Chapter 19 : Our Star
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...cause I'm actually sort of tired of telling you that the image is by a contemplator @ TDA...
I hold the slip of paper between my fingers, tangible proof of the gift I decided upon for Calliope. I had just under a month to come up with a really fantastic gift for her birthday and Valentine’s Day and this was all I had. I mean sure, I’d had plenty of ridiculously fantastic ideas that probably would have made Calliope feel like she was the only girl in the entire world. But I was fairly sure that my parents wouldn’t want to give up their entire life savings so I could spoil my girlfriend. Although if they met her and saw what she did for me, that might be another story. But I didn’t have the time to show them how perfect Calliope was. I had to be quick on my feet.
And somehow I ended up with this.
I chew at the inside of my lip and read the certificate again. Part of me thought that this was a really original and sincere gesture. And if any girl would appreciate it, it would be Calliope. It was certainly more interesting than expensive jewelry or flowers or anything typical like that. The specifics of it were actually a little presumptuous but I didn’t mind that. I’d rather overdo the gift than give her anything less than what she deserved. Of course it wasn’t just about the gift.
Originally James and Sirius had offered to delay Valentine’s Day celebrations with Lily and Melody until the weekend and instead have a giant birthday party for Calliope in the Room of Requirement. I rejected the idea since I would have to be at the Shrieking Shack waiting for the full moon on Saturday and I wanted to spend tonight, Valentine’s, alone with Calliope. They could celebrate without me in Hogsmeade this weekend before meeting me at the shack. After deciding on the plans I promptly was forced to wrestle for the rights to the Astronomy Tower for a romantic dinner. James merely shrugged and let Sirius and I argue it out. All I had to do was show him my gift for Calliope and Sirius also relented. James even got Lily to help me cast misdirection charms around the Tower to assure that no other couples would manage to find their way up on my big night.
I found Calliope on her way to the Great Hall this morning and immediately swooped in and stole her from Melody and Penelope.
“Well Good Mor-” she got out before I pulled her in for a kiss.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I told her, tucking a narcissus flower behind her ear. She jumped as the flower began to whisper to her. “It compliments the wearer,” I told her as her eyes lit up in surprise and delight. “I taught it specific things to say. On a more important note,” I took her face in my hands for another, longer kiss. I could feel her body relax against mine, even though she’s usually tense when I kiss her in public. I wanted to hold her there and forget about our classes for the day. I moved away slowly, charmed by her own obvious reluctance. “Happy birthday.” I grinned at her speechlessness. “Dinner in the Astronomy Tower tonight?”
“Won’t it be crowded?” she asked.
“I don’t think we’ll have any trouble,” I answered. I knew that she could tell that there was more to it than what I said.
I love how well she can read me.
I used my in with the house elves to create a beautiful candle lit dinner in the Astronomy Tower. I have the certificate and the personalized telescope. I look okay, a little peaky from the approaching full moon but otherwise alright. All I need now is Calliope. I hover impatiently by the table waiting for her wide blue eyes to peek themselves around the doorway frame in her typically cautious approach. I want this week to be the best week of the year for Calliope. There’s no explanation for this desire of mine to see her so happy. Anytime I try and analyze my fervent affection the direction my thoughts take go a little farther than I might be comfortable with. So I try not to analyze.
“Remus?” A soft breathy voice asks from behind.
I spin around and my heartbeat picks up as Calliope slowly walks into the candlelight. I take a moment to admire her, all dressed in soft red like a Valentine’s angel with curls dripping over her shoulders, before rushing over to her. She meets me halfway for a kiss, slinging her arms over my shoulders and leaning into my arms. My grip tightens around her as I try to fight off the desire to completely possess her. She pulls away, sensing my internal struggle, something she learned during the last full moon. Her smile spreads into a grin and I feel a hunger for her that is entirely human.
“You’re beautiful,” I tell her. I wonder how many times I’ll say it before she starts to believe me.
“What’s for dinner?” She asks with a slightly ironic tone and a breathless voice.
“Vegetarian lasagna,” I tell her, loosening my arms from her waist and pulling out the chair for her at the table.
