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Chapter 6: Sirius' Hair Woes
“These books aren’t interesting anymore,” Remus said beside me. The sun was shining down through the green canopy as we leant back against the rough bark of the willow tree we were sitting under. I smiled as he put his books aside, still half-concentrating on my own.
“What is interesting then?” I asked, looking over my own book at him to see he was staring at me.
He plucked my book out of my hands and threw it to one side.
“Huh?” I frowned as he moved closer to me, and I could feel his breath. He didn’t answer; instead, I felt a hand at my waist and suddenly we were touching. His fingers skimmed over my side gently and I gulped.
“Remus?” I asked, but he ignored me. His eyes were on my lips and he bit his bottom one gently, before he leant right over me and resting his other hand on my cheek. His lips were so close I could almost taste him –
“We’re going to the Lake!” Fliss squealed in my ear. I groaned and rolled over, in the middle of a wonderful dream – er…
My eyes shot open and I sat up quickly. Fliss was sitting on the edge of my bed, wearing a lime green bikini. A green towel was wrapped tightly round her waist. She grinned at me excitedly.
“The Lake?” I asked, rubbing my eyes and getting the sleep out of them. I’d had that dream before. Several times before.
“We’re going swimming!” she squealed again.
What the hell did it mean?
“Swimming? In this weather? Fliss, if you didn’t notice, it was chucking it down last night.”
It was now Mid-October; rain was common and was usually pounding on all of Hogwarts windows lately.
“Have you seen it today?” She gestured towards the window. I glanced at it momentarily, then it registered. The sun was shining bright, and there were no clouds in the sky. Talk about freak weather.
“Oh,” I said simply.
“Get your stuff, come on, everyone else is ready!”
“I didn’t actually bring...um…” I gestured towards her outfit and she tutted at me.
“You didn’t bring a bikini to Hogwarts?” she asked in a little bit of shock. Then she rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll fit into mine…” She started rifling through her trunk and pulled out two pieces of material that did not, under any circumstances, look like a bikini. “Now put this on.” I gaped at the pieces of cloth she was holding up. They were just three triangles, essentially. Three tiny triangles.
“That’s tiny!” I squealed, embarrassed at even looking at it.
“Well, you can borrow some of Lily’s more modest stuff then,” she sniffed, offended, and put her pieces of cloth back in her suitcase. “I’ll send Lils up to help you, doll.” With that, she turned round and went down the stairs gracefully, as if she were wearing a full-length ball gown and not three triangles of luminescent green and a towel.
“I told Fliss you wouldn’t want any of her stuff,” Lily said as she appeared, smiling, in a doorway. Her outfit was a little more modest; a purple one piece swimming suit with a halter neck and of course, the customary purple towel round her waist. I smiled as she bent down into her suitcase, and pulled out a pair of red swimming shorts and a black bikini top with a decent amount of material, sufficient enough to cover up my chest.
“Thanks, Lils,” I said gratefully as she passed me her clothes. I went into the bathroom and a few minutes later I stepped out, ruffling my hair nervously – I’d never actually worn swimwear in front of my friends. She handed me a red towel to match the shorts and sighed.
“I wish I looked like you, Ophelia,” she said wistfully, “you’ve got gorgeous curves.” I laughed nervously; I never really thought about my body as being curvaceous but I guess it was – I went in at my waist and out at my hips, and my chest, I realized, was actually quite a lot bigger than Lily’s regardless of her height advantage.
“Your face is beautiful,” she carried on, although I never wore make up so that was silly, “and you’re so pale…most of the time, anyway. Red is definitely your colour.”
“Lily, you’ll make me blush,” I winked, hugging my towel to my chest. She laughed and gave me a fleeting one-armed hug.
“You need some flip flops and um, I don’t know, a t-shirt to wear later,” she said, before smiling and making her way down the stairs just as Fliss had done. I collected the items that I needed, slipping the top over my shoulders and my feet into the flip flops. As I followed Lily down everyone’s eyes were on me as I came into view.
Sirius whistled and my gaze dropped to the floor. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lily rolling her eyes.
