Chapter 8 : Nothing Will Come Out Of It
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Dollie wasn’t asking anyone in particular. Indeed, it was more of an irrelevant statement than anything else. Vivian, being the frank person she was, didn’t take it that way.
“Obviously!” she asserted strongly, even nudging her a bit forward, “Merlin’s boots, you can’t even get that stupid look off your face!”
“I do not have a stupid look on my face!” she shot back defensively. As she was saying it, she prudently arranged her face to her typical sullen scowl. But what was usually a habit quickly crumbled to pieces. Though she wouldn’t admit it, Vivian was absolutely right. Her face twitched and she could feel the corners of her mouth curve into a tentative smile. It was such a rare sight that even Lily was staring in disbelief, her intense green eyes scrutinizing her. “What are you staring at?” Dollie finally exploded.
Lily quirked an ironic smile but her eyes still didn’t stray, “You’re smiling.”
“So?” Dollie blushed, knowing that it was, technically, a big deal.
“You never smile,” Lily simply said. “In fact, it isn’t just a smile. You look like butterflies just took over your brain or something.”
Dollie merely wrinkled her nose, refusing to even dignify that proclamation with a retort. Instead, she stuck her head into the library. Meeting Madam Pince’s death glare, she swerved out of view and leaned against the stone wall. Her heart was unrelenting in beating a tattoo on her chest while her palms were perspiring more than the weather permitted. She wasn’t even running her fingers through her hair, that’s how utterly nervous she was.
The shoulder strap of her bookbag digging into her shoulder, she shifted her weight slightly to relieve the ache and started blowing her bangs out of her eyes.
“You’re stalling,” Lily said, a smirk playing at her mouth.
She wasn’t stalling.
Okay, she was stalling.
“I don’t see why you guys wanted to follow me down here. You didn’t make this much of a fuss about Black,” she said firmly.
“Please! As if we were really going to miss this,” Vivian exclaimed. “This is your beau, your dream bloke, your heartthrob -”
“Can you say that any louder!?” Dollie yelped and ‘accidentally’ stepped on Vivian’s exposed toes.
“Come on, this is an event, the day you’ve been waiting for,” said Lily while Vivian swore and hopped around in pain, clutching her poor battered foot.
“Still…” she bit her lip self-consciously and rubbed the accumulating sweat on her robe. It seemed unbelievable even to her. She felt light hearted as she thought back to Remus agreeing to tutor her. Here was finally her chance to get to know him better, to get closer, to see if fantasy really did translate to reality.
Various students passed by them, entering and exiting the library, some giving the threesome inquiring looks. They must have looked strange just hanging around outside it. Even Pince was getting suspicious, her eyes piercing through the wall and her sharp tongue aching to reproach them even though they weren’t doing anything, wrong or otherwise.
“So are we getting this show on the road or not?” Vivian demanded as she gingerly examined her red toes, “You’re bloody lucky my polish didn’t chip.”
She merely rolled her eyes and taking a deep breath, she animatedly made her way into the library, practically skipping to the astonishment of her two friends.
“So what are you planning for today?”
Remus closed the wearied book in his hand and mimed hitting Sirius in the face.
“Merlin, Sirius, do you realize that you’re practically breathing down my neck? Give me back my personal space,” he said genially as he grinned at his friend.
“Sorry, sorry.” Sirius stepped back a bit and started pacing, his hands behind him and his head bent downwards in a serious fashion. It was such a comical sight that Remus couldn’t help laughing. He promptly shut his mouth when Madam Pince, the school librarian, abruptly appeared and beadily eyed them both suspiciously. Remus couldn’t blame them. She still hadn’t entirely forgiven The Marauders for the countless shenanigans they’d committed in her beloved library.
Sirius halted at the sight of her. He wiggled his fingers in an impish wave and sent a roguish wink her way, to which she blushed and scurried back to her desk. He seemed his old self for a moment but it vanished and was replaced by a feeling of edginess.
Remus sighed in exasperation, turning to him with disturbed eyes, “What’s the matter, Sirius? Why aren’t you at the Pitch with James and Peter?”
He started slightly at Remus’ voice but nevertheless pulled up the chair beside him and sat down, “No, it’s nothing. I guess I’m just… I’m sort of nervous.”
“Well,” he scratched behind his ear in a remarkably doglike fashion. “It’s going to sound odd, maybe even stupid but… I want what’s best for Dollie. I want… I want you to look out for her,” his eyes lingered slightly on Remus before he continued, “Dollie is, well, she won’t admit it for the life of her but she’s not as rigid as she makes herself out to be. The people who gave her a hard time just because she’s with me… Am I making sense?”
Remus shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he altered his eyes towards the bookcase behind Sirius. He really didn’t need to hear more about her. He made himself promise that he would treat this as a study session, nothing more. Sirius was waiting for an answer so he just nodded his head as convincingly as he could muster.
