Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 2,100
Summary: Sirius could have fallen through the Veil; Remus could have died in the Battle of Hogwarts. Or, they could have had another ending.
Content Notes: Technically AU, depending on your definition. Six sections of, in order: 600, 500, 400, 300, 200, and 100 words.
Author Notes: Yesterday I wrote Five Ways It Could Have Ended (and one way it did) and it was just the most angsty, depressing, heart-crushing thing ever. I swore the next one would be a box of fluffy kittens, so here we go—there’s much less death in this one, I promise. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s a damn sight more positive. Basically, I’m currently exploiting my surprising lack of creative block. I don’t know what happened, but all of a sudden I can write and I can finish what I write and it’s not all terrible, so I’m going to make the most of it while it lasts!
Beta: Unbeta’d; my apologies for any mistakes, and please point them out!
Archiving: Crossposted at The Quidditch Pitch and Harry Potter FanFiction
Disclaimer: I am to the Harry Potter series what Voldemort is to the Elder Wand.
The War has been building for years, but in the autumn of 1976 it hits with a vengeance. Those who previously supported You-Know-Who in the privacy of their family homes come out into the open to preach the ideals of a pure-blooded Wizarding world. Families like the Potters and the Prewetts, old pureblood families who nonetheless believe that Muggles and Wizards are equal despite blood dilution, are labelled blood traitors. Disappearances and deaths become a regular occurrence, and suddenly every witch and wizard’s worst fear is coming home to find the Dark Mark above their house.
There are whispers of a rebellion group fighting against You-Know-Who and his followers; not just Aurors, but ordinary Wizarding folk taking up arms against him. Most people dismiss this as rumour and speculation; they assume the Ministry can and will take care of You-Know-Who and there is no cause for heroics.
The Order of the Phoenix knows better. They know that the Ministry is being infiltrated by Lord Voldemort’s supporters; they know that information is being censored and Wizarding Britain is not being told the full extent of the threat. Minister for Magic Lorcan McLaird is adamant that releasing information such as death tolls and the number of You-Know-Who’s supporters will cause mass public panic.
Even at Hogwarts, students are choosing sides. Some have parents on one side or the other and are prepared to fight beside them; others are walking into the fray knowing they will probably face a family member on the battlefield. Dumbledore shields his students from the worst of the horror, but they see enough—a housemate sobbing at breakfast, a condolence letter in their hand; seventh-year Slytherins covering up their left arms and looking smug. They don’t know exactly what is coming, but they fear it.
In April 1977, Voldemort launches a full-scale attack on Hogwarts. The school is evacuated through a number of tunnels even the Marauders never found; students who are of age are permitted to stay and fight. James, Sirius, and Remus don’t hesitate; Peter, with his July birthday, is left behind.
The fight seems to last forever. James watches his parents fall—he never screams, but his eyes go blank and he fights with a renewed frenzy. Remus is battling Fenrir Greyback, a personal vendetta if there ever was one; and yet, he is conscious of Sirius’ every move. All he can think is What if he dies, what if I die, what if I never told him?
It’s a shock to everyone when Voldemort himself Apparates into the Great Hall, right in front of Dumbledore—and not just because he has broken the anti-Apparition wards. As if rehearsed, the Death Eaters fall back; the other side do the same at a signal from Dumbledore. The air around them crackles with magic as they come to blows; Remus has to look away at times from the sheer power of it. Head to head they fight, the magic becoming more and more complex, until Dumbledore conjures a ball of pure golden light. It pushes into Voldemort’s chest; he looks utterly shocked as he crumples to the ground. The Death Eaters Disapparate while the rest of the hall stares in shock, not daring to believe; it’s not until Dumbledore’s quiet, "He is dead," that they erupt in cheers.
In the middle of the near-destroyed Great Hall, in the midst of bodies and broken glass, covered in blood and grime, and surrounded by teachers and students alike, Remus Lupin pulls Sirius close and plants one on him. To his surprise, Sirius kisses back with just as much fervour.
