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A/N: Hi there! Well here's chapter 4 if you're still with me, which I truly hope. I'm glad you've read this far, thanks all who reviewed!


“Did Remus come back?” Hermione heard Harry ask Molly quietly over the course of breakfast.

“Yes, he did,” Ron’s mother replied coolly. “He’s probably asleep; he came back late. We’ll not get him until lunch, he needs to rest.”

There was something definite in her tone, as though the matter was to not be discussed. Ron resumed eating grumpily as Hermione passed around some bacon. What mysterious business had Remus carried out the last evening? She wondered. Why had he left so hurriedly and why had Molly acted so strangely afterwards? It usually meant something bad had happened, something they were, once again, to be kept away from.

“We need to get hold of the Daily Prophet,” Harry muttered quietly as soon as Ron’s mother wasn’t listening.

“That’s not a good idea,” Ginny scowled. “You know Mum’s still watching─”

“I know that,” Harry replied, avoiding looking at Ginny for a reason Hermione couldn’t fathom. “I know she’s forbidden us to read the paper, I know she’s careful as to what we’re reading. But maybe we could manage to get one. I hate being left in the dark. If something happened, it’ll be headline news.”

There was a short silence. “He’s right,.” Ron decided. “It’s not fair. We have a right to know what the world’s up to. Imagine if we apply for Auror training without a clue as to what’s going on. We’ll look like idiots.”

“I’ll try to sneak one in this afternoon,” Ginny declared to everyone’s surprise. “Or get some information from Susan.”

It took a good three seconds for Hermione to realize what she was talking about, and then she remembered that Ginny had the authorization from Dumbledore to visit a friend that afternoon. Why had she been allowed to leave Grimmauld Place whereas they’d been locked in for a month? She suspected Dumbledore wished for Ginny to keep socializing before she lost all her friends. Harry had complained. He and Ron had wanted to visit Dean, Seamus or Neville, but they had hit a categorical no. All, probably, because Harry needed to be kept safe. There was so much at sake if he was hurt…

Anyhow, she would have the chance to bring them fresh news, a too rare opportunity.


Remus hadn’t slept long. At nine he had woken up and settled to work, seizing the opportunity of everyone believing him asleep to quietly take care of some Order business.

At twelve there was a knock on his door and Ron’s face appeared inside his room. Just as a precaution, Lupin flipped his parchments over. From where he stood, Ron gave an interested look in his direction and tried to catch a glimpse of whatever was written on them, then─

“Lunch, Remus!”

He’d been working non-stop for three hours, planning the upcoming duties of the Order members as Dumbledore now knew that they were one member down─ or rather two, since Snape had to be protected at all times. It really was a brain twister; some people like Tonks had to work at the Ministry in parallel and not arouse suspicions that they might have to carry out other missions; others had secret occupations only Dumbledore knew of but that he had to accommodate in their schedules. In short, there were just too few people for everything that had to be done. Maybe even Remus would need to help and leave Grimmauld Place sooner than expected─ though he expected Dumbledore wouldn’t let him without having rested first.

Remus stood up and locked the parchments in a drawer─ he hoped Ron and Harry weren’t desperate enough about joining the Order to the point of sneaking into his room, but it was basic safety.

Then he went down the stairs, passing through the living room, then through the empty room they used every afternoon to practice defensive spells─ at least that gave them all something to do─ went down the stairs and finally arrived in kitchen in the basement. Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione were there, and further into the room Molly was ordering the huge cauldron on the fire to spin, directing the pan to fry corn, etc, waving her wand around in the air in all directions. Remus didn’t dare look at Hermione when he sat down. What he felt now after that strange awkwardness between them the previous evening wasn’t something he wished to think about.

Soon they were all comfortably seated, talking about, in truth, anything and everything. Remus carefully avoided mentioning the previous night, even though he sensed some radiating curiosity from Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione. Molly was probably aware of what had happened since Dumbledore and she had communicated─ the others were to be kept out of it.

“Where’s Dad?” Ginny asked suddenly over lunch as Harry was trying to convince Ron that maybe they ought to come up with new Quidditch tactics in case they ever played it again.

