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Chapter 6: Feathers in the Wings of Time
Disclaimer: I do not own the world of Harry Potter, nor do I own its characters. They belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended.
This chapter is slightly different from the others because I switch POV somewhere in the middle of the chapter (which is due to the chapter’s length). You should be able to tell. ;)
- Jean Paul Richter
The last day of Emilie’s life as a fifteen-year old was, coincidentally, the most boring of them all. She reread ‘The Woman in White’ in her father’s backyard, cleaned her room and the kitchen, and ended up watching three reruns of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ on her father’s telly. It was therefore without any regrets at all that she went to bed that night, eager to leave her life as a fifteen-year old behind.
She awoke early the next day, to the sweet smell of flowers and, surprisingly enough, pancakes. She was still trying to shake off the last tendrils of sleep when her father kissed her on her cheek.
“Happy birthday, Emilie.”
Emilie opened her eyes, a content feeling washing over her as she remembered that it was, indeed, her birthday. “Thanks, dad,” she smiled, giving him a quick peck on his cheek. She cast a hesitant glance at the foil-covered plate on her nightstand. “Are those… pancakes?”
“Why yes,” her father said, puffing out his chest in pride. “Baked them myself, I did.”
The corners of her lips quirked up, and she gave him a uncertain look as she reached for the plate. She hesitantly lifted the aluminium foil from the plate and, to her surprise, found a pile of perfectly-baked, toasty pancakes.
“Wow,” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “You finally got it right!”
Her father shrugged nonchalantly, but the grin upon his face gave away how proud he, in fact, was. “About time, too,” he said. “Gaby gave me some tips.”
Emilie felt her smile fade, but she quickly stopped herself, and decided that she wouldn’t let Gaby ruin her birthday.
“Oh, hey,” her father continued, reaching behind him. “What about your present? Close your eyes, now.”
“Okay,” Emilie said slowly, letting her eyes fall shut. Her father grabbed her hands and turned them so that the palms of her hands were facing the ceiling. “Happy sweet sixteen, dear,” he said gently, and she felt him placing a present into her hands.
Her eyes fluttered open, and she curiously studied the package in her hands. “Thanks, dad,” she smiled, and she carefully turned the present in her hands.
“You don’t even know what’s in it yet,” he remarked, urging her on, an eager smile curling his lips. “Come on, then, open it!”
She tore at the wrapping paper excitedly, her heart jumping when she recognized the box. “Oh dad,” she breathed out, biting on her lip as she removed the last bit of paper and opened the box. She was holding a brand-new, pocket-size Kodak Instamatic 56X. “How did you…?”
Her father gave his shoulders a light shrug, and smiled. “Your mother told me you were dying to have a photo camera, and Gaby assured me that this was the best model available. It’s very popular in Germany.”
And, for the first time in her life, Emilie felt a surge of gratitude towards the woman that had taken her dad away from her. “She did? Really?”
Nodding, her father sat down beside her. “That’s why we went shopping last Saturday. To get you your present.”
A hesitant smile spread across her lips. “Really? I thought…” she didn’t finish her sentence, still a bit overwhelmed by her present. It must’ve cost a fortune!
“I know I haven’t been around much,” her father started, clasping her hand tight in both of his. “And I’m sorry, sweetheart. It’s just… work’s been very busy. I’ll make up for it, all right?” He shot her an apologetic look, his dark brown eyes gently staring down into hers. “I already asked Thursday and Friday off. We could go somewhere, if you’d like,” he said.
She smiled, gingerly fingering the contours of the camera. “I’d like that,” she admitted, glancing up at him. “Thanks, dad.” And she reached up and kissed him on his cheek. “It’s absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to show it to Remus!”
Her father laughed, almost as though he knew something she didn’t. “Remus… yes, I’m certain he can’t wait to see your present, sweetheart. Better get dressed, then!” He gave her hand a squeeze and stood up from her bed, the mattress veering slightly. “I have to be off now. Have a good day, Em.”
