Chapter 9 : The Mirror of the Mind
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other of the characters mentioned (except for Emilie, her friends and her family). They belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended.
The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.
- St. Jerome
“You’re stark raving mad.”
She smiled, tracing Remus’s cheeks with a piece of grass. “Just because I prefer Keats to Frost?”
His eyes widened as he nodded, a teasing smile playing around his lips. “Yes. It’s absolutely beyond me!”
“Mmm…” she contemplated, drawing the piece of grass across the bridge of his nose. “You can recite Keats to me any time. Frost would be a good second best, I suppose… but Keats - he’s such a sensitive soul.”
Remus propped himself up on his elbows, his eyebrows raised in shock. “Do you honestly mean to tell me that Frost isn’t?”
“Of course not. I wouldn’t dare to. I don’t think that your sensitive soul would be able to handle that,” she ribbed him good-naturedly. He opened his mouth to retort, but Emilie pressed her lips against his before he could reply, realizing that she wouldn’t be able to win this argument.
“That’s not fair,” he murmured when she pulled back, his eyes still half closed. She brushed her lips over his partly-opened ones, knowing fully well that he didn’t mind one bit.
Nuzzling his neck, she smiled and whispered, “I’m sorry.”
He caressed her hair lazily, drawing her against his chest. She could hear his heartbeat – feel it, even – against the skin of her cheek. He smelled like grass and forest and sweat, a mixture she found absolutely intoxicating. “I never want this to end,” he said, his voice serious.
Glancing up at him, she asked, “This?”
“This summer. You and me,” he said, twirling a strand of her hair around his finger. “I never want it to end.”
She smiled, sliding her left hand in his right. “Neither do I.”
He wove his fingers through hers and kissed the crown of her head. The tiny gesture warmed her, and she couldn’t help but smile. “So…” she started, sitting up. “What’s on the menu tonight?”
Giving her a lopsided grin, he cocked his head to the side. “Actually… my parents won’t be home tonight, so I don’t think the cooking will be much of a success. I’d rather not do it without my dad around.” His face contorted when he added, “I’m not very good around hot stoves.”
She feigned shock. “Not good? You said you’d cook for me!”
“Another time,” he promised her with a disarming smile.
As he sat up, the sunlight moved across his face. She regretted the fact that she hadn’t brought her camera; she realized that she wanted to capture and remember this moment for the rest of her life. “We should cook together, then,” she suggested as she wrapped her arms around her knees. “It’d be fun.”
Remus looked at her, smiling indulgently. “Next week, then?”
“Next week,” she agreed, tilting her head. “I bet you’ll look dashing in an apron,” she giggled.
He grinned and wrapped his arms around her. “You did not just say that,” he said, his voice slightly ominous. His hands found her sides, and he touched them lightly. “Don’t forget - I know your weakness.”
She squirmed a little when his fingers brushed over her skin, tickling her sides. “I know yours,” she answered matter-of-factly, turning so that she could look him in the eye.
Remus blinked. “I’m not ticklish.”
“I wasn’t talking about that,” she said teasingly, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth. She couldn’t keep from smiling when she noticed how he suddenly tensed up.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he lied, his voice hoarse. They both were aware of the fact that he knew perfectly well what she was talking about; his eyes, which were practically glued to her lips, gave him away.
“Bummer,” Emilie said, shaking her head as she pulled away from him. “I really would’ve liked exploiting that weakness of yours.”
He laughed, his hands grazing her sides. “You’re such a tease,” he complained, but it was obvious that he didn’t really mind.
She shrieked when his fingers dug into her flesh, and struggled to get away from him. He pinned her to the ground, his hands capturing hers. She smiled when he lowered his head, his lips hovering just above hers. “I’m not a tease,” she said, and she reached up and kissed him gently. “I always follow through.”
He tenderly kissed her back, his hands caressing her cheeks. She smiled against his lips, and smiled even wider when she felt how his lips curled into a smile as well. Remus shifted a little and moved away from her, his cheeks flushed.
Her hands lingered on his back when he pulled away, and grazed over a rough object that stuck out of the pocket of his jeans. She took it out of his pocket and, holding it between her index finger and thumb, showed it to him.
“What’s this?” she asked him, amused. It was a slender, smooth stick, and it seemed to be made of wood. She vaguely remembered seeing it before – on the first day she’d met Remus – and she couldn’t help but find it strange that he carried it around with him.
“Oh…well,” he started uncomfortably, and he pulled further away from her. He seemed almost anxious to get the stick out of her hands; almost as though she’d break it, she thought, even though it looked too thick to be broken easily. “It’s – er – a piece of wood,” he said lamely, gingerly taking it from her.
“No way,” she stated dryly, painfully aware of how suddenly Remus had pulled away from her. “Why do you carry it around?”
