Chapter 19 : Heightened Senses
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Can’t stop to feel myself start losing control
But deep in my senses, I know
-Stupid, Sarah Mclachlan
Chapter Nineteen: Heightened Senses
Remus awoke in the late afternoon, finding himself alone in the dormitory. Sirius, he knew, had most likely been up not long after they’d returned to the castle, and it appeared that James and Peter had wanted to let him rest. He hadn’t dreamed, thank Merlin—or if he had, he didn’t recall them—and his memories of the night before were filled with happiness instead of the lonely darkness he experienced at home. He didn’t blame his family, it was just that a tool shed with bars on its windows was in no way comparable to the Forbidden Forest, especially not with the addition of three companions.
He rolled over and tried to think of something else; his transformation always left his senses and emotions at a much higher peak than normal, and right now if he dwelled on what his friends had done for him he’d turn into a sentimental wreck. He recalled Sirius’ behavior the day before—Remus hadn’t seen his friend so edgy in a long time. The strangest part had been Sirius’ scent—during the days before and after the full moon, Lupin’s sense of smell was more akin to a wolf’s than a human’s. He could often catch things like fear or arousal from several yards away, a fact that usually embarrassed him greatly.
The truth was, yesterday during their talk, Remus had caught a strong scent of jealousy, something that intensified when they spoke of Hermia James. His body language also spoke very strongly of possessiveness—yet when he’d come out and asked Sirius if he liked Hermia, Padfoot claimed he wasn’t sure. Remus thought that if his friend’s mind wasn’t convinced, his heart and his body certainly were. He resolved to pay more attention to both of them to see how they reacted to each other. Watching his friend Lily Evans fall for James Potter had been one of the most amusing and engaging experiences of his life, after all. Particularly due to the enmity she’d had for Prongs for much of their school life.
If his friend did fancy Hermia, Remus thought with a chuckle that Sirius’ heart was in grave danger—she was the kind of woman a man spent the rest of his life with.
Snape had long since gone back to the castle when Lily Evans came up to Hermione’s blanket and settled beside her.
“I remember you saying something about watching the Quidditch tryouts?” she asked after their warm greeting, sitting cross-legged beside Hermione and fiddling with one of the quills that lay on the blanket with them.
“Oh—yes, I would,” Hermione said enthusiastically. She’d been excited at the prospect since the day before—almost everyone who’d been around long enough to know complimented Harry by claiming he reminded them of his father’s flying.
Lily helped her collect her things, and the two of them made their way to the Quidditch Pitch. Just as they were about to climb up to an observation tower, though, Hermione’s stomach rumbled, reminding her that she’d skipped lunch, and dinner would be over shortly.
“Wow, even I could hear that,” Lily laughed. “Maybe you should nip over to the Great Hall before it gets bad enough that the players can hear it.”
“Good suggestion,” Hermione said, a hand to her protesting stomach. “Besides, Sirius was right—this is fairly heavy to be carrying with me everywhere.” Something occurred to her at the mention of Sirius’ name, and she looked up at the nearby observation towers to see if she could catch sight of him. “Speaking of which—have you seen him around?”
Lily looked at her speculatively before responding. “No, why?”
Hermione had no intention of divulging her real reason, considering it would only give her friend more ammunition to continue their earlier teasing.
“I just wondered if James succeeded in getting him to show up for the tryouts,” she lied. What she really wanted to know was whether or not he’d taken Remus anything for supper. Well, she thought to herself cheerfully, I’ve got to put these books away anyway, and their dormitory isn’t far from ours. She waved to Lily, who was looking at her with narrowed eyes and an expression that told Hermione she would have some questions for her later.
Dinner was comprised of various meats with bread, something quite easy to conceal in a couple of napkins to take with her. Hermione delighted herself immensely when she managed to avoid Malfoy by choosing an obscure path to Gryffindor tower—he’d seen her leaving the Great Hall and begun up the moving staircases to intercept her, but she’d simply melted away into another corridor. She knew she’d have to deal with him sometime, but now that she wasn’t in the same House as he, the menace of his anger at her seemed less of a threat and more of a nuisance.
As Hermione reached the top of the stairs, she almost turned back. She didn’t want to give the kind of impression that the rest of the Marauders had seemed to take from her interest in Remus—but neither did she want him to go hungry. She was just about to walk back down the stairs when something she’d overheard Lupin speaking about with Dumbledore struck her. They’d been in the kitchen of #12, Grimmauld Place, and Remus had stated that the week of his transformation gave him a much stronger sense of smell, among other senses. He had stopped then, asking Hermione (who had barely stopped at the bottom of the stairs to the first floor) to come and join them. That event had turned her into a believer—and as she stood at the door to the boys’ dormitory, she knew that he was probably in there wondering why she was there. She knocked.