Calliope smiles thankfully at me and I give myself an internal high-five for remember to leave meat off the menu. Even if I was really craving steak. We eat dinner with a steady hum of conversation, but I barely notice. I watch her tilt her head back and to the side as she thinks and I admire the perfect skin stretched over the muscles in her neck. She flicks long spindle-like fingers through the air to accentuate her excitement and then rests them over her face as she lets out an uncharacteristic giggle. She licks away pasta sauce at the corner of her mouth as her fingertip traces the pattern on the table cloth. Her eyes meet mine as we both go quiet and I notice that the candlelight has warmed and deepened the color of her eyes. Blood rushes to her cheeks at the intensity of my gaze and her eyes dip down.
She mesmerizes me.
“Come on,” I take her hand from across the table and stand, “It’s time for your birthday present.”
Calliope looks up in surprise, “I thought the flower was my present.”
I shake my head and pull her out of her seat. “I’ve got something much bigger than that for your official present.”
“Bigger?” She asks skeptically.
Well, technically speaking. From here it doesn’t seem so big.
I take her out to the astronomy tower balcony. It had taken most of the evening before Calliope had arrived to finally position the small telescope correctly. I had made sure nothing would disturb it on the ledge. I point to it now and Calliope looks over and hesitantly walks to telescope and picks it up off the ledge and looks through it. Oh crap. She takes her eye away from the lens and frowns slightly before looking back at me with a curious eyebrow.
“What does it show? I can’t see the stars,” she tells me.
I walk over and take the telescope. I look through it to see black and very slowly scan the sky with until finally I catch a star through the lenses. Very carefully I pull Calliope to me and set the telescope in front of her eyes.
“Can you see it?” I ask her.
“See what?” She laughs.
“Move it around a bit,” I instruct her.
She very carefully moves the telescope until stopping suddenly, “I see a star!”
I wrap my arms around her waist from behind and lean to her ear. “That is the only star this telescope will ever find in the sky,” I explain to her.
She looks back to me confused but amused before looking through the telescope again. “What star is it?”
I pull the certificate out of my pocket and unfold it, spreading it in front of the lens of the telescope. Calliope leans away and reads the certificate aloud.
“The Wizarding Star Registry hereby dedicates this star, Calliopus, to Ms. Calliope DeSole as a gift from Mr. Remus Lupin,” Calliope trails off at the end.
“There were already stars named after the mythical Remus and Calliope,” I explained to her. “I thought Calliopus might be more personal.”
Calliope turned to look at me with huge, beautiful eyes, “You mean…that’s our star?”
“Well, it’s really your star,” I reply.
“My star named after us?” She murmurs.
I shrug and nod, feeling nervous. She must think I’m crazy, naming a star by that stupid nickname James and Sirius came up with.
“You bought me a star,” Calliope whispered.
“Happy birthday,” I tell her hesitantly.
“Oh Remus,” She sighs, dropping the telescope and the certificate to the floor.
She pulls my face down to hers and kisses me with a strength and desire I can barely believe is possible. Except it is possible because I respond in kind, dragging our bodies together as close as they can possibly fit together. I press her against the balcony wall, relishing in the pressure between our legs and hips. Her leg wraps around my hip and without thinking I slip my fingers under the hem of her dress, trailing them over her thighs. My hand reaches the top of her tall stockings and discovers beautifully smooth and soft flesh. I dig my hips harder against hers, one hand gripping her upper thigh, the other braced onto her ribcage right below the curve of her breast. She whimpers slightly into my mouth and it startles my body into a painful want. I no longer know what desire is solely mine and what is the wolf’s. Perhaps we both want Calliope equally.
I force myself to ease away, embarrassed at how obvious my need for her is. I’ve never felt quite so exposed. Calliope pulls me back to her slightly before pausing at the discomfort that’s so evident on my face. She lifts my face to meet her eyes and I find the most surprising thing there. Permission. To go as far as I like. To expose myself as much as I want. It’s horribly tempting, to know that she’s so willing. That she trusts me enough, knows I’d never take advantage of her.
But before I dive in and I let myself go I consider it. I don’t just want her to be willing, I want her to want me as much as I want her. I want her to trust me as much as I trust her. And as much as I don’t want to believe it, I have this feeling that there’s still something she’s hiding from me. So I pull away a little farther and then kiss her gently when I see her expression is ever so slightly hurt. She sighs and I wrap her up in my arms.
“I can’t believe you got me a star,” She mumbles into my chest.
“And you can write it out on your star chart every week in Astronomy,” I joke.
I feel her laugh against me and say, “I will if you will.”
I look up in the general direction of the newly titled star, Calliopus. I will, if only so I never forget where to find it.
