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Disclaimer: It's all Joe's.
Gorgeous banner of young Remus and Mack by Ande @ TDA
The truth is, in time that's all we'll be to each other anyway, a population of memories, some wonderful and endearing, some less so, but taken together, these memories help make us who we are and who we will be.
My name is Mackenzie Victoria Hathaway and I’m here to tell you my story. It has its happy moments, but, mostly, it’s quite sad. There was heartbreak, betrayal and even death. Death seemed like a constant occurrence in my short life, it was always sneaking up on me, right when I least expected it. Even I died. But that’s at the end. Oh, bugger, I just went and told you the end, didn’t I? Well, I guess that’s my cue to start at the beginning. This is how it all started.
I was born on May 2nd, 1959 to Richard and Penelope Hathaway at 3:52 AM, approximately forty-seven seconds after my twin brother, Mason. Of course, my parents were ecstatic to not only have their first child, but to have two! They went through the loving, protective feelings that all new parents go through. They promised Mason and I that nothing would ever happen to us. That we would live wonderful, carefree lives. They promised to always be there to take care of us. And they promised that they would never break their promises.
Mason and I grew up just as our parents had vowed. We lived in a small, but cozy house just outside of London, with a huge yard that we were able to run around in. Magic was not something that was used very much in our home, due to the fact that Mum was a Muggle, but we didn’t mind much. Washing the dishes by hand and taking out the garbage ourselves built character, or so Dad always said. He worked in the Ministry, in the Department of Magical Acts and Catastrophes, which was where he met Dorothy Lupin, a woman who lived with her family just down the street from us.
I was only about five years old, but I still remember the first time that Mum insisted that Dad invite them over for dinner.
“Richard! It’s almost time for them to arrive! Can you please try to settle down Mack and Mason?” Mum yelled from the kitchen, where she was busting her bloody butt to get supper cooked. Her blonde, curly hair was pulled up in a messy knot, with little ringlets hanging around her flushed pale face. She was never much of a cook, so she had been working almost all day to prepare something that was edible for our new family friends.
Mason and I were playing a nice game of pirates, our favorite game at the time. Jumping up and down on the couches and coffee table in the sitting room as Dad tried to calm us down. No use.
“Argh! I say, you nasty rat!” Mason exclaimed, brandishing his wooden sword. He and I wore red and blue bandanas around our small heads, like we usually did when we played pirates.
“You’re the nasty rat, you bloody scoundrel!” I shouted quite loudly, knowing very well that I had used a word not appropriate for my young vocabulary.
“Mackenzie Victoria Hathaway!” Mum hollered from the kitchen, using my full name. “Watch your mouth! I’d better not hear you say any such thing while the Lupins are over, or you bet your behind that I’ll wash your dirty mouth with soap!”
I frowned. Yuck. Soap was possibly the most wretched tasting thing ever to be created. Cursing was definitely not an option while the Lupins were at our home.
Mason laughed and ran out of the sitting room. “Catch me if you can!”
I ran after him just as the doorbell rang and Dad caught both me and Mason by the collars, planting us in place.
“Be nice,” he said curtly before opening the door to reveal the family who had caused my mother so much worry. “Why, 'ello, Dorothy!”
Dorothy Lupin was a stout woman, with dark brown, wavy hair and bright blue eyes. Her arm was wrapped around her husband’s waist. Charles Lupin stood almost two heads taller than his wife, with cloudy hazel eyes and sandy blonde hair. Standing behind his father’s leg, was the only child of the family, who looked to be about my age. He had blondish hair like his father and bright blue eyes just like his mum.
“Mack, Mason, this is Remus, 'e’s five, just like you lot,” Dad introduced us. “Why don’t you take 'im out back and show 'im your tree'ouse?”
I smiled up at him and nodded, looking back at the boy, who still stood behind his father. “Well, c’mon,” I said to him, waving. “We’re playing pirates. I just captured Mason and he’s ready to walk the plank. I’ll even let you use my sword, if you want.”
He smiled and nodded shyly, walking over to me. “Can I be Captain?” he asked, as I led him toward the back of the house, my brother following behind us.
Mason immediately shook his head. “No, Mack is always Captain.”
Remus glanced at me. “But, she’s a girl.”
I frowned at him. “Well, you better get used to it, Remmy, ‘cause that’s all I’ll ever be.”
That’s when I first met Remus Lupin and we were instantly best friends. We did everything together. Played pirates. Learned to fly. Pretended to be superheroes. Everything.
Remus and Mason, they got along fairly well, but Mason was usually distracted by the pretty girl who lived next door. Because Rem and I had no interest in a dumb girl, we went off and played on our own.
It was only four months after we had met, that the unthinkable happened to him.
“Healer Smith to the third floor. Healer Smith to the third floor.”
Holding my hand in one of her own, and Mason’s in the other, Mum led us down the quiet halls of St. Mungo’s. My heart was beating fast as the our footsteps echoed in the hallway.
“Remus is very sick, Mack. He’s not feeling very well at all. You’ll have to be patient with him.”
That’s what Mum had said after she got a message from Dorothy. I didn’t know what she had meant, but I knew enough to know that it wasn’t good. Mason and I had done nothing but worry for over five days before Mum agreed to take us to see him.
“Here we are, room 222. This is Remus’ room,” she said, looking down at us. We stood there for a moment, staring at the closed door, before she kneeled down to our level. “Now, you must remember what I told you. Remus is not feeling well and he might not want to talk. Please don’t be rowdy and please don’t fool around, ‘right?”
Mason and I exchanged unsure glances before nodding. She gave us a satisfied, yet faint smile and stood back up, opening the door. She and Mason slowly walked in and I could hear them greeting Dorothy. Something was preventing me from moving. I was scared. I didn’t want to see my best friend in the pain that he must have been experiencing.
I was surprised to hear Remus’ voice and even more surprised to hear the first thing that he said to my mum.
“Where’s Mack?” he asked, his voice forced.
I quickly ran into the room. “I’m here, I’m here!” I said, rushing to the side of his bed.
Gee, he looked worse than I had expected. There were cuts and bruises all over him. His left eye was purple and his lip was swollen. I couldn’t even register everything that was wrong with him and I definitely wasn’t trying to. I just looked at his face and tried to smile.
I was a tough girl, even then.
“You okay, Rem?” I asked him, in a hushed voice, putting my hand on his.
He smiled weakly. “I am now.”
I later heard my mum and his talking about how Remus had been bit by a werewolf. The thought scared me a tad, but I didn’t think much about it. He was still my best friend and he was alright. That was all that mattered.
I never saw him transform until years later, but I can’t even imagine what kind of pain he must have gone through at that young age. He tried explaining it to me once and my body hurt just thinking about it.
Remus and I have gone through many difficult experiences, but one of the most difficult for me happened two years later, when we were seven. My mum and dad had gone out on a boating trip for their ninth anniversary and Mason and I stayed at the Lupin’s. Two nights after they left, we got a call from dad.
I stood alone in front of Mum’s grave, my long, black dress blowing gently in the cool breeze. Everyone had left the funeral hours ago and my dad had been too distracted, he forgot me at the graveyard. But it wasn’t like I really cared. Someone would notice that I was gone and would come looking for me eventually. For now, I stood there, completely still, staring at the grey stone.
“Penelope Victoria Hathaway. Loving Wife and Mother. Born December 3rd, 1935. Died September 24th, 1966.”
I still couldn’t believe it. She was gone. She was gone and she wasn’t coming back. She would never be there to cook us supper. She would never be there to tie our Superman capes around our neck. She would never be there to kiss my bruises when I tripped on the pavement outside.
She was gone.
Taken away by the cruel waves of the ocean she and my father had been sailing upon. One moment, she slipped, the next, she was gone.
A single tear ran down my cheek and I clenched my jaw, willing myself not to cry. I hadn’t cried for her death yet. I knew she wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad. She had always told me to be happy and look forward to a better tomorrow.
I quickly wiped the tear away, just as a quiet voice came from behind me.
“Mackenzie?” the familiar voice asked.
Woah, that’s weird. He never used my full first name. For a moment, I wondered how he got here, then figured that Dorothy was waiting in one of the Muggle cars she used from work.
I stood still. My face was expressionless. My mind cluttered and disarrayed. I could hear him slowly walking closer to me, until he stood only a foot away. I knew that he didn’t know how to act around me. He didn’t know what to say or what to do. But it was alright, I didn’t really expect him to say or do anything. Just his presence comforted me more than anything.
I was really surprised when I felt his hand on my shoulder. He was always surprising me, Rem was. He turned me around and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me close. Then, the tears came and I sobbed into his shoulder.
That was the first time Remus had ever seen me cry. We never talked about that day again. He never mentioned it. He and Mason were the only ones who really knew why I was so terrified of water. It was almost as if it had never happened. But it had. And it hurt.
After that fateful event, Dad was isolated from the world. He got a leave of absence from work for two weeks and, during those two weeks, he was like a ghost. He almost never came out of his room, usually only to get a bottle of wine or sherry. He never ate and he never spoke. Mason and I stayed at the Lupin’s most nights, where Dorothy fed us and did all of the things that Dad couldn’t.
Then, at the end of the two weeks, he came out of his room in his work clothes, smiled at me and Mason and headed off to work. He was almost completely back to normal. He came home that day and fixed us dinner and tucked us into bed, just like he did before Mum died. And that’s how he’s been ever since. Slightly detached from the world, but still always there to take care of us.
To help keep my mind away from my mum’s death, Rem and I ended up getting ourselves into loads of trouble. We got a hold of some old joke toys that my dad had stashed up in the attic and put them to use. Such as Fanged Frisbees and Screaming Yo-yos. Though I must admit that our favorite accomplishment must have been when we got Mason to drink from a Nose-Biting Teacup. His nose was red for days afterward! I don’t really know why we resorted to jokes, but it definitely helped to keep my mind away from Mum.
Sadly, I wasn’t the only one to feel hurt. Remus got plenty of it himself. Two years later, when we were nine years old, Charles, Rem’s dad, was attacked by a werewolf, the same werewolf that bit Remus all those years ago. Charles died in his bed at St. Mungo’s.
“Rem, please let me in,” I whispered.
I stood outside his room, where he had refused to come out of ever since his dad died. He had missed the funeral this morning because nobody had had the patience to wait for him. Nobody except me. I had missed the funeral, as well, and just resolved to stay at the Lupin’s house, hoping that he would eventually come out.
I wasn’t worried about him not eating anything, like everyone else was, because I knew of the secret stash of food that he kept under his bed for when his mum sent him to his room without dinner. I just hoped that he was eating some of it.
“Remus, please. It’s been a bloody week. Can you please let me in?” I pressed once more, expecting it to make no difference. I had been begging for days, but I hadn’t got so much of a word out of him, let alone an action of any sort.
Suddenly, the lock clicked and the door I had been leaning on opened, causing me to fall into his room with a loud THUD! I quickly sat up, rubbing my head with one eye closed, looking up at him.
“Well, whaddya have to do that for, Remmy?” I asked him, jokingly.
For a second there, I thought that I had gotten a smile out of him, but he quickly ran over to his bed and buried his face in his pillow. A look of sadness passed my face as I stood up and walked over to his bed, sitting right next to where he lay. Not really knowing what to do to comfort him, I rubbed his back gently and hummed a song that my mum used to sing to me before bed.
We sat like that for quite a long time, though I wasn’t really sure exactly how long. I felt awful. I wanted so much to make him feel better, to let him know that I knew what he was going through, but I just didn’t know what to do. I guessed that this was what he felt two years ago when my mum died.
“Mack?” he murmured, his face still tucked into his light blue pillow.
“Yes?” I answered, quietly.
“Is this how you felt? I mean, with your mum…?”
I took a deep breath. “Yeah, Remus. This is how I felt. I just wanted to lock myself in my room. I wished that I could.”
“Well, then,” he turned his head so that he could see me, his tear-stained face only had a look of sadness to it. “I’m sorry you had to go through anything like this, Mack. I’m so sorry.”
Of course, Dorothy was distraught about the passing of her husband, but she certainly dealt with it much better than my dad had. She acted almost completely normal, except without the bright smile she usually had. Remus and I noticed that she was cleaning constantly. Whenever I went over to their house, she was always there to greet me, while either scrubbing the floors, washing the windows, doing the dishes, wiping the counters or doing the laundry. She never used magic anymore either, every little thing she did was by hand. We just guessed that this was her way of mourning.
Two years later, Remus, Mason and I all got our much-awaited letters to Hogwarts and, bloody hell, were we ready. We were begging our parents to take us to Diagon Alley the moment we finished reading the letters.
Of course, Dorothy and Dad took us all together because they knew Remus and I would never go without one another. Mason didn’t really care. All he ever wanted to do was check out the girls that passed by.
The whole ordeal went by so fast, that I can hardly remember what we really did. I think that Remus probably spent the most time in Flourish and Blotts, though, the bloody bookworm that he is. I, on the other hand, spent a load of my time at Gambol and Japes, the joke shop, where I found many useful and quite hilarious objects that I bought just for Hogwarts. Ha.
While we were getting fitted for our robes in Madam Malkin’s, we noticed a boy who looked to be our age, just across the store. He had shaggy black hair and Dorothy observed that he was ‘quite a handsome young man’. After Rem and I burst out laughing, we watched as a woman (who we assumed to be his mother) yelled at him for dropping his ice cream onto the floor. Madam Malkin assured the woman that it was alright and quickly cleaned it up with a simple spell. But, it was no use, the woman continued to scold the boy for being ‘ridiculously disrespectful and foolishly clumsy’. Funny enough, the boy seemed to be paying her no mind. He continually rolled his eyes and simply said, “Yes, Mum,” or “Alright, Mum.” Remus and I wanted to say something to him, but Dad and Dorothy insisted that we leave, for Mason wanted to buy an owl.
I really didn’t care about the stupid owl, so I let Mason pick one out and name it himself, even though it was supposed to be the owl that we shared. I honestly hated animals and didn’t give a rat’s eye about it.
He ended up picking an ugly looking barn owl and naming it Mist, because I told him it meant ‘owl’ in German. Ha ha, boy did Remus and I get a good laugh out of that one.
After a quick stop by Fortescue’s, we were ready for our last stop, Ollivander’s. Dad had told us many great things about Ollivander. About how he’d worked in the wand shop for a long time and how there were no other wands to match his. Afterwards, I just thought he was quite the strange old man. I got an eleven inch, willow with dragon heartstring. Honestly, I have no idea what that means, but it definitely sounds neat.
After that, we made our way home and got all packed for the next year. For we were leaving in only a week.
Ah, I’ll save you all of the boring details of the train ride and everything. Let’s just skip to the sorting. Now, that’s important.
“Black, Sirius!” the old coot — McGonagall — called out.
Up walked the boy we had seen in Madam Malkin’s. So, he was a Black, was he? Well, we all knew where he was going. The Sorting Hat sat on his head for a good five minutes before shouting, “GRYFFINDOR!” A look of horror passed across his face, before he glanced up at the surprised McGonagall. She nodded and pointed to one of the tables. Well, he didn’t look too happy about being sorted into Gryffindor.
“Hathaway, Mackenzie!” she called after a few other students.
I glanced at Remus, who gave me a quick thumbs up, and nervously walked up to where she stood and slowly sat down on the stool. She placed the hat on my head and all was silent for a moment. Then, I began to hear it talk. The hat was talking.
“Hmm… Miss Hathaway. Oh, I remember your father. A good man. He was right to have been in Ravenclaw, but you… You’re different. Extremely brave, I see. Protective. Loyal. Mischievous. Always in for a good time. And… Oh? What’s this I see? Fear? Of… Death? No, not death. Of losing someone? Oh, Merlin, my dear. Do not let that pull you down. Always look for a better tomorrow… GRYFFINDOR!”
I frowned for a moment, trying to register what the Hat had said, but smiled just the same and jumped off the stool. I ran past Remus, who smiled at me, and sat down at the Gryffindor table, where older students patted me on the back.
Mason was promptly after me. He didn’t seem to be nervous, judging by the fact that he walked up, sat on the stool, flashed a peace sign and winked at McGonagall. Wow. I’m going to be embarrassed to be related to him pretty soon here… The Sorting Hat sat on his head for about ten seconds before shouting, “RAVENCLAW!”
I felt a jump of disappointment, but, really, I wasn’t expecting any different. Mason was bold when it came to girls, but not really about anything else.
I didn’t really listen to the others, at least, until it was Remus’ turn.
My heart was beating in anticipation. Please let him be sorted into Gryffindor. Please, Merlin, please! I begged. I wanted to have at least one person in my house that I knew. Just one. And I would be happy.
Remus nervously stepped up, glancing back at me quickly. He sat down and waited patiently while McGonagall set the Hat on his head. I counted.
I ended up loving Hogwarts more than I ever thought I would. Remus and I became good friends with that one boy, Sirius Black and another one, James Potter, and then there was Peter Pettigrew. We called ourselves the Marauders. Actually, it was mostly just them four, since everyone thought it was kind of weird that I was the only girl, but they agreed that I was part of the group, so that was all that mattered. For, after all, they were pretty much my only friends. All the girls hated me because my best friends were the infamous Marauders, the school celebrities and my brother was Mason Hathaway, one of the hottest guys around. The boys told me they were all just jealous, but I didn’t really know what to think. I still don’t know what to think. You know, who needs girls after all, they’re just moody and too hyper. Way too much for me to handle.
But, who am I really? Honestly, I don’t know. I guess I’m just Mack. Mack Hathaway. Yeah, that’s me. Just Mack.
A/N: Ah, yes, I know it was quite long and I'm sorry 'bout that. Reviews are always welcome. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: All Joe's, y'all. :)
Bee-yoo-tiful banner of Sirius and Mack by Ande @ TDA
Once upon a time, you and I were best friends. And that means that whenever you need me, I'm here. Any time, anywhere, any place. Forever.
“Should we wake her up?”
“No! You know how angry she is when we wake her up.”
“She’s usually awake by now.”
“It’s almost eight fifty.”
“We’d better get to class. No use being late because Hathaway was too lazy to set an alarm.”
“Yeah, let’s just go. Her precious Marauders can wake her up, since she and them are—”
“Shut the bloody hell up! I’m awake, you know!” I shouted, opening my eyes.
The stupid harpies giggled.
“Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” Jess Ayala smirked, twirling a long lock of her black hair around her finger.
“Yeah, and you’re gonna wish you never woke up at all by the time I’m done with you,” I growled, slowly sitting up in my bed.
They glanced at each other nervously before grabbing their things and exiting the dorm.
“Thank Merlin they’re gone,” I groaned, steadily getting out of bed. I glanced at the clock. 8:56. Well, no use hurrying now. I’ll be late, either way. Slughorn will just have to wait.
I stood up, shoved my glasses on and made my way over to my trunk. It seemed strangely quiet, since everyone had obviously already left for classes. Usually, the seventh year dorm was overly loud, filled with shrilling voices and high giggles, which was probably why I left as early as I could and came back as late as possible every day. Merlin, I hated those girls. All they cared about were boys, their hair and their bloody caked-on faces.
I grabbed my robes out of my old trunk, which had been written all over by the dumb girls who had made it their duty to make my life horrible. They had written things such as ‘I love girls,’ or ‘My Marauders’ or ‘Sirius+Mack=love’. Stupid, idiotic things.
Walking into the WC, I shed my nightclothes (which consisted of a Holyhead Harpies T-shirt and shorts) and put on my uniform in quite a sloppy manner, I must admit. My white blouse was rather wrinkled, my tie was thrown around my neck, untied, my skirt was up a bit too high and my stockings were pulled up at different heights on my legs. Honestly, I looked like a scarlet woman.
Sighing, I looked up in the mirror and pulled my dirty blonde, curly hair up in a messy knot, with few ringlets hanging around my face. I stared at my reflection for a moment, noticing how much I was beginning to look like my mother. I was about five foot, four inches and I was rather skinny, I’ll say. My glasses weren’t the normal ones you might get, but they were the kinds your gran might wear, you know what I mean. The curly hair that I had just recently hacked off reached just past my shoulders when it was down, just the way I liked it. Bright green eyes stared back at me, and I quickly looked away.
Those were my mother’s eyes.
Before I could think about it anymore, I snatched up my bag and scanned the room for my jumper. Bugger, I was always losing that thing. I glanced at the clock. 9:04. Ah, I was going to have to do without it. Slughorn was waiting.
I slung my book bag over my shoulder and hurried down the spiral staircase, keeping a hand on the wall, as I always did.
“Wow, don’t you look gorgeous this morning,” came an all-too-familiar sarcastic voice.
I looked up, a bit surprised to see Remus sitting on the arm of a couch.
“Oh, were you waiting for me?” I asked, sarcastically. “Well, blast it, I shouldn’t have taken so long, my apologies.”
He chuckled and stood up. “You ready?”
I looked around the common room and sighed. “Have you seen my jumper? It’s always freezing in Potions. I’m afraid I’ve seemed to have misplaced it…again.”
A quick look of recognition passed on his face, as he reached into his bag and pulled out my jumper. “You left it down here when you and James got back from your prank last night,” he said, tossing it to me. “Better be careful as not to leave evidence lying around like that.”
I rolled my eyes and started walking toward the portrait hole. “So, what’s our excuse today? Blame it on Peeves? Or some nasty Slytherin?”
Remus looked thoughtful for a moment, then smiled. “No, we’ll say that you fell down the stairs and had to get a plaster on your ickle little boo-boo,” he teased in a baby voice.
I laughed once and frowned. “No,” I said, firmly, but jokingly. “Not the plaster part. We’ve got no proof. But the tripping bit is alright. Everyone’ll believe that.”
Seventh year already. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, the years just seemed to fly by.
Remus and I were still best mates, along with the rest of the Marauders and we were all constantly getting into trouble. As sixteen year olds, you’d think we’d learn our lesson from the countless detentions, but no. It only made us try harder the next time.
I was the same as always, constantly surrounded by my mates and the one girl in the school that everyone figured was lesbian. But I wasn’t! I swear! If anything, I was probably the least likely in the school to like girls, due to the fact that I never hung around any of them. Ha, but Sirius and I’ve got a plan. More on that later…
All of the Marauders had grown up quite a bit. Sirius was a bit more serious (no pun intended) about his relationships with girls. James hadn’t given up on Lily, but he’d definitely backed off a load. Peter was…Peter, honestly. He’d been pretty much the same since first year. I guess he got a bit taller? Whatever. And Remus…
Ever since the lot of them decided to become Animagi (yes, I know about it), Remus has been doing a load better when it comes around full moon. That was around the end of fifth year, but the rest of the Marauders are always there to play with him when he’s in werewolf form and, for some reason, it’s helped. I’ve always been in the Shrieking Shack, waiting to help his wounds when he changes back, but there’s not much else I can do. Obviously, I can’t be anywhere near him when he’s changed, at least I can help a bit.
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. Those were the boys. Plus me, Nightingale. The dumb girl.
“Well, you just look like a ray of sunshine this fine afternoon, Mack,” Sirius chuckled as Remus and I sat down at lunch that day.
I sighed. “Merlin, do I really look that bad?” It wasn’t like I really cared that much, but it was kind of annoying to get two different comments from the boys.
“Naw, you just look a bit slutty, like Ashleyn Wilkinson, is all,” James teased, laughing.
We all looked over at the Ravenclaw table, to see Ashleyn practically sitting on my brother’s lap. She had long, bleached blonde hair that reached the middle of her back. The top buttons of her shirt were open, revealing a bit of skin and her skirt was cropped short. Her skin was nearly flawless and she wore no embarrassing glasses. She was gorgeous. Uh…Not that I was jealous or anything.
I groaned and turned back around, noticing that all the boys were still staring at her.
“Yeah, no way I could ever look like that,” I laughed.
Each of them nodded and agreed, their gazes still averted.
“Yeah, no way.”
I sighed and rolled my eyes. Gee, thanks, guys.
Trying to ignore them, I started filling my plate with the random lunch foods that I usually ate; peanut butter and jam sandwiches, a handful of crisps and a cup of pumpkin juice.
Sirius was the first to come back to his senses, about five seconds later. “So, Mack, are you ready for Plan Lesbiano?”
I laughed. “Since when did it become ‘Plan Lesbiano’?”
One by one, the boys were coming back from staring at the She-Demon. Remus was the last to turn away, something that both surprised and bothered me. He wasn’t usually the girl-crazy type.
“—Is big, Nightingale. You sure that you’re ready?” Sirius asked me, while I was half listening.
“Wait, refresh me on what you two have planned?” Remus frowned. We hadn’t told any of the Marauders our scheme. Not something we usually did.
“It surprises me that you’d even care, the way you always look at Ashleyn. Why don’t you just ask her out already?” I shocked myself by saying, right before taking a large bite out of my sandwich.
Everyone looked at me, probably just as stunned by my comment as I was. Remus retained a look of concern, his brows furrowed in an unusual way. I sat still for a moment, glancing around at them, then continued to chew my food while suddenly gaining an immense interest in my plate.
“What did you say, Mack?” James was the first to question.
I shrugged anxiously, swallowing my sandwich. “Uh…I was just saying…We always see Moony staring at Wilkinson. Why doesn’t he just work up the balls to ask her out already?”
Sirius looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah, Remmy, why don’t you ask Miss Wilkinson on a date to Hogsmeade next Saturday? We all know that you fancy her.”
Remus groaned and shook his head. “No,” he said firmly. “No, no, no. You lot know that I act weird around girls.”
Everyone looked at me and I raised my hands as if in surrender. “Hey, you act pretty normal ‘round me, mate. I think you’ll be fine.”
“But I’ve known you since I was five. There’s definitely a difference.” He was in denial. Oh, gag me.
“Merlin, Moony, just ask her out!” James insisted, hitting the table.
We all chorused our agreements and Remus rolled his eyes.
“Fine! I might ask her out tomorrow. Happy?” he finally concurred.
We all smiled in triumph and gave him a satisfied slap on the back.
Everyone but me.
For some reason, I felt like I had just made a huge mistake.
It was during our second year that we all agreed that we needed to make the Marauders official. We needed to have a ceremony.
“Don’t you lot think this is entirely unnecessary?” Remus complained, as all five of us snuck through the hallways under James’ invisibility cloak. It was four hours past curfew and, if we got caught, we were in for a whole block of detentions.
“Oh, c’mon, Rem. Lighten up,” I said. “This’ll be fun.”
We made our way to the Room of Requirement, which we had only just discovered a few weeks before. When we opened the door, it revealed a smallish room with blank walls. It was dark, except for a circle of candles, which hovered in the middle of the room and was surrounded by five floor cushions. We all looked at each other and smiled. Quickly shutting the door behind us and taking a seat on the cushions, we began.
Sirius started us off because, well, he was Sirius, after all. “We are gathered here today, on this lonely Saturday night, in this undiscovered magical room to establish a fraternity—”
“You mean a club,” I said, knowing that fraternities were all same-sex oriented.
“Or a cult,” James muttered, causing us all to laugh.
“—We are here,” Sirius continued, loudly, “to establish a band of mischief-makers and rogues—”
“What the bloody hell’s a rogue?” Peter interjected.
Sirius ignored him. “—And to officially initiate the Marauders.”
“We should have rules,” Remus said. “Every club has rules.”
“Right you are, Remmy,” Sirius agreed.
“Rule One: The Marauders must stay banded together as best mates until the end of their years here at Hogwarts,” James said.
“Not ‘til the end of Hogwarts. Forever,” I amended.
Remus shook his head. “Let’s be realistic. Forever?”
“Yes. Forever, Remus,” I told him, then looked at the other three. “The Marauders must stay banded together as best mates until the end of their days here on earth. Agreed?”
Everyone nodded. Rule One was established.
“Rule Two: The Marauders must always maintain a status of the coolest group of mates at Hogwarts,” Remus said.
We chimed our consent. Rule Two, everyone.
“Rule Three?” Sirius looked for volunteers.
Peter peeped up. “Rule Three: If two Marauders happen to be crushing on the same girl, neither of them may pursue it,” he told us, firmly. It was quite obvious that he had already experienced such a thing.
I glanced around at the boys as they agreed.
“Of course, that excludes you, Mack,” James smiled.
I nodded in satisfaction, when Rem looked at me and laughed.
“And, if this girl happens to be a Marauder?” he inquired after the group.
I smirked. Right. Like any of them would ever like me.
“Oh, good point, Remus,” Sirius frowned, then chuckled. “Rule Four: No Marauder may fall for another Marauder. And if such should happen, it should be heavily avoided. Agreed?”
It was agreed.
“No offense, Mack,” James said, “but I don’t think we’re ever going to need that rule.”
“None taken, James, and I wholeheartedly agree,” I smiled, pushing my glasses further up my nose. “Ah, I’ve got it, Rule Five: The Marauders must solemnly swear to always be up to no good.”
Each of us smiled and nodded.
“Agreed?” I asked, putting my hand out in the middle of our circle, right above the candles.
“Mack, that’s so gay…” Sirius complained.
“Gay or not. Do it,” I told him, then looked at Remus. “Rem?”
He smirked and put his hand on top of mine.
He did the same.
He glanced at Sirius and over-dramatically put his hand on top of the stack.
I looked at Sirius. “You gonna be a Marauder? This is it. You’ve got to do it. Or you’re no Marauder.” I tried to keep a straight face, but chuckled somewhere in the middle of my words.
He rolled his eyes and put his hand on top. “Look at us. We’ve been official Marauders for what? Five minutes? And here we are, already acting like poofs,” he sighed, but smiled.
“To the Marauders?” James asked.
“To the Marauders,” we all chorused, throwing our hands up in the air.
I was nervous.
I’ll admit it, I was.
Sirius and I were about to initiate “Plan Lesbiano” and it felt like butterflies were about to consume my stomach. But what was wrong with me? I was never nervous before pranks. Hm…Maybe it was because this particular prank required a little more than they usually did. Well, you’ll see what I mean.
Remus, James and Peter stood off to the side of the courtyard, waiting to witness the prank that they hadn’t the slightest idea about. People had already noticed them watching us and were stopping around the edges of the courtyard. They were ready for a show and we were gonna give ‘em one.
Sirius looked at me. “You ready for this?” he smirked.
I glanced over at the others and Remus smiled at me and flashed a thumbs up, just like he always did. I turned back to Sirius and nodded. He smiled grandly and motioned for me to go stand in the middle of the courtyard.
I slowly walked to my position, trying to keep my breathing at a somewhat normal rate. Smiling at the crowd that had assembled, I gave them an overly-dramatic curtsy, then looked back at Sirius. He held his fingers up. Three. Two. One.
He flicked his wand and fireworks instantly blew up about ten meters in the air. Green, blue, orange, pink, red, purple. They flashed every color you could image for about ten seconds, then proudly etched our name in the sky. ‘The Marauders’ it said.
And that was our cue. Standing in the middle of the courtyard, in front of Merlin knew how many people, Sirius Black put a hand on the small of my back, dipped me back and kissed me right on the mouth.
“Well, I’m guessing that she’s not lesbian.”
“Are you kidding? She just snogged Sirius Black. Of course, she’s not lesbian!”
“Aren’t they like brother and sister, though? Wouldn’t that be kinda weird?”
“Oh, what I would give to snog Sirius Black.”
“The girl is so bloody lucky!”
I guessed that we had done what we set out to do. In the public’s eyes, I was officially not a poof anymore. Thank Merlin. And all I had to do was kiss Sirius. My first real kiss. Woah.
Well, at least it was done and over with.
The other Marauders really couldn’t believe what we had done, though. They stood shocked for at least two minutes afterwards and all Sirius and I could do was laugh. I’ll admit that it was sort of awkward, but we got over it quickly. For, after all, he was the Sirius Black. Conquerer of almost every girl in our year. Almost.
That evening, Remus and I sat in the common room, him finishing up some homework and me copying his Muggle Studies essay. ‘Why do Muggles need electricity?’ Well, practically growing up as a Muggle, I knew very bloody well why they needed electricity, but I really didn’t care to use my brain that much, so I resolved to copying Moony’s.
It was about eleven o’clock and most everyone had gone to bed. The only other people in the common room were three little third years, who seemed to be studying ardently. James and Peter had snuck down to the kitchens to get a little snack and Sirius had claimed that he was exhausted and had gone off to bed.
Remus sat indian-style on the end of the couch and I sat next to him, my head against his shoulder and my legs stretched out along the rest of the couch.
“Mack?” he asked me, after he had completed his homework and was waiting for me to finish copying his essay.
“Yeah?” I answered, continuing to write.
“You never told me how you felt kissing Sirius.”
I leaned my head back and looked at his upside-down face. “Huh?”
“I mean, you never said how you felt getting your first kiss.”
I sat up and looked at him properly. “How’d you know it was my first kiss?” Sure, he was my best friend, but I didn’t know he kept tabs on that kind of stuff.
“Well, because the only other person you’ve ever kissed was me,” he chuckled. “When we were eight. Don’t you remember?”
I thought for a moment, then laughed. “Oh, yeah! Don’t remind me, that is too embarrassing!”
He smiled and looked at the fire, remembering back. “We were playing in your garden and you looked at me with a frown. When I asked you what was wrong, you said that Maryanne, the girl next door, told you that she had kissed a boy and that she made fun of you for having never been kissed. I felt so bad that that dumb girl was being mean to you, I offered to give you your first kiss. You wholeheartedly agreed, but criticized me afterward for kissing wrong,” he looked back at me, humor in his eyes. “You said, ‘Remus! You have to tilt your head, so our noses won’t bump into each other!’ I felt so bad for kissing wrong and I wanted to do it right, but you stomped off, muttering something about how bad a kisser I was.”
I laughed. “Oh, Rem, I’m so sorry for stomping off, though I’m sure that your kiss was perfectly acceptable for an unsure eight year old. And I thank you for making me feel better. That Maryanne was always so snotty to me. I’m pretty sure I told Mum that I wanted to pull her hair out.”
Remus’ smile faltered a bit at the mention of my mum, but we knew better than to talk about it. “Anyways, your first real kiss? How was that?”
I shrugged. “Well, I guess it was great. I mean, it was Sirius, after all. We know that he’s had plenty of experience. He wasn’t too forceful, yet he made it look like I knew what I was doing. The man’s genius, he is.”
“Right you are. But I’m just glad that it was Sirius, instead of some bloke who might try and take advantage of you. You know, those type of guys.”
I looked at him with a confused face for a moment and he shrugged.
“You know how I am, Mack. I’m protective over you. It’s just…an instinct. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
I gave him a faint smile and yawned.
He looked at the clock. Darn. Eleven thirty already.
“Well, we’d better head off to bed,” Remus said, snatching his essay. “You can finish this tomorrow, alright?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s okay. I already finished it,” I grabbed all my things and began walking toward the girl’s stairs. “Goodnight, Moony. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“‘Night, Nightingale,” he said, walking over to the boy’s stairs. “Sleep tight.”
I nodded and made my way up the spiral staircase as slowly as I could, taking one step every other second.
Why had he brought up the kissing thing? I mean, it was fun to look back on memories and all, but to bring up that particular memory? I don’t know. Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal. Maybe I was just looking into it too much. Damn. Sometimes I wished I wasn’t a bloody girl, with all of these hormones. They just got on my nerves most of the time.
About five minutes had past by when I finally reached my dorm. I quietly opened the door, hoping not too wake up the harpies. I took about four steps before resolving that shuffling around in the dark was definitely not a good idea for the uncoordinated.
“Lumos,” I whispered, and my wand lit up, though not too bright.
It took me about two seconds to notice that my bloody bed was nowhere in sight. It was gone! My trunk sat in its usual position, along with my bedside table, but the bed was gone! What the—? The harpies. I almost groaned, when I noticed a note pinned to the wall where my bed was supposed to be. I snatched it off the wall and read it.
Hopefully now you won’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
I clenched my jaw, willing myself not to scream. Crumbling up the note, I went to my trunk, grabbed my nightclothes and changed into them right there. It was too late to throw a fit about this and I was way too exhausted.
Leaving my wand in its usual spot at the bottom of my trunk, I walked down the stairs to the common room, then turned around and made my way up the boy’s stairs. Quietly and quickly, I climbed the stairs until I got to the seventh year dorm, my bare feet making a gentle pat on the cold stone as I walked. I creaked the door open and slipped in. Immediately cursing myself for leaving my wand in my trunk, I slowly (and I mean slowly) made my way through the all-too-familiar dorm and to my destination.
“Remus,” I whispered, nudging his shoulder. “Remus, scoot over.”
I assumed that he woke up because I heard his voice in the darkness. “Mack? What is it this time?”
“The harpies stole my bed and I have no place to sleep. Now scoot over.”
He groaned and shuffled to the other side of the bed, pulling back the covers to let me in. I laid down and pulled the covers back over me. I took off my glasses and set them on his bedside table.
“Thanks, Rem,” I breathed, hoping not to wake any one up.
“Anytime, Mack, anytime.”
I lay awake until I heard his breathing slow and I knew that he was asleep. Then, I wrapped my arm around his waist and fell right into a deep and peaceful slumber.
A/N: Haha, I just have to say that writing the ceremony was really fun! Well, I hope that you guys liked it and please, please, please give me some type of feedback? It would be greatly appreciated. :)
Lovely banner of Remus and Mack by Ande @ TDA!
I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things they fear to do.
A couple weeks went by and, pretty soon, I was not only known as ‘the girl whose only mates were the Marauders’, but also as’ the girl whose only mates were the Marauders and kissed one of them in front of everyone’.
Ha. I’ve just got to say. It’s bloody great. Not.
So, this particular day was not the best. It was a Friday and I forgot to finish Thursday night’s homework. So, of course, I had to miss breakfast to finish the blasted thing. I then proceeded to be five minutes late to Muggle Studies because I lost track of the bloomin’ time. Yeah, not a great way to kick off the day.
Walking from Muggle Studies to Potions, a trip I usually take myself, I ran into Sirius, who was on his way to Potions, as well. We walked and talked for a while, when he suddenly asked me a question.
“You know what you need, Night’?” he said, shortening my nickname. I mean, what was the point of a blasted nickname if it was just going to be shortened? That gets on my nerves, it does.
“What, Paddy?” I answered, trying to annoy him.
He ignored me and smiled. “A man.”
I shrugged, not catching his obvious drift. “I’ve got all the men I need,” I referred to the Marauders.
He shook his head. “No, no. I mean, you need a man,” he raised his eyebrows suggestively.
I frowned. “No.”
Sirius and James were always trying to set me up with dates. They tricked me, blackmailed me and even hexed me into going out with some dimwit or another. But none of them were at all my type. They were either too short, too uptight, too girly, too dull, too rude or too obsessed. Pretty soon, I just gave up and refused any and all of the offers that either of them contorted.
“By why not, Mack? I mean, James and I—”
“Oh, surprise, surprise, James is in on it, too.”
“No, but just listen—”
“Sirius! I’m not going to bloody do it. Don’t waste your breath.” I was starting to get irritated.
“Well, just read this and tell me what you think,” he murmured, pulling an envelope out from his robes and handing it to me.
I hesitantly took the envelope from him and realized that it was addressed to me. “Wait, who’s it from? And why do you have it?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Don’t know. And I’ve got it because you weren’t at breakfast and this damned owl wouldn’t stop pecking Moony on the head until one of us took the letter from it.”
