Chapter 6 : Encounters of the Odd Kind
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“Is this really necessary?”
It had been almost a week since Sirius asked Dollie if he could be her boyfriend and it hadn’t been very smooth sailing for him. Dollie, for some inexplicable reason, was looking more and more down as the days went by. She spoke as little as possible to Sirius and whenever they were together, she would edge away from him. At first, Sirius assumed the stress of the coming O.W.Ls was getting to her but according to a very reliable source, the girls who pathetically fancied him were giving her some hell over their relationship. So he decided to give them all a little warning.
“I hate you, Sirius, I honestly hate you!” James whispered irritably. A few second-years jumped slightly and quickened their pace. Remus didn’t blame them; James was, after all, under his invisibility cloak. Sirius rolled his eyes good-naturedly while making sure he still had a firm hold on James.
“Aaaah, my dear Remus and James. Those horrid hags are making Dollie distressed and you know how much I hate it when people I care about are distressed. Besides, Peter agrees with me.” Sirius lightly punched Peter, who giggled nervously.
“Peter would agree with you if you decided to jump from the Gryffindor tower,” James answered back.
“Whatever. The point is that I want Dollie to understand that I’m behind her and will protect her if she ever needs protecting. Like right now,” Sirius said, his voice clear of his feelings.
Remus didn’t say anything, for it was something Sirius said that reminded him again why he couldn’t be with her. Sirius could give Dollie everything she ought to have, anything she desired. More than anything, Sirius could give her security.
“But really, don’t you think it’s a little early in the semester to get detention? And in your O.W.Ls year.” Remus felt that as his duty as a prefect, he should at least attempt to curb Sirius’s trouble making. Those attempts usually failed.
“Relax, I’ll make sure you are in no way implicated in this little -ahem- ‘lesson’. Peter, where’s Dollie?”
“Erm…” Peter consulted the Marauder’s Map, “It looks like she’s getting ready to leave the tower.”
“Okay, so she won’t be arriving to the Great Hall for a few minutes. Jamesy,” Sirius said slyly, “ready for your big debut? I’m sure Evans will be very impressed.”
Remus let out an annoyed sigh and giving up, he said, “Just let me go in first.”
“Make sure you get a seat with a good view!” Sirius hollered to Remus as he walked into the Great Hall.
It was breakfast and Remus deduced that the owls had just delivered the post. He spotted Vivian and made his way towards her. He sat across from her, her hot pink hair hurting his eyes as he settled into his cereal. He has a weak stomach so his food choices were somewhat limited.
Vivian looked up and he noticed a spark flash in her eyes. “Wotcher Lupin! Where is the rest of your posse?”
Remus shrugged in response, “I could ask you the same question.”
“Lily’s gone to be Dollie’s human alarm clock, it’s her turn this week.”
He crunched on his corn flakes, hoping to Merlin that Sirius would lose his nerve. As he looked up, he cringed inwardly as he saw the teachers all gathered at the upper tables. His eyes fell on Professor Dumbledore, the one who felt him worthy enough to be appointed prefect. It was only the first few weeks of school and he was going to let Dumbledore down, when he had given him a chance no other headmaster would have even considered giving. When he spotted Peter making his way toward him, he knew it was all over. Sirius soon followed, a roguish grin spread across his face. His hand was gripped in thin air, earning him more than a few puzzled looks. When he reached them, Sirius stepped on the bench and stood up on the table, earning him more baffled looks.
He cleared his throat and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, teachers and students. Forgive me for the interruption of your breakfast consumption but due to recent events, I have decided to show everyone what happens when you mess with people I care about. You know who you are. Now, for your perverse pleasure, let us give a hand to the Gryffindor Quidditch captain and the second biggest Hogwarts Hunk himself, JAMES POTTER!” He applauded and with a swish of his hand, removed the invisibility cloak. There, in all his glory, stood James in a glittering, glaring pink tutu.
Some let out gasps, others guffawed. The Slytherins of course started catcalling and wolf whistling. Some of the girls started sighing and squealing. The more entertaining ones, like Vivian, spewed whatever food or liquid that had occupied their mouth and exited through the nose. A deep scowl spread across James’s face and taking a laboured deep breath, he begun:
“I come home in the morning light
McGonagall says ‘when you gonna live your life right?!’
Oh Minnie dear we’re not the fortunate ones
and girls they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun!”
