Chapter 48 : Transformation
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Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
I wasn’t living anymore. My head was so full of thoughts that it didn’t have any connection to my body. Ballet lessons went by automatically… When I was dancing, my overgrossed mind got time to relax and focus on something else. I would have gone mad if I hadn’t had ballet lessons the next month. I spent less and less time with Bryn, just delaying what I knew was coming.
‘Why would James sit there and hold me the dress-rehearsal night of the show when he had just started dating Elizabeth Facklet? Why would he let me say the things I said?’
I walked around like a zombie, completely gone.
‘It must be serious between them. I said I didn’t think I loved Bryn after all, so I expected James to ask me when I was going to break it off, or at least do something else than just ignoring it. Ignoring me…’
I sat thinking about it one evening in our dormitory. Hillary was there with me.
“Lily, you’re so torn it shows,” she said seriously, letting her hair fall down her shoulders. She started removing her makeup with a warm wet towel.
“What?” I replied drowsily, looking up from my Charms-book. I was still fully dressed, not even the least bit tired. It was Friday, and my wristwatch told me the time was over nine.
“You can’t handle the fact that James is dating Elizabeth Facklet.”
She turned around.
“Oh really? It’s not like he can’t date anyone but me. Why should I care?” I looked at her.
“I’m going to put my pyjama on, and I want you to come up with a good answer to that when I come back,” she said, slipping out of the room.
I rolled over on my bed, looking puzzled. Hillary was getting ready for sleep this early already? She must be exhausted after this week. When she returned, she had an expectant look on her face. Wearing a black pyjama, she looked like a black cat.
“Answer please? Not that I don’t know what you’ll answer, but come on,” Hillary said.
“I-I dated him,” I simply said.
“You sure did,” Hillary confirmed. “But not any more.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” I laughed. “I’m perfectly aware of it…”
I closed my book, staring at the cover for a couple of seconds… not really knowing why. I put the Charms-book aside, sighing before looking over at Hillary again.
“What’s with the outfit? Going to bed?” I asked, looking at her as she surveyed herself in the mirror.
She smiled her happy, yet mysterious smile.
“I just missed my silky pyjama, that’s all,” she said. “I’m going downstairs to spend the evening with Howard Rutherford.”
I sat up as quick as I could, clutching my sheet with my hands in excitement.
“In your pyjama? Like you’re intending to spend the whole night there with him? I knew you had something going on with him!”
My eyes were wide by then.
“Calm down! You were in discussion, not me and my love life…”
I felt a little jolt race through my body.
“Drop it,” I said casually, returning to my stomach-position.
“No,” Hillary dared me. “I haven’t talked properly to you for a really long time… especially about Johnson.”
“Sure, what do you want to know?”
She looked me square in the eye.
“Have you done it yet?” she asked excitedly.
“Isn’t that kind of bold?” I frowned. “Some other time, honey.”
Hillary was so keen she almost had trouble standing on one spot. “How far have you gone?”
I sat up again.
“I was more intimate with James then I’ve been with Bryn, if that’s what you want to hear,” I grinned.
“Ok, ok…” she giggled.
She just stood watching me for some time, trying to understand what that meant. She didn’t look like she found the answers she was looking for as she started becoming restless.
“Are you coming down with me?” she asked. “Don’t sit here being pensive all evening.”
I followed her down. I had a weird feeling in my stomach as I walked down the spiral staircase… And with good reason.
In a sofa, very obvious to spot, sat James with his new girlfriend. The way she looked at him … The way his lips smiled whenever they came in contact with hers. His hand playing with her dark hair.
They had been dating for a month, but something told me James had purposely been very careful with Elizabeth in front of me. I had seen them flirting, seen them together… but seeing them so suddenly after just talking about James made it all so much worse.
Without knowing, I had stopped dead at the end of the staircase. Flashes kept reviewing themselves in my head… James’ voice whispering sweet things in my ear. His fingers playing with the curve of my neck. I didn’t think, I just started walking towards the portrait-hole. I blocked both him and Elizabeth out of my vision.
I stopped as I reached it, whipping around. I met his eyes in the middle of the room. It was he who called me.
“I… I’m…” he stuttered, still having Elizabeth’s hand around his neck.
I didn’t hang around to hear whatever he had to say. I went straight for the grounds.
