Title: Let It All Come Down (The Dead Can't Dance Overdub)
Author: Laura Smith / romanticalgirl
Summary: Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Remus Lupin
Original story: Caught in a Downpour by roga
Remus hates the rain. He’d hated it since he was a child and couldn’t afford the proper clothes, when he would look around and see all the people dressed in slickers with matching boots, carrying brightly coloured bumbershoots as they rushed from one place to the next, treating the spattering raindrops like a game.
He hated when carriages and cars would go by, depending on where he was, and splatter him with the brownish muck of mud, staining the one pair of trousers he had so that he’d have to spend the evening either washing them out or watching his mother do it without complaint. Nowadays the rain simply reminds him that he’s not come very far at all. He’s older and taller, supposedly wiser, but he doesn’t feel anything even close to that. Mostly, he simply feels wet all the way down to his bones.
He’s gotten used to the feeling lately especially, the rain falling hard and fast and relentless in the wake of Dumbledore’s death, in the wake of so many others falling, soldiers in a war some of them had no idea they were fighting. He shivers as the wind gusts up around him, the thin fabric of his shirt clinging to his skin. This morning there had been sun and warmth and, for a moment, Remus had allowed himself to hope for a better day.
“Foolish,” he mutters to himself as the wind kicks up again, leaving ripples on the surface of the puddles, sending raindrops like needles driving into his skin. It reminds him again of all he lacks. He fails to live up to the expectations – his own, Harry’s, Dumbledore’s, Tonks’, James’s, Lily’s, Sirius’s. He fails to be brave enough or strong enough or have sense enough to get in out of the rain.
It’s almost a mockery that he’s the last of his friends alive, the last of his family. He should have been killed ages ago or exiled, he should have died a thousand times over and would have, save for Sirius and James and Lily intervening on his behalf, save for Dumbledore stepping in when no one else would. Remus knows he’s mourning, knows he needs to let the past go and look toward the future, strive to help there be one, and yet he can’t do it. Perhaps it’s because he feels there is no future now.
It’s surely a sign of something that he’s talking to himself, walking in the rain and ignoring the fact that he has a perfectly serviceable wand, that he’s a magician of high order who could easily Apparate himself home. Still, the rain might wash away something if he stands in it long enough, wash away whatever it is that seems to pool around his boots in the mud.
It’s not himself anymore though, not since the Ministry. It’s like a grey ghost lingering in his mind, a voice that won’t quite die when he closes his eyes. He’s read enough philosophy and religious texts to know that it’s an accepted myth – a little voice only he can hear, a conscience he should listen to. He would believe it, after all, he has believed many impossible things only to have them be true, were it not for the fact that the voice is Sirius, who could, at no time, be considered the moral high ground for anyone.
“Unfair, I know.” He wants to smile, but he’s given up on smiles long ago now, save for the tired lift of the corners of his lips when the voices he hears mock him incessantly, reminding him of good times, of mischief when there was nothing more to worry about than being caught out by Filch. “Though being dead does work to your advantage when it comes to memories. You don’t have to live with the consequences.”
Remus does. Remus has to be the one to watch Harry flounder, watch him move from place to place and year to year trying to find his way. Has to watch this boy become a man under the scrutiny of the world, under the power of a charmed life. “Charmed. Yes, well.” It would be a joke if it weren’t so horrific. The Muggle world has always thought of charms as lucky things, auspicious and fortuitous. He knows better. They’ve all learned now, even the Muggles, living under the cloud of darkness that Voldemort has brought over England.
He shakes drops of rain off of him, the cold seeping in. Perhaps it’s just the thought of that name, or perhaps it’s some psychological ghost story he’s telling himself. Either way, he grips his wand tightly, holding it for reassurance or protection or defense. Against everything and nothing. Against dangers real and imagined. Against all the things he hasn’t managed to achieve, to live up to.
“It’s easy for ghosts.”
He laughs at himself to cool the rage boiling inside him. It’s loneliness, he knows. It’s hurt and pain at being the only one left, the one who has to carry all the burdens of his generation. He knows doing it helps ease some of the weight from Harry’s shoulders, which Harry deserves. He’s still a boy, a child in so many ways behind the façade of adulthood forced on him the moment Dumbledore brought him to Hogwarts. It shames him a bit that he’s pushed it all aside, gone to the space inside himself where no one can find him, where no one could ever bring him back from.
No one but Sirius.
He can hear him now if he listens hard enough, mocking him, calling him names. His voice carried in on echoes of the past. Chiding Remus for being out in the rain, for crawling inside himself, for hiding from everyone who loves and needs him. He can hear Sirius nagging him about needing a new coat as they stomped the snowy path to Hogsmeade. He remembers the ache in Sirius’s voice when he talked about needing to be with Harry, to be there for Harry, and he feels guilty and sick, knowing that he’s had the opportunity that Sirius literally died for and he’s tossed it all away.
“You’ve made your point,” he whispers to the air around him before he Apparates home. It’s easy to clean up after that, easy to appear nothing more than a staid man, probably a Professor, staring out his window and the still dark sky. He’ll send an owl to Harry in the morning, remind him that he isn’t alone. Remind himself that, though he may never be James or Sirius or Dumbledore, he can still be something just as valuable to Harry, to the world.
He can be Remus and simply trust that it’s enough.