Title: Standing On The Edge
Author: Moonbeam
Email: mbeam@hotmail.com
Fandom: Harry Potter (post-OotP AU)
Rating: PG
Summary: Moony gets the chance to run with his pack one last time.
Disclaimer: My initials are not JKR. Not even close.
Author's Notes: Written for dknightshade's Lyrical Ficathon. I
got some lines from Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You", but pretty much
incorporated the entire song. Innumerable thanks to Shady herself for the
last minute life-saving -- couldn't have done it without you! ;)

~*~*~*~*~
Standing On The Edge
By Moonbeam


"Sirius, have you seen the earrings that go with this dress? The green ones?
I know I had them around here somewhere. James is taking me out tonight and
he always said he liked the look of them, which must be true because he can
never keep his hands off me when I'm wearing them." She laughed gaily,
sharing the joke with her husband's best friend, inviting him to join in.

Only silence met her.  Earrings forgotten, she looked up at him in concern.
"Sirius? Are you alright?" He hadn't been quite right since he'd come here,
since he'd left the living world for good. Most of the time he was like
everyone else where they were now, happy and carefree and content with his
place in life... but he wasn't at peace. Something in him still yearned to
return to the life he'd had before, something that not even the boundless
joys of this place could ease in him. Something that drove him, time after
time, to peer through the veil at the people he'd left behind.

Lily stepped over to join him, wrapping her arm around Sirius's waist and
leaning her head against his shoulder. Through the ephemeral shifts of the
wisping veil, she could just make out two figures. Remus and Harry.  Always
Remus and Harry.

Sirius stared at them intently, watching as Remus spoke to his godson.
Watched as Remus put a hand on Harry's shoulder and said something that made
him smile. Watched as Remus smiled in return, years lifting off his face as
his eyes crinkled up in humour.  Watched as Remus, the last Marauder, did
all the things a godfather does -- a father does. Watched as he taught,
comforted, and consoled the boy he'd failed.  Watched as the weight on the
boy's shoulders lifted under Remus's hand, and the new lightness in his eyes
made Remus redden, pleased to have been able to help. Watched as the simple
gratitude of a teenage boy soothed years of tension and loneliness, a
greater balm to a wounded soul than any magic or medicine.

"Look at them. Both of them, so starved for affection that the slightest act
of kindness can undo them more thoroughly than any act of violence.  Harry,
who should have grown up surrounded by laughter and loved ones, but had his
very childhood stolen from him.  Doomed to face off against the greatest
evil the Magical World's ever known in a battle that may very well kill him.
And Remus...  He's been alone too long, Lily, shunned by the world he fights
to protect.  Chased and driven into isolation by the attitudes of others and
his own demons, until he's forgotten what it ever felt like to
<i>belong</i>." He turned despondent eyes to the woman beside him. "I
promised him he'd never be alone again. That he'd never suffer through
another full moon on his own, searching for the pack he lost.  I promised
him that Padfoot would always be there to run by his side."

Lily understood, for hadn't she as a mother made many such promises to her
baby boy? Through the shifting curtain of the veil, she watched as Harry
laughed and left with his two school friends.  She felt a pang in her heart
that she’d missed so much of his life.  The pang only intensified as she saw
what her son did not -- Remus's smile fading sadly as he faced his empty
room.

Sirius sighed.  "I wish I could be with him again. Just once. Just to let
him know he's not alone. Especially on a night like this."  For, of course,
it was to be a full moon that night and Remus looked more haggard than he
usually did in reaction.

"Well, why don't you?" A third voice pointed out reasonably, and they both
turned to look at its owner in surprise.

"James," Lily frowned disapprovingly, "you know that's not allowed."

James shrugged, quirking the unrepentant grin that had won him her heart
when they were young.  "We're not allowed to interfere in the lives of
<i>people</i>," he said, stressing the last word, "but Moony's not a person
now, is he?"

And Sirius with the ease of long practice in many a masterful prank,
undimmed by the years of separation in between, caught on immediately and
started grinning himself as the idea took merit.  He and James locked eyes,
both of them knowing what the other was thinking. Time fell away
meaningless, leaving them feeling like little kids again as they began to
plan.

~*~*~

Remus sighed as he locked himself into the Shrieking Shack and activated the
wards that had been laid into the wood when he was a child. While the
Wolfsbane potion Severus brewed eased the pain of his transformations and
made him little more dangerous than a real wolf, it was still safer to lock
himself away than risk the wild animal he became harming any of his
students.

Looking around the deceptively dilapidated building shouldn't have filled
him with such melancholy.  Nothing had really changed, not really. He'd
spent far more years chained up inside this or another cell than he'd ever
spent roaming free with his friends. With his pack.

