Floo Powder and Teardrops

by darsynia

Notes: Pre-series. Written 5/31/06.

Despair. Remus had thought he'd known everything there was to know about that particular emotion. He'd even joked darkly to James once that he could teach a class about it—just one practical lesson with homework during the full moon, assignments due once a month for the rest of the student's life.

James! Lupin's heart called out for his friend even as his mind told him that he would never again receive an answer.

A wave of nausea overwhelmed his bleary attempts to dress himself. Dumbledore's voice had wakened him, the raw note in it causing icicles of adrenaline to course through his bloodstream even before he'd spoken to his mentor. The thought of that conversation not five minutes hence made his throat constrict painfully and his eyes fill with unfamiliar tears. He hadn't cried since he was a little boy…

That thought made the prospect of weeping a certainty—for it was impossible for him to think of a child without his mind immediately picturing Harry. The serious, earnest little boy was the light of his parents' lives. Lupin could remember the last time he'd held the child; Harry had spent the entire experience watching him soberly with his mother's eyes. Oh, Lily. In a hoarse voice that had almost scared his former student with its intensity, Albus had told him how Lily had desperately thrown herself in front of her son, sacrificing her life for his.

Dumbledore had said he hoped that somehow she could know it had worked.

He could hardly believe what he'd been told; it was such a dichotomy of painful tragedy and unbelievable relief—for his former headmaster had told him that their protection spell had worked, after a fashion. The self-styled Dark Lord appeared to have been defeated in the very moment he'd tried to destroy Harry. The prophecy had come true, their fragile world appeared to be safe—the entire wizarding community had cause to celebrate… but James and Lily were dead.

Lupin moved across his living room floor to the fireplace, his breath catching every few seconds when the tears became too much for him. He reached into the container on the mantelpiece and stood for a long minute, so miserable he almost forgot what it was that he was doing there. The fire crackled, and he remembered, opening his mouth to announce his destination—but the words escaped him.

Remus realized without shame that the tears were coming so thick and fast that he could barely speak. He slumped to the floor by the fireplace, alternately decorating the woodwork with discarded floo powder and teardrops. The green particles seemed to wink at him when they combined with his tears, making him think of Lily and Harry and most of all, James.

He set his head on his knees and wept for the loss of his innocence—a loss that he used to think had happened long ago with the bite, but which had really occurred not ten minutes beforehand when he'd learned of the death of his best friend.