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Author Notes:

"Close Every Door" is from the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Chapter 40: Close Every Door

Sirius jumped as a sound like someone clapping their hands reverberated down the hall. Damn, I’m nervous. I need to settle down.

Of course, it’s easier to do that when I’m not locked in and alone.

Yes, I’d say this is starting to rank pretty high on my list of all-time bad days.

He sat down on the bed in his cell and stared at the opposite wall. Don’t look at the bars, he reminded himself. You’ll only feel worse. Look at the wall. The nice, boring, white wall.

And be thankful for small blessings. Like light.

The cells each had a panel in the ceiling, which Sirius suspected was a window such as the Ministry of Magic had, but enchanted to give plain white light instead of showing a scene. The effect was very much like Muggle fluorescent lighting.

And it’s starting to give me a headache.

What I wouldn’t give to see real sunlight. What there is of it today. Third shortest day of the year, after all...

And it would have to be a full moon.

Sirius thought back to his Hogwarts years. Remus had usually spent the day before and after a full moon in the hospital wing, because the changes in his body started happening as much as twenty-four hours before the actual moment of moonrise, and the aftereffects could last as long or longer. In winter, when nights were so long, he might spend as much as four days there, two before and two after.

But with Danger with him, he’s barely affected, before or after.

And now, with her gone...

The Aurors had taken Danger away, not quite by force, just after the Pack had been Portkeyed to the Ministry. The moment Remus released her hand, Sirius had seen him pale and his lips tighten. He had been limping when they escorted him away.

Tonight is going to be hard on him. God, I wish I could be with him, I can’t do what Danger does for him, but I could at least help. And he’s going to look terrible at the trial tomorrow... the Wizengamot’s probably going to think I beat him up or something...

The trial. Sirius sighed. They had sent an officious little clerk around to collect his personal data — name, current residence, that sort of thing — and to inform him of the charges against him. Thirteen counts of murder, he knew already. Escaping from Azkaban, ditto. That he was being charged with Harry’s kidnapping had come as something of a surprise.

That one, at least, I can prove I didn’t do, Sirius thought, carefully steering his mind away from further thoughts of Harry. And I’m fairly sure it’s not a crime to break out of jail if you’re innocent. But it’s going to be proving I’m innocent that’s hard. Even if I offer to take truth potion, they’d say I’d done something to circumvent it — been ordered to tell a different story under Imperius, or been Confunded into believing my own story — after all, truth potions only detect whether or not you think you’re telling the truth.

His hands closed slowly into fists. What we need is to find Peter. That’s the only way we could prove, beyond a doubt, that I didn’t do it. Come to think, that would get everyone off the hook — the only charge they have against the others is aiding and abetting me, and if we could prove I’m innocent, that disappears too. Well, and the kidnapping for Remus and Danger, but they were taking Harry to give him back to his legal guardian — me...

The memory of their reunion in the little clearing in Scotland crashed in on Sirius. He recalled with utter clarity the way Harry’s tiny, too-thin face had lit up with joy the moment Sirius had spoken to him — he knew my voice. My face had changed, but he knew my voice.

And we haven’t been parted since then. Except when Malfoy had us, we’ve never been apart, until now...

Memories of that little episode started flooding his mind. Specifically, memories of the utter terror he’d felt when Danger told him where they were — when he had realized he was helpless, trapped, parted from his cubs, and at the mercy of his enemy. The only thing that had held him together through that had been the rest of the Pack.

And now we’re parted too. Now I’m alone.

It was the thought he’d been trying to avoid for almost an hour...

An hour. That’s good. Think about the time. Danger’s dream had been around 12:30, and Moody had arrived at the Den at 12:45. The Portkey had taken effect at 12:52. His last sight of Aletha had been at 12:58. She had been holding her head high, in a pose that made him think of Meghan...

No. Don’t think of Meghan. Don’t think of any of them. You won’t be able to stop...

The Aurors had locked his door at 1:00 exactly, and the file clerk had arrived at 1:07 and left at 1:19. It was 1:50 now. He looked at his watch again. 1:51.

Sunset is around four. And with sunset comes moonrise...

