Chapter 4 : A Chat with the Cat
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"That was pretty decent, you know." Lucy shot Remus a confused look over the rim of her book. "For Peter, I mean. He seemed pretty freaked out, you know?" Lucy closed her book, nodding thoughtfully.
"Yeah. He seems like the kind to get scared pretty easy...........But he's sweet, you know?" Remus nodded, Lucy continued. "I mean, sure he's a little............shier than James or Sirius...............or you." Lucy concluded, giving Remus a look. Lucy, Lily, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter all had free period now. Lily had shot off for the library, but Lucy had decided to go outside. She had been sitting against a tree near Black Lake, reading a book that Lily let her borrow; Hogwarts; A History. It was quite interesting, and Lucy had been quickly lost in its pages.
So she hadn't noticed when Remus walked up behind her and sat down next to her. Well, not at first, anyway. Remus hadn't really done anything after he'd sat down, just read over her shoulder for a bit before speaking to her............but by then, Lucy had had time to realize he was sitting next to her, so he hadn't startled her.
Remus nodded thoughtfully, understanding what she was talking about. "Of course, I'm pretty sure that James or Sirius would have jumped at the chance to scare me. Which you didn't. What are they doing now? Planning pranks? Making trouble?" Remus shook his head, grinning.
"Can't tell you. Sworn to secrecy."
"Aw, c'mon, Remes. Please?" Remus shook his head, and Lucy pouted playfully at him, which made him laugh. She grinned sheepishly.
The two of them sat there for a long moment, just looking out onto the lake water, watching the Giant Squid laze about. Then Lucy opened up Hogwarts; A History and they continued reading together until lunch.
"So what do you guys have next?" Lucy asked Lily, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. All six of them checked their schedules and answered at once.
"Transfiguration." They said unanimously.
"Who's the Transfiguration teacher, Lily?" Lily checked her schedule again.
"Who?" Lucy looked confused.
"McGonagall. Remember? The lady who Sorted us?" A frightening change happened to Lucy when she heard this. Any and all hints of happiness left her face and eyes, angry darkness all that was left. She swiveled slowly in her seat to glare up at McGonagall, eyes flashing. "...........Are you okay?" Lucy tore her gaze away from McGonagall and turned to face Lily, still glowering darkly.
"Oh yes. Just peachy." Lucy replied, in a strained voice that said otherwise.
"Are-" Lucy, who had been looking down at her plate, whipped her head up to look at James, eyes flashing dangerously, daring him to continue. James swallowed and said nothing. Lucy turned back to her plate, glaring at it until lunch was over.
Once lunch was done, Lucy stormed out of the Great Hall, Lily close behind. The four guys decided that now was a good time to back off a bit and plan some pranks. (There was one boy in particular they didn't like.) They waited until the girls were far off before beginning to walk, none of them admitting that they were afraid of Lucy.
"Lucy? Lucy, stop!" Lucy froze. She slowly turned to face Lily, who looked very concerned. "What's wrong? Please tell me." Lucy sighed and pushed her hair out of her eyes, it falling back once she removed her hand. Lucy slid down a wall until she was sitting on the floor.
"I hate her." She said simply.
"Why?" Lucy hesitated, wondering whether or not to answer. Lily, as if sensing this, kneeled down next to Lucy. "You don't need to-"
"I met her once, a long time ago." Lucy said abruptly. Lily looked surprised.
"Really? What happened?"
"I got in trouble...........See, she was...........a cat."
"Huh?" Lucy shrugged.
"A cat. She was disguised as a tabby cat. Anyway, I tried to tell my aunt, but she didn't believe me and I got grounded for a long time. My aunt and uncle are Muggles. They don't believe in magic. My aunt lives for facts and stuff, hates magic talk. She doesn't even know I'm learning it here. She thinks I'm at some private boarding school or something." Lucy shrugged again. "My aunt used to not mind me talking about magic, but after that row we had about the "cat-lady", well............I don't like her, you know?" Lily nodded sympathetically.
"My sister's like that. Hates anything to do with magic, hates me being a witch." Lily stood and helped Lucy to her feet. "Probably hates me."
"No, she's just jealous." Lucy said, shaking her head as the two of them continued on their way to Transfiguration. "I mean, deep down, who doesn't want to be able to do magic? Who doesn't want to believe in dragons and pixies and elves................." Lucy trailed off as they reached the classroom.
Lucy and Lily picked an empty table about middle in the classroom and sat down. Kids began filling in it, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter being some of the last. "They're planning something." Lucy said suddenly, looking over at them. It was true. The four of them had their heads bent over a piece of parchment and were whispering like mad. Peter looked up and saw Lucy watching them. He waved at her, smiling. She did likewise, and he returned to the parchment beaming.
