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Chapter 8: Pairing Up
Image by Sixx. @ TDA
Myra and Hestia went to bed not long after they first heard the ghosts in the Shrieking Shack that evening. Myra was desperate to shut out the sounds of her greatest fear, and Hestia was just thankful to be done tutoring Myra for the time being.
On Saturday afternoon Myra was sitting with the three other girls by a staircase in the common room, trying to do some homework.
"Jupiter's fourth moon, is it one or two Ls?" Myra suddenly asked.
"Callisto?" Ashley asked.
Suddenly the three left over Marauders came stumbling down the stairs, looking like they just woke up. The girls looked up at their noisy entrance. The boys were deep in conversation, and as they passed Myra caught the words 'hospital wing'.
So he isn't visiting his aunt, she thought, immediately drawing the conclusion that they were talking about Remus.
"I want to go to the hospital wing again," Myra leaned close to Hestia and whispered when the boys were out of earshot.
Hestia just closed her eyes in exasperation and sighed. "Sure, go," she whispered back.
"Well, I'm not going right now, since they are probably on their way there, but later today. Don't you want to come with me?"
"No," Hestia said quickly, but gave it a quick thought. "But I probably should, for your own safety."
A few hours, several essays and a trip to the library later, Sirius, James and Peter came back. Sitting in the same spot as earlier, Myra looked up at their arrival. They caught her gaze and all three boys stopped short.
Myra smiled in greeting, but none of them smiled back. Sirius narrowed his eyes, James' face was unreadable, and Peter looked sad. Then James put a hand on the others' shoulders, sent a dazzling smile in Lily's direction at the other end of the room, and they continued across the common room and up to their dorm.
"Well, somehow I've managed to make those three mad at me."
"What?" Ashley asked.
"Never mind. Hestia, can you come help me with that thing now?"
The girl in question sighed miserably. "Yes."
The two friends left Gryffindor Tower and walked down to the third floor. The moment they were about to open the door, Madam Pomfrey came out. "What can I do for you?" she asked briskly. "Are you ill?"
"No," Myra answered. "We were just wondering if Remus-"
Madam Pomfrey interrupted. "I currently have no patients, Miss Kinney, and I am not expecting any."
"But, he looked so-"
"No patients. Now, I'm sure you two have plenty of homework to do, off you go!" The matron turned them around and almost pushed them down the hallway.
"O-okay." Myra and Hestia walked away and when they reached a corner, they looked back. Madam Pomfrey was still standing there, hands on her hips, waiting for them to disappear.
"That settles it then," Myra concluded once they did round that corner.
"Remus is in there," Hestia continued.
"Uh, yes." Myra did not expect Hestia to be on the same page as her in this and stopped walking. "He told Carly that he was visiting his aunt again, and Peter told me the same thing. You noticed how sick Remus was looking the last few days before the weekend?"
"If you were that sick, would you go visit a dying relative?"
Hestia shook her head.
"I don't understand this. There was that last time you and I went up here too, when we both saw him lying there, bruised and unconscious, not particularly sick. But he had been sick before he went there. And then I overheard him later, saying to that Mary MacDonald girl that he did go see his aunt."
"Same with when you were up there for the potions accident, then he told us to keep his stay there a secret."
"So you finally understand why I'm so curious about this?"
Myra cleared her throat. "Don't you find it to be the slightest bit mysterious the way he behaves and the way he lies?"
"Well, I understand why you are so curious about this; it is in your nature. But I don't understand why you're so determined to find out about Remus. You've been in the same house for nearly five years, you've been a fellow prefect with him for months. You told me you sneaked through the prefect records and that he seems to have been following the same pattern for a while, so why haven't you noticed and cared about his absence before? What changed to make you so adamant about it now?"
"He's my friend, and colleague, and housemate. I want to make sure he is alright, and that he's not involved in something bad or that he's hurting. I would do the same with you, or Ashley, or Anna, or even Henry, especially Marie."
"I appreciate that, but I don't think that's your main motivation for trying to get into Remus' business."
