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Chapter 4 : Nightingale to the Rescue. Chapter Three.
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Wouldn't it be great to stand at the edge and not worry about the fall?
-Great Big Sea
A week later, on a Saturday night in late-October, it was full moon.
The boys left around seven thirty and I told them that I would make a quick swing by the hospital wing to get my supplies, then meet them out in the Shrieking Shack. Dressed in loose sweatpants and my ‘Holyhead Harpies’ t-shirt, I walked faster down the hallways than I usually did. For some reason, I felt like I needed to get out there as hastily as possible.
Quietly, I strode into the hospital and met Miss Pomfrey in her office, like I always did. She held out a big, brown, leather bag, a weak smile on her face and I took in gratefully in my shaky hands and slung it over my shoulder.
I was nervous, but not like I usually was. Tonight, I was overly anxious. Remus hadn’t been doing very well the last few days. He had been running a fever and was vomiting all night yesterday. Usually, he never felt too good around full moon, but it never got this bad. I wondered on and on about what would happen tonight. Would something happen when he transformed? Would it effect him in his werewolf form? Would he be alright? I was about to throw up, myself, with all the worry I was feeling for that blooming boy.
Pomfrey must have noticed my anxiety because she lay a hand on my shoulder. “Mr. Lupin will be fine. He always is. You’ve just got to take good care of him and he’ll be perfectly alright,” she whispered, as not to wake up any of the patients in the infirmary.
I took a deep breath and nodded. She, of all people, knew what I felt like, for she had had to experience worse in her line of work. She was always worrying.
“Thanks, Poppy,” I said, turning around and practically running through the halls and out to the Whomping Willow. The sky was blood red as the sun was slowly disappearing behind the horizon.
Peter was waiting in his rat form at the trunk of the tree and pressed a specific knot in the wood, temporarily paralyzing the tree. I ran to where he was and thanked him, climbing down into the passageway, then continued running until I reached the Shrieking Shack, Peter following close behind me.
James, Sirius and Remus stood near the crumbling stairs, all talking casually about what they were planning on doing during the night. James and Sirius both looked quite fine and healthy, only making the sickly-looking Remus look even more gaunt. They turned toward me when one of my feet made a creak in the old floorboards.
“Oi, ‘lo there, Night’,” said Sirius, smiling. Argh. I hated when he did that to my nickname.
“Almost time?” James asked, glancing out one of the broken windows. The sun was gone behind the skyline and a dark blue was slowly replacing the blood red color of the sky.
I nodded stiffly. “Yes.”
Remus noted my strange behavior and walked over to me. Taking my hands in his, he looked straight into my eyes and smiled, something that looked misplaced on his white, sullen face. “It’ll be okay, alright? There’s no need to worry,” he told me, firmly.
“C’mon, Moony,” James pushed, he and Sirius walking toward the door of the Shack. “We’ve gotta go, mate.”
“Coming!” Rem squeezed my hands and shook his head for me not to worry. “I’ll be fine. Just so long as you’re here to take care of me.”
I nodded and quickly wrapped my arms around his torso in a hug. I was about six or seven inches shorter and it almost made me seem like a child compared to him. He seemed surprised at first, but wound his arms around my neck and pulled me close. I could make out his familiar scent of chocolate and peppermint. It was a strange mixture, but that was what he had always smelled like.
“It will be okay, Mack,” he whispered before gently kissing the top of my head and pulling away from the hug. He walked to the door and glanced back. “Go up to the room. We’ll be back by morning.” And, with that, the four boys walked out the door of the Shrieking Shack and left me to worry by myself.
I ran up the stairs to the third floor of the Shack and into the room I had used since first year and closed the door behind me. It had a charm that Dumbledore placed over it, preventing Remus from ever being able to get into the room while he was a werewolf. It was a small room, with a big window on one side, where you could look out and see most of the Hogwarts grounds. A large bed was situated in the corner and bookshelves lined every wall, from floor to ceiling. Before our fifth year, the other three boys had sat up there and waited with me, watching out the window to see if Rem had changed back so that they could go pick him up and I could patch him up. But that was before they became illegal Animagi.