Professor McGonagall flushed a deep crimson, though Remus wasn’t sure if it was from shock, anger, embarrassment or just amusement. He even found himself grinning in spite of himself. If the Marauders were anything, they were definitely creative with their pranks.
“The owls screech in the middle of the night
Dumbly-dore yells ‘what you gonna do with your life?!’
Oh Dumbly dear you know you’re still number one
But girls they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have—
That’s all they really want
When the schooling day is done
Girls-- they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun!”
Professor Dumbledore gave a warm chuckle at the mention of his name and started clapping along to the tune. Professor McGonagall got up but Dumbledore gently seized her arm and shook his head. McGonagall pursed her mouth but didn’t say anything and took her seat. Remus had a sneaking suspicion that Dumbledore was enjoying the show. Besides, James was starting to bust some moves on the table while Sirius looked on approvingly. And they were quite good moves too…
”Some boys take a beautiful girl
and hide her away from the rest of the world!
I want to be the one to walk in the sun!
Oh girls they wanna have fun!
Oh girls just wanna have!”
“That’s all they really want
When the schooling day is done
Girls--they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun,
They wanna have fun,
They wanna have fun...”
James wailed the last line as he did an impressive split on the table. Applause rang through the Hall, some even shouting, “ENCORE! ENCORE!” James plastered a fake grin on his face, as he muttered “Not on your life,” something only the Marauders caught. He was about to get off the table and lunge at Sirius when his face contorted in horrendous mortification.
“What in Merlin’s name is going on here?!”
Lily was standing behind Vivian, her face a struggle between confusion, astonishment and hilarity. Hilarity won.
“Errr, hullo Evans,” James said sheepishly.
“Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant,” her face knotted in suppressed laughter as her green eyes sparkled with glee.
Sirius stepped back on the table. “And that, and much worse, is what is going to happen when you upset people who I care about. I don’t care what house, gender or age you are. You will feel the full wrath of the Marauders--”
“YOU’RE GOING TO FEEL MY WRATH!!!” James shouted as he dove at Sirius and wrestled him on the table, chucking food everywhere.
Remus immediately got on the table and wrenched James off of Sirius. Even though he had a rather thin frame, changing into a werewolf every month gave him some form of strength and enabled him to yank James off. Milk, tomato sauce and other unidentifiable breakfast bits and pieces clung on his tutu as he tried to escape Remus’s grip. McGonagall swooped on them and grabbed Sirius and James’s collar. For a rather aged lady, Remus had to marvel at her fierce strength.
“Now really! Fighting on tables and being fifth-years at that! What sort of example are you setting for your juniors?! Potter, a week’s detention for fighting, starting next week! And Black, a week’s detention starting today for making a mockery of your fellow student! Twenty points from Gryffindor!” McGonagall’s face was a fierce scarlet as she reprimanded the two boys. “Now you both get yourselves clean up and don’t dare be late for class!” She turned to Remus and he was momentarily worried that he was going to get it too when her face relaxed somewhat, “Lupin, five points to Gryffindor for your admirable effort to cease the quarrel.”
“Erm, thanks Professor…”
She gave James and Sirius one more pointed glare before she went back to her breakfast. James glowered at Sirius and stomped out the Great Hall, juice and pink glitter trailing after him. Remus was making his way off the table when he nearly slipped. There, a shell-shocked look on her face stood Dollie.
“What the – “
“Dollie, how long have you been there?” Sirius went to her and took her hand in his. His face, though partly covered in porridge, radiated warmth as he looked at her. He didn’t seem to notice that she wasn’t looking at him back but rather, fixing her gaze on Remus while a slight blush crept on her face.
“I came after Lily. Before Potter started attacking you.” She was definitely talking to Sirius so why was she still staring at him. And why couldn’t he stop staring at her back…
“Well, that’s good, it means you didn’t miss my message,” Sirius beamed.
She jerked and Remus knew the connection, or whatever it was, was broken. She turned to Sirius and met his beam with a wary look. “What message?”
“Well, the one when I said that they shouldn’t mess with people I care about. James distressed you so I used him as an example. I really wish you had told me sooner about the girls upsetting you, I would have – “
“Who told you?!” she almost screamed as she jerked her hand away from his.
“Someone did but I would have preferred it if you had come to me yourself.”
“I can take of myself just fine, Black. I don’t need you to be my knight in shining armour,” she said angrily, her voice shaking with agitation.
“What if I want to be?” he said quietly, so quietly that only Remus and Dollie could hear him.
