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through the ether, reaching far

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March 10th, 1995

“I need to get back,” Remus said into the darkness of the tiny shed at the outskirts of Hogsmeade. It was well past time to leave. There were no wards surrounding this hide-out, and a man and a large black dog were far more likely to be discovered than a curled-up dog alone.

Part of him was glad for the excuse to escape the peculiar atmosphere that had filled the narrow space for the last hours. It was not enough to make him lever himself up or even to repeat the words loud enough for Sirius to wake.

These were the last minutes of the first birthday in fourteen years that he’d spent with a friend who knew him down to the bone. For all that the mood had soared and plummeted like an accursed broom, he didn’t want to go.

When he’d apparated to Hogsmeade earlier today, he had expected the odd moment of awkwardness, the flare-up of hatred towards Worm- the rat, grief for all that had been lost. He’d braced himself for inevitable stabs of guilt.

“So, how’d you celebrate these last years, anyway?” Sirius had asked at one point.

Remus hadn’t expected it all to hurt so much.

He’d tried to keep his storytelling focused on as many good times as he could, last year’s lunch with Andromeda’s Auror daughter chief among them. He’d had every intention to keep quiet about the pathetic letters to Pe- the traitor.

Of course he’d blurted it out anyway, and felt no satisfaction when he’d truthfully claimed, “Nothing but ashes now.”

The dark highlight of the day had been putting their heads together and composing the murderer a new letter – “Tradition is important, Moony!” – jotting down in the most colourful language a Lupin and a Black could think up exactly what they thought of him. If it weren’t interceptable proof of contact between Sirius and himself, Remus would have been sorely tempted to tie it to some diligent owl’s leg, too.

The vicious euphoria had long since worn off.

They’d gone over all the angles of the peril James’ son found himself in, over and over and over. They’d reminisced as merrily as they’d been able without the aid of alcohol. They’d split the cake Molly Weasley faithfully had sent despite the fact that not even a year had gone since Remus had gravely endangered her youngest son. They’d –

“I need to get back,” Remus made himself say again. Padfoot’s ear twitched.

He’d leave Hagrid’s bag of biscuits and Albus’ pair of socks with the week’s worth of food Sirius had received from Harry and his friends. He’d disapparate as soundlessly as a wizard possibly could.

He’d stay for no longer than another minute.

*

When Remus finally stumbled back into his cottage, he was as wrung out as if he’d gone through a full moon, too alert from keeping watch to entertain his bed, too exhausted to simply start his day.

He was trying to decide if he could possibly risk the hazards of brewing to help along either option when he discovered the unfamiliar book on his kitchen table.

A neat heap of owl’s shit lay next to it.

The cover read, Les dangers des jeunes têtes enflées.

 

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