Chapter 10 : Happy Christmas. Chapter Nine.
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You can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I awoke to the wonderful pleasure of someone jumping on top of me. The best kind of wake-up call.
"Wake up! Wake up! It's Christmas!" James shouted in my ear.
I shoved him off of me and onto the floor and pulled my blanket up over my face. I was completely disoriented. How did they get into the girls' dorms? What time was it? What the bloody hell was going on?
Sirius nudged me. "C'mon, indulge him. He's excited. And look at all the gifts you got, Night'," he laughed. "Oh, and Happy Christmas!"
Wait...gifts were down in the Common Room...
I pulled the blanket away from my face long enough to register that I was, indeed, in the Common Room, laying on the sofa. Damn. And I could still be asleep.
I tried to recollect what had happened the night before and was instantly rewarded with a very heavy heart of grief. Remus. Oh, Merlin. I left him alone in the prefects' bathroom and ran all the way back here. It took me about ten minutes to remember the password to get past the portrait and the whole time I was expecting for him to come up behind me, but he never did. As soon as I got in here, I dumped myself onto this exact sofa and kept myself up almost all night thinking nonstop about what I had just done.
"Padfoot?" I asked Sirius, knowing that James wouldn't answer. He was too busy ripping open all of his presents.
"Is — Is Remus upstairs?"
"Yeah, he came in late last night. Said he was taking a bath in the prefects' bathroom. Wouldn't come down though, he's too sick."
I sat up and looked over at him. "He's sick?"
He nodded, slowly unwrapping what looked to be a large coat of sorts. "Yeah, looks like it's bad this time. He just looks miserable, poor soul."
"Look! Chocolate!" James exclaimed, holding up a giant package of chocolate. He immediately ripped it open and grabbed one of the many bars.
Sirius rolled his eyes and looked back at me. "I think you should go up and check on him, Nightingale."
I shook my head, panic rising in the pit of my stomach. "I'm sure he's fine, I mean—"
"I really think you should go look at him. He's pale as a ghost."
I sighed. "Alright, I'll go up real quick," I swung my legs over the side of the couch and slowly stood up.
What was I to say? How should I act? Should I just act like nothing's wrong? Like nothing happened last night? What if I kiss him again? What if he kisses me? No, there will be no kissing of any sorts. I'm his nurse right now, after all. That's just not appropriate. Should I bring him some of his presents? Or just go up empty handed? Should I give him my present? Oh, Merlin.
I looked at James. "Hey, Prongs, throw me one of those chocolate bars, would you? It's for Moony."
He looked down at his chocolate as though it was a treasure of some sort. After what seemed like a battle within himself, he finally tossed me a candy bar and I made my way up to the boys' dorm. My heart beat so loud in my chest that I was afraid he would be able to hear it.
Of course, I reached the seventh year dorm in no time. Now I just had to knock on the door. Just knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.
Part of me wished that I had just tripped on my way up here, so that I could have tumbled down to the ground instead of facing Remus now. I thought there was no way I could ever do it.
Acting quickly, before I could change my mind again, I reached up and knocked loudly.
"Come in," came a hoarse reply that almost broke my heart in two.
"'Ousekeeping," I said in my best fake-Chinese voice, trying to seem a bit normal as I opened the door.
I looked over at Remus' bed, just to see him lying on his side, facing away from me. He stayed still and I closed the door behind me. I held my breath as I made my way over to him and sat awkwardly on the side of his bed. Now, he had turned as far away from me as possible, practically lying on his stomach.
"Erm...Good morning," I said, knowing that I wouldn't get a response of any type.
And he stayed quiet. Lucky me.
"I brought you some chocolate. I mean, I know you love chocolate. I practically had to pry it out of James' hands to get it for you, though," I chuckled, but quickly stopped, realizing that he wasn't going to laugh.
Sighing, I decided it would be a good idea to just do what I came up here to do and make sure he was alright.
"Alright, time for your check-up," I tried to sound a bit cheerful, but didn't do such a good job of it. "C'mon, you're going to have to turn toward me."
It took him a moment, but he came around and slowly turned to look at me. I almost gasped when I saw him, though. Sirius had been right; he was as pale as a ghost. His cheeks were gaunt and his face was sullen. He looked extremely thin and weak.
"How do you feel?" I asked, looking at his face.