He kissed her on her forehead and gave her another smile before he left, muttering “All grown-up…” under his breath.
“So… whatever you do,” Remus said, a mysterious smile upon his lips, “you can’t look, all right?”
She bit on her lip. “All right,” she agreed, giving him an inquisitive look. “Where will we be going?”
He shook his head. “It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, now would it? Just close your eyes…” When she didn’t immediately close her eyes, he blew out a frustrated sigh and moved behind her. “Oh, never mind,” he said, clasping his hands before her eyes. “I’ll do it for you.”
Giggling uncertainly, she let Remus steer her out of their street. His hands upon her face felt warm and gentle, although it was slightly uncomfortable to have him walking behind her like that. “Are we there yet?” she asked him teasingly when they’d been walking for a couple of minutes.
“Patience, Emilie,” Remus whispered, and it wasn’t until then - when she felt his breath whizzing over the skin of her neck - that she realized just how near he was. Her cheeks heated up, and she swallowed nervously.
They wandered on for a little bit - Emilie knew they still had to be in Little Angleton, because they were still walking on a hardened road - when Remus suddenly stopped and turned her around. “All right,” he said quietly, his voice low. “No peeking, now.”
She nodded, fighting her curiosity. He lifted one of his hands from her eyes, and suddenly, she felt him grasp her hand. Feeling his body behind her, she bit on her lip, trying to not let her feelings get the best of her. He was just a friend, she reminded herself, doing something special for her birthday.
“Now,” she heard him say, “don’t let this fall, all right?” A squared piece of paper - or was it cardboard? - was placed into her hand.
He removed his other hand from her face, and she could feel him stepping away from her; she immediately missed the warmth of his body.
“You can open your eyes now,” he told her, and she did as she was told, blinking against the sudden flood of sunlight. When her eyes had adjusted to the bright light, she found herself looking into Remus’s eyes, an uncertain smile upon his lips. “Well?” he asked her, his voice slightly nervous.
She glanced down at her hand, surprised to see he had given her a ticket. A train ticket, she discovered after closer investigation, and, turning it around quickly, she read the other side.
Letting out an excited squeal, she flung her arms around him. “London? Oh, Remus…” she said, trying to find the right words. When she couldn’t come up with any adequate words to express her gratitude, she reached up and kissed him on his cheek. Her lips brushed over the rough stubble of his cheek, and she blushed a little when she pulled back. “Thank you,” she said genuinely. “Thank you so much. You have no idea what this means to me.”
Remus, who still seemed a bit overwhelmed by her kiss, smiled lightly. “Well… I knew how much you disliked the idea of spending your holidays here,” he said with a light shrug of his shoulders. “And in London, you can at least visit your friends.”
She smiled widely. “That’d be great.” Noticing the somewhat wistful look on his face, she tilted her head. “You’re coming along, aren’t you?”
Biting his lip, he looked down at her. “I was hoping I could... but only if you want me to,” he said, an uncertain smile curving his lips.
“Of course!” she exclaimed, grabbing his lower arm in excitement. “I’ll show you the Tower Bridge, and the Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament… and…”
He let out a hoarse laugh, a bemused twinkle in his eyes. “You know, I have been in London before.”
“You have?” she asked, but she was only temporarily thrown off. “Oh, but I bet you’ve never seen the bookstores they have on Charing Cross Road, and we simply have got to go to Kensington Gardens - they’re so lovely in the summer!”
Her mind was still going over all the places she had to show him, when he tapped her on her arm. “We better hurry up, Miss Applewhite," he said, giving her a playful wink, "or we’ll miss the train!”
“Or…” Emilie said, “we could go to Greenwich. Lovely park, there, and, oh, what about the Royal Observatory?”
Remus's only answer was an amused smile. The train ride to King’s Cross had taken almost forty-five minutes, and Emilie had discussed London the entire time. He was glad that she was so pleased with his idea; she’d been bubbling over with excitement ever since she’d discovered where he was taking her.
