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Chapter 7: The Rules Of The Date (Even Though It's Not a Date)
“I still think you should have worn that top,” Fliss muttered as she, Lily and I walked down to the entrance hall. Or should I say stumbled. Or should I say Fliss and Lily helped me to not break my ankle as I stumbled to the entrance hall?
Yeah, that sounds about right.
“I would have frozen my tits off, it’s almost snowing,” I muttered back, smoothing my top down for the thirteenth time since I’d put it on. “I think we should have negotiated on the heels –”
“The heels are a winner, they’re staying on,” Lily butted in.
“Think of how many times I’ll trip over! I’ll break my ankle! I’m a complete klutz!”
“It’s endearing,” Fliss defended.
“It’s annoying,” I grunted. She sighed theatrically and grabbed my arm, spinning me round to stare at my reflection in a window.
I had to admit, I still had no idea who the girl staring back at me was.
Her black hair was messy, but in a good way. It looked teased and touched and really soft. Her eyes were outlined subtly in black. Her cheeks were flushed and lively even without her blushing, and her lips were a daring bright red. Her skin was flawless.
And that was just from the neck up.
I was wearing a heart-shaped necklace made of silver (Lily’s). I was wearing a red dress that flared out under the bust and floated to my knees. It was also a bit too tight around the bust area and made them look a lot more prominent than they usually did (it’s Fliss’ top and her bust is considerably smaller than my own – I told her this but she just insisted I “show off my assets”). I’ve got a short black leather jacket and leggings with a strip of lace down the sides.
The shoes, of course, were Fliss’ idea; black brogue-style three inch heels that were beautiful but deadly. She’d given me a lesson in how to walk in heels the night before, but I was average at best. Combined with my clumsiness? Disaster.
I was pleased with how I looked. I looked sort of pretty.
“Thank you, Fliss. Lily.”
“Listen to me. You. Are. Hot.” Fliss emphasised each word and I rolled my eyes. “Remus will think you are hot. He will blatantly try to snog you. Well, I say try…” she giggled at her own amusing wit.
I rolled my eyes again as Fliss, Lily and I reached the entrance hall where James and Remus were waiting, talking in hushed voices.
Why is James here?
Fliss and I shared a look as we noticed James’ presence.
“Who are you going with again?” I hissed to her as we stopped for a moment.
“Diggory,” Fliss answered with a small smirk, scanning the crowd in the entrance hall waiting for their dates for the day. “Speaking of whom, is waiting for me over there and leaning irresistibly on a wall. So, what are the rules?”
“I can’t take off my shoes, I can’t say no if he offers to buy me something, I will accept his jacket if he asks me if I want it, I can’t take off my shoes,” I chanted from memory. She had drummed ‘The rules of the date’ (even though it’s not a date) into my head last night.
Yes, I can’t take off my shoes is in there twice. She’s rather adamant about that.
Who even has these type of shoes at Hogwarts?! Hello, stairs!
“Well done.” She blew me a kiss. “Good luck. You’ll be fine. Love you. See ya Lils, honey. Love you too.”
She skipped over to Diggory and immediately caught him in a passionate snog.
“She doesn’t waste time,” Lily commented dryly as we watched them stride out of the castle with linked arms.
“Why are you and James here, Lily?” I asked bluntly, because I’d been dying to ask since I saw him waiting with Remus. I thought Lily was just tagging along to give me some support. She looked at her shoes uncomfortably and, for once in her life, she blushed.
“Well, James and I…just as friends, you see…and we have Head things to discuss, meetings to…plan…”
“Okay,” I said simply, and her rambling stopped and she smiled gratefully. Her blush died down.
“So why are you dressed so nice?” I asked casually.
“Ophelia!” she almost yelled at me, and James and Remus turned round to look at us. When they realized it was us, they waved us over.
The first thing I thought as Lily held my arm and supported me over was that Remus looked amazing. He was wearing a pale blue button up shirt with long sleeves – I could see the cuffs near his hands underneath a black blazer that was over the top. He was wearing dark blue jeans and slightly scuffed up black trainers. His hair was messy and irresistible and his eyes were almost sparkling. He was dressed so casual, but so handsome.
Remus smiled nervously at me as he looked me up and down, taking in my outfit, his eyes popping out slightly as he worked his way up. Am I too overdressed for his liking? Should I have gone with jeans and a baggy shirt, as is my preference? Oh God, he’s going to think I think this is a date when he doesn’t.
Which I don’t. Because it isn’t a date.
“Hey,” James said as we reached them, and Lily let go of my arm to stand next to James.
