[A/N: Forgive me for the absense. I suppose I had another lapse of writing Harry Potter fanfiction. But this is the next chapter, after all! (: I do hope you enjoy it; I am very proud of this particular one.
A quick note, though, with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.. as always, a new book brings forth brand new information that is, frankly, so very helpful. :D Although there are no spoilers in this chapter, I have decided that I am certain it will have spoilers in the future. I will, however, be sure to notify when there are.
Thank you, and enjoy! [:
You and A Promise
Chapter Nine: Change
I felt as though could have kissed him with the look he gave me. Such promises… they ignited a feeling inside of me, but… I couldn't ignore that with it came anger at him, at his daring. How could he possibly tell me something like that, with a straight face, not expecting me to laugh at the sheer boldness…
I couldn't possibly believe anything was as simple and plain as he had put it to me. Seasoned experience had taught me otherwise.
"Free? You must be joking," I told him, being sure to sound as skeptical as I felt. He looked at me, though, and I instantly regretted casting his words as a joke.
He wasn't joking, and I knew that, I was positive of it. I knew he didn't appreciate what I had said.
Silence fell as an uncomfortable hold, and I shifted, wishing to break it. "If anything's a joke," I began, reaching to scratch my elbow, though there was no itch. I suppose it was a rather nervous habit of mine. "…It's this whole thing."
I chanced a look at him, only to find him staring at me questioningly, but there was something else in his expression… something I couldn't figure out.
"W-what?" he asked, his stutter almost barely noticeable.
My eyes widened in horror. "No! Not this, Regulus. Not this at all! I mean me! Me being here." He seemed to breath again and I stared at him, confused. "To tell the truth, I expected to receive a shower of Howlers by now… Gryffindor… joke…"
Regulus looked from me to the floor. "Although I don't understand why you're worried about that… I don't know, I guess your father is busy—" He stopped abruptly, catching sight of the dark look I had given him.
I probably knew exactly what my father was doing and why it was keeping him so busy, but I knew even more that I didn't want to speak of it or hear of it from anyone. Ashamed as I was, I had, on the Hogwarts Express, silently chosen to keep my father's fame completely covered up at my time at Hogwarts.
"It's a coming of age thing, Claire. You and I… we've already been sold to the Dark Lord. We're only here to do as he says… infiltrate the school, gather followers, make examples of enemies… You're here because he's here."
"Then why on earth are you talking to me about freedom?"
He looked at me sadly. "I don't want to give up on hope. Sometimes… I guess I'm—I'm afraid it's all I'll have left."
"Hope, freedom? Sounds like a whole bunch of rubbish you've started believing in for the sake of it."
These things I didn't believe in… what had hope ever done for me, really?
I was attacking him, and all he was trying to do was help. But I couldn't trust his intentions and I couldn't even begin to grasp the ideas he was trying to incite in me; how could I when all he kept around him were bleeding pureblood maniacs? But as he stood before me, his eyes sad, his heart open to me… I could feel something inside of me was changing. I wasn't entirely sure I would accept it.
His gray eyes were shining with something I could hardly understand.
"I'm believing in something, whether you think it's good enough for you or not," he replied harshly. Surely he wasn't suggesting I thought hope was below me… "I want to be able to breathe. I'm sure you can understand that. And if you're not going to fight for it, then so be it. But I am not going to stand here and pretend—"
I had embraced him, hardly knowing what I was doing, causing his words, his fiery speech, to cut short. He placed a single awkward hand on my back.
As the rush of affection I suddenly felt towards him passed, I pulled away from him, almost squirming under his emotionless stare. My cheeks, I knew, were tinted pink with my embarrassment at the display. "I'm stubborn," I said apologetically.
"I'm trying to help," he said, breathless.
"I don’t understand why," I stated quite honestly.
He opened his mouth to respond, but he was suddenly interrupted by a scuffle of shoe on carpet from down the hallway. I was surprised by how quickly he jumped behind a pillar; he looked at me calmly.
I turned my eyes back to the paintings on the wall in front of me, though my mind was racing around somewhere else. I didn't dare look around to the person who had interrupted my conversation with Regulus, but then I suppose I didn't have to…
"Well, well, Claire… you scampered off quickly, no breakfast and without a clue as to what your first class is… not the wisest choice on the first day of classes."
I smiled brightly at Remus Lupin's words, glad at least that it was he who met me and not someone else. My eyes flitted back to the pillar, and I was surprised to find Regulus was gone already, our conversation over; Remus handed my schedule to me and I thanked him gratefully.
"And some toast and jam, just in case," he added, pulling a wrapped bundle from his robes pocket.
"My word, you do think of everything, don't you?" I told him playfully, taking the bundle and unwrapping the napkin. I do admit there was a little contempt in my voice. I breathed easier knowing he had not caught my mistake.
He smiled modestly and I was very sorry for my feelings; I pushed them away from my mind, deciding against questioning Remus' character ever again.
It was entirely too hard for me to place much trust in anyone since I arrived here…
I stuffed my schedule in my own pocket and took a large bite of the toast, just now realizing my hunger. Perhaps I should have just socked the redheaded girl and eaten a plate of eggs and bacon in peace…
We walked in silence as he showed me the way to the Transfiguration classroom, advising me very seriously that it would be a tragic mistake to be late to McGonagall's class. I silently agreed with him, noticing almost at once she was one I shouldn't cross. I told Remus of my observation.
He laughed, though impressed. "I only wish I had been more fortunate. She's a bit terrifying when angry… should come with a warning label…" I laughed appreciatively at his joke and he smiled, looking very pleased with himself.
"Well, it's right here, at any rate. I can show you the other classrooms as the day progresses, if you like," he offered as I pored over my schedule.
I nodded, realizing that I had not once stopped smiling since Remus had joined me. How extraordinary…
"I might find that very helpful, yes," I replied, staring up at the large and wooden classroom door. The hallway was empty, of course, as students were still gathered in the Great Hall finishing their breakfasts.
We were silent again, and I was very happy to find it was hardly uncomfortable at all, though Remus didn't seem to think so…
As we made our way back down the stairs, he asked me, "How do you like Hogwarts so far?"
I had to fight another sarcastic comment at this; beyond the fact that I had no desire to continue school here, I was never very partial towards, what I considered, idle chitchat.
I decided to bite my tongue for a few moments before choosing my words. "I suppose I'll have to stick around for a while before making any assumptions," I offered for a response.
He seemed to accept my answer, and he smiled—or he hadn't stopped, whichever. "Bit picky, are we? Not as grand as France?" His tone was not condescending at all, and I took some comfort in it. Perhaps it would do to be comfortable enough with Remus after all, if he could make a joke.
I chanced sticking my tongue out at him, and he roared with laughter, his boyish face overcome with glee. Although I was confused, never having felt close to a person before, I decided that I did appreciate his company after all.
After his laughter—though at my expense, it didn't bother me—had died down, he suddenly realized he was running late for something. Glancing quickly at his watch, he muttered something about the Great Hall and offered me to join him in the "festivities."
I must have agreed, because he began pulling me back in the direction of the Hall, his eyes slightly worried, but excited nonetheless.
He ran ahead of me, tearing down the empty hallway, and I followed after him, wondering wildly what had sent him into such a hurry. We reached the Great Hall a few minutes later; Remus skidded to a stop, throwing his hands in front of him and stopping himself from colliding headfirst with the large doors.
With a last look at his watch, he wrenched the doors open, his panting suddenly stuck in his throat.
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