Chapter 4 : To Han, From Leia, With Love
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Rhian sniffed the air. “Yep, it’s coming.”
“You can’t smell the changing of the seasons!” Sirius attested. He and Rhian were hanging out at his flat one night.
“I never said I could smell the seasons changing. I can smell snow. And fall is coming, because I can smell snow a season away.”
“It doesn’t snow much in London, you know.”
“An enormous shortcoming for an otherwise lovely town.”
“So, I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s Auror training been?”
“Really hard, but good. I got highest in my class on our last practical examination. I even beat Dawlish!”
Rhian didn’t realize how little she had told Sirius about Auror training. She had perfected her vocal impersonation of Dawlish’s drawl within a week and performed it for Will. “He’s this guy in my class who apparently invented a more efficient method of extracting magic from the wizard to the wand core. He’s really smart, so it’s a big deal that I did better than him.”
There was silence for a few moments.
“Did I tell you about our last Death Eater raid?” Sirius asked.
“Lily said used the Leg-Locker Curse on two of them and they ended up knocking heads when they fell over.”
This date was already turning out to be the worst one of Sirius's life. So, he did what he did best (in his opinion, at least).
Rhian felt Sirius press his lips against hers very forcefully. She was initially relieved that they didn’t have to make small talk anymore, but she couldn’t help but feel very awkward. Sirius slipped his tongue into her mouth, but Rhian ended up choking on spit. She stood up and coughed.
“Sorry,” Sirius said.
“No, it’s fine,” said Rhian, realizing that he had been slightly uncomfortable trying too hard. “Hey, let’s go see Lily and James.”
“They’re at your place?” Sirius asked. Rhian nodded.
Rhian turned the key in the lock and opened the door to her flat. The kitchen was dark, and she detected the faint candlelight coming from the living room. She walked through the apartment, Sirius following, until she came upon the sight of James and Lily passionately making out on the couch.
“Whoa God!” Rhian exclaimed, shielding her eyes.
“I can’t believe I’ve never actually seen you guys at it before!” remarked Sirius, spinning around and dashing out the door.
Lily stood up very quickly and adjusted her messy hair, very embarrassed, while James got up more slowly and grinned.
“I’ll find Padfoot and you can tell her, Lily,” he said, exiting the room.
“Sit down, will you Rhian?” Lily asked nervously, sitting down herself.
“Definitely a little confused over here,” Rhian responded.
Lily sat up straight and exhaled. “James asked me to marry him!” her face exploded into a smile.
Rhian dropped her jaw and threw her arms around her best friend. “Oh my God! This is like…oh my God!”
“I can’t believe it either!”
“It’s not that I can’t believe it, because you two have been inseparable since last year, but you’re actually getting married! It’s wonderful!”
“I’m kind of unsure, though, because we’re so young.”
“Lils, it seems like everyone’s getting married, what with the war and all. The Daily Prophet doesn’t have room to publish all the wedding announcements!”
“I’m just worried what my parents will say—”
“Oh Lily, they will understand, they want you to be happy.”
“You’re right, you’re always right, Rhi. Oh yes—will you be my maid of honor?”
“Of course! Just don’t make me wear a burgundy-colored dress, I look terrible in burgundy.”
“Deal! And James is asking Sirius to be his best man.”
“Well, considering that it’s the rule that the maid of honor and best man have to snog at the reception, he’s not a bad choice. Now show me your ring!”
Lily held out her hand, flaunting the finely cut diamond on her finger. “I’m afraid to ask how much it cost.”
“Aw, it’s beautiful, Lily,” Rhian smiled. “You’re sure you want to marry James Potter?”
“Without a doubt,” Lily replied.
“It must have been awkward walking in on James and Lily—you-know-whating,” said Remus, labeling a file of Muggle attack locations in Cornwall.
“The important part is they’re getting married, Rem!” Rhian insisted, continuing her Order work. “I will admit, that part was awkward.”
“I can’t believe James finally won her.”
“I can’t believe you’d put it that way.”
“Sorry, it’s just that he’s been talking bout winning Lily for what, five years? It was a miracle when she started treating him civilly, and now they’re engaged.”
“I think it’s sweet.”
“I never said I disapproved. They’re the only people I know who even come close to being perfect for each other.”