“We’ll see,” he agreed, nodding good-naturedly. “Let’s visit your friends first, shall we?”
He hadn’t believed it to be possible, but her face lit up even more. “Right,” she said. “Let’s start with Alexandra, and then we can go by Liz and Sarah… or maybe it’d save time if we started with Jackie; she lives closest to King’s Cross.”
“Shall we go by Jackie first, then?” he suggested, and he could feel his heart lurching into his throat when she nodded and grasped his hand. There was that smile again. How did she do it?
“Jackie it is,” she smiled. She softly tugged at his arm, and seconds later, they walked past platforms 10 and 9. Unable to suppress a smile, Remus glanced at the wall between the two platforms.
The next time he’d be there, he’d be going back to Hogwarts.
“Okay,” Emilie counselled him as they wandered the streets of London. “Jackie’s a bit… well, nosy, I suppose, but she’s all right when you get to know her.” Her gaze momentarily crossed his, and he assumed she saw the mild distress in his eyes, for she hastily continued, “No need to worry, really. She’s quite nice.”
And Jackie was quite nice, Remus decided after having met her, as were Emilie's other friends. Three hours and four friends later, Emilie and Remus took the tube to Westminster, and walked the rest of the way to St. James’s Park. “Perfect for lunch,” she said, and she glanced at the lake and the large number of ducks swimming in it. “I love to come here after school.”
“Our school is near a lake as well,” Remus told her, grinning as he remembered how James and Sirius had once turned the water a bright shade of pink. “It’s really quite lovely.”
“You’re so lucky,” Emilie agreed. “Scotland sounds beautiful.”
They sat down underneath a large tree, and Remus opened his backpack. “Cheese?” he asked her, handing her a sandwich, “or ham?” He rummaged in his backpack a little longer. “I also brought some apples.”
“Cheese would be fine, thanks,” Emilie smiled, taking the package of sandwiches from him. “You really thought of everything, didn’t you?”
He blushed a little, and gave his shoulders a light shrug. “I wanted you to enjoy your birthday.”
“I did. I’ve had an amazing day, Remus,” she smiled.
Nudging her shoulder, he gave her a wide grin. “Day’s not over yet.”
Emilie shook her head wildly, almost losing her sunhat in the progress. “I'm not.”
Raising his eyebrows, he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. She looked around, her eyes darting from traffic light to shop to street sign, searching for a familiar landmark. “You are so lost,” he said after a few minutes, a light smirk upon his lips.
She absentmindedly chewed on her bottom lip. He realized that he had noticed her doing that numerous times, and he wasn’t sure what it said about them - did it mean that she bit her lip whenever she was nervous, or did it mean that he looked at her lips way too often?
Both were plausible answers, and the latter was definitely true, he finally decided.
“Okay,” she eventually admitted, a sheepish smile upon her face. “Maybe I’m a little bit lost… but we can just ask for directions to Charing Cross Road, right?”
He shrugged, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “A bit lost?”
Looking around, he noticed a pub he vaguely remembered having seen before. “Wait…” he said as he narrowed his eyes, studying the pub’s front, which read, ‘The Stray Sod’. “I’ve been here before.”
He glanced down the alleyway behind the pub, noticing another, more familiar pub in the distance. “Yes,” he said, smiling as he gained more confidence. “I know where we are.”
“Brilliant,” Emilie said, heaving a heavy sigh as she slid her hand into his. “You know my hometown better than I do.”
Remus laughed. “Oh no,” he reassured her. “Just this part, really. Don’t you recognize this street?” he asked as they walked out of the alleyway. He led her straight past the Leaky Cauldron.
“Charing Cross Road,” she immediately gasped, noticing the bookshops and, in the distance, the library. She gave him a dazzling smile. “I told you there were some great bookshops here.”
