The wind howled through the treetops that lined the start of the darkened forest. It was a wailing sound, a sound that seemed to soften Remus Lupin's heart as he stared out across the grounds of the school, green grass leading up to the forest's edge in front, the Quidditch pitch at his back. The sky was overcast, a gray light blurring the outlines of the many clouds that gathered in bunches above him, making the world seem ephemeral in the coming darkness.
Standing alone, even as he had thought in the past that it would never happen, had been ASSURED that it would never happen, and yet here he was. Lost was a brother who had been there for him in the beginning, befriending him first on the train to school, his glasses slipping down his nose and his smile wide. Lost was a brother who had never failed to keep him company during the full moon, especially after school ended, not caring that a rat alone could not stop a wolf when the stag and the dog were off somewhere else.
And gone was the one who would love him until the end of his days. Who would come to him only a few years prior to the present, tangled black hair dripping and blue eyes steady as the words, "I never stopped loving you, Remus," poured from his tightened, chapped lips.
Who could have seen the outcome of the four? Who could have guessed that they would be torn apart by death and betrayal?
Remus sighed, the wind whipping his graying hair sideways as he stared out across the grounds, wet gaze flitting over the white-capped mountains in the distance as the wind wailed again, echoing his soul as a memory surfaced.
Four boys stood, backs against the Quidditch pitch as they stood side by side on the edge of the hill that overlooked the west part of the grounds that surrounded Hogwarts. It was early evening, and it was nearing the end of their Seventh year at school.
A comfortable silence overtook them. The first boy, who had spindly limbs and black messy hair that stuck up in the back, sighed. He raised his right arm and placed it around the shoulders of the taller boy next to him. This second boy had longer black hair that fell over the edge of his collar and broad shoulders. He copied the move of the first boy, placing both of his arms over the shoulders of both boys next to him. The third boy, to the second's right, had light brown hair that curled slightly over his ears, and he was taller than the rest of them, his frame thin and wiry. His right arm settled around the shoulders of the fourth boy, the shortest one, whose shaggy blond hair whipped around in the wind.
"I see myself falling in love," said the second boy, breaking the silence. His blue eyes raked over the trees in the distance. "I see myself finding one person that I will never stop loving, who will love me back despite all of my faults."
"Like your overly-good looks and your quick mind?" asked the first boy sarcastically. "Yeah, Sirius, who would ever love someone like you, with faults like that?"
"I'll find someone, James," said Sirius, smiling sideways at his friend. "You'll see. What do you see for yourself in the future?"
A look of complete contemplation settled on James' face for a few moments, and then he smiled wistfully. "I see myself with a child. A son. He'll be good at Quidditch, and he'll have a good heart." He grinned. "And maybe he'll even be famous, one day."
"You'll make a great dad," the fourth boy said quietly, his watery blue-gray eyes skating across the tops of the mountains at the edge of the horizon. "I always thought you would."
"Thanks, Peter," James said with a smile. "What do you see in your future?"
Peter shrugged, the hand that had settled on his right shoulder squeezing comfortingly. "I see myself as somebody important. Someone with a name and a purpose, you know? Maybe somebody that will even change the course of the Wizarding world as we know it." He paused, and then said, "Somebody that people will admire, and think about, and even fear."
"You ARE important," the third boy said quietly. "And who needs to be feared?"
"People who are feared are important in some way or another, Remus," said Peter just as quietly. He glanced over at the thin boy next to him. "What about you? What do you see in your future?"
"And before you start," Sirius butted in, "you better say something good, Moony. None of that depressing stuff about you dying before the age of thirty or anything. Think of something happy for yourself. Maybe being cured in the future?"
"No," Remus smiled sadly. "I don't see myself getting cured. But thanks for the thought." He squinted his brown eyes against the explosion of pink and orange where the sun was setting behind one of the distant mountains. "I see us four together, grumpy old chaps talking about the old Marauding days to anyone who will listen, who will be nobody, because everyone will have heard it before. I see us being friends until the end of all of our days, a very, very long time from now."
A silence settled between the boys again as they stood, lost in their own thoughts. Remus felt Sirius' arm slip down to circle around his waist, the broad hand squeezing his side. "I think Remus has the best one," Sirius said out loud. "I mean, the rest of ours are good, but since Remus' prediction makes the most sense, and he's the best of us at that Divination rubbish, his has the most winning chance of coming true."
"I agree," Peter said quickly. "We'll all live to be old men, senile and a bit batty like Dumbledore, won't we?"
"Yes, and we'll still be sitting around, talking about anything and everything as friends," James added. "I would even place bets on it. Remus' is the one that WILL come true, and the rest of ours are just wishes, I think."
"No," Remus said. "All of ours will come true. I can feel it."
Sirius snorted. "The day I fear Peter is the day Snape will be my ally."
"Hey!" Peter said indignantly. "I can be fearsome!"
"Stop it," Remus said. "You two are ruining the moment."
"Yeah, kids, Remus is trying to be serious," James said, smiling.
"It'll never happen," Sirius grumbled good-naturedly. The four fell into a silence again, and they stayed that way, watching the sun set.
Dusk fell upon them suddenly, the darkened outline of the forest and the blackened lumps that were mountains making the approaching nighttime an eerie shadow. The dark field of green grass was now a desolate wasteland, for the Quidditch pitch lights were off, the last game of the school year not scheduled until the following week. The four boys stood quite still, not wanting to break the silent spell that had been cast over their life in that moment, making it seem as if the second that the silence was broken, their lives would spiral in a head rush towards the unknown.
"We'll get detention if we stay out here much longer," Peter said, breaking the spell. He stepped out of the line, looking back to the castle. Remus turned, also, feeling an odd sort of loss at the absence of the arm around his waist as he gazed upon the twinkling of the lighted windows of the castle nearby. Sirius and James both turned around, and the four began their trek back to school, to life, and to the unknown. The only certainty between the four was Remus' prediction, for he WAS the best at Divination, and it DID make the most sense.
Feeling tears pricking his eyes, Remus noticed that darkness had fallen in the time that his mind was lost in the memory that had happened so long ago, in an age where trust and friendship had overruled caution and practicality. All three of his friends were gone, and the only one left besides himself was the shell of a former friend, now a twisted and evil reminder of the boy Remus had once been friends with. The Peter he had known in school was gone like James.
And now, gone like Sirius.
Briefly, Remus wondered if Peter knew about Sirius. If he even cared. Probably not, but Remus hoped that somewhere, deep inside, Peter had the same memory that had just moments before played through his own mind.
The memory of four boys, making predictions about the future. The memory of the firm acceptance and belief of one prediction, Remus' own, that all four boys had shared inside themselves.
The one out of the four that had not come to pass.