“Come in,” Remus said, and she heard a bit of scuffling in the room; perhaps he was putting on a robe or something. When she entered he did not look surprised to see her, confirming her suspicions. “Hello, Hermia—can I help you with something?” His manner of address reminded Hermione of something her grandmother had called a ‘servant’s heart.’ Not subservient, just always willing to help, expecting to help. She found it very interesting that he’d been like this long before becoming a teacher.
“Well, I’m glad to see you didn’t think I came here for anyone else,” she teased. Remus was in bed, but surrounded by papers and books much the same way that she had been earlier that day. She had never seen him after an actual transformation, only a day after he’d taken his Wolfsbane potion—it gave her a great deal of comfort to see that he looked very well, considering the previous night’s ordeal. “How are you feeling?” she asked, setting her bag on a nearby chair and reaching inside to retrieve the food she’d taken from downstairs.
“Quite a bit better, thank you,” came his polite reply.
Remus was incredibly baffled, but did his best not to show it. He’d heard someone coming up the stairs, of course, but had assumed it to be Sirius until he’d caught a whiff of indecision and a person whose scent he did not recognize. It appeared that Hermia James had come to see if he was still unwell, but what really confused him was the sense of strong affection practically wafting from the girl in waves. For him, no less. It was very different from attraction; the kind of caring that came from a long and happy friendship. He recognized it immediately, as it was the undertone of all of his closest friends’ aroma when they were with each other.
Why it was coming from Hermia, and how she’d managed to develop it so early was completely beyond him.
Remus found it impossible not to like her, especially since he could tell with many of his senses that she was very fond of him—not matter how strange that seemed coming from someone he’d not known for very long. Being that today he was incredibly sensitive to body language and other signs, he couldn’t help but smile at the lingering indecision and concern he knew she was feeling. He saw her rummaging in that large book bag she was always carrying, and suddenly he smelled the food and realized why she was there. Nevertheless, he decided not to let her in on his heightened perceptiveness just yet.
“What have you got, there?” he asked, sitting up in bed so that she could see he was fully dressed. He didn’t want to add to her nervousness. Even so, at his question, she seemed to fidget a little and he almost wanted to go over to her, draw her to a chair, and tell her, ‘calm down, and thank you for bringing me dinner.’ Remus had to marvel at how simply sensing the emotions of those around him altered the way he perceived them and how he reacted toward them. Just a part of nature, he thought wryly, just as I am, for a week every month.
Hermione knew he could probably tell she was nervous by her scent, and that knowledge just made her more nervous as she searched for the right way to tell him she’d brought him dinner. In the end, his encouraging smile and her rumbling stomach made her speak in a rush as though it wouldn’t sound as odd if she said it quickly.
“I remember Sirius saying he usually brought you food when you were si—weren’t feeling well,” she amended, not wanting to give him the impression that his friends let slip how often he was ‘ill.’ “I haven’t seen him today and since I planned to take food to my room anyway,” she hadn’t, of course, but she figured he’d think her mental for wanting to bring him dinner as if she’d been his close friend for years. “I brought you some too—just in case.”
“Thank you,” he said, sounding pleased and not a bit unnerved by her strange gesture. “If you did bring some for yourself, did you want to eat here?” he offered, moving some books off of a chair that sat next to his bed.
“Is that…allowed?” she asked, surprised and delighted by his suggestion. She really did like Remus a lot, and an impromptu dinner made it a lot easier to have a private chat with him, without the innuendo that James and the others found so amusing.
“Yes,” Lupin laughed, “I’m a Prefect—and besides, I doubt even Professor McGonagall would pass out detention for aiding a fellow Housemate in need.”
“Well,” Hermione said, conjuring up a few more napkins, “I hope you like turkey, then!” She handed him an equal portion and settled herself on the chair he’d cleared off for her.
“So tell me,” Remus said between bites, “how is it that you came to Hogwarts so late? If you don’t mind my asking,” he looked slightly apologetic as he spoke the last bit, as though he thought he’d overstepped his bounds.
“It’s all right,” Hermione assured him. “My parents didn’t like the idea of a boarding school, and I guess Professor Dumbledore persuaded them to let me have a tutor, instead.” She went over the rest of the scenario she and the professor had come up with, explaining how her tutor had health difficulties during the last year, and how she’d pointed out to her parents that many of the students at Hogwarts had known each other for many years, which would leave her at a disadvantage once it was time to find employment.
