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Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Chapter 5 - Love, Hate and the thin line existing in between.
It only took Tammy a day to help me compose myself, though it took a couple more to completely formulate my delectable little plan. In all honesty, I wasn’t one to linger on self-pity. Huff. I wasn’t even hurt the tiniest bit that Sirius had kept me waiting. It was the sort of thing that was to be expected. I was annoyed. Rather, amazingly annoyed, at myself for not seeing it. Where did my intelligence go?! It has rubbed off on the Marauders I tell you! That’s where it’s went!
But now it’s back. In the form of a flawless, magnificent, wondrous, Marauder destroying plan.
The all-powerful, ego-demolishing boggart? Check. A disguise? Check. An exit strategy? Check. And finally, the password to the Gryffindor common room? Impossible.
Tammy and I groaned as we ran circles around the final dot point. We didn’t have any Gryffindorian friends who would be willing enough to give us the password to their sacred room. Actually, we didn’t have any friends, period.
“We need to figure this out by tonight, Tammy!” I almost shrieked out of exasperation, only remembering that we were in the holy sanctity of the library and in dangerous proximity of Madam Pince, who coincidentally, coughed loudly in what seemed to be a warning tone. Though, how can coughs have a tone?
“We’ll figure it out!” she hushed back, scratching violently at another useless idea, her hair imitating the nature of a dragon’s nest, except for the singes. She suddenly stopped scratching, lifting her head ever so slowly as I stared at her, willing her to speak her mind. Quickly. Before my heart gives out and this ten galleons never to be claimed mine.
“What is it Tammy?” I asked her politely, not wanting to enrage her for fear that I might not get a share in this epiphany of hers.
“Remus,” she breathed.
I spun around faster than you could say... “Holy buckets, not Remus!” Yes, that’s right. I frowned when I saw nothing but bookshelves behind me. “Are you starting to hallucinate Tammy? Delusions are a problem, you know.” I stated matter-of-factly. The future healer in me knows what it’s talking about.
“No, Penny!” her eyes were brighter than the sun, “Ask Remus!”
I hadn’t even registered what Tammy was suggesting and I was already shaking my head. “No, no, no, no, infinity times NO!” I screamed at her so loudly that she flinched backwards.
“That’s it, that is it!” I hear a shrilly voice yelling in the background. My eyes were on Tammy, pleading her to think of something else. Anything but Remus. The pride I had in my intelligence wouldn’t be able to bear it, seeing Remus again face to face after the last encounter.
“OUT!” The same screechy sound said. It was only then I noticed Madam Pince standing right next to me, her arm outstretched towards the door and her eyes alit with bleeding murder.
“Listen to me Penny,” Tammy huffed as she ran after me along the corridor right outside the library, “You actually talk to Remus!”
“I don’t think you understand the meaning of talk, Tammy!” I stopped atop of the staircase descending towards the Entrance Hall. “I’m not doing it.” I shook my head fervently and crossed my arms stubbornly, “Not. Ever.”
- - -
I don’t know how the events of the day had to led me to this. But there I was, standing before the Marauders at the Great Hall, watching as they laughed and chittered and ate their delicious dinner. Perhaps this is what being under the Imperius Curse feels like, I thought to myself. The Imperius curse manifested in the human form of Tammy Wilkins.
I let out a loud, announcing cough before saying as quickly and as assertively as I could, “Remus, I need to talk to you about matters that do not concern you, your friends or your fellow Gryffindors.” I kept my chin up, trying desperately to hide my lying face. Okay I lied; to avoid looking at Sirius Black’s beautiful face. That was impossible though.
“I’m sure whatever you need to say to Remus,” Sirius winked at him suggestively, as though me saying his name was an implication to things… intimate. “You can say in front of us.” I looked down at him, only to look back up when I saw his gray eyes on mine.
“No.” I said firmly, grinding my teeth together as though they had needed some filing. Hmph.
“Come on, Huckleberry,” Sirius guffawed, “you loved me once!” He let out an evil cackle as the others sniggered. All but Remus, who merely got up and motioned for me to follow him.
I spun on my heel to leave, only to find myself stopped. Resisted. Trapped. Cuffed on the wrists by a rough hand. I felt a violent hammering against my left breast, as though some unknown creature living inside of me finally wanted a taste of the air around me. Alas, it was only my heart, beating a million beats a second in the hope that it was a certain somebody. I turned to look at my captor, and near fainted when I saw that it certainly was that somebody.