"What is my motivation then?" Myra asked sceptically.
Hestia looked at Myra, searched her eyes for something. Then she shook her head slightly. "If you don't see it now, I'm not going to tell you. Hopefully you'll figure it out soon enough and not too late. You have worked out harder puzzles before; I guess you will now too."
Hestia shook her head more vigorously now. "Come on; let's get some more homework done." And Hestia took off down the hall and towards the staircases.
The rest of the weekend was quiet. Myra kept looking around to see if Remus had returned, and one time on Saturday evening she even managed to get Peter alone to ask him if Remus was coming back soon. She figured Peter was the most naive and most likely to give her a straight answer, but he was calm and collected when he said he didn't know, he would most likely stay a couple of days more, he usually did.
After that conversation Myra got even more strange glances from the three resident Marauders. Sirius even sometimes glared angrily at her when he thought she wasn't looking.
"Be careful, Myra," Anna advised when they got ready for bed that night, sitting in her four poster writing in her journal.
"Why?" Myra stopped what she was doing; hanging her robe by the fireplace so it would be warm in the morning.
"I've seen the looks the Marauders have given you. I know they're usually just pranking and doing things for fun, but we all know how they treat the Slytherins. I wouldn't put it past them to be just as cruel to someone else, even if you are a fellow Gryffindor."
"I can't really help it, now can I? I have no idea why they're upset with me."
"Just be careful you don't do anything else that might upset them," Anna finished and closed the curtains around her bed.
Easier said than done when you have no idea what put them off in the first place.
On Sunday Myra had her usual breakfast with Marie, who requested some help with Defence Against the Dark Arts and Herbology for Monday. Myra may not have been particularly good in Defence, but as a fifth year she did master the first year stuff.
The sisters went to the library, and stayed there pretty much all Sunday, barely interacting with anyone else, and only emerging for meals. So the first thing Myra did in the dorm that evening was to ask her friends if they'd seen Remus that day. None of them had.
As Myra went to bed, she heard the girls whisper amongst themselves. She asked them what they were talking about, but they brushed it off as nothing and continued their nightly routines. Sleep was taking control of Myra, and she didn't have the energy to press further on the matter.
On Monday morning Remus was back. He still looked sick, as Myra followed him and his friends' journey to their seats with her eyes. But the usual spring in his step was back, so he had clearly improved.
She wanted to talk to him, but wisely decided that she needed to get him on his own first. Considering the advice Anna had given her on Saturday night, she thought it wise to not have Sirius, James or Peter witnessing that particular conversation.
She didn't know his schedule, at least not in detail, so she had no way of knowing what classes he took without the other three.
"Any of you wouldn't happen to know if Remus has any classes today without his friends?" Myra asked in a low voice to her friends.
They all shook their heads, smiling slightly.
Myra sank down a bit in her seat. There was always patrol on Friday, but she couldn't wait that long.
But not two minutes later Remus approached her. "Can I talk to you?" he asked and nodded his head in direction of the Entrance Hall.
"Sure, I think I'm done with breakfast anyway." She stood up, grabbed her bag and turned to the girls. "See you in Herbology."
Anna and Ashley winked at her when she left; Myra rolled her eyes at them.
Safely out in the Entrance Hall Remus sat down in the stairs leading to the grand staircase. Myra joined him.
"I hear you didn't get any message about me leaving?" Remus started, his hands twisting slightly in his lap.
"No, apparently Carly had too much on her mind to remember to pass on the message," Myra answered.
"I realise I should have told you too, and even Timothy, that I was leaving."
"Where did you go?" Myra asked carefully.
"My sick aunt again. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing to go, so I didn't get to prepare like I usually do, by letting people know and all that." He told the lie very convincingly.
"But you were so ill before you left. Was it safe to visit her in that condition? Couldn't both of you get worse?"
"It's not very contagious what I had and what she has, so the Healers have told us not to worry."
The lies were incredible!
"I find this very strange," Myra said thoughtfully.
"Did you work out the Imperturbable Charm?" he suddenly asked as a change of subject.