“What do you mean you ‘forgot Calliope’!?” I shout at Peter in the Shrieking Shack as Sirius and James try to wrestle me into relaxation.
“James and Sirius kept pretending to step on me after we all transformed,” Peter whines back indignantly.
“Where the hell is she then?” I snarl, trying to keep up my vicious momentum even though I ache and would rather just fall asleep.
“I’ve got the map,” Sirius snaps as Peter shrugs. He retrieves the Marauder’s Map from his jean pocket and spreads it out over his lap. He frowns at the page and then groans and folds it back before I can lean over to see.
“What? Where is she?” I ask.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” Sirius tells me.
But the words do anything but reassure me. “Where the hell is she, Sirius?”
Sirius looks over and glares at Peter, “It looks like she’s been sitting in front of the Whomping Willow all night.”
“Why wouldn’t she have gone inside by now?” Peter says with a slightly mocking tone and I know that if I wasn’t so completely wrecked I would hit him for it.
“She was probably worried about me,” I moan.
“Let’s go,” Sirius growls to Peter, dragging him out of the room by the arm. “We’ll be back with Calliope in no time,” Sirius assures me before swiftly exiting.
I growl and push myself back on the bed, collapsing slightly into the comfort and fretting over Calliope. She’s got to be half frozen by now. And knowing her, probably assumes that something went wrong with my transformation since no one came to let her into the Willow and tell her it was safe. I feel a slight stab of anger at myself for making her promise repeatedly not to go through Hogsmeade or enter the passage under the Willow until Peter came for her. If only I had added a clause that had specified neglecting her promise in lieu of Peter’s stupidity.
Not only that, but I had forced the whole arrangement for the sole purpose of making sure that Calliope wouldn’t be waiting in the cold. Peter would wait for her to arrive, not the other way around. I had noticed that since her birthday it seemed as though she had been catching a cold and I wasn’t about to forget the three days she spent in the hospital over winter break or her occasional “harmless”, as she called them, visits to Madame Pomfrey. I wasn’t really supposed to know about them. I had never even mentioned that I knew she was so sick over the holidays, simply because she had never mentioned it either. But I wasn’t about to risk her health, even at the signs of a simple cold.
And now she was sitting, undoubtedly frost bitten completely though, in front of the Whomping Willow waiting for what was probably hours for someone to come find her and assure her that I was fine.
Brilliant idea, Remus. Really well executed. What was taking them so long?
“She’ll be alright, mate,” James tells me casually. “I’ll warm up the room for when she gets here.”
James sets to work, being useful as I fester unhappily on the bed. Eventually I hear the doors banging down stairs and slow steps make their way up. I struggle and push myself off the bed and stumble to the doorway to watch Sirius and Calliope make their way up slowly with Peter following behind sullenly. I bet Sirius gave him a mouthful the whole way. Calliope looks up at me and delivers a wane smile.
“Sorry I’m late,” She teases in a voice that sounds almost pained.
“Are you okay?” Dumb question, she’s just a few shades warmer than blue.
I pull her away from Sirius and take off her cloak and help her balance as she shakes off her boots.
“Here,” James says as he passes Calliope a cup of tea. I notice her hand shaking slightly as she holds it. The others look to me and I nod, signaling them to go ahead and leave.
“You look frozen,” I whisper, taking the cup out of her hands and reaching up to her cheek to find it degrees cooler than I would have hoped.
“I’ll be fine,” she tells me. “I just need to warm up.”
I tuck her under excessive layers of blankets and rub her hands together between mine. We shift under the blankets until she’s sitting securely between my legs with my arms wrapped around her, propped up by pillows. I rub at her arms between the sips of tea she takes before finally allowing her to succumb to sleep, still surrounded by my limbs. I hold her, nervous at how cool her skin still is, trying to fight off my own exhaustion. But it defeats me and I slouch against the pillows, falling asleep on contact.
It can’t be long into our sleep before I wake up to Calliope’s feverish body squirming and fighting against the layers of blankets I’ve piled over her. I sit up and untangle myself from around her, pushing away the blankets. Her breath is disturbingly heavy and she doesn’t wake when I shake her. There’s a film of sweat over her skin and I push away strands of matted hair off her face. I wait as she stills, but she seems to relax. I lay down hesitantly next to her, hoping that her hot flash was only caused by blankets and body heat.
