Chapter 11 : waiting for lightning
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A/N: Short wait is never what it used to be. I apologize to those who have been waiting all this time for me to complete this story. Here's the last chapter. I hope it meets expectations. Thank you to all who have reviewed! ~Manya
Call out to you from across the divide
And you know it's time
To step back over the line
Waiting for lightning
A sign that it's time for a change...
-song: "Waiting for Lightning" artist: Steven Curtis Chapman, album: More to this Life
Chapter 11: waiting for lightning
Nayda groaned in her sleep, felt unconsciousness slip away from her and the ache in her neck from being in an awkward position all night announce itself with alarming sharpness. She opened her eyes to darkness and blinked, confused. The fire had died to embers. Dawn was just beginning to break over the horizon, visible through the east facing windows. Remus was standing over her, his hand on her shoulder, gently nudging her awake. She looked at him and smiled sleepily.
Remus felt his heart skip a beat. Nayda’s half-focused, glossy beautiful violet eyes regarding him through the haze of sleepiness were enough to make any man’s heart melt. Pieces of his talk with James would remain in his memory for some time. Though a mischief-maker to the core, James knew a thing or two about love: it grew on a person, till its roots were so deep that the possessor of it couldn’t rid themselves of it even if they wanted to, which he certainly didn’t.
"What’d you wake me for?" Nayda asked, sitting back a little and frowning at him. It was hardly polite to interrupt a girl’s sleep, and she was not appreciating being torn from the first pleasant dream that she’d had in weeks. Granted it was about the guy who’d woken her, but that was beside the point… She swung her legs off the chair, rested her feet on the floor and accepted Remus’ hand as assistance to stand up without toppling over.
"To see the sunrise," Remus replied simply. When he was sure she was steady on her feet, he led her to the window. The sky was being painted burnt orange, streaked in places by cherry red and golden strands of yellow. It was as if the world were coming alive for the first time, breaking forth from the black to gray, and finally to full-blown day, all colors included.
Ask and ye shall receive… Nayda bemoaned silently. She’d asked him to wake her at dawn, and by golly, he’d done it. Some days she wished she had more friends like James, who was currently comatose on the floor, oblivious to the coming morning; he wasn’t about to wake her. "Have you been awake all this time?" she asked Remus softly, so as not to wake James; let the poor slob sleep. Lily could wake him later if she dared…
"I dozed a little around one," Remus admitted. "James kept asking questions."
"About what?" Nayda raised an eyebrow, curious.
Remus studied her, wondering if she seriously wanted to know the answer, then berated himself for thinking such. Nayda never asked a question she didn’t want to know the answer to; it was one of the things he admired about her. "He wanted to know how I felt about you," he replied honestly.
Nayda’s eyes widened at this. "Really? And what did you say?" It was too good a lead to pass up. Their friendship was never fated to be anything more than just that, and Nayda had no desire to make it anything more, though she often wondered in daydreams what a relationship with someone like Remus would be like. At the moment she was tired enough to ask what she normally would keep to herself, yet awake enough to know she actually did want to know his answer, good or bad. Above everything he was a friend, a good friend, and he wouldn’t let her down.
"I told him the truth," Remus said cryptically, then kicked himself mentally. Nice try, Lupin. She’ll see through you if you don’t follow this up properly. "I told him I cared about you as much, if not more, than I care about all my friends. I told him…" A smile curled up one corner of his mouth. "…I told him I care about you very much. That I love you."
That deserved a hug, which Nayda gave him even before she’d fully processed his words. It didn’t matter so much what the deeper implications of them were—if there were any—it only mattered that he cared. The only person who cared about her like that was her brother. Now Remus could be added to what was a very short list. She was grateful beyond words. She pulled back after a minute and met his gaze squarely.
"Am I correct in assuming there is no romantic quality to your statement?" she asked. If she knew anything about Remus, it was that he’d never say something he didn’t mean. If he’d meant his statement romantically, he’d have said so at the start.
She was priceless. If there ever came the day when his feelings changed, he might be afraid to tell her—she was so direct it was hard to take and if she ever rejected him…he pushed the thought out of his mind. Cross one bridge at a time, and only cross the one you can see. "I don’t know," he said honestly. "But for now, lets just leave it at probably not."
Nayda laughed at this and playfully pushed against his shoulder with hers. "Remus John Lupin, if I didn’t feel the same way, I’d hit you for that." She wasn’t in the least offended. Her heart had leapt for the first time in years with hope that someone cared deeply enough about her to look after her well-being. She’d been caught a little blind-sided with the revelation that Remus was that someone. She turned away from the window and gazed at the couch, then started with surprise. "Where’s Kirk?" Her brother was gone.
Remus winced, realizing he should’ve mentioned that fact much earlier. "Sirius took him to the hospital wing about an hour ago," he explained. "He seemed to be running a fever, and since you put that spell on him that none of us can figure out how to lift, we couldn’t give him anything to alleviate it."
"Why didn’t you wake me?" Nayda frowned at him. "I could’ve lifted the charm and given him some feverfew."
"Now you tell me," he muttered under his breath. To his further chagrin, Nayda laughed.
"Thanks," she said, smiling at him. The smile faded quickly as her mind began to work again. "I hate to think what’ll happen when my parents find him gone. Those poor guards will probably be fired or cursed or worse…" She cringed. "Do you think Dumbledore would help me?"