“Shall we go?” she asked him. He nodded and they both turned to Remus and me, a sly look on both of their faces.
“See you later, guys! Have a nice time!” Lily called, and they both sped towards the doors together and out of sight.
“Ophelia, you look amazing,” Remus said when they were gone, and I felt a blush spread across my cheeks.
“Thank you,” I mumbled to the floor, but he lifted my chin up.
“Are you wearing make up?” he asked amusedly, stroking down my cheek to feel the blusher. I felt my heart speed up.
“Well, yeah,” I stuttered out.
“And can you even walk in those shoes?” he continued, dropping my face and looking down at my feet, clearly enjoying himself.
“Uh, sort of,” I said, and instantly swayed on the spot. He caught my arm and held me upright, and then examined my clothes.
“I’ve never seen you wearing these before,” he said.
“Well, Fliss sort of made me –”
“Ah, Flick. Say no more.” He smiled and offered his arm, which I took gratefully.
We walked to Hogsmeade in a comfortable silence, occasionally saying something as the mood took us. He told me about the Marauder’s prank on Jennifer, Stacie and Amber, which was to happen after Hogsmeade was over during the Halloween feast.
“I probably shouldn’t go into much detail, but they’ll be covered head-to-toe in some sort of gooey substance,” he said with a smirk, and I could see he was pleased at the idea of payback.
“You really don’t have to get into trouble for me,” I said quietly, “I mean, it’s all over and done with now, right?”
“They deserve it, Ophelia,” Remus said firmly and I didn’t answer, squeezing his arm a little instead. He squeezed back and we stayed quiet for a while.
“How’s your Potions Tutorage going?” he asked in a breezy tone, and although he seemed okay with the idea of discussing Regulus now I knew he still wasn’t.
“It’s good. I think I’m improving.” I smiled at him. “Can’t you tell how brilliant I’ve been in Potions lately?”
“I was thinking maybe that was down to luck,” he teased, and I hit him lightly on the arm. He grinned at me.
“You are improving,” he said softly, “I’m proud of you.”
“Thank you,” I said just as softly back, and instead of smiling like I was supposed to I felt my foot slide when it wasn’t supposed to and my feet went flying out from beneath me. Remus quickly wrapped his arm round my wait and hoisted me up on my feet once again.
“Careful of the ice,” he said, a bite of humour in his voice.
“Thanks for that,” I said, embarrassed at myself. He shrugged his shoulders as if to say no problem and we continued on walking, and he didn’t take his arm from around my waist. Anyone looking at us would think we were a real couple.
Soon enough we were in Hogsmeade.
“Where would you like to go first?” he asked me. I looked around at the shops for a bit.
“Somewhere warm?” I asked with a smile. The temperature had dropped a few degrees and the wind had picked up during our walk, and I could do with a hot drink.
“Hmm…how about…Madam Puddifoots?” he suggested fearfully, and I looked at the building. My eyes went wide as I stared at the tackiness. I’d never actually seen the place before, just heard about it on Fliss’ various accounts of dates.
“Um, anywhere else?” I asked desperately. He sighed thankfully and gave me a rough grin that made me want to melt.
“Well, there’s another coffee shop near Zonko’s. James, Sirius, Peter and I used to go there after they’d bought items of a destructive nature.” I giggled. “It’s a really nice place.”
“Sure,” I said, and he led us to it, helping me keep my footing occasionally as we came across an ice patch.
Well, it looked better from the outside at least. It was down a small alley next to Zonko’s that seemed almost deserted. As I peered inside I could see natural, earthy tones like dark chocolate brown and warm beige decorating the place.
He opened the door for me and I walked inside, and the rush of warmth almost blew me straight back out the door again. He came up behind me and took my elbow, and led me to the counter. I looked at everything they had on sale and was still deliberating what to have when a woman that looked a few years older than us behind the counter asked, “What can I get you guys?” Remus turned his head to look at her and she brightened instantly. I felt a stir of jealousy in my stomach but I suppressed it, and settled for smiling politely.
“Remus, hey! Where’s the rest of them today?”
“Oh, hello Emily. Sirius and Peter are in detention today, unfortunately, and James is elsewhere. This is Ophelia,” he said politely, and I tried to smile.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you finally,” the girl grinned, and she extended a hand. I shook it politely but I’m not sure my face was completely friendly. “I’m Emily. The guys talk about you all the time –”
“So can I get a coffee, please?” Remus interrupted quickly, and Emily gave me a small wink. She was quite pretty – her hair was a dark brown and fell in loose curls to her shoulders. Her face was warm and her eyes were a deep green. She was wearing simple plain clothes that accentuated her tiny frame. She looked so pretty dressed so simply. What was I thinking, letting Sirius and Fliss dress me up like this?
