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Chapter 22: Trains and bikes
James and Alice were playing Exploding Snap loudly, Remus had managed to fall asleep and Lily was engrossed in a book which had a picture of a daffodil, a turtle and a handkerchief on the front, although the train was moving so quickly that it didn’t stay still long enough for me to read the blurb.
“SNAP!” yelled James, and I very nearly punched him.
Instead, I stood up and slid open the compartment door. “I’m off to see where the food trolley is,” I said, but no-one was listening.
I stepped out and looked up and down the corridor. I couldn’t see the witch. I was tempted to just go back inside, except Alice had over turned the trunk they were using as a table and cards had scattered everywhere.
I turned right, and started to walk. The food trolley wasn’t actually that far down, and I ordered a couple of pumpkin pasties and a pile of liquorice wands. We would be pulling into King’s Cross soon, and the Muggle food they served on trains was disgusting.
As I turned to leave, I saw a familiar black-haired head. “Sirius?” I asked, incredulous.
What was Sirius doing on the train?
They turned, and I realised I had misjudged his height. It was Regulus.
What was Regulus doing on the train?
Sirius was supposed to still be at the castle. He was going home the next day or something- going home with Regulus instead of going to the Potters.
He raised an eyebrow at me and started to walk off, but I was not having any of that. My leg flailing in the air, I managed to stand on the end of his black robe, which he hadn’t changed out of yet.
“What do you want, Llewellyn?” he drawled.
He was far too cocky. But then, I was balancing pumpkin pasties up against my chest and swaying erratically with the train. It wasn’t the most elegant look I could have gone for.
“Where’s Sirius?” I asked.
“He said he was going home with you,” I insisted.
“He’s never allowed to darken our door again,” Regulus said frankly. “Christmas family reunions are not an exception to being disowned.”
Shit. I hadn’t actually realised how much of a divide there was between Sirius and his family before.
“If he’s not with you,” Regulus continued, “I imagine he must be staying at Hogwarts for the winter. On his own.”
He smiled, and yanked his robe from under my shoe as the train slid to a stop. I forced my way back through the crowds to our compartment, and shoved the pasties and sweets into my bag, worried.
Sirius had realised we were all off to each other’s houses, and he’d neatly tucked himself away. I hadn’t even thought of what he was doing. James and Lily paired off on the platform and waved goodbye, and Alice threw her arms around Remus and I before running off to meet Frank.
Sirius didn’t have a place with us happy couples. I felt so guilty.
“Are you alright?” Remus asked.
“Can I borrow your owl?” I asked. “I’ve forgotten something.”
Confused, he passed his great barn owl over to me, and I scribbled a quick message to Sirius; met Regulus on the train. Come to mine this Christmas. That’s an order. I haven’t told James, but I will, dammit.
I fingered the tiny message nervously before attaching it to the owl’s leg, turning the paper away from Remus so he wouldn’t see who it was for. I didn’t want the boys to worry about their friend.
“Are you alright?” Remus asked again, his hand on my shoulder.
I only smiled in response. I felt a bit better now.
Once we were on the Muggle side of the platform, I found a phone box and called my mum.
“EVIE!” her voice was crackly and very loud. I hadn’t seen her in months, and now I was pretty sure I was now deaf in one ear.
“You wanted me to call and say we were changing trains,” I said. There was a beeping in the background. “Mum, is that the smoke alarm?”
“PAUL!” she bellowed. “SORT THAT BEEPING OUT I’M TRYING TO TALK TO EVA!”
Remus was laughing as quietly as possible.
“Is your boyfriend there?” Mum asked.
“We’re just friends,” I hissed. Please don’t let Alice have owled her or something. Remus averted his eyes from mine.
“Well, put him on the phone,” she insisted.
Sticking out my tongue, I held out the phone to Remus and he went white. Gingerly taking the receiver from me, he held the phone to his ear while I fed the machine with more twenty pence pieces.
“Hello... ...Clary,” he said.
I really hoped my mum wasn’t being scary. She was pretty friendly.
Remus made agreeing noises and tried to hide his smiles as Mum chatted to him- they were on the phone such a long time I had to dig in my bag for more change. What on earth were they talking about?
Eventually, he passed the phone back to me with a knowing smile. I scowled at him.
“He’s a lovely boy,” Mum said.
“You didn’t really let him speak,” I commented.
“Well, you can shut your mush too,” Mum said, but she wasn’t cross.
“What were you talking about?”
“None of your business!”
“Fine, I’ll get it out of Remus.”
“I highly doubt that,” she said, sounding very self-important.
I rolled my eyes. “I just wanted to check that the boys have sorted out the bikes?” I said, turning away from Remus slightly.
“Oh, I’ll talk to them about it. You need a spare helmet and jacket too, right?”
“Yeah, thanks Mum.”
“We’ll see you soon,” she said happily. “Just you wait!”
“Bye Mum, love you.”
“Whatever, Trevor,” she retorted, and put the phone down.
I immediately whirled on Remus. “What were you talking about?”
He smiled mockingly. “Nothing.”
Fine. If he wanted to play it like that, I wasn’t going to tell him that he would be travelling the last twenty miles hanging on to the back of my motorbike.
See how he likes it.
On the next train, which took the reminder of the day, I filled Remus in on the ins and outs of home. I lived in a tiny ex-fishing village called Runswick Bay, which was near Whitby- haunt of vampires. Great nightlife.