“I know,” he said, smiling. “I've been here before.” When he noticed her surprised look, he added, “Like you said… Britain’s best bookshops.”
Her excited expression fell slightly. “And here I was hoping that I’d show you a completely new side of London,” she said, pouting a little.
She couldn’t keep her amusement out of her voice, however, so he merely grinned at her little display and poked her in the side. "It's different with you by my side," he told her, and she was just about to reply when a familiar voice rang through the air.
“Remus! Hey, Remus!”
Swiveling around, Remus was met with the laughing face of one of his friends, Peter Pettigrew. Peter’s blonde hair was in disarray, and his watery blue eyes twinkled with joy.
“Peter!” Remus exclaimed in surprise, his smile widening. “What are you doing here?”
“Just came back from Diagon Alley,” Peter said, nodding in the direction of the Leaky Cauldron. “I thought I’d get my supplies early this year.”
Remus winced inwardly at the mention of Diagon Alley, but Emilie didn’t seem to have noticed anything out of the ordinary. “Good thinking,” Remus said to Peter.
The other boy’s face lit up at the compliment. “Yeah, I wanted to make sure the books wouldn’t be sold out. Are you here to get them as well?”
A blush crept upon Remus’s cheeks. “Oh ehm… no, I’m not. We're just exploring London. This is Emilie,” he said, meeting Peter's eyes briefly before gesturing at Emilie. “She’s my neighbour’s daughter.”
“And Remus’s friend,” Emilie added, a pleasant smile upon her lips. “Nice to meet you… Peter, is it?”
Peter nodded, shaking Emilie’s hand briefly before letting it go.
Remus noticed how the other boy was staring at Emilie’s other hand, which was still in Remus's. He was about to let it go when he felt Emilie giving it a light squeeze.
“Is she… uhm,” Peter started uncomfortably, nodding at Emilie. “Is she a…”
Feeling uncomfortable, Remus nodded. He briefly wished there was another term for Muggle, so that he could say it without alerting Emilie.
“I’m a what?” Emilie asked, her curiosity piqued by the words left unspoken.
“Oh, uh,” Peter gulped, giving Remus a panicked glance, “a, uhm… girl.”
One of Emilie’s eyebrows quirked up. “How very observant of you.”
Peter’s cheeks flushed, and Remus bit on his lip in embarrassment. After a nervous cough, he turned his eyes to Peter’s again. “Sirius is living with James now… did you hear?”
“He is?” Peter said, his eyes skittishly darting to Emilie before returning to Remus’s face again. “I hadn’t heard. Good for him, though.”
“That’s for sure,” Remus agreed, and he briefly looked up. The sun-flooded sky had taken on a gloomy shade of grey, and dark clouds were starting to shroud the sun. He felt Emilie’s eyes upon him. “Well, ehm… we should probably get going,” he told Peter, a small smile upon his lips. “It was good to see you again, Wormtail.”
“Same here,” Peter nodded, disappointment tingeing his voice. “I’ll owl you soon!”
Emilie frowned a little, Remus noticed, and one corner of her mouth was drawn upwards, her lips turned into a curious, lopsided smile.
Remus smiled at his friend, nodding. “You'd better.”
Peter looked forlorn for a moment, but then gave them a final smile and turned on his heels, heading straight for the Leaky Cauldron.
A content smile rested upon Remus’s lips. He and Emilie were sitting in an empty train compartment, Emilie's head upon his shoulder, her hair against his cheek. With every breath he toke, he caught a whiff of her perfume, the sweet scent making his head spin.
Her eyes had closed at one point, her eyelashes resting upon her cheeks. It had given him the opportunity to look at her for an unlimited amount of time, and she never had to know.
“I promised your father I’d have you home at eight,” he said after just having counted the freckles spread across her cheeks – there were fifteen, he concluded, if one decided to count the tiny speckle just above her lip.
A small smile appeared on her face, and she briefly opened her eyes, catching him looking at her. “It’s not even six yet.”