“I… well… I can use it as, well... when I’m reading,” he stammered, his cheeks darkening until his face resembled a tomato.
Emilie arched her eyebrows. “When you’re reading?”
“As a pointer,” he clarified, picking up his copy of Robert Frost’s New Hampshire. “I… ehm, I use it when I want to keep track of the lines.”
She noticed how his fingers deftly twirled the stick around when he put it back into his pocket. She couldn’t get herself to believe his explanation, but at the same time didn’t want to pressure him into telling her the truth – he seemed reluctant to discuss the matter any further.
“I ehm, I know you prefer Keats,” Remus said, his behaviour still a bit off, “but do you think I can read you some Frost?”
Smiling weakly in response, she lay back down and closed her eyes. The familiar deep sound of Remus’s voice as he recited ‘Fragmentary Blue’ calmed her a little, but it did nothing to soothe the hurt of being lied to.
Emilie stared at her reflection, her mirror image staring right back at her. What was it that Remus saw in her? Unruly dark curls, freckled cheeks… large, brown eyes. She struggled to straighten her hair, but the hairbrush only seemed to make it frizzier than before.
Why had Remus lied to her? There were so many things that didn’t add up, she thought gloomily. He was reluctant to talk about his scars, he was secretive about his school and his friends, and he came up with lousy excuses for the silliest things. She sighed and put down the brush. Staring motionlessly into her own eyes, she searched for a pattern in the dark brown of her irises. She’d once read that one’s eyes were the windows to one’s soul – but if even she was unable to see her soul reflected in her eyes, then how would Remus?
The door bell startled her, and she jumped away from the mirror and rushed down the stairs. “Hey,” she greeted him after opening the door. “Good evening.”
He was dressed in jeans and a dark button-down shirt. “Evening,” he said, a nervous smile on his face. “You – er – you look pretty tonight. Not that you didn’t before,” he hastily added, his cheeks darkening. “Because you did. I… your hair…” he stammered, pointing at her it. “It… it looks very nice.”
She smiled, her doubts nearly forgotten. “Thank you. And I’m going to have to say that the button-down shirt suits you better.”
“Better than what?” he asked her, confused.
“Why, the apron, of course,” she answered mischievously, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She took a step back and hollered up the stairs, “Dad – we’re off!”
Her father came stumbling down the stairs. “Wait, wait,” he said. He turned to Remus, his dark eyes stern. “You’ll have her home no later than eleven, Remus.”
“Yes, sir,” Remus said, nodding nervously. “No later than eleven.”
“Very well,” her father nodded. “Have fun, then, and be careful.” Emilie tried to shy away from him, but he managed to kiss her cheek anyway.
“Bye, dad,” she said, giving him a small smile before closing the door behind them.
Remus smiled nervously, his hands in his pockets. He avoided looking her in the eye, she noticed, and his voice trembled when he spoke up. “I’m sorry about before,” he said. “I know you don’t believe me, and… I didn’t really expect you to.” His eyes darted to her face, and he took a deep breath before looking away again.
“Remus, I –” she started, but he cut her off.
“No, let me finish, please. I… I want to tell you, really, I do. It’s… it’s not a bad thing. In fact,” he smiled feebly, “…it’s the best secret I’ve ever had. But I can’t tell you, Emilie. I just can’t. You have to trust me.”
She ran an uncertain hand through her hair. This had been the last thing she’d expected to hear tonight. Tilting her head, she studied his face. The sun had just started to set, coating everyone and everything in a golden shade of orange. His eyes seemed darker in this light, more difficult to read. “All right,” she said quietly. “You don’t have to tell me.” She met his eyes, trying to gauge his reaction. “Just – just don’t lie, all right? Don’t lie to me.”
Remus released the breath he’d been holding, the shadow of a smile on his lips. “No more lies. I promise I won’t lie to you ever again.” He looked at her, and – if she didn’t know any better – she could’ve sworn she saw a pained look in his eyes. “Thanks for understanding,” he added. “I - ehm - I didn’t know this was going to be so hard.”
Emilie smiled and reached for his hand. “We’ll figure it out in time.”
“Yes,” he said, giving her hand a light squeeze. “I should hope so.”
Even though they arrived at the cinema before eight, there already was a queue in front of the ticket booth. She moved her right foot out of her sandal, leaning on Remus’s shoulder for support, and flexed her toes. “The sandals are a bit too small,” she explained before sliding her foot back into the sandal.
“Ah, yes,” he answered, taking her hand and pulling her a bit closer to him in an almost possessive manner. “Either that, or your feet are simply too large.”
She opened her mouth in feigned shock. “I beg your pardon? You really are hopeless when it comes to relationships!”
