Moons under the Order
Wednesday 20 July 1977 – Sunday 10 June 1979
Old Basford, Nottingham; Tintagel, Cornwall; Daventry, Northamptonshire; Chadlington, Oxfordshire; the Fens, Lincolnshire; Canterbury, Kent; Ecclesall, Sheffield.
Rated PG for offstage violence and severe distress.
A/N 1. Babel service reporting… A “lilo” is the only brand of air mattress about which anyone in Britain ever talks.
A/N 2. More from your Trans-Atlantic Babel service… Meccano was the ultimate construction toy before Lego took over the market. See http://www.meccano-toys.nl/.
Brandon Mulciber escaped scot-free. Perhaps it was his connections with the Malfoy money and with Rookwood’s influence in the Ministry. Perhaps it was the mysterious amnesia suffered by all the traumatised Muggle witnesses, who lost all memory of the events in The Crown before they even left St Mungo’s and could not provide any useful information, even under Veritaserum. Perhaps it was the article that appeared in the Daily Prophet the next day, suggesting that Gideon Prewett was the real author of a series of lurid horror novels that had recently tumbled off the Obscurus Press and that Prewett’s friends considered him an unstable person who was having difficulty separating reality from his own gut-churning fantasies. However it was, the Mulciber case was never brought to trial.
Remus began to understand why the fight against Voldemort was taking so long. Everyone knew what You-Know-Who was supposed to be doing, yet no one of consequence ever caught him doing it. The Death Eaters could cover their tracks, and the Ministry certainly didn’t know the whereabouts of Voldemort himself.
For the first year or so after leaving school, Remus and his friends felt noble and heroic in their great fight against world evil, as they rescued Muggles and Muggle-borns, intercepted Death Eater raids, fought giants, and sometimes even gathered enough evidence to arrest a Death Eater after all.
“It was a very happy year,” said Lily Evans.
Things began to go wrong after that first year.
Officially Remus still lived with his parents, although he was away on Order business more often than he was home. In the first week of August, he accompanied Frank Longbottom on an assignment to Cornwall.
After three days hard on the job – they tracked down five giants in the heart of Tintagel – Remus Apparated back home, only to find himself stumbling over piles of bricks and rubble in the lounge. Half the ceiling had crashed to the floor, the front wall had been razed, and shattered furniture (beds from upstairs as well as armchairs) was flung all over the wreckage.
Before he had pulled himself upright again, he had absorbed that he would find bodies strewn around the ruin. That thought was in his head before he knew that the feet underneath the remains of the front window frame were Celia’s. Another step, and he almost squashed a black rook from his father’s chess set. His father was not visible; there was only the shattered pile of smashed bed heads and splintered boards and crumbled plaster from the ceiling. Bruno’s arm was flung over what might have once been a dining chair, and Emily’s fingers were closed around a white bishop, as if she had been playing chess against their father at the moment of the blast.
But he saw his mother quite clearly. She was lying across the entry to the kitchen, her eyes wide open, her mouth on the point of registering a protest.
He almost offered his hand to help her up, for she didn’t look unconscious. He almost told her, “It’s all right, they’ve gone now,” when it hit him. It was not all right. “They” had gone, but it was too late for his mother to protest.
Yet he still found himself kneeling down beside her, wanting to find out if there were anything he could do, even though he knew it was too late, and he should not disturb any aspect of the crime scene before the Aurors arrived.
Of course, they wouldn’t arrive unless he sent for them.
Dazed, he shot the emergency signal from his wand. That had given him time to know that he must not touch his mother, or look for his father, or in any way clear the wreckage. He could not bring them back, but he could co-operate with the workings of hollow justice. He knew from the way they were lying – all feet pointing towards the centre of the room – that there had been only one blast. A single Avada Kedavra had killed them all. They would have died instantly before the first brick fell.