I nod off only to wake up again to find Calliope shivering violently, curled in upon herself. I shake her and her eyes flicker open for a second before falling shut again.
Now would be the time to panic.
“James! Sirius!!” I can hear them stir next door and continue to shout, “Help! Calliope’s sick.”
Seconds later James, Sirius and Peter all rush into the room to find me leaning over a still shivering Calliope, trying to rouse her.
“She woke up earlier all feverish so I pushed the blankets off, now she’s shivering,” I explain quickly. “I can’t get her to wake up.”
“Cold sweats,” James tells me. “I got pneumonia once when I was little.”
Calliope can’t have pneumonia! It’s too serious.
James hurries and gets a wet washcloth and wipes away the beads of sweat from Calliope’s face.
“You have to keep her warm, even if she gets feverish,” James instructs me.
“We should take her to Madame Pomfrey,” Sirius suggest, watching us with worried expressions.
I don’t want to move her. Especially not to outside where it’s so cold. James frowns and I can tell he’s thinking the same thing. Calliope whimpers and I wrap blankets around her, cocooning her inside of them.
“I’ll make more tea,” Sirius whispers, evidently aware that his earlier suggestion has been decided against.
“We’ll wait a little,” I say. “If it gets worse or stays the same then we’ll take her back to the castle.”
I look to James for some sort of confirmation but he’s frowning to himself. Should I be more worried? I curl up around the bundled Calliope, draping an arm over her. I try and will a little health into her through osmosis. Instead I only find myself fighting not to fall asleep again. As exhausted as I am from the transformation, and as self indulgent as I usually like to be after said transformations, I’m too scared for Calliope to fall asleep and miss any changes.
I stay wrapped around Calliope, blinking to keep myself awake. Waiting for her to give a healthy sigh and assure us all that she’s perfectly fine again. What seems like years later I feel her fighting against the blankets again. I sit up to see her face scrunched up in pain and dripping with sweat. I look to James, needing someone else to direct the situation.
“We have to try and move her, Remus,” James mumbles to me.
I dress myself in more layers as Sirius lifts Calliope off the bed. I know I’m too weak tonight to carry her myself but I wish more than anything else it wasn’t the case. Instead I’m forced to trail alongside Sirius, stumbling over stones in the tunnel and refusing to tear my eyes away from Calliope’s face.
I knew this was going to happen. I had this horrible feeling as soon as we got back to the shack and I found Calliope missing. Stupid Peter had to go and bloody forget to let my girlfriend into the Whomping Willow. Stupid me for not trying harder to convince her to just stay in the castle this one night. I had mentioned it but I hadn’t put up much of an argument because truth be told, I liked having her with me for the recovery. Because Calliope just made everything nicer. It was the simplest way to put it. Everything felt a lot more painless and friendly when she was around.
Except for this. Except for watching her breakout in sweats and shiver uncontrollably. This horrible apprehension is a lot worse than any I have experienced before. This irrational fear that she’s only going to get worse, and never better is gut-wrenching and entirely unique.
“She’s getting worse,” Sirius whispers, stopping halfway through the tunnel. “Maybe we should stop for a little while.”
And because none of us can argue, Sirius kneels down in the dirt tunnel and I follow. Taking Calliope from him and holding her tight against me. I notice, with no limit of terror, that her breathing has grown considerably shallower. And the sincerely overwhelming fear I seem to be experience kick starts a logical argument that has been waging in my head for several weeks now. Why am I so worried for Calliope right now? Because I love her. I hadn’t even realized before but it feels exceedingly simple and obvious now. I choke back a sort of angry sob. What a wonderful way to discover that I’m in love for the first time. By clinging to Calliope in a dingy passageway as all signs of her health start to evaporate.
I wrap my arms tighter around her blanket wrapped, slightly limp form as the oddly logically, suddenly enlightened part of my brain delves further into my epiphany. Why do I love her? Why wouldn’t I? How can I love her after barely a month of dating? Because she’s been giving me perfectly good reasons to since I first met her. I look down into my arms to find Calliope’s eyes open. Her expression is glazed but she’s obviously awake and it’s as good of a sign as I’m willing to hope for at the moment.
“She’s waking up,” I whisper to the others as I consider telling her what I’ve discovered. Calliope clears her throat weakly and focuses her eyes on my face but if she’s trying to say something, nothing comes out. Her eyes droop shut again as Sirius takes her from me.
“We have to get her back,” he decides.
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