“Sure, sure. And what can I get for you, Ophelia?”
“Um…” I took another glance at the menu board behind the counter. “Could I have a hot chocolate, please?”
“Cream and marshmallows?”
“Um, just the cream please.”
“Comin’ right up.” I started to take my money out of my pocket but Remus beat me to it, paying for my drink before I could even say no.
I was about to object, but then I remembered what Fliss had told me. So I smiled gratefully at him and gave his arm another squeeze.
“Thank you.” He smiled crookedly at me and nodded his head.
“Here you are.” Emily placed our drinks on the counter and waved. “Have a nice day, you two!”
Remus smiled and led me over to a comfortable, worn-looking loveseat with a small coffee table in front of it. We both sat down in silence for a while, nursing our drinks and warming up. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Emily serving another couple.
“She seems nice,” I said, and I worked hard to mask the stiffness in my voice.
“Yes,” Remus said absent-mindedly, staring into his coffee cup, “She’s a lovely girl.”
She’s a lovely girl.
Of course he likes her. She was just his type, I could tell. I sipped on my hot chocolate, trying to take my mind off of it.
He looked up at me and smiled brightly. “So!”
I smiled back and took another sip of my hot chocolate.
“So,” I repeated. I looked around to find something to make conversation about. “This is a really nice place. Nice and cosy.” Remus grinned and nodded.
“It’s started to snow,” he said suddenly, and I looked out of the foggy window that was to my right to see for myself. Snow had just started to fall lightly onto the ground, and it was sticking to the windows. I smiled.
“It’s so pretty,” I almost whispered, not knowing why I was so quiet.
“It is,” Remus agreed, but when I looked back at him he wasn’t looking at the snow – he was looking at me.
I found myself unable to look away from him.
“Ophelia, can I ask you something?” He sounded so nervous, but yet so confident and sure of himself at the same time.
I found that I was holding my breath and suddenly let it go in one big gasp.
“Sure,” I almost breathed, and he was staring at me so intently I found it impossible to even think about anything other than what sort of shade of grey his eyes were. They were definitely bright. Like silver. And shining. And oh, so breathtakingly beautiful that all I wanted to do was to stare in them for the rest of my life.
He opened his mouth to tell me something, but at the same moment the door flew open and the freezing cold hit us in the face. I screwed up my face and closed my eyes tight for a moment, but when I opened them Remus wasn’t looking at me but at the door and whoever had opened it. And he was glaring. It was the special sort of glare that he reserved for only one person.
“Ophelia, hello. Remus.” Regulus was standing in front of the door with a glittery blonde hanging off of his arm, staring at Remus with the same glare that Remus had for him.
“Hello, Regulus,” I said softly, and I gently wrapped a hand around Remus’ arm to stop him from making a grab for his wand. I mean, I knew I wasn’t strong but Remus normally listens to me and does what I ask with good reason, even if I can’t force him into it.
“Regulus.” Remus’ tone was curt and sharp, so much different from how he had just been talking to me.
“This is Charlotte.” Regulus gestured to the stunning blonde attached to him and she tightened her grip on his arm. She smiled sweetly but it was only just masking a look of hatred.
“We should be going,” Remus said roughly, and he jerked out of my grip to stand up. I looked down at our half finished drinks and followed him up.
“See you later, Regulus,” I said, and he nodded.
“Don’t forget our Tutor session tomorrow,” he reminded me, even though he knew that I knew because we had been talking about it yesterday. Part of me thought it was more for Remus’ benefit than for mine.
“I won’t.” Remus took me by the arm again and, avoiding Regulus like the plague, opened the door and pulled me out behind him. The door swung swiftly shut in Regulus’ face and Remus kept a firm grip on my arm as he led me out of the alley and away from the coffee shop.
“Remus, are you alright?” I asked hesitantly. He looked at me sideways and shrugged his shoulders in a vague way.
“Fine,” he said, even though we both knew he wasn’t. We didn’t stop walking until we had come to a dark wooden fence that clung round the side of the land. It looked down over the Shrieking Shack, I realized with a horrible jolt, and Remus was looking at it in a strange way. We were silent for a few minutes and his face was getting even graver.
“What was it that you wanted to ask me earlier?” I asked, desperately trying to distract him.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said after a moment, “it was of no consequence.” Part of me deflated a little.
“Oh. Are you sure?” I moved a little closer to him and he looked down at me with a sort of gaze that made me wonder whether he even remembered why I was with him.