Teasingly, he raised one eyebrow. “We’re not home yet.”
“Hmm,” she said, a curious glimmer in her eyes. “Another surprise, Remus?”
He gave her a sheepish grin. “No. Not really. I figured it’d be safer to get back to Little Angleton early… don’t want to upset your father.”
“Worried about my father, are you?” she teased him, giving his lower arm a playful squeeze.
Nodding, he faked a grimace. “Scary fellow, that man is.”
She giggled, and he felt his heart jolting at the mirthful sound. He had to resist the urge to pull her closer against him.
A comfortable silence fell over them. She shut her eyes again, and Remus chose to gaze out of the train window. The sky was darkening rapidly, thunderclouds gathering just above the horizon.
“It’s going to rain soon,” he stated quietly.
Emilie stirred a little, but she kept her eyes closed. “That's a good thing. The weather's been smouldering hot for days now.”
He nodded absentmindedly, his eyes fixed on Emilie’s reflection in the window. The two top buttons of her blouse were opened, revealing the hem of the top she wore underneath it. Her chest heaved with every breath she took.
Swallowing with difficulty, he forced his gaze to move up, his cheeks on fire. The expression on Emilie’s face was peaceful, and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips when he thought of all the things they’d done that day. Lifting his hand, he tentatively caressed her hair, letting the soft curls slide through his fingers.
All of a sudden, without any warning at all, Emilie’s eyes flew open, and her gaze crossed his. “What kind of nickname is Wormtail, anyway?” she asked him, apparently unaware – or unaffected, he realized after a moment – by his eyes on her.
His heart skipped a beat, and as he averted his gaze, he tried to concentrate on what she was saying. “Pardon me?”
“Wormtail,” she repeated as she turned head, staring up at him. “What kind of nickname is that?”
“Oh, ehm…” Remus stuttered, distracted. “Not sure, really. Sirius came up with it.” He felt uncomfortable lying to her, but he could impossibly tell her the truth.
She smiled brightly, unaware of his lie, and his heart broke a little. “Sirius?”
“Another friend,” he explained, tilting his head a little. “A good one. A little crazy at times, but the most loyal friend you’ll ever find.”
The rhythm of the rapid rattling of heavy wheels on rails suddenly slowed down, and Emilie sat up a bit straighter. “We’re home,” she smiled.
The second they set foot outside the train station, the sky broke open.
Emilie let out a surprised cry and grabbed Remus’s hand, dragging him with her as she ran down the street. She laughed lightly, turning her eyes upwards as they ran for shelter.
The rainwater was lukewarm to his skin, Remus noticed, and it instantly soaked the thin T-shirt he was wearing.
“Over there,” he called, his voice barely overpowering the sound of the thundering rain. He steered Emilie into the direction of a vacant phone booth not too far away from them. They reached it in a matter of seconds, and, under the cover of the phone booth’s roof, both fought to catch their breath.
“I like the rain,” she giggled after a little while, a joyous twinkle in her eyes.
“So do I,” he agreed, his eyebrows raised when he added, “When I’m inside.”
She shrugged smilingly, staring up at him with those large, brown eyes of hers. “You’re inside now, aren't you?”
He gave his head a slow nod, his eyes sweeping across the contours of her face. “Your mascara’s running,” he stated softly, his finger tracing the dark stains on her cheeks. When he realized what he was doing, he quickly dropped his hand.
“It is?” She turned a little, gazing at her reflection in the phone booth’s window. She rubbed at her cheeks with her thumbs, but it didn't help much.
Remus leaned back against one of the booth’s windows. It was as though someone had ripped open the sky, he thought, gazing at a small sliver of light blue amidst the dark clouds. And the rain... the rain seemed never-ending; it just continued to pelt down on the phone booth’s roof, raindrops sticking to the windows.
Emilie slid her feet in between his as she went to lean against the opposite window. “Today has been brilliant, Remus,” she said after a little while.