"Books and wands out." McGonagall said sternly as she walked to the front of the room. James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter snapped away from the parchment, James hiding it in his school bag. Lucy looked at McGonagall and felt a tidal wave of hate and resentment wash over her like no other.
Now, Lucy wasn't an angry person. On the contrary, she was always smiling and happy, even if her aunt would lock her in her room. Lucy forgave quickly and easily, and was friendly to everyone and everything. Except in certain matters or conditions, Lucy was easily the nicest person to be around in the world.
Lucy had forgiven McGonagall a long time ago, or so she thought. Whenever Lucy had thought back to that day, she'd always feel angry. But Lucy would always stop herself before she lost control. Lucy had forced herself to forgive McGonagall, tried to make up reasons for why she hadn't helped her, but..........none of them worked. None of them made her feel any better. So Lucy had just stopped trying. Lucy put the entire incident out of her mind and went back to being herself.
But now every part of that pain was back, full force. There was no way Lucy could hide from the fact that McGonagall was the reason she'd almost lost all hope of happiness. For magic had been the only thing that let Lucy smile each day, believe in the goodness of everyone and everything around her. Magic let her forgive and forget, magic comforted her against her aunt's harsh words and occasional beatings. Magic was everything to Lucy, and McGonagall had almost taken it all away from her that day.
And it still hurt.
Only now, right now, Lucy wasn't hurt. She was angry beyond belief, more so than ever before. She couldn't believe that she'd have to learn from McGonagall, and for seven, eight years?! As well as having her as her head of house! Lucy wondered angrily if McGonagall even remembered her, if she'd ever cared.
Lucy shut her eyes tightly and forced herself to take slow, deep breaths. She unclenched her hands from the table's edge, where she'd been gripping it so hard that her knuckles had turned white. She rested her head against the cool wood and didn't let herself move. Because if Lucy would move, she'd scream, shout, loose all control.
And if Lucy lost control, bad things happened.
After Lucy had managed to calm herself down, she lifted her head to look up at McGonagall. Lucy shut her eyes tightly the second she saw her. Where McGonagall stood, Lucy had seen the cat in her mind's eye. Lucy forced the memory out of her mind and tried to concentrate on McGonagall's words.
It didn't work. Nothing McGonagall was saying was getting through to her. All Lucy heard was a loud, muffled roaring in her ears. Her head was pounding with words she dared not say. She was holding onto the table's edge again, knuckles whiter than before. Sitting in front of her on the table, Lucy's wand began shooting out angry red sparks from the tip. Lucy quickly grabbed the wand and shoved it in her pocket, where it continued to shower sparks, as well as emit a whistle so high that Lucy could barely hear it.
Lucy's hand shot in the air, cutting McGonagall off. "Yes?" McGonagall asked, eyebrows raised.
"I need...........to get out. Now." Lucy said, struggling to keep her voice under control.
"I'm sorry, Miss..............." McGonagall checked her list. "Whitaker. But you must-"
"I need to get out!" Lucy repeated firmly, desperately, her wand shaking in her pocket. McGonagall's nostrils flared angrily at the interruption.
"Miss Whitaker! I believe-"
"I need to go out! Like now!" Lucy half-shouted, desperately trying to control her raging wand.
"I NEED TO GET OUT! PLEASE! IT'S AN EMERGENCY!" Lucy shouted, as her wand continued to go crazy.
"Why?!" McGonagall snapped. "What could be so important that you think you can-"
"THIS!" Lucy shouted, pulling her wand out for McGonagall to see. The second she'd touched it, her wand began screeching and screaming, the sparks doubling, non in all different colors and very high in the air.
"What the-?!" McGonagall gasped. "How-"
"Can I go?!" Lucy asked loudly, interrupting her again.
"Why-I-Yes, of course, but-"
"BYE!" Lucy shouted. She grabbed her bag and ran out of the room, wand screaming louder than ever. The class could hear something that sounded a lot like glass shattering, then Lucy shouting something no one could understand. Her footsteps echoed through the halls as the door slammed shut, leaving them in silence.
There was a moment of shock, where everyone was silent. Sirius and Peter were staring at the door, while James and Remus stared at Lucy's seat.
Lily rose her hand timidly. McGonagall nodded at her questioningly. "Um........Lucy's my friend..............can I-I mean, um................" McGonagall nodded and Lily packed up her stuff and left hurriedly. McGonagall assigned them some reading material and the class remained silent for the rest of the period.
