Moon after Endless Moon
Sunday 1 November 1981 – Saturday 30 October 1982
Ecclesall, Sheffield; Old Basford, Nottingham; a straight line from Derbyshire through Manchester, Leeds, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Dumfriesshire, Lanarkshire and Argyllshire to Inverness-shire; Fort Augustus and Kincarden Croft.
Rated PG for offstage violence, implied lycanthropy, complex emotions and obscure regional accents.
The news kept coming all day. The Order members hung around Madam Plumpton’s Wireless, sending frantic owls to Dumbledore to request verification, clarification and instructions for action. But all Dumbledore ever sent them was:
No need to do anything yet, but stand by to await further instructions. APWBD.
Professor McGonagall Flooed in to say that she’d been hearing rumours. But when they assured her the rumours were true, she left at once, saying she would not believe it until she heard it directly from Dumbledore. Dedalus Diggle turned up, wanting to know if it were true that Voldemort had Transfigured into a bat and was flying around the Ministry of Magic, squalling like a seagull because he couldn’t Transfigure back again; if so, said Diggle, he wanted an assurance that no one here would help him. Sturgis Podmore said he wasn’t satisfied that the “disappearance” of You-Know-Who meant that he had actually ceased to be dangerous.
But at that moment a newscaster spoke from the Wireless: “Reports are now confirmed that Death Eaters all over Britain are panicking because the whereabouts of Him-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named are unknown. Far from sheltering their leader, prominent Death Eaters are frantically searching for him. Leading Magical Theory experts are claiming that You-Know-Who has probably been defeated…”
Elphias Doge said he would go to the Ministry of Magic because his friend Amelia Bones generally knew what was really happening in the world. He had hardly Disapparated before Mundungus Fletcher appeared in the fireplace, cheerily shouting, “It’s true! ’E’s not comin’ back!”
“Are you certain?” asked Mrs Figg. “Can you prove that You-Know-Who is dead?”
“Unlikely to be ackshully dead,” said Mundungus carelessly. He lit up his disgusting pipe, and Madam Plumpton didn’t even bother to rebuke him. “But Dumbledore says ’e’s definitely lost ’is powers. At first people were sayin’ ’e might of just Disapparated to get out of a sticky sichuation. But Dumbledore says no, there’s clear evidence of a bouncin’ spell, and of You-Know-’Oo catchin’ it in a way ’e ’adn’t planned. Anyway, they’ve arrested some Deaf Eaters, and they’ll give’m the troof potions, so we’ll know soon enough.”
With all the comings and goings, Mrs Figg began to complain that the Sunday was feeling more like a Tuesday.
At lunchtime the Longbottoms arrived. Alice was tearfully cradling her baby, saying, “It could have been Neville! Dumbledore says that Voldemort nearly targeted our Neville instead of Harry Potter. It could so easily have been Neville who was left without parents!”
Frank was more lucid. “It’s too early to take a rest. We still have to bring every last Death Eater to justice.”
“Where is Harry Potter?” asked Remus suddenly.
“Caernarfon,” said Frank.
“Hagrid was at Godric’s Hollow before it was light and he found Harry alive in the ruins of the house. Obviously he wouldn’t leave a baby there, so he took him to… Yes, Caernarfon does sound obscure, doesn’t it? I suppose anywhere would have done as long as it was a long way from Godric’s Hollow.”
Remus asked, “Why not to Daventry with Sirius?” before he had time to remember how stupid this question was. With a plummeting heart, he processed everything he had heard that morning and realised why Dumbledore had not wanted to leave Harry with Sirius.
Sirius was the only person who could have betrayed the Potters to Voldemort.
“Black did in fact turn up at Godric’s Hollow,” said Frank, “and he did try to talk Hagrid into handing the child over. But in the end Hagrid induced Black to part with that fabulous motorbike of his, and he used it to take Harry to Caernarfon.”
