Chapter 31 : Rings and Reparation
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Heather walked around in silence, depression forming a suffocating bubble around her. The only thing that dared to try and burst through the bubble was her anger. It tried in vain to explode through to the surface, but Heather refused to allow it. It was only an accident, she reminded herself. It’s not the end of the world. Kicking a small pebble around, she spotted a small playground. It’s swings hung down tightly, as if they were straining with all their might to reach the dusty earth. Heather decided to help them by plopping down onto one of them and wrapping her arm around the rusty chain. She began to kick back and forth, and it was a few seconds before she heard footsteps coming from behind her.
“Hey,” a mournful voice said. Heather jumped and spun around. Her hand had already moved to her pocket, where she had stowed her wand. Her eyes widened, and her arm went slack, however, when a shocking sight met her eyes. It was Remus Lupin...and he looked wonderful.
He had on what looked like a brand new pair of dress robes, and a rather stiff, snobby looking wizarding hat. Across the hat was written in blinking letters, “FNOO.” Heather knew it stood for “Floo Network Organization Office.” He was clean-shaven, and his hair was gelled into place. Heather could only sputter. He sat down on the swing next to her. She noticed his lost, uncertain look and knew what he was thinking almost immediately. He wanted to forgive her, because he wanted a friend, but he didn’t want to forgive her, because what she had done...what they had all done...was horrible.
“Remus, you don’t have to forgive me. But you can still talk to me if you want. I’m still your friend, even if you don’t want to be mine...” she said, readjusting the swing so that she could sit and look at him. He looked forlorn and, for awhile, said nothing.
“Heather...why did you do that?” he asked.
“Remus...I swear to you that it had nothing to do with trust,” she assured, her heart in her eyes. Remus gave her a penetrating stare, as though reading her mind. He seemed satisfied and nodded.
“Heather, be completely honest with me. Alright?” he asked. Heather nodded. “Okay...is Sirius still mad at me because he thinks I helped you cheat on him?”
Silence, and then loud laughter. Remus looked affronted, and Heather quickly stopped. “No, no, no! Definitely not!” she assured with gusto. “Remus, that is way in the past!” Remus shrugged, and stared at the ground. “When are you going to forgive us?”
“I don’t know...” he said, rather childishly. “You guys still haven’t given me an adequate reason for not telling me...”
“That’s because it was a stupid reason. We were all scared, Remus, by what we had just heard. We wanted to forget it. We thought it would be awkward, telling you. And plus that would have meant that we would have had to talk about it again, something everybody was trying to avoid. You have no idea, Remus. Everybody was upset, Alice and Frank were even about o break up. It wasn’t a happy time, and dredging it all up again would have been horrible. So we decided that if the time came, we would tell you. I know we did a horrible thing, and there is no excuse. We made a mistake, and I can’t express how sorry we all are right now...” she said, her heart in her throat. Remus was staring at the ground closely, as if hoping it might tell him what to do next. “Remus,” Heather said softly after many minutes had gone by.
Remus looked up at her, looking like a beggar in a fancy suit with his bloodshot eyes, and looking as if he was getting over a horrible sickness.
“Please forgive us. We never meant to hurt you. If we had, we wouldn’t be trying to help you now,” she said.
“Oh yeah? How have you helped me?” he said accusingly.
“Where do you think Dumbledore got the idea to find you a job?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. Remus’ mouth fell open.
“You guys told him to do that?” he said in shock. Heather simply nodded. He then closed his eyes, burying his head in his hands. “I just feel like...no matter what I do, I’ll always be apart from you guys...I’ll always be a Werewolf.”
“Remus, of course you’ll always be a Werewolf,” she said. It wasn’t the answer Remus had suspected. “That’s why we respect you so much. I don’t know any other Werewolf that is able to handle it like you do. You have one of the worst lives among us, and yet it’s you who keeps us on track,” she said. “You’re our rock, Remus. I’ve only known you for a year, but already I find myself thinking, ‘what would Remus do?’” she admitted.
“Really?” he said, and she could see his self-esteem rising. She grinned, nodding.
“They would kill me if they knew I was telling you this, but you have no idea how much James and Sirius look up to you. Sure, they want to be care-free, and appear as if they don’t mind how far they take their pranks and rule breaking. But they do, Remus, and they look to you, so that they know where to draw the line,” she said. A new voice then entered their conversation.
“Remember our school days, Remus? Only you could keep me and James in line. Didn’t you ever wonder why you were the only one we listened to? You’re our friend, whether you believe it or not,” Sirius said. He was standing, his arms folded, smiling.