There is a prophecy, made to Albus Dumbledore and recorded in the Department of Mysteries, that concerns the fall of the Dark Lord. It speaks of a child born at the end of July, to parents who have thrice defied Voldemort, who will have the power to bring about You-Know-Who’s downfall.
Remus looks at six month old Harry Potter, currently drooling on a toy Quaffle his Uncle Wormtail bought him, and thinks that Sybil Trelawney is absolutely, certifiably off her rocker.
"You’re not the saviour of the Wizarding world, are you, Harry?" he coos, bouncing the boy up and down on his knee. "You’re not going to fight the big, bad man—no, you’re going to sit there and spit up all over your toys. I bet your daddy’s going mad over you defiling sacred Quidditch equipment, hey?"
He and Sirius were asked around for dinner; James, looking uncharacteristically serious, had said that he and Lily had something to discuss with the two of them. They’re sitting in the living room—James and Lily on one couch, holding hands and looking grim, Remus and Sirius, with Harry, on the other. Sirius has his arm draped over the back of the couch in a deceptively casual manner, but he’s running his fingers up and down the nape of Remus’ neck, something he only does when he’s on edge. Remus leans into the touch very slightly, just enough for Sirius to notice.
"We’re going into hiding," James starts without preamble. "We’re taking Harry, and we’re keeping him safe no matter what."
"Where?" Remus asks.
"We’re going to perform the Fidelius Charm and go somewhere safe. Pads, mate, we want you to be our Secret-Keeper. The thing is—"
"Don’t tell me how dangerous it’s going to be, Prongs. I’ll do it; of course I will," Sirius says. "Got to keep my godson safe until he’s old enough to learn how to charm the ladies, eh?" he directs this last bit at the baby still sitting contentedly in Remus’ lap.
"Yeah, like you’re the one to teach him that, you bloody nancy." They all chuckle, but it’s awkward. "No, the thing is… you’re the obvious choice. They’ll come after you and we don’t—Lils and I, we don’t want to put you in danger. Either of you. If you do this, you need to get out of Britain. Get as far away as possible and don’t come back until it’s safe. You understand me, Padfoot? No coming back because you want to be a part of the fight, no trying to get one over on those mad cousins of yours. Stay away, and keep us safe by being somewhere even Voldemort can’t find you."
Remus glances to his left; Sirius is nodding slowly, his brow furrowed. It’s his decision, at the end of the day—Remus will follow him wherever he goes, as he always has.
"Moony?" he asks, the corners of his lips turning up. "Ever fancied a trip to New Zealand?"
When the phoenix Patronus appears in their living room on Halloween night in 1981, Remus knows immediately that it’s bad news. He calls Sirius, doing dishes in the kitchen; he comes racing in, tea towel still in hand, as the voice of Albus Dumbledore begins to echo through the living room.
"James and Lily were betrayed. Lord Voldemort has killed them; Harry survives. I will be collecting him."
The tea towel hits the floor before the words have finished reverberating around the room; Sirius runs straight for the garage, Remus barely catching up before the motorbike roars into life. He clings to Sirius’ back, holding on for dear life—he’s not even a fan of brooms, let alone this bloody thing—as Sirius steers them towards Godric’s Hollow.
The sight that meets them brings Remus to his knees; the house is blown apart, the Dark Mark hovering above. Sirius doesn’t hesitate, running into the house, screaming Harry’s name. Remus picks himself up, the tears streaming down his face as he moves slowly past the threshold and almost trips over James’ body.
Sirius stumbles back down the half-destroyed staircase, Harry in his arms, as Remus reaches out with shaking hands and closes James’ eyes. He comes to stand beside Remus and they gaze down on their friend. Sirius’ breath hitches; Remus snakes an arm about his waist and pulls him close. They both turn at the sound of a cough, Sirius clutching Harry tightly to his chest, and come face to face with Dumbledore’s sorrowful face.