Myra almost snorted, but bit her tongue to keep quiet. She did not want to end the subject, but went along with him anyway. "Yes, amazingly I did. Hestia helped me after patrol on Friday; we don't work well together when she's helping me. But Professor Biggar will be surprised on Tuesday."
"I'm glad!" He seemed genuinely happy. "I'd be happy to help anytime, I hope you know that."
"Careful, I will most likely take you up on that offer, because I will need it."
There was silence for about a minute, when Myra wanted to try to pick up the subject he dropped. "So, you're feeling better then? You look healthier than last time I saw you." She gauged his reaction. But he didn't give anything away.
"Yeah, I should be fine by tomorrow. I dropped by Madam Pomfrey this morning and she wasn't worried."
"So she did have time for you then? I was up there this weekend, to ask about something, but she just shooed me away."
"Did she?" Remus asked. "Guess she was busy then."
"No, I don't think she was, she said she had no patients and were not expecting any."
Remus chuckled. "You can't really expect patients, can you?"
"I guess not."
It was quiet again for a minute, before Remus spoke. "So, Hogsmeade is coming up this weekend."
"Yeah, it'll be nice to get away for a while. You're going?"
At that moment people started filing out of the Great Hall, classes was coming up.
"Yeah, I'm going. You?"
"Pretty sure I'll be going. I should get to class." Myra stood up, ready to go.
"Me too. See you later then, Myra." Remus didn't make any move to get up.
"See you later." Myra was off, spotting Hestia in the crowd.
After Herbology, Myra sat down in Potions with Ashley, the two of them being partners for the day. "What did you and Remus talk about earlier?" Ashley asked.
"He just apologized for not making sure I got the message that he was leaving on Friday."
"That was sweet of him."
"Yeah, it was." But how sweet is it to lie like that? Myra thought to herself.
Professor Slughorn began the lesson on Befuddlement Draughts, but Myra was lost in her own thoughts without realising it, going over the conversation from that morning.
The lies Remus told sounded incredibly believable when he told them. Not so much when his friends did, but he said them so truthfully, Myra almost suspected he believed them himself. But he couldn't, could he?
No, he was very lucid and sane when she had interacted with him in the hospital wing, except when he tried to shag her. The same lie was in circulation back then.
Battered, bruised and sick, and lying about it. What was it?
"What are you thinking about?" Ashley suddenly whispered in Myra's ear, bringing her back to the present.
"Nothing, sorry, I'll pay attention," Myra whispered back.
"Well, you were smiling for a moment there, wherever your mind was."
Myra snapped back around to Ashley, who was now focused on the board Professor Slughorn was writing on.
Since Hogsmeade was coming up, Ashley was on the prowl for Lowell Llewellyn. She wanted nothing more than for him to ask her on a date that day, especially since it was considered a Valentine's Day weekend, since Valentine's Day was on the following Monday.
Some of her attempts were amusing to watch, like when she pretended to not see where she was going and bumping into him in the halls, or when she walked past his desk in class she swayed her hips so much she resembled a Christmas bell in the wind.
But it looked like she was succeeding, because Myra was sure she saw a glazed look in his eyes every time he looked at Ashley.
While it had been amusing, Myra and Hestia had had enough on Wednesday. Ashley wasn't talking about anything else other than the look Lowell had given her in Transfiguration that morning. So the two best friends decided to seek refuge in the library after dinner.
It was very peaceful in the library. The sound of the quiet there was different than other quiet sounds; it sort of engulfed you in a comforting way. And even though Myra wasn't much of a book person, she loved the smell of them, the older the better. Every once in a while she would unconsciously take a deep breath, and sometimes she even sighed happily.
Hestia wasn't so happy about those interruptions, but after a while she was so lost in her homework she didn't notice much of anything going on around her.
They had been there an hour when someone stepped in front of the light and cast their books in shadow. "Hello girls," Remus said quietly, smiling slightly.
"Hello," both girls whispered back.
"Mind if I join you?"
They shook their heads and Myra pushed her things down the table so she could give her seat to Remus.