“And you’re stuck with us,” Heather said firmly, laughing also. Remus gave a smile too, and Heather felt relief wash over her. Finally, Remus was thinking sensibly again.
“I’m sorry, you guys. I’ve been an idiot,” he said.
“It’s okay, we forgive you,” Sirius said with a barking laugh. Remus grinned, standing. He embraced Heather, smiling and the pulling her back to hold her at arm’s length.
“Thank you,” he muttered, then to Sirius, he gave a nod. “I’m going to talk to the others...I owe Lily an apology...” he trailed off, frowning at the memory. Then he looked around to see if a Muggle was watching and Disapperated.
“Man, you really know all the right stuff to say. I could have never made him feel better. I would have botched things up,” he said.
“Yeah, you probably would have,” Heather returned, rather coldly. His saying that reminded her of the large paper that was waiting to be redone. Sirius snorted, and she wondered why he was looking so happy.
“Hey, I was wondering, could you come to the house with me?” he asked, tentatively, standing on the balls of his feet. Heather frowned and shrugged.
“No, I really don’t feel like going back there. It will make me feel like I need to be writing my paper...again,” she said, putting much emphases on the last word. Sirius grinned happily, confusing her.
“Accio Paper,” he said in reply. Heather stared at him in exasperation, but then stopped as she saw papers fly into his hand...with words on it! Had he...no...would he do that for her...?
He had. “Here’s your paper, all finished.” Heather took it nervously, and saw that it was just as long as her’s had been. She flipped through the pages, her eyes scanning the papers eagerly. Sirius saw her smile, and look up in surprise.
“This is wonderful!” she said in awe. You did an amazing job!” she said.
“See, I really do have a brain!” he said proudly. Heather laughed, and then gave a him a hug, standing on her toes to kiss him. He smiled in delight.
“I should write papers for you more often...”
“No, we should just go to dinner. Don’t you think?” she asked, a bright smile in place, her finished paper clutched in her hand. Sirius grinned ecstatically.
“Where, do you think?” he asked, trying to think of the right place to ask her...
“The Book and Broom?” she asked, thinking of the cheap little restaurant down the street. Sirius almost winced.
“I was thinking of somewhere a little...nicer,” he said. She frowned her confusion, setting his stomach fluttering for a few seconds. God, she was beautiful... “How about... Natalia’s?” he said, thinking of the expensive restaurant that was famous for it’s fine, wizard dining. Heather looked appalled.
“Are you serious?” she said, and as he opened his mouth to make a “Yes, of course I’m Sirius,” joke, she continued. “That place is more expensive than three meals put together!”
“We need a break,” he said, shrugging. “If I have to eat another Broom Burger, I think I’ll vomit.”
“How on Earth are we supposed to afford it?!” she asked, incredulous. Sirius pulled her along.
“We’ll afford it,” he said impatiently, and in seconds, they had both Disapperated.
The sounds of clattering glass and crystal filled Heather’s ears, along with the chattering of highly strung witches and wizards. She looked around nervously, feeling as if she was standing alone in a crowd of aliens. She wasn’t supposed to eat at fancy places like this! She grabbed Sirius’ sleeve and was about to tell him that they should leave, and it would be better if they just ate somewhere else. Sirius, however, seemed determined to ignore any protests she might have and moved onward, his face set and oddly nervous. She wondered why he was acting so strangely.
“Table for two,” Sirius said in a rarely heard, business-like voice. The man behind the counter raised a finely curved brow. Then, his nose rather too high up, as if he was constantly smelling for money, nodded. The man began walking briskly ahead of them. Sirius turned to give Heather an anxious, jittery smile before following. Heather gave an irritated sigh and followed. She noticed the fine jewels and glittery dress of the people around her. She felt naked in her jean skirt and blouse. After what seemed like ages, they finally came to a small, circular table.
Sirius sat down, and the man pulled out the chair for Heather. She was not expecting this, however, and nearly fell over when the chair was not beneath her. She managed to save herself, however, by clutching the table, which, thanks to Sirius’ holding it down with his elbows, did not overturn.
Blushing to the roots of her dark hair, she righted herself. Many people stared, and looked affronted. None more so than the waiter. His high-held nostrils flared in indignation, and she gave an apologetic smile. He ignored it, however, and turned to Sirius, who was barely containing his laughter. Turning his laughs into hacking coughs, he looked at the waiter, his eyes sparkling.