The sunset was playing with the treetops and the leaves which had started to grow on them. My mind was about to explode. James with Elizabeth like that had been a bit too much for me when I wasn’t prepared for it. I hadn’t been able to think straight.
‘Here I am, being so jealous it tears me apart, and I’m still Bryn’s girlfriend.’
It sounded ridiculous in my own ears.
I knew what was wrong in our relationship. But I hadn’t been able to face it entirely until that moment. As the sun kept going down together with my mood, I noticed something that came soaring through the air over me.
It was one of the school owls, with a note tied to it’s left foot. It had brown, shiny feathers, obviously a barn owl. As it landed next to me, staring at me with it’s amber eyes, I realised the note was for me.
Would you mind meeting me in the Great Hall right away? Thought we’d catch up…
A little smile appeared on my tired face. Remus hadn’t been like the used to around me since our fight about Bryn. I really missed him. I left for the Great Hall with a little happy bubble on the inside, smiling to everyone I met. He sat at the end of the Gryffindor table, reading. As usual.
The hall was fairly empty, it was Friday after all. Not many bothered to hang out in the Library or the Great Hall when it was almost weekend.
“Hi,” I smiled to the sandy-haired boy.
He smiled back, his blue eyes twinkling. He gestured to the seat next to him with his free hand.
“How are you?” he started, giving me his full attention.
“I’m fine, but I could have been better,” I said honestly.
His eyebrows went up.
I was so relieved when he said those words. So I started lightly, telling him about all those small things that bothered me these days, carefully avoiding the topic of Bryn. I babbled a lot about all the work in ballet, and just talking to Remus again was so delightful. After sitting there a good while, I felt I couldn’t hold it back anymore.
“Remus… there’s something else as well,” I started.
He just looked at me, and nodded.
“You know what it is…” I told him. “Haven’t you noticed?”
He rested his head in his hand.
I collected my hands, wondering how I could word it all.
“Yes… Things aren’t quite as they should be,” I said almost sadly. “It’s not the way I want it to be.”
“What is it now, Lily? What’s making it troublesome?”
“It’s just…” I looked up at the never ending ceiling of the Great Hall. “It keeps feeling wrong. And I keep comparing him…”
“To James,” he finished for me.
“I mean, how could I not? We broke up so suddenly, and he was still fresh in my mind, despite what he did, when I started getting involved with Bryn.”
Remus looked pensive.
“So… It’s not working? What are you going to do?” he said at last.
“I don’t know,” I said, feeling relieve for every word.
“I’ve been waiting for things to go either one way or the other, so I can decide. But it gets harder and harder.”
“Well, I can’t keep him waiting much longer. I’m sure he must know something’s up by now. I haven’t exactly crawled into his bed, to put things on the edge.”
Remus’s expression suddenly became very out of character. It looked almost as though he was pained by hearing that. But his face softened almost immediately.
“I don’t know, Lily. It’s up to you.”
I was certain he was going to say I should dump him, throw him away and forget him. And still he left the cards open. How kind.
“It’s not getting better now that James has got together with Elizabeth,” I raised my eyebrows.
“Oh?” Remus said, looking at me.
“I have so mixed feelings for him these days,” I explained. “Some part of me says he would never have forced onto me like he did, and the other wants to put him behind forever.”
It would have been a perfect opportunity for Remus to tell me again that James would never have done it. That it was some kind of influence over him that day, that there was an explanation.
But he didn’t. He stayed silent.
“He says he’s innocent,” Remus told me.
I tried to make it sink in. James still said he was innocent. Did he do it to get away, or was he telling the truth?
I looked up at the stars reflected through the enchanted roof of the Great Hall, as if they had the answer. They were silent, as usual. As was the full moon.
The full moon.
I looked quickly at Remus sitting next to me. My whole body was suddenly tense and on it’s guard, as if those blue eyes would suddenly turn into red vicious ones.
He looked normal.
Something told me to not say anything. Not break into total hiatus. I just focused on breathing.
“Does he, now?” I said as calmly as I could, trying not to panic.
“Yeah, he still says he’s innocent,” Remus answered.
It sounded like he doubted him… My mind was racing like never before. Why wasn’t Remus in the shrieking shack, being a werewolf ?
“I just need to calm down, to think,” I excused, hoping he wouldn’t react to my fumbling.
“Ok, take your time,” he said, finding a scrap bit of parchment he started doodling on.