"Lucy! Lucy!" Lily called as she ran through the halls after her friend. It didn't take long for Lily to find Lucy, as every window she passed shattered, and Lucy had to stop and fix them. But Lucy ran fast, and by the time Lily had caught up with her, Lucy was outside. Lucy's wand was still on the fritz, Lucy trying to stop it.
Lily dropped her bag next to Lucy's and helped her hold down the wand. "What happened to it?!" She asked, surprised at how............strong the wand seemed. Lucy turned to Lily, eyes wild.
"I don't know! I think it was McGonagall or something! It just started going crazy, and I couldn't stop it!" Lucy looked scared.
"It'll be okay, Luce. I think it's stopping!" Lily exclaimed, looking down at the wand. It was true. Slowly, slowly, the wand was returning back to normal. When it was back to normal, Lucy pocketed the wand and ran a hand through her hair. "What happened, Lucy?" Lily asked, seeing the distressed look on Lucy's face.
"I lost control." Lucy half-whispered. "I lost control."
Lucy wouldn't say anymore, and she and Lily stayed there until the end of the period, before getting up and heading to Herbology with Professor Sprout. They couldn't really talk there, since they were repotting Mandrakes, but Lucy and Lily had History of Magic with Professor Binns next.
Not surprisingly, so did James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. The six of them had long since realized that their schedules were exactly alike.
James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter sat in the row behind Lucy and Lily. Lucy was sitting directly beside the window, Lily on her left. Remus was sitting behind Lucy, James, Sirius, and Peter sitting to the left of him in that order.
Remus tapped Lucy's shoulder once Binns had begun speaking. Everyone knew that he was a ghost, as well as that his classes were always boring, so Remus was taking this to his advantage, just for today. Lucy turned around and Remus leaned foreword, concern written all over his face. "Are you okay?" He asked carefully, not wanting her to snap at him. "I saw what happened with your wand." Lucy nodded slowly.
"Yeah, I'm fine, I guess."
"Was there something wrong with your wand?" Lucy shook her head.
"Nah, I don't think that was it. I think I just lost control over it is all." Remus nodded thoughtfully.
"Can you tell me why?" Lucy thought a moment.
"Maybe later, kay?" Remus nodded.
"Got it. Later."
"Maybe later." Lucy corrected Remus, who just grinned.
"It's later!" Remus announced cheerfully at the end of classes. Lucy groaned and rolled her eyes, but smiled all the same.
"Your crazy, you know that?" Remus grinned and fell down next to her. They were sitting in the common room, James, Sirius, Peter, and Lily outside.
"Like a fox." Remus retorted, smiling happily. Lucy laughed.
"Yeah, like a fox."
"So, you gonna tell me, or what?" Remus asked, nudging Lucy with his elbow. Lucy furrowed her brow, pursed her lips, and tapped her chin.
"Hmm...........I don't know, Remes.........." Remus laughed at the face Lucy was making, knowing perfectly that she was just messing with him.
"C'mon, whatever-your-name-is. Tell me." Lucy grinned.
"I'm sorry, you have to know the password first." Remus raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, really? And what is this password, Miss No-Name?" Lucy grinned wickedly, a mischievous gleam bright in her eyes.
"The password," she said slowly, "is my name."
Remus' mouth dropped open. "No fair!" He complained. Lucy shrugged, grinning. She stood up and pulled Remus to his feet.
"Well, Mr. Fox, I guess you have two options now."
"Which are?" He asked, slightly suspicious. Lucy grinned again.
"One; You can try to find out my name. Two; You can wait till I tell you." Remus opened his mouth, but Lucy held up a hand, eyes gleaming. "I've already informed the teachers that I would like my name kept private for certain reasons and made Lily swear that she won't tell you. Or James. Or Sirius. Or Peter."
"You covered your tracks pretty good, Whitaker." Remus mumbled good-naturedly. Lucy nodded, beaming.
"Of course I did, my little Fox." She tapped the side of her head. "You're not the only one who knows how to use their brain around here."
In the following months, Lucy became very close to James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. She and Lily were best friends, yes, and always got along, but Lucy held a certain soft spot in her heart for the troublesome four. Lucy and Lily were best friends in every way, Lily only dealing with James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter for Lucy's sake, as they frequently annoyed her............Well, except for Remus, anyway.
And maybe Peter.
Lucy always watched out for the four boys, letting them copy her work and covering for them on their midnight strolls around the grounds. She never outright helped them in their pranks, or let them cheat, but she'd find subtle ways of helping them. Like if they needed to copy her work, Lucy wouldn't just give it to them. No, she'd find her way into their room, stay and chat a while, then leave, "accidentally" forgetting her homework as she did so. Or with their pranks.