Looking up at her, he felt his heart lurch into his throat.
“Best birthday I’ve ever had,” she continued, her eyes meeting his. “I… I don’t really know what to say.”
He fidgeted with the clasp of his backpack. “You don’t have to say anything. I had a good time, too.”
She smiled, and pushed herself away from the booth’s window, standing just a few inches away from him. “Thank you,” she said quietly. Before he realized what she was doing, she brushed her lips against his.
It was just a brief kiss, and it was over before he knew it, but the after-effects of her lips on his continued to cloud his mind.
“Uhm, any… any time,” he stammered, staring down at her in surprise. A heavy feeling pressed down on his chest, and he desperately fought to calm his racing heart.
Smiling a little, Emilie tilted her head. She drew her bottom lip in, and he could feel her gauging his reaction, her questioning eyes on him. He drew a deep, shuddering breath and turned his eyes away from her.
She was silent for some time, her gaze unwavering. Remus wasn’t certain what she expected him to do. Should he kiss her now? Did she want him to kiss her?
“It stopped raining,” she suddenly said, her voice soft.
Looking through the glass, he noticed that she was right. He clasped his hands together, glancing briefly at her. “I ehm… we should probably… go...” A fiery blush rose to his cheeks as he struggled to find the right words.
A disappointed smile curled her lips, and she nodded slowly. "We probably should."
Kiss her, Remus told himself. Kiss her NOW. He summoned all the courage he had in him, but she’d already opened the booth’s door.
“Emilie,” he breathed out, his voice breaking. He gently placed his hand on her lower arm, and turned her around. She expectantly gazed up at him, her eyes questioning.
Deliberately, he lowered his head, giving her plenty of time to realize what he was going to do.
She didn’t pull away.
He closed his eyes and tentatively touched her lips with his, the heavy feeling in his chest rising until it reached his throat – until he felt as though he was going to burst.
Her lips moved beneath his – just a little – and, when he pulled back, she timidly pulled away from him. “Was that…” she averted her eyes, a blush darkening her cheeks. It was the first time he’d ever seen her so embarrassed, he realized, and he wondered if it was a good or a bad sign. “Was that… all right?”
Reaching for her hand, he lifted it to his chest, and placed it just above his heart. “It’s never beat this fast,” he confessed shyly, smiling a little.
She giggled, the bashful blush still upon her cheeks. “Mine’s beating just as fast,” she admitted. "Trust me."
He bit on his lip, and reached down and kissed her again, just briefly this time. Her dark eyes had fluttered closed, and he caressed her cheek when he pulled back, loving the smoothness of her skin.
“I have to get you home now,” he whispered after having taken a deep breath. It felt surreal, being so close to her. “It’s seven-thirty.”
“It’s only a ten-minute walk,” she protested.
He smiled a little, and gave his shoulders a shrug. “Don’t want to be at odds with your dad.”
After having brought Emilie home, Remus raced up the stairs to his bedroom and sank down on his bed, folding his arms underneath his head. Emilie’s birthday had, without a doubt, been the best day of his life. A goofy grin spread across his face as he thought of her soft lips against his.
Her dad was taking her to Edinburgh for several days, which meant that he wouldn’t get to see her until Monday... four days without Emilie. It seemed like an impossible challenge. His heart sank a little at that thought, but his spirits lifted considerably when he remembered the present he'd hidden in her backpack. She should have found it by now. Would she like it?
After contemplating things a little longer, he peeled off his shirt and jeans and slid underneath the covers of his bed, his mind still filled with thoughts of Emilie.
We all knew it was coming, didn’t we? ;) Anyway, I'm really very grateful that you guys noticed the updates... for some reason, the story just won't move up the category list. And as for your responses: I really appreciate them!
Also, if you like Remus, the Marauders, Lily, or just any good story, be sure to check out [Marauder Magic] by RubySlippers. It’s really good - I especially love Sirius in it!