Chapter 1 : The Desire to Desire
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Summary: Emilie Applewhite is a Muggle girl spending her summer holidays with her father in Little Angleton - a place where nothing ever happens. When she meets the son of her father’s neighbours, Remus Lupin, her summer takes an unexpected turn.
Disclaimer: I do not own the world of Harry Potter, nor do I own its characters. They belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended.
Boredom: the desire for desires. – Leo Tolstoy
Emilie Applewhite loved the summer holidays. She had spent many of them exploring London with her friends, shopping, reading, or wandering around in museums. But this summer was different. There was, after all, only so much one could do in one of Britain’s smallest villages.
She sighed and drew a brush through her unruly hair, lazily studying her own reflection. Brown hair, brown eyes, medium length: boredom personified, she thought sullenly. Staring at her lips, she pouted briefly, then pulled a weird face.
She was bored out of her mind. Little Angleton, she had quickly discovered, was the kind of village where nothing ever happened.
“Emilie! Breakfast’s ready!”
At the sound of her father’s voice, Emilie put her hairbrush aside. She watched her mirror image wrinkle her nose several seconds later, when the smell of burnt pancakes had wafted up the stairs. Not again, she thought, but she couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m coming!” she yelled, and she gave her messy curls a frustrated tug in order to straighten them. It was of no use; they looked messier than ever before. She looked in the mirror one last time, disgruntled with what she saw, and then rushed down the stairs.
Her father smiled clumsily at her as she entered the kitchen, a pan with a blackened pancake in his hand. “A pancake, sweetheart?”
Looking into the pan, Emilie bit on her bottom lip. “Mmm… no, thanks. Think I’ll pass this time,” she said, trying to keep herself from grinning.
Giving the pancake a doubtful look, her father eventually nodded, walked over to the garbage bin and disposed of the pancake. “Don't think I'll ever get it right,” he mumbled, shaking his head as he took off his apron.
“Don't give up now, dad,” Emilie teased him, grinning mischievously as she filled her bowl with cornflakes. “They didn’t look as black - bad, I mean - as yesterday’s.”
Her father snorted. “Thanks, darling. That’s good to hear.”
“Oh, don’t mention it,” Emilie said, and she gave her father a playful wink.
“So…anyway...” her dad started, sitting himself down at the kitchen table. “What are you going to do today? I heard that Marissa’s going swimming with her friends. I could call Gaby and -”
“Oh, no. I don’t feel like swimming today,” Emilie lied quickly, cutting her father short. She didn’t really feel like spending yet another afternoon with Marissa, a fifteen-year old girl that was - if possible - even more boring than the village of Little Angleton itself.
Her father blinked. “All right,” he said slowly, spreading marmalade over his sandwich. “How about going to the woods? The raspberries should’ve ripened by now.”
Emilie smiled unenthusiastically. “I just might have to do that.”
Her father’s face brightened. “Good,” he said. “Oh, hey, maybe you’ll run into the boy next door. Saw his parents bringing him back from school yesterday.”
Emilie blinked, confused. “There’s a boy next door?”
“There certainly is. Goes to some boarding school in Scotland… I heard he only comes back during the summer.”
Emilie cocked one eyebrow, still trying to process the fact that her father’s neighbours had a son. “The Lupins have a son? The Lupins?”
Mr. and Mrs. Lupin were the most talked-about people in Little Angleton. No one had ever seen a stranger couple, and rumour had it that Mr. Lupin wasn’t exactly... sane. Emilie had seen them only twice so far, through her father’s kitchen window. And even though she had to agree that their choice of clothing was - well, strange, at the very least - they had seemed quite nice.
“Hard to believe, isn't it? But yes, they have a son,” her father said. “About your age, I think. Seventeen, perhaps. He's a nice kid, too. Gaby told me that Marissa’s crazy about him.”
Giving her shoulders a disappointed shrug, Emilie finished her breakfast. “Can’t be that great then,” she mumbled under her breath. “Anyway,” she said a little louder, placing her empty breakfast bowl on the kitchen counter, “I’m off, dad. Will you be back at six?”
Her father grimaced. “I’ll try… but you know how things are at the office.”
“I know,” Emilie nodded, smiling weakly. She briefly kissed her father’s cheek, and slung her backpack over her shoulder. “I'll see you tonight!”
Her father hastily swallowed a bite of his sandwich. “Have a good day, sweetheart!”
The Lupins’ front door had seen better times. The paint was starting to peel off, Emilie noticed, revealing a layer of bright red paint underneath the green top layer. There didn’t seem to be a door bell. She hesitantly raised one hand and rapped her knuckles against the wood.
She hadn’t planned on going by the Lupins, but she was curious about the boy next door that had, apparently, enchanted Marissa so. There was the sound of someone stumbling down the stairs and fidgeting with the door's lock.