If they would be talking about a way to distract a teacher so they could set up a prank or two, Lucy would stand up and announce that she needed to talk to that teacher. For about as long as they needed, if not more. About school work.
Which was always a lie. Lucy never needed help. In fact, she, Lily, and Remus understood the work better than anyone else in the entire House. Everyone knew that...............it was kind of obvious by the three's perfect marks.
But Lucy sure could act like she didn't have a clue what was going on. Sometimes the guys would watch her after their pranks were set up, Lucy never failing to impress them. It was amazing, really, how good Lucy was at pretending she didn't understand the work. She'd look truly confused, frustrated. There were times when she would even get tears in her eyes (which she admitted was a time-release potion she'd nicked). Lucy was so convincing, that even the guys believed her................Or they would, if they didn't know that Lucy was covering for them. Again.
Lucy and Remus had grown especially close since the first day of school. They didn't fancy each other, no, but they were close. They spent a lot of time with each other, and every month when Remus would leave, Lucy worried about him. Once Lucy had asked him where he went every month. He'd said that he had a very unstable, elderly aunt. "Even an untended cold could kill her." Remus had said uneasily, not looking at Lucy as he spoke. Lucy knew he was hiding something from her, and he knew that she knew. But Lucy never pressed the matter, to which Remus was grateful.
Instead, Lucy would ask how he was doing. Because every month, around the time his aunt got sick, so, it seemed, did Remus. He would get dark bags under his eyes. He would look dreadfully tired all the time, and snapped at the oddest things.
The change in Remus' temper was the thing that concerned Lucy most. Remus was normally on the quieter side, but every once in a while, he would change completely. It was like he became a completely different person. Remus would become enraged at the simplest of things, things he otherwise never cared about. One minute he'd be sitting quietly, and the next he would be on his feet, screaming at the top of his lungs.
He threw things, stormed out of places, yelled at his friends.................Remus' eyes grew wild and crazy................he became unapproachable.
Not that that stopped Lucy. Quite the contrary, actually. The more Remus would behave like some kind of crazed animal, the more Lucy would try to comfort him. It didn't matter what he did, Lucy would never leave him alone, as he so often ordered her.
If Remus broke something, Lucy would be there to fix it.
If Remus stormed out of a room, Lucy was right behind him.
If Remus yelled angry, hurtful things at her, Lucy would hug him.
The times that Remus changed so completely were the times that Lucy would be at his side the most, even more than usual. Lily seemed to understand her need to be with Remus, and never questioned Lucy's actions. James and Sirius couldn't understand why Lucy didn't just leave Remus alone like he told her to, while Peter said that Lucy was "the bravest person he'd ever met". Lucy tried explaining to James and Sirius that Remus didn't really want to be alone, but they always shook their heads at her disbelievingly. Not that they weren't there for Remus, no. James, Sirius, and Peter always stuck with Remus, always tried to control his outbursts. They were good friends, James and Sirius and Peter were, and the only times that Lucy would leave Remus' side was when she was sure that they were there.
After a while, it seemed that James, Sirius, and Peter just might know what was ailing Remus, but if they did, they kept it to themselves, and Lucy never asked.
Lucy stifled a yawn as she finally finished a very long, complicated essay for Transfiguration. It was due in less than a week, but Lucy had been determined to finish it that night, so she could relax later. Lucy made a copy of her essay, the one she'd "forget" in the guys' room. Once Lucy had given them the real one................she could've sworn that their room ate it. Lucy had to do the entire thing over again. But when Remus found out what had happened, he gave Lucy his essay to copy and went to yell at James, Sirius, and Peter for losing hers.
Lucy stifled another yawn as she watched the fire dance in the hearth. She had been working by the fire's light in the common room for the past couple of hours. Lucy checked her watch. It was about midnight, and the boys still weren't back. James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter had gone out to set up some prank, and Lucy wanted to find out what they did, how they did it, and which places of the castle to avoid.
As Lucy watched the fire dance in front of her, felt its heat creep up on her, she couldn't stop herself from falling asleep.
About an hour later, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter came bursting into the common room, laughing loudly and congratulating each other. Which woke Lucy up, who sat up and yawned widely, checking her watch. It was about one.
"What'd you guys do this time?" She asked tiredly, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. The four boys all grinned at her wordlessly. Lucy sighed. "Okay, which place do I stay away from tomorrow?"
"I, for one, would not recommend anywhere near the Astrology Tower." James said cheerily.
"What about Divination?" Lucy asked.
"I wouldn't worry too much about Divination if I were you, Lucy." Sirius said, grinning broadly.