If we were home now, we’d be setting up for den-night — no, wait, we did that already, this morning after breakfast. I wonder what the Aurors who searched the Den thought of all the mattresses on the floor in the room with the Christmas tree?

The Christmas tree. Christmas Eve is tomorrow. We’re going to be tried on Christmas Eve. There’s something ironic about that, but I can’t pinpoint it.

Oh, wait, could it possibly be that we’re not supposed to be getting tried at all? Because we aren’t criminals? That we ought to be home, with our cubs, getting ready for the holiday, not here, in jail, with no idea where the cubs are or even if they’re alive, separated, alone...

He was either going to cry or scream in a moment, he didn’t know which.

"Someone help me," he whispered fervently. "Please."

The chain he wore around his neck seemed to grow warmer.


Aletha walked back and forth in her cell, spacing her steps to match the beat of her heart. It might almost have been called pacing...

I am not pacing. I am not. Nervous people pace. I am not nervous, so therefore I am not pacing.

She sighed, admitting defeat.

Yes, I am. Pacing, and nervous.

Her mind was spinning. It had all happened so fast. Less than two hours ago, the Pack had been happy, secure, together. And now, they were scattered, separated from their cubs — three of them were missing altogether —

She pulled her thoughts away from that. At least I know where Meghan is. She’s safe at the Weasleys’. Molly and Arthur will take good care of her.

Possibly for a lot longer than I want to think about.

Her mind skittered from her child to her child’s father, her husband, her lover and beloved. Sirius. Oh, God, this must be terrible for you. I wish I could do something to help you, anything, but I can’t, I’m here, and you’re there, and I can’t get to you...

Danger’s voice echoed in her head.

"The eagle-hearted truth must give

"The star the sound that helped him live..."

Aletha froze mid-step. Maybe I can’t get out... but a sound could. Can. Will. She clapped her hands, and the sound echoed satisfyingly along the corridor beyond the barred door.

But what kind of sound helped Sirius to live?

She sat down and closed her eyes, thinking of her husband, her mate, her other half, the only man she had ever loved, or ever wanted to love. Those months when I thought he had betrayed Lily and James, and killed all those people, were terrible. I don’t know how much longer I could have gone on that way.

From there, it was only a short step to the moment of their reunion in her music room, and from there to the conversations they had had over the next few days. One in particular began to surface. Aletha held herself back carefully and allowed the memory to emerge on its own. It’s like a child — like a shy child — the way Draco was when he first came to us. You make an overture, then allow it to make the next move.

And gradually, the memory became clear to her.


"My legs were starting to get tired," Sirius said, holding a dozing Harry on his lap. It was a few days after the escape from Azkaban, and the Pack — only we weren’t the Pack then, not yet — was all gathered in one room to hear the story. "And I still thought I was going mad. So I decided I wanted to hear you playing, Aletha — and I did. It was the one that goes like this." He hummed a series of notes, five ascending, the last three again, then repeating.

"All right, now that’s scary," Aletha said. "Because I was playing that the night you escaped. After I got home from burgling the museum. And I was thinking of you while I was doing it."

"It’s possible we may have been connected somehow," Remus suggested. "Danger’s magic is still unpredictable. She might have connected us all, the way she and I are connected, but less strongly and temporarily."

"And that would explain where I got the kind of power to pull you in to land that way," Danger said. "If I had everyone’s magic to draw on and not just my own. I was watching you, you know," she said to Remus and Sirius. "In my dream. I knew I was dreaming, I knew I was still in the truck, but I could see you out there, and I could hear you talking to me, Remus. I heard you say that you weren’t going to make it, and..." She shrugged. "I did something about it."

"And I’m so very glad you did," Remus said lightly as Neenie cuddled up against him.

"You saved my life, you know," Sirius said softly to Aletha as Remus and Danger became otherwise occupied. "With the music. I forgot I was tired, listening to you. You’re probably the only reason I made it."

"Then I’m so glad you could hear me," Aletha said, leaning her head on his shoulder and allowing herself to rest secure in the comfort of her love’s presence in her life, a presence that, if she had her way, would never depart...


My music. That’s what I can give him. I can sing. I can tell him he’s not alone. No matter how many doors are between us, I’m still here with him.