I noticed that the seal wasn’t broken and smiled. “Aw, you didn’t invade my privacy by opening it. How cute,” I smirked.
He rolled his eyes. “C’mon, let’s get to Potions. You can read the bloody letter later.”
I slipped the envelope into my bag and almost instantly forgot about it.
After that irritatingly slow morning, us Marauders decided to take advantage of the beautiful, sunny day that it happened to be and spend our lunch period outside, as it seemed many other students decided to do. We claimed our regular spot by the old oak tree, shooing away the little first years and began scarfing down our lunches. We sat quiet for a couple minutes, like we usually did come the beginning of lunch. This time of day was officially called ‘Marauder eating time’ and there was to be no talking during this time, just eating. As usual, Sirius and James were the first to finish and decided to to have a race to see who could run to the lake and back the fastest.
“Mack, say go,” James told me.
“Go,” I mumbled immediately, with a mouthful of food.
Of course, there was a lot of pushing and shoving along the way, but it seemed as though the two were neck and neck. When they reached the lake, however, right before turning back around, James pushed Sirius into the dark water. We roared with laughter as Prongs slowly walked his way to the finish line and Sirius stomped his way back to us, water dripping from his hair and clothes.
“Oh, you think this is funny, do you?” he asked, his face full of false fury. “Let’s see how funny you think this is.” He then proceeded to shake himself like the dog he is and spatter water all over us.
After that, we all settled down and Sirius used a drying spell on himself. “Don’t want to get pneumonia,” he had said, to which we all laughed, knowing very well he didn’t know the slightest of what he was talking about. I slipped off my shoes and socks, like I always did, and the boys made fun of me for it, like they always did.
“Hey, Nightingale,” James called from around the other side of the tree.
“What do you get when you mix dirt with water?”
I frowned. What was he getting at? “Uh…mud?”
“Righto, mud!” he exclaimed, coming around the tree and throwing a handful of mud at me.
“Ugh, gross, James!” Even though it only got on my legs and a bit on my skirt, it was still gross. I mean, honestly. What was he? A first year?
He laughed loudly as I threw my half-eaten apple at him. “Better go wash that off,” he chuckled.
I groaned and stood up. Bloody stag.
Slowly sauntering down to the side of the lake, I watched as Frank Longbottom and Davy Schroller laughed and threw girls into the water. Then, standing only where the water came up to my ankles, I quickly began to wash my legs off. Damn mud was so thick, I had to scrub.
I guess that I was too distracted to notice Frank and Davy sneak over to where I stood.
“In you go!” Davy shouted, grabbing my feet. Frank took my arms in his hand and lifted me up in the air. I didn’t say anything for a moment, before I realized they were walking toward the deeper part of the water.
“No!” I shouted, struggling in their arms. “No! Put me down!”
Of course, they assumed that my screaming in protest just meant I didn’t want to get wet, like with the other girls. Merlin, were they wrong.
I kicked my legs and yelled, “Put me on the bloody ground!”
Panic started to spread through me as they carried me closer to the water. Why were they ignoring me?! I hadn’t swam since I was seven! I didn’t ever remember how to swim! My mum died in water, for Merlin’s sake!
“Stop!” I screamed, just as they threw me into the lake.
I hit the dark waters and instantly began to sink to the bottom. Holding my breath, I frantically waved my arms and kicked my feet, hoping to maybe make it to the surface. No such luck. I continued to sink. My lungs screamed in protest and willed me to take a breath, which I did, only sucking up a lungful of water. My instant reaction was to start coughing, but that only caused me to breath in more water.
I wanted to die. I really did. It felt like I was under water for hours, breathing in water at least two more times. I was going to die. Please, Merlin, let me die. I slowly closed my eyes and willed my body to shut down.
Suddenly, I felt a strong arm wrap around my torso and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the side of the lake, furiously coughing up water. I kept my eyes closed and hoped — prayed — that I was in heaven.
I felt a hand on my back and an irritatingly loud voice was shouting.
“Didn’t you hear her screaming?! She can’t swim! You should bloody well know that something is wrong if someone is screaming at the top of their lungs for you to put them down! She could have bloody well drowned!”
I slowly opened my eyes, the light blinding me for a moment. Rem was knelt on the ground next to me, his hair dripping wet and his clothes clinging to his body. The rest of the Marauders were standing behind him, glaring at Frank and Davy, who looked quite ashamed. Loads of people were staring. Wonderful. I had caused a scene.
Remus looked at me, concern written all over his gentle features. “Are you okay, Mack?” he asked sincerely, rubbing my back.
I didn’t know what was going on. I could hardly register what he was saying. It took me a moment to realize that I was shaking. My head felt as though I’d just been hit by a hammer. I slowly shook my head.
Resting my head against his shoulder, I shuddered and stifled a sob. Merlin, help me not to cry in front of all these people. I cannot cry in front of them.
“C’mon, Moony,” James said as Rem scooped me up in his arms. “Let’s get her to the infirmary.”
Oh, my God. I almost drowned and Remus saved my life.
I was out of the hospital wing almost as quick as I came in.
Poppy Pomfrey, who was a young witch that had just become school nurse last year, had been rather worried when we walked in, but after a speedy check-out, she assured me I would be fine. Giving me a potion for my headache and something to help with the shock I had been in, she instructed the boys to take me up to the Common Room and let me rest, for I was still in a bit of shock. She used a drying spell to dry my clothes, which was supposed to help a bit, but I really needed to “snuggle in a nice blanket and dream pleasant dreams”. Her words, not mine.
Just as they were told, the Marauders took me up to the Common Room. Because everyone was either still at lunch, or was heading to their next classes, the large room was deserted, leaving me a quiet place to rest, just as Poppy instructed. Remus, who was still carrying me despite my complaints, set me down on the couch nearest the fire and Sirius (“Accio ‘nice blanket’”) gently wrapped me in a large, soft blanket.
“I’m fine, you lot,” I muttered, weakly tugging at the end of the blanket.
James kneeled down and brushed away a strand of hair from my face. “Are you alright, Nightingale?” he asked quietly.
I waved him off. “‘Course, I’m alright. I’m fine.” Merlin, I hated all this babying. I wasn’t five. I could walk myself. I could wrap a blanket around myself. They worried far too much. Nothing was wrong with me anyways. I was just shivering a bit and my head still pounded. Nothing to mother me about.
“Are you sure?” Peter asked, speaking up, something he hardly ever did.
I sighed. “Yes. I’m fine. I just…need a bit of rest, like Pomfrey said.”
“Do you want one of us to stay here with you?” Sirius asked.
“No!” I almost shouted, pushing the blanket off my body. “Blimey! Go to class! I can take care of myself!” I stood up quickly, planning to run up to my dormitory, but I immediately felt like I was going to tumble over and had to sit back down.
Damn it. So much for a quick escape.
“You’re not fine, Mack,” Remus insisted, sitting down next to me. “You might still be in shock, without even realizing it. You were under the water for longer than you needed to be. Those idiots didn’t notice that you weren’t coming up out of the water.” I saw a flash of anger pass over his eyes. Was he really that upset? I mean, it wasn’t really Frank and Davy’s fault, was it? They were just messing around and got a little too carried away.
“Remus, it’s fine. I’m fine. Don’t worry anymore,” I sighed, pulling the blanket back over my body. “Now, if you lot’ll excuse me, I’d better be resting right about now, thanks.”
I slept for a few hours and woke up about forty minutes before dinner. Lovely.
So, slowly standing up, I walked up to the boy’s dorm and grabbed the Marauder’s Map from Sirius’ ‘secret hiding place’ (a loose floorboard under his bed). Muttering the words that had been inspired by my own ‘Rule Five’, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” I made my way up to my own dormitory and scanned the map for the four boys, wondering where they were. Not in the library (no surprise there), not in the Room of Requirement, not the Great Hall, not in any of the classrooms.
Where the bloody hell were they?
Then, suddenly, I reminded myself that I shouldn’t be worrying. I’m not their mum, after all. So, shrugging, I tossed the map on my bed and trudged over to my trunk. It was now the weekend and I was giving myself permission to dress in my casuals. I changed into a comfy pair of denim trousers with a few holes in the knees and a fitted black shirt. Quickly slipping on my trainers, shoving the map in my pocket and grabbing my book bag, I walked down to the Great Hall, hoping that maybe the boys would magically appear there.
I was surprised to walk into the Great Hall and find them all sitting at our usual spot at the Gryffindor table. It was still about twenty minutes ‘til dinner and they had no reason to be here.
“How are you feeling?” Peter asked before I even took my seat.
I groaned. “I’m great. Never better.” I felt no need to give them any further explanation.
They were all dressed in casual, as well, and I wondered when they had had time to go change. I would’ve heard them come back into the Common Room, wouldn’t I? Now, I was officially irritated with the Marauders.
“I’m going to sit by Mason,” I said, noticing that he had just walked in and was sitting with Edmund Ross, one of his few friends that I could actually cope with.
They looked at me questionably, but I walked off before anyone could ask anything.
Plopping down next to my brother, I hissed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, not looking up from a letter of sorts he seemed to be writing.
“Oh!” I breathed, causing Ed to look at me strangely. I rustled through my messy bag before whipping out the now crumpled letter that Sirius had given me that morning. Ripping the seal open, I pulled out the letter and hurriedly began reading the neat scribbles on the paper.
Have you ever wished you could alter the way you appear in the eyes of others? Do you ever think, if you could ever find a way to change the past, you might not be where you are now? Well, if you have, you’re not alone.
I’m sorry, Miss Hathaway, that was a wretched way to start a letter. But, why waste parchment, I suppose, eh?
Well, I’d guess you’re wondering why a random stranger would be writing to you. First of all, I’m not a random stranger. I attend Hogwarts, just the same as you, and I’m about the same as about every other boy here, except I’m not a bloody git, like the lot of ‘em. And second of, I just wanted to get to know you. You are the most popular girl in your year, after all. The only girl accepted into the ‘Marauders’ (bloody brilliant work you all do, by the way). I don’t think you really realize how many girls would hex each other for your spot.
Anyways, I know that I might seem a bit spinny, but, if you’re at all interested in writing me back, just give it to the small, brown barn owl that pecks on your window every morning and I’ll send him back to you with a reply soon enough.
‘The most popular girl in your year’? What?
What was this bloke trying to say? He must be off his rocker, saying that I’m the most popular girl in our year. And there was no way that other girls were actually jealous of me. I mean, that’s what the Marauders told me on the occasions that I let the harpies get to me, but they were just trying to make me feel a bit better.
And how did he know about the owl that pecked at my window? That damned owl was always there, at eight in the morning, rapping at the window. I was really surprised the glass hadn’t broken yet. But, anyway. Nobody knew about it. I mean, aside from me and the few girls in my dorm who actually heard it.
But, more importantly, who was this Inconspicuous and what the bloody hell did he want?
A/N: Sorry that this is a bit short, but I needed to move on to the next chapter. :) Well, I really hope that y'all are liking it! If you have any theories or anything you'd like to test out, just post them in that wee little box down below... ;)
Chapter 4: Nightingale to the Rescue. Chapter Three.
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Amazing image of Ashleyn (grrr!) and Mack by Ande @ TDA!
Wouldn't it be great to stand at the edge and not worry about the fall?
-Great Big Sea
A week later, on a Saturday night in late-October, it was full moon.
The boys left around seven thirty and I told them that I would make a quick swing by the hospital wing to get my supplies, then meet them out in the Shrieking Shack. Dressed in loose sweatpants and my ‘Holyhead Harpies’ t-shirt, I walked faster down the hallways than I usually did. For some reason, I felt like I needed to get out there as hastily as possible.
Quietly, I strode into the hospital and met Miss Pomfrey in her office, like I always did. She held out a big, brown, leather bag, a weak smile on her face and I took in gratefully in my shaky hands and slung it over my shoulder.
I was nervous, but not like I usually was. Tonight, I was overly anxious. Remus hadn’t been doing very well the last few days. He had been running a fever and was vomiting all night yesterday. Usually, he never felt too good around full moon, but it never got this bad. I wondered on and on about what would happen tonight. Would something happen when he transformed? Would it effect him in his werewolf form? Would he be alright? I was about to throw up, myself, with all the worry I was feeling for that blooming boy.
Pomfrey must have noticed my anxiety because she lay a hand on my shoulder. “Mr. Lupin will be fine. He always is. You’ve just got to take good care of him and he’ll be perfectly alright,” she whispered, as not to wake up any of the patients in the infirmary.
I took a deep breath and nodded. She, of all people, knew what I felt like, for she had had to experience worse in her line of work. She was always worrying.
“Thanks, Poppy,” I said, turning around and practically running through the halls and out to the Whomping Willow. The sky was blood red as the sun was slowly disappearing behind the horizon.
Peter was waiting in his rat form at the trunk of the tree and pressed a specific knot in the wood, temporarily paralyzing the tree. I ran to where he was and thanked him, climbing down into the passageway, then continued running until I reached the Shrieking Shack, Peter following close behind me.
James, Sirius and Remus stood near the crumbling stairs, all talking casually about what they were planning on doing during the night. James and Sirius both looked quite fine and healthy, only making the sickly-looking Remus look even more gaunt. They turned toward me when one of my feet made a creak in the old floorboards.
“Oi, ‘lo there, Night’,” said Sirius, smiling. Argh. I hated when he did that to my nickname.
“Almost time?” James asked, glancing out one of the broken windows. The sun was gone behind the skyline and a dark blue was slowly replacing the blood red color of the sky.
I nodded stiffly. “Yes.”
Remus noted my strange behavior and walked over to me. Taking my hands in his, he looked straight into my eyes and smiled, something that looked misplaced on his white, sullen face. “It’ll be okay, alright? There’s no need to worry,” he told me, firmly.
“C’mon, Moony,” James pushed, he and Sirius walking toward the door of the Shack. “We’ve gotta go, mate.”
“Coming!” Rem squeezed my hands and shook his head for me not to worry. “I’ll be fine. Just so long as you’re here to take care of me.”
I nodded and quickly wrapped my arms around his torso in a hug. I was about six or seven inches shorter and it almost made me seem like a child compared to him. He seemed surprised at first, but wound his arms around my neck and pulled me close. I could make out his familiar scent of chocolate and peppermint. It was a strange mixture, but that was what he had always smelled like.
“It will be okay, Mack,” he whispered before gently kissing the top of my head and pulling away from the hug. He walked to the door and glanced back. “Go up to the room. We’ll be back by morning.” And, with that, the four boys walked out the door of the Shrieking Shack and left me to worry by myself.
I ran up the stairs to the third floor of the Shack and into the room I had used since first year and closed the door behind me. It had a charm that Dumbledore placed over it, preventing Remus from ever being able to get into the room while he was a werewolf. It was a small room, with a big window on one side, where you could look out and see most of the Hogwarts grounds. A large bed was situated in the corner and bookshelves lined every wall, from floor to ceiling. Before our fifth year, the other three boys had sat up there and waited with me, watching out the window to see if Rem had changed back so that they could go pick him up and I could patch him up. But that was before they became illegal Animagi.
I had wanted more than anything to become an Animagi, as well, to help Remus on nights like these, but all four boys had sternly disagreed, especially Remus. He refused to let me risk my life just to help him. When I rebutted, saying that he was letting the other three boys do just that for him, he said that it was different. That I was a girl and he needed me to be there for afterwards. I had said that I could do both, help him during and after, but he refused once more. Of course, the other boys agreed with Remus because, well, they thought he was right. So, at the beginning of fifth year, Sirius, Peter and James all became Animagi and I was left to be the regular, uninteresting witch that I already was.
I still hold a bit of a grudge against Rem for not letting me become one, but as long as he was happy, I was, too.
I sat on the bed for about an hour, wondering if they were alright, if Remus’ transformation had gone alright, if he was doing okay. These were the few hours of my life that I was seriously worried about my friends, especially that dumb Moony. I think that my heart rate was increasing a little more every minute. I hardly ever looked out the large window because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see what kinds of things they did, harmful or not.
Around nine thirty, I figured that it might be a good idea to distract myself. So, I grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill off one of the bookshelves and began to write back to that Inconspicuous fellow.
Dear Inconspicuous or whoever you are,
I’m honestly not sure why I’m writing you back. Hmm…I guess you could say that I’m intrigued. I’m intrigued that some bloke is writing to me, saying that he goes to my school and that he wanted to get to know me. For all I know, you could be a creepy, forty year old squib, who has nothing more to do than stalk young witches. I think that I’m going to need a bit of proof that you go to Hogwarts. Let’s see…What did Dumbledore tell us to avoid during school hours at the feast last Friday? I’m pretty sure that only someone who actually attends Hogwarts could know that little bit of information.
As for your little rant at the beginning of your letter. Well, I must say that I do wish those things sometimes. I think that people should really get to know me before they go and judge every little thing that I do. It can get quite irritating. Take my word for it. Can I ask if you ever feel like that? I mean, you were the one who asked in the first place.
And, what about your pseudonym? I mean, ‘Inconspicuous’? Is there a meaning behind all that or what? Ooh, can I have a name? Hm, I think that I’ll make it something like, ‘Bloody Brilliant’ or ‘Nerdy Glasses’. Do you like those? Haha.
‘I just wanted to get to know you.’ Well, at least you know who I am. I mean, I don’t even know your blooming name. I think that I should be the one getting to know you. Tell me something about yourself. Something random. Like, what’s your favorite sweet? I’m a sucker for Pumpkin Pastries. They’re just magnificent.
I signed my name with a flourish and folded up the letter.
Ha. Did I really just write back to Mr. Inconspicuous?
I sighed and glanced at the clock which hung, quite humorously, on the ceiling, seeing as there was no room on any of the walls. Oh, Merlin. That bloody letter only took ten minutes to write! Argh.
I groaned and laid back on the bed, resting my head against one of the many pillows. My nervousness was coming back and I felt like I might explode. All I wanted was for my mates to be safe.
I laid there staring at the same spot on the ceiling for quite a while. I just wanted Rem to be alright.
At about three o’ clock, I grabbed a book off the shelf. It was one of Remus’ favorite Muggle novels, Macbeth by some bloke called Shakespeare. Might as well read it. I had nothing better to do.
So I read. Something that I hardly had time for anymore. And, surprisingly, I loved it. Some bits and pieces were confusing, but I found it to be a very meaningful story. However, around six, I found that I could hardly keep my eyes open.
Slowly closing them, I willed myself to think of something happy, something…not werewolf related. Something…something…
I drifted off to sleep, my worries floating away and leaving me feeling quite empty inside.
I heard a distant voice calling something, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was saying.
‘Take a whack?’ No.
‘Make a tack?’ Nope.
‘Lake afflack?’ Definitely not.
‘Bake a pack?’ Yep. That’s it. Nailed it.
“WAKE UP, MACK!”
I jumped up and tumbled off the bed, landing with a loud THUD!
I lay at Sirius’ feet, who, at the moment, was laughing his bloody head off. I promptly twirled around, caught my foot behind his knee and pulled him down with me. Who was laughing now?
“Oh, shut up, Nightingale,” he said, quickly standing up and walking to the door. “Let’s go, it’s seven thirty in the morning and Moony’s downstairs.”
I immediately stopped laughing, snatched my bag and rushed after Sirius, who was already running down the stairs.
Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Please let him be alright. Please let him be alright.
We walked into a small room, which was just off the side of the stairs. James and Peter were standing next to the large circular bed situated in the center of the room.
“Ah, Nightingale to the rescue,” James smiled faintly.
I started taking out my supplies as I walked to the bed, and my stomach clenched tight. There Remus lay, his eyes closed gently and his chest shirtless. His muscular body was covered in nasty bruises and deep cuts. A bleeding lip and an especially deep slash on his cheek matched the rest. I almost gasped. Oh, my…This time was bad.
He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at me. I could practically see the pain he was feeling through those bright blue eyes of his. He gave me a weak smile and it just about broke my heart.
I quickly began unfolding the roll of bandage tape Pomfrey had given me and knelt down beside his bed, ignoring the chair that Peter had set out for me. Rem winced as I gently applied some of the healing potion that went on before the bandages.
“I’m sorry,” I quickly apologized.
“No — no,” he said, feebly, “It’s — fine.”
I nodded and continued. He had so many cuts and scrapes, I couldn’t even comprehend what had happened to do all of this.
Working slowly and gently, it was about an hour until I was about finished dressing all of his wounds. Sirius, James and Peter had all went back up to the castle to get some sleep and had told me to let them know when I needed help to bring Rem back.
Remus watched me as I worked. He didn’t say anything or give me strange looks. He just watched and I wondered what he was thinking.
In the middle of fixing up a particularly deep gash, I stopped for a moment and rubbed my eyes. I had only gotten about thirty minutes of sleep and working so carefully was beginning to take a toll on me. But, shaking it off, I continued to work before a hand grabbed my wrist.
I looked at Rem and frowned. “What are you doing?” my voice croaked.
“Look at you, Mack. You’re exhausted. Just take a break or something. You’re already almost done, anyhow,” he said, gently.
I shook my head and slowly tried to pull my wrist away, but he kept a firm grip on it. “Moony, I need to finish this. I’m not done yet,” I was almost whining. I didn’t want to stop. I needed to finish.
“No. You need to rest.”
“But if I can just finish—”
“Just rest!” he was beginning to get irritated.
“No, Mackenzie,” his voice was firm and unwavering. He used my full name. He was serious.
I sighed and stood up, my knees aching from kneeling for so long, taking a seat in the chair that was placed next to me. Glaring at him, I crossed my arms leaned back in the chair.
“Why do you worry so much?” I asked him.
He chuckled, frailly. “You think I worry?” He gazed back at me.
I frowned and shrugged. “It’s my job,” I muttered.
“Right,” he agreed. He grinned, but it quickly disappeared. “Well, I never told you this, but — when we were seven, the summer that your mum passed, well, d’you remember that one time when she took us to that giant park and she let us play by ourselves while she sat and read?”
I nodded slowly, staring at him. He never told me…?
He looked down. “Yeah, well when you ran off and started playing on the swings, your mum called me back and told me — she smiled and told me, ‘Take good care of her, boy’. And I promised her that I would.”
My face was expressionless as he spoke, my lips pursed together, and I hardly blinked.
“I always remembered that and, when she died, I couldn’t bring myself to forget it. And ever since then, I’ve been very protective over you and you know that. That’s why…” he paused and glanced at me, “that’s why I wouldn’t let you become an Animagi. That’s why I freaked out when Frank and Davy threw you in the lake and you didn’t come up. That’s why I don’t like it when boys hit on you or talk about you. That’s why I never cried in front of you, besides when my dad died, because I didn’t want you to think I was weak. I needed to be someone that you could lean on. Someone who you could alway go to if you needed help.” He looked me straight in the eye. “That’s why I worry so much, Mack. Because I promised your mum that I would take care of you.”
I sat in disbelief for a moment, clenching and unclenching my jaw. I wouldn’t cry. I’d already cried too much in front of Remus in my life. That was probably the nicest thing anyone had ever said about me in my life.
We must have been silent for a few minutes before Remus slowly began to sit up. Of course, I quickly stopped him, putting a hand on his chest and keeping him in place. “Wh — What are you doing?” my voice raspy.
“It’s nearly nine, we’d better get back or everyone’ll worry.”
I shook my head. “You’re in no state to walk and there’s no way we’d be able to get you through the hallways without being spotted. I’ll just signal Sirius and he’ll bring Poppy down to get you,” I said, talking much too fast.
Remus sighed and nodded, leaning back on his pillow.
I closed my eyes for a moment. Just thank Merlin he’s alright.
A few days after full moon, all of the Marauders sat in our ‘reserved’ (or so Sirius like to think) spot at the Gryffindor table during dinner, talking and laughing rowdily.
“And then—,” James said through his laughter, “and then McGonagall — she told him to ‘be serious’ and all of us — all of were like ‘He is Sirius!’”
Sirius and Peter burst out laughing, while Remus and I simply chuckled at our mates’ stupid humor.
Remus had been doing fairly well the last couple days. He was back to his healthy skin color and looked better than ever. And I was glad. I was so grateful that he was alright.
Near the end of dinner, Sirius suddenly slammed his hand on the table, obviously not caring how many strange glanced he would get, and smiled widely. “You know what we need to do, blokes?” he asked, like a child waiting to tell his mum something exciting.
“What, Sirius?” Remus decided to humor him. I snickered.
“It’s nearly the end of October and we still haven’t been to a major party.”
“And?” I asked.
“And,” he mimicked my tone, “I think that we should throw a party. No one throws a party like a Marauder. It’ll be bloody brilliant!”
“Oh, lovely. A party,” I sighed.
I really wasn’t the party type. Loud music, dancing girls, underage drinking, drunk blokes. Yeah, not really my scene. I’d rather sit upstairs and plot new prank ideas, thanks.
Remus, who usually shared my feelings about parties, shrugged. “Hmm, a party? Sounds fun.”
I looked at him, my mouth hanging open in protest, but before I could say a word, something very outlandish occurred right next to me.
A tall, blonde, skinny thing squeezed its way between Remus and I. This thing was Ashleyn Wilkinson and she just bloody well took my seat! I almost growled. She wore a bloody low-cut white tank under her uniform blouse, which was hanging open and her skirt was pulled up so that you got quite a glimpse of her tan, skinny legs. Her bleached hair looked more bleachy than usual. Her thin body looked thinner than normal. And her bloody gorgeous face looked more bloody gorgeous than ever! Ugh! She was like a life-sized bloomin’ Barbie!
But what the bloody hell was she doing here? This was the Gryffindor table. Ravenclaw was obviously a ways away. She had no right to be flirty over here.
I looked at Sirius, James and Peter, who seemed to be just as astonished as I was that she was sitting here, but not as much pissed off. They were practically drooling! I was about to slap the stupefaction off their rotten faces.
“Hi, honey,” she said in her annoyingly high and perky voice. She then did something that almost made me fall off my seat; she kissed Remus on the cheek.
Remus blushed and smiled at the boys, obviously avoiding my eyes. He knew that I hated her and that I was about to explode. What was going on?!
“Yeah, I kinda forgot to tell you, mates,” he said, sheepishly.
I was not expecting this.
“Ashleyn’s my girlfriend.”
A/N: Ah! A bit of a cliffie for you lot! I really hope you're liking it so far. Feedback is greatly appreciated! :)
Image of Ashleyn (blech!) and Mack by Ande @ TDA!
When you develop an infatuation with someone, you always find a reason to believe that this is exactly the person for you.
Every day, after had introduced Ashleyn as his girlfriend, the Barbie sat with us during breakfast, lunch and dinner. And every day I sat with Mason at breakfast and lunch and only sat with my mates during dinner. The constant squealing, flirting and giggling was way too much for me to handle three times a day, so I simply settled for one. Besides, I hadn’t been spending as much time with Mason as I should’ve been. He was my twin for Merlin’s sake. I had to spend more time with him.
But Remus was always with that bloody doll. Practically every day since first year, he and I have sat either directly next to each other, or somewhere in the near vicinity. But, of course, it was different now. He had a girlfriend. Every class that we had with her, he sat next to her (extremely close, I might add). And every class that she wasn’t in with us, he’d sit next to me and ramble on and on about how perfect and beautiful and spectacular the blooming Barbie was.
It was almost as if she was replacing me.
Even the rest of the Marauders were starting to get a bit annoyed. During the first week or two, they seemed alright with it.
“She’s his first real girlfriend, Mack,” they’d tell me. “It’s called ‘infatuation’. It’ll pass quick.”
But even at the beginning, I didn’t like it. She was too clingy and too mushy and too…motherly. I told myself ‘This isn’t the type of girl Remus would ever go for’ over and over again until I thought that I believed it, but then I’d just see them walking down the hall together, holding hands and I knew I was wrong. He was, indeed, infatuated.
One night, in the middle of dinner, Sirius decided it might be a good idea to start planning that party of his.
“So, of course, we’ll have to sneak a load of firewhiskey from Hogsmeade the night before, so that—”
“Oh, a party?!” Ashleyn screeched, bobbing up and down a bit. “I just love parties! Remmykins, can I come?”
It took all that I had in me not to burst out laughing at the name, but I ended up having to perform an intense cough attack to cover up my snickers. Sirius pursed his lips to prevent his own laughter and patted me hard on the back. “Looks like Mack’s got a bit of a cough. Mind helping her, Remmykins?”
It was too much. James, Sirius, Peter and I all howled with laughter. Remmykins? Honestly? He let her call him that in public?
“Ash, I thought I asked you not to call me that in front of the blokes?” Rem muttered, his face turning a deep shade of red. Ashleyn shrugged and, of course, didn’t know the slightest of what was going on around her.
“Why are your friends laughing so hysterically, Remus?” she asked, clueless.
“Nothing, dear, nothing,” he sighed, resting his head on his propped up arm.
But we just laughed and laughed. Remmykins! Ha!
It was one night in early-November that I sat in the deserted library, trying harder that usual to finish my Potions essay. It was around eight o’ clock and the rest of the Marauders were all in the Common Room, playing Exploding Snaps or whatever they did when I wasn’t around. And Rem, of course, was with his girlfriend.
Ever since Remus had started dating the doll, he’d been kind of…ignoring me. And I wasn’t just saying that because he’d been spending a load of his time with her. I really mean that he was avoiding me. Like, I would be walking down the hall and see him, then wave, but he’d just act like I wasn’t there. Like I never existed.
This was especially bad when he was with her. Dinner, for example. Let’s say that I was telling a funny story to the whole group, but he’d simply tune me out and whisper and giggle with his precious little girlfriend.
I didn’t even understand what he saw in her. I mean, yeah, she was a looker, but that was probably the only thing. She definitely wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box and her perky voice was probably one of the most annoying sounds in the universe. She had a giggle that sounded like the bloody devil and unusually blue eyes that you could tell knew something you didn’t. For some reason, she just gave this appearance of such innocence, but you knew that she was full of pure, untainted evil. And to top it all off, she was about as shallow as a shower.
I sighed, setting down my quill and rubbing my eyes. Merlin, I hated Potions.
“Why, hello, Miss Mackenzie,” came a sudden vivacious voice.
I quickly looked up to only see Barbie herself. She wore a pair of denim trousers and a red, low-cut, v-neck shirt. Of course, her bleachy blonde curls cascaded down her shoulders and a fake smile was plastered on her face.
I was already annoyed.
“Oh, hi,” I answered, my voice monotone. I looked back down at my work, paying her no mind.
She didn’t catch the hint and walked up to my table anyways. Pulling out a chair, she practically invited herself to sit across from me. Clasping her hands together, she set her elbows on the edge of the table and looked at my papers curiously.
“What are you working on?” she asked.
“Potions,” I said, bluntly. I really didn’t want to talk to her.
“Oh, you mean, that really hard essay? Yeah, Rem helped me with that a few days ago. Due tomorrow, isn’t it?”
I almost scowled at her. ‘Rem’ was my nickname for Remus. Not hers. Definitely not hers.
I shrugged, rubbing my eyes with the heel of my palm. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with this.
“So, how have you been lately?” she asked, smiling.
“Any new Marauder pranks planned?”
“Do you like any specific boy?”
“Are you sure?”
“I heard about you and Sirius. Was that just a kiss?”
“Did you enjoy it?”
“Aren’t you too like siblings? Wasn’t that weird?”
“Speaking of siblings, how’s Mason?”
“He have any new girlfriends?”
“Quite the player, isn’t he?”
“Huh. He’s such a nice boy,” she shrugged. “Well, I’ll tell you a secret, I just got back from a nice walk with Remus,” she smiled slightly.
I frowned. “A walk?” my voice was barely audible.
“Oh, yes. It was a very nice walk. You know, full of surprises…conversations…broom closets.”
I looked up at her, my lips pressed together in a tight line. She just smiled wider.
“Ha, surprising, isn’t it? I didn’t take him for the type, but apparently… We have been dating for four weeks now. I mean, it’s about time, right?” She laughed, looking out the window beside where we sat. “We were holding hands and accidentally walked by the closet. He glanced at it and smiled. Then, before I knew it, he had dragged me in there (not literally of course) and…Wow. He is just amazing. I mean, we’ve kissed before, but it’s just been these gentle, sweet kisses. Nothing like this. No, this was different. The way he held my face in his hands and fiercely ran his fingers through my hair. It was like I could taste his hunger,” she stopped, breathing a bit too fast.
While I had completely stopped breathing, holding my breath. I knew that I shouldn’t have been listening. I didn’t need to know the details of Rem’s love life. But, when Barbie was telling me outright…What was I supposed to do?
“But, when he started slipping off my shirt, he just stopped,” she frowned. “He stopped and pulled away, shaking his head and saying that we couldn’t do that. That we needed to wait.” She looked back up at me. “But I couldn’t agree more. He stopped us before we did something we would’ve regretted. I mean, a broom closet? That’s not at all sensible.”
I breathed out. Thank Merlin. Oh, I thought that Remus had… Oh, wow.
“Anyways,” she gave me a fake smile. “The real reason that I’m here.” Her smile faded and was replaced by a look of hatred. “I’m not as stupid as you think I am,” her voice was harsh and serious. “I’ve seen the looks that you give him. The silly laughs and stupid smiles. You’re completely head over heels for my boyfriend.”
I stared at her in disbelief. Was she really saying what I thought she was saying? “Oh, Merlin, no. You —”
“No. No matter how much to try to convince yourself, you’ll never convince me. I can tell, Hathaway. You love him. But I’m just here to tell you one thing. Back off.” She said those last two words with such venom, I felt a shiver down my spine. Her eyes were slits as she tried to stare me down, but it wasn’t fading me. By this time, we were both on our feet, standing less than a foot away from each other, our hands clenched in fists.
“Look,” I told her. “I don’t know who you think you are, but I’ve known Remus since I was five and I think that I know him better than anyone on this earth. So, you’d better think again before you tell me to back off because he would choose me over you in a heartbeat.”
She laughed. “You really have got to get your facts right, darling. Remus is dating me. Not you. He’s in love with me. Not you. He’ll believe me. Not you. Don’t you get it? You can’t win. I’ve already beat you in the race. I snatched him up first and now, now he’s gone. Now, he’s mine.”
Oh, it was time to bring out the infamous comebacks of Mackenzie V. Hathaway. Yeah, I knew a thing or two about comebacks and I’ll just tell you now, I’m pretty dang good at ‘em.
“I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce,” I raised an eyebrow, challenging her.
“Well, sweetie, at least I can’t get lost in a broom closet.” Um. Retarded.
“Oh, right, that’s because you’ve had plenty of time to find your way around in there, eh?”
“Well, at least I’ve been in there with someone besides myself. I mean, I remember you when you only had one stomach.”
“Oh, I may be fat, but you're ugly, and I can diet.” Score! That was amazing! How do I come up with this stuff?
“Excuse me?” she put a hand on her hip.
“Wow. You’re deaf, dumb and blonde!”
“Well, honey, you’re like school in the summertime — no class.” Can we say ‘random’? Where did she get that?
“Did your mum ever ask you to run away from home?” I was going somewhere with this one, ha! I was going to win for bloody sure!
She pursed her lips and stared at me right in the eye.
“At least my mum’s not dead.”
I stopped and stared at her, not believing my own ears. My lip trembled and dug my nails deep into my palms. My heartbeat almost stopped and I stood, motionless.
How dare she?
I clenched my jaw. I looked like I was ready to kill.
“Don’t you ever talk about my mother that way again,” my voice was low and strident, “or I’ll hex your primped little ass into next week.”
I turned from her. Snatching my stuff off the table, I almost ran out of the library.
A/N: Haha, this was really fun to write, what with the comebacks and all. :)
Banner of Remus and Mark by Ande @ TDA!
So tell me the truth. Does it ever get better? Or is this what I have to look forward to?
-Party of Five
After that night, I refused to go anywhere near the Barbie.
I wouldn’t even eat dinner with the Marauders because of her presence. Every time she and Remus sat down with us during class, during free period or just when we were hanging out in the courtyard, I would gather up all my stuff and leave. I really didn’t care anymore. She was a horrible, cynical scarlet woman and I wouldn’t stand for it.
One day, a few weeks after the little incident in the library, I sat with Mason and Ed during dinner, pushing my food around with my fork, decorating the plate quite beautifully. It was the twelve of December and Christmas was drawing near. The whole Hall was decorated in the holiday spirit. Twelve large Christmas trees were lined along the walls, covered in dainty little ornaments; everlasting candles, bubbles, fairy lights, holly berries and golden owls. Warm, dry snow fell from the enchanted ceiling. It was a wonderful time of year.
I glanced over at the Gryffindor table, as I usually did multiple times during dinner with the Ravenclaws. Scanning the table, my gaze lingered on the Marauders, who were all laughing, aside from the doll, who was giving Remus a confused look. He shook his head, then looked up, locking his gaze with mine. I couldn’t quite place the emotion that was written all over his face, but I knew it was far from happiness. I bit my lip and smiled weakly, trying to seem strong, like I knew what I was doing, but failing miserably all the same. For a moment, he looked as though he was going to give me some sort of reply because he opened his mouth and took a deep breath, but, of course, he was interrupted. By Barbie. She laughed so loud that I could hear her ear-piercing giggle from where I sat. Grabbing his shoulder, she practically pulled away from me, turning him toward her and engaging in quick conversation.
Probably something about her damned hair or face.
I swallowed and looked back down at my plate, hoping that nobody had witnessed any of that.
“Hey, Mack,” Mason nudged me, motioning to Rem and Ashleyn. “What’s up with you and Lupin?”
Great. Of course, someone noticed. I was stupid to wish differently.
He shrugged, looking at me casually. “I mean, the whole bloody school’s been talking about it. About eight or nine bloomin’ girls ask me the same question every day, ‘Did Mackenzie — ow — and Remus get into a fight?’” He rubbed his arm where I had punched it. Serves him right. Using my bloody name…
“Anyways,” he continued, taking a bite out of his sandwich. “What’s the matter?” He looked at me, mouth full of sandwich, his eyebrows raised in question and his attention fully on me. Woah. He was seriously expecting an answer.
“Since when do you care?” I asked, putting off the inevitable question.
He gave me a fake look of hurt. “Oh, Mack, I always care about you!” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and squeezed, obviously trying to get on my nerves. “You’re my baby sister! I love you!”
I shoved him away, chuckling lightly and shook my head, ignoring the ‘baby sister’ comment. I was born forty-seven seconds after him! Only forty-seven seconds. That certainly does not qualify him to be the ‘older sibling’. Not by a long shot.
“So, what’s going on?” he asked, a bit more forcefully this time.
I glanced over at Rem, who was listening intently to an animated story being told by Barbie, then I looked back at Mas. I clenched my jaw and swallowed hard. “We’re just going through a bit of a rough patch is all,” I muttered. “Nothing to fret so much about.”
He glanced over at Remus, then looked back at me. “You two’ve been mates since we used to play pirates in the garden and you’ve never gone through a ‘rough patch’ before,” he told me, seriously. “So, whatever you two are in a row about, you’d better solve it soon, ‘cause if you don’t now, you might not ever.”
