Chapter 9 : Gifts
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James and Lily were canoodling when we returned.
Ok, maybe that was exaggerating a bit, they were probably just cuddling like couples do, but none the less, girls were not allowed in the boy’s dorms.
Remus and I decided that we would allow Lily to stay, but the two love birds would need chaperones to make sure they would be just sleeping tonight, and not sleeping. We would never let Lily be tainted like that by that fiend James Potter.
So we hopped into bed with them, to James’ dismay and Lily’s humorous joy.
We all had to lay sideways on the bed to even fit the four of us, arranging in the order: James, Myself, Lily, Remus. I settled between James and Lily purposely, deciding it would be best to separate them, ‘in case James got any dirty ideas during the night’ I told them while he glared at me and Lily giggled. Folding my arms behind my head, Lily settled her head just below my left arm and James balled up some of his blanket to use as a makeshift pillow. Remus was on his stomach on the other side of Lily, eyes already droopy.
I felt a tinge of regret for coming back to the dorms for a small moment as I watched his eyes droop under his sandy hair. Here where I should refrain from touching him even though I wanted to badly.
We all kicked playfully for a moment as we realized that most of our legs were tangled or overlapping each other, because we all had to bend them slightly to fit on the bed. Finally we settled enough, and our sighs of relaxation came as one, making us all laugh quietly.
“You know, when Peter wakes up in the morning he’s going to have some questions.” Lily pointed out, and we all chuckled softly, imagining the stout boy waking up from his heavy drunken pass out to find the four of us curled up together a few beds over.
“He’s used to worst.” I commented, kicking my foot out in hopes that it would come into contact with Remus’, which I think it did. His eyes opened slightly.
“Right Moony?” I asked, and I caught a flush as he smiled and laugh quietly. Lily glanced up at me and I replied to her eyes by poking her nose gently, which she crinkled it at and then smiled.
It took a moment to remember where I was when I woke the next day, my head still slightly sore even though I sobered before fallen asleep. I was pretty sure the headache was for other reasons though, so I didn’t dwell on it.
Lily was still laying on my left, under my arm, curled up on her side into a fetile position in her sleep. Her hair fanned out over her face and shoulders, and her innocence in her sleep made her look like a small child. On my other side James laid, arm tangled in that blanket that was no longer serving the purpose of a pillow. His glasses were still on, askew so much on his face that I was sure they would do him no good, and if he woke he would probably start looking for them before realizing.
I tried to move a little, in hopes that I could get up without disturbing them but I noticed that the couple coped despite my intrusion the night before and my insistence to sleep in-between them. Their hands were tangled together in a firm grasp onto one another and were resting on my stomach. I smiled, decided to lay there further, not wanting them to wake and force them to pull their hands apart.
I turned my head to look for him before even thinking about it, and the smile I had on my face turned to a frown when I realized that Remus was no longer part of our slumber party. As if replying to my realization, the door to our dorm washroom opened and he exited, noticeably cleaned and put together in a casual jean and white long sleeve shirt, his hair still slight wet.
I closed my eyes and pretended I was still asleep, realizing after a moment that I didn’t want him to know that I was awake. I wasn’t sure why at first, but once my eyes were closed the night before flashed in my mind to remind me. I didn’t know what to make of it, therefore didn’t know how to act with him yet, so I wanted to avoid it as long as possible.
It had been possible to ignore the first time. Possible only because I knew he also didn’t want to act like it happened. So, we both pretended it didn’t and things were easy. Well, Sort of.
I wasn’t sure about this time though. This time there was something he surely wanted us to remember. I had made him a promise that I would tell him my secret, and he wasn’t going to forget that. But remembering that promise only meant that we had to remember what happened afterwards as well. The whole night had defiantly taken place and we couldn’t pick and choose the details we wanted to remember.
We kissed this time. There was no other way around it. But, I didn’t know what was going to happen from it, and that made me all anxious and caused my guts to twist uncomfortably. I had kissed many people before and it never changed a thing, never fazed me. I knew it wasn’t going anywhere with those girls, that was probably why. I had been in little relationships every now and then, but it was never anything serious, and I had even let hormones get the best of me once (I know Lily’s friend Helena will never forget that particular detention) but all those times were easy to get over, to brush off. I was never once awkward with Helena after that, even though she would blush every time she saw me for a week afterwards.