‘First of all, we’ve been sitting here for almost thirty minutes now,’ I thought. ‘And it just can’t be Remus sitting next to me. There’s no way. If it had been the real Remus, the first thing he’d say would be that he had found some miraculous way of avoiding turning into a monster every month. And he didn’t even comment it.’
A time turner?
The thought jumped to my head, but I saw one important flaw. Even if Remus had used a time-turner, he would turn into a werewolf. It didn’t make him immune…Then I thought of something I could do to get some answers.
I looked up, reaching for his loose tie.
“Can I check something?” I asked gently.
Remus looked surprised.
“Sure, go ahead,” he answered.
I opened the two first buttons of his shirt, with various reactions from Remus. There was nothing.
“What was that for?” he asked curiously.
“Just checking if you were wearing the necklace I gave you for Christmas,” I smiled.
‘I never gave you a necklace,’ I thought. ‘Let’s see how you react.’
“Oh, that one,” Remus smiled. “I have it in my dorm, promise.”
I smiled a smile as genuine I could muster.
“What about your pockets? Do you have it there?” I said daringly.
“No, I haven’t,” he laughed, turning them out.
No time turner.
‘I’ll have to see if I can keep him here for over an hour. If he’s using polyjuice potion, his true self will be revealed. Just have to keep him busy, so he forgets,’ I thought cleverly.
“Do you think I should break up with Bryn?” I asked him.
Remus’ body shrugged.
“It’s really up to you, Lily… But you know I don’t like him much,” he said, still doodling on the parchment.
“Yeah… I’ll have to see,” I concluded.
The next twenty minutes I had problems finding stuff to talk about. It was hard acting natural, when I knew it wasn’t Remus sitting in front of me. When there was almost no time left, another thought came to my mind.
‘Why is this person pretending to be Remus anyway? Why does he or she want to talk to me?’ I thought next.
“What did you really want to meet with me here for?” I asked honestly. “I mean… Why now?”
Remus thought for a moment.
“We haven’t seen each other as much as we used to, and I just wanted to catch up, talk it over,” he said casually.
‘Nicely done,’ I thought. ‘Whoever it is, he has done his homework.’
“It was nice of you,” I smiled. “Where are Prongs and Padfoot? And Wormtail?”
The reaction was priceless. He had obviously never placed those names on anybody.
“Around,” he just said insecurely.
I nodded, looking up at the ceiling again. The full moon was there as never before.
I looked at my wristwatch. I had now spent an hour with Remus in the Great Hall, and he still hadn’t changed a bit when it came to looks.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Who are you?” I said with narrowed eyes.
He turned, looking at me in disbelieve.
“What do you mean? I’m me?”
I laughed slightly.
“No, you’re not. I’ve been watching you being out of character the whole time we’ve been here. You’re definitely not Remus Lupin.”
I was almost scared of the thought of finding out who it was.
“Lily, stop playing around. You’re scaring me!”
Suddenly, there came flashes from everywhere. It was as if my mind reminded me of all those things I had experienced and tried so desperately to forget. There were also things that made the puzzle complete… So complete.
‘James Potter just kissed me…’ I screamed inside my head. ‘He… just grabbed me and kissed me out of the blue!’
Then his charming smile was back on.
“See you later, Lily.. have to go down to the Quidditch-pitch to check on some equipment.”
“The two of you are going out, right?” Bryn said, looking from the photo and expectantly over to me.
I gave him a confused stare.
“No… Why did you think we were?” I said quizzically.
He answered my question with a question.
“Really? I would think so after the kiss he gave you?”
“Why Potter?” Bryn said slowly.
I shook my head. “I fell for him, full stop.”
“That simple? So you just forgot about the kiss he gave you, the one that didn’t mean anything?” he blurted out.
Suddenly, his hand jumped to my jeans, and the zipper came open.
“Stop it!” I said, and there was a very sharp edge in my voice. “I said, stop, James! I don’t want to!”
My words didn’t seem to reach in to him.
I was thrown into the present again, trying to absorb it all. Trying to get things straight, once and for all. I stole Remus’ look, and searched his eyes. They were stern, in a way Remus could never make them look. My eyes travelled to the piece of parchment he had been drawing on. I picked it up, looking at the landscape he had been drawing up very roughly.
As if I were burnt, I let go of it, looking back into Remus’ eyes. Except I knew who they belonged to now.
It was Bryn Johnson sitting opposite of me, not Remus Lupin.
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