Molly glared at her and Remus couldn’t help but grimace. Arthur was the one who had taken Moody’s place at St Mungo’s. Of course, replying shortly that it was Order business would end it, but Remus felt they wouldn’t, this time, find the answer sufficient.

“Your father’s out,” Molly said severely. “I told you he wouldn’t be back until late in the evening.”.

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Ginny scowled back. “Where has he gone to? Ministry?”

“He’s with Professor Snape,” Remus declared, surprising even himself. Since when had he called Snape Professor? “And Dumbledore,” he added. It wasn’t a lie since Dumbledore was supposed to be visiting Snape during the day. Molly addressed him with a reproachful glance but he ignored it and turned to Ron who, he sensed, was about to argue.

“So it’s Order business again, right?” Ron looked pleased to have some of his questions answered at last.

“Yes, it is.”

“What’s happened?” Ron said, and at the same time Harry asked for the umpteenth time, “When can we join the Order?”

“You’ll know when you join the Order what’s happened. And no, I don’t know when.” Remus shook his head. If he’d been given a galleon every time they asked, he’d be rich enough not to worry about anything anymore.

“Kids, help me clear up the table now,” Ron’s mother interrupted. She wasn’t very angry; just glad that Remus had said no more.

Later, they were cleaning up the table and the low voices of Molly and Remus talking by the sink reached Hermione’s ears; she quickly understood they were talking of Ginny.

“…think it’s safe, after all that’s happened?” Molly was whispering.

“Dumbledore said not to change plans… it means he trusts there are few risks…”

Remus stopped talking as he crossed Hermione’s gaze, and she felt herself blushing as his eyes lingered on her. The conversation was over, leaving Hermione with a strange sensation in the pit of her stomach.

After they had all drank tea Ginny and her mother left, leaving Harry, Ron, Remus and Hermione alone for the afternoon. Hermione quickly excused herself and went to the living room where she had a book to finish, while Remus and the boys remained in the kitchen to talk.

Naturally the subject of conversation turned to the one Remus feared. He found himself wishing, for once, that they weren’t there bugging him again on when they’d be allowed to join the Order.

Perhaps it would have been better if had never told them that Arthur was with Dumbledore. Of course, it meant nothing, it didn’t give out much, but now they wanted to know more, maybe thinking he had started to include them on Order secrets already. “No,” he repeated again and again. He couldn’t say more, and he didn’t know when they’d be allowed to join.

That wasn’t exactly true; there had been talk of it at the last Order meeting.

Some had said that since Harry, Ron, Hermione were out of Hogwarts; they were also legally adults by now and had the right to join if they wanted to. Those had been Tonks, still young and intrepid, and Snape who, with a grim and perfectly disinterested air, had declared he was on their side. Lupin had almost fallen out of his seat─ but that had been before the Potion master had added, with a sneer and a perfectly unmoved expression, that it was up to them if they wanted to get themselves killed.

So they had argued for a while as the others kept quiet. Arthur had hesitated, Molly had been totally against the idea, McGonagall had remained neutral─ she saw both pros and cons in letting them in. Kingsley had declared maybe they should wait until they were older; after all, Fred and George had just been allowed in, long after they had turned 18. Moody had simply pointed out that the twins were much less serious than Harry, Ron and Hermione─ luckily Fred and George hadn’t been there to hear it.

He, Remus, had said nothing as the debate went on and on. He didn’t particularly like the idea of some new innocent youths risking their lives for a cause that was far from being won─ even though, god only knew, they needed some members to fight in the Order. It was good to protect them. They lived in an era of hatred and violence, in the middle of which Grimmauld Place stood out as a bubble of peace. One last heaven, one last untouched refuge that remained before all hope would be lost.

On the other end─ what good would it bring to keep them there doing nothing but waiting to be accepted as Aurors, if the world collapsed around them? They must not like the idea of being locked up.

Sirius hadn’t.

“Come on Remus, we’re not kids anymore! We’re all eighteen! And besides, we’re going to work soon,” Ron insisted, and Harry nodded resolutely to show how much he agreed. “We got our Ministry letters yesterday, they accepted us to take the Auror tests─”

The news shook Remus slightly. Of course, he’d known they’d be accepted─ but hearing it meant realizing it would happen soon.