His eyes avoided mine and he kept his mouth closed.
"Okay then. Not going to talk. That's fine."
I reached for his wrist, but, when I touched him, he pulled away. I looked at him and he just sat there, his face expressionless.
"Erm...Right. My hands must be pretty cold. Sorry 'bout that. It's chilly up here and down in the Common Room. Sleeping down there is definitely not the best choice, eh?" I clapped my hands together and rubbed until the friction warmed my hands a bit. "Here we go."
I reached for his wrist again and, this time, he let me do what I needed to. I felt his pulse. Like expected, it was a bit weak, but nothing to be worried about.
"So, it's Christmas. There're loads of presents downstairs with your name on 'em. I could tell the boys to bring them up for you later, if you wanted. But if you wanted to wait til later, that's alright, too. I didn't look for any presents for me, but I don't really think I got much. Not like I really care anyways, right?"
I gently felt his forehead with the back of my hand. He was running a high fever, just like he usually did on mornings like these.
"I wonder if Sirius and James are heading to br—"
"Why won't you say my name?" came a weak voice from the boy in the bed.
"Oh, so now you decide to talk. Do you want to answer my—"
"Why won't you say my name?" he asked again, looking up at me.
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
"You haven't said my name. You usually say, 'Good morning, Remus,' or, 'How do you feel, Remus' or even, 'Sorry about that, Remus.' Why won't you say my name?"
I sat there for a moment, not really sure what to say to that. But when I thought about it, he was right. I hadn't said his name at all since I'd walked through that door.
"Erm...I don't know. I hadn't really noticed that," I shrugged. "I'm sorry."
He shook his head weakly, as if disappointed that I still hadn't said it. "Why are you here, Mack?"
"Sirius told me that I should come take a look at you, just to make sure every thing's alright."
"Well, you've taken your look. Now you can leave," he said, turning away.
I frowned. "Are you sure you're okay? I don't want to go if you still need—"
"I'm fine," his voice was harsh. Well, as harsh as it could be under his current circumstances.
"If it's because of me, then I can go get James to check up on you. It doesn't have to be like this, we can—"
"Of course it does, Mack," his gentle eyes looked up at me, his lips pressed in a hard line. "There's no way we can go back to normal after..." His voice drifted off.
"Just go!" he almost yelled.
Sighing to myself, my brows knitted in dismay, I nodded and stood up. I set the chocolate bar on his night stand and quickly made my way out of the room, shutting the door loudly behind me. I ran down the stairs until I got to the Common Room, then turned right back around and began up to my dorm.
"Mack?" I heard James ask.
I stopped on the stairs and turned around to face them. "I'm going up to my room," I said, bluntly.
"But don't you want to open your presents?" James asked, incredulous.
I shook my head and turned back around.
"Mack? What's wrong? Is Moony alright? What's going on?" Sirius inquired all at once.
I couldn't handle it anymore.
"Oh, for once in your life, leave me alone!" I screamed at them, and sprinted up the stairs.
My breath was ragged as I took the stairs two at a time, stomping as I went. Suddenly, my foot caught on one of the steps and I fell forward, hitting my head against the cold stone. I sat up, just as blood began to drip down the side of my face. I reached up and felt the gash on my forehead, then looked at my bloody hand.
My nose flared and I could feel the tears coming on, but I wouldn't let them. I refused to let them come.
So, taking a deep breath, I stood up and slowly walked up to my dorm, where I stayed for the rest of Christmas day.
Tap, tap, tap.
My eyes flew open as a noise woke me up.
Tap, tap, tap.
I looked over at the dark window and realized that there was an owl hovering outside. For a moment, I thought that it might be from Inconspicuous, but my excitement was shattered when I remembered I hadn't even replied to his last letter.
I ran to the window and unlatched the lock, opening the glass so that the bird could sit on the sill. Cold air flooded into the room, but, thankfully, my long pyjama pants and overlarge hoodie kept me from freezing. It was an unfamiliar small barn owl and attached to his leg was a letter from my father. Spectacular.
Leaving the window open, I fervently ripped open the envelope, hoping that it was some kind of apology letter from him.
I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas because I know that I have. I must say that at this moment, I am one of the happiest men in the world.
Emily and I spent Christmas together at our home. We got up early and opened presents from each other and I cooked us a very extravagant dinner. Near the end of it, I got down on one knee and proposed to her. She said yes!