"Yeah, don't think Divination'll be a problem." Peter piped up. Lucy turned to look at Remus, who was grinning somewhat guiltily.
"Fox.............." Lucy began slowly, Remus' smile only getting bigger.
"So, what do you want to do tomorrow?"
Lucy, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter all hung out in the common room for a bit longer, making plans for the next day.
"Hey, wait a minute!" Remus said suddenly, looking over at Lucy.
"What?" She asked, surprised.
"Since when do you wear glasses?" James, Sirius, and Peter looked over at Lucy and nodded, the three of them only just noticing. Lucy reached up and took her glasses off slowly, a sheepish smile on her face.
"Must've forgotten to take them off before." She said cheerfully, folding the legs and putting them in a case. "I always seem to forget I have them on."
"You need glasses, Whitaker?"
"Just for reading," Lucy replied easily. "I just forget to take them off sometimes.............. And sometimes I forget to put them on." She shrugged. "I'm getting better at it now. Having reading glasses gets hard sometimes."
It was quiet for a moment as the guys nodded, mulling over what she'd said. Peter frowned suddenly, looking at Lucy closely.
"What? What is it?" She asked, confused.
"Can you...............put them back on?" Lucy put her glasses back on and looked at Peter, who was studying her closely. "You look familiar with them on. I can't quite place it............." Now all four boys were looking at Lucy closely.
Sirius was the first to see it. "James!" He declared triumphantly. "Those glasses are exactly like yours, James!" He turned to Lucy. "With those glasses, you two look exactly like brother and sister! ...........No really!" He added when both James and Lucy stared at him in disbelief. Remus and Peter nodded slowly.
"Stand up, you two, and stand next to each other." Lucy and James did what they were told, and the three other boys declared them a match.
Both Lucy and James burst into fits of laughter, sure that they were just kidding.
Lucy and James' laughter slowed, then stopped completely. They stared at each other, then Sirius, Remus, and Peter in disbelief.
"You're kidding!" James exclaimed.
Lucy, still staring at Sirius, Remus, and Peter, shook her head. "I don't think they're kidding, James." She said slowly.
"I don't believe it!" James exclaimed, shaking his head. "We look nothing alike!" Sirius, Remus, and Peter looked from James to Lucy and back, shaking their heads.
"So?!" James and Lucy asked unanimously. "Lot's of people have black hair, blue eyes, and glasses!" Sirius, Remus, and Peter shook their heads.
"The hair and glasses, yeah, but what about your eyes?" Remus asked. James and Lucy exchanged confused looks.
"Move your hair out of the way!" Sirius demanded. James and Lucy did so. "Now look at each other!" They did so, and were shocked.
Lucy and James had the exact same eyes. Sky blue, with flecks of green and gold sprinkled through them. Their mouths dropped open, identical eyes widening. The two of them stared at each other for a second or two, before dropping their hair back into their faces and turning back to Sirius, Remus, and Peter.
"So?" James and Lucy asked together.
"We have a major problem." James muttered nervously to Sirius and Peter, who nodded worriedly. It was very close to Remus' monthly visit to his 'aunt', and McGonagall was patrolling right outside the Fat Lady's portrait. Which was not good. McGonagall was already suspicious of them and would be paying extra attention to the portrait hole. James, Sirius, and Peter needed to smuggle Remus out of the school, and soon. (Remus was sleeping in their room right now, resting.)
"But even with the cloak, we can't get out of the common room without opening the door." Sirius reasoned. James had an Invisibility Cloak, which his father had given him at the beginning of the year. "Not to mention her crazy hearing. The cloak won't cover our footsteps..........and even with a Silencing Charm............." The three boys lapsed into a tense silence as they clambered through the portrait hole into the common room, where they saw the answer to their problems sitting in an armchair near the fire.
Lucy hadn't been in any classes today. She was really sick, and had stayed in her room practically the entire day, not even coming out for meals. Her face was flushed, her eyes bright with her raging fever. She'd barely had any sleep the night before, let alone any that day, no matter how hard she tried. Lily had, of course, spoken to the teachers of Lucy's illness and collected her homework for her. Lucy, unable to sleep, had decided to try and work on it in the common room.
Lucy looked up as the boys clambered into the room, instantly knowing something was up. And, by the desperate looks on their faces, as well as the panic in their eyes, it wasn't good. The boys knew that Lucy was sick and had fretted over her before, so Lucy knew that she'd officially become a last-ditch effort. It comforted her, knowing that the guys cared about her enough not to pull any pranks while she was sick, or to ask her to cover for them. But she also knew that there was some kind of emergency, and that they needed her now.