Rhian had noticed Remus’s pale visage, but had failed to bring it up until now. “You feeling alright?”
“Full moon last night,” he answered, performing a stapling spell. “That’s why I’m not in the field.”
“Sorry if I’m coming across as irritable, it’s just that I was turned down for another job today.”
“Apparently the newspaper made a mistake in publishing a help wanted ad for Scribbulus Everchanging Inks.”
“You couldn’t get a job at a stationary store?”
“Thanks, you’re making me feel so much better,” Remus grumbled.
“Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself, you know what I mean! You’ve got excellent N.E.W.T. scores, you should be working for the Ministry or something!”
“The Ministry would certainly never hire me.”
“Well why not?”
“They’re the ones who passed the legislation that makes it so I can’t be hired in the first place!”
Rhian paused, flabbergasted. “What legislation?”
“They passed a law that forces potential employees to divulge their human status.”
“What, the werewolf thing?”
“I have to tell about my lycanthropy, but no one will hire me once they know.”
“That’s ridiculous! You’re so much more qualified than most people!”
“That’s why I’m so upset. It’s just frustrating.”
“Aw Rem,” Rhian hugged him. “We have to hang out more. I never see you.”
“I’d like that,” Remus answered.
“Someday when we don’t have mountains of paperwork.”
“It’s astounding how these papers become messy every day, right after we organize them.”
“I bet Dumbledore messes them up after we leave every night. Sick bastard,” Rhian joked, and Remus laughed. “See,” she continued, “you can still laugh.”
“You are still, and hopefully always will be, a lunatic,” said Remus.
“Ooh, are you going to the Quidditch convention with Sirius and James this weekend?”
“Me? Quidditch convention? You’re the one who would be more likely to attend.”
“Can’t, I’ve got an Auror exam Saturday morning. But do you want to catch a movie Saturday night?”
“A Muggle film?”
“Come on Remus, your mam was a Muggle, stop pretending it’s a foreign concept. It’ll be fun! And Lily’s having dinner with her family that night, so I can’t hang out with her.”
“I’m your last resort?”
“Of course you’re not. I just know you need some convincing.”
“I don’t know how much Sirius will love the idea of us hanging out together.”
“Oh, he’ll get over it. And maybe we can find Peter or someone else to come.”
“Alright then. Movie, Saturday night.”
“Cool. Oh, yuck, someone spilled ink all over these folders, this’ll be fun to clean up,” Rhian stuck out her tongue, pulled out her wand, and thought Scourgify!
“Lily’s getting married!” Rhian exclaimed as she entered the coffee shop.
“Good for her,” Will replied, pouring Rhian a cup of coffee. They were way past the point of him having to take her order.
“She’s marrying James!”
“James was her boyfriend, right? Very fitting, then.”
“Oh, you don’t get it. At school, Lily and James hated each other. Well, she hated him more, I suppose. He basically always liked her and constantly tried to impress her, acting all tough and cocky and bullying people. Unfortunately, that made her absolutely despise him. Finally, she gave him a chance and it all sort of fell through but then they started dating seventh year and haven’t even had a disagreement since then. They’re so cute together and they never realized how right they are for each other!”
“James went to Haverford with you? An all-girls school?” Will was suspicious.
“Um, of course he didn’t go to Haverford,” Rhian had to think fast. “He went to the all-guys school down the road. We sometimes had combined classes.”
“Hm,” Will replied. “Well, I’m glad you’re supportive of their happiness.”
“Hay is for horses,” Will said mockingly.
Rhian ignored him. “Want to come see a movie with my friend Remus and me Saturday night?”
“Yeah, it’ll be fun.”
“Nighttime? As in not six o’clock in the morning?”
“I believe you answered your own question.”
“I’m just surprised, is all. You know, if we start seeing each other at a different time of day, it’s a big step.”
“Oh, stop being so melodramatic.”
“No, I’m serious. Are you sure you want to take our relationship to the next level? Because there’s no going back.”
“Am I always this annoying to you?”
Will grinned. “Yep.”
“Hm, I had no idea. Well, want to come to the movies?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Cool! You’ll like Remus.”
“You’re not trying to set us up, right? Because I’m not really into that.”
“Geesh, the world doesn’t revolve around you, Will.”
“Your world revolves around me, Rhian.”
“Argh, why are you so cocky today?”