And he still did not really understand that they weren’t coming back. They had been very energetically present three days ago. Bruno and Celia had squabbled over who owed whom a Galleon and how it should be spent. Emily had been frowning over the Apparition Standards Agency’s Apparition Theory Test, muttering that she’d never master the Transport Code in time to apply for her licence before school began again. His father had been reading the Quidditch results from the Daily Prophet, so that he could barely hear his mother asking him to consider refusing the assignment to Tintagel because it sounded too dangerous.
Obviously his family couldn’t have met any real dangers since they had stayed safely at home; he was the one who had walked into danger, and it hadn’t hurt him.
The Aurors arrived and sent for the Healers. The Healers instructed the Aurors to withdraw the corpses from the rubble. The Aurors instructed the Healers to transport the five bodies to St Mungo’s. But the Healers had nothing to add to Remus’s own instinctive assessment that his family had been victims of the Killing Curse. It was the only possible explanation for the instant deaths of five healthy people who bore no marks of assault.
Remus didn’t know how he managed to assist the inquest as much as he did; perhaps he was too exhausted from his task in Cornwall to feel any real surprise. After providing the names of his family, he permitted gruelling interviews on possible reasons for the slaughter. His parents were both Muggle-borns. His father had publicly denounced Lord Voldemort at a Ministry committee meeting. His mother had sheltered two Muggle-born orphans. The Death Eaters might know about his activities for the Order of the Phoenix – had they mistaken Bruno for him? Emily had formed a romantic attachment with the rebellious son of a Death Eater. Bruno had been rather too successful in counter-jinxing the dutiful son of another Death Eater. Celia had written for the school magazine a strongly-worded essay on the need to resist terrorism. In other words, no one knew why the Lupins had been murdered, but it was clear that they were obvious Death Eater targets. And, to Remus, it all seemed like something that was happening to someone else.
Then the Aurors had to interview the Muggle neighbours and wipe from their memories the image of the Dark Mark floating high above the Lupins’ mutilated roof. It was only after the Aurors had left, the Healers had left, and the corpses of his family had been removed, that Remus realised he didn’t know where to sleep tonight. There was a very good chance that the Death Eaters would return as soon as they realised he had survived. And he almost laughed at the irony that the werewolf, the acknowledged enemy of society, was the only member of the family whom they had failed to kill.
At sunset, a post owl arrived, bringing Bruno’s O.W.L. results. They would never be needed now.
He went to Sirius’s house in Daventry – Sirius was out, but the front door unlocked to Remus’s wand. He lay down in the fourth bedroom, at first not understanding why, after three bad nights, he still couldn’t sleep. But huge memories were flooding in.
His mother holding and rocking him all afternoon before his first Transformation. A family picnic in Sherwood Forest. Bruno squabbling with Emily, and his father finishing the fight with the Silencio Charm. His mother buying yards and yards of lace curtain in the sales, then, at the flick of a wand, altering the pattern from roses to acorns before draping it over the windows. Celia building a snowman. Setting up lilos and sleeping bags on the bedroom floors because they were going to foster the two Muggle-born orphans. Emily buying them candy floss at the Goose Fair. The whole family in tears, two years later, because an aunt in Austria had taken in the orphans. His father reading the Daily Prophet over the dinner table, his face grave because most of the news was about Voldemort…
Twelve hours later, when he awoke and realised he must have drifted off to sleep after all, Remus was amazed that he had managed to turn his brain off.
He sat in Sirius’s house all day, in too much of a stupor to know what to do with himself. Loud, colourful memories were still charging through his brain. Emily’s first flight on a toy broomstick (she had fallen off and bounced). His father pushing Celia in a swing. Himself and Bruno building a tree-house, then lugging up all their Meccano to play with there where the girls couldn’t reach it. (They had left it out in the rain overnight, and Bruno’s had been ruined, so Remus had bequeathed all of his to his brother.) His mother teaching Celia to play the piano. Bruno letting off helium balloons with messages to Martians attached, and not understanding why the balloons would never travel as far as Mars.