We are planning on having our wedding over Easter break, so that you and your brother will be able to meet your future mother—
I didn't even finish the letter before ripping it in half, then in half again and angrily throwing the shards at the wall.
He was marrying her? The fifties housewife whose only wish was to destroy our lives? He was bloody marrying her!
"You can meet your future mother"! Was he serious? She would never be my mother! Never! I wouldn't let her take over Mason and my lives!
I stood up and kicked the wall as hard as I could. Then kicked it again. And again. I kicked it until I was sure my toe was broken.
He couldn't do this to us! He was our father! He was supposed to be supportive and thoughtful and caring and concerned for our well-being. But, instead, he was marrying some clone who wanted to control our family.
Kicking the trimming one last time, I turned around and slid slowly down the wall, my throat all choked up. I couldn't believe any of this.
He was forgetting about Mum. About his wife. About my mother. How could he do that?
I wondered if he sent a letter to Mason. How would he feel about all of this? He obviously wasn't nearly as upset as I was that we were staying at Hogwarts for Christmas, but surely he would be furious about this. Surely.
I wiped the angry tears from my red eyes as a chilly breeze blew in from the window. I stood up and walked over to it, ready to slam it shut, when I heard a familiar sound.
I looked at the large clock, which hung high on the wall, and gasped. It was 11:23 PM.
Oh, my God.
Without another thought, I sprinted over to my trunk and hastily grabbed the leather bag, which I had filled with medical supplies the day before, so that I wouldn't have to go down to Poppy on Christmas. Quickly slipping on my trainers, I felt nothing but numbness. My mind in a blur, I pelted down the stairs and out of the Common Room, running as fast as I possibly could down the corridors. Racing down the halls, I was thankful that nobody was out to confront me as I ran out the front entrance and onto the grounds. My bag bounced against my hip as I sprinted, my tattered trainers sinking into the cold snow.
When I came upon the Womping Willow, however, I realized that I couldn't do this alone. The tree twisted and shook with violence and there was no possible way I could get past it by myself.
I jumped when I heard an ear-piercing howl, which didn't sound too far away. I stood, frozen in horror, the sound made the blood of my heart run cold.
I shouldn't have come out here. What was I thinking? I should have just waited til morning!
My hands trembled, but it wasn't just from the cold. The full moon shone bright over the dark hills of the grounds, reflecting off of the snow. I could see my breath in the cold winter air and I was pretty sure I would freeze if I didn't get inside soon.
Another howl, closer this time.
And suddenly, there they were. Four silhouettes running along the snow, the first standing much bigger than the rest. It was racing right toward me.
My eyes widened in terror and I began to run back towards the castle, even though I knew it was no use. I was already so far away, there was no chance I could make it there faster than it would catch up to me.
Oh, my God. I was going to die.
But Remus would never do that. Remus would never hurt me. Even though he was not fully himself, he was still Remus. My Remus.
I heard a loud snarl and looked back. It — he — was right there, running not three meters behind me. Before I could turn my head back around, though, I tripped over my own feet and landed in the cold snow. Quickly flipping over so that I was lying on my back, I stared up at the werewolf, who was now towering above me. Its teeth were brandished like a shining sword, only sharper and much more intimidating. It looked down at me, its eyes a deeper, much darker blue than Remus', but they had lost their caring and sweet look, replaced by fury and hunger. We stared at each other for a moment, before it snarled and drew closer to me.
It held up its clawed paw and I screamed as loud as I could, hoping that someone might come to my rescue. Taking a swipe at my face, its razor-edged claws scraped my cheek and left four deep gashes, which began to bleed down my face. It knocked my glasses into the snow.
It raised its arm again, but I held up my hands in protest.
"Stop!" I yelled, staring into its dark eyes.
My lips trembled in fear as I laid in the freezing snow. I was going to die.
"Remus! Please," I cried.
It stopped for a moment, as if registering something. Maybe I was getting through to him? Was that even possible?
But, just as quick, again it snarled. It grabbed me by the arm and threw me ten feet away. I landed on the solid ground, the snow doing nothing to cushion my fall. My body ached as he took another swing at me, swiping my shoulder and tearing through my hoodie and ripping my skin as if it were paper.