Remus didn’t want to eavesdrop, really he didn’t. But this Sirius really did stun him. Sirius wasn’t the heartless playboy all the girls made him out to be but he usually wasn’t so head over heels over a girl either. Feeling guilty, he quickly gathered his books and headed straight for class while oblivious to the fact that Dollie hadn’t answered Sirius.
“I’m glad you decide to accompany me even though you didn’t have to,” Sirius said gratefully.
Dollie forced a smile as she tried to manoeuvre her hand away from his. What’s wrong with her?! Here was Sirius Black having some kind of weird mental breakdown (what else could explain his behaviour?) and she was walking with him to the Quidditch Pitch where his detention was to take place in the middle of the night. Some first-years had spilt seeds from Herbology on the field so Sirius had to pick them all by hand without magic. It certainly didn’t help that the seeds were magical seeds and had grown into big plants that could fight back if they wanted to. She hadn’t actually wanted to ‘accompany’ him but Vivian of course insisted they did so that they could talk, whatever that meant.
“It’s nothing really,” she replied. She was lying. The more time she spent with Sirius, the more she felt guilty for stringing him along. That morning, when she saw Remus, something in her swelled and if possible, her feelings for him grew. He didn’t seem to feel the same way though. He hardly ever looked at her and the conversation between them was minimal at best and even then Sirius usually monopolized the talk. Oh Remus, how she hated the way he made her feel, especially the eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes…
Taking a deep breath of the cool night mist, she shivered at the recollection and before she had time to realize it, Sirius had took off his robe and put it on her. She momentarily paused and feeling annoyed, she said, “What are you doing?”
“I don’t want you to be cold or anything,” he answered with a shrug, jerking his head to indicate her to continue walking.
Still startled, she followed him but replied, “But I’m going back to the tower. You’re going to be here for Merlin knows how long—“
“It’ll keep me warm knowing that you’re not cold,” he interrupted gently.
A sardonic snort almost escaped her but she stopped it in time. Really, where did he get these cheesy lines? She reluctantly tugged at the robe, a masculine odour mixed with obviously posh cologne filling her nostrils. Her eyes darted around, thankful that no one was around to witness Sirius’ odd behaviour. To her immense relief, they arrived at the Quidditch pitch. She saw some large plants swaying in the field and what looked like a few flowers with nasty thorns. She let out a small laugh and said, “Black, you are going to have your work cut out for you.”
“Yes, I suppose I am…” his voice trailed off as he stared shyly into her eyes. He was about to step closer to her when Dollie grasped what he wanted to do.
She blushed deeply and before it was too late, she gave an awkward wave as she went to make her escape. “Bye Black!”
Dollie’s converse shoes dragged on the stone floor of the hall as she tried to creep as quietly as possible. Filch the caretaker wasn’t going to appreciate a student out late, even though it wasn’t even curfew yet. The fire of the hanging torches danced silently as its flickering light reflected on the armours lined along the walls. Night time was her favourite time of the day for it was when no one was around and enabled her to sink into her deep thinking as her mind was at its clearest at this time of the day.
Unlike most, she never really thought of anything in particular. Her mind would sort of wander and this calmed her. Though blessed with good friends, she was essentially a loner at heart, enjoying it best when she was by herself, a quality that she had since a young child. Some of the professors called it daydreaming but she never thought of it as that. It was really just thinking, simple thinking….
She had been so caught up in her thoughts that she never realized that someone had been behind her, much less would actually crash into her. With the sound of the collision echoing through the halls, she suddenly found herself on the rough surface of the floor. Her arms stung as she moved, probably from scrapes, as she noticed books and papers scattered around her. Who could be so careless as to actually run into to someone?!
“Dollie! Merlin’s beard, are you all right? I feel awful…”
A hand reached and she took it, while thinking of an angry enough remark to insult the person with when she recognized the voice. The hand lifted her up and she momentarily froze as she met face to face with Remus Lupin. How wonderful.
“Erm--- Uh--- It’s alright, I’m fine,” she struggled to reply, her mouth hanging open and dry. She almost yelped when it occurred to her that his hand was still in hers. She didn’t want to but half-heartedly, she pulled back her hand and it went straight to her hair, managing to hide the shaking it was now doing. She already missed the warmth that had occupied it.