“Sit down next to me, Penny,” Sirius said quietly, smiling lopsidedly as he patted the spare bench beside him.
I was transfixed. Hypnotised. Now, this is what it feels like to be under the Imperius Curse. Tammy’s curse would probably be the Cruciatus curse because this was entirely different.
I sat down next to him, not knowing what I was doing. Remus sat back down, too. Smiling softly as he looked at my, what would probably be, glazed-over eyes, lost in a reality-defying trance. I blinked and everything came back into focus and since it did, I managed to see the small yellow head figure of Tammy, mouth agape, her shoulders up and her hands out. The what-in-Merlin’s-knickers-is-going-on?! gesture. I gave her a small shrug, hoping she didn’t misinterpret that for a spasm.
“Now, about the other day,” I heard Sirius’ husky voice say, “I’m terribly sorry.” I stared at his face, taking note of the distinct jawline, his high cheekbones, his smooth, dear Merlin, silky smooth skin and his straight nose; the sides of his face curtained by the black bouncy curls one would call hair. “Honestly, Penny,” he said my name, “I feel terrible about it.” He continued looking straight into my soul, my eyes giving away probably everything.
“But,” he said. But?, “blame James here.” Sirius grabbed onto James’ shoulder, pulling him into the conversation. James’ smile was wide as he raised an eyebrow, obviously having no knowledge of where the story would go and what sort of absurdity he had to deny against doing. “He told me there was a blast-ended skrewt waiting for me at the Entrance Hall” - my face fell instantly - “and lo and behold, it was you! So, I’m terribly sorry for keeping you waiting!” The three devils- James, Sirius and Peter - fell apart laughing, holding onto their sides as tears of blissful happiness stung at their eyes.
I merely stared at the three apathetically. Unimpressed.
“Six hours, Huckleberry!” James said in between breaths of his malicious laughter. “Merlin, six!”
“Honestly Hucklerry, do you even know the meaning of Ravenclaw?” Sirius guffawed, winking at Peter as the two giggled together.
“Of course not, Padfoot, she doesn’t know the meaning of most words!” They erupted in laughter once more, James and Peter recovering a lot faster than Sirius, who, incredibly, was still in stitches.
I sneered at the three, leaving Sirius with a glare that said “Go find a window and lean out too far.” A window in the Arithmancy tower sounded preferable. I looked to Remus, questioning silently whether he would accompany me out of this ruckus filled terrain. And he did.
The chatter of the Great Hall quickly died down as we entered the Entrance Hall. Remus walked over to the grand staircase, leading the way as he plopped himself down, although elegantly. More elegantly than the way I sat down anyway.
“Ignore them, Penny.” Remus said gently, as I shuffled my feet and stared down at the lightly brown marble floor, as though I had an inability to look elsewhere. “They actually like you.”
I scoffed loudly and found myself staring at the face of Remus Lupin. I let out a small whimper before staring back down at my beloved floor. My pride, my pride! Wounded was my pride.
“Penny, you really don’t need to be shy around me,” he said with genuine warmth, “You can ask me anything, and you can certainly look at me once in a while.”
I sensed the small smile on his face as he said it. Okay. Okay. Here it goes. Okay. I slowly moved my attention from the oh-so-interesting floor to the captivating face of the Marauder before me, his blue eyes willing me to talk, to ask, to check the impossible.
“Okay,” I let out a breath, “I need the password to your common room so I can sabotage the Marauders - with the exception of you, of course - with the boggart I currently have hiding in my Christmas stocking.” I inhaled, holding my breath as I waited for a response.
Remus let out a small chuckle, his face genuinely confused when he noticed how serious I was. As if it wasn’t a normal request for a person like me to ask a person like him for his own password so I can destroy the image of his friends, and ultimately, the image himself.
“Penny, I didn’t mean this when I said you can ask me anything,” he said slowly, raising an eyebrow as though he meant to rebuke me for asking such an absurd thing. Instead, he smiled. “I’ll let you compose some other senseless plan to get back at Sirius now.”
He got up and left. Just like that.
I stared after him, confused, not understanding what sort of horrible thing I had done to offend him.
“You’re sabotaging the Marauders?” a familiar voice sounded behind me, an amused tone in his voice. “And you have the sense to ask one of them for help?” That familiar voice… Sounded too familiar. I froze. “Are you mad or merely incredibly thick?”
My face fell once more and I frowned. No one, and I mean no one, insults the intelligence of a Ravenclaw. I spun my head around fiercely, finding myself staring at the face of Sirius Black. Or so I thought.
