Truth and Consequences

by darsynia

Notes: Set during The Prisoner of Azkaban. Written 4/03/07.

Remus stood completely still. He could feel the blood draining from his face, his limbs becoming stiff and unresponsive; only his fiercely beating heart and strong will kept him upright. Lupin blinked, squinted, then started to lift his hand from the desk in order to rub his eyes, assuming that what he was seeing could not possibly be what it looked like—

The act of raising his hand had caused the parchment he'd spread out on the desk to start folding itself back up, obscuring the impossible name that had weakened his knees--and his conception of the truth. Remus almost collapsed into his chair, scrambling desperately at the Marauder's Map, telling himself simultaneously to hurry and to be careful with the precious document. It couldn't be true, he had to have read it wrong—he was tired, after all...

There it was. A familiar name moving through the hallways of Hogwarts, accompanied by others who by all rights should be feeling—what? His mind supplied the long-held belief, that the name his eyes followed incredulously along the carefully crafted drawing belonged to a hero, a tragic sacrifice to a cause so righteous that his companions should be honored by his presence. Yet, clearly they had no idea with whom they were associating (How many times have I spoken with Ron, passed him by as he clutched his pet—and I never recognized him? Remus asked himself silently, too choked with confused emotions to speak aloud), and there was no such thing as a living martyr.

Lupin cast back in his mind, searching for some sort of loophole to ground himself on, a way to incorporate this odd occurrence into his conception of reality over the past twelve years. His hands loosed their firm grip on the Map as he turned inward, the four small dots crossing the threshold of the school unnoticed by any but themselves. It took the pain of an uncomfortable position to bring Remus out of his reflective state, but when it did, he looked down to see another forbidden name emerge from the school grounds.

An impossible truth was staring him in the face—the two beloved names collided, merged, and moved off to another familiar location, even as Remus gathered up the precious evidence and rushed from his office. He had a duty to protect Harry, no matter what kind of faith-breaking events he was about to encounter. His mind was full of a myriad of possibilities, each more insane than the last, all of which distracted him from his original plans for that evening. He'd even forgotten to speak the incantation that shielded the parchment from prying eyes.

The Marauder's Map fluttered in the werewolf's grip, still displaying the names of those Hogwarts residents that moved throughout the campus to do their daily routines. Lupin's own dot passed briefly over a third schoolmate's, a man who had decided to take the long route to his night's destination, a cup of frothing potion held carefully in his pale hands.