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Wouldn't Be Make Believe (the Mirror, Mirror Remix)

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I told him straight out, I did. I said, "If you think you're selling me, my lad, you'd better think again." And from the guilty look on his face, I knew he'd been considering it.

Sell me, indeed. I've been with the Lupins for over a hundred years, ever since I was made. His parents never thought of such a thing, not even just after the accident when they still hoped they could find the boy a cure. They sold the summer cottage then, the last five spoons from the family silver, even poor old Camby the house elf. But not me. I belong in this family. I was made for old Faustulus Lupin, and I've never been out of the care of a Lupin except for a week in 1953 when my back was being re-silvered, and with a Lupin I'll stay until there are none. Or until, fortune preserve me, I'm dropped and broken.

Master Remus apologized like the gentleman he is, and promised he'd wrap me up well and bring me to the new (cheaper, that is, and smaller) flat. Our moving day's tomorrow. I can picture the damp already, and the noise, and the smells of foreign cooking from the neighbours. My, how we do keep sliding lower. From this poky hole to a pokier one, not suited for being nor beast. What it'll do to the dry rot in my poor frame, I daren't imagine.

It's a comfort, of sorts, to remember the old days. When I was new I hung in the entrance of Rhea Hall, seat of the Lupins since before the Secrecy. House elves polished me every day. All the visitors used to look into me, checking their hair and adjusting the folds of their robes, and there were hundreds of them. Morning callers, ladies for tea, dinner parties almost every night. "You look beautiful, my dear," I'd say to the shy young girls, or "That mustache does suit you, sir," to the gentlemen. And how grateful they were!

All long ago, of course. The manor went after the great war, and the townhouse was blown to bits in the second war, and then it was a suburban semi-detached for me. I won't say I didn't mind--you can't help missing the standard you're used to--but I had my memories. And the family. In my time I've seen four generations of Lupins grow from little toddling things to fine men and women, parents themselves, and then to wise old grandparents. I've shown them their faces, shown them themselves. Without them I'd be blank, nothing.

Naturally it was a disappointment that Master Remus was an only child, although of course I can understand why. They did everything they could for him, the old master and mistress, always buying expensive new potions that just might work, always dragging him off to some foreign mediwizard with a fine reputation in his own country. Always laying down more padding in that room in the cellar, and worrying about how the chains galled him and how sick he'd get after the full moon. It aged them well before their time, and how could they have managed another child, I ask you?

After it happened--after Master Remus's accident--his father hired a scholar to look for a family curse. Never a one was found, but it does seem, sometimes, that the family's been dwindling through a long, slow tragedy. And now we're coming to the end, I suppose. There won't be any more Lupins, Master Remus being the way he is. In more ways than one, if you see what I mean. No sign of a marriage, nor of any wish for one, though he's past two-and-twenty.

It was different in the old days. Then, a man could have his family and his little pleasures too. His amours, if you like. I once saw something between Candidus Dumbledore and Master Remus's great-grandfather Nisus, something that just about made my glass fog up, and yet Nisus had three children at the time and went on to sire eight more. All but one of them girls, sadly, but still a fine bit of fatherly effort.

I mentioned it to Master Remus, the day after he moved that Sirius Black into the flat, but he didn't seem to take the hint. The only result was the master shifting me out of the bedroom. Because of my habit of gossip, he said. I told him it was history, not gossip, and he said he didn't see the difference and he didn't want his life to be history in a hundred years. So I told him if he didn't marry I'd have no one to tell anyway, which I think he took in a way I didn't intend, since he smiled. Of course he smiled at everything in those days, he being a young man in love.

There aren't many old families left anymore. And I suppose these troubles will be the end of two, the Lupins and the Blacks. One fading away in loneliness, the other cut off in Azkaban.

Once or twice, these last few months, I've found myself wishing Black had just got away with it, gone undiscovered. That this knowledge, this killing knowledge, had never been laid on top of Master Remus's grief for his friends.

Three years, Black lived here. Three years, and I never suspected a thing. It's tempting to pretend I never liked him. That's what the others are doing--the teapot's been saying it always thought you couldn't trust a man who didn't take sugar! But lying--bar a little harmless flattery--isn't in my nature. And the truth is, despite worrying over the future of the Lupins, I adored Sirius Black. Who can blame me? He was beautiful, more beautiful than you could imagine from those terrible photographs of him afterwards. And when he looked into me, I had my share in that beauty. Yes, I used to think. This is what I'm for. Show me loveliness, and I'll double it. He had a kind of power, Black did. Spells in his smile, enchantments in his eyes.

And he made Master Remus happy, which is no easy thing, let me tell you. When a boy's had his life taken away at five years old, when he's not allowed to play with other children, when he goes through agony every month, when he's often ill and never really well, where's the ground for happiness to grow in? How much laughter do you think's going to be left? But that first Christmas of his first year at Hogwarts, he came home smiling and prattling on about Sirius this and Sirius that. It's only natural I'd have a soft spot for the boy.

That happiness, lost and dead now, is what I'll never forgive Black for. He took away Master Remus's joy. Left him no lightness, no hope. The day the truth came out was one of the worst I've ever known. People were still celebrating the Boy Who Lived, and from the street I could hear the singing and the fireworks and the Muggles asking each other what was going on. But inside the flat, off in a corner where I couldn't see him, Master Remus wept and wept and wept. And he never weeps, never, not since he was a tiny lad. Hours, it went on. Hours, I listened to his heart shredding to bits.

Sailors say that for a mile round Azkaban, you can hear the prisoners sobbing. I hope Sirius Black cries himself a flood and drowns in it.

Master Remus tells everyone he's fine, but I don't believe it for a minute. They see him packing up for the move, getting rid of Black's things, and they see a man shaking off the past. What I see is a man ending his own story, writing the last lines to give it the shape he likes. Master Remus wants a story he can live in, a story he can shelter behind. A story with the hope unbroken. A story that goes: once upon a time, Remus Lupin loved Sirius Black. The end.

He's keeping some things, you see. He's keeping the record albums, Black's albums of that Muggle jazz they were both so fond of. The packing's taking forever, because he stops and plays them before slipping them into their boxes. Late into the night, sometimes, he'll lie on the carpet listening, an arm thrown over his face to block out the light and the world. As still as a corpse, he lies there and dreams about what was.

I've seen loss upon loss in my time, broken hearts by the score. It's the oldest story in the world, and "the end" is never the end. People always go on, unless they choose not to. I worry for him, and worry turns me snappish and sharp. A couple of days ago, on about the fourth hour of Ella Fitzgerald . . . well, I couldn't keep quiet anymore. "You still love him," I said. "That liar, that murderer."

I have the nature I was made with. I show truth's face, whether it's fair and bright or blotched as a toad. But the value of truth's in the telling; it's like one of those plants, nightshade or poppy, that can be mixed for medicine or poison.

Master Remus didn't say a word, but something changed in those little lines around his mouth, those cruel bruised circles under his eyes. I saw him sicken a little more. Fade a little more.

What's the good of truth to him? What new story can he write, after all? A lonely life, a pained and (likely) short life, that's Master Remus's truth. Small wonder he'd rather have the lie that is memory.

He hardly ever looks into me anymore, and I can't say I blame him.