It was only surprising that Sirius had relented so readily… and lent his beloved motorbike too… and to Hagrid!
Had Sirius gone mad?
Remus hoped so, because the alternative was too sickening to consider.
“There are huge gaps in this story,” he said. “I hope Sirius will be here shortly to explain it all.”
“Remus,” said Peter, “I’m thinking you’re being altogether too nice about this!”
“I’m just hoping that Sirius can explain… that there’s something I’ve overlooked…”
“Such as?” Peter demanded. “Use your common sense, Remus! Nobody except Sirius was even knowing where the Potters were. It’s not as if this could have happened by accident. In fact, I’m going straight off to tell Sirius just what I think of him!”
Remus clutched desperately at the last available straw. “Don’t go,” he said to Peter. “If this isn’t some terrible mistake, then Sirius is far more dangerous than we ever imagined. Don’t run a private vendetta – leave it to the Aurors.”
“Are you afraid?” asked Peter scornfully. “This is a personal matter.”
And those were the last words that Peter Pettigrew ever spoke to Remus. He Disapparated on the spot, presumably to search all their regular haunts until he found Sirius. Frank immediately sent an emergency message to Auror Headquarters, but they knew there was little hope of the Aurors finding Sirius before Peter did.
An hour later, Peter confronted Sirius in a public street full of Muggles, and Sirius responded to Peter’s accusations by hurling out an Avada Kedavra. The curse was so powerful that it not only blasted Peter to bits – all they ever found of him was one finger – but it also struck down twelve of the Muggles in a second. The Aurors arrived just half a minute too late, and as they marched Sirius off to Azkaban, he laughed in their faces.
In a space of twenty-four hours, Remus had lost all four of his friends. On the whole, it was more comfortable to think of James, Lily and Peter as honestly dead, for they had lived bravely and left the world a better place than they had found it. But Sirius was worse than dead; not only was he locked away in Azkaban, as inaccessible as if he had died, but it appeared that he had never been a true friend at all.
When had it gone wrong? Remus wondered. Had Sirius sold out to the Dark Lord impulsively, perhaps unbalanced by the sudden loss of Dorcas Meadowes? It didn’t make much sense that he would ally himself with her killer, unless Sirius had already decided… Had the murder of his brother two years ago triggered some inner darkness, ignited some mad desire to finish what Regulus had started? But that was absurd, unless Sirius had already become bored with the relentless virtue that Lily required from James (and that Remus himself had always seconded) and reverted to his Dark roots soon after leaving school. But why? Had his whole contribution to the Order of the Phoenix been a sham, because he had never really forsaken the Dark Arts at all? Had his murderous prank on Snape in their sixth year been an indication of his true character all along? Had their whole friendship been a lie, right from the age of eleven?
Remus felt faint and furious by turns, although the full moon was still ten days away.
Dumbledore arrived at the Plumptons’ house around dinner-time. He confirmed that the house at Godric’s Hollow was wrecked, James and Lily were dead, baby Harry was very much alive (although scarred for life), and Voldemort was simply… gone. There was no corpse, but this was not because Voldemort had Disapparated or otherwise left the scene; the terror of the Death Eaters in being unable to locate him confirmed that he was simply nowhere.
“Let me have Harry,” Remus said to Dumbledore. “If James had known the truth about Sirius, he would have wanted Harry to go to Peter or me.”
“You must admit, Remus,” said Dumbledore, “that you would have a serious babysitting problem once a month without fail. Please don’t take this personally; I have also refused an identical request from the Longbottoms. On balance, however, I believe that Harry needs to grow up among Muggles, where he won’t suffer the inconvenience of celebrity status.”
“Professor, are you sure a young wizard will thrive among Muggles? I’m certain I can play the Muggle if I have to. I’m Harry’s only surviving uncle, and it seems hard – ”
“It will be very hard on a great many people, Remus,” said Dumbledore gently. “But my priority is Harry’s safety. And he cannot be safe if the surviving Death Eaters have any suspicion of his whereabouts, or if there is any hint in his life of either magic or his father’s friends.”