“Just, you know,” Sirius patted his shoulder lightly. “don’t be too hard on her. Not everyone can pick up spells like you can,” he smiled.
He returned the smile but inside, butterflies were swirling around more than ever. This was a mistake, what was he thinking?! But before he could fully comprehend these thoughts, a flash of pink caught his eye. Vivian’s eyes widened at the sight of the two of them and beckoned someone behind her. Lily and Dollie appeared and they ventured towards the two boys.
Sirius got up when the girls reached them and chirped a hello at Vivian and Lily. He went over to Dollie and seemed to want to try to show a bit of affection towards her but her balking at him closing in on her changed his mind. Instead, he enveloped her hand in his and gave it an affectionate squeeze.
“Black,” she acknowledged him, a flush creeping onto her face at his touch, “Your hand better?”
“Much better, thanks. James made me some excellent Murtlap essence last night so it’s alright now,” he assured her.
“I’m – I’m really sorry about the… the Charms episode. Again. Sorry.”
He laughed at her words whilst shaking his head reassuringly, “No need for apologies. Everyone makes mistakes.”
“Yeah! Anyway Black, the hand’s nothing compared to the other disasters she’s concocted with that wand of hers,” Vivian butted in wickedly. Her face started contorting as she seemed to be trying to suppress giggles, “Lily, remember when she gave me porcupine quills all over my face as pimples?”
Lily snorted at the memory but winced as though she was in pain, “Remember when she set my hair on fire while trying to do the Colouring Charm? I had to stay in the infirmary for days for the burns.”
“And the beehive incident -”
“The elephant trunk –”
“The disco dancing –”
“The dinosaur teeth –”
By now the two girls were leaning on each other for support, just barely suppressing their bursting laughter. Tears were rolling down their cheeks as they held their seemingly splitting sides. Sirius watched them amusingly, occasionally darting looks at the reddening Dollie. Remus himself was almost losing control of the grin spreading across his face.
“Okay, okay, enough of that!” Dollie finally interrupted angrily, pointedly glaring at the hapless girls.
“Bloody Hell,” Sirius stared at her admiringly, “You’d make a great fifth Marauder.”
“Not on your life,” she snapped and plopped herself on the seat next to Remus that had been previously occupied by Sirius. She crossed her arms and glowered at nothing in particular in front of her. Remus noticed Lily and Vivian winking at her and breaking into knowing smiles.
“We best be heading off then,” Vivian said to them, nudging Lily, “Bye-bye Doll, have fun,” she smirked at Dollie and with a wave to him and Sirius, she and Lily left.
“Don’t want disrupt your session anymore than I already have,” Sirius piped when they left. He went to Dollie and lightly brushed her arm, “Bye, Dollie.”
“Bye, Black,” she replied curtly, her stare fixed on the vast bookcase in front of them.
When Sirius left, an eerie silence, even for the library, fell on them. It wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable, more of unfamiliarity. Remus coughed to break the stillness and reached for the book he had previously pushed aside.
“So – erm – what do you want to start on?” he asked her.
She turned to him but just as quickly darted her eyes downward. “I don’t mind,” she said almost shyly. “Anything’s fine.”
“What are you worst at?” he asked rather bluntly, instantly regretting the words.
An invasion of red invaded her pale skin and her sharp eyes narrowed at his words. “You name it and I’m bad at it,” she almost retorted.
Remus drew back at her tone and scrutinized her. He felt that he may have hit a soft spot and reproached himself for not being more tactful. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it the way it sounded,” he said sincerely.
She warmed slightly at his words, “It’s my fault. I’m a bit… sensitive to this sort of thing.”
She didn’t offer further explanation and he didn’t demand any. “This Charms revision book is pretty good. We could read this and understand the technique. Once you’re comfortable, we can start on other stuff. If that’s okay with you…”
“Yeah, sure,” she barely squeaked as she hesitantly got closer to the book he was indicating.
“Well then,” he cleared his throat nervously, feeling a hot flush rise at his neck, “We better start at the beginning so that you get a better grasp at later techniques. What’s most important is wand handling. You don’t want to hold it too hard or wave too aggressively, that aggression will transfer itself into the spell thus making the spell cast more violent than you want it to be.” He looked up from the book and faced her but was careful to avoid any eye contact. “How do you usually hold your wand?”
She screwed up her nose in thought and shrugged, “I suppose my grip is quite firm but that’s just how I hold things.”
“Well, firm is fine; you have to show the wand who is in control, but too hard and well,” he smiled slightly, “You indirectly cast something Marauder-worthy.”
