Amy (such_heights) wrote,
Amy
such_heights

Fic Commentary: Here Comes The Sun

As suggested by minnow_53, fic commentary on Here Comes The Sun. This was a fun one to return to.


This is the Remus-in-hospital fic I've been meaning to write for ages. I really like the idea of Remus in fragile health – oh I'm cruel. But really this is a story of complete collapse then recovery. I'm always interested in the aftermath of things – see And Now, After All The Stars for my fullest exploration of that, albeit in different fandoms – and that's part of why Remus interests me so much, because he had to live through all of this tragedy and yet comes across as a relatively level person when we meet him in PoA.

I never dealt with the werewolf thing in this fic, which I had considered doing. In the end, I figured that it was pretty easy to imagine that St. Mungo's had some sort of provision for him, but it wasn't really an important part of this particular story.

Onto the fic!


Here Comes The Sun
Ah, the joy of having your title already decided for you! The title alone was inspiration enough for this piece, but having the song on repeat as I wrote was very helpful, because it was a constant reminder of the tone I was trying to create – a fragile present with a sad past and a hopeful future.

On November 2nd, 1981, Albus Dumbledore had one last task to perform. He broke into an unassuming flat on a quiet street, there to find a man collapsed on the kitchen floor, with eyes almost as glassy as death. With the help of Frank and Alice, he helped him to the outside, then half-carried him to St. Mungo’s.
This is actually a slightly odd way to start the story. There's so much in this fic that isn't very clear, or at least not until the end, and I didn't want the timeline to be at all in doubt. Also, this follows on from an idea that came up in one of my scarvesnhats fics, Remus collapsed in his flat. I do like a good nervous breakdown.

---

It is mid-March and Remus is awake. He’s not sure how long he’s been asleep for, but the drowsiness is slow to lift. The ceiling swims into vision, speckled with plaster – a squeeze in his stomach prompts him to remember that the walls at home used to look like that; his dad never could be bothered to sort it out. He’s not sure why, but he’s pretty sure he doesn’t see those walls any more.
Another passing allusion to my personal canon regarding Remus' family – one of these days I'll write about that properly.

There are cracks in the ceiling, and memories drifting haphazardly through. Warm hands in a cold place, the swish of robes. Racing through a forest, a joyful laugh, the taste of custard. With a jolt, Remus’ drowsiness lifts – he remembers screams.
I like this paragraph because of how it sounded in my head when I was writing it. Often I like things because of how they sound out loud, but it's almost impossible to know if that translates across to somebody else.

There’s mutterings from the hallway. Remus tries to sit up, but his head is woozy and he can only manage a moment of elevation before he sinks back into a pillow that is suddenly comforting. In that moment, he has seen other beds, other sheets, and other people. Other patients. Remus is in hospital, and he idly wonders why. Nothing hurts, so maybe he’s better. That’s good, he’d like to get out of here now.

He tries remembering again, but it seems there’s nothing more than fragmented moments with jagged edges, and Remus decides to leave it alone. His head slips to the side, to a bedside table with nothing on it. There’s a window just above it, with the sort of shutters that Remus is reasonably sure always irritate him, as with all the will in the world you can never adjust them to the right angle. The muttering has continued, and he could see the two people that were talking. One of them glanced in through the blinds for a moment. A woman, with blue eyes. Midway through a puzzled frown of cognition, Remus drifts back to sleep.

The next thing he is aware of, someone is adjusting the setting of a monitor by his bed – a small counter that hovers just out of an arm swat’s way, charmed to alert a doctor at any change in condition of the patient. It flickers a warm purple, and this has featured in many of Remus’ dreams. He never seems to dream of anything concrete, just colours, mainly. The purple-and-blue dreams are the nice ones, but Remus doesn’t like the green ones, he always wakes up already tired.
Though it wasn't entirely conscious, there's quite a clear break in tone after this – I suppose I moved on to the 'middle' of the story here.

Remus aches in a strange way today, because oh how he remembers magic, magic that must still brim in his fingertips, but seems far away somehow. If he asks, maybe he could get his wand back.