And Remus found himself shaking, unable to boil a kettle without spilling the water, yet still a corner of his mind was asking what on earth was wrong with him…
The mansion in Daventry seemed huge and empty. Sirius remained out, probably on his own assignment for Dumbledore, and James and Lily were on their honeymoon, but the next day Peter came to visit.
He had been expecting to see Sirius and was somewhat embarrassed to find Remus there instead. The bad news had been spread around the Order of the Phoenix, so Peter said, “Sorry to hear about your mum and dad.”
After that, the two didn’t know what to say to each other.
The next day was the funeral, attended by Remus, his one remaining grandmother, and an uncle from Manchester to whom he hadn’t spoken for years. And that was the end of his parents and siblings, simply wiped out of existence.
The Muggle solicitor with whom the Lupins had left their wills announced, unsurprisingly, that Remus had inherited everything. “Everything” meant the wrecked house and its contents. Remus knew that the house had been insured with some Muggle company, and it seemed rather a cheat to claim the money on a house that had been destroyed by magical means, but filling out the forms gave him something to do.
The insurance money was enough to repair the structural damage to the house, but it did not allow for any cosmetic improvements. The brickwork and plaster were replaced, the plumbing system was restored, and the builders cleaned up after themselves; but there was not enough money left over to replace the furniture or personal possessions. It was a case of what had survived: in his parents’ room there was an unscathed four-poster bed and a chest full of towels and sheets in perfect condition, but his sisters’ room had been so crushed that there was not one toy or hair-ribbon left to remind him of them. Downstairs, the lounge was a gaping empty hole, but the kitchen was restored to functional with the shell of a stove-range (no cauldrons) and a new sink.
Once the restoration was complete, Remus knew he didn’t want to live in the house. But he could not lease it out. The kitchen was very obviously a wizarding kitchen, and there was no gas, electricity or aerial, or anything else that Muggles liked, so he certainly could not lease the house to Muggles without spending more money, which he didn’t have. And the magical community in Nottingham consisted of fewer than a hundred people, all of whom had perfectly adequate houses of their own; none of them would consider renting a half-repaired house that was no longer even connected to the Floo network. So the house stood empty.
With work, friendship and the ever-menacing wolf to distract him, there was not much time to dwell on grief. But sometimes he awoke in the night and remembered that now he was alone – always alone.
For a time he lived with his grandmother, but her life was declining, in the ordinary Muggle way, of cancer.
“Why do you live among wizards when they kill innocent families?” she would ask. “Why don’t you leave them alone and find yourself a nice job in the civil service?”
“Only a few wizards are like Lord Voldemort, Grandma. It’s people like my friends who protect people like you from people like him.”
“But they didn’t manage to save your parents.”
“We weren’t quick enough that time. It happened while I was away from home, saving a whole village.”
“Who is this Voldy person?”
“He’s a wizard who went bad, Grandma. We have to fight him, the same way you fought Hitler in the Muggle war.”
She accepted this; she accepted, too, that he spent more time out on assignment than actually living in her house. For much of the time when he was home, he was accompanying his grandmother back and forth to Muggle hospitals and Muggle Healers.
“Why don’t you bring her in to St Mungo’s?” asked Peter. “They can cure Muggle illnesses in minutes, and then they charm the memory so that the Muggle thinks it was a natural recession.”
But the Healers said there was no point in Healing Mrs Lupin. “She’s nearly eighty, which is old for a Muggle, and the cancer is too far advanced. The blast from the Healing Spell would kill her on the spot. Why didn’t you bring her in two years ago?”
He didn’t know. His parents had assured him that her illness was not yet serious; it seemed they had been too worried about Voldemort to notice that his grandmother was deteriorating.
“I didn’t like to complain,” she confirmed. “After all, I’ve had a good life, and everyone has to go sometime.”
A good life? he wondered. A childhood of poverty, followed by two world wars, then losing her parents to the Blitz, her son to the magical world (and ultimately to Voldemort), one daughter to Canada, the other to a car accident, and her husband to heart attack?