"Thanks." He sat down and pulled out some parchment from his bag. "Peter and Sirius are helping James come up with a foolproof plan to ask Lily out this weekend. It's maddening."
"Same with Ashley," Myra sympathized. "She's trying to get Lowell Llewellyn to ask her out."
"At least one of them will be successful then. Three guesses who." Sarcasm dripped from Remus' voice.
"You mean Lily and James?" Myra asked as seriously as she could.
Remus made a loud noise, but then covered his mouth with his hand, his shoulders shaking with laugher. Hestia snickered quietly.
Over by the librarian's desk Madam Pince cleared her throat demonstratively.
"Sorry," Remus whispered almost inaudibly. "I'll be quiet and work."
"Yes, you better," Myra joked, but returned to her History of Magic book, concentrating on the subject there.
On Thursday they thankfully didn't have any classes with the Hufflepuffs, so Ashley wasn't wasting precious class time by flirting with Lowell. But she shared Wizarding Culture Studies with Myra, and Myra was this close to casting a Silencing Charm on her friend.
"Ashley, please." Myra had to put her foot down. "I'm happy you've found someone you want to be with, honestly. But please, talk about something else from time to time. Besides, this is class and I'm trying to work."
Ashley was frozen in her movements, shocked. Then she blushed. "I'm sorry, I didn't realise I was obsessing so much."
"No worries. I love to hear about how it's going, but sometimes it's just too much."
After that Ashley calmed down, until Lowell actually pulled her aside on the way from dinner, and asked her out to Hogsmeade. Myra and the two other girls had watched from several feet away, and had been surprised at seeing the calm and collected Ashley that stood there and talked to the current love of her life.
The rest of the evening Ashley couldn't stop smiling. And the first thing Myra saw when she got out of bed was Ashley's smiling face. It was contagious though, that was the best thing about Ashley, her good mood always caught on.
So it was with smiling faces the girls started the school day with Magical Living and then History of Magic. And that was when Hestia's smile fell.
When they approached the classroom, Ambrose Longstaff stood outside the classroom, leaning on the door, looking nervous.
"Hestia Jones, can I have a word with you, please?" he asked politely and formally and walked towards the group.
Before Hestia could decline Myra, Anna and Ashley stepped to the side and gave them some kind of privacy to talk.
"Will you go out with me in Hogsmeade on Saturday?" Ambrose asked, his tone calm, clear and well rehearsed. "Eh, tomorrow, as a date," he added with an afterthought, for once in his life looking insecure.
Hestia stared at him for a few long seconds. Then she blurted out: "Why?"
Ambrose sputtered; this was clearly not something he had expected. Or rehearsed, Myra thought while chuckling in her head. "Be... Because I like you and I want to go out with you." He recovered nicely, if not a bit desperate sounding.
Hestia turned slightly, seeking out Myra, demanding help with her eyes. Myra just shrugged and made a discreet motion with her hands to say 'just go for it'. Hestia looked over at Ambrose again, sizing him up. Then closing her eyes as she answered: "Fine, yes."
"Yes?" Ambrose asked disbelievingly.
Hestia opened her eyes and nodded.
"Yes," Ambrose confirmed happily and shook her hand, before leaving, almost skipping away into the classroom.
"Oh Merlin." Hestia dropped her head
"Don't worry, it'll be fun." Anna put a hand on Hestia's shoulder.
"Sure." Hestia didn't sound convinced.
"It's just a date, not a lifelong commitment," Myra said and lead the way into the classroom.
Hestia was a little awkward throughout the class, having Ambrose so close and not being able to get away. Not to mention the fact that the History of Magic classes always was slow, and inspired the students to look around and find things to entertain themselves. It was a relief to be let out for lunch.
"So two of us have a date tomorrow," Anna said while cutting up a sausage. "And two of us don't."
"We should go together, Anna. Pretend we're on a date together." Myra smiled jokingly. "Give everyone something to gossip about."
"That's actually a very good idea, my dear Myra." Anna reached across the table and put her hand lovingly on top of Myra's.