In actual fact, the original Runswick had fallen into the sea about fifty years ago, but it had been rebuilt. The houses were minuscule and crammed together- the biggest street was about three feet wide. It was also three-quarters of the way down one of the steepest roads in the entire world. That’s why the boys and I learnt to ride motorcycles- they’re easier than cars, faster than cars, and a hell of a lot easier to get up hills than pushbikes.
The train ground to a halt, and Remus and I got off. The platform was empty, and the train pulled back off, leaving us alone on the platform.
“Goathland,” Remus read from the signs. “You sure we’re at the right station?”
I shot him a withering look, and led the way through the tiny red ticket office and out into the muddy and potholed car-park, where, with idling engines were six teenage boys, lounging on their motorbikes, chatting to each other.
I didn’t say anything for a moment, just smiled, my heart feeling like it was going to burst. They were arrogant, stupid, immature idiots, but they were my arrogant, stupid, immature idiots, and I had missed them so very much.
John sat near the back, his hair mussed- no helmet, I noted; such a prat- and looking for all the world like the long lost blond twin of James. Talking to him was Mitchell; lanky and laid-back, his usual all-black clothes curiously offset against a light pink scarf, and his pale skin looking unhealthy in the bright winter sun.
Jack and Daniel seemed to be playing rock, paper, scissors, but over what I wasn’t sure. They were dressed in their Muggle school uniform, their ties undone and oil stains ruining their white shirts- I could imagine their mother chastising them now. They were completely identical- their dark hair clipped brutally short and their wide mouths stretched into a grin as they both continued to pick ‘rock’.
Tony was playing with his wand- even though Goathland was a Muggle station. After his wand was snapped, he acquired one illegally, so he rarely wasn’t touching it, constantly assuring himself he still had it. His red hair was sticking up on one side where he had run his hand through it, and he had a spattering of freckles across his nose.
Steve was talking animatedly to Tony, who was barely listening. Steve’s hair was so fair it was nearly white, and he was as pale as Mitchell, his eyes a washed-out blue. But he was short and stocky, unlike Mitch, and wore cargo shorts and a thin t-shirt, despite the temperature being only a few degrees above freezing.
I waited for them to notice me.
“Rock!” shouted Daniel. “Bugger it, stop picking the sa- EVA!”
They all leaped off their bikes and I was submerged in a sea of leather and hugs. “Gerroff! I can’t breathe... you- utter- morons!”
Resistance was futile.
They eventually released me.
“Who the hell is that?” Mitchell said, sniffing Remus.
I hit him across the arm with my bag. “Remus. I told you he was coming home with me. And stop doing that, freak-show.”
“You definitely did not mention you were bringing home a guy,” said Jack, sounding disgusted.
“I wrote a letter.”
“We must not have got the letter,” Tony said, sighing dramatically.
“I think you did- it was the same one I told you the train times on,” I said, smiling triumphantly. I knew them far too well.
“Dammit, she knows us far too well,” Steve said. “Hey there, Remus!”
I saw what was coming and tried valiantly to protect Remus from the onslaught, but it was to no avail- they all hugged Remus anyway- except John, who stayed sitting on his bike.
“Ohh, Remus. Thought that was a girl’s name,” said John. I scowled at him, and in retaliation he kick-started his bike and rumbled off down the road, and over the railway bridge.
“Ignore him,” Tony said in a stage-whisper. “I stole his toast this morning and I don’t think he’s quite go over it.”
There was another awkward silence, but it was saved by the medium of song. Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in a bloody musical. An out-of-tune, ridiculous and very sporadic musical.
“Consider yourself, at home!” Daniel sang, grabbing Remus’ bag, shrinking it and attaching it to the back of his bike.
“Consider yourself, one of the family,” joined in his twin, tossing Remus a leather jacket, and leaping onto his own bike. Actually leaping as well, I think the two of them are permanently high.
Mitchell, Tony and Steve also swung themselves onto their bikes, taking their cue from the twins- and John.
“CONSIDER YOURSELF, PART OF THE FURNITURE!” their combined voices sounded rather too loud in this sleepy Muggle village.
I shook my head. They were insane- it just hadn’t been medically proved yet.
“You’ve missed a line!” I called, as they roared off, leaving Remus and I with a solitary bike. I tossed him my spare helmet.
“Not a chance in hell am I getting on that thing,” Remus said.
“It’s twenty miles,” I said.
“That is not persuading me very effectively.”
I clambered onto the big machine slightly less gracefully than the boys had done. “Remus, I haven’t got all day.”
He clasped his hand over his heart dramatically. “Go on without me!”
“Remus. Put on the damn jacket, wear the damn helmet and get on the damn bike.”
“Not even at your house yet, and we’re already arguing,” he said, his voice slightly muffled by his helmet.
“This isn’t an argument, this is me telling you. It’s non-negotiable. Now put your hands around my waist.”
There was a spluttering behind me. “I don’t think I heard you right,” he mumbled.
“Oh, for God’s sake,” I sighed, and grabbed his hands, threading them through the loops at my hips. “Don’t let go,” I said, and gunned the engine.
I think Remus swore. A lot.
A/N: sorry for the wait for an update :( Love me anyway? So, finally, the lads. What do you think? So far, who is your favourite? I think mine is Daniel :D