But this was different, because I already had a serious relationship with Remus. Remus was a big part of my life, one of the biggest. So what does that mean?
“You’re not doing a very convincing job pretending to be asleep Sirius.” His voice broke the silence in a whisper and I opened my eyes, watching him smirk as he took his place on his stomach on Lily’s other side like the night before. I told myself not to flush in embarrassment, annoyed at myself for being caught.
“I wasn’t sure if you wanted... conversation, so I thought I’d let you decide.” I explained, getting a nod from him, although I could tell that he didn’t believe my excuse. I think my cheeks tinged pink a little.
“You would have gotten away with it if you were snoring.” He commented, ignoring my words. I frowned slightly.
“I don’t snore.” I replied simply and he chuckled.
“You do. When you’re sleeping well anyway.” He countered, then let his eyes fall. I took that as I hint that I hadn’t been snoring recently.
“You growl.” I retorted, attempting to distract him from whatever thoughts he was dwelling on. He smirked.
“What?” he was still smiling, although a small confusion clouded it.
“In your sleep. Sometimes. Not often, but every now and then.” I looked away from him, feeling conscience, like I shouldn’t know this detail about it. Snoring was one thing, but this felt more intimate.
“Well like, how?” He obviously didn’t see it like I did, because he was still smirking, interested in the detail about himself that he had no idea about. I shrugged.
“I dunno. A growl.” I felt a heat crawling up my collar.
“I mean, is it, angry?” He pressed, explaining his question, and I definitely blushed as I realized how wrong he was. He thought it was a nightmare thing probably, but no. That wasn’t it at all.
“No. It’s like, like a purr only, doggish.” I explained, finally forcing myself to look at him, and seeing him blink before turning his own eyes away, slightly red also, but still grinning slightly. I was suddenly curious as to if he realized what type of dreams the sounds went along with, and wondering what those dreams would include.
“It’s cu- inda funny.” I hoped he hadn’t realized the actual word I was going to say, because I wasn’t sure if he was ready for that. I don’t even know if I would have been ready if I had let that word slip from my mouth.
“Your face is kinda funny.” He retorted, acting offended at my teasing of his unconscious tick. I smiled as I rolled my eyes. A silence fell over us, and I spent the moment distracting myself by tugging James’ glasses off his face gently, feeling like if he stayed there with them on his face like that they would probably get all bent. I folded them up and handed them to Remus, who accordingly put them on the bedside table that he was closer to.
When the silence continued to grow, Remus dismissed himself, saying that he was off to check the owlery for any mail, assuring that he’d be back soon. I told him to pick up any mail for me too, and he smiled and nodded. I wanted to go with him badly, even though our conversation was awkward and hard to hold together, and felt my stomach twist up again when I watched him go, my throat tight as I held back my objections to him leaving. I didn’t want to be left with my thoughts.
Why was I being like this? Fearing a moment away from this boy suddenly, when I had done fine before we had kissed and everything got complicated and confusing.
No, that’s not true. Before last night I had been killing myself. Every time I had a moment alone I was cutting pieces of myself away. That was why I wanted him near always. Because as long as he was around I could be sure that I wouldn’t be hurting myself.
I reminded myself that James and Lily were still here, even though asleep, and lingered on that fact. My friends, so truly in love, I wanted to snuggle them both to death, because I realized just then how much I loved them, but I knew that would risk waking them.
As if replying to my silent thoughts, I heard a quiet sigh as Lily stirred, her eyes fluttering open, the green of them refreshed to the color of grass after a morning rain. She smiled shyly at me as she came to her senses, then blushed at her hand linked with James on my stomach and went to pull it away. I caught it.
“Don’t worry about it, just let me move and get out of here and I’ll leave you two be.” I smiled when she did, and she lifted her and James’ hands so that I could slip out from under their arms. I gathered fresh clothes and sneaked a peek at the couple before claiming the bathroom myself, seeing Lily settling herself closer to James so that whenever he woke he would get the best surprise a boy could ask for.
