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Chapter 5 : A Rude Awakening
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“Dollie, you look stunning. But then, you always do.”
The lake water rippled at their feet, its surface winking and glittering thanks to the countless stars that lit up the clear night sky. The moon light shone on them like a natural spotlight, illuminating their shadowed figures. The castle stood as the perfect backdrop to a perfect night.
He clasped her hand, his grip tender but assuring, while the other stroked her hair softly. His chocolate eyes sparkled as they stared into her own, filled with both love and devotion. His thin lips were curled in a sincere smile as he gazed at her. Her other hand lightly traced his features, her body shivering with passion as she touched his skin. She never wanted to leave this moment.
“Viv, are you sure we have to wake her? She looks so happy, so peaceful...”
“Well what else are we suppose to do? This bloody owl won’t leave us alone until it gives her the letter. I wish it would stop snapping at me…”
“That’s because you keep trying to nick its letter.”
“It’s not ITS letter. It’s Dollies’ and I, as one of her best friends, should be entitled to it.”
“Whatever. The question is, should we wake her?”
“Okay, second question. How?”
An indistinguishable echo rang through the air but neither of them noticed. She laid her head on his chest, her arms encircled around his waist while he rested his chin on top her hair, his own arms hugging her protectively as they swayed to the silent music of the night.
“Genius, Viv. She is really awake.”
“I don’t see you having any bright ideas.”
“Well, maybe we should just leave her alone.”
“Not an option, unless we want this owl bugging us all morning.”
“Fine. So what do we do?”
She looked up and once again felt a wave of emotion course through her body as she stared at his face, into his eyes. He placed his hand on her cheek and smiled that small smile of his. He slowly bent his head, his warm breath tickling her face as he drew closer. His mouth, his lips were less than an inch from her own until-
Instead of his lips, a cold jet of water splashed her face. With a jolt, she sat up and wiped the water from her face. She sat for a moment and blinked with confusion at, instead of Remus Lupin, the blurry images of Vivian and Lily who were sitting on either side of her. Lily was holding her wand, which she sheepishly tossed on her own bed when Dollie woke up. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked at the clock. That’s when she finally found her voice.
“Why in Merlin’s name am I awake at 4 o'clock in the morning?!”
“Sshhhh,” Vivian shushed her as she clasped her hand on Dollie’s mouth. She then pulled her out of bed and towards the window sill. Perched on it, its chest puffed with pomposity, was a large, pure black owl with big, wild grey eyes. Dollie looked at it with confusion then turned to Vivian with a raised eyebrow that said, “So?”
Vivian then pointed at its leg where, Dollie noticed, was a piece of parchment tied with string around its leg. Again, she raised another eyebrow at Vivian.
“It wouldn’t let neither me nor Lily touch it so we assume it’s for you,” she shrugged and let go of Dollie’s mouth.
Dollie, still very much half-asleep, reached for the owl. It obliged and stuck out its leg, allowing her to untie the string and release the letter. When she was done, it bowed its head slightly and took off flying back to the Owlery.
She unrolled the letter and read it silently. A few seconds later, she crumbled it in her palm and threw it onto the stone floor, stomped to her bed and buried herself in it. Before Lily could stop her, Vivian picked up the letter, walked over to Dollie’s bed and sat down. She gestured Lily to follow suit and together, they read the letter quietly but loud enough for Dollie to hear.
I’m so sorry about what happened yesterday. Let me make it up to you. Please meet me under the beech tree by the lake as soon as you get this. I hope I’ll see you there.
Vivian exchanged looks with Lily and, keeping the note in the drawer of Dollie’s bedside table, they both scooted over to Dollie who was determinedly shutting her eyes. She hadn’t told either of them about what had happened. As far as they knew, according to ‘Abs’, she had arrived for the date. When she came back, she had her dinner in bed and closed the hangings around her bed, not saying a word.
“Dollie, what happened yesterday?” Lily asked kindly, her voice comforting yet firm.
Dollie buried her face into her pillow, trying to block out the horrendous episode of the previous day. “Nothing,” she mumbled inaudibly.
“It doesn’t look or sound like nothing,” Vivian replied matter-of-factly.
“I’m not going, if that’s what you’re getting at.” She lifted her face and propped her head on its back, facing her friends.