“But I still have you, Remus,” she said placidly, “and a large number of friends. There is always someone else to love.”
His grandmother also died without leaving a trace. The sale of her property was barely enough to cover her debts; her books and records and photographs were shipped off to the aunt in Canada; and her pot plants died from neglect.
Remus became busy again. There was no time for self-pity, for death was striking everyone’s family. Over the next two and a half years, James and Lily Potter lost all four of their parents; Voldemort paid a personal visit to Edgar and Iphigenia Bones; both septs of the McKinnon clan were slaughtered; Peter Pettigrew’s father died in an accident concerning the Loch Ness kelpie; Caradoc Dearborn disappeared without a trace; Sirius’s graceless younger brother was murdered by an anonymous Dark wizard; the Prewett brothers fought a valiant last stand against five Death Eaters at once; the Bones grandchildren were wiped out alongside their parents; Benjy Fenwick was blasted to bits; and Dorcas Meadows was personally slain by Voldemort himself.
Remus kept files on every murder, every Order intervention and every Death Eater arrest. Month by month, the Aurors clocked up the tally of Death Eaters who had been removed from society; but month by month, new recruits were lured or pressured into the Dark Lord’s service.
Month by month, Remus had James or Sirius lock him up at the full moon (Peter was unable to help because he still lived with his mother) and kept the tally of his own life as he survived from one month to the next.
One sunrise, Remus suddenly came to his senses to find a stag nuzzling against him. He was about to topple onto the Potters’ back lawn in Chadlington.
The stag obligingly transformed back to James.
“Prongs, what happened? Why am I out of the shed? Where did the wolf go last night?”
“Nowhere,” James began, but at that moment Peter loomed up out of nowhere.
“Remus, you gave me a fright!” he gasped, ignoring James’s furious frown. “You would have bitten me if I’d not become Wormtail in time.”
Remus waited, and James tried again.
“You were locked up in my shed all night,” James repeated. “I just mistook the time. I opened the shed a few seconds too early, and the wolf raced out. So I transformed and held you down until you were human again.”
Remus stared from one to the other, speechless.
“Sorry, Remus,” said James. “It was literally a matter of thirty seconds. Next month I’ll leave you a wider margin.”
“But I could have hurt Peter!”
“You could not have,” said Peter, who had recovered. “I can transform faster than the wolf can pounce. You just gave me a fright at first.”
“Let’s have breakfast,” said James. “If Moony wants to argue, we can at least do it over a full stomach.”
Sirius was in the kitchen boiling eggs while Lily buttered toast. Peter, having regained his bounce, gave a spirited account of the morning’s miscalculation. Remus sat quietly, nurturing a mug of tea, and not finding the narrow escape at all humorous.
“I wish James would miscalculate moonset sometime when Lucius Malfoy is around,” said Sirius.
“Sirius, that’s horrible!” exclaimed Lily.
“Lucius Malfoy is horrible!” retorted Sirius. “We all know he’s a Death Eater, but he’s as slippery as Salazar – the hard evidence keeps on eluding us. If we staged a nice simple accident, a mauling by some anonymous wild beast – well, if you ask me, we’d be saving a lot of lives without breaking any hearts.”
Remus gulped at his tea, trying to push this horrifying idea from his mind.
“Moony,” interrupted James quickly, “can’t you work out yet when Sirius is joking?”
The problem was, when Sirius spoke with that deadpan straight face, it was difficult to catch the flaw in his logic; to kill Lucius Malfoy really did look like a favour to the rest of the world. Remus found himself thinking: What if they did set me onto someone? He shook himself. They wouldn’t. They had all learned something since they were in sixth year.
But the thought kept creeping in: What if I deliberately loosed myself on someone? All he had to do was convince James he was staying with Sirius and vice versa. Then he could Apparate to wherever he knew Death Eaters to be congregating and – and who knew how many of them he could kill or maim before one of them thought to shoot out a Killing Curse? Perhaps he would even destroy Voldemort himself.