“Nice legs,” he said appreciatively. Remus elbowed him in the ribs hard and sent him a frown. “What?” Sirius said defensively, “it’s not like you weren’t thinking it.” Remus turned the same colour as me.
“Y-You look nice in red,” he muttered, stuttering a little and looking at his feet. I glanced at the boys’ attire; Remus and Peter were wearing baggy shirts and surfer shorts, but Sirius and James had discarded the tops and went shirtless, showing off their defined muscles and – in Sirius’ case – tan skin.
“Thanks,” I said quietly, feeling my cheeks heat up, and Lily glanced at me smugly as if to say, ‘I told you so!’
We migrated to the Lake. The sun was shining so brightly it hurt my eyes, and I got a flashback of my dream suddenly, the bright green filtering through the willow leaves. I blushed again. The Lake glistened.
We found a spot and Sirius, Fliss and James set down their towels and ran into the water, splashing as they screamed and laughed at each other. Peter followed after them after taking his top off and jogged in to meet them. Lily turned to me.
“You have to get in,” she grinned, “you too, Remus!” She called over her shoulder as she went to join the others in the water to Remus, who was sneakily sitting down on a towel and opening a book. With an obvious wink at me, she smiled serenely and strode to where the water became deep, doing a perfect dive in. I made my way back to Remus and dropped to my knees beside him.
“Are you getting in?” he asked from behind his book.
“Haven’t decided,” I replied, glancing at the cover of his book. It was the Egyptian one from the train. “Not finished that book yet?”
“I haven’t had time to read it,” he said, frowning, “haven’t decided?” He sounded distinctly put out as we stared across the Lake together, watching Sirius splashing James.
“I don’t know,” I sighed, “I haven’t swum in ages. Which is why I’m borrowing Lily’s stuff,” I said, gesturing to the shorts and the bikini top.
“You really do look…nice today, but the way,” he added in a helpful manner. I smiled slightly.
“Just come in for a moment,” he coaxed, and he put his book down, “you know Sirius will force you in anyway.” I contemplated this.
“True,” I sighed.
“So…” he said, smiling.
“I’ll go in.” I stood up and stopped for a moment, and Remus stood with me. I pinkened, my last blush just about finished.
“What?” he asked after a moment, confused.
“Um…could you…turn around…”
I don’t know why I was so self conscious. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t going to see my body anyway. But undressing in front of him seemed far more intimate than we would want, us being friends.
He realised what I was saying and blushed darkly, spinning on the spot. I quickly pulled my top over my shoulders and put it next to my towel.
“I’m done,” I said quietly, and he turned around and his eyes moved to my body and widened slightly. After a second he cleared his throat and stood up, offering me a hand. I accepted it and he pulled me up.
“Aren’t you…taking off your shirt too?” I asked to break the silence. He shook his head and his tone was bitter.
“Too many scars. People might get suspicious.” I nodded warily, unable to think of anything to say. We walked into the water until it was to our ankles, and when it started to get deeper, he dipped his whole leg in the deep end, testing the temperature.
“Feels nice,” he commented with a smile, and he dived in, splashing me. I giggled as his head broke the surface. He threw his head back to get the wet hair out of his face and something happened.
Maybe it was the way the sunlight glistened on his wet hair, throwing shimmering glances of light around his head like a golden, godly halo.
Or maybe the moment just made me comprehend what my heart had been trying to tell my head all along.
My heart leapt into my throat at my sudden, total realisation and my limbs felt like they were about to drop off and I felt goosebumps rise up all over my skin. It was one of those real life-changing, defining, God-given moments.
He looked at me brightly, with happy eyes, completely soaked, his hair messy and wet and clinging to his head a few shades darker than normal, and I realised. It hit me, and it hit me hard.
I liked him.
I liked Remus.
A second or two – or three or four – had passed and I was still staring at him, and my mouth, I noticed, had opened in a big gaping hole.
Remus looked at me, concerned when I didn’t answer. I shook my head roughly, my cheeks on fire.
“Sorry,” I said, “my mind wandered.”