I didn’t realizing how badly I had needed a shower until the hot water hit my back and my muscles shattered from their petrified tense state, melting and being soothed. I felt a relief off my shoulders, and I reminded myself that it was the weight Remus had pulled from me the night before. My shoulder blades where sore as if they had really been holding up the world and were only now getting a break. It was an amazing feeling.
I would have to thank him somehow.
I dressed quickly, the autumn coldness starting to get into the school and making me realize when I stepped out of the hot shower and shivered at the air. This would mean that the common room fires would soon be lit during the day to get rid of the chill.
I shook a towel through my hair before pulling on my clothes, noticeably the same attire that Remus had picked, only I preferred black over white, and headed to the common room in hopes that I would meet him coming back, as well as giving James and Lily some privacy (Peter didn’t count, he would be out until at least dinner time).
The common room was unusually quiet for a Sunday. I was sure most people were probably still lounging in bed after last night’s affairs. But it was still a little strange to see it so deserted. I set myself on my couch, picking up The Daily Prophet from a few days before and scanning over some articles, making humorous note at the fact that my feet were warm because of the fire that flickered on the other side of the coffee table I had set them on.
I was half way through a boring article about the profits of re-enforcing cauldron bottoms when I heard him. He had a distanced walk, almost like a tip toe only it was fully flat footed. It was because he often tried to go unnoticed, so it was only prudent that his walk reflected his attempt at sneaking by attention.
He was also reading an article, this one from a recent newspaper, and he never took eyes off of it as he crawled over the back of the couch and sat down next to me, noticeably close. I reminded myself that if it had been before, this closeness wouldn’t have made a difference, and tried to make myself indifferent like he was seemingly able to.
“Anything for me?” I asked, and he blinked, looking up at me as if surprised I was there, and then registered my question.
“Oh, yeah.” He fished around his newspaper to the other fingers of the hand that held it, which trapped in between themselves other pieces of mail. The post held between his pointer and middle was slightly thick, something other than paper inside, and had already been tore open, whatever inside of it replaced for carrying. The one stuck among his middle and ring finger looked like a letter from his parents, noticeable because his mother always mailed their letters in a blue envelope. The last one, in between his ring and pinky, was the smallest. He grabbed it and handed it to me without glancing back in my direction. Apparently his article was interesting.
I gave a quiet thanks and took it from him, wondering for a moment who it could be from. I hadn’t got mail in a while, because, well, my parents had been the only ones to really send me mail. After I ran away they didn’t bother. This would explain why I was so surprised when I found myself staring at my own name writing in my father’s choppy, sharp script. I noted while staring at it in shock that Regulus had adopted father’s violent writing style.
“Who’s it from?” Remus pried over his newspaper, voice seemingly uninterested but I knew that he really was. That was just the voice he used while reading and doing something else, like talking or eating. He was truly the only person I knew who could keep up with a conversation while still reading at a normal pace.
I didn’t answer at first, because I knew that if the realization shocked me it would shock him twice as much. I gave it a moment to mull.
“My father.” I replied finally, and I had just enough time to hear his eyes fly away from the words he was reading, before he threw aside his newspaper and snatched the unopened letter and flicked it in the fire across from us.
“Remus!” How dare he! What gave him the right to burn my mail before I read it? What if someone had died? What if they were asking me to come home, offering a compromise? What if they were willing to let me be? I wanted to kill him, but was far too shocked at his actions to do anything but gape.
His eyes turned hard on me and I felt my anger withdraw slightly.
“You know that whatever they have to say to you isn’t going to make you happy. You know they have nothing good to say. You don’t need one more thing burdening you.” He stared at me for a moment, as if to drill his idea into my head further, before settling himself back into his spot and opening his paper again. I stayed silent for a moment, feeling like a child put into their place, watching my father’s letter burn.
Then I felt another weight lifting from me. He was right, I was only letting my family drag me down by still caring about them, still having hope in them even though they were hopeless. And once again, it was only my fault that I was letting them get to me like I was.