Still, it didn’t mean they were in the Order yet. Now his patience was wearing out. He clicked his tongue with annoyance, searching for something to end the conversation. He knew it would take them nowhere but to a dead end─ once again. “Look, it’s not up to me to make you join the Order, but if ever it was then you wouldn’t.”

There was a silence; Ron and Harry looked stunned by his suddenly clear-cut tone. It didn’t take long before Harry opened his mouth to argue again. “So you’re not on our side,” he said, as if trying to take in the idea but failing at it. Then anger flared in his eyes. “Not you too, Remus,” he said with growing irritation. “Don’t tell me you’re having us train every afternoon for nothing,” he clenched his jaw. “You want us to know how to fight for battles, then you can’t admit yourself that you’d let us join the Order! Don’t you think it’s time to─”

“Shut up!” Remus unexpectedly roared.

Harry fell silent, taken aback by this unexpected outburst of rage, but somehow it didn’t calm Lupin. They didn’t understand why he was so mad? He’d make them understand. He wasn’t only mad when he had Death Eaters in front of him─ for once, he would shout at them.

“You don’t get it, do you?” He bolted up so that he was above them. “This isn’t a card game where you get to roll on the floor laughing and blow up your friends’ cards. People DIE in this war!” Remus pushed his chair aside loudly and walked out, banging the door and leaving two stunned eighteen-year olds with their mouths open.

He tried to calm down; he had overreacted and he knew it. They couldn’t understand, and it was perfectly normal; they were just boys… neither of them were mature enough to imagine what it was like, and neither of them had truly seen how terrible a war was. They’d known battles already, Cedric had died, then Sirius, and other people too after that. Of course. But it wasn’t as though they had seen tens of killings everyday. The mental resistance it needed wasn’t something they were accustomed to; the pressure on friends and families wasn’t something they could even imagine.

They hadn’t been the one tracking Death Eaters for days, they hadn’t been, truly, out there. And they had never ended up killing someone.

God keep them from ever knowing what it felt like.

For now they were all children. It was normal if they didn’t yet act like grown-ups.

Well, maybe one of them did, he thought as he saw Hermione in the living room. The book she was reading was one he’d read himself; one about the rights House-Elves deserved. At least she seemed to be mature enough; her ideas on the freedom of creatures were great. Given the fact that he was a werewolf he especially respected people who wanted to fight for the rights of those who were… well, different.

Hermione heard his footsteps and laid her book aside when he entered. “Is everything all right?” she asked nicely, having heard the shouts but not wanting him to get angrier than he already was.

He sighed and started pacing the room in silence, seemingly disturbed, making her wonder for a moment whether she’d made a mistake asking. Maybe she should’ve kept quiet; his irritation was imprinted on every line of his face.

“I didn’t─” she started, wanting him to understand he didn’t need to speak if he didn’t feel like it.

“It’s all right,” he cut her off. “Only─” he seemed to be looking for the right words. Then he said breathlessly, “they don’t understand what fighting is all about.”

She knew he meant Ron and Harry; she’d often wondered, too, if they knew that in a war people died. Two years before, they had known the danger; but now that they had seen nothing of it, no battles, no deaths for two years… Maybe they had become reckless. “They just want to help, that’s all,” she said without taking sides.

“I know that,” he replied, his eyes in the distance. “They’re young,” he added as an afterthought. She was their age, too, and both of them were aware of it. “They don’t know what it feels like to wake up in the morning not knowing if you’ll ever come back.” He came to sit beside her on the couch, resting his head on his palm, his elbow on a knee. She shivered. His tone had become harsher, darker, but his gaze was as piercing as ever as he stared at empty air.

“They think they know… but they know nothing!” Remus thought of Snape, lying in his hospital bed.

Hermione kept quiet. She didn’t know what to answer.