She brusquely nodded her head and prodded him in the side. “You’re supposed to tell me how pretty I am – not that my feet are too big.”
“But I already told you that you looked pretty tonight!” Remus sputtered, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
She huffed, turning her head away from him as she tried her best not to smile. “Just once is not going to cut it, I’m afraid – especially not when you keep making remarks about my feet.”
Remus touched her cheek and turned her face. “I think you’re beautiful,” he said in a soft voice that – all of a sudden – had grown serious. He held her tightly, his forehead against hers. “Breathtaking, actually.”
Her cheeks darkened. “I was just kidding,” she said, giggling quietly.
“I know,” he said, brushing a strand of her hair out of her face. “I wasn’t.”
Smiling tentatively, Emilie wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close. “I think we’ll figure this out,” she said, “you and I.” And in her heart she knew that – if it wasn’t for Remus secrets – they would, indeed, make it through.
The noises and chattering of the people around them had lowered to a persistent whispering when the cinema’s lights had started to dim. Emilie felt strangely nervous, and kept her gaze lowered to her hands.
“Over there,” Remus whispered quietly, leaning towards her as he pointed at a seat several rows in front of them. “Isn’t that Marissa?”
Emilie narrowed her eyes. “Heavens, yes. Yes, I think it is.”
Marissa’s head suddenly turned around, her dark brown eyes almost instantly meeting Emilie’s. Recognition flashed across Marissa’s face, and the girl smiled and waved at them. A feeling of impending doom started to spread from the pit of Emilie’s stomach when she saw how the girl picked up her jacket and started to walk away from her seat.
“She wants to sit with us?” she hissed, trying to keep her desperation out of her voice.
Remus bit on his lip. “I hope not.”
But Marissa showed up in the row before them mere seconds later – completely unaware of their lack of enthusiasm. “Hi guys,” she smiled, settling down in the seat in front of Remus. “What are you doing here?”
Smiling weakly, Emilie replied, “We’re - ehm - here to watch... well, the film.”
Marissa giggled, tucking a strand of her long blonde hair behind her ear. “I got that much, thanks.”
Emilie forced a smile upon her face. Remus cleared his throat and looked around the cinema before asking Marissa, “Are you here alone?”
Flashing him a smile, Marissa shook her head and gestured at three girls sitting a couple of rows in front of them. “I’m with some friends. I think you know Christine?”
Remus nodded. “Yes, I think I remember her.”
Frowning, Marissa tilted her head and looked at the two of them. “Are you here together?”
Emilie’s eyes darted from Marissa’s face to Remus’s, and back again. “Er – yes... we are.”
Marissa shook her head, her smile thinning. “No, I mean… together. As in on a date.” She turned to look at Remus, her eyes large and questioning.
“Yes,” Remus nodded uncertainly, looking from Emilie’s face to Marissa’s. “That, too.”
It was as though someone had pulled the rug out from underneath Marissa’s feet; she opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something, but closed it again. “You’re together?”
I thought we already established that, Emilie thought quietly, but she didn’t voice her thoughts; she figured it’d be better to let Remus do the talking – he was more subtle when it came to things like this.
“Yes, we’re together,” Remus said gently.
Emilie’s heart did a crazy dip when she heard him say those words – it was almost as though, for the first time, she realized they were together – actually together. Marissa’s reaction to Remus’s words, however, was far less ecstatic. The girl paled a little, her eyes darting towards her friends.
At about the same time the film started, she got up and took her jacket. “I… I’ve got to go to my friends,” she said feebly, ignoring the cries of the people whose view she was now blocking. “I’ll see you later.”
“Bye,” Remus said, and Emilie nodded in agreement.
Her eyes followed Marissa’s retreating figure. “I feel sorry for her,” she whispered quietly, leaning towards Remus. “She really does fancy you.”
Despite of the cinema’s darkness, Emilie could discern a blush on Remus’s cheeks. “She hardly knows me.”
Emilie bit on her lip. “She’s known you longer than I have.”
“But you know me,” Remus said softly. He took her hand in his and turned it so that the palm of her hand was facing the ceiling. He traced the lines of her palm. “I feel like you understand me. I don’t think Marissa ever would.”
Emilie gave him a gentle smile, touched. Remus let go off her hand and blushed as he tentatively wrapped his arm around her – his insecurities seemed to fade fast, however, when she moved closer to him. “I suppose we should start watching the film,” Emilie whispered.
“I suppose we should,” Remus agreed, but for the remainder of the film, she swore she could feel his eyes on her.
Thank you very much for your reviews. I’m feeling a lot better – I was only sick for a couple of days – but things at home have been hectic. Thank you very much for reading! I hope to have Chapter 10 up as soon as possible… because it’s going to be a very eventful chapter!
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