I must admit that I’m actually very surprised that you wrote me back, but I am also very happy to have this opportunity to get to know you better. And I’ll promise you that I am not a creepy, forty year old squib and I’m not stalking you. Hm… Last Friday? Well, didn’t he say that we should all “avoid all sorts of broom closets during school hours because the teachers are sick of finding snogging students when they are only looking for a broom for one reason or another”? Did I get that? Do you believe me now?
As for your question, I certainly don’t mind to answer that at all. I’ll say that I definitely feel that way. Every single day, actually. And it’s quite aggravating on my part because I have a friend or two that I’ve known for a long time and the only way they look at me is the way they saw me when they first met me. Does that make sense to you? They can’t look at me any other way because they always just think of who I was, not who I am now. I don’t really know what to do about it, but it’s been bothering me for quite some time. I try to do things to change their outlook on me, but they never pay attention. Not that it’s their fault at all, I guess I’m just not trying hard enough.
Haha. I rather like ‘Nerdy Glasses’. That certainly fits. ‘Bloody Brilliant’ on the other hand…I’m not sure. Haha, just joking. Well, I can’t tell you the whole reason behind it. But, basically, I appear inconspicuous to those who I want to see me the most, so I picked that as a name. Maybe it might change. We’ll see.
Favorite sweet? Now, that is quite random. I would have to agree with you, though. I think Pumpkin Pastries are fantastic. And sure, bring on the questions. I don’t mind at all. I will just have to be sure not to give out my secret identity. Nobody knows that one.
Oh, if I may, would you mind if I ask what is going on between you and Remus Lupin? I mean, you two are great mates, aren’t you? You never sit with the Marauders any more. What happened?
Gryffindor verses Slytherin. Long story short, we whooped their sorry arses. It was an intense game, what with the freezing cold and all, but we pulled ahead and they were bloody pissed. As a sort of celebration type thing, Sirius threw the big party he had been going on about for weeks now. Though he said it was more of a Christmas ordeal, we all knew that it was due to their victory over the hated Slytherins.
I never thought it would be possible for the harpies’ loud, perky voiced to get louder or perkier. I was wrong.
They were all in the loo, shrieking and caking on their bird-like faces. Not like it helped at all.
“Oh, my God! I love parties!”
“Do you think he’ll kiss me?”
“My hair just looks brilliant. Doesn’t it look brilliant? I think it looks brilliant!”
I was about ready to pull her bloody ‘brilliant’ hair of of her head.
At around nine, they all left in a big group, each of them giving me a dirty look before exiting the room. I waved sarcastically, then groaned, knowing I’d be following them soon after. Sirius would send someone up to get me if I didn’t go down soon. And I had the idea I wouldn’t be happy with who he chose.
Dragging myself over to the full-length mirrors one of the girls put up, I tilted my head to the side. I wore some tattered jeans, which hung low across my hips, and a white button-up with the sleeves rolled up in quite the unkempt manner. My hair was tied back in two messy plaits. As usual, I looked like nothing special. I mean, you’d think that I would at least show some Gryffie pride and wear a bit of red or yellow. But no, I was fine with the white. Didn’t attract any attention.
Groaning loudly, I turned around and slowly made my way down the spiral staircase, taking as much time as I possibly could. I really didn’t want to go to this thing. Parties just weren’t my scene at all. Plus the fact that the boys had figured out a way to sneak Ashleyn in, so she would definitely be there with Rem. Ugh. Maybe if I went around and said ‘hi’ to a few people (Sirius), then left, nobody would really notice. Yeah, great. Sounds like a plan.
The moment I took a step into the Common Room, loud music pounded my ears that hadn’t heard coming down the stairs. Wow Sirius. Bloke must’ve charmed the whole room so that they could make as much noise as they could without getting caught. Oh, Merlin.
All around me, people were pushed up against each other; dancing or talking. There seemed to be no place to go where you could stand without people shoving you. Joy.
“Oi, Mack!” Somehow, I heard a voice shout out to me over the music and I knew exactly who it was.
“Sirius! It’s way to loud!” I shouted to him as he pushed his way past a fourth year to get to me. He wore his Quidditch uniform and what seemed to be a long cape, etched with ‘Back in Black’ in yellow on the red fabric. His face was covered in yellow paint and he held a bottle of firewhiskey in both his hands.
“Lighten up!” he elbowed my arm. “This is a party, Hathaway! Just party!” He raised his firewhiskeys and shook his hips from side to side. “Go find a nice bloke and dance or something!”
I shook my head. “I don’t dance!”
He ignored me, watching a sixth year girl pass by. “I’m gonna go after that,” he looked up at me, as if remembering I was still standing there. “Oh! Ashleyn was looking for you! She said it was important!” He shrugged and quickly hurried off after the girl, leaving me to fend for myself.
Wait…did he say Ashleyn was looking for me? Surely that was a mistake. Or she was mad because I looked at Remus funny or some rubbish like that. Whatever. If she wanted to talk to me, she’d have to find me herself. There was no way I was going looking for her.
After pushing my way through the crowd, tripping over a few shoes as I went, I finally managed to make my way over to the coffee table, which was pushed against the wall and was now functioning as a drink table. A large hoard of firewhiskeys sat there, caps sealed shut. And it seemed like that was the only thing they were serving. Damn. I really didn’t like firewhiskey. So, I turned back around and scanned the room for my mates.
James was was sitting on one of the couches, which had been moved against the wall, talking to Lily Evans, who seemed to be enjoying herself. I didn’t know which one was harder to believe, the fact that James was having a civil conversation with Evans or that she was actually enjoying herself. Sirius was leaning against a wall, talking to the same sixth year and making her laugh. He was determined, that boy. Remus was standing by himself, sipping a bottle of butterbeer. Stupid boy must’ve brought it down from his secret stash under his bed. And, lastly, Peter was no where in sight. Jeez, that boy seemed to be disappearing a lot lately.
Hold on…rewind. Remus was standing by himself. Oh, dang. That means that Barbie wasn’t with him and she was probably—
I clenched my fists at the sound of my full name. But mostly due to the fact of who was saying my full name.
I slowly turned around, my eyebrow raised, to face an exciting and scheming-looking Ashleyn, her blonde hair looking a bit more beachy today. She probably dyed it just this morning especially for this party. Smiling widely, she took a step closer to me and grabbed my hands. Of course, my first instinct was to pull them away, but she kept a strong grip.
“Miss Mackenzie—” I flinched, “—I just wanted to say that I think we need to make-up,” she said seriously, her voice a bit slurred, but not enough for her to appear fully drunk. Just tipsy is all. “I think we should become friends. I mean, you’re Rem’s best friend who’s a girl, so I think that we should get along. If we don’t do it for ourselves, then let’s do it for Remus. He’s been miserable lately without you and I just think that this would be the best way to solve the problem.”
I frowned. She wanted to become friends? Was this a joke? Coming from the girl who not a few weeks ago told me to ‘back off’ and stay away from her precious Remus? I don’t think so.
“What’s the catch?” I asked her, not believing a word that she said.
She knitted her brow and shook her head. “Oh no! There’s no catch, my dear!” She put a hand to her chest dramatically. “I don’t even know why you would think that. No, I’m completely serious.” Barbie looked down to her shoes in shame and suddenly I wasn’t so sure if she was lying. “I — I thought that we would be great friends. I mean, I was even planning to set you up with somebody and…” her voice drifted off as she dropped my hands and turned around.
Oh, bugger. Was she going to cry? I couldn’t stand it when I accidentally made other girls cry. It just mad me feel so bloomin’ horrible.
I hesitated for a moment, then groaned and grabbed her shoulder, spinning her back around. She looked about as surprised as I was at my actions. Sighing, I spoke quickly and quietly, “Uh, I guess we could try being friends. I mean…we can try.”
A wide smile spread across her tanned cheeks and she jumped up and down. “Oh, yay! This will be so fun! Now I can introduce you to someone,” she raised her eyebrows suggestively and grabbed my hand again. She dragged me through the crowd and over to the small hallway that led to the portrait hole. It was almost completely empty, which was strange because people were usually snogging back here during parties. Not that I knew or anything.
Almost completely empty aside from one boy. One boy, who sat in a cushioned chair against the wall. He had shaggy dark brown hair and was probably one of the most attractive boys I had ever seen. As soon as he saw us, he smiled widely and stood up. That’s when I immediately recognized him. His name was Mark Walker. He was the captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, one of the school’s few heartthrobs and in my year.
He was gorgeous. But what was he doing here?
“Ashleyn!” he cried, hugging her tightly and pulling away, keeping an arm around her shoulder. He looked at me and smiled wider, his chocolaty hazel eyes sparkling.
Barb — Ashleyn laughed. “Mackenzie—” I was really going to hit her pretty soon, “—this is Mark. Mark, this is Mackenzie.”
He nodded. “Mackenzie Hathaway. Wow, I’ve ‘eard many wonderful things about you,” he said, in his soothing, Scottish accent. He swept down and kissed my hand, sending my heart into a beating frenzy.
I stared at him, a bit dazed. “Me? Really?”
“Oh, yes. Spectacular things. Like ‘ow sweet and funny and gorgeous you are. And I must say, I certainly agree with all three of them already.”
“Uh, well, thanks.”
Merlin, he was…brilliant.
Ashleyn slid out from under his arm. “Well, I told Mark a bit about you and he wanted to meet you so much. So when Rem told me about this party Sirius was throwing, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for you two to get to know each other.” She glanced back at him, the smile on her face stretched broadly across her face. She looked excited. “Well, I guess I’ll just leave you two to associate.” She winked at him, turned around and walked away, leaving me and that irresistibly enchanting man all alone.
Mark watched her leave, then turned back at me. “Do your friends set you up very often?” he asked, jokingly.
I thought of Sirius and James and laughed, nodding. “Oh, yeah. All the time.”
He put his hand on the small of my back and led me over to the chair. Right before I sat down, he whispered in my ear, sending sweet shivers down my spine, “Then let’s ‘ope it works out this time, eh?”
I gently took a seat, not sure if I would be able to sit comfortably in his alluring presence. He reached around the side of the chair and took out a bottle of firewhiskey and two glasses full of ice. I was so captivated by his graceful movements, that I hardly registered when he handed me a cup and started filling it with the alcohol. After filling his own, he clinked our glasses together and took a sip. Following his lead, I brought the glass to my lips and took a long, sweet swig, grimacing as the fiery liquid scorched its way down my throat. I never drank. Ever. Sure, a few sips here and there, but never a full glass or bottle. First of all, it wasn’t classy, getting drunk. I never fancied it. Second, bad things had always happened during the few times I had gotten drunk. More on that later… But I knew exactly why I was drinking now. Because this ravishing Mark Walker had offered it to me and because, if I didn’t, I would probably strike him as a bit strange. And for some reason, I wanted him to like me. I wanted to seem…desirable.
Mark, apparently, hadn’t noticed and looked at me comprehensively. “So, Mackenzie—”
“Mack,” I interrupted, taking another large gulp.
He grinned. “Excuse me. Mack.” I smiled in satisfaction. “So, I take it that you are pretty much a Marauder yourself?”
Taking a big swig, I agreed. “Yeah, I am. I’ve been there the whole time.”
I realized that my glass was empty already and Mark immediately reached for the bottle, which was on the floor. “Another?” he asked, holding it up.
I hesitated before nodding eagerly. Nothing was wrong with two glasses. Nothing at all. “Yeah, just one more glass.”
He filled me up and I promptly began drinking again.
“I take it you know all the Marauders’ secrets, don’t you?” he joked, taking his second small sip.
I smirked. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I do. Ha, fancy that.”
“What do you lot do when you’re not pranking the whole school?”
“Well, what any other group of friends would do, I’d guess. We talk, we laugh, we think up new pranks.” I chuckled. “But mostly we just enjoy each other’s company.”
“‘Ow long have you known them all?”
“I’ve known Remus since I was five. We lived just down the street from each other, so he’s probably my best friend. And the rest we met during first year. No extraordinary story.”
“You and Remus are good friends? I thought I ‘eard something about the two of you getting into a row of some sorts. What’s that all about?”
I sighed. “Oh, it’s nothing really. Just a…mutual disagreement, I guess you could say.”
Before I realized anything, my glass was empty and Mark was filling it up again.
“What do you like to do in your spare time, Mack?” he asked a bit later, filling up my fifth glass.
I raised it to my lips and giggled. “Uh…I prank people, of course,” my words slurred together. “I am a Marauder, after all, you silly boy.” I crinkled my nose and shook my finger at him, jokingly, but a bit of firewhiskey sloshed over the side of my glass and landed at the hem of my blouse. “Oh, bugger.” I held the cup away from myself and tried to wipe the liquid off.
Mark took my glass from my hand and set it on the floor, while his own sat on the arm of the big chair, the glass hardly touched. “It’s alright, darling. Let me get it for you,” he said, softly, reached down to my waist. I held my hands up by my head and tried to sit still as he quickly wiped the stuff off my shirt. I watched as his fingers slowed and became more gentle on the fabric of my blouse. His touch sent my heart fluttering and I couldn’t believe it as I felt his hand wrap around my waist. I looked up to see his eyes locked on mine as his face came closer to me. He smiled gently and slipped my glasses off my face, setting them on the arm chair opposite from his drink. Then, before I knew it, his lips brushed against my own, light as a feather, then he kissed me full on the mouth. His touch was soft and sweet and I found myself kissing him back, for what else could you do when you were kissing a bloody gorgeous man?
A good minute or two later, however, his kiss became more intense and he fiercely undid the loose braids I had in my hair. For a moment, I thought that he was just trying to kick up the snogging, which I had no problem with, but when he raised himself onto the chair and straddled my legs, I knew something was wrong.
“No,” I moaned weakly in the kiss, pulling away. But he took my face in his hands and pulled me closer.
I shook my head as much as I could and tried pushing him away, but he wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t strong enough. “Stop,” I protested once more. “No. Stop it.”
His hands moved down from my face and came in contact with the top buttons of my shirt. Now, I was struggling as much as I could, but it was no use. I just couldn’t get away from this.
“It’s alright. I’m not going to ‘urt you,” he whispered, urgently, undoing the buttons of my blouse to reveal my white bra. He began kissing my neck and slowly made his way down to my clavicle, holding me by the shoulders as I struggled under his weight.
“No!” I shouted, accidentally knocking his glass off the arm of the chair. It landed with an ear-piercing crash and shattered all over the floor.
“Don’t worry, love. You’re okay,” he said, caressing my bare stomach with his hands. He brought his lips back up to mine and forced his tongue into my mouth.
“Stop!” I shrieked when he pulled away for a moment, just as someone came around the corner and into the hallway.
“Mack?” came an all-too-familiar voice that sounded like music to my ears. “Mack?!”
Mark ignored it and continued to kiss me, his hands making their way up to the back hooks of my bra. But, before he could get there, I suddenly felt his weight lift from my body as he was pulled ferociously off me.
“Stay away from her!” Remus yelled before landing a perfectly executed punch to Mark’s face. Mark fell to the ground instantly, holding his nose and groaning in pain. Rem quickly took off his shabby Gryffindor cloak and gently pulled me off the chair, grabbing my glasses and putting them on my face. He slipped the robe around my shoulders and did the hook, covering me back up. Interlacing his fingers with mine, he hurriedly pulled me though the crowds and up the spiral staircase to the boys’ dorm, where he led me out to the balcony only sixth and seventh year boys were blessed with. There was a charm on the terrace that kept out the cold December air.
Remus pulled me close as we sat down on the big couch the boys had placed out there. As he wrapped his arms around me, I realized I was shaking and came to reality with how close I had almost been to a tragedy. Though I willed them not to, tears came streaming down my cheeks and I stifled a sob. Pretty soon, I was bawling into his shoulder.
“Shh,” he whispered, stroking my messy hair. “It’s me, Mack. I won’t let anybody hurt you. Shh, shh.” I could tell he was trying to sooth me, but I couldn’t help it, the tears kept coming.
He rested his cheek against my head and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Mack,” he breathed. “You have no idea how much you scared me just now. When Sirius asked me where you were, I realized that I hadn’t seen you. Ashleyn thought she saw you go somewhere with…him.” He stopped and swallowed hard. “I was looking around for you when I heard glass shatter from in that hallway. I went over to see what was happening and then I saw him on top of you—” his voice broke and he stopped, taking another deep breath. He smoothed my hair and kissed the top of my head.
We sat like that for a few minutes, until my sobs slowly faded away to sniffles and my tears dried on his shirt. He pulled away a bit and looked at me, his brows knitted together and his eyes searching my face. “Are you alright? Did he hurt you at all?” he asked quickly.
I shook my head drunkenly and swayed a bit. “No,” I answered slowly. “I’m just peachy. Just fi—” I stopped as my stomach churned. Jumping up, I covered my mouth and ran inside to the boy’s WC, getting to the toilet just in time. Rem hurried after me and quickly pulled back my hair, though not managing to save all of it from the vomit. He rubbed my back gently while I threw up into the toilet.
My head spun as I pulled away from it and wiped my mouth on a towel Remus had grabbed from the cabinet, then drunk a large amount of water from under the faucet, until I couldn’t taste the horrible vomit any longer.
Slouching against the sink, I sat on the floor and pulled Rem’s cloak tighter around my body. He sat down next to me and pulled me into another hug.
“Mack?” he whispered.
I answered him with a hiccup.
“Please don’t ever go near that bloke ever again, ‘right?” he asked, worry weaved within his tone.
“Okie dokie,” I slurred, leaning my head against his chest. I was suddenly so tired. So exhausted. Slowly closing my eyes, I drifted off to sleep, destined to wake up to a horrible hangover.
Rem kissed the top of my head again and carefully swept me up in his arms. Placing me in his bed, he stayed by my side until he and the rest of the Marauders were able to get me up and into my own bed.
A/N: So, d'you like the party?! Next chapter's coming very soon! I love love LOVE the reviews!
A/N: Hello everyone! This is just a note to eliminate any confusion that may arise. I’ve thrown in a few letters that are exchanged between Mack and Inconspicuous. They do not have anything to do with the story that they are placed before or after. Unless something about a particular part of the letter is mentioned, these letters have nothing to do with this particular part of the story. Thanks a ton and I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Banner of Mack and her dad by Ande @ TDA!
Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
My dear Inconspicuous,
I’m glad that I surprised you, then. I’m always happy to be unpredictable. It keeps my life in motion. Oh, yes. You got it. That is what Dumbledore said. Ha, I probably laughed for four minutes straight after he said that. Yeah, I guess that I believe you now and I’m definitely relieved that you’re no spinny stalker.
Wow. That’s deep, Connie (oh, do you mind if I call you that? It’s so much shorter and easier on my hand to write. Haha). I completely understand what you mean. I bet that gets really irritating for you, eh? I’m sorry. Is this person a close friend of yours?
Oh, thanks! (Sarcasm) I actually think that ‘Bloody Brilliant’ is much better. That does make sense. Is this person someone that you fancy? Wait…you are a boy, aren’t you? I mean, I just assumed that, but I’m not at all sure. Your handwriting’s a bit neat, so it’s possible for you to be a lass. But, I really hope that you’re not. I mean, I just don’t really feel right talking to girl like this. Girls just irritate me. They strive on drama and their sole purpose in life is to make everyone around them miserable. They’re just wretched. I mean…except for me, I guess.
Ugh! Why does everyone keep asking me that? It’s kind of annoying. Well, because I don’t know you, I don’t really mind telling you secrets, as long as you don’t go telling anybody. Promise you won’t?
Okay, well, me and Rem. He has this girlfriend, you see, and I rather despise her. She confronted me in the library about a month ago and told me to ‘back off of Remus’. Then I told her that he and I were just friends, which we are, and she tried to get in a little comeback contest with me (which I totally won, by the way). She ended it, though, by saying something about my mum. I had to use everything in me not to punch her. And then, just last week, at the Gryffindor party (I’m sure you heard about that), she told me she wanted to be friends and introduced me to Mark Walker, saying that we needed to get to know each other. He…was a bit too friendly, we’ll just say. Remus actually saved me from that and I’m in so much debt to him for that. Right now, we’re both stuck on a wire. He doesn’t really believe me that Barbie planned the whole Walker thing and I’m just mad at him for actually believing the doll. I’m not really sure what’s going on, so…yeah.
Tell me about your love life. Not like I usually ask these types of questions. But I don’t know anything about you and I couldn’t really think of any other things to ask about.
P.S. Sorry that was so bloody long. I hadn’t planned on ranting so much.
“You ready to go home?” Mason asked me excitedly during dinner.
Tomorrow was the day we were supposed to go home and we really couldn’t wait. We hadn’t seen Dad in almost four months. Christmas at our house was always the best. Even though we didn’t get much, it was always insanely fun. Remus and his mum came over on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day and we had a jolly good time together. For each and every meal, we all cooked together in our kitchen without using magic. Mason, Rem and I usually ended up getting kicked out for throwing food and Dorothy made sure to keep me away from the oven. Ever since Christmas of ‘69, I’ve been officially banned from using any sort of electronic heating device. But it really wasn’t my fault, how was I supposed to know you were supposed to put food on a tray before putting it in the oven? On Christmas day, we all exchanged gifts, even though they weren’t much. Dorothy stopped giving me make-up after about the third Christmas, when she realized I usually threw it all away. Us kids usually exchanged silly presents, some inside joke or another. Dad usually picked up something on his way home from work a few days before. He wasn’t much of a gift-giver, anyways. Then a few days after Christmas, all of us Marauders usually got together at one of our houses and partied until the time came to go back to school.
I nodded enthusiastically. “Of course I am! I really can’t wait,” I told him, my words slurring together, they came out a bit too quickly.
But what could I help it? It’s exciting.
“What’re we gonna get Dad this year?”
I shrugged. “I honestly haven’t thought about the presents at all. I’m just focused on the food that Dorothy’s planning.” She was an extraordinary cook. Insanely good stuff. I swear, if I ever throw up from eating too much, it’s probably going to be at the Lupin’s house.
Mason laughed in agreement. “Yeah, definitely. But I’m not going to let you put anything in the oven, Mack. I mean, we all thought you learned a bit after ‘69, but last year’s turkey certainly proved each of us wrong.”
“Okay, the little thing in it hadn’t popped up yet, so I just left it in the oven!”
“When you smell something burning, that’s a sure-fire sign to take it out.”
“Damned bird,” I muttered, shaking my head and ripping a bit out of the chicken wing I was eating.
Ha, I’m not planning on addressing you as that any more, so enjoy it while you can.
Good. I’m glad that you believe me now. I was afraid you would never tell me anything if you didn’t think that I went to Hogwarts with you.
Connie? That’s a bloody girl’s name! But I guess I don’t mind. Whatever helps your aching hand. Haha. And yeah, it is rather vexing. They don’t see how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve really grown up. I don’t run around their garden and play anymore. We’re very good friends and I just want them to see who I really am.
I completely understand what you mean about girls and I’m happy to say that I am a bloke, thanks. Girls can really just get on my last nerves most of the time. It seems the only thing they do it their spare time is fix their hair and put on more make-up. I know that’s not how all girls are, but very well most of them. And, even though I don’t know you all that well, I can already tell you that you’re nothing like the lot of them. Completely different.
Oh, I promise I won’t tell anybody. Why would I do that, anyway?
So you don’t like that girl? What’s her name…Amber? Andrea? Oh, it’s Ashleyn, isn’t it? She doesn’t really sound like she’d be a walk in the park. What did she say about your mum? It must have been pretty bad to make you want to punch her. Ah, and I heard about that little incident with Walker. That bloody douce-bag. He had no right to take advantage of you like that. You think that Ashleyn set that up? But why would she do such a thing? That’s just horrid. I just don’t see why you pin this on Remus. He’s just dating the girl, after all. He can’t be responsible for her actions. And aren’t you grateful that he saved you from that bloke?
Ha, my love life? I have none. I mean, I have a girlfriend, but she's...nothing special. Don't worry about it.
Now it’s your turn. Your love life? Are you interested in anybody in particular?
We were silent for a moment and Mason looked over at me. We were both thinking the same thing.
“So, are you and Remus going to be alright?” he asked, quietly.
Ever since the ‘Christmas’ party, Remus and I have been on fairly good terms. When we’re with each other, it’s just like old times and nothing really seems any different. We laugh, we joke, we talk. It’s fun. Then…Ashleyn comes along and sweeps him away, which was why I still didn’t sit with the lot of them during meals. Whenever she was around me, she acted bitter and I knew it was because her little plan didn’t entirely fall into place. She had her boyfriend to thank for that.
I nodded. “Yeah,” I said, firmly. “Yeah, we’ll be just fine.”
He smiled. “Good. So, where are the Marauders going to have their ‘family reunion’?”
“Oh, I dunno. Probably at our house or the Lupin’s. Seeing as we can never go to the Black’s, obviously, and the Potters are going to Brazil over break.”
“Wait, is James going to be gone, then?”
“No, his parents are having him stay home with Sirius, since he’s been having family issues.”
“Okay, so it’ll be at the Lupin’s then?”
I nodded. “Yep.”
Dad never really fancied the idea of me having no girlfriends. He said it wasn’t ‘proper’ for a teenage girl to be constantly in the presence of boys, especially troublemakers like the Marauders. When he realized, however, that I wasn’t making any girlfriends and that the Marauders were basically my only source of happiness, he eased off a bit. He said, ‘as long as those rowdy boys are nowhere near my home’ that it was alright for me to be friends and spend most of Christmas with the lot of them. So, this year, our reunion would be at the Lupin’s. Not like Dorothy really minded, though. She loved the Marauders. She would always tell us how adorably funny we were and how our pranks just make her laugh. We’ve spent three out of the six Christmas’s we’ve had at the Lupin’s because she treats us so wonderfully. Their house is fairly large, so we all get our own rooms, mine the furthest from the boys’, of course. ‘It was only right,’ Dorothy told me. But I didn’t mind much, as long as I was with my mates most of the time, I was pretty happy.
I’m glad that you don’t mind much because I would’ve called you that anyways.
‘Run around in their garden’? So you’ve known each other since you were tykes? Wow, then their impression of you must be pretty outdated. I’m sure, if you two really are such good friends, that it’ll all work out in due time. If you don’t think that it will, just talk to them. I’m sure that they’ll understand if you lay it out for them.
Good. I’m glad that I’m nothing like the lot of them. I would probably hang myself if I was anything like them. Thanks a load.
It’s Ashleyn and I pretty much hate her with a burning passion equal to that of a thousand suns. If that gives you any idea at all. Yeah, I do think that she set it up. I mean, she was the one that introduced him to me not thirty minutes before, wasn’t she? And she winked at him when she was leaving. She did it because she hates me. She hates me because I’m Rem’s best mate and I just happen to be a bloomin’ girl. And I pin this on him because it’s his fault he’s dating the harpy. He knows that she’s good-for-nothing and yet he continues to act like there’s nothing wrong! It irritates me more than anything that he likes her so much. She’s so dreadful and he doesn’t even care! And I’ve seen him kiss her and all, which is just disgusting, but she told me that he pulled her into a broom closet and almost…did something with her. Almost. But that just proves that he’s ready to do that type of thing with her! Rem has never done anything like that with a girl before. She’s just not right for him.
Of course I’m grateful that he saved me! I mean, after all, I was at the edge of disaster and he pulled me back, preventing anything from happening. I’m lucky that he can when he did because Walker was close to…well, I’m just really thankful that Rem was there. He’s always there for me when I need him.
'Nothing special'? Ha, what a nice thing to say about your girlfriend.
Hahaha. Me? A love life? That’s really funny. I don’t have a love life. Not at all. Sorry.
“I’m sure it’ll be great, no matter where it is,” Mason said subconsciously, watching as a skinny fourth year Hufflepuff walked by our table, her skirt hiked up so high, you could see a bit of her lacy black underwear.
I frowned and punched his arm. “Honestly, Mas,” I rolled my eyes. “That’s just disgusting.”
He shook his head. “Oh, no, my dear sister. That is why I love fourth years.”
I groaned in repulsion.
Mason was definitely the 'ladies man' type. Much like Sirius and James, he was constantly surrounded by a dozen or so girls, who were always swooning pathetically over him. I could always hear them as they walked down the corridors, talking loudly about how adorable they thought he was and how they wished he would give them the time of day. They loved him, the turned right around and bullied me into the floor. Yeah, shallow.
“Be grateful, Mack,” he told me, watching another girl walk by. “I gave up all of that so that I could sit with you during meals. It’s a great sacrifice.”
Sometimes, I found it incredibly embarrassing to tell people that this was my twin brother.
“Oh, look! The post!” I observed loudly, glad for the temporary distraction. “Dad said he’d mail us with all the plans for Christmas.”
We watched as Mist flew around stupidly in circles before dropping a small letter right on Mason’s head. I laughed and plucked it off, eagerly tearing it open and reading it aloud to him.
“‘My dear children’,” I began excitedly, “‘I know that the two of you are ardently awaiting the opportunity to come home for the Christmas holidays and I must say that I want nothing more than to see both of you again.’” I smiled up at Mason.
“Keep going,” he urged me.
“‘Christmas has always been a time of sacrifice and giving in our family. We sacrifice some things to give to others—’”
“Ha! Like I sacrificed the girls for you, Mack!” Mason interrupted.
“‘—And we do this to make each other happy, even though it might upset us a bit’,” I stopped. “What’s he getting at?”
“Well, I dunno. How ‘bout you keep reading?!”
“‘Mason and Mackenzie, I’m sorry to say that you are not going to come home for the holidays’! WHAT?!” I almost shouted.
A few people turned to watch as Mason and I stared at each other in disbelief. We always go home! We’ve never spent the holidays apart! He couldn’t do that!
I continued to read. “‘I’m aware that you’ve already signed up to come home, but I’ve arranged it with Minerva that you’ll stay at Hogwarts together.
“‘The reason I’ve made this decision is not really any of your concern, but, because you are my children, I will tell you. I’ve met someone. We have actually known each other for years through work and we started seeing one another after the two of you left for school. She moved in with me a month ago and we are preparing to spend our first Christmas together. She asked me specifically if we could spend it alone, without you both. I, of course, agreed with her. We need some time together and we thought it best for you to stay where you are. She is a wonderful woman and I know that both of you will adore her. I have to say, children, I’m in love with her. However, my personal life is none of your concern and I will not have you prying any more past that.’”
My lip was trembling and I could hardly read the letter. Mason simply sat there, staring at me, his brows knitted together, fists clenched.
Yeah, I guess you could say that we’ve been mates since we were little. I just really hope that we’ll stay friends for a long time. I really value their friendship a load.
I really don’t think you should worry about being like them at all. You’re just so different, I don’t think that there would ever be the slightest chance of you becoming one of them.
Okay, so you really think that it was her fault. I get it. But I still don’t see why you are blaming Remus. Maybe he doesn’t know that she’s rude to you. Maybe you should tell him. Woah. Remus in a broom closet? I never thought that I would ever hear about that. Well, I guess he really must like her. I mean, if he’s going that far when he’s never really done that type of thing before. It’s either that or…he’s sick of not getting that sort of attention from girls. I mean, Sirius and James have probably been caught in broom closets loads of times and Remus sounds like he’s never gotten any action like that. Maybe he’s just ready and he doesn’t care who it’s with. But, anyways, how do you know he’s never done that type of a thing? Does he tell you that type of stuff? And if you’re really that concerned, again, I think you should just talk to him. Haha, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that it sounds like you fancy him a bit, Mackenzie.
Oh, bull. You must have some type of love life. Or at least, you must want to have something of the sort? How about you just tell me what you want in a bloke. That seems like a good enough compromise. I gave you my insight of Remus from a bloke's point of view. It's the least that you can do.
P.S. Sorry this was so short. I’ve got a load of homework that I need to finish.
Dad was seeing someone? He was in love with her? That was impossible! He couldn’t love another woman! He loved Mum and that was it! And she was living with him? In our house? Without us. And she didn’t want us to come home for Christmas. And Dad was agreeing with her. He was putting this woman before us, his children. His wife’s children. Why hadn’t he told us about her before? Did she work with him and Dorothy? Why was he saying that his personal life was none of our concern?! Of course it was! He was our father! Everything he did was our concern! He was dating someone, for God’s sake, and he said it wasn’t our concern! He was in love with her. He loved her. He loved her and he didn’t love Mum anymore. He didn’t love us. He just loved this woman. This woman who has stolen our father away from us.
Tears blurred my vision as I tried to speak. “Wh — Why can’t we stay with the Lupin’s?” I asked Mas.
He grabbed the letter out of my hands and continued to read. “‘I know that you’re probably wondering whether or not you can stay with Dorothy and Remus. I have discussed this with Emily’— that must be the lady — ‘and she and I have agreed that it is highly inappropriate for Mackenzie to be spending all of her time with boys. And it is especially immoral for you to stay somewhere with so many boys. So, we will be discussing more on that. You will not be having your ‘Marauder reunion’ or whatever you call it ever again. We will not allow you to stay in a house with all those boys. For your own good, you’d better find yourself some girlfriends. Those boys are a horrible influence on you and, after all, Mackenzie, you are a girl. Act like it, for Merlin’s sake. Emily and I agree that you have taken to spending all your time with boys because you have had no female influence since your mother passed away. Now that she is here, Emily with provide some guidance for you. During your Easter break, you and her will be spending a load of time together, so that the two of you can get to know each other. We will be making some permanent changes with you, Mackenzie. No longer will you fiddle about with Mason or his friends. You will start to do chores around the house, including cooking and cleaning, like a young woman should. You won't be wearing anymore of your shredded bell bottom jeans while you're home. You will start to wear skirts and dress like a girl, not like the boy you pretend to be. And you, Mason. Let's just say that you will not be having any more of your lady friends over. Like I said, these will be made permanent from now on. We will discuss this more the next time we see you two.
"'I'm saying this now and I'd better not have to say it again: I do not want any trouble from you two. I do not wish to get any more letters from your professors saying that either of you is misbehaving. I've raised you better than that. Mason, you will do the homework that you are assigned to do and you will not back talk any of your professors. They deserve respect, much of which you do not possess for many people. You will spend less time in broom closets and more time in the library, learning the things that are indispensable for your future. And Mackenzie, like I said before, you had better find yourself some girlfriends, or you will be forced to spend your last two years at Hogwarts chiefly alone. I do not want you to spend your time moseying around with those damned boys. I really expect to see the two of your behaviors to improve much.
“‘Happy Christmas. Richard Hathaway.’”
Alright, enough with all the ‘Miss Hathaway’ and ‘Mackenzie’ formal rubbish. It’s Mack. Just Mack, alright, mate? You can just call me Mack and I’ll be perfectly happy.
Yes, Remus was caught in a broom closet. I still can’t really grasp it. Let alone imagine it. Ugh. Imagining my best mate in a broom closet with Barbie. I think I just threw up a bit in my mouth. Um…about all that…I really don’t think that’s right. Rem definitely isn’t that type. He hardly ever looks at girls the way James and Sirius do. He just keeps his eyes to himself and whenever the other boys are checking out some girl, he just talks to me and ignores them. But that was before he had a girlfriend, I guess. I still don’t think he would rush into anything like that, though. He’s just not that type of guy. I know him better than that. And no, we don’t really tell each other that kind of stuff, but we still know it. I mean, he knew that my first kiss was with Sirius and all. And I know that Ashleyn’s his first real girlfriend. We just know those things about each other, I don’t really know how, but we just do. Huh, maybe I will talk to him. I dunno. Um, rubbish! I do not like Remus. He’s my best mate. That would never happen. Besides, he’s got Ashleyn, after all.
Ugh. Honestly, I don’t really like talking about this type of stuff. Blech. Alright, well, my ideal man… He’d have to be funny. I love laughing and that is definitely a necessity. He’d have to be a good listener and a good talker because I like to talk a load, but I like listening to stories more. He’d need to really love me for me. I mean, I can be irritable most of the time and I say a bunch of things that I don’t mean and that people would get really offended by if they didn’t know me well. He’d have to be prepared to deal with me. To deal with me when I’m mean and when I'm in a bad mood. He’d always have to be there when I need him. I get into a load of trouble and he’d have to be able to get me out of the crap I get into. He’d have to be able to give me a bit of time with the physical stuff because I’m really not that type of girl. He’d have to be there to catch me when I fall. I’m a clumsy girl, what can I say? I’d like him to call me Mackenzie occasionally. Even though I don’t like people to call me that, coming from someone who really cared about me, it would actually mean a lot. I’d want him to call me beautiful. Boys never tell me that and I really think that it would be nice. It might have something to do with the glasses, but whatever.
Uh, that’s about it. I mean, that’s just the deep down stuff. I mean, I’d like him to be tall, kind of attractive, smart, all that jazz. But what about you? Who is your ideal girl?
I’ve just got to say, writing to you is really quite enjoyable. Some of the things that I’ve written to you…I’ve never even told my best mates. So, you should definitely feel special.
“How could he do that?” Remus asked in disbelief after I told him what the letter from my father had said.
I shook my head and closed my eyes. “I dunno, but I don’t really want to think about it.”
He and I sat in the Common Room that night, in our nightclothes, much like we usually did. The fire in the hearth was much larger than normal, because of the colder weather outside. We sat squished in the large armchair closest to the fireplace, sharing a large, soft blanket and talking quietly. Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking. Normally, a boy and girl do not share an armchair and blanket when they’re ‘just friends’. I’m here to tell you to shut the bloody hell up. Because that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard.
“What’s he mean by us being a horrible influence over you? We’re not that horrible,” he shrugged.
I chuckled. “You know him, Moony. He always thinks like that. He hates the idea that I have no girlfriends. That’s just him.”
"And what's all this about wearing skirts and cleaning the house? Sounds like he wants you to be a fifties housewife."
"Yeah. News-flash: It's 1977. The fifties ended thirty years ago. Get over it, Dad."
“Hmm…I’m just wondering who this Emily character is. She doesn’t sound like a very jolly lady. ‘Emily and I agreed’, ‘I have discussed this with Emily’, ‘Emily will provide guidance’. Who the hell does she think she is?”
“She’s not my bloody mum, so I think she should stop acting like she possesses power over us. I haven’t even met the woman and she’s already effecting my life dramatically.”
“I hate her already.”
“Me, too,” I agreed. “Lucky you, you get to go home to Dorothy, while I’m stuck in this bloomin’ castle all alone.” I sighed. That was definitely not the way I wanted to spend my holiday. I didn’t even know what they did here during the holidays. Lock us up? Slide food under the door? Keep us alive with only bread and water? Naw, Hogwarts is better than that. Maybe we’ll get Pumpkin juice.
He looked thoughtful for a moment, then shook his head. “No, Mack. I’m gonna stay here with you.”
I frowned. “No! You can’t leave Dorothy alone!”
“Relax, relax. The Potters invited her to go to Brazil with them and she still hasn’t given them an answer. I’ll just post her tomorrow morning and tell her to go with them and that I’m staying here with you. I bet I can even convince the rest of the guys to stay. Sirius will be happy to stay and James won't care. I dunno about Peter, but I could ask him.”
“I don’t know…”
He nudged me. “It’s okay, Mack. It’ll be fun. I hear that Hogwarts is alright over the holidays,” he paused and smiled. “And…Ashleyn won’t be here.”