“They think it’s easy…”

Remus left the words hanging, stood up again and went to the window. He pulled open a curtain, revealing what lay behind. It was raining outside; heavy, dark clouds filled the sky. He stared out, feeling as lost as a small rowing boat on a tumultuous ocean. There was no land in sight, no refugee, nothing to indicate a location. There was almost no light either; it was as though colour had never existed; everything was grey, endlessly grey, as was his mood.

Finally he turned around. “Fighting isn’t about being brave. If you’re not scared you’re a fool, because there is nothing good in war… no honour, no bravery…” he closed his eyes. “It’s all sickening anyway… and when someone dies… you don’t feel glory, you don’t feel pride. You only feel revolted. Revolted because you’ve taken a life.” His voice was full of bitterness, the words coming out with difficulty.

Hermione took a long time to answer. “They know it’s everything but a game.”

“Do they?” he shook his head, his voice cracking. “They think they’re strong and ready…” he spread his hands apart helplessly. “But they aren’t prepared for it. They have never killed dark wizards─” he broke off and she suddenly felt an urge to come closer and comfort him. She didn’t know why he was telling her all that, but somehow, she didn’t care. It felt good hearing his voice. She knew he’d feel better after talking to someone; and however strange his confession was, she wanted him to feel better.

“I’m sure their desire to do good is as strong as one’s could be,” Remus took in a deep breath to regain assurance, “but they don’t know that when you fight, it doesn’t matter. Killing a man, taking life away from him… if you have a heart, it breaks you from the inside, no matter how much training you have─”

He interrupted himself there, realizing who was beside him. Why was he saying all this to her? Telling the deeper secrets, the most profound dreads of his heart?

He opened his mouth to justify himself. He knew he shouldn’t tell her what had happened with Snape─ and he knew revealing Order secrets could lead him to worse things than just being expelled from it. They had secret agreements, and that wasn’t for nothing. Except─ he was sure she could understand; sure that she wouldn’t tell anyone, not even Ron and Harry. Since there was no one around…

“I used to hate the man, you know.” He became quiet.

She froze in the ringing silence, not daring to move. As the rain started to fall again she knew he could only be talking about Snape. Snape was the only one beside Death Eaters and Voldemort she knew Remus to have hated so much.

Her eyes widened for a slight instant but that was it, and suddenly he was sure she knew what he was talking about. “Now I can’t help but wonder whether it could have been different.”

Still she didn’t answer but gave a thoughtful nod of comprehension.

“I was blinded. But that’s too late, isn’t it?” he said with derision. “A bit slow on the uptake, am I not?” Now fury sparked in his voice. “He told me─ he said we should have been friends. I would never have taken the first step toward him, but he did.” He gave a hollow laugh. “And I’m supposed to be more human?!”

Hermione was almost scared now. Scared because of what he was saying, scared because she knew he was hurting himself. And scared because she had never seen him like that.

“I just can’t bear that... I despised him like I despise Voldemort and everyone who fights at his side…” Now it was self-disgust that came out, self-disgust and desperation. “God, Ihated him like every Death Eater I’ve ever met!”

She had never wanted to share the burden he carried so much. “That doesn’t make you one of them,” she found the audacity to say.

He turned his head to her sharply, as though he had almost forgotten she was there. For an instant she had a feeling he’d reply heatedly, but no. Both of them listened for a few seconds at the pounding of the rain on the window, and as the sound intensified Hermione thought that, had it not been for the heat, she could have believe they were already in December.

“I’m sorry,” Remus said after a while. No trace of anger remained on his face as he came back to sit, this time in a more relaxed manner; just exhaustion. He crossed his arms on his lap. “I’m not very good for bringing about happiness in others…” he attempted a bit of humour to lighten up the atmosphere, but she didn’t feel at all amused. She felt more like crying, actually.

Remus got up again and this time walked to the door. Hermione couldn’t help succumbing to her desire to look at him when he got up. He paused with a hand on the serpent-shaped door handle. “This war should never have been started,” he said quietly with his back to Hermione. On these words he left and climbed back up to his room, to his sanctuary where, in the broad daylight, he could dwell on his thoughts without anyone to stare at him.


A/N: until chapter 5, you can always review! lol that'd be nice. I'm working on it now and should update quite fast since I'm almost done. Thanks Rosie for your help!

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