“Thank you.” I told him, trying to keep my annoyed tone with him, to show him that I was still mildly upset that he had ripped the letter from my hands and discarded it without forewarning or permission, but he saw through my attempt at keeping my last bit of pride. He shrugged.
“Don’t worry about it.” He told me, eyes back to moving back and forth over the newspaper, engulfing us in silence again for a long time until he lightened the mood.
“The Ministry is thinking about putting taxes on spells. “ He commented, revealing the contents of the article he had been reading so intently, making me laugh.
“Merlin you’re lame.” I told him, grinning as he gave me a toothy smile, showing me that he had known that joke was coming and had set himself up purposely.
“Guess what.” He said after I had finished chuckling, setting aside his newspaper and letters then sat up slightly, pulling one of his legs up under him so he could turn towards me a little, giving the conversation his full attention now. I’m sure this meant that his news was probably somehow important.
“What?” I asked, letting my lip tilt up at the corner, then followed his lead and sat up, purposely making myself seem like a giggly girl leaning into her friend to hear the latest gossip. He smirked, only making me realize how I had forgotten about how close we were, and reminding me now as I noticed that leaning into him only brought me closer. He read the realization in my eyes, and brought his down. I felt a heat searing my collar. He cleared his throat.
“I uh... I got you something.” His eyes came up for a moment to gauge my reaction, and I caught the blood rush to his cheeks when my mouth fell opening slightly.
“I ordered it a while ago.” He quickly added, trying to recover from his reveal. He didn’t see my surprise turn into a grin, his fringe falling into his face and covering his bowed eyes from me.
“It’s not anything special, I just... thought you’d get a laugh-.”
“Moony.” I cut him off, feeling my smile grow the slightest bit more when he brought his eye up to mine finally. He looked so worried, then blinked when he saw my teasing grin.
“Shut up.” I said, and I caught him grin before biting his lip slightly.
“Sorry.” He added, only smiling more this time.
“So, what is it?” I asked finally, biting my lip myself out of excitement. Everyone knew I liked getting things. It didn’t matter what it was I just liked having something given to me by someone. I’ve had girls give me small gifts to get my attention at times because I really can’t resist opening presents.
“I can’t give it to you now, I have to go wrap it or something. All it’s in is a crummy envelop.” Remus replied, although it was playful, stalling. I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t be a prat, course you can give it to me now. I’ll pretend it was wrapped nice.” I replied, noting his hint and taking a glance around him at the letters under his newspaper, remembering one of them being slightly bulky and wondering if perhaps that was said gift.
He saw me glancing and went to move it. I smiled and moved to grab it myself.
“That’s it isn’t it?” I said, trying to reach around his waist, over his shoulder, under his arm, but he kept putting body parts in my way. I growled in annoyance at him as he slowly started to laugh at my lame attempts.
“Get out of the way you stupid werewolf.” I bickered playfully, watching him as he let his head fall back in laughter, then shoved me away from him and got up from the couch, grabbing the envelop as he ran for the dorms.
I followed, although it was slightly half hazard now, entering the dorms after him and catching him locking his trunk as I came in. I gave him a playful glare and he shrugged.
“What’s all this about?” James asked from his bed where he was still laying with Lily, although they were both on their stomachs now, they had probably been talking.
“I was trying to get a bit of a snog but Remus is being a prude.” I replied simply, putting on a smirk when said boy laughed. James knew from that that whatever it was that happened wasn’t his business nor was it very important, so he didn’t press further. That’s what I liked about James. James didn’t poke around in anything that wasn’t his to poke around it. Remus did.
Then again, maybe that was why I liked Remus too.
We spent the rest of the afternoon talking to James and Lily, about nothing important at all. We gossiped about happenings during the party, we reminisced about past Potions classes, we even had a debate over Remus’ silly article that he had read in the paper. Those were the talks I liked. They made me feel normal, and happy, and I didn’t think about the demons so much. Those parts of me were dulled when I was with the people I really did love.
When James and Lily decided on going down for dinner was when we split. Remus said that he would get something later, he had to go to the library to finish up a project. I caught his glance at me when he said it.
