Chapter 22 : Silence Is A Scary Sound
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It was Friday afternoon and lessons were done for the day. I chose not to hang out with Lily and the others, as the costume, er, meeting had brought us all together. Obviously, Alice and Lily felt more camaraderie toward Leanne and Marlene than I did, but the girls were nice, if not a little too perky for my liking. Instead, I chose to venture to the library so I could tackle some of the other homework that I had yet to touch upon.
I found myself sitting alone at a table in the far back corner - the table that was otherwise known as mine. It had been quite a long time since I had been by myself. As it seemed, someone was always around me, jabbering away and I found it comforting. But sometimes, a girl just needed to be alone.
You were alone for six years, Elle. I think that’s more than enough time.
Ever since the incident on the staircase, the Voice had grown more insistent. More like annoying, but there really wasn’t much of a difference between the two. Though the Voice never alerted me to stupid things I may or may not be doing while I was around Remus and Sirius, it was nagging me about everything else. Which I had decided was more annoying that correcting, scolding, and generally insulting me for being such an indecisive bint when it came to blokes I didn’t fancy.
Liar, liar, pants on fire!
See? There It was again! I was honestly going to go raving mad and throw myself off the tallest tower if the damn Voice didn’t shut the hell up! Honestly, I was trying to get some studying done before my Potions project took up my entire life.
Tucking a strand of hair that had escaped my headband behind my ear in annoyance, I flipped the page of the book resting in front of me and leaned toward the desk, lowering my head while pushing my reading glasses up my nose. This action resulted in my finger somehow slipping underneath the lens of my glasses and poking me in the eye. Which hurt. Although I’m sure you would’ve come to that assumption on your own.
“Damn it,” I whispered under my breath, blinking away the hot tears that had begun to form in the corner of my eye. One slipped down my cheek and I brushed at it, furious that something so stupid had happened to me. Although, it wasn’t all that surprising.
Rolling my eyes heavenward, I gave my glasses a rough shove up the bridge of my nose and found where I had left off in my reading, posing my inked quill above a piece of parchment, which was clustered with various notes that I had taken over the material I had been reading for the last hour and fifteen minutes. Of course, since I didn’t look at the paper as I wrote, almost all my notes were overlapping and looked as though a four year old had written them. Oh well, I was the only one who could understand them and no one could benefit from them, should I drop them on the floor and another student come bustling along and pick them up.
I had only scribbled down a few more lines before another distraction settled into the seat across the table from me. Against my will, I raised my eyes and dropped my quill almost instantly. Remus was sitting across the table from me, wearing a shy smile on his face.
“Hello,” he greeted.
“Hi Remus,” I returned warmly, sticking the sheet of notes in my textbook, pushing it to the side.
“How are you?” he asked, somewhat nervously. Weird.
“Good, even though you just saw me a little over an hour ago in Potions.” I attempted to raise a brow and look as though I was deeply immersed in mirth, but I probably looked as though I was having some intestinal problem.
The left side of his mouth quirked slightly, and I could tell by the sparkle in his inviting brown eyes that he was struggling to hold back a bout of laughter for my sake. I rearranged my facial features and subconsciously pushed my reading glasses up the bridge of my nose in typical Geek fashion.
“So,” I continued, folding my arms and leaning against them on the table top. “What brings you to the library? Don’t you have some mischief to procure with some of your seemingly elusive best mates?”
He stared at me for a second. “Um. . .no, not today. Why? Did Sirius forget to show up again?”
“Oh no,” I replied immediately, groaning inwardly as I felt the heat flare up in my cheeks. “I was just attempting to make a joke.”
Sirius would’ve gotten the joke, I found myself thinking. Almost immediately, the Voice suggested that I should stop thinking about someone who was already attached and focus my attention back to the conversation at hand. For once, I found myself agreeing with the Voice..
“Oh,” he laughed, again sounding more nervous than I had ever heard him before.
Then it hit me like a load of bricks.
Sweet Mother of Merlin, he really was going to ask me to Hogsmeade! Blessed Mother of all Things Magical and Magnificent, Sirius hadn’t been pulling my leg!
“Hmmm?” I muttered, snapping myself back into the realm of the present.
“I, uh, asked if you needed any help with your homework,” he licked his lips and attempted to smile at me, but quite honestly, he looked as though he was going to be sick all over his own shoes. Poor bloke, he was as nervous as they come.
You should be, too, Eleanor, if you knew what was good for you. This is only going to stir up a whole lot of trouble when it comes to your Sanity.What sanity?! I hardly had any as it was.
Mentally scolding myself, I tucked an invisible strand of hair behind my ear - a nervous tick. What can I say, I’m full of them!
“Oh no,” I began to ramble. “I think I’ve got it all covered. I was just taking some notes for Monday’s Transfiguration exam. Don’t want to fall behind, right?”
A genuine smile broke out across his handsome face. I think a bit of the sweat forming at his brow had retreated back into his pours. He mimicked my position, his arms folded and his body leaning slightly toward me.
“No, wouldn’t want to fall behind at all,” he returned, still smiling. “But are you sure you don’t need some help? Transfiguration can be a tricky subject when it wants to be.”
“Transfiguration is one of the few subjects I have an ‘O’ in, actually,” I replied, suddenly realizing how Know-It-All I sounded. I slapped a hand to my forehead and added quickly, “I didn’t mean it in the way it came out. What I meant to say is that it’s a surprise that I actually have such a good score in a hard subject and all, not that you were insulting my intelligence or anything - but you know what I mean, right? If you don’t I completely understand, I mean, what’s not to understand about a simple misunderstanding of what I said, right? Haha, right. I suppose this is just confusing you even more so than you were before and I-,”
“Eleanor?” he cut me off abruptly.
I closed my mouth immediately, wincing slightly as I bit into my tongue. Ouch, that had hurt, but I could ignore the pain. For now. A confident smile had overtaken the warm, affectionate one Remus had aimed at me naught but just a few seconds ago. My entire body gave an unwilling tremor of pure delight.
“Go to Hogsmeade with me tomorrow?”
I nodded, unable to hold back my smile. “Yeah, of course I will.”
X - X - X
When I returned to the dormitory after dinner, Alice began to shriek with excitement before I had even kicked off my shoes to relax. Her screaming alerted Lily, which brought Leanne and Marlene to attention, who were busy working on our costumes.
With one look, Lily’s mouth dropped open. “No, he didn’t!”
“He did,” was my simple reply, my cheeks burning.
“Oh my God!” She began to squeal excitedly with Alice, both girls joining hands to jump up and down before turning toward me and enveloping me in a tight hug. I hugged them back fiercely, glad to finally have found the companionship that I had been searching for for so long.
Marlene and Leanne were both wearing expressions of confusion. “I’m not following,” Marlene said slowly, not bothering to rise from her position on her bed. She sent a look at Leanne, who simply shrugged her narrow shoulders while Lily and Alice fawned over me, dragging me over to Lily’s bed to get all the “juicy” details and help me “plan” for tomorrow.
X - X - X
Waking up had been simple enough, if not a task that I had taken begrudgingly - I hated getting out of my nice, cozy bed in the morning. Taking a shower, picking out an outfit, and making myself look fit enough to take out into public - also a relatively easy task. Walking down to the Great Hall, eating breakfast, and then going to meet Remus in the Entrance Hall.
Yeah, that’s where my morning had hit a snag. Halfway through my third slice of toast (and second helping of ketchup drenched eggs), I realized that I was going on a date with the bloke I fancied. My stomach flipped uncomfortably, churning the food I had just eaten with the stomach acid floating about due to my extra bad case of nerves. I felt like I was going to hurl all over my shoes, which weren’t exactly mine, as I had nothing that went along with the pleated skirt and navy blue blouse that had been chosen for me. At least, according to Lily and Alice I didn’t.
I pushed my plate away from me and held a hand to my mouth. “Merlin, I think I’m going to be sick,” I said, my voice muffled by my hand.
Lily and Alice shot each other a look before glancing at me in unison. It was sort of freaky how their movements always paralleled one another’s. A bit unnerving, if you asked me.
“There’s no need to be worried, Ella,” Alice said, her kind voice reassuring, like a mother’s voice would be.
However, I couldn’t draw any comfort from her voice. If anything, it only made it worse. My stomach continued to churn and I removed my hand from my mouth and placed it on my abdomen. “That’s easy for you to say, Alice. You’re not the one going on your first date, are you?”
They shared another look and I wished that they would stop doing that! It was almost as unnerving as the look they had shared just moments ago.
“Look, Eleanor,” Lily began, taking the Alice band out of my hair to fix it. She had a tendency of doing that, as I was apparently incapable of making it look right or something. Normally, it would’ve bothered me, but right now, I appreciated the help. “You and Remus have always gotten on rather well, right?”
“Right,” I bobbed my head in agreement.
“And you can keep a steady flow of conversation without it getting awkward, yes?”
“Aside from yesterday when he asked me; yeah, we can. Quite well, actually,” I added as an afterthought.
“Well then, I bet it won’t even feel like a date!” She smiled widely, encouragingly even, but my stomach plummeted and my eyes went wide.
The word kept repeating like a skipped record in my head, making my already churning stomach flip and flop even more so, mixing my breakfast around with unpleasant stomach acid. Circe, I might actually end up throwing up before I left the Great Hall!
“You better go,” Alice suggested. “It’s almost nine o’clock, and that’s when he said to meet him, right?”
I nodded my head, muttering a weak, “Yeah.” in return.
As I stood up to leave, Lily grabbed my hand and pulled me toward her. “You’ll be fine,” she whispered. “I promise.”
I waved goodbye to Lily and Alice, afraid that if I opened my mouth, vomit would come out instead of words, which just wasn’t something that I needed at this point in time. I needed to keep myself looking nice and clean. I needed to look my best, and be on my best behavior. Not that I ever had so called bad behavior, but I did have the tendency to drift off subject. Like now.
I took a deep breath and left the comforting atmosphere of the Great Hall, taking a step into the Entrance Hall. It was a great deal chillier in here, as the door was opened wide. But plenty of students were milling about, making it damn near impossible to find anyone. They were all looking for their mates and, quite possibly, their dates.
Inwardly, I winced at the word as it started to repeat in my head. Date. Date. Date. Date. It was like an alien heartbeat in my head, a rhythm that would eventually push what little remained of my sanity over the edge, thus resulting in my psychotic meltdown. Really, it’s as lovely as it sounds, I promise.
Fidgeting with my hands apprehensively, I pushed myself up on my tip toes to look around the Entrance Hall, hoping to see Remus. After a few seconds of searching, I found a familiar head of impossibly messy black hair near the foot of the staircase. James had his hand on Remus’s shoulder and his lips were close to the latter’s ear. It looked as though James was giving Remus a bit of a pep walk.
Wait. . .Remus was nervous, too? I couldn’t stop the mental ‘aw’ from escaping me, but I silenced it almost immediately. Heaven forbid that sound should escape me. Merlin already knew that I already made enough odd sounds, I didn’t need another one to be known by my fellow schoolmates. Not that they would poke fun at me or anything; I had never been the subject of teasing. Although, that third year sure was staring at me like I was Medusa.
James must’ve spotted me, because he shouted my name across the bustling Entrance Hall and waved his arms in a wide arc, as if I didn’t see him. Several curious heads turned in my direction. I could feel my cheeks heating up as I hurriedly crossed the expanse of the hall, hoping to get to the people I was familiar with before others could start talking.
After muttering a quick goodbye to his mates, Remus met me halfway across the hall, his hands in the pockets of his trousers and a timid, but warm smile on his face. “Hello,” he greeted, just as he had in the library, once we reached one another.
“Hi,” I returned, refraining from letting my full grin break out. I kept it to a soft, hopefully welcoming smile. I didn’t want to scare him off by looking like a clown.
“Ready to go?”
His smirk widened. “Great, let’s hit it.”
I snorted to myself as we walked out of the doors, nicely stepping around the younger students and pushing our way through the older ones who knew the rules better than most. I resisted the urge to say something at these particular students who were just standing about and blocking the exit, but I decided against it.
X - X - X
“. . .and then Aunt Eliza marches straight up to the man and socks him right in the face!”
Remus struggled to hold back his laughter, but failed miserably, causing the entire mouthful of butterbeer to spray all over the table top. I laughed with him, although it was clear he found this story much more funny that it was supposed to be.
Wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt, he threw back his head and continued to laugh loudly, his entire torso shaking with effort. I smiled to myself, looking down at the battered table top, and tucking a strand of hair behind my ear; I had taken off the Aliceband within the first ten minutes of our date.
“I didn’t think it was that funny,” I murmured quietly.
Remus managed to get a hold of himself, once again dragging his sleeve across the top of his lip to wipe away any butter beer that remained there. “It was to me,” he replied, smiling. “I didn’t get any on you, did I?”
I shook my head. “No, you didn’t. But I think you got everyone else in the pub.”
He chuckled once more, taking a napkin out of the dispense on the table and mopping up the mess. I didn’t understand why he didn’t just clean it up with his wand, but I suppose it was first instinct. I know I would’ve done the very same, if I were in his position.
Taking the bottle between his fingers, he raised it to his lips, only to pause and send me a sly look over the neck of the bottle. “Is it safe to take another drink, or will you spring another hilarious story upon me?”
“It’s safe,” I said.
I made a showy display of rolling my eyes. “I promise,” I assured him, folding my arms and setting them on the table top. I felt a little odd, watching him take sip after sip of his butterbeer. I had barely touched mine, given the fact that I was afraid I would upchuck anything that I ingested. Even if I did love butter beer.
Well, maybe one dreg wouldn’t hurt.
“So,” Remus began. “Have any other funny family stories?”
I took a drink from my butterbeer, allowing the warm, rich liquid to roll around on my tongue before swallowing it, once I realized I was being addressed. “You have no idea,” I said in what I hoped was a mock-dark voice.
Judging by the grin on his face, it was.
For the past hour and a half, we had been sitting in the Three Broomsticks, the warm, comfortable pub that all the students seemed to flock to. It was crowded, to say the very least, but not to the point where you wanted to rip your hair out because you could barely hear yourself think in your own head. Madam Rosemerta had seated us at one of the tables nearest the window, so we could see the students milling about on the sidewalk, scurrying from one shop to another.
We had shopped around Hogsmeade for the better part of an hour, stepping into the stores we both liked and taking a look about. We had spent the majority of our time in Zonko’s and Honeyduke’s, where Remus bought early Christmas gifts for his mates, and an Acid Pop for me; I loved Acid Pops almost as much as I loved Chocolate Frogs. We had been walking across the lane to the Quidditch shop when a cold wind blew through the streets of Hogsmeade and we made the joint decision to go into the nearest building, which just so happened to be the Three Broomsticks.
At first, we had settled on ordering some butterbeer for the pair of us and fell into amiable chatter concerning school and upcoming exams. But somewhere along the way, I had dropped the name of my Aunt Eliza, and he inquired about her. His questions were those that only breached the surface, and none deeper, but somehow, he had convinced me to tell him a family story and for the past hour, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
I had just finished the story where Aunt Eliza and I had gone to the butcher’s, only to find out that he had sold the Christmas ham she had put on reserve two months beforehand. I hadn’t thought it was funny. In fact, I had been just as pissed as Aunt Eliza had been when we found out the news and had wanted to sock him myself, but like always, I refrained and Aunt Eliza took the initiative.
“But enough about me,” I said, snapping myself back to present time. There was a soft rumble of conversation all around us, but it was comforting, not annoying like I thought it would be. “How about you? Do you have any interesting stories that you’d like to share?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Not really.”
“I find that somewhat hard to believe,” I snorted, sitting up straighter in my chair, only to lean toward Remus ever-so-slightly. I didn’t even realize I had done such a thing until my bum reached the edge of the seat.
“Did you really just ask that question?” I said incredulously, laughing again. “You’re a Marauder! You must have some interesting stories to tell me! After all, I told you about the time Aunt Eliza caught my neighbor‘s cat on fire!”
Remus snorted, shaking his head to himself. “Do you realize how immature that sounds?”
“Do you realize how you’re straying for the subject?” I returned, smirking at him when he sent me a mock-glower. At least, I hoped it was fake.
He sighed, pushing a hand through his floppy hair and took another drink of butterbeer. “There’s just so many to tell. . .” he trailed off suggestively, and I could see that he was fighting off a smile. “I don’t know where to begin.”
“Why not from the beginning?” I suggested. “That’s always a good place.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Tell me about. . .about how you all became friends!”
“But that’s so boring,” he replied.
“Maybe to you, but I’ve never heard the story,” I paused at the doubtful look he shot me. “All right, I’ve never heard the true story. Happy?”
Much to my surprise, he reached across the table and placed his hand over mine, his fingers cupping the palm of my hand and giving it a squeeze. “Yeah,” he said, smiling. Seeing that I wasn’t going to pull away, he wove his fingers through mine. An involuntary shiver ran up and down my spine. “I am now.”
I felt my cheeks flame up once again and I ducked my head, embarrassed that I was unable to control my ruddy cheeks.
X - X - X
After listening to Remus’s stories of the young Marauder days when they thought it was cool to stay away from girls for twenty minutes, we decided that we should head back to the castle for the Halloween Feast. Although it wasn’t very cold outside at the beginning of the day, now that the sun was sinking behind the gloomy looking clouds, it had started to get a bit nippy outside.
I was shivering as we walked back to the castle, my arms folded close to my chest while my teeth clattered in my skull. I suppose it wasn’t my brightest moment when I decided to wear such a thin blouse. But then I remembered it was not I who picked out the bloody blouse, but rather Lily and Alice. It was no thanks to them that I was freezing my little arse off in the thin blouse and damn near microscopic skirt. Well, it was microscopic in my opinion.
“Cold?” Remus asked as he walked beside me, our shoulders brushing against one another’s.
I nodded stiffly. “Y-yeah, just a little bit,” I replied, my lips quivering as I spoke. I know it wasn’t like it was winter or anything, but that breeze blowing around us was frigid for this time of year.
He slipped his arm around my shoulders, his hand coming to rest on the curve of my neck as he pulled me closer to his body. Looking down at me, he asked, “Does that help?”
Again, I nodded. “A lot, actually,” I said, and I honestly meant it. I was a great deal warmer than I had been moments ago. And it was all thanks to Remus and his deliciously warm body.
“Glad to be of some assistance,” he said with a smile, giving my shoulder a comforting squeeze.
I grinned back, nuzzling closer to him as we walked, trying to draw as much warmth as possible from his tall form. He seemed to sense what I was doing and pressed me against his side even more tightly, if it were at all humanly possible.
It was a warm walk back to the castle, to say the very least.
However, something odd happened as we trekked up the path with the rest of the students. All of the sudden, I felt that foreboding feeling seeping into my bones; I felt like someone was watching me. When I scanned the vicinity, I was shocked to see that several students were staring at Remus and I and our, uh, close position.
Well, it wasn’t like we were having a wrestling match with our tongues! What in Merlin’s name gave them the right to gawk like that? I swallowed my tongue (no pun intended) and tilted my head downward against the wind.
You know, maybe I would have to thank Lily and Alice for selecting this particular outfit for me. I’m sure that if they didn’t, Remus and I wouldn’t be standing this close at all. We probably wouldn’t even be holding hands like we had been in the Three Broomsticks; Madame Rosemerta gave us a good bit of teasing over that.
When we reached the double doors leading into the Entrance Hall, the moment struck that I had been scared shitless about. The moment where we separated to tell our mates about our day. I’m sure that Remus wouldn’t tell James and Sirius much of anything, as nothing really happened on our date aside from a bit of story telling and hand holding. Nothing too big by a bloke’s standards.
I, on the other hand, would be going through the ringer as soon as I waltzed through the door to the girls’ dorm.
You see, it wouldn’t be such a big problem if I didn’t fancy Remus so much. If I didn’t, I would simply say goodbye and walked back to the common room. But I did like him. A little too much for my own liking. (Not to mention the fact I feel the very same about him that I do for his best friend, which sounds really slaggish of me, but let’s face it: it’s fact. Unfortunately.) And since I did fancy him quite a bit and I was sure that he liked me, too, that would mean he would be expecting something like most blokes would.
Namely, a kiss.
I swallowed nervously at the fact. I wasn’t very experienced in the area of kissing, to be honest with you. I had only snogged one boy in my entire life and that was because he attacked me, practically sucking off my lips with his mouth. It had been one of the scariest moments of my life, let me assure you, but nowhere near as frightening as this.
I knew that I was just being silly. That I shouldn’t be acting like such an inexperienced schoolgirl, but that was the problem, wasn’t it? I really was an inexperienced schoolgirl when it came to the likes of boys. This wasn’t my area of expertise.
Merlin, I should’ve talked to Lily and Alice about this! They would’ve known what to do, right? They had been on dates before. Plenty of them. Well, I know that Lily has. I’m not too sure about Alice, given the fact she’s head over heels for her precious Frank.
“Well,” Remus began, a little awkwardly. His hand found the back of his head and he ruffled the hair in the back. It was a motion that severely reminded me of James. Not that something reminding me of James was a bad thing, I just think that thinking of him in the current situation I was in wasn’t exactly what one would call “good timing”.
. . .
Wow, that sentence was confusing, even to me.
I was about to mumble my response back as I glanced at my feet, but then I suddenly realized that I might not ever face this situation again. This might be my only chance to show Remus how much I really did fancy him. I mean, it wasn’t a serious fancy, but I did like him enough to do something that was completely out of character for someone such as myself.
I grabbed him by the ears and pulled his face toward mine, sealing our lips in a kiss. Our mouths remained pressed together for a few seconds before I pulled back. His eyes were wide, his expression surprised.
Circe be damned, what had I done?!!?
“Oh shite, Remus, I’m sor-,”
I stopped talking, seeing as how he lowered his mouth onto mine; my words were lost on his lips. I found myself shaking slightly as our kiss deepened. His kiss was like fire, his lips warm against mine as we kisses, right there in the middle of the Entrance Hall.
A chill racked up my spine as his hands wandered away from my face, finding my waist, and wound around it; he pulled me ever-so-slightly closer to him as he did this. My chest brushed against him, and a legion of butterflies was released into my stomach, fluttering up and down, spiraling around and around repeatedly. Instead of making me feel nauseous, I felt like I was on the top of the world, kissing Remus.
Pushing my hands back, I threaded my fingers through his sandy brown locks, bringing his face closer to mine, if it were at all humanly possible. I was almost entirely certain that our mouths couldn’t get any closer, but then his mouth slide open and I seized the opportunity.
I snogged Remus Lupin. And hopefully, I snogged him good.
He broke the kiss, his breath coming in short pants as he rested his forehead against mine. “That was-,”
“Yeah,” I breathed back, laughing slightly before pulling his face toward mine again, kissing him just one more time.
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