest problem that year was his total inability to think clearly about anything other than Pettigrew. If he hadn't been acting crazy all year, they might have had a better chance of persuasion!
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: May 30th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
You know what's interesting? There's an old story on SQ ("Passage" by Canis M.) with almost the same premise (but it's the Honeydukes passage, not the Whomping Willow) but, assumedly because it is, er, a Remus/Sirius fic, Lupin's attitude is the exact opposite. It's interesting that I find either attitude compelling: Lupin believing that Sirius is guilty (though with mitigating circumstances) or Lupin still hoping he's innocent. Your interpretation is more plausible, I think, because your characterization is more canon. "Passage" was certainly written before OotP and possibly before GoF, so a more rosy view of Sirius can be allowed (since this is before we're confronted with the fact that he's a self-destructive alcoholic and former bully). Also, this is before we discover conclusively that yes, Remus likes girls very much, thank you. I think your story demonstrates a fuller understanding of the Marauder canon and thus reflects their character development, which JKR has been working on since book three (or even book one).
Thank you for the wonderful fic, and this concludes my nerdy digression for the night ;).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 30th, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting--the thing about not reading S/R is that you miss some of the things people have done with the two characters over the years. (This one just occurred to me while reading PoA in an empty house. ;p)

I'm not sure the Wolfstar/vs Wotcherwolvie thing is the major difference in approach; feeling betrayed by a friend or a former lover would produce the same sort of hurt and doubt, and you could hold out hope for a friend as much as for a lover. Love is involved either way. For me, the main issue would be one of whether or not anyone who seriously investigated the idea of Sirius's innocence would still come away thinking he was guilty, and since I can't see giving the matter thought leading to anywhere other than "There's something we're missing here," I have to assume that everyone thought he was guilty, maybe especially his remaining old friends (mostly Dumbledore and Lupin), probably because Peter had played them well before he did it, insinuating doubt without them realizing that's what he was doing, so that after it happened, they would think, in the warm memory of recent grief, "Oh, if only we'd listened when Peter tried to tell us that..."
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: May 30th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes. The only R/S slash I've ever read is Canis M.'s stuff (this is was when I had just started to read HP fanfiction), and I never shipped R/S, but that pairing does allow for some interesting if occasionally OoC/Canon'd character exploration.

You're probably right about the "to slash or not to slash" question being irrelevant to how Remus (or anyone) perceives Sirius's guilt in Potters' deaths. But I think the choice an author makes between the two approaches (belief in Sirius's guilt or hope that Sirius is innocent) reveals something about a) how the author perceives Remus and b) how the author understands the Marauder dynamic.
a) Is Remus the kind of person who would believe in a friend's (or, I guess, lover's) innocence despite compelling evidence to the contrary? Canon evidence in PoA would tend to support a view that he isn't ("We all thought..."), but thanks to the Harry filter and Remus's excellent composure we can't really know what he HOPED during those thirteen years or what he privately believed. I think an author could legitimately choose either attitude, but would have an easier time being true to canon if they took Sirius-is-guilty-route.
b) Much more interesting: What kind of relationship did Remus and Sirius have in the context of the Marauder clique? There's a reason why the R/S ship was so popular: readers sensed after PoA that there was a close bond between Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. Even as a sixth grader (the first time I read PoA) I came away from book 3 with a sense that the Remus-Sirius connection was more important than the Sirius-James connection, probably because James was dead. But by the time you get to OotP, you can't escape the conclusion that Sirius and James were the core of that group and that while Remus was much closer and dearer to them than Peter ever was, he was probably still comparatively marginal in the gang. The very fact that Sirius would use Remus in such a thoughtless way during The Prank speaks volumes about where they stood in terms of each other and where Remus stood in the group. Now, I have no doubts that when at their best the Marauders were a loving group of friends who supported each other and encouraged each other, but a group of BFFs that produced a betrayal like Peter Pettigrew's has got some MAJOR dysfunction going on. I guess this is all to say that how you view the belief-in-Sirius's-guilt question depends on whether you think the Marauder dynamic was mostly positive or mostly unhealthy.

This raises a question that I'm not sure one can completely answer, but I'm curious to hear your take on it: Why is PoA the first time we hear of Remus Lupin? It makes sense that he didn't contact Harry pre-Hogwarts-letter, since everyone was keeping their distance, but if he and James were so close, why did Remus avoid Harry pre-PoA and obscure his past relationship with James to him until the very end of the book?
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: May 30th, 2007 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, nice. I've always been of the opinion that Lupin almost had to have had reservations about Sirius' guilt, but you pull off a version where he doesn't beautifully.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 30th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think he may have reservations--he didn't take long after seeing Peter's name show up to understand what must have happened--but I doubt he would allow them much space in his head before there was something to hang them on. I think they'd probably manifest themselves as confusion and despair more than voiced doubts about the official story.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 30th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I like this! I think you captured Remus perfectly (Sirius, too, but this is mostly a Remus story).

Just to comment on the above comments -

I think Remus' acceptance of Sirius' guilt is in character. To a certain degree, Remus always felt "unworthy" of friends. Maybe unworthy is too strong a word, but he wouldn't have held it against them if they'd turned against him for being a werewolf or, to a certain degree, if they'd rejected him for any reason. I see this in part of his acceptance of Sirius' guilt. Not only is the evidence overwhelming, it plays into this. All of the feelings that might push Remus into believing differently - the sense of betrayal and of having never really known Sirius - are ones he had been prepared for years to accept. His emotional confusion is that he's not ready to accept that Sirius did this to JAMES, but his confusion and pain on that point aren't going to counteract the rest of it. Remus has a good understanding of people but is too willing to discount it, especially when it fits some underlying ideas of how he deserves to be treated.

Sirius' problem, if it is one in this case, is that he sees Remus too much in terms of himself. Mitigating circumstances in James and Lily's deaths wouldn't cut it with Sirius. The fact that that confusion is there in Remus, against overwhelming evidence, and that he's still trying to make sense of this is an ember that can be very easily blown into a full flame - as it is when Remus sees Peter's name on the map - but it wouldn't be for him.

Although it brings up another point about Sirius' lack of a trial. Even if he'd been guilty, there are gaps in this story that need to be filled, not just for Sirius' sake but for the sake of the other people left behind.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 30th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Although it brings up another point about Sirius' lack of a trial. Even if he'd been guilty, there are gaps in this story that need to be filled, not just for Sirius' sake but for the sake of the other people left behind.

I think that's an important point about trials in general... people have a need to know what happened, to put the pieces together and try to make sense of things. And if they don't have all the evidence, they'll put together what they do have, which is, I'm sure, what Peter intended.
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: May 30th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent. You've caputured Remus and Sirius so well. I can really feel Sirius's pain at his lost friendship with Remus.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: May 31st, 2007 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)
This is perfect! I haven't come across an implausible scenario from you yet, of course, but this was so real that it could possibly have fit right into PoA. Remus, especially, is very well-characterised, with the dilemma he must be in over Sirius. Well done, and thank you!
excitedrainbow From: excitedrainbow Date: June 1st, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

That was lovely, really really lovely. The characterisation was amazing, the description of the Shack, with all its ghosts seemingly gone, fantastic. You know, everything you write is so good it gets placed in the "unofficially canon" category in my head.

*is nervous* Here's hoping DH doesn't make any of your work AU or impossible/implausible, or I might cry.

*applauds once again*
12 comments or Leave a comment