“May I interest you two in a drink?” the man asked, looking now directly at Sirius, apparently thinking Heather too bumble-headed to think for herself. She narrowed her eyes, and watched as the thin man pulled from nowhere two menus. He handed one to Sirius, and then , turning to Heather, handed it to her slowly, as if to a three year-old. Her eyes nearly crackled with fire as she restrained the urge to snatch the menu from his hand and beat him over his snobby head with it. Taking it with great drama, she began to scan the pages.
They quickly ordered their drinks, the waiter looking as if he would rather eat slugs than serve the two of them. This fact didn’t seem to bother Sirius half as much as it bothered Heather. But soon, Sirius was able to make her forget all about the insufferable waiter. He laughed and joked, and before they knew it, they had finished their drinks, and their food.
Heather was quite stuffed, and was smiling sleepily. “You know,” she said softly, “at first I was really apposed to coming here.”
“Glad you came anyways?” he asked. She nodded. Sirius’ hands were sweating as he saw her, fiddling idly with the last remaining bits of her food. He took a deep breath. He had never been this nervous. He rolled the little velvet box around in his pocket, and then, when he had left the silence on for too long, he cleared his throat. Heather looked up, her blue eyes searching his.
“Uhhh...” he said. This was a lot easier in the movies... “Heather?” he said, nervously.
“Mmm?” she asked, leaning her cheek on her hand. Sirius licked his lips, trying to give moisture where none would go. His entire mouth felt like a desert.
“I wanted to ask you something...” he said, sitting up straighter. She looked slightly concerned, noticing that something cESNet quite right.
“Sirius...what did you do this time?” she asked. “Please tell me you didn’t park your motorbike in the flowers again,” she moaned, rolling her eyes. He gave a nervous little laugh.
“No...” he said. “Nothing like that.”
“What is it then?” she said impatiently, searching his gaze. Then she caught on...was he about to ask what she thought he was going to ask? If so.... She felt chills go up and down her spine. Finally...after so many months of waiting for him to pop the question...
“I was wondering...”
“Yes...?” she said, leaning closer.
“What perfume are you wearing? It’s really lovely,” he said breathlessly. All of the air left Heather’s chest, and Sirius nearly kicked himself. What an idiot!
“Oh...” she said, her heart clenching. And she had been fool enough to think that he was going to ask for her hand in marriage. “I’m not wearing any perfume,” she said dully.
“Oh...right,” he said with a nervous laugh. Then realizing what an idiot he was being, he rolled his eyes at his own idiocy. “Actually, that’s not what I wanted to ask you at all. I wanted to know....” he looked up into her eyes, his face showing every ounce of emotions he as feeling. Heather watched it, as if it was an enthralling movie, taking in every bit of feeling he was showing her, and cherishing it with every particle of her being. “I actually wrote a poem for you, and everything,” he said, blushingly. Heather tried not to snort. “But... I spilled some cheerio’s on the kitchen table and used it for a napkin before you woke up this morning....” His face contorted in innocent guilt.
Heather tried not to smile affectionately, in case he took it the wrong way. Instead, she waited for him to finish. He gave a nervous laugh, mocking himself.
“Anyways, I just wanted to know that you are my everything, my world, my sun, my star, my universe. And I will always love you,” he said, then he gave a sloppy grin. “That sounded a lot less stupid in my head,” he muttered. Heather laughed. “Okay, well...I’m not sure how those Muggles do it, like getting down on one knee. But I think it goes something like...” he stood up, and then knelt down before her. She turned in her seat, excitement in her eyes. Looking up at her, Sirius smiled widely, his heart in his eyes. He took her hand in his, and pulled out a small box. Inside of it was the most beautiful ring Heather had ever seen.
It looked as if real miniature daffodils had wound themselves into a neat little circle. Yet they were tiny, and so delicate looking. At the top of the ring, the small flowers seemed to bunch together to hold a soft, lavender jewel. But as she squinted her eyes, she could see something moving inside. It was like little tiny dots of bright light, dancing just for her. Looking back up at Sirius, she was dazed.
“Heather, will you marry me?"
Preview for Chapter Thirty-Three~*~Blank Eyes: The two men simply stared. It was then that Peter realized how utterly…dead, the two looked. It was the best word to describe them. The only thing that kept Peter from thinking that they were in fact no longer living was that they kept blinking meaninglessly at them. Their skin was stretched taught across their faces, leaving gaping, hollow looking sockets for their eyes. Their eyes…. Peter felt almost sick to see them. They looked empty. Maybe these fellows had had too much to drink? The lack of substance surrounding the two was suffocating and downright scary.
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