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Chapter 16: At Least Lily Likes James
“Did I interrupt?” Peter inquired politely.
“Yes,” Rhiannon responded dazedly.
“My apologies. I suppose I’ll bid you farewell then.” He smiled kindly and turned to slouch away.
“Wait,” Remus demanded. “Peter, where have you been? You’ve been missing for over a month!”
Peter sighed. “A walkabout.”
Remus’s eyes widened in disbelief. “A month’s a bit excessive, don’t you think?”
“Eh, borderline. I had to.”
“Whatever. I’ll see you back in the common room.”
Peter departed into the deep green foliage as Rhiannon watched him incredulously. “What does he mean, a walkabout? Has he done this before?”
Remus nodded. “Yes. It’s the longest he’s been away, though.”
“How does he pass his classes?”
Remus shrugged. “I dunno.” His mood was suddenly broken. “Let’s go to the tower.”
Back in the very common room Rhiannon and Remus were headed for, Lily and Ashley awaited them. “How did we get stuck getting everything for the party?” Lily voiced.
“Stupid boys refuse to do anything,” Ashley said tartly.
“Right. Where are they anyway?”
“I haven’t seen them in a while. Do you think they’re in their room?”
“Maybe.” Lily shrugged. She ran up the stairs and peeked into the Marauders’ dormitory. It was eerily silent as the afternoon sun sparkled in through the open window. She glanced around once more until her eyes fell on an object on Sirius’s bed. It looked like a journal. Lily checked behind her and crept quietly to look at it.
Cautiously, she picked it up and opened it. “James Potter” was written boldly on the first page. She flipped it and read the first entry. She slowly read each thought, hanging on each word. Surprisingly, she found she agreed with him. Lily delved deeper into the inner frameworks of the Marauders. She had never known them this way: James was an insecure boy searching for attention, Peter was a suck-up looking for acceptance, Remus was a reticent genius who educated his friends, and Sirius was an outcast among his own blood. Eagerly, she turned to the next entry.
Lily sighed impatiently as she glanced through Sirius’s immature thoughts. She was about to skip this part all together when a sentence caught her eye. “It’s Rhiannon, her friend.” Lily shook her head in disbelief as she read the rest of the paragraph. “If I can get Rhiannon to like Remus, it’ll take her mind off me and Ashley!” Lily’s stomach dropped in realization. Remus was only pretending to like Rhiannon in order to help Sirius. She slammed the book shut, ran downstairs, and quickly informed Ashley.
“I hate boys!” Ashley screamed.
“Should we tell her?” Lily asked anxiously.
“Don’t you think we should?”
“Let’s go then. She’s with the jerk now.”
Lily was right, of course. The jerk in question was, in fact, holding Rhiannon’s hand as he walked with her up the stairs. They were right in front of the common room when Lily and Ashley burst through the portrait hole.
“Let go of her!” Lily demanded.
Shocked, Remus dropped Rhiannon’s hand quickly. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing except you being a horrible person,” Ashley snapped.
Lily turned to Rhiannon. “Remus is only pretending to like you so Ashley will go out with Sirius.” Rhiannon stared at her incredulously. Lily tossed her the journal. “It’s all in there. Second page.” She stared at Remus with an evil gaze as Rhiannon’s eyes skimmed the passage.
Shoulders quaking, she turned to Remus with eyes glistening. “Is this true, Remus?”
Remus’s eyes widened as he gawked at the menacing brown book. “N-no,” he began to stutter, then he began to mumble very quickly, “Well, it was…but no, i-it’s not now…I mean…no…I would never….y-you know me better…S-Sirius originally intended….no. No, it’s not true.” Rhiannon shook her head in skepticism. Suddenly, Lily and Ashley were leading her away, back into the common room. She let the accusatory book fall from her hands and she did not look back as Remus picked it up with loathing eyes.
He stowed it away in his robes and walked in the opposite direction. There was no point in going in the common room with the girls in there unless he wanted something thrown at his head. He contented himself by sliding into an empty classroom.
Remus sat on the teacher’s desk and faced the chalkboard. Carefully, he picked up a glistening piece of white chalk and weighed it in his hand as he considered his blank canvas. He robotically placed its tip against the smooth black surface and dragged it slowly down. He lost control of his arm as he watched it skim beautifully over the board. He found himself standing, enraptured in the process.
Most curiously, he found himself thinking about himself. He thought sneeringly of how people considered him a bookworm, a crazed genius, or some rubbish like that. That was a laugh. He hated reading. He much rather preferred the prospects of the drawn page over the typed one. Get caught with a book in your hands once and you’re a goner. Never mind if that book is The Wizard’s Guide to Passing Your Classes Without Ever Picking Up a Textbook!
A moon wriggled into his mind next. He found himself smiling ruefully, contemplating how odd it was that such a normal phenomenon as moon phases had him anxious, excited, and pained at the same time. He looked forward to the time spent roaming the grounds in the silver of the moonlight with his friends, but the physical aspect of it was excruciating. He considered his transformed self next. He enjoyed what power it gave him but it was an affliction he could live without.
As Remus kept drawing his interpretation of himself, he became more and more calculating. He realized that he would never marry, never have a child, and never fall in love, no matter who it was or the circumstances. It would only cause him and the girl in question too much pain. She would weep for him every month and every month he would lock himself away from her, which would be torture in itself. His child would be sure to carry the curse from him and there was no possible way he could infect such an innocent creature. He would always be alone.
It was best that Rhiannon had seen that entry, even if it wasn't true. It meant she didn’t want him anymore, which would undoubtedly lead her to find a normal person to love. Remus thought of her as he kept drawing and he knew then that he loved her. He laughed to himself at the irony. Of course it happens that he finds true love, the rarest of all treasures, when he knows he cannot pursue it.
