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Chapter 9: Chapter 8
Step 8 - Expect The Unexpected
I froze; eyes wide and mouth touching the pinnacle of hell. Murmurs were scattered across the room, even some sobs as girls around me began to cry, exclaiming that Sirius had been theirs.
“You were supposed to have my babies!” one girl called out, her face glistening with wet tears.
Sirius looked at them with raised eyebrows before grinning back at me, as though amused. I stared back at him, unable to move or adjust any body part of mine.
“What do you think?” he asked finally after a moment of silence, his hand never leaving my waist.
All I managed was a stutter.
Before anything else had come out of my mouth, a forceful hand had found my arm, dragging me away from the clutches of Sirius, away from the gapes of the on lookers and rather, into a tiny room in the Entrance Hall, the four walls confining myself and my assailant to it tightly.
“What do you want, Remus?” I asked hotly, wanting nothing more but to run back into Sirius’ arms to profess my undying love for him.
Remus stared at me, his look steely. “Penny, I can’t let this happen,” he murmured quietly, though firmly.
“Let what happen?” I attempted to push past him, “Sirius-”
“Don’t you dare take another step, Penny,” he snarled, pushing me, hard, against the wall.
“What do you want Remus?” I asked, my voice quivering; partly from excitement of Sirius’ announced love for me and partly from the expression on Remus’ face.
“I’m sorry, but this has gone on way too far,” he said, his hand holding onto my arms tightly to stop me from budging.
“Listen, Remus, what has?” I was on the verge of tears. I felt as though Sirius’ feelings for me would disappear if I were gone for too long.
“This!” he shouted, “This has gone on way too far. If I’d known he’d actually develop feelings for you…” he trailed off.
I looked at him quizzically. I had no idea what he was trying to say. And I normally had ideas about everything.
“Look, you’re wasting my time Remus-”
“YOU’LL HURT HIM!” he roared, shaking me fiercely, “YOU AND YOUR STUPID BLOODY BET WILL HURT HIM.”
I heard my teeth chattering violently. “I-it’s you-ur ti-me of th-the month!” I managed to get out.
He looked at me with upmost disgust, and then his face fell. I heard him mumble an apology. “But that doesn’t change the fact that you will hurt him, Penny.”
“Remus,” I asserted him with a firm hand on his shoulder, “You don’t understand.”
He looked at me blankly and I found myself suppressing the roll of my eyes. He was supposed to be smart.
“I’m in love with him,” I told him steadily. I was ready to confess it to everyone.
“No, you’re not,” Remus reverted back to growling, “You only think you are because of that stupid bet, and when Sirius finds ou-”
“He won’t find out!” I screamed shrilly, slapping at his chest, “He won’t! Because you won’t tell him!”
“Just watch me, Penny!” he made to move out of this preposterous little cupboard of a room, but stopped the moment I held onto his arm tightly.
“You don’t understand, Remus! I’m in love with him, I always have been!” Tears were gathering at my eyes. The thought of Sirius finding out had brought about an unwanted sensation in my head and my stomach. “You can’t tell him!” I glared at him with rheumy eyes - the first sign of weakness, “You promised you wouldn’t!”
Remus spun around at me, aghast. “He’s one of my best mates!”
I tugged at his arm violently, pulling him in closer towards me, closer into the cupboard to ensure he wouldn’t leave. With one look at my stubborn face, he knew I wouldn’t budge on this.
His face seemed to be moving closer towards mine with a seething rage. “Then you tell him! You tell him now before things get any worse! If this escalates then, so help me Merlin, Penny, I’ll probably lose-.”
“What in bloody hell is going on here?”
I felt Remus’ body go rigid, his hands falling away from shoulders in an instant before a shout sounded from his lips, “Nothing! Sirius!”
I looked at Sirius from behind Remus’ shoulder in fear. Sirius’ usually buoyant, casual expression had disappeared and one of complete confusion and anguish had replaced it.
“You should’ve just told me, mate,” Sirius muttered, his eyes flashing cold.
Remus stared at Sirius, his mouth agape. “It’s not what it looks like!” he stammered.
Sirius’ smile was icy. “Don’t even bother, Remus.” With that, Sirius spun around and marched across the floor, towards the two giant doors leading back into the Great Hall.
“I’m telling him,” Remus hissed at me before running across to catch up to him.
I watched the two in a horrid daze before starting with a jolt and running like my life depended on it, slipping out of my shoes and onto my bare feet, to stop the mess of chaos from unfolding.
Sirius had managed to open the doors before Remus caught up to him, and me in five seconds after that.
“Penny has something she’d like to say to you,” I heard as I reached them.
I froze once more.
Not because of what Remus had just said, but because above the loud din within the Great Hall, above the chitters and chatters of the people inside, above the melodramatic music playing, above all sounding sounds was my voice. My voice was reverberating through the Hall.