Wandered to you, actually.
He flashed a crooked smile in my direction and held out a hand.
“Getting in? Or do you want another moment to daydream?” I laughed but it sounded slightly hysterical. I took his hand and the goosebumps worsened, and he slowly led me into the water.
“I promise I won’t splash you,” he said mischievously when we had waded in to our waists.
“Is that secret code for yes, I am going to splash you but I want to lull you into a false sense of security first?” I asked with as much humour as I could manage at the moment. I avoided looking into his eyes as a horde of violent, angry butterflies made themselves known in my stomach every time I did so.
“Well, just because you happen to mention it…”
I had no time to cover my face as a wave of lake water doused me. I shrieked in surprise and my feet slid off the floor. I toppled backwards, falling under the water. I squeezed my eyes shut and when my head broke the surface I took a deep gulp of breath, blinking rapidly. Remus was laughing hysterically a few feet away from me, and hadn’t noticed I’d emerged from the water. I pushed on the surface of the liquid roughly and a wave crashed over his head. He stopped laughing immediately, bemused. He looked over at me and an evil grin broke out over his face, and I started to swim away from him a second before he started to chase me.
His warm fingers wrapped around my ankle and I screamed, and he pulled me backwards through the water as if it was effortless. I opened my eyes under the water, ignoring the slight stinging, and I was face to face with him again. We were still, looking at each other for moment and all of a sudden I imagined him leaning down in the water and kissing me passionately –
But in reality his fingers skated over my sides and stomach and I started shrieking with uncontrollable, silent laughter. After a second he let me go and I floated to the surface.
Oh god. I like him. I LIKE him!
I choked on some water and it came flying out through my nostrils, burning, and Remus patted my back at once. I almost flinched away from his touch and he stopped, confused.
“I – I’ve got an essay to finish,” I said breathlessly, staring into the water. “S-Say goodbye to Fliss and Lils for me?” With that I swam as fast as I could to the lake bed without looking at him before he had a chance to open his mouth. I scrambled to get my stuff, slipped my top back on to cover myself up, put my flip flops over my feet, and grabbed my towel. I ran back to the castle, embarrassed by the weird looks I was getting, and got back to Gryffindor Tower in one peace.
When I got there I turned on the shower and stood underneath it, still in my swimming clothes. I just had to get away from him. I wasn’t sure what I would’ve done if I’d have stayed there, letting him hug me and tickle me underwater. I probably would’ve gone crazy and tried to attack him with kisses.
I thought about my new-found problem. From where I was standing, I could see a few possible solutions:
Number one – ignore it. The most plausible, in the hopes it would eventually go away. Probably the safest option. But what if it doesn’t go away? I’ll be stuck in delicious torture for the rest of my life …except our friendship might become too much for me to handle so I’d cut him out of my life in the end because I couldn’t take the rejection.
Number two – I tell him.
He would laugh in my face and ask me how he could ever like me.
No, he wouldn’t be that nasty. I hope. He’d politely turn me down, but then our friendship would become so awkward he wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore.
Unless you believe he likes me back, in which case your name must be Lily Evans.
Number three – er…I don’t have a number three. Damn. I was hoping for more options. This is not looking good.
Well, seeing as I wasn’t going to be telling anyone that I liked him yet, I think it’s best if I stick with number one. For now. Maybe I’ll think of more options? Or maybe it’s just a harmless little crush and it’ll go away.
Or maybe, said a little voice in my head, he does like you back. Maybe Lily’s right.
But why would he? There was nothing special about me. I was simple. My hair was black and just above my shoulders. I had a fringe. I had blue eyes, a nose, a mouth, two arms and two legs.
I don’t know.
A week later, there were notices put up in all the Common Rooms about Hogsmeade on Halloween. I mean, we all knew about it anyway because we always went to Hogsmeade on Halloween, but it was official now.
“So, who’s going to Hogsmeade?” Sirius asked us all as we walked from Potions to Transfiguration. Peter had met us on the way. “Are we all going as a big group again?”
“Not me,” Fliss smiled, “I have a date.”