“I’ll help you,” said the spitting image of Sirius, though his rough cackle was a note higher, and though he was clad in a silver and majestic emerald robe.
I blinked. “Sirius?” Why in Merlin’s knickers would Sirius help me in his own undermining? And how on earth did he get changed that quickly? I pondered over that for a moment longer. Not long after, I noticed the disgusted face ‘Sirius’ had before me.
“You? In Ravenclaw? What has that stupid hat come to?” I heard Sirius’ higher voice sneer. Again with the insults!
“How dare yo-,” I started, on the verge of imploding from my bottled up rage.
“I’m Regulus,” he interrupted calmly, his lighter gray eyes gazing into mine as though studying my insides. “And I happen to have an answer to your problem.”
- - -
“So, you’re telling me the password is ‘flibberti gibberti’?” I asked incredulously as Regulus led me to the owlery, an ingenious plan to keep our collaboration unseen to the public eye.
I heard him sigh, frustrated. “Yes, Hickleberry-”
“A thousand times, yes.” He stood at the window; an eyebrow raised as he subconsciously (perhaps consciously) scrutinized my every move. Suddenly, he smirked. “What did my brother do to you?” He asked me in what I believed to be an amused way.
I didn’t answer. Instead, I was totally engrossed in my vivid imagination. The fruition of my most abominable plan yet. I laughed evilly, tossing my head back and giggling as I pictured a frightened Sirius wetting his pants.
“Okay…” I managed to hear Regulus breath, his brows furrowed as though there was something wrong with me.
“Thank you for the help,” I nodded at him before abruptly running down the spiraling stairs. I cast him one last look before leaving the image forever, noticing just how similar he looked as he stared down after me, face illuminated by the bright moon lingering just outside, like an eavesdropper, eavesdropping on our very conversation.
- - -
I ran straight back to my own common room – talk about a work out – hiding in Neo and Brad’s dorm before they, albeit reluctantly, cast a disillusionment spell on me. I smiled at them gratefully, though, not Neo, not Brad, nor Tammy saw.
“Here’s to a successful Marauder termination,” I cheered, heart hammering with excitement.
“Here’s to you not being caught out,” Tammy muttered, biting on her nails as she gazed at where she thought I was; a whole two meters to the left of me.
“Here’s to you coming back alive.” Neo said as Brad chuckled, “This spell should last the night, Penny. So you should be coming back.” His words of encouragement worked wonders. It surprisingly did encourage me.
I kicked the side of Neo’s leg before briskly walking out of the room. It was a cold night, and I was hoping I wouldn’t freeze to death on the lower levels of Hogwarts. Not that that was possible in here.
By the time I reached the Gryffindor common room, my teeth were chattering, loudly. I cursed at myself internally as the fat lady in the portrait snapped, “Who’s there?” her eyes darting from left to right.
“Um,” I hesitated. Was I supposed to make conversation with this lady? Or was I just to state the password and go in. Oh Merlin. I was confused.
“Where are you? And why can’t I see you?” the lady quivered, eyes darting around faster yet. “Don’t tell me. Oh no, don’t tell me. I’ve gone blind!” she almost screeched, nearing the devastation of my plan.
Merlin! “Flibberti gibberti!” I whispered harshly, “You’re not blind, I’m only invisible!” I would never be subjected to such torment back up at the Ravenclaw tower, I thought. The only conversation we had was with the eagle knocker, and even then it was working on a small puzzle, a brain teaser if you’d like, to get inside. Not a maniacal woman who thinks she’s blind.
The door opened and I found myself grinning, my hands gripping tightly on the top of my Christmas sock, the power of my wrath hidden inside it.
The Gryffindor common room was actually impressive. The blazing fire to the right, the magnificent furniture and, dear Merlin, no chess sets! No puzzles sprawled across the tables? Nothing! This room was a hell for all Ravenclaws.
I looked at it with disgust; tip toeing across the floor to avoid the filth that was Gryffindor essence. Now, locating the Marauder’s dormitory wasn’t as complicated as I thought it would be. Their unnaturally high egos have benefitted me for once; etched into the door at the end of the corridor were the words:
Enter at your own peril
Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot & Prongs
I shook my head at their idiocy, as I slowly approached their door. My hand found the knob easily. I prayed to Merlin the house-elves had saw to the hinges being oiled recently. I took a deep breath, willing my heart to slow down, willing the throbbing in my head to stop, and turned.