“Doll, you have to. Whatever awful thing he did, he seems apologetic and I think you should let him give you an explanation,” Lily said rationally.
“You can also give him a piece of your mind. Or better yet, bring me along so that I can hex him for whatever he did to you,” Vivian grinned good-naturedly, half meaning it.
Dollie smiled weakly but with the incident still fresh on her mind, she said resolutely, “Thanks, but after what happened, no way in hell am I meeting him again.”
“Come on, hear him out. Just let him explain himself, then you don’t ever have to deal with him again.”
Dollie glared at her two friends wearily and she knew they were never going to give her any peace until she did it. She looked at her warm bed longingly and with an annoyed sigh, she got out of bed.
“Fine. But I’m not dressing up for him.”
“Stupid friends, stupid morning, stupid Black…” Dollie muttered irritably as she walked down the hollow corridors of the school. It was fairly warm, being late summer and all but she still tightened the robe she was wearing, more out of anxiety than coldness. It was still rather dark but the halls were lit with old-fashion torches that hung from the wall and magically lit or extinguish themselves. The portraits, while most were still snoozing soundly, a rare few were rubbing the sleep from their eyes and occasionally giving her a quizzical glance. It was one of the few times where Dollie desperately envied the portraits for their uneventful, drama-free life. The fat, pink lady hadn’t been all too pleased when Dollie had exited the Gryffindor tower.
“Far too early to be awake and on a weekend at that!” the fat, pink lady had exclaimed when she swung herself open.
“Too right,” she had mumbled in response but doubted the portrait heard her.
Finally, after many twists and turns, she arrived at the castle grounds. Squinting in the morning darkness, she made out a lone figure under the Beech tree by the lake who seemed to be setting something up. Rubbing any remaining sleep dust from her eyes, she approached the figure and sure enough, it was Sirius Black. His back had previously been facing her but when he turned around, surprise and relief flooded into his face as he grinned, pushing his longish black locks away from his face. He looked annoyingly fresh and lively, his hair neat and recently combed while his attire consisted of a simple black t-shirt and jeans.
Merlin’s beard, he must be a morning person! She thought incredulously.
“Hullo Dollie, I’m glad you could make it,” he said, relief distinct in his voice. Even his voice sounded vigorous!
Sirius had been nervous, he really had. After yesterday’s debacle of a date, he’d searched his brain and thought of every possible tactic he could use to make Dollie forgive him. She’d skipped dinner and refused to leave her dormitory, no matter how long he waited in the common room for her. James, no matter how hard he protested his innocence (“I was just helping you out, mate!”), would pay dearly for what he did; though Sirius had yet to think of a bad enough punishment.
So, because he wanted to have some private time with her, he arranged a morning picnic for just the two of them. He’d been up since 3 o'clock in the morning, making sure everything was set up perfectly. He’d just been making the final touches when she arrived. He had to smile when he saw her. Clad in pyjama bottoms, a t-shirt and a violet robe, she looked like the ultimate non-morning person. Her eyes were slightly red and puffy though he couldn’t be sure if it was because of the early hour or because she had been crying. Deep black bags resided under her eyes while her hair was all over the place. She was glaring daggers at him; yet, she still looked attractive to him.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he said as he gestured at the simple-looking blanket on the grass.
She raised her eyebrows but stayed silent as she sat down. Immediately, the blanket changed itself into a swirling mass of dark lavender, black and white. Her eyes grew wide at the sight of it and clutching her robe, she croaked, “How did it do that?”
He shrugged and replied, “I charmed it so that it would become the favourite colour of whoever sat on it.”
She pushed back her thick fringe as she looked up at him and studied his face. With a hint of mockery, she said, “Nice magic, bet it impresses all the girls.”
“Actually, it’s an especially hard charm to do and no, none of the other girls have ever seen it,” he replied coolly. He was about to sit himself down beside her but the murderous glare convinced him to sit at the other side of the blanket. “So, what would you like to eat?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, just say what you want to have.”
She considered him thoroughly and with a sigh, she said clearly, “Orange juice, I suppose.”
In an instant, a jug of fresh orange juice appeared in the middle of the blanket with two glasses beside it.
