Fandom: Harry Potter
Spoilers: Up to OotP
Summary: AR/AU. Someone will be there to meet you on the other side.
Crossposting: fanfiction.net, remusxsirius
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or settings in this story.
Sirius woke up to Professor McGonagall shaking his shoulder. Mumbling the end of his dream conversation, he turned to her.
“Get up, Mr. Black.” Her voice was tense, urgent.
“What’s going on?” he asked, untangling himself from his sheets.
“Something’s happened. Come on, up.”
She turned to wake the others as Sirius slipped into his dressing gown. A minute later, dragging Peter along behind her, she led the boys out of the dorm and through the portrait hole.
“I know you already know about Mr. Lupin’s condition, so I won’t have to go into any explanation about that. But something happened tonight.”
As McGonagall spoke, Sirius felt his blood get colder and colder. He closed his eyes in an attempt to get away from her, but that only made the images clearer.
A couple wizards in Hogsmeade had gotten drunk out of their skulls and wandered up to the Shrieking Shack. They’d heard the howls and shrieks and decided it would be a funny prank to light the place on fire. So one of them had lit a fire on a low hanging roof and they’d gone off to let the place burn.
And burn it had. Being wood, the whole shack was engulfed in flames in minutes. Remus had been inside, trapped there by charms and protective wards. It wasn’t until half an hour after the fire had been set that the school had received word of what was happening. Madame Pomfrey and Dumbledore had rushed down to get Remus out. They had him, but it wasn’t looking good.
They’d arrived at the door of the hospital wing. McGonagall turned to the three boys behind her. “If you don’t want to come in, I will understand.” She said, “It’s not going to be pretty, what’s happened to him.”
James and Sirius both stayed with her. Peter hesitated for a second, looking like he was about to flee, but then took a deep breath and nodded. McGonagall gave them a slight, sad, smile and opened the door.
Pomfrey and Dumbledore were hovering over a bed near the back. Heart pounding, Sirius approached them. In the weakest light of the just-rising sun, he could see the hopeless look on Dumbledore’s face as he gazed down at the bed.
Pomfrey looked up and saw them. She nodded and McGonagall gave them all a gentle push forward. Sirius shook as he stepped up.
Remus was still in wolf form, but he barely looked like even a wolf now. Most of his fur had burned off and the skin underneath was red in some places, charred in others. His face was a bloody mess. He must’ve been slamming at the door trying to escape.
This wasn’t happening. This was a horrible nightmare. Remus had told them not to come tonight, that they needed to get rest for their NEWTs in a couple days. The sleep you miss the night before last is the one that gets you, he’d reminded them. Sirius was just so stressed about him being out there alone that his mind was making this up.
But Remus was going to be alright. He had to be. Pomfrey could fix anyone. McGonagall had just brought them down here for moral support. So that Remus wouldn’t have to be alone while she fixed him.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Dumbledore. “I’m sorry, boys.” He said in a low, teary voice.
“The transformation will be too much.” Pomfrey said thickly. “Dumbledore, it’ll kill him.”
Sirius whirled around to face Dumbledore. “There’s a way to stop it, right? A way to keep him from changing back.”
“But there has to be! Anything, please!”
“Just as there’s no way of keeping him from turning into a wolf, there’s no way of keeping him from becoming human again.”
“But we can’t – we can’t let him –“
Dumbledore bowed his head. The light was stronger now and Sirius could see the tears on the old man’s face.
Remus moaned as the sunlight hit his body. He went rigid and howled as the transformation began.
“Can’t you at least give him something!?” James demanded. “Look at him!”
“We have, Mr. Potter.” Pomfrey said, “Nothing will help. We can only wait it out.”
McGonagall ushered the boys back a few feet. Five of the longest minutes of Sirius’s life passed. Finally it was Remus who lay there burned and bloody. He still breathed, but only barely.
“Who would like to go first?” McGonagall asked them.
It took a second for Sirius to realize what she was saying. Then he understood. They’d all known this was going to happen. She’d brought them down to say goodbye.