What came to my ears was not the squeak of the door hinges, but rather, the loudest snores any body could possibly have heard. How I didn’t hear it outside was a phenomenon. Their snoring was so terrifyingly bad that I hoped I would not go deaf by the end of the night.
I quietly inched towards each bed, studying each figure before I found the one. Sirius. I smirked, stifling my evil giggle as I poured the content of the Christmas sock onto his beautiful sleeping face. The thick, long eyelashes that any girl would kill for fluttered slightly as I saw the boggart turn into some thing. A figure. A shape. A person. I stepped back slightly, brows furrowed as the boggart slowly grew a thick moustache, the eyes forming the same shape as that of Sirius’. Though similarities had existed, it was not the same face as Sirius. It was menacing, frightening, and intimidating.
I jumped up as I heard a shout come out of Sirius’ mouth.
“Get off of me!” he yelled, real terror in his voice. His eyes were wide, frightened, as salty tears began to congregate around his bottom lashes. I watched in horror as the boggart outstretched its arms, towards the one destination I had once wanted my own fingers. His neck. “DAD!” he screamed, “Father, stop this!” By this time, James, Peter and Remus had all awoken, confused, with what I believed no vision of what was currently happening. They couldn’t see it. Not like I could.
“Padfoot, mate?” I heard James ask, a genuine concern in his voice. “Padfoot?”
Meanwhile, Sirius was still screaming at his… father. I watched as the boggart turned into something more. Another figure emerged, a smaller, younger… Regulus.
“Don’t do that to him!” Sirius bellowed, “Leave him alone!” Sirius suddenly shot up, crawling on his bed towards the boggart. “Leave. Him. ALONE!” His voice cracked under the intensity of it all. I watched, unblinkingly; a disgusting, disgruntling drop in my stomach as I watched the larger man attack what apparently was a child Regulus.
“What’s going on?” I heard the others ask each other. I couldn’t tell them. My throat had been constricted. I was frozen. Transfixed. Paralyzed.
“SIRIUS!” James finally shrieked, shaking the frightened Sirius like a rag doll. The boggart then changed. Changed into what seemed to be Severus Snape, from Slytherin, and Lily. Lily Evans. Their hands entwined, their faces in an expression of complete bliss as they held each other, even loved each other. James froze, hands still gripping tightly at the broad shoulders of Sirius. His eyes were captivated by the image in front of him. His body went weak and I felt the pain he felt. The heartbreak. The torment.
But then it was Peter’s turn. Peter’s turn as he pulled James away from Sirius. It was another horrible image. An image of a shadow as dark as the night sky, absent its many stars. The monster’s eyes were slits of red and it had no figure, no figure but complete and utter darkness. He beckoned for Peter to come to him. Peter shook his head fiercely, whimpering as he did so. I noticed in complete shock as Peter tightened his legs together, as though he was about to wet himself.
Then, finally, it was Remus. Remus, who I swore not to sabotage, not to hurt. Remus shoved Peter to the side and faced the boggart with his wand out. I watched with dread, as the boggart turned into what seemed like a full moon. I prepared myself for more to come. And so it did. The moon flickered as Remus stared at it, his blue eyes bright from the light. Then, with a sudden jolt came an incredibly loud howl. I expected it to have come from the boggart, but then I saw it. Something I wish I never saw… Something I wish I could take back. But I couldn’t. And it left me completely staggered. Completely… terrified. Petrified. The howl didn’t come from the boggart, but rather… It came from Remus. Well, I thought it was Remus. But his eyes were not his own. They were yellow. Yellow slits that turned directly towards me, staring right at me, right into my own, wet, bloodshot eyes.
“Riddikulus!” I finally hear Remus croak as he turned back around at the boggart. The moon exploded into a scattered mist, marking the end of what I thought to be an ingenious plan.
I couldn’t bear it any longer. With one final glance at the four – all of who were staring at each other, shaking uncontrollably; Sirius probably the most – I ran. I sprinted out the door, out of the warmth of the Gryffindor common room, cursing the day I ever thought of this hideously stupid plan. I didn’t even make it to my own common room. Instead, I fell to the floor at the bottom of the stairs, hugging myself tightly as I tried desperately to rid myself of those… those images. But I couldn’t. They were instilled in me. And, by the end of the night, I had finally accepted this. I accepted it with a great heave and then a sob. I cried. Cried to the very images that had made all four of them cry. The images I had brought upon them – us - all.
A/N: I hope you all have enjoyed this chapter :)
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