She smiled back at the comment, rolling her eyes but in more to herself than to him, “Those were accidents. I was trying, I really was. But I suppose,” she paused but continued with a slightly different tone, a flat tone, “It’s nothing…”
He looked at her with concern and automatically he reached out to comfort her but quickly pulled back, “I got an idea. Do you have your wand with you right now?”
“Yes, I brought it just in case. Why?”
Remus got out of his chair and peeked out from behind the massive bookshelves. Their table was quite near to the entrance and therefore near Pince’s desk. He had chosen the spot so that Dollie could find it easily. But if he wanted her to practice her wand handling, he couldn’t do it with them near the vicinity of the distrustful librarian. He went back to her and beckoned her to get up, silently motioning her to follow him. She looked confused at first and was about to ask him why but he silenced her with a finger to his lips. Taking the book, he motioned her to follow him. Navigating his way through the maze of bookshelves was a challenge, he almost lost her a few times but they made it to their destination still together. It was a spot farther back of the vast library and most students didn’t come here. The Marauders usually used this spot to plan any mischief on the library, it being so secluded. The area was slightly dusty which meant that Pince didn’t come here very often.
“Okay, now take out your wand,” he instructed her.
The wary look was still etched on her face but she obediently extracted her wand from her pocket. She waited for what else she was supposed to do.
“Now show me how you hold it.”
“Yes, come now.”
She raised her eyebrows at this but doubtfully held up the wand. He watched her pale hands gripping the handle ever tighter, the uncertainty very apparent in her knuckles slowly turning white. He silently watched her for a few moments and broke the silence with his heavy footsteps, walking towards her.
“I think I see it now. You’re tense, afraid of either the spell not working or –” he looked at her intently, “the spell actually working.”
“I’m not afraid,” she replied hotly but she couldn’t keep the doubt from creeping into her words.
He didn’t reply to this but instead, he took her wand in his and moved to a little to the side. He could feel her freeze at his touch, the move so sudden that she didn’t have time to react to it. Leaning closer, he ignored her dizzying scent and instead concentrated hard at his lesson.
“Not so high up, keep the wand level just below your shoulder, bend your elbow a bit,” he instructed into her ear, some of her blonde bangs brushing against his scarred cheek. “Don’t have a spell in your head; Pince will kill us with her bare claw hands. Loosen up your grip.” To illustrate this, his fingers pulled at hers and one by one they softened and became relaxed. “Good… Good…” For awhile, he basked in the glow that she seemed to radiate. Her initial freeze melted and gave way to ease that wasn’t there before, of contentment. But as sudden as that moment came, it evaporated and Remus couldn’t even be sure that if it had happened at all.
Dollie shirked away from him, keeping a distance. Her face was unreadable as she put her wand back in her pocket. She looked at him with calm and with a forced tone said, “Right then, I get it now, what’s next?”
He cleared his throat, self-conscious of his own behaviour and replied, “Alright then, we’ve gotten that out of the way. Wand handling is the first step. Next is the pronunciation of spells. Sometimes it’s how you say a spell that messes up the spell. Have you ever found difficulty in that area?”
“Okay, um, if you like, we can continue this another time, just give me a day and I’ll see if I can meet it,” he shifted his feet, feeling awkward.
“Oh…” there’s was a twang of something in that one word that Remus couldn’t quite put his finger on. It sounded like disappointment but that’s absurd! What on earth did she have to be disappointed about all of a sudden?
She made the first move, reaching for her bookbag that she had set on the floor when they had first arrived there. She tugged at the strap, looking like she wanted to say something. Finally reaching a conclusion, she unexpectedly said, “I’m weakest at casting spells, like Transfiguration and Charms, sometimes even Defence against the Dark Arts. I don’t have as much trouble with the theory as I do with practical.”
“I’m glad you told me. It’ll give me an idea for our next lesson.” His eyebrows furrowed in deep thought, “Since it’s more on the practical side, I don’t think here will be the best place to study. I’ll ask McGonagall for one of the unused classrooms and prepare supplies. That sound alright?”
She nodded her head, a small grateful smile playing at her lips, “It’s fine. Thanks again for taking the trouble. You don’t know how grateful I am.” She looked around her and turned to him again, “Now can you please help me get out this maze?” she said with a laughing tone.
Feeling the initial tension fading, Remus’s shoulders unclenched and with a smile, held out the crook of his arm, “Do you trust me?” he asked, giving her a poor imitation of Sirius’s infamous sly grin.
“Hey, I’m desperate, anything will do,” she replied, nudging his outstretched arm with her bag, scrunching up her face at him.
“Ouch! That hurt, Kent!” he exclaimed mockingly, gripping at his chest in pain and added some groaning for effect but followed her anyway to guide her out.
“I could never hurt you, Remus,” she whispered, so softly that he didn’t even hear her. Instead, he concentrated on the books titles to make sure they were taking the right way out; oblivious to the yearning glances she kept shooting him.