So Lucy turned back to her work and waited, the three boys having a silent discussion as she worked. It only lasted a second or two, such was the severity of the situation. James, Sirius, and Peter quickly decided what to say, and made their way over to some armchairs near Lucy's own. She didn't look up, but they knew she was listening.
"Remus' aunt is sick again." James said in a forced-casual voice.
"Yeah, really bad this time, too." Sirius agreed, voice strained.
"Shame he can't get on the train now, right now. He could get there by morning to be with her." James looked over at Lucy as he spoke. Lucy was the only one who knew the lie for what it was. Even if she didn't know the truth, she knew they were lying to her, to everyone. She never said anything to anyone about her suspicions, though. Not even the guys. They could just see it in her face when she looked at them.
Lucy was holding her quill tightly, shoulders tensed. She was holding her quill to the paper, but it wasn't moving and her inkwell was closed tightly.
"Yeah, we could sneak him out to the train under the Cloak no problem, but.........." Lucy also knew about James' Invisibility Cloak. She'd walked into their room one day with an assignment they'd needed and found it lying on the floor. Lucy had tossed it over her shoulders, shocked when all but her head disappeared. She had just thrown it over her head when James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter walked in. James immediately began asking where his Invisibility Cloak was. Lucy had taken it off, giving them the scare of a lifetime, handed them the homework, and left.
She hadn't told anyone about James' cloak, either.
It was Peter's turn to speak. He was going to mention McGonagall. He was dead nervous, though. He (along with the rest of the guys and Lily) knew that Lucy despised McGonagall with every fiber of her being.
So Peter wasn't that enthusiastic about being the one giving her the news. It took three tries before Peter was able to speak.
"Yeah," he said shakily, "McGonagall's going to be right hard to get past."
All four boys heard Lucy's quill snap in her grip. She'd clenched it so tightly in her surprise that she'd snapped it clean in two, the top piece falling onto the table she was working on. She bit her lip and let go of the bottom half. Lucy shut her eyes tightly and forced herself to remember that James, Sirius, and Peter wouldn't be asking her if they could handle it alone. This must be an emergency. A major, life-threatening, end-of-the world disaster kind of emergency.
And that it was for Remus.
Lucy stood up slowly, staring hard into the fire to keep herself calm. The flames danced a wild, merry dance in the hearth, crackling loudly and jumping around. It calmed Lucy down beyond understanding, watching the fire.
"Where are you going, Whit?" James asked, acting as if she hadn't heard every word that they'd just said, knowing perfectly well that she'd did.
'Whit' was a nickname Remus had given her way back near the beginning of the school year. Since Remus couldn't find out her real name and he was completely against calling her Whitaker, he'd came up with a nickname for her. Whit. James, Sirius, and Peter immediately began calling her Whit as well, even Lily resorting to calling her that more often than not.
"Gotta talk to McGonagall about something." Lucy muttered quietly, keeping her eyes locked on the dancing flames. "Like now." James, Sirius, and Peter nodded, relieved and grateful beyond belief.
Unfortunately, none of them had seen Remus enter the room. "Talk to McGonagall? Why?" James, Sirius, and Peter looked up at him guiltily. Remus was looking straight at Lucy, though, who was having a hard time looking away from the fire. "You hate her." He said, confused. Lucy looked over at him.
"No reason, really. Just need some help with-"
"No way!" Remus shouted angrily, eyes wide with understanding. "You're sick, Whit! You shouldn't be going out now! You should be resting, in bed, asleep! Anything is better than wandering around the halls to look for someone you-" Lucy was at Remus' side and hugging him tightly in an instant, cutting him off.
"Don't worry about me, Remes." Lucy said gently, the animalistic anger in Remus' eyes disappearing as she held him. "I'll be just fine. Just concentrate on getting yourself and your 'aunt' better, okay?"
"Okay, Whit." Remus mumbled grudgingly. Lucy nodded.
"Right then. I'm gonna go have a chat with the cat."
"Professor McGonagall? May I have a word with you?" Lucy stood in front of the portrait hole, far off to the side. She was holding the frame tightly, leaving a huge gap between her and the entrance to the Gryffindor common room.
"Yes you may, Miss Whitaker. Come with me to my office." McGonagall paused. "I am to assume that this is important?" Lucy nodded. "Well then, let's be off." McGonagall had learned something from the wand fiasco in the beginning of the year.
If Lucy Whitaker said something, you listened.
Lucy waited a moment or two more until she was sure James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter were long gone, then let the portrait fall shut. She fell into step with McGonagall and the two walked in silence to her office.