I looked up at him, a small smile forming on my face. Hmm…No classes, no Barbie, Marauders, no Barbie, Hogsmeade, no Barbie. “Oh, alright,” I agreed, reluctantly.
He nodded, smiling widely, and slipped his arm around my shoulders. I stiffened for a moment, but he just pulled me close, squeezing my shoulder. And, for some reason, I relaxed and snuggled into him, resting my head on his shoulder.
Merlin, when did we become the touchy feely kind of people?
I didn’t know, but I liked it. And hadn't the slightest clue why.
Hahaha, yeah, I wouldn’t suggest imagining that at all. Well, if you don’t think that’s right, I really don’t know what to tell you. Remus is a guy, after all and girls can really change guys, for better or for worse. You really don’t know what kind of power you lot have over all us. A simple kiss can enchant us in the most unexpected ways. A smile alone can send our hearts fluttering. If Ashleyn’s Remus’ first girlfriend, he probably doesn’t have any idea how to handle the bewitching ways of women. So, I’m guessing he’s ready to cave. He may not be the type of guy to rush into that sort of thing, but it’s not like he knows how to deal with Ashleyn’s alluring presence.
I’m glad you told me all of that. It gives me a bit of insight about you. I’m going to address a few things that you said. I don’t usually say these kinds of things, but I think you have the right to know.
First, it’s good that you love to laugh and that you have a sense of humor. Blokes love that in a girl. You’re a good listener. That’s something so new. Most girls will just talk and talk and never let the guy say a thing. Men will be attracted to your willingness to hear them out. If you find the right guy, he’ll definitely love you for just you, whether you’re irritable or not and I’m sure that they won’t take anything you say to heart. Guys like to be protective over girls, so hugging you when you’re down will be the least they could do. They will definitely be there to get you out of whatever silly trouble you get into and guys will love your adventurous attitude and willingness to break the rules. No matter what you think, guys don’t think only about the physical parts of a relationship and I’m proof of that. The biggest thing that makes an impression is you and you alone. The moment you fell, a boy would be there to help you. Like I said, we’re protective. Mackenzie’s a nice name and I’m sure anyone would be willing to call you that, if you’d like them to. And Mack, you are beautiful. You may not think so, but even with your glasses, you’re probably one of most attractive girls I’ve ever known. I just think you should know that.
As for my girl, well, I really don’t know either. She would have to be different from all of those girls who look more like dolls than humans. She’d have to be funny and not take life too seriously. I want to be able to protect her from anything and everything that could harm her. She would need to be smart and somewhat knowledgeable about the world in general. She’d be laid-back and fairly carefree, not running around worrying about everything all the time. She ‘d be caring and determined. Sweet and adorable. Interesting and daring. She’d have to be accepting because I’ve got quite a few secrets nobody but my closest friends know. She would be loyal and reliable, so I could count on her for anything. She’d be flexible and spontaneous, willing to do things that weren’t exactly according to plan. She’d be strong and confident. And most of all, she’d be herself.
The library was quiet as I ambled between the bookshelves, searching for the one person I needed to talk to. I held my bag securely on my shoulder and looked around each and every corner. I had only spotted one or two people in the entire library and realized that nobody really liked spending their holidays in this death hole. Yet, I was looking for the one person who could spend his whole life here and never get bored. My light footsteps echoed around me as I quickened my stride. Where was that bloody boy?
Not a second after I thought those words, did I spot a sandy-haired boy sitting at one of the tables, leaning over a roll of parchment and scribbling at a rapid speed. I almost ran over to the table the moment I saw him. I slammed my bag on the table, causing him to jump and me to smile before speaking.
“I can’t get him out of my head,” I told Remus, my voice firm.
He furrowed his brow and looked at me in confusion. “Uh…who, Mack?” he asked.
I pulled a chair out and sat with him at the table, pushing my glasses up my nose. “Inconspicuous.”
He raised his eyebrows and leaned casually back in his chair. All of the Marauders knew about Connie. They knew how eager I always was to write back, even though I didn’t tell them. James and Peter thought it was silly I was actually writing to this bloke I didn’t even know. Sirius and Rem, on the other hand, thought it was ‘cute’ and that ‘the lad must be someone special to work up the nerve to write me’. Their words, not mine. “Oh, really?”
I looked at him, biting my lip, then nodded slowly. “Rem, you don’t understand,” I said, my voice drawn out. I ran my fingers through my hair, which was pulled back in a loose, low ponytail. “I’ve never felt this way before. And I don’t even know what ‘this way’ is.”
Remus just stared at me, waiting for more.
“We’ve only exchanged nine letters and yet I can’t stop thinking about him and all the things he says,” I muttered, not really sure what I was going to say.
“What has he said?” he asked, sitting back up in his chair.
I opened my bag and dug through it until I came upon the stack of his letters, which I had tied together with a ribbon. Grabbing Connie’s most recent letter, I unfolded it and looked back up at Remus.
“He asked me what are some qualifications that I would want in my ideal bloke. I told him and this is how he responded," I then read him the last part of Connie's last letter.
I looked back up at Remus, who was staring at me with a thoughtful expression. He sat with his elbows resting on the table, his fingers intertwined. For a moment, I couldn’t help but notice how his hair lay so perfectly against his forehead and how blue his eyes were, but quickly banished the thoughts from my mind. This was Remus. What was I thinking?
I shook my head and looked down at the letter in my hand. “It’s not just that, though. It’s the little advice he gives me. The way he tells me what he’s thinking, but keeps his letters to the point. The insight he has on different topics is extraordinary. He’s such a gentleman and doesn’t try to pry into my life. I feel this…attraction to him that I’ve never felt for anybody before,” I stopped, scratching my head. “This all sounds so stupid. I mean, I don’t even know the bloody guy and yet I can’t get him out of my bloomin’ head!”
He chuckled. “It kind of sounds like you fancy him a bit, Mack,” he smirked.
I glared at him. “No, I don’t, Remus. I do not fancy him. I don’t even know him. It’s impossible for me to fancy him.”
“It’s really not that impossible, Mack. I mean, Sirius and I can always see how anxious you are to reply to the letters and you can never sit still in the morning when you’re waiting for the post. We can see you jumping in your place even from the Gryffindor table,” he leaned back his chair once more and gave me a knowing look.
I frowned. “Oh, don’t you look at me like that, Moony.”
He rolled his eyes. "Okay, okay. You don't fancy him. Happy?"
"Yes," I muttered, tucking the letter back into my bag.
I didn't even know why I came to him. Why was I pouring my bloody heart out to him? Even though we were best mates, we really didn't really talk much about this kind of stuff. I mean, the whole being attracted to somebody part. I think he realized at a young age that it was more useful to go to Sirius for girl trouble than to come to me. He certainly knew a load more than I did about how a normal girl's mind works. So and so said this, what did she mean? So and so did this, what did she mean? Haha, like I knew. And the reason I never went to him was because...I just never really felt very comfortable going to anybody about that kind of stuff. I was more of a closed up kind of person.
We sat in silence for a moment, and Remus looked at me thoughtfully. "Did you do something different to your hair?" he made up, wanting to start up a new subject.
"Help me, Remus!" I exclaimed, exasperated.
“Well, what do you want me to do about all of this?”
I bit my lip. “Uh…” I hadn’t actually thought about that at all. How could he help? I mean, he didn’t know who Inconspicuous was, after all, so that wouldn’t be any help… “You could help me figure out who he is,” I said, suddenly.
Remus almost fell back in his chair with surprise. “I could…what? How am I supposed to know who the bloke is?” he asked, incredulously, grasping the edges of the table.
I shrugged. “You can think of something. Together, Sirius and you are quite the dynamic duo. I’m sure you could come up with something plausible.”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “Um…Hm…” He thought for a moment. “I dunno. Maybe we could do something like a blind date sort of thing, where we could line guys up and you could have a date with ‘em or something? Maybe we'd find Inconspicuous that way? I really don’t kn—”
I stopped him. “But Moony, you know I judge too quickly. What if he’s somebody I already had an opinion of? Like a Slytherin or something? I—”
“Well, if he’s a ruddy Slytherin, you wouldn’t want to date him anyways!” Remus threw in.
I continued as though I hadn’t heard him. “—I don’t want to miss him by judging too quickly.”
He sighed and sat thoughtfully for a few seconds. “Well, then, we’ll have to take the term ‘blind date’ in a literal sense. We could put a charm on you that would prevent you from being able to see him. And we could disguise his voice or something so you couldn’t tell who he is.” He shrugged.
I stared at him. “Merlin, that’s brilliant!” I slapped the table in excitement and stood up, grabbing my bag. “Thanks, Remus.” I flashed a quick smile before turning and taking a step away from the table. Of course, I couldn’t even do that. My foot caught on the leg of the chair and I tumbled to the ground, landing flat on my face.
“Mack!” Rem came rushing around the table, just to see me sprawled out over the floor, my glasses thrown somewhere a few feet away from me. He took one look at me, then burst out laughing.
Bloody great friend, he is.
I sat up, rubbing my forehead and smirked at him. “Oh, thanks for the help, mate,” I said, sarcastically, looking up at a much blurrier version of the Remus I knew.
His chuckles subsided and he knelt down to my level, his face rather close to my own. “I’ve just got to say that little stunt made my day, Nightingale,” he smiled.
I rolled my eyes and glanced around at the floor on which I sat. “Now, where’re my glasses…?” It was no use for me to look for them, seeing as I would probably just crush them accidentally.
Remus reached over to the book shelf next to me and grabbed what I assumed to be my bifocals. He wiped the lenses and looked up at me, his expression a bit concerned. “How have you been feeling lately?” he asked me, quietly.
I knew exactly what he was talking about. Mark.
I nodded quickly. “Uh, yeah, I’ve been fine,” I told him. “Thanks.”
He shook his head and bit the inside of his cheek. “You really have no idea how much I want to tear him apart,” he looked up at the ceiling, swallowing hard. “I — I just can’t control myself. We saw him in the hall the other day and Padfoot almost had to hold me back. You can’t even imagine the dirty, vile things he must have been thinking. If he so much as looks at you the wrong way, I swear, I will rip him limb from limb. That bloody son of a—”
“Remus,” I stopped him.
He looked at me and his face softened. He smiled slightly and shook his head.
“You know, Mack,” he said. “Inconspicuous is right. You don’t know that you’re beautiful. Without—” he gently slipped my glasses onto my face, “—and with your glasses.” Giving me one last smile, he stood up and walked back to the table. I watched quietly as he gathered up his things and exited the library.
What the bloody hell just happened?
A/N:**A pogrebin is an annoying little creature native to Russia. They love to follow people around, infusing them with a sense of hopelessness until the human collapses, at which point the pogrebin attempts to devour them. The Pogrebin resembles a grey rock with a small hairy body and it hides by crouching down and pretending to be nothing but a harmless stone.
Amazing banner of Remus by Ande!
A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.
Are you going home for the holidays?
I’m staying at school.
Sorry this is so short.
Really busy at the moment…
Nope. I’m staying here.
Good, I’ll see you around.
Hmm…With what exactly?
“No, Padfoot. We don’t need rules for this.”
“Nightingale, who is pulling all this together for you? Uh, that would be me. I can make rules if I want to.”
“‘Kay, then I don’t have to follow them.”
“Yeah, you do.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yes, Mack, you do.”
“No, Sirius, I don’t.”
“SHUT UP!” Remus yelled, throwing his hands up in the air. “I swear, if you two get into another argument, I’m going to murder you both.”
I stuck my tongue out at Sirius, who kindly returned the gesture.
The three of us sat comfortably at a table in the middle of the Room of Requirement, planning my ‘blind date’ scheme to find out who Connie was. James wasn’t interested and told us that it was stupid for me to be falling for some boy I didn’t know. He also said that he had a date with Lily Evans. So, it was pretty much impossible for us to know if he was completely sane when he said those things. Peter had ended up going home, poor chap. But he and his family were going to Romania, so I didn’t really blame him for wanting to leave.
So far, however, we really hadn’t gotten anywhere.
Sirius had insisted on adding a few boys to the list, even though I exhorted that Remus would make the list, seeing that he knew me the best and I'd read him parts of my letters from Connie. But of course, Padfoot got his way and Andrew Remington and Ben Jones were added to the very short list.
"So, Remus," Padfoot asked, flipping through a pile of papers. "Have you figured out the spells we're going to use to disguise our young suitors?"
He nodded. "Yeah, well, kind of. I figured that we definitely couldn't put the spell on the bloke, since the lot of them might wonder why and get in an uproar of sorts. So, we're going to have to put it on Mack here and—"
"Woah there, cowboy," I interrupted. "Put a charm on me?"
Remus nodded. "Yeah, I mean, it's the only way. We'd just have to charm your ears to hear everything in one specific tone."
I groaned. "Rem is definitely performing the charm then. I'm not going to have Sirius blowing my ear off or anything," I chuckled at the thought.
"Hey!" Sirius protested.
Ignoring him, I thought for a moment. "But what about the way they look? I mean, disguising their voice isn't going to do much if I can still see them."
Moony nodded. "Of course. Well, I guess we'll just have to make you blind for a few minutes at a time," he shrugged.
"Woah, woah, woah," I shook my head. "That's not going to work. I mean, me? Blind? That's a disaster waiting to happen. Especially if the bloke doesn't know about it."
"Of course we'll tell him about it. We're taking the term 'blind date' in a more literal sense."
I sighed, knowing that this would just end in calamity. "Alright. I guess I have no choice then."
Sirius clapped his hands loudly, obviously not happy about being excluded from the conversation. "So, when will we start this little shabang then?"
"As soon as the holidays end," said Remus.
"No!" I exclaimed.
The two of them looked at me in surprise.
"I mean, he's here. He told me that he was staying here for the holidays. Why don't we start it now?" I told them, thinking that it was the obvious solution.
Sirius shrugged and started gathering up his things. "Well, that just sounds splendid. Now, if the two of you don't mind, I've got an appointment that I cannot be late to. So, if you'd excuse me..." He stood up and slung his bag over his shoulder, heading toward the door.
I smiled at Rem. "Hmm, I wonder where this appointment might be...A broom closet, perhaps?"
We looked over at Sirius, who turned around for a moment just to flash his trademark smirk, then continued on his way.
Remus smiled and looked back at me. "So, who do you think he could be?" he asked thoughtfully.
I shrugged. Honestly, I hadn't even thought about it. I guess I figured that he could be just about anybody and there was no point in trying to find him because the possibilities were so vast. Of course, I really hoped that he wasn't somebody disgusting, like a Malfoy or another Black, thought I doubted any of them could be as thoughtful as Inconspicuous. But I really didn't know any Slytherins very well, so who was I to judge?
"I dunno. Who do you think?"
He shook his head. "Yeah, I've no idea. He could be bloody anyone. I really don't know how I'll decide." He tapped his fingers rhythmically and looked down at our short list of young men. "And you know you're going to have to help me."
"Yeah, I know," I sighed. I really didn't know if I wanted to spend the time to do this. I mean, it was a load of work and I hadn't even tried asking Connie who he was anyways. Maybe that would be a good idea.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, both of us caught up in our own thoughts. I was usually the one who broke these silences, mostly with a random opinion or question. Remus surprised me by being the first to speak this time.
I thought it strange that he should call my name when we were the only two in the room, but I answered anyways. "Yeah, Rem?"
"Swap?" he asked quietly.
I almost rolled my eyes at the age old game we invented when we were little. 'Swap' was something that we did when we wanted to know something about one another. One of us would say "swap" and then ask a question of sorts, which the other person had to answer truthfully. Then they were able to ask a question back, which the first person had to answer as well.
Now I just wondered what he wanted to ask.
"Yeah, sure," I agreed reluctantly.
He moved his hands so that they were under the table, then obviously proceeded to avoid my eyes. "Mack, why do you really want to find out who Inconspicuous is? I know that you said you couldn't get him out of your head. But what do you think will happen once you find him?"
I smiled lightly. "Well, Rem, that's actually two questions," I joked, but he didn't smile. He just looked up at me, waiting for an answer.
He had a good point. What was I expecting to happen? Why did I even want to know who he was? Where was any of this going to lead?
I sat quietly for a moment or two, then slowly gave him his answer. "Um...Well, like you said, Rem, I really can't get this bloke out of my head and that's never really happened to me before. I can't say that I've ever really had a relationship with a guy before, romantic-wise, I mean. I've never found a guy that I thought could really make me happy in that sense. Plus the fact that I'm just not very good at maintaining a relationship like that. But I've seen those couples that aren't all mushy when they're together and I see that they're truly happy. I guess...I mean, I guess I kinda want something like that for myself. I want to be able to love someone and have them love me back. And, for some reason I think that — I think that I'm hoping Connie might be that person. I'm hoping he might be the one who could really make me happy." I took a deep breath and looked up at him. If he hadn't made this a swap, I probably wouldn't have ever told him any of this.
He gave me a satisfied grin and nodded. "Okay, you're turn," was all he said.
And I knew exactly what I was going to ask.
"Now, don't you get mad at me or anything. But what is it that you see in Ashleyn, Remus? What makes her so special?"
He smirked. "Well, Mack, that's actually two questions," he mocked me.
I smacked his arm. "This is serious, Moony."
He chuckled. "Alright, alright," he paused, abandoning all foolishness. "I can't pretend that I didn't think you were going to ask me that sooner or later because I knew that question was coming along sometime." He rested his head on a propped up arm and gave me a sad sort of look. "Now, don't you get made at me or anything. But, Ashleyn isn't at all what you think she is. You see her as a ditzy, blonde barbie, but that's not right. She's smart, funny, interesting, captivating and, most of all, she's gorgeous. What else could a guy ask for? What I don't understand is why you despise her so much. And if you're still thinking she set up that whole fuss with—" a flash of anger passed through his bright eyes as he skipped the name, "—she didn't."
I stared at him for a moment, my brow furrowed. "Smart, funny, interesting, captivating"? Who in bloody hell did he think he was talking about?
"Remus." I took my glasses off for a moment and rubbed my eyes with the heel of my palm. "Do you remember what she said about my mum?"
"You were provoking her, Mack! You said things that were just as mean."
I almost laughed. "I said she was ugly and dumb, Rem. That's nothing compared to what she said!" I retorted calmly. It was true.
"She's sensitive. Did you ever think of that? Did you even consider that she actually has feelings? She's only human!" he defended his sweetheart dutifully.
I flashed a look of false surprise. "Human? Really? And here I thought she was a pogrebin. My bad!"
"Oh, shut up, Mack. You just don't know how to deal with other people's feelings because you don't have any yourself," he said bitterly.
I gave a humorless laugh and shook my head. "Right. That's it. I'm mean to her because I have no feelings. Makes perfect sense."
"So what is it then? Why are you so bloody mean to her? She's my girlfriend, for Merlin's sake! Generally, you're supposed to be a bit cordial to your best mate's girlfriend!"
"Brilliant. So now you can be cordial to my future girlfriend. Congrats, Moony," I snapped sarcastically.
"Just answer the bloody question."
"Oh, what was it again? Why am I mean to your ickle little girlfriend? Maybe it's because she doesn't belong with the Ravenclaws, she's so stupid. She doesn't belong at our table. She doesn't belong in our study group. She doesn't belong in our common room. She doesn't belong anywhere near the Marauders. And she bloody well doesn't belong with you," I spat out these words with as much acidity as I could muster.
We sat silent for a moment, both staring at each other. Where did this little fight come from anyways? He just had to go accusing me of so much when all of it's really his girlfriends fault! Bros before hoes, mate.
"Then where does she belong?" he whispered, keeping his gaze locked on mine.
"Oh, I don't know. Just not with us," I mumbled.
He frowned and shook his head. "Mack, why is it that you just happen to loathe every girl that any of us go out with?"
By 'us', I knew he meant 'the Marauders'.
"What are you going on about?"
"You've pranked every girl that Sirius has ever dated. You hate Lily Evans—"
"I don't hate her," I interrupted through my teeth.
"Fine. You strongly dislike Lily Evans, who James just happens to be in love with. And now you can't stop goading Ashleyn." He looked at me accusingly, anger obvious on his face. Though we had a load of arguments, like all friends do, I hadn't seen him act like this towards me very often.
Suddenly, I felt particularly stupid. "Erm...What does goading mean?" I asked quietly, my voice barely audible. I could feel myself shrinking in my chair.
He took a deep breath and quoted the dictionary definition perfectly. "To provoke or annoy someone so as to stimulate some action or reaction."
Remus rubbed his eyes and breathed slowly. "I just don't know what to do with you sometimes. I think if you actually acted like a girl, life would be a whole load easier for all of us."
I frowned. "If I acted like a girl? What do you mean?"
"If you just acted like the girl you are. If you didn't get so angry like you do. Most girls get upset, but they don't do anything about it. You, on the other hand, get mad and do anything and everything you can to satisfy yourself. If you dressed a bit girlier every now and again. If you giggled like a girl should. If you behaved during class. If actually hung out with a couple girls. The only people you're ever around is guys."
I stared at him in disbelief. Did he really just dissect me and say what I should be doing? Bloody hell.
"Well, I apologize for acting nothing like a girl, Remus. I'm sorry that I played pirates with you when we were little, when, apparently, I should've been playing with dolls. I'm sorry that I don't dress like a girl. I'm sorry that I don't hang out with girls, but all of them hate me. They want bloody nothing to do with me. And I'm sorry that I don't giggle," I laughed humorlessly. "Maybe I should go find a best mate who's gay. Would that make you happy, Moony?"
I stood up and grabbed my bag. This was a load of bull. Flashing him an angry look, which probably ended up looking a bit sadder than mad, I stomped out of the Room of Requirement, somehow managing not to stumble in my wake.
"What if...I acted like Ashleyn?" I laughed, popping one of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans into my mouth.
Sirius rolled his eyes, chuckling heartily. "I would probably have to murder you, love. Merlin knows we could do without another one of her."
I nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I'd probably kill me, too. Now, it's your turn."
It had been three days since Remus and my argument and it was now two days til Christmas. While we had acted like nothing was wrong when we were all in our group, we definitely avoided being alone together. After what he said, I didn't really know what I was going to do. It was obvious that Remus and I had some things to work out. But it was almost Christmas, for Merlin's sake! I knew that we needed to resolve this, I just couldn't bring myself to do anything about it. I was never the one to apologize first. It was always Remus who did that.
It was late on the night before Christmas Eve and Sirius and I sat comfortably on the floor near the fire, playing a fun game of 'What If'. The title itself is self-explanatory. One person asks a 'what if' question and the other person says how they would respond to the scenario. It was just a silly game that he and I liked to play at times.
"What if...I was a Muggle?" he smiled, grabbing a few beans from my handful.
I shrugged. "Then I would feel terribly sorry for all the witches who would be missing your presence in particular broom closet," I snickered.
He jokingly threw a bean at me. "You're just jealous, Mack. Admit it."
"Oh, yes. I'll admit it. I'm in love with you, Sirius! I'm in love with you and I don't care who knows it!" I joked, rolling my eyes.
"Tsk tsk. Breaking Rule Four, you are."
"Of course, I'll just cross that off of my to-do list for today...Hm, 'Make sure to break Rule Four, Mack, that's very important.'"
He chuckled. "Your turn."
I thought for a moment. "What if you realized you were gay?" I asked with a straight face.
He stared at me for a moment, before the two of us burst out laughing. What could I say? It had been a long day. We were tired!
"Then I would feel terribly sorry for all the witches in this marvelous school!"
For some reason, I suddenly felt a wish for Remus to be here, laughing with us. I wished that he could share the moment with us and be there to ask another 'What If', for he was always the one who managed to make us all laugh so hard, we practically wet our pants. I wished it for a moment, then it was gone, as quick as it came.
Sirius looked thoughtful. "Mack? Do you remember all those months ago when we initiated 'Plan Lesbiano'?"
I grinned. "Yeah, I do. One of our more successful missions, was it not?"
He nodded in agreement and continued, "Well, I know that you haven't been able to forget the fiery kiss that was shared between the two of us, am I right?"
I rolled my eyes for about the fourth time that night. "Of course, Padfoot. That's it."
He smirked. "I didn't know if you knew, but, Mack, you're..." he glanced at me, "You're a pretty good kisser." His smirk only grew.
I elbowed his arm. "Yeah, and you're not so bad yourself, Romeo."
Of course, he gave a pompous look, like a king on his throne. "I was just wondering, what if we kissed again?" he leered and I almost hit him.
"Us? Kiss? Again?" I stared at him, slightly humored, slightly incredulous. What was he getting at talking about us kissing agin?
"Oh, you know, just to confirm that neither of us have any sort of yearning for the other," he looked at me, mischievously. "And maybe I could give you a pointer or two. You know, since you're new to this and all."
I almost burst out laughing right there. This is just like Sirius, pulling a stunt like this. Of course, he didn't mean anything by it. He just wanted to satisfy his curiosity. Well, you know what they say, "Curiosity killed the cat and satisfaction brought it back." So, in this case, instead of a dog, Sirius was the cat. And I was...I dunno. I guess I can be a bunny or something.
I shrugged, grinning. "Alright then, fine."
He only smiled.
We scooted closer to each other and both sat Indian-style while facing one another, our knees touching. I have to admit, it was a rather strange way to be sitting, when one was about to kiss, but Sirius knew what he was doing, so I just kinda rolled with it. He kept his eyes on me, smiling all the while. As soon as each of us were sitting comfortably, he looked at me and shook his head.
"No, no, we'll just have to get rid of these for now," he said, slipping my glasses off my nose and placing them on the coffee table next to us.
I now sat in the middle of an empty common room at some very late hour, sitting criss-cross facing Sirius Black, preparing myself to kiss him and on top if it all, I was blind. How wonderful.
"And you are going to give me...erm, tips?" I asked, awkwardly.
Sirius nodded. "So, let's say that you're sitting here in the Common Room. You're talking to a nice, cute boy and suddenly, you lock eyes. You can see the desire deep within his baby blues and you know that this is the perfect moment. He's going to kiss you." All the while, he sat there with his signature smirk. Obviously, he was enjoying himself.
I sat silently as he continued.
"There's two ways of approaching a kiss. First, to dive in." He leaned in and gently pressed his lips to mine before pulling back a moment later. "Then, there's the touch and go." He lightly touched my cheek and smoothed his thumb across my lips, then leaned in and kissed me as tenderly as before. "See? So, he'll either go right in, or touch your face or something and then kiss you, got it?"
I nodded, keeping my thoughts to myself. I was getting kissing lessons from Sirius Black. Wow.
"Now, for the actual kissing itself." He paused, thinking. "I know that you know the basics, seeing as you displayed them to me ever so wonderfully. Let's just start then." Again, he leaned and pressed his lips to mine a bit more firmly than before, kissing my bottom lip. He pulled away long enough to say, "You can kiss their bottom lip while they kiss your top, or vice versa," and returning back to my lips. I kept my eyes closed and tried to focus on the kiss itself. I could feel his fingers running gently through my hair and his hand stroking my cheek. When I realized that my arms were hanging limply by my side, Sirius had already pulled away and was addressing it. "You can run your fingers through my hair, wrap your arms around my neck, play with my fingers, stroke my cheek, pretty much whatever you want to do. Be bold, Mack." And before I could respond, he was kissing me again.
I tried to follow his advice and wrapped my arms around his neck. I could feel him nod and I assumed I was doing the right thing. He then slowly started to open his mouth and I found that I was beginning to panic.
Obviously, he could tell because he pulled back a bit. "Don't worry, love," he smiled. "We won't swap saliva...yet."
Our little kissing seminar continued like this for another ten minutes or so, during which he taught me how to move my lips and what exactly to do with my hands. When we were just kissing gently, however, his lips moved down my jawline and pretty soon his was kissing my neck. He pulled back. "You can kiss things other than the lips, you know. The neck is one of the more popular places."
I nodded and pressed my lips to his for a moment before gently moving down to his neck for a moment or two. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing, whether or not I was doing any of it right or if I should even continue. Maybe the whole kissing scene wasn't for me.
When I moved back to his lips, however, he gave me one more long kiss, running his tongue along my top lip before pulling away. We both stared at each other for a moment, our expressions blank and our breathing quick.
"Um..." he raised his eyebrows in surprise and scratched his head. "Well, I think that's enough learning for you and...teaching for me. It looks like you're...you're good." He smiled very gently, and turned from me, facing the fire once more.
I frowned. "Did I do something wrong?" I asked.
He looked at me in surprise. "Oh, no. No, no, no. You...wow. You're great."
I smirked and the two of us drew our gazes to the fire. Sitting silent for a few minutes, it was I who spoke first.
"Was it just me, or was that way too weird?" I asked truthfully.
He nodded eagerly. "Yeah. Way weird," he agreed. He stopped and looked over at me, grinning widely. "But don't worry, Mack. You'll be able to try your new skills out on Remus soon enough."
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How can you just walk away from me, when all I can do is watch you leave? 'Cause we've shared the laughter and the pain, and even shared the tears. You're the only one who really knew me at all. I wish I could just make you turn around and see me cry. There's so much I need to say to you, so many reasons why you're the only one who really knew me at all.
Ahhh. Christmas Eve at the wondrous castle of Hogwarts. It was a new experience to me and I was certainly not looking forward to it.
The day couldn't have gone by any slower. Practically the only thing the boys wanted to do was hang out in the Common Room and sleep or sit in the Great Hall and eat. Honestly, you'd think they might want to spend their break doing something a bit more exciting. The only time I got them off the couch was when I suggested that we have a snowball fight. But not even that hooked them at first, I had to go as far as to say that they could hit me in the face with a snowball. That's when they decided it might be fun to get their arses off the sofa and do something with themselves.
We ended up spending most of the day outside because each and every one of us enjoyed the outdoors far more than a teenager probably should. We skated on the lake, made snowmen and had the promised snowball fight. It was jolly good fun and quite the workout. At more than one point, Remus had to sit out due to his lack of energy. Tomorrow was full moon. Poor chap had to turn into a raging, bloodthirsty wolf on Christmas. Not every little boy's dream.
Around six thirty, after the boys had had their fun throwing snow at my face and dropping icicles down the back of my shirt, we decided that it was time to go in. Dinner was at seven and we were never the type to be late to a meal. At six fifty, we came tromping into the quite secluded Great Hall, laughing and slipping on our wet shoes. The other dozen or so people who had also stayed watched us come in and some even glared at us for disrupting their peace.
Not like we cared, anyways.
After dinner, we headed up to the Common Room where we joked and laughed and stayed up til about eleven thirty. It really wasn't the latest we had stayed up by a measure, but James was suddenly exhausted and declared that he still needed to write Lily's Christmas letter and send it off before the morning. We all agreed that it was about time to head to bed. I said my good nights and slowly made my way up to my dorm, happy that, for once, I wouldn't have to deal with the harpies after an exhausting day.
I put on my pyjamas, and laid down in my bed, expecting to fall right to sleep. When I didn't, I did everything I could to try and fall asleep. I laid on my side, my stomach, my back, my other side, I put my arms by my side, by my head, hanging off the edge of the bed and I even tried adjusting my mouth to make myself sleep. No such luck. Has that ever happened to you? Where no matter what you try, no matter how much you want to, you absolutely cannot fall asleep? Yeah, then you know the irritating feeling that you get after about thirty minutes. Because, when you're trying to fall asleep, thirty minutes seems like ten hours. Time goes by a load slower, for some reason.
After another ten minutes of this, I decided that it was no use. I sat up and suddenly had the urge to do something unexpected, something different. Why I had this urge was completely beyond me, but I felt compelled to listen to it. You never know, something good might come of it.
So, I grabbed my cloak, my wand, the Invisibility Cloak (which was currently in my possession) and my trainers and headed down to the Common Room in mostly my nightclothes. Rushing through the oddly empty room, I ran out of the portrait hole, not even sure where I wanted to go. Hiding myself under the cloak, I wandered through corridors and moseyed down and up stairs.
After a while, around twelve o'clock, I found myself on the fifth floor and suddenly remembered that Remus had told us the password to the prefects' bathroom. For some reason, that seemed like the place to go. So, I made my way over to the statue of Boris the Bewildered and found the door which lead to the bathroom."
"Sarcalogos," I muttered and the door creaked open. I slipped inside and pulled off the Invisibility Cloak, looking around.
Merlin, that place was brilliant. I stood in awe for a moment, admiring the gorgeous bathroom. A large, splendid candle-filled chandelier softly lit the room, reflecting gently off the white marble that the whole place was made of. An empty tub sat in the middle of the room. It was the size and depth of a bloody swimming pool, complete with a complimentary diving board. Unlike an ordinary pool, the tub was lined with about a hundred taps, each with a differently colored jewel set into the handle. Fluffy white towels were situated in one corner and a small hallway led to the boys and girls changing rooms.
It made me want to become a prefect just to be able to use this wonderful place.
Grabbing a couple towels, I made my way over to the tub. I set my things down at the side of the pool-like tub and knelt down to try and figure out how to use the colorfully decorated taps. I figured out that each tap held a different sort of bubble bath mixed with the water and settled for a mixture of the purpley suds that smelled quite lovely and green bubbles the size of golf-balls.
The tub filled quite fast, considering its size and pretty soon, it was time for me to get in. Shedding my cloak and pyjamas and setting them on the floor along with my glasses, I slipped into the cool water, of which was so thick of bubbles, I couldn't even see the water itself.
Merlin, it was deep, though. I couldn't even touch the bottom, I was so short. For a moment, I freaked out, my breathing quickened and my eyes widened in panic, but I reached up and grabbed the side of the tub to hold myself up and instantly calmed.
Why was I here anyways?
It was midnight on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow (today) was Christmas and it was also the night of which Remus was to transform. And I hate the water and can't swim.
I put those thoughts aside and tried to decide what I was going to do about the whole 'Dad in love with some lady' problem in my life. He said that he was really in love with her. There was to be no mistaken; they were serious and Mason and I had to do something about it before anything happened. I just couldn't believe any of it. The fact that he was making us stay here at Hogwarts instead of going home. The fact that he thought this woman could replace Mum and be my 'new BFF'. Right. The fact that he wasn't going to allow me to hang with my mates during the holidays. And the fact that he said I'm the way I am because I haven't had 'female guidance'. I don't need any bloody guidance! I'm fine the way I am!
What was going on with my friends? First of all, we never see Peter anymore. He's never around during the year and then he had to leave to Romania when the rest of us were staying here? What was wrong with him? Then there was James, who was beginning to get so obsessive with Lily Evans, I was about ready to murder him. She was the only girl he ever talked about. He never even flirted with other girls anymore. It was just weird. Sirius...oh, wow. I don't even know. He gave me snogging lessons last night. What was wrong with that situation? Um, everything, that's what. It was wrong in so many ways. But...I guess I was grateful to him for it. Even though it wasn't really like I was going to use any of it any time soon.
I don't even know about Remus anymore. Sure, he's still my best mate, but I'm just not sure of anything. Ever since he got with Ashleyn, he's been different and I really don't like it. I don't feel like I know him anymore. Just the thought of living without Remus in my life terrified me. I couldn't imagine doing anything without him there by my side, ready to catch me when I fell, like he always did. But everyday, I feel like he's slipping out of my grasp, like he's getting further and further away from me. I just want it back like everything used to be. Just back to normal.
I shook my head, somehow hoping that I could shake with it the thoughts from my mind. It was all just too much.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then pushed myself under the water.
One, two, three.
My father was in love with a woman who was not my mother.
Eight, nine, ten.
I was spending Christmas at Hogwarts, instead of at home with my family.
Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.
I had gotten kissing lessons from one of my best mates.
Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight.
My best friend was a werewolf.
Thirty-nine, forty, forty-one.
His girlfriend wanted to murder me.
Fifty-nine, sixty, sixty-one.
And, for some reason, I wanted to kiss him so badly.
I burst out of the water, taking a sharp breath. My eyes burned from the soap and I rubbed them with the heel of my palm. Damned suds.
When I opened my eyes, I was in for something I'd never suspect.
Standing outside the pool, near the changing rooms, was Remus, wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. He stood completely still, staring at me with shock. Yeah, I'll bet he was happy to see me.
My hand almost slipped from the side of the tub and I made sure to get as far under the water as possible without engulfing my head.
"Mack?" he asked, the heat rising to his sullen cheeks.
Honestly, I was just grateful that he came out with a towel on, instead of...you know.
I tried to smile, but could hardly bring myself to. I knew that my face was probably a deep shade of red, as well. "Uh, yeah. It's me."
"Wha — What are you doing here?"
"I...couldn't sleep," I murmured, knowing just how stupid it must sound.
He smiled slightly. "You couldn't sleep and you decided to come to the prefects' bathroom?"
"Yeah, I guess that's about right. But then, what's your excuse?"
"I'm a prefect and I needed a bath."
I chuckled. "Right."
He looked at his bare feet and blushed a bit more, were it possible. "Excuse me for asking, but are you — are you wearing anything?"
I slowly shook my head. "No, I'm...er, I'm not."
Can we say 'awkward'?
He nodded. "Well, I guess I'll just be going then," he quickly turned on his heel and began walking back to the changing rooms.
"Remus!" I called, summoning him back.
He stopped immediately and turned around, his eyebrows raised in question.
"Erm...don't go," I said shyly. "It's a big tub and the bubbles are so thick you can't see through it at all. And I can — I can close my eyes when you get in."
He just looked at me for a moment. "Uh, I guess we could do that, yeah," he concurred, slowly walking over to the other side of the tub. He looked down at the water and back up at me.
"Oh! Uh..." I quickly turned my head and closed my eyes tight.
I could hear him shuffling. "Is it cold?" he asked.
"No, of course not. Who would want to bathe in cold water?"
I heard a splash and I knew he was in the water, but I wanted to wait for him to say, so I had the reassurance.
"Alright, you can open your eyes."
I did just that and turned around to find him treading water in the middle of the tub. His hair was wet and it stuck to his forehead. Merlin, why was he so attractive?
Oh, bloody hell. Did I really just think that? What's happening to me?
"Have you been on the side like that the entire time?" he asked.
"You mean holding on to the edge? Yeah, I have."
"Are you going to try letting go?"
I shook my head. "It's too deep. I can't even touch the bottom."
"That doesn't mean you can't let go."
"Oh, yes it does. I'm not going to swim. Especially in this bubble filled sud water."
He smiled at me. "C'mon. You'll be fine. And you're right by the edge anyways, so you can just grab it if you need to."
"No, Remus. I'd rather not."
"You'll be alright. Aren't you the one who always says to be spontaneous and to face your fears?"
I ignored him. "I'm not doing it, Rem. Forget about it."
He shrugged. "Alright. I'm not here to force anybody."
He waded around for a little while and you could tell that neither of us had anything to say. Oh, Merlin, I hated awkward moments like these. And the strange thing was that Rem and I never had awkward moments. We always had something to say.
"So, how've you been lately?" he asked, breaking the moment of silence.
"I've been alright, I guess. Can't complain," I lied. Nothing was alright. I had every right to complain.
He looked at me for a moment, then nodded. "Okay, good."
"Fine. I'm fine."
"Are you ready for tomorrow?" I asked, quietly.
"When am I ever ready for full moon?"
I nodded. He was right.
"Have you thought of anybody else to add to the list?"