For a terrifying minute, it didn’t seem senseless, but noble and heroic, to sacrifice his life in bringing down the Dark forces.
And perhaps, he sternly reminded himself, I wouldn’t kill any at all. Perhaps I would only manage to bite them and create a pack of Death-Eater werewolves, people with enough malice and cunning to create within a year enough werewolf-descendants to enslave or destroy the whole of Britain.
“Remus, are you listening?” Peter’s voice was breaking into his dark thoughts.
“Sorry. Daydreaming there. Tired after a long night.”
“Sirius was saying that you’re seeming not to like your house in Nottingham.”
“No, I don’t. It’s too rundown for comfort.”
“You spent last week camping with the Longbottoms, several days before that with Sturgis Podmore, and the previous weekend with the Fenwick family,” said James.
Remus shrugged. “They invited me.”
“Remus, we don’t have a problem with you visiting friends,” said Sirius. “We were asking if you’d rather have a more stable arrangement. If you don’t like living alone, you should move in with me. My house is too large for one.”
His heart leapt. “I might like that,” he said cautiously. “How much rent do you want?”
Sirius gave a Padfoot-like growl. “Nothing, you idiot. We just want to know you’re all right. Which we’ll know best if you’re living close to one of us.”
His heart sank back down to the pit of his stomach. Sirius was – in the nicest possible way – offering him charity. His friends didn’t expect the poor werewolf to live among them on equal terms. They were all waiting for his answer, so he conceded, “I might come for a couple of weeks.”
Sirius’s smile faded. “Not for longer?”
“I don’t like to impose. A couple of weeks would be nice.”
Remus moved in. After a fortnight, as he had promised, he moved out. He endured the house that was legally his for three days before going on a long raid-interception in the Fens. After that he stayed with the Diggles, working on the weeds in their garden for four days, until the flower-beds were so tidy that no amount of scything really justified his continuing to eat their food. Then Madam Plumpton moved him into one of her spare bedrooms, where he worked feverishly on Dumbledore’s papers until the next full moon.
The papers were disorderly, a certain sign that Dumbledore was overworking. They included a note to Professor Flitwick about the fourth-year Charms exam and an invoice from Flourish and Blotts for new library books. Remus began to make a new file of items that had to be owled straight back to Hogwarts. He could recognise at a glance most of the ones that he ought to avoid reading, but when the name “James Potter” leapt out at him, he swept his eye down the whole short page. And there it was, in Dumbledore’s loopy handwriting:
He was not being employed by Dumbledore at all. He was being supported by the charity of James Potter. James had tried to save Remus’s dignity by pretending that Dumbledore had a fund to support several full-time Order employees… but it was all a ruse. The Order members were all volunteers; only Remus was being paid; and Remus was utterly dependent on James.
James would never miss the money, of course, for it was rumoured that he had a million Galleons in the five percents at Gringotts. The question was how Remus could ever again look him in the eye as a friend and an equal when they both knew that James was his benefactor, yet James must never know that Remus knew…
He had planned to return to Nottingham for his Transformation, but his friends cornered him after Sunday’s Order meeting.
“What are you hiding, Moony?” Sirius demanded in exasperation. “Why don’t you want your friends to know your movements?”
“You’ve been very good to me, but I can’t keep on living at your expense.”
“Rubbish,” said Peter. “We have to stick together in the dark times, do we not, Padfoot?”
“Is it a woman?” asked James shrewdly. “Are you sneaking off to some girlfriend whom you’re not yet ready to introduce to us?”
“If only!” said Remus. “No, it isn’t a woman. I promise you that.”
For the rest of his life, Remus was to regret saying those words with quite such earnest assurance. For his friends believed him about the non-existence of the woman. And they did not believe that he was “sneaking off” solely because he disliked imposing.
A/N. This chapter was very significantly revised under Spiderwort’s guidance. So if you enjoyed reading it, be sure to tell her so.