Chapter 5 : aftermath (in this life)
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Disclaimer: only Nayda and her family are my creations. All HP refs and characters are JK Rowling’s.
5: aftermath (in this life)
"I can’t take this anymore, Remus, I really can’t," Nayda ranted. She marched at an infuriatingly quick pace across the grounds of Hogwarts, and even with his long stride, Remus was struggling to keep up. "Did you hear what she called me? Dirty, cursed, and reprehensible—she makes me want to scream!" She let out a short, exasperated yell as if to prove her point. Remus remained silent, knowing from experience that it was better to let her anger play out than try to intervene.
"I’m none of those things," she continued, ignoring Remus’s non-participation. "I’m an upstanding citizen, I’m clean—much more than say, Snivellus—"
"Everyone is cleaner than Snivellus," Remus agreed softly.
"—but that’s not saying a whole lot is it? Has that boy even heard of shampoo?—Ugh! I’ll be seventeen in two years, so I guess the placing a damaging hex on her thing is currently out of the question… I’m a good person!" Nayda shouted this to the sky, which was mostly clear, though a few rain clouds loomed on the horizon, distinguishable from the rest of the night by the light of the crescent moon dimly illuminating the heavens.
"Why the hell does she hate me so much? Why do they all hate me?!? What did I ever do to them?! I’m the victim here, so why…" At this point she slipped on the evening-dew laden grass and landed heavily on her backside. Remus offered a hand to help her stand up again, but she refused it. "Why do I care?" Nayda whispered. "Why do I give a damn, Remus? Why?"
Remus sat down on the grass beside her, disregarding the fact that doing so meant his trousers were going to be soaked through, and examined her face for a second before answering.
"They’re family," he said simply. "You give a damn because you’re think you have to. Blood isn’t always thicker than water, but since we’re all raised to believe such, it’s hard to blow them off just because they’re being jackasses."
Nayda wiped away the tears starting to fall with her fingers, and managed a faint smile. "Thanks," she said. "It’s nice to have someone see what I see. Sometimes I start to think it’s all me, that I’m imagining things, that maybe all families are like mine and I should just suck it up."
Remus shook his head. "No, families should never be like yours," he replied. "Sirius has the unfortunate distinction of having his family be near exactly like yours, but his isn’t normal either. If you want normal, or as close as you can get, try James’ family."
"Aren’t they pure bloods too?" Nayda frowned, wondering.
"Yes," he admitted, "but you wouldn’t know it to meet them."
"Are they nice?"
Remus smiled. "Is Sirius girl-crazy?"
Nayda tilted her head back and laughed aloud. She drew up her legs and wrapped her arms around her knees, arranging the skirt of her gown over her bare feet. She’d removed her shoes after they got stuck in the muddy ground. "I’d enjoy meeting some decent parents," she sighed. "Tonight makes me wonder if such a distinction exists, but since you’re relatively trustworthy, I’ll take your word for it."
Remus shook his head at this, and tilted his face to look at the moon, which was struggling to shine through the growing cloudy haze. He let the silence stretch between them. It had certainly been one of the longest nights of his life. He reached up and loosened the bowtie at his throat, tugging it free from its strangle hold. Whomever had decided that ties were a good fashion choice should be forced to wear one for three hours while they endured scornful looks from everyone around them.
He now vividly understood what Sirius and Nayda had warned him about, and pitied them for it. Visiting it for one evening was bad enough, but having to live with it for fifteen years? That must have been unbearable. No wonder Sirius escaped the minute his uncle left him that large amount of gold.
Nayda yawned deeply, and the sound distracted Remus from his thoughts. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, trying to ward off the exhaustion flooding her, but he could see that the only cure would be the obvious: sleep. Standing up, he brushed what he could of the mud from his cloak and extended a hand to Nayda, who took it with visible reluctance. He started walking to the castle, Nayda beside him.
"I’m not that tired," Nayda said, reading his thoughts with a glance. "And I don’t particularly want to sleep yet. After tonight, my dreams will be rather unpleasant. I’d rather not have to face that just yet."
Remus nodded. "I know," he said, "but I have some dreamless sleep potion left from last month’s excursion. You take it and get some rest."
Nayda frowned. "Are you sure? That stuff takes a week to properly cure, and it’s only four days till the next night," she pointed out. "I don’t want to take it from you. I can brave the flashbacks, Remus."
"You shouldn’t have to," Remus insisted. "I can snag some from Madam Pomfrey tomorrow. She always has extra for me, just in case I forget to brew it."
Nayda was quiet for several hundred yards, and only when they approached the staircase where he had to go right and she left to reach their respective dormitories did she speak again. "Thank you. For everything." She smiled. "I’m still getting used to having friends like this, and I must say, I could learn to appreciate it."
Remus laughed softly, his mouth settling into a smile after a moment. "Anytime," he said. "If you wait a minute, I’ll get the potion from my room and meet you back here."
Nayda nodded, and on impulse, stepped forward before he stepped away and embraced him in a hug. Startled, Remus went stiff for a second, then relaxed and returned it. Nayda pulled away first, a faint red tinge growing on her face.
"I’ll wait here," she said, breaking the awkward silence. Remus smiled and nodded, then stepped away and took the stairs two at a time.
The Fat Lady portrait opened for Remus as soon as the password was spoken, though frankly, she looked as exhausted as he felt. He stepped through the opening and into the common room, careful not to trip. Few people managed to get under his skin enough that he considered them close friends—with that hug, Nayda had managed to do just that. He cared about her, and while such used to be a frightening prospect, he found tonight he didn’t mind all that much. He smiled to himself as he crossed the room, heading for the boys’ dormitory.
"You’re up awfully late, even for you, Mooney."
Pausing in his stride, Remus turned to see Sirius and James sitting on the couch, facing the fire. Sirius was the one who’d spoken.
"I just returned from Nayda’s family gathering," Remus answered, not bothering to keep the contempt from his voice with the word family.
"Insufferable people, aren’t they?" said Sirius darkly. "Did they behave for you or did you have to curse them?"
Remus’ face contorted into a glare with the memory. "They didn’t behave, and I couldn’t curse them," he replied. "I’m not of age, remember? Besides, it wasn’t me they went after, it was her."
The muttered words that came out of Sirius’ mouth were long and vicious, causing James to shoot his friend a startled look—he hadn’t known Sirius even knew most of those pejoratives. Remus couldn’t blame him; he had wanted to lash out, but Nayda beat him to it.
"Is she alright?" James asked, concern lacing his words.
Remus nodded once. "I think so," he said. Then he remembered the reason he’d come up here in the first place. "I’m going to give her my dreamless sleep potion. She took it pretty hard, as most of it came from her mother. She doesn’t need to relive this in her dreams."
"Tell her we’ll talk in the morning," said Sirius, coming out of his muttering. Remus nodded his ascent.
(to be continued)
A/N: So, how was that? I love to hear from my readers, so please review! Thanks to those who’ve reviewed previous chapters. ~Manya
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