"I'm so glad you agreed to go with me, Anna. It's going to be real nice." Myra put down her toast and laid her other hand on Anna's.
"Stop that, you two," Ashley gagged. "There's nothing wrong with girl on girl, but you two..." She gagged again. "Besides, who knows, there's a big change Myra will have a date after her prefect patrol tonight."
"What?" Myra snapped around, nearly choking on her pumpkin juice. The three others chuckled at her reaction. "Who? Whe- What have you heard?"
Ashley's answer was perfectly calm; she even buttered a toast elaborately while talking, not looking in Myra's direction at all. "Prefect patrol, tonight. You're patrolling with Remus. I'm sure he's dying to ask you."
Myra blinked furiously, both in confusion and frustration. "Why can't you guys stop insinuating that something is going on between Remus and me?"
"We're not insinuating anything." Anna was just as calm as Ashley. "We can see it in both of you."
"You're crazy, all of you."
"Why is it so bad?" Hestia asked, a clear reprisal of the similar question Myra had asked her when Ambrose had first started asking questions.
"It's not bad, it's just not true at all," Myra answered quickly, sure of her answer.
"We'll see tonight, won't we," Ashley finished confidently.
"Yes, we will. You will be proven wrong. Now," Myra stood up, packed herself in her robe and scarf, "I have got to get to Care of Magical Creatures. We're far out on the grounds today, and it's a long way to walk." She waved goodbye and went to find Henry.
On the way along the Gryffindor table she passed the Marauders.
"Hi, Myra," Remus greeted. "Why don't you sit down for a while?"
"Hi," she said back, smiling at all four of them. Sirius, James and Peter just stared at her, and Myra couldn't even imagine what thoughts those stony faces hid. "I can't, I'm off to Care of Magical Creatures. I'm just getting Henry first." She motioned for her friend just a few seats away with a couple of boys from seventh year. He shot his head up when hearing his name.
"Oh, okay. Have fun!"
"Thanks." Myra continued down to Henry, and waited for him to get ready. In the background she could hear the Marauders talking.
"Why do you keep talking to her?" James asked.
"Why shouldn't I?" Remus asked back.
"You know very well why," Sirius hissed.
Myra turned slightly around under the pretence of waiting impatiently, seeing in the corner of her eye that Sirius was looking livid, leaning over the table towards Remus.
"I trust her, Padfoot."
"We don't," Peter said. "She knows too much already, and it's just too risky of you to keep her close."
"So I'm not allowed to have friends because of... my condition?"
"We're not saying that, you have us," James said. "It's just that she... She knows too much, like Wormtail said. Her friend knows too, and her eleven year old sister knows a bit too. Who can trust that little girl to keep quiet?"
"I trust them," Remus said slowly and with emphasis on every word. "There's nothing cruel in Myra or Hestia or Marie. Don't you think they would have said something already if they wanted to? Besides, what is there to say?"
"Let's go," Henry said suddenly, pulling Myra's attention away from the conversation down the table.
"Okay," she sighed. She really wanted to hear the rest of that conversation, but duty called.
My condition. My condition. My condition.
Those two words repeated themselves over and over in Myra's head all the way down to the Care of Magical Creatures clearing.
What condition? Was Remus really sick? Was it more than a weak immune system that made him sick so often? Was it he who was critically ill instead of his supposed aunt?
Why was there so much secrecy surrounding it?
It seemed that Myra never had the time to finish her own thoughts. Each time she felt like she could almost grasp the truth behind Remus' strange behaviour, she was interrupted and lost the train of thought. This time she was interrupted by having arrived at the clearing and having Professor Kettleburn telling them what to do for the day.
Not even bothering to waste energy on trying to get her mind back to the thought process that had been cut short, Myra instead focused on the Fire Crab she had been assigned.
"It's the big date day in Hogsmeade tomorrow," Henry said casually, cleaning out the box of his Fire Crab.
"I suppose. You got a date?" Myra asked. She was trying to keep her Fire Crab in the temporary box so she could clean out the other box.
"Afraid I don't," he answered with a pout.