Remus guessed that Dumbledore was invoking some kind of spell to protect the child, but he could not imagine why the presence of wizards might damage the magic. “Sir, is there something you’re not telling me?”
“Remus, I’m sure there are many things I haven’t told you. But one thing I am telling you – as I told Frank and Alice and will doubtless tell dozens of others – is that I don’t want any of you to contact Harry. Even pretending to be Muggles, you are not to do it. Harry’s safety – in fact, the survival of the entire wizarding community – depends on his separation from our community.”
Dumbledore Disapparated before anyone had time to protest further and did not reappear for another three days. By that time no one was surprised to hear that his errand was to pronounce the Order of the Phoenix indefinitely adjourned.
“I do not believe that Voldemort has gone forever,” he said. “He is not dead and he is certain to return one day. However, that day may be years, even decades, in the future. Until that time, we may consider ourselves discharged from duty.”
But the work of the Order had been Remus’s only source of income, his only means of occupying his time, and his only way of making himself useful to society. As soon as the final Order meeting was closed, Remus Disapparated without waiting to hear if Dumbledore had anything to say to him.
He landed in his house in Nottingham. He didn’t know what he was doing there. His mind churned over and over the realities of his new existence. James dead. Peter dead. Sirius a traitor. Lily dead. Harry banished to Muggledom. One could go mad thinking about it. He must find himself new work. But no one in the wizarding world would give him a job, not even a menial one. He would wait until the moon began to wane since his forthcoming Transformation was bound to be a bad one.
He spent it locked in his garage, something he had not done since his parents had died. In the morning he found he had scratched and bitten his flesh to ribbons: the wolf must have been profoundly and desperately distressed. It was afternoon before he even had enough strength to voice the spell that opened the garage door and admitted him back into his own house. He did not dare turn himself over to St Mungo’s, in case some officious authority figure decided he wasn’t competent to take charge of his own safety, but he did not stay in the Nottingham house for more than a few days.
It was time to look for a job. And that job would have to be among Muggles.
He began in the Derbyshire dales, looking for casual work on Muggle farms. It was a bad time of year to be looking; the harvests were finished, the lambing was still months away, and it was the bitterest winter he could remember; elderly Muggles died every week because they couldn’t afford to heat their houses. It was pure luck when the odd farm could offer him a couple of days’ labour. He also tried the Muggle factories in Manchester and Leeds. But those jobs did not provide accommodation – he had to sleep in church halls and railway stations, risking arrest from Muggle please-men. And these large cities supported large wizarding communities; he was terrified that someone would recognise him.
The last thing he wanted, at this stage in his life, was to explain himself to a former acquaintance.
From one week to the next, he slowly moved himself northwards through Britain. After three months he had made his way to the Lake District, where a kindly Muggle farmer was willing to accept extra help with the lambing season. For the March full moon, Remus hid himself in a disused barn. After the April full moon, he was so sick – and his evasive behaviour struck his employer as so suspicious – that he lost his job.
So he moved north again, into the Scottish Borderlands. He spent the whole of summer in Argyllshire, tying up sheep fleeces, cutting hay, picking fruit and harvesting grains. Muggle farming seemed so clumsy and slow: how many men would lose their jobs if he could set the equipment to work with a single charm? Instead, he had to move his own arms and legs, his muscles at first screaming from the exercise, then later strengthening and accepting the labour easily under the pretence that this was an efficient way to feed the nation.
How many more lies would he have to tell?
Yet another advantage of working for the Order was that he had been able to tell the truth. The work had been honest, he had lived among wizards, and nearly all the members had known about his lycanthropy. Now he could not even claim that the work was honest; Muggle farming only produced half the amount of food that was necessary to support the British population, yet the Statute of Secrecy forbade wizards to use magical methods to increase the yield. It was a thoroughly deceitful level of inefficiency.