Lucy sat down without looking around, in a chair in front of McGonagall's desk. McGonagall sat at her desk and waited for Lucy to begin.
Lucy was silent for a moment or two more, eyes locked on the floor, thinking about whether or not telling McGonagall what she was thinking was worth staying out of trouble. But, with all the courage of a true Gryffindor, Lucy decided to speak to McGonagall, to tell her the truth............Because the truth had been eating away at Lucy all year...............not to mention the fact the Lucy could never pay attention in Transfiguration class. If it weren't for Lily's notes, Lucy would be failing.
"Do you know who I am?" Since Lucy's eyes were on the floor, she missed the look of utter confusion flit across McGonagall's features.
"I'm not sure what you mean, Miss Whitaker." McGonagall began slowly. Lucy said nothing, so she continued. "I know of your school records. First year, Gryffindor, top in class with Miss Evans and Mr. Lupin...........But I don't think that any of that is quite what you mean, or want to hear."
Lucy shook her head.
"No." She said simply, quietly. "Not a word of that comes close to what I'm talking about." Lucy closed her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose wearily. "First things first Professor. The only reason I'm bringing this up is because I'm having problems in class." Lucy didn't mention she was doing her friends a favor. Lucy looked up at McGonagall, who nodded, then continued. "See, you've met me before."
This time Lucy could see the confusion on McGonagall's face. "Seven years ago, ma'am." Lucy said quietly, sadness and hurt evident in her eyes. "At a park. You were............there as a cat. I was the only one who recognized you." McGonagall's face paled and her eyes widened as she began to remember. Lucy nodded somewhat bitterly. "You're beginning to remember, aren't you? All the yelling, the screaming. The slap." Lucy was quiet for a long moment, a pained, faraway look in her eyes. She shook her head roughly, turning back to McGonagall. "Left a mark on my face for a week, you know."
Lucy touched her cheek softly, as if she could still feel where her aunt had slapped her. She blinked hard a couple times, keeping the tears stinging her eyes at bay. Lucy got up from her seat and began pacing in front of McGonagall. "I didn't really feel the pain, not right then, anyway. It was after, while I was in my room. Sometime during that week, way before she let me out." Lucy's eyes went faraway again. "I guess the shock kept me numb for a good while. See," and here she turned back to McGonagall, "I always knew, deep down, that my aunt didn't really like me. I think the true shock was the little tabby cat that refused to help me."
Lucy's eyes were bright with tears now, as well as fever. She blinked hard, but never looked away from McGonagall. "Up until then, magic had been my life. It was all I cared about, and I believed that everything and everyone involved in magic was wonderful and lovely." An odd sort of laugh escaped Lucy then, bitter and strangled. "Was quite a shock for me to learn that I was wrong. Nearly crushed me, it did. The whole time I was in my room, that was all I could think about. I memorized the picture of that cat, along with the witch I saw within it. Haunted me for a good couple years, yes it did. I almost gave up, you know. Magic, hope, happiness. Almost gave it all up that year, that week, that day." Lucy paused, eyes glassy and farther away than ever before.
"I almost died, I did. Magic is what kept me alive, and has been keeping me alive. I've known it since I was little, you know." Lucy seemed to be talking to herself more than McGonagall now, eyes still glassy and faraway, a few tears slipping down her cheeks. "Magic is all I've ever known, I'm sure of that. Witches and wizards, spells and potions, wands and quills............Dragons and pixies and elves...............Mermaids, trolls, goblins, unicorns, giants.............." Lucy closed her eyes, continued. "Lethifolds, dementors, centaurs, billywigs..............I was stung by one of them once, you know." Lucy said, opening her eyes, which seemed slightly less hazy. "Best I'd felt in awhile. Floated for a good time, yes I did. I got a beating that day.............."
Lucy closed her eyes again.
"I think there were only two real things that kept me from just giving up everything I loved and cared about to do what my aunt said." Before McGonagall could ask, Lucy had answered. "Magic, and my family." Lucy caught sight of McGonagall's face. "Not the Whitakers, no. My real family." McGonagall looked confused. "I live with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. They say my parents are dead, always have." Lucy laughed an odd, dry laugh. "I never believed them, not once. Wouldn't tell me their names, I could never find out for myself..............."
Lucy's eyes, which had begun to clear, clouded over again.