“Excellent choice but it isn’t much of a breakfast,” he said light-heartedly, grinning at her impressed face.
“I was just testing it,” she retorted, making her face apathetic as she continued, “Fruits, toast, a jar of peanut butter, cereal, yogurt… Aren’t you going to have anything?” she asked him.
“I’ll have whatever you’re having,” He smiled.
“I get full easily,” she shrugged.
“Okay then, if you insist,” he said, “Pancakes, omelettes, strawberry jam, eggs and… I think that should do.”
One by one, various plates, bowls, saucers and cups filled with the most mouth-watering breakfast you could ever see. The toast was the perfect golden brown, the pancakes and omelettes freshly made, the fruits just ripe while the drinks were the right balance between tepid and cool. Sirius had to commend the school elves on their efficiency. When he had approached them late last night, he wasn’t all too sure whether they would grant his request at such an early hour but of course, they happily agreed to do it.
He watched as she picked up a piece of toast, smothered it in peanut butter and cautiously took a bite of it. Finding it to her liking, she ate it whole-heartedly. He, in turn, took one of the pancakes and devoured it with gusto. They sat like that for a few minutes, enjoying the feast, when Sirius said, “You’ve got a good appetite, Dollie.”
She was munching on her second piece of toast as she rolled her eyes and answered sarcastically, “You got to eat to live, Black.”
“I know that. I’m just saying that most of the other girls don’t seem to eat much, like they’re trying to lose weight or maintain it. It’s just strange that’s all.”
“It’s their prerogative, Black.”
“I know. I like a girl with a healthy appetite.”
She avoided his gaze, concentrating on the cup of strawberry yogurt she was currently drinking. He sensed that she was still ticked off about yesterday so he said, “Dollie, I meant what I said in the letter. I’m really sorry about yesterday. I didn’t realize that you were uncomfortable flying with me and it was never my intention to make you ill at ease. Will you accept my apology? Will you let me start over?” He smiled hopefully at her, edging a little closer to her.
She wavered slightly and though her eyes were still a bit hesitant, she said reluctantly, “Okay, we can start over.”
“Great,” he said earnestly. “So with that done, can you possibly consent to letting me get to know you better?”
She quirked an eyebrow, “Depends on what you mean by that.”
He laughed his bark-laugh, “Not in that way. I mean by letting me get to know you as a person.”
She shrugged and replied, “Not much about me, I’m painfully dull.”
“I don’t think that. You can’t be dull if you’re best friends with Costa and Evans. Plus, you’re a Gryffindor and Gryffindors are rarely dull.” He grinned.
A small smile played at her lips with those words; a sad, secret smile that Sirius didn’t fully understand. Not until much, much later.
“I suppose,” she said with a sigh. “I suppose…” She stared at the lake, her eyes clouded over and reserved. She ran her slender fingers through her hair absent-mindedly, untangling the various knots and mess. Again, she wouldn’t meet his gaze, avoiding it as best as she could.
Sirius took a deep breath and said what he had been wondering about since yesterday, “Dollie, why were you afraid yesterday?”
Her eyes darkened slightly and her eyebrows furrowed at this inquiry. “Why do you need to know?” she asked, a hard edge creeping into her voice.
“I don’t need to know, I want to,” he answered gently.
Her face softened to some extent and with seemingly great difficulty, she said, “I’m terrified of heights. I’ve never liked it. There is no great story behind it, no dramatic tale I can share about it. But I guess…. I guess it’s because being up so high, it makes me feel vulnerable. There is nothing to protect me, nothing but a stick of wood, if I fall. I cannot save myself, my weight will only get me in more danger. I must rely on something else, someone else, when I’m so exposed. It terrifies me, because I must put my safety, my life in someone else’s hands. What they do with it is up to them.” She trembled as she spoke, her voice so susceptible yet wise at the same time.
“So… you don’t like depending on other people?” he deduced.
She gave a weak smile, “I don’t find them the most steadfast. ‘Miss Independent’, that’s what Vivian and Lily call me. Never lets anyone else in.” She halted at this, making it clear that she wanted to drop the subject. Changing the subject, she said, "Now, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure," he shrugged, "Fair's fair."
"Why do you, Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew call yourselves 'The Marauders'?"