Remus tries to say hello, but his tongue is heavy in his mouth, unresponsive to his efforts. After a moment, he makes a sound, and the orderly snaps his head around, and smiles.
This is my token male nurse here. I didn’t really want to have some stereotypical simpering female on the scene.

‘Good morning.’

Remus swallows a couple of times, trying to get his vocal chords to respond. It’s no good, and so he tries a smile. That works, but it feels strange, like stretching a newly discovered muscle.

‘Just keep trying. Won’t be long before you get your voice back, I’m sure.’ With an encouraging smile, the man moved away, and Remus sighed in frustration.

He’s going to need help, he decides. An hour or so later, and another doctor appears. Remus hastily tries to sit up, but it doesn’t go quite to plan and he ends up leaning against the headrest, a little disorientated.

The doctor laughed a little. ‘Now, don’t rush things, Remus. There’s plenty of time for everything.’

‘Okay,’ Remus manages to say, startling himself. More steadily this time, he grips the edges of the bed, sliding a little more upright. There, that’s better.
I deliberately made Remus' condition somewhat vague, so that I could get away with having him in this sort of state without really having to explain in detail what happened to him. I envisage some sort of psychological collapse that then progressed into a physical one.

‘I’ll be back to check on you later,’ said the doctor, before marking something on his clipboard then moving on to the next bed.

‘Okay,’ Remus says again, and though the sound is rasping and unfamiliar in a way it shouldn’t be, he smiles for the second time.

Remus’ days become full of these rasping noises, which gradually relearn to make more and more words, and he’s slowly gaining strength, too, making it across the hall to the bathroom being a particular achievement. He knows he could remember, knows that it’s all there – the doctors say he won’t have any permanent memory loss – but it doesn’t seem urgent, somehow.

The knowledge is starting to come through anyway, though. And one day, when the woman with blue eyes is in the ward again, Remus realises it’s not going to be much longer before everything returns. She stops by his bed, and smiles at him the way they all do.

‘Do you know what happened to me?’ Remus asks, still relishing each sentence spoken.

She nods. ‘Yes, I do. Do you remember?’

‘I think I could,’ Remus explains slowly. ‘It’s bad, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. It will be painful. But there will be good memories too.’

‘That’s what I thought.’
The dialogue throughout this is slightly peculiar, to my mind. I wanted it to be quiet, and – well, not stilted exactly, but slow and thoughtful. Remus especially, and Emmeline responds to his tone.

So Remus tries to remember, but it seems there are a hundred brick walls in his way, and each time he comes to something that might be important, there’s just nothing.

‘The hospital garden is always at your disposal, of course,’ his doctor explains, and so Remus heads out, feeling strangely out of place amongst the other patients, with their bandages and scars. He’s checked in a mirror, and there’s nothing wrong with him that anyone can see.
Gardens are, of course, healing places – we know this from Lord of the Rings if nothing else! – and also it fits into the spring feeling of the fic.

‘Hello, Remus.’ The woman is back again.

Remus sat down on a bench, and she joined him. ‘I know you, don’t I?’

She nodded, but looked sad. He frowned. ‘I’m sorry, I am trying. It’s-- well, it’s just slow, that’s all.’

‘Of course it is, don’t worry. It’s Emmeline, do you remember? We used to work together.’
I really enjoy taking the names of the original Order members and trying to create the characters. I love the version of Emmeline that grew in this story, and I hope she'll make other appearances. All we really know about her is that she's 'stately', and so I tried to underplay the emotion from her through this, although she is very deeply moved by Remus and the state he's in.

And suddenly Remus did remember, flashes of a strong wand arm and a deathly glare. ‘We fought together, you mean,’ he said.

‘Yes. There was a war.’

‘We won?’

‘Yes. Resoundingly.’
Because at the time, they think that all they've lost has been worth it. Good conquered evil, after all, so they believed.

‘Good.’ Another piece slotted into place. ‘So where’s everyone else?’

‘Who?’ Emmeline asks, with a heavy tone that Remus really does recognise now.