Her explanation was reasonable enough, and if it hadn’t been for the simple coincidence that they were holding the conversation so soon after his transformation, he’d never have questioned it. But she was lying. The sense that he got from her wasn’t of a malicious lie, however. She seemed almost as if she had memorized a prearranged history—though why she thought it necessary to conceal her real one, he didn’t know. What he did know was that as the hours passed his animalistic advantage would continue to fade; already the sounds from the adjoining rooms and floors were fading to the periphery, and when there came a knock at the door, it took him a long moment to catch that it was Sirius.
Better and better, he said to himself with a hint of mischief—time to find out what’s going on, here.
“Come in, Sirius,” he said, watching Hermia for her reaction. He wasn’t disappointed—there was an immediate ramping in the tension he sensed from her, as well as a definite happiness when his friend entered the room. He’d expected her to be shocked and impressed at his ability to guess who was at the door, but presumed (wrongly) that she’d assumed the other boy had a recognizable knock. When Black entered, Remus thought to himself that he barely needed an amplified awareness to know Sirius had feelings for Hermia. His friend’s emotions were all jealousy and attraction, with a hint of possessiveness when he looked at the girl sitting to Lupin’s right.
“I’ve brought you—oh, hello Miss James,” Sirius said as he opened the door. Hermia’s body language indicated that she really wanted to stand up and apologize, and in not doing so she gained a great deal of respect from Remus. Instead, she remained in the chair with the hand that was clenched tightly in her lap as the only indication of her tension. She sent Sirius an contrite look, and explained quickly that she’d already planned to eat in the dormitories, and brought extra just in case something had come up to prevent Sirius’ doing so.
The wave of possessiveness that echoed from Sirius at her words made Remus feel very cared for—he was actually disappointed that his self-appointed job had already been taken care of.
“Please join us, Sirius,” Lupin said, hoping his friend would gather from his quick suggestion that he and Hermia were just having a friendly chat.
It had taken all of Hermione’s self control not to leap to her feet and apologize profusely for stepping on Sirius’ toes, as it were. Instead she’d stuffed one hand in her lap and told him ruefully that she’d had no intention of spoiling a tradition, merely taking the chance to get to know a new friend better.
In truth she felt horrible; Sirius and Remus’ friendship was something that would transcend all of the terrible events to come and she had had no intention of trying to insinuate herself into that bond. She also felt a little guilty, as though perhaps the jokes from earlier were given credence by her presence in Remus’ bedroom. For some reason, she really didn’t want Sirius to think that she’d come here because she fancied his friend.
Remus’ suggestion that Sirius join them for their ‘picnic’ dinner was exactly the right way to break the odd tension that had followed his appearance in the dorm room, but Hermione stopped herself from giving her future professor the bright smile she’d almost bestowed, worrying that Sirius would get the wrong idea.
Wait, this is silly, she told herself. Why should I worry if he thinks I like Remus? Then she thought about the way her heart had beat faster when their eyes met, and how his arm had felt under her hand…That is simply absurd, she declared to herself. This is SIRIUS! She didn’t even notice her inadvertent pun, too disgusted with herself for her strange reactions.
Hermione realized that Sirius had settled himself at the foot of Remus’ bed and the two boys were now looking at her expectantly.
“I’m sorry,” she said, flushing scarlet. “I was distracted—what did you ask?” Mercifully they didn’t seem to want to postulate on what she could have been distracted by.
“We were just wondering how long until James sends Lily up here to collect Sirius for Quidditch tryouts,” Remus said with an impish grin.
“We were not wondering anything of the sort,” protested Sirius with a frustrated groan. Hermione had stopped listening again—she’d completely forgotten that she’d promised Lily to come right back and sit with her to watch the tryouts!
“Oh, Merlin,” she groaned, interrupting the boys’ banter. “I completely forgot Lily!” To their astonishment, she jumped to her feet, cast a quick ‘Scourgify!’ to clean up from her dinner, and began to leave the room.
“What, no dessert?” Sirius joked, removing his wand from a pocket and making as if he were about to conjure something.
“Run! Run while you still can!” Remus cried, howling with laughter.
“I’m really sorry,” she said, giggling at their antics. “I promised her I’d watch the tryouts—and that was over an hour ago.”
“Go on,” Sirius said, brandishing his wand at Remus as he spoke to her. “Don’t worry though—she might be so busy watching James—”
“Oh!” Hermione protested, sure she knew where he was going with this. “Lily doesn’t seem like the type to disregard everything for her boyf—”
“—So busy that she won’t hex you for being late,” Sirius finished, simulating a severe look with raised eyebrows.
“Right,” Hermione asserted, feeling a complete idiot.
“She’s fairly good at Charms though, so I wouldn’t push it,” Remus added.
“You fancy her,” Remus stated without preamble, when her footsteps faded from the stairs outside.
“Bloody werewolf,” Sirius said disgustedly.
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