Seconds later, the door opened, revealing a lanky, sandy-haired boy. Two prominent scars ran across his face. The shorter scar crossed his lips and thinned, fading somewhere on his left cheek. The longer one, however, crossed his nose and receded into his hairline.
“Hi,” Emilie smiled brightly, trying to sound unfazed. The boy’s unusual appearance had caught her by surprise; not only the scars crossing his face were strange: he also seemed to be wearing a robe of some sort. “I’m Emilie. My father lives next door?”
The boy tilted his head to study her, a strand of his hair falling before his eyes. “Mr. Pendelton? You’re his daughter?”
Emilie grinned. “No, and thank heavens for that! Mr. Pendelton moved out before Christmas. My dad lives there now… Francis Applewhite? He’s quite a bit younger than Mr. Pendelton,” she added, laughing.
“Really? Mr. Pendelton moved out?” the boy asked, surprised, and his eyes seemed to study her face for a moment. “And you live there now?”
“Oh, no. I’m just staying here for the summer,” Emilie explained, inwardly wincing at the idea of actually having to live in Little Angleton. “I just thought I’d come by and say hello.”
Scratching his eyebrow, the boy gave her a lopsided grin. “Ehm… all right. Hello.”
Emilie giggled, but stopped the second she realized what she was doing. “Well, yeah. So… hi. Well... anyway...” she began, cocking her head in the direction of the forest, “do you feel like a walk through the woods?”
The boy gave her a bemused glance, one of his eyebrows raised. “Right now?”
Emilie shrugged, blushing lightly. “Why not? The weather’s good, and Lord knows there isn’t anything else to do around here.”
“True,” the boy agreed, and she swore she could see him giving her an empathetic look. “Afraid I can’t come, though. My mum’s making me unpack first.”
“Oh. Well… okay. That’s all right,” Emilie said, and she bit her bottom lip, briefly going over the things she could do on her own. “Shame, though. Okay, well… good luck unpacking.”
She turned around, but by the time she had reached the pavement, she heard him calling out after her.
She turned around, looking at him questioningly. “Yes?”
“Thank you for coming by,” he said after a little while, smiling lightly. “And sorry I can’t save you… you know, from your boredom.”
Laughing, she took a step backwards. “No problem. I guess I’ll just spend my afternoon reading… you know, underneath the old oak near the clearing?” She smiled a little, not really knowing why she was telling him about her plans. “I’ll see you later!”
He waved briefly, and when she turned around, she could hear the front door falling shut.
Late-afternoon sunlight shimmered through the oak’s leaves, creating a complex shadow pattern that changed with every little gust of wind. It turned out that her father had been right - the raspberries had ripened, and they actually tasted quite good. She absent-mindedly popped several into her mouth while turning the pages of her book.
Emilie’s hand stopped in mid-air. She looked up, surprised to find the Lupins’ son staring at her. He had changed, she noticed, into normal clothes: a pair of faded jeans and a simple, black T-shirt.
“Hey,” she said, taken aback by the fact he had actually showed up. “You came!”
The boy shrugged, smiling, and he walked towards her, stepping into the oak’s shadow. The sunlight filtering through the oak’s leaves lit up his hair; it seemed almost golden from where she was sitting.
“Like you said,” he told Emilie, giving her a lopsided grin, “there isn’t very much to do in Little Angleton.”
She laughed softly and brushed a strand of hair out of her face, feeling a light blush creeping up her cheeks.
“You seem to have made it through the day just fine, though,” he noted with a smile, gesturing at the book in her lap and the bowl of raspberries next to her. “Thought I’d show up to save the day, but it looks like you don’t really need me here.” He gave her a doubtful look, but she noticed a mischievous glimmer in his eyes. “Anyway,” he continued, “I suppose I should be off, then. ‘Tis not too late to save another damsel in distress before dinner.”
Laughing, she patted on the patch of grass next to her. “Oh, please, kind sir,” she teased him. “Do sit down. No need to look for any other damsels. I happen to be very much in need of a saviour.”
“Are you sure?” he asked her, his entire demeanour suddenly uncertain. She wondered briefly what had brought about this change in behaviour. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans and looked around for a second before lowering his gaze to her once more. “Because you looked like you were enjoying yourself, and I don’t want to… impose… or anything.”
She smiled. “I’m sure. Like I said, I could really use a saviour.” Gesturing at the bowl of raspberries, she continued, “Besides… I’ve got these super-delicious raspberries. You wouldn’t want to miss out on those, right?”
The boy tilted his head. “Raspberries? Are they ripe?”
Nodding, she held up the bowl for him.
The boy looked down once more, then gave his shoulders a light shrug and gazed down at her. “I suppose the other damsels can wait till tomorrow,” he grinned, and he took some berries out of her bowl.