And with that, she even knew what to sing. A piece by the same composer who was responsible for their favorite love-song duet, but in a very different style, it had originally been intended for a man’s voice, but transferred just fine to a woman’s...

And it’s perfectly in context. The singer has been imprisoned for something he didn’t do, and the story has a happy ending.

She stood and faced the door, closing her eyes. The chain around her neck warmed, as if approving of what she planned to do. Inhaling deeply, she hummed a note, allowing the hum to grow in intensity until the very walls seemed to be ringing with it.

That’s good. It’ll do for a starting note.

She imagined the introduction. Two sets of solemn chords on the piano... and then...

Close every door to me

Hide all the world from me

Bar all the windows

And shut out the light

She bit off the t-sounds hard, overemphasizing on purpose.

Do what you want with me

Hate me and laugh at me

Darken my daytime

And torture my night

Her voice ascended the scale, then fell in skips.

If my life were important, I

Would ask, will I live or die

But I know the answers

Lie far from this world

A return to the main theme.

Close every door to me

Keep those I love from me

She was amazed at the feeling she could put into that line.

Children of Israel are never alone

This theme had a different ending, upward-turning, hopeful.

For we know we shall find

Our own peace of mind

For we have been promised

A land of our own...


Don’t stop. Please, don’t stop, Sirius pleaded silently with his wife. Please, don’t stop yet. I’m almost there...

Her hum had come so quickly after his half-voiced plea for help that he could almost believe she’d heard him. He hadn’t heard it at first, and when he had, had almost dismissed it as something normal — but when she had begun to sing, he hadn’t been able to stop listening. And the song was doing something for him.

It’s as if she turned on the light in my brain. I’m not alone. I may be alone right here, right now, but I’m never really alone. Not while I’m Pack. And not with this. He touched the pendant hanging against his chest. It has a little of everyone in it. No matter how far we are from each other, we’ll always be together in our hearts.

He wasn’t quite at the peace of mind the song was talking about, but he was getting there...

Aletha began to sing again.

Just give me a number

Instead of my name

Forget all about me

And let me decay

Sirius smiled, in spite of the content of the lyrics. No one, but no one, does venom like Letha. Not even Snape could sing it like that.

The image of Severus Snape belting out a musical theatre tune almost made him laugh and miss the next stanza.

I do not matter

I’m only one person

Destroy me completely

Then throw me away

Her voice flew effortlessly to the high notes.

If my life were important, I

Would ask, will I live or die

But I know the answers

Lie far from this world

She changed keys upward and slowed down for what must be the final chorus.

Close every door to me

Keep those I love from me

Children of Israel are never alone

For we know we shall find

Our own peace of mind

For we have been promised

A land of our own

Sirius shook his head in wonder. Can that woman’s voice ever carry. I have no idea where she is, but I could hear her as well as if she were standing right next to me.

And I feel like she is.

Thank you so much, love. That was exactly what I needed. No more despair. No more self-pity. Dumbledore was right — the truth is on our side. We’ll come out of this all right. Somehow.


At 2 o’clock that afternoon, a Healer arrived at the holding cells. Her mission was twofold — examine a female prisoner who was unconscious, reason unknown, and interview a male lycanthrope.

She shuddered as she stepped from the fireplace, remembering the last time she had been in this place. This is exactly why I changed specialties into research in the first place, so I would never have to come here again...

But that was then, and this is now. You don’t know this woman. You can’t possibly know her.

She followed the Auror-trainee down the maze of corridors and into a small infirmary, where her patient lay unconscious.

Wait a second. Do I know her?

The face, relaxed as if in sleep, hovered just on the edge of familiar. No, I don’t know her. Not exactly. I think I may have been introduced to her at some point. But it was a long time ago.

Banishing these perplexing puzzles for another time, she conducted her routine examination, and was left even more puzzled than when she had started.

She seems perfectly healthy — her body at least — but she’s completely unresponsive. The closest thing I’ve ever seen to this is... She swallowed hard. She had only been up to the long-term care wards a few times in her career, and the one reserved for patients who were entirely incapacitated only once, as a trainee. And one of the people she had seen there had been a victim of the Dementor’s Kiss.

She shook her head decisively. No. She can’t have been Kissed. What would a dementor be doing this far from Azkaban?