“Who with?” I asked interestedly.
“Diggory, of course.”
“Of course. How could I not have known?” I muttered sarcastically, and she slapped my arm playfully.
“I can’t,” Lily said, “Head work to do.”
“Same,” James said regretfully.
“I’m up for going,” Peter said, and Sirius nodded. He looked over at Remus and I and we both shrugged and nodded at him too, and he grinned.
“Great! So it’s going to be us fabulous four then,” he said with a slight laugh.
“So it would seem,” Remus said dryly. We walked into the Transfiguration classroom and McGonagall came running up to us, red in the face.
“What did you do now?” Lily whispered furiously.
“We may have ran away from her last night when she caught us sneaking out of Gryffindor Tower for food,” Sirius admitted, and Peter looked at McGonagall in terror as she came storming over.
“You two. My office. Now.”
“You got it, Minnie!” Sirius said jovially, pulling Peter, who was looking sick, behind McGonagall towards her office.
“So not only have they got themselves in trouble,” Fliss said, “but our lesson is going to be postponed for a while?”
“Looks like it,” I answered, and took my place in-between Lily and Fliss at the desk. James and Remus sat behind us.
“Fab.” Fliss put her feet up and got out a nail file, and started systematically filing the nails on her left hand. Lily raised an eyebrow at her and started reading a Transfiguration book. I turned round to talk to James and Remus, but Sirius and Peter burst out of McGonagall’s office before I could say anything and took their places next to their friends. McGonagall came out in the next second and slammed the door behind her.
“Miss Drawth, kindly take your feet off my desk,” she snapped, and Fliss stubbornly removed her feet, scowling.
“So much for the lesson being postponed,” Lily said a little smugly, and Fliss rolled her eyes at her, looking back at the boys whilst McGonagall started writing on the board.
“What did she do you for?” she asked.
“Detention,” Sirius grumbled, “on Hogsmeade.”
I looked behind at them, to Remus without meaning to. He was in a hushed conversation with Sirius, but when they saw me looking they both broke off and started writing what McGonagall had put on the board. A little confused, I turned back round again and started taking notes.
The lesson consisted of note-taking; Sirius and Peter had ruined McGonagall’s enthusiasm, so she simply got us to write everything down in silence.
When the lesson was over, Remus and I went to the Library to start the essay that McGonagall had just given us.
I didn’t know how to act around Remus now. It was hard to act normal when all I wanted to do was jump on him, or hold his hand, or cuddle up close to him. But try I did, which was why we were going to the Library as we usually do.
We sat on opposite sides of the desk, so close that with our legs folded our feet were entwined, even though my legs were so short. He didn’t comment on it as he took out his Transfiguration notes so neither did I, and we got to writing in silence for a while.
“So it looks like Peter and Sirius aren’t going to Hogsmeade anymore,” he commented quietly, and I rolled my eyes.
“They’re such idiots,” I smiled, “imagine running away from McGonagall.” Remus nodded his head in agreement.
“So, I was wondering. You know, since we’re both going to Hogsmeade, do you want to go…with me?” I froze. He was silent for a moment. “I mean, as friends of course. Seeing as none of our friends are going.”
As quickly as my heart had leapt into my throat it slid back down again, and there was suddenly a weight on my shoulders that made me feel as though I was drowning.
“Oh yeah, sure,” I said, trying to make it cheerful. “Yeah, that sounds good.”
He looked back down and got on with his work, but I couldn’t focus. I was annoyed and disappointed and heartbroken and confused all at the same time.
This is all Sirius’s fault.
My blood boiled.
“Actually I’ve got a bit of a headache, I think I’m gonna go lie down.” I started packing up my stuff and Remus looked up at me, concerned.
“Do you want me to come with you?” he asked, but I shook my head quickly and stood up, almost tripping over our entangled feet.
“No, I’ll be fine. I’ll see you later, okay?” He waved and said goodbye back, and I walked out of the Library. As soon as I was outside, I ran flat-out to the Gryffindor Common Room, where Sirius said he was heading after Transfiguration. I mumbled Sherbet Saucers to the Fat Lady and she swung open dutifully, and I fell into the Common Room.