She motioned for him to sit down again. He seemed insecure for a moment, but eventually sat down, folding his legs underneath him. The scars on his face, she noticed, were deeper than she had believed them to be at first sight. They were an angry shade of red, and still looked painful.
“You never told me your name,” she said after a short silence.
A light blush rose to the boy’s cheeks. “I didn’t?” He extended his hand and shook hers briefly. “My apologies. I’m Remus. Remus Lupin, but I guess you already knew that.”
She smiled. “Remus. That’s an unusual name.”
His blush darkened. “I suppose it is. Then again, my family is quite... unusual.”
He gave her that lopsided grin of his again. She nodded. “From what I’ve heard,” she told him, grinning, “your dad escaped from a mental institution, killed two police officers, and shot an old lady. Your mom, of course, was his accomplice, accountant and the one driving his getaway car.”
Remus laughed out loud. “Well, I have to admit - I’ve never heard that version before,” he said, letting out a deep chuckle. “Who told you that?”
“Mr. Whitman, from the bakery? He seemed quite serious about it, too,” she giggled.
Still grinning, Remus shook his head. “Unbelievable.”
“It is, isn’t it? Doesn’t it bother you?”
He looked up at her. “Knowing that they talk about my parents like that?” His eyes – a clear shade of blue – met hers questioningly. “Not really. I mean, I know it’s not true. They just don’t understand my parents.”
Emilie nodded. “Obviously not.” She was silent for a moment, her eyes downcast, staring at his hands. His fingers, she noticed, were long and slender. He was pulling at the grass, holding the stalks between his index finger and thumb. She was surprised to notice another scar, one which ran from the back of his left hand all the way up to his upper arm, where it disappeared under the hem of his T-shirt. A cold shiver ran through her, and she felt her heart reaching out for the boy.
She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “So…” she said after a short silence, uncertain of what to say.
His eyes met hers briefly. “So…,” he echoed, and he sat back a little. “What is a girl like you doing in Little Angleton, of all places?”
Emilie laughed softly. “That's a good question.” She paused for a moment, trying to find the right words. “My parents, they... separated... last year. My dad moved here. And I’m just staying with him for the summer.” She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. She still wasn’t completely used to talking about the divorce.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Remus told her gently. “About your parents’ divorce, I mean. It must be difficult, not seeing your father for such a long time.”
She smiled weakly. “It’s not easy. Especially not at first… but you get sort of used to it.” She dumped some of the grass she’d pulled out of the ground onto his hand. “You’re one to talk, though. You go to boarding school, don’t you?”
He shook the grass off his hand. “I do. And I do miss them when I’m there. But, you know, it’s a really good school, and I learn a great deal of things there.” He laughed hoarsely, as if remembering. “And my friends... there’s just no time to miss my parents when I’m with them.” He chuckled, shaking his head. “I swear, you wouldn’t believe half of the things they come up with.”
The joy in his voice was contagious, and Emilie found herself smiling. “They sound like a lot of fun.”
“They are,” he grinned. “I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them.”
She nodded. “It’s good to have friends like that.”
“Definitely,” Remus agreed.
They sat in silence for a little while. Emilie showered his hand with more grass, and he willingly let her.
“Are you busy tomorrow?” she asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.
Meeting her eyes, he shook his head. For a second, she swore she saw a blush covering his cheeks, but the falling twilight made it difficult for her to be sure.
She bit her bottom lip. “Would you like to go swimming, then? The swimming pool here’s actually quite nice.”
Remus seemed startled for a second. “Oh… I... I don’t swim.”
She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “You can’t swim?”
“No, no,” he hastily corrected her, “I can swim, I can. I just don’t really like to swim.”
Taken aback, Emilie blinked. “Oh. Okay.” She wasn’t sure if he was trying to turn her offer down in a gentle manner, or if he genuinely didn’t like to swim. “Well, we could do something else then,” she said uncertainly, looking up at him. “I mean… if you want to.”
He smiled down at her, and she was surprised to feel her stomach flip. “Of course I do. There’s this really great place down by the river you just have to see. I’ll take you there.”
“Sounds good,” she nodded. She bit her lip, and looked at the sky. “It’s getting dark… I suppose I’d better head home. You know, before my dad calls the police.”
He grinned and leapt to his feet. “Wouldn’t want that. We’d better go, then.” He held out his hand, helping her to her feet.
On their way back, she thought she saw a long, thin piece of wood sticking out of the back-pocket of his jeans - almost like a stick, she thought. The second time she looked, however, it was gone. She frowned for a moment, then decided that it must’ve been a trick of the light. After all, why would Remus carry a piece of wood around?
Thanks for reading! Criticism and/or advice would be appreciated.