Still, it seems very similar. As if her soul was somehow missing from her body — as if they’d been disconnected in some way...

"I can’t make anything out of it," she told the mediwizard who usually staffed the infirmary. "The only thing to do would be wait and hope she comes out of it on her own."

The wizard sighed. "I was afraid that’s what you’d say," he said dejectedly. "Do you want to see the other one now?"


He escorted her through a door at the back of the infirmary. "The quarantine cells," he explained. "There’s only the one way out, so you won’t get lost. It’s the third one along here, on the right. These are observation cells, so there’s a front space you can go in, with a chair, in case you stay more than a few minutes."

"Thank you." She didn’t plan to stay more than a few minutes. The werewolf was likely to be angry, bitter, frightened, and all in all not very cooperative. She would try to get answers to a few basic questions, and ask permission to observe his transformation, which she was sure would be declined — it always was. Werewolves were very touchy about allowing people to see them at their moment of greatest vulnerability.

With these thoughts in her head, she walked the short distance down the hall, until she was in front of the occupied cell. The occupant was sitting on the lower bunk, knees drawn up to his chest, head down, shoulders shaking. Gently, she cleared her throat to announce her presence. "Excuse me," she said when he didn’t respond. "I’m Healer Tonks, I’d like to ask you—"

The man’s head shot up. "Andy?" he said hoarsely, staring at her.

Andromeda dropped her quill.

"Remus?" she said in disbelief. "Remus Lupin?"

Her cousin’s best friend gave her a slightly watery smile. "No one else." He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped his cheeks, which were tear-stained. "May I offer you a seat?" He gestured to the chair in the front area of the cell, which was separated from the back by a second set of bars.

"Of course."

My plans have just changed. Dramatically.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, knowing it was a stupid question even as she asked it.

Remus shrugged. "I’ve been asking myself the same question for about an hour. I suppose they think I’ve committed a crime."

His sense of humor was even drier than she remembered. And decidedly more acidic.

"You’re a werewolf, then."

"Since I was little."

"Before Hogwarts?"

He nodded. "Dumbledore made arrangements so I could attend."

Of course he did. He believes the best of everyone. "Did Sirius know?"

"He did and does."

"You know where he is?"

Remus smiled without any real humor. "Take a walk around this place. You’ll find him somewhere."

"He’s been arrested?"

"We all were."

"All," Andromeda repeated.

"Sirius, Aletha, Danger, and myself."

Andy vacillated between two questions, and went with the one she understood least. "Danger?"

"My wife," Remus said shortly. "You’ve probably seen her, or will see her. Brown bushy hair, unconscious, no telling when or if she’ll recover."

"I’m so sorry," Andromeda said sincerely. "I did see her. I examined her, actually."

"Any insights?" It was said lightly, but Andy could sense a desperate longing behind it, a need to know something, anything, about how his wife was.

"No. I’m sorry." She was not, absolutely not, going to tell him the only similarity that had come to her mind. He was already emotionally overloaded — knowing that his wife’s soul seemed to be missing would probably make him hysterical, and she was not in the mood to see a hysterical werewolf.

"It’s all right," Remus said quietly, pressing a hand against his chest for a moment.

"So what does Aletha have to do with this?" Andy asked, trying to get the conversation back on a lighter track.

Remus gave a small smile. "You know Aletha’s daughter?"

"Yes. Meghan, wasn’t it?"

"It is." His smile grew. "She’s your cousin."

"How so?" But the moment Andromeda had asked, the answer came out of nowhere and hit her in the face. "Sirius," she breathed. "She’s Sirius’ daughter. Isn’t she."

"She is that."

"I should have known," Andy murmured. "I should have known. I just never bothered to put the pieces together."

"Pieces?" Remus asked, frowning.

"I knew that Aletha had Draco," Andy explained, fitting it together as she spoke. "And I knew that a boy named Harry, who was Draco’s age, claimed to be Draco’s cousin. And of course everyone knows that Sirius Black has Harry Potter."

"Yes, that’s true," Remus said in bemusement. "But I would love to know how you knew those first two things you mentioned."

