PG, 700 words
Summary: Remus Lupin is a man of layers, he always has been. A look at the life of Remus, sometimes through the tinted glasses of metaphor.
Remus Lupin is a man of layers, he always has been. His first day at Hogwarts he had so many layers he felt like a walking mattress – vest, shirt, jumper, coat, scarf all stuffed on him with precious little consideration for his well-being.
At eleven, Remus spent his time under an Invisibility cloak of his own devising – his special brand of magic that was Not Drawing Attention To Yourself. Then one James Potter strode up to him and disarmed him completely (figuratively and literally, Remus seemed to remember – he’d been convinced that Potter was going to hex him) and suddenly Remus was forced into a friendship he didn’t realise he needed.
The next layer melted away with the first winter’s snow. Remus’ disjointedness began to dissipate, and he gradually slid into this new life, feeling more at ease each day. He slowly wove himself into the tapestry of Gryffindor life – a background burgundy, granted, not the warm fire flickers of Peter, the glowing live red of James or the mercurial gold of Sirius, but a part nonetheless.
Yet Remus still had a way to go and these new friends of his went to it with pickaxes, gradually chipping away at Remus’ solid refusal to join them in their misadventures. It cracked by degrees – some, McGonagall among them, might have called it a slippery slope. Then Remus showed them a spell he’d learned to grotesquely enlarge facial features, and they knew it was broken.
Most would have thought that was it, but Sirius was never one to let things be, so he prodded and researched and endlessly questioned until he huffed and puffed and blew Remus’ house of secretes tumbling down, scaring them all half to death – the big bad wolf was out.
After that, things were quiet for a while. Remus, the embodiment of still water, flowed through his life, slow and steady and ever-present, yet in the depths something stirred, sending tell-tale bubbles to the surface – not that Remus paid any attention.
He’ll never decide if it’s ironic, fitting, or just bloody typical that Sirius, who for all of his brains had the common sense of a flobberworm, should be the one to succinctly answer all of Remus’ doubts by kissing him until he lost all sense of gravity in a fit of post-exam euphoria. Dispossessed of all his barriers, Remus’ soul lived well for a while, thriving on all the fresh air it received. So strange, and yet so familiar, and Remus was often moved to ask Sirius why they’d never thought of this before. He never did get a straight answer.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, James used to say far too often when he was trying to cajole Remus into something. But the gamble failed, and so the horrific aftermath ricocheted around, right down to Remus’ bones – there was nothing left to stop it.
It took time, years of time, but the layers rebuilt – survival instinct is strong. Remus took his grief and filed it away amongst his accounts, stored a former passion in a side pocket of his ever-packed suitcase, tucked the guilt in between the pages of an old History of Magic textbook and let his loneliness gather dust on a high shelf.
He built anew - layers of mild manners, Wednesday matinees and self-effacing dry humour that was a shield against the slings and arrows of this new world. They withstood each full moon alone, each dingy flat, each loss of a job, for there were no real surprises any more.
The cracks started to appear when news first reached him of Black’s escape. They lengthened the day Dumbledore’s owl arrived, and gradually grew and faltered throughout his year of borrowed time at Hogwarts. Harry’s unnerving face every day, and the ghost that flooded his dreams at night began to send shockwaves right down to his foundations, yet still he stayed intact, still in one piece against the Dementors, Black’s chilling break-ins, and Harry’s tentative steps towards the truth.
How strange, how ironic, how fitting and yes, how bloody typical that all it took was one moment, one look from Sirius to dismantle a decade and more of defences. An artificial reality crumbled away before him, and in this place of dust and nightmares something stirred again, small but full of promise.
Remus couldn’t be certain, for nothing was certain any more, but he believed that it was called hope.