"Remus, you and I are the only ones who know the Potters switched Secret-Keepers," he says gravely. "The Ministry will be coming for Sirius. Obviously he was with you; but the Ministry, however grateful that Voldemort is destroyed, will not take the word of a werewolf as fact. I will vouch for Sirius and tell them they should turn their attention to Peter Pettigrew; I give you both my word. However, I must take Harry to his aunt and uncle."
"No," Sirius’ voice is fierce. "He’s my godson; I get custody."
"Sirius, there are issues at play here you don’t fully understand. Harry needs the protection of Lily’s blood relatives—"
"Harry will have the protection of a werewolf and a Black, Albus," Remus says. "You’re not taking him. It’s what James would have wanted."
Finally, inexplicably, Dumbledore relents; Remus and Sirius take Harry home.
Remus has spent twelve years—twelve long, miserable, lonely years—believing the man he loved betrayed their best friends. It takes him less than twelve seconds, when he sees Peter Pettigrew’s name on the map, to realise that everything he believes is an utter fallacy. He sees Peter on the map, he sees Sirius, and suddenly everything clicks into place.
He has never been able to think clearly when it comes to Sirius Black; not since their very first day at Hogwarts when he found himself sharing a dormitory with the most beautiful boy he’d ever seen—all dark hair and stormy grey eyes and aristocratic features—and realised that being a werewolf was not going to be the only secret he’d have to keep from his housemates. He wasn’t thinking clearly that day, he wasn’t thinking clearly the first time he kissed Sirius; he certainly isn’t thinking clearly when he leaves the castle, heading for Hogsmeade at a sprint, leaving his Wolfsbane behind.
When he wakes up in the Hospital Wing the next morning, he doesn’t remember anything after the transformation. He tries to sit up much too fast; a warm hand presses to his shoulder, pushing him down. Twelve years, and the touch still feels more familiar than his own.
"Sirius, what are you—what if someone comes in, they’ll—"
"I handed them a mass murderer after spending twelve years in prison for the crime; you think they’re getting me away from your bedside after that?"
"Is in Ministry custody. Yours truly has a full pardon. Might need a place to stay, though," Sirius says, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. Remus has never seen clearly when it comes to Sirius Black, but when Sirius leans over and kisses him, he thinks maybe he doesn’t really want to.
When Harry Floo calls Grimmauld Place from Umbridge’s office, Remus is in the kitchen making tea.
"Been falling into Pensieves again, Harry?" he asks teasingly, before registering the look of utter panic on the boy’s face. "Harry, what’s wrong?"
"Where’s Sirius?" Harry asks, his voice rising in panic. "Is he here?"
"He’s upstairs, Harry," Remus replies, utterly bewildered.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, he’s—Sirius!" he calls up the stairs. A few seconds later, he hears the pounding of feet and Sirius appears in the kitchen.
"What’s all the hollering—Harry! Is everything all right?" Sirius asks, kneeling down by the fire, concern written all over his features. "What’s going on?"
"Oh, thank God," Harry looks as though he’s about to cry. "Sirius, I had a dream—a vision—that Voldemort had you. In the Department of Mysteries."
Remus and Sirius exchange a look. "Harry, there’s something we need to tell you. The Order doesn’t want you to know, but—"
Sirius is cut off by a hand gripping Harry’s head through the fireplace, pulling him out of sight. He exchanges a grim look with Remus.
"Moony, we’re going to go spring my godson from school."
Remus isn’t going to argue.
Of all the possible depictions of the afterlife—or lack thereof—Remus finds himself on a train, facing a compartment door that slides open. He hears a voice; that damn irresistible voice he’s missed so desperately for two years.
"Of all the trains in all the world, you stepped into mine."
Sirius’ face is unmarred by grief and twelve years in prison; he could be twenty-one again, except for the tattoos he got in Azkaban lining his arms (Remus was always kind of fond of those, anyway). He grins, stepping forward, straight into Remus’ arms.
The train carries them Onwards.