“Sirius!” I screamed up the boys Dormitory stairs, not caring for once that people were looking at me. “Sirius Black, you get down here right now!”
Suddenly I felt I wanted to cry, and I was so agitated I could hardly keep still. I started pacing at the bottom of the stairs, and soon enough of I heard the pounding of shoes as Sirius made his way down calmly to the bottom of the stairs.
“What have I done now?” he asked sarcastically, but when he saw me he became concerned and put a hand on my shoulder. “What’s wrong?” he asked in a quieter voice.
“You put the idea in my head and now I don’t know what I feel and –” I broke off, suddenly noticing that the common room was hanging onto my every word.
“Look, let’s talk about this in privacy,” he said pointedly, and all of a sudden the silent Common Room started to bustle with noise. He took my arm gently and pulled me up the stairs two at a time. We reached the Dorms and he shut the door firmly behind us. I took a quick glance around and saw five impossibly untidy beds, plus junk scattered all over the floor. I saw Remus’ trunk and stared; for some reason I was expecting him to be quite neat but it was exactly the same as the rest of theirs space. Unfortunately, Sirius noticed where I was staring.
“Contrary to popular belief, Remus is actually just as much of a slob as the rest of us,” he commented cheerfully. I reddened as he patted the end of his bed. I moved over and sat down quietly, noticing a book on his pillow.
Sirius Black, reading a book?
I leaned over to get a look at the title.
“’Wily Ways – Controlling Your Hair Woes’?” I read aloud, “Sirius, is that yours?” He blushed and hid the book under his pillow.
“No,” he said defensively, “I borrowed it from…Flick. For some research. On…Muggle hair. For Muggle Studies. Anyway, this isn’t about me. What were you on about downstairs? What’s wrong?”
Suddenly remembering why I was yelling at him in the first place, I groaned, putting my head in my hands.
“It’s all your fault,” I mumbled, my voice muffled by my fingers. He huffed indignantly.
“You told me I liked him and then all of a sudden I’m thinking things I don’t normally think about him like his amazing jaw and his beautiful eyes and his voice and then there’s that stupid dream and I’m most definitely sure that I like him now and it’s all because of you!” To vent my feelings more I slapped his arm hard but he didn’t even flinch.
“Well, Remus does have a rather amazing jaw –” I hit him again, this time as hard as I could muster. “– Ow, okay, sorry! Why is this necessarily a bad thing?”
I stared at him like he was an idiot.
Yeah. That’s because he was.
“Because we’re friends, you complete and utter moron!” I practically screamed at him, “and now you’re gone and bloody ruined it! How could it work out when he thinks of me as a friend, but I obviously want more and then everything will be awkward!” I took a deep breath and glared at him. Stupid Sirius.
“But he does like you,” he stated, looking confused. I threw him a dirty look.
“That would be why he asked me to Hogsmeade as friends, would it?” I asked cuttingly. He frowned.
“Must’ve lost his nerve,” Sirius muttered to himself, “idiot.” He straightened up and cleared his throat. “You said yes, right?”
“Of course I did!” I said, affronted.
He stroked his chin in a really cheesy way and I stared at him, confused and terrified as to what scheme he was coming up with now.
“Okay, so what were you planning on wearing?”
I blinked. “I hadn’t thought about it. Um. Something…comfortable?”
“No. We need something sexy that will force him to admit to you he’s obsessed with you.” I nearly choked.
“Me? Sexy?!” I don’t do sexy. I do the “I’ve just woken up and I have a lesson in five minutes” look. Or the “what is that thing you’re putting on your face? Oh, make up? I’ve never heard of it” look. Definitely not an “I’m wearing tight-fitting clothes and wearing make up and I’m goddamn sexy” look.
“You say that like it’s impossible,” he grinned at me. “You know what’s really sexy? Messy hair. Muggles use thing called Max or something –”
“You mean wax?” I corrected him, still shocked at his train of thought.