I shook my head. "Not anyone of importance. I'm horrible at all of this. I really don't even know if we should do it anymore."
"Well, of course we've got to do this. You want to find Inconspicuous, don't you?"
"Yeah, but it's going to be impossible. He could be anybody."
"So? We can still try, can't we?"
"I guess," I shrugged. "But nothing great will come of it."
"Have you tried asking him who he is?"
"Not yet, but I doubt he'll tell me."
"You never know."
And here again, we sat in silence. You could almost feel the strain through the air. Merlin, this wasn't good.
Then, suddenly, I couldn't help it. "Look, I'm sorry!" I burst out.
He turned to me and frowned. "Wha — ?"
"I'm sorry that you're mad at me. I'm sorry that I hate Ashleyn. I'm sorry that I'm so mean to her. I'm sorry that I said that I said she doesn't belong with you. I'm sorry that I dislike every girl the lot of you go out with. And I'm sorry that I don't act like a girl," the words came out all too fast.
Remus stared at me and I knew he was trying to figure out what he could say. Well, he could accept my apology!
"Mack, what happened to us?" he asked, quietly.
It was my turn to frown. "What do you — ?"
"Before I started dating Ashleyn, everything was fine. We were as close as ever and then...everything sort of went downhill. When Ashleyn's here, you don't even sit with us during meals! I feel like we don't talk nearly as much and you seem...lonely. You just seem like you're always holding back and I feel like it's my fault. I — I'm not someone you can lean on anymore, Mack. I broke my promise to your mum. I broke it," his voice broke and he looked up at me sadly. "I'm the one who should be sorry."
I thought for a moment, then looked back up at him. "Don't worry about me. I'm fine. I've just...got a lot of stuff on my mind lately. Everything with my dad and worrying about Mason and — and you, Remus," I looked down. "I worry about you so much sometimes. You have no idea." I looked back up at him.
We stared at each other sadly for a moment. Even from this far away, I could see the hurt in his eyes and I hoped — prayed — that I was not the one who caused it. To hurt Remus...I would rather die, for I could never hurt him. He was my best friend, after all.
"Can I ask you a question?" I asked.
He swallowed and nodded.
"Erm..." I had no idea how to ask what I wanted to know. "You and Ashleyn, you — have you two — have you done anything? I mean—"
"No, we haven't, Mack," he interrupted me. "She's wanted to, but I've refused. I mean...we promised."
I nodded. When he and I were twelve, there was a Muggle girl who lived down the street from us, who was thirteen, only a year older than us. She had gotten herself pregnant and it became the scandal of the neighborhood. Not soon after that, the two of us agreed — promised — that we wouldn't do anything before marriage. I had hoped he'd remembered and was glad to find that he had.
"But she can be...very alluring sometimes," he said, just quiet enough that I could hear. "It's becoming hard to resist, Mack."
"We're only sixteen. You've got to wait. Tell her that."
"I have. I've told her that a million times, but she doesn't listen."
"She...erm, she told me something," I wiped a bubble from my cheek.
He looked at me questionably. "What did she say?"
"She said that the two of you were walking and you passed by a broom closet. She said that you...pulled her in there and that you were snogging and she said — she said that you started taking off her shirt, but that you stopped and said you had to wait. And she said that there would be another time. A better time."
He frowned. "She said that?"
I nodded, biting my lip. I needed to know if she had lied to me or not.
He sighed and swam over to the other side of the tub, grabbing the edge. "Well, she somewhat told the truth. She was the one that pulled me in there and started...going mad. That's when I got a bit carried away. But I did stop, I promise. I said that I had to wait and she complained. That's it. Nothing else happened, Nightingale."
"I believe you, don't worry. I just wonder why she lied to me."
"Bragging rights. Ashleyn's all about the bragging."
I smiled for a moment, before he continued.
"But, like I said, she's becoming very hard to resist. I don't know if you know this, but...because of what I am," he stopped, frowning. "Because of what I am, some kinds of...urges are very hard to endure and sometimes, I can't really control what I do. That was one instant. I've been very careful since then, but I can't really control what she does."
He had never told me that, but I guess it made perfect sense. I just could hardly believe it. Remus was such a gentle, careful kind of guy. It's hard to believe that he had to really work hard to control himself in situations like that.
"But, anyway, I'm sorry for everything that I said. I let my anger come out and I was too hard on you. I'm very sorry," he apologized, quietly.
"It's alright, Remus. Of course I forgive you."
He sighed. "You shouldn't be able to forgive me that quickly," he looked away.
"Remus," I said quietly. "Remus, look at me."
He did so, his expression sad and guilty.
"Please don't blame yourself for this. For any of this. This is just how our lives have laid themselves out for us. There was nothing we could've done to stop it."
He shook his head. "I could've never gotten with Ashleyn. I could've been there when you needed me. You almost drowned! I almost let that jerk take advantage of you! And I've said so many things to you that I shouldn't have. Things that I didn't mean!" his voice was rising.
"Remus! None of that was your fault! It's alright. Please, please don't blame yourself," I just looked at him sadly. "I don't understand why you think all of this was your fault."
"It is my fault," he muttered, thinking that I wouldn't be able to hear him.
"How about we make an agreement that we'll both try to be the best mates that we are, 'right? That we'll always try to be there for one another. Deal?" I asked him.
He took a deep breath and nodded. "Alright. Deal," he agreed.
"I'd say that we could shake hands, but under the circumstances..." I joked.
That got a chuckle out of him. Oh, what a sound his laugh was. It just made me so happy, made me want to change the world so that it was the only sound I ever heard come from his mouth.
"Well, I think that I'm all bathed up, so, if you'll excuse me..." I looked over at him, my eyebrows raised. There was no way I was getting out of this tub without his eyes closed tight.
He smiled and closed his eyes, turning his head away.
"Now, no peeking, Moony," I muttered, pulling myself out of the water and quickly wrapping a towel around my dripping body. Wow, the towel was bloody small, it only covered what it needed to, leaving my legs all exposed. Sighing, I told him that he could look.
He opened his eyes and turned his head back toward me. His cheeks instantly changed to a deep shade of red and he looked down. "I'm getting out after you, so no looking back," he said as I turned around, with my clothes in hand.
"Alright. Well, I'll be out in a minute," I told him, walking into the girls' changing room and closing the door behind me.
Working as quick as I could, I rushed over to one of the counters and combed out my hair with one of the many brushes that laid around this place. I dropped my towel and did a quick drying spell over my body, but leaving my hair dripping. I always loved the feeling of wet hair, it was just so much nicer. I noticed a little bottle sitting on the counter and picked it up. Taking off the cap, I realized that it was perfume. One of the prefects must have left it in here. Smirking, I spritzed a little of it on my wrists and neck. Goodness, it smelled divine. Girl has good taste. I shrugged and set it back where I found it. Looking at my pile of clothes, I realized that I'd forgotten my glasses out by the tub. Damn. Quickly putting on my pyjamas, I glanced at the mirror, only to realize that I couldn't see it. Oh, well, Remus didn't care what I looked like anyways. I grabbed the cloak and rushed out of the room.
"You know, it's kind of dangerous to run around in here," Remus said as soon as he saw me. He stood just outside the hallway of the changing room, leaning against one of the marble walls. "You could slip." He wore a tight, white wife-beater and long pyjama pants under his cloak. Merlin...
I smiled apologetically and walked over to the side of the tub, which was draining itself. Leaning down as far as I could, I squinted at the floor, hoping that I wouldn't step on them.
"Are you looking for your glasses?" he asked, still at his place on the wall.
I nodded. "Yeah, have you seen them?" I looked back up at him.
"Yeah," he said, reaching into his cloak pocket. "I found them after you went in."
I smiled and walked over to him. "Thanks a load," I said, holding my hand out for them.
When he kept his hand in his pocket, I looked up at him and realized he was staring at me. His partially blurry face slowly came closer to mine until we were a bit too close for comfort. As always, he stood six or seven inches taller than me and I was forced to look up at him. Though, he was so close that I could hardly do anything but blink.
"Merlin," he looked at me. "You smell really good."
I laughed. "Yeah, I found some perfume in the changing room. And Sirius said it's a crime for a girl not to wear perfume."
He laughed. "Yeah, Sirius would know. He told me that he gave you some kissing lessons last night."
I smirked and nodded. "Yeah, very informative, he is," I said, humorously. "I'm probably better than you, even though you've had tons of practice. I even bet I could show you a thing or two." The words came out before I knew what I was implying.
Remus raised his eyebrows at me. "Oh, really? You? A better snogger than me? I don't think so," he whispered. He kept his eyes locked on mine and I found that I couldn't look away.
Merlin, this is what Sirius said would happen. 'You're talking to a nice, cute boy and suddenly, you lock eyes. You can see the desire deep within his baby blues and you know that this is the perfect moment. He's going to kiss you.' Funny. Remus had blue eyes.
I knew this was my moment. It was now or never. Time to be bold.
"Oh, I definitely think so," I breathed, unconsciously dropping the Invisibility Cloak in my hands.
He smiled gently and began to lean in. I followed his lead and we met in the middle, pressing our lips tenderly against each other.
At that moment, my heart had melted and I felt as though I couldn't breathe. Fireworks burst between us and electricity ran through my body.
He pulled back long enough to say, "Wow," before I cut him off with my lips, pressing firmer than before. I wasn't going to let him get off that easily. He gently stroked my cheek with his thumb and ran his fingers through my damp hair, just as Sirius had done the night before. But, of course, my mind was as far away from Sirius as it possibly could be. I wrapped my arms around his neck and opened my mouth to deepen the kiss.
"I'll admit it," he said as we pulled away for a moment. "You're a load better than I am," he finished, but I wouldn't let him pull away anymore.
It wasn't long before he put a hand on my back and pulled me as close as I could be to him, but still, I pulled closer, wanting more. His lips traveled down my jawline until he reached my clavicle, where he didn't stay for long before returning to my lips. His kisses were sweet like honey and I felt better now than I had in years.
Suddenly, though, his lips became harsh against mine and I could almost taste the hunger on his lips. His tongue skimmed along my lip, but it wasn't like I cared. I'd take whatever I could get. I did the same and gently slid my tongue across his soft lips. I quickly slipped his cloak off his shoulders, hearing something clink against the ground. My glasses.
I didn't think anything about the intensity of our kisses, until I felt his hands leave my body. His lips were still on mine and I wondered what he was doing.
I found my answer when I felt his hands slide under my shirt and up my bare back.
At first, I loved the feeling of his skin against mine, but when he started to lift my shirt up, I didn't like it so much anymore. I pushed his hands away, as if to warn him, but he just went right back. So I pushed his hands away again, but, like before, he slipped his hands back under my shirt. I pushed him away for the third time and was surprised when he grabbed me by the wrists and pulled his lips from mine.
I spoke before he could, opening my eyes. "What are you doing?" I whispered, my words a bit slurred together.
He frowned. "What do you think I'm doing?" his words, on the other hand, were a bit harsh. His grip on my wrists was firm and I doubted I would ever be able to get away, even if I wanted to.
I shook my head. "No, Remus," I said, firmly.
He looked angry for a moment, but then it was gone. His face softened and he dropped his hold on my wrists. "Right," he nodded. "Right. Right. You're right. You're right."
I frowned. "Are you okay?"
He tried to slow his breathing before looking down at the floor. "I'm sorry. Merlin, I am so sorry, Mackenzie. I — I got carried away and — and I couldn't control my...hunger," he looked up at me, his expression ashamed.
I just stared at him, realizing what I had just done.
I had just kissed my best mate, whom I had known since I was five. He had a girlfriend, who hated me almost as much as I hated her. If she knew that I had just snogged her boyfriend, I would probably wind up in the hospital for a month.
We had just proved to one another that we were more than 'just friends'. That we had some kind of attraction toward each other that could hardly be controlled.
I had just proved that I was enough of a girl for him to snog me senseless.
Oh, my God.
I stared at him and shook my head.
"No," I mumbled taking a step away.
"What?" he asked, stepping closer again. "Wha — What's wrong?"
"We can't do this, Remus. This — This can't be."
He frowned. "What?"
He was so bloody adorable that I just wanted to take his face in my hands and kiss him once more. But I couldn't.
"Remus, think about it. Remus and Mack holding hands. Remus and Mack going to Hogsmeade. Remus and Mack kissing in front of the fire. It doesn't work," I shook my head. "It would never work."
I almost threw in that it was completely against the Marauder Code of Conduct, but decided heavily against it. It wouldn't be appropriate in the least.
"All those things sound fine to me," he whispered, reaching for my hand, but I pulled away.
"No. We can't," I looked down at the floor and back up at him. "I'm the type of person that belongs alone. I don't deserve anyone." I stared into his gorgeous eyes, filled with pain and sadness. "Remus, I definitely don't deserve you."
He looked upset, even angry now.
"By hell, you deserve me! I'm nothing compared to you. I'm the one that doesn't deserve you," Remus said, irritably.
I shook my head, biting my lip. "No, Remus. I'm a complete mess. You'd be much better off without me. Besides," I added quietly, "you have a girlfriend."
He ignored what I said about Ashleyn. "You'd be the one better off without me. I'm dangerous, even kissing me isn't healthy...I — I can understand why you wouldn't want to be with me," he finished sadly, then began to turn away.
I quickly stepped forward and pulled him back. I reached up and stroked his cheek, shocked by his self-deprecating words. "Remus, this is not a you problem, it's a me problem. There isn't a thing in the world wrong with you. I see you and I see good. I see...my protector, my rock, my one safe haven and my best friend in the whole world. There's no other bloke out there that could even compete."
He took my hand in his and stroked it gently. The feeling of his skin on mine made my heart pound. "Then I see no problem, Mack," he implored me to change my mind. "You said yourself that you wanted to find someone that could make you happy. I could be that person for you." He took my other hand in his and pulled me close.
"Remus, please don't..." I begged as he kissed my forehead, sending shivers down my spine. He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against mine.
"Mackenzie," he whispered, slowly opening his eyes and gazing into mine. "Tell me that this wasn't a mistake. Tell me that it was all meant to be. Please."
I closed my eyes, the pain swelling. I couldn't deny what had just happened. I couldn't deny that I had feelings for him. It would be like denying part of my soul, my being, to say that I didn't care for him. I thought about what needed to happen right now. I knew what I wanted — him — but then I knew what was logical, what made sense.
I gently pulled away from him, knelt down to the floor and picked up my glasses. Putting them back on my face, I tried to smile, but failed miserably at it. "Remus, I'm just a stupid girl, who trips over herself and doesn't know how to love. I'm nobody worth fretting over."
And with that, I picked up the Invisibility Cloak off the floor and walked away.
A/N: So? How did you like it? Or, better yet, how didn’t you like it? Please, please, please feed the little box below! He’s starving! ;)
Fabulous banner by Ande @ TDA!
You can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I awoke to the wonderful pleasure of someone jumping on top of me. The best kind of wake-up call.
"Wake up! Wake up! It's Christmas!" James shouted in my ear.
I shoved him off of me and onto the floor and pulled my blanket up over my face. I was completely disoriented. How did they get into the girls' dorms? What time was it? What the bloody hell was going on?
Sirius nudged me. "C'mon, indulge him. He's excited. And look at all the gifts you got, Night'," he laughed. "Oh, and Happy Christmas!"
Wait...gifts were down in the Common Room...
I pulled the blanket away from my face long enough to register that I was, indeed, in the Common Room, laying on the sofa. Damn. And I could still be asleep.
I tried to recollect what had happened the night before and was instantly rewarded with a very heavy heart of grief. Remus. Oh, Merlin. I left him alone in the prefects' bathroom and ran all the way back here. It took me about ten minutes to remember the password to get past the portrait and the whole time I was expecting for him to come up behind me, but he never did. As soon as I got in here, I dumped myself onto this exact sofa and kept myself up almost all night thinking nonstop about what I had just done.
"Padfoot?" I asked Sirius, knowing that James wouldn't answer. He was too busy ripping open all of his presents.
"Is — Is Remus upstairs?"
"Yeah, he came in late last night. Said he was taking a bath in the prefects' bathroom. Wouldn't come down though, he's too sick."
I sat up and looked over at him. "He's sick?"
He nodded, slowly unwrapping what looked to be a large coat of sorts. "Yeah, looks like it's bad this time. He just looks miserable, poor soul."
"Look! Chocolate!" James exclaimed, holding up a giant package of chocolate. He immediately ripped it open and grabbed one of the many bars.
Sirius rolled his eyes and looked back at me. "I think you should go up and check on him, Nightingale."
I shook my head, panic rising in the pit of my stomach. "I'm sure he's fine, I mean—"
"I really think you should go look at him. He's pale as a ghost."
I sighed. "Alright, I'll go up real quick," I swung my legs over the side of the couch and slowly stood up.
What was I to say? How should I act? Should I just act like nothing's wrong? Like nothing happened last night? What if I kiss him again? What if he kisses me? No, there will be no kissing of any sorts. I'm his nurse right now, after all. That's just not appropriate. Should I bring him some of his presents? Or just go up empty handed? Should I give him my present? Oh, Merlin.
I looked at James. "Hey, Prongs, throw me one of those chocolate bars, would you? It's for Moony."
He looked down at his chocolate as though it was a treasure of some sort. After what seemed like a battle within himself, he finally tossed me a candy bar and I made my way up to the boys' dorm. My heart beat so loud in my chest that I was afraid he would be able to hear it.
Of course, I reached the seventh year dorm in no time. Now I just had to knock on the door. Just knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.
Part of me wished that I had just tripped on my way up here, so that I could have tumbled down to the ground instead of facing Remus now. I thought there was no way I could ever do it.
Acting quickly, before I could change my mind again, I reached up and knocked loudly.
"Come in," came a hoarse reply that almost broke my heart in two.
"'Ousekeeping," I said in my best fake-Chinese voice, trying to seem a bit normal as I opened the door.
I looked over at Remus' bed, just to see him lying on his side, facing away from me. He stayed still and I closed the door behind me. I held my breath as I made my way over to him and sat awkwardly on the side of his bed. Now, he had turned as far away from me as possible, practically lying on his stomach.
"Erm...Good morning," I said, knowing that I wouldn't get a response of any type.
And he stayed quiet. Lucky me.
"I brought you some chocolate. I mean, I know you love chocolate. I practically had to pry it out of James' hands to get it for you, though," I chuckled, but quickly stopped, realizing that he wasn't going to laugh.
Sighing, I decided it would be a good idea to just do what I came up here to do and make sure he was alright.
"Alright, time for your check-up," I tried to sound a bit cheerful, but didn't do such a good job of it. "C'mon, you're going to have to turn toward me."
It took him a moment, but he came around and slowly turned to look at me. I almost gasped when I saw him, though. Sirius had been right; he was as pale as a ghost. His cheeks were gaunt and his face was sullen. He looked extremely thin and weak.
"How do you feel?" I asked, looking at his face.
His eyes avoided mine and he kept his mouth closed.
"Okay then. Not going to talk. That's fine."
I reached for his wrist, but, when I touched him, he pulled away. I looked at him and he just sat there, his face expressionless.
"Erm...Right. My hands must be pretty cold. Sorry 'bout that. It's chilly up here and down in the Common Room. Sleeping down there is definitely not the best choice, eh?" I clapped my hands together and rubbed until the friction warmed my hands a bit. "Here we go."
I reached for his wrist again and, this time, he let me do what I needed to. I felt his pulse. Like expected, it was a bit weak, but nothing to be worried about.
"So, it's Christmas. There're loads of presents downstairs with your name on 'em. I could tell the boys to bring them up for you later, if you wanted. But if you wanted to wait til later, that's alright, too. I didn't look for any presents for me, but I don't really think I got much. Not like I really care anyways, right?"
I gently felt his forehead with the back of my hand. He was running a high fever, just like he usually did on mornings like these.
"I wonder if Sirius and James are heading to br—"
"Why won't you say my name?" came a weak voice from the boy in the bed.
"Oh, so now you decide to talk. Do you want to answer my—"
"Why won't you say my name?" he asked again, looking up at me.
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
"You haven't said my name. You usually say, 'Good morning, Remus,' or, 'How do you feel, Remus' or even, 'Sorry about that, Remus.' Why won't you say my name?"
I sat there for a moment, not really sure what to say to that. But when I thought about it, he was right. I hadn't said his name at all since I'd walked through that door.
"Erm...I don't know. I hadn't really noticed that," I shrugged. "I'm sorry."
He shook his head weakly, as if disappointed that I still hadn't said it. "Why are you here, Mack?"
"Sirius told me that I should come take a look at you, just to make sure every thing's alright."
"Well, you've taken your look. Now you can leave," he said, turning away.
I frowned. "Are you sure you're okay? I don't want to go if you still need—"
"I'm fine," his voice was harsh. Well, as harsh as it could be under his current circumstances.
"If it's because of me, then I can go get James to check up on you. It doesn't have to be like this, we can—"
"Of course it does, Mack," his gentle eyes looked up at me, his lips pressed in a hard line. "There's no way we can go back to normal after..." His voice drifted off.
"Just go!" he almost yelled.
Sighing to myself, my brows knitted in dismay, I nodded and stood up. I set the chocolate bar on his night stand and quickly made my way out of the room, shutting the door loudly behind me. I ran down the stairs until I got to the Common Room, then turned right back around and began up to my dorm.
"Mack?" I heard James ask.
I stopped on the stairs and turned around to face them. "I'm going up to my room," I said, bluntly.
"But don't you want to open your presents?" James asked, incredulous.
I shook my head and turned back around.
"Mack? What's wrong? Is Moony alright? What's going on?" Sirius inquired all at once.
I couldn't handle it anymore.
"Oh, for once in your life, leave me alone!" I screamed at them, and sprinted up the stairs.
My breath was ragged as I took the stairs two at a time, stomping as I went. Suddenly, my foot caught on one of the steps and I fell forward, hitting my head against the cold stone. I sat up, just as blood began to drip down the side of my face. I reached up and felt the gash on my forehead, then looked at my bloody hand.
My nose flared and I could feel the tears coming on, but I wouldn't let them. I refused to let them come.
So, taking a deep breath, I stood up and slowly walked up to my dorm, where I stayed for the rest of Christmas day.
Tap, tap, tap.
My eyes flew open as a noise woke me up.
Tap, tap, tap.
I looked over at the dark window and realized that there was an owl hovering outside. For a moment, I thought that it might be from Inconspicuous, but my excitement was shattered when I remembered I hadn't even replied to his last letter.
I ran to the window and unlatched the lock, opening the glass so that the bird could sit on the sill. Cold air flooded into the room, but, thankfully, my long pyjama pants and overlarge hoodie kept me from freezing. It was an unfamiliar small barn owl and attached to his leg was a letter from my father. Spectacular.
Leaving the window open, I fervently ripped open the envelope, hoping that it was some kind of apology letter from him.
I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas because I know that I have. I must say that at this moment, I am one of the happiest men in the world.
Emily and I spent Christmas together at our home. We got up early and opened presents from each other and I cooked us a very extravagant dinner. Near the end of it, I got down on one knee and proposed to her. She said yes!
We are planning on having our wedding over Easter break, so that you and your brother will be able to meet your future mother—
I didn't even finish the letter before ripping it in half, then in half again and angrily throwing the shards at the wall.
He was marrying her? The fifties housewife whose only wish was to destroy our lives? He was bloody marrying her!
"You can meet your future mother"! Was he serious? She would never be my mother! Never! I wouldn't let her take over Mason and my lives!
I stood up and kicked the wall as hard as I could. Then kicked it again. And again. I kicked it until I was sure my toe was broken.
He couldn't do this to us! He was our father! He was supposed to be supportive and thoughtful and caring and concerned for our well-being. But, instead, he was marrying some clone who wanted to control our family.
Kicking the trimming one last time, I turned around and slid slowly down the wall, my throat all choked up. I couldn't believe any of this.
He was forgetting about Mum. About his wife. About my mother. How could he do that?
I wondered if he sent a letter to Mason. How would he feel about all of this? He obviously wasn't nearly as upset as I was that we were staying at Hogwarts for Christmas, but surely he would be furious about this. Surely.
I wiped the angry tears from my red eyes as a chilly breeze blew in from the window. I stood up and walked over to it, ready to slam it shut, when I heard a familiar sound.
I looked at the large clock, which hung high on the wall, and gasped. It was 11:23 PM.
Oh, my God.
Without another thought, I sprinted over to my trunk and hastily grabbed the leather bag, which I had filled with medical supplies the day before, so that I wouldn't have to go down to Poppy on Christmas. Quickly slipping on my trainers, I felt nothing but numbness. My mind in a blur, I pelted down the stairs and out of the Common Room, running as fast as I possibly could down the corridors. Racing down the halls, I was thankful that nobody was out to confront me as I ran out the front entrance and onto the grounds. My bag bounced against my hip as I sprinted, my tattered trainers sinking into the cold snow.
When I came upon the Womping Willow, however, I realized that I couldn't do this alone. The tree twisted and shook with violence and there was no possible way I could get past it by myself.
I jumped when I heard an ear-piercing howl, which didn't sound too far away. I stood, frozen in horror, the sound made the blood of my heart run cold.
I shouldn't have come out here. What was I thinking? I should have just waited til morning!
My hands trembled, but it wasn't just from the cold. The full moon shone bright over the dark hills of the grounds, reflecting off of the snow. I could see my breath in the cold winter air and I was pretty sure I would freeze if I didn't get inside soon.
Another howl, closer this time.
And suddenly, there they were. Four silhouettes running along the snow, the first standing much bigger than the rest. It was racing right toward me.
My eyes widened in terror and I began to run back towards the castle, even though I knew it was no use. I was already so far away, there was no chance I could make it there faster than it would catch up to me.
Oh, my God. I was going to die.
But Remus would never do that. Remus would never hurt me. Even though he was not fully himself, he was still Remus. My Remus.
I heard a loud snarl and looked back. It — he — was right there, running not three meters behind me. Before I could turn my head back around, though, I tripped over my own feet and landed in the cold snow. Quickly flipping over so that I was lying on my back, I stared up at the werewolf, who was now towering above me. Its teeth were brandished like a shining sword, only sharper and much more intimidating. It looked down at me, its eyes a deeper, much darker blue than Remus', but they had lost their caring and sweet look, replaced by fury and hunger. We stared at each other for a moment, before it snarled and drew closer to me.
It held up its clawed paw and I screamed as loud as I could, hoping that someone might come to my rescue. Taking a swipe at my face, its razor-edged claws scraped my cheek and left four deep gashes, which began to bleed down my face. It knocked my glasses into the snow.
It raised its arm again, but I held up my hands in protest.
"Stop!" I yelled, staring into its dark eyes.
My lips trembled in fear as I laid in the freezing snow. I was going to die.
"Remus! Please," I cried.
It stopped for a moment, as if registering something. Maybe I was getting through to him? Was that even possible?
But, just as quick, again it snarled. It grabbed me by the arm and threw me ten feet away. I landed on the solid ground, the snow doing nothing to cushion my fall. My body ached as he took another swing at me, swiping my shoulder and tearing through my hoodie and ripping my skin as if it were paper.
"Remus! Stop!" I screamed, holding my hand up once more. Like it would make any difference.
It stopped just like before and I continued.
"Remember who you are! You're Remus John Lupin! You're my best mate and I'm yours! I — I...Please, Remus," I pleaded with it — him. Somewhere in there was the Remus I knew. I could feel it. He knew that it was me. He knew I was here and who I was.
It looked down at me, then lifted its arm, ready to strike, before a large, black dog tackled it to the ground.
Sirius turned around a barked loudly at me, just as the werewolf pulled him back down.
I stood frozen for a moment, before sprinting back down to the Womping Willow. I wasn't going to leave Remus and run away to the castle. As I came upon the tree, it thrashed and fought just as before and I had to dodge a couple branches. One branch whacked me in the back of the head and another grabbed my leg and caused me to trip. Miraculously, I made it to the trunk before any real damage was done.
I made a mental note to appreciate Peter a bit more and ran through the passageway and all the way up to my room on the third floor.
And for the first time since the boys became Animagi, I sat on a chair and stared out the blurry window, hoping more than anything that Remus would be alright.
A loud knock on the door let me know that Remus was downstairs waiting. I grabbed my bag, which had somehow managed to remain unscathed from our confrontation last night, and rushed to the door. James stood outside, his face in a somewhat worried expression.
"Are — Are you alright?" he hesitated.
I nodded and strode past him. "How is he doing?" I asked as James followed me down the stairs.
"He's been better, but it's definitely not as bad as it has been in the past."
I nodded, biting my swollen lip.
"Here," he stopped and held out my glasses.
"Thanks," I muttered, taking them from him and slipping them onto my face. I figured he must have fixed them because there was no way they could've survived such an attack.
"He doesn't know. We haven't told him."
I acted as though I hadn't heard him, even though we both knew I had. This was all my bloody fault. Everything was my fault and I'm pretty sure all of them knew it.
I had to stop for a moment before walking into the room where Remus was. My entire body was in pain, but I couldn't let that show. It was my turn to be strong for him.
Taking a deep breath, I made my way through the room and over to the bed, where Remus lay with his eyes closed, covered in cuts and bruises. James had been right, this time wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been. When I sat in the chair beside his bed, his eyes slowly opened and he looked over at me. At first, his face was soft, as though he had forgotten all vexation he felt towards me. Then, I watched as his eyes travelled from the gashes on my cheeks, to my swollen lip, to my scathed shoulder, to my bruised arms and finally back to my eyes. I had cleaned everything up pretty well, but it wasn't like I could hide the wounds themselves. His face crumbled and he looked around at the other two.
"Did — Did I do — that?" he asked, his voice hoarse and his face covered with anxiety.
Nobody answered. What were we supposed to say? 'Oh, yeah, Rem. You tackled Mack to the ground and clawed at her face. Jolly well done'? Psh. Right.
He looked back at me and I could hardly sit there and do nothing. I reached up and took his cold hand, stroking it with my thumb.
"It's alright, Rem," I whispered. "I'm fine, you see. And it was all my fault anyways. Don't fret about it."
He pulled his hand away, shaking his head. "No," he said, weakly. "You — need to go — away from me — too dangerous. Just — leave."
"Remus! This isn't your fault! I need to heal you, anyways. Poppy will kill me if I don't."
"I — could've — killed you."
"Oh, hush, Rem. It's not your fault at all. Don't you dare blame this on yourself."
I frowned. "No. I've got to heal you, Remus. I'm not leaving."
Funny how I couldn't seem to stop saying his name now.
"Leave — Mackenzie," he breathed, sickly
I looked around at the blokes, who just stood there and stared.
"We can take him up to Pomfrey. It's only seven in the morning," said James, quietly.
Sirius nodded. "Just go, Nightingale. We'll take care of him."
I glared at them. They were going to make me leave? What kind of mates were they?
"Just let me fix this really quick," I muttered, reaching for one of Remus' more serious wounds.
He turned his body and pushed my hands away.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see James. "He wants you to go."
I shook my head. "I can't believe you two are siding with him! It wasn't his bloody fault! It was mine!"
"It'd be best if you just left," Sirius pushed, staring at me.
I looked at him for a moment, then snatched my bag and stormed out of the room. Fine. If they didn't want my help, I wasn't going to force it.
A/N: Reviews are greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!
Chapter 11: Killing Butterflies. Chapter Ten.
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AMAZING banner by Ande @ TDA!
But that's just it, the butterflies never seem to accompany the right people. All the nice guys who are right for you, they never make your stomach go flip flop...
To sum it all up, my Christmas basically sucked.
My holidays essentially sucked.
My life pretty much sucked.
It had been two days since Remus had kicked me out of the Shrieking Shack and he'd obviously been keeping his distance from me. When he turned a corner and I was there, he'd turn right back around. When I sat down to eat breakfast with the three of them, he'd get up and leave. When I walked into the Common Room, he'd go up to the boys' dorm. It was just getting annoying.
So, since the break ended on the second of January, I had approximately five days left until our bloody classes began again. Part of me just wanted the holidays to be over, so that Ashleyn could come back and Remus and I could forget about everything that happened. As much as I wanted to believe that was what would happen, I knew it would never be that easy. My life was never that easy.
But you know, they never said it would be easy, just that it would be worth it.
As my life was beginning to unfold, I began to doubt even that.
"So, I hear that Slughorn's having some kind of New Years Eve party or somethin'?" James asked as he, Sirius and I sat in the Great Hall, chowing down some lunch. Of course, Remus ran off as soon as he spotted me walking in, muttering some rubbish about going to the library or whatever.
Sirius shrugged. Yeah, it wasn't like he would know anything about the 'Slug Club'. He tended to stay away from anything having to do with the Potion's Master and his little cult of perfect students.
I shrugged just the same. Slughorn hated me.
The only one I could think that would know about such a get-together would have been Remus, but he had obviously been detained elsewhere...
"I just don't know why he would have any sort of party for his club with everyone gone for break. I'm sure Lily would be devastated if she knew..." he trailed off, mumbling something about writing to Miss Evans or whatever.
I honestly didn't understand what James saw in the Red-haired Wonder. Sure, she was gorgeous, but she was also quite snooty. She was constantly studying and answering questions and reading and getting 'Outstandings' and becoming the professor's pet and just being so damned perfect. She acted like she knew it all and that she was the smartest girl in our year. Well, I guess I wouldn't blame her. She did know it all and she probably was the smartest girl in our year... But honestly. She didn't have to act like it. And what was with her problem with James? He was one of the sweetest boys in the school and yet she continued to refuse him. Actually, lately, they had been on fairly good terms.
But whatever. I still didn't like her very much.
"Mack?" Sirius asked me, just as I shoved a large spoonful of macaroni in my mouth.
"Hmm?" I answered the best I could.
"Do you think you could tell me why you chose to snog Moony senseless and run away after he told you how much he cared for you?" he asked, his eyebrows raised in curiosity.
I stared up at him, my mouthful of macaroni hanging open quite mannerly. "Wha—?"
"Or would you like to enlighten us on why you chose to walk out on him while he was transformed, when you knew you would be attacked?"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"Or why you chose to brandish your wounds so that he would feel nothing but remorse and hatred towards himself for harming a little, blonde hair on your stupid head?" he was starting to sound a bit angry.
"What are you going on about?" I asked, incredulous, swallowing my macaroni whole.
He shook his head. "Yeah, Nightingale. We know. Remus told us. Actually, we sort of forced it out of him, seeing as he was so depressed," he spat.
"Okay! So the full moon thing was my fault, alright? But don't you dare pin the snogging thing on me. That was on both of us," I shook my finger at him.
"Oh, really? Not your fault? Let's see," he brought fourth his best imitation of me, "'Sirius gave me snogging lessons, how about we try them out, Remmy, so that I can just run away and leave you feeling alone and foolish? How's that sound?'"
I would have hit him if I weren't sitting across the table.
"You don't even know what you're talking about," I muttered, grabbing my things.
"You just don't care, do you? You don't care that he has feelings for you!" he accused, mercilessly.
I stood up and angrily slung my bag over my shoulder. I leaned down, so that only he could hear me. "I do care, Sirius," I said, harshly. "But kissing Remus made me realize that I'm the type of person that belongs alone. He needs some pretty girl who's smart and can't get her head out of books. I'm not the type of person for him. I'm not the type of person for anybody."
"And yet, Remus still loves you."
I swallowed hard at his words. He had no idea what he was going on about. Remus didn't love me. That was...impossible.
"Shove off, Sirius, and mind your own bloody business," I snapped, then stomped out of the Great Hall.
"He doesn't love me. He doesn't love me. He doesn't love me."
I paced around my empty dormitory, telling myself over and over that it was impossible that Remus could ever possibly love me. I kept telling myself that Sirius was just saying that. That whatever Remus was feeling towards me was not love. It was just a temporary infatuation, due to his time away from Ashleyn. Once the girl came back, everything would be back to normal.
I sighed. But what if...he really did love me? What if it wasn't a joke? What if it was real?
Ha! Yeah, right! Remus? Love me? That's ridiculous.
I groaned in irritation and stomped into the WC. And here I thought the holidays were supposed to be a time of joy and happiness. Looking in the mirror, though, I decided against it. My light hair was piled up in an extremely messy bun of sorts and my bright eyes seemed to have lost a few shades of green, leaving them looking a bit dreary. Even my glasses, which might as well have been a body part all its own, were scraped and bent a bit. God, I was just a mess.
I jumped when there came a loud tap on the window in the dorm.
"Dad had better not sent me another damned letter," I murmured as I made my way over to the window, where an owl flapped, waiting for me to open the glass. I did so, and it flew in, resting on the sill, with a letter tied to its leg. Frowning, I snatched the letter from the bird and ripped open the envelope.
So... What have you been up to? How are the holidays treating you? Something seems to be...off with you. I can't place it, though. Is there something you'd like to talk about?
I read the letter three more times, a smile forming on my pale face, before jumping and dancing around the room in a somewhat girly fashion. I got a letter from Connie! I was so happy, butterflies felt like they were going to burst from my stomach. Shaking my butt and waving my arms, I really didn't care how stupid I must have looked. I got a letter!
My little happy bubble was burst, however, when my foot got caught on a rug, causing me to fall flat on my face. What a perfect way to kill the butterflies. Sighing, I pushed myself off the floor and sauntered (carefully) over to my bed. I grabbed a quill and parchment and feverishly began writing back.
I'm so sorry that I didn't respond to your last letter. I've been...rather busy lately. Lots of things on my mind. Yeah, it's funny you should ask that because a load of things have happened. I don't really want to be nostalgic in great detail, but I will tell you the sum of it all. So, basically, this is what happened.
Remus and I kissed. Well, we sort of snogged each other for quite some time before... Let's just say that we both got a bit carried away, but don't worry, we stopped. He admitted that he had some feelings towards me and I refused him. I ran away. Great, right? Just wait, it gets better. When I tried to talk to him about it, he yelled at me. I then got a letter from my father saying that he was remarrying. And then... Remus did something that he promised himself he would never do to me, even though it was sort of my fault. Wait, that really didn't make sense. I can't really explain it without completely confusing you, but, basically, now Remus is refusing to talk to me, look at me or even be in my presence. He's not mad at me, he's just mad at...himself. Oh, Merlin. Nevermind that last part. It wouldn't make sense if I wanted it to.
Anyways, so now Sirius is mad at me for running out on Remus, my dad says I've now got a new Mum and I really have no idea where Remus and I stand.
On a higher note, how have your holidays been?
I ran back to the window, tied the letter to the bird's leg and sent it off.
Glancing at the floor to make sure there weren't any rugs, I did one last little happy dance and somehow managed to stay upright.
The next day, I made my way through the castle and to the Great Hall, where lunch was currently being served. Bloody hell, I was starving.
Minding my own business, I couldn't help but hear bits and pieces of other's conversations as I walked by.
"—really can't believe it!"
"—gonna be huge. Slughorn's planning—"
"What should I wear to—"
"—New Year's Eve party—"
I prayed that I had heard wrong. I really, really hoped that it was just a rumor, that nothing had been said for certain. Oh, Merlin.
Putting a bit of pep in my step, I rushed around a corner and completely ran into some bloke, dropping all of my books to the floor.
"Hey, watch where you're bloody going!" I snapped, looking up to see the guy.