Three days after the September moon, Remus lost yet another job to “laziness”, and he Apparated northwards to Fort Augustus. By this time he was asking himself how much further north he could go before he fell off the far end of the British Isles into the North Sea. But he scanned the map of the area posted on the community notice board, hoping to find enough details to enable him to make his way to the farms.
“IF YOU CAN READ THIS NOTICE, YOU ARE THE MAN FOR THE JOB!”
The words leapt out of a point on the map, so impossibly that he wondered if he had really seen them. But it was unquestionably a notice, and the paper full of words was unquestionably pinned to the board. He reached out his hand, and, unbelievably, the paper came loose, an ordinary sheet of paper covered with ordinary writing. The notice read:
THIS PAPER IS INVISIBLE TO MUGGLES. UNEMPLOYED WIZARDS ARE INVITED TO APPLY FOR THE VACANT SITUATION AT KINCARDEN CROFT. OFFERS A VARIETY OF CHARMING AND HERBOLOGICAL TASKS. WILL TRAIN ON THE JOB. COMFORTABLE QUARTERS; TEN GALLEONS A WEEK. KINCARDEN IS UNPLOTTABLE, BUT IS CLEARLY VISIBLE FROM THE VALLEY BETWEEN INCHNACARDOCH FOREST AND LOCH LUNDIE.
No matter how hard he squinted at the glossy photographs surrounding the map, Remus had no real idea what the area looked like, so he couldn’t Apparate. But there was no hurry. He began to walk south-west, in the direction of Loch Lundie and, just as he was wondering if the area included any human habitation at all, found himself face to face with a gate boldly labelled Kincarden Croft. It was so clear that even a Muggle would have seen it.
He opened the gate and walked in.
Working on the farm gave Remus plenty of time to think. First of all, he had to learn to farm by magic. There were spells to bale straw, spells to send the plough furrowing over the fields, spells to drill seeds, spells to uproot and bag potatoes. There was a tricky little charm that called all the eggs out of the hen-house without breaking them as they landed in the bucket, the clever Delugeo Alphei that mucked out the stye and byre, and a whole sequence that dealt with the manipulating of a complicated set of Muggle tools into the process of wizard-style milking. Wizard-farming was, on the whole, a great deal more efficient than its Muggle equivalent; with a smaller acreage, less effort and fewer workers, Kincarden was by far the most productive and profitable farm on which Remus had ever been employed.
“But we canna use majuck on t’ sheep,” said William, the only other employee. “They get hurrt if ye levi-tet them tae t’ pairrk. Ye just hae tae shoow them tae t’ pairrk wuthout usin’ spells, an’ they feed themselfs after, off t’ grrass. An’ ye have tae check they canna away o’err t’ fence, ye can do majuck tae fix t’ fences.”
Malcolm and Kenneth MacDougal could not hide their surprise at how quickly Remus learned. It seemed that the old farmhand who had died last month had been exactly like William, who was large-limbed, strongly-muscled, good-natured, and took a month to learn every new spell.
“Dud yourrself go tae Hogwarrts, Rrremus?” William asked. “Masel’ wuss at Hogwarrts, an’ they callit me a Skwub.”
“How mean,” said Remus. “You are not a Squib.”
William was delighted by this response, and they had the same conversation every day for seven weeks. William was not a Squib – in fact, once he knew a charm, it tended to hit its target with life-threatening force – but his thought processes were extremely slow.
“Ye’rre no like me, Rrremus,” he observed. “Ye speak lang worrds. Dud yourrself learrn muckle oot o’ books?”
“I’m not experienced in farming,” said Remus. “I’ll need you to show me how it’s done.”
Soon Remus didn’t need to think about farming. That left huge stretches of mental space empty and open to invasion. Voldemort’s reign of terror was over, but the terrors in his own mind were only beginning.