Sure, there'd been that little while when he'd thought things might be
different. When he'd held out hope that he and Sirius and Harry could become
the family they all needed -- the family they should have been all along. 
It was true that for a while there he'd looked forward to the full moon.
Looked forward to the times when he could run and play side-by-side with a
large black dog.  Dreamed of a time when Moony and Padfoot would rule the
night together, free and untouched by the concerns of the world around them.

Yet it was not to be, and a part of him had always known that.  A part of
him, the part used to disappointment and loneliness, had known it wouldn't
last.  That part had been preparing him for this night ever since Remus had
first learned of Sirius's escape from Azkaban.  So it was nothing new that
he should find himself alone once again.  A not unexpected fact of life he'd
survived before and would survive again.

But as the skin on his back split and his bones ground against one another
as they shifted, Remus could not help wishing the dream were real.

Minutes later, the wolf that stood shaking in Remus's place had none of
those thoughts.  His was a simpler existence, unaware of the troubles that
plagued his human side.  Eat, fight, mate, and sleep were the only concepts
he had any interest in.  But as the pain of his awakening subsided and he
got the chance to look around his lair, he knew something was not right.

Where was his pack? The strange creatures he'd befriended and chosen to
spend his life with, playing with and protecting each other and their
territory? The stag, the rat, and the dog? They should have been here when
he awoke, should have met him with happy greetings and offered comfort.  Yet
even as he thought that, he realised it had been a very long time since he'd
seen them.  Were they dead? Lost?

Fearing the worst but refusing to accept his pack would abandon him, the
wolf sat back on his haunches and let loose the loudest howl he could.  His
call was perfectly pitched to travel for miles without the slightest echo,
lest his missing packmates be unable to follow the sound back to him.  He
listened attentively for long, agonizing minutes afterward, straining to
hear any answer.

Nothing. Nothing but silence, deep and endless.  Moony hung his head, a
mournful whine escaping his throat as he forced himself to accept the
inevitable.  His pack was gone, and he was alone.

Something scratched at the door.

Whirling, the wolf leapt to his feet to face the source of the noise. 
They'd come back to him!  Hope exploded within him, but even as it did he
struggled to check the emotion.  His pack had been gone a long time, and
they'd surely have answered him if they'd heard his call.  But if this were
an intruder, trespassing on his territory and challenging his authority...
maybe even the one responsible for taking away his pack... well then it was
in for a fight!  Moony widened his stance, bracing his powerful body to meet
whomever or whatever came through that door.  His lips curled back over his
teeth, giving him both a more menacing appearance and allowing him to better
catch the scents on the air.  He was ready.

The door swung open, and a black blur barreled into him before his brain
even had a chance to register that it knew this creature.  Instinctively, he
rolled and pinned his attacker, prepared to clamp his teeth unto its neck
and teach the insolent pup a lesson it would not soon forget.

He was therefore highly surprised when his attacker responded not by biting
at him, but dragged a rough tongue up the side of his face.

Rearing in shock, he pulled back far enough to see. The familiar shape of
the dog grinning at him clicked in his mind at the same instant as the
well-loved scent did.  Wuffling in joy, Moony nuzzled and nipped at Padfoot
in ecstatic welcome.

Overcome by euphoria, all his worries of before forgotten, the wolf wasn't
paying attention to his surroundings until he felt something nudge him in
the back.  Momentarily confused because Padfoot was still pinned under his
weight, Moony didn't react to the nudging until he felt it again. Then he
lifted his head to meet the doeful brown gaze of a stag.

Prongs! Excited all over again, the wolf bounded off the dog to go rub noses
with the deer.  As long as it had been since he'd played with Padfoot, it
felt like ages since he'd last seen the stag. And if Prongs was here... he
peered around the buck's bulk, looking expectantly for the rat that would
complete his little pack.

He whined plaintively, unable to see the small creature in its customary
position atop of Prongs's back.  Wormtail?

Padfoot growled threateningly in response to his summons, but Prongs lowered
his great head full of antlers in sorrow.  Moony understood.  Wormtail would
not be joining them, not ever again.

Giving himself a shake to clear the unhappy thoughts that evoked, Moony
yipped playfully and led the way out of his lair. Padfoot and Prongs
followed willingly, quickly catching up to the silver wolf that beckoned
them to come play in the forest.

Wormtail may not have been with them anymore, but he had Padfoot and Prongs
and Moony was not about to weep for the memories of times long gone.  There
was no point clinging to a past he could not change.  Rather he had a chance
to relive the good times of his pack's heyday, and he was not about to let
it pass him by. He didn't stop to think about how they'd come just when he
needed them most. He didn't stop to wonder where they'd been on all those
other nights. He didn't stop to ask if they'd be around the next time the
moon rose full in the sky. He was just glad they were here now, and that he
wasn't alone anymore.

They were his pack, his friends, and his family.  He would treasure every
moment he had with them.


The End.

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