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Chapter 16 : Shake Our Tree
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“Next week, actually,” he called after her, chuckling inwardly when she stumbled a bit at his words. It was true; he’d told her when his birthday was, way back when they’d first been what could loosely be termed ‘dating’, it was March the tenth. Always had been and always would be.
It was also true what he had said about Sirius. They had talked. And it had been a rather interesting conversation, too.
Gryffindor Tower, Previous Night, Ten-Thirty, Seventh Year Boys’ Dormitory
James Potter and Richard Quiggley were hanging upside-down off the sides of their four-poster beds tossing a quaffle back and forth. The rhythmic thumping of it comprised the gentle background hum of the room. Over top of it lay the deep tones of their respective voices as they discussed the new recruits on Puddlemere United for the current season. Sliding in and out of hearing and intertwining itself with the other noises of the room was the gentle scratching of Peter Pettigrew’s pen as he moved it carefully across the parchment on his desk, drawing. The faint sound of Remus Lupin turning a page of a book on nebulae and their effects on migratory patterns of terrestrial creatures added the last layer of sound in the room.
It was all disrupted in a moment by Sirius Black entering and catching the quaffle James threw at him. He held it under his arm as he made his way to his bed, acknowledging those present in that casual way of greeting that boys have. He set down his school bags and threw the ball back to James, who threw it back to Q. The room took on its accustomed noise pattern once more, except for the addition of Sirius’s bed squeaking a bit of protest as he threw himself on top of it and lay there, face up, staring blankly.
After a minute, the noise pattern shifted once more, this time almost undetectably. The light and infrequent almost-silence of paper shifting over paper ceased as Remus closed his book and set it on the nightstand that stood between his bed and his scarlet armchair. He stood up with equal quiet, but then stretched ostentatiously.
“Hmm, I fancy a walk,” he said, rolling his head on his shoulders, “How ‘bout you, Sirius?”
The boy in question looked up from his supine position and shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt. Who’s got the map?” he asked the room at large.
Peter held up a folded rectangle of parchment wordlessly and Sirius grabbed it on his way to the door.
The pair set out across the castle, their feet sure, their attitudes cocky. This was their domain, their realm, their territory, and they knew it well after six years of such nightly jaunts, many of which ended in an ill thought-out and perhaps a bit malice-induced prank against certain members of a certain house.
But this night there were to be no such pranks, no, just a simple walk to get some air and clear one’s head, maybe a bit of conversation to go along with it, but probably not. Remus Lupin was not a big talker, and night walks didn’t need a lot of conversation.
But Sirius Black finally broke the silence, however, by breathing deeply and then letting all the air out in a torrent of words and gestures, “Look, Remus, I know what you’ve got to say- really, I do, and I don’t need you to say it. I know, I know I should just ignore my feelings and forget about Jan ‘cause she’s your girl and all and I should just let her alone and mind my own business and maybe try and get more serious with Eve or something. I know,” he repeated, sighing tiredly, “And I will. I promise. I get it. Trust me, I don’t need to hear it again, the point has been made about a thousand times over. Forget Jan, Move On, Stop Being a Huge Dickhead. So please, save it, Jan has already voiced those sentiments tonight, I don’t need to hear it from you. Again. Tonight.”
At the end of this huge rush, Sirius huffed again and shook his head for good measure. Remus grinned a tiny amused grin before pursing his lips together.
“Janet really said all of that?”
Sirius rolled his eyes, “Pretty much.”
“She called you a dickhead?” he asked, just barely keeping the mirth from his voice.
“Not exactly. She called me boisterous, flirtatious, and charming and then went on to describe how you’re brooding, sarcastic, and infuriating. But somehow she concluded out of that that she fancies you way more than she would ever dream of fancying me in a million millennia. Basically the same point as Forget Jan, Move On and Stop Being a Huge Dickhead,” Sirius returned, not sounding nearly as put-out as he had before.
“Well,” Remus said, smiling slightly, “isn’t that something.”
And it definitely was something, he thought as he made his way to Transfiguration, it definitely was. Who else but Janet would come up with that kind of an argument? And to make it to Sirius Black’s face. Now that was endearing.
But there were many endearing things about Janet Dunbar, and mildly illogical arguments were only one of them. There was also her honest, open nature, her easy laugh and ever-so-slightly snarky sense of humor, not to mention the fact that she was plainly and simply, well, plain and simple. Ordinary, yes, Janet was ordinary. And that was one of the best things about her, in Remus’s mind. Because, you see, Remus Lupin was far from ordinary. He was a werewolf, a freak, doomed to live a strange unconventional life. But Janet, Janet made him feel ordinary, normal, wonderful. It was all he wanted from life, to be normal, to be like the others, and she made it happen for him. Now, saying that she was normal and ordinary didn’t mean that just any normal and ordinary girl could have done for Remus what Janet did, for there are many normal and ordinary girls, and only Janet had seized Remus’s heart in that particular way. It must have been her very ordinariness combined with her honest, open nature, her easy laugh and ever-so-slightly snarky sense of humor that had captured his fancy and held on to it for so long.
But her personality wasn’t the only thing he liked about her, oh no, that was just what he’d come to appreciate since getting to know her. There was a whole slew of things that Remus Lupin had liked about Janet Dunbar before she had ever been injured at a Quidditch match and thrust into the lives of the Marauders.
He wasn’t sure when he’d noticed her, it might have been during an Ancient Runes class or at lunch on a Thursday, it could have been during the unit on fungi in Herbology or when they’d studied frogs that had once been princes in Care of Magical Creatures, it didn’t really matter. He’d noticed her some time during his sixth year, and he’d been quite taken with her. He’d liked the way she always wore her hair plaited and yet still couldn’t keep her hands out of it, the fact that she daydreamed through Charms and doodled through History of Magic, the absurd picture she cut standing between her two best friends, a half-foot shorter than them both, the amiable way she bickered with her brunette friend about almost anything, the funny way her forehead wrinkled when she frowned, pretty much everything Remus Lupin had observed about her, he had liked. So when he had actually gotten to know her better, he felt like he was pretty much the luckiest guy in England.
So of course he had gone against his better judgment and pursued her. She had initiated it and he had never even thought twice. Until, of course, he thought twice. And what an idiotic mistake that had turned out to be. Because, of course, Janet was hurt, and angry, and then she was the most surprising thing of all, the least ordinary thing she’d been: she was open-minded; she had agreed to see past his lycanthropy. She fancied him despite it.
And that was yet another wonderful reason for Remus Lupin to fall in love with Janet Dunbar. Yeah, love, big ugly sigh and eye roll. But it was true, and that’s all he could really do about it. Besides, he’d once read a book on communication theory, and it said men fall in love more quickly than women, and women fall in love deeper than men, so it made sense. And if he could make sense out of love, he felt that he was doing pretty well.
He grinned widely and picked up his pace. McGonagall was going to flay him for being late with NEWTs so soon.
Janet wandered out of Muggle Studies with her new assignment fresh on her brain. Professor Andrews seemed really into their next unit, muggle music. Maybe she should get a head start on the research for her essay.
She wound her way down to the libraries, carefully picking her way through the crowds of students heading for the Great Hall and dinner. She headed towards the section of the library that housed the books on muggles and their lives and searched for a few minutes before selecting a book that looked promising.
She sat at one of the large tables and began reading, occasionally jotting down a few notes and feeling quite productive.
A couple of pages into the chapter her productivity was disturbed by a tall sandy haired boy who dropped into the seat at her left.
“Janet, why are you studying in the library during meal time?”
“Why are you bothering me in the library during meal time?” she replied back, not looking up from her book or setting down her quill.
“Because you weren’t at dinner and the map said you were here,” he said simply.
She considered this for a moment and then took up a new subject. “Remus, why are you talking to me in public?” she asked, still not looking up from her book. “People don’t know that we’re friendly again. They’ll start talking about it and Cilla and Rob will hear and have a fit.”
Remus looked left and right, back to Jan, “There are two Ravenclaws here, fifth years, and neither will gossip at all. Everyone is at dinner. Why aren’t you?”
She sighed, he was damn persistent. “I have Muggle Studies before dinner on Thursdays,” she explained.
He stared at her some more, expression blank. “Is that relevant?”
She put down her quill and looked up at him, he obviously wasn’t going to quit. “Yes, actually, it is. We finished our unit on muggle cooking today. We had to demonstrate, thus we had a class dinner. So the reason I am skipping dinner is because I have already eaten dinner.”
With an annoyed sigh, she returned to her book. Her companion considered this with pursed lips. “Right, but why are you studying instead?”
She looked up at him with stony eyes, “Can’t you just leave, Remus? I’m trying to study and everyone in Hogwarts talks. Your friends may know that we’re back on friendly terms, but it’s a little harder to explain it to mine. You see, simply saying ‘Oh, why are we friendly again, Cil? Because he’s a werewolf!’ probably won’t make matters any better,” she hissed at him in undertones.
“That and you probably shouldn’t tell her about that little secret,” he returned in a whisper, stressing the last word. At her exasperated look, he softened, “I’m sorry, Janet, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to tell them eventually.”
She turned back to the book, “I still think you should leave.”
“Is that really what you want?” he asked, watching her read.
“Yes, that is what I want,” she answered, turning a page.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Really, what do I want then?” she queried dryly, still reading.
“I think what you really want is me,” he whispered huskily, leaning closer to her, “all of me, all of the time.”
She pursed her lips, ignoring his proximity. “If you won't go, at least move across the table, Lupin.”
He leaned back, nonplussed, and gathered his bag, moving to sit at the diagonal to her. He leaned back in the chair, pulled out a book on nebulae and their effects on the migratory patterns of terrestrial creatures, and began reading.
The pair read on in silence for a few minutes before he broke it with whispering once more.
“What’re you studying, Janet?”
She smiled a small bit and shook her head; he was in a rather talkative mood that evening. “Muggle music. I’ve got an essay on it. Right now I’m learning about how they use eceltronics to convert the vibrations of guitar strings into sound waves in rock bands.”
“The word is electronics.”
“’S what I said, electronics,” she returned, rolling her eyes.
A few more minutes of reading elapsed before she took up the whispered conversation once more.
“Hey Remus, do you like muggle music?”
He nodded and shrugged, “A bit.”
“What’s your favorite?”
He tilted his head to the side, still staring at his book. “Handel. I like Handel.”
Jan nodded and wrote something on her page of notes. “I have to include a discussion of a muggle music group in my paper. They’re called the Pink Floyds. I picked them off of a list. Are they like the Handels?”
Remus looked up at her across his book, gaze level. “Handel was an eighteenth century Baroque composer, Janet. Pink Floyd is a modern rock band.”
She looked down and jotted another line on her notes, face reddening. She couldn’t see the tiny smile that crept across Remus’s face.
They read on in silence for another half hour until people started creeping back into the library. Janet closed her book with a snap, causing Remus to look up at her with golden-hazel eyes.
“I’m going, Remus,” she stated simply, packing up her stuff.
“That’s fine,” he returned, going back to his book, “I’ll see you around.”
She stood, hugging the book to her chest. “Maybe I’ll tell Cilla and Rob tonight,” she said, standing near the table.
“Doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” he answered, giving her a small smile.
She smiled back and went off to shelve the book and then headed off the Hufflepuff rooms.
She spotted Rob in the common room sitting by the fire in his favorite arm chair but bypassed him in favor of heading to her dorm, setting down her stuff and hopefully locating Cilla.
Jackpot! The brunette was lounging on her bed reading one of those weekly magazines about Astronomy. Full of horoscopes and rubbish.
She set down her stuff and turned to face Cilla. Deep breath. Here goes nothing. She opened her mouth wide, but then shut it.
She turned rapidly and made her way out of the room. Maybe not just yet. Maybe she should get Rob first. It would be better to tell them both at once.
She got back to the common room and approached Rob, only to find that he wasn’t alone in his armchair. No, he was squashed quite close to the slim Scarlet Masterson. She raised her eyebrows at Rob as he looked up and noticed her, flushing.
“Uh, hey Jan.”
“Hey Rob, Scarlet,” the petite blonde waved back at her, “Can I, uh, talk to you for a second, Rob?” she asked.
Rob nodded and excused himself to Scarlet, following Jan as she led him back toward her dorm. “So, getting cozy with Scarlet lately, Rob?”
He laughed a bit and scratched the back of his head, “Uh, kind of, yeah.”
Jan smiled to herself. It was good to see him getting over Cilla.
“What about you, made any progress getting over Remus?” he asked casually, causing her heart to thump a bit harder against her ribcage.
“Hold that thought, actually, Rob-o,” she said breezily, poking her head into her quarters. “Oi, Cilla! Come out here and talk for a tick, yeah?”
She turned back to face Rob and smiled tightly. Merlin help her, what was she doing?
Cilla came out and stood by Rob, facing her. “What’s up, Janny?” she asked breezily.
“Uh…well, I just wanted to, uh, tell you guys that, err, Remus and I are kind of back on friendly terms and stuff,” Jan twisted her hands together and tried to smile at them. It didn’t work very well.
“What?” Rob asked, inclining his head forward.
“What the hell?” Cilla narrowed her eyes, shaking her head, “He’s an ass, Jay, an ass. Must we go back over that? You don’t make up and become friends with your ex-boyfriends when they’re assholes.”
Rob nodded, looking equally put out.
Jan sighed. Well, at least they’d heard it from her. “Yeah, I know Cilla. But I don’t think Remus is an asshole—” Rob snorted at that, but she continued nonplussed, “he explained things to me. Quite logically. And I understand, and things are okay between us.”
“Logic? Logic, Jan? There is a logical explanation for a boy leading you on for months?” Cilla scoffed, getting more and more combative by the second.
“Well, actually, you see, he lied about the leading me on, he actually did fancy me,” Jan returned slowly.
Cilla cut in, “And you believed him? Jan! Seriously! Once a liar, always a liar! I mean,…what did he even say his reasons were for lying? Must have been pretty good to get you to believe them.”
Jan bit her lip. Ay, there’s the rub indeed. “Actually, Cilla, I’m not really at liberty to discuss his reasons, they’re personal. But yes, they were good. And if they’re good enough for me, I think they should be good enough for you- so please, just accept it. Trust my judgment this once. We’re friends. It isn’t the end of the world. It’s friendship.”
Cilla opened her mouth and then shut it, looking at Jan with a wrinkled forehead. She pursed her lips. “Fine, Jan, fine. But just…don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The tall brunette threw up her hands and went back into the dorm, muttering to herself under her breath.
Jan raised her eyebrows at Rob. “You going to give me a lecture, too?”
Rob shook his head slowly, “No, I think Cilla’s was pretty good. Just,…I do trust you Jan, I just hope you know what you’re doing. You’re a great girl and he’s hurt you once. Sometimes it’s really easy to look past someone’s faults when emotion is clouding your vision. Just,…think about it, yeah?” he smiled sadly at her and turned to go back to the common room.
Jan watched him go and then sighed heavily. Well, at least it was done. Now at the very least she could talk to Remus in public without major fears.
Not that she got to, though, as Friday found her incredibly swamped with work and classes during the day, and then that evening the girls of Hufflepuff Seventh had a hen’s night and gossiped like crazy, painted their toe nails, tried out new spells for doing hair and traded accessories, planning their outfits for the next day. Because Saturday, you see, was the great Gryffindor-Slytherin match, one of the biggest social events of the season. Everyone attended that match, the rivalry always made it so that something interesting was bound to occur.
The day dawned bright and clear, good weather for playing Quidditch. Jan awoke and dressed, thinking not of the juicy gossip she’d heard the previous night (it seemed Rob and Scarlet were very much becoming an item) but instead of her own particular Gryffindor, who would be sitting in the stands with only Peter about to keep him company. Maybe she should get there early and beat the crowds; it would save her trouble maneuvering through the Gryffindor stands which would no doubt be packed. If only she had been able to talk to Remus and get him to sit with her in the Hufflepuff section.
Who was she kidding- Remus had way too much Gryffindor pride to do that during this match. And it would be fun to suprise him by showing up and sitting with him, even if she would have to climb across the entire Gryffindor house to get there. But it didn’t matter, she’d sacrifice convenience to sit by him and exercise her newfound right to talk to him in public without fear of retribution from her friends. Would give Hogwarts something new to talk about, too.
She explained herself to Cilla and left, making her way out to the pitch and climbing the stairs up to the scarlet and gold section of the tall stands.
She spotted him quickly; his sandy hair next to Peter’s pale head was pretty hard to miss. She made her way over, noticing something was off as she fought through the already thick crowds. There was a girl sitting on the opposite side of Remus from Peter. Sitting next to her Remus Lupin. A pretty girl, too, who was obviously flirting with him. She was twirling her black hair between her fingers and laughing affectedly. Janet noted triumphantly that Remus looked bored, but was overcome by another hot flash of jealousy as the unknown girl reached out and touched his arm lightly. She fought harder through the crowds. No bitch of a girl was going to be flirting with her man in broad daylight at the Gryffindor-Slytherin match. No way, no how. What a whore.
Jan finally made her way along the row, catching Remus’s eye as he looked at her and lifted one eyebrow. She ignored him and instead chose to stand coolly in front of the girl.
“Excuse me,” she said calmly, with a hint of ice in her voice, “but you seem to be sitting in my seat.”
She flashed her sweetest fake-smile at the girl who glared daggers at her and got up stiffly, marching off. Jan sat down serenely in her reclaimed seat and smiled triumphantly. Bitch? Vanquished.
Remus was staring at her, mild amusement evident in his raised eyebrows and thin smile.
She returned his stare. “Fine, Remus, you’re right.”
He inclined his head, as if asking her to explain further.
“You’re right about what I want. I do want you, all of you, all of the time. I want it all, the relationship, the labels, the gossip, everything. And I want it now,” she finished, staring him straight in the eye.
There was only one way to reply to that, and as Remus kissed her passionately in the middle of the Quidditch stands Peter Pettigrew sighed and slumped in his seat, managing to look both bored and dispassionately disgusted all at once.
Shake Our Tree-
Will our love ever end (woah no)
Will you stop being my best friend (woah no)
Will you speak harsh words to me (woah no)
Singing a story of love in the leaves
Before the winter takes hold
And the figs all dry up cold
The birds all meet in the tree
And confess love's what they need
Perform love on those limbs
And sing one of love's true hymns
And if you listen real close
You can even hear them say
Will you ever not treat me right (woah no)
Are you ever gonna hold me down (woah no)
Will you get tired of holding me tight (woah no)
Looks like the story of love grows, alright
Will our love ever end (woah no)
Will you ever come shake our tree (woah no)
Will you stop being my best friend (woah no)
Looks like the story of love never ends
A/N: Well, it is finally here, and it's a lot happier than most chapters, I think. I was pleasantly surprised by it and I hope you liked it, too.
Song and Lyrics by The Rosebuds
If any of you are curious, I estimate one more chapter and then an epilogue for the rest of the story. But don't worry! I have great plans for the Tales of Levy Blythe, which I shall be writing about next. (No, that's not the name of the story, I haven't named it yet.)
Thanks for the read!
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