An apologetic smile stretched across his face and she felt herself melt inwardly. “I should have been paying attention to where I was going, it was entirely my fault,” his deep voice penetrated her and she smile in spite of herself. When he bent down to gather his books and papers, she got down as well to help. Various titles caught her attention and she recognized them being O.W.Ls study books. Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Astronomy, Herbology… Every imaginable title was there with their acclaimed author’s portraits grumbling for being dropped.
“Wow, you are really preparing for O.W.Ls,” she said, feeling a stab of guilty as she surveyed the papers, which held notes in his neat, precise handwriting. She could never hope to be as organized as him.
“Oh, these books aren’t mine, Madame Pince just threw me out of the library. Yes well, I want to do well so that I don’t disappoint my parents,” he answered.
“Oh, are your parents strict?” she asked while juggling an armful of books and trying to pick up a few more of the notebooks at her knees.
“The opposite actually,” he said, catching some books that were spilling out of her arms. She fleetingly flushed as he continued. “They just want what’s best for me and I guess I don’t want to disappoint them.”
“They sound nice,” she said, now picking up some papers before they flew off.
“Thanks, they are. How about yours?” he immediately looked apologetic, “Sorry, you don’t have to answer that.”
“No, no, I should be sorry, I started at you,” she avoided his eyes, trying to determined whether or not she should tell him anything. “My parents aren’t as accommodating,” she relented, “My dad was this ultra-talented Ravenclaw; straight ‘O’ student, Quidditch captain, head-boy. Anyone who has ever met him still remembers him even after all this time. My mum was the shy, pretty Hufflepuff whom every girl was jealous of. Dad’s always at me because he seems to think I can do better with my grades. He thinks I can be just like him,” she reddened as she grabbed the last book off the floor, “Sorry, too much information.”
“No worries, always nice to have a chat,” he half-chuckled, half-grunted as he strained to stand while keeping the books from falling over again.
She giggled watching his balancing act while trying to steady her own arms. “Why didn’t you bring your wand? I doubt you would have as much difficulty if you could just levitate these,” she jerked her head at the materials.
“Students aren't allowed to practice magic in the library so I thought I’d just do some reading. Why not use your wand? Or are you just enjoying watching me get all hot and bothered?” he teased genially.
Caught off guard by his tone and words, she choked out her words while trying not to melt right there on the floor, “I --- I didn’t think I’d need it.”
“No matter, we better hurry back to the tower before Filch comes along,” he said as he motioned for her to follow him.
Not wanting to seem too eager, she tried to look aloof as she followed his step, their shadows joined together by the illumination of the torchlight. They walked side-by-side, surprisingly comfortable silence between them. It was a silence that was never between her and Black, which to her was an endless torture of awkwardness and avoidance of his affectionate behaviour.
Hard as she might, she couldn’t hold her impassiveness for long. Her tongue practically burned with small talk she wanted to engage in with Remus. She was finally alone with him, after years of hoping for a moment like this yet here she was ignoring him. Instead, she shifted slightly some of the materials in her arms and through an opening, glanced at him.
He wasn’t very classically handsome, not in the way Sirius was anyway. His face was gaunt and emaciated, as if he had to grow up fast in a short amount of time and seemed to sag with dismay. His eyes were a beautiful shade of brown that no matter what, shone with mischievousness. He had an average sized nose, neither too big nor too small while his lips were thin and slightly crooked. What Dollie was surprised to find, however, was something she never really noticed before. His entire face was completely littered with scars, some more noticeable than others, illuminated by the firelight. It looked like a few had healed while others had just been made. As she lowered her eyes, she noticed that his hands were the same, scars that were trying to heal but failing. Why hadn’t she noticed these marks before? Embarrassed, she quickly looked to the front.
When they reached the staircase, Remus lowered his voice somewhat, presumably because there was a possibility Filch might appear. “Are you sure you’re able to walk up with all those books? Maybe you can give me a few to lighten your load…?”
“Oh no, no, it’s fine, I can manage,” she interrupted as she gingerly took to a step. When her foot met with the stone, she nodded to him, signalling that it was fine.
Remus shrugged and made his own way up the stairs. For a tall fellow, she noticed that he was quite agile and didn’t seem to have any trouble going up the stairs even though his load was bigger than hers. They both went slowly and carefully, creeping up the stairs as best as they could. Not wanting to seem weak, Dollie moved faster and faster the higher they went. She made sure to stay in the middle of the stairs for she knew if she saw how high up they were, she’d panic. In her mistake to seem independent to Remus, she had managed to forget one minor detail…
“Dollie! Watch for the-” Remus tried to warn her but it was too late. Before he could stop her, Dollie’s foot sank into the step any knowledgeable Hogwarts student would have remembered to avoid.