“I will.” Peter said.
He stepped forward, shaking. Dumbledore backed away a little, but Pomfrey stayed right where she was.
“Bye Remus.” Peter said. “You’ve been a really great guy. Thanks so much for all the help you’ve given me. I never would have passed OWLs without you. I hope they have Chocolate Frogs in heaven.”
He ducked away behind Dumbledore. James went next. Sirius couldn’t hear what he said. He was trying to focus on what he was going to say to Remus. But his mind was blank. He’d never even imagined he’d have to do anything like this.
His feet carried him of their own free will. Remus’s eyes were closed and his ragged breathing was unsteady and growing slower. Tears blurred Sirius’s sight after a second.
He couldn’t say anything. Nothing would come. His heart was so full of emotion that he thought it might explode, but there was no words for it. He just stood there as Pomfrey held Remus’s wrist, keeping his pulse.
Finally Sirius knew what to do. He leaned down and kissed his friend’s forehead just as Pomfrey said, “He’s gone.”
Peter was crying, sniffling noisily. James seemed to be stunned. He stood beside Dumbledore with blank eyes as McGonagall ushered Sirius toward them.
“Let’s go to my office, boys.” Dumbledore said.
Sirius didn’t even remember the walk there. Soon he was sitting in front of Dumbledore’s desk, a place he had been many times before. But then he was always in trouble and Remus was always next to him.
“Do you know what happens when you die?” Dumbledore asked.
They all shook their heads. “There’s a veil. A veil that separates this world from the next. When you die, you pass through that veil. It doesn’t hurt. It’s a relief from the pain of death. If someone you love has passed through before you, they will meet you on the other side. Then you make a choice of where to go next. Whether you will stay on earth as a ghost, leading a mimickry of a life, or if you will go on to what’s waiting for you after. I know this is hard to understand, but he will be happy there. There’s no moon to worry about, no pain of transforming. We’ll miss him, but don’t worry about him. Take care of yourselves, each other.”
They all nodded numbly. Sirius just wanted to be out of there. He wanted to sleep too, just let everything disappear. He wanted to wake up from this and see Remus in his own bed nearby. He wanted to tell Remus about it and hear Remus laugh as he reassured Sirius. He loved Remus’s laugh. If Sirius’s was a bark, then Remus’s was like a friendly growl.
Another tear fell down Dumbledore’s face. “I am very sorry, boys.”
Bellatrix snarled at Sirius as she ducked his Stunning Spell. She sent another hurtling in his direction, which he dodged easily.
They were in the Department of Mysteries. Harry had been led here and now Sirius and the other Order members had to save him.
Bellatrix had been distracted momentarily by Snape, who had sent some sort of curse at her. Sirius’s eyes were caught by the veil in the middle of the room. He was close to it and something stirred in his memory as he studied it.
Remus would have loved it. He’d always liked old architecture and this thing seemed as old as time. Sirius wondered what Remus’s life would have been like if he had lived more than seventeen years.
Sirius’s hadn’t gone well. He’d been framed for murder and spent twelve years in prison until he escaped. It hadn’t been until Dumbledore had discovered Peter Pettigrew in his Animagus form running around the school, that someone had believed Sirius was innocent. Pettigrew had escaped again, but at least some people now knew the truth.
He thought he heard someone whispering nearby. Was that behind the veil? “Hey!” he called, “Shacklebolt, is that you? I think Snape needs some help over here!”
Snape glared at him and Bellatrix sent a curse flying at him. He dodged it, taunting her. Then he caught the next one square in the chest.
He lost his balance, falling backwards toward the veil. He heard Bellatrix scream triumphantly and saw Harry rushing toward him, Snape right on his heels.
Then he remembered what Dumbledore had said so long ago. “If someone you love has passed through before you, they will meet you on the other side.” He knew he was dying as his body slipped past the veil and he fell into the darkness beyond. It was peaceful, soothing.
He felt thin arms come around him as he landed softly, and a low, growling laugh.