"I get dreams sometimes, but it's all too blurry to tell what is all in it. Me, as a baby. A boy, older than me. My brother? I don't know. My parents.............Kidnappers." Lucy shuddered. "Nightmares, all of them. Nightmares that keep me up at night, tossing and turning and fearing sleep." Lucy shuddered again. "I always believed my real parents were looking for me. Not once in all my life have I given up hope. They're out there, somewhere." Lucy opened her eyes and looked at McGonagall, hope, pain, and immeasurable sadness encased in them. Just looking into Lucy's eyes nearly broke McGonagall's heart, made her wish she hadn't remained a cat all those years ago, regardless of whether or not it was illegal.
"I mean, I was right about magic, wasn't I?"
For the first time in her life, Minerva McGonagall couldn't think of a single thing to say, let alone do. Here was this child, only in her first year, that had been so affected by a single decision, a law. Animagus' could not transform in front of Muggles. One of the first rules they taught aspiring Animagus'. Memory Charms would have to be applied, all humans tracked down. If one wasn't careful, there'd be a full-scale Muggle riot thrown at the Ministry of Magic.
McGonagall was shocked beyond belief when that little girl had spotted her. Only people who knew the marks of a specific Animagus could identify them. But according to the row that Lucy had had with her aunt, she was being raised by Muggles. Not only that, but Lucy did not know of the pattern McGonagall's cat form that identified her from other cats. And even if she did, how, for the sake of Merlin, did she see McGonagall?! '"Brown hair and glasses and-"'
Lucy had seen McGonagall, not just her cat form.
No witch or wizard in history had ever been able to do that. At least, no known witch or wizard. Not only that, but Lucy had seen-and identified-a Golden Snidget. A Golden Snidget! A tiny child-a baby, really-that was being raised by Muggles knew what a Golden Snidget was! Impossible! It was all impossible.
It wasn't like McGonagall hadn't wanted to help the poor girl. A Memory Charm would've just worked fine. McGonagall had just been too shocked and, to be honest, a bit scared to react properly.
Lucy obviously held a great quantity of strong magic and potential, being able to see right through McGonagall's Animagus to her core human form. Not to mention what Lucy had said about seeing other witches and wizards in her head..................
McGonagall was torn from her thoughts by an odd sound that came from Lucy, almost like a dry sob. Looking up at her, McGonagall felt a stir of fear.
Lucy was bent over, clutching her stomach as if in great pain. She was not crying, but her eyes were watering as if she was about to. Lucy's nails were digging into the skin on her arms so hard that her knuckles were white, blood seeping out of the cuts. McGonagall got up to help her, but Lucy merely bent over further, moaning softly. Lucy's shoulders were hunched up to her ears and were shaking. He hair was hiding her face completely, all except her eyes, which McGonagall couldn't seem not to see.
Lucy's eyes were bright with her raging fever, shining with her pearly tears. There were so many emotions running through them, too fast to be properly noted. Pain and sadness seemed to be the two ruling emotions, frequently presenting themselves in her eyes with such a force that Lucy would groan in pain.
Lucy gritted her teeth against the pain, shutting her eyes tightly. She rocked back and forth, nails digging deeper into her skin as she tried to stop the stem of emotional pain and turmoil she was going in. Her thoughts were whirling around her mind with such a force that it sent Lucy reeling backwards into her previously-vacated seat. Lucy screamed a silent scream, lip bit so hard to contain it that Lucy tasted blood.
McGonagall touched Lucy's shoulder and she cried out, more in fear than anything. Lucy started so badly that she knocked the chair she was sitting in over backwards, falling out of it herself. McGonagall tried to come closer to Lucy, who shrieked and skittered away from her, eyes alight with an almost animalistic panic. The look in her eyes was enough to send McGonagall a few paces back fearfully.
Lucy staggered to her feet, shaking uncontrollably. She fumbled behind her for the doorknob, eyes locked onto McGonagall's. When Lucy's hand connected with the knob, she gripped it as hard as she could, shaking subsiding somewhat. McGonagall could see, behind all the fear and panic in Lucy's eyes, pain, hurt, and confusion beyond belief. Lucy was watching McGonagall closely, but her eyes seemed faraway, and she was acting as if she were being tormented by some outside force.
McGonagall made to move closer to the frightened girl, but Lucy ripped the door open with such force that she almost tore it off of its hinges, then took off down the hall at top speed, skidding around the corner without looking back.
McGonagall could hear loud crashes and shouts from the portraits and suits of armors, then silence as (or so she guessed) they saw Lucy's wild and unimaginable fear and panic. She listened to Lucy's pounding footsteps until they disappeared completely, knowing that Lucy was probably heading back to Gryffindor Tower.
McGonagall stood silently, just outside the doorway to her office, looking down the corridor in the direction that Lucy had run off in. She ran over everything that had just happened in her head, not surprised to find that she, too, was shaking, silent tears stealing down her cheeks like thieves in the night.
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