“Dollie, wait up!”
Had it really happened? It all seemed so hazy and muddled that she couldn’t be sure it had been one of her dreams or a huge bite from reality. How could she be such a nitwit? There it was, practically throwing itself at her, the chance to be friends with him and what did she do? Act like a complete, all around snob. What was wrong with her? One thing’s for sure, if Hogwarts ever decided to present a ‘The Most Demented and Pathetic Excuse for a Student not to mention a Human Being to ever grace the Halls of Hogwarts’, everyone had better move aside because it had her name written all over it.
As all these realisations churned inexorably in her head, Dollie was sulking out of the library when the call reached her ears, causing her to turn around in surprise.
“Hey Dollie, you left so quick I thought that something might be the matter?” Remus, finally catching up to her, asked her with concern.
“What?” she exclaimed in surprise. “No, no, it’s nothing like that. I just – I didn’t want to disturb you anymore than I already have. You must want to get back to your studying after all.”
Remus’ face darkened at this statement, “You know, I’m not the study-holic and bookworm everyone seems to think I am.”
Taken aback at his tone, Dollie hastily tried to rectify her mistake, “I – I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it like that, it just slipped –” she said but stopped short when she saw him giving her a dry grin. Hiding her embarrassment, she swatted him on the arm. “Did anyone ever tell you you are such a rotter?”
“Never to my face,” he replied shrewdly, chuckling at the look on her face. After a moment, his face relaxed, a smile spreading across it. “I meant no harm, really. Where are you off to in such a rush?”
“Nowhere in particular, probably back to my dormitory,” she shrugged, still a little stung at his previous joke.
“Aren’t you going to the Pitch to meet Sirius?” he questioned further.
“I don’t have to see Black every day, I need a break once in a while,” she responded, finding his behaviour rather odd, “Why? What are you getting at?”
Before Remus could answer, a voice belonging to the last person Dollie wanted to see purred with venom, “Well, well, well, isn’t this an adorable sight?”
Dollie and Remus spun around to find Sue Milton, smiling vituperatively with her hands on her fat-free hips.
“Why Kent, isn’t snagging the most divine boy in Hogwarts enough? Now you’re after the cleverest? Really now, and there was me thinking it was Costa who was the Slag,” she purred, the look of rancour never leaving her face.
“You better get away from me, Milton, plastic is easy enough to break and that nose must have cost your parents quite a few Galleons,” Dollie hissed back, her fists already clenched tight.
“Threatening a Prefect, Kent? Wait ‘till Professor McGonagall hears about this, which could count as quite a few detentions,” her eyes narrowed, challenging Dollie to try and make a move.
Dollie was about to step forward and introduce Sue to a Coma when Remus grabbed her hand and intervened, “She isn’t worth it, Dollie,” he said calmly to her.
“Aw, isn’t that sweet?” Sue cackled.
“I’m sure the Professor would also love to hear about one of her house Prefects abusing her powers and instigating a fight,” he continued, his usual calm brown eyes steely set on her.
Sue’s plump lips twitch but her face remained serene, “You can’t prove a thing, Lupin.”
“Maybe not, but it would still be enough for the Professor to reconsider and appoint her originally chosen student to be Prefect.”
“What?! What are you talking about?!” her conceited demeanour slowly crumbled as Sue awaited a further explanation.
“Oh, she didn’t tell you?” he remarked innocently. “Dollie was supposed to be prefect this year but she turned it down.”
Sue’s usual tanned face experienced a rapid change of colour before it finally settled on a mixture of green and grey. Her eyes widened as they fell on the silver badge pinned on her chest, “This… I’m a left-over?! To you?!” she pointed to Dollie. Gritting her magically polished white teeth, she stifled a primal screech and stomped away on her black stilettos, leaving ony her signature scent as a reminder she was ever there.
Dollie was staring gobsmacked first at the spot where Sue had previously occupied and then to Remus, “That was bloody brilliant!” she finally exclaimed, a gleeful tone to her voice. “She practically pissed in her knickers! I can’t thank you enough for that, Remus.” She looked at him with a mixture of admiration and shyness. Damn it, just when she thought there was nothing more she could love about him…
“It wasn’t a big deal; I merely thought that she needed to be put in her place so that’s exactly what I did,” he shrugged.
“Well, thanks,” said Dollie.
Noticing that he was still holding her hand, she quickly dropped it, already feeling her heart ache as she gripped emptiness. Neither of them said a word but it was like no words needed to be spoken. He looked like he was about to say something but thought better of it and refrained. Again, initiating the first move, she tugged at the strap of the bookbag tensely and turned the other way around to go back to the Gryffindor Tower.
“Bye, Remus,” she said and walked away before she could pass out from the ache that was attacking her heart.
A/N: You know what to do ;). Leave me a review!
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