"Why, isn't it obvious? Because we kill boredom and steal hearts!" He laughed his bark laugh at the meaning, which Remus had kindly looked up for them.
Dollie rolled her eyes in sarcasm but didn't say anything.
Sensing it might be time, he checked his watch. Making sure it was the right time, he peeked at her. She noticed him looking at his watch and met his gaze with a questioning look. “Dollie, I had an ulterior motive behind my invitation to you to meet me at this particular time.” Her eyebrows shot up at this to which he laughed, “No, I don’t mean that! I mean that I want to show you something.” He dared to stand up, walked over and park himself beside her. Her forehead creased at this but she didn’t say anything.
He grinned at her and pointed to the mountains that lay far behind the great lake. She followed his direction and gasped slightly at what she saw. For there, in a kaleidoscope of colours, was the sun, rising from its slumber and preparing to reside in the sky. The horizons, previously a dark, murky navy, lit up in a swirl of ginger, crimson and violet at the coming of the sun. Its rays shone brightly as it obscured the stars that were disappearing into oblivion. It rose slowly, majestically into the sky, bathing him and Dollie in its warm glow.
He turned to see her reaction and was not disappointed. The rays illuminated her ice-blue eyes, making it seem to twinkle like stars. A rosy flush came to her cheeks as she marvelled at the dawn, her lips curled in a reluctant smile. “I made a wild guess that you have never seen the sunrise, judging from what time you are usually up for school,” he said mischievously.
“You made a good guess,” she responded.
“I’ve always liked sunrise. It’s like a sign of hope, the mark of a new beginning.” He paused slightly but continued, “Which is what I was hoping with where this is going. A new beginning.”
She turned to face him at these words, “What do you mean by that?”
“I mean…well…,” he reached out and enveloped her hand in his. It was cold to his touch and was trembling somewhat. He took a deep breath, looked into her eyes and plunged, “Dollie, will you let me be your boyfriend?”
“Dollie, will you let me be your boyfriend?”
She had been averse to him grabbing her hand like that but when he said those words, she suspected her mouth dropped wide open and gawking at him in astonishment. He had taken her by surprise the entire morning. The letter, the blanket, the breakfast, the sunrise. She had been rather weary when he sat beside her but thought he was just going to ‘cop a feel’. She didn’t actually think he would ask her if he could be her boyfriend.
Rather than going blank, her mind instantly overloaded with thoughts, images and the consequences. The thoughts of the reaction Vivian, Lily and the whole school would have when they found out occupied her mind. She felt slight pressure on her hand and noticed that he was still holding her hand. Unlike her dream of Remus caressing her hand with his smooth, warm touch, Black’s hand was abrasive and coarse, probably from all the broom-riding he did. But like the dream, he was holding her hand gently and tenderly, as if her hand was the most fragile thing in the world. She involuntarily shuddered at his touch, resisting the urge to pull her hand away while avoiding his loving gaze. Love?! He couldn’t love her! He didn’t even know her! So why was he staring at her like that if he didn’t…
NO! No, it’s just one of his games, the tricks he played on girls to catch them off guard. Yeah, that’s it. That’s what she wanted to believe, wanted to make herself believe. But she couldn’t. His eyes, his smile, his voice… they were all too sincere for it to be a trick. The whole scene was superb, like a fairytale, like something from her dreams. Only in her dreams, she had always imagined the ‘prince’ to be a brown-haired, brown-eyed bookworm. Not a black-haired, grey-eyed playboy…
She looked into those puppy-dog grey eyes, gulped a bit as she stammered her response, wishing desperately with all her heart that she didn’t have to do this.
“Merlin, is that her?!”
“Urgh, he could do so much better!”
“What was he thinking?!”
The whispers, mutters and mumbles seemed to suffocate Dollie as she, Vivian and Lily made their way to the Gryffindor table. It was Monday, the day after Sirius had asked her to let him be her boyfriend. After she agreed, she had excused herself to go back to the dormitory. There, she found a wide-awake Vivian and Lily as she narrated what happened. Their reactions were just what she anticipated.
“OH MY GODRIC! HE ASKED IF HE COULD BE YOUR BOYFRIEND??!!,” she had squealed with glee, “THAT IS SO ROMANTIC!”