I had wanted more than anything to become an Animagi, as well, to help Remus on nights like these, but all four boys had sternly disagreed, especially Remus. He refused to let me risk my life just to help him. When I rebutted, saying that he was letting the other three boys do just that for him, he said that it was different. That I was a girl and he needed me to be there for afterwards. I had said that I could do both, help him during and after, but he refused once more. Of course, the other boys agreed with Remus because, well, they thought he was right. So, at the beginning of fifth year, Sirius, Peter and James all became Animagi and I was left to be the regular, uninteresting witch that I already was.
I still hold a bit of a grudge against Rem for not letting me become one, but as long as he was happy, I was, too.
I sat on the bed for about an hour, wondering if they were alright, if Remus’ transformation had gone alright, if he was doing okay. These were the few hours of my life that I was seriously worried about my friends, especially that dumb Moony. I think that my heart rate was increasing a little more every minute. I hardly ever looked out the large window because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see what kinds of things they did, harmful or not.
Around nine thirty, I figured that it might be a good idea to distract myself. So, I grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill off one of the bookshelves and began to write back to that Inconspicuous fellow.
Dear Inconspicuous or whoever you are,
I’m honestly not sure why I’m writing you back. Hmm…I guess you could say that I’m intrigued. I’m intrigued that some bloke is writing to me, saying that he goes to my school and that he wanted to get to know me. For all I know, you could be a creepy, forty year old squib, who has nothing more to do than stalk young witches. I think that I’m going to need a bit of proof that you go to Hogwarts. Let’s see…What did Dumbledore tell us to avoid during school hours at the feast last Friday? I’m pretty sure that only someone who actually attends Hogwarts could know that little bit of information.
As for your little rant at the beginning of your letter. Well, I must say that I do wish those things sometimes. I think that people should really get to know me before they go and judge every little thing that I do. It can get quite irritating. Take my word for it. Can I ask if you ever feel like that? I mean, you were the one who asked in the first place.
And, what about your pseudonym? I mean, ‘Inconspicuous’? Is there a meaning behind all that or what? Ooh, can I have a name? Hm, I think that I’ll make it something like, ‘Bloody Brilliant’ or ‘Nerdy Glasses’. Do you like those? Haha.
‘I just wanted to get to know you.’ Well, at least you know who I am. I mean, I don’t even know your blooming name. I think that I should be the one getting to know you. Tell me something about yourself. Something random. Like, what’s your favorite sweet? I’m a sucker for Pumpkin Pastries. They’re just magnificent.
I signed my name with a flourish and folded up the letter.
Ha. Did I really just write back to Mr. Inconspicuous?
I sighed and glanced at the clock which hung, quite humorously, on the ceiling, seeing as there was no room on any of the walls. Oh, Merlin. That bloody letter only took ten minutes to write! Argh.
I groaned and laid back on the bed, resting my head against one of the many pillows. My nervousness was coming back and I felt like I might explode. All I wanted was for my mates to be safe.
I laid there staring at the same spot on the ceiling for quite a while. I just wanted Rem to be alright.
At about three o’ clock, I grabbed a book off the shelf. It was one of Remus’ favorite Muggle novels, Macbeth by some bloke called Shakespeare. Might as well read it. I had nothing better to do.
So I read. Something that I hardly had time for anymore. And, surprisingly, I loved it. Some bits and pieces were confusing, but I found it to be a very meaningful story. However, around six, I found that I could hardly keep my eyes open.
Slowly closing them, I willed myself to think of something happy, something…not werewolf related. Something…something…
I drifted off to sleep, my worries floating away and leaving me feeling quite empty inside.
I heard a distant voice calling something, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was saying.
‘Take a whack?’ No.
‘Make a tack?’ Nope.
‘Lake afflack?’ Definitely not.