A yelp escaped her as her foot sank into the stone step and caused her to fall backwards, the books completely spilling and tumbling down the stairs. Her arms flew wildly as she tried to stop herself from falling, her hands flaying wildly to grab something. Giving up, she braced her body to meet the stone, shutting her eyes to prepare for the pain. It instead met with flesh.
She exhaled with relief at the chance that she would not have to make a late night visit to Madam Pomfrey. Her next reaction was a different mix. She swivelled her head and found it to be inches away from Remus’. He had dropped the books in his own arms and readily caught her before she tripped. He had been just behind her so his arms encircled her, his hands situated at her stomach. He surprisingly possessed lean and sinewy muscles that rippled as he steadied her in his arms and she unintentionally smelled soap and chocolate, a contrast to Sirius' expensive cologne. Time seemed to suspend as she stared into his eyes while being in his arms. Their faces were only inches apart and if she just tilted her head ever so slightly, their lips might just actually meet… Goose pimples immediately erupted on her flesh as she realized the position she was in. She leaped from his arms and was about to fall forwards when he again caught her before she could fall.
“Steady now,” he whispered in her ear as he gently but firmly pulled her out of the step. It freed and all she could do was stand there, looking at the littered books on the staircase.
“I’m – I’m so sorry, Remus...”
“It’s alright, I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to Peter.”
“I still feel horrible…”
“Don’t.” He laid his hand on her arm for a brief moment before bending to retrieve the materials. She followed suit and they both scrambled to collect all the books and notes. With that they ran as fast as they could to the Gryffindor tower.
After the initial setback, they miraculously made it back to the tower without getting caught by anyone. Reaching the door, Remus tapped the Pink Fat Lady’s portrait, which was contently snoozing.
“Salamander tails,” he whispered the password and she begrudgingly swung open to let them in.
They entered the deserted common room, so late that even the fireplace was extinguished. Shadows danced about them as the only source of light came from the outside stars. Moonlight also shone that, Remus was thankful for, was only three-quarters full. He strangely almost felt sad that their late night walk had come to an end, though neither of them made any move to their respective dorms. When he heard her grunt of exhaustion, he immediately dumped the books in his arms onto the sofa and grabbed the books in her arms to relieve her of her load. He dumped them onto the sofa as well.
“Well, I guess I’d better go get my wand and levitate all these books upstairs,” he said lightly.
She gave a wan smile as she replied almost wistfully, “I guess you should.”
A blush crept onto his face but it was so dark, he hoped she hadn’t noticed. “I don’t know how to thank you for troubling yourself to help me, you really didn’t have to.”
“I’m glad to help.”
“Well…thank you, Dollie.”
“You’re welcome, Remus.”
The way she said his name sent shivers down his spine. It was deep, almost masculine, but dreamy, sad and sultry at the same time. Her face was so pale, it radiated in the dark like a beacon, like the moon itself. She averted her eyes as she made a sort of movement, “Well, I better be going. Back to my room.”
He nodded silently as he watched her lightly walk to the stairs that lead to the girls’ dormitory. But before he could stopped himself, he called out to her, “Dollie, what were you doing out so late?”
She turned to the sound of his voice and not meeting his eyes, she said, “I was accompanying Black to his detention.”
His heart immediately sank as he remembered. “Right, Sirius’ detention. Well then…”
She looked at him inquiringly and seeing he had nothing more to say, she continued her way up. He was about to go to the boy’s dormitory when he heard her clear her throat.
“Good night, Remus.” He turned around and found her at the top of the stairs, smiling shyly at him.
“Good night to you, Miss Kent. Sweet dreams,” he replied as he returned the smile.
Her eyes lit up and she quickly disappeared into her room. Perhaps it was a trick of the light but it looked as though she had been wearing two robes as she left. He didn’t know how long he stared at the spot, wishing she would come out again so that he could take one last look at her. It didn’t come true.
A/N:- Even though I changed some of the words, it doesn't change the fact that I don't own the song and lyrics to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" which is highlighted in italics. That honour belongs to Cyndi Lauper. She owns it and always will. And yes, I know that song belongs to the 80's and the Marauders are currently in the 70's but bear with me ;).
As always, review! How will I know how to improve my skills and know what you want if you don't tell. Besides, I love reviews! It's one of my guilty pleasures.
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