"Oh, you poor thing," Myra mocked. "Aren't there any witches left at Hogwarts for you to date?"
"Plenty. You for example, or Hestia."
"And we all know that will happen when Nifflers fly."
"I like those odds," he mused with a smirk. "But each year there are new fourth years eager to explore. But enough about me, do you have a date tomorrow?"
"No. But Anna and I thought we'd go together, us lonely girls."
"Does that mean Hestia has got a date?" Henry looked slightly shocked.
"That she does." Myra smiled. "She's going with Ambrose."
"Ambrose?" Henry exclaimed loudly, earning an angry glare from Professor Kettleburn.
Myra nodded to confirm. "He approached her earlier today, all nervous and rehearsed, and she gave in."
"Merlin." Henry looked thoughtful. "Maybe I could finally have gotten a yes from her too, if I'd asked today."
"I doubt it. You have a reputation, Ambrose doesn't. At least not that kind of reputation."
"So." Henry stood up straight and put on his most charming smile. "Do you want to ditch Anna and go with me tomorrow?"
Myra burst out laughing and continued working with her Fire Crab, not even dignifying him with an answer.
"Did you get asked out?" Ashley asked when Myra came back to the common room a bit earlier than usual after her patrol with Remus, leaving him with his friends by the fireplace and joining her own friends by a table under a window.
Myra smiled teasingly. "I did get asked out, actually."
"I knew it!" Ashley, Hestia and Anna said at the same time.
"Did you? Never would have thought. But I laughed it off."
The three girls' faces fell. "You did?" Anna gaped. "The poor boy." They looked over at the Marauders, where Remus was sitting, and not looking upset at all.
"Yes, poor poor boy. He'll easily find another girl in town tomorrow to help him get over me. It is his usual habit, after all."
All three were frowning now. "Wait, didn't Remus ask you out?" Hestia asked.
"Oh!" Myra threw her head back in mock surprise. "You were talking about Remus. I thought you meant Henry."
"Henry asked you out?"
"More specifically, he asked if I wanted to ditch Anna and go with him instead."
"We were so sure Remus would ask you," Anna said thoughtfully.
"Well, he didn't. And I really don't understand how you could come to that conclusion." Myra pulled off her shoes, massaging her feet.
Hestia looked around them, making sure the Marauders were still at the other side of the room. There were very few people left in the common room, but she still whispered. "Don't you find it odd that he continues to seek you out? Ask you to sit with them? Is so incredibly helpful when you have a problem? While his friends seem to be upset with you for some reason? And all of this out of nowhere?"
Myra frowned and took this in, finally. Automatically she glanced across the room at the four boys sitting there. Surprising her, Remus turned his gaze on her the moment her eyes found him. She started for a second. They looked at each other for a few seconds before Myra smiled and turned back to her friends. They'd all seen the exchange.
"My point exactly," Hestia finalized.
"It doesn't have to mean that," Myra said, but wasn't entirely convinced by herself. She looked helplessly at the other girls. But they just had that expression of 'I told you so'.
Remus was interested in her? That was absurd. He hadn't shown the slightest sign that that was the case. She'd have to look into this, try to get something out of him.
As if it wasn't enough with the mystery about his disappearances and his lies, he had to fancy her as well.
"I don't want to think about this now, I'm going to bed." She said goodnight and went upstairs.
Standing in the middle of the dorm, she thought out loud. "His friends don't like me, so why should he be into me like that." This idea took deep root in her mind for now, allowing her to get some sleep. Her dreams were filled with images of Remus in various interesting situations, but she didn't remember any of them when she woke up.
No special messages for you know, other than I'm starting to get back to writing again. Just a bit more planning left to do for the next 10-20 chapters.
Please review if you have any thoughts on the chapter!
Coming: Chapter 9 – Dates and Un-Dates
Now they were sitting at one of these tables, drinking tea flavoured with black tea and strawberries. In a weak moment Hestia had laid her left hand on the table next to the tea cup in order of draw some heat from the cup, and Ambrose had taken the opportunity to lay his own hand on top.