“Yeah, that. Anyway, it styles your hair and stuff, and then you can use Hairstay –”
“To hold it in place!” He seemed very pleased with himself that he’d thought of the idea.
“Did you read about that in your hair book?” I asked innocently, but he ignored me.
“So we need some new clothes. Yours are okay for normal but definitely not sexy. And do you even wear make up?”
I touched my make up free face and frowned.
“It’s okay. We’ll get Flick to help us with that stuff. Speaking of her, do you know where she is? We can get her to help us now. No time like the present!”
I shrugged bemusedly as he started searching around in his bedside drawer. After a moment he produced a piece of parchment, and he tapped it with his wand lightly, and when I peered curiously over his shoulder he tweaked it out of my view.
“Sorry love, Marauder secret,” he said apologetically. I shrugged and sat back, and watched him as he studied the paper for a while. He suddenly stood up and ran to the door. “Stay here!” he yelled over his shoulder.
And then he rushed out.
I looked round the room again, my eyes lingering on Remus’ bed.
I could not believe he was so messy! It didn’t suit him one bit, but I suppose he is a boy…
I glanced up at the door nervously, but I didn’t think Sirius would be back soon. It takes at least five minutes to manoeuvre this castle, even if you know where you’re going.
I got up tentatively and rushed over to Remus’ bed. His covers were messy, like he’d just gotten up, and his pillows were lopsided and dented. I sat next to his pillows nervously and picked it up. Looking round again to make sure no one was in the room and being satisfied that there wasn’t, I took the pillow in my arms and smelt it.
Ah, Remus Scent. The most amazing smell in the world.
I closed my eyes, a dopey smile on my face. When I opened them, I put the pillow back where I had picked it up from and looked at his desk. It was the tidiest thing in the whole room; there were only three photo frames on there.
The first was of him and the Marauders by the Lake, smiling and laughing and waving at the camera in their fifth year. The next was of a pretty blonde woman and a dark-haired handsome man that were most likely his parents; they looked slightly old and grey and lined but they looked good. I could see subtle features he had inherited from both of them, such as his mothers grey eyes and her hair colour, though his was a little darker, and he had his fathers jaw and crooked smile.
So I had these handsome people to thank for my Remus.
The last one was of me and him. My stomach lurched and a stab of unhappiness came when I realized it probably didn’t mean the same to him as it did me.
I couldn’t even remember when it was taken. It looked like last year. We were in the Common Room, studying. Remus looked up at the camera first and grinned slightly. Then he patted my shoulder and I looked up, confused, and spotted the camera. I tried to hide behind Remus but he put an arm round my waist and forced me to smile. I did so fleetingly and returned to my work and, with another lurch from my stomach, I saw his arm stay wrapped tight round my waist as he started to work as well.
Then the scene started all over again.
I picked it up slowly and smiled, watching us go through the motions over and over. I felt myself choke up; he kept this, one small part of our time together, one small memory, captured forever. And he had it up here on his drawers with a picture of his parents and a picture of the Marauders like it was as important to him as both.
“Ophelia? Are you alright?” I turned swiftly and banged the photo in my hand back down on his drawers, not remembering how it was positioned when I took it, to see Fliss and Sirius staring at me from the doorway sympathetically.
“Yeah. Fine.” Fliss came over and hugged me in one of her death grips, but it was strangely comforting and I found a few tears leaking from my eyes.
“It’s okay, honey,” she mumbled into my hair, and she wiped my tears away, smiling at me.
“I’m fine,” I repeated after a moment, and I pulled away gently. She nodded.
Sirius patted my back and got his hair book from underneath his pillow. “We’re going to make you over!” he declared, brandishing the book like a weapon.
“There’s no need to be so queer about it,” Fliss muttered, rolling her eyes and forcing me into a chair in the middle of the room that Sirius had gotten.
“Clothes.” She pointed to one bag on the floor near her feet. “Make up.” She pointed to another sitting next to it, one way too big to be just full of make up. “Hair products.” A slightly smaller bag sat to the front of the other two.
“Let’s begin!” Sirius cried, and they waged war.