“I got full marks on my Macroeconomics paper yesterday.”
“How did your practical exam turn out?”
“Really well. I got the highest grade in my class!”
“You even beat Dawlish? Good for you!”
Rhian looked down at her mug of really excellent coffee and smiled. “Will?” she said, looking up.
“You remembered to ask me about my exam.”
“Well, you always remember stuff I tell you,” he replied matter-of-factly.
Rhian felt herself fill with happiness at these words, but then realized why. She felt her stomach sink with dread, downed her coffee, and tried to bolt out of the coffee shop.
“We still on for Saturday?” she heard Will ask from behind her, obviously confused.
“Uh huh,” she felt the words escape from her mouth. No! Why did she say that? Well, she couldn’t have taken away the offer, not at this point. Wait, maybe this entire panic attack was for nothing. After all, Rhian’s boyfriend was Sirius Black. The guy was hot enough to be a model and charming enough to be a prince. Nope, Rhian couldn’t possibly—
“I don’t see why you’re so nervous. I won’t slip up and mention anything magical,” Remus assured Rhian, who was biting her nails.
“I know you won’t, Rem,” Rhian mumbled. She and Remus were waiting for Will outside the cinema Saturday night.
“Look, I remember everything you told me to say if he asks questions. I went to Canterbury Preparatory School, right down the road from Haverford. We had joint classes, and that’s how we met. I currently go to Oxford to read medicine and have an internship in London, which explains my frequent commutes.”
“Thanks so much for putting up with my crazyness, Remus.”
“I know something isn’t right with you. You can always tell me.”
Rhian sighed. Of course she could tell Remus. He was the perpetual voice of reason. “I don’t love Sirius anymore,” she said quietly.
Remus stared at her very seriously. “You’re sure about this?”
“Pretty sure,” said Rhian. “I mean, you don’t love someone one second and fall out of love the next. Since school ended, we’ve had separate lives. He’s always at work in Diagon Alley, and I’m always at Auror training. Even when we have Order work at the same time, he’s out battling Death Eaters and I’m doing paperwork at the Hogs Head.”
“It can feel strange at first to go from seeing someone every day to hardly at all. Just give it time—”
“But see, I have given it time, and it’s just getting worse. We never have anything to talk about, and it’s always so awkward. I just don’t know what to do, Remus.”
“Well, you have two options. You can try to make the status quo work, or…end it, I suppose.”
“Oh, I can’t do that, Remus! He seems like he really wants to make it work, and I don’t want to hurt him.”
“I don’t really know what else to say, Rhi. I’m a guy, so I’m not that good at giving advice.”
“Sorry for putting you in this position, Rem. I’ve just been wracking my brain for the past two days, trying to figure out the best solution. Lily’s not that good with advice, she’s always over-the-moon happy because she’s engaged.” Rhian looked up with a start, because she saw Will approaching. She waved broadly to attract his attention, which Remus observed.
Rhian smiled. She was really glad to introduce Will to another one of her friends. “Alright, Will, this is Remus Lupin. Remus, this is Will Carlyle.”
“Good to meet you, Remus,” Will outstretched his hand.
“Likewise,” Remus replied, shaking it. Rhian always found it funny how guys always shook hands.
“Come on, we have to get in line to get tickets,” said Rhian, walking towards the ticket window.
“You’re at Oxford, Remus?” Will asked.
“Christ Church College,” Remus answered, glancing at Rhian. Rhian hated how he was so good at making her feel guilty.
“Ah, a few of my schoolmates go there, but they’re reading mathematics and linguistics so you might not have run into them in your science classes. Tom Gulliver and Remy Wilson?”
“Nope, can’t say I’ve run into them,” Remus lied well. Rhian uttered a silent prayer as she purchased her ticket for Star Wars.
“You’re at the University of London, Will?” Remus asked.
“Yep. Four generations of Carlyles have studied economics there, so I’m expected to carry on the tradition,” Will said with a nearly indiscernible amount of sarcasm.
“Wow, I didn’t realize the history your family had there,” said Rhian.
“My great-great-grandfather was finance minister to Queen Victoria, which is a fact that I hestitate to tell people but my father slips at every opportunity,” Will gritted his teeth. Remus looked at Rhian, clearly detecting Will’s daddy issues.
“Too bad Rhian’s too stupid to go to university,” said Remus jokingly.