To my surprise, it was none other than my wonderful twin. "Woah, there, Mack," he chuckled. "Don't go losin' your temper too quickly. Dad would be displeased."
I rolled my eyes and leaned down with him to pick up my things. "Have you heard about some party or something Slughorn's planning?" I asked him, as he handed me my last book.
He frowned and shrugged. "Nope. Heard nothing about it, sorry, mate."
I huffed. "Some help you are," I mumbled, pushing past him.
"I love you, too, Sis!" he shouted after me, obviously trying to give me some much unwanted attention.
I practically ran into the Great Hall and slammed my books on the table in front of James and Sirius. Of course, Remus was no where to be seen. No surprise there.
"Spill it," I demanded, taking my seat across from them.
"Spill...what?" James asked in confusion.
I pushed my glasses up my nose. "Slughorn? New Year's Eve party?"
Sirius smirked. "I see you've heard about it?"
"Well, yeah. It seems the whole bloomin' castle has heard about it, except me. So spill."
James shrugged. "I guess Slughorn thought it'd be fun to do something exciting with us older kids who didn't go home for the holidays. He's planning a big party to celebrate the New Year. Got everyone all anxious."
"So, just a party? What's the catch? I mean, jeans, T-shirts? Dress robes? What?" I really hoped it was casual.
At this, Sirius' smirk just grew. "Oh, yeah, I almost forgot," he began sarcastically.
I braced myself for impact.
"It's a masquerade."
After my initial shock had worn of, I decided that there was no way in hell I would ever go to a masquerade.
"But it'll be so much fun, Nightingale," James interjected.
"Fun for me? I don't think so," I shook my head. "I'd never go to anything that pretentious."
What a stupid idea, anyways. A masquerade? That's just moronic.
"And besides, James. Lily won't be here. Aren't you upset about that?" I implored for them to agree that this whole thing was dumb.
He smirked. "Nope. She's coming back early. Tomorrow actually." He just couldn't smile wide enough, could he?
"Well, think about it. Dress robes, masks, spiked punch-bowls. That's not my scene and both of you know it."
"C'mon, you know you look great in that one dress you have," said Sirius.
"What dress?" I asked, knowing very well exactly which dress he was talking about.
"Don't play stupid. The only dress you own. We saw you twirling around in it when we came to your house one day last summer. You thought nobody was watching, so you danced around like a princess."
He and James exchanged humorous glances and my cheeks reddened.
"If you want, we'll even go buy you a mask. You don't have to go anywhere near the clothing stores," James said, knowing that I hated shopping and would use that as an excuse.
"And how 'bout I keep a look out over the punch, to make sure that nobody spikes it," Sirius smiled.
I just laughed. "Padfoot, you're usually the one that spikes it!"
He shrugged in false modesty. "Then, I'll promise not to spike it until after you drink."
"But I can't—" I began with another excuse, but James cut me off.
"We'll make sure that nobody asks you to dance."
"But my hair—"
"I know plenty of girls who would be willing to help if I asked them," Sirius smirked.
"But I don't kn—"
"It's entirely your fault that you don't know anyone. Now's a perfect chance to make some new acquaintances, Nightingale."
Dammit. I was running out of excuses. Stupid Marauders.
Sirius just rolled his eyes. "Alright, look at it this way, Mack. We'll all have masks on. Nobody will know who we are. We could pull the biggest prank in the history of holiday pranks and nobody would know it was us."
I couldn't help it, but a smile began to form its way across my face. A prank? At a party? Oh, it just sounded marvelous.
I laughed and shrugged. "Alright, but I'm not going with anybody," I concluded. If I was going to be forced to go to this thing, I was definitely flying solo.
Sirius and James nodded in unison.
"Yeah, we expected that much," James chuckled.
The next day, there was a much anticipated Hogsmeade trip. Girls fretted over what dress they wanted or what accessories they needed to buy. Blokes, on the other hand, didn't give a damn. All they needed were masks and they were all set, since, of course, their mothers hadn't let them leave for Hogwarts without dress robes. You know, just in case.
I was with the blokes on this one. All I needed was a mask.
Just thank Merlin that I had James and Sirius to get me one, though. I can't stand shopping. Squealing girls, dragging their boyfriends around and asking them to buy them things. Yeah, definitely not something I'd like to get mixed up in.
So, while they left at around two o' clock to go to Hogsmeade, I sat around my dorm, snacking on some sweets I stole from a box under Sirius' bed. James had told me that Lily was to be arriving soon, and that I was to tell her he was at Hogsmeade and would be back soon. Merlin, does he not know how she annoys me? And now he's making me communicate with her? Some friend, he was.
I sat on the window seat, wearing a T-shirt sporting my favorite wizarding band, 'Fired From School' and a pair of hot pants Sirius had given me for Christmas. He said that he thought I'd look sexy in them. Creepy, much?
Anyways, I was sitting in the window seat and reading my latest letter from Connie.
Don't feel bad that you haven't written me, by the sounds of your break, you have an excuse.
You and Remus snogged each other? Woah. Never thought I'd hear about that happening. And he admitted he has feelings for you? Double woah. Well, why'd you run away?
I'm sorry about your dad. I imagine that can rather hard. Well, if you ever need to talk about it, you know how to reach me.
I'm not even going to try understanding that last part. But, let me get this straight, basically, Remus is mad at himself because he hurt you? Is that right? Are you trying to do anything about it?
My holidays? Well, they've been rather boring, I'll say. I haven't been feeling very well lately. The only good thing about my break has probably been the 'no classes' bit. Aside from that, I've just been sitting around. Ha, sorry that I don't have anything as exciting as snogging a Marauder on my Christmas report.
P.S. Are you going to that Masquerade thing? I'm still thinking about it. I'm afraid I don't look too great in a mask.
And, of course, I was eager to write back.
Yeah, we snogged. A lot. I'll tell you, though, I rather enjoyed it. He's... Wow. I dunno. Well, he didn't come right out and say, "I've got feelings for you, Mack," but it was close enough.
Honestly, I don't know why I ran away. I... I've said this a lot lately, but I'm the type of person that belongs alone. I don't deserve him. I don't deserve anybody. And after he begged me to say that what we had done wasn't a mistake, I realized that I had some feelings toward him that I shouldn't. I realized, even though it would hurt, that he would be better off without me, no matter how strong either of our feelings were for the other.
Thanks about my dad. He's being rather difficult, but I'm just glad that I'll have Mason with me through all of this.
Yeah, you've got it right. He thinks that he hurt me, but he really didn't. I've only got a couple scrapes. I don't know what I could do about it. Every time I'm around him, he leaves and banishes himself to the library or some other abandoned place. What do you think I could do?
Aw, I'm sorry that you're sick. Feel better soon!
Oh, Merlin! You have to go! Sirius and James are forcing me to go. So now, I'm forcing you to go. Haha, please? Go for me?
As I signed my name with a flourish, the door to my dorm opened loudly and who else but Miss Evans came tromping in, lugging her trunk along with her. She wore a warm looking hat over her shining red curls and a long Gryffindor scarf around her neck. Her brown heavy coat hung open to reveal a psychedelic turtleneck and long dark wash bell bottoms. Merlin, the girl looked as though she'd just been through an ice storm. It wasn't that cold outside.
She looked up and nodded her acknowledgment towards me as she set her things by her bed. I smiled awkwardly at her and folded up my letter. Striding past her, I walked to my bed and tucked it into my trunk.
"So, how was your holiday?" Lily surprised me by asking.
I blinked. "Um... They were alright, I guess," I shrugged. "Um, how were yours?" I added, quickly, astonishing myself by trying to be polite.
She smiled brightly, her gorgeous green eyes sparkling. "Oh, it was just fantastic! I was so happy to see my mum and dad again. They got me a load of things for Christmas. I don't even deserve any of them. Oh! And my older sister, Petunia, is getting married. I have to say that he's a ruddy sort of guy. Rather fat, but then again, I guess he's perfect for her, seeing as the two of them are both complete morons. They're just meant for each other. The wedding's in a few months. They want a summer wedding, apparently. Not like I care. Mum's making her let me be a bridesmaid. Not like I care. I probably wouldn't have gone, if I wasn't being forced to attend. It's sure to be a total bore. Vernon — oh, that's the bloke she's marrying — his sister, Marge, is absolutely wretched. I swear, she looks exactly like a cockatrice! It's hilarious!"
I tried to look interested as she ranted on about her break, but, truth be told, I wondered how a person could give such a long answer to such a short question. And, as she laughed about her future brother-in-law's sister, I gave an unsure chuckle. First, I didn't think it was all that funny and second, I had no idea what a 'cockatrice' even was.
"Oh!" I remembered. "James told me to tell you that he's at Hogsmeade that that he'll be back soon." I nodded, hoping that she wouldn't go on with another rant. I didn't think I could take any more.
Her cheeks flushed a light shade of pink as she thanked me.
Lily was...blushing? About James? What was going on?
"Erm... Pardon me for asking, but do you... Are you... James and—"
She nodded quickly. "Oh, yes. I realized that he's... He's quite wonderful, actually," she just grinned like a fool and began unpacking her things.
I scratched my head, wondering what could have caused such a sudden change of heart with her. What did James do?
The two of us were silent for a couple of minutes, while I rummaged through my trunk for my dress robes and she did whatever it was she was doing. Not like I cared much.
When I finally found the package that was wrapped around the dress, I stared at it for a moment, before gently taking it out of my trunk and laying it on my bed. I bit my nails as I debated within myself whether or not to open it. The dress had belonged to my mum. She used to wear it to the Ministry Balls with my father, even though she was a Muggle. I remembered watching her get ready for the balls, pinning up her hair with tiny pearls and dabbing pink blush on her cheeks. During the summer, when Sirius said he and the blokes had seen me dancing around my room, I put it on and imagined myself at one of the Ministry Balls dancing as elegantly as I knew she had been. But now, I wondered whether or not I should wear it to the masquerade.
Taking a deep breath, I undid the loose fabric knot and opened the flaps to reveal the dress, my mother's dress. Holding it as carefully as I could, I raised it up so that I could admire how beautiful it was. The dress was strapless and white and hung to my ankles. With an empire waistline, a black ribbon was tied in the back just below the bust. At the hem, black painted itself up to my knee, where it faded off to the white. It was truly a magnificent dress.
"Oh, my God!" Lily suddenly screeched.
I looked up at her, expecting her bed to be on fire, just to see her staring at me with wide eyes and a slack jaw.
"Uh... What?" I asked, totally confused.
She slowly waltzed over to my bed and stood next to me, looking down at my dress.
"That is the most gorgeous dress I've ever seen!" she exclaimed, glancing at me. "Where on earth did you get it?"
I shrugged. "I dunno. It was my mother's."
Her face softened and she looked back at it. "Well, she definitely had good taste."
I swallowed. Yes, she certainly did.
Lily smiled up at me, her eyes sparkling once more. "James told me that you needed someone to help you get ready for the ball."
I didn't know where she was going. "Yeah... I guess I do. I'm clueless when it comes to clothes and hair and...stuff." My cheeks reddened a bit. Merlin, why was I embarrassed about that?
"Well, he also asked me if I would be willing to help you. Would you like that?" She just couldn't stop smiling, could she?
I looked at her for a moment, then smirked lightly. "Uh, I mean, if you really want to, I guess that'd be al—"
She suddenly squealed and rushed over to her bed. I jumped a bit, sort of frightened by what she was going to do. When she pulled a big, purple box from her trunk, my fears reached their peak. Oh, my God.
"Sit, sit," she insisted, bringing the box over to my bed. I immediately did as she said, and sat on my bed, gently wrapping my dress back in its cover.
"Wait, you're doing it now? The ball is in two days, won't it come off before—"
"Of course, I'll do it again then. I'm just practicing to see what will look good on you."
"Now," she said, thoughtfully, as she opened the box. Inside, there seemed to be an infinite amount of make-up and hair things. Goodness, how long did it take this girl to get ready in the morning? "Because your dress is black and white and I'm guessing that your mask is black, I think—"
"I don't know what color the mask is. James and Sirius are getting it right now," I interrupted her quietly.
She sighed. "Oh, dear. Well, let's hope that they pick up a black mask for you, because that's what I'm going to base your make-up off of."
"Oh, you'll see," she waved me off as she reached into her box and pulled out a bottle of skin colored liquid stuff. "This is foundation and it will go all over your face, as a base of sorts."
I gave a scared look as she took out a sponge thing. "You'll need to take off your glasses for this," she told me, as she put some of the 'foundation' on the sponge. Frowning, I did as she said and she started to rub the stuff all over my face. "Goodness, you have some unusually clear skin," she muttered. "What do you do?"
"Uhhh," I mumbled as she blotted my chin. "I wash my face every day. My mum practically forced me to every morning and night when I was younger."
"Well, it sure works."
She stopped for a moment and put her finger under my chin, to raise my face. Frowning, she asked, "What are all these?"
"What are all what?" I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about.
"All of these scars. Where'd you get them?" She ran her fingers along the three faint scars on my cheek and the one on my forehead. The one on my forehead had been from my accidental fall and the ones on my cheek had been from...Remus. Well, not Remus exactly...
I shrugged, trying to act like they were no big deal. "I fell and...landed on a few things. Don't worry about it."
She gave me a strange look, as if unconvinced, but continued on with her work. "I can cover them fairly well, but they won't be gone."
I nodded. "That's fine."
For the next ten or so minutes, she proceeded to cover my face with make-up. Surprisingly, judging by the amount of stuff she put on my skin, it didn't feel much different. She broke out a white palette of eye stuff, which she used on and around my eyes. She used eye-liner around my eyes, as well, and covered my eyelashes in mascara
"Alright," she said. "We're not going to do much else, aside from your eyes, because your mask will probably cover the top half of your face. Maybe a bit of lip gloss..." She whipped out a tube of clear gloss and carefully applied it to my lips. "Okay." She stood back and looked at me, smiling happily as if admiring a piece of artwork. "You're make-up is done. Go look in the mirror."
I stood up, quite unsure about all of this and picked up my glasses. Glancing back at her, I walked into the WC, held up my glasses so that I could see through the lenses and stared at the girl I saw in the mirror. Damn. Lily must've used something more than her own hands. Something like magic. I looked...pretty. I would never admit that, but I really did. My eyes reminded me of a snow princess. And my lips looked shiny and...kissable. Wow, she really was magic.
She walked in and stood next to me, smiling into the mirror. Next to her, I actually felt pretty, for the first time in my life. "You look amazing," she grinned.
"Thanks," I mumbled, rubbing my neck and smiling lightly.
"Now for the hair!" she cried as she rushed back into the dorm.
I frowned at my reflection. "Hair?" I asked, slipping my glasses onto my face.
"Of course!" she said, as she came rushing back. "Now, sit. Sit!" She flicked her wand and a chair appeared right behind me. I did as she said and she immediately began her work.
Twisting and pulling. Pinning and piling.
"So, d'you that a load of people are coming back early just for this ball. That's never happened before," she told me.
I nodded. "Well, this ball has never happened before."
She worked fast with my hair and before I knew it, she stepped away and smiled at her finished product.
She had pulled back the top half of my hair and twisted it into a messy bun of sorts. The rest of my curly locks cascaded down my shoulders and two small curls stayed out of the bun and framed my face. I officially deemed Lily a miracle worker because this was all truly a miracle.
She just stood behind me and smiled into the mirror. "You really look pretty, Mackenzie."
I was too busy marveling at her work, I didn't even notice that she called me by my whole first name.
We walked back into the dorm and she held up my dress to me, just so that she could get an idea what I would look like with it on.
"So," she said, conversationally, as I put the dress back into my trunk. "Are you going to the ball with Remus?"
My head whipped up to look at her. "No! Of course not!" I said, as though it was a completely preposterous idea, because, well, it was. "Where did you get an idea like that?"
She held her hands up in defense. "I dunno. It's just that the two of you are always together and Ashleyn Wilkinson isn't here."
I frowned. "So?"
"So... Do you that the entire half the school that doesn't know he and Ashleyn are dating think that the two of you are dating?"
"What? That ridiculous!"
She shrugged. "It's true."
Suddenly, we heard a familiar screaming voice from down in the Common Room. "MACK! WE GOT YOUR MASK! MEET US IN OUR DORM!" Sirius shouted.
I didn't need to answer, before starting to walk to the door.
"Wait!" Lily exclaimed and rushed over to me. She took my glasses off my face and tucked them into the pocket of my tight hot pants. "Don't you want them to see your make-up?"
I squinted at her blurry face. "Well, not if I can't see them... And besides, it's not like they'll care."
Lily giggled. "Oh, trust me. They'll care. C'mon now, I'd better let James know that I'm here."
I sighed and nodded before she rushed out the door and down the stairs. I (slowly) followed her, keeping a very aware hand on the wall at all times. When I reached the bottom, I was surprised to bump into her.
"What are you doing?" I asked as she stood, looking up the boy's stairs.
"Are — Are we allowed to go up there?"
I chuckled, pushing past her. "Of course we are. I go up there all the time," I laughed, making my way up the stairs.
She hesitantly followed behind me. "Just because you always go up here, doesn't mean that it's alright," she mumbled.
I rolled my eyes as we came to the seventh year door just as Frank Longbottom came out, shutting it behind him. "Hi, Frank," I said, reaching for the doorknob.
"Hi, Ma..." he looked up at me and trailed off. "Wow. You look..." his gaze went down my body and to my shorts.
"Eyes up here, Frank," I told him, irritation obvious in my tone.
He looked up at me and shrugged apologetically. "Sorry, it's just—"
"Yeah, yeah, save it for the ball, Longbottom," I waved him off and motioned for Lily to follow me.
Opening the door, I led her in the dorm and shut it behind me. Whenever I walked in, the boys usually ignored me and kept on with their conversations, not even looking up til I neared them. This is what they chose to do now. I walked over to where they sat, Lily following close behind me, a repulsed sort of look on her face. I was used to the underwear covered floor that these boys kept up, along with the smell of mixed cologne and dirty clothes. Lily, on the other hand, was not and I couldn't help but smirk and she tip-toed her way across the floor.
"I'm so glad that bloke decided not to get this one because I think it's perfect," came Sirius' voice. I watched as a blurry version of him raised a mask to his face, then noticed I was there and looked over at me. He stared for a moment, then dropped his mask onto the floor.
I chuckled as he knelt to the ground to grab it.
"Nice hands," I muttered, looking down at him.
"Nice legs," he smirked, glancing at my shorts as he stood up. "Finally decided to wear the hot pants, I see? And here I was right, you do look kinda sexy." He raised his eyebrows suggestively and I punched his arm. "Ow," he mumbled, rubbing it.
I chuckled and looked over at James, who was blushing and talking quietly to Lily, obviously not even aware that I was here.
"He hasn't stopped talking about her all day," Sirius' smirk grew once more. "Bloke's been so excited."
James finally glanced my way and gave me a strange sort of look. "Nightingale, you look like a girl," he observed.
"That's what I am, halfwit," I rolled my eyes.
"Yeah, but today, you look it."
"Thanks, James," I chuckled, sarcastically. "Okay, where's my mask?"
James ignored me and looked at Sirius. "We're gonna go down to the kitchens to get Lily a snack, 'kay, Padfoot?" he said, 'secretly' holding Lily's hand and making their way out of the room.
"Alright, you two be good," he rolled his eyes as they walked out the door. He looked back at me. "Mademoiselle, your mask." He reached in a bag and pulled out the perfect mask.
It was in the shape of a traditional mask and was covered in black lace and backed in white, giving it a simple, yet elegant look to it. It was unsurpassable.
"Here, let me help you," he walked behind me and gently tied the mask to my face. Strangely, with it on, I was suddenly able to see again. Everything was crystal clear. "You like it?"
I turned to him. "How did you—?"
"I told the clerk you wore glasses and he put some charm on it so that you can see with it on," he just smiled down at me. "Night', you look great."
I blushed a bit, but rolled my eyes once more. "Gee, thanks, Padfoot."
He laughed. "No, I'm serious — don't you dare —" he said as I opened my mouth to acknowledge the widely used pun. "With that dress on, you'll look like one of those hidden beauties that nobody knows about. Then, when they see your true identity, they're completely blown away. Just wait. Everyone'll love you. Especially Remus."
A/N: So, this is about what I based Mack's dress off of, just a bit longer.
Chapter 13: Paper Faces On Parade. Chapter Twelve.
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Lovely image of Mack and...secret person by Madooo @ TDA!
I really don't know why Sirius was so obsessed with the idea that Remus and I get together. Maybe he thought that his playing matchmaker and getting us together was redemption for one of his past relationships that he completely ruined. Maybe he thought that messing with our love life would suddenly make what he did alright.
I certainly didn't know but it was really starting to get on my last nerve.
He was constantly telling me that I shouldn't worry about the ball because Remus would be there to rescue me if I got into any trouble. That my dress was going to look fine, as long as I stood next to Remus. And especially that this was the perfect night to ask for forgiveness for running away from him.
As always, I ignored Padfoot's crazy rantings and just went about my days normal as ever.
Apparently, Lily had decided that we were temporarily best friends and she'd taken the initiative to wake me up on the morning of the ball at nine o' clock. I usually slept until at least eleven or so during breaks, so this was a major set back on my beauty sleep. When she told me that we needed to start getting ready, I was really convinced that she was going mad. She made me go down to the kitchen with a huge bag to fill up for the day. When I asked why, she said that we would be up in our dorms all day and that we wouldn't be able to go to breakfast or lunch. So, I did as she told and got food from the kitchens, but I didn't go right back to her. I made a little stop.
"Your girlfriend is trying to kill me!" I yelled, hitting the sleeping James with a pillow. Well, he certainly wasn't sleeping anymore.
"Wha' de bloody hell — is she — doin'?!" he asked between hits.
Like me, the boys slept til around eleven, so, by waking up James, I woke up the lot of them, including a very upset Frank.
"Wha's goin' on?!" he mumbled loudly.
"Lily woke me up," hit, "thirty minutes ago," hit, "and said," hit, "that we have to start," hit, "getting ready," hit, "for the ball," hit, "NOW!"
Sirius sat up on his elbow, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his palm. "No wonder the girl always looks flawless. She never sleeps!"
Remus looked up and noticed me standing there. He immediately laid back down and pulled his blanket over his head. I just rolled my eyes.
My temporary moment of distraction gave James just the right amount of time to push me onto the floor, tear the pillow out of my grip, straddle my stomach and pin me to the floor with my arms under his knees. After fighting with him for a moment, I gave up and laid limp on the ground, while he sat triumphantly on top of me, wearing no shirt, like the rest of them. But I wasn't like the rest of the girl population at Hogwarts. I didn't fall at their feet just because they were half-naked. He sighed in relief and looked down at me.
"Now," he breathed. "What's the problem?"
"I want to sleep," I said bitterly. "That's the problem."
"And Lily won't let you?" Sirius asked.
"Well, what are we supposed to do about it?" James shrugged.
"I dunno. Maybe control your girlfriend!" I shouted at him. If you couldn't tell, I was rather grumpy when I didn't get sleep. But I'm quite sure you were able to tell.
James let up on his hold of me and I took the chance to shove him off me and stand up. "Whatever," I groaned. "I'll just deal with it."
And by 'deal with it', I didn't know that it meant I would have to go through a whole day at 'Spa Evans'.
The moment I stepped back into the dorm, Lily all but forced me to go through with her beauty tips and methods. First, she made me take a thirty minute shower and she told me to wash my hair with her 'special' shampoo. Then, we wore one of those face masks that prevent you from moving your face at all. And you know all those movies where those divas where cucumbers on their eyes? Well, that's what we did. She then spent forever giving me a manicure and pedicure or whatever she called them, and then talked to me as she did her own nails. This all alone took us until one o' clock.
Merlin, it was ridiculous.
I was reminded exactly why I never spent time with girls. They make me want to rip my bloody hair out! Especially this girl. But I was trying to be nice, since she was James' love interest and blah, blah, blah.
Finally, though, it was about fifteen minutes til seven, when the ball started, and Lily stopped worrying so much about me. Now her primary concern was herself, which was understandable. She had a gorgeous reputation to uphold. I, on the other hand, had nothing to worry about. Lucky me.
"So, you're going with James, right?" I confirmed, not really able to accept the fact that she had finally fell for him.
She rolled her eyes for about the fourth time that day at me. "Yes, Mackenzie. And we're going to have a splendid time together."
"Alright, if you say so."
"I'm just surprised that the lot of you are actually easing off a bit for this," she said, putting on a sparkly necklace.
I frowned. "Huh?"
"Oh, James never said anything about you all pulling a prank at the ball. And I just have to say that I'm pretty surprised. I was sure that you would take this advantage and plan something spectacular," she smiled, then shrugged. "Whatever."
On the outside, I nodded and shrugged as well, but on the inside, I was laughing myself silly.
"Can I ask you a question, Mackenzie?" Lily queried.
"If you stop calling 'Mackenzie', then sure."
"Oh, right. Mack. Well, I was just wondering... I mean, why is it that you choose to spend all of your time with the Marauders? Nobody understands why you never hang out with girls. So, I was curious—"
"I grew up with boys," I interrupted her. "I've always had Mason and I've known Remus since I was five. All the neighborhood boys would always come to our house to play and they would talk about how dumb all their sisters and cousins and other girls were. Of course, they hardly thought twice about me because I was a complete tom-boy. I would always lead all the pirate brigades and win in sword fights." I smiled, looking at the floor. "I even cut my hair short because I didn't like how it got in my way when I played." I glanced up at her and shrugged. "Then I got to school and I had to stay in the girls' dorm. I practically begged my dad to request for me to stay in the boys' dorm because I didn't know any better. Once I tried getting to know the girls, they were exactly like all the boys had always said. They were vicious. So, I just kept with my boys and never bothered with anybody else. Now the girls dislike me almost as much as I dislike them."
She just smiled. "Well, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Eighty percent of the girls who say they hate you, are all completely jealous of you."
I laughed, then realized she was serious. "You're kidding, right?"
"No, I'm not. They're always talking about how they wish they could fit in with the guys at this school. All of them wish they could understand them." She shrugged. "Lucky you, I guess."
I sighed. "Yeah, lucky me."
I had to admit that the day's worth of preparation had really paid off. Lily looked flawless. Her fierce red curls were pinned back in a messy sort of bun, with curls loose all around. Her dress seemed as though it was made for her. It was strapless and a gorgeous dark green that brought out her eyes. It was a bit poofy and reached to the middle of her thighs, showing off her tan legs. She wore dangerously high platform shoes, making her legs seem even longer than they really were. To top it all off, her mask was the exact color of her dress, with gold trimming around the edges and a black feather sticking out the top.
Like I said, she looked spectacular. James was going to go ga-ga.
I, on the other hand, couldn't even compare. She did my make-up just as she had when she was 'practicing', along with my hair. She wanted to lend me some of her pearl earrings, which I would've graciously accepted, had my ears been pierced. I really wasn't the earring type of person, usually. Instead, however, she leant me a gorgeous pearl necklace that would hang around my neck and cover my otherwise bare clavicles. It was the pearls that truly reminded me of my mother. Pearls were always her favorite. Along with the dress, I had white, silk gloves that went up to just above my elbows.
Standing in the WC, with the door closed, I changed into my dress, careful not to mess up my hair, as Lily had reminded me. I slipped it on my thin body and managed to zip it all by myself. As if by the magic that was so familiar to me, it fit perfectly, as though it had been made for me. I adjusted my glasses and gazed at the mirror at my bare shoulders and back. I practically felt naked. I bit my lip as I noticed the now-exposed scars on my shoulder and bruises on my arms.
Taking a deep breath, I shook my head and covered my mouth. I couldn't do this. The spell that I had looked up to cover these marks lasted exactly five hours. My scars would become visible at midnight and the book specifically stated that the spell could only be performed once every twenty-four hours. Just my luck, eh?
Sighing, I muttered the spell quietly, "Occulto vestigium." And they disappeared.
So, now I stood in front of the mirror for a moment, staring at my unfamiliar reflection. I genuinely looked like my mother. I swallowed hard and slipped off my glasses, laying them on the counter top.
Holding up my mask, I smirked. "Hide your face so the world will never find you," I muttered, tying it around my head.
Now, I was ready.
"C'mon, the boys said they'd meet us down in the Common Room," came Lily's voice from back in the dorm.
When I walked out, she just smiled. "Alright, time to go."
She rushed down the stairs, eager to see James, while I slowly made my way to the Common Room. First, because I was really and truly nervous. I was nervous of what the boys would think — what everyone would think. Second, being that I had been forced (by none other than Lily) to wear heels. A recipe for disaster.
When I finally came to the bottom of the stairs, I couldn't help but smile at the boys' masks. James wore a silver 'Phantom of the Opera' mask, which only covered half his face, but still disguised him fairly well. I just wondered how he was doing without his glasses. Sure, he could have the mask thing, but he still had a whole other eye.... What'd he do with that one? Sirius wore a black and red mask that resembled a devil's face, complete with a longish nose and horns. Both masks were silly, but still somehow looked elegant.
Wow, it seemed like all of us were looking elegant tonight.
I was surprised to see one last boy standing to the side, with his hands held behind his back. He wore a simple black mask to go along with his simple black and white dress robes.
Funny. We matched.
When I looked at him, his blue eyes locked on mine and I found myself unable to look away for a moment. His gaze was gentle, admirable. Nothing like what I had expected to see.
"Nightingale," Sirius' voice came, causing me to break our stare. "You ready to go?"
I took a breath and nodded quickly, as I slowly made my way down the last few steps.
He held out his arm and I gratefully took it, glad for the distraction. Was that really Remus? I glanced back as he followed close behind us. What was he doing?
"Told you you two'd match," Sirius whispered in my ear as we walked.
"Did you plan that?" I hissed back.
He just smiled. "Sort of funny, isn't is?" he motioned to everybody's masks. "It's like we're paper faces on parade."
Parades were happy, exciting and peppy. I felt anything but. "I don't know if I'd say 'parade'," I murmured too quietly for him to hear.
Just the sight of other people walking around us made my stomach feel queasy. “Remind me again why I’m going to this?” I mumbled to Sirius.
“The prank,” he whispered to me.
Unlike you'd think, the masquerade was not held in the Great Hall. Slughorn apparently wanted to try something new. The ball was to be held out of doors, in an invisible, gigantic dome. It sounded crazy to me, too, until I laid my eyes on it. As we walked out of the entrance doors, I could hardly believe my eyes. There was a clear, grassy pathway that led to a huge bubble next to the lake. Snow still fell from the dark sky, but it hit the top of the dome and slid right off, keeping the cold December air out. Sirius practically had to drag me along as I marveled at the sight.
The closer we got to the large bubble, we could hear music that sounded so familiar to my ears, but I couldn't quite place it. When we finally reached our destination and I saw exactly who was playing, my eyes became wide with excitement and I pulled on Sirius' robes, pointing to the large stage at the far end of the bubble.
"Sirius! Sirius! It's 'Fired From School'! That's 'Fired From School'!" I exclaimed, not able to believe that Slughorn had gotten them to play on New Year's Eve.
Sirius rolled his eyes and did a double take at the dance floor, which was laid with hard-wood flooring, instead of grass. I watched his eyes travel up and down four of the girls who danced to the upbeat song.
Smirking, I shoved him towards the dance floor. "Go get 'em, you devil. I'll be fine," I said.
He glanced back at me and I gave him a quick thumbs up. He smiled and made his way over to the girls.
I looked around and spotted a table that was almost empty. As I made my way over to it, people watched as I walked, shaking their heads and whispering.
"Who is she?"
"I don't know who that is..."
Clenching my jaw in annoyance, I came to the almost empty table and pulled out a chair.
"This seat taken?" I asked Remus as I sat down.
He looked up at me for a moment. "No, go ahead."
I nodded. "Thanks."
I couldn't help but smile as I watched Sirius dance with the four girls at the same time. Only Padfoot. James and Lily were dancing and laughing together and I couldn't help but observe how perfect they were together. Dammit. Why did everyone else have to be happy? Why was I left to feel all alone?
Trying to find something to distract myself with, I admired the handy work of Slughorn. White candles floated all over the ceiling of the dome and spare masks were set out on all of the white clothed tables. We sat in black chairs and little touches of silver covered the place (the punch bowls, the lining of the stage, the plates). One huge silver clock hovered in the very middle of the dome, ticking and ticking. It was really amazing.
The music suddenly slowed and couples embraced and began slow dancing. James was with Lily and Sirius was with one of the girls he had been dancing with before.
I sighed and looked down at my lap, where I anxiously tore up a napkin with my silk covered fingers. Why did I even come here? It had only been three bloody minutes and I was already regretting it. That's definitely a record.
I looked up and there Remus stood, his hand outstretched towards me.
I frowned. "What?"
"Dance?" he asked, innocently.
I almost laughed. "You're kidding, right?"
He smirked lightly. "C'mon, Mack. Be spontaneous. Do something new."
I quickly shook my head. "I can't dance, Moony," I hissed, looking around as people began to stare.
He seemed to be enjoying himself. "You're just attracting attention to yourself."
Once again, I shook my head. "Sit down," I implored, glancing around nervously. "Please."
"Just dance. It's easy," he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me out of my chair, dropping the napkin bits on the floor.
I glanced around just to see that people were still watching to see whether or not the strange beauty would actually dance. Snooty kids. Too preoccupied with other people's lives, they can't focus on their own.
Groaning, I allowed Remus to pull me out onto the dance floor. Sirius caught my eye for a moment and winked, just causing me to groan louder.
"Okay," Rem said, smiling. He was obviously enjoying himself with this little scene. "Do you know how you're supposed to stand?"
"No," I said, bitterly. I wasn't going to forgive him that easily.
He chuckled. "Alright, well, you hold my hand here..." He gripped my right hand in his left. "And you put your hand on my shoulder..." He gently placed my other hand on his shoulder. "And I put my hand here." He carefully placed his hand on my waist, glancing up as if to see my reaction.
Even though the feeling of his hand against my back sent shivers down my spine, I gave no indication of this. He wasn't going to enchant me that easily. Actually... He wasn't going to enchant me at all. I refused to let him.
"That easy enough?" he asked.
I just shrugged in response.
"'Kay, now, you just do what I do. Follow my lead. When I step back, you step forward. When I step left, you step right. Get it?"
I frowned at him. "No. I don't get it. At all."
He smiled. "Just do what I do." He took a step back and somehow managed to do the same. "Good. Keep doing that." He took a step to the side and I tried to do the same, but ended up stepping on his foot.
He shook his head, without wincing. "I'm fine. Just keep going."
He tried stepping forward and caught me off guard, causing me to stumble.
Remus chuckled. "How about we just sway back and forth in one place?"
I nodded eagerly. That sounded way easier.
He pulled me close and slowly we swayed as the slow song changed to another slow song. Of course.
"You look beautiful," he whispered down to me. "Just like your mum did."
I looked up, my eyes wide. "Really? You think so?"
He smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I do."
Coming from one of the few people who actually knew my mum, that meant a lot. She truly was a beautiful woman. And, slowly, I was turning into her. Well, not the beautiful woman part. I'm not beautiful. But the other part about... Oh, whatever.
I noticed Remus' gaze wander to my shoulder. "So, how'd you cover them up?" he asked, quietly.
I avoided his eyes. "A spell," I muttered.
He put a finger under my chin and raised my face. "And why didn't you cover these?"
I quickly pulled away from his touch and swallowed hard. "Lily did my make-up and knew they were there. I didn't want to fix them and have her wonder." I knew he still blamed himself for what happened that night. "Moony, you can't keep thinking that it was your fault. It wasn't. You've been avoiding me for what? Five days? That's a whole load of time to be away from your best mate." I paused for a moment. "And what about our deal?"
"The deal where we made an agreement that we'll both try to be the best mates that we are. When we were in..." I trailed off. The words sounded too weird. When we were in the bath together. Yeah, way too weird.
"Yeah, well, I'm upholding my side of the deal by protecting you."
"You can't protect me if you're never around me, Remus!"
At that, he was silent. He knew I was right.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, after a moment.
I looked up at him, my brow furrowed in question. "Whatever for?"
"For hurting you. I'm so, so sorry."
I pursed my lips, not quite sure how to respond. It was obvious that he felt horrible about this. I just didn't know how to reassure him that it was alright.
Taking a deep breath, I gently intertwined my fingers in his and leaned my head against his chest. "It's okay. I'm fine, see? I'm fine," I whispered to him.
And for the rest of the song, we swayed slowly in silence, my head rising and falling with his deep breaths.
When 'Fired From School' played the last chord of the song, I made sure to be the first one to pull away. "Thanks — erm, for the dance," I mumbled, not really sure what to do or say.
He smiled slightly and gave a gracious bow.
"Oh." I returned with my best curtsy, which really didn't look like a curtsy at all, but more of a stumble of sorts.
After dancing with Remus, Sirius was the only one of my mates who I would let convince me to get onto the dance floor again. He almost forced me to accompany him for one slow dance.
"How has your evening been so far, Oh Majestic Beauty?" he smirked. He'd been calling me that all bloody night. What a stupid name.
"Well, due to the fact it's been two hours and I've danced twice and been stared at for the rest of the time, I'd say I'm having a rather awful night, Padfoot. I'll admit it," I sighed.
It wasn't like I had been expecting a good time. I was here for one reason and one reason alone. The prank. That was it.
"Doesn't all the attention make you feel a bit good, though?" he asked, knowing the answer he would receive.
"Of course not! You know that I detest attention. Especially lustful attention."
He chuckled. "To most girls, love, that's the only sort of attention they seek."
"I'm definitely not 'most girls', though, am I?"
"No, I've gotta say, you're not. But I think that might be what's getting you all the stares. You're different. And us blokes always need a bit of variety."
"Oh, fabulous," I sighed, looking past him for a moment.
Quite unexpectedly, someone caught my eye. Wearing traditional black and white dress robes, along with a loosely-done black tie, stood a boy whom I had never seen before. Or at least, a boy I hardly recognized. With shaggy brown hair and a smart gold mask, he stood with his hands in his pockets and a wide smile across his face, talking to some other boy I honestly didn't care about. Merlin, this boy was gorgeous.
"Padfoot," I breathed, my eyes wide and my mouth agape. "Who is that?"
He turned us a bit and glanced in the direction I was staring. Looking back at me, he just smiled. "I dunno. Do you know?"
I shook my head, captivated by this enchanting young man.
Sirius chuckled. "I could go talk to him for you, if you wanted."
My head whipped back to him. "No," I responded, quickly. "Don't."
"Okaaaay. You're the one that asked."
I hardly heard what he said. Who the hell was that bloke?
"He looks a bit shady, though. Mysterious. Strange. I don't really know."
I frowned. "What are you going on about?"
"Well, I dunno. This is a masquerade, what you see may not be all of reality, if you get my drift."
"I don't really care, but I definitely want to see all of his reality, if you get my drift.
He just rolled his eyes. "Let's just hope he asks you to dance. Otherwise, you'll just be staring at him all night."
The boy's eyes locked with mine for a moment and I quickly returned my gaze to Sirius.
