Professor Lupin sat at his desk in his classroom. The seats were empty, the room was lifeless and cold, but he didn’t notice. All his attention was on the parchment before him. It was yellowing, torn at the edges slightly, but it had a distinct look about it; there was no way he could have mistaken it for just any piece of parchment. The ageing parchment lay folded closed on his desk, his wand rested atop it, as he stared with weary eyes.
The parchment had found it’s way to Harry’s hands, somehow. He wanted to know how, but he didn’t ask. That was the mystery of the map, the mystery of the Marauders, one that Remus had never quite understood, but one he’d been endlessly grateful for. It didn’t matter how lost they’d gotten, or how far they’d strayed from each other over the years; they always found their way back. And the map had done the same, it had found James’ son, and now it was back in Remus’ possession.
But what did it mean now? What did the map stand for? James and Peter were dead. Sirius Black was a wanted criminal and the map was just a map. It was no symbol, or sign. It was just a map. So why was he making such a big deal about it?
He looked to the fireplace to his left, and took the map in his hand. He went to throw it into the flames as pain overcame him. But when he tried to let go, he found the parchment glued to his hand. He stared with wide eyes at the parchment, placing it back on the table were it let go of his skin. He slowly, and reluctantly, picked up his wand and uttered the words he hadn’t said in many years,
“I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”
As the words escaped his mouth, the parchment sprung to life, the familiar ink spreading the pages like a web of memories, dancing into the shapes of the walls and rooms and dots of people. The rooms he’d forgotten, the corridors discovered in the early years, the trouble they’d caused and the memories they’d created. His eyes welled, closing them quickly as he let his memories overcome him.
He remembered meeting the boys on the train, apologising for barging into their carriage, but being forced to stay and chat with them by none other than Sirius Black. He remembered the four of them being sorted into Gryffindor, and how the house cheered in bellows so loud his ears rang for hours. He thought about the detentions, and the fights, and the wounds and gashes and blood loss. He thought about the night that the others confronted him about his lycanthropy; telling him that they’d figured out a way to help him if he would only let them. He recalled his anger, yelling that he would not under any circumstance be responsible for his friends deaths. He vividly remembered James Potter’s resolved face as he calmly responded with; “I don’t have any brothers, Remus. But if I did, I do the same for them. You’re my brother, our brother, and you will let us do this for you.” He remembered the day he was beaten to a bloody pulp by the Slytherin’s, the day he crawled back into the common room as he coughed up blood and blacked out on the carpet; he remembered how James, Sirius and Peter were given 3 months detention each and risked expulsion for sending Nott and Malfoy to St Mungo’s for 6 weeks. He remembered Gryffindor’s first win with James as captain, and the countless victories that came after. He remembered Peter’s first girlfriend, Josie Netler; a tiny blonde bint with the IQ of a flobberworm, but Peter fancied her nonetheless. As well as the stream of women that competed for the spot on Sirius’ arm. He remembered the boys pestering him to pick a girl, to ask one to Hogsmeade, snog one in a broom cupboard; and every time they were answered with “What girl could possibly want a monster?” and each time in return Remus received a sharp blow to the stomach. He remembered their dorm, every detail from Sirius’ unmade bed, and Peters awful smelling school shoes, to James’ stash of Honeydukes that he thought no one knew about. He recalled no specific memory, but just one of them laughing in their dorm, grinning at each other as they laughed, Remus’ face was young and happy and… and home. He remembered the day after their last N.E.W.T exam, the feeling of the sun on their skin and the world in front of them. He remembered looking back at the school as they boarded the train for the last time, and he remembered thinking that there was no way he could have survived without the three of them. He remember James and Lily’s wedding, and meeting Harry for the first time, babysitting him. He remembered their funeral, the feeling of having his heart ripped from his chest at the sight of the pair of tombstones, and the feeling that neither Sirius nor Peter were beside him. He remembered that, and he had been remembering it for 12 years.
Remus opened his eyes finally, to realise he’d been breathing heavily and tears had stained his cheeks. He dropped the map down on his desk and wiped the tears from his face, exhaling slowly to calm his breath. What did any of it matter now? It was all in the past and there was no going back to those days.
He picked up his wand and muttered sadly, “Mischief Managed.” But before the ink faded completely from the parchment, a message appeared. One he had not been expecting. A memory came flooding back to him; It was something James had morbidly thought to add when the war started getting awful, he’d enchanted it with a message that only Marauders using the map could see if one of the others had passed. But Remus frowned as he read the name after the message.
Prongs, but no Wormtail.
“Those of us may be gone, and you may remain, but know this; Our mischief is never truly done, brother. See you on the other side.” – Prongs.
Peter Pettigrew was alive.
[Another request from the lovely wandering-but-not-lost-forever]