"I already sent an owl to him asking that very question," said Remus, containing a self-satisfied tone from his voice at the successful anticipation of her question. "I happen to know he gets up close to the crack of dawn, so we’ll most likely be hearing from him soon."
At that moment, a fiery red and orange bird came sailing towards them, and Remus hurriedly opened the window for it. A rolled piece of parchment was tied to its leg, which Nayda untied, unfolded and read:
Dear Miss Larkin (and Mr. Lupin),
Please come to my office upon receipt of this note. I have some information for both of you that, I believe, will prove helpful in resolving this situation to the satisfaction of all.
Until we meet,
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore
P.S. I like peppermints.
"Professor, I realize that I’ve violated about seven underage wizardry rules, but I was acting in the best interest of my brother," Nayda said, directing her argument towards the elderly wizard sitting behind the massive mahogany desk—none other than Dumbledore himself. "My parents—ex-parents, I should say—" she cast a sidelong look at Remus to not extrapolate on the comment—"have forbade me contact with him, which, if I know my brother at all, is not what he wants. He’s of age, Professor. He can be out from under their care if he wants to be."
Dumbledore held up a wrinkled hand. "That is true, Miss Larkin," he said. "And I think I can be of some assistance in this matter. That does not mean that I condone your actions or think that you should have been off of school grounds after curfew. Due to the circumstances, however, I will forego the removal of any house-points."
"Thank you, Professor Dumbledore," said Remus, finally speaking up at last.
Dumbledore smiled at the pair, thinking privately that they were lucky to be forming a bond at such a young age. Friendship went deep on both sides, he observed, and the best of friends faced adversity side-by-side.
"What happened?" Kirk asked Nayda, rubbing at his bleary eyes with one hand while casting a suspicious look at Sirius, who was currently sitting on the bed by his feet. "Last I remember I was in St. Mungo's."
"We kidnapped you," Nayda said matter-of-factly, handing him a glass of a foul-smelling concoction that Madam Pomfrey had insisted he consume. "Drink up."
Kirk's nose wrinkled in disgust, but he took it from her anyway. He downed it in one long gulp, shivered as he swallowed, then placed the glass on the table and looked at her again. "Kidnapped me? What, were mom and dad holding me hostage or something? You could have just visited me there, you know."
Sirius shook his head vehemently. "No she couldn’t have," he answered for her. "Damn 'rents wouldn't let her within ten feet of you. She's officially been disowned."
Kirk's head snapped from Nayda to Sirius and back again, surprise overtaking his expression. His mouth gaped for a second, then he shook himself. "I shouldn't be surprised, should I?" he said ruefully. He reached over and took Nayda's hand in his and gave it a squeeze. "I'm sorry, Nayda. Just remember: you'll always have me."
Nayda smiled. "Thanks."
"She has us too!" Sirius put in, indicating himself, Remus and James, the latter two of which had just entered the infirmary. "We're as good and better than family!"
"They're a family unto themselves," Nayda clarified, noting the amusement in Kirk's eyes and knowing a similar sentiment was in her own expression. "These two are Remus Lupin and James Potter," she introduced. Remus stepped over and grasped Kirk's offered hand firmly, nodding once in his typical greeting. "They know about my furry problem, and have been the most support a girl could hope for. They even stem off Slytherins."
Kirk laughed at the last bit. "I'll bet they do," he regarded his sister with a steady gaze, searching her eyes for something that Nayda could only guess at. "What did Dumbledore say about my staying here? That had to be a fun conversation, what with the violations you committed breaking me out without permission."
"He said you are welcome here as long as you wish to stay," said Nayda.
"That sounds just fine," Kirk said, smiling at her. "So, tell me, how did you meet these guys? And should I be worried about losing my dear little sis?"
Nayda rolled her eyes. "If you mean losing me by a disappearing spell, then maybe you should be worried," she said this with a pointed look at Sirius, who pretended not to notice. "But otherwise, no. They're like brothers, if you'll allow the comparison, and I could wish it no other way. As for how I met them, that's a long story…"
Epilogue: tying up the ends
A year after Nayda graduated Hogwarts, around the same time that James Potter married Lily Evans, an owl came to her with a missive saying that she was to inherit her parents' fortune. Caroline and Alexander Larkin were attacked by Death Eaters, and being unwilling to join forces with them, the two were killed on the spot. Though the record of her disownment was found, it was disregarded after Kirk Larkin, the only other surviving heir of the Larkin clan, overturned the decision, and Nayda thereby inherited the entire Larkin fortune. (Kirk had gotten an inheritance from a distant relative's passing some years before and didn't want it.) Nayda accepted the wealth, and promptly used it to assist the Order of the Phoenix operations.
She and the Marauders remained friends into adulthood, though only with Remus did she remain very close. Of Sirius she was an advocate of his innocence, always believing that he was framed. When Remus discovered it was Peter Pettigrew, a childhood friend, who had committed the murders and pinned them on Sirius, Nayda assisted Remus in getting his position at Hogwarts to pursue the matter.
Nayda continued to reside in her family's home in London, where she still is as far as this author is aware.
A/N: So? What's the verdict? Liked it? Think it needs something more? Please let me know by way of the review box. I love to hear from my readers. Thanks for reading this tale. ~Manya