He stepped back from the board at last. He was not sure how long he had been drawing but the moonlight streaming in from the window led him to guess around four hours. He stared a long time at the image before he walked away, leaving it for someone else to discover.
As the moonlight shifted, it revealed his masterpiece more clearly. The shreds of a book remained at the feet of a monster, a monster that resembled nothing ever seen, a monster so frightening and repulsive that the girl at the far end of the drawing was turning away in disgust. She shielded a glistening child in her arms as she screamed for deliverance, an escape from this monstrosity that attempted to call itself human.
A few days had passed since the discovery of the blasphemous journal and conditions had not improved. Lily and Ashley were preventing Rhiannon from seeing Remus at all, which was especially admirable as they kept her away from him at all times. It was amazing how they could be in five places at once.
Rhiannon was finally able to dart off from them one Monday after Charms. She slunk into the library and hid herself in the Restricted Section. She laid her head against the cool table and stared at the long line of books that paraded around her. She heard footsteps approaching her, but she made no attempt to move. She was not particularly in the mood to deal with anyone right now.
The person who had clunked in had flopped into the chair opposite her and waited patiently for her to sit. She finally did and jolted in shock. She darted for the door, but he caught her before she could get away from him. He led her back to her chair and forced her down, after which he again sat across from her. “I brought your cloak back,” he said quietly.
Rhiannon said nothing as she snatched the proffered cape from his freezing hands.
“I can see why you’re mad,” he added calmly.
Oh, that did it. “You can see why I’m MAD?!” she shrieked.
“We’re in the library!” he yelled just as loud as she.
She glared at him a moment. “Don’t you think it’s a little reasonable to be angry at you right now?” she snapped.
He responded quickly. “Of course. That’s why I’m here. I wish to apologize.”
Rhiannon sneered at him. “Oh, that’s all well and good then. That just fixes everything, doesn’t it? Oh, we’ll pretend it never happened and it will just go away!” she replied shrilly. “Things will never be the same. My life is ruined and it’s all because of you.”
He sighed tiredly. “Yes, yes, yes. Blah, blah, blah. Here’s the thing: life is hell and the only way you can escape is the old trick called slitting your wrists. That, previously, was not an option, but you know…” he paused, laughing, “…doors have opened for us now.”
“Oh, that’s so funny. I wish you would look into that.”
“So do I, but I don’t think I could.”
“So not only are you a horrible person, but you’re a coward as well. You’re batting a thousand, aren’t you?”
“As it appears,” he replied coyly.
Rhiannon remained silent a moment as she regarded him coolly. “What was the real reason you came to talk to me?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh, this and that.” She stared at him evilly and waited for his real answer. “I like you,” he said unexpectedly.
Rhiannon’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “Oh, is that so?” He nodded, a cool smirk spreading on his face. “And you expect me to throw myself at you, naturally.” He nodded again. “I’m not as predictable as you think I am.”
His smirk only got larger. “Then you’ll find that I can be quite persuasive.” He forcefully took her face in his hands and met her lips roughly, discovering her soft hair as the kiss elongated.
To Rhiannon’s disbelief, she found herself kissing him back. After all the horrible things and anticipation this boy had put her through, she did not stop him. Finally, he pulled back and looked at her, calculating her reaction. Pleased with himself, he smirked at her and forced her back down.
She was flirting with disaster, of that she was sure.
Remus calmly sat in his desk, eyes closed, meditating. McGonagall was rambling about something trivial as he breathed in and out, in and out.
“Mister Lupin,” her voice wavered at him suddenly. “Do you think you could be so kind as to discuss the Animagus Transformation with the class?” She looked at him questioningly.
“Of course,” he murmured as he opened his eyes. “The Animagus Transformation refers to the process in which a witch or wizard transforms his or her self into an animal at will. They are extremely rare, as the process is difficult and painful if it doesn’t go as planned. Therefore,” he sighed exasperatedly, “there are only seven known to have registered with the Ministry, as required. Most notably, our own Professor.” He nodded at her briefly before he continued, “It is said that the animal taken directly reflects the personality of the witch or wizard in question and cannot be chosen at will. I think that is a sufficient summary, Professor, unless you’d like me to go on?”
The corners of McGonagall’s mouth twittered in a smile as she replied, “Quite right, Mister Lupin, quite right. Five points to Gryffindor.” She returned her attention to the class. “As Mister Lupin so generously explained, each Animagi must register with the Ministry in order…”
Remus stopped listening again and returned to his ruminations. He let his mind wander freely, wondering what was going to be for dinner. Despite how his life was plummeting on an exceedingly fast downward spiral, he was mildly happy. That kid who stole his cookie in the sandbox gave him another one just recently and he was……well, actually that was about it. Everything else bombed.
Remus contemplated how long he might stay on this uncharacteristic high and when he would realize that life was not truly the miracle that everyone makes it out to be.
Tuesday, October 29, 1976
It’s interesting enough to realize the enormity of the absolute evils that these past two months have put the six of through and even more so to realize that it’s pretty much all happened to Moony. Nothing ever used to happen to him and now it’s like life decided to crash down on him. I don’t think he’s taking it too well, either. He likes Rhiannon too much for his own good and now she thinks it was all lie.
Oh well. At least Lily likes me.
Sirius: Well, that was depressing.
James: *nods* I’m surprised Remus hasn’t strangled you yet.
Author: *looks anxiously over shoulder* Things aren’t going too well for him, are they?
Remus: Aren’t GOING TOO WELL? ARE YOU SERIOUS?
Sirius: No. I am!
Author: Things will get better!
James: Eventually. R&R, lovelies, and maybe no one will die….
Author: *squeaks* At least it was a long chapter…..