‘Bake a pack?’ Yep. That’s it. Nailed it.
“WAKE UP, MACK!”
I jumped up and tumbled off the bed, landing with a loud THUD!
I lay at Sirius’ feet, who, at the moment, was laughing his bloody head off. I promptly twirled around, caught my foot behind his knee and pulled him down with me. Who was laughing now?
“Oh, shut up, Nightingale,” he said, quickly standing up and walking to the door. “Let’s go, it’s seven thirty in the morning and Moony’s downstairs.”
I immediately stopped laughing, snatched my bag and rushed after Sirius, who was already running down the stairs.
Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Please let him be alright. Please let him be alright.
We walked into a small room, which was just off the side of the stairs. James and Peter were standing next to the large circular bed situated in the center of the room.
“Ah, Nightingale to the rescue,” James smiled faintly.
I started taking out my supplies as I walked to the bed, and my stomach clenched tight. There Remus lay, his eyes closed gently and his chest shirtless. His muscular body was covered in nasty bruises and deep cuts. A bleeding lip and an especially deep slash on his cheek matched the rest. I almost gasped. Oh, my…This time was bad.
He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at me. I could practically see the pain he was feeling through those bright blue eyes of his. He gave me a weak smile and it just about broke my heart.
I quickly began unfolding the roll of bandage tape Pomfrey had given me and knelt down beside his bed, ignoring the chair that Peter had set out for me. Rem winced as I gently applied some of the healing potion that went on before the bandages.
“I’m sorry,” I quickly apologized.
“No — no,” he said, feebly, “It’s — fine.”
I nodded and continued. He had so many cuts and scrapes, I couldn’t even comprehend what had happened to do all of this.
Working slowly and gently, it was about an hour until I was about finished dressing all of his wounds. Sirius, James and Peter had all went back up to the castle to get some sleep and had told me to let them know when I needed help to bring Rem back.
Remus watched me as I worked. He didn’t say anything or give me strange looks. He just watched and I wondered what he was thinking.
In the middle of fixing up a particularly deep gash, I stopped for a moment and rubbed my eyes. I had only gotten about thirty minutes of sleep and working so carefully was beginning to take a toll on me. But, shaking it off, I continued to work before a hand grabbed my wrist.
I looked at Rem and frowned. “What are you doing?” my voice croaked.
“Look at you, Mack. You’re exhausted. Just take a break or something. You’re already almost done, anyhow,” he said, gently.
I shook my head and slowly tried to pull my wrist away, but he kept a firm grip on it. “Moony, I need to finish this. I’m not done yet,” I was almost whining. I didn’t want to stop. I needed to finish.
“No. You need to rest.”
“But if I can just finish—”
“Just rest!” he was beginning to get irritated.
“No, Mackenzie,” his voice was firm and unwavering. He used my full name. He was serious.
I sighed and stood up, my knees aching from kneeling for so long, taking a seat in the chair that was placed next to me. Glaring at him, I crossed my arms leaned back in the chair.
“Why do you worry so much?” I asked him.
He chuckled, frailly. “You think I worry?” He gazed back at me.
I frowned and shrugged. “It’s my job,” I muttered.
“Right,” he agreed. He grinned, but it quickly disappeared. “Well, I never told you this, but — when we were seven, the summer that your mum passed, well, d’you remember that one time when she took us to that giant park and she let us play by ourselves while she sat and read?”
I nodded slowly, staring at him. He never told me…?
He looked down. “Yeah, well when you ran off and started playing on the swings, your mum called me back and told me — she smiled and told me, ‘Take good care of her, boy’. And I promised her that I would.”
My face was expressionless as he spoke, my lips pursed together, and I hardly blinked.
“I always remembered that and, when she died, I couldn’t bring myself to forget it. And ever since then, I’ve been very protective over you and you know that. That’s why…” he paused and glanced at me, “that’s why I wouldn’t let you become an Animagi. That’s why I freaked out when Frank and Davy threw you in the lake and you didn’t come up. That’s why I don’t like it when boys hit on you or talk about you. That’s why I never cried in front of you, besides when my dad died, because I didn’t want you to think I was weak. I needed to be someone that you could lean on. Someone who you could alway go to if you needed help.” He looked me straight in the eye. “That’s why I worry so much, Mack. Because I promised your mum that I would take care of you.”