“I’ll go too, I’m not hungry yet.” I had said, getting up and following him when he had already started towards the door. We said goodbye to Lily and James then started our walk down to the library, which was silent for quite a while until I decided to inquire first.
“So why am I joining you?” I asked him in a bored tone, knowing from the last time that the library was not exactly thrilling for me, and I wouldn’t have come if he hadn’t of glanced at him. He had shrugged.
“I don’t know, you tell me.” He replied, innocent, hiding the smirk in his eyes by looking forward into the direction we walked. I scoffed.
“Please. I know you wanted me to come. Why?” I said, catching him glance at me.
“I never said I wanted you to come. You just invited yourself.” He shrugged his shoulders and continued walking, and I frowned. What was he playing at? Why couldn’t he just tell me why he wanted me to come? Why he had looked at me like that?
“You’re frustrating.” I sighed. He shrugged again.
“Sorry.” He said, sounding half hearted, and I rolled my eyes.
“Can I make it up to you?” he continued, stopping for a moment and I stopped too, glancing down the empty hall and then turning my gaze on him.
“How?” I asked, curious, and he smiled.
“Close your eyes.” I let out a breath at his words, glancing down the hall again, suddenly feeling paranoid and like it wasn’t so empty. I turned back to him.
“Remus.” He wasn’t going to do anything risky was he?
“Just do it!” he said as I gave him a warning look, making me pull the look back and change it to slight nervousness. I did as I was told.
I pulled away quickly when I felt his touch on my forearm, opening my eyes, unsure if he could feel he scars from the way he touched my arm, but not being able to keep from pulling away as reaction. His face was written with confusion, and I felt guilt hit me.
“Sorry, I, I wasn’t expecting that.” I replied awkwardly, getting nervous for a moment as I noticed his eyes flicker something, but seeing it disappear quickly.
“You’re always so jumpy.” Remus commented, and I scoffed.
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are.” I sighed again and choose to let him have the last words, closing my eyes once more and sticking my arm out for him to continue where he left off. There was a pause before I felt his touch again, being slightly uncomfortable with the closeness of his hands fiddling with something around my wrist, even though his touch made my skin tingle.
“There.” He said finally, before his brown eyes met mine when I opened them. He flicked them down to my wrist and I followed the gaze, bright orange assaulting my vision as I looked at the band he had wrapped there. I turned back to him with mild confusion after flipping over my arm a couple times to look at the thing wrapped around my wrist from different angles. He smirked, a laugh in his eyes.
“It’s a flea collar.” he said to answer my questioning gaze, before he chuckled at the smile that spread carefully on my lips.
“I thought it would make you laugh. You don’t have to wear it if you don’t want, it was really only for the one joke.” He was still smiling, although I was catching the slight flush that was crawling up his neck.
“I’ll wear it. It’ll make me smile.” I replied, catching his brown eyes. They were really dark today, like chocolate. He was getting to the tail end of his month cycle. He would be transforming soon. I felt a sudden twinge of guilt as I realized that the both of us had been so focus on me lately that we never even thought about his problem. The problem that would be creeping up on us again very soon.
I also felt my lips drop into a frown, but when I saw him smile it kept mine on my face.
“Good. You need to smile more. Not just show your teeth like you do, but actually smile. You look so much happier when you smile.” I didn’t understand him. After all these years I still didn’t understand Remus. It still baffled me that he could be so selfless, so beautifully caring about everyone else but himself. I didn’t understand how he could be so different from me.
Then I realized, we weren’t different at all. Not really. He focused on other people’s pain to avoid his own, while I avoided the pain by hiding it. That’s all that was being done. We were just trying to avoid the pain. And I understood then.
He wouldn’t understand why I would continue to wear that collar around my wrist. He would think that it would bring back memories of the joke. But no, that wasn’t it at all. Sure, every now and then I would think of our passing comment and have a laugh inside my head, but the real reason it would make me smile every time is that it would remind me of him. And Remus didn’t know it but he had an uncanny ability to make me smile.
“Thanks.” I said finally as we started walking again. He shrugged, not even understanding what I was thanking him for. That was alright though. I would let him know one day how thankful I was for him.