His parents were dead. His siblings and grandparents were dead. His friends were dead.
James and Peter really weren’t coming back. Sirius was worse than dead; he had violated the trust of them all and was now paying for his crime amid the miseries of Azkaban.
Somewhere at the other end of Britain, Harry Potter was growing up among Muggles, and Remus would never know what was happening to him. Morag MacDougal was only a few months older than Harry; Remus found himself watching the toddler, wondering if Harry could run and climb like Morag, speak distinct sentences like Morag, pretend to sweep floors or wash dishes like Morag. Was Morag a typical child? Was Harry? What was the difference between growing up as a girl in an isolated wizarding community and growing up as a boy in a busy town among Muggles?
He had avoided thinking about these things when he had needed to concentrate on Muggle farming. But now that so little concentration was required, the memories flooded in. His parents taking him to Healer after Healer… His siblings building a mediaeval-style sand fortress on the beach at Scarborough… The Dark Mark hovering above the ruined house in Nottingham… His grandmother telling him that there would always be someone else to love… Sirius and Peter swooping past his window on the flying motorbike… Who would have thought that Sirius would end up killing Peter? He didn’t want to think about Sirius. He thought about James scoring goal after goal in the school Quidditch matches… Peter complaining about Professor McGonagall’s essays yet refusing to accept Remus’s help… because all the time he had really been struggling with trying to Transfigure himself into an Animagus… Prongs the stag cantering towards the Forbidden Forest… James and Lily cutting their wedding cake… Peter carrying baby Harry through the cottage on his shoulders… James and Peter sitting around Dumbledore’s table at Order meetings, attending with identical earnest frowns…
Now Voldemort had gone, and Peter, James and Lily had paid the ultimate price. In a time of war, one had to accept casualties among the victors as well as among the vanquished. But why am I the one who’s still here? Remus asked himself. I can’t contribute anything to this new society; I’m expendable. James, Lily and Peter are the ones who should have survived to reconstruct the community…
It was so many months since they had all died that, although the painful thoughts were invading his concentration hour after hour, he was barely aware that the process was called grieving.
Sometimes, he had to switch off the avalanche of memories in order to be practical. Every month he had to find a way to deal with the wolf. On the Muggle farms he had lost jobs without really caring very much, but he knew now that he had to keep this job. He wouldn’t find any other kind of work, and living among wizards reduced the number of lies he had to live. That meant he had to hide the wolf.
At the Harvest Moon, Remus managed to beg himself a day off work and Apparated to Fort Augustus. There he found an empty house scheduled for demolition; he cast a sound-proofing charm over it and Apparated inside. He stowed his wand in a cupboard that closed with a Muggle bolt; he didn’t think there was any danger that the wolf could manage the bolt, but he shut himself up in a different room anyway.
In the morning he found that the wolf had managed the door-handle somehow, for he was lying at the foot of the stairs. In fact, the wolf had significantly increased the internal damage to the building, although he didn’t think anyone would care. But he was able to crawl to the cupboard-room to retrieve his wand and charm his way out of the house.
The problem was finding his way back to Kincarden – a journey of seven miles – when he could barely walk. It took all morning. He managed to stagger into his sleeping quarters unseen, and to sleep away the rest of his “day off”. But he was still exhausted the next morning; he didn’t even need to plead illness, for Mr MacDougal informed him over breakfast that he was too sick to work.
However, he couldn’t afford to lose two working days every month; and the house in Fort Augustus was due to be bulldozed in less than a week. Next month he would have to Transform somewhere closer to Kincarden. Next month the moon would rise earlier and set later, and the weather would be colder; he would need to account for more missing hours, and probably awaken feeling sicker. Above all, he certainly couldn’t afford to let his employers notice that his “illness” recurred at such regular monthly intervals.
As it happened, the next full moon fell on the day after their Hallowe’en party, so there would be extra work for everyone on the farm throughout that week. They would not even let him take the relevant day off.