The song ended without my knowing and Sirius led a quite dazed version of me back to the table. Pulling out the chair for me, he smirked and walked away to get us some drinks, of which I was certain he had already spiked. That was why I hadn't drank anything all night. Not going to risk it.
I looked back at the dance floor, where there was now playing one of my favorite songs from 'Fired From School', a catchy, up-beat sort of song. As expected, Lily and James were dancing with each other and Remus was...dancing and laughing with some girl in a yellow dress and mask. Yuck. I hated yellow. She looked like a bloomin' banana.
When Sirius came back with two drinks in his hands, he handed me one and took the seat next to me. I looked into the silver cup and swished around the pinkish liquid.
"Did you spike it?" I asked him, just as he took a long chug from his glass.
"Yep," he answered simply, standing up to get a refill.
Sighing, I took a little swig and looked up in the direction of the mystery man, only to see that, dammit, he was gone. I looked around, but had no success in locating him. Well, that sucks.
Sirius returned about two minutes later, just as a slow song started playing. Smiling, he immediately stood up and asked some girl in a short dress if she'd like to dance.
Wow. Alone again. I really think that I held the record.
"Excuse me, Miss?" came a deep voice, with the lightest hint of a Scottish accent.
I glanced up, just as I raised my glass to my mouth for another drink.
There, standing right in front of me, was him. The gorgeous, sexy guy with the gold mask.
I almost choked.
"May I have this dance?" he asked, holding his hand out and smiling at me. His chocolately hazel eyes locked on mine and I couldn't look away.
I stared at him for a moment, before nodding and giving him my hand. He gripped it gently and swept down to lay a soft kiss on my glove. I really couldn't believe that he was real. He had to be a figment of my imagination. Oh, please don't let him be a figment of my imagination.
Keeping my hand in his, he slowly led me to the dance floor, stopping only when he came to the very middle. He gently placed his hand against my waist, a bit further down than Remus and Sirius' hands had been, but it wasn't like I cared.
Suddenly, by hell, I remembered something.
"I'm sorry, I completely forgot that I can't dance," I said slowly, the heat rising to my pale face. "But, we can sway, if you'd like. You wouldn't want to risk a toe."
He laughed. Oh, God. Even his laugh was sexy. "No worries, love. Swaying is just alright by me."
For some reason, I got the impression that he was as flustered as I was. Ha, no way. Why would he be flustered by me? Ridiculous observation.
"So, what brings a beauty like you to a dance like this?" he asked, looking down at me. Like Remus, he was about a head taller than me. Great.
I chuckled. "Grave circumstances, I'm afraid," I told him, in mock seriousness.
He smiled and played along. "Oh? And what would these grave circumstances be?"
"My best mates," I sighed, "they forced to come. Bought me a mask and everything. Seems I had no choice in the matter."
“Merlin, that is grave.”
"For the record, I'm glad you came, even if you were forced under such horrid circumstances."
I blushed and looked down at my feet for a moment. "Yes, well, how does a handsome chap like yourself end up in such a place as this?" I mimicked his question.
"Same as you, I'm afraid. Good friend told me that they'd better see me here, or I'd be in a load of trouble."
"Ooh, good idea to come. I'd avoid 'a load of trouble' if at all possible. Besides, I'm sure it hasn't been all bad."
He shrugged. "Some drunk girl spilled punch in my lap, a mad bloke accidentally stomped on my foot and my mask is kinda tight. Not the best night of my life."
"Well, you met me. That's got to count for something," I flirted. Woah. I flirted? Really? And I didn't sound completely stupid?
He smiled, revealing straight, sparkling teeth. "Yeah, I met you. That definitely goes on the 'Great Things That Happened Tonight' List." And for once, I got a compliment that wasn't the least bit sarcastic.
"I mean, that would depend on who 'me' is, wouldn't it?" I asked.
He shrugged. "I dunno. If you prove yourself worthy, it won't matter who 'me' is," he said, humorously. "Of course, a few hints wouldn't hurt. How about the first letter of your name?"
I shook my head. "No, that would make it too easy."
"Of course not.”
He nodded. "Fair enough. How about your favorite food?"
I grinned. "Pumpkin Pastries."
"Now, you see, that tells a lot about you right there. A sweet being your favorite food tells me that you're not afraid to eat, like most girls. And Pumpkin Pastries in particular are delicious, so I know you have good taste."
"Very good. And you're certainly right on both points. Now, do I get a turn to ask you something?"
He shrugged. "If you really want to," he joked.
"Hmm... Your favorite season?"
He chuckled. "Random, much? I guess, I'd have to say autumn. Something about the color of the leaves that attracts me."
I raised my eyebrows. He was...great. "Let's see, autumn means that you don't like either the hot or the cold, just the in between?"
He nodded. "Right, you are, my dear. Anything else?"
"And it just says that you're different. Most people would say the spring or summer. Everyone revolts against the winter and autumn. Quite sad, actually."
We laughed together.
"Alright, my turn... I don't think we can really avoid this question because it's sure to come eventually. Why not just take the inevitable head on, eh? Anyways, how's your love life?" He snickered. "I won't lie, though, 'please be single' is running along my brain faster than I can really comprehend."
I just smiled. "I'll have you know, then, that I am quite single," I smirked, just as the slow song ended.
A broad grin covered his face. "Well, you wouldn't mind if I asked to sit with you, would you?" he queried, following me off the dance floor, my hand still in his.
"Of course not, but first, are you available? It would put quite a damper on our relationship if you weren't."
"I'll have you know, then, that I am quite single," he mocked my tone.
"Wonderful," I just couldn't seem to stop smiling.
For the next two and a half hours, this guy and I sat and talked and talked and talked.
Merlin, I think I was in love.
I couldn't even recollect on all of the things we talked about, there were so many. He was probably one of the most captivating blokes I'd ever met. And I didn't even know his name.
For some reason, though, I felt this really strange attraction towards him. I felt like I'd known him for a long time. Being with him... Well, it just felt right. I felt like nothing bad could ever happen when we were with each other.
So, there we sat, our chairs facing and our knees touching as we talked and laughed. It was amazing.
"—And I swear, she looked exactly like a banshee!"
I burst out laughing as he described a certain experience with one of his ex-girlfriends. Of course, he wouldn't tell me her name, but the scenario was still funny, nonetheless.
"Now, are you two behaving?" came a slurred voice from behind me. Of course, it had to be none other than Sirius.
"Yeah, and you can leave now," I mumbled, really not wanting him to ruin this.
"Why do you treat me so rudely, Oh Majestic Beauty?" he joked, a bit tipsy. He squatted down next to my chair and wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
My gorgeous friend frowned at him. "Do you know this guy?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, this is one of my best mates. Now you can get out of here, Padfoot," I said to Sirius, then froze. Damn. 'Conceal your identity' had been completely blown from my mind. I stared at my buddy, as a grin began to form its way across his cheeks. "I mean... Sirius, what was that nickname you have again? Oh, yeah, Padfoot. Can I call you that? I mean, even though I'm not a Marauder, that would be kinda neat. To call you. By your nickname. Even though I'm not..."
Merlin, it was no use.
"You're Mackenzie?" the masked man asked. Well, technically, we were all masked, so that wouldn't be such a great name...
I sighed. "Would it even be worth it if I denied?"
He shook his head. "Nope, sorry. But, really, you're Mackenzie Hathaway?"
"No, I'm Mack Hathaway," I corrected. "Why are you so amazed?"
"No reason, honest. You just don't look like yourself at all," he scratched his head.
"No! No, I didn't mean it like that. I just meant... Well, I don't really know what I meant, but please don't be upset with me," he pleaded, honestly sounding sincere.
I shrugged. "It's alright, I forgive you," I told him, as Sirius stalked off.
We watched him go for a moment, then Mr. Beautiful looked back at me. "Hey, do you... I mean, not to sound weird or anything, but do you want to go somewhere quieter to talk? I mean, I think there are some chairs in the walkway going back to the castle. We can sit there and talk."
I bit my lip. Part of me really wanted to, but the other part... "I dunno, I mean, the last time a bloke wanted to 'talk' he ended up trying to—"
He interrupted me, shaking his head. "Oh, Merlin. I really don't mean anything like that. If it's any reassurance, in the walkway, everyone here would still be able to see us, since the wall’s invisible. And I bet people will be walking in and out, so we won't be completely alone." Wow. He really just wanted to talk.
I smiled. "Alright, let's ditch this popsicle joint."
He laughed and began to lead me through the large crowd of people and toward the walkway. When Mr. Irresistible realized that I was having trouble keeping up, due to all the people, he intertwined his fingers in mine and pulled me along with him.
Suddenly, I really wanted to take my gloves off. I realized that I hadn't yet had skin-on-skin contact with him at all. When we danced, he had his hand on my dress and my hands were gloved. Oh, Merlin. His touch tantalized me even now, imagining what it would feel like without my gloves sent shivers down my spine.
When we reached a fairly secluded part of the walkway, where you could still barely hear the music, we stopped and grabbed a couple of the chairs that sat along the 'wall'. Facing them so we could see the lake, we sat close, chairs right next to one another.
He sighed, relaxing a bit. "Now, this is great. As if sitting next to this gorgeous girl and talking to her for hours wasn't enough, we had to add a view of the lake," he smiled at me. "I don't think this night could really get any better for me." We still held hands and his thumb gently stroked mine.
"Ha, it could get a bit better for me. You know, if I knew who you were," I said, gazing out over the lake.
He chortled. "Maybe you'll figure it out soon. You never know."
We sat in silence for a few minutes, just staring out at the lake. But it wasn't an awkward, strained kind of silence. It was a comfortable, simple silence. We felt no need to speak and I loved that we could do that. It always annoyed me when people felt like they always had to be saying something, like silence was a bad thing.
It was him that spoke first.
"It's weird, you know," he said, keeping his gaze on the lake.
"I don't really know how to explain it. It'll just sound strange. For some reason, I... I feel like I have this connection with you." He ruffled his hair. "I know it sounds cheesy, but I feel like we have this...attraction." He looked at me. "Is it just me?"
I stared into his hazel eyes and slowly shook my head. "No, I feel the same way... It's weird, isn't it?"
"Really weird," he confirmed, his eyes not straying from mine.
"You know, maybe if I knew who you were, I wouldn't have to wonder if we've met before."
"Oh, I promise. We've never met before. I doubt you even know who I am."
I shrugged. "You're probably right. Outside of the Marauders, I seriously have no life at all." I sighed. "They are my life."
"So, you all are really close?"
I nodded. "Closer than close. We're best mates. All five of us. It's always been like that. Ever since first year."
"Do you get into a lot of fights?"
"Oh, yeah. Loads. But I really think they make us stronger. We tell each other practically everything. There're no secrets with the Marauders."
"Excuse me for asking, but, I mean, how would you know that?"
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not saying that there is, but I'm just wondering how you would know that there are no secrets. Maybe you tell them everything. But how do you know they tell you everything?"
"Because I trust them," I answered, honestly, knowing that he was just curious. "And most of them are horrible at lying to me," I smirked.
"Ha, well, I can't argue with that."
"Yeah, good idea."
He smiled. "So, have you kissed all the Marauders?"
My stomach clenched for a moment, as I thought about Remus. Did he know about that? Merlin, Sirius told somebody, didn’t he? Who told someone else, who told someone else, who told—
"I mean, back when you snogged Sirius in the middle of the courtyard. Now, that was great."
I smiled, almost sighing in relief. "It worked, didn't it? Got the whole female population off my back about being lesbian."
He chuckled wholeheartedly. "You know, I'm still not convinced," he smiled.
I laughed. "Oh, really? You're not?"
"Nope. It sort of seemed like you didn't know what you were doing. I mean, kissing a bloke and all. Maybe it's because you'd never kissed a bloke before. Just the ladies."
I elbowed him. "Or maybe, I'd never been kissed before and really had no idea what I was doing," I suggested.
"No," he denied, smiling. "Mack Hathaway? Never been kissed? Impossible."
I nodded. "It's possible because it's true."
"So, let me get this straight. You'd never been kissed before and you chose Sirius Black to be your first?"
"Ha, yeah, I guess that's right."
"And he's the only one you've ever kissed?"
I blushed a little. "No, not the only one."
"Oh? So, we've had a little practice since then? Way to go, Mack!" he cheered jokingly.
"Yes, I have had a bit of practice. And I must say that I'm pretty good at it," I smiled.
"Really? Well, I dunno about that. I mean, I've kissed about every good lady snogger there is and, well, you're not on my list," he raised his eyebrows suggestively.
Was he trying to get me to kiss him? Oh, woah.
"Do you want me to be on it?" I actually flirted back. Yes, I flirted!
"Do you want to be on it?" he asked, letting go of my hand and brushing a curl away from my eyes.
I shrugged. "I wouldn't mind. I'm already on one of your lists, aren't I? Another one...wouldn't...hurt," my voice gradually got softer until it was barely above a whisper.
He smiled and stroked my lips with his thumb, his touch taking my breath away.
He slowly leaned in and, as gentle as a feather, our lips brushed against each other, before I pressed my lips firmly against his.
That was about as far as we got, due to the fact that a couple blokes walked past us and gave a good dog whistle and a congrats to Mr. Great Kisser.
We pulled apart laughing, a bit embarrassed, but stayed close, our foreheads practically resting against each other.
"No going back now," he smiled. "You're on the list."
"Are you convinced now?"
"That you're straight? Ha, yeah, I'm pretty convinced, Miss Hathaway."
I smiled back, staring into his eyes. Biting my lip, I reached up to the corner of his mask, keeping my gaze locked solidly on his. When he made no movement to stop me, I gently lifted the mask up and off his face to reveal...
His smiled grew. "You know who I am."
I just smiled grandly, as well. "Of course, I do. You're in my year and you're in practically all of my classes. Ravenclaw, right?"
Like I'd said, Ty was in most of my classes and was known as an all-around great guy. He was a Chaser for Ravenclaw's Quidditch team and was probably considered one of the best. He was pretty smart and all the girls said he was incredibly sweet. For once, I couldn't help but agree with them.
I was just so happy he wasn't some creep or anything and that I really knew who he was. I laughed again and gently kissed him one more time.
"Merlin, if I'd have known this would be your reaction, I would've told you right when we met."
For a moment, I abashed myself for a moment for being so silly. The normal me would never kiss a guy she had met three hours ago at a ball. Then again, I had been talking to him almost nonstop since we'd met and I'd known of him since first year. Plus, this was a masquerade, you're supposed to be someone else. Not yourself.
"While I have you in such a happy mood, I was sort of wondering if you'd like to accompany me to Hogsmeade on our next trip," he asked, bravely, not the slightest bit hesitant.
I bit my lip, smiling, and nodded enthusiastically. "I'd love to."
He smiled brightly, but it quickly faded into a sad sort of look.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
He took a deep breath and took my hands in his. "Mack, I need to tell you something."
I shrugged, as if it were no big deal. "Alright, shoot."
He looked at me seriously. "It's important."
"Alright," I said, acting a bit more pensive.
He ran his fingers through his hair and swallowed hard. "Well, you know how you asked me if we'd ever met before and I assured you that we hadn't?"
I nodded. Where was this going?
"We kind of have."
I frowned. "Wha...?"
"Well, we haven't exactly met, but..."
"Ty, what are you talking about?"
This hit me like a blow from a wrecking ball.
A/N: So, I thought I’d throw this little thing in here really fast before you read this ultra short chapter (sorry!). Anyways, I’m gonna play a little game with those of you who actually like to review my story(; As you’ve already probably noticed, I like to throw in little references to my favorite movies, books and shows just to see if y’all will catch ‘em. So, I’m gonna make a game out of it. If you see any quotes you recognize, just copy and paste it in the review box and say what it’s from. No, I don’t have any prizes for you, but you’ll be able to live with the fact that you figured it out(: Have fun!
Fantastic image of Mack and Mason by Madooo @ TDA!
"You?" I asked, completely incredulous. "You're Inconspicuous? You are... You're him. He's you? You're really him? Really? Honestly?"
Ty nodded, staring at me and waiting for some kind of emotion aside from shock. And I'll say, I was shocked.
Ty Reynolds, the boy I saw practically every day, who sat quietly down in the front on the classroom and raised his hand to answer questions, then turned right around and scored point after point for Ravenclaw's Quidditch team... He was Connie?
For the first time in my life, I squealed.
I squealed and wrapped my arms around his neck in a tight embrace, laughing.
He seemed caught off guard, but laughed along with me and snaked his arms around my waist.
"So, I take it you're happy?" he asked, gently rubbing my back.
"Happy?" I smiled, pulling back to see his face. "I'm ecstatic! I really can't believe it's you! Oh, my God!"
"Well, it is me. Flesh and bones," he grinned widely.
"Oh! We have to go find Sirius! He was helping me come up with this plot to find you." I laughed. "But I found you. You found me. All by ourselves!"
I was going mad, this whole thing was crazy. Grabbing his hand, I pulled him along and back into the bubble, scanning the masked faces for Sirius' devil facade. I looked back at Ty, who had put his mask back on.
"Mack!" he shouted to me, over the noise of the people around us. "The time!" He pointed up to the clock, which read 11:59.
Smirking, I gave up on my search for Padfoot, just as the crowd began counting down.
I gently slipped off his mask and tucked it into his robes. "You're not gonna want that on when we get to one!" I yelled to him.
Ty put a hand on the small of my back and swooped me down for a fairy tale kiss, just as everyone screamed, "One!"
About a million things happened right there, all simultaneously.
The big silver clock burst into hundreds of different colored streamers, flying down to the crowd below. Sparks shot up from the edges of the stage, making for a grand show.
But, these were the only two celebrations Slughorn had actually planned on happening...
Everyone reached up to take off their mask, just to find that, well, they couldn't. The masks were all stuck on everyone's faces, except for, you guessed it, The Marauders. People laughed and freaked all at the same time.
"My mask won't come off!"
"Haha, what genius did this?!"
Ty smiled knowingly at me as he glanced around at the crowd. "Nice job!"
"Thanks!" I smirked.
We had expected ours to be the only prank to be pulled. Another mischief-maker hadn't even crossed our minds.
We were very wrong.
Six figures on brooms darted across the sky, sparks shooting from their wands. Around and around they flew, gradually making a design in the sky.
"Happy New Years!" it read, then the letters exploded into fireworks, lighting up the dark sky in dozens of colors.
People watched in amazement, laughing and pointing as the figures formed more words.
"Nice try, Marauders," it said, before exploding again. "But our prank's better!"
Laughs erupted from the crowd and, in an instant, our prank was nothing compared to this. Masked people began to cheer and scream for these unknown figures, who bolted across the sky at high speed. They flew very close to the Astronomy Tower, which seemed to be in the way of their little scheme.
I frowned and looked over at Ty, even though I was hardly able to see his face in the dark. "Who are they?"
He shook his head. "I dunno. It's too dark to see any of their faces!"
I couldn't believe it. These freaks were showing us up!
I looked, not able to keep my eyes away from the figures as they came close to the Tower. One prankster in particular held his wand in the air, sparks shooting from the end. I stared as he flew fast, seemingly confident, rather close to the Tower. When he turned back around, he was flying straight toward the wall.
"Ty!" I shouted, pointing up at the flyer, right as he smacked into the wall. I stared in disbelief as he tumbled off his broom and fell through the air at a rapid speed, to the ground. The crowd gasped, they had apparently seen what Ty and I had.
"Oh, my God," I muttered at the horrible sight. Ty pulled me close.
"It's alright," he whispered, stroking my hair.
"I hope he's alright."
The other figures in the air quickly flew down to where they're cohort had landed and the prank was over. The crowd was silent for a moment as Slughorn suddenly appeared on the stage. He looked rather flustered, loosening his flashy green tie and putting his wand to his throat.
"Students," he said, his voice amplified. "Um... We ask that you all please return to your Common Rooms in an orderly fashion. Please don't dilly-dawdle. We...We will sort this incident out." He seemed just as shocked as the rest of us were. "Thank you."
I shivered from the horrible sight. Ty must have noticed, because he quickly took off his jacket and slipped it around my bare shoulders. The jacket had a musky, masculine smell to it, just like him. Honestly, I really liked it.
"C'mon," Ty said, intertwining our fingers. "Let's go. I'll walk you to your Common Room."
"Oh, you don't have to do that," I protested, but he shook his head.
"I insist. It's only right."
We walked most of the way in silence, as people bustled around us, giggling and chatting loudly. My mask was beginning to feel very uncomfortable and I really wanted to take it off, but, of course, if I did, I would be completely blind.
After a good ten minutes, we finally came to the Gryffindor Common Room. Ty turned to me and smiled.
"I'm so glad that we finally 'met', Mack. I had a great time."
I nodded. "Yeah, me, too. Thanks," I smiled slightly, really not sure how to do this.
He chuckled and kissed my forehead. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
I nodded again. "Yeah, see you tomorrow."
He just smiled and slowly walked away, glancing back at me about four times. Biting my lip, I watched as he went, waving shyly every time he looked back.
"Oh, wait!" I called to him, just remembering. "You forgot your jacket!"
"Give it to me tomorrow! So I'll know it really was you!"
I smirked and followed some Gryffindors into the Common Room, which seemed to be louder than the bubble. Still full of masked people, I passed by three or so girls who were trying to find a way to pull their mask off and laughed. It would be no use. They would come off, though...eventually.
"Nightingale!" came a loud voice that I knew to be Sirius'. He sauntered over to me and wrapped me in a big hug.
Merlin, he really was drunk.
"Wasn't that whole thing really stupid? I mean, those stupid lads overriding our prank? How...stupid."
I nodded, pulling away from his embrace. "Yeah, it really was stupid, Sirius. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go up to my dorm and sleep," I told him, practically prying his fingers off my arm. "'Night!"
He stood there for a moment, frowning and watching me walk away. "Wait! Remmy's looking for you. Said it was very important or some rubbish," he said loudly, then pranced after some girl in a red, low-cut dress.
I rolled my eyes and looked around for Remus. Not spotting him anywhere in the Common Room, I walked up the stairs to the boys' dorm to check if he was up there. The first and only thing that I found when I opened the door to the dark room, was a masked Frank Longbottom passionately kissing some girl on his bed. Gasping, I quickly closed the door and turned around to head back down the stairs.
When I turned, I ran right into, you guessed it, Remus. We almost bonked heads and I couldn't help but laughed.
"Sorry, Moony," I said, my hand unconsciously on his chest. When he glanced down, I quickly removed it, heat rising to my cheeks. "Sirius said you wanted something?" I asked, quickly.
He frowned and looked down at Ty's jacket. "Who's is that?"
"Oh! I almost forgot! You'd never guess what I'm about to tell you, Remus!" I told him, excitedly.
He raised his eyebrow in response.
"I met Connie!" I practically shouted.
"I found him! Or rather, he found me... He's Ty Reynolds!"
He smiled slightly. "Well, that's great, Mack." He didn't sound too excited. "And that's his jacket?"
I nodded, admittedly a bit embarrassed, and began to slip the jacket off my shoulders.
Remus surprised me by grabbing the jacket before I could get it off and pulling it back over my shoulders. I only frowned.
"What's the matter?"
"Your spell's worn off," he muttered, looking at my shoulder.
I did the same and sighed when I saw that the scratches and bruises were back. "Oh, well. What did you need to tell me?"
A sad look suddenly overpowered his face, making my stomach flip.
"It's...Mason," he said, quietly.
I frowned and groaned. "Oh, Merlin, did he try to crowd surf again? I keep telling him that people don't want to hold up his smelly—"
Remus quickly shook his head. "No, he didn't really go to the ball."
"Mason didn't go to the ball? Where was he then?"
"He...He was one of the other pranksters. He...fell."
My eyes widened in shock and I quickly grabbed Remus' hand. "Is he okay? Did he get hurt? What happened? Where is he?" the questions rolled off my tongue before I could stop them.
Remus didn't answer me, he just stood still, avoiding my eyes.
"Remus! Where is he?" I asked, a bit louder this time.
He pursed his lips and gazed into my eyes.
"He's gone, Mack. Mason's dead."
A/N: Pleeeeeeeease don’t kill me with horrid reviews… *braces herself for impact*
Image of Mack and Remus by Madooo @ TDA!
I sat in the very middle of the large red sofa in the Common Room. My bare feet flat on the floor and my knees together as tight as I could keep them. My hands shook and I couldn't seem to keep my fingers from twiddling in my lap. My jaw was clenched shut and I stared absentmindedly at the fireplace, where the fire roared with untamed ferocity.
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one," I mumbled quietly. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one."
I said these numbers over and over and over again, my lips trembling and my body rocking unconsciously.
I couldn't get his face out of my head. It was there, engraved in my mind like a tattoo. His shaggy blonde hair and green eyes just like mine. His hearty laugh and sarcastic mannerisms.
My mind wouldn't allow me to accept the fact that he was gone. I couldn't even grasp the idea. He was just…not here.
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one." I couldn't stop them from coming. They repeated in my mind and saying them out loud was the only way I could make it feel better.
"He's gone, Mack. Mason's dead."
My breath ceased and my heart skipped three or so beats. My knees suddenly gave out and I tumbled to the floor. Thankfully, though, Remus was there and he caught me before I hit the stairs.
"Mack?" he asked, but his voice sounded so distant, I could hardly hear him. "Mack?"
The only thing I could do was blink. My body was numb and I couldn't feel a thing.
Remus scooped me up in his arms and carried me into his dorm, yelling at Frank and his 'lady friend' to get out. He gently laid me on his bed and slipped my mask off my face. I stared at the ceiling as he said something to me, "I'll be right back. Please just stay here."
Like I would go anywhere?
Before I knew it, he came back up, Lily and James trailing close behind him.
"Mack? Do you think you can change into your nightclothes?" I could hardly hear his voice. He asked me once again, then mumbled something to Lily. "Mack, if you can hear me, Lily's going to take you into the loo and change you into your nightclothes, so that you don't ruin your mum's dress."
He and James gently picked me up and carried me into the WC and set me on the floor, my back against the sink. They left and Lily came in, shutting the door behind her.
"Um..." she seemed unsure. I just stared at the wall in front of me. "I'm going to help you change, okay, Mackenzie?"
Carefully, she slipped me out of my dress and took off my gloves and her necklace. I felt like a doll as she somehow managed to get my T-shirt and shorts on me. She gently set my glasses on my nose, before calling to the blokes that she was done.
The rest of it was a complete blur. I'm pretty sure I laid painfully awake on Remus' bed for a few hours, while he sat on a chair next to me. I vaguely remember getting up and coming down to the Common Room, placing myself exactly in the middle of the couch because it felt right. That was at about nine o' clock in the morning.
Remus came running down not long after, freaking out that I wasn't in his bed anymore, but then calming a bit when he saw me. He still couldn't get me to talk and I refused to eat anything. I knew, even if I did eat, that I would taste nothing. Nothing would have any taste.
He sat silently with me for most of the day, only leaving me for potty breaks. He got the blokes to bring him food and all three of them ate right beside me. Though they left to do other things, Rem stayed there the entire time. Around twelve o' clock that night, though, he drifted off to sleep.
Not long after that, the numbers came and it sort of became hard to breathe. Time seemed to tick by, every second stabbing my heart with unignorable pain. Pretty soon, though, time seemed like nothing and the seconds seemed to slur together.
That's when a thought crossed my mind.
How many people would honestly miss me if I was gone? My father obviously didn't care about me anymore, since he's got his new 'fiance'. Sirius had...every girl at Hogwarts. James had Lily and Remus had... Well, Remus had Ashleyn.
Me, on the other hand. I had no one. I doubted Ty would even think twice about me once he remembered that I didn't look like a snow princess every day.
So, since I knew nobody would care if I was gone, there was only one thing to do.
I slowly stood up and silently walked up the stairs to my dorm, being careful not to wake Remus and muttering the numbers as I went. As I came to my dorm, I was exhausted, from just climbing the stairs. I had absolutely no energy.
As quietly as I could, I snuck into the dorm, grabbed a few things out of my trunk, then went into the WC, shutting the door behind me. I changed into my mother's dress and slipped on her gloves. Pulling out the elastic that held my hair up, I let the curls cascade down my shoulders, giving me a sort of wild look. I looked around the counter and noticed Lily's stuff sorted in one corner. Glancing through it, I spotted an eloquent looking bottle and new that it was none other than perfume. Knowing that Lily had pretty good taste, I spritzed it all over me, the scent settling on my skin. I looked in the mirror and murmured the numbers as I took in my horrible looking appearance. My bruises and scrapes were obvious along my shoulders and arms. Purple bags were situated under my eyes from the lack of sleep and my lip still trembled.
Merlin, I looked awful. Shaking my head, I quickly convinced myself that, of course, it didn't matter. I took off my glasses and set them on the counter, exactly between the two sinks, perfectly straight. Wouldn't need those any more. I took a deep breath and made my way up to the Astronomy Tower, mumbling numbers as I went.
I carefully climbed up on the blurry ledge separating me from a terrible fall, my heart racing like a Hippogriff in mid-flight. My bare feet felt numb against the frigid stone and I could see my breath in the cold air.
Was I really going to do this?
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one."
As the freezing wind blew through my wild hair, I knew that I had to do it. I couldn't live here anymore. Nothing was going right. My life was a mess. It only seemed natural to end it.
Taking a deep breath, I looked up at the shining stars in the sky.
"I'm coming, Mum, Mason," I whispered.
I clenched my jaw as I braced myself for the long plummet.
"Ten...nine...eight...seven," I began, spreading my arms out, my dress blowing in the wind. "Six...five...four," my hands still shook uncontrollably. "Three...two..." This was it. I was so close. "O—"
Two strong arms wrapped themselves around my waist and none-too-gently yanked me off the ledge.
"Mack! What the hell are you doing?" breathed a familiar voice. Merlin, why did he always have to find me? "Are you insane?"
I turned around to face him and tried to kick away, thrashing as much as I could in his hold. "Let me go!" I screeched, my hands clenched into fists. "Let go of me!" I tried to weasel my way out of his grasp, but his arms were wrapped around me so that it was impossible. I jerked around, kicking my legs and yelling. I weakly pounded my fists against his chest, willing him to let go. I had to get away from him. He would never let me do this. I had to get away and jump, then it would all be over.
"Mackenzie, please! Stop!" he shouted over my screams.
"I have to jump! Let me go!"
"No! You can't jump!" he yelled back at me, pulling me close to him so that I couldn't move.
That was when I broke down. My body just went limp and I gave up.
Remus breathed in relief and gently slid to the ground, with me still in his embrace. I sat on his lap, my head buried in his shoulder, his arms wrapped protectively around my body.
"What do you think you're doing?" he snapped. I took a glance up at him, his face pale with anger, his jaw tight. I had scared him.
"I'm sorry," I barely managed, and then — get this — I burst into tears.
He pulled me closer and gently ran his fingers through my loose hair. "You almost gave me a heart attack," he said quietly. "Wh — Why were you going to do that?"
I just bawled, my arms laying limp in my lap. He took my hand in his and breathed slowly. "Your hands are cold," he muttered, quietly.
"Want — to — to die," I answered him, between sobs.
"But why, Mackenzie? Why would you jump?"
"Just — want — to be — with — them."
"Is that the only reason?" he asked, gently.
"N — No."
"Why else, Mack?"
"Dad — a — and Emily."
He was silent. He knew there was more.
"I — I — I..." I trailed off. How could I tell him?
"I — miss — you."
"And you thought throwing yourself off a building would make that better?"
I shrugged nonchalantly. "It — seemed like — a — valid — conclusion."
He let out a chuckle, lightening the tense feeling in the air a little bit.
"Just feel — like nobody — would miss me if — if I left. And — that people would — be happier if I — was just gone," I wept. Merlin, 'wept'? I wept? "So — So, I came up — here and decided — I should j — j — jump. End — everyone's — annoyance."
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. The numbers ran through my mind over and over.
Again, he sat silent, though I wasn't exactly sure why this time.
"I — I want to be — with them. I — miss them so — so — so much. And — now all I — I have is Dad — and Emily." I made a face at her name, as though it was some kind of profanity.
Remus pulled me closer to him and ruffled my hair. "Are you wearing perfume?" he smiled.
"Wanted to — to smell good when — when they found — my body," a sort of choking laugh left me.
He laughed and I could feel his body tremble through and through.
"Mackenzie?" he whispered. "What would you do if I decided to kill myself without telling you anything about it?"
I just cried for a moment. "I'd — probably — kill myself — too," I sniffed.
He nodded. "So, now you know what I would feel like if you jumped of that ledge," he stopped and all that could be heard was my sobs. "You know that you have scared me before. I've told you that you have scared me so much by some of the things you've gotten yourself into. But, Mack, this was, by far, the worst. When I saw you up there... I've never been so scared in my life. A lonely life without you flashed past my eyes and I was terrified that I was going to lose you."
"I — I'm sorry."
"Don't do it again."
I swallowed hard. "I won't."
He smoothed my hair and kissed the top of my head, as I whispered the numbers again, "Ten, nine, eight — seven, six, five, four — three, two, one."
"What?" he asked, his voice trembling.
"The numbers — they keep — coming. I — I can't stop them," I didn't think that anything was wrong with them. I thought that this was what happened to everyone. That they would say things or numbers, just like I was.
He just breathed for a moment. I didn't know why.
"Why do you say those numbers?"
"They — They counted down — for midnight — and that's — that's when Mason — when he started to fly — and then he — he — he fell."
"And why do you say them?"
"I — I have to."
"If I say — say them, then — he — he might come — back."
Remus was silent.
"Wh — What's wrong?"
"C'mon, Mack," he said, slowly standing up and pulling me with him. "We're going to make a quick stop by the Hospital Wing."
"Now, Miss Hathaway," said the young Miss Pomfrey. "I'm going to ask you a few questions. Could you please answer them all honestly?"
I nodded slowly. Remus and I sat in two chairs in the Hospital Wing, my bare shoulders wrapped in his jacket. His chair was right next to mine and he gently held my hand, while my other hand laid in my lap, my fingers twiddling nonstop. Before we sat down, I had to turn my chair so that it was just so on the tile. I felt uncomfortably tense in the Hospital. I never liked Hospitals.
"Do you feel sad or irritable?"
I glanced over at Remus, who smiled, encouraging me, then nodded.
"Have you experienced changes in weight or appetite?"
I nodded. I hadn't eaten since before the ball.
"Have you experienced changes in sleeping pattern?"
"Have you experienced fatigue or loss of energy?"
"Do you feel hopeless, or worthless?"
Biting my lip, I nodded.
"Have you had thoughts of suicide or death?"
Remus squeezed my hand before I nodded slowly.
"Do you have to adjust or even out things so that they are 'just so'?"
"Do you feel the need to repeat words, numbers or phrases to yourself?"
Lastly, I nodded.
Miss Pomfrey smiled. "Thank you, Miss Hathaway," she said, sweetly. "Now, according to your answers, I've evaluated that you have a case of depression and a mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." She stopped and walked into her office.
Remus looked at me. "Are you okay?" he asked.
I nodded, biting my lip. I felt the strong urge to say the numbers, but I really didn't want to count in front of Miss Pomfrey. I didn't want to count in front of anybody. Obviously, Remus' reaction had meant something and Poppy said that I had some kind of disorder. Merlin, what was happening to me?
Pomfrey came out carrying two colored bottles. "I've got two potions that can help you with both cases, but I can't really help you with your concern of arranging and organizing things. This potion I'm giving you will help you to focus more, but it won't do much else. It will most definitely help you with your counting and it will help a bit with your hands. And this other potion will help with your case of depression." Glancing down at my shaking hands, she grabbed a small black bag that hung from the coat hanger next to her office. "Here, you can keep this bag. Someone left it here ages ago, I'm not even going to bother keeping it anymore. Just take a teaspoon of both every morning. Of course, when you run out, come straight to me."
Remus smiled and took the bag from her, before he stood up, pulling me up with him. "Are you ready to go?" he asked me.
I nodded, taking a deep breath. I really wanted to get out of that place. I just needed to go somewhere to be alone.
"Er, Mr. Lupin? Could I speak to you for a quick moment?" Poppy asked.
Of course, Remus agreed and she took him into his office, shutting the door halfway, obviously hoping that I wouldn't hear. Fortunately for me, I had good ears.
"Miss Hathaway is suffering from a severe case of depression and I'm sure we both know the cause of it. I just have no idea how it consumed her so quickly and for her to contract any compulsive activities this soon... It's good that you came to me, before any of it got worse. I just want to make a suggestion. Do you think that you and your friends could keep a special eye on her at all times? Just to make sure that she's alright. The potions I gave you are sure to help her, but I don't know what other things she might contract due to her loss. Just please watch her?"
"Of course, I will, Miss Pomfrey," he said, quietly, just like he would.
"Well, good. She is very lucky to have a friend like you to watch over her," she said, opening the door.
"Thank you so much for everything." Remus walked back to me with a broad smile across his face and took my hand once more.
"Neither of you should get into any trouble if you get spotted in the halls. It is seven o' clock in the morning after all."
Seven in the morning? Oh, God.
He led me out of the Hospital and I felt as though I could breathe properly again. I'd had too many bad experiences in Hospitals to feel at all comfortable in them.
"Now, see?" he asked. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"
I kept my gaze forward and ignored his question, mumbling the numbers under my breath. It had been worse that I'd expected. She basically told me that there was something wrong with me. That because Mason was gone, I was a problem. That my mates were going to have to watch me because I was a danger to myself. Those weren't things that I really liked hearing.
"What's wrong with me, Remus?" I whispered, swallowing hard.
He stopped and turned me towards him. "Nothing is wrong with you, Mack. Nothing. You're just experiencing some hard times. But, you know what? Tomorrow, you, me, Sirius and James are going home. We're going to our houses for..." he trailed off. For the funeral. "Dumbledore's arranged for us apparate with chaperones to your house. So, you won't have to worry about classes or anything."
I nodded. Good. I didn't think that I would be able to handle people crowding around me and asking questions. I really couldn't bear that.
"And Remus?" I asked.
He raised his eyes in question. "Yes, Mackenzie?"
I stood on my tip-toes and wrapped my arms around his neck. "Thank you," I whispered in his ear. "For everything."
A/N: So, what did you lot think? Did you think the OCD thing was weird? Did you feel the suicide scene was a good bonding moment for Mack and Rem? Please give me some feedback!(;
Image of Emily by Madooo @ TDA
"Do you have everything you need?" James asked me as I brought my trunk down from the girls' dorm.
I nodded and lugged the heavy thing down one more step.
Sirius gently brushed a loose curl away from my eyes and gave a weak smile. I knew that he was really worried about me. He said that 'his little nightingale wasn't flying so high anymore'.
"You look nice," he told me, trying to lighten the tense feeling in the air a bit.
I knew the OCD had already taken a toll on me because my appearance suddenly meant something. Even though the purple bags under my eyes had gotten darker, my flawless public facade masked private despair. My hair was pulled up in a ponytail situated exactly in the middle of my head, with two curls hanging around my face. I had made myself pull it up over and over again until it was in the perfect spot. My glasses were scrubbed clean, not a smudge in sight, and sat comfortably on my nose. I wore a nice-fitting white V-neck, which hung over my bell-bottoms, which I had made sure were spotless and unwrinkled. Over this all, I wore a long, light tan colored coat. The laces of my trainers were tied in two identical knots, which I'd had to tie over and over again until they were 'just so', as Poppy referred to it. Getting ready this morning had almost brought me to tears. The normal me would be in a T-shirt and ragged jeans, not this pristine outfit.