My voice, saying those particular words that I knew would come back to bite me on the unfortunate arse…
“I, Penny Huckleberry of the Ravenclaw House, promise to prove that opposites do attract for ten galleons… through wooing a certain Marauder… Sirius Black to be more precise… and proving to the world that he is, in fact, in love with me…”
The entire hall went dead silent.
My mouth fell open, stunned. I quickly glanced up at Sirius, his face growing increasingly more livid with each second he took to look at me.
“Ten galleons, eh?” he murmured, the lifelessness in his voice hitting me with a bitter pang. “That’s what I’m worth to you?”
Clusters of words were stuck in my throat; my eyes watered and breathing became difficult. I tried to shake my head but all I caught was Sirius shoving past me, James and Peter running behind him. I stifled a sob, tears slowly dripping down my cheeks as I turned around in time to see Sirius cast me his most hateful stare before he whipped around the corner and up another staircase.
I couldn’t move. My feet wouldn’t move. My eyes stung and my insides were alive in a pain that I had never felt before. This was the Cruciatus curse.
Suddenly, I felt Remus’ hand on my shoulder, turning me around to face him. Before he had the ability to reprimand me, or speak words of comfort, or whatever he was feeling at the time, I had spotted the unmistakable yellow hair of Tammy, a piece of familiar parchment floating overhead, its excess formed a particularly large mouth.
I stared at her; unable to comprehend what my brain had told me was so obvious. Her face was glistening, as though wet. Her eyes were narrowed with anger, with aggression, with betrayal?
But it was me who had been betrayed. I stormed towards her, only vaguely noticing Remus dogging my every step.
“What did you do?” I whispered to her, ignoring the deadly stares of everyone around us.
She glared at me. “You knew how I felt about him.”
I was angrily shocked. “Then why did you do set me the task in the first place?” I shrieked at her, trying to shrug Remus’ hand off of my shoulder, “You knew how I felt about him!”
“Not about Sirius, you idiot!” she screamed back, her hair and make up a complete disaster, “HIM!” she pointed at the figure beside me. Remus hastily let go of my shoulder.
“YOU KNEW HOW I FELT ABOUT HIM!” she cried, tears overflowing her big blue eyes.
For a moment, I felt slightly relieved. She had clearly misunderstood some things, big time. But that didn’t change the strong, solid facts that Tammy, my supposed best friend, had destroyed something I had. Something I had wanted for so long.
I was about to retort with foul obscenities when a finger prodded me on the shoulder.
“NOT NOW, REMUS!” I shrieked rounding onto the figure I thought was Remus. My voice became a squeak. “Professor Dumbledore!”
He peered down at me with his striking blue eyes, making me feel infinitely nervous. Now I’ve done it.
“Would you like to accompany me to my office, Miss Huckleberry?” he said, smiling down at me, the top of his Christmas hat fell lopsidedly down the side of his head.
I really didn’t, but I only managed a nod, and followed after his bright green robes. I averted my gaze, avoiding the stares of professors and students alike. I followed Dumbledore up all the stairs and up his spiraling staircase, not even taking the effort to fall in awe about everything that could be found in his clustered office.
He gestured me to a seat before his table and I sat down on it, looking down at my bare feet.
“Would you like a pepper imp?” he asked me, holding out a pepper imp in his hand. I shook my head. “Perhaps you would like to pull a cracker with me?” A cracker was visible in his hand. I shook my head.
He smiled at me kindly. I’d never had any reason to be in his office. No, the headmaster’s office was purely for the perversely mischievous, not child geniuses like myself.
“Can you tell me, Penny what sort of magic is the strongest, the most powerful?” he asked me quietly, his half–moon spectacles down his nose.
I looked up at him, confusion apparent on my face.
“Let me tell you, it’s not the dark arts nor is it the magic we use to oppose it,” he spoke slowly, though clearly, “so what could it be?”
I stayed quiet, unsure what to say.
“I’ve heard you like riddles,” he persisted, encouraging me to answer his idea of a riddle.
“I’d say it’s some sort of charm, Sir,” I added quickly, cocking my head in wonder, “that way we can manipulate everything around us and nothing could go wrong.” If you’re intelligent enough, anyway.
Dumbledore chuckled lightly, “It’s not something we at Hogwarts are capable of teaching, Penny, though I wish we were.”
I took this time to look around the walls of his office; the many faces of previous headmasters and headmistresses stared back at me, one with a pointed beard had disgust written across his face. I swear I heard him whisper, “What on earth is that?” the moment I had walked in the room. I made a mental note to read about this Phineas Nigellus headmaster and curse him to oblivion.
“It is love, Penny,” he said quietly, his eyes never leaving mine. “Do you know what the most virtuous quality is to possess?”