“Hey, what the hell are you talking about? I was smarter than you in half the subjects at school!” Rhian protested.
“You’re like the only person I know who isn’t at university, Rhian. Remus, has she actually told you what government agency she’s training with?” Will asked.
“She hasn’t gone into the specifics. I bet she’s made it all up,” said Remus grinning.
“You guys are asses AND university snobs. I’m training with MI6, I told you! I’m not allowed to say anything more or they’ll SHOOT me!” Rhian insisted.
“Sure,” Will rolled his eyes.
“Ug, you guys are such narks, I’m totally not going to share any of my popcorn with you,” Rhian stormed away, kidding because she knew Remus and Will were.
“Pshoo, schwahh, pshoo pshoo!” Rhian swung her arms around like she was holding a lightsaber, exiting the theater. She didn’t care that some people were staring at her.
“Are you ever afraid that you can’t take her out in public?” Will asked.
“I was just glad when her biting phase ended third year. THAT was embarrassing,” joked Remus.
“Hey, stop having fun at my expense!” Rhian pouted.
“Aw, we hurt her feelings,” said Will, engulfing Rhian in a bear hug.
“Now you’re crushing me!” Rhian gasped.
“Use your Jedi powers to save yourself,” said Will.
Rhian scrunched her face up for several seconds, then relaxed them. “Apparently I’m not a Jedi!”
“So much for being Obi-Wan,” Will said.
“No, Remus is totally Obi-Wan. You have such skills,” Rhian commented.
“I guess that’s a good thing, except I’m not too fond of the whole dying thing,” said Remus.
“I want to be Luke,” Rhian blurted.
“You can’t be Luke!” said Will.
“Why not?” Rhian argued.
“Luke’s a guy. I’m a guy. Thus, I get to be Luke,” said Will.
“That’s dumb logic.”
“You can be Leia.”
“I don’t want to be Leia. She’s not a Jedi! All she does is whine about needing somebody to rescue her.”
“Be Chewbacca then.”
“Ew, no way, he’s so hairy! And also not a Jedi!”
“You’re just as hairy as he is.”
“You’re such an ass! You have to be grumpy Han Solo!”
“Alright you two, break it up,” Remus intervened. “I’m Obi-Wan, and I decide that you both get to be Luke.”
“Okay. I get to be brave Luke, and you can be pouty Luke,” said Rhian. Remus groaned, sensing another argument.
“Whoops, looks like we’re going to have to finish this discussion another day,” Will glanced at his watch. “I should be getting home.”
“Nice meeting you, Will,” Remus stuck out his hand. Rhian giggled on the inside at another guy-handshake.
“Good to see that Rhian’s friends aren’t all mental patients like she is,” said Will.
“I resent that, you know!” Rhian piped.
“See you Monday, Leia!” Will called, walking down the street.
“I’m not Leia!” she called after him, but he had disappeared into the crowd.
“So that’s your coffee friend,” said Remus.
“That’s my coffee friend,” affirmed Rhian.
“He seems like a good guy. Smart.”
“Yeah, he is really smart. He’s athletic too.”
Rhian nodded her head. “Thanks so much for keeping my alibi tonight, Remus.”
“It was definitely odd to lie to a guy you like. Charles Dickens couldn’t have crafted better irony.”
“Yeah,” Rhian said. “Wait! I don’t like him, you know that!”
“You don’t? Odd…you talk about him all the time. You giggle at all his jokes and bicker with him constantly. Plus, you just revealed that you didn’t think things were working with Sirius and you obviously enjoy spending time with Will.”
“God Remus, why are you so…right,” Rhian faltered.
“Well, at least it all makes sense now.”
“I feel really terrible asking you not to say anything…”
“But you’re going to, anyway.”
“Remus, I will admit that maybe, maybe I like talking with Will. But it’s not like I’m going to let it ruin what I have with Sirius. I’ve known Sirius since I was eleven, that’s got to count for something!”
“Why hold on to what you had with Sirius if you like Will? It didn’t really work out too well when you were in the same position last time,” Remus tried hard not to sound bitter.
“Please Remus, I’ll figure something out. I know now that I have to. I don’t want to hurt him like I hurt you.”
“Well,” Remus began, “I’d suggest you do it sooner than later, because Will definitely likes you too.”
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