“Wow, I never knew he had it in him,” Lily said with surprise.
“Viv, ssshhh! Look, it’s no big deal. I mean, it doesn’t mean anything, right?” she had said nervously.
Vivian had calmed herself down and spoke with the excitement still in her voice, “What do you mean ‘it’s no big deal’? Oh contraire, Doll, it’s a HUGE deal!” she started jumping up and down with joy. With Vivian more or less incapacitated, Dollie had turned to Lily.
“Lils, tell me. It isn’t, right?”
“Well,” she deliberated, “Is that how he really said it?”
“Then he must be serious.”
“Of course he’s Sirius!”
“That’s not what I mean! I mean Serious. S-E-R-I-O-U-S.”
“Oh. So what does that mean?”
“It means that he’s really serious about you!” Vivian intervened.
“And by that….?”
“He said, ‘will you let be your boyfriend’, right?”
“Well, blokes usually say, ‘will you be my girlfriend?’, thereby making it as though they’re the ones in charge. But the way he said it, he is putting the power in your hands, the supremacy in your hands.”
“And you know this is true because…”
“Doll, I’m the ‘bloke expert’. I’ve been around the block more times than I can remember. Of course I know what I’m talking about!”
Dollie felt the blood rush to her face as they sat down at the table. The girls at Hogwarts weren’t very subtle, but she didn’t think so much attention was necessary just because she became a couple with Sirius Black. She had expected the Slytherins to be their usual ‘charming’ selves (“Euw, she isn’t even that pretty!”) but she didn’t think the other houses would stoop to their level. A few third-year Ravenclaws were blatantly pointing at her while whispering. A group of sixth-years, whom she thought would be more mature, ‘accidentally’ sent a bowl of porridge flying onto her lap. Vivian promptly cleaned the mess with her wand, glaring severely at the group. Dollie felt close to tears until The Marauders showed up. The girls put on their angelic faces when they sat down, Sirius beside Dollie, James beside Lily, and Remus and Peter across from them.
“Hullo Dollie,” Sirius said genially until he noticed the look on her face, “Is something the matter?”
Dollie busied herself by munching a mouthful of cereal, shaking her head as she crunched. She sent a fixed stare at Vivian, who was about to open her mouth to say something. She didn’t need him to go all ‘knight in shining armour’ on her. She can handle herself just fine-
Oh bugger, no.
They all turned around at the screechy voice and came face to face with Suzanna ‘Sue’ Milton. Sue was their fifth Gryffindor dorm-mate as well as a world-class, power hungry pain. She had a near skeletal frame with the largest (probably with the help of an engrogment spell) breasts in fifth-year. She also always seemed to ‘forget’ to wear a brassiere, giving the pair a life of their own whenever she so much as breathed. Her hair was always in place and she walked as though she was on a runway, making sure her butt muscles went up and down systematically. On one of her famous pair of breasts was a gleaming silver badge with the letter ‘P’ on it. She had been made prefect when Dollie had rejected the offer. She was also considered the ‘head’ of the ‘Marauder Fan Girls’.
“Oh, I just heard! Congratulations! You must be so proud!” she shrieked with supposed kindness. She primly smoothed her already perfect golden-brown hair as she hungrily gave Black a once over. “Hi, Sirius…” she said sultrily, her lips curled in a covetousness way.
“Hey Milton,” he greeted her somewhat grudgingly.
“Oh come now!” her tinkling laugh sounding like fingernails on a blackboard, “none of this silly last name business. Call me Sue,” she said, her fake smile filling up her face.
“Good,” she then turned to Dollie and a certain livid look flashed in her eyes, “Oh Dawlie, I never thought after what happened on Saturday,” she gave another hearty tinkling laugh, “that you and Sirius would actually get together. It’s so cute, so darling, so -,”
But what ‘so’ would come after, Dollie never knew. Before anyone realized what had happened, Sue Milton was covered in hot tomato soup, with a sheepish Abbey-Emma holding an empty bowl.