"Let's go," Remus said as he walked down the stairs and spotted the three of us ready.
We silently made our way down to the main entrance. It was around dinner time, and we expected few people to come and send us off. To my great surprise, among the small crowd was Ty.
I glanced back at Remus, who suddenly occupied himself by talking to Frank, then I slowly walked over to Ty. Even though I had taken my potions a little over an hour ago, my fingers were twiddling without consciousness.
"I promise, I'll bring you your jacket right when I get back," I told him, keeping my eyes on the floor.
"Don't worry about it. 'S not like I really need it," he took a step closer to me. "I'm sorry," he whispered, gently taking my hands in his.
I swallowed hard and shrugged. "It's alright. You didn't kill him."
Merlin, could I make this any more awkward? I didn't think so.
"Time to go, Mack," Sirius said, giving one last hug to one of his girlfriends.
I looked up at Ty, who genuinely looked sad. "Write to me?"
That got a smile out of him. "Of course," he said, quietly, then wrapped his arms around my neck in a tight embrace.
For some reason, I found that I couldn't do much to respond. I snaked my arms around his waist for a moment, before pulling away and giving a pitiful smile. I quickly turned from him and back to my mates. I couldn't deal with Ty right now. It just didn't feel right.
Nothing felt right anymore.
"I don't think I can do this," I muttered to Remus as we stood at the door of my house. Just looking at it made me choke up.
A rocky drive led up to the large cottage, with a steep roof and dark, faded shingles which was covered in snow. The walls outside were covered in grouted rocks in different earthy colors and a chimney was visible off the front of the house, dark smoke flying out of it. Seven of the leaded glass windows were visible from the front, giving a very nineteenth century feel to it. The front garden was rather spacious, normally with lots of grass and rose bushes right up against the house, but now was just covered in white snow and icicles. Tall, bare trees were seen growing from the back garden, clearing the house by at least three or so stories.
Remus patted me on the back. "You'll be fine," he whispered in my ear.
"C'mon, Mack," Sirius called. He was carrying the other end of my trunk, which was stacked on top of his.
We figured that it would be easier than both of us carrying our own, but now, we weren't exactly sure.
I bit my lip. "Ten, nine, eight—" I began.
"Mack," Remus stopped me, flashing a 'you're-not-supposed-to-do-that' look.
I nodded. "Erm...right. Sorry."
"I'm knocking," James announced, holding up his fist to the dark, wooden door. It itself was intimidating enough.
Just wait til you meet my father.
Slamming his fist against the door, James quickly took two large steps back, not wanting to be the first to greet my dad. This, I understood.
We could all hear a perky, muffled voice from inside. "Oh, she's here, Rich! They're here!"
"Rich?" Sirius muttered as the door flew open to reveal...her.
Standing in front of us was a tall, extremely skinny goddess. Dark, almost black hair tumbled around her shoulders in messy, yet perfect waves. She wore a long-sleeved and low-cut psychedelic print shirt with black hot pants and white lovechild boots that reached her knees. A navy blue cloak hung down to her knees and her wand was seen sticking out of a pocket on the inside. Dark brown eyes stared at us, a huge smile plastered on her glowing, wrinkle-free face. A large, expensive looking diamond ring was situated pleasantly on her left hand.
"Oh, my God! You're all even more adorable in person!" she squealed, engulfing James in a tight embrace. She quickly let go of him and moved on to Sirius, who couldn't do much due to the fact that he was holding our trunks. "If any of you need anything, you can just call for me! Auntie Emily!" she cried, looking at Remus and smiling widely. "Oh, Mr. Lupin! I've heard so much about you!" She gave him the biggest hug yet, then looked up at me and stopped, her smile wavering. She put her hand to her mouth as tears began to swell up in her eyes. "Mackenzie, you are so beautiful!" She then proceeded to practically knock me over with a huge hug. She smelt strongly of perfume and stood about five inches taller than me. Wonderful.
"Oh, come, come! Let's get you all out of the cold!" she quickly herded us like sheep into the warm house and closed the door behind her. "Set down your things, quick, quick. We don't want you using up all your precious energy!"
To my relief, the house still looked mostly the same. Same tan walls and dark brown ceilings. Same vintage furniture. And the same cozy, warm feeling. Just a few things were different, but they were hardly apparent. The only reason I noticed them was because, well, it was my house. A pink blanket was folded over an arm of the leather couch. We hated pink. A few books had been taken down from the bookshelf and replaced with decorations. We loved our books. A large Christmas tree sat in a corner in the living room, draped in lights and ornaments. Ever since Mum died, we never put up a tree for Christmas. A long table, which sat pushed up against the wall next to the front door, had always been covered with frames of family pictures. I scanned it for my favorite picture of Mum and Dad when they were younger, where they held up a cute sign that said, "Penelope and Richard forever." Sitting in place of it, was a new picture of Dad and Emily. Without her noticing, I angrily put the frame face down against the table, quickly making sure it was perfectly straight against the wood.
"Why do they have their trunks?" came a deep voice from further in the house. "I thought they were staying at the Lupin's."
I looked up to see my father standing next to Emily, his arm around her waist. He was tall, about six foot, seven and wore dark jeans and a white T-shirt under his emerald green cloak. He had brown, thinning hair and gazed at me with his light brown eyes. Unlike Emily, wrinkles were evident on his grim face, along his forehead and around his depthless eyes.
"Relax, darling," Emily calmed him. "They're only staying for dinner. Dorothy arrives back from Brazil late tonight. They will leave when she gets home."
"Alright," he sighed. "As long as they're out of my house before midnight."
Sirius was the first to step up, eager to get upstairs and away from my dad.
"Still the same as ever, Mr. Hathaway," he greeted in the most polite way he knew, sticking out his hand.
Dad glanced down at it, then looked back up at Sirius' face. "And you're just as humorous as always, Mr. Black," he waved him off.
James nodded. "Mr. Hathaway, it's been a while."
"It certainly has, Mr. Potter, but not long enough, it seems."
Remus glanced over at me, then smiled the best he could at my father. "How have you been, Sir?" he asked, politely.
Dad nodded in acknowledgment. "I've been missing your dear mother in Brazil. Good to see you again, Remus." Obviously, Rem was the only Marauder that my father could put up with in the least.
All the boys stood to the side, waiting for me to greet Dad so that we could get out of this awkward situation. I just looked up at him, my jaw clenched in anger and my trunk dragging on the wood floor.
"Oh!" Emily suddenly exclaimed, rushing into the kitchen. "I almost forgot!" She emerged with a handful of white roses and walked over to the telly, which I was surprised was still here, due to the lack of Muggles around this place. She set the flowers in a vase and smiled at them satisfyingly.
My nose flared as stared at the flowers and looked back at Dad. "Flowers?" I hissed at him. "You let her keep flowers in the house?"
He blinked, as if surprised. "She likes flowers," he mumbled pathetically.
Emily gave me a blank look and gazed at him in confusion. "Is something wrong?"
"Since when do we keep flowers in the house, Dad?" I snapped.
"I don't understand," Emily continued to look dumbfounded.
Dad glared at me. "We'll talk about this later," he tried to keep his temper under control, but I knew he was on his breaking point. Like me, he had quite the temper.
"No. We'll talk about this now. We never keep flowers in the house! Never! What made you change your mind?"
"That's quite enough, Mackenzie!" he raised his voice at me.
"After all, you were the one who banned them because I freaked out about it, didn't you? After she died! You said—"
"Not another word from you!"
"They reminded us of funerals! Flowers weren't allowed in the house! You promised me that—"
"Stop it, Penelope!"
The blood of my heart ran cold and I stared at him, my eyes angry. My fingers began to shake again and my hands went numb, causing me to drop my trunk loudly onto the ground.
"Richard..." Emily quietly scolded my father, who stared at me in anger.
Remus hurried over and gently guided me around Dad and up the stairs. James and Sirius followed, silently carrying my trunk. We walked into the game room, an open room with two couches and an armchair, where we usually spent all of our time. I dropped myself onto the armchair and almost screamed.
"I can't even believe him," I muttered. "He's letting her keep flowers in the house. And especially now. With Mas…"
"Jerk," James mumbled.
The first time I'd ever seen flowers inside was after Mum died. We received loads and loads of bouquets and hardly had any room to keep them, there were so many. After that day, we threw them out and I've been super strict about having any in the house since then. It upset me so much, that Dad decided to make a rule out of it. There were to be no flowers in the house. And that was that. Nothing more to it.
"Forget about it, Nightingale," Remus said, standing up. "It's over now. Let's get your trunk into your room."
I sighed and nodded. He was right. Nothing to vex myself about.
Sirius and I walked down the hallway to the three bedrooms in the house, Remus and James carrying my trunk close behind us. All the doors were closed and we stopped at mine, which was covered in stickers that said, "Stay Out" or "Danger: Enter At Own Risk" or, my favorite "Mack's Room: No Girls Allowed". Mason's room was right across the hall, but I refused to even glance at it right now. I couldn't do with that kind of grief.
Opening the door, each of us gasped in turn at the sight we saw.
"Mack," Sirius asked. "Who feminized your room?"
The shape of the room was as it always had been; a half-circle, with five windows all along the curve. That, however, was about the only thing that was the same. The once red and covered in posters walls was now painted a lime green and covered in black and white pictures of people I didn't even know. My black bedding and purple pillow was now pink bedding and a green pillow. The dark wood flooring was now covered in a fuzzy pink rug. My old black dresser was now white and covered in pictures, which I didn't bother to look at. My bed, once pushed up against the corner, was now sticking out into the room and my black (now white) bookshelf, once covered with books about Quidditch and adventure books, was now covered with...
"Pride and Prejudice?" Remus frowned.
"Wuthering Heights?" James scoffed.
"The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls?" Sirius laughed out loud.
I looked around my now completely unfamiliar room and wanted to die.
"What is she trying to do?" I mumbled, quickly shutting the door and walking around the room. The bloody place was spotless, everything perfectly in place. I had to admit it, even though I hated the decorating, I felt calmed in this room. Nothing was out of place. No stress.
"Night', are these yours?" Sirius chuckled from behind me.
I turned to see him standing in front of my dresser, the bottom drawer opened. Crap. He held up a pair of black, lacy panties and brandished them like something on a telly commercial.
I stomped over to him and snatched them out of his hands just as James picked out something else.
"Ooh. Look, the matching bra."
Sirius smirked. "It's kinda small, love... I put it at A cup, tops."
I punched his arm. "Jerk!"
James unhooked it and slipped it on. "Hi, everyone, I'm Jamie!" he said in a high voice.
I took one glance at Remus and all four of us burst out laughing.
"You know that I know what these mean," Sirius wiggled his eyebrows and grabbed the panties out of my hand.
"Oh, really? And what would that be, Padfoot?" I honestly had no idea what he was talking about.
"Black lingerie only means one thing, but I just never took you for that kind of girl—"
He didn't get to finish because I whacked him upside the head and plucked the underwear right out of his head, then did the same thing to James and quickly shut away the drawer.
"Now, don't you two ever go through that drawer again," I told them, quite embarrassed about the whole charade. My underwear wasn't a particular topic I liked to discuss with anyone.
"Mack, about Emily..." Sirius trailed off, smiling. "She's sort of hot."
Both the other boys nodded and I almost gagged. "Don't even go there. I don't mind when you blokes admire other girls, but please. Don't even go there."
They laughed and began searching my room again.
"I don't think I've ever seen your floor before, Nightingale," Remus smirked.
"Yeah, me neither," I agreed, laughing.
"Knock, knock," came a high voice as the door creaked open. "Oh."
Emily looked around at us and frowned, putting her hands on her hips. "Now, I don't know if your father previously made this a rule, but I really don't think that there should be boys in your room, Miss Mackenzie," she said, seriously.
We glanced at each other and burst out laughing once again. But, when she kept her expression didn't waver, our laughter died down.
"Wait, you're not kidding?" I asked, not able to believe that she wasn't joking.
"Of course, I'm not. I'm just saying that I'm making it a new rule for you. No boys allowed in your room with the door shut."
We all stared at her. "But... Dad has always let me have the guys in my room."
"Well, I'm not," she said, firmly.
"I find that it is highly inappropriate for a young lady to have boys in her room without adult supervision."
I almost laughed out loud. "What, do you think one of them is going to try and shag me or something?"
The boys snickered and she just stared at me. "I'm just saying that you never know."
I frowned. "With all due respect, ma'am, you're not my mother. You're not even legally my mother yet, so you really have no power over me."
She blinked, as if surprised that I was actually rude to her pretty little face. "Well, we'll discuss this with your father later. In the meantime, it's time for dinner."
"Yes!" we all jumped up.
"What's for dinner?" James asked.
"Lasagna," Emily smiled, leading us down the stairs and into the kitchen, which was, thankfully, just the same.
"Yum," Sirius muttered as we all sat at one end of the table, while my dad and Emily sat at the other end, with nobody by them. Well, that's what you get, eh?
Just as we picked up our forks to dig in to the delicious smelling dinner, Dad stopped us.
"We need to say grace," he told us awkwardly.
We glanced at each other, frowning.
"Grace," I said, then began to cut into my lasagna.
"Mackenzie. We need to say grace," he said once again.
“Yeah, Dad, I just said it.”
“No, you know what I mean.”
"But we never say grace..."
"We do now," he smiled at Emily and they held hands.
"Okay. Fine. How do you do it?" I asked, not in the mood to argue.
Emily jumped in here. "First, we all need to hold hands."
I glanced down the long table. There were two chairs between me and my father and two between James and Emily. "Can we skip that part?"
"Mackenzie," Dad snapped.
"Yes, that's fine," Emily waved him off. "Would you like to say it, Mackenzie?"
I gave a horrified look. "Me? I don't really know—"
"It's alright. Just say whatever you want."
"You can do it, Night'," Sirius joked.
I glanced at the blokes, then back to Dad and Emily, who had bowed their heads and closed their eyes. I gave the boys a freaked questioning look, afraid that I was insulting God or something by not knowing how to pray. They shrugged and mouthed, "Just pray!"
I sighed and awkwardly interlaced my fingers in front of my chest and looked up. James, Sirius and Remus were staring at me with amused sorts of looks and I had to purse my lips to keep from laughing.
"Dear...God," I began, smiling. "Um... Can you bless this food? Because, I guess you gave it to us, so we've got to thank you for it, too. So, uh...thanks. Well, I don't know if this is supposed to be for me or the group, but I'm just gonna go with me. Um... Please help me to try to consider people's feelings, even though most of them are hypersensitive. Help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually not my fault. Help me be less independent, but let me do it my way," I was embarrassed to say that I could hear the boys' giggles. "Please help Sirius not to be a git. And—"
"Okay," Dad interrupted. "I'm going to say it now."
"No, Rich, let—"
"Yeah, Dad, let me finish," I scolded him, really taking none of this seriously. "Please," I paused, taking a deep breath. "Erm… Please tell Mason that we miss him," I felt Remus' hand on my shoulder. "I dunno if I'm allowed to talk to him or anything, since he's already up there and stuff, but yeah. Could you tell him that he's an ass for flying in the dark, though?" I stopped and quickly wiped away a tear. I could feel everyone's eyes on me now. "Erm... Yeah, that's it. Amen."
"Amen," everyone repeated.
"Thank you, Mackenzie," Emily said, quietly, after a moment.
I ignored her and picked up my fork to eat. Taking a large bite of the lasagna, I chewed it for a moment and almost gagged. What the hell was this stuff? I swallowed painfully and looked down, inspecting the italian delicacy. In between three layers of pasta, I saw all veggies, no meat. Crap.
"Um, Emily?" Sirius beat me to the punch.
"Is there any particular reason there's no meat in the lasagna?"
She smiled. "Oh, there's no meat because it's a vegetarian meal. I'm a vegetarian and Rich has decided to include the family and friends in on the diet."
We glanced at each other, blank, unbelievable expressions on our faces. No meat? We practically ate meat every meal of the day. Bacon for breakfast. Albatross sandwiches for lunch. Roast beef for dinner.
"May I be excused?" all of us said at almost the exact same second.
"No," my dad snapped at us.
Dinner was a slow and painful process, but, finally, Dad let us go upstairs. After washing and drying and putting away each of our plates ourselves.
We practically sprinted up the stairs and into the game room, where Remus and James proceeded to write in turn to their respected girlfriends. Sirius and I had other plans.
"Do you have any ciggies with you?" I asked him, making sure Remus couldn't hear. When he quickly shook his head guiltily, I rolled my eyes. "I'm not going to get you in trouble. I just need a smoke."
"Oh, alright. Yeah, I have some."
"Great. Meet me on balcony," I said as he walked downstairs to his trunk and I walked into my 'room'.
Rummaging through my closet, I found one of my favorite coats, which I had forgotten to take to school that year. Slipping it on, I made my way to the balcony, which was just off the game room, but they couldn't see us from inside, thank God. To my surprise, Sirius was out there waiting for me, lighting his cigarette with a candle he must have taken from inside. I graciously accepted one and he lit it for me. Holding it between my index and middle fingers and taking a long drag, I sighed and rested my elbows against the railing, looking out over the garden.
"So, what's on your mind?" he asked, standing next to me.
"Nothing's on my mind, Padfoot," I raised the cigarette to my lips once more.
He rolled his eyes. "Don't even try lying to me. I know that you smoke when you need to think about stuff."
I shrugged. "I dunno."
"You know that I'm here if you ever need to talk, right?"
"Yeah, I know."
We stood in silence for a moment, before I spoke again.
"Sometimes I just wish I were a good girl. I wish I wore dresses and picked flowers and wore make-up and cooked food. I wish I had a good, whole family. Then I wouldn't have to deal with all this crap. I wouldn't have to kiss my best mate in front of the whole school to convince them that I wasn't lesbian. I wouldn't have to practically get raped by some creep. I wouldn't have to deal with bruises on my arms and scars on my face. And I wouldn't have to deal with this life-threatening thing," I held up my ciggy. "And… I wish I had a boyfriend, who could protect me from everything that I keep seeming to get hurt from."
Sirius chuckled. "Well, mate, you've practically got three boyfriends right here for you, so I wouldn't worry about that," he said.
I laughed. "Right. Three boyfriends. That's exactly what I need."
He shrugged. "Why not? It's better than one, isn't it?"
"Padfoot, what's been up with you? I mean, you hardly go after girls any more. What's happened to Hogwarts' very own sex god?"
He laughed and shook his head. "Well, I dunno. I just sort of realized that shagging all these girls isn't going to help me get where I want to go. I like it and all, but it doesn't really contribute to the big picture. It sounds cheesy, but..."
I just smiled, raising the cigarette to my lips.
"Can I ask you somethin'?"
"Why is it that you said you absolutely belong alone and then you go hook up with Ty Reynolds?"
I stared at the landscape, taking another drag. "I dunno. I honestly don't. I still think that I belong alone and when I say that I mean infinitely. I'm not planning on marrying Ty, so it doesn't really matter what happens between me and him."
"So why won't you get with Remus?"
I sighed. "Because he's my best friend. I can't date my best friend. Besides, it's against The Ru—"
"Oh, screw The Rules, Mack!" he said loudly. "Why don't you tell me why you really won't be with him?"
I looked at him for a moment.
"I won't tell him, you git," he muttered, taking a drag.
I took a deep breath. "Well, Sirius... I—"
"Mack!" came Remus' voice from the door.
We whipped around and he stared at me in disbelief. Oh, God. Did he hear what we were saying? Not that it really mattered that much, but he must've known I was about to say something.
He marched over to us and frowned down at me.
"Uh... What can I do for you?" I asked, smiling sarcastically.
He grabbed my ciggy and threw it on the ground. Despite my quick protests, he stomped on it.
"Moony!" I groaned, quite upset with him.
"You told me you quit!" he exclaimed.
"I did quit!"
"Then what were you just doing?"
"I... Uh... I was thinking."
"With a cigarette in your mouth?"
"Mack, what if your dad came out here and saw you? He would be furious!"
"What? Do you think he’d want one?" I knew this wasn't the time to be funny.
"Mack, don't. And Sirius, put that out," he motioned to the other cigarette.
I rolled my eyes and reached over to Sirius. Taking his ciggy from him, I stood up on my tip-toes, as close to Remus as I could get. Taking one long drag and breathing out right in his face, I dropped it on the ground and crushed it under my foot, all the while keeping my gaze locked on his.
The moment the blokes left for the Lupin's, I was about ready to shoot myself.
"Are you sure you've got everything you need from school, dear?" Emily nagged. "Because I can always send a quick letter to Minerva and ask her to—"
"I'm fine," I told her. "No need to worry." Walking into the living room, I turned on the telly and plopped myself onto the middle of the couch. Then I noticed that the flowers were gone and I couldn't help but smile. That's right. Who's boss?
"Ooh. That's how you turn that silly box on," she said, sitting next to me. "I just couldn't figure it out."
I blinked at her for a moment. What did she want from me? Was there a particular reason she was following me everywhere? I stared at the telly, where a chubby news caster sat at a desk and reported on a killing near London. I hoped, maybe, she would get the clue that I didn't want to talk to her. That I just wanted to be alone. Merlin, where was Dad when I needed him? Part of me wished that that mad killer would come here and murder her in her bed. Then again, that was a little harsh. Maybe he could just kidnap her for a few weeks.
She watched it for a moment, then turned back to me. "So, what time do you usually go to bed?"
What? Now she thought I had a bedtime?
"It varies," I muttered, keeping my eyes on the telly.
"Just let me know," she turned her eyes back to the news. "Odd fellows, Muggles are. I can never understand them."
That was it. "I'm going to bed," I mumbled, standing up and quickly walking to the stairs.
"Oh! So soon?" she hurried after me. "Do you need me to tuck you in or...something?"
I turned around and put both my hands on the walls of the stairs, ready to scream at her. But, taking a deep breath, I shook my head. "I'm fine, thanks. I'll probably read for a bit before sleeping, anyways."
She gave me a surprised look, then nodded. "Alright, well, good night."
I ignored her and all but ran into my bedroom, shutting the door loudly behind me. I took one glance around the room and groaned, throwing myself onto the unfamiliar bed. I didn't even bother to change my clothes because I knew it wouldn't really matter.
I curled into a pitiful fetal position and prepared myself for a long, sleepless night.
How could I ever sleep knowing that Mason was gone?
The next day, after not sleeping a wink, I heard a knock at the door.
"What?" I asked, laying on my bed and staring at the ceiling.
The door creaked open and Emily poked her head in. "I've got the hot water running in the shower, if you need it," she said, smiling, then walked away.
I groaned and sat still for a moment, then got up. No use wasting water, eh? Grabbing some clean clothes, I walked down the hall to the loo Mason and I had shared. Now, I guess it was all mine.
Once the door was locked, I shed my clothes and set my glasses gently on the counter, trying to avoid looking at my face in the mirror. Stepping into the warm shower, I reached for the knob and turned it the complete other way, freezing cold water instantly spurting from the faucet. I either showered with the water searing hot or unbearably cold. One extreme end of the spectrum or the other.
I quickly washed my hair and body and shut off the water; showering never took too long with me. I stepped out of the shower and combed my hair, then got dressed in a pair of dark-wash bell-bottoms, and a fitted, long-sleeved green shirt. I slipped on my glasses, avoiding the mirror.
I was so ready to get out of this wretched house.
Practically running from the WC to my room, I folded the wet towel and laid it across my bed for Emily. I grabbed my coat and slipped on my brown-woven sandals. I really didn't want to deal with the whole perfect knot thing on my trainers.
I rushed down the stairs and reached for the doorknob, before a deep voice sounded from behind me.
"Where do you think you're going?" Dad asked.
I groaned inwardly at the door in front of me. "Just going to the Lupin's. Nothing to worry about."
"Do you not remember what I said about hanging around those boys?"
I turned to face him, my jaw clenched in irritation. "Dad, do you not remember what just happened to us? We just lost a family member because you were to selfish to bring us home for Christmas and you're worried what a little masculine influence would do to me? Are you serious? So, if you don't mind, I'm going to the Lupin's."
He stared at me and took a deep breath, before turning around and walking into the kitchen.
I took that as a 'yes'.
"Mackenzie!" Dorothy squealed as soon as she opened the door and enveloped me in a tight embrace. She was the only one that I allowed to call me by my full name. When she said it, it just sounded so...motherly. She pulled back and held me at arms length. "Just let me look at you." Her smile slowly faded as she examined my face. "Oh, dear," she gripped me in another hug before pulling me inside, out of the cold.
"I'm sorry that Dad hasn't come over since you got back," I apologized. Dad had never been the social type since Mum died and I always felt like I needed to apologize on his account.
She waved me off. "Oh, I just got back last night, dear. No need to worry."
I just grinned. "It's good to see you again."
"You, too, darling," she hugged me one more time, then started making her way over to the kitchen. "Oh, James and Sirius are out in the garden doing Merlin knows what and Remus... I believe he's upstairs, but I haven't seen him for hours. Could you go check up on him?"
I nodded. "Sure."
One thing that I loved about the Lupin's was that it always felt like home. Nothing was ever dramatically different and it smelled so good, like Christmas all year round.
I walked up the narrow wooden staircase, framed moving pictures lining the walls. One of Remus and I playing in a sandbox, waving and throwing sand at each other. Another close-up of Mason and I smiling widely and laughing. My throat closed up and I tried to ignore the rest of the frames.
"Remus?" I called, when I came to the top of the stairs. When nobody answered, I walked through a hallway, past two doors which served as James and Sirius' rooms, and stopped at his closed door. I knocked. "Remus?"
I turned the knob and creaked the door open. "Rem?"
Remus' room always calmed me. The walls were a plain white, with two big windows overlooking the back yard. Two tall bookshelves were situated on either side of his bed, which stuck out into his room and was always neatly made. A desk sat in one corner and a rug covered the floor. The pure simplicity of the room was always the reason for my escape here.
Now, however, it was anything but calming.
His comforter was thrown onto the ground and curtains were pulled over the windows. The lamp on his desk served as the only source of light. Dirty clothes and empty glass bottles were strewn everywhere and Remus himself sat on the ground, his back to his bed. He gave me a dopey smile and raised a bottle to his lips.
"Moony!" I hissed, shutting the door behind me and locking it. "What do you think you're doing?" I immediately began picking bottles up off the ground and setting them on his desk.
"I'm just...havin' a drink!" his words were slurred and unsure. "You want some?" He held up the bottle and I just looked at him in disgust.
"Uh... No." I grabbed the comforter off the floor, tugging out from under his leg. "What I want is for you to get off your lazy ass and help me clean! What do you think Dorothy will think if she sees this? She'll freak!"
He gave a drunken frown, as if confused and sat up on his knees, gazing at me. "But... You smoked when your dad was in the house," he stated, trying to piece it together, but having no luck.
"Yeah, Rem," I said, starting to make the bed. "And I always smoke. You, on the other hand, never drink. So, you've got no excuse."
He smiled for a moment, but it quickly turned back into a frown. "Wait, you said you quit smoking, didn't you?"
Knowing he wouldn't remember any of this tomorrow, I nodded. "Yeah, I lied," I muttered, tucking his sheets under the mattress.
He stood up and almost came tumbling down before I rushed over and put an arm around his waist, steadying him. He smiled and put an arm around my shoulders, while I sat him down on his newly-manicured bed.
"Alright," I sighed, picking up more of the bottles. Merlin, there must have been around six or seven, including the one in his hand. He was really drunk.
I set last two bottles on the desk and turned around, ready to scold him, just to find him standing up right there, less than a foot from my face. I frowned. "What are you doing, Remus?"
He reached up and gently stroked my cheek. "You know, you're really beautiful," he smiled.
I couldn't help it, but I could feel the heat rise to my cheeks. "You're just saying that 'cause you're drunk," I mumbled.
"No, I've thought that every day of my life, ever since I first met you. Every bloke at school always talks about you."
"You know, I love you, Mack," he said, drunkenly.
"Right," I rolled my eyes.
"It's true. Like," he held his arms far apart. "I love you this much. Do you even know how much that is?"
"Looks like a lot."
"It is. I just... You're really great."
"And you've got a great bum."
I gave him a disgusted sort of look. "What?"
"It's cute," he smiled foolishly.
"You think my bum is cute?"
"All the blokes at school do."
I groaned irritably. "You're stupid."
"Can I kiss you?"
"No, Moony. You can't," I could feel my cheeks getting redder.
He chuckled, the sound hollow in his throat. He slowly leaned in and pressed his lips to mine, grabbing me by the waist.
At first, I lost myself in his kiss and I found that I was kissing him back. But, when I tasted the firewhiskey on his lips, I knew it was wrong.
I tried pulling back, but he held me by the waist, just pulling me closer. I put my hands on his chest and pushed him, somehow managing to get him away long enough for me to move towards the door. "What the hell, Remus?!" I snapped. "What are you trying to do?"
He rolled his eyes. "A little nervous? Oh, I understand. I can make most girls a little...anxious," he laughed, walking closer to me. I watched his eyes roam down my body and back up again. "Wow."
I walked right up and slapped him across the face and turned around, ready to walk out the door. Something he said next stopped me.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, Ashleyn's coming to the funeral."
I whipped around. "What?"
He shrugged, dropping himself onto his bed. "Apparently, she had some sort of relationship with him at one point, so she wanted to say good-bye."
I growled. There was no way I was allowing that thing into Mason's funeral.
"Bye, Remus," I muttered, then stomped out the door.
What was he thinking? Getting slobbering drunk in the middle of the day, while his mum was in the house? I swear, that boy was getting stupider and stupider.
That night, dinner was God-awful.
Hamburgers. Without real meat.
I really think I almost puked. But, I'm somewhat proud to say, I finished it all. At least before I ran upstairs and scrubbed my mouth clean of the taste.
Of course, Dad called me back down to clean everything up and I did as he said, not in the mood for an argument.
I wiped down the table and counters and pushed in all the chairs, while Emily went to get ready for bed. When I was putting the dirty rag in the sink, I noticed a decorative piece of fabric that sat under a large vase on the counter. Under any other circumstances, I would have never even thought twice about the stupid decoration, but, under the current circumstances, I did. It was crooked. I tried to ignore it, but my OCD took hold and I reached across the large counter and tried to adjust it quickly, but the vase was too heavy. I tried a bit slower and managed to move it a bit.
"What are you doing, Mack?" Dad asked, walking by me. He sounded annoyed. Funny, I hadn't even done anything. Yet.
"Just fixing this," I muttered.
He glanced over at me and shook his head. "No, it's supposed to be like that." He reached over and moved the fabric back the way it had been.
I frowned. "I think it would look better straight, though, don't you?" I moved it back.
"No, Mackenzie, just leave it this way."
"Dad, it looks better that way."
We both made to fix the decoration at the same time and I accidently hit my hand against the vase. It toppled over and fell to the floor, shattering into a million pieces. I gasped and covered my mouth with my hands.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, MACKENZIE?!" he screamed. And it wasn't like a normal scream; more like screaming bloody murder. He continued — rattling off some four letter words that even I had never had the courage to use aloud — and went on about how he was sick and tired of all the crap that I'd been giving him and how he just wanted me to go back to school and for all of this funeral business to go away.
I stared up at him, unable to believe it. Sure, he'd screamed at me before, but never like this.
He stared back at me, his face cherry red and steam practically coming out of his ears.
Emily rushed into the kitchen in a whimsy tank and pyjama pants. "What's happened? I heard a crash..."
I glanced at her and then gave Dad one last look. "I hate you," I hissed, then ran up the stairs and into my room, slamming the door as hard as I could.
I grabbed my coat and slipped my trainers on, forcing myself to leave the laces in the knots they were already in. I was getting out of this death-hole.
Sliding open the window, I hopped out onto the roof and jumped to the ground. I nearly landed on my feet from the eight foot drop and ran across the front yard, snow crunching under my shoes. I ran all the way down the street, which was at least half a mile long. Due to the lack of sleep, I felt like I was about to pass out.
My vision blurred with tears for a moment, but I angrily wiped them away. I was not going to let that man make me cry any more. He'd done enough already.
I hopped the fence into the Lupin's garden and ran up to the side of the dark house. If you couldn't tell already, I'd done this many times. Running away to the Lupin's was my specialty.
I climbed up the gutter, which surprised me all these years by not sending me tumbling to my death. I tapped on the dark window, hoping desperately that he was there. And not drunk anymore.
I got my answer when his lamp flashed on and he rushed to the window.
"Mack?" Remus asked, opening the window. He stood above me in only his boxer shorts, exactly how each of the Marauders slept every night. Why couldn't they just have the common courtesy to put a bloody shirt on every once in a while? "What on earth are you doing?"
"Are you gonna stand there and ask questions, or are you gonna pull me in before this gutter breaks down under my weight?" I huffed.
He chuckled and grabbed my hands, pulling me inside the warm house. "You're hands are cold. How long have you been outside?" he questioned, shutting the window and slipping on a grey wife-beater.
I shrugged, my chest rising and falling deeply from the run. "Not very long. I jogged down here."
"In the snow?"
"Merlin, Nightingale. What happened?"
I avoided his question and sat down on his bed, slipping off my shoes and rubbing my eyes. I was exhausted. I shrugged off my coat and laid it on his empty desk. He must have cleaned up all the bottles.
"So, apparently," he laughed, ruffling his messy hair, "I was completely drunk this afternoon. Sirius told me that he came in and found me passed out on the floor. I don't remember any of it though... Sort of strange."
I laughed half-heartedly, trying not to make it seem like I knew anything.
"You didn't come by, did you?" he asked.
I shook my head. "No, I was just at home."
I was so glad that he didn't remember any of it. It would definitely make for some awkward conversation.
"So, are you staying the night? Do you want me to go fix up your room?" He stared at me, waiting for some kind of order for what he should do. I knew he was worried about what happened, but I didn't let it bother me. I'd tell him soon enough, anyways.
I shook my head. "Erm... Do you mind if I stay in here? With you, I mean...?" I felt stupid just for asking. It was as if I was a little girl again, asking to sleep in my parents bed because I was scared of the dark. "I just don't want to be alone."
He stared at me for a moment, his hands on the edge of his desk. "Of course, you can stay in here. Of course," he nodded quickly.
I gave a weak smile. "Thanks, Rem."
He flipped the light off, leaving us in the dark, with the faint, white light of the moon.
Before the whole 'snogging' incident between the two of us, this really wouldn't have been such a big deal. But now that Remus obviously had some kinds of feelings for me and I felt something really different towards him, it changed things a bit.
I shivered and quickly climbed onto the bed, pulling the covers down and slipping under them. I could hear him shuffle through the room, then climb in on the other side. He had one of those queen-sized beds and it wasn't as awkward as it really might've been with a smaller bed.
While he was trying to get comfortable, his feet brushed up against mine. "Your feet are freezing," he muttered, facing me on his side.
"Of course they're freezing. I have the feet of an eighty-year-old man."
He laughed out loud. "Right."
I laid on my back and stared at the ceiling, trying to imagine what his face looked like right now. His smile just made my heart flutter.
Ew. 'Made my heart flutter'? Who was I, Jane Austen?
"When was the last time you slept, Mack?" he asked in the darkness.
I swallowed, knowing he wouldn't like the answer. "Um... The night before the ball," I mumbled.
I heard him sigh. "And you ran all the way here? In the snow?"
"Mack," he scolded me. Darn, now I was in trouble. "I'm serious about this, you've got to stop pushing yourself to these points. Your body has limits. You're not supposed to cross those limits. Do you understand? After all you've been through, you just need to sleep."
I was quiet for a moment. "He screamed at me. Like, really, really bad this time," I whispered, my throat closing up.
Remus was silent.
"I — I was trying to fix something. Make it right. And I dropped a vase. And he exploded. Spewed a million curses right in my direction."
Somehow, in the darkness, his hand found mine and he intertwined our fingers. "I'm sorry," he said, quietly.
I almost shriveled away at his touch, but I realized he was only trying to help. He just wanted me to feel safe with him. It was his instinct.
"Remus," I whispered, my voice cracking. "I can't believe he's gone. It feels impossible. He's always been there. I don't know how he could just disappear like that."
His thumb stroked my hand. "I know," he responded, simply.
"It's like I completely forgot how it was to lose Mum. I forgot the impeccable impracticality of everything."
"Ha — Have you had any more thoughts of..." he trailed off. Suicide.
"No, I haven't thought about it." I felt him shiver. "But, every day, I've wanted to die."
"Mack," he breathed, pulling me closer. I didn't object. I moved closer to him, resting my head on his chest and wrapping my arms around his waist. It was here that I always felt the safest, in his arms. I wished nothing would ever happen to shatter that moment. That we could stay like that forever.
"Can I tell you a secret?"
"Yeah," he whispered, caressing my arm.
"Me and Mason got matching tattoos a few years back," I choked out a laugh.
"You did?" he sounded surprised.
"Yeah, we got them when we ran away from Dad one time. It was on the nape of my neck, on the left. A star inside a crescent moon. Dad was so mad. He took us to this specialist, who charmed it off."
"I never knew that." I could hear the smile in his voice.
Mason and I were always pulling stunts that we knew would upset Dad. Half the time, we didn't even have a reason, it was just because. Once, we ordered seven dozen boxes of Pumpkin Pastries be ordered right to our door. We had a lot of fun.
"So, you and Ty?" he said after a moment.
I shrugged. Why did he have to bring that up? "I dunno. Nothing's for certain. But he asked me to Hogsmeade next weekend and I said 'yes'. So, I guess we'll go when I get back."
"That's good. That's good." I would say that he was being awkward about it, but that would be an understatement.
"Did he kiss you?" he asked, quietly.
I took a second before answering. "Yeah. Yeah, he did."
He shifted uncomfortably underneath me. "Like, a lot?"
"No, just once or twice. Don't worry, Rem. He was very cordial."
He let out a long breath. "Good. He'd better be. If he does anything to you, I'll—"
I gave a laugh. "It's fine! Don't worry about it. Do you really think I would let a guy do anything like that to me?"
He tensed as both of us remembered Mark. I was almost glad when he decided it'd be best to change the subject then. "Um...Don't be upset when I tell you this, alright?"
"I thought I'd better tell you now, so that you don't freak when you see her. But, Ashleyn's coming to the funeral." He sounded like he was bracing himself for an explosion. A nuclear bomb or something.
I sighed. And here he thought I didn't know. "Just tell her to stay away from me."
"Wait... Really?" he sounded surprised.
"Yeah, or I'll rip her pretty blonde hair out of her head."
"And I don't doubt that."
I smiled and scooted closer to him. "Thanks, Rem," I yawned. "You're...really...a great...friend," my voice drifting off. I didn't realize how incredibly exhausted I was until I was asleep. In my best friend's bed. In his arms.
A/N: Ummmm…I’ve got no real excuse for alllllll of this time delay. But I had this and many more chapters ready for y’all to read, except this one had a teensy problem that was preventing it from getting approved, so I just put off editing it for…seven months! Hahaha, but I hope you all liked it and look out for more to come!! (: