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Chapter 30 : Chapter 30
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How are you? I am fine.
I hadn't' thought about you being' in a city. I wouldn't want to live in one myself so I understand. When I was a kid my dad and me lived out in the country and when I went to Hogwarts, I never left. Never lived any place else and never wanted to. No place else like Hogwarts, is it?
Still there's lots to do in a city that you can't do here. You should get out a bit and see what the world has to offer before you settle down. Might have done myself if I'd had the chance. No regrets though.
I guess it would be different how I do things and how they teach you at school. I never had schooling past my third year and what I know, I learned from the gamekeeper before me and from getting out and spending time with animals. I bet you come back from Merlin with stuff to teach me.
I go see Fluffy now and then to feed him and tidy up. I play with him 'cause he's feeing lonely and restless lately. Feel bad for him shut up there but he has a job to do. Wish I could take him for a walk. Bet the kids would really love him and I know Fluffy would like having kids to run and play with.
Take care and study hard.
Letter from Charlie Weasley to Cerridwyn Howard : January 18, 1992
Dear Future Professor Cerridwyn Howard,
I'm in a mood to humor you after that hippogriff story. You're right -- that's worse than anything I've ever had to do here.
I'm doing okay, keeping busy. I'm thinking about staying over summer. You'd think she'd be glad, but my mother is already having kittens over it. I have to grow up sometime don't I?
Bill is doing great in Egypt. I got a letter from him yesterday with some pictures included. You should see the tan he has and how long his hair is! He doesn't look like a banker but he's so good at what he does that they don't care. He brought in such a haul on his last job that they have him a promotion.
I hear from Percy a lot too. He is so full of himself. You weren't like that when you were a prefect. He's aiming for head boy, and I bet the little brat gets it too. If he does, there'll be no living with him. I feel sorry for the others. Plus, it's his OWL year and he's stressed out, which makes it worse. You know how he is when he gets like that -- like he has PMS.
I heard from Fred and George once since school started. The little idiots sent me a box full of Cornish pixies. We fed them to our baby dragons once we caught them though, so it was alright in the end...and very satisfactory after the mess they made. If F & G had been here I would have fed them to the dragons !
And finally, Ron sends letters now and then too. If nothing else, having a large family ensures that you score big at mail call. Mostly Ron's letters are full of Quidditch and Harry Potter. I think he's pretty flattered to be best friends with Mr.-The-Best-Seeker-Since-Charlie-Weasley. Sounds like Oliver is working the team hard. I'm tempted to write and offer some strategies but I know I'd have been furious if McKenzie had done that to me when I was captain.
As for me, besides working hard I've started regularly seeing a girl here in town. Her name is Saskia and she has the prettiest eyes I've ever seen. She doesn't speak much English, but with eyes like that she doesn't need to.
Anyhow, glad you're okay and keeping out of trouble....watch where you stick your hands from now on.
Letter from Severus Snape to Cerridwyn Howard : January 13, 1992
I assure you that I am deadly serious about failing those Gryffindors. The enemy are so naturally cocky and self assured that I feel it a beneficial experience for them to receive a scare now and then. Besides, it was amusing. Professors have senses of humor too, you know.
To answer your question I have some spells I'd like to teach you that are of the sort not taught at Hogwarts. They are not illegal...most of them at least...or necessarily classifiable as Dark. I never thought it made sense to classify spells as Dark or otherwise anyway. Wizards are Dark, not spells. If a man murders another man with a knife, is it the fault of the knife? If you use these spells responsibly and wisely then I see no harm in your knowing them. If worse comes to worse the knowledge of them may prove advantageous.
The questions you have about Quirrel -- how and why he went over to the dark side -- I suggest you ask him yourself. If you answer his letters too passively and seem to accept his new beliefs too readily, he will begin to suspect a trap. Challenge him now and then, just enough to make him believe that you stand upon the edge of adopting his philosophies. Your questions may spur some interesting answers.
And now I have a question for you. You were a student more recently than I was and are more up to date on the working passages than I am. Is there a shortcut that a student could take to get completely out of range of the library corridor in under two minutes? I am beginning to rethink my theory about the disturbance in the library over Christmas, though I prefer to say no more than that until I am certain. Everyone is under the impression that I am 'out to get' the person whom I suspect.
I'll close this off now before I get into a foul mood.
Why can't I rid myself of this irrational attraction to Remus Lupin? This is not why I came to university. I am not one of those silly, weak minded girls who just pursues higher education as a cover for the pursuit of potential husbands. I came here to get an education and a teacher's certificate. I don't need to get distracted by romantic fantasies that have no chance of becoming reality.
I've had crushes before and they always went away. In my experience, romance is like a bad cold -- there's no known cure but if you let it run it's course it eventually goes away. This is starting to feel chronic. He just wakes up feelings in me that I've never felt before. That sounds so cliche I could just puke, but I can't think of a better way to articulate what I'm going through. It's so...new. I guess I'm a late bloomer because this is like nothing I've ever felt before. I wish there was a potion to bring a person's heart under control when it starts admiring unattainable objects at inopportune times. That would be a worthwhile invention and I'd drink it by the quart.
I feel like...no....I know that I made an idiot of myself at Scarlet Dawn. I acted like a total slut. Well...for me at least. I've always had such perfect self control but it seems to just go right out of the window where Remus is concerned. Maybe I can blame Ryann for it --- it was her idea.
I suppose it started with getting dressed for the concert --- and I can blame Basil Loogan for this part of it . He had the idea to make me wear this outfit. Kind of like medieval serving wench meets innocent maiden. Honestly, how stupid. It was a white skirt and blouse with a scarlet corset. Most of it was second hand, the blouse being mine but the skirt belonged to Tonks and the corset was Etta's. I was not happy with it to say the least.
"The skirt is too short!" I'd protested while Tonks was trying to coax me into a pair of white stockings with crisscross ribbon lacing up the back.
"You're tall Kerri -- you have beautiful legs. I'm not one of those jealous girls who can't compliment another girl when she deserves it. I can make myself taller if I want, but it isn't natural so it just isn't the same. My eyes are prettier than yours at any rate -- naturally. But if I had legs like that, I'd show them off."
"I look like a slut."
"You do not !" Tonks protested. "You're the most un-slutty person I know, second only to Professor McGonagall."
"Oh gee, thanks."
From the other room came the sound of the front door being unceremoniously wrenched open. "Honey, I'm home!" came Basil's voice.
"Thank God!" Tonks exclaimed. "I have her dressed -- miraculously. What a nightmare."
"Come out and let us see Kerri!" called Basil.
"Or we'll come in after you!" called Mel.
It has been only recently and by means of threatening them with death, that I have trained them not to come walking into my bedroom whenever they want. Remus is the only one in the group who has manners and I can't expect him to supervise all the time.
Annoyed and self conscious I emerged from the safety of my room. Six...not five pairs of masculine eyes roved over me from head to toe....Remus included. Well, he is only a man I suppose, but it only served to make me blush. Still...he was the most reliable one of the group. "Seriously Remus....is it too much? I know you'll be honest."
Basil answered before Remus could reply. "I like it -- you look like a slut."
"That's it ! I'm changing!" I said flatly.
"No you're not -- not after what I went through to get you dressed." Tonks protested, blocking the path back to my room.
"Remus?" I pleaded, hoping for support.
Remus took his eyes off my legs with an abashed smile that was very fetching on him. It made him look positively boyish. "It wouldn't be appropriate for class but for a concert it's fine. All the vital things are covered. Vashti wears much less than that on stage."
"You've noticed that too?" asked Mel.
"Who hasn't?" asked Brand. "But it's all to impress you, Remus."
"I don't find that sort of thing impressive." said Remus coolly. "Kerri, you look fine."
"Are you sure?"
"You're the one who has to wear it, not us." said Streak reasonably. "If you don't feel good in it, then take it off."
"Take it off." Mel agreed. "Take it all off."
"Grow up, why don't you?" Streak snapped at him.
"At least I don't run around naked in public."
"Let's just go." I cut in, wanting to avoid a fight.
"Don't bend over with your back to the audience!" I heard Tonks laugh as we left.
Scarlet Dawn is a highly misnamed place, as everything there is cobalt blue. Not so much painted blue, as it glows with a heavily perfumed blue haze that gives the place a dark, mysterious sort of feel. It almost reminds me of a carnival funhouse because everything is mirrored from the walls and ceiling to the bar and table tops. Thankfully not the floor, considering what I was wearing.
We were very well received. Vampires have a reputation for being kind of snotty, so I was very pleased by how we were treated. Somehow I think it was because we were a novelty. People were interested in humoring the silly werewolves and the slutty looking girl with the nice legs.
"You're fine." Remus reassured me once Hybrid had finished performing and I had sought him out. He looked amused at the way I was anxiously tugging my skirt down as I sat down beside him. "Look what Lorcan gave us."
"Wow." I said, peering into the money pouch.
"I know. And he's going to see if he can make room to invite us back too. If this keeps up, you'll have the money you spent on the wands back in no time." Remus's gray eyes sparkled with mischief and he slyly added. "You'll be able to buy a longer skirt."
"Oh right. And You can buy a flea collar." As soon as I said it I inwardly winced, wondering if I'd gone too far.
Remus laughed and took a sip of his drink, not looking remotely offended. He seemed to be in an especially good mood that night. "As long as it isn't pink with rhinestones."
"Kerri!" exclaimed a female voice and a hand tapped me on the shoulder.
"Ryann." I acknowledged, turning toward the voice.
Beside her was the pixie faced young woman I'd seen in the photo. "Jillian, right?" I asked.
"And you're Kerri." answered Jillian with a nod. "Ryann told me all about you." her blue eyes went from me to Remus and I thought I detected amusement. "Both of you."
"You clean up beautifully Kerri." said Ryann pointedly. "I've never seen you away from work before. Bet you don't miss that place."
"You'd bet right."
"Want to dance?"
I stared at her in stunned silence for several seconds. Back at Hogwarts we girls would get together in our dorm and dance together to the radio, but never in my life have I been formally asked to dance by another girl.
She was watching me with a wicked expression, sensing my discomfort.
"She's speechless." said Jillian, sounding definately amused.
"It's because I'm a vampire...she's never been asked to dance by a vampire before." said Ryann sarcastically. "Oh for heavens sake -- lighten up will you, Kerri? I don't bite...hard."
A swift glance in Remus's direction told me that he was not coming to the rescue this time. Through the blue haze of the room I could see his gray eyes shining with wicked amusement. In spite of my consternation I couldn't help but laugh. "Fine."
"I'll keep Remus company." said Jillian, pulling out a chair.
"Basil and the others will never let me hear the end of this." I told Ryann as we headed for the dance floor. "This is totally outside my comfort zone."
"Oh, I know it is. That's why I asked you." Ryann laughed. "It's good to get outside your comfort zone now and then. Speaking of which....how much did they pay you to wear that skirt? You've been tugging it down all evening. You shouldn't, because you have nice legs."
I glared at her in exasperation. "I wish everyone would leave my legs alone."
The music that was playing by then had a sultry, oriental feel that put me in mind of palm trees and deserts. "Wonderful. Perfect music for you to get Remus's attention to." Ryann said in my ear.
"What !" I gasped, and almost stormed off the floor.
"You heard me." laughed Ryann, restraining me by pulling me into the dance. "You have to move like this....imagine you're moving against him." she said, demonstrating.
I'm sure that my face was the color of a tomato. "I don't think of him like that."
Ryann gave a deep, throaty laugh. "Methinks you doth protest too much. I've been watching you two subconsciously signaling to each other all night long. You want him and he wants you. It's simple."
"No it isn't simple." I shot back. "He thinks he isn't good enough for anyone because he's a werewolf. Besides...he doesn't think of me like that. You don't think he does....really....do you? Seriously?"
"Yes, I do. I notice these things. Come on Kerri...move your hips like this."
"In this skirt?"
"Especially in that skirt." Ryann laughed.
"Doesn't Jillian mind you dancing with other people?"
"She trusts me. Besides...she knows you only like men. Oh -- he's looking this way. Copy me."
Maybe it was Ryann's infectousness. Maybe it was the befuddling blue mist. But against my better judgment I gave myself up to the music and let it guide my movement. I matched myself to Ryann, undulating slowly to the steady beat of the dance.
"He's definitely looking this way." said Ryann, slyly looking over my shoulder.
For some reason it made me giggle like a total fool.
"You really have it bad." said Ryann knowingly. "Why don't you just tell him?"
"You two don't have time for a long story. Live while you can."
It took some time but I gradually relaxed. It wasn't so different from dancing with the other girls up in Ravenclaw tower after all, and she kept me constantly informed of Remus's actions by watching him over my shoulder.
I knew I was doing a horrible thing...purposely flirting with him from across the room, but an evil recklessness seemed to have possessed me. I knew I'd regret it in the morning, but for right then in that moment, I wanted him to watch me dance and I wanted him to enjoy it. What on earth was I thinking?
Ryann and I danced until Basil couldn't stand it anymore and cut in. "What the hell?" he asked with a raised eyebrow once Ryann had gone. "You've never once danced with me, but you'll dance with her? Is there something you haven't told us about you?"
"Not what you're thinking. Shut up and dance."
Basil was a much more exuberant partner than Ryann, lacking her finesse. I did get a few glimpses of Remus though. Ryann and Jillian were still sitting with him. He was talking to them with his usual polite expression but his eyes were indeed straying in my direction with increasing frequency. I worried about what horrible things Ryann might be saying to him, and then decided not to care.
"I think the incense is getting to you." said Basil. "You look sort of dazed, but then I've had that effect on girls before. Want to come back to my flat with me?"
"Basil Loogan! You know me better than that!"
"I thought so too but you're acting weird tonight. Worth a try anyway. What's gotten into you? Someone bite your neck?"
"If you don't behave I'll never dance with you again." I threatened.
Fortunately, Streak chose that moment to cut in, followed by a long sting of dance partners which included all of my bandmates and a couple more vampires.
"And you should feel privliged after that." said Brand, nodding toward the last one
as he took his place. "Vampires are snots."
Brand was looking especially handsome, all dressed in black with the blue lights glossing his dark hair. He put me in mind of the poet Byron...attractively rakish. Still, there was someone else I'd rather be dancing with who had not danced with me all night. And speaking of....the chair he'd been sitting in earlier was empty. "Where's Remus?" I asked.
"He left ages ago -- but it's great that you stayed for once. You never do."
"Because usually Streak is running around naked." I said distractedly. This was not completely true, as Streak is a lot more careful around me ever since I bought him a wand. "What time is it anyway?"
"What ---?" I screeched. stopping in mid-sway. "I have to get up early to go to work in about an hour. I have to go home."
"Well, good night then." said Brand disappointedly as I pried myself from his grasp.
I apparated home and got in bed still wearing that horrible skirt, hoping to get a few minutes sleep at least....so much for that idea. Despite the lateness and my need to sleep, getting away from the befuddling mists and fumes of the club seemed to clear my mind. Had I really just spent all evening flirting at Remus across the room? Maybe I had dreamed it. It was very unlike me after all. What had I been thinking?
Worse ---- what had he been thinking?
Well, in an about an hour I would know. I spent most of the intervening time in a half doze, trying to work out what I was going to say to him and how I was going to look him in the eye.
I never did actually sleep so I rolled out of bed fifteen minutes before the alarm was scheduled to go off. I figured I could give Tonks a break anyway and save her the trouble of groaning at the clock for once. Dressing warmly, I went out on the doorstep to wait. It was cold, but then considering how I'd been behaving lately, maybe cooling off was just what I needed.
I was about half asleep with my head leaning against the door frame when Remus arrived at my elbow, looking hugely amused. "You look like you had fun."
"Why didn't you warn me it was getting so late?" I asked reproachfully.
"You were having too much fun and I didn't want to spoil it."
"Too much fun is right." I said sarcastically. It was to my benefit that I was feeling so drowsy. It made me a bit cranky and dulled the embarrassment. "I'm never going to do that again."
"I thought it was good for you." said Remus lightly as we got in the car. "You're too hard on yourself Kerri, and much too serious. You should let your hair down once in a while. You're supposed to have fun at university, you know."
"No. You're supposed to study. That's why they have classes and don't offer degrees in 'fun'." I pointed out. Then, more reluctantly. "I was acting like a total slut."
"Would you please stop calling yourself that? You judge yourself too harshly. You weren't doing anything that anyone else there wasn't."
His tone was reasonable and still slightly amused. Maybe he hadn't noticed that I'd been dancing for his benefit. In spite of everything, it was oddly disappointing...which goes to show that I probably haven't learned anything from this experience.
At any rate, no damage appeared to have been done to our friendship, and that's the important thing. Remus was as friendly and cheerful as always with no strain whatsoever. If he had noticed anything, he was too much of a gentleman to let me know it. They just don't make guys like that nowadays.
Without Remus I'd have never gotten through the morning. I was tired, in a bad mood, and didn't want to be bothered. There is a woman at the place where we pick up the papers who is very talkative and nosy. I wasn't in the mood to put up with her but Remus exchanged cheerful pleasantries with her so I didn't have to. Then, while I updated our delivery list, he went out in the cold and loaded the car alone.
"You look exhausted." he told me when I caught up to him. "If you trust me to drive, I'm willing. I have driven before, you know."
"I'll trust you to drive when you trust me to make your potion."
"Point taken. But if this arrangement is to work out, eventually I will have to drive."
"I know. We'll practice some time -- not today." I yawned.
It was nearly six when we finished and I had a pounding headache by the time we pulled into the drive. "Never again....I'm never staying after a concert again." I groaned.
"You're only exhausted because you had to get up and go to work." said Remus mildly. "You ought to get out and do fun things. When I was your age fun wasn't much of an option. Voldemort was at the height of his power and I was more concerned with staying alive than having fun. You're lucky to have come up in a world where you don't have those worries."
"Only because people like you fought to make sure that we didn't."
"Go get some sleep." said Remus. For just a brief moment he rested his hand on my arm, and then swiftly withdrew it as though he thought better of it. It made me wonder if Ryann might be right but I decided that it was better not to know.
I stopped by the bathroom before going to bed and met Tonks just emerging. She passed me on her way back to our room with her pink hair standing up in all directions and one of her cheeks flushed from resting on the pillow and damp with drool. "You look horrible." she told me.
"Gee thanks Nymphadora."
"Crucio." she mumbled sleepily over her shoulder.
I slept until afternoon and didn't wake up feeling very refreshed. Whenever I sleep during the day I always wake up feeling like I've been drugged.
"You still look terrible." Tonks informed me when I emerged from our room. "How about some pizza?"
Well, it's no worse than I deserve after flirting with Remus like that. It just figures with the way things in my life are always so awry. My first attempt at flirting would end up with me being embarrassed about it and the guy in question having no clue that I exist. Maybe now I'll quit being stupid about him. I really do have to get a grip.
Author's Note : As always, thank you for the reviews. I now have over 100.
Next Chapter : The upcoming Valentine's Ball at Merlin University is announced, and Kerri thinks back, remembering Quirrel teaching her to dance...and Snape interrupting one of the lessons.
"What...in the name...of Salazar Slytherin....do you think you are doing?" Snape had asked slowly, as though trying to keep from losing his temper completely.
Aedennan had stepped forward between Snape and myself, taking responsibility for the situation. "W-w-w-w-w-we were p-p-p-p-pr---" he stuttered thoroughly agitated by Snape's sudden appearance.
"Perhaps Miss Howard should explain, as you have the verbal skills of a one year old." said Snape, turning from him to me. "Never mind. It's clear enough what's been going on here. A boy and a girl locked in an empty room together. If you become pregnant, Miss Howard, I'm afraid the grind of your OWL year will overwhelm you."
Now it was my turn to get angry and I knew my face had gone red too. "That's not what was going on!" I snapped. "We were practicing for the ball."
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