“Oh darn, Sue, I’m ever so sorry! I was just coming back from the Hufflepuff table when I must have slipped on something! I’m so sorry! Really I am! Here, let me clean you up!” She advanced towards Sue when she tripped on her shoelaces and accidentally pushed Sue into Cass Horsen, a Hufflepuff who was in Herbology with them. Cass spilled her plate of maple syrup covered pancakes all over Sue’s hair.
"Holly Golightly! I’m so sorry! Here, let me help-,”
“NO! No more help!” she picked herself up from the floor and was positively quaking with embarrassment and fury but didn’t dare do anything in front of the Marauders. “Well, then. I’ll just excuse myself now,” she said as she stomped out of the Great Hall.
“Thank Merlin,” Sirius muttered inaudibly.
“Well, we better head to ‘Potions’ before we get in trouble with Professor Slughorn,” Remus said sensibly as he gathered his armful of books. They all agreed as they gathered their books.
Sirius extended his hand to Dollie and said, “Walk with me?”
Dollie declined and said to go first, she’ll catch up later. He shrugged and followed the others out. Dollie then turned to Abs and Cass, who were exchanging grins with each other. “Thanks,” she said gratefully to them.
“Why?” Abs said, grinning impishly, “We didn’t do anything, did we, Cass?”
“Nope, not a thing,” Cass said, equally impish. “I’ll see you both later,” she said as she walked away, waving as she went.
“Bye Cass! Come on, Kent, we better get going or else Sluggy will have a hernia!”
“It’s been a rough day.”
Dollie, Vivian and Lily were sitting on Dollie’s bed, the hangings closed and charmed with an anti-eavesdropping spell. Vivian was applying her night cream while Lily was finishing up her Arithmancy homework. Dollie was just lying down, her aching head on her pillow, replaying the events of the day over and over in her head. It HAD been a rough day.
During Potions, not only did someone extended the flames under her cauldron on to the hemline of her robes but a few even ‘spilled’ various ingredients into her cauldron, continuously ruining the ‘Strengthening solution’ potion that they were supposed to be brewing.
During History of Magic, which she usually liked because Professor Binns was such a passionate teacher, random paper airplanes would crash into her hair and one even poked her in the eye.
In Defence against the Dark Arts, the hexes that they were supposed to learn about and deflect would, to Professor Tristram’s perplexity, inexplicably try to hit Dollie, as though she were attracting them.
In the Study of Ancient Runes, after translating and writing a thirteen inch essay of ancient runes depicting the life of Hercules and his twelve labours, someone knock over her jar of ink all over the parchment, forcing Professor Prometheus to assign her to do it over again.
During lunch, her spaghetti suddenly turned into slimy flobberworms while her orange juice would turn into mud. Dinner saw her chicken wings actually fly into her face, splattering it with barbecue sauce.
All in all, it hadn’t been the best day of her life.
“Who knows, maybe it’ll get better, sooner or later,” Vivian had shrugged. “I mean, they can’t keep doing those kinds of things forever…”
“We don’t know that, Viv. Remember when everyone found out that Potter fancied me? It took me a week to get the Stinksap out of my hair. Until Potter started hexing everyone he suspected of doing those things to me,” Lily gave an irritated sigh at the memory.
“Hey, you could ask Black if he would hex all those hags!”
“No, I’m not dragging him into this. He doesn’t have to know,” she said unflinchingly.
“Suit yourself. I’m going to bed, Divination homework says I have to keep a dream diary for a month,” Vivian stuck out her tongue in revolt. “If you ask me, Professor Duncan is just a nosy hag who wants to know what kind of dreams we have. Night-night!” With that, she got out of the bed, followed by Lily who was also tired from Arithmancy.
Dollie said goodnight as the torches on the wall extinguish themselves and she was engulfed in darkness. She tried to shut her eyes and get some sleep but the day’s events kept churning themselves in her head, rendering her sleepless. She clutched her pillow, unable to forget the cruelty of teenage girls, who allow their envy consume them into such vindictiveness. As she lay there, she wondered if it was really worth it, going through such horridness. Then she remembered the numerous dreams that featured her and Remus, dreams that could someday turn into reality. Her heart pounded in her chest as she remembered.
Yes, he was worth it.
A/N:- So here's the 5th chapter! To the Remus Lovers out there, I know I left him out but I promise I'll put him more in upcoming chappies. Anyway, as always, Read and Review!
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