“Wit,” I said instantly, defiantly; an answer Rowena Ravenclaw herself would be proud of. “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” I recited to Dumbledore, as though that settled matters.
His smile broadened. “It is the ability to love, Penny.”
We’ll agree to disagree. Of course, I didn’t voice that to him. “Love, sir?” I asked inquiringly, hiding my disagreement behind a nervous chuckle.
He nodded. “Love possesses magic that most of us know not of. It possesses qualities that can move us, motivate us and even change us.”
I continued staring at the wrinkling face of Dumbledore, unsure of what he means by lecturing me on something as pathetic, as ludicrous as love.
“Love brings out the best of us, Penny, remember that.”
With that, he gestured me out of his office, closing the door behind me as I stared at it, in a state of complete disarray, more so than I was before. What on earth was he on about?
I tread down the stairs carefully, closing my eyes as my feet rubbed against the smooth stone of the steps. It had felt quite relieving, the smoothness, the silkiness, compared to the sharp needle feeling of being on heels.
I stopped abruptly on the last step as I saw Remus leaning against the wall down the corridor, his face impassive, though his eyes portrayed some sort of pity for me.
“What did he want?” he asked the instant I had walked past him, my attempt in ignoring the boy who had ruined my short, pitiful life.
I shrugged, continuing on my way towards the Ravenclaw common room, the commotion of the Christmas Ball below sounded softly in the distance.
“Penny, stop,” he held onto my shoulder firmly.
"Don’t you think you’ve done enough tonight, Remus?” I asked tiredly, pulling down the pin that held my hair up in a bun.
“You deserved this, do you know that?” he said quietly, his hold on my shoulder slackening. “You don’t go around making bets about people’s feelings and expect it to go all right.”
I shook my head. He didn’t understand. “It was never about the bet or the money, Remus. Not even about the bragging rights.”
Remus looked at me, pity visible on his hard face.
“You ruined this for me,” I stated bluntly, a frown on my face.
He sighed, closing his eyes as though that would solve everything. “If I’d known he’d fall in love with you, Penny, I would’ve put a stop to it the minute I found out about it.”
I shook my head, my lips trembling as tears began to gather at my eyes again. “It was never about the bet,” I repeated, as though he had never heard it the first time.
“Go to bed, Penny,” Remus murmured.
“What about Tammy?” I asked him, suppressing my tears.
Remus didn’t answer.
“What about Tammy?” I asked him again, biting on my bottom lip to stop it from trembling. There mere thought of Tammy pained me.
“I don’t have feelings for her, Penny,” he finally said, averting his gaze.
“So she blames me for you not liking her,” I snapped.
Remus didn’t answer. He merely gazed at the floor.
I forced a dark chuckle. “I shouldn’t even have been here tonight.” I thought of how fates were so cruel, how the power of destiny was so evil. I really shouldn’t have been there. If I had gone home, none of this would have happened. But I was there and this did happen.
“I know,” Remus murmured under his breath.
I continued pondering over how I could get my revenge on such magic. Destiny. Fate. I’ll show them one day. One day, they will look upon my face and cry out in horror.
“How do you know?” I asked Remus, my brows furrowed as his face suddenly turned stiff, his eyes alerted.
“W-What?” he stammered.
“How did you know that I wasn’t supposed to be here?” My eyes narrowed at him. I was not a simpleton, so I knew perfectly well how he knew.
“I- I don’t know what you’re-”
“Don’t lie to me, Remus!” I shouted, pushing at his chest. “Don’t lie to me because I certainly didn’t lie to you when you confronted me about something!”
Remus looked ultimately guilty, the scars on his face multiplied as he grimaced. “I- I did it.”
I blinked. That wasn’t what I had expected. What I had expected was something along the lines of Sirius plotting for my name to be erased from the list of home-goers. Not Remus. No. Remus was above such trivial things.
“I did it Penny,” he sighed, defeated. “I removed your name from the list.”
My expression was one of complete dismay. “Whatever for?” I almost shouted at him.
“I wanted you here,” Remus said, a small smile barely visible on his face.
My nose scrunched up in an expression of bewilderment, of shock. “You wanted this to happen?”
Remus’ face fell. “You’re supposed to be intelligent,” he murmured, raising a hand as I opened my mouth to retort. “Like I said, if I’d known Sirius would’ve fallen for you, none of this would have happened.”
I didn’t understand. Remus was being much too incoherent.
“I have feelings for you, too, Penny,” he finally said, his eyes fixed on mine.
A/N: Dun dun dun.
What did you guys think? Do you prefer Remus or Sirius?! Hehe, I've got the ending worked out but I'm just really interested in what you all have to say :D
Again, thanks for reading! This story is coming to a close very sooooooon!