"Remus! Stop!" I screamed, holding my hand up once more. Like it would make any difference.
It stopped just like before and I continued.
"Remember who you are! You're Remus John Lupin! You're my best mate and I'm yours! I — I...Please, Remus," I pleaded with it — him. Somewhere in there was the Remus I knew. I could feel it. He knew that it was me. He knew I was here and who I was.
It looked down at me, then lifted its arm, ready to strike, before a large, black dog tackled it to the ground.
Sirius turned around a barked loudly at me, just as the werewolf pulled him back down.
I stood frozen for a moment, before sprinting back down to the Womping Willow. I wasn't going to leave Remus and run away to the castle. As I came upon the tree, it thrashed and fought just as before and I had to dodge a couple branches. One branch whacked me in the back of the head and another grabbed my leg and caused me to trip. Miraculously, I made it to the trunk before any real damage was done.
I made a mental note to appreciate Peter a bit more and ran through the passageway and all the way up to my room on the third floor.
And for the first time since the boys became Animagi, I sat on a chair and stared out the blurry window, hoping more than anything that Remus would be alright.
A loud knock on the door let me know that Remus was downstairs waiting. I grabbed my bag, which had somehow managed to remain unscathed from our confrontation last night, and rushed to the door. James stood outside, his face in a somewhat worried expression.
"Are — Are you alright?" he hesitated.
I nodded and strode past him. "How is he doing?" I asked as James followed me down the stairs.
"He's been better, but it's definitely not as bad as it has been in the past."
I nodded, biting my swollen lip.
"Here," he stopped and held out my glasses.
"Thanks," I muttered, taking them from him and slipping them onto my face. I figured he must have fixed them because there was no way they could've survived such an attack.
"He doesn't know. We haven't told him."
I acted as though I hadn't heard him, even though we both knew I had. This was all my bloody fault. Everything was my fault and I'm pretty sure all of them knew it.
I had to stop for a moment before walking into the room where Remus was. My entire body was in pain, but I couldn't let that show. It was my turn to be strong for him.
Taking a deep breath, I made my way through the room and over to the bed, where Remus lay with his eyes closed, covered in cuts and bruises. James had been right, this time wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been. When I sat in the chair beside his bed, his eyes slowly opened and he looked over at me. At first, his face was soft, as though he had forgotten all vexation he felt towards me. Then, I watched as his eyes travelled from the gashes on my cheeks, to my swollen lip, to my scathed shoulder, to my bruised arms and finally back to my eyes. I had cleaned everything up pretty well, but it wasn't like I could hide the wounds themselves. His face crumbled and he looked around at the other two.
"Did — Did I do — that?" he asked, his voice hoarse and his face covered with anxiety.
Nobody answered. What were we supposed to say? 'Oh, yeah, Rem. You tackled Mack to the ground and clawed at her face. Jolly well done'? Psh. Right.
He looked back at me and I could hardly sit there and do nothing. I reached up and took his cold hand, stroking it with my thumb.
"It's alright, Rem," I whispered. "I'm fine, you see. And it was all my fault anyways. Don't fret about it."
He pulled his hand away, shaking his head. "No," he said, weakly. "You — need to go — away from me — too dangerous. Just — leave."
"Remus! This isn't your fault! I need to heal you, anyways. Poppy will kill me if I don't."
"I — could've — killed you."
"Oh, hush, Rem. It's not your fault at all. Don't you dare blame this on yourself."
I frowned. "No. I've got to heal you, Remus. I'm not leaving."
Funny how I couldn't seem to stop saying his name now.
"Leave — Mackenzie," he breathed, sickly
I looked around at the blokes, who just stood there and stared.
"We can take him up to Pomfrey. It's only seven in the morning," said James, quietly.
Sirius nodded. "Just go, Nightingale. We'll take care of him."
I glared at them. They were going to make me leave? What kind of mates were they?
"Just let me fix this really quick," I muttered, reaching for one of Remus' more serious wounds.
He turned his body and pushed my hands away.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see James. "He wants you to go."
I shook my head. "I can't believe you two are siding with him! It wasn't his bloody fault! It was mine!"
"It'd be best if you just left," Sirius pushed, staring at me.
I looked at him for a moment, then snatched my bag and stormed out of the room. Fine. If they didn't want my help, I wasn't going to force it.
A/N: Reviews are greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!
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