I sat in disbelief for a moment, clenching and unclenching my jaw. I wouldn’t cry. I’d already cried too much in front of Remus in my life. That was probably the nicest thing anyone had ever said about me in my life.
We must have been silent for a few minutes before Remus slowly began to sit up. Of course, I quickly stopped him, putting a hand on his chest and keeping him in place. “Wh — What are you doing?” my voice raspy.
“It’s nearly nine, we’d better get back or everyone’ll worry.”
I shook my head. “You’re in no state to walk and there’s no way we’d be able to get you through the hallways without being spotted. I’ll just signal Sirius and he’ll bring Poppy down to get you,” I said, talking much too fast.
Remus sighed and nodded, leaning back on his pillow.
I closed my eyes for a moment. Just thank Merlin he’s alright.
A few days after full moon, all of the Marauders sat in our ‘reserved’ (or so Sirius like to think) spot at the Gryffindor table during dinner, talking and laughing rowdily.
“And then—,” James said through his laughter, “and then McGonagall — she told him to ‘be serious’ and all of us — all of were like ‘He is Sirius!’”
Sirius and Peter burst out laughing, while Remus and I simply chuckled at our mates’ stupid humor.
Remus had been doing fairly well the last couple days. He was back to his healthy skin color and looked better than ever. And I was glad. I was so grateful that he was alright.
Near the end of dinner, Sirius suddenly slammed his hand on the table, obviously not caring how many strange glanced he would get, and smiled widely. “You know what we need to do, blokes?” he asked, like a child waiting to tell his mum something exciting.
“What, Sirius?” Remus decided to humor him. I snickered.
“It’s nearly the end of October and we still haven’t been to a major party.”
“And?” I asked.
“And,” he mimicked my tone, “I think that we should throw a party. No one throws a party like a Marauder. It’ll be bloody brilliant!”
“Oh, lovely. A party,” I sighed.
I really wasn’t the party type. Loud music, dancing girls, underage drinking, drunk blokes. Yeah, not really my scene. I’d rather sit upstairs and plot new prank ideas, thanks.
Remus, who usually shared my feelings about parties, shrugged. “Hmm, a party? Sounds fun.”
I looked at him, my mouth hanging open in protest, but before I could say a word, something very outlandish occurred right next to me.
A tall, blonde, skinny thing squeezed its way between Remus and I. This thing was Ashleyn Wilkinson and she just bloody well took my seat! I almost growled. She wore a bloody low-cut white tank under her uniform blouse, which was hanging open and her skirt was pulled up so that you got quite a glimpse of her tan, skinny legs. Her bleached hair looked more bleachy than usual. Her thin body looked thinner than normal. And her bloody gorgeous face looked more bloody gorgeous than ever! Ugh! She was like a life-sized bloomin’ Barbie!
But what the bloody hell was she doing here? This was the Gryffindor table. Ravenclaw was obviously a ways away. She had no right to be flirty over here.
I looked at Sirius, James and Peter, who seemed to be just as astonished as I was that she was sitting here, but not as much pissed off. They were practically drooling! I was about to slap the stupefaction off their rotten faces.
“Hi, honey,” she said in her annoyingly high and perky voice. She then did something that almost made me fall off my seat; she kissed Remus on the cheek.
Remus blushed and smiled at the boys, obviously avoiding my eyes. He knew that I hated her and that I was about to explode. What was going on?!
“Yeah, I kinda forgot to tell you, mates,” he said, sheepishly.
I was not expecting this.
“Ashleyn’s my girlfriend.”
A/N: Ah! A bit of a cliffie for you lot! I really hope you're liking it so far. Feedback is greatly appreciated! :)
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