‘Sir--’ Remus starts, then falters. He stares at Emmeline with wide, disbelieving eyes.

‘It really happened, then?’

‘Yes.’ She sighed. ‘Sirius. Sirius was the spy. He murdered Peter, betrayed James and Lily…’

‘But Harry survived. And defeated Voldemort.’

‘Yes.’
I wanted this all to be very matter-of-fact. That doesn't mean that it's not painful for both of them to relive, but they're connected by a desire to deal with the situation, and to be honest about it.

There’s a storm threatening to break in Remus’ mind. But it has been raging for months now, and Remus doesn’t want to be ill any more.
Emmeline's the impetus Remus needed. Though I think he can have a bit of a martyr complex, I don't see Remus as a wallower at the expense at getting on with his life. He might not deal very well with everything that happens to him, all the time, but he'll carry on regardless.

‘Okay,’ he says, staring at his feet. When he looks up, Emmeline’s eyes are glistening.

‘Oh, Remus,’ she says, emotion brimming over, and places a hand on his. ‘I am so sorry.’
This is as emotional as the dialogue gets. Emmeline feels strongly, not because she was especially close to Remus per se, but because I really see all of the Order as being very close-knit, despite the arguments and conflicts that must have arisen. It was them against the world, after all.

The touch feels odd, misplaced somehow, but Remus doesn’t stop her. Through the sediment built up through all the months Remus has spent here, understanding is breaking through, and all he can really think is that he doesn’t want to be alone.

It gets colder, and a nurse comes and bustles them back inside. They haven’t spoken for over an hour, but Remus doesn’t need to ask her to stay, as she helps him up the stairs that still strain his legs in odd ways.

When Remus does talk again, it’s as though a dam has broken loose. He suddenly has this enormous need to immortalise his friends, to tell stories about them, and Emmeline smiles, and seems to pay attention to his every word. Remus can’t cut Sirius out of his stories, so he has to separate the boy he used to know from what he became, and somehow she seems to understand that.
I think Remus must have had to compartmentalise everything – as someone who's always had secrets and dark places, I think he'd be better equipped than most to be able to separate a traitor into Before and After. It's an important part of the coping process for him, I think.

But eventually Remus’ voice is as rasping as the day he first spoke again, and he lapses back into silence. It is well past visiting hours now, but no one has interrupted them. And now it is Emmeline’s turn to talk, with stories about the other members of the Order, and what they’re doing now in this time of peace. Remus drinks it all in, this tapestry of new life.
New life is really the key here. It's easy to forget when you're as Marauder-focused as me that for the vast majority of the Wizarding world this is a time of enormous celebration. And the members of the Order are heroes, which is why no one disturbs these two and this wonderfully healing conversation.

‘Look,’ she says after what could have been minutes or hours. ‘It’s morning now. Here comes the sun.’
Time is unimportant here, I tried to make sure that nothing in this felt rushed. Taking everything in slow sections is probably the only way Remus can get out of there.

The sun doesn’t have magical properties, it can’t reverse time nor heal all the sick in this building. But the staff know that somehow it helps, and so each window that they could has been aligned to catch the first rays of morning.

The light is better than darkness, that’s all.
That's really the idea at the heart of this story. For me, that was a very important line. Once again, I like it because of the way it sounds. I wonder whether I should have moved this to the very end paragraph.

‘Thank you,’ Emmeline says, and Remus frowns.

‘What for?’

‘For coming back. If we’d lost you too--’
Each loss makes victory a little bit more bitter, I can't help but feel. We see McGonagall so distraught over the Potters' deaths she can't enjoy the celebrations, after all, and the Order as a whole does need to move on.

Remus wonders if that might not have been better, but he says nothing, just smiles then turns his head to face the rising sun, with warmth in its rays.

I like this story a lot even on returning to it, which is nice. All the feedback I got on this really seemed to pick up on what I was trying to do, and was in general very positive and happy-Amy-making. Plus, it got translated into Russian! That excites me no end.

---

Aid my procrastination and suggest something else, if you'd like.
Tags: fic commentary, on writing
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