Andy smiled with just a trace of smugness. "My Dora," she said. "She spotted Draco under his glamour and wrote me about it. Both times."

Remus smiled ruefully. "Wonderful. Found out by — an eleven-year-old, wasn’t she?"

"The first time."

They talked for a little longer about the strange, eclectic family that Remus called the Pack, brushing past the topic of Sirius — Andy made a mental note to ask more specifically about him later — and finally she worked the conversation around to the topic of lycanthropy, and how Remus dealt with it.

"Do you send the children away at the full moon?" she asked.

"No, we all sleep in the same room. They used to sleep on top of me, actually. That’s gotten more problematic as they’ve gotten bigger — now they just use me for a pillow."

Andy laughed. Then she took another look at his face.

He wasn’t joking.

"But... that’s..."

"Impossible?" Remus suggested. "Insane?"

To put it mildly. "Only a little."

"You’ve heard of the Wolfsbane Potion?"

Of course I’ve heard of it, I helped develop it. "Yes."

"Danger has magic that works similarly to the potion. We call her a werewolf tamer. Under her influence, I don’t lose my mind in the change." He smiled thinly. "And I haven’t undergone a change without her since we met, almost nine years ago."

Oh. Oh, dear. "And she has to be conscious to work the magic?"

"I don’t know," Remus admitted. "But since I can’t be with her, it won’t matter much." He turned his head to stare away from her. "The hardest part of this, for me, is being alone," he said almost too quietly for her to hear. "When you live in a house with three other adults — one of them Sirius Black — and four children, you’re never alone for long. And Danger and I share a... special connection. We could always sense each other’s presence. But I can’t sense her now. And that scares me."

"Is there anything I can do?" Andromeda asked impulsively.

"If..." Remus seemed to be having a hard time even saying it. "If there was any way we could be together. One last time. If there was some way to have the others here, or nearby — it wouldn’t be safe for them to be in with me when I transform, but just having them near would help." He turned back to her. "This might be our last night outside Azkaban. It would be nice to spend it together."

"If there’s anything I can do, I will," Andy promised. She bit her lip. It was going to be terrible of her to ask this, but it was part of the job she’d come here to do... "Remus?"


"Is there any way you’d consider... letting me watch?"

"Watch me transform?" He looked vaguely revolted by the idea. "It’s not pretty. And I warn you, the wolf’s likely to be more than usually violent tonight. He’s been caged for a long time. You are aware that werewolves self-mutilate if denied human prey?"


"I have a suspicion that the wolf wants revenge on me, for meeting Danger, for taming him for these last eight years." He met her eyes. "He might manage to kill me."

It took her a moment to sort out the pronouns and realize what he meant. "You’re not saying..."

"It is a possibility. I thought you should be warned."

Andy sorted through his words, his tones, and his body language, as Healers were taught to do and mothers learned by instinct, and came up with a terrible conclusion. "You want to die," she said, managing to keep her tone in horrified territory, just short of accusing. "You think your wife is dead, so you want to die."

Remus did not answer.

"What about the rest of your Pack?" she challenged. "What about Sirius and Letha, and your cubs?" She used his word for his children deliberately, and was pleased to see him flinch. I’m getting through. "Even if your wife is dead — which I don’t believe, and I’m a trained Healer — you have other people to live for. Don’t you dare give up yet, Remus Lupin. Don’t you dare."

She got up.

"Where are you going?" Remus asked, startled by her abrupt movement.

"I’m going to talk to Aletha," Andromeda said, resolve filling her. "And maybe to Sirius. And then I’m going to talk to someone in charge around here, and find out exactly what the rules are about housing two or more people in the same cell. It’s not over yet, Remus. Don’t give up. Please."

"All right," Remus said with a sigh. "I won’t."


"I promise." He smiled slightly. "Bossy Andy." It had been Sirius’ nickname for her.

"Always." Andromeda returned his smile. "One more thing. When is moonrise tonight? Exactly?"

"3:58," Remus answered promptly.

Andy checked her watch. It was 2:26. "All right. I’ll be back in about an hour to let you know how I’m coming."

She stayed just long enough to hear Remus’ "All right" before hurrying down the hall, purpose in her steps.

I have an hour and a half to save a man’s life.

Every minute counts.

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