“I’m sure.” He sighed and linked my arm once more, turning away from the ledge. “It wasn’t important.” He started to walk away from the ledge and I meant to follow, but my heel got caught in a small hole and I tripped face forwards. Remus wasn’t expecting it and, because he was holding onto me, fell down with me. We crashed to the floor with a loud thump and I heard a small crack. We laid there for just a second.
“Ow.” I felt my face, checking my nose for the sound of the crack. It wasn’t broken. Neither was anything else on my body.
“Are you alright?” I heard Remus ask from beside me. I turned on my side to look at him, and he was lying in the same way I was.
“Yeah, I think so. Are you? I heard a crack.” He was quiet for a moment whilst he checked everything was in working order.
“I’m a bit bruised but other than that, I’m fine.”
“Good.” And then the shock of the fall hit me and suddenly I was giggling, unable to stop. Remus looked at me as though I were crazy but started to laugh as well, and soon enough we were hysterical. It took us a few minutes to calm down.
“We should get up,” Remus said from next to me, his voice still happy from our laughter, “we’ll get ill.” With that he lifted himself up and offered his hand to me. I took it willingly and he hoisted me up.
“As much fun as that was, let’s not try for a repeat performance,” he said, grinning at me. My face went red and I rolled my eyes, happy that he was over his bad mood.
“I’ll try, but no promises.” We linked arms again and started to walk, but then I realized what had snapped – somehow I was about three inches taller on one foot than the other.
“Wait!” We stopped and, leaning on him, I picked my right foot up to examine my shoe. And sure enough, the heel had completely snapped off.
“Bugger,” I moaned, “Bugger! Fliss is going to kill me!”
“You broke her heel?” Remus asked, and he snickered at me. I slapped his arm gently.
“Don’t laugh at me, this is serious! She’ll skin me alive!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll just buy you a new pair of shoes.” I frowned at him, just about to say that he didn’t need to, when Fliss’ rules came back to haunt me.
“That would be really nice of you, Remus,” I said, and he smiled down at me, pleased. I bent down in the rapidly forming snow and found Fliss’ heel, and put it in my pocket.
I had to put up with walking strangely until we got back into the village, and Remus guided me towards a shoe shop that I’d never even known existed until now. We went in and I immediately took off Fliss’ broken shoes. A woman working in the shop led me to the girl’s section, and I hesitatingly picked out a simple pair of black pumps with a bow at the front – not the most convenient shoes for the weather but at least I could walk in them. I tried them on and they fit perfectly and didn’t hurt at all; they felt like I’d had them for years.
“They look lovely on you,” Remus had decided, and so I let him buy me them, stuttering my thanks as he did so.
“Now I’ve just got to tell Fliss about the heel…” I took it out of my pocket and gazed at it morosely. The woman in the shop cleared her throat hesitantly.
“We can repair your heel, if you want,” she said, “although I’m sorry to say that the shoes you just bought are non-refundable, since you’re already wearing them.” I looked down at my shoes and sighed. Typical.
“Yes please,” I said, and handed the broken shoe plus its heel over to her.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” she said with an apologetic smile, and went to the back of the shop.
“Sorry I wasted your money,” I murmured to Remus.
“Any money spent on you isn’t wasted,” he said back, and my face flamed again. I smiled up at him and he smiled his amazing crooked smile back down at me.
Within seconds the woman came back.
“Here’s your shoe.” She returned the shoe to me and I examined the heel – it was as good as new.
“Thank you,” Remus said for me, and led us both out of the shop. He took the bag we had put Fliss’ shoes in from me and smiled. Once outside, we looked around the street.
“We could go the Three Broomsticks if you want?” he asked me, “Unless you have anything else you want to do.”
“No, that sounds fine to me.” Maybe Fliss would be there, and we could give her back her shoes…
“Great.” We walked together to the Three Broomsticks, which was just a few minutes up the road. The snow had started to fall thicker, and it was hard to distinguish anything out. The only thing that made the Three Broomsticks visible was the smoke billowing from its chimney.
As Remus opened the door, the steaming hot air hit me as it had done in the coffee shop. We walked in together and he closed the door behind us, and we immediately started searching for somewhere to sit.
“Is that Lily and James?” I heard Remus ask me over the din. I looked to where he was pointing and sure enough, Lily and James were sitting in a booth in the corner, leant into each other over the table and talking quietly. They were both smiling.
“It doesn’t look like there’s anywhere else to sit,” Remus sighed, looking around, “Shall we go interrupt them?”
“Sure,” I answered. We got to their table after fighting our way through all the other customers. Once they noticed us they immediately leant back from each other and Lily looked at the floor guiltily, though James looked at us with a bright beam on his face.
“Hey guys,” he said happily, “having a good day?”
“Yeah, we went to the coffee shop where Emily works,” Remus said, taking a seat next to James as he budged up in the booth. “And we wandered around for a while until somebody broke the heel off their shoe...” James and Lily turned to look at me.
“They’re fixed now,” I said defensively. They just laughed.
“Oh, Ophie. You are a rare one. I fancy a refill, Moony, wanna come to the bar? Lily, do you want another drink?” James stood up.
“Sure, thanks,” Lily said, going quiet again.
“Would you like a drink Ophelia?,” Remus asked.
“A Butterbeer would be great thanks Remus,” I nodded. The two boys walked towards the bar together. As soon as they were out of ear-shot I turned in my seat and waited for Lily to look up at me, grinning.
“No words. Just, no words.” She groaned and knocked her head on the table several times.
“Well now. This is quite an interesting turn of events,” I said, my grin not fading. She groaned again. “What’s going on?”
“It started off as talking about our head duties. And then we just started talking about other things. About ourselves, and you lot, and we were really getting along and he wasn’t being an arrogant bastard and I don’t know…Oh, Ophie, why couldn’t I see this before?”
“Because you never really gave him a chance,” I said truthfully, and she looked up at me. “He is a great guy, but he just gets cocky and nervous around you. But you’ve seen what he can be like and you...you quite like it, don’t you?”
“I don’t know,” she moaned. “I-I just…don’t know…” She sighed and steeled herself, finishing the rest of her drink in one gulp. The boys were back relatively quickly.
“Here you go,” James said to Lily, placing he drink down gently on the table in front of her. She tried a half smile at him and mumbled a thanks before taking a huge gulp. Remus handed me mine and I smiled my thanks at him. “Actually, I’m just gonna pop to the loo. Be right back,” James added, and took off instead of sitting down. Remus slid into the booth and nodded his head in Lily’s direction, silently asking what was wrong. I just rolled my eyes and nodded back to James. He looked as though he understood what I was trying to say and smiled, taking a sip of his drink. I did the same.
“Hey, is that Fliss and Diggory?” Lily said suddenly, and I looked up to where she was looking. They were standing at the bar, his arm round her waist. She was giggling at something he was saying.
“She looks happy,” I commented.
James suddenly came into view and joined in the conversation. As Diggory was talking we could see James’ face quickly fall into protectiveness – or jealousy? He hugged Fliss tightly and whispered something in her ear, to which she laughed and kissed his cheek lightly.
Suddenly there was a large clank as something glass hit the floor. I turned to Lily and she was physically shaking, her face was bright red and positively furious. Her glass lay on the floor, Butterbeer spilling everywhere.
“Lily?” Remus asked, putting his drink down. She didn’t seem to register his voice. She stood up swiftly, not bothering to clean up the Butterbeer on the floor and stepped past us, heading for the door. Fliss noticed her coming and waved, but Lily simply nudged past her, her shoulder roughly shoving Fliss out of the way and onto the floor. The intention was clear. James helped her up and he, Fliss and Diggory stared after Lily, confused and taken-aback.
Then their gaze turned to Remus and I, and we hurriedly got up to join them, leaving our drinks.
“What the fuck is her problem?” was the first thing that came out of Fliss’ mouth.
“I have no idea,” I said truthfully.
“I should go see her,” James muttered, but I shook my head.
“I’ll go find her,” I said, trying my best not to be disappointed that I couldn’t have a walk with Remus back to the castle. I looked at his face and I think he felt the same.
“I’ll come too,” Fliss said, “I think I have a right to ask why the hell she just knocked me over.” I bit my lip but nodded.
“We’ll see you guys back at the school, okay?” I said, and they both nodded. James turned back to the bar but Remus stayed facing towards me and cleared his throat. Fliss raised her eyebrows but simply said, “I’ll be outside.”
Once she’d left, Remus gave me a hug.
“I had a great day,” he said into my hair. I hugged him back and smiled into his chest.
“So did I,” I said softly.
“I’ll…I’ll see you later, okay?” he asked, and I nodded. Then, ever so slowly, I went on my tip-toes and gently brushed my lips on his jaw line. Blushing madly, I stepped back.
“Bye!” I said, and rushed out the door.
Wow. I just sort of kissed Remus